Tag Archives: Donna Jean McDunn

NIGHTMARES EXCERPT

A mysterious "voice" warns Emily that she is in danger. She believes she's losing her mind!

Emily’s visions are a warning that she is in danger. She believes she’s losing her mind!

I promised an excerpt of my debut YA paranormal novel Nightmares, which will be released in May 2013 and here it is, but first I want to mention the interview I just completed. The interview is up and running at this very moment on Natter and Review. I would so appreciate it if anyone has a few free moments to take a look and learn about me and what inspired the idea for my book. Feel free to share this link and any of the others, with any or all of your friends. Here is the link to the interview: http://tinyurl.com/caodcxk

This short excerpt is from chapter five. It is rather short, but gives a vivid picture of why Emily believes she’s going crazy and just so you know where it is taking place, she is alone inside her boyfriend’s car.

And now for the excerpt:

She knew it was too soon to expect Tony’s return, but peered into the darkness anyway. She saw her own distorted reflection in the glass. The images shifted and changed as she watched. She felt herself being drawn into the shadows until they completely dissolved. She saw the child from her nightmares lying in a bed asleep, while a terrible thunderstorm raged outside.

Lightning flashed around the room and a crack of thunder rattled the windows.. The child sat up and for the first time Emily could see her face and blond hair.. The girl’s eyes widened with fear when a dog howled. She scooted off the bed.

Her heart hammered inside her own chest to the same rhythm as the child’s. Emily wanted to warn the little girl to lie down and stay where she’d be safe. She wanted to tell her it was too late, she’d already run out of time.

“No!” Emily screamed when the child ran toward the window. “Don’t look.”

The website where "Nightmares" can be found.

The website where “Nightmares” can be found.

So there you have the short excerpt. Does it excite your interest? I’d really enjoy reading your honest, but kind, opinion so please leave a comment.

If you are interested in viewing Nightmares on MuseItUp’s website, click on the title/link where you can pre-order it at a discounted cost and save 20%: Nightmares  

My short story Trapped, included in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 has been released on Amazon.

Other places I can be found:

Facebook Author Page 
Facebook Profile Page 
LinkedIn

MusePub_Readers : MuseItUp Publishing Readers Group

I’m also on Twitter. @02DMcDunn

Click on the title/links below to view sites where my short stories can be found:

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

A Reason To Live

Saving Katie 
Pack Leader 
The Golden Stallion

Gus’ Big Adventure

The Book Cover For Nightmares!

Emily must accept her gift of clairvoyance and remember her past, when a psychopath returns to kill again.

Emily must accept her gift of clairvoyance and remember her past, when a psychopath returns to kill again.

Yes! It has finally happened. I have a book cover for my very first book Nightmares. The days are finally dwindling and May will be here soon…well, okay it’s really not all that soon, but it’s less than four months away.

It is really strange and maybe it’s because I’m not as observant as some, but the first dozen or more times I looked at this cover, I didn’t realize there was a face of a girl in the top left corner.

My niece, who is a photographer and that’s probably why she saw it almost right away, told me there was a girl there. I still couldn’t really see her, until today, when I posted the cover on here. I fell in love with it all over again. 

I received the acceptance email from MuseItUp Publishing on August 11, 2012 and if the book is published in May 2013 as planned, it will have taken nine months for the whole publishing process. It’s kind of ironic that it takes nine months and now I wonder if the reason it takes that long is because writers always call their work their “baby”.

I’ll be posting an excerpt or two later on when it gets closer to the release date. For now I’m more interested in knowing if anyone else saw the girl in the book cover before it was pointed out to them. I can’t be the only one who didn’t, right? 

As always, I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts, so please leave a comment, especially if you couldn’t see the girl too.

My short story Trapped, included in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 has been released and is available on Amazon.

My young adult paranormal/mystery will be released in May 2013, but can be viewed on MuseItUp Publishing’s website: Nightmares

Other places I can be found:

Facebook Author Page 
Facebook Profile Page 
LinkedIn

MusePub_Readers : MuseItUp Publishing Readers Group

I’m also on Twitter.

Other Places to view my short stories:

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

A Reason To Live

Saving Katie 
Pack Leader 
The Golden Stallion

Gus’ Big Adventure

 

 

Is There Goodness In Murder And Mayhem?

They might be friends or they could be strangers. In the face of mayhem, people care about each other.

They might be friends or they could be strangers. In the face of mayhem, people care about each other.

By Donna Jean McDunn

Sometimes thinking of something to write about can be very difficult, so tonight I went on the internet to find an inspiration. Instead all I found were sad and in some cases, horrible stories of murder and mayhem. There was nothing good to report, but after stumbling across this headline “Abandoned Baby’s Mom Found Dead” I had to read it.

Suddenly what was and still is a terrible crime, had mutated into a combined effort of total strangers and one caring police chief, coming together to find the perpetrator of this heinous crime and bring justice to a young woman and her child.

The police chief’s idea was to raise $5,000 for a reward for the arrest and conviction of the person who took this young woman’s life and left an innocent child motherless and abandoned in an apartment complex hallway. The crime has not been solved yet, but there is not any doubt in my mind that it will be.

After I read the short article, I realized there are still many more good people doing good things for others everyday, even in the face of death and mayhem, than there are those causing all the death and mayhem.

These good people aren’t expecting a pat on the back or even a thank you. They do it because they care and when people care, good things happen.

So the next time you read a story about death and mayhem, look for the good, because if you do, I am sure you will find it in the form of a stranger helping others.

As always, I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts, so please leave a comment.

My short story Trapped, included in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 has been released on Amazon.

My young adult paranormal/mystery will be released in May 2013 on Amazon, but can be viewed now

on MuseItUp Publishing’s website: Nightmares

Other places I can be found:

Facebook Author Page 
Facebook Profile Page 
LinkedIn

MusePub_Readers : MuseItUp Publishing Readers Group

I’m also on Twitter.

Other Places to view my short stories:

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

A Reason To Live

Saving Katie 
Pack Leader 
The Golden Stallion

Gus’ Big Adventure

Merry Christmas & All Other Holiday Greetings-My Wish For You

Bah Hum Bug

Bah! Hum Bug!

I’m very sorry I haven’t posted recently, but I didn’t want tomorrow to pass by without some kind of greeting, which is why I’m doing it now.

I know many people don’t celebrate Christmas for a lot of different reasons, some are even Christians, but no matter who you are or why you don’t celebrate, my wish for you is to have a safe and happy life, not just on this one day or month or year, but for your life!

There has been so many terrible things happening in the world recently, at least it seems like this year has had tragedy strike more often than normal and on a much larger scale and there is nothing any one of us can do about that.

Yet there are things we can do to make others lives richer and in so doing, make our own richer. Everyday we wake in the morning, we have been given another day that we can make a difference in someone else’s life.

A smile, a kind word or a helping hand, can change peoples hearts to be more tolerant of others and to pass the kindness on to someone else and in doing so, it makes a better world for all.

To many of us become wrapped up into our own little worlds, we forget that other people, whether rich or poor or where we live, we all have our demons to struggle with. Not everyone  may have to worry how they are going to pay their bills, but they still have the same frailties as any other human and bleed just like the rest of us.

I obviously don’t have the answers to the worlds problems, but my wish for everyone is that we all start with ourselves and spread kindness instead of disaster.

As always, I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts, so please leave a comment.

My short story Trapped, included in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 and published by Buddhapuss Ink in New Jersey has been released for purchase on Amazon.

Coming soon to Page & Spine Publishing my short story The Ravine

My young adult paranormal/mystery will be released in May 2013, but can be viewed on MuseItUp Publishing’s website: Nightmares

Other places I can be found:

Facebook Author Page 
Facebook Profile Page 
LinkedIn

MusePub_Readers : MuseItUp Publishing Readers Group

I’m also on Twitter.

