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.