Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Wow. It’s November. Already

 
Before I begin whining about how another year’s almost bitten the dust, which seemed to take all of five minutes, here are the names of this month’s wieners. The following folks will receive a copy each of SPIRITS UNEARTHED: Lisa Brooks, Margaret Somebody-Or-Other who lives in Virginia Beach (she didn’t give me her last name), Tracy Thurber and Kat Sadi! Kat just retired, so she’ll have more time to read now.

Okey-dokey, so. About October. It wasn’t a terrible month, overall. The hearing in my right ear is evidently gone for good, and when I talk I sound like a sick bullfrog. However, a lovely woman named Dawn Willis (she’s a nurse here in Roswell) gave me some hearing aids. These hearing aids were donated to St. Andrews Episcopal Church by a widow whose hubby used to wear them. Dawn, whose husband goes to St. Andrews, snabbled a pair for me. So I got an expensive pair of hearing aids for absolutely nothing. Well, a guy had to die, but we all have to do that eventually. Also, even though my voice is shot, I re-joined the Trinity United Methodist Church choir. I figure nobody else in the choir can sing, either, so I fit right in. It’s fun to sing again, even though I’m a relatively rusty tenor nowadays.

The best thing about October was that I got to visit my California friends and relations (my two daughters and my younger grandson) and attend my fifty-fifth high-school reunion.

A few old (well, vintage) dancers and I got together at Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles, where we had fun and I ate pastrami! I love pastrami. Here are John Pulver, Robert Jablon, Me, Art Aratin,  my daughter Robin, and Nicki Aratin. Had a great time. I miss my friends.
 
 
I had more fun at the John Muir High School Class of 1963’s fifty-fifth reunion than I thought I’d have, mainly because I got to see the two other women with whom I played flute in the Eliot Junior High School band. We haven’t been together as a threesome for… well, more than fifty-five years, anyhow. Here we are: Phyllis McKown, me, and Janet Levine Goldberg. It was such fun seeing them again!
 
 

Also took a little trip to Kernville, where my older daughter and her husband live. Kernville is a charming place, and Anni and Razmik live right across the street from the Kern River. It’s beautiful up there. Here are Anni and Robin feeding ducks and squirrels beside the Kern River:

 
Anni is a knitter of almost everything. She gave me some dog sweaters that were too small for my dogs, but that fit my buddy Jacob Torres’ Chihuahuas admirably. Here they are:
 
 
Robin also took me to see the Los Angeles Memorial Pet Cemetery and Crematorium in Calabasas. This cemetery was established in 1929. Petey from The Little Rascals is buried there, along with hundreds of other pets, from dogs and cats to birds and pot-bellied pigs. Some kindhearted volunteers revamped the place in 2003. Guess it had become rather run-down in the years between 1929 and 2003.
 

Whenever I visit California (where I was born and lived for most of my life), I always try to eat food I can’t get here in Roswell, New Mexico, because Roswell is in the precise middle of nowhere and has no East Indian, Middle Eastern, or Japanese restaurants. I managed to scarf down three (count ‘em) falafel wraps. Not all at once.

My great good friends, Karen and Dale Boggs, allowed me to spend the night after the reunion at their spectacular house in La Canada. Dale is a mad scientist (PhD in math and physics), and he can rule the entire house from his armchair in the living room. Karen and Dale have a cat named Molly, who isn’t generally fond of strangers. For some reason Molly liked me. When I told her I wanted to take a picture of her, she stuck her butt in my face. I considered this a delicate courtesy on her part, so here’s a picture of Karen along with Molly’s butt.

 
And here are Karen, Dale and me, sans eyeglasses, which evidently shone too much for the camera.
 
 
The day after the reunion, Karen and Dale went with me to Yes! Sushi. There we were joined by my younger grandson, Riki, who is also a mad scientist and got along with Dale like gangbusters (where’s that expression come from, anyway?) Riki got the all-you-can-eat sushi. The waiter kept showing up with platters of various sushi rolls, and Riki ate it. All. Amazing sushi-eater, Riki:
 
 
And then, because I whined about my thinning hair on Facebook (I’m almost 73, so thinning hair should be expected, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be liked), people began telling me about on-line wig shops, and I bought a wig! I think it’s charming, although the wig has a heck of a lot more hair than I ever had. Here's an incredibly unflattering picture of me in my wig, holding my new cane. That's Scrappy nosing the floor beside me:
 
 
And now I’m home again. With hearing aids, a wig, and a lovely new pink-and-blue cane (which can be seen in the above photo). I’m trying to think of something good to say about Roswell. Oh! I know! You can always find a parking space in Roswell. That’s a major advantage for someone who’s shaky on her pins and gets wobbly and falls down from time to time. It’s not overcrowded either, which can’t be said for the Los Angeles and Pasadena areas. I still miss Pasadena, but oh, well.

So let’s move on to the book giveaway. I gave so many books away in October, I hardly have any left, but lemme see what novels currently reside inside the boxes in my office. Aha! Found some. It’ll be hardback time at the House of Howling Hounds in November. At the end of the month, I’ll give away two of my historical romance novels: SIERRA RANSOM and CACTUS FLOWER (there’s a line in this book that always makes me laugh, although I’m not sure why); and two Mercy Allcutt books: THANKSGIVING ANGELS and FALLEN ANGELS. FALLEN ANGELS won the 2012 Arizona/New Mexico Book of the Year Award for mystery, by the way. Not bad for someone who doesn’t enter contests, huh? Someone else entered it for me, which was nice of him.

If you’d like to visit my web page, here’s the link: http://aliceduncan.net/ . And if you’d like to be Facebook friends, please go here: https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925

Thank you!

 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Saga of Daisy Gumm Majesty’s Publication


Before I begin telling you about Daisy’s epic publishing history, here are the wieners of September’s book giveaway (SPIRITS UNEARTHED): Elizabeth Keene, Paula Adams, Jon Ludwig and Linda Ames-Boman. Congrats! I’ll get your books to you… eventually. Truth to tell, I only managed to mail August’s books yesterday. Sigh.

But back to the subject of this month’s newsletter, let me tell you that keeping Daisy published wasn’t easy. Here’s why.

The idea for the Daisy Gumm Majesty series came to me in the early 2000s. The books were supposed to be historical cozy mysteries, and they were supposed to feature as their main protagonist a fake spiritualist-medium named Daisy Gumm Majesty, a young woman married to a crippled veteran of the War to End All Wars (it wasn’t, more’s the pity). Daisy plied her art during the 1920s in Pasadena, California, my old hometown.

In order to achieve publication of this series, I gathered what few wits I had left and sent a proposal for the first two books to my publisher at the time (Kensington). The Powers That Were liked the idea, the characters and the period, but they said there wasn’t enough mystery. That’s undoubtedly true, and it’s also pretty much the story of my life. Their fix, however, was for me to take out the dead bodies, add a subsidiary romance (since the heroine was already married) and they’d market the books as romances.

So I did, they did, and STRONG SPIRITS and FINE SPIRITS were published. They tanked. Big-time. Broke my heart. I loved Daisy. More, I loved Pasadena, California, and the era in which Daisy lived. Nevertheless, Daisy and her pals seemed to be floating belly-up in the goldfish bowl of publishing, and there was nothing I could do about it. The late, great Kate Duffy called and apologized for mis-marketing the books, but that didn’t help a whole lot. My heart remained, squashed and pulsing with grief, on the floor at my feet.

Nevertheless, I did as the Kensington goddesses asked, took yet another pseudonym (I think this made six of them), and I wrote a series about survivors of the Titanic disaster. I used a combination of my daughters’ names for my pseudonym and churned out A PERFECT STRANGER, A PERFECT ROMANCE and A PERFECT WEDDING as Anne Robins.

Then, because I was editing books for Five Star-Cengage, I asked if I could submit a book for their consideration. Five Star doesn’t acquire books on proposal, but I already had the third Daisy book written. Therefore, I sent it in, and they acquired it for their women’s fiction line. I was delighted, even if the books still weren’t dead-body-cozy mysteries. And then Five Star closed their women’s fiction line. I managed to get book #6 (ANCIENT SPIRITS) published as a romantic suspense novel, and then I got to turn Daisy’s books into cozy mysteries! Yay!

Five Star published SPIRITS REVIVED, Daisy’s seventh adventure, as a mystery! Wheeee! Then Five Star closed their mystery line.

Um . . . I wasn’t sure what to do after that. However, a lovely woman named Jeanne Glidewell, whose cozy mystery novels I’d edited for Five Star, told me she’d found a great publisher and suggested I get in touch with them about my Daisy books. So I did. ePublishing Works (Brian and Nina Paules) decided to reprint the entire Daisy series, give the books new covers that clearly defined them as cozy mysteries (“branding” is, I think, what this is called), and they even put the series number of each book on the front cover! Wow. You can’t get much better than that. What’s more, ePW actually promotes their authors’ books! This has never happened to me before in my life. I’m actually making money with ePW. Whatta miracle!

The only thing neither ePW nor I can do is get the rights to SPIRITS REVIVED back. Therefore, there’s a hole in the middle of Daisy’s series. However, when the narrator reading the Daisy books for audio (the extremely talented Denice Stradling) got to SPIRITS REVIVED, Nina Paules made a lovely cover for it and numbered it 6 ½. I tell you, those ePW folks are clever.

Anyway, book #12 (actually, it’s #13, but I just explained the reason it’s not numbered as such) was published in July of this year. SPIRITS UNEARTHED begins at the Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, California. It’s not as gruesome as it sounds (to start with, anyway) because Daisy and her fiancĂ©, Sam Rotondo, are there to visit their late spouses’ graves. Daisy’s dachshund, Spike, begins the action by finding a shoe. Unfortunately, the shoe contains a foot. And so the fun begins.

By the way, I grew up and lived in Altadena and Pasadena for most of my life, so it didn’t occur to me that having only one cemetery to serve an entire community was in any way unusual. I’ve since been told by my number-one beta reader, Lynne Welch, librarian extraordinaire, that most cities have little cemeteries dotted all over the place. In Altadena and Pasadena, it’s either Mountain View or an urn on somebody’s mantel, I reckon.

A running theme in the Daisy books is the magnificence of Viola Gumm’s cooking. Vi is Daisy’s aunt-by-marriage and is a genius in the kitchen. That’s a good thing because neither Daisy nor her mother can cook a worth a lick. They all live together in a sweet little bungalow in Pasadena. One of Vi’s recipes appears in SPIRITS UNEARTHED. In order to make Vi’s Swedish-style smothered chicken, you first have to haul out your Scotch kettle. Don’t know what a Scotch kettle is? Neither did I. So I did some research, and it turned out to be a Dutch oven!


Daisy’s 13th (actually, her 14th) adventure is titled SHAKEN SPIRITS, and it will be published in January of 2019. This novel features a character created by another author for his own books. Peter Brandvold (who writes terrific westerns) gave me his very own, personal, made-up character, Lou Prophet, to play with. Mind you, Mean Pete waited to give Lou to me until he was old, weathered, falling apart and one-legged, but Daisy and I had a whole lot of fun with old Lou in spite of his antiquity. Daisy thinks Lou is quaint. Lou, who was once a hard-drinking, violent, womanizing, dangerous and tricky bounty hunter in the wild and wooly Old West, would not be happy with Daisy’s assessment. Being a woman of understanding and compassion, Daisy will never tells Lou she thinks he’s quaint mainly because, if she did, Lou would hobble out of her life as fast as he could. Please pre-order SHAKEN SPIRITS if you feel so inclined.
 
 

What the heck, you can get Lou Prophet’s latest story (written about his early career, when he was young, virile, handsome as heck, and not quite as cantankerous as he ultimately became) right now if you want to:


Now I’m writing SCARLET SPIRITS, Daisy’s 14th (actually, her 15th) adventure. Lou Prophet’s in this book too; however, even more fictional Old-West characters show up in SCARLET. I made up all these new guys, though. In fact, a proposal for a western novel no one ever showed interest in publishing (because westerns are supposed to be jam-packed with adventure, and all my characters ever do is sit around chatting with each other. Well, and they eat a lot), is helping me with SCARLET’S plot. Never let a good plot go to waste is my philosophy. In truth, it isn’t, but it sounds good.

I tell you, publishing is a strange and confusing industry.

At the end of October, I’ll be giving away even more copies of SPIRITS UNEARTHED. I seem to have about fifty billion copies of that particular book for some reason. If you’d like to find out more about Daisy and the gang, please visit this page (https://ebookdiscovery.lpages.co/aliceduncandaisygummbook12excerpt/ ), where you can read an excerpt from SPIRITS UNEARTHED and learn more about my Daisy books. That page also contains links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere else if you’d like to buy the book. If you’d like to visit my web page, here’s the link: http://aliceduncan.net/ . And if you’d like to be Facebook friends, please go here: https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925

Thank you!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

How'd it get to be September Already?


First of all, I proffer my sincere apologies for being a week late with my newsletter. Another bout of illness (in this case colitis) felled me. Well, it didn’t flatten me, precisely; it just doubled me over in pain. Phooey. Whoever called old age “the golden years” was either lying through his/her teeth or making an extremely bad joke. They’re more like corroded copper or, in my case, rusted steel. I used to be fit and healthy and danced and sang and had a good time with this formerly fairly nice body. Now, although I still live in it, I seem to have no control over what happens to it, inside or out. Totally unfair. Whine, whine, whine.

Huh. Now that that’s over with, I probably should mention a few things that actually happened in August! For one thing, Peter Brandvold’s book, STAGECOACH TO PURGATORY, was published. In order to understand precisely how Lou Prophet, a rugged, hard-drinking, womanizing, wild and woolly western bounty hunter, ended up a one-legged old crock in Daisy Gumm Majesty’s Pasadena in 1925, you can read all about it in the forward to STAGECOACH. Therefore, I recommend everyone get a copy or three. Here's the Kindle link, and after you read the forward, you may also read the rest of the book if you want J
 
After you’ve done that, please feel free to pre-order SHAKEN SPIRITS, Daisy’s next adventure, which will be published in January, 2019. Here’s the Kindle link for SHAKEN SPIRITS, along with a place-holder in the real cover’s stead. I can’t wait to see the cover art for this book. I’ve been in the book biz for more than 25 years and have 65 or so published books under my belt, but the most exciting part of the whole process, even to this day, is seeing the cover art for the first time. In SHAKEN SPIRITS, someone or some ones are attempting with all their skill and might (using motorcars, guns, knives, and various other weapons) to kill poor Daisy. They don’t succeed, but they sure bang her up a lot, and she recovers, but not without damage to her poor self. Pasadena Police Detective Sam Rotondo, Daisy’s fiancĂ©, helps capture the rascals, as does poor, worn-out, one-legged, amazingly anachronistic Lou Prophet. Lions (beasts of the jungle, not a sports team if there is one) even come into play, by gad.

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: it still amazes me that Mean Pete gave me Lou Prophet to play with, even as a damaged old coot (Lou, not me, although I guess we both fit that descriptor). I’d never, ever, in a zillion years, entrust another author with one of my characters. I don’t care how old, senile, wretched, poor or broken-down one of them gets, and no matter how many body parts have gone missing, I’d still never let another author have her. Or him, but most of my books have female protagonists. In fact, I think they all do.

Anyway, after you’ve ordered or pre-ordered the above books, I should tell you about Boomer. As a member of New Mexico Dachshund Rescue, I have had many foster hounds in my care over the years. I don’t know how many dachshunds I’ve owned since being given my very first wiener dog, Hansel Schnitzel Fritzel von Pancho Pooh Puddle Monsieur la Puppy Stink Duncan, but I’ve owned a bunch of them. Haven’t done a whole lot of fostering in recent years, primarily because I live in Roswell, which is in the precise middle of nowhere. Roswell is about 200 miles away from a city larger than it is. You can drive 200 miles in pretty much any direction and, if you don’t die from boredom, you’ll eventually run into Albuquerque, Santa Fe, El Paso, Las Cruces, Lubbock, Midland, etc. Most of our adoptees go to Albuquerque or environs, so there isn’t much call for fosters in this neck of the woods. However, it has been a pure pleasure to foster Boomer, a long-haired, black-and-tan, seven-year-old darling of a dachshund. He’s about the most adorable dog I’ve ever even known, much less fostered, and I’m going to miss him a lot. Here’s Boomer:

 

It’s too late for you to adopt the precious Boomer, because an approved adopter has already been found for him. However, if you ever feel the burning need for a dachshund to give you comfort and solace in your life, please visit NMDR here: http://newmexicodachshundrescue.org/

Oh, and for the first time in all the miserable years I’ve lived in Roswell (feels like about a thousand, but it isn’t quite that many), scorpions invaded the house in August. Scorpions. In the house. Come on. Scorpions have an entire desert to roam around on. My dogs and I have this one small (maybe 800 square feet) house to live in. If I could read and write Scorpion, I’d issue warning signs: DANGER TO ANY SCORPION WHO CROSSES THIS THRESHHOLD, but I don’t. Even though the scorpions around here aren’t particularly venomous, their sting hurts like heck, and I don’t want my dogs to tangle with one of them. Death to indoor scorpions, say I. And so do the hounds.

Another terribly exciting thing happened in August. My hot-water heater broke. On a Saturday morning. The plumber, a very nice fellow who also sings in various venues around Roswell, had already been to my house earlier in the week to grind roots out of my water pipes. Well, not my personal pipes, but those belonging to the house. So I guess he’s got his utility bills covered for another month, thanks to me. Sigh. Not that I’m not a charitable person or anything, but I’d be happier if I could select the charities to which I donate. Not that he and his family aren’t a worthy cause, but, well, sheesh, y’know?

Um… what else? Oh, I probably should tell you who won last month’s book-giveaway, huh? The people who will receive copies of BRUISED SPIRITS, Daisy’s tenth adventure (it’s actually her eleventh, but… oh, never mind) are: Vickie Shaw, Donna Durnell, Pat Thayer and Marelou Azares. Congratulations, ladies! I’ll get your books to you as soon as I can stagger to the post office.

Since I just restocked my supply of SPIRITS UNEARTHED, Daisy’s 12th adventure (that’s what the cover says, although it’s really her 13th, but… never mind again), I’ll be giving copies of that one away at the end of September. By the way, if you live outside the United States, I’ll be more than happy to give you an e-copy of the book, but postage to places outside the country is mega-expensive. I remember fondly when I heaved books to people in Germany, Turkey, Australia and even China. Not any longer. Oh, well. Sorry, but since I’ve recently begun supporting my friendly neighborhood plumber, I just can’t afford postage to areas outside the USA.

If you’d like to enter September’s contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in e-mails, because I only write one newsletter a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!

 

 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018


It’s August!

Does anything exciting happen in August? Around here, school begins in August. When I lived in California, kids went from September to June, but here it’s August to May. Not sure why. And I really don’t much care, either, so I’m not sure why I mentioned it. Maybe because August is otherwise such a dull month? Oh, never mind.

Anyway, Bam-Bam, my winner-picking wiener dog, has selected the winners of July’s book, SPIRITS UNITED (he’s such a good dog, even though he did just bark madly at a huge scorpion his mommy had to squash for him. I hate doing that). The winners are: Lisa Brooks, Paula Adams, Brenda Winslow and Sandra Miller. Congratulations, ladies! I’ll send your books to you as soon as I can make it to the post office.

All sixteen of my regular readers will probably be delighted to know I finished writing SHAKEN SPIRITS, the next Daisy Gumm Majesty book. I’m hoping it will be published in October, but I have to go through it one last time and take out the boring bits. After Peter Brandvold gave me his character, Lou Prophet, to play with, there were no more boring parts. Even if Mean Pete did wait to share until Lou was old, broken-down and one-legged. But that’s okay. Daisy, Sam and I had a lot of fun with poor old Lou, even in his elderly guise. Daisy is even learning a new language: Old Westish.

Regarding carpal-tunnel surgery on my left wrist: It went perfectly! So few things do, you know? But the surgeon knocked me out (he used drugs, thank heavens), went snip-snip, and voila (or viola, as Julia Child sometimes said when she was in a funning mood), the wrist was fixed. It didn’t take long to heal, and I’m hoping to get the right wrist operated on before I head to California in mid-October. I’m right-handed, so this upcoming surgery might take a little longer to mend, but I was really happy the surgery was so trouble-free. People I know who had carpal-tunnel surgery some years back didn’t get off so easily. The surgery had improved lately, for which I’m grateful.

Any other news? Other than being a bit wobbly on my pins and taking the occasional fall in front of hordes of spectators in Cahoon Park (Roswell, New Mexico) as the hounds take me for our daily drag every morning, all is just swell. It’s really stupid for a crippled little old lady to walk four (sometimes five) dogs, as my younger daughter is always telling me, but if I walked them one at a time or in bunches, I’d be walking dogs all day long. And If I didn’t walk the dogs, I’d feel guilty. So. There we are.

Regarding August’s contest… Why don’t I give away copies of BRUISED SPIRITS, Daisy’s tenth adventure? All righty then, I will.

In the meantime, please feel free to pre-order SHAKEN SPIRITS:

 

If you’d like to enter August’s contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in e-mails, because I only write one newsletter a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!

Sunday, June 24, 2018


Happy Independence Day!

Okay, so it’s a little early to be wishing everyone a happy Fourth of July. I’m having carpal-tunnel surgery on my left wrist on June 27, so I’m catching up ahead of time. If that makes any sense.

Regarding June’s give-away, Bam-Bam, my winner-picking wiener dog, has selected the winners of June’s contest, in which I’m giving away copies of some Mercy Allcutt books. They are:

LOST AMONG THE ANGELS, which goes to Carol Goerz;
ANGELS OF MERCY, which goes to Lisa Brooks;
FALLEN ANGELS (winner of the Arizona/New Mexico Book of the Year award in 2012. I’m not a contest-enterer as a rule, but this one cracked me up. New Mexico & literacy don’t normally end up in sentences together. That’s not very nice, is it? Oh, well), which goes to Donna Durnell; and
THANKSGIVING ANGELS, which goes to Mary Ann Hopper.

At the end of July, I’ll give away … I dunno. Let me see here. Okay, the book will be SPIRITS UNITED. I’ll give away four copies of that one, in which a librarian is murdered! By, needless to say, a dastardly fiend. But Sam Rotondo and Daisy save the day. Well, not for the murdered librarian, but for other would-be victims of the villain.

When I recover from having my left wrist operated on, the surgeon will fix the right wrist. I’m actually looking forward to this, because I’ve had trouble with carpal-tunnel syndrome for … oh, I don’t know. Twenty or thirty years or thereabouts. It’s past time to get my wrists un-crimped. Maybe my handwriting will improve! It used to be kind of pretty, but now, what with arthritis and carpal tunnel, my writing looks rather like that of a spider on meth.

On to the good stuff. Last month I told everyone Peter Brandvold (Mean Pete, as he prefers to be called) gave me one of his characters, Lou Prophet, former bounty hunter, to play with in SHAKEN SPIRITS, my next Daisy Gumm Majesty book. This is probably the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me, writerishly speaking. Of course, when Mean Pete writes about Lou in his books set the 1880s, Lou is a young man in his late twenties or early thirties. When Daisy gets hold of him, he’s in his seventies, has lost a leg in an accident involving (naturally) wimmin and booze, and is living in the Odd Fellows Home of Christian Charity in Pasadena, CA. He’s craggy, slightly grumpy, still good-looking for an old guy, and I absolutely love him!

Mean Pete’s next Lou Prophet book, BLOOD AT SUNDOWN, will be released by Kensington in August of this year. I hope everyone goes out and buys a copy or three. Here’s a picture of Lou Prophet as a young, womanizing, and incredibly handsome man. I’m including a link so you can buy Mean Pete’s book. I didn’t get to edit this book, but I trust Mean Pete’s Kensington editor. A little:
 
 
 
 
 
If you’d like to enter July’s contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in e-mails, because I only write one newsletter a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!

 

Thursday, May 31, 2018


June is bustin’ out all over!

Or maybe it isn’t. Busting or not, it’s sure hot here in SE New Mexico. May’s blog was sort of a downer (actually, it was a major downer), and I apologize for that. Nothing much has changed in my world, which means my niece still has scleroderma, although there’s been no biopsy to confirm the synovial carcinoma thing, and that’s good. Probably. I still can’t hear out of my right ear, and I’m peeved about it. But enough of that!

To start with, Bam-Bam, my winner-picking wiener dog, has selected people’s names, and the winners of May’s contest are:

SPIRITS ONSTAGE: Annie Amos and Virginia Winfield
UNSETTLED SPIRITS: Diana Smith and Johnna Smith (I don’t believe these two ladies are related. For that matter, I don’t know if they’re ladies, but I’m pretty sure they are).

 Believe it or not, something not merely good, but exceptionally good, happened to me in May. I’ve had more than sixty books published since 1994, and I used to be incredibly single-minded and gung-ho about writing. After all, writing books was the only thing I ever really wanted to do. And puh-leeze don’t give me that “Writers write” nonsense. I was a single mother with no money other than my crummy earnings as a secretary (a job I hated, if anyone cares). My kids’ father didn’t see any need to pay child support, so I worked one and sometimes two jobs in order to make ends meet. Rearing two daughters alone, working full tim, and taking care of everything by myself ate up all my time. There wasn’t any time for this writer to write, dad-gum it! Every time I hear some snobby person say, “Writers write,” meaning, of course, that no matter what, you’re supposed to be writing, I