More about my characters: the CATS

Felines have been a large part of my life. Since right before my husband and I were married, we’ve been blessed to always have a tuxedo cat (or four) sharing our lives.

Our first, Horatio Roo, was somewhere between four and six weeks when he was pulled from a litter of feral kittens and throughout his life, he would nurse on my fingers or thumb as he would fall asleep at night. He didn’t see himself as a “cat” and accompanied me everywhere, including to work at a local Seattle television station some evenings.

Because our cats have brought such joy to our lives, I’ve paid tribute to their calming presence and rambunctious spirits by adding them as characters within “The Operator’s Daughter” series.

Henrik as a kitten

“Bond” is mentioned in Ashton’s mother’s journals–“a left behind” cat by a former resident of the home shared by LT Gracelynn Wright and CPT Charlotte Lewis. When Charlotte took occupancy of the base-housing bungalow, she found a bag of cat crunchies and a water fountain for him to drink from–as we have found out our kitties over the years prefer drinking from running water. (An Operator’s Daughter – part I.) “Bond” is a smoothie tuxedo, and in my mind he resembles our current kitty boy, Henrik–our “lap leopard.”

As I am drafting out episodes of “An Operator’s Daughter – part IV”, “Orion” will make an appearance as Ashton’s emotional support animal. He is a six-toed Hemingway Maine Coon – greatly resembling the tuxedo Maine Coon who shared our home until just a few years ago. Niko, who was not a polydactyl cat, was the most gentle of our kitties, the largest in size and in the capacity of his heart for us and our other cats. We miss him a great deal.

Niko as a kitten with his big sis Tilda

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More about my characters: Marcus Davis

It will take until Part III in my “An Operator’s Daughter” series to learn Marcus’s last name, but that is because I wanted everyone to see themselves within this amazing young man who is Ashton’s “bestie” through tough and better times.

Ashton meets Marcus when he’s assigned the role of showing her around the high school the first day she attends classes. He goes about this job with so much enthusiasm, that Ashton doesn’t quite know what to make of him. He wins her over quickly with his welcoming smile, solid advice, and loyalty.

Many high schools have opportunities for students to serve as ambassadors. In some schools this is a club one joins, and in others, it is a selection process based upon teacher recommendation, scholarship and volunteer hours. In Marcus’s case, he applied for the opportunity, and was selected because he is a solid student, willingly gives his time to make the school’s drama productions a success, and applied to be on the school’s yearbook staff–a class where he earns credit, but it will become a full-time job for him despite working afterschool and weekends at his parents’ sub sandwich shop.

Marcus aspires to sing in the school’s elect choir ensemble group and also to be selected for starring roles in the school’s drama productions–especially the musicals. He was disappointed he did not make either during his junior year in high school, but he keeps trying.

Although his parents have high expectations for him to take his education seriously, they are not of the “helicopter variety”. As busy business owners, they leave Marcus to make things happen on his own, while other students’ parents are pushy, or donate the cash, to procure plum roles or selection into elite performance groups for their sons and daughters. Heart and talent do not always equal opportunity in a suburban public high school; a lesson Marcus will come to learn from experience.

To learn more about Marcus, and his friendship with Ashton McAllister, start with “An Operator’s Daughter – Part I” on Kindle Vella where the first three episodes are free, and Amazon will give readers new to this platform another 200 free tokens to keep reading. Marcus will also make appearances in Parts II and III, and even in Part IV–currently in development.

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More about my characters: Dustin Maguire

I am deep into writing and editing Part IV of my “An Operator’s Daughter” series and hoping to begin posting episodes within the next week (or two).

The character of Dustin Bryce Maguire, Ashton McAllister’s love interest, points out his truck to her the the evening he returns from his first mission (“An Operator’s Daughter – Part I” Episode 157). He tells her, proudly, that it’s paid for, and she gives him an appreciative smile.

Dustin’s truck is a symbol of his hard work, blood, sweat, and hidden tears overcoming his neglected youth and his fight to make it through Navy SEAL training and on to a platoon.

He drives a later model lifted Toyota Tacoma, a two-door with not-quite a backseat similar to the one pictured below.


