Archive for January, 2013


January 25, 2013

Are romance writers the only ones who write about love and sexperience?

Gosh,  no.  At the moment I am thinking back to the mystery novels by Dorothy L. Sayers.  If several of those aren’t part romance (as it was seen back in the 1920’s) I’ll eat one of my one hundred hats.  (Yuck — wool, straw, hemp, cotton, and a lot of goodness-knows-what. ) But then, I’m not worried in the least.

People will be people in mysteries as well as most other places.  Detective novels, and many popular mysteries in all the categories of that genre–even a few written earlier than those by the “Dead British Ladies,”– as well as up until present day, include a large dose of romance and even sexy romance.

In my own mystery novels featuring two mature adults and their friends, I manage to stuff in (between crimes and sometimes because of crimes), the meeting and growing romantic interest between widow Carrie McCrite and retired police officer Henry King. When Carrie convinces Henry, her Ozarks neighbor, to take part in an Elderhostel (as they were then called) in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, she explains that if two women can share a room to save money, why can’t they?  After all, there is a private bathroom and two beds!  This works out just fine until extreme danger divides the pair, and one of the things they realize is that they are in love–and it’s about time they did something about it before–horrors–one of them gets killed.

The next series novel, A WEDDING TO DIE FOR, is by far my sexiest book.  Not only are Carrie and Henry concerned about what an appropriate wedding for them would be like, both are dealing with wild concerns about what will happen on their wedding night.  Carrie’s first marriage was, after all, more a business arrangement with her criminal lawyer husband than a love affair, and Henry’s very wealthy first wife cut sex out of their relationship after their European honeymoon.  Though both WERE married, neither is exactly sexperienced.

And then, when they are exploring wedding venues, (and being shot at) there is a scene in the Crescent Hotel elevator when both forget themselves, and, well, later Henry apologizes, saying  ” I felt like I was a teenager again” and Carrie, flying wildly out of her normally ladyfied self, promises great things on their wedding night.   Ooooooo.  (No, this is NOT an X-rated book and is suitable for teens.  After all, it can awaken them to fresh thoughts about their grandparents.)

So, tell me about where you have discovered that true romance can, indeed, be part of all types of crime novels, not just those detective stories with the macho men and beautiful broads flaunting — whatever.   Prepare to have fun!


THIS IS A TEST (I’m taking it, not you.)

January 18, 2013

Quite often when I’m asked, cold turkey, to name the topic I’ll be speaking on at whatever event the questioner represents, I pop out something that, at the moment, seems likely to attract listeners.  Then my next thought is:  “Did I SAY that?  Now what?”

I’ve gone and done it again.  When asked to name the topic of a talk I’m giving at a Missouri library in a few weeks, I popped out with “How is writing like cooking?”  Or at least there it is on the event schedule:  “At 11:00, Radine Trees Nehring will be speaking on the topic ‘ How are Cooking and Writing Alike?'”

You may think I’m a latter-day Julia Child, as in  love with kitchen creations, processes, and results as I am with writing creation, processes, and results. Truth is, I am no more fond of cooking than the female protagonist in my mystery novel series.  Carrie McCrite cooks because she gets hungry if she doesn’t cook, or at least heat something.  That’s it.  In fact, the woman was dumb enough to put all her cookbooks in the house sale that cleared out unnecessary possessions before she moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to her new log home in Arkansas’s rural Ozarks. And, when she wanted her neighbor, retired Kansas City Police Major  Henry King, to go with her to an Elderhostel (as they were once called) in Hot Springs, Arkansas, her friend Eleanor Stack advised her to invite Henry for dinner and make meatloaf.  “Men love meatloaf.  Ask him about the Hot Springs trip after dinner.  He’ll agree for sure.”

One HUGE problem.  Carrie lived at home where her mother cooked until she was nearly thirty.  Then she married Amos McCrite, a bachelor  wealthy enough to have always had a full-time cook.  The cook stayed on after the wedding, and one result of this luxury was that  Carrie hadn’t a clue how to make meatloaf.  Trying to follow Eleanor’s advice, she got paper and pencil and sat down to write a meatloaf recipe. All she could think of was “hamburger.”  Too embarrassed to ask any of her Arkansas friends for help, she finally appealed to the County Extension Service for a recipe. After the meatloaf meal,  Henry did say “Yes” to the trip, and Carrie said “Yes” when he proposed to her before they left Hot Springs.

When I cook I often, like Carrie, make up recipes as I go.  I think of an idea, then– since I have over fifty years of experience in meal prep– I add ingredients that sound plausible.  I work out quantities for each as I decide which flavor should be dominant, then think carefully, and balance the possible effect of every item before I put together the final dish.  I’m not afraid to re-think and correct.  Then I add the chosen ingredients cautiously, lest the result jerk the entire dish out of the “palatable” range.  This isn’t as difficult as it sounds, since I know from experience the qualities and taste of most common kitchen flavorings, herbs, and spices.

In this manner, and while I’m still in the planning stage I put together the recipe on paper and mentally interview or challenge every piece of the story–uh, recipe– assessing the properties of each and their possible influence on the mix.  It’s fun to try new things, but too much way-out new can be scary and even dangerous.

No matter what, the result will always be a mystery until its actually tasted.



A scary tale of two libraries —

January 12, 2013

Which library will you admire?  I can guess, even if I don’t know your name.

This post is a tribute to my brother, Robert Denny Trees, who died in 1988.  It’s a just uncovered poem he wrote when he was nineteen and in college.



