March 3, 2021

It isn’t that I would never include Black characters in my writing, assuming it felt right.

In fact, I have long known that Ray, Henry King’s long-time partner in the Kansas City Police Department, was Black, and he and his wife Rose show up in one of my novels and in a short story ( “A Dangerous Dance”) in “Solving Peculiar Crimes.”

But I let them be themselves, and it felt a lot like them telling me about how they fit in a story rather than me creating space inside their thoughts and actions as part of the story, like I often do with other characters. All in all, that turned out to be a very pleasant experience.

Haven’t a clue if I am unusual in this thinking and in what I write as a result. Maybe others can add to these ideas,–or dispute them.



February 28, 2021

I, for one, can’t do it. I grew up in a totally white universe though, for a time, when she was expecting my brother and caring for him as a baby, my mother did hire a Black lady to do her ironing. (That was back in the day before polyester or other No-iron fabrics.)

Verleen stood at the ironing board in our basement, in the same room where I usually played, and I can still picture her there. She stayed all day–I don’t recall her ever sitting down or stopping for lunch, nor do I know what my family did about bathroom breaks. Sometimes I sat on the floor in front of the ironing board watching her. I know we did talk, but unfortunately I don’t remember any of our conversations, held when I was four and five years old. I am sure, in that era, she would have felt she had to be careful about what she said to me if I asked questions about her life.

Otherwise, I had no awareness of Black people except that, where I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, they had to sit on a bench seat in the back of the bus or stand if that was full. Black children attended all black schools.

I might have made a book character Black had I written earlier in life and was ignorant of the Black experience being so very different than mine. Thank goodness I didn’t.

I have been asked a couple of times if I planned to include any black people in my novels or stories. The answer is “no” though it has nothing to do with any antipathy toward Blackness. Quite the opposite. In recent times, especially the last several months, I have become very aware how little many white folks like me have understood about the Black experience. However, sympathy and interest caused me to read books by James Baldwin, Dr. Martin Luther King, and other black authors, and, after the assassination of Dr, King, ,my husband and I drove to the Greenwood area of North Tulsa and , for many months to attend Sunday evening services at Black churches there. Congregants were always welcoming and friendly, and the singing was glorious. I remember my shock when one church member showed me the Sunday School in her church and I saw a picture of a very white Jesus. By then I was aware he was most likely tan-skinned.

You might say there may be one Black character in my novels. During his earlier career as a police officer, my male protagonist, Henry King, shot and killed a young teen who was robbing a convenience store, had killed the clerk, and turned his gun toward Henry. Experiencing grief over this, Henry went to visit the boy’s mother, hoping for a degree of understanding and forgiveness. He got only grief and anger from her, which led to trauma extending into the time period covered in my novels. I had pictured the boy as (maybe) Black, but never mentioned skin color in any of my novels where that sad experience is re-told.

You read the term “Greenwood”in Tulsa, Oklahoma ,mentioned above. My father, newly home from his time in France during World War I, was there. I found black and white photos he took at that time which I remember well because they showed such horrors. I have no idea now if he participated or how he felt about the white against Black riot and murders, as well as the destruction that took place in Tulsa in 1921. Indeed, I knew nothing about that riot until I was well into adult years myself, and after my father was gone, which is when I found his photos. I donated them all to the Black History museum in North Tulsa.

So, a Black character? Could I do that person justice? Could Carrie, like me, learn more deeply about the Black experience as an adult Senior Citizen, as I have? At this moment, can’t answer that.

What do you think, especially if you are a white author reading this?

A Solemn Occasion–voting

September 23, 2020

I got my Arkansas mail-in ballot yesterday. Today, I was surprised by how solemn I felt as I studied all that was in the envelope. The ballot itself. A page of instructions. A page of secondary information to fill in, validating me as a registered voter. Photocopying my driver’s license to use for my photo ID.

Don’t know when I’ve read and re-read instructions so carefully, checked and re-checked that I understood everything. Finally I marked the ballot, filled in blanks on the information-required sheet, checked and double-checked and, finally sealed the envelopes. (The ballot had its own separate envelope to go inside the BIG envelope with the other papers.)

This auspicious occasion seemed increasingly solemn as I made sure I had everything done correctly. But, finally, all seemed in order and I left for the Post Office.

I had on jeans, and, for a moment, thought they were much too casual for this oh so important event. But then I decided “Joe won’t mind.”

The first President I voted for was Dwight Eisenhower. Years ago. of course. But never have I felt the solemnity I did today, even though I know I am only one among millions. Can’t say why, exactly. Maybe it was because, instead of going to a building and standing in line to vote while others bustled or waited around me, I was entirely on my own. I was responsible for the complete process.