Other Places to view my short stories:

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

A Reason To Live

Saving Katie 
Pack Leader 
The Golden Stallion

Gus’ Big Adventure

Two Little Girls – An Essay

TWO LITTLE GIRLS – Another Essay

By Donna Jean McDunn Author

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Mine was great. All three of our daughters and their families came, so it was a busy four-day weekend. Our oldest grandson celebrated his 13th birthday on November 7th. (That gives us three teenage grandkids with five more to go.) He lives to far away so we weren’t able to celebrate with him on that day and while they were visiting, he enjoyed another birthday party with us.

We also attended a party for my husband’s brother’s 70th birthday and a surprise birthday party our son-in-law planned for our youngest daughter. By the time the weekend ended, I needed another four days to recuperate.

I’m sorry I haven’t posted since November. I’ve been busy editing my novel Nightmares. As soon as all the editing is done, I will share an excerpt of the story here. I just finished working with the content editor who suggested I consider turning the book into a series based on the characters in the book, so I have begun a new story I have tentatively named Visions. I’m still waiting to hear from the line editor and get her opinion of the idea.

I’m also working on another story I began for a writing course a few months ago. The course has ended, but the writing goes on and I really want to finish it. It is tentatively named The Rose Stalker. It is geared to a much older reader than my Nightmares books and is a romance/mystery about a stalker who leaves roses.

Now I would like to share with you an essay I wrote in 2008. It’s not very long, just under 650 words. It’s about something that happened in my childhood that has always bothered me. It still does whenever I think about it and that year, I thought about it a lot, just as I have during this one. Some of the words I used for descriptions may not be politically correct today and I don’t wish to offend anyone, but in the 1950’s these terms were accurate. It’s called:

TWO LITTLE GIRLS

I grew up in a small town in Iowa during the 1950’s. During those early years of my life, I remember seeing only two people of African American decent at my school. It happened when I was in the third grade.

The teacher had just let us outside for recess. It was early spring and I had on my blue winter coat I’d gotten for Christmas. The day had turned out so sunny and warm; I felt I no longer needed it. So, like several other kids, I took my coat off and threw it on top of a pile of coats already lying on the ground.

My friends and I ran to the jungle gym to play. When I happened to look in the direction of my coat, I saw two African American girls. I naturally assumed they were sisters and the older one was holding my blue coat.

“Hey, this can’t be mine,” I heard the girl say to the younger one as she slipped it on. She held her arms out in front of her. “Look, it’s to small.”

Concerned I was about to lose my coat to a stranger, I jumped off the jungle gym and ran to her. “I think that’s my coat.”

Looking down at the pile still on the ground, I could see the arm of a blue coat just like mine. I pulled it out and slipped it on. The sleeves hung down past my fingertips. “Maybe this one is yours.”

We exchanged coats, giggling about the mix up, until her younger sister poked her in the ribs. “Come on. We’re going to get into trouble.”

“Thanks,” the older one said to me and the two girls ran toward the school.

I wanted to talk to them and find out if they were sisters, where they came from and why I hadn’t I seen them before. I didn’t even know their names. Why did they leave in such a hurry?

I watched as they ran to a door, the rest of us weren’t supposed to use, but before going inside, the older girl turned and smiled in my direction.

I wondered where they were going. Recess had just started.

I rejoined my friends on the jungle gym. “Who are those girls,” I asked my friend, Mary. “I’ve never seen them before.”

“I don’t know their names,” she said. “I heard they go to school upstairs.”

I couldn’t believe it. “Upstairs? Why?”

She stared at me like I must be really dumb. “Because they’re Negro.”

I was eight years old at the time, but even I could see sending those two girls upstairs was wrong.  I knew about prejudice and the riots happening in other parts of the country. I just never expected to see it in my town.

Several years ago, the upstairs in the school had been condemned and considered unsafe for anyone. I had heard rumors that there were bats up there, too. If it was unsafe for us, how could anyone make two little girls use it as a classroom? Did they even have a teacher?

