I was born and raised in Oklahoma, graduated from Oklahoma A&M College-Stillwater (Class of ’49), and taught English and Journalism in Oklahoma high schools before moving to California.
A longtime resident of California's San Joaquin Valley before moving back to Oklahoma in 2005, my professional writing credits go back to the 1960s, when I was a stringer for The Fresno Bee while working full time in a Hanford law office.
I’m a veteran traveler. My globetrotting in the 1970s led me into the travel business, first as a travel agent, then as a correspondent for TravelAge West, a trade journal published in San Francisco. In the 1990s, I signed on fulltime as a newspaper reporter and columnist, first at The Selma Enterprise and then at The Hanford Sentinel.
While at the Enterprise, my lifestyle coverage placed first two years in a row in the California Newspaper Publishers Association Better Newspapers Contest. I was also a finalist for the 1993 George F. Gruner Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism. At the Sentinel, my feature story on the Japanese- American "Yankee Samurais" of World War II, placed second in the CNPA contest.
I published FULL CIRCLE, a mystery novel in 2001. Revised and reissued as ABSINTHE 0F MALICE by Krill Press Dec. 1, 2008.
I have a work-in-progress, METAPHOR FOR MURDER.
My memoir WHITE PETUNIAS, about growing up in Oklahoma, appeared in 2009 in the RED DIRT BOOK FESTIVAL ANTHOLOGY, OKLAHOMA CHARACTER. An earlier version won second place in its category in Frontiers in Writing 2007, sponsored by Panhandle Professional Writers, Amarillo, TX.
My articles on writing have appeared in The SouthWest Sage, the monthly journal of SouthWest Writers:
“White Noise” appeared in SW Sage June 2007; “Charming An Audience” in SW Sage August 2007; “A Little Erotica Music, Please” in SW Sage March 2008; “What’s That Smell?” in SW Sage September 2008.
The first three chapters of ABSINTHE OF MALICE can be read at Google Books --
I started METAPHOR FOR MURDER, my work-in-progress, eight years ago and am now on page 118. What can I tell you? I’m a slow writer. I hope to have it finished in time for Christmas. That’s a rush but not impossible. As Lawrence Sanders’ long-running character Archy McNally likes to say, One never knows, do one?
TOO GOOD TO THROW AWAY
By Pat Browning
The country preachers of my growing-up days had a way with words. My sister and I still laugh about the preacher who claimed a man opened his oven door and saw God sitting on a biscuit.
I used that years later in my first mystery, FULL CIRCLE (now revised and republished as ABSINTHE OF MALICE).
In the Oklahoma boonies in those days a Sunday night church service was the main form of socializing and entertainment. The preachers worked up a real sweat describing the Hell that awaited non-believers.
By the 1960s I had moved to California. I wrote a sketch of one of those old Sunday night services, pounding it out on my portable Smith Corona. I meant to use it in a book I would call SWEETER DAY, a title inspired by my memory of country preachers who promised a sweet life in Heaven, and a neighbor who talked constantly about going to California, where every yard had a tree decorated with big juicy oranges.
In 1999 I tried to slip it into my working manuscript of FULL CIRCLE. I thought it was so clever, turning that old memoir into a chapter where a character dredges up her memories for an adult writing class. The chapter stuck out like a sore thumb, so I took it out of the manuscript and filed it away again.
About 2002, I got it out and rewrote it with a different angle. Didn't like it, but it was too good to throw away. I put it back in the file folder.
In 2007 I was scrolling through My Documents and there was the almost-forgotten "White Petunias." I rewrote it and entered it in the Nostalgia category of a contest sponsored Panhandle Professional Writers in Amarillo, Texas. It won second place and $50.
Sometimes a piece of writing is like an old house -- all it needs is a fresh coat of paint. I completely rewrote “White Petunias” and submitted it to the Red Dirt Book Festival Committee. In the winter of 2009 my memoir appeared in the RED DIRT BOOK FESTIVAL ANTHOLOGY, OKLAHOMA CHARACTER.
I’m satisfied with the final version and happy to see it finally in print. It’s nothing earth-shattering. It’s simply about a summer night in 1939, on the eve of World War II, but the ending summarizes so many things for me. It reads:
“Like Emily in Thornton Wilder’s play, “Our Town,” I sometimes wish to go back again, just for a day, any ordinary summer day with the sun shining and the wind blowing and puffs of white cloud drifting across a blazing blue sky. I might nab a piece of cold fried chicken and spend the afternoon sitting under a pear tree, reading A Tale of Two Cities.
“It wouldn’t work, even if it were possible. Like Emily, I would be heartbroken by the carelessness of love, the transience of youth. There’s an invisible line between past and present. Memory is the only bridge where we can cross in safety.
“The world seems to pause before a cataclysmic event, as if gathering itself for what is to come. So it was that summer, in that small rural community, before the boys in their Sunday clothes scattered to fight a global war in places they had never heard of.
“The Sunday nights are gone, and everything with them, the church, the friends and neighbors, even the hickory trees. All gone, except for that pause in time and the boys in the shadows, where white shirts gleam and laughter lingers, brought back to me now in the twilight of a summer day, by a pot of white petunias.”
The entire piece is on my personal web site, Morning’s At Noon: