National Novel Writing Month Twelve Days and Counting

Twelve days until the adventure begins.

Twelve days until the adventure begins.

With only twelve days left until NaNoWriMo begins things are starting to heat up in NaNo-Land. If you haven’t decided to join us on this year’s word round up it’s not too late.

First some definitions so we are speaking the same language:

WriMo – noun, a person who participates in NaNoWriMo

YWP – NaNoWriMo for K – 12 students, where they set an appropriate word goal for their age and skill level.

Planner – a WriMo who plans out their novel, amount of planning varies with each individual

Pantser – a WriMo who just starts writing on Nov. 1st with no idea of where they are going and just let the story happen.

So what do you do during the remaining days until 12:01 AM Nov. 1, 2014?

  1. Sign up for NaNoWriMo or YWP-NaNoWrimo.
  2. Set up your Novel on the site
  3. Join a region, we’re USA :: California :: San Bernardino
  4. Check out the region’s Google calendar to see if there are any events you want to attend and add do your personal calendar
  5. Attend the NaNoWriMo Kick-off and information event on Oct 25, 2014 the Fieldheim Library in San Bernardino
  6. (Pantsers you may skip this one) Prepare for writing
    1. Character charts
    2. Plot outlines
    3. Research, as necessary.
    4. Get up at 11:45 PM on Oct 31, 2014 and stand by.
    5. At 12:01 AM Nov 1, 2014 head out on the trail and start writing.

Remember High Desert WriMos were are gathering at High Desert Book Oasis on Nov 1 to celebrate and encourage each other as we start down the dusty trail toward 50,000 words by 11:59 Nov 31, 2014.

Next week – defining plot bunnies and other NaNoLand denizens.


Categories: Books, High Desert Writers, Writing | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Pink Fuchsia for Autumn Gardens

Drought tolerant Fuchsia

Pink Fuchsia Plant

Pink Fuchsia is fit for a princess’ garden with its jewel-like bead-stems that dangle. Imagine its beauty if it had appeared as Anna’s and Elsa’s favorite flower. A pink and purple jewel in ice. Our daughters and granddaughters would have fallen in love with the flower beauty, don’t you think?

My little granddaughter, introduced to Frozen by me, loves Frozen as many girls do. Watching a movie isn’t my favorite thing to do because I tend to fall asleep somewhere in the middle. Frozen? No way did I fall asleep. I loved seeing the movie with my sweet little one-year-old love. She’ll be two next month, and she already knows the names, Elsa and Anna. Let it go are also three words she is very familiar with and loves to sing.

A friend who has been making the cutest little tote bags made a couple of Disney bags. She made a darling pink Frozen one for me to give my little precious for her birthday or for Christmas.


Anna and Elsa

Frozen Tote Bag

Now when I plant more Fuchsia in my garden, I’m sure that Anna and Elsa will be lingering close in my mind as I imagine fancy pink dangling Fuchsia bouquets in ice. However, the plant may not thrive so well in winter though it does grow well in Autumn and in drought tolerant gardens.

Fuchsia in Autumn

My Garden’s Pink Fuchsia


I think I’ll go out and look for more Fuchsia to plant in the garden. Before I do, I’m going over to link up to the fun Pink Saturday where there’s gorgeous pink surprises to behold. See you there!





































Categories: Gardening | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Autumn Basket Giveaway by High Desert Bloggers

Autumn Basket Giveaway by High Desert Bloggers

Pumpkins and more for Autumn Basket Giveaway in November

Autumn is an exciting time – cooler weather, pumpkins, candy corn, holidays, pumpkin pie, pecan pie! That’s not all. It’s nearing NaNoWriMo time. High Desert Therese Moore is encouraging all who want to write a book in 30 days to join her for the November writing event.

There’s more. Bloggers at and are inviting people in the High Desert to enter their Autumn Basket Giveaway(s). The number of baskets to be given away depends on the amount of donations by bloggers and businesses. The more the donations, the more the baskets, the more the winners. Grab this chance to get your business blogged about FREE of charge. Entries can be made at by including your name and email address into the subject line of your email. Winners will be chosen by the email addresses sent in. Winners will be announced on Saturday, November 15th.

Items related to NaNoWriMo, Autumn, bloggers’ blog interests, and businesses participating in the giveaway(s) will be added to the baskets. Imagine the fun of winning one of these seasonal gift baskets.

Nina Amir’s book How to Blog a Book will be among the basket items. Nina lists eleven ways to use your blog to become an expert on her website. She offers coaching and training as well.

