What Do Your Passions Say About You?


I’m a rock hound, well, not really, but I do love rocks.  Rocks find me. I have picked rocks up in Death Valley, along the beach at Pismo, and even at a Wendy’s Restaurant in the parking lot.

Why this obsession with rocks? I don’t have an answer. It is something I’ve always had; I’m sure my mom picked rocks out of my pockets when she did the laundry. I’ve always thought rocks were interesting and I wanted to keep them. I like rock gardens, rock waterfalls, and my all time favorite are boulders. I don’t have any boulders. I keep threatening to hire someone to truck in a couple. I think they would look great… one in the front yard and two or three in the back.

I do have large rocks in the front under the trees that came from my dad’s property. My sweet husband lugged them into the truck, brought them home, and arranged them for me. I have six huge crystals that my grandfather dug out of his land in Arkansas. I was lucky enough to inherit them. They are arranged on my back patio. I don’t know if they have healing powers, but I know they speak to my soul and make me feel like I have a piece of my granddad with me. I know he would be happy to know that his crystals have a guardian.

 Oh, and did I mention that I have six rocks that Skylar found for me in Lake Tapps in Washington? My sister-in-law and husband live on the lake and it is literally in their back yard. My daughter, AKA “The Goldfish,” lifted them out, and yes, you guessed it my sweet husband loaded them in the Odyssey and we brought them home. They are large so I accumulated six of them over time.

Where did I get this attraction for rocks? I am not advocating reincarnation, but in the interest of “what if” could I have been a petrologist or maybe a geologist in a previous life? Did you know that sixty percent of Americans believe that reincarnation is possible?  I have to say my vote is still out, but if it is possible, I sure hope I don’t end up like “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” and come back as a rock in my next life.

Are you part of that sixty percent, and even if you’re not what do your passions say about what you may have been in a previous life?


Book Club News


Our first book club meeting was a success with six members present and others who are interested on the horizon. Yummy snacks were served, we decided on housekeeping issues with a date and place for our next meeting. People were enthusiastic when we shared ideas about the book choice. No fireworks or opposing views were expressed, and we all agreed it was a good read.

I am not a professional book reviewer and I confess this my first book review. Needles to say and I am going to say it anyway… It will not be like book reviews from The Los Angeles Times or The Washington Post. It will be more along the lines of The L.W. Independent Book Reviews: Lolly Writes Independent.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Author: Rebecca Skloot

Rating: 4

This is a story about the life and death of Henrietta Lacks, a young black woman who died of cervical cancer in the “colored” ward at John Hopkins Hospital in 1950. This is a story about how her cells were taken without her knowledge. This is a story about how Henrietta’s cells, named HeLa by scientists, were grown and lived to benefit research all over the world and are living today. This is a story that questions the ethics of things that may be labeled for the good of science. And this is a story that at the heart weaves a tale of Henrietta’s children and family.  It is their story of how losing their mother and learning about the existence of her immortal cells played out in their lives.

This book took a decade for the author to piece to together. It traces the journey of the infamous HeLa cells as the reader learns the follies and mistakes that lead to scientific discovery and its human repercussions spanning the 1950’s to the present.

Rebecca Skloot is a storyteller who weaves the intimate feelings of Henrietta Lacks’ family with the scientific events that embody Henrietta’s cells. She captures the human interest as well as the scientific implications of this powerful and significant story.

I found this book at times riveting as the story revealed not only the human side, but also the momentous contributions of Henrietta Lacks’ cells to science. I won’t say the whole book was a page-turner, but I will say it is a must read for people who want to be informed and an easy read that unfolds like a novel.

Let me know if you have read this book and share your insights. Does anyone have any recommendations of books that you think are important and keep people informed?

Rating Scale for LW Independent Book Reviews:

5: Great Read

4: Good Read

3: Average Read

2: Tough Read

1: Don’t Read

Scale is open to review and I suspect it will change overtime. Please notice it has elements of tongue-in-cheek.



Book Club


I like the idea of belonging to a book club. If you’re like me, you can get in a rut. You know who and what you like to read and that’s what you read. This attitude can rule out a lot of good reading. That’s why I like belonging to a book club.

A book club can get you out of your comfort zone. You read books others suggest. You may be introduced to books you have never heard of or would have not considered. I like that idea because it challenges me. I have to step out of my box.

