Here’s Chapter 14 of Karda and a brief note about—well, stuff

This is the last chapter I will post. I am frantically working on getting the books up and running for publication next month.

It’s spring here, finally, and I’ve been working outside, planting all my pots with begonias, geraniums, petunias, sweet potato vine—did you know there are black sweet potato vines? 

My one small pot of herbs is doing great already. The sage plant is getting old and woody. The pot is slowly crumbling—I dare not move it. It's been in the same place on the porch there are violets growing out from under where it sits on the concrete. So next year I may have to plant a new sage. The chives, the thyme, the oregano I can repot, but the sage—not so much. Yesterday it was 95 degrees outside, and I had the top down on my car with the AC running. Today is cooler, but yes, summer heat approaches. We’ve had about three days of spring. It would be nice if summer could be cool, too. But—it’s Oklahoma. Probably not much chance of that. 

Enjoy this chapter and look for Karda and  Hunter—Vol II soon.

If you are not already signed up for my newsletters, please do so, because I want you to be the first to know when they are available. 

Here’s Chapter 14. Enjoy

Chapter 14

"Readen has assured me that there are no groups of marauders sheltering inside our borders." Roland looked to Readen. "Tell Altan what you found when you took the Mounted Patrol out there." He looked back at Altan. "He spent two tendays in the most deplorable conditions." His steward entered the room and stood behind him with a handful of papers. Roland flapped his hand at Readen in a come-on-tell-all motion and started going through the papers, carrying on a sotto-voce conversation with the steward.

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How I Write What I Write

For the past several weeks I have been editing both Karda and Hunter, books one and two of the Adalta Series. I don’t plot before I start writing, but in this editing process, I’ve realized the problems that causes me. Extraneous plot elements that don’t go anywhere—just kind of leave annoying hang-in-the-air spots—so my story starts looking a little like my car did when I parked it under a tree full of birds. Well, maybe not that bad. But when I have to figure out what to do with them —those stray ideas, it seems like it is.

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A Cold, Rainy and Fun Easter Sunday on April Fool’s day

It was cold, drizzly, and generally miserable outside, but our annual Easter family gathering was a huge success anyway. There were 50 of us—the biggest Easter ever—at Allen and Lorie’s. How did our Easter grow to 50 people? What happened to population control? Lorie had put us on notice, sending a message to bring coats and remember they had twenty acres for us to roam.

I think only my sister (and fellow writer) Alice’s family came from out of town. Brother Allen (the dog trainer extraordinaire), or actually his wife, Lorie and her father, Larry (our sculptor extraordinaire) set up heaters and tables in the garage, so Lorie didn’t have to put her furniture in storage to accommodate all of us.

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February 27, 2018 Update

Sometimes life interferes, so I’m late with this chapter, but I’ll post Chapters Nine and Ten to make up for it. Karda is now at the proof reader’s, and Hunter: Adalta Vol. II (draft # umpteen) is finished!!!!! (I know I’ve said that before, but this time it really is.) Now comes the final run through before it’s ready to proof. 

Falling, the third and final book in the Adalta series has begun, and I’m excited about it.

I actually did some plotting—at my sister Alice’s insistence and with her help, so maybe this one will be smoother sailing. Plotting is not my strong suit. I have some great ideas about the female protagonist, with the help of my long-suffering personal trainer/patient listener, whose questions opened up a whole new aspect of her character. Her name is Cedar, and she has a bionic foot.

How is that going to work on a tech-resistant planet? It won’t, so I’m looking for someone who has a boot that will hold my foot immobile. I need to know how it feels to have a virtual block for a foot. Have I given too much away? She’s obviously not going to be a sword-wielding badass female. Well, badass, but a different kind of badassery.

So here are the next two chapters of Karda. Enjoy, and comment if you will. Feedback helps and makes the next book better.