Now, before you leave this website, go to our email address,, and sign up for this fun fall giveaway. Be sure to insert your name and email address into the subject line.


Categories: Blogging | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Desert Writers Escape to Catalina Island

Guest Blogger: Brenda Hill, Newberry Springs


Catalina Island Writers Retreat

Brenda Hill at Catalina Island Retreat


What a fun time, and insightful learning experience for five California writers. Santa Catalina Island was the perfect choice for the first Writers Escape Weekend.

Writers hailed from different parts of the country. All authors shared many diverse genres. Workshop subjects included short story, fiction, creative non-fiction, character/plot development and blogging.

When we first arrived on the magical shores of Catalina, we could walk to our conveniently located weekend hide-away, The Catalina Lodge.

One of the advantages of Catalina is very few cars, only golf carts and bicycles. We explored the nooks and crannies of this magical island by foot from sunrise to sunset, then again in the evening to marvel at the nearly full hunter’s moon illuminating the boats in the bay. I took a refreshing swim at the local beach each day.

Brenda Hill's Catalina Harbor Photo

Catalina Harbor


Catalina Island, CA

Sunrise on Catalina Island

We feasted on gourmet coffee, authentic Mexican specialties, and fresh Mahi Mahi. The golden sun was warm. The ice cream was a cool refresher.

One night we enjoyed a starry night “at home” in our cozy courtyard. Cheese, nuts, fresh fruit, and wine was the perfect writers picnic under an almost full hunters moon.

Another highlight of our retreat was a  tour through the museum. The rich natural and social history of the island is fascinating.

Leaving this unique place is always bittersweet for me. All of us would have enjoyed at least one more day of sun, fun, fellowship and learning.  While dolphins danced near the deck of our ferry, our merry little group of writers planned our next writers retreat.

Avalon, CA Ferry

Catalina Ferry

Look for the details of the Spring Writers  Escape, perhaps to Big Bear, on this blog. We would enjoy hearing your comments, suggestions and ideas. 



Brenda Hill is the author of Success, Your Path to a Successful Book,
Our Love Affairs with Food and Travel, and blogger at

Categories: Day Trips, So Cal | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

NaNoWriMo is coming! Are you ready?

I'm participating are you?

I’m participating are you?

NaNoWriMo is coming! NaNoWriMo is coming!

What is NaNoWriMo?

The creators of NaNoWriMo define it as: “National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.”

It is a fun roller-coaster ride. You rise to the top creating your novel and watch your word count soar. Then you plummet in to the dark canon that is thinking written yourself into a corner or you’ve falling behind on your word count only to find you start to rise again.

If you’ve ever thought, “I could do better than this guy.” Then NaNoWriMo is for you.

If you’ve ever thought, “I’d like to write a story, someday.” Then NaNoWriMo is for you.

If you’ve ever thought, “I’m not creative, writing scares me.” Then NaNoWriMo is for you.

As the Municipal Liaison (ML) for the San Bernardino Region of NaNoWriMo I invite you to join me on this adventure toward completing your first novel.

As a member of the NaNoWriMo community I challenge you to join me because:

  1. You never know what you can do until you try.
  2. You’ll make some new friends, online and at community events.
  3. You’ll have fun.

For more information and to sign-up for NaNoWriMo go to

Once you’ve created your account mosey on over to the regional page an introduce yourself.

Comment to score some cool NaNoWriMo sway from yours truly.

Tess DeGroot AKA Victorville-Tess Municipal Liaison for San Bernardino region.







I can also be found at:

Categories: Books, Community, High Desert Writers, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Catalina Island – So Cal Day Trip

Take a day trip from the High Desert to Avalon – Santa Catalina Island. Traveling I-15 from Victorville, go to Long Beach, park your car, and ride the boat to the island. If you leave Victorville by 6 am, you can be on the island in about three hours.

Catalina Island is a great place to go for a romantic getaway…

Catalina Island Vacation

Romantic Getaway













historical and museum excursion…


Catalina Museum

Walkway to the Catalina Museum

OSS History, Catalina Island

History of the OSS at the Catalina Island Museum


water sports…



sightseeing or shopping…


Catalina Island Shopping

Shopping at Catalina Island, CA


Catalina Island Sites

See the sites on Catalina Island

relaxing at the spa or a hair and nail salon…


Relaxing at a spa

Sara relaxing at a spa on Catalina Island, CA

Allow extra time for a little relaxation and people watching while being pampered at a Catalina Island hair and nail salon where I met Sara (without the “h”). My friend Ann and I had walked by and couldn’t resist walking in to meet the lovely Sara. Ann had noticed Sara at first and suggested that I take a picture. Little did Ann know that I would spend extra time in the shop getting to know Sara and Manicurist Emily so I could blog about them.

