IWSG and A to Z Challenge: My Bucket List! – Past, Present, and Future: A is for Ancestral Castles

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first insecure-writers-support-group-badge Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

For me, insecurities come and go, but the one that seems to be hanging around the most right now, as I work on the third book in the Trouble series, is: What if this book doesn’t live up to the first two books in the series? I’ve had people tell me they love the series so far (which I love hearing!), and sometimes I worry that maybe future stories won’t be as successful. But I keep telling myself there’s no way to answer that question until I get the book done, so I need to push those worries aside and keep on writing.


Now on to the A to Z Challenge!

I’m taking the long way around with A to Z this year. My plan is to post every couple of weeks, so I will have time to visit other blogs in between and still have time to write.


A is for – Ancestral Castles

I had always wanted to go to Scotland. My heritage, and that of my late husband, both lie in that beautiful isle. Her wild, purple-heathered moors, centuries-old castles, and rugged Highlands still call to me, and the sound of bagpipes is music to my soul. Twenty-five years ago this summer, we visited Scotland and went in search of our ancestral castles.

Clan MacLachlan hails from the lands of Strathlachlan on Loch Fyne in the county of Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. It’s one of the oldest Scottish Highland clans. According to clan history, the clan is descended from Lachlan Mor, who lived on Loch Fyne in the late 13th century. Old Castle Lachlan dates back to that time. The MacLachlans were Jacobites, whose goal was to restore the Stuart line to the throne of England and Scotland. According to the Old Lachlan Castle website (http://www.oldcastlelachlan.com/about/clan-maclachlan):

“Lachlan, the seventeenth chief of Clan Maclachlan, supported Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Jacobite Rising of 1745, and died leading the clan at the battle of Culloden in 1746. Following the defeat a Government ship is believed to have sailed up Loch Fyne and shelled Castle Lachlan, forcing the chief’s family to abandon it.”

When we visited, the castle was a pensive ruin, overgrown with grass, trees, and vines. I loved imagining what it must have looked like in its heyday, the stories it could tell.







My family traces back to Robert the Bruce, seventh lord of Annandale, who was crowned King Robert I of Scotland in 1306. In the war for Scottish independence, he and his forces defeated the English at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Clan Bruce lands lie in the Lowlands of Scotland in the county of Dumfries and Galloway. One of the seats of the lords of Annandale was Lochmaben Castle, originally built in the mid-twelfth century by the first Robert Bruce as an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. Scottish history describes the castle this way (http://www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk/dumfries_galloway/lochmaben_castle.html):

“Once a mighty Royal fortress at the forefront of the Wars for Independence, Lochmaben Castle changed hands between English and Scottish forces over a dozen times as the fortunes of each side ebbed and flowed.”

The castle ultimately fell after being bombarded by the English in a two-day siege in 1588. A few of the walls still stood when we were there, a tribute to the stubbornness and indomitable spirit of the Scots.







Our trip around Scotland was amazing, full of adventure, discovery, laughter, and love. Scotland is a truly magical place, so it’s not surprising that her National Animal is the Unicorn. Alas, I didn’t see any while I was there, but maybe next time…


And now for the Writing Update:

I added almost 6,000 words to my WIP, Trouble Times Three, during the month of March. That’s way more than I’ve been accomplishing, so I’m excited about my progress! Crossing my fingers I can keep it up!


Anyone else have any bucket list items beginning with A?


© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2020. All rights reserved.

Cover Reveal! Book 2: Trouble By Any Other Name

This is it! I’m really excited to be sharing the cover for Book 2: Trouble By Any Other Name with everyone! It’s hard to believe I’m so close to publishing my second book. I want to send out a huge thank you to Carrie Butler of Forward Authority Designs for taking my vision for the cover and making it beautiful. She does excellent work!

And now I present the cover!

Trouble By Any Other Name

And here’s the full cover!

road receding into the distance

Title: Trouble By Any Other Name

Author: Lori L. MacLaughlin

Publisher: Book and Sword Publishing

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

The Blurb:

Tara Triannon is no stranger to trouble. She’s yet to find an enemy her skill with a sword couldn’t dispatch. But how can she fight one that attacks through her dreams?

With her nightmares worsening, Tara seeks answers but finds only more questions. Then her sister, Laraina, reveals a stunning secret that forces Tara to go to the one place Tara’s sworn never to return to. Her troubles multiply when Jovan Trevillion, the secretive soldier of fortune who stole her heart, is mentally tortured by an ancient Being intent on bending him to its will. And worst of all, the Butcher — the terrifying wolf-like assassin she thought she’d killed — survived their duel and is hunting her again.

Hounded by enemies, Tara sets out on a harrowing quest to discover the true nature of who she is, to come to grips with the new volatility of her magic, and to defeat the evil locked in a centuries-old trap that will stop at nothing to control her magic and escape through her nightmares.