The shelves on the wall are filled neatly, end to end:/ The books are all of even height, and bindings smoothly blend;/ I know not what’s in all of them, but my sense is keen to know/ When each is in its place and ordered row on row./ But then again on this side — gaps without a doubt,/ And that is what you’re here for; let’s have your samples out!/ Put them on the table there, where light is bright to see; / Takes taste to fit a bookshelf out, to deck it to a tee. / Ah, only the fine materials with which to cover books, /These shelves to fill quite properly for guest’s and critic’s looks.

I’ll have the black and gold, a pair, and one, I think, in blue / And later find a book to fit them; ’tis the texture and the hue/ That now I must decide upon; but only books most erudite / In classic tongue or form will fit these covers snug and tight;/ I’ll make the choice with care — an original Voltaire!/ I cannot read a word in French but find the forms most fair./ And, Salesman, look at that shelf, dressed in somber black,/ Works of all great masters, every foreign speech – / minds me of another tack./

A college friend lives down the street; he’s poorer much than I,/ And has no taste in choosing books, for a living bare gets by./ As I said, we schooled together, but I left quite before he;/ I found a better life; he stayed, nose in books, and finished his degree./ How can one appreciate books with his eyes buried inside?/ Who can compare a yellow page to a cover of gilded hide?/ If you could see his bookshelf! Do you know what he fills it with?/ Paperbacks! Just paperbacks, nothing but pulp and pith./ They’re worn and torn and scribbled in with notes on every page./ If I should find a smudge in mine . . . how could I curb my rage!

Look here how clean; the maid twice dusts them every week,/ But his paperbacks seldom seem to gather dust; I cannot explain the freak./ Paperbacks! In filling shelves it’s evenness that one most naturally seeks;/ But paperbacks! No rhythm, rhyme, or order, saving gaudy rows of streaks,/ Writes? Yes, he writes; some say he’s quite widely read./ No, I’ve not read him; he’s usually out in paperbacks —  enough said./ Languages? Not so many as have I; oh, the ones that he can speak?/ Well, other than English, there’s French, Latin, . . . and probably Greek./ It’s enough for me to feel them here — the noble thought and weighty fact;/ So let’s return to these noble shelves and forget the paperbacked./ Now I have said the covers –books I want; can you bring them right away?/

I’m having a party soon — Oh, you must leave? Well, send them with no delay.

by Bob Trees

(We still miss you, Bubba),       Deani


January 5, 2013

At last!  Your publisher has released your board book, “BOUNCEY BALL,” and it’s in time to provide a baby gift for a college friend’s first child.  What a surprise the finished book will be for Suzanne and baby Corey. You put a copy, wrapped in bunny paper, in the mail.

Suzanne, who lives over a thousand miles from you now, has been with you (via e-mail) during the laborious process of creating the book. She has provided sympathy and a virtual shoulder to cry on while you learned that writing a children’s book can be more challenging than writing for adults, no matter how few words children’s authors work with.   But now your “baby,”–and hers–are here to be loved and enjoyed!

Life goes on,  and Corey grows, while you work on your next project, a book for slightly older children. In a few months there’s finally an opportunity for a visit to Suzanne and Corey as a tack-on to a business trip.

After a hug-full airport reunion and a car trip full of chatter and memories , Suzanne opens the door to her home and you see Corey and his daddy sitting on the family room floor.  Corey is — Corey is chewing on YOUR BOOK and, from the looks of the poor thing, it isn’t the first time BOUNCEY BALL has been gnawed on.

What will you do?  Probably depends on what Suzanne does.  If she ignores it, you should, too.  (But, all you parents and grandparents out there, if a baby in your care begins to chew on his or her book, best to have a chewey-safe item nearby and exchange the book for that while saying,  “Books are not for chewing. Books are for reading.”)


The next children’s book you write has regular pages, and brilliantly colored pictures of a child’s visit to an animal park.  Lovely! The artist your publisher found has already been honored for her illustrations and the result is — well, magic fits your feelings well.  Proudly you take a copy of this book to present to your young niece, who has just mastered walking.

Package open, paper ripped off, niece Jennifer pulls out the book, opens it, and, while you wait for the magic to delight this adorable child, she begins giggling, and tearing the first page.  Without thought you shriek and grab the book. Jennifer cries.  Sister-in-law calmly takes the book from your shaking hands, gives Jennifer a nearby magazine, and says in dulcet tones, while pointing to an open book page,  “Jenny, books are not for tearing.  See the pretty pictures inside? I can’t read the book to you if the pages are torn.”

Ah, the life of a children’s author!  Live and learn?


Here’s how every one of us can be a children’s author.  When a baby you are eager to love comes into your life, be prepared to start his or her book.  Take your camera along for every visit or, if the child is yours, take pictures of events in the child’s life.  Be sure and include pictures of faces–those of the child and its family, or pictures of faces from magazines.  Buy a scrapbook or make a book from paper and cardboard.  Print the photographs,  add scrapbooking illustrations and/or magazine pictures, and make a book, including an event in the child’s life on every page, plus a simple printed caption.

Another idea for the younger child’s special book is to use clear freezer bags without printing on them, put your pages inside the bags, and sew the resulting plastic-covered pages together with yarn.

Captions can be something like, “Sarah eats,” Sarah pets Bow-Wow,” Sarah reads with Daddy,” Sarah goes potty.” (Well, maybe not that last one.  However, given the learning interests of the young child . . . . )

Voila, you, too, are a children’s author!