I never saw either of the girls after that day, not in the hallways or during recess or even after school. I asked about them everyday for a long time, but no one seemed to know if they moved away or what happened to them.

I’d like to think situations like that don’t happen in this country today, but I know I’d only be deceiving myself. Even so I still have hope for us and I pray the girls are still alive and well and see how things have changed. It only took forty-nine years! The sad part is we have only just begun to make real progress.

As always, I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts, so please leave a comment.

My short story Trapped, included in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 will be released, according to the Amazon site, on December 7, 2012. The book went to press November 29th. It can be pre-ordered on Amazon now. The publisher, Buddhapuss Ink is located in New Jersey and there was a delay thanks to Hurricane Sandy.

My young adult paranormal/mystery will be released in May 2013, but can be viewed on MuseItUp Publishing’s website: Nightmares

Other places I can be found:

Facebook Author Page 
Facebook Profile Page 
LinkedIn

MusePub_Readers : MuseItUp Publishing Readers Group

I’m also on Twitter.

Other Places to view my short stories:

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

A Reason To Live

Saving Katie

Pack Leader

The Golden Stallion

Gus’ Big Adventure

 

 

TRICK OR TREAT

These are five of the grandkids from a few years ago. I don’t have any pictures of me and my brothers dressed up for Halloween from my childhood.

TRICK OR TREAT

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

Happy Halloween!

Everywhere you go today you will see and hear those words “Happy Halloween”, but isn’t Halloween supposed to be scary? I always thought so when I was young, even though I never felt afraid. Excited, yes, maybe a little worried I wouldn’t find the right costume or get a lot of candy, but never scared.

My mom always took my brother, Jerry and me trick or treating. She’d find a block of houses with the lights on and let us out on the corner and watch us as we moved from place to place. Then she would drive down the street real slow, so she could keep us in sight, not that we were ever in any danger in our small town, but my mom was paranoid that way. I didn’t understand it then, not until after I had my own kids.

Do you remember the year you stopped going trick or treating? I do. I was twelve and would be turning thirteen in less than a month. My older brother had stopped going a few years before me, but I had my little brother. He was seven years younger and by the time Jerry decided he was too old to go, Mike or Mikey, as I called him back then, was just getting into it.

Mikey was five when I decided I was too old to dress up and ask for candy, but someone had to go with him and Mom had to drive the car, which left me as his chaperon.  I didn’t mind because at most of those doors, the host would almost always hand me some candy too, which helped to ease the pain a little.

Last Year at my daughter Jamie’s Halloween party. Not a great picture, but it’s the only one I had.

When the teenage years finally came, I had a lot less desire to spend time with my little brother. The year I was fourteen, the holiday fell on a Saturday and spending time with friends became my priority. The temperature had made it into the mid eighties that afternoon, a rare occurrence in the Midwest on Halloween, and it was a very mild evening.

My best friend, Linda and I spent the early part of that night walking around town admiring all the Halloween decorations. Completely by accident (I swear, because my mom would not have approved and she must never know.) we ran into Pat, Linda’s next-door neighbor and his friend, Eddie both boys we went to school with. We ended up sitting in the cemetery telling scary urban legends about ghosts and murder. It was the best time ever, but it had to end by 9:45 so I could meet my mom at Linda’s house at 10:00.

Every Halloween I think about that night. I’m not sure why, but it could have something to do with the fact I started dating one of those boys during the end of my senior year and a year later we were married. We have spent a lot of Halloweens together ever since, but few have ever topped that first one.

What’s Halloween without some Jack-o-lanterns?

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll visit and comment. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, be friends, follow, or Tweet.

November 19, 2012 is the date Mystery Times Nine 2012 will be released for sale on Amazon. The anthology includes my story Trapped and eight other stories of mystery. It can be preordered now. Here’s the link. http://ow.ly/eHycy

I can be found at Twitter as Donna Jean McDunn @02dmcdunn

Author page http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn

Profile http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean

LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Short Story: I Couldn’t Help It

Life Is Fun!