A BIG Thanksgiving 2017

I know I haven’t posted chapters of Karda for several weeks. First, it was Thanksgiving. I have a very big family, and Thanksgiving is our major get-together holiday for the year. We meet at my brother Bob’s cabin on Grand Lake of the Cherokees. This year there were sixty-four of us, with, I think, fourteen who weren’t able to come. Bob’s cabin is pretty big.

Wow, there could have been almost eighty of us. And we’ve been doing this for all my long life. At mother’s, then at my house, then at my farm, and now at Bob’s cabin. We’ve had other people, too, in-laws, friends—from Austria, from Japan, Germany, Brazil, Venezuela, from Spain and France,  This year there were people from Houston, Portland, Atlanta, Durango, North Zulch. (Yes, really, North Zulch) When I tell people about our Thanksgivings, they are, well, they are flabbergasted. 

In this day and age of what I often feel is a fracturing world, I realize how very fortunate we are. We can get together, that many of us, with differing personal, political, and religious beliefs, and have a great time. Several small fish get caught by small fisherpersons from the dock. We take walks and kick leaves, eat turkey and pecan pie, mashed potatoes, dressing and giblet gravy, and pumpkin pie, canned olives (a family tradition), chocolate pie and brownies, and this year Jeri made pralines, which Rachel informed us go really well with red wine. 

Where else could you get Thanksgiving cheese grits, first brought by Chris, who’s gone, now a tradition carried on by Abbie and one day, perhaps, by Lucie. 

One tiny five-year-old Mia got lost, causing panic, and then found upstairs watching a movie. Another five-year-old was sick to her stomach because that morning she had fallen off one of Uncle Allen’s horses. Ada Jane mounted back up when he put the saddle on because then she could have a seat belt. Five-year-old Miles lost some tiny legos someone stepped on. Ouch, legos hurt. We laughed, old people talked about all the trouble we got into when we were kids. We remembered those who are gone with love. 

Because below all those differences, in this world where differences are pulling us apart, we have a web of love, a warp and weft of love, a give and take of love that stretches and binds us together. If any one of those eighty plus people says, "I need help," there will be someone there to help. Just knowing that, feeling that fabric, means I don’t need to ask for support. It’s already there holding me up.

This is a precious thing. This is a priceless, precious thing. This is a thing for giving thanks, for Thanksgiving. 

On Writing October 17, 2017

I spent most of this last week at my sister, Alice’s. (Alice V Brock, author of prize-winning mid-grade novel River of Cattle) We worked the whole time.

I spent most of one day with Kim Davis and her daughter, Jackie, my web gurus, so I could finally figure out how to post here, and the rest of the time on my book 2 and Alice’s book 2. I screwed up trying to post this, and it will have to wait until Kim can walk me through it. AGAIN.

Alice got most of the chapter that is the mid-point crisis of her second novel in her Will and Buck series. And she jerked and tugged and pulled a rough and sketchy plot outline out of me for my third novel in the Adalta Series, Falling. It was tough. I don’t plot. Or rather, I use the I Shot an Arrow into the Air, It Fell to Ground I Know Not Where Plot Method. 

It remains to be seen how long I can stick to it. When I tried to plot Hunter, vol. 2, I ended up not even using one of the main characters I’d worked so hard to develop. 

While you are here, check out the new cover (by Kurt Nilson) for Hunter on the Books page. It would be great if you commented to tell me what you think of it.

Chapter One in the Karda serial follows. I’ll post Chapter Two in two weeks. If you sign up for my newsletter, I'll let you know when I post it.

Thanksgiving

Well it's over. And now there is snow. I am pretty much snowed in so I thought I'd write about our Thanksgiving. It is the biggest holiday of the year for my family. I am the oldest of seven siblings and everyone of them has kids and grandkids and inlaws and often friends who come. For years it was celebrated at my farm in Locust Grove where my oldest grandson lives now with his six kids--his, hers, and ours. There were hikes through the pastures and woods, rocks to throw in the creek, a horse to saddle for the kids to ride, piles of leaves to dive into, sometimes peacocks to chase despite that being forbidden, sofas to fall asleep to the football game on, more desserts than anyone could ever eat. My favorite is pecan pie and whipped cream without too much sugar. There were always more than 20, and often, like this year, more than sixty.