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Interview on The Second Time Around Homestead

I was thrilled Rachel Roy reached out to interview me for her author series on her Blog, The Second Time Around Homestead.

https://secondtimearoundhomestead.com/2022/04/25/author-interview-with-laurie-brandon/?fbclid=IwAR00VQyf5uSFAhLVxVaPc9RhrCEvI96gVQ-r6RmaPGaQqHhq0LWSBhmyL58


Rating: 1 out of 5.
  1. Hi Laurie I love 💕 your series An Operator’s Daughter. When will part IV be uploaded to Kindle Vella?

  2. Could not have said it better myself, as a 35 year admitted “IT Phony” with two BS Degrees in Bio-Science…

Just Fake It

From A Summer’s Tempest – An Operator’s Daughter part II

Some weeks ago, during our Tuesday counseling professional development, we were introduced to a new Career Skills Program. This one is an opportunity for transitioning Service Members to learn a highly sought-after set of skills to work in Information Technology. But while I came away impressed with what the 18-week training program offered, I learned about something else too; something highly applicable to myself and many others.

The presenter brought up the concept of Imposter Syndrome: the feeling you don’t belong in your role because you are a phony or fraud, or you are there only because of dumb luck, and at any moment, you could be found out and sent packing. Our presenter told us that overcoming this mindset was critical to success, but it was more difficult than learning those highly sought-after high-tech skills.

What he explained about Imposter Syndrome hit home for me. I feel like I have been faking it my entire life. It was what drove me to push through dyslexia to be placed in the top reading groups during my elementary years, to kick and pull harder to win races in the swimming pool, and to earn nearly all the Girl Scout badges while a Junior Scout. Later, it had me putting all my effort into the news articles and editorials I wrote for the high school newspaper, giving it my all in every job I’ve ever worked from fast food to legal administrative work, to television graphics, to teaching high school, and finally, educational counseling. Perhaps all the above are positives coming out of that feeling of inadequacy. However, it still doesn’t explain why I lack a belief in my own abilities and the faith those around me will recognize I have those abilities.

Despite knowing a solid work ethic is part of my DNA, I still feel like I must prove myself worthy of being in the positions I am in. Yes, it drives me to dig deeper to find the perfect fit in academic programs for those I now serve and to understand how to help maximize the educational benefits they have earned. But despite being in this line of work for a year now, I still feel like I am drinking from a fire hose, and at any moment, I’ll be recognized for what I am; knowing just enough to be dangerous.

Without realizing what Imposter Syndrome was, I had incorporated it, as a motif, into my serial fiction series, An Operator’s Daughter. Frequently, my characters give and take that advice, that sometimes you must fake it until it becomes a habit, and you truly believe you have what it takes to do it, whatever “it” may be.

So, here is my advice to myself, and to you: it is okay to fake it, to give the appearance you know what you are doing, to try, and sometimes get it wrong, fall down, fail, as long as you pick yourself up and keep on trying. Fake it until you see success and feel you belong.


For a reason.

A motif addressed in An Operator’s Daughter, parts I through III, is the concept that things in our lives happen for a reason. It is a concept I have struggled with personally my entire life.

Sometimes I feel I am lacking the faith gene; like my main character, Ashton McAllister, I struggle with faith, whether it is in a higher power or in those around me. I learn from my experiences, and those experiences have led me to go about things cautiously.

This week marks my first year anniversary working as a military contractor at the Stone Education Center on Joint Base Lewis McChord. To begin, it took a leap of faith to put myself up for a position as a substitute instructor in their Basic Skills Education Program—teaching math skills. My subject endorsements are English and Social Studies. Math has never been a strong subject for me. I’ll admit that once I understood those were the skills, I would be primarily teaching, I hit the Internet, YouTube videos, in particular, to recall what I had learned during elementary, middle school, and high school math classes.

As human beings, we learn through our experiences, through trial and error—none of us wish to make too many errors—and through repetition. Doing things correctly, over and over, inscribes those skills on our brains. It was how I was taught, and learned, those basic math skills to begin with and I am grateful for that repetition because those patterns came back to me fairly quickly and I could then instructor the soldiers who were enrolled in the program to increase their own GT scores leading to expanded opportunities for career growth.

