Dale lives in Kansas and writes mystery novels. She’s liked mystery since she was young. Unlike most authors, she uses Linux for her writing and we discuss this.
Dale Kesterson was born in Manhattan, NY and grew up on Long Island. Since then, she has lived in six widely diverse locations, from New Orleans to deliberately moving to a town so small it does not have a red-yellow-green traffic light. She has been creating stories and putting them on paper since the age of seven, even writing and producing a neighborhood play at twelve. Life, however, kept her busy doing things such as majoring in science in college, teaching math and science, studying nursing, and managing a small home business with her husband. Odd creative opportunities presented themselves throughout the years, however, with two highlights. Dale did a two-year stint with an opera company where she performed pantomime characters while singing with the chorus and she worked on a radio show as an anchor and character voice artist. She co-authored the first two Time Guards novels, and now pens the Lauren Kaye Mysteries. Resort to Murder was the premiere in 2021 and Staged for Death followed in 2022. Dale is a seasoned traveler who is also a professional photographer. In 2018 she auditioned for a part for a community theater and has been active as an actress, singer, and assistant director with two local community theaters in her area. Her roles have included Cinderella’s Stepmother in Into the Woods, the store psychologist in Miracle on 34th Street, and most recently, the dual parts of Mrs. Dilber and the Ghost of Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas. Dale lives in southwest Kansas with her husband (of over 30 years) and their hairless cats. When she’s not writing, performing, or appearing at conventions as an author or panelist or songstress, she does handcrafts. This lady hates being bored!
Stephen: . So today on Discovered Wordsmith, I want to welcome Dale Kesteren. Dale, how are you doing today?
DAle: I’m fine. Had an interesting weekend, but it’s, it worked out
Stephen: okay. Oh, good. Good. Yeah. So I wanna talk about your book but before we do, let’s find out a little bit about you.
So tell us where you live and some of the things you like to do besides writing.
DAle: We live in a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere in southwest Kansas that is so small. It doesn’t even have a red, yellow, green traffic
Stephen: light. We’ve got one and we don’t have a post office. So I understand. We have a post
We don’t, we have a grocery store. We have a drug store. We have a we’re the com county seat. So we also have the county community critical access hospital.
Stephen: Oh, here we are.
DAle: But if you eliminate the cats and the dogs and the cat and the various other animals, it’s the population’s about 900.
Stephen: okay. Ours, if you count the cows, it doubles our population.
DAle: Yeah, I can understand that. If you double, if you count the cows, the population of the county triples. We’re in the middle of wheat and cattle country, but we moved here and everybody gets startled by this. We moved here by from New Orleans.
Stephen: Ooh, nice. Ooh. That was a
DAle: change. And our daughter was asked if she could do voodoo dolls and love charms and such. When she, we got up here and she’s going you moved here from New Orleans. It was the pit of hell. But it was deliberate and it was before Katrina.
Stephen: Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah, I was down in New Orleans a couple years ago and some of the trolleys were still offline from Katrina.
DAle: Katrina completely decimated the city. Brennan’s is gone. I didn’t know what Brennan’s was. The world famous restaurant, Brennan’s is no longer, and it’s you don’t go to nowhere. You can’t go to Brennan’s. Oh my God. But no, we moved up here way before then and people thought we were nuts, and then Katrina hit and all of a sudden we weren’t quite as crazy.
But I was born in Manhattan, New York. Wow.
Stephen: That’s a lot of changes.
DAle: Yeah. The real shock, culture shock was moving from Detroit down to Jackson, Mississippi. Oh, yeah. I can
Stephen: see that.
DAle: I’ve lived in a lot of places and we’ve been here for 30 years. Okay, nice. There are advantages to a small
Stephen: town. Yeah, there are disadvantages, but yes.
DAle: If you wanna go to Wendy’s, you gotta drive 30 miles, but hey, who needs that,
Stephen: right? Absolutely. We have to drive 10 miles to get to a grocery store. So I get it. First of all, I really like your TARDIS down there in the corner. That I can sp see.
DAle: Yes, you can see the tardis. I haven’t tested it, but it’s there.
Stephen: You’ve moved around a lot family. So why did you wanna start writing?
DAle: I’ve been writing most of my life. It’s just life kept getting in the way and I wasn’t able to really, seriously address it until let’s see. I started a book that turned into the beginning of the Lauren K series and it is a series Excuse me, I, we had rain for two days and our sinuses don’t know what to do.
The manuscript, original manuscript to the book is in pencil on legal pads. Wow. That’s how old it is. And I, every ti other time I moved, I lost it. Oh. And had to, what box did I put this thing in? You know how that goes. Yeah. And it’s something I really wanted to do. And in the meantime, I got involved with Star Trek fandom and Babylon five fandom.
And I wrote fanzines. I edited fanzines, I wrote short stories, fan short stories and such. So I’ve always kept my hand in. But the first professionally published short story in an anthology came out in 2018. Okay. The title of the anthology was Tales of the Interstellar Bartender’s Guild. It’s from pro se Press and the editor and the gentleman who created the anthology concept called me.
He says, I need a short story. I said, Hey, great. No, I can, I can knock out one of those. And he said, yeah, I like the way you write. And he told me the title is You, Aubrey, you’re looking for bar fights. I don’t fight and I don’t drink. This may not work out real well. And his immediate comment was, you’ll think of something.
But I called him after I watched the movie Gettysburg. He was one of the reenactors. And I said, Hey, I have an idea. And the man hung up on me. And I called him back. I said, what was that for? He said the last time you had an idea, I ended up as a singing Klingon in a fan production at a convention.
And I went, this is for a book. He said, okay, I’ll listen. And I pitched what became the Time Guards two, two novel series. Two part series. Wow. Okay. And that was also for pro se press. But as much as I love science fiction, my first love is mystery. Like a lot of people, girls my age, I grew up on Nancy Drew.
And I wanted to see, excuse me. See, it’s a box set now.
Stephen: Ah, okay. Nice.
DAle: See? Nice. I finally found. I apologize. I really do. The first publisher I took Resort to Murder for too is told me it was a good story, good concept, good characters, great dialogue, but it needed to be spiced up. And I went, no. I wanted to see if I could find a home for it that would accept it as is.
Now, in the meantime, I run our home bus computer service business, and my husband’s it. Can you edit this out? I’m gonna have to cough.
Stephen: Yeah, that’s fine.
DAle: I swear my characters don’t.
Let’s see. That’s a little better. We I was told to submit it to Jump Master Press the book to Jump master press, and they loved it. So I joined their seminar group and they do have a monthly seminar group for the Jump Master press Writers group based on Facebook. But in the meantime, in between everything else I was doing, I took my very nervous heart in my very nervous hands and or auditioned for community theater productions.
So I’m also an actress. Nice. Have done 10, 10 plays and two how should I put this? Showcase singing talent type shows fundraisers, and I stay busy. I’m old enough that if I don’t stay busy, I’m probably gonna lose my marbles and I don’t wanna
Stephen: do that. Yeah, I understand that. I’m always pretty busy.
And some people are like, how do you do that?
DAle: I did, I’ve done two conventions with the Jump Master Press people. I know that’s You’ve met them. And one was in, remember I live in southwest Kansas. One was in Tupelo, Mississippi, and then I did the Huntsville Pop Culture Expo a few weeks back and I drive.
Oh, wow. Okay. We’ve got a car that gets 50 miles per gallon and above. Nice. Nice. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do it.
Stephen: Nice. So you showed your box set, which I know Jump Master Press does some nice box sets. And it was a duology. So there’s two, the book we’re gonna talk about is Staged for Death.
Tell us a little bit about that one.
DAle: Okay. My main character is a get that up. There is a 25 year old reporter. The books are set in 1950. They’re period. And they’re period. Accurate. They’re, she is, Lauren Kay is, they’re all called Lauren Kay Mysteries resort to Murder was the first one. Staged for Death.
It’s the second one. Murderous Intentions is going to be the third one. It’s about two between two thirds and three quarters done. Okay. I’m working on it. They’re screaming for it and, Lauren is a 25 year old reporter in 1950. She’s on Long Island. She’s a full-time reporter and a part-time night student.
She is independent, feisty, and a bit of a smart alec. Now, all of that now is normal. Back in 1950, working your way through college was exceedingly rare, and the idea that she is not interested in a Roman permanent romance relationship, a k a, the wedding ring is makes her very odd. She hasn’t got time. She knows it, she admits it, and in staged for death, she’s working her way through college.
She promised her mom, she’s an orphan. She promised her mom that she would finish her degree. She now goes to night school, she’s whittling away at her credits and her advisor in stage for death. Her advisor has signed her up for a day class in music appreciation. Lauren’s tone deaf, and she goes into her advisor and said, I can’t do this.
If I take this class, I’m gonna lose my job because I can’t take, three hours out of each Tuesday or Thursday to take a class I really don’t want any part of to begin with. And he signs her up. They work a deal with the dean and he, they sign her up as a ready for award, A supernumerary. Okay.
Okay. It’s fun to say, it kinda bounces. A supernumerary in an is an extra. On an opera stage, they don’t sing. They just the crowds the soldiers, the party guests on stage that really don’t do anything. So she goes, okay, as long as I don’t have to sing, she looks at a friend of hers when they’re talking about it and she said, Hey, it’s a class assignment.
What could go wrong?
And of course, everything does right. But that’s the basic setup for the second
Stephen: book. Okay. All right. And this isn’t your first book. You’ve written other things. Have they all been mysteries?
DAle: No. The first two novels that came out, I co-wrote with. Aubrey Stevens for Pro Se Press. The first one is called the Devil to Pay Time Guards Volume One.
And we took two people from a 2015 reenactment just outside of Gettysburg and Drop kicked them back to 1863 with no warning, no manual, and no instructions. And they spend the entire first day going, what in the heaven’s name has happened here? Oh my heavens. We’re really there. Oh my goodness. And we can’t change history.
Oh crap. It was your basic oh crap moment. And the second book picks up as four score and seven time guards book two. And it is parts one and two with the same. Same story. They get involved in trying to thwart a conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln at the Gettysburg Address at the Gettysburg Dedication.
Oh. And they’re not sure if they’re stuck or not. So it was fun. I co-authored it with Aubrey Stevens and Pro Se Press took a look at the original book and went a first novel of 140,000 words. I don’t think so. So we split it into two books.
Stephen: Yeah. A lot of times I’ve heard that happening.
But the, and my Myster mystery series, the Lauren k Mysteries from Jump Master Press are family friendly. There’s no gratuitous gore sex violence or profanity. There is a bit of profanity in the time guard’s books, but nothing overt. And, but I have people, I have readers as young as 1314 reading the Mysteries.
Now Mysteries is my first love, but I also have a science fiction novel running around in my head. As soon as I get book the Third Mystery out, I’m gonna work on that.
Stephen: Oh, okay.
DAle: Nice. But I hate being bored, so if I’m not working on anything else, I do cross
Stephen: stitch. Yeah. What type of feedback have you been getting from people who have read the books?
DAle: The feedback on the mysteries I sold copies of both Mysteries to a friend and her note back to me was, oh, I love them. I’m not sure I like you anymore. And it’s like I looked at the note and I’m going, oh my gosh, what happened? And she says, I lost a lot of sleep because I had to know what happened.