A Short Story: I Couldn’t Help It

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

For all of you out there who have been around children, I have decided to introduce you to a little boy I created. My question for you though: Is he really only fiction? You read the story and then decide for yourself.

****

He looked up and saw Mommy coming toward him. “Oh, oh,” He looked down at the mud puddle he was sitting in.

Oops!

“Shawn Francis Quinn. What are you doing? I told you not to get dirty while I dressed for work.”

She sounded really mad. “I’m just playing.” He wiped his hands on the front of his shirt. It left streaks of mud behind. He gazed up at her. “I couldn’t help it.”

Mommy’s face turned a pretty shade of red. “Shawn, go inside the porch and wait for me there. I’ll run in and get your bath water ready. I’ll be right back to help you—so just wait there and try not to touch anything.”

Shawn watched her go inside the house, but he didn’t want another bath and he didn’t want Mommy to go to work anyway. He kicked the muddy water.

Walking slowly toward the house and stepping in as much of the soft sticky mud as he could while he listened to the neat squish-squish sound of his shoes. He liked squishy mud and he liked that sound, it made him giggle and he almost forgot why he was going inside, but then he remembered and scowled.

He opened the door, leaving a cool mud handprint on the handle. He plopped down on the rug and pulled one shoe off, tossing it to the side. Chunks of wet mud and dirty water splattered on the floor and wall. He watched, fascinated as the icky stuff slid down the yellow wall.

He stood up, leaving the other shoe on and pulled his shirt over his head and yanked. The muddy shirt came off suddenly and he stumbled against the windowsill, knocking Mommy’s flowerpot onto the floor, all of its contents spilled out.

Shawn picked up the cracked pot and stuffed the plant back inside of it with as much dirt as he could. It looked a little funny when he held it up, but he put it back on the windowsill anyway. He tried sweeping the rest of the dirt under the rug with his wet shirt, but it just smeared it around and then everywhere he stepped, he saw his foot print of his toes and the bumpy bottom of his one remaining shoe.

Mommy would be returning soon to take him to his bath. He plunked down on the floor again and tried pulling his shoe off. It was stuck, so he kicked with all his might—the shoe flew into the air just as Mommy stood in the doorway. It bounced off the ceiling, flinging mud and dirty water everywhere and landed with a thud on her chest.

Her eyes were wide with surprise and she just stood there looking down at the muddy goop on her white shirt.

Shawn tried not to laugh, but she looked so funny all covered with mud—he couldn’t help it. The laughter started in his tummy and bubbled up into his mouth. It burst out onto his lips.

Mommy glared at him, but then her face changed. The corners of her eyes crinkled up and her lips began to twitch. She laughed so hard she had to sit down on the floor. Shawn had never seen her laugh so much. She pulled him onto her lap for a hug.

Shawn looked up into her laughing face. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it.”

“I know buddy.” Mommy kissed the end of his muddy nose. “I couldn’t help it either.”

It doesn’t taste as good as it I thought!

So what do you think? Is this fiction?

Well yes, but I couldn’t find the picture I wanted of my grandsons after they “accidentally” played in the mud.

As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll visit and comment. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, be friends, follow, or Tweet.

My facebook author page is: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn

My facebook profile page is http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

Working With An Editor

This is a depiction of my mood when I opened my manuscript after my editor was finished with it the first time. Please notice the sun just beginning to come through the clouds after the storm. Yeah, I got over it too.

Working With An Editor

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

If you are a traditionally published author or a self published author who hired an editor to look over your manuscript, then you have worked with an editor. You know that feeling of seeing the email come in with your work attached after the editor has gone over it. Part of you is excited and can’t wait to open it and learn what she thinks of all your hard work, but then there’s the other part of you that’s scared to death. What if she hated it and has changed her mind or wants you to rewrite the entire book.

That’s how I felt anyway as I stared at the email with my manuscript, Nightmares in the subject line, for five minutes. I couldn’t bring myself to open it, so instead of facing it right then, I washed the dishes, sorted the laundry, fed the cats, cleaned the cat pans and finally worked up enough courage to see what she had to say.

