Tag Archives: Waterwight

“Deep Work”

I’ve done it before. It’s time to do it again, but I’ll do it differently this time, and I’ll ask you to join me.

In the summer of 2014, I deleted my Facebook account. Wiped it clean out of the interwebs and then blogged about my decision. Sadly, my story Seven Days to Sanity: Regaining My Life after Killing My Facebook Page went unnoticed by my hundreds of friends, many who complained they didn’t know where or why I had “gone.”

I’ll explain myself better this time, this first day of October 2016, this first full day of our fall trailer vacation in Moab, Utah. I’ll try to ignore the incessant whining of a snarf-dog left behind by its family in the Battlestar RV parked next to us.

Mike and I enjoy listening to podcasts. He’s downloaded hours of them on every topic onto his iPod, which makes travel time pass quickly and gives us lots to discuss. Yesterday, on our journey to our favorite campground, we listened to James Altucher’s interview of Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. Before the podcast ended, I knew what I had to do.

I’ve been telling everyone I know that I’ll finish Waterwight II (at least in beta) by the end of this year, and although I’ve made great strides in outlining and noting spectacular scenes, I’ve not yet written beyond the first chapter.

It’s not that I’ve been doing nothing while ideas and dreams sneak up on me. Marketing Waterwight: Book I while re-releasing “Miss?” and publishing Haikus Can Amuse! and writing my first spooky novella during a 3-Day Novel Contest over Labor Day weekend have kept me as busy as anyone with a full-time job, yet I know I can do more. People have convinced me I need to keep in touch with my audience to maintain interest in my work, yet after years of daily Facebook/Twitter/Instagram interactions with daily (hourly!) “Likes,” I’ve not seen the same numbers translate into sales and reviews.

At some point, people who want to sell their products need to reevaluate the time and money they spend on marketing. My time is now, and my evaluation tells me the time I spend on social media is distracting from the time I should spend working on my craft.

Newport points out the lingering effects of distractions, especially those we delude ourselves into thinking we can handle. Of course I can multitask! I’ll just take a quick peek at my Facebook, my gmail, my Instagram, and then get right back to writing my next chapter. So why does it take me so long to refocus my attention? Because I can’t. I can’t multitask without consequences, and the consequences of taking my attention off of a big project—even for just a moment to count the number of new “Likes”—are significant and detrimental.

I know this is true because of my 3-Day Novel experience. I wrote The Hare, Raising Truth: A Naughty Tail in 32 hours. It’s 19K words, a fast-paced novella, and I never once opened my social media while writing it. It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever written. Check out my post about my write-a-thon experience: “Feeling Lucky?”

What does that experience tell me? It tells me I could finish an 80K novel in about four long weekends of focused work, and that’s pretty darned exciting. It’s what I must do. Pigs will never fly until you color their wings.

Would Samuel L. Clemens have completed Innocents Abroad if he’d had a Facebook account? Well, probably, because I’m attributing far more maturity to him as a writer than I have, but it might have taken him longer. When I think about the time I’ll retrieve by stepping away from my media-crack, I might actually be able to finish reading Innocents soon!

So while I’m not going to delete my social media presence, I am going to step away from three platforms that distract me horribly—Facebook (my strongest crack), Instagram and Twitter—until I complete Book II. I will continue to create and distribute my mid-monthly newsletter (let me know if you want to be added to my list) and will post blogs like this one on my website ( www.leadvillelaurel.com ), and I will check my email each morning before disconnecting, so you can still contact me if you’d like. I suppose I’ll still post my 22 push-ups on the 22nd of each month because I vowed to do that to keep alive awareness of veteran suicides (and I’m posting Mike’s 22 because his phone can’t), but that’s it.

My goal? I want you to be totally excited about reading my next novel, and that means I have to write it! I have to do the “Deep Work,” which I cannot do if I’m constantly posting trivial things.

And boy-oh-boy, will it be a relief to step away from all the political animosity choking social media this election year. Yes, it will.

And here’s where I’ll ask you to join me. Join me in stepping away from your greatest distractions. You’ll need to be honest about them, and you’ll need to be strong. If you want to produce something noteworthy, you must focus on it with your heart and soul. Are you ready? I am.

Laurel, OUT!

If you like my writing, you might enjoy my books! Check them out here, and thank you!

Zen Diagrams

Winter comes early to the high mountains of Colorado—it’s already snowing in the 14ers behind our house—so when Mike said, “Let’s go to the lake today,” I donned my water shoes, threw my paddle board in the truck, and off we went. We were both exhausted from a week of racing events (Mike earned the coveted 1,100-mile LT100 mountain bike race jacket), but the day was “seasonably” warm for an August day in most places. We could easily have taken a nap, but didn’t want to miss the warmest day of the year so far.

