The Little Girl Inside the Adult Mystery Author

How Did YOU Grow Up Into What You Are Today?

I don’t know why I’m still surprised, but I frequently get this question from readers: “What were you like as a kid? How did your childhood years influence you to become an author?”

mystery author Laura Belgrave at 9 years oldOddly enough, it’s kind of a tough question for me to answer. But that skinny kid on the left in the top black and white photo? That’s me at the age of nine, with my two sisters to the right. The grown-up in the bottom picture? That’s me, too, but in my 60s. (I cringe to think my hair style hasn’t really changed much. That should tell you something right there.)

Well, that little girl and the older woman are still pretty much the same: imaginative dreamers and persistent storytellers. The first fiction I can remember the little girl writing was something called “The Day the Gravity Left the Earth.” Obviously, I knew little about the full science of gravity, but had learned that it’s what mysteriously keeps us anchored to the earth. Of course, my little girl mind wondered what would happen if it didn’t, and thus my first real story was born. I suppose today it would be called science fiction.

And Then There Was the Jolly Green Giant

jolly green giantI would think about stuff like that when, even younger, I’d push myself around on a little red wagon, pretending it was a car. And yes, I had an imaginary friend who I not so imaginatively pictured kind of like the Green Giant Company’s Jolly Green Giant mascot (only skinnier.) The character was shown on the canned green beans we apparently ate with some regularity. He bounded alongside me when I “drove” my wagon across sidewalks.

More significantly, though? I read a lot of books, including the amazing Nancy Drew series, the Hardy Boys, and the Bobbsey Twins. Those series, of course, were mostly mysteries, which may well explain why I gravitated toward writing the Claudia Hershey Mystery Series as an adult.

And my mother? She raised three girls on her own and didn’t have a lot of money. Even so, for every “A” we got on a report card she’d bring us to a bookstore where my two sisters and I (pictured with me in that photo) could buy a book. Think about that: A book to own forever and ever, not to be returned to a library. I will always love my late mother for that. Always.

All of that is, I believe, the genesis of what turned me into a fiction author. Later came a 17-year career in journalism, lots of freelance work afterwards, and . . . too much more to delve into beyond what I already have on my website bio page.

What about you? How did the child in you influence the adult you grew to be? And what I secretly really want to know? Did you have an imaginary playmate? Come on. Share.

— Laura

Let’s Banish Acronyms

They Make My Head Hurt

Are you sick of acronyms, those dreadful abbreviations for actual words? I am, and it seems as if new ones pop up daily. What are we supposed to do? Google them or run to a dictionary to see what they mean?

confused over acronymsNow admittedly, a lot of acronyms are common to us. Let’s talk IRS, FBI, NASA and DNA. (That last one? DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic acid. Uh huh. Sure. We all knew its exact definition, right? We can all even pronounce it properly. Yes, sure; right again.)

But many acronyms simply aren’t familiar, which is a problem when trying to understand an article that matters, and yet no explanation is presented. It’s as if the entire populace should magically understand those cluster of letters.

In my case, I went over the threshold of mere annoyance into outright exasperation when my husband and I began looking into financial advisors. We were sent a lot of material to read. Here are some acronyms that popped up:

IAR, MAS, NFS, B/Ds, ETFs, TPIA — and those were just a few of them. For each I struggled to find the original reference in a fat document prepared in tiny print. Too often, I never could. Frankly, the document begged for a glossary.

Of course, there are other acronyms made up on the fly because of recent events. Take “Brexit,” for instance. It creeped into our language about a year ago, leaving lots of us scratching our heads. Well, by now perhaps we all know what Brexit means, because over time it was repeatedly used in standard media accounts in print and on television. (If you aren’t certain yet, it essentially means “Britain’s Decision to Exit the European Union.”)

Another acronym that floated into our lexicon in the same manner? GMO. Someone asked me what it meant, assuming that because I’m a writer I’d obviously know. Well, it stands for “genetically modified organism” and it’s controversial. I had a sense of what it meant, but still had to look it up to be certain.

I can tell you this with certainty: Authors do a better job in handling acronyms. Yes, some acronyms in mysteries such as “DOA,” meaning “dead on arrival,” are very common because they’ve been around for a long time in mysteries like my Claudia Hershey series and in TV cop dramas, and they have a context within the story. They need no further explanation. However, if an author, such as bestseller Jeffery Deaver, drops an acronym into his mysteries — books heavily seeded with scientific and investigatory techniques — he explains them. He does it in a casual way that flows with his storyline. Why can’t that be handled the same way in all types of media?

Well, if ever you’re stuck on an acronym check the Acronym Finder. It could become your best friend because acronyms aren’t going away. Ever. And none of us wants to look stupid.

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