Hesperia’s the Place for High Desert Book Festival this Saturday

Heading Out to Sell my New Book

At long last my first published book is a reality. I’m ready to go out and sell my gem to new readers. It may have a strange sound to its title, but believe me when I say that, yes, people do tend to shy away from microphones in their faces — like a muzzle of a gun pointed at them. Check out my book for only $17.95

A Microphone is Not the Muzzle of a Gun

Best Tips and Techniques for Interviewing

Book Festival with Poetry

and Children’s Story time Events

High Desert Book Festival is open for its 4th year Saturday Oct. 12th. See you there!!

Take a look at the Festival’s website for more details and schedules:




Sunsets at Southwest Trading Plus Museum Featuring Route 66

Summers here are scorchers, so why not break the heat with an evening stroll through the updated and redesigned gardens at Santa Fe Trading Company on 7th Street.

Sunsets at Santa Fe

Always a treat to wander through so many rooms and outdoor niches filled with cactus plants, metal yard sculptures and  pottery. They’re calling it “Sunsets @ Santa Fe” — and after your stroll through their gardens and awesome decor with a Southwest style, of course, then head over to the Route 66 annex museum next door.

It’s free to learn about the historical people and events that made the Victor Valley, and specifically 7th Street what it is today. Docents will be on hand to answer questions and promote the museums’ touring options.

All the Legacy Museums in Victorville and Apple Valley are managed with Marcy Taylor and the nonprofit High Desert Community Foundation . She offers several “museum hopping tours” for specific areas of the valley. You can find out more there.

Santa Fe Trading Company at 15464 7th Street sets the cool mood Friday, August 23 beginning at 6 pm. Also on hand will be entertainment and refreshments. The Museum reminds you of our colorful heritage with doors open at 6 pm and closing at 9 pm. Just stop in and wander through the Southwest and our history. Call for more info:  (760) 962-1290 


High Desert’s Artists and Authors Share AV Inn Festival

One-Day Event Draws Variety of Patrons and

Book Lovers to the Historic Apple Valley Inn

I spent the day working in and out of the tastefully designed booths inside the Inn. This venue was better suited to fine arts and crafts that don’t do well in wind and sand like other fairs.

The lobby held a combination of pottery, gems and jewelry, statues and paintings. The midway hall led to a side room for 20 authors’ booths. And the large dining room was filled with more fine arts galleries,  fused glass, painted and beaded gourds, handmade metal works and more.

AAUW (American Association of University Women organization) partnered with sponsorship from High Desert California Writers Club to help make this festival enjoyable for all.

One side room was dedicated to Children’s Creative Play so our younger patrons could funnel their energy into, painting, or receiving face paintings … although a few adults sat in for personalized paint treatments.

The bottom line is

High Desert Arts and Literary Festival Fundraiser will provide scholarships for women at Victor Valley College; Support the “Celebrating Women in Math & Science STEM Conference” for three hundred local 8th–grade girl students; and, send local 7th-grade girls to Tech Trek, a science and math camp at University of California, Irvine for one week.

For more details on this day, please go to HighDesertBlogging.com where you’ll find photos and more info.


A Vacation Rearranges Your Brain

Took A Break

Back from vacation and ready to reorganize. Ah … that is the first thought that comes to mind. I took a break and now I want my rejuvenated brain to kick into overdrive and take care of things.

Some of those things were getting my security into place for several of my websites. I’m making a more organized to-do list, and I’ve decided that any attempts at resolutions — New Year’s or otherwise — will be a total fail. It bruises the psyche. I’m not doing that anymore. Just making some realistic changes.

As you may notice, those irons in the fire tend to get a bit cold when you don’t make time for them. This website is sharing some regional news that you might want to learn about.

A Hot New Iron

The new “iron” for me is to speak to the High Desert Genealogy Society in Victorville’s Family History Center, 12100 Ridgecrest Road, Victorville. My topic is “Tips for Interviewing,” and as a former news editor and reporter, I’ve done plenty of it.  Please feel free to email hdgsinfo@gmail.com if you need more information. They wish to make interviewing as easy and beneficial for them as well as the person they’re interviewing.

Cross-over Ties

Many of our local genealogy researchers have cross-over ties with our societies in the region as well as our own High Desert branch of the California Writers Club (HDCWC) in Apple Valley that I often talk about. I also have recent ties with Lucerne Valley’s Root Diggers genealogy group as a past member. So i know the intricacies of hunting and tracking down those bits of family detail. You don’t want to lose those nuggets.

Data Mining is Fun

Researchers know that getting the data is fun, but then comes the process of what to do with it. Some will keep a family notebook to share, some will publish a family history volume so other relatives will have it on their shelves for generations to come, while others will flesh out their histories into a full memoir, ready to be self-published.

Once you have a book published you can let the rest of the world know  — and make some money on it as well. And that’s what happens at the High Desert branch of the CWC. All writers, no matter their genre or level of writing experience can always network and learn more.

We hold general meetings on the 2nd Saturday of each month, offer basics in writing, offer workshops and critique groups, and more. Our membership of 100, more or less, are enthusiastic writers and authors who have learned how to navigate through months of research to first draft —  and 3rd, 4th, 5th, — it’s a process you must embrace, and on to editing prior to publishing.

Tips on Interviewing

A genealogist shares so many of these processes that I am sharing my interview skills with their group in a smaller venue just for them. Glad to do it.

Over the years, I’ve noticed  so many hilarious videos of folks not knowing what end of the microphone to talk into, trying to stick it in their ear like a phone, to nearly eating it to they can be heard. Those are extreme cases, but true nonetheless. I hope my tips will smooth the process for the senior or relative.

A Microphone is Not the Muzzle of a Gun

In most cases, people have a natural reaction to shy away from a mic in fear as if it were a muzzle of a gun. And that’s where I came up with my how-to book about interviewing skills, whether you are holding the mic or facing one — A Microphone is Not the Muzzle of a Gun. It will be out soon. Now in final edit.

In the meantime, I’ll have time to share my interviewing tips for seniors who can be the most pleasant to talk to but turn to stone when a mic is pointed in their faces. My insider hints can diminish that fear, and let you gain trust and access to some of the most interesting and historical references on two legs that you could ever find.

I’ll share more on this topic in a few days.

~~  Rusty

If you like what you see here, please post a comment.


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