Did I mention we were exhausted? The lake must have known. Never has it been so serene, so ripple-free-reflective, and we were all alone on it.

We paddled side-by-side for a while, Mike in his kayak, me on my board. I paddled softly, not wanting to disturb the only other creature in sight—a preening Double-crested Cormorant, who stopped to follow our languid glide across his waterfront. The lake was crystal clear to the bottom. I thought I might find lost treasures.

When the glistening bird returned to his task, we advanced on cloud formations so crisp atop the water that the vision disoriented me. “We’re chasing water clouds,” I told Mike. “Another book title.” I really need to start keeping track of all my book title ideas. He smiled and paddled silently.

As Mike’s kayak moved beyond me, I watched the cloud reflections waver until they looked like something from a Dali painting for a moment before the wake from his boat subsided and they were perfect again, more beautiful even than the actual clouds above. I approached their reflections as slowly as I was able. I wanted to stand on a cloud, but they remained always just in front of me.

Easing my paddle from the water behind me, I made a gentle arc before dipping it back in for the next stroke. I watched as the droplets from my paddle made strings of concentric circles that expanded in circumference until they overlapped one another, becoming a chain of wavy Venn diagrams before disappearing into the mirror. I did this over and over again, never tiring of the magical patterns. Water Slinkies trailed my board and nudged me into a trance. Venn diagrams became Zen diagrams.

I sat on my board and floated on the clouds until Mike returned.

“Want me to pull you back?” he offered after we had floated together for a while.

“Sure. Let’s go back and take that nap.” I clipped the front of my board to his kayak and lay on my belly, my ear to the board, and listened to the easy, rhythmic “splash, splash, splash, splash” of his paddle as we returned to where the watchful bird waited. I skimmed my fingertips along the surface of the lake as he pulled me, reveling in the juxtaposition of its satin-soft coolness with the warmth of the sun on my cheek and arms and calves. The clouds had drifted away.

And so had I.Waterwight

p.s., I took no photos that day, but was inspired by crazy, dreamy, cloudy, rhythmic ideas I’ll use in Waterwight: Book II.

If you like my writing, you might enjoy my books! Check them out here, and thank you!

Purple/Green Tie Guy

His name was Jim. “Is this seat taken?” he asked of me in the airport terminal waiting area.

“All yours.” I gestured for him to sit. “I love your tie.” It was a vibrant purple/green alternating diagonal stripe. It was excellent.purple green tie small

“Oh, this?” He seemed surprised, but pleasantly.

He settled in and seemed open to small talk. He didn’t pull out his phone, and mine was broken.

“Do you like fantasy adventure novels?” I showed him my last copy of Waterwight. I always travel with several copies to give away to people I think might enjoy them. I had already given away copies to 8, 10, and 13-year-old girls and one to a 60ish-year-old wheelchair bound man battling lung cancer.

“Not really.” He explained that he preferred novels with suspenseful political intrigue. “Why? Are you trying to get rid of that? Is it awful?”

Well, I was unprepared for that question, as if he should have known whom he was sitting next to.

“No! It’s really good! I wrote it!” There was no recrimination in my voice, and I laughed then at his flustered attempt at apology.

A young college-age girl sitting across from me caught my eye and seemed interested in the book, so I excused myself from Jim and plopped down next to the girl. She was delighted with her signed copy.

“See what you missed out on?” I teased purple/green tie guy, who seemed genuinely sorry he had said, “Not really.” So I gave him a bookmark and told him he might want to order one someday. He seemed impressed when I told him Kirkus had reviewed it favorably.

Perhaps he’ll even check out my blog. If you’re reading this now, Jim, let me know what you think of my novel! And watch what you say to strangers in airports . . .

“OFF THE PAGE”

I met Stacy McKenzie at a Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) meeting and she asked to interview me about Waterwight and my other writing for her “Off the Page” show! We shared many laughs, and her film crew was great.

Here’s a link to the interview. I just wish I had known the camera angle would highlight my chicken-neck-meat! HA! Laurel’s Interview

If you haven’t yet ordered a copy, please treat yourself to a fantasy adventure escape! I’m working on the follow-on book now and plan to have it out before the end of the year. And if you like what you read (whether it be my books or the work of others), please take a few minutes to write a review on Amazon. We struggling authors and artists appreciate your support and enthusiasm for our work.

YA fantasy adventure novel
Waterwight: There’s something in the water!

Tell Me I Can’t

Someone told me that with all the work required to launch a new book, there was no way I’d publish my new novel on Leap Day. I just love it when someone suggests I can’t do something (because here’s the link to Waterwight, my new novel, published on February 29th: Waterwight)

This past summer I had an opportunity to reflect on other “you can’ts” that contributed to making me the person I am today. I discovered that Smith College was having a Leadership Conference the first weekend in April 2016 and was looking for panelists. Although I’m not a Smith grad, I decided to complete their 200-word essay application just for the heck of it. Here’s what I submitted:

United States Military Academy
Senior West Point photo in “full dress” for parade uniform.

In 1976 my guidance counselor told me Smith was beyond my reach. In 1978 during my sophomore year at Smith, the college president said I was making a big mistake leaving to attend West Point. Many believed I’d never graduate from West Point, but after proving them wrong and serving my country as an Army officer for thirteen years, I now stand with classmates from Smith and West Point who applaud successful women who continue to shatter barriers.

I laugh at myself frequently when I look back on how I’ve redefining success over the past decades. My memoir will be called “Danger! Comfort Zone!” because as the black sheep in a family of five girls, I’ve lived my life believing that with comfort comes complacency, and complacency breeds boredom. My three semesters at Smith opened my eyes to countless opportunities available to intelligent women. I wanted them all.

My success as a Smith student opened doors to experiences far beyond any realm of comfort. At West Point I redefined my goals and challenged myself on every front: academic, physical, and emotional. Graduating with the fourth class of women in what had once been a “No Girls Allowed” institution launched me into a life of increasing responsibility, and I loved it.

With each major transition—Smith to West Point, Army to civilian life, mom to teacher, teacher to author and mentor—satisfaction in my accomplishments grows. My credo: Embrace change. Challenge the status quo wherever you find it. Challenge yourself always.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’ll be heading to Smith College on March 31st and look forward to meeting three other women who will join me on the “No Girls Allowed: Game Changers” panel! I plan to have fun. Go ahead. Tell me I can’t.

My Smith College uniform. "Full Jammies with Tab Bottle Mic"
My Smith College uniform. “Full Jammies with Tab Bottle Mic”

Waterwight ~ Today’s LEAP DAY Release!

Just a few more recommendations to convince you!

Advance Praise for Waterwight ~ ~ ~

“The abundance of weird characters, places, and dangers keeps the story moving, and McHargue’s imagined world is so fantastic and so vividly drawn that at times I felt breathless, either from anticipation or exhaustion, struggling just like the strange assortment of inhabitants amid all the rapid and unnerving changes. Like Celeste, I felt disoriented and on edge. As I recall, that’s exactly what being 14 felt like.” ~ Carol Stuckey, former book store owner

“This book captures the reader’s imagination!” ~ Marie Povey

“‘Awesome!’ ‘Creative!’ ‘Magnificent!’ These are direct quotes from my sons about the book Waterwight. Bedtimes pushed continually later, the boys would clamor for me to read more, forgetting all about their beloved cartoons; they wanted more Waterwight. And when we got to the end of the book and kept trying to turn the page when there was no more, the first thing they asked was ‘When will she write the next book?’” ~ Molly Monahan Howe, Chocolate Maker and Mom of Boys Daring Chocolate Company Facebook Page

“There were times I thought I had it all figured out, but as I continued to read, I saw that I didn’t. The creativity and unique details were amazing!” ~ Caitlyn Baird, age 18

“What. Are. You?” Waterwight, Laurel McHargue’s beautifully written and evocative apocalyptic fable, is the tale of a quest to find the answer to this question and to set the earth in balance. Waterwight, with magical landscapes, memorable characters, and many dark spots, will find enthusiastic readers among both teen and adult audiences. It will be especially appealing to readers who have enjoyed Arthurian legends, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hunger Games series, and other literary legends of self-discovery and the unlikely heroes. McHargue’s Waterwight reinvents the quest with concerns for the earth and the environment that are relevant to the 21st century reader. It is a hero tale with so many of the classic elements of that genre. I am looking forward to adding Waterwight to my library collection so that I can promote it to our students and community members. Bravo!” ~ Christine Carlson Whittington, Library Director, Colorado Mountain College Timberline Campus

Waterwight villain
Waterwight villain discovers the physical damage perpetrated by one of the twins.

 

“What’s it all about…Laurel?”

Is it just for the moment we live . . .,” Come on, everyone, sing it with me! Burt Bacharach’s song “Alfie” takes me way back to a time before I realized life was something I’d someday have to figure out!

