All posts by Rusty LaGrange

Breaking Out of Your Box with Help

A Box You Created

Breaking out of the box is tough for some folks. It means taking chances on making a change. Change is just as scary. You meet it head on with panic or avoidance. A new year doesn’t mean a list of resolutions you can’t commit to; it means you’ve taken a deeper look inside to consider that you may do better by the end of the year.

As a writer, hopefully you’re moving ahead with your book plans. Maybe you’re looking at increasing time on a pet project you just haven’t penciled into the day planner. A guilty conscience can be motivational, too. Maybe a character in your head has taken you hostage and wants more time than you can give him.

In fact, characters knocking on your virtual door and demanding to be heard is a good sign that you need to reorganize your priorities now. It’s not funny when that knocking is your heartbeat. Change is coming. Are you frazzled, frustrated, wishing you could move forward with your writing?

Maybe giving up your complete ownership of your project to someone on the outside is a move you can do… Maybe getting yourself out of your mental abyss is actually stepping out of your box.

Creating 3 Problems

Selecting someone to help you is a scary step because now you have three problems:

One, Pick a stranger to share your book project with is like going to a shrink. They’ll want to know more than you want to divulge.

Two, what kind of price can you pay on a big project that isn’t anywhere near completion? It has no value or pre-sales as yet. How do you set prices?

Three, what if it doesn’t work out and you’ve spent money and time without results on a marketing or author advocate who you know you need but may not be the right one?

No doubt this scenario is real enough.

And there it is. Fear of change that you created. You chose a path with no known outcome. You’ve also drawn in another person to help you and you’re not sure if you should.

Welcome to the other world of investment. Investing in time, money, outlook, loss, exhilaration, future, and leaps of faith.

So here is a short list before you commit:
  • Talk to  our writers who have paid for help
  • Research the people whose name was referred
  • Shop for someone with a track record
  • Don’t chose a person out of your genre
  • Ask ahead for pricing, time slots and projected need
  • Ask for a contract so you’ll keep it moving forward as a business
  • Ask for a termination clause that let’s you stop but retain what you have
  • Make the process as friendly as possible, so even if you mutually don’t work on this project, you might need him/her for later
  • Your commitment to yourself and your accountability to your “partner” are now that cornerstone allowing you to break out of your box.

So when you face a change in your marketing for your new book, for instance, is an undertaking that you wish someone else could do for you?

What does breaking out of the box really mean to you? Can you do it?

A Calculated Risk

Since I’ve never considered myself as mainstream in most everything I do, when I break away from my norm, it’s a bit more “out there” than most people. Breaking out doesn’t mean tossing your life out the window. It means re-evaluating what your plan had been … if you had a plan.

It means taking a calculated risk like taking a class to up your game a bit. Really, when is the last time your took any course in writing a novel or what marketing your “brand” is all about?

If you’ve read along this far, then please consider talking to me to help you take that leap. I’m an author advocate, a ghostwriter, a marketing /proposal writer, a grant writer and more. I’ve written and edited books, magazines, news articles, and websites … and I even write poetry. And won a few awards.

I can apply what I know to help make you grow.

~~  Rusty LaGrange


So What Is The Definition of Quirky?

Definition of Quirky

quirky  [ˈkwərkē]

  1. characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits.
    “her sense of humor was decidedly quirky”

Is being quirky a bad thing?

Being quirky is not a bad thing. It embodies the essence of living your life to the fullest, accepting others as they are, and learning how to think outside of the box.

(chuckle) I like quirky.

Quirky Owls are known for Burrowing Nests Instead of Using Trees.

I wear a cowboy hat nearly everywhere I go. I get weird looks and smiles, but underneath it helps to fight a recurrence of skin cancer, where 2 years ago I lost half of my nose to a disfiguring mole. I hate to think what I may have lost without wearing a hat for 50 years.

What’s in a Name?

My other side of quirky is my nickname — Rusty — people want to figure out the reason that a grown woman has a man’s name. Some folks even try to spell it “more correctly” with an “i” replacing the “y”. Too bad for them. Rusty it is… If they ask me, I’ll tell them. If not, I just get those questionable looks.

Fitting In It’s Always Fitting

So quirky works for me. Did I mention I skin snakes and live on a 10-acre ranch in the Mojave Desert? My daughter grew up here knowing I was odd. She defends my right to be who I am, just as I defended her growing up wearing mismatched clothes, her own sense of style … to become a school district board member with better insights into how students think today.

So how quirky are you?

Rusty LaGrange

photo credit: and Google Images (12.6.2019)

Writers Hone Their Skills with Character Development at HATM

Just starting out as a fledgling writer? Let’s say you’ve been writing a bit but never sharing your work. How about that you finally have retired and now you have that personal time to set aside and write. Whatever your situation, getting a good grasp of Character Development is a great start to creating a masterful novel.

High Desert branch of California Writers Club

Writers in training and experienced authors loved the craft of writing during the latest session of the High Desert’s “Howl at the Moon” Writers Conference October 6th. This one-day workshop featured dynamo Marilyn Atlas diving into creating characters by dating them. What?

The concept is personal. You must learn your characters traits inside and out to better show them as real people with flaws and warts. What better way than to “date” them and dig deep into their psyche. Your readers will appreciate it.

This sponsored conference was available to the public, and over 35 attendees took the advantage. The High Desert branch of the California Writers Club sponsored the event while bringing highly prized speakers up to the High Desert.

Too scary for me

Rusty LaGrange

Member of HDCWC since 2010


Dale Park Helped Retain Our Cowboy Culture

It’s been a busy month for me so I felt a bit guilty for not posting the latest news. This desert is full of characters, and cowboys abound here in our local history as well as our cowboy culture. One of those was Dale Park.

As many of you might know of me, I am an Old West history buff and enjoy the “cowboys” in our Western mythology as well as those who love to participate in Single Action Shooting Societies (SASS) events. These cowboys are serious about their western authenticity and promote the true west in everything they do.

One of the most beloved characters who I met several times was Dale Park. Who, you might ask? Dale was better known as a stand-in for Gabby Hayes for Western events and celebrity autograph shows for many years. He was the spittin’ image of the famous Gabby Hayes who rode with Roy Rogers and many action Western stars in movies and TV.

To see “Gabby” walk through a doorway, was like seeing a dead relative returned to flesh and bone — he was that much of a mirror image that even people who knew the real Gabby Hayes had trouble seeing the difference.

Well that’s what makes a true celebrity look-alike become as big as the real thing. Although the real Gabby died in 1969, George Francis “Gabby” Hayes began as something of a leading man and a character player, but he was best known for his numerous appearances in B-Western film series as the bewhiskered, cantankerous, woman-hating, but ever-loyal and brave comic sidekick of the cowboy star.

Since the current Gabby had been seen around for many years, it never crossed our minds that even he had a lifetime to face. I just learned through our Double R Bar Regulators, (SASS) of Lucerne Valley, California, that the other Gabby (Dale Park) Hayes has passed away.

Celebrity Western Stars
Our iconic Western Stars

Dale “Gabby” Park passed away June 24, 2018. He was a talented man. Exceptional artist in many mediums, writer, poet, actor, stuntman, and storyteller. He had a way with animals. He trained dogs and horses. He was a devout Christian and Lay Preacher and a dear friend of the Cowboy Culture in the High Desert. He will be missed by all who saw him play the stand-in for that consummate comic sidekick. Services will be 07/06/18 at 10 am. Desert View Memorial Park in Victorville, CA. (info gathered from several reports).


High Desert Authors Promoting Their Best Work — May 26th

Spring Book Fair — One Day Only

Stop by Jess Ranch Church for the annual Spring Book Fair. It’s the best display of local authors from the High Desert branch of the California Writers Club. It’s also one of the best collections of genre variety you’ll see in one place with High desert Authors promoting their best work.

Horror, Children’s, Romance, Memoir, Fantasy, Adventure, Sci-Fi, and non-fiction, we’ve got it all. It’s free to the public and open from 10-4. Check out the details in the flyer…

Book Fair
Variety of Titles and Genres to choose from

Don Fife Spoke at Lucerne Valley Museum’s event

Historical Tales of Mining and Prospecting

Our local Evening Desert series was hosted by Lucerne Valley Museum board Oct 14th, and had a modest audience. But I must say they were very focused on what Don Fife had to offer.

Geologist Don Fife
Don Fife speaks on geologic regions of our High Desert

Their next presentation probably will focus on more rock hounding and prospecting topics in January or February, so watch the site for more news.

In the meantime, you can go directly to Lucerne Valley Museum & History Association and sign-up for their email notices so you won’t miss it. All of their events are free and encourage children and student-aged kids to come with their parents.

The public is invited and the programs are free. Find it at Lucerne Valley Community Center next to Pioneer Park.

Limestone Historian — Don Fife — Oct. 14th

The busiest month seems to be October. Add a visit to Lucerne Valley on October 14th

Don Fife to speak on gold mining in Lucerne Valley CA

— this Saturday — for an insider’s look into mining history with geologist and limestone historian, Don Fife. He grew up in the community when  his father was mining here.

Join us at Lucerne Valley Community Center just east of the library on Hwy 247 East, from 3-5 pm when Lucerne Valley Museum and History Association once again hosts  its “Evening Desert” series. The presentation is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be available. Home schoolers, bring your students!

Have questions or need directions, call 760-248-6777 and leave a message before Saturday.

I’m Not a Speech Writer!

Devices & Tools That Writers Can Use Like Speech Writers

I came across a snippet of an online class offered by Microsoft Office. In the blog posting, devices that speech writers use are the same tools that authors and poets can use.

You say, “I’m not a speechwriter?”

