Where have you been?

Researching the Oklahoma land rush of 1893 has been interesting and time-consuming. I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I blogged. My apologies, dear readers.

Life tends to interfere in many writer’s plans. Illness. Death. Work. Laundry. Home Repair. Vacation. Truly, life goes on. But creativity cannot be denied. It slips into our days in small ways. The key is to be grateful for every moment.

Make a note. Make a sketch. Leave a voice mail, just don’t forget. Capture the dream. Make note of the smells, sounds, sights and feelings you experience. They are the things that make stories real.

I love to write and learn new things. Please be patient. It takes a long time to write that first draft and edit and make it come to life. Thank you so much for reading my books, sharing your precious time with them, and letting everyone know if you enjoyed them. You inspire me. You make all the hours of work worth while.

Bless you, dear readers and Enjoy the Ride.


Editing my fingers to the bone.

Sorry, I’ve not been posting regularly lately, but I’ve been editing, editing and editing some more. The 1970’s YA novel is now a 1980’s YA novel because the youth today know the 80’s references and so do their parents. So, the story can promote discussion….YES!

The new title is “Every Move You Make: I’ll Be Watching” and yes it has suspense, romance, betrayal, friendship, obsession and abandonment, not necessarily in that order.


Notable Quotes

Habit is the bed of creativity. Tuck yourself in. ~Stephen King

Have a goal – die trying. ~Karl Marx

Inspiration is everywhere – carry a notebook. ~Victor Hugo

Follow your zen. ~Herman Melville

The is no ideal environment to work in. ~William Faulkner

Finish. ~James Joyce


Life is not a straight line…

Life is not a straight line. We bounce around and find our way through.

forget me notsIf you follow your “curiosity” it will give you clues. Be aware. Be open. Listen. Trust that every place you go is where you are supposed to be in order to gain experience, wisdom, grace, humility, discipline, faith…

This was especially true in my twenties. But I have to say that even at my current age I must not fall into the pit of focusing so hard on one outcome that I miss opportunities to grow. How about you?

When I’m writing a story and think I already know the ending it’s surprising what can happen along the way. New characters appear. Old characters change. Assumptions made no longer apply. And sometimes the ending morphs as well. Follow the path, wherever it leads you.

I love when I’m reading and the story surprises me. Occasional unpredictability can be inspiring – emotional – even educational. But writer beware of throwing a huge rock in the soup, it will totally change the flavor and splash not only the broth, but the reader right out of the pot.

snoopy happy danceI’m a fan of satisfying endings. Who wants to read about a total loser who never ever wins? Totally depressing. You want readers to feel hope for the characters, satisfaction that the story ended as it should and they didn’t waste their time.

I hate to see a cool character die or an antagonist that can’t be redeemed (even just a little bit). In life, those things happen, so they have to occur in story as well. What is story, but the telling of a life experience (real or imagined)? A path taken that resulted in certain consequences that the reader can relate to, utilize as a lesson learned in their own lives, or imagine and enjoy.  which way signLife is not a straight line…so the story can’t be either.

Enjoy the journey, my friends. I plan to.





“You first dreamed of becoming a writer to create a deep connection. You wanted another person to know how you felt. You wanted to change someone’s life.” excerpt from Joe Bunting article on Writing Practice, Medium Daily

He writing wineis so RIGHT. Good books move me on so many levels. I want to write those kinds of books. It is my wish for readers and a dream for me. Thank you, Joe, for putting it so succinctly.


Writers of the Wheat Literary Festival July 10th


Come enjoy the 15 talented authors who reside in Kansas and will present excerpts from their works on
Friday, July 10th, 2015 from 6 pm to 10 pm
Sunflower Plaza, 417 E. Gilbert, Wichita, KS

(I’ll be there to share PATCHWORK FAMILY.)

For more information, contact Tracy Edingfield Dunn, 316-304-5995.



Gardening and the writer’s journey

I’ve never been much of a gardener for various reasons, but every spring I’m inspired by the sun, the new plants popping through the soil, the trees and flowers in bloom and I think – I want to make pretty things grow, feel the sun on my back and the dirt between my fingers.

I’ve had some success with Hosta, Tulips (and failures), Live Forever, Pampus Grass, Purselane, Mums and weeds, of course. I have several smallish patches to work with now and cutting down the dead stems and the oak leaves that bury the baby plants takes a lot of time. So, I’ve been going out on my lunch hour and raking a little here, snipping a little there and slowly I am making progress.tulips

Some of the new plants are just that: “new” and therefore a surprise to me. A bit of Crocus just popped and I’m thrilled. It appears I’ll have Jonquils soon. Oh, and the weeds – they’ve already begun digging their ugly little tap roots down into the soil. The little buggars.

When my son was little he used to bring me the Dandelions and I’d dutifully put them into water on the windowsill. Same thing occurred with my grandson. Now I try to pluck those yellow blooms before they go to seed.

child_writer_bwI am noticing that gardening is like anything else in life and especially creative ventures. Gardening requires time, attention, nourishment and weeding; and those same rules apply to writing, painting, singing, relationships…basically EVERYTHING of worth. Is it hard? Sometimes. Is it fun? Sometimes. It is usually worth what you put into it. So, I can’t complain if my flowers die because I didn’t water them. I can, but it’s my own silly fault.

Enjoy the journey, my friends. (And don’t forget to get your copy of PATCHWORK FAMILY at any bookstore near you or online.)patchwork_family_on_table

Writing good dialog – updated

In 2012 I wrote about what makes good dialog. It’s such a critical part of a story that I thought I’d update it.

Good dialog sounds “real.” By that I mean, it sounds like what your character would say and not words you’ve put in their mouth – that may not quite fit. How do you know when dialog sounds real? Read it aloud. Read it to a critique partner or writing buddy. And don’t forget to “LISTEN” to hear what is being said, not what you meant to say.

kid with a megaphone

I took a Playwriting class several years ago and one of our first assignments was on writing dialog. Face it, theater is mostly spoken and there are no narratives to explain the character or situation. What happens is spoken and physically dramatized. Back to the lesson: our professor said for each of us to go to a public place and eavesdrop. Write the dialog we hear, verbatim. (How cool is getting a grade for eavesdropping? Mother would be appalled.)

The coffee shop listening session was very enlightening. Two high school aged ladies were talking about a recent Friday night frightening date night and looking at fashion magazines. They appeared to be very good friends and spoke in incomplete sentences. One or the other often responded before the speaker finished, assuming they knew exactly what was going to come out of their friends mouth. What I heard were fragmented sentences, as well as thought hopping.bummed_face

SO, I used what I heard in a scene where two teen siblings were arguing and bating one another. You can really speed up the story by clipping sentences off, and interrupting is a fabulous way to show emotion.

The key is “listening” wherever you go. How do mom’s talk to their toddlers? How do couples in love speak and act? How do old married couples converse? It’s amazing what you will observe. USE IT! You are experiencing real day-to-day dialog. Recreate it in your story.

Have you noticed that most people don’t speak grammatically. They often speak in a kind of short hand, punctuating it with body language or a physical act. Here’s an example, teenage Darrin is slouched on the couch with ear buds in his ears, an X-box controller in his hands, eyes glued to the television, feet on the coffee table that is littered with an array of food and drink remains. Mom’s mad. Her hands are on her hips, the dish washing sponge is in her hand and she yells, “Darrin Michael Smith…” splatting his head with the flying sponge. He drops his feet to the floor along side the controller, yanks off one ear bud and says, “WHAT!” Mom grits her teeth and says,”Clean up this mess.”easylistening

Do you see what I mean? Clipped sentences. Body language. Incomplete thoughts. You will seldom hear mom say, “Darrin, get your feet off of the table, put down the remote, pull out your ear buds, and clean up the mess.” He only hears “Darrin” and “mess” anyway, everything in the middle is noise.

Think about it. Try eavesdropping. Try writing a short scene like this and read it aloud. Does it sound realistic? It’s worth a try. Enjoy the writing journey, my friends.