A blogger I read today would not agree with me. She is an avid reader but writes: One of the main reasons she isn’t part of a book club is, if a book doesn’t grab her early on she would rather not finish it, because there are so many other good books out there.

I would argue that we both are after the same thing. We want to read good books, but I don’t want to miss a good book because I didn’t try it.

So… my BF Jackie and I are starting up a book club. The first meeting is tonight. Jackie has been the main organizer of the club. The meeting will be at Jackie’s home and the book we read is “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. We have snacks planned, five or six firm RSVP’s, and counting us seven or eight. It sounds like a good start.

What is your opinion of book clubs? Do you belong to one? Would you join if you had the opportunity?



On Monday April 16, 2012 Heather Day Gilbert blogged about writing mistakes. Her advice, passed on from a friend, is “You cannot put your unedited work out there. Even on your blog.” She advises hiring an editor.

I know she is right. I will need a professional editor for my final manuscript, but…really, my blog.  I edit my blog and my husband reads it for mistakes before I publish it. Isn’t that enough?

Luckily, I read the comments and I found clarification. Jill commented and said that blogging is a different kind of writing. She said it should not be labored writing and you should be able to breath easier when you blog. She does a cursory examination and posts her blog unedited. Heather commented back and agreed with the unedited blog, but she does go over and preview her own post for routine errors before it goes public.

I am currently reading “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. Great book! Here is what he has to say about editing on page eighty-seven.

Learn to enjoy this tidying process. I don’t like to write; I like to have written. But I love to rewrite. I especially like to cut: to press the DELETE key and see an unnecessary word or phrase or sentence vanish into the electricity. I like to replace a humdrum word with one that has more precision or color. I like to strengthen the transition between one sentence and another. I like to rephrase a drab sentence to give it a more pleasing rhythm or a more graceful musical line. With every small refinement I feel that I’m coming nearer to where I would like to arrive, and when I finally get there I know it was the rewriting, not the writing, that won the game.

Dr. Robert Cramer was my former professor many years ago in a graduate program. He was smart and inspiring and he taught me a lot. During a critique of one of my papers he said, “Your problem is you don’t like to edit.” Like so many things he said, I tucked it away and remembered it.

I think that Dr. Cramer was right. I don’t like to edit. On the other hand, I am a writer and I do want the reader to understand what I am saying, so I think I will take William Zinsser’s advice and learn to enjoy the tidying up process.

Tell me how you feel about editing. Do you enjoy it? Is it a difficult process for you? Let me know.                                                             Laurel

Wanted: Schedule I Can Live With


I am struggling with managing my time. I need to write, research, read, blog, and in between times I need to cook, clean, garden, take kids to and from school, and……….. Well, you get the picture.

I want to devise a schedule that works for me but has built in flexibility.  Each week brings various scheduling blips… dental or doctor visits, plumbing issues, or one of my kids is sick. My least favorite is taking the cat to the vet. Ha! Ha! Like anyone of these blips could even be my favorite.

I know the minutia of everyday life is part of having a life. Yes, unforeseen events, disasters, and frankly sometimes-pleasant interruptions will interfere with my schedule. I get it. What I don’t get is how to rein myself in, how to discipline myself, and how to devise a schedule that will work for me.

As you can see, I am a work in progress and I can use some good sage advice.

What is a writer to do? Share your ideas and tell me what works for you.

I will think about all the suggestions that anyone offers.          Laurel

Morphing Lolly


My blog debut was April 1, 2012. I feel like I am in the first days of high school. I want it to look right, sound right, and I want people to like it. I want it to be authentic. It may be like a new television series where the storyline and the characters need time to morph into being real and natural. My blog will morph into being genuinely me and my voice will come through.


First Day


“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything, is ready, we shall never begin”

Ivan Turgenev 1818-83

Therefore, I begin. My name is Laurel McDonald and I live in Riverside, California. I am a writer and an aspiring author. One definition of aspire is to long, aim, or seek ambitiously. That seems to sum it up for me. I long, I aim, and seek ambitiously to be an author.

Dream and try are synonyms of aspire. I want this blog to be a place I can follow my dream, as well as a place I try to connect with others.

This is the first post of my first blog, and I feel good. Does anyone out there have any tips for  how to run a successful blog?