The first thing I saw in the body of the e-mail, after the greeting of, Hi Donna, were these words: “Okay, I’ve gone through the first four chapters. Now is the moment where you take a breath and relax. When you open the attachment you will see many, many things. Don’t panic. Have no fear. :o)”

Let me tell you, the happy face at the end did nothing to squelch the growing panic in my stomach. I literally had to close my eyes, afraid to read any further. My first rational thought a few minutes later: Was my story really that bad? My second: Is she going to make me rewrite the entire first four chapters of my book as I had feared earlier? My third and final thought: What are my choices?

I could delete the whole thing and pretend I never received it and never see my book published or I could keep reading and find out exactly what she wanted.

I chose to continue reading and my fear began to subside as I read. She didn’t want to be my ghostwriter; all she wanted to do was spruce up my words a little. She wrote that she had made a few adjustments and offered suggestions, all of which I had the choice of accepting or rejecting or simply changing to something I thought might work better.

Then she went on to explain how to accept or reject the edited material and how to add my own comments, plus she recommended a course on sentence structure and longer sentences, put out by www.thegreatcourses.com and is called Building Great Sentences. This was exciting; I’m always open to learning more about writing, but then I realized this was her way of introducing her first big complaint and she thought most of my sentences were too short.

I’ll admit it irked me a little, because I had also read that a variety of sentence lengths are important and I’ve read where other big name authors have recommended short sentences because it kept a story moving along and young adult readers liked it that way.

So what do you do? I believe mostly it’s a matter of preference and because she’s the editor, I’m not going to argue. As long as it doesn’t damage the content or change the message of what I want the reader to get from the sentence, I’ll do my best to revise it to her liking.

My editor’s other complaint was about repetitive words, which is pretty much universal with everyone. Even I get annoyed when I read books that continually use the same words or phrases multiple times and especially in the same paragraph.

A few months ago, I read this great young adult novel series that I loved. I can’t wait for the next and final book to be published, but there was one thing that started to bug me. The author used the phrase: “He shuddered” or “She shuddered” all the time and in all four of her books and multiple times on the same page. It started to wear pretty thin, but not enough to keep me from finishing the series, yet some people may not be as forgiving as I am about repeats.

The problem is, when it’s your own work; it is SO much harder to catch. I realized when I read my own manuscript silently to myself or out loud, I still couldn’t see or hear all the repeated words, but believe me, an editor will and your manuscript will come back to you with a bunch of highlighted words all over the place.

The way I have solved that problem, okay solved might not be the correct usage, but I have managed to find so many more duplicates by going over each line in a paragraph and comparing it to all of the other sentences, deliberately looking for one word at a time to see how often I had used it.

The first time I wrote the paragraph above, I had repeated at least two or three times the following words; book, catch, repeat, repeated and duplicate. I corrected the problem by thinking of synonyms. Example: Book, replaced with manuscript, catch, replaced with find, repeated, replaced with duplicates so that in the end I used each word and the synonym only once.

So do yourself a favor and look for duplicate words in all of your work before you submit the manuscript to any publishers or agents. The publisher will still have their editor look over the manuscript and there will be changes, it’s inevitable because much of writing is subjective, but in the end you’ll be glad you did.

What do you think, do repetitive words bother you? And which do you prefer, short sentences, long ones or a verity of lengths? Do you believe much of writing is subjective?

Here’s a link for anyone interested in a contest for young adults. It closes October 31, 2012 so get your story in soon. It pays $500 for 1st prize. Check it out: http://www.thechildrenswriter.com/af627/

As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll visit and comment. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, be friends, follow, or Tweet.

My facebook author page is: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn

My facebook profile page is http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Good Old Days

That’s me holding the chicken and my brother Jerry sitting beside me. Notice the pump behind me. We didn’t have running water in our house. The pump is where we got our water.