That’s a good thing. The question I get most often from any, anybody who has read both and has read, the second one is, when’s the next one coming out? That’s a good thing too. So I’m assuming I’m doing something right. Yes. The funniest sequence I have written to date is end staged for death.
Lauren, when she gets mad or upset, tends to exercise her vocabulary, but she doesn’t swear.
She hits somebody. All right, I’m gonna have to cheat. You wanna hear a paragraph?
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. Can I do that? Yeah,
DAle: let’s do that. Okay. I’ve used this as a reading in at conventions. This, the guy she’s talking to has royally torqued her off. Big time. She almost gets bounced from the opera production.
It’s set against an opera. GU knows Romeo and Juliet. The opera is not the focus, it’s the setting. So you don’t have to know anything about opera. I take care of that. And she says, Ash, I put my hand on his face, he smiled. Auntie, I want to up. I grabbed his ear lobe and used pressure. Use Supercilious solipsistic, narcissistic egocentric lethario.
I sat cutting him off. How dare you entangle me in your infantile in Broo, you could have gotten me fired. And I need this class to graduate of all theile. Sure. Cow Callow pranks. You don’t have to understand all the words individually to know what she is saying. And I love that sequence. Later on in the scene he says Lauren, would you translate those high powered words you just used on me?
That’s funny. And she says, sure. If you can repeat them back. Nice. She’s fun to write. Yeah. And they are told first person.
Stephen: Okay. All right. And So you’ve got the two out and you said you were planning a third one. Would that be the end of the series or No?
DAle: Okay. We’re looking, we had a discussion of about this in Tupelo, and again, in Huntsville we are probably aiming at a series of six books.
Okay. And oddly enough, the last one to which will be published is actually the first one I wrote. The reason being I had to establish the characters. I set it in a house and I asked permission to use the house from the person who owned it. I said, I love this place. Would you mind if I set a book here?
And she, what kind? I said, A murder mystery. She said, oh, do you mind? She said, no. Have at it. And a friend of mine read the book. And she said, it’s wonderful, it’s great. It kept me guessing up until the last minute. But it’s a closure. It’s not an intro. So the last one’s, it’s gonna need severe editing, but it’s already exists.
So I’m preschooling leading up. I know where I’m going. It’s a matter of getting there. Okay. All right. But it gave me, knowing the setting gave me the opportunity to develop the
Stephen: characters and that’s, something that a lot of authors give the advice, know where you’re going.
DAle: You have to know, especially in a murder mystery, you’ve gotta know where you’re going. The only major mystery author I know of that never plotted it out in advance was the amazingly brilliant Agatha Christie. And I read her books and I’m going, my gosh. You mean you solved your own mystery as you wrote it?
No. So my advice to anybody writing a mystery is please, before you start, get your basic plot line with at least who did what to whom, how and why.
Stephen: Got it. Okay. Good advice for all the mystery writers. And I’m sure the readers agreed too. They wanna yeah,
DAle: I do. Don’t wanna have to solve your own puzzle because you could really write yourself into one heck of a corner.
Stephen: So now if you were given the choice, would you rather turn these into movies or TV shows?
DAle: a good question. A TV series would be exceedingly expensive. I know enough about productions to realize that. Anything period, anything in the past, you’ve gotta have the cars, the clothes, the, and renting those. That kind of car, we’re talking 1950s, so we’re talking cars from like 1947 to maybe 1952 and getting ahold of those that look like they’re still on their wheels.
That gets pricey. Keeping the production values, you gotta remember, I do stage work, keeping the production values accurate, and these will not update properly. I may have written myself into a hole there, but. I would say movies rather than tv, but they may not be intricate enough to take to the movies.
Frankly. I’d rather take my main three characters to the stage. Oh, that
Stephen: would be interesting.
DAle: Lauren is an orphan. Her dad was killed at Normandy during World War ii. Remember we’re in 1950 and her mom died of cancer a few years later. She’s on her own, but she’s not alone. Her best friend’s father has taken her under his wing and she goes head to head with a, the local police captain who hates amateurs getting in his way.
In his investigations, he’s a curmudgeon and they bump heads solidly in the first book Resort to Murder, which is this one. Lauren gets her first Sunday supplement front page, front page Sunday supplement assignment and this, and is asked to check to see if a death at the brand new resort was an accident or not.
And of course it isn’t. And she, and the Captain Bunk completely collide and she holds her own. But the, my three main characters, Lauren, her best friend’s father Robert Mallory and the police captain Danny O’Brien, are my three mates. And it takes, usually takes, it’s usually gonna take all three of them to make sense out of
Okay. All right. And if people wanted to check out all your books, do you have a website that they could go to?
DAle: I have a website which includes all of the books. It’s. Www Dale Kesteren, d a l e k e S T E R S O N, just the way it sounds.com. And we recently updated the website to include the second anthology, which is from Jump Master Press, called Dreams of Time and Space, in which I proved to my publishers that I, a, I can write science fiction and b, I don’t have to write in first person.
I can use third because it drives one of them nuts because he’s not a big fan of first person and I’m going tough. They’re my books.
Stephen: Nice. Okay, and we’ll,
DAle: and of course you can get, anybody can go to www jump master press.com and. Find my books from Jump Master The Mysteries and the Anology there.
Stephen: Okay, great. All right, so Dale what are some, I see you got some books behind you. What are some of your favorite books and authors?
DAle: My favorite author, and you can’t see it behind me because it’s in front of me in a glass case. After I finished with Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton, the Dana Girls and Sherry Ames student nurse, and all those, which were major series when I was growing up.