Yes, you are. You are writing to a people of a discerning ear who can appreciate a good vocabulary, syntax, color, and clarity. Good speeches are written by good writers. Great speeches are created with tools taken from historically famous writers.

In the beginning, John F. Kennedy was not very interesting as a speech giver. He had to work on his presentation, his breathing, his choice of words, and his delivery. But what made a difference for him was learning how tools like “anaphora,” “chiasmus,” and “tricolon” aided his method of writing.

JFK was a list maker.


Lists — As his speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, noted in his memoirs, time and again Kennedy preferred to work in lists. Kennedy believed that using simple lists made points memorable, because they were easily repeated. Sometimes, those lists followed the “rule of three,” or “tricolon,” making sure to use three images, arguments or examples.

Other times, Kennedy made longer lists by using “anaphora”: repeating one word several times to expand a list and continue an over-long sentence well past the rules of grammar.

Kennedy often used the classical literary device, “chiasmus,” to invert the word order in a sentence and make a new meaning. (see samples below)

Consider how Kennedy uses “the rule of three” and chiasmus to begin his inaugural address:

“We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom, symbolizing an end as well as a beginning, signifying renewal as well as change.”

writing chart
writing tools chart

Experiment with Different Tools

Simple but powerful control mechanisms, when used in clarity for the audience or reader, will help define the voice of your writing. Are you like JFK? No. You are the writer within using the tools of the trade to define your voice.

Rusty LaGrange

This Heat Driving You Crazy?

Many Things Can Drive You Crazy

I’ve been hearing that when the heat index in your area gets too high or too humid, it causes folks to think there is no relief. Heat begins to drive them truly crazy.

I’ve also known for years that people can find strange ways to cool down. Not just a pool, a garden hose, or the bathtub… but weird ways. I would rather attempt tp stay warm in Winter than cool in Summer.

toddler in basin of water
Cool in a Pool

Sticking a plastic bag of ice down your pants or under your armpits — well, that would work, but not much in public. Sucking on ice pops is only temporary and turns your tongue blue… or orange. Well, you get the idea. Standing with your head in the freezer is silly, but it does feel good until your eyebrows frost up.

Look For relief

Have a friend with a pool? Volunteer to clean it for swimming privileges. Find a cooling station in your closest town. Go to the movies — that’s a cool idea, although it can get a bit pricey if you go often. Many towns have teen centers or senior centers with massive Air Conditioning units. In my area we don’t have those with AC. The High Desert is equipped with evaporative coolers — those big water-guzzling “swamp coolers” that work when it’s dry and hot. It’s down side is the humidity levels — the higher it goes the worse the unit works.

The “Down Side” to Heat

Some folks have given up on creativity to cool down. They actually go crazy, berserk with the thought of immediate relief they can’t find. Their solution is to end it all.

It’s an extreme look at a one-time version of their solution. It’s not funny. And I’m trying not to be.

If you know of anyone who is suffering from the heat, the high humidity — and act as if they want to take themselves out of their suffering, please, call help for them.

resource list

The following list is gathered by public health administrators, like Veterans Affairs, who wish to stop the public health issue that can creep up on some folks. You think “Bullying” is bad… print and keep this list handy.

Suicide Prevention Resources

Warning signs of suicide

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

What to do if you see warning signs of suicide?

  • Do not leave the person alone
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
  • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional

 The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not be what causes a suicide. Information from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 

Have a great summer and stay cool,

Rusty LaGrange

Crazy Weather for Mother’s Day

Everyone is talking about this crazy Spring weather.

Driving rain
Crazy weather caught drivers off guard and hail topped it

I know it can get boring talking about the weather, but in this case, it’s crazy weather. Folks in So. California’s High Desert have been fried, dried, froze, then beat again by extremely high winds.


Desert Bloom
Desert Aster, a showy spring bloom

Everyone is talking about this crazy spring weather. So, I must admit, that yes, it’s been crazy. The rain brings such an abundance of wildflowers that it’s the prelude to a color explosion.

In a span of a few days, we went from Springtime conditions of 68 to 78 to 96 degrees, followed by high winds, a short rain shower and then torrential rains with hail, followed by wind and hail. Then only to be dusted by snow in the upper mountains.

Desert blooms
Buttery Yellow Beavertail

As with these crazy seasonal changes, we noticed over time that these series of weird weather patterns are just that — patterns that do come through every ten years or so.

White Frills
This one looks like a Whirling Dervish with white skirts and a yellow turban

With Mother’s Day coming in a few days, let me remind most of you that snow has been recorded on Mother’s Day about every ten years here, and with flurries of snow in the foothills. We usually don’t expect snow this late, that’s why we consider it so odd.

Yup, it’s crazy but that’s what we like about the High Desert.

So instead of talking about the wildflowers, why not go out for Mom’s Day and enjoy a nice breakfast followed by a refreshing walk through the wildflowers.

It will do you good.


new owner of

Let me know what you think