The two ladies, Sara the guest and Emily the manicurest, were gracious to allow me the privilege of posting their photos and videos v=Og4ekGNczkI&

When you visit the salon, let Emily or the owners know that you learned about them on Catalina Hair and Nail Salon is located at 205 Crescent Street,  #120A, Avalon, CA at the Metropole Marketplace.


Categories: Day Trips, So Cal | 2 Comments

Welcome Fall with the Warmth of Old-Fashioned Letter Writing

The Art of Letter Writing

Old-Fashioned Letter Writing

When was the last time you wrote an old-fashioned letter to a friend or relative in the High Desert or afar and put a stamp on the envelope?

I heard this trivia question asked on KSGN this week: “Ninety percent of teens have never used this – what is it?” The answer is postage stamps.

The need for postage stamp use has certainly declined from the Traditional Generation of the World War II era to the current Generation Y (Why). When you can text and email and pay bills online, snail mail seems pointless.

Letters and messages were delivered by posts (postmen, runners, or couriers) since ancient and biblical times on foot and by animal.

In 1860 the Pony Express was established by stagecoach operators. They carried mail from San Francisco, California to St. Joseph, Missouri. The Pony Express only lasted until 1861.

When people wrote letters in ancient times and up to the 19th century, they used wax seals to keep them secure. This art has not been completely lost, however.

Writing letters to my grandmothers and friends was something I loved to do back in the day. I still have the sealing stamp and two of the colored wax sticks I used to make a seal on the flap of the back of envelopes.

Try out the old-fashioned art of hand-written letter writing this fall. Bring joy to loved ones by hand-writing a personal letter, and seal the envelope with fancy colored wax. If you receive a thank you back, let us hear from you in the comment section.


Categories: Writing | 3 Comments

Planting Flowers and Shrubs that Survive High Desert Seasons

Evergreens and Perennials

Lavender, Salvia, Dark Knight Bluebeard

Summer’s ending inspires me to plant evergreens and perennials, rich colors like red, amber, and purple. The arrival of fall makes me want to plant more flowers and shrubs that stay green through the winter or bloom again year after year.

New in my garden are these lovelies:

  • Blue Hill Salvia – This particular Salvia can get up to 24″  high and wide. and can survive a -20 to -30 degree F winter. 
  • Slender Western Rosemary – This plant gets as high as 3-5′ high and wide and has a cold hardiness of 30-20 degrees F.
  • Dark Knight Bluebeard – This is a mounding deciduous shrub that grows 2-3′ tall and 3-4′ wide. It makes a good backdrop in the perennial garden. It’s fragrant, dark-blue flowers in summer and early fall attract butterflies.
  • Pomegranate tree – It’s tiny thing that I’m hoping will grow as pretty as I’ve seen in other gardens such as the one Santa Fe Trading Company has.
  • Angelonia – This perennial has purple-lavender or white flowers. Though it blossoms in the summer, I’m hoping this perennial will make it through the winter in my garden.
  • Japanese Barberry – It’s a beautiful drought-tolerant, low-maintenance shrub with reddish-purple leaves. The thing I didn’t know about this shrub is that it can provide favorable habitat for all life stages of blacklegged ticks. I only planted two of these plants, but now I’m having second thoughts about them.

What experience have you had with any of these plants in the high desert? I have a friend who planted the Japanese Barberry in the high desert and has not ever seen the ticks, and there are no deer in the area. I’d love to hear your comments.


Categories: Gardening | Leave a comment

High Desert Viewpoint: The Fear of Writing

After cruising the Internet for a few writing resources, I believe I’ve found the major stumbling blocks and their remedies for the dreaded and brain-draining fear of writing. I’ve heard directly from friends who wish to write only to sling up a brick-and-mortar defensive wall with reasons not to write. Is your dream to write caught in a cloud over your head?


What fears we face, we face first in our minds.

What fears we face, we face first in our minds.

