Frequently Asked Questions
Where do you get your ideas?They just seem to pop into my head. I may be almost asleep, driving down a road, or listening to a song. Many times, I'm taking sunset pictures and a haiku pops in, and I take the time to write it down after taking a few pictures. I have found some ideas after reading stories in the newspaper. My Great Elephant Escape came about because I read about some lost elephants eating gardens to stay alive in Southeast Oklahoma. They had escaped from the circus grounds and didn't have anyone feeding them. They had to look for their own food, so they found gardens and ate them. From that story, I developed the characters and story for The Great Elephant Escape.
Do you have a favorite place to write?I usually write at the kitchen table. I do not use a computer until I have at least one or two drafts finished by hand. Sometimes, when I'm driving, I pull over to the side of the road and quickly write or outline a story.
Do you write any particular time of the day?I usually write late in the evening or around two in the morning. It's quiet and no phone calls.
What are your favorite subjects to write about?I enjoy writing about animals--cats, dogs, elephants, roosters, cows, rabbits, etc. I also like to write about happenings in Oklahoma. It's more fun to combine the two as I did with Grady's in the Silo and the Great Elephant Escape. Each happened in Oklahoma and had animals involved.
Do you have any stories that you haven't sold that you'd like to see in print?I have many stories in various stages of development. I have a goat story and another elephant story that I'd like to see published.
What's the most unusual place you've ever seen one of your books?There was a restaurant in Yukon, OK that had my book in different places throughout the restaurant. One book was perched on a ridge about 10 or 12 feet high above the entrance. Another book was in the Ladie's restroom. Since many people tried to take it, the book was nailed to the wall.
Do you have any animals? What kind? How many?I did not grow up with many animals. After I married, we had German Shepherds. Our family seems to rescue many dogs. At the moment, we have a red heeler/blue heeler/pit bull mix. He's a very good watch dog.
Do you write about real people and real animals?I've written both fiction and non-fiction characters. In Grady's in the Silo, both the cow and the Mach family were real. They lived in Yukon, OK. In Toby and the Secret Code, the young boy was a fictional character talking about a real code talker named Tobias Frazier. In The Great Elephant Escape, the elephants were real animals, the man who tranquilized the elephants was real, the two young men who found the elephants were real, but the two young children were fictional characters.
My Scanner book and my Clancy book were stories that I made up.
Pie? Cake? or Candy?I like all three. However, fruit cobblers or fruit pies seem to be favorites.
Do you have a family?Yes, I am married, and I have two sons and a daughter-in-law.
What happened to Grady the cow?She lived with the Mach family until she died. She lived to be about 18 years old, and she had about 20 calves. According to Mrs. Mach, Grady often had twins. She was in the Yukon Czech Festival and always was at the Oklahoma State Fair. She even had her own mailbox for many years. She had a pen in front of the house, and people would see her at the state fair and then drive to Yukon to see where she lived.
What happened to the elephants in your book, The Great Elephant Escape?Lilly is at the Endangered Ark Foundation in Hugo, OK. Isa is out on the road.
How much do elephants eat, and what do they eat?
Elephants like Isa and Lilly are Asian elephants who eat a bale of hay a day, 5 to 10 pounds of feed a day, and they drink around 50 gallons of water a day. They also enjoy fresh vegetables and fruits daily.
Do you have to research your books?Yes, I've always researched my books. Some don't take as much research as others, but I feel that it's necessary in order for me to have the correct facts I need for my stories--even my fictional ones.
Are you in a critique group? Are they helpful?Yes, I'm in two critique groups, and they're very helpful. My critique partners see things that I miss in my stories. They help me have a stronger story, use better verbs, and cut out some of the story that isn't necessary.
You have said you like to "show and tell" about your books. What do you do when you "show and tell"?For the land run book, I display items from around the time of the first land run in 1889. I also show items from around 1907 when Oklahoma became a state. I show quilts, jars, a rug beater, a washboard, old clothing, etc.
If I'm working with Grady's in the Silo, I have a large cow puppet, and I talk with her. We also play a few games related to cows or farming.
When I talk about my Great Elephant Escape book, I mention the sizes of elephants and the kinds of elephants. I have an elephant that makes sounds. We also play a game called "Herd the Elephants".
With my Sunsets and Haiku book, I can show additional photos of sunsets or teach a small unit on haiku. I read some of my haiku, and relate information about haiku.
I'm still developing ideas for my book, Toby and the Secret Code. Show and tell items from World War I are hard to find. I do have some turtle puppets which go along with the word "luksi".