I’m old. I saw a, went to the library and saw a shelf of books with black covers and little red skulls at the bottom of the spine. And I looked at my mom. I was maybe 10 or 12, and I What’s those, what are those? I couldn’t reach ’em. Neither could she. And she said, oh, that’s Rex Stout’s, Niro Wolf series.
What I’m looking at off camera, I have reading copies over here behind me over here, but I’ve collected some of the hard back first editions of the Nero Wolf novels. Nice. He is my favorite author I think of all time. And yes, it was an influence. The books are always told by first person, by Archie, his character, Archie Goodwin.
But I can’t even begin to mimic him. So it’s okay, I’ve gotta have my protagonist action. And her support has gotta be movable too, because Nero Wolf just sits and. And is an irascible. Curmudgeon.
Stephen: And do you have a favorite bookstore you like to go to get your books?
DAle: I live in the middle of nowhere in southwest Kansas and everything locally, we used to have a Hastings, we used to have a Barnes and Noble fairly local.
It was 60 miles away. But with the brick and mortar stores closing, it’s hard. So I hear about something and I do what Mo a lot of other people do. I jump online and the time guards novels are on Amazon. Of course, everything from Jump Master is probably on Amazon, although I, we really prefer people to get them from Jump Master cuz they’ve got a variety.
It’s a small house based in Alabama. They’ve got a wide variety of style authors and styles and genres, including young adults.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. They had a really nice presentation display when I saw ’em in Virginia about a month ago.
DAle: It’s called a traveling bookstore for a reason. And they finally got the subject, like historical fiction, fantasy time travel signs up. So now we no longer have to completely go around the room when we but yes. In Huntsville we had I think nine authors. Oh, nice. And they just did meth con in Chattanooga. And they had three, five, because Kyle and Gene, Kyle, Hannah, and Gene Rowley both. As well as run the company.
Stephen: Yeah. I talked to both of them. I met Jean at the Con I was at, and I’ve had Kyle on, he’s coming up an upcoming episode going to be on. So they’re,
DAle: they really, and I think most of their authors feel this way. I know I do. I was extremely grateful that I found a home for Lauren Kay. The Lauren k Mysteries that wouldn’t, in, that didn’t insist on throwing in the gratuitous gora sex, violence, profanity stuff, and accepted her, accepted the mysteries.
They’d never published a genuine, traditional, cozy mystery before I came in. And we’ve been amazed at the response we literally sold out in Huntsville. Of my books. Nice.
Stephen: That’s a good thing. I’m glad to see that cuz they were great guys to talk to. And I bought a few books and, there were others I was looking at and I’m just glad to see that there’s such a nice press getting out there.
Because you hear about something, there was somebody talking to one of the authors there and they’re, oh yeah, I got this thing from author House or something that they said they would publish and blah, blah blah. And it was like, it’s gonna cost $8,000 and so many people are getting ripped off by these scam places that, to see a place like Jump Master doing well and looking like they’re growing and that’s Oh, they’re growing.
DAle: Yeah, they’re definitely growing. Somebody, I was talking at another convention without. The bookstore. I was basically there on my own. I do shadow Con in Memphis. It’s a, what we call a relax con. My co-author from the time Travel books, Aubrey Stevens is on the committee that runs it. And I was sitting with a couple of other authors or wannabes and they’re saying, who do you have?
Who did you find to edit your books and how much did it cost you? It’s whoa. My editor as editor in chief, assign somebody to edit the book and I’m sorry, money shipments in this deal. Only go one way. Not making, I’m not gonna, probably not gonna make a fortune, but I know that it will be handled and.
Self-publishing is fine if you know how to do the editing or can find an editor and can afford to pay one. And yes, you can get it, you can get it published, but you have to worry about the cover, the editing promotion website, how to handle the money, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And frankly, I don’t wanna be bothered.
So I found a house that would take it, and I sit back and yes I have a lot of input into the covers. I love this one. I really love that cover. Yeah, it’s a nice cover and with the hand holding the curtain back, the but it’s just nice to have the support behind you as a writer. I can focus on writing.
And I don’t have to worry about a lot of the other stuff. Yeah. Now I will admit, I’ve been an editor, so most of my stuff goes in pretty well assembled and needs just minor tweaking, which they appreciate.
Stephen: Yeah, I’m sure. I’m sure. So let’s talk a little bit about some of the writing stuff. So what are some things you’ve learned in your writing career from your first book to this one?
DAle: I was, had the tremendous pleasure and fortune to be a, have as a good friend. I’m sorry, I just thinking about him, he’s gone and I miss him very much. The late insanely talented Robert Aspirin. Oh yeah. Fulls the myth series. Yes. Fulls and the full series. And I was listening to and talk up to a group of people who, oh, I will, I’d love to write a book.
I’ve got ideas. How do I go about it? And he’s going, okay, let’s go back to writing 1 0 1 is the first thing he always said was, never write anything You don’t wanna read 350 times,
Stephen: at least 350 times.
DAle: It’s people say, what was, what’s the book you’ve read the most Mine?
Stephen: Yeah. The last one I was working on.
DAle: The last one I’m working on. Yeah. And you don’t wanna know how many times. And he also said, if you don’t enjoy what you’re writing, don’t do it because there’s no point. You have to, this is one of those where you have to love what you do. Otherwise it becomes such a drudge that you’re not gonna finish it.
And yes, Heline has his rules of writing and people should check those out. I’m not gonna go into them. I don’t have the handout in front of me, but if you’re going to write, you have to write. If you wanna be a writer, you have to
Stephen: write. And that’s, I’ve been finding more and more through my own personal experience and just talking to authors that it doesn’t matter what class you go to, it doesn’t matter what group you join.
