IWSG and A to Z Challenge: My Bucket List! – Past, Present, and Future: E is for England, Edinburgh, and Easter Island

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first 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.

My insecurities this month revolve around the use of social media. There are so many social channels out there, how do you know which is the best to use to connect with potential readers? And what is the best way to find those readers?

I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and I recently started an Instagram account. I’m also on Goodreads and, of course, WordPress. And my book trailers are on YouTube. I find Twitter overwhelming, so my blog posts are linked to it, but I haven’t done much else with it. Finding the time to keep up with social media is also a challenge.

I’d love to know what social media channels other writers use most effectively and how they organize their social media time.

The IWSG question for this month: Do you have any secrets that readers would never know from your work?

I couldn’t think of anything to reply to this, so I’ll be interested to read how everyone else answers this question.

 

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.

 

E is for – England, Edinburgh, and Easter Island

England!

On that same 1995 trip to Scotland I wrote about for A to Z A, we also visited England. My Dad’s side of the family hails from Northhamptonshire. We flew into London, stayed there for a couple of days, then rented a car and drove around the countryside. I had made a list of places I wanted to visit, and we hit as many as we could. We saw the usual tourist sites in London: Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, the Tower Bridge, and Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London (both from the outside).

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Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, London

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Buckingham Palace, London

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White Tower of London, where royalty was imprisoned before execution. (Rumored to have many ghosts.)

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Tower Bridge, London

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We had to ride the double-decker bus.

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Me, 25 years ago, doing the tourist thing.

I have to admit, though, that as lovely as those places were, I was more interested in the castles and ruins outside of the London area. The cathedrals were pretty spectacular, too.

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Penshurst Place and gardens, near Tonbridge, Kent

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Hever Castle, Kent (postcard – I couldn’t get the whole thing in one photo)

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Bodiam Castle ruins, East Sussex

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Arundel Castle, West Sussex

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Arundel Castle Library (postcard – my favorite room in the castle)

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Pevensey Castle ruins, East Sussex

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Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury (Restoration in progress.)

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Tintagel Castle ruins, Cornwall. Steeped in the legend of King Arthur.

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Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

One of my Dad’s ancestors came from Sulgrave, a small town in Northamptonshire. Interestingly, Sulgrave Manor, built in 1539, (PHOTO) is the ancestral home of George Washington, First President of the United States. Unfortunately, we drove through the area on a Sunday, and the manor house was closed to the public.

Edinburgh!

We visited Edinburgh, capital city of Scotland, in 1995, as well. We spent quite a bit of time at Edinburgh castle, taking in (figuratively) the Honours of Scotland and touring the Scottish National War Memorial, United Services Museum, St. Margaret’s Chapel, the Royal Scots Museum and the Prisons of War. So much history in one of the oldest fortifications in Europe.

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Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland. One of those misty, moody days.

Interesting fact: The Honours of Scotland are the oldest crown jewels in Britain. During WWII, the Crown of Scotland was hidden for safekeeping by burying it in a medieval latrine closet.

For information on the storied history of the castle and more interesting facts, click HERE.

Easter Island!

Ancient monoliths have always intrigued me. Who built them? What was their purpose? Easter Island, one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, is home to one of the world’s great mysteries: the massive stone heads called Moai.

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Moai on Easter Island Photo credit: http://www.goodfreephotos.com

The Moai were carved from volcanic rock by the Polynesians who settled on Easter Island sometime between 800 AD and 1200 AD. The island, also known by its Polynesian name of Rapa Nui, lies over 2,000 miles west of Chile in the South Pacific Ocean. It’s mainly made up of three extinct volcanoes, and along with surrounding small islets, it forms the summit of a 6,600-foot-tall underwater mountain, part of the Sala y Gomez Ridge, a Pacific undersea mountain range.

Rapa Nui was given the name Easter Island by Dutch explorers who first landed there on Easter Sunday in 1722.

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Moai, Easter Island Photo credit: antoinese @ http://www.goodfreephotos.com

One theory is that the stone statues were built to honor the settlers’ ancestors. There are nearly 900 monoliths, and almost all of them stand with their backs to the sea, looking inward toward the villages as if watching over the people. Only a very few face the ocean; those that do also overlook a village. One possible suggestion is that the statues facing the sea were placed there to help others find the island.

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Moai, Easter Island Photo credit: Jaboczw @ http://www.goodfreephotos.com

The statues averaged 13 feet tall and weighed 14 tons, with the tallest being closer to 40 feet and over 80 tons.

Between the late 1700s and mid-1800s, all of the statues on the island were toppled, either by civil war between the islanders, conflicts with European explorers, or earthquakes, according to various theories. Many have since been restored.

Maybe someday I’ll see the statues for myself and contemplate their existence like those ancient explorers did.

 

And now for the Writing Update:

Between vehicle problems and life in general, I only added maybe another 100 words to my WIP, Trouble Times Three, since my last A to Z post. Still, that’s a little progress, miniscule as it is.

 

Anyone else have any bucket list items beginning with E?

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A to Z Challenge 2020: My Bucket List! – Past, Present, and Future: D is for DisneyWorld

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.

Next up in the A to Z Challenge:

D is for – DisneyWorld!

One thing I had always wanted to do was take my kids to DisneyWorld. I grew up on Disney movies, both the live action and the animated classics. Even as an adult, I still love them. One of my all-time favorite movies is Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast.

In April 2012, we took an extended school spring break vacation and hit the road to DisneyWorld. We drove from our home in Vermont to Orlando, FL, over the course of four days. On the way down, we stopped at Grounds for Sculpture, an amazing outdoor sculpture park, museum, and arboretum in Hamilton, New Jersey. Some of the sculptures scattered over the 42 acre park were incredibly detailed and lifelike.

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Contact by Seward Johnson

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Eye of the Beholder by Seward Johnson

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Were You Invited? by Seward Johnson, based on the painting The Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir

Others were more abstract, but just as interesting.

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Henry Moore in a Sheep Meadow by Red Grooms

At DisneyWorld, we stayed at the Coronado Springs resort. It had a lovely swimming pool, which we enjoyed very much.

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Mayan Ruins themed Lost City of Cibola pool at Coronado Springs

My daughter was a huge fan of the Disney princesses, so we visited as many as we could find.

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A conversation with Snow White

The rides were a blast. Well, all but one. No one will ever get me on Everest again. After zipping around at high speed forward and backward, and over stomach-lurching drops in the pitch dark, it was all I could do not to lose my lunch. The kids liked it, though.

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The dreaded Everest ride

One of my favorite spots at Disneyworld was the Lego Store in the Marketplace. Right in front of the store stands a towering, jaw-dropping, Lego-brick version of the black dragon Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty blasting fire at Lego Prince Phillip. I have always loved building with Legos and I love dragons, particularly that one. All I could do was stand there and say, “Wow, that is so cool!”

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LEGO dragon from Sleeping Beauty in the Disney Marketplace

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After we left DisneyWorld, we went to the real LegoLand in Winter Haven, FL, about 45 minutes south of Disney. Talk about mind-boggling creations! I can’t imagine how much fun it must have been to build all those skyscrapers and landmarks and animals and dinosaurs and people — a fantastic collection of Lego masterpieces, though I have to say that, to me, none was as awe-inspiring as that dragon.

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New York City skyscrapers, LEGOLAND, FL

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Washington, DC, LEGOLAND, FL

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Tower Cathedral, LEGOLAND, FL

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LEGO Ford Explorer, LEGOLAND, FL

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LEGO Giraffes! LEGOLAND, FL

Dinosaur

LEGOLAND, FL

Knight

LEGOLAND, FL

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LEGOLAND, FL

DarthVader

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LEGOLAND, FL

On the way home, we stopped at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC. My son’s dream is to be a NASCAR driver, so this was the highlight of the trip for him. He got to see the racecars of some of his favorite drivers and actually sit in a racecar and “drive” in simulated races. He would have kept on driving until the cows came home, as they say, if I’d have let him. But unfortunately, we did have to get back on the road.

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My son driving the #16 Racing Sim car.

We all had so much fun on the trip. It was by far the Best. Family. Vacation. Ever!

 

And now for the Writing Update:

The last couple of weeks have been a little crazy, so I didn’t get much writing time, but I did add another 600 words to my WIP, Trouble Times Three. I’m happy to still be moving forward despite everything. And there’s a three-day weekend coming up. Can’t wait to get back at it!

Anyone else have any bucket list items beginning with D?

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IWSG and A to Z Challenge: My Bucket List! – Past, Present, and Future: C is for Caribbean Cruise

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first 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.

I don’t really have any new insecurities at the moment, just the usual ones, so I’m going to move on to the IWSG question for this month: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE?

The things that help me to be the most productive are a good night’s sleep and a quiet house. It’s impossible for me to concentrate and think creatively if I have a tired brain or too many distractions that disrupt my focus. Sometimes going outside and either taking a walk or just getting some fresh air helps clear my head if the words aren’t coming as easily as I’d like. Another thing I find helpful is to go back and re-read the last several pages I’ve written or even the previous chapter. Many times, when I get back to where I left off, the way forward becomes clear, and I’m back on track and ready to dive into my characters’ next adventure.

And speaking of adventures, it’s 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.

C is for – Caribbean Cruise

I went on my first and only cruise way back in September of 1988. I always thought it would be a fun thing to do — to sail on the ocean and visit tropical locales like you see in the movies. The first things that struck me when I landed in Miami (besides the heat) were the palm trees. I had never seen real palm trees before, only pictures. That may sound kind of silly, but I found them really interesting.

Things didn’t go quite as planned in the beginning of this adventure. Someone was supposed to meet me at the airport and give me a ride to the ship, the Caribe, where I would then meet up with the tour group I would be traveling with. No one was there, however, so I ended up hopping a bus that took me to the port where the cruise ship was docked. Of course, there were several ships docked there, and, not being able to see the names, I had no idea which was the Caribe, but after stopping and asking a few people for directions, I did find the right ship.

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After I made it onboard and got settled in my cabin, I discovered a not-so-fun thing about cruises: ships rocking in the ocean make me seasick. And we hadn’t even left the dock. That prompted a visit to the ship’s doctor who gave me a shot and some motion sickness pills that solved that problem.

Things went much more smoothly after that. Our first stop was in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. It was my first time visiting a developing country. I remember bartering with one of the natives for an amber necklace and bracelet. The differences in the way of life between the people there and where I live were both eye-opening and sobering and made me think about how many things in my world I took for granted. We visited a market place, took a scenic drive past sugar cane fields, and spent some time on a lovely beach.

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Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

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Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

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Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Our second stop was in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We took a tour through the city and saw the capitol building and some other places. Some of the city’s streets have the unique feature of being paved with blue cobblestones. Apparently, when the Spanish sailed across the Atlantic to the West Indies looking for gold in the 1700s, they brought the blue cobblestones with them as ballast in their ships. They left the cobblestones behind when they took the gold back to Spain, and the people of San Juan used the cobblestones to pave their streets. A few of the original cobblestones still exist. There’s a legend that says if you stop to listen, you can hear the footsteps of the Spanish soldiers who once walked the streets.

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San Juan, Puerto Rico

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San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Capitol Building, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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If you look really closely, you can see the blue cobblestones through the bus window on the right.

We also visited Castillo San Felipe Del Morro, a citadel built by the Spanish between the 16th and 18th centuries to protect the entrance to San Juan Bay against seafaring enemies. The citadel was used as a military base by the US during World War I and II.

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San Felipe Del Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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San Felipe Del Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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San Felipe Del Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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View from San Felipe Del Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

From there, it was on to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, the land of amazing beaches. We took another scenic tour, shopped in the shopping district, and enjoyed the white sands and gorgeous turquoise water.

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Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. My ship, the Caribe, is the little ship behind the huge Sovereign of the Seas in the bay on the left. The Norway is the ship farther out to sea.

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Megan’s Bay, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

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Bolongo Bay, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

The flight home was uneventful, thankfully. The Caribbean cruise was quite an experience, but I have to say that once was enough for me. I have no desire for any more ocean excursions.

 
And now for the Writing Update:

I added another 1,000 words to my WIP, Trouble Times Three, since my last A to Z post. Feels like a turtle pace, but at least it’s moving forward.

Anyone else have any bucket list items beginning with C?

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Archer’s Fortune’s Shadow (Nexus Chronicles #1) — New Book Release!

Check out the new paranormal/urban fantasy book from wordsmith Sue Archer:

Fortune’s Shadow (Nexus Chronicles #1)

 

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“You thought you could live without me…”

Jocelyn “Jinxy” Lancaster is having a horrible week. Her dream of becoming a famous indie musician is going nowhere, her day job in her tourist-friendly hometown of Bridgepoint is in danger of disappearing, and to top it all off, it’s almost the ten-year anniversary of her Mom’s death.

When her best friend Grace gives her a wish keeper to help change her luck, she decides she’s got nothing left to lose.

She’s wrong.

At first it seems like she’s on her way to getting everything she desires. Then the people close to her begin acting very strangely. She’s having trouble remembering things, and at night, she’s being haunted by dreams she can’t explain.

Then the best night of her life happens—and all hell breaks loose.

Now it’s up to Jocelyn to try and undo what she’s created and save everyone she loves from chaos and destruction. And maybe, if she’s very lucky, she can even save herself…

************

As Sue says —

If you like the idea of reading about

• An indie musician trying to make it big
• A magical wish gone sideways
• A secret from the past
• A small town full of fun characters
• A supernatural showdown

 
Then this book is for you!