Thank you for visiting and celebrating my cover release with me!!

The New Trailer! For Book II: Trouble By Any Other Name

I fully intended to post something over the last couple of weeks since the start of the new year, but I’ve been making so much progress with my edits and book trailer during my social media break that I just had to keep going with them.

I uploaded the latest version of the trailer for my forthcoming second book, Trouble By Any Other Name, to YouTube. I’d love feedback from anyone who has time to check it out. Here it is, and thank you! Happy New Year!




© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2016. All rights reserved.

Monday Morning Sneak Peek!


Stop by Jessica Therrien’s site today for a Sneak Peek at the

first five pages of my fantasy adventure novel,


Hope to see you there!





© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.

League of VT Writers Meeting Recap and Barnes & Noble Prep

I really enjoyed the League of VT Writers “Into the Words” Retreat and Member Showcase I attended last Saturday. The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont was just lovely, and the rain held off until right after the close of the meeting.

VT poet Jerry Johnson's restored schoolhouse home in Albany, VT Photo Credit: Jerry Johnson

VT poet Jerry Johnson’s restored schoolhouse home in Albany, VT
Photo Credit: Jerry Johnson

By the time I arrived and got my table set up with my book display, the meeting was already in full swing. Unfortunately, I missed the first round of seminars/workshops, but I still had three more sessions with four or five workshops each from which to choose. I brought my teen son with me, and he did a great job manning the table, so I could lose myself in a wonderful literary summer camp.

In “Blogging Boot Camp,” VT author J.P. (Joy) Choquette went over the basics of blogging, the various platforms, and how important social media is to a good marketing strategy. I learned there is a tool called a Website grader that will analyze your site and tell you what’s up to snuff and what needs work. Here are a couple of links that list several graders: https://blog.bufferapp.com/website-graders-content-scores and http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/29274/HubSpot-Launches-Free-Marketing-Grader-Tool-to-Replace-Website-Grader.aspx. I haven’t tried any of them yet, but I plan to at some point.

“Performance Techniques for Writers” with retired theater arts and public speaking teacher J.S. Grant was chock full of tips and tricks on how to prepare yourself for a public reading of your work. J.S. showed us muscle relaxation techniques, such as shoulder rolls and gentle neck stretches, and deep breathing techniques to help with nervousness and projecting your voice. Saying “me mo me mo…” and “fa-da-da-da” repeatedly is an old actors’ trick that helps loosen your lips and tongue.

J.S. was engaging and funny as she led us through these preparations and then had us practicing our articulation with tongue-twisters. I discovered that I am incapable of saying, “The sea ceaseth us and sufficeth us.” And spitting is good. It means you’re enunciating your “t’s” and “p’s” properly. One other great tip — if you are doing your reading in front of a microphone, always inhale through your mouth. If you inhale through your nose, everyone in the audience will hear it.

In the last workshop I attended, author M. Larose read from her YA fantasy novel, The Flower Eater. Keeping in mind what I had just learned, I thought she did a great job. Later, she and I swapped books with promises to read and review. I sold four books, in addition to the swap, and I also picked up a copy of Stella Rose, by Tammy Flanders Hetrick. She was the author I had observed at her Barnes & Noble book signing in May and later blogged about it HERE. It was fun meeting her (she had found my blog and commented on it), and we shared a laugh over it.

And speaking of Barnes & Noble, I’ve been contacting area newspapers and other media outlets and submitting press release info for my book signing event Friday evening. I wrote the release info with the who/what/where/etc. in three formats: bullet form, paragraph form, and as an ad, to fit each media’s requirements. I put up fliers around town. Don’t be afraid to ask about putting up fliers. You never know who will say yes. Besides the library, the local Hannaford grocery store put one up on their bulletin board right where everyone leaving the store can see it. Even the dentist I’ve been going to for years said they’d put one up for me.

I’ve also been getting my swag together. I have book cards, personalized pens (with book title and author name) from PenFactory.com, and I’m in the process of making cord necklaces with gold and silver sword charms, which I love. What’s really neat is that the swords fit into the hands of my Lego book characters. (I made Lego people that look like my three main characters.) Now if I could just figure out what I’m going to wear, I’ll be all set. 🙂








© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.

The Square and Upcoming Book Event!

Based on the overwhelming advice I received on a previous post (thank you!!), I ordered a Square credit card reader from their site: www.squareup.com. After several days, the Square arrived in the mail! I attached it to my Android smart phone through the headphone jack, downloaded the Register app, and set up the register with my items and tax percentage. It was really easy to set up and has the simplicity of e-mailing receipts to customers. I did a $1.00 test run charge on my credit card, and it worked perfectly. Very quick and easy.