The Good Old Days

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

I grew up in Iowa during the 1950’s and 60’s. Things were simpler. We didn’t own a TV until I was seven and no one had ever heard of a personal computer or a cell phone. Those were things of fiction back then.

We spent a lot of time outside playing. My older brother, Jerry always wanted to play cowboys or army and of course I was always on the losing side. I didn’t mind. I admit I was a tomboy growing up. I played with worms, snakes, frogs, and toads, climbed trees and jumped off of buildings.

We used his toy trucks to build roads in the dirt around our mom’s flowers and when we tired of that, we’d go find some crawdads for fishing in the crawdad hole. (The crawdad hole is gone now. There’s a McDonalds sitting where it used to be.)

Our older sister, Joyce was always taking pictures of us. I hardly ever posed for a picture without some kind of animal or my baby brother, Mike or one of my nephews, Danny and Tommy with me.

Me and my baby brother Michael

We’d stay outside until dark and then catch lightening bugs (some people call them fireflies). We would put them in jars so we could turn the lights off and watch them blink off and on.

Whatever my big brother, Jerry and the neighbor boys did, I followed, but because he was three years older than me, he got to do things I couldn’t; like ride his bike to the park three blocks away. Oh, I had my tricycle, but I wasn’t allowed to go that far on it.

That’s me, I’m the girl in the picture. Jerry is getting on his bike to ride to school and the other two boys were neighbors. It was the first day of school and I was so wanting to ride my bike to school, but all I had was a tricycle that was too small for me. I was SO jealous!

I wanted a real two-wheeled bike.

When he wasn’t riding his bike, sometimes I would lean it against something so I could get on it and sit on the seat, but my legs weren’t long enough to reach the pedals and push them all the way down to make it move.

Sometimes Jerry would push the bike while I sat on it. But he grew tired of that pretty fast, so then I’d push the bike myself and stand on the pedal and coast  like it was a giant scooter.

But the best times were when he’d give me a ride around the block. I’d sit sidesaddle on the bar, being careful to keep my feet from touching the spokes in the front tire and we’d sail down the road with the wind in our hair.

The first summer I discovered I could push the bike and coast along on it, I couldn’t reach the pedals while sitting on the seat. By the following year, I had grown enough that I could push the pedal down, but my toes didn’t quite reach the lowest point and the ground was still a long way from the bottom of my foot.

If you’ve ever seen one of those old boy’s bikes, then you know size matters when it comes to touching the ground with the bar in the middle, especially when you want to get off.

One day Jerry found me with his bike,  coasting along as I stood on the pedal. He watched me for a minute and I was waiting for him to tell me to get off it, but instead he said, “I bet you could ride that thing if someone helped you. I’ll hold it, you get on.”

As soon as I was seated, he started pushing. He ran along the side and then he gave it a huge shove and yelled, ”Pedal.” So I did, but actually pedaling and sitting on the bike were way different and since my legs weren’t quite long enough yet to reach the pedal with my entire foot as it dropped toward the ground, I had to catch it as it came back up and then push the pedal down again.

But I rode that bike all the way to the end of the block. I wasn’t allowed to go past the corner by myself and that’s when I realized I didn’t know how to turn around and I couldn’t push the pedal back far enough for the brake to stop the bike, so I stopped pedaling.

Jerry yelled, “Turn the handlebars into the grass.”

I could hear him running toward me and did what he said, but the bike had slowed so much, it wasn’t going to make it to the grass and I didn’t think he’d get there in time to keep the bike and me from ending up in the gravel.

I was right. I think every exposed piece of skin was torn off, but did that keep me from riding whenever I could get someone to give me a shove?

No Way!

A year later and I was finally able to ride the bike with no help and the year after that, I got my own two wheeled (girl’s) bike.

How about you? What’s some of your fondest memories of growing up?

As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll visit, comment and follow. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, be friends, follow, or Tweet.

Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn Facebook profile page: http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423 Twitter: @02dmcdunn

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.

The Best or The Worst Critique; What Was Yours?

The Best or The Worst Critique; What Was Yours?

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

When I started writing at a very young age, I did it for myself because I had something I wanted to say. I never thought about getting published or who might want to read my stories. I just knew I loved to write.

Looking back at that time, I didn’t have a fear of being laughed at or criticized at least not until someone said, “I thought you had a better imagination than that”. Those words were spoken by my older sister, who is nine years older than I am, after I foolishly let her read a short story I had written. I was fifteen.

I put that short story away and didn’t look at it again for many years, but those words echoed in my brain for a long time whenever I was writing and I’d feel that same squeezing pain in my heart and wonder if I could ever be good enough.

I continued to write back then though, but my readers consisted only of my close friends, who I knew would love my stories, because they usually had the leading roles.

Of course I finally grew up and would write sometimes, but with a husband, three growing daughters, a full time job as a short order cook and livestock and gardening, I didn’t have much time or energy for much writing. But as the saying goes, “Nothing ever stays the same”.

Our daughters grew up too and finally moved out of the house. I still work full time, but now I work in an office that allows me to use my free time for whatever I want. We no longer have livestock, but we do still garden. I just don’t freeze and “can” produce as much as I used to.

By the time 2008 rolled around, we had six grandkids and I began thinking about writing a story for the two oldest granddaughters. They both loved to read, but then while reading a storybook to two of my grandsons, I suddenly saw something in my grandkids I hadn’t seen in anyone in many years; a safe audience. I could count on them to like what I wrote and not criticize.

I pulled out my old stories. I hadn’t read any of them in years and now I could see how lame they were. As for the story I had my sister read, well it wasn’t the gem I had thought it was all those years ago. My reaction wasn’t even as nice as what my sister had said to me. I didn’t know why I felt that way. I just knew they sucked and I needed help.

I decided right then, I had to write a story all the grandkids would love, starring the feral mother of five new kittens we found in the woodpile a few weeks before. I already thought of a title, “Wild and Free”.

But first, I had to take a writing class and boy did it open my eyes. I had the answer to why my sister thought I had no imagination and why I knew all the stories I had written as a kid sucked.

I had made the same mistakes almost all new writers make. I used a lot of dreams and the protagonist’s memories to fill in back story I felt my readers needed to know. But in the story my sister read, I had made the biggest mistake of all, I had my protagonist wake up and realize the entire story had only been a nightmare.

At the time, I thought it was clever and original and maybe it was when the first few hundred writers used a dream to end their stories back when they first invented the alphabet, but even in 1965, an ending like that was pretty lame.

All the new knowledge about “how” to write led me on a new mission. I wanted to fix the mistakes I had made in that short story my sister read. I worked on it for over two years. The story grew from a short story, to a young adult paranormal/mystery novel. The story changed so much it doesn’t resemble the original at all. The title, “Nightmares” and the fact my protagonist has nightmares are the only things I didn’t change. In fact I can guarantee Emily the protagonist, will not wake up and find she’s only had a nightmare.

Muse It Up Publishing will release my book “Nightmares” in May 2013. I’ve started working on the sequel.

I look back now and realize, even though it hurt, my sister did me a huge favor by telling me what she really thought. It was something I needed to hear. It’s true she could have done it in a kinder way. I’m still grateful though because it turned out to be the worst and the best critique ever for me. It sparked the motivation to take those writing classes forty-six years later just so I could finally prove her wrong and write a great story for my grandkids.

 

 My grandkids benefited too. In the picture above, all six of them received the story “Wild and Free” for Christmas that year. It has pictures of the real animals the story is about and there are pictures of them in it too. They loved it or at least that’s what they said. Now I have two more grandkids. I guess it’s time for a new story for them.How about you, what was the best and/or worst thing someone has said about your writing?As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll visit and comment. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, be friends, follow, or Tweet.

My facebook author page is: http://www.facebook.com/donnajeanmcdunn

My facebook profile page is http://www.facebook.com/mcdunndonnajean

Twitter is http://www.linkedin.com/pub/donna-mcdunn/42/819/423

It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.