Archive for December, 2012


December 29, 2012

A newsletter I used to get years ago once had an issue about the importance of reading to children.  The mother who contributed an article described several cozy scenes:  A child cuddled in Dad’s lap while he reads to her from Goodnight Moon.  A toddler stopping his running to speed read (!) Pat the Bunny with Grandpa, turning pages faster than Grandpa can read them. A big sister holding the baby in her lap while she turns the pages of a board book, pointing out images like puppy, kitten, ball.

I hope these scenes make you feel as good as they do me, especially those of you here who have either written for children or have or are now reading books to a baby or toddler.

The ideal action, from my point of view, would be to head  to a bookstore during the shopping time for an expected baby.  What fun to select books, maybe even ones you enjoyed as a child, to read to the newcomer.  Some expectant mothers (I have heard) read to their babies before they are born, understanding–as we are told–that the unborn infant can become acquainted with mom’s voice during the last few weeks before birth.

In her list of reasons to read to baby, the article’s author, Christine M. Telthorst,   lists several that seem especially important to me.

She says, in her list of  “becauses:”

Because children’s books today are so good that they are fun even for adults.

(Because) illustrations in children’s books often rank with the best, giving children a feeling for good art.

Because reading to children will encourage them to become readers and—

Because, when you hold your children and give them your attention, they know you love them.


The authors of beautiful children’s books are stars among all authors!

God bless them.


December 21, 2012

Have other authors with several books in print been asked this?  I imagine so, because I am frequently asked the question.  I used to toss off an answer, giving the name of whatever book might be featured at the time, or:

“Oh, my latest book is always my favorite.”

“None of them, really. I find favorite passages or events I especially enjoy in each one.”

“I don’t have an answer. It’s kind of like being asked which–of your children–is the favorite.”

And so on.

Truth be told, for much of the time I really hadn’t sat down to decide if I had a favorite, and if so, which one.

Now I know.  It’s “DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow,” my only non-fiction book thus far.

Why?  Because this story is really a love letter, not only to a real place, but to my husband.  It’s the story of our life over many years, beginning as we escaped to the northern USA and Canadian parks, seacoasts, and wild places during our yearly August vacation. A yearning for wild places developed in our hearts, and experiences during vacation stayed in our thoughts throughout 49 weeks of the year while we worked at formal jobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Then we bought land in Arkansas.  It was to be for retirement, but the first weekend after we became land holders, we got in our old van and headed for our Ozarks hills and hollows.  Our land had a year-around spring and a tiny losing creek.  We named the place–you guessed it–“Spring Hollow” and we continued visiting Spring Hollow–a hundred and twenty-five miles from our home in Tulsa–on most Saturdays.

Working on weekends over a couple of years, we built a two-room cabin on our land and began staying over night.  It was more home to us than our brick house in the city.  We saw so many new things — learned so much about the natural world around us at Spring Hollow.  Our hearts were at Spring Hollow 24/7 as they say.

Eventually we simply quit our jobs in the city, sold our city home, and moved to Spring Hollow.  Didn’t know what work we’d find, or what was coming but, for once, we followed our hearts and not our heads. We have now lived at Spring Hollow for twenty-five years.

In all ways, DEAR EARTH is truly a love letter.  Response from many, many readers tells me others have understood this, and it has meant almost as much to them as it does to John and me, though they have never seen the place, and only know it through my writing.  Some have become repeat book buyers, with the record being held by one woman who ended up buying seventeen copies to give away.

Nice to know so many people share a love that has long been such a big part of our lives. I remain  grateful that John and I had the strength to move forward to this place and create our home.

Spring Hollow will always be a part of us, no matter what the future holds.



Where DO you get your story ideas?

December 13, 2012

Dear Friends,

I am told that the question most often asked writers is some version of “Where do your ideas come from?”  Interestingly, I am rarely asked that question when meeting the public anywhere in Arkansas or the surrounding area of the Ozarks in Missouri or Oklahoma.  I think that’s because, to Arkansans at least, the fact each of my novels is set in a specific real place in Arkansas that many people, from here and away, visit annually answers the question.  I get my ideas from my chosen special locations and the history there that has an impact on the present day.

But there is more to it than that, and the “more” is how my experience probably parallels that of most authors.

Ideas for my mystery novels come from my imagination, from my life experience, and from what I read in the news.  (Most others would say from television news, but we don’t have cable and don’t get network stations out here in the forest, though we do watch the News Hour on Public Television.)  However, I listen to public radio, and read four newspapers, including our small-town weekly, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (state-wide, with sections included covering our area of NW AR), The Christian Science Monitor (international and USA news), and The New York Times (national and international).  And yes, ideas do sometimes come from that reading.  (For example, what type of crime has NOT been covered in those newspapers?)

How about intuition and a long knowledge of the human experience? Yes.

How about other people — are your friends or general family in that writing?   No, not to my conscious knowledge, except as they fit into the human condition.

How about Radine?  Is she in your story?  Umm, well, yes, and, I think, beyond the fact the story is coming from my imagination.  Am I found in my major female character, Carrie McCrite?  The two of us are not alike any more than two friends would normally be, but, understanding her, I can put myself in her shoes while writing of her experiences.  If she is terrorized, I feel chills.  If she is sad, I cry.  That’s how it goes for most writers, I suspect.  I was once at a talk given by Janet Dailey, well-known romance writer, and, when a woman in the audience dared ask her if, when writing erotic scenes, she felt aroused, she admitted, after some hesitation, that she did.  Here is how she put it.  “My husband says he can always tell when I am writing a love scene.”

So, use your imagination.

How about my own husband, is he Henry?  Not in any physical similarity, but, perhaps–more than any character including Carrie– Henry King copies a real person. You might say Henry’s life honors that of John Nehring.

People have sometimes asked me if authors writing violent or terrifying scenes have violent or terrifying thoughts.  Would I be afraid to be alone with Stephen King, for example.  Nope.  Truth be told, I did write one violent, terrifying scene in A RIVER TO DIE FOR, and, though I felt FOR Catherine, who was experiencing this, I wasn’t frightened.  Not a bit.

How about you?  Readers — have you asked an author, “Where to you get your ideas?” What was the answer?

Writers, Where DO you get your story ideas?

Sincerely, Radine, at