Traditions other than the traditional pecan pie (Myrna) and pumpkin pie(Jeri) include Chris's (now Abbie's) cheese grits, Pris's (now Lorie's) oriental slaw, Lorie's sweet potatoes with marshmallows (I like it best when she puts bourbon in it), my dressing and gravy, Bob's smoked turkey and ham, some wonderful things that BJ bakes, and lots more that I'm sure I've left out. 

Now we have a great day at my brother's place on Grand Lake. Lots of room for kids to run, a lake for parents and grandparents to worry about. No horse or peacocks, but beautiful walks and lots of leaves to kick. 

I can't remember a Thanksgiving day in more than fifty years that the weather wasn't beautiful and it was again this year. The snow came later. 

All my kids were here: from Stillwater, Austin, and Brazil. With grandkids from Locust Grove. The newest great grand girl was born on the Monday before TG, so she and her parents opted out. 

On Tuesday night it was just me and the kids and grandkids. We had coneys. A family tradition. Only fifteen of us. 

On Wednesday night I had dinner here for brothers, sister, nieces, nephews, sisters in law, and us. There were only twenty-five. 

On Thursday morning I cooked a turkey, dressing, and gravy to take to brother Bob's. We expected seventy, but only sixty four were there. I hope i remember next year that when seventy are expected a goodly percentage of those are kids who eat nothing but dessert. Too busy playing.

We were missing five who were in Minneapolis, one sister in law who was with her parents, four who were with the other set of parents. But there were several guests to make up the numbers so we didn't feel lonely. In the past we've had guests from Switzerland, Germany, Mexico, and Japan. And probably more places that I don't remember. I especially remember the young man from Japan who was convinced he would insult us by not eating some of everything. He was about to bust when someone finally told him it wasn't possible and it was okay to leave something on his plate. And the kids from Switzerland with broad smiles and eyes big as saucers as they were led around on my daughters big team penning horse. cameras flashing all around. 

Family this year came from Florida, Oregon, Texas, and Brazil. Minnesotans and Bostonians were in Minneapolis.

No matter how hard you try to circulate, it's impossible to talk with everyone, and every time you move there is a kid racing by chasing another kid. Or a hoard of child locusts headed for the dessert table. Again.

It's chaos. It's wonderful. In my lifetime I've only missed two, maybe three Thanksgivings with my family. We are so lucky. As long as we don't talk politics everything is fine and the stories we tell about growing up with six kids, a saintly mother, and an iconoclastic father get funnier every year. One of these days someone will remember to punch the record button on their iPhone and we'll start our book.

 

From Oklahoma to New Mexico and back again.

I loved living in New Mexico. Loved with a visceral kind of love that let me know, even when flying in, that I had crossed the border into the state. Maybe it was because my father was likely conceived there and there is a genetic connection. Because, being raised in Oklahoma’s Green Country, and loving the tall trees, the gravel bottomed rivers and creeks, the dogwoods and redbuds that paint Spring with pink and white veils, it would seem unlikely that I would love the high desert so.

Her name was Abbie, and when she was about eighteen she, her father, and some of her brothers, took a wagon, mules, seed, and farm equipment, and walked to Elida, New Mexico to homestead. That’s where she met my grandfather. He was living with one of his twin sisters in a dugout, teaching school. Abbie and Charles married there.

She told stories about being alone in the dugout when Indians, displaced and often starving, would come by. She would give them what she could. Bacon, she said. Terrified, I’m sure. But not hiding. She was a remarkable woman. Not always nice, but remarkable.

She always had time to play with us children. Endless hours of canasta, Chinese checkers, laughter. There was a covered glass dish on her coffee table filled with lemon drops. I still have it and I filled it with lemon drops this morning for my own grandchildren. Grandmas should always have lemon drops.