Darleen's first job from high school was working as a dental assistant for $5.35 per hour. She helped pull teeth, do root canals, and take x-rays. Her favorite part of assisting was surgical extractions. One time she had a man in the dental chair who pulled her down in his lap and tried to kiss her while she was taking an x-ray of his tooth!
When Darleen was 13 years old, she had a male beta fish that she trained to eat hamburger meat off her finger. She would hold the meat about an inch above the water and the fish would jump out of the water and take it off her finger.
When Darleen was in elementary school, she and her best pal liked to ride their bikes with bags over their heads with holes cut out for their eyes. They used to dress up in their mother's clothes and walk around the block. One time they were walking around the block with Halloween masks on and there was a little boy riding a tricycle in his driveway. He took one look at them, fell off his tricycle, and ran off crying!
Darleen's first story to get published was "The Tenth Annual Hog's Head Hoe-Down!" It was published by Highlights for Children magazine in 1990 and brought in a whopping $180.00. Darleen was so excited, when she drove to the post office with her signed contract, she rolled down her car window and shouted to people on the street, "I've just sold my first story!"
Darleen's first book to be published was The Pumpkin Man from Piney Creek. It was a picture book, published by Simon & Schuster in 1995. She earned a $3000.00 advance against her royalties. That book is now out of print and has sold 11,500 copies and has earned Darleen a total of $8,625.00.
When Darleen was little, she had lots of pets, including fish, gerbils, mice, Guinea pigs, dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, turtles, newts, a ferret and a lizard. Her favorite pet was her dog, Brutus, who was her best bud. They would do everything together, even ride her bike. Brutus died when he was 16 years old and Darleen was 28 and pregnant with her son, Spencer. He's buried at her old homestead in Noble, OK.
Jobs Darleen has held: dental assistant, house cleaner, door-to-door satellite salesgirl, receptionist for a siding and window company, freelance editor and writer for McGraw-Hill School Book Division, file clerk for a medical office, order clerk for a tailor shop, and picking tomatoes and cucumbers in her parents greenhouse business.
Darleen's favorite subject in school was art. She loved to make things out of paper mache and still loves the smell of an art room and how the sinks are always splattered in pretty paint.
When Darleen was little, she collected Band-Aids, now she collects clothesline memorabilia, flowers, sea shells, antiques, and pretty rocks.