Thursday, September 6, 2012

Just a quick post to direct you to my post for the children's nonfiction writer's blog,, about writing on tough topics for children.  I talk a bit about my three latest books, all of which involved topics of life, death, and betrayal, and how I chose to frame them.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Nature in my Yard

I wrote last month about the insects in my neighbor's cherry tree, and since then I've tried to notice details of nature in my own yard.  We've lived in this house for 35 years, and I've noticed that each year the insect population changes.  Some years there are lots of ordinary hornets, while other years bald-faced hornets predominate.  Some years there are lots of grasshoppers, other years very few, and so on.  This year we've had a huge number of large orange-red flies that look like bees at first glance.  I don't remember having seen these at all before, and now we have dozens of them.  They fly like bees and feed on flower blossoms like bees, but a close up look shows that they are flies.  Just why this population explosion is happening this year is a complete mystery, at least to me!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dorothy's book news

My new book, "The Horse and the Plains Indians: A Powerful Partnership," is now available.  I've written a little about it on my website, where there's also a link to  In its starred review, School Library Journal wrote that the book  "features a well-written and readable narrative, appealing and informative full-color photographs, and reproductions of period illustrations... and is certain to draw readers who are interested in Native American history or horses."

I've also turned my novel, "Return of the Wolf," into an ebook which is available in a variety of formats, including Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, which offers a number of different formats.  The print edition had drawings where are not in this edition, which is priced at $2.99.  When the book came out, it received great reviews, and readers loved it, so I'm pleased to make it available again.  The book tells how wolves really live in nature, all told from the point of view of the wolves themselves.  School Library Journal wrote: "Patent offers such close-up natural descriptions and keen observations that readers will feel as though they are in the wild....A wonderful read-aloud."
Looking Beyond the Obvious

Wasp checking out fruit
Fly making holes and munching
A couple of days ago, my husband and I headed for our neighbor's pie cherry tree, to see if the fruit was ready to pick.  We were delighted to see the bright red fruit and take photos.  He's a food writer, officially The Baking Wizard, and he creates totally irresistible baked goods to share with his readers.  Now came the time for a streusel-topped sour cherry tart--yum!  As we snapped photos, looking for the best angle to show off the luscious fruit, we began to realize we weren't the only ones to find the cherries delicious.  At least two kinds of wasp roamed around, flicking their wings and looking for breaks in the fruit so they could suck out the tasty juices.  We spied a fly that looked like a house fly but must be a different species as it was spearing holes into the flesh of the fruit and taking bites.

In our brief visit--we returned later to pick--we also spotted at least two other kinds of flies--one a tiny shiny golden-green gem, the other a racy fellow with striped wings.  This last kind apparently used the cherries as a trysting place as we noted several pairs in close embrace.

How often do we take the time to stop, look, and listen to nature in action?  After this encounter, I've vowed to pay more attention to the details I've been too busy to observe and to spend quiet time just soaking up the amazing variety of life around me.

When we returned, we quickly picked enough cherries for three tarts and I must say, the resulting dessert is fabulous.  With enough cherries in the freezer for two more tarts, I'll remember the thriving life that shared the tree when, in the dead of winter, I take a tangy-sweet bite of another marvelous tart.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Springtime in the Rockies

Ah Spring--my favorite season, other than fresh ripe tomatoes! Greg and I took advantage of the one nice day the weatherman has offered lately and visited the National Bison Range, a wildlife refuge an hour north of home. The especially rainy Spring has brought out wildflowers bigtime, especially the dramatic arrow-leafed balsamroot with spectacular daisy blossoms and lovely gray-green leaves. As we drove the windy gravel road through the refuge, we also came across a mule deer doe with newborn twin fawns and a mother pronghorn with her single fawn. The pronghorn have learned that coyotes, the main predator on their fawns, stay away from the road, so the pronghorn give birth near the roads.

I've always loved visiting wild places for the sense of possibility they offer. You never know what you'll find; it's all luck. One very hot late summer day, my photographer, Bill Muñoz, and I drove the Bison Range but feared we'd see little in the dry summer heat. Besides a bear and a weasel, we had a special surprising treat--we saw two bull elk in the river, plunging their heads into the water and pulling up plants, their antlers draped with vegetation--that's usually the way one sees moose, not elk!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Good News about Bad Newz and Thoughts on Audie

First I want to share this news that Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit focusing on more humane lives for dogs, has bought the property where Michael Vick's infamous dog-fighting ring was headquartered. Let's hope their plans to create a healing center for dogs are successful.
I also wanted to share this post I put up on the Saving Audie website and on Audie's FaceBook page. Many people liked the post or commented on it, so I wanted to share it here as well:

Audie’s book is out now, and I love the stories getting posted on his Face Book page, especially the one from the mother of a 4 ½ year old girl who insisted the book be kept under her pillow at night and standing up on her bedside table during the day—now that’s a real fan!
Audie’s story strike a deep chord with adults, too, I think partly because the courage shown by this little dog and his ability to have his life transformed from bleakness to one rich in love and fun helps them have hope that they can also transform the negativity in their own lives. It’s such a powerful message of hope and redemption.
I’m feeling so blessed to have been able to share this story with the world and to have met so many wonderful people and dogs in the process. There’s so much negativity and fear in the world today, which can paralyze us and keep us from acting positively in our own lives. We need to focus our attention and our spirits on positive stories like this one and always keep in our hearts the knowledge of love’s power to transform.

Here is Audie as he is today, forever bonded to his person, Linda.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Many years ago I did meditation for awhile, but it didn't last. Recently a friend recommended "Meditations to Change Your Brain," by Rick Hanson, PhD, and Richard Mendius, MD. She said their material was really changing how she lives and feels in very positive ways. The biologist in me became intrigued, and I have almost finished my first pass through the 3 CD set. Early on, Hanson and Mendius give reasons why it's hard for people to be happy, showing how the evolutionary history of our needing to be ever alert to the possibility of danger in its many forms makes it difficult for us today to relax and "enjoy the moment."

As I stood in my cool basement folding newly washed napkins and dust rags, this CD track came to mind, and I stopped to think about the moment. As I sorted and folded, I became amazed at what lay before me within these mundane items--colors, patterns, textures, an explosion of delightful variety that I ordinarily wouldn't notice as I acknowledged the uncomfortable chill and thought about my next task.

And now, as I write, I watch scattered snow flakes drift in from the north and know that if I went outside and examined them I would see their incredible delicate symmetry and infinite variety. So much in our everyday worlds can bring pleasure if we just remember to pay attention.