 

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Publisher: Doorway Between Worlds
Release Date: April 26, 2020
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

 

Find the book HERE!

Find Sue Archer:

Amazon Author Page     Goodreads     Blog     Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

A to Z Challenge 2020: My Bucket List! – Past, Present, and Future: B is for Balloons

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.

Next up in the A to Z Challenge:

B is for – Balloons! — The Hot Air variety

Riding in a hot air balloon has been on my bucket list for a long time. Floating through the sky at a tranquil pace, breathing in the fresh air of early morning as we slip over the landscape at the whim of a light breeze, high above the troubles of the world, seeing only the beauty — just the thought of it is relaxing to me.

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I love going to balloon festivals and watching the balloons fill with hot air and then slowly rise up into the sky and float away. These are some photos from past festivals over the years.

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The first manned hot air balloon flight launched in 1783 in France, piloted by Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis François d’Arlandes. Their balloon was made of paper and linen and filled with smoke and heated air. They flew about 5 ½ miles (9 km), from the middle of Paris to the suburbs, in about 25 minutes. Click HERE to see a photo and read more about this amazing feat.

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Most modern balloons are made of nylon, and propane is used to heat the air that makes the balloon rise.

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On November 26, 2005, Vijaypat Singhania launched from Bombay, India, and set the world altitude record for highest hot-air-balloon flight, reaching 69,850 feet (21,290 m). He landed 150 miles (240 km) south in Panchale.

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Steve Fossett was the first person to fly solo nonstop around the world in a hot air balloon. In just under 15 days in 2002, he flew his balloon, the Spirit of Freedom, from Australia, across the Pacific Ocean, over the southern tip of South America, across the Atlantic, over South Africa, and across the Indian Ocean back to Australia. Click HERE to learn more.

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In 2016, Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov broke the circumnavigation record by piloting his 10-stories-tall hot air balloon approximately 21,000 miles around the world in 11 days. Click HERE to read more about this and his other adventures.

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To this day, I still remember an early encounter with a balloonist, who was drifting over the rural area in Vermont near where I grew up. My family and I, along with my neighbors, ran out to see this huge, low-flying balloon skimming not far above the trees, propane fire roaring intermittently to keep it from descending — a real novelty for us. We waved at the pilot; I wondered where he had come from and how he had gotten way out here. The pilot waved back and yelled, “Where am I?”

I don’t recall who answered him or what they said, I was just a kid then. The balloon floated up over the ridge and continued on its way, and I never did know where it finally ended up. But I’ll never forget the enchantment of seeing that beautiful balloon, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to ride in one.

Someday soon, I plan to find out.

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And now for the Writing Update:

I added another 1,000 words to my WIP, Trouble Times Three, over the last two weeks. Not as much as I’d hoped, but still progress!

Anyone else have any bucket list items beginning with B?

 

Sources:

https://www.space.com/16595-montgolfiers-first-balloon-flight.html

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/10216056/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/away-indian-tycoon-soars-record/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_altitude_record

https://www.balloonsoverbritain.co.uk/around-the-world-flights-first-successful-solo

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/502451/remembering-steve-fossetts-2002-solo-round-world-balloon-flight

https://www.businessinsider.com/fedor-konyukhov-hot-air-balloon-world-record-2016-7

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_air_balloon

 

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

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A to Z Challenge 2020, Modified Version, and Writing Updates

Spring is my favorite time of year. I love to see new growth poking up through the dirt, flowers blossoming, and the leaves budding on the trees. The smell of the air on cool, crisp mornings is rejuvenating. Spring brings with it the promise of renewal after the raw, relentless days of winter. Spring brings hope, which is something we can all use right now, in the midst of the pandemic currently plaguing the world. 2020_A2Z_Badge

In the blogging world, Spring brings the April A to Z Challenge. I haven’t participated for a few years due to time constraints. It’s been a while since I’ve done any blogging at all for the same reasons. But I’ve been wanting to get back into it, and the A to Z Challenge seems like the perfect time to jump back in. This will have to be a modified version, though, since time is still a precious commodity. My plan is to post every two or three weeks and spread it out over the year, so I will have time to visit other blogs in between and still have time to write.

My theme for the A to Z Challenge: My Bucket List! — Past, Present, and Future. I’ll be blogging about items on my bucket list that I’ve accomplished and those that are still adventures-in-waiting.

I’m also planning to use these posts to give writing updates on my current WIP, Trouble Times Three, to help keep me moving forward with it. The one benefit of being ordered to stay home due to the corona virus is that I have more writing time, a silver lining around a very dark cloud.