That leap of faith on my part took a great deal of courage. I had been beaten down not only by being harassed out of a teaching career I loved and putting my heart and soul into making a difference, but then faced rejection and rejection as I looked for new employment. It hurts to get through the interview process, then being told you are exactly what they were hoping to hire, then have the reference check tank everything—and this happened repeatedly. When the offer of employment finally came from my fabulous supervisor at Indtai, I pinched myself, waiting to hear it would be pulled back. I am ever so grateful it wasn’t.

The opportunities for professional and personal growth with this new employer have restored my faith in myself and those I have the privilege of working alongside. Having recently been moved into a role where I am giving briefings about benefits, counseling service members, their dependents, and veterans on educational opportunities, and even being given the opportunity to start a writing lab to provide support for those wishing to improve their skills while writing application essays, working through research papers, or even writing in Army-style, I feel blessed that I am now in a position where I can serve those who serve our nation.

But did all this happen for a reason? Did I have to go through the heartbreak of giving up my teaching position to land in a place where I am surrounded by the support of others, and those others truly appreciate the support they receive?

Do things, crappy things or happy things, happen for a reason?

I will continue to explore that concept through my serial fiction characters, having faith that others will find strength in the story. As I have written it, I am finding faith in myself.

Managing Expectations.

As I wait for the next season of my serial to go live on Kindle Vella, I deal with conflicting emotions. I am excited to continue the story of my main character as she comes of age, but feel apprehension about its publication.
I continually deal with feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, which lead to anxiety, nearly paralyzing in its attempt to keep me standing still in my personal and professional growth. I continually tell myself I am a new author, new to publishing serial fiction, or any writing whatsoever. I should not be this hard on myself, and I should do what I have coached others to do over the years, to keep trying. But it is hard to look over the statistics of reads on my Amazon Kindle Vella dashboard, and not become discouraged. I suppose I have the unrealistic expectation of others who know me, who provided verbal or posted encouragement, would actually give reading my efforts a go—as those first three episodes on Kindle Vella are free to all readers, and Amazon provides another 200 free tokens to get readings into the serials.
Yes, I am disappointed in the lack of support, especially from former colleagues… but they did little to reach out to help me while I was struggling before I left teaching. I supposed that is just human nature to abandon others drowning while you concentrate on keeping your own head above the waves.
Honestly, I had such high hopes for gaining readership—especially among those who know me, the real me, the me who throws myself into everything I do with energy and passion for doing things right. As an inexperienced manager in television production, I tried to mentor my employees, pushing for cross-training of skills and providing opportunities for them to use those skills. When I moved from one company to another, I shared about the opportunities within the new employer and several followed me there—I provided excellent recommendations to our boss about their skills and capabilities as I believed in them, and still do.
As an educator, I wrote letters of recommendation to assist my students in gaining admission to the college of their choice or to be awarded scholarships to pay for higher education. I prided myself on never having to fly by the seat of my pants; I never planned one lesson at a time, but units of study and posted those lesson plans by unit so students and their parents knew what was coming as if it was a syllabus for a college course. Funny, this would have made it easy for me to teach during the virtual learning months of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I was driven out of my career before that time came.
Again, I am taking this in a direction that is not productive to staying positive. I need to manage my expectations, as I cannot control others’ actions, but go back to giving myself a pep talk and not wallow in the defeatist attitude which could hold me back from meeting my goals and living my dreams.
So here it goes:
When I began writing, it was to bring about healing, to help me deal with traumatizing experiences, and to move past them. I feel I have done that, and I now have a new job serving others in military educational counseling where if I can just make one difference a day, I can hold my head up, go to sleep feeling like I have accomplished something, which allows me to wake up and put in my best effort each day.
I write for an audience of one, myself, with the hope others will discover it and continue to read and enjoy it as I do re-reading my work. (If that sounds pretentious, it is, so be it. It took me a great deal of courage to publish my work, as there is a great deal of myself and my own experiences within my characters.)
I publish to provide an escape from everyday existence, to enlighten and entertain at the same time. A major theme in my serials is having that mindset to never give up despite the challenges and obstacles life throws at you. I will follow my advice and keep writing and publishing what I write.
Thank you for reading, I sincerely appreciate your support.

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B09TY4Z2X2