My hero in Waterwight finds herself (yes, herself! I will not diminish Celeste by calling her a heroine) in that awkward age between childhood and not-even-close-to-adulthood, but she’s driven by the desire to find out what it’s all about. I’ve been spamming the Interwebs with excitement over my new Leap Day novel launch, so I figured I should probably tell you what it’s all about. Here’s the blurb you’ll read on the back cover when you buy my novel (wink-wink-hint), and I’ll credit my friend, Author Carol Bellhouse (Carol’s books) with the summary:

In a post-cataclysmic world threatened by stinking ooze, a brave girl searches for her missing parents with the help of talking animals and evolving powers. When a mountain spirit challenges her to save the planet, she and a flying frog must overcome a malicious castle of sand and a shapeshifter who wants her dead. 

But wait! There’s so much more!

My story continues to be inspired by my wild-ass dreams and the wonderful people I meet nearly every day. And, of course, by my surroundings. I can see the mountain spirit, Old Man Massive, from my back yard, and the hot springs that inspired “the big water,” or the “ooze” as it’s called on “the other side,” are right down the road from Leadville.

What started as a story I knew preteens and teens would like has turned into a novel that surprises even me, and I can’t wait to see what book 2 brings! So go ahead, take a chance. See if you can figure out what’s in the water!

And remember:

Read Waterwight. It'll make you sexy.
Read Waterwight. It’ll make you sexy.

Waterwight ~ ONE MORE DAY!

Here’s more about Waterwight from people who’ve already read it!

Advance Praise for Waterwight ~ ~ ~

“I’ve tried reading fantasy before, but lost interest quickly. This is the first fantasy book I’ve ever finished. The mystery hooked me from page one and I completed 70% of it before realizing I needed to sleep. I finished it while snowshoeing the next day. I could see this being the next Harry Potter series.” ~ Tonya Hance, Professional Photographer and author of It’s a God Thing! “It’s a God Thing!”

“This is a great book for all ages. Highly imaginative and creative, readers will soon be swept up into this great adventure story.” ~ Jude Hill, age 11

“I really enjoyed the story and the characters. I was carried away in the fantasy! I love stories where I can escape the real world for a while.” ~ Tanya Gray, age 53

“Breathtaking, uplifting, plays well with the imagination and entertains immensely. Reads well for adults with a theme of the subtleties of inner powers.” ~ Ed Solder, B&B Owner

Waterwight is full of enchanting, youthful human and delightful animal characters who care for and trust each other. It is heartening to watch them work together in the frightening, mysterious situation in which they find themselves. A love for the characters drew me into the story and a desire to have the mysteries solved kept me reading on. This is a story well suited for its intended audience, and it is also one that adults will enjoy.”      ~ Judy W. Cole; Retired Teacher and Aspiring Poet

Waterwight
Waterwight scene, Celeste is lured into fun rooms in the sand castle

 

Waterwight ~ Two More Days!

See what some are already saying!

Advance Praise for Waterwight ~ ~ ~

“I was up all night reading this book! The characters were very original and lifelike, and the story’s twists and turns leave you wanting more. For anyone who likes fantasy and adventure, this book is a must read! I can’t wait until the next book comes out!” ~ Natalia Brizuela-Wahlin, age 12

“I just finished Waterwight, Book One, and found myself in that perfect place of having enjoyed the adventure and yet wanting more.  I can’t wait for book two to find out what happens next, yet I feel that the quality of writing and the depth of story were certainly worth my investment in time.  Readers of all ages will enjoy the story and the writing.” ~ Dr. James Y. Taylor, Vice President | Colorado Mountain College

“I was whisked away on a phantasmagorical adventure!” ~ Nadine Collier, Professional Counselor

Waterwight is a truly fantastic read. A fresh take on a post-apocalyptic world, blended with child-like fantasy and supernatural powers, with an ending that leaves you hungry for more. Can’t wait to find out what happens next!” ~ Cindy Jewkes, book reviewer and freelance editor at Cindy’s Treasury of Good Tales Cindy’s site

“A vividly descriptive, imaginative, and thought-provoking novel!” ~ Jennifer Donovan, Environmental Planner

Waterwight, YA fantasy adventure series
Waterwight scene with Celeste, Old Man Massive, and Ranger,

 

There’s Something in the Water…

No, I’m not talking about Flint, MI. I’m talking about my new novel: Waterwight!

What’s a waterwight, you ask? Perhaps this might help you:

fantasy, adventure, shapeshifter, talking animals, superheroes, super powers, mystical mountain
Waterwight, my first novel in a new YA fantasy adventure series!

Wight: noun (obsolete)
1. a human being.
2. a supernatural being, as a witch      or sprite.
3. any living being.
4. a creature.

That clarifies it, right?

I’ll be up until midnight Sunday, waiting for the calendar to change to February 29th, Leap Day, when I’ll hit the “Publish” button.

Hope you all feel compelled to discover what’s in the water!