I hope to get a chance to use it this weekend. On Sunday, I’ll be participating in The Craft of Small Publishing in Vermont event at the River Arts Center in Morrisville, VT. It’s a celebration of small publishers, self-publishers, and book artists and illustrators from around the state with presentations and activities for all ages. I’ll get to mingle with the writing community and maybe sell a book or two. Even if I don’t sell anything, it will be a great learning experience. I like that it’s a smaller venue, since I already know I’m going to be nervous. We’ll see how it goes. Thinking positive thoughts! 🙂





© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.

Observing a Book Signing and Panel Discussion

On Saturday afternoon, I attended a book signing/release event at Barnes & Noble for the novel, Stella Rose, by Vermont author Tammy Flanders Hetrick. I’m hoping to get a chance to do a similar event at B & N and wanted to know what to expect. Hetrick only spoke for ten minutes or so, which I thought was surprisingly short. I arrived a few minutes late, unfortunately, and didn’t get to hear the bulk of her speech. She then opened up the floor to questions. The question/answer session lasted much longer, running 20 to 25 minutes. Afterward, the audience formed a queue, and she signed copies of her book and chatted with everyone.

She had a good crowd of 30-40 people. The majority appeared to be family, friends, and coworkers who had brought friends with them. They provided a great support group, very upbeat with a lot of engagement and laughter, and I think their positive energy and the size of the crowd drew in other shoppers to see what was going on.

Hetrick wore a nice, colorful dress and looked professional. She had swag laid out for people to see — T-shirts, mugs, and bookmarks, along with her business cards. Some of the T-shirts and mugs were given away as door prizes to those who had come from the farthest distance and those who had brought the most friends with them.

The entire event lasted an hour or so, with friendly conversations lingering afterward. I wasn’t in the market to buy one of her books right then, so I didn’t go up and speak with her, but just observed from the fringes. What’s that called in social media — lurking? 🙂

In contrast, on Monday evening, I went to my local library for a panel discussion by three Vermont authors, J.P. Choquette, Bill Schubart, and Steve Delaney, on their books and self-publishing. The event was scheduled to run an hour and a half, and for the first third of the program, I was the only one in the audience. As disappointing as it likely was for the authors, it worked out well for me, because I got to ask tons of questions and gather some incredibly useful information and resources. Another lady came in part way through, and the two of us kept the discussion going until it was time to leave.

The panelists dressed in nice casualwear and brought copies of their books and business cards. They didn’t have any other swag, and I wondered if it was only considered appropriate to bring those types of items with new releases? Or can you bring the T-shirts, bookmarks, etc., to any event?

I’m really glad I had a chance to go to these events and see what I might be getting myself into in the future. And even though the second event was much more low key and less likely to be considered a success, I learned a valuable lesson from it. It’s okay if not many people show up. Sharing your knowledge and experiences from your writing journey with just one interested person can be as satisfying as sharing it with many. The sister- and brotherhood of writers is amazingly generous when it comes to helping their fellow writers along. Of course, that part I already knew.





© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.

Celebrate the Small Things! And Blog Tour! With Tyrean Martinson and Juneta Key!

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it here. CelebrateSmallThings_Badge

Today, I’m celebrating that my new fantasy adventure novel, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, is now available in print! Click here for details.

I’m also celebrating the wrap-up of my two-week-long blog tour with Tyrean Martinson and Juneta Key! Hop on over to Tyrean’s and see what Bilbo Baggins and I have in common, and to Juneta’s to learn more about my characters and their stories in a book-related interview.

Here’s a huge THANK YOU!!! to everyone who hosted me on their blogs and to all who visited along the way! I truly appreciate it!!

Blog Tour Stops:

3/5:      Eclectic Alli & Jo @ My Inner Geek          Reviews

3/6       Doreen McGettigan & Unicorn Bell          Interviews

3/9       Caffe Maggieato                                            Behind the Scenes

3/10     Marie Andreas                                               Reason #57 Why I Chose To Self-Publish

3/11     Elizabeth Hein                                                Lessons Learned

3/12     Sue Archer                                                      Conversation Corner

3/14     Diane Burton                                                  Saturday Sampler

3/16     Loni Townsend                                               Typos: Say What??

3/17     Kari Jo Spear                                                   The Magic of Names

3/18     Kristin Smith                                                   My Writing Space

3/20    Juneta Key                                                       Book-related Interview

3/20    Tyrean Martinson                                          What Bilbo Baggins and I Have in Common

What other celebrations are going on out there?








© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.


Blog Tour! With Kristin Smith!

Come join me today at Kristin Smith’s, where I share the secrets of my writing space, as my blog tour celebrating the release of my new fantasy adventure novel, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, continues. Hope to see you there!







© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.

Blog Tour! With Kari Jo Spear!

Today, my blog tour celebrating the release of my new fantasy adventure novel, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, visits From the Heart of Kari Jo Spear. Kari Jo and I have been friends for more years than I can count, and I’m happy to be a guest on her blog with a St. Patrick’s Day-themed post about the magic of character naming. Please stop by and say Hi!







© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.