It might be that English was never a great subject of yours. Or a teacher hammered in the grammar and distilled the frills until you felt your writing had less appeal than an accounting ledger. Just so many rules to remember, and so many hours to invest in a finished product that might receive a weak C+. It happened to me in sixth grade, too. Until Mrs. Gifford pulled me out of the ooze of English muddle and sent me on a better course. I wanted to write from my mind not the English III hardbound textbooks that we lugged around like that albatross.

Fear is lifted to new heights

Fear is lifted to new heights


As a professional writer, you may feel that you have a gift, a calling, having never faced a teacher of English or Composition who marked you as a drudgery of their daily life. Only, they hoped you would make it through class, and you hoped for a fire drill.


So step forward, 40 or 50 years, past the letter writing, the book reports, the attempt at polishing the resume, and a short stint at prosy poetry — Your reason for writing is clear. It’s because you want to. Some little germ of an idea has been festering for years. It could be that book. It was stepped on and ground into your brain like the creative juice it started from.

Fear is a strong emotion needing stronger conviction

Fear is a strong emotion needing stronger conviction


So why now? Because the kids are gone to their new homes, time is running out, time is running too slow? No need for judgment now. Just pick up your favorite … well, any writing instrument or computer screen will do … just write.


Sure, that’s easy for me to say. Here’s a few gems gleaned from the Internet and writing gurus across the blogosphere:


1) Take on the writer in you with effervescent yet smaller steps. Allow yourself to mull over an idea from all sides. Write it down. Write several pages then stop and see what you’ve done. Not bad. Reward yourself. The process of writing has many facets: an idea, the fleshing out, writing it down, scratching lines out, rewriting what we’ve written from a different angle. It’s all the things you’ll need to do — and do often.


Everything is fear until you face it

Everything is fear until you face it

2) Avoid fixing things as you write. Sort of like baking a cake; don’t peek or it will fall. Most new writers are timid in sharing what they write. They want everything perfect first. How can you be perfect before you finish the draft, or even the first chapter? These little tricks you play on yourself will only fall into the hands of the Muse who taunts you. Constantly fixing things will bog down your creativity, slow your writing, and degrade the excitement of why you are finally writing.


Outside of the box is outside your comfort zone

Outside of the box is outside your comfort zone


3) Use tools like the professionals do. Some like to outline to keep in step to a targeted end. Some like to “mindmap.” Some feel that this method works so much better than outlining and it will give you a more relaxed access to your inner thoughts. You are trying to extract the ideas and place them in a way that leads you on.  You can Google mindmapping for more details but what you do is take one or two key words or ideas, present them on blank paper, then allow your mind to free-flow with thoughts that are linked to these words. Write them down and circle them. Connect lines to a similar thought that grew from the main one. Soon you’ll have a sheet of circled words connected to thoughts that move you on to your next chapter.

 You can create fictional characters in this way, too. By starting with a name, then linking all is attributes that define him. Include the other characters who are related to him. Soon you’ll have a collection of Cast Cards. You can refer to them to refresh your thoughts. I prefer to use index cards. I can write scenes on them, characters on them, and link ideas with them.

 Free Write Friday poster


4) Emulate your favorites. Print out a few pages of your favorite blogger, or rewrite several pages from a favorite book. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so write daily for 30 to 60 minutes each day. Test your brain muscle. Put it through some paces that challenge it. The copy concept is easy: write regularly, practice from others but never claim others’ work as your own. Practice will make the brain see the inner workings of sentence structure, use of adverbs, and strength of phrases connected by verbs. We all have trained prior to doing … anything worth doing. You will see a difference in your own writing that no English III book can cram into your brain. And face it, your brain wasn’t ready back then; now it is.


I think that blogging has taken a boost in quality writing due to the short form of it, and the need to be read. Only the better bloggers have a larger following based on quality and specific, focused interest. Usually under 1,000 words, bloggers retain their readers because they offer what a reader wants — high quality, fast read. Finding that target audience is the tough part.

Face it head on and begin writing

Face it head on and begin writing


5) Write a lot. There’s not much to this. Just write. I admit that I’m wired to write. I started with poetry in fifth grade, then wrote short stories about my favorite TV characters. Then on to college and writing obits for a local newspaper, then news articles flowed right into journalism. It was all practice, and I don’t feel foolish having gone through those phases. You may not feel “writerly,” as one author said, but you will feel more fulfilled knowing that that novel churning in your head spilled all over the floor and now you have an excuse to pick it up, wring it out, and proceed to write. Come on! Be a writer.

Don't let emotions rule your life

Don’t let emotions rule your life

 Rusty LaGrange

Categories: Blogging, High Desert Writers, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment