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Down Darby Lane

Compulsive Writing Leads to a Career

I was in my mid-thirties when I first started writing in earnest because I had to make a living. I was in a tiny town surrounded by other tiny towns in the Sierra. Most of us lived there because of the natural environment and unique culture of places off the grid of major highways. With degrees in African Studies, Anthropology, and Archeology, I was perfectly unemployable there. So, I did what any naive college graduate would do – I started a newspaper.

This kickstarted my career as a writer because I had no money to hire reporters for my publication. I was writer, editor, layout artist, ad sales manager, and delivery driver. When, after five years of building goodwill and losing money like a Shibu Inu sheds fur, it was a natural move to seek work as a cub reporter at whatever publication would have me.

I found it easy to write for newspapers. I enjoyed the multi-faceted experience of reporting and felt an electric charge when faced with deadlines. Writing came naturally to me, and that inexplicable, onboard birthday gift carried me through decades of writing for a living. Never once experiencing that thing called writer's block.

I later leveraged that talent when other people were getting ready to claim earned retirement benefits that were (in my professional history) never offered to reporters in medium-sized markets. I started writing books. First as a self-published author and later serving as co-writer and ghostwriter for others.

My first book was based on an experience I'd had in middle school – being the target of bullying by the cool girls and their jock boyfriends. The mystery book was intended for readers in fifth and sixth grade before they hit their teen years and turned into snarky monsters who might tease and torture vulnerable kids. Since then, I've written and self-published eight books, with my most recent mystery novel, “The Song of Jackass Creek”, getting reviews on Amazon for an average 4.6-star rating. That makes me happy.

Self-publishing and Indie publishing no longer carry the stigma they did just eight years ago when it was scorned and belittled. People assumed the writers were amateurs because they'd not been picked up by an agent or a major publishing house. In my case, I was a bit too old to be considered a viable prospect (like, how many books can she possibly have in her?). Of course, for those of us driven by nature to write, the consideration of making money with our books is irrelevant. Statistics make that clear. This year, it's estimated the vast majority of indie authors will earn less than $1000 a year. And this pitiful accounting includes the sale of eBooks on all the publishing platforms, including Amazon and Kindle.

There are many programs now to help indie authors popularize their books. They all cost money and seldom make money. But some do get books into the hands of readers and produce reviews that are the lifeblood of book sales. Still, revenues of less than $100 a month from the labor of writing and promoting are hardly an incentive to continue.

So, why bother? I admit I think about this when I'm possessed by a story and wondering “Why am I doing this?” But I still forge ahead. My short story books are examples of this lack of self-control. For example, "Tiny Twisted Tales" is a collection of short stories that grabbed my imagination and just wouldn't let go. Unlike my Jackass mystery novel, which is cozy and gentle, these stories are more Hitchcock than Christie; Twilight Zone than Mayberry. It's about aggrieved women getting even for perceived injustices in calculating and deadly ways.

I remember that, years ago, I shared my first such story with a psychiatrist whom I was briefly seeing to sort out some relationship problems. He'd read my tale, leaned back in his chair while making a little tent of his hands beneath his chin (I think they teach this Freudian pose in medical schools), and said, "Tell me, when did you first start thinking about killing men?" His reaction was doubly disturbing because I thought the story was wickedly funny. We parted ways.

But neither he nor pitiful sales of my books have stopped me. When a story grabs my imagination, I feel compelled to write it. The psychic reward comes when I hear from readers or get another good review.

I encourage you to consider books by Indie writers. You’re usually able to sample sections of the book and assess the quality before you download. And, I guess I’ve shared this with you because I hear the whisper of another story, and I’m fighting the urge!


Thanks so much for spending your valuable time with me and special gratitude to folks who write to me with their own tales and memories. I appreciate you all - you are another tangible gift of writing for enjoyment! Contact me at anytime!

Here's a link for a free e-Book promotion - my highly rated mystery "The Song of Jackass Creek" is among the selections. If you read and enjoy - please add your review on Amazon!


Friends and Readers,

A note about most of us, for better and worse, in the Arts. I think we long to share our thoughts and creations - and without you, we are lonely. Imagine, you wrote a beautiful piece of music and no one but you (and perhaps your cat) ever got to hear it. Or painted a picture that no one else but you ever saw, or wrote a story that no one but you read. Sharing is everything for people in the arts and your support is fundamental to the continued creativity of all artists. So, Thank you! 

Hey! Check out this awesome article by popular columnist Ed Goldman - it's about moi! Also subscribe to his clever, witty and smart blog!  

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My Mountain Mystery

My book has gotten fab reviews on Amazon! I am so excited readers like the characters, the setting, the plot - minus lots of graphic violence. 

If you are fond of 'cozy' mysteries please read The Song of Jackass Creek. Check out Reviews HERE.

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Short Story Collection 

Twisted is - twisted! And Gypsy's Wedding - well, you just have to be there!  Click on the books to see more ... 

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Sample Amazon Reviews

This is an excellent writer!

Darby Patterson is truly a talented writer. She describes this little town sweetly without boring the reader with unimportant detail, and her descriptions are vivid. She also develops her characters fully through conversation and action so the reader becomes acquainted with the main players and can form pictures of them early in the book. Her characters' thoughts, interactions, and past activities combine to portray the culture of Redbud throughout the story, and the story itself is creative and holds surprises along the way. I too hope Ms Patterson continues to share her talents with us!

Sondra Jensen

Awaiting the next installment

An invitation to linger in this vanishing part of California which has so much history is writ on every page of this book. I've visited places like Redbud with a creek burbling in the background as gentle breezes sough through the pines and cedars. I've found them quaint and rich with fascinating local lore and history. Jesse, as publisher of the local weekly is very nicely sketched, the authors background as a journalist comes through clean and clear in developing him. This small California mining and logging town scrabbling to hang on, I liked very much as a setting. I wouldn't mind sitting down with Jesse and having a beer and help him solve his next mystery. The test of a good book is whether you'd be willing to read it again, later. This book passes that test and I can't wait for the next installment.

Jack Howard


Please let this be the first of a series!

Wonderful book; adult without being ‘R’ rated, complex story and well developed characters. The people of ‘Redbud’ ring true and, as a native Californian, the lumber, real estate and politics are spot on. I hope this is the beginning of a series because the author has created characters you want to know better.

D. Holmes

My other passion
Sculpting for bronze - See more HERE
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