It doesn’t matter how many books you read, that none of that makes hardly any difference compared to just sitting down and writing and writing and not writing one book and then revising it and editing it for seven years. That doesn’t improve your writing. It’s actually writing something and moving on to the next thing, and writing more.
DAle: That’s one of the things, the Highline five rules of writing is you have to write, you have to finish what you write. You have to submit what you edit to the best of your ability. But don’t sit there and tweak it, as you said, for seven years. Submit it and move forward. Move on. Yes. Learn from what you do.
If you were to read the story I have in Tales of the Interstellar Bartenders Guild and then the short story in dreams of Time and Space, which is the Jump Master anthology I even kept one of the same characters. They’re different stories, but the difference in the writing techniques. Yeah. I really learned a lot.
You can tell the difference. You can tell that I’ve learned a lot even between these two books and they came out within a year of each other. Yeah. Every, so I’m still any writer that will not admit to learning as they go ignore. Because hey, even Stephen King needs an editor. Yeah,
Stephen: exactly. And he’ll
DAle: admit that to, and you have to learn how to take criticism without being crushed.
Not personally. I did a one-on-one with Jean early on when we were, I was developing resort to murder. It needed help. And we did a one-on-one zoom, like I’m in the middle of nowhere. Nobody lives here. Nobody lives close. And he said, now I’m gonna, I’m gonna get critical. I said, come on, I do stage work.
You’re a director. I’m an actor. Go for it. He said, A lot of people take it personal and they shouldn’t. We’re not, If I give somebody criticism, it’s I’m not cr, I’m not coming down on you. I’m trying to help build what you’re
Stephen: doing. I always try and tell people that I wanna hear what your thoughts are.
I wanna hear what didn’t work, what didn’t sound right what’s missing and all that. Because I would rather have somebody I know tell me, Hey, this, you missed this. And it sucked than to thi to be told, oh yeah, it was great. I loved it. And then you put the book out and every review says this kind of sucked.
It’s much more cruel to me to have somebody tell you, yeah, it was great when it wasn’t. There
DAle: are basic rules. The one you would hear around a jump master seminar the most is show don’t tell.
Stephen: Which I everybody’s heard that. If you’ve been writing for more than a week, you’ve heard that and they’ve told you that, but there’s not much follow up at times.
It’s what do you mean show don’t tell? And I’ve keep it, act, keep it active but I think sometimes new authors don’t understand what we mean by show, don’t tell. And I think it needs a little more using examples is good. When I’ve talked to people, but I’ve had to learn myself because I went from applauding this action to a little more flowery, I guess language.
Not really flowery, but better language, rather than just stating a bunch of actions, more of grammar and nice lines of sentence lines. And the show don’t tell. I started picking up on it more by, Reading other people’s stuff and seeing how they did it and real. And again, because I have been writing a lot, I could have examples in my own writing.
It’s oh, I can improve that here. And I just think it, it took me a couple years to really get down, show don’t tell, and be able to see it in my own writing and see it in others. So again, you gotta keep writing.
DAle: You have to put your reader there. Yes, you have to put your reader in your book. And I’m gonna do it again.
Hope you don’t mind. No. Let’s go back to resort.
Okay. I’m gonna put you right there. The telephone’s ringing, ringing bell, barely audible through my lock department door taunted me like a naughty three year old sticking out its tongue. Listening to the dangling sound, I stood in the narrow dimly lit corridor, struggling to juggle full grocery bags and my oversized purse fervently.
Wishing humans had three arms. A myriad of tantalizing odors wafting through the air, reminded me I forgot to eat lunch. My stomach growled at me like a grizzly bear coming out of hibernation. I got the key into the lock. My determination to enter the sanctuary of my apartment heightened when the infant in the apartment down the hall started to wa inhaling deeply through my nose and frustration.
I concluded my neighbor across the hall once again succeeded in scorching his dinner, which reinforced my decision to decline his standing invitation. The key to my new apartment stubbornly refused to cooperate. Exasperation, mingled with the fatigue of the long week, making my Friday complete. Give up.
I’m mumbled to my unknown caller. I don’t want any. You’re there. Yeah, but that’s Lauren and that, that’s also an Lauren’s introduction. That’s Lauren. She’s a working, li working girl. She is. Got classes she’s got. An apartment of her own finally. It’s tiny, but that puts you right there with her. And that’s the
Stephen: magic, right?
And that’s what everybody struggles and that show don’t tell. It’s an easy to say, hard concept to really
DAle: grasp. It’s, and it’s, I still struggle with it. I just printed out the first 90 pages, 90 pages on a word screen, not 90 pages of a book. And reread it. And I’ve got my, I edit, I personally, I edit better on paper than I do on a screen.
I miss stuff on the screen. And it’s also easier on the eyes and. I’ve got little marks and pencils all over and little lines on the sides saying, okay, you need to, this, you made a change here. You when you go back over and have the papers here and the screen here. Yeah. And everybody has their own methods, but the rules are basic.
I have been known to take a telling and turn it into a dialogue. Interesting. But I write, now that was a scene description, but you heard some of my dialogue earlier. I write dialogue possibly because I’ve been a movie fan and you can’t show everything. I’m also, and I’m now into stage stuff.
So the last production I did, I was actually two characters in one play. We did a steampunk accented version, believe it or not, of Christmas, Carol. Nice.
Stephen: I love that. And
DAle: I was, I played Mrs. Dilbert, Scrooge’s Cockney housekeeper, and I also played the ghost of Jacob Marley to completely disparate characters.
