Dogs are “HE” and Cats are “SHE.” Or, are they?


I’ve recently found myself in conversations with other writers about male vs. female wording in writing. We’ve discussed what dialogue or point of view narrative sounds male and what sounds female.

I have a female “voice,” and so my male characters suffer with gender identity. I’m working on it. I’m also a little fussed by it because part of me doesn’t want to profile males or females that way. I think women can think in clipped, unemotional, factual ways. I believe men can be emotional, feeling, and long winded. I could look up poems by Longfellow and Frost or Nebraska’s own Kooser, and it would point out nicely how emotional a fellow can be.

kooser11But I’d only prove myself wrong. Read Ted Kooser’s Tattoo. See if this doesn’t make the point for men writing like men even when they write with feeling and emotion.

I got thinking this morning about cats and dogs. I do this every day because they surround me. I have many theories about how these two species and their personalities, quirks, and little lives can so often be compared to our own.


I’m one of those people who have always identified cats as female and dogs as male. But, upon deeper thought this morning over my bowl of cereal, I decided for lo these many years, I’ve been wrong.

You see, I think most men seem to be born with some kind of inborn confidence and inner respect for themselves. They lean to the understanding they must be right. They believe they can solve the issue at hand (that they have the ability). Even when they end up being wrong, they don’t beat themselves up about it. They shrug it off. Say it probably wasn’t their fault. Fault doesn’t seem to be a part of their DNA.

I don’t think this is the case with most women. We doubt ourselves. Constantly. It’s as though we’re born apologizing. We assume we have a lot to learn, and we mix emotions in with every issue, complicating things. Fault is innate. Thanks a lot, Eve.

Of course, this is just my humble opinion and could be right or wrong and only applies to some and not all… (Not something a man would say, I suspect.) I’ll just go ahead and take this moment to apologize. (I’m guessing you expected me to say those things, but I could be wrong. Sorry again.)

This is my new take on the issue of cats and dogs and what gender pronouns I should be giving them.

Cats are actually far more like men than dogs. Cats don’t seem to have guilt or remorse. You can’t shame a cat. I can shake my finger and speak sternly to my cats when they knock over a glass of water or dump a potted plant on the floor or dismantle an entire Christmas tree. All they do as I scold them is lay on the floor with a smug expression as they twitch their tail. They then raise a leg and lick their private parts in comment… “Yeah, Lady. This is what I think about what you’re sayin’.”

If a dog made a mess, he’d (note the gender pronoun I chose there?) be hiding under the table with the most regretful expression. All you would have to say is, “Did you do this?” I know my dog would avert his eyes in humiliation. He’d probably hide under the bed all day just thinking about what he’d done.

So, from now on when choosing a pronoun to describe cats and dogs, cats will be “he” and dogs will be “she.” I will try to think more like a cat when I’m writing my male characters. Or I could just ask my husband, “What would you say in this situation?” That would work, too.


A Dream Too Special to Ignore

Last night I had a dream so real and comforting, I have no choice but to wonder if it wasn’t a sign or a truth of some kind. Something the universe wants me to pay attention to.

I’m not sure I did it justice, but the scene and feeling the dream left me with was so incredibly powerful, I jotted it out this morning. I want this image, this idea, saved forever.

Snow On The Leaves 11192010I wake in a pile of cold wet autumn leaves. As I look around, I have a sense of pain and isolation. Thrown here like trash, is what my heart remembers. Left like the core of an apple—the heart of me still strong, yet my flesh battered to exhaustion.

Plucking away the damp leaves pasted to my skin, I force myself to rise, weary, but sensing I must go. Something pushes me on.

Snow falls lightly from the gray sky, and winding around a distant corner in one direction, long and straight in the other, an open road is before me. Both choices are a mystery as to their destination.

Which way should I go?

I know choosing one path will take me forward and the other will take me back. Something in me tells me which way is which. I choose forward and go toward the curve—somewhere I’m sure I’ve never been.

Each step leaves a footprint, black in the dusting of newly fallen snow. When I check behind me, I see the trail of steps I’ve taken disappearing, covered by flakes now falling steadily. Life goes on as though my paces didn’t matter. It occurs to me that maybe the destination is what has always been most important. 

