Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


March 8, 2018

I’ve written a lot about myself, our kids, and our grandkids; but I haven’t given you a good picture of my husband, have I? I am the luckiest (most blessed) woman in the world to be married to this guy, Joe Mackall. And our kids and grandkids would testify that he’s an amazing father and grandfather. He’s an excellent writer, co-founder of River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative, “where great writing and facts matter.” He’s author of successful books, like The Last Street Before Cleveland and Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish, which the starred Booklist review called “a wonderful and enlightening book. He’s also my first editor.

But he’s much more than his official bio. When Joe and I met, the man wasn’t crazy about horses and hadn’t ridden one since he sat on a pony for a picture-taking opportunity when he was 4 or 5. But he dove right in and learned to ride on Moby, one of our two horses at the time. Since then, we’ve ridden on trails wherever we’ve gone. Horse rides are a major ingredient in all family vacations. Above is one of our best rides, in Monument Valley across Navajo lands, and later to Four Corners, where Montana, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado meet.

Finally, just look at that face. Can you tell he’s a very witty and funny fellow? We make each other laugh.



March 6, 2018

I’d love to hear from horselovers. What do you like best about horses? You’re probably convinced by now that I don’t just write about horses, but I actually ride them and always have. I’ve posted pictures with our granddaughters riding too (which is such a grandma-thing to do). But there’s a lot more to horses than riding them. On the right, Granddaughter Ellie is grooming a horse that isn’t even ours. I’ve always loved time spent on the ground with a horse as much as time spent on the horse’s back. It’s grooming a horse and talking to him that develop the bond. The smell of a horse is the best scent God invented. Simply being with a horse can soothe and calm me.

In the other picture, Ellie is petting a colt that isn’t ours. I can’t count the number of times we’ve driven by horses in a field, only to back up, park precariously on the side of the road, pile out of the car, and see if we can get the horses to come over to us. To this day, every time we pass a horse, or an Amish horse and buggy pass us, we all yell, “I will ride it!” because that’s what Ellie started saying when she was 3.



March 1, 2018

I love that our granddaughters love horses! Can’t imagine where that interest came from . . . .  The two wonderful granddaughters not pictures here have yet to discover the joys of riding, though I’ve promised our almost-two-year-old, Maddie, that she’ll get that first ride this summer (and about time, I’d say!). Harper, barely 2 months old, will have to wait a couple of months, I suppose.

On the left is Cassie, hugging the saddle horn and smiling her joy. On the right is Ellie, riding solo and proud of it. (By the way, I had to post these pictures because the girls found out I’d posted someone else’s granddaughter earlier.)


February 26, 2018


Before you jump to conclusions, this isn’t my granddaughter, but a horse-loving reader (like my granddaughters). Her teacher asked students to dress up as their favorite character from a book, and I’m honored to say that this student chose Ellie from my BACKYARD HORSES series. In case you don’t know what a “backyard horse” is, it’s what we called horses that weren’t fancy, would never be show horses, and didn’t belong in a stable. We kept our horses in a pasture, but we also had a small pen and barn in our yard.

A horse book, a pink cowgirl hat, boots, and a stuffed horse–what could be better than that? Answer: All the similarities between this cowgirl, Helen, and my oldest granddaughter, the “star” of the BACKYARD HORSES series. Although we call her “Ellie,” our granddaughter’s real name is “Helen,” named after her great-grandmother, Helen Daley (co-star of WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE). Both gals love horses, reading, and writing. It’s amazing how many letters and emails I get from guys and gals who love these three things: horses, reading, and writing. As it happens, I’ve always loved horses, reading, and writing too!


February 22, 2018

Lara medium

Tomorrow I’m off to Columbus, OH, for the weekend to speak at a convention of teachers of English and Language Arts–wonderful people who still believe in our kids and want them to love reading and writing and to excel in both in an atmosphere of kindness, compassion, and safety. I’ve never met a teacher–or a student–who hasn’t witnessed bullying. Then one night about 3 AM, all of these concerns came together for me when I woke up and could almost hear this tough girl saying, “This is not about me. This story, I mean. So already you got a reason to hang it up.” I got up, crossed the hall to my office, and began writing what may be the most surprising (to me) book I’ve ever written. I had no idea where the story was going, and I usually do when I begin writing. In the end, it came to be about the effects of bullying, the promise of returning kindness for meanness, and the possibility of touching and changing lives in school and out. Plus, the book contains, in real time as action proceeds, just about everything I know about writing, with chapter titles like: Character; Villain, Setting, Dialogue, Opposition, Conflict, Details, Rising Action, Climax, Resolution.

If you’ve read about Lara and Laney, I’d love to hear from you. You can learn more about the book at


WITH LOVE, for Grandfather “Pete”

February 8, 2018

Pete 1942 (2)

Although I was barely 3 when my Grandfather Daley died, I remember him. I’m sure stories have blended with memory so that I can’t separate them, but I don’t want to. I called him “Pete,” not “Grandfather” or any variation thereof. I sensed his kindness and good humor. One story of where my “Dandi” name came from says that when I was born, Pete declared, “She’s a dandy!” I can still see him leaving our house and heading for his car, with me running after him, begging to come along. This photo from 1942 is labeled Camp Robinson. The Arkansas camp trained soldiers and housed German prisoners during WW2. And from 1942-1944, a Medical Training Replacement Center was located there to train soldiers as medical personnel. 13,500 trainees passed through in 8-week training cycles. The time was shortened if medics were needed more quickly. Pete is briefly mentioned in a couple of anecdotes in WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE. Like many of the characters in the novel, Pete deserves his own book.


February 6, 2018

Frank and patients (2)

Captain Frank R. Daley was sent from a wartime makeshift hospital in Alsace-Lorraine to a battlefield battalion aid station inside wartime Germany . . . probably because he refused to cut his hair (Helen loved those thick curls.) and, to add insult to injury, then said to his bald commanding officer, “So it’s true then.” “What?” demanded the officer. Frank shook his head and replied, “Misery really does love company.” Frank didn’t get the haircut, but he did get a freight train to the battlefield. He joined a British unit and performed surgeries in tents with mud floors. Toward the end of the war, he was able to doctor civilians, as well as soldiers. This is a photo of just a few of those patients.

Wild Thing #1 Winnie the Horse Gentler– Jan. 31, Wed., is the last day to get the e-book for 99 cents! Any online store or

January 29, 2018




January 12, 2018

Helen and Frank (2)

Guess what! I thought I’d have to rely on photos I posted last year, but I discovered some new ones–if you call pictures from 1944 new. They weren’t in the Army trunk, but in a very small photo album I discovered while searching for something in the attic. The photos are a bit faded and blurry; but if you’ve read the book, you’ll recognize Lt. Helen Eberhart Daley and Lt. (later, Capt.) Frank R. Daley, Army nurse and doctor in WW2, my parents.


January 10, 2018


If you’ve read this far in WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE, I’ll bet you know exactly what this is. Clues: 1) It’s nearly 75 years old and still intact. 2) The cake it topped is long gone. 3) That lovely white dress really should have been another Army uniform. 3) Check out that flag–only 48 stars.  I did send this months ago, though many missed it. But I’m also sending it as a reminder of the upcoming promo in Feb. The e-book will be $2.99.