Yeah. To completely different voices, to completely different accents, to completely different costumes. And as I told the director after it was all over, that was fine. I had no problem separating all of that. It was the two completely different makeups that drove me nuts.
Stephen: Yeah, I’m
DAle: sure. But I do accents. I do di I write dialogue.
I have found in my personal way of doing things that I. I can get a plot point out better with less telling by turning it into a dialogue. Writing first person does limit you if your main character doesn’t see it or hear it. It hasn’t happened, but somebody can tell her that it happened, and that’s where I pick up my slack.
A lot of people can’t write first person. A lot of people only write first person. I can do, I do both.
Stephen: It does it. That’s a whole nother skill because when you first start writing first person, the tendency is to, I then went and did this, then I went and said this. I was saying, I went, it’s like I everywhere.
And I did the, and they miss out a lot on the inner monologue that the person’s got going on. Inner dialogue and. Bringing out some of those feelings and stuff. It’s done differently and I think a lot of people should write some more in practice. I’m not, that’s not criticism cuz I’m no better, but that’s, how do you get better at it?
DAle: The other thing you do need to do is read. Yes. You have to read, you do have to read books. Your favorite author, vary it a bit. I’m sitting here looking at, here comes a brag, looking at signed copies of things like Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Porn and yes, they both signed the book.
Nice. One of my prize signed books is I have a copy of a book called Mirror Friend, mirror Faux co-written by Robert Aspirin and George Toay.
Stephen: Nice. Wow. And both,
DAle: I got them both to sign it. I’ve got a lot of Bob’s books signed, obviously, but he now, he wrote in first person for the Myth Books, but third person for the Fools Books, the Fools Company, fools Paradise, that’s the send up of the military.
And I found that very interesting. I’ve got I’ve read Mercedes Lackey for years. There’s a, you will see, I don’t, you can’t see titles, but we’ve got the Arthur Clark’s behind me and you gotta get I, yeah, I
Stephen: saw 2001 right there.
DAle: Yeah. And, but up top I’ve got the hitchhiker complete. By Douglas Adams and beautiful.
You have to read, you have to be able as far as action goes. And action sequences are actually my weak, my weakest point. Read some child. I love cu. I love Clive Kessler books.
Stephen: So is my mother. So let’s, before we ramble too long on many other topics, one of the big things I really wanted to talk to you about was you’ve made an interesting choice in your computer.
Now most people, I’m sure I would probably say. Almost a hundred percent of the people listening to the podcast watching the videos are using either a PC or a Macintosh and PCs. The difference is Mac is created by Apple. The hardware and the software are both created by Apple. They control all of it, and PCs are by a large. Number of manufacturers, but the operating system is usually Windows. And that’s from Microsoft. Just yeah, to clarify, because a lot of people get mad and say, ah, stupid Microsoft, my hard drive went out. Microsoft didn’t make your hard drive. They made That’s right.
It’s different. So I’m just clarifying that because you made a completely different choice that most people probably haven’t heard of. And that is Linux. And Linux is an open source for, and there’s many versions, there’s a lot of ver You can’t just say, I run Linux. You’ve got Mint, you’ve got Ubuntu, you’ve got Red Hat.
There’s a ton of different Linux. So what version of Linux, first of all, do you use Mint? You use Mint? I’ve started using that one a little more when I’m doing personal stuff.
DAle: I use Linux Mint my road warrior this is the, this the computer I’m, the laptop I’m using now is a Dell. It’s a I don’t, not even sure it’s been so long.
The, it’s the only one. We’ve only got two laptops in the house that have cameras and microphones. It’s and the other one that is equipped with a camera has a bandaid over the camera to give you an idea of how much we love that. And it’s my husband’s, but my road warrior is a certified refurbed.
It’s probably close to eight years old now. Dell latitude. It’s good. Good machine. It’s a good machine. It’s a solid machine. It travels well. I’ve got the nine cell battery on it, which makes it heavy, but Who cares? Yes. And it, it’s an old machine. As far as technology goes, it’s not quite ancient, but it’s getting there and he put Mint on it.
He put Linux Mint. Linux is, uses less resources than Windows. It interferes less in Windows than Windows does. We just bumped into a I just bumped into a pop-up. We’ve been, we were outta town from Saturday through yesterday and I was accessing something on Friday and popped up and you need to do this.
And it was on my main windows. I’m running Windows 10 on my main system. It’s go away. And no matter what Windows programmed I opened that came up and I’m going. I’m gonna go kill somebody on paper. And he hasn’t, I don’t think he’s straightened. I don’t think he’s had the time to straighten it out yet.
But yeah, real And Linux doesn’t do that. It’s also less prone to viruses.
Stephen: Yes. They don’t attack it cuz not many people are using it, part of it, but it’s also got more security in it. It’s
DAle: got more security in it. I use proton mail for email, which is encrypted. And I use the free version because I don’t have to sync it up with a smartphone.
I don’t own a smartphone. My daughter calls this my average intelligence phone because it isn’t smart.
Stephen: That’s good. Nice. And
DAle: I don’t even text. Drives people
Stephen: nuts, but So what on your Linux machine, what do you use to write your manuscripts? Libra office, that’s pretty
DAle: typical standard, which, all of which mimics all of the windows office applications.
And I can save it as a Windows, as a as an Word doc. A Word file? Yeah. And just take the little flash drive and plug it into the big machine and go. But I have a Windows seven machine that I use for my writing because Windows 10 gets too finicky and too mu it’s too much of a pain in the neck, and that’s not pain in the neck.
Three feet lower.
Stephen: What other. Using Libra office and you export it as a Word doc and then you could take it and usually, send it. Have you found any other services or things that have been difficult to use because you’re on Lennox?