So in the meantime, until the Challenge officially starts, please check out the book trailer video I made for my WIP and the book cover animations by morganwrightbooks.com on my new animations page. For the best view, try full screen mode. See everyone on April 1st!

 

 

 

 

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

Celebrate the Small Things!

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 hereCelebrateSmallThings_Badge

It’s the Weekend! And I’m happy to be celebrating some exciting and fun things, like —

1.  A fantastic review from the Booklife Prize in Fiction! The reviewer said:

“MacLaughlin’s plot is exciting, fast-paced, and full of surprises. From detailed maps of the fantasy world to the overall magical mystery, MacLaughlin’s work possesses the charm of the work of Holly Black and Neil Gaiman, and the supernatural and whimsical elements evident in such worlds as C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. The Road Once Taken is titillating and terrifying, an enchanting novel that straddles the line between the fantasy and mystery genres.”

I may not win the actual Booklife prize, but the review is enough of a prize for me.

2.  I started writing Book 4! One chapter down, many more to go. This isn’t the book I’m supposed to be working on, but it’s the story that’s loudest in my head right now.

3.  Drive-in movies! Last summer, my family and I rediscovered drive-in movies. I used to go to them when I was a kid. They were a lot of fun. Last night, we went to see Christopher Robin at the Sunset Drive-in. Very cute family friendly movie. From where I was sitting in the driver’s seat, I actually could see all four movie screens — Christopher Robin in front, The Meg and Incredibles 2 out the side window, and occasional glances at The Spy Who Dumped Me in my side mirror. It was great.

4.  A fun trip to a waterpark! Swimming and sliding and just cooling off. It was sooo nice after all the hot weather we’ve had.

What other celebrations are going on out there?

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2018. All rights reserved.

IWSG — The Fleetingness of Summer

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first 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 hereinsecure-writers-support-group-badge

I had writing plans for this summer. Not big ones, but small ones I thought would be doable. I’d market my new book and get started on my next one. I’d get back into blogging. As I’m turning the page from July to August, I’m realizing the summer is nearly over and I’ve hardly accomplished any of the things I’d wanted to. This will be my second blog post since last year, so there’s a tiny bit of progress. I just need to build on it.

The idea was to continue to get up early over the summer and use that time to write before having to go to work. That doesn’t work well, though, unless I go to bed early enough to still get 7-8 hours’ sleep. A foggy brain does not a good writer make. It was a great plan, in theory. But I can’t believe how hard it is to make myself go to bed early. Between after-dinner family time and doing what needs to be done, it’s 10:30 – 11:00 PM before I know it.

So my insecurity for this month is that I won’t be able to turn my schedule around, salvage the summer, and at least get my next book started. Can I do it? We’ll see. Wish me luck!

The ISWG question for this month is: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

I think the biggest pitfall for an independent/self-published writer would be to not go the extra mile to put out a quality product. Professional editing, proofreading, and a professionally designed book cover are essential if a writer wants to be taken seriously. It’s the only way self-publishing will lose its stigma of being inferior to traditional publishing. Self-pubbing has come a long way, and we need to keep it moving forward.

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2018. All rights reserved.

Celebrate the Small Things! – Back from a very long blogging hiatus

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.

Happy Summer! I’m jumping back into the blogging pond. Or maybe I should say ocean. I don’t know if I will be able to keep up with posting every week, but will try for every other week, at least. I’m looking forward to catching up with what’s been going on with everyone.

Celebrations in general:

  1. My daughter graduated from high school last month and will be heading off to St. Michael’s College at the end of August!
  2. My job is going well.
  3. I finally managed to publish my third book! The Road Once Taken came out in e-book in April, and the print version came out June 1st. I have a book signing tomorrow from 2:00 to 4:00 at the Eloquent Page bookstore in St. Albans, VT. Woo hoo!!

TheRoadOnceTaken

The Road Once Taken

 Jacinda Harper just wants a vacation — a little time to spend with an old friend and her new baby. But a speeding car on a rain-slicked road crashes just ahead of her, and alters her life forever.

 The last wish from the dying woman in the wrecked car sends Jaci to a lonely mansion, where she finds a mysterious grandfather clock, a cryptic diary, and a strange key… and magic…

 Unwittingly transported into a fantastical world of ominous castles, wild forests, and rebel swordsmen — a world ruled by a ruthless sorcerer whose quest for world domination has long been thwarted by the loss of a magical key stolen from this world long ago — the key that Jaci has just brought back into his reach…

 Jaci must find a way back to her own world before the sorcerer finds her.

*****

What other celebrations are going on out there?

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2018. All rights reserved.