The Mike Factor

The Mike Factor

It’s Belle McLaughlin here, with my behind-the-scenes cat’s-eyes-view report of the day!

Belle looking left

Did you know it’s the observations, the little habits and quirks that my mom finds in others, that help her create characters for her stories? I know because she’s told me about many of her past observations and inspirations. And I’ve witnessed a few myself.

Today, it’s mostly about my dad, Mike McLaughlin, and his influence on the stories of Heaven’s Wait. I call it the Mike Factor.

It’s about the time many years before I was born when Mom was trying to think of a name for the tiny flying creatures of Heaven’s Wait. They are small, colorful creatures the size of bees, with long, curlicue tails. They use their tails to hang from tree branches and often as chairs. One night, Mom described these creatures to Dad. She explained to him that the local townsfolks, the Vowellans, have contests using the creatures. The Vowellans take turns swinging the creatures by their tails in circles above their heads. They then fling the creatures through the air toward a mark on a target branch of a nearby tree. The creatures loop their tails around the branch, which makes them swing back and forth and giggle. They love the ride. Whichever Vowellan’s creature lands nearest the target mark wins.

“What should I call these oddball creatures,” asked Mom?

“Well, Flingbees, of course!” said Dad. Of course! No further discussion was needed. The Mike Factor was born.

It’s about the fact that each of the Vowellan clans has a crazy quirk or two. For the Ham Bats, it’s their unusual speech pattern. They speak in “ood’lies.” What influenced such speech? Once again, the Mike Factor. It turns out that Dad and his friends spoke in silly ood’lies way back when he was in high school. Who knows what ever prompted them to come up with such a thing. Take a look!


Finally, it’s about the fact that San Ham Bat’s father, Mat, has frequent run-ins with door handles. He moves quickly, and he doesn’t pay attention to his surroundings. Door handles and table corners seem to just jump out at him in their attempt to slow him down. Thus, hands full of bruises. That is totally a Mike Factor. Mom couldn’t resist giving Mat Ham Bat and other characters more color by sprinkling them with such quirks based on real-life observations.

Okay, it’s time for our nap now!

Belle and Mike



In the Beginning

In the Beginning

All I have ever known is sitting on Mom’s lap, behind her on her chair, or on her desk while she escapes into the world of Heaven’s Wait. She leans into terrible posture in her chair while I’m on her lap so as not to disturb my frequent naps. She tolerates a numb butt while sitting on the front edge of her chair, again so as not to disturb me sleeping behind her. She’s doing that right now. She peeks around my proper sitting pose while I sit on her desk and block her view of her computer monitor. I’m such a spoiled kitty.

Belle on Lap

She’s always been willing to include me in her creative processes, and I greatly appreciate her efforts. I have seen many things as this whole Heaven’s Wait world has come together. I have a front row seat, so I’m the one who can give you a real behind-the-scenes perspective on what building this fantasy world, the books, the music, and the many other processes involved have all been about. Come see what goes on in Mom’s world. By Belle McLaughlin

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