DAle: Yes. When had this conversation? When we first started to set this up.
Yes. Yes. Linux does not like Chrome. And a lot of the zoom type programs. I know I did another podcast interview with all things writing. I won’t mention his name because that’s like the other guys, but we tried and I am married to an IT pro. He sets everything up and well, the first time.
I’ve been playing with computers for a long time. My first actual computer system had an 80 88 processor.
Stephen: I used one of those as a doorstop at one point. They all, if you
DAle: take out all the innards and work it you can actually turn it into a neat drink dispenser. I’ve seen that done big and heavy, but yeah.
And my first, very first laptop had a brace yourself, 10 megabytes hard
Stephen: drive. I knew you were gonna say that,
DAle: but Oh, I loved it. It was a Panasonic and the top just folded back a little, and it was not, it had the best laptop keyboard I’ve ever owned. But yeah, the he being an IT profession, he says, we need a new computer.
It’s okay. And he came, he, I came home from work one day from shopping one day, and he had bits and pieces all over the floor, and he is, this is your new computer. And I looked at it and I looked down and I rolled my eyes and I said, okay, I don’t want anything to do with it. And until it’s got a screen, a menu, and a start stop button, right?
And then one day he we, one Saturday, he said, all right, I’ve, and I wa I loved Word perfect 5.1 for Doss.
Stephen: That’s going back, having to put in your own tags and stuff there.
DAle: But it gave you a blue screen with white letters and it was so much easier on the eyes, it wasn’t even funny. And one day that day came, he said I’ve loaded Windows 3.1.
Okay. He said, this is how you get into it. This is how you get out of it. I gotta go see my parents. Bye.
Why are you leaving? He said, because I don’t wanna listen to what’s gonna come outta your mouth. You tried to find your way around this stuff. And that was my introduction to Windows. My introduction to my first computer was even actually, even funnier. I had somebody build it for me and he came in and he delivered it and he said, this is your new computer.
And this is back when they had just come out with the amber letters on the monitor. Yeah, I’m, we’re going
Stephen: back. Yeah, that’s a way
DAle: We’re talking 19 86, 87. And he said, go ahead and sit down. And I h put my fingers over the keys. I hadn’t even touched one. He’s standing behind me. Bill was standing behind me and I about to touch a key, and across the screen came programming error.
He swears he never saw me move, but the next thing he heard was my voice from the doorway of the room going, it doesn’t like me. Take it back.
I hate computer. I hate computers.
Stephen: Yeah. They’re
DAle: a fact of life. Yeah. But I still don’t have to like them. I certainly don’t trust them.
Stephen: Especially with the new AI stuff.
DAle: Oh man. Everything I have gets backed up at least two different places.
Stephen: That’s smart. That’s a good way to go no matter what system you have.
DAle: I, and always hit the save button every 10 minutes, whether you need to or not. That is probably the best piece of writing advice I could give any writer.
Stephen: My and my default documents folder is my cloud drive folder. So when I hit save, it’s putting it up on the cloud automatically as I continue typing.
So that’s a tip. What is that
DAle: piece of artwork over your shoulder?
Stephen: This one? Yeah. That is my book cover. It was drawn, painted by a man named Thomas Zoller. He lives up in Cleveland. He. He does a lot of his own stuff, but he was also involved in the, my Little Pony reboot of 10 years ago or so.
So yeah, middle grade fiction. That’s the book cover, huh?
DAle: I’ve been looking at it and I wanted to ask. Yeah, so see, the, isn’t that the Millennium Falcon? Oh,
Stephen: that is the Millennium Falcon there. Yep. It’s a tin that I got hanging up. I’ve got an Indiana Jones poster. I have to get up yet still from my original location.
Let me ask you this, so we talked about Libra office. A lot of what authors do now is online with browsers and services, so you can access that through just about any computer with a browser. But there are some softwares that people do use. For example velum it only works on Mac, it won’t work on Windows, it will not work on Linux.
And there are like pro writing aid. You can do it. Through the browser, but it’s easier on a desktop app. They might have a Linux version. So do you find the frustrations sometimes? Trying to get some of the, people will say, oh, get this program. It’s I can’t, people need to understand if it’s written for Windows.
It only works on Windows. If it’s written for Mac, it only works on Mac. A lot of them will work on both, but even then, a lot of them don’t work on Linux. You’re
DAle: talking about writing tools like Scrivener and Yeah. Outlining tools
Stephen: and stuff. Yes. Plotting tools, various things like that. You ready?
DAle: This drives Gene Rowley up the rally up the wall. I don’t outline.
Stephen: Oh, okay. You’re the
DAle: quote unquote. I’m a answer. It’s here, but as as anybody who writes. If they’re being honest, we’ll admit, no matter how you outline your characters can decide, Nope, I’m not gonna do that.
Stephen: Oh, yeah, that, and anyone who hasn’t written that wouldn’t really understand, does
DAle: not understand that.
I’ve, I, I’ve got, I was had a plot knot, a plot line knot, and it just would not unravel. I’m, it was, as I finally said, screw this, I’m gonna go to bed, and at three o’clock in the morning, my police captain woke me up. I’m not gonna do, that’s whose book is this anyway? And people look at me like you gotta be kidding, right?
You hear voices and everything and it’s yep. Oh, I know what he sounds like. But if he’s not, if they’re, those characters are not real to me, they’re never gonna be real
Stephen: to you. And no matter how much plotting you do, sometimes the characters look at your plot and your outline and say, that’s not how I would act.
And they act how they would act. And your outline
DAle: changes. Yeah. No. I don’t know.
