The Pumpkin Man from Piney Creek--When I was a little girl, I wasn't allowed to have a jack-o'-lantern. My parents thought they were evil. I was always envious of my friends on my street whose doorsteps were lined with jack-o'-lanterns. So when I grew up, I did research on this subject and my idea was born for this book. I love pumpkins and usually have several on my porch every autumn. My kids and I like to carve jack-o'-lanterns and toast the pumpkin seeds. My favorite thing to make for Thanksgiving is a pumpkin-cranberry bread. Yum!
The Flimflam Man--When my son was two years old, I was working part-time in a tailor shop. One of the salesgirls knew that I wrote stories for children and suggested I write about "The Sucker Day Festival". She told me about the funny history behind this festival. I went to several of the festivals and out of my research came, The Flimflam Man. This book was particularly fun to write because I got to interview a lot of interesting people. I also felt like a detective when writing this book, because I spent a lot of time at the Historical Society, looking up old newspaper articles and photos. So far, this has been my most fun book to write because the Flimflam Man was bigger-than-life and lots of fun to create. I've sold the play rights to La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, CA.
Twister--When I was in college, the one thing that was pounded into my brain more than anything else, was to write what you know and write what you love. One thing I love is my porch swing. It's my favorite place to sit and read and relax. So I set off to write a story about my porch swing and along sneaked up a twister. I didn't really plan it. It just crept into my story and took over. I drew upon my memories of all the times I had to go to the cellar growing up in Noble, OK. Once, a twister went over our house and my dad and I and my dog Brutus ran to the cellar but my mom had just had her hair done at the beauty shop and didn't want to get her hair all blown around. So she stayed in the house and hid behind the sofa while we were down in the cellar. It was so scary hearing the crack of the hail and the roar of the wind and not knowing if my mom was alright. Luckily, the twister didn't hit our house and my mom's hair was still perfect!
The Babbs Switch Story--This was the toughest book I have written and my first novel. It was hard to write because of the tragic content of the book and the similar relationship between my main character and her sister and my sister and me. At times, I cried and cried while writing. I had to keep Kleenex close by my computer. Other times, I laughed so hard my son came into my office and said, "Mom? What's so funny?" This story, like The Flimflam Man, is based on a true-but-tragic story and is set in 1924 in the tiny town of Babbs Switch, OK, which is now a ghost town in the Quartz Mountains. They say writing is therapy for the soul. I can vouch for that.
Operation Clean Sweep -- When I was researching my Babbs Switch book, I ran across a funny article about what the women in Umatilla, OR, did in 1916, when they very first got their right to vote. This article made me laugh out loud and I knew I had to write a book about it. So I sent a copy of this article to my editor and wrote on the bottom of the page, "Wouldn't this make a neat idea for a children's book? Tell it from the point of view of a boy, who overhears what his mother is planning on doing and he must decide if he should tell his father or just keep his mouth shut." My editor phoned me, saying she loved the idea, and to start the book. So, this book was especially neat because I sold the book before I had even written one page!
Annie Glover is NOT a Tree Lover -- One day, I was reading the newspaper. There on the front page was a photo of a woman chained to a tree. This certainly grabbed my attention. I also saw a photo of three men dressed like Elvis Presley who were standing in front of an airplane. All three men were wearing parachutes. These two silly photos made me laugh and made me think, "What great book characters these people would be!" So I went to Stillwater, OK, to interview the woman in the photo. She found out the woman was trying to save the tree to keep it from being bulldozed for a parking lot. This got me to thinking . . . "How would a little girl feel if her very own grandmother were chained to a tree right across the street from her school?" It certainly might lead to some embarrassment and maybe even some fun. Thus Annie Glover was born! And of course, Annie needed a pesky boy to stir the plot up a bit, so I created mean ol' Leroy Kirk. Working with the characters, developing them so that they sounded real as they spoke, was the most fun part of the book. And as far as the three Elvis impersonators in her book, well, they were a "total hoot" to work with! Long live the King!
Will Rogers, Oklahoma's Favorite Son -- I didn't know much about Will Rogers before I began my research for this book. I decided to write a biography on him and my writing friends also wrote biographies about famous Oklahomans. We wanted students in Oklahoma to know about famous Oklahomans and we created the "I AM OKLAHOMA" biography series which is published by the Oklahoma Heritage Association. I learned that Will was the most popular man in the world - not just Oklahoma, not just the U.S., but in the entire world! And what made him so popular? It was his heart of gold. Everywhere he went, he loved people. He really did. In fact, his favorite saying was, "I never met a man I didn't like." After doing my research, I decided I wanted to be a better person - just like Will. And it is my hope that when you read this book, you too, will want to be a better person. Why did I choose to write about Will? Because I didn't know much about him and wanted to learn!