I am sure you will be voting too, some time between now and Nov. 3. I hope you join me in honoring the solemnity and importance of the occasion.

And in feeling as good about it as I do.


Kids reading adult fiction?

September 11, 2020

When I was in 5th-7th grade I read “Gone With the Wind.” We had very few adult books in our home, but GWTW sat in an honored place by itself on a shelf of the “What-not” in the Living Room. It was my job to dust that piece of furniture every Saturday. My paternal grandmother, who loved books, had given the book to my mother, and had also taken her to see the movie.

I had books suitable for young people….one about a flying baby elephant, and there was “Delicia” the doll, and “Rowdy” the dog and many more, plus suitable library books for children. In the seventh grade I even began on the Nancy Drew series. But……

That big book intrigued me, and, each Saturday, I sat on the floor in front of the shelf and read while Mama was busy elsewhere in the house.

I was fascinated. I was old enough to understand most of the “adult” parts by then. Baby birthing and certain sexual hints were not beyond me, thanks to slumber parties and the birth of my baby brother. But still, I was pretty sure Mama would not expect me to be reading that book.

She never knew.

I did eventually read the book as an adult years later (that was before we understood it as a racist creation.) But it was the most interesting when I sat beside the What-not every Saturday and read a few pages until I heard Mama leave her work in the kitchen area.

Forbidden fruit! What about you? Were you as daring as I?

A thank you to all those who have taught me what I value most about being a career author!

August 3, 2020

I remember when I thought almost every writer had a good income. That was back when I was a reader, not a writer. But these days, an increasing number of readers know that a majority of those writing the books they love are not wealthy. True, some are, but a much larger percentage are not.

The perception of wealth still exists. A writer joining a writing group I headed said she had decided to write so she could quit her job and just write–and she had a fairly high position with a company very prominent in the area of Arkansas where I live. Everyone in our group quickly explained the facts of a writing life to her. “Don’t quit your day job.”

It isn’t that most writers don’t sell books, many in high numbers. But expenses can quickly outweigh income–everything from postage to paid helpers like promotion specialists; from toner for printers to pay for editing. (And that’s the all-important editing before you begin submitting a book to agents or publishers.)

This can be good. Why? Ask the question again, “Why do you write?” The answer has to be because the writer loves writing, as I do. If anyone asked me “What is the activity you enjoy most?” Number one on my list would be that I enjoy the process of writing, whether non-fiction, or creating stories. Second on the list would be meeting and talking with readers when I am out and about selling my written work. Meeting people who stop to chat with me when I set up to sell books in any location is a real lift. A majority are friendly, interested, and interesting, whether or not they choose to buy my non fiction like DEAR EARTH, one or more of the novels in my Carrie and Henry “To Die For” mystery series, or to read or respond to a blog. In whatever way, I get to hear their stories and, sometimes, to share mine.

People talk a lot about how much “non-love” is out and about today. I don’t think they’re talking about most authors and their fans.

Even email correspondence is enjoyable. I love putting ideas and thoughts on paper or a computer screen. Hobby, yes. Business, definitely. Something that brings me wealth, no. I am paid in words printed and on screen and in words spoken in conversation with readers. I am also paid in the words in books written by many, many, other authors that I enjoy reading.


There are a lot of puzzles to be discovered in today’s writing world!

July 2, 2020

Though I have been writing and selling my written work since 1986, there are still many things about writing and publishing that bewilder me. Of course “way back when” my early work was written on a typewriter. I advanced to an electronic typewriter, then, finally, to simple computing which was easily understood and managed for the writing I did then.

And now? Well, my same old computer still works well for simple writing. In fact, it recently went with me through the writing of “Solving Peculiar Crimes,” a book of thirteen short stories featuring Carrie and Henry (protagonists in all my “To Die For” mystery series) as they discover and see to conclusion several peculiar crimes, many of which center around the theme of eventual redemption!

But current advances in computing–and all tech use–dump me into a scary world where I am required to do much re-learning and understanding of technology. I saw a recent Buick ad which featured technology that accomplished parallel parking for a young boy in the driver’s seat. Whoa! I guess the car actually does that, and yes, I could use help with parking, but a hands-off the steering wheel option? This is a whole new world.

And here’s another big something I don’t understand. Looking recently at the listing of all my books on Amazon, I came across the offering of a mass market paperback copy of the seventh novel in my “To Die For” series, “A Fair to Die For.” Other than the fact that book is available in print in trade paperback only, this mass market copy (whence?) is listed for $809.64 and the pub date is January 1, 1822.

I guess that’s a bargain? Any takers out there?


June 10, 2020

Recently, during massive computer problems, a kind editor invited me to send my submission to her in the mail–that’s right, carried by the U. S. Postal Service. I was surprised, and tremendously grateful for this, and it got me to thinking back to the time when my writing career began.

“In the beginning” (See book of Genesis, KJV, Bible) everything I wrote and sold was created on a typewriter. No questions about the format for submitting. Acceptance or refusal came in a paper envelope delivered by a postal worker. Re-types to get a “perfect” document for submission were common. I didn’t think about it, I just did it.

Electronic typing came next, then, finally, computers. Wonder of wonders, a simple key click corrected mistakes.

But what happens when technology breaks down as, I have learned recently, it certainly can do. What do I do while my tech searches for the best new computing system for me?

I am writing this during a break in my computer’s wonkiness and can only hope it posts. But at this time I am very grateful for the USPS. One reason is that all my books can be purchased from my web site, Purchasers pay by PayPal, I mail their selections postage free. That takes me to my post office counter fairly frequently, and clerks there know me by sight. One of them always insists on giving me a lollypop–cherry flavor.

What computer ever gave you a lollypop?

Developing a sensitivity to words.

May 20, 2020

I wonder, do most writers develop a special sensitivity to word use? The meaning, the tone, the cadence, the rhythm, and even the hidden message? I hadn’t thought about this in general, though I certainly appreciate all of these attributes in poetry and well developed writing. Maybe it’s a silly waste of time but I often edit emails until the rhythm and meaning feel better to me than my original quick typing.

Over the last few days I have received forwarded emails from a friend and, though I had no real knowledge of what was true or false in the first one, I felt a certain unease when reading it and responded neutrally and in few words to the person who sent it. I did react immediately to the next forwarded email. It made me uncomfortable before I had read more than a paragraph, even though I had no knowledge of the subject being addressed. Something about the tone and rhythm disturbed me.

Then, the next day I learned during a radio program about “Fake Mail” that the first piece, attacking a well-known person (nothing to do with politics) , was entirely false and meant to injure the individual slandered there.

I thought again about the second message which was much stronger, but on a subject I know very little about. Why did both messages make me uncomfortable?

Looking at them again I decided it was word use only. I wonder, when we have intense feelings about something, especially when those feelings are negative, do we write or talk in a different manner than we might otherwise? I know from experiences way back when I marched in groups protesting the war in Vietnam and also marched in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, that organizers always wanted us to be peaceful, no ugly shouted words. “Think about what you want to say before you open your mouth” one organizer said.

If the authors of those emails that made me immediately suspicious had listened to messages like that, would I still have been on immediate alert? Today, since the Internet as the publishing platform for opinions of every shade has changed the way we express those opinions, do those of us who are full-time authors pay more attention to the feeling coming from a collection of words than most people? We certainly think about the meaning and effect of each word we use in our writing. That’s one reason I have said I believe writing poetry is good training for any writer, whether or not their writing career is about writing fact or fiction instead of poetry.

Authors out there–are we more sensitive to the result , the meaning and even the truth of words we read or hear simply because we must think deeply about word use in our own creative writing?

Responding Rather than Reacting

May 18, 2020


May 1, 2020

I would guess that many writers, who work at home anyway, are not traumatized by self-isolating as, it seems, some people in other careers are. Since the passing of my husband (best friend and business manager) a year ago, I have lived alone. Learning how to take care of all the things John did related to my writing career, not to mention the many household chores–from bill paying to light bulb changing–has been difficult, and I have had to quit some of my favorite career experiences. I do miss the easy ability of traveling to distant book selling/signing events and writers’ conferences, but otherwise I am adapting. John and I worked separately most days at home, so, even when he was here, we were often quietly separate, but certainly not lonely.


I recently finished the anthology of short stories I had long dreamed about writing (“Solving Peculiar Crimes”) and that is now off to my editor. Wow, now I actually have time to read books written by favorite authors, including some I know well and have enjoyed spending time with at writers” events in the past. That is a huge plus.

I do need to catch up with promotion methods that have changed quite a bit since my last novel came out in 2016. Whoa, has it been that long? On- line promotion on Social Media and elsewhere has leaped ahead during those years.

I still look forward to the time when life opens up again, and I can go back to my regular Friday-Saturday book selling and signing events in an area chain of grocery stores. I enjoy talking with people, face-to-face, which is, I know. a contrast to the fact that I don’t mind long days at home alone.

So, how are things going for you? If you are home alone, are you adjusting to that, both income and experience-wise?