I don’t know how I do it. I’ve got a, as I said the, you’ve gotta have, there were three things involved in a mystery and you could drop a mystery into anything. It usually makes it a better book. Even if it’s just a suspense that has to be resolved. Any question that has to be resolved can, becomes a mystery to some degree or other.
And you’ve got to know means opportunity and motive the mom of mysteries. But you have to know who is, I have to know who is gonna do what. To whom, how and why, or I can’t even get started now. I’ve changed the who I haven’t changed the who, but I’ve changed who’s help assisting, the accessory before the fact, if you wanna get technical.
And that has changed twice just since I started the third book. So I consider pantsing flexi to a degree. Flexibility. I know a writer who outlines so thoroughly that all he has to do is put in the conjunctions.
Stephen: Wow. That sounds like Patterson.
DAle: And it’s I’m sorry, that’s locking me in too much.
In the third book, I decided I needed a minor bounce from the n from the narrative. I needed a. An incident, an action incident, and I wrote a sequence and Hey, that does work. Okay. Now, when I was about 30,000 words into murderous intentions, which is gonna be the third book, and it wasn’t working.
So I read, I printed it out and read it and went, oh, okay. I need to make a left turn here and back it up. And I wasn’t allowing myself enough of a timeframe for the action. Murderous intention takes place basically in a week. This one took place over a weekend stage for death. Takes a few months, but I don’t drag it out.
A rehearsal process takes time. And the main action occurs during the actual production and then follows for the next day or so. So you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta paste these things. And I had actually outpaced myself with the first version of stage for death. So I backed it up, scrapped it, and started, not started over, but inserted a couple of extra days that I could use to help build this over overall arc of suspense.
Try that three times
Stephen: fast. Nice. All right. All right. Dale this has been great talking to you. I’m glad somebody else uses links. I don’t use it day to day all the time, but I do have a Linux machine sitting right here. I pull up some things.
DAle: I love it. It’s and we do have it double encrypted.
I have to, use a password to open the thing up and then I have to use a password to get into my programs and We set that up. The first time I took a major trip and I didn’t want anybody messing with my hard drive stuff. And I keep my stuff backed up on one of the drives that is not attached to the internet because my Windows seven is not attached to the internet.
I even have a Windows XP system still running. Wow. I have as long as it’s not attached to the internet, it’s fine. But that’s run, that’s where I run my Photoshop because I’m not about to pay for the new versions of Photoshop but cuz I’m also a professional photographer. Oh
Stephen: wow. Okay.
DAle: Yeah, my husband calls our vacations expensive photo shoots.
Stephen: I can understand that.
DAle: But yeah, it’s I love the Linux machines because they’re not bulletproof, but they’re close. They’re closer than anything else. Cuz Mac, they are targeting Macs with viruses
Stephen: now. Yeah, a lot more. And I’ve been having a lot more problems with Mac users having issues, just acts up as much as Windows sometimes.
But on the flip side, I don’t know if I’d recommend Linux for everybody because there is a bit more hands-on, a bit more you have to do sometimes you can get programs, but you have to sometimes do a little bit more work with them to get ’em. Yeah. We
DAle: tried to load a version of Chrome that would allow us to use the program that the other podcast other podcaster wanted to use.
And it’s we can’t get this thing to work. And the camera is attached to a Linux machine. I’m sorry, I’ve got limitations here. And we ended up doing a Zoom, and I appreciated the flexibility that you gave me because I didn’t wanna go through
Stephen: that again. I like Zencaster because the audio recording is better than on Zoom.
But more people have used Zoom. Like I said, I
DAle: told you I did have the headset. All right. I trained audio wise, I trained when I was working on the radio and Jackson, Mississippi, oh. We did a Satir newscast once a week call in show we hoped people would call into called the Week in review program.
We were all T W I R P, twerp reporters. A lighthearted, lightheaded look at the week’s news. And I ended up doing with no training, I ended up doing anchor position and character voices, and that’s how I eased into acting. Oh, nice. And I took that to, then I was encouraged to audition for the chorus of the Mississippi Opera and made it, and that’s how I ended up on an opera stage.
And yes, there is an event and then killed somebody in this. No, actually I didn’t, my, I played Juliet’s mother as a member of the chorus. Oh. I sang with the chorus. But Lauren is not me. She’s she’s probably what I would’ve wanted to be at her age, but I didn’t have the confidence in myself to do that.
But hey, I am living proof that it’s never too late to try. Agree. Cause I was 72 years old in December.
Stephen: Wow. Congrats.
DAle: Yeah. It’s as I keep telling people and people laugh, what do you do? I kill people on paper.
Stephen: Keeps you young. It
DAle: keeps me functional. Yeah. Maybe not young. The body’s going, are you kidding me?
You wanna do, but no. If I can keep my mind active and this is one of the ways to do it and it’s fun, right? But the people say, my gosh how old I was two we, when the first short story came out in the bartender anthology, and I was two weeks away from my 60th birthday. Nice.
Stephen: Yeah. So what’s not to like?
Yeah, I’ve talked to all ages. All right, Dale. We’ve been chatting a while and I appreciate it. I wish you luck on your book and thank you for taking the time to be on today.
DAle: I’ll pick one up at some point and let me know what you think of it. Do, they’re fun reads. I’ve had parents tell me that their kids’ grammar scores are going up because of the books.
Stephen: Oh, nice. That’s a good
DAle: thing. Which is not a bad thing, but I’ve also got an 85 year old fan going. All right. What’s she gonna get into next? Yeah, so it cuts clear. The Myster mystery’s cut across the board
Stephen: and I’ll have links in the show notes. Okay, great.
DAle: Thank you. And send me a
Stephen: link. Will do. Thank you.
Thank you. Have a good day. You too. Bye.