But, I am not cold to the bone. If anything, I become more renewed with each step. The moisture in the air refreshes me like a drink of cool water, and the sight of purest white on evergreen cleanses me—erases the memories of being discarded and alone.

The walk is long, but I finally approach the bend in the road. I’m about to see my destination. 

A sparkle of music touches my ears. A rhythmic beat. Soulful voices. Quiet, but growing as I go forward. Not just one voice, but three, do I distinguish. I recognize the sound of a guitar and piano. The strings and keys played by fingers that know the tune like an old friend.

The song grows strong and true in its honesty. It’s a genuine greeting, a welcome made for me. The music hugs me and holds me so tight and so lovingly, my heart swells and my throat tightens. This is a love so true and pure, so consuming and deep, it warms me more than any sunshine.

I stop and stand in the path, big round flakes falling around me, and I bask in complete acceptance.

It takes my breath away.

It becomes the breath I take.

It’s so much more than air.


The snow creates a dense fog, but then the scene opens before me—pine trees heavy laden with wet pillows of snow on each bough. A small house sits in the clearing, abandoned and old, weathered, but still standing strong.

On the front porch, is a small band. An old man playing guitar, a girl in a woolen red coat, clapping her hands and singing with all her might, and a young man at an old upright piano, playing with big hands and long knowing fingers, his voice sure and loud. Conviction and truth belt out in his warm tenor and his bluesy melody grabs my mind and holds me in a trance as I gaze through the big wet flakes.

I don’t know what he’s singing, but I believe every word without a doubt. It’s Gospel. It’s the only tune, the only lyrics I’ll ever need again, and I know this is where I want to be—in this wood, at this place, on this road, where I can hear this powerful song of truth.

The young girl’s face shines, and the old man nods, wise and knowing. The younger man beams with joy as he sings the words the old man surely taught him. These three exist forever here, welcoming anyone who can feel the song deeply in their heart.

I am home.






FallIt’s October 22nd and 60 degrees outside with a little wind. I normally run hot, but today I’ve got the shivers. Probably because the sky is gray, and it reminds me of days to come when hats and gloves and winter coats will become a necessity. It’s a soup day, to be sure. A day for my cat to cuddle on my lap and for me to keep a blanket nearby. Hard to believe, but last Saturday it was almost 100 degrees. That’s Nebraska for you.

But it’s still the Autumn season, even though it appears to be nearing its end. From my window, I can see a wall of golden cornstalks, shaking in the wind. Soon, the roar of a combine will cut the wall down and, once again, I’ll see across the field as it lays cold and barren. The little Ash tree just beside the patio has merely a handful of leaves clinging to the spindly branches. They’ll lose their fight and drop to the still-green grass, joining the hundreds of others already there.

The weather changes on a dime here in the Cornhusker state, so we could very well be bringing back out our shorts and tank tops yet again before real winter erases the fall. But this day is for purring cats, an extra cup of coffee, and writing.

For me, autumn and winter mean writing, and that puts a smile on my face. I give myself permission to cozy up with my laptop and tap out scenes and dialogue and fuss over sentence structure. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll squeak out some decent chapters to finally take to my writing groups. It’s been a while.

Even though the land is about to be gleaned of its harvest, the trees bare of their leaves, and the grass a dull shade of brown—in terms of writing, for me, it’s spring. Ideas are growing and the time is upon me to plant the stories I’ve been tinkering with in my mind. Wish me luck. It’s not easy typing with cats laying on my keyboard, but they sure do stare at the computer screen with great interest. I’ll take their loud purring as encouragement and type on.Photo on 10-22-15 at 2.41 PM #2


Today I’m thankful for people who read. Thank God for each and every one of you. For a writer, the sun rises and sets on readers, but for the world, well… you’ve spent time with people who don’t have time to read. You know.

I guess reading verses watching tv or listening to radio is like the difference between fast food and a home-cooked meal, or between watching a video about a topic versus attending a class, buying tomatoes at the store or picking your own from the garden. Time and effort and a desire to make life happen, instead of letting life happen to you, makes the difference.

Is it obvious? Can you put them side by side and tell the difference like a taste test between Pepsi and Coke? I’m not sure. Well, wait… yes I am. The gardener has dirt beneath their nails and a smile of pride on their face. The cook beams when company tastes the food and rewards him or her with compliments. The person who attends the class doesn’t only come away with knowledge but an experience, friends, and memories. There is a discernible difference if you’re looking for it.

If you’re looking for it is the key. Do you see the pinks and golds in the sunset? Are you looking for the slow closing of a cat’s eyes when he relaxes and gives you his full trust? Do you glory in the beauty of dew on the grass, beading up and sparkling in the morning light? Is your heart warmed by the wrinkles around the eyes of a person who smiles at you?

Or do you just see the day end, the cat sleep, the wet grass, and the old woman in the grocery store giving you a false-toothed grin?

Choose how you see the world today. Look deeper. Plant your own garden of sights and sounds in your mind and reap the beauty it will grow.


Broad Smiles

Food is a common connection we all have. Different races, religions, ethnicities, ages, genders, eras, countries… across the board—everyone eats. Most of us remember some kind of food with fond memories.

If you begin a discussion about food, people will almost always weigh in with some comment or story. The story may be about something their mother made them eat, even though they hated it. I’ve heard stories about things people ate as children that made them sick. They’ll often say, “To this day, I can’t eat that!” (Mine is spice cake with cream cheese frosting.) More often, people have fond memories of food they ate as children. They may very well still consider it their special comfort food.

Last week I visited with an older woman from my church. We were talking about pie—a food topic that often makes people’s eyes glaze over Pre-cookedMulberryPie 250x205because, seriously—who doesn’t like pie. Mulberry pie came up and it led us both back down our individual memory lanes.

Her memory was about climbing up a fruit tree and eating right from the branches. She talked about her daughter riding her horse under a mulberry tree, then sitting there eating the berries. My memory was of lying on top the roof of our chicken house, a large mulberry tree’s boughs hanging low. I’d pluck the fruit, eating until I had my fill and my fingers were purple. We both had such broad smiles. Smiles I’ve seen on many faces when food memories become the topic of discussion.

So, I thought I’d share some of my food memories. Little things I find myself thinking about and smiling. I’m sure it will trigger food memories of your own. We all have them, because no matter how different we are, we all have to eat.

  • My mother made me many different things because she knew I loved them. I love them to this day. Boston Crème Pie. Cream Puffs filled with fluffy whipped cream. Fresh strawberries with real thick cream Mom bought from a woman who milked cows. Mulberry pie (we’d lay a sheet under a mulberry tree and shake the branches). Pea pods boiled in butter, then I’d pull the peas out between my teeth. Sandwiches for school lunch—she would use a cookie cutter to cut out the center because I didn’t like the crust—the lion shape was my favorite. And the most fun memory is of her pouring a little rubbing alcohol in a spoon rest, lighting it, then roasting a marshmallow over the flame. It tasted wonderful in the middle of winter.
  • Beyond those fun memories, I remember weird food, like those after-school hunger pangs, when I  put two slices of cheese in a bowl and microwaved it until it melted, then spooning it up while I watched TV and enjoyed being home for the day.
  • Fried chicken on Sunday when the whole family came home.
  • Calico beans and homemade rolls—Mom’s standard church potluck dish.
  • Kolaches fresh from the oven on Saturday morning.
  • Poppy seed cake at Czech funeral dinners.

Now. What are your memories? Maybe there was a place your family went to eat on a special night, or something a relative made that you looked forward to. I’d love to know what your food memories are. They always make great topics for conversation.


Cheap Date

Cheap-Date-logocolor1I like to tell my husband I’m a cheap date. He might disagree, but more often than not, I’m happy with take-out pizza and Netflix than an expensive dinner and a show, (provided I can, on occasion, have a nice dinner out and go to a show.)

In the spirit of being a self-proclaimed cheap date, I’m going to prove it. Tomorrow I’m reducing the price of my book, Flames of Rosewood, on Amazon, from $1.99, to .99 cents. I’m running an ad on EReader News Today and hoping I see some increased sales and readers for the second book in the Rosewood Series. Come on. Give it a try. Take me out. .99 cents. Seriously. You can’t lose.

So, if you just picked up Thorns of Rosewood last week during the free days and want to read what happens next, pick up Flames of Rosewood tomorrow for a most excellent price. You too can be a cheap date, stay home, eat a frozen pizza and read my book. If you’re a really cheap date, you can let your significant other have your pizza crust and let them look over your shoulder while you read my book on your Kindle. 😉



Thorns of Rosewood Amazon Review

If you click the link above, it takes you to the Amazon page where a reader gives me a 5-star review and says this about my book, Thorns of Rosewood:

“This woman can write!! And tell a great story too. I wish I could give it more stars. The characters all come across as very real people with their own joys and sorrows, triumphs and tragedies. Great reading.”

The person who left the review, I only know as, Kindle Customer. It could be a guy or a gal, an older person or a younger person, someone from the little Nebraska town next to mine, or someone from across the world. I don’t know, and I probably never will. It’s exciting to get reviews from complete strangers. Especially positive ones. So far, since the ad for my book, Thorns of Rosewood, ran last week on BookBub, I’ve received eighteen new reviews, and all but one were four and five stars.

To everyone who picked up Thorns of Rosewood free (59,978 of you!), I say THANK YOU SO MUCH!! To those who after the free day was over, bought the book (216 of you!) I say THANK YOU EVEN MORE!! To the 594 people who bought Book 2 in the Rosewood series, Flames of Rosewood, I am ever so grateful!! And my reader stats show that 97,224 pages of Thorns have been read since the promotion. Wow.

To all the writers out there who are thinking about buying a BookBub ad, I’d encourage you to keep trying until they accept you. I’ve earned three times what I paid for it. But, oh, for the new readers—that is the true benefit! What a joy. My thoughts are running through their minds as they read. That’s quite a connection, now, isn’t it?!

Oh, and just for the fun of it, here is a screen shot of my ranking on Amazon during the promotion. For a little moment in time, I was number 1!







If you’re a writer, what’s the one thing you want more than anything? A big fat royalty check? Fame? Jet-set lifestyle? A cameo in the movie made from your book? Well. Not me. And I don’t think most writers actually want that. They may think they do, but so often we dangle a carrot of material things in front of us when what we’re really looking for is something closer to the soul.

Writers want readers. (And the nitty-gritty, honest truth is, writers want acceptance.) All artists want someone to look at their work and nod with a smile. Say, “Yeah… I get that.”

So, if writers want readers, one of the tried and true ways to achieve that is by giving your work away. It’s nothing new. Some writers give away print books at book signings, or on websites like Goodreads. Writers often charge nothing to speak at events for the opportunity to sell some books. Just about every business offers freebies to get you in the door, and writers are business people, too.

In that vein, I’m offering a book free today because I want more readers. I want people who will read my work and say, “Yeah… I get that!” People who will then go ahead and buy a few more of my books because they enjoyed the free book I gave them. People who will leave a good review on Amazon!

Today I offer my book, Dark Works. FOR FREE!! I’ve renamed one of my books (previously titled, The Scary Things) and put a shiny new cover on it. I love this collection of short horror stories. (Halloween is just around the corner, you know!) Every one of these terrifying tales give me a twisted grin. Maybe you’ll feel the same. And maybe you’ll read them and decide you’d like to give all of my books a shot. Even decide to pay for a few! I hope so, because what I want most is readers!



TODAY’S THE DAY!! I’m trying a new form of promotion. So far, so good. I’ve sold around 100 books so far and given away 37,000. That number keeps climbing. More readers are a wonderful thing!

Thorns-smallerThere is a book promotion site called BookBub. Check out the link. Join. It’s free. I love it because depending on how you set it up, you’ll be notified about discounted books, and not books just anyone can put up there, either. I’ve tried three times to get a BookBub ad and was just now accepted for it. If you’re a reader, sign up so you can learn about good discounted ebooks. If you’re an author, read the rules and apply knowing it may take a year before they accept you.Oh, and it’s not just unknown authors using BookBub for promos. I just picked up Stephan Cobert’s book, Beyond Truthiness, from a BookBub ad.

BookBub is promoting my book, Thorns of Rosewood, today, Thursday, September 17th. I am offering Thorns of Rosewood FREE. It’s normally priced at $2.99. If you happen to pick up Thorns on Thursday for free, I hope you’ll go on to buy Flames of Rosewood at it’s already low price of $1.99. (Hey, you just saved $2.99… you can afford it now!)

So go. Join BookBub. Get Thorns free on Thursday. Buy Flames with the money you saved on Thorns. You’ll thank me later. And authors, check into BookBub. It might be a new way for you to promote your book. I’ll let you know if I find it to be a good business decision.

Oh, and if you want to help me out, you can forward the link for this blog to any readers you know. I’d appreciate the support.

An Author’s Voice


I’ve been kind of idling in neutral when it comes to writing. I think it’s because I’m second guessing my abilities. Wondering, even, if I have a style or a voice worth reading. I am what I am, and I want to write and tell stories, but… is the way I word things, the phrasing I use, the images I paint, unique enough? Or mainstream enough? Or just … enough?

As I drove into town to work today I tried to look at my small community like an outsider might. We’re a little weird like everyone is a little weird everywhere. Meaning, what seems very normal to us might be quirky or odd to someone else. We park in the middle of the street. Two full rows of parking around the square of our downtown. There’s room. It’s always been that way. Makes perfect sense to us. We have a noon whistle that blows at… you guessed it… noon. Very loud. Reminds us it’s time to take a break. Just always the way it’s been. Takes at least ten minutes on a quick day to get fast food in the line at our two fast food restaurants in town. Nope. Nothing really fast about it, but hey, we don’t have to get out of the car, so that’s progress!

Living in a small town seems like an easy life. It is in some ways. It’s harder in others. It’s easy in that when I want to go to the grocery story, I drive up, park by the front door, and go right in. I don’t have to time my shopping around rush hour or fight construction or wait at lights. I don’t have to park at the end of the lot, or circle the parking lot to find a closer spot. If there are more than two people in a check-out line, the cashier gets right on the intercom and calls for more checkers. Standing in long lines is a very rare thing.

What can make small-town life challenging is the same thing that makes being famous challenging. If a celebrity goes out on the town and has a couple too many drinks, it’s in the tabloids by morning. Same thing in a small town, but instead of the tabloids, it’s the big story at the coffee shop or hair salon. Now, if you get a fine driving, then that’s in the paper, but it’s okay because the paper only comes out once a week. Maybe by then you can put some spin on the gossip so it goes over better with your grandma when she reads it.

Yes. It’s hard to live under the spotlight, so to speak, and yet, the only folks around here who are real celebrities are the kids in high school who win the game, and that’s just fine. Most of us cringe when attention points our direction.

Back to this writing thing. My voice, my style, is certainly formed by my surroundings. I write in my way, the same way we do things in our own way here in our small Nebraska town. It’s normal to me.

When I write a book, I let you see me through my story-telling voice. I draw from cousins and aunts and uncles, neighbors, and silly little sayings and legends of the area, and mispronounced words and turns of phrases. I write like I think… like I talk. I don’t try to polish it. I want to make sure it’s real and… small town… but honest.

I want to show that it’s easy, but hard at the same time to live small. Small town life has as much duality and intrigue as any other life in any other place. It mustn’t be discounted because it’s ordinary. If anything, it’s special because it’s ordinary. That’s what I try to show when I write. Maybe that’s why I think I need to write—because I know I’m willing to be honest with my “voice.”

The voice I use when I write is the only voice I can imagine using when creating stories about people who might be like those I’ve lived around, in towns similar to the one in which I live, carrying out simple lives, just like me and mine. Simple lives, full of relationships and love and frustration and sorrow… the most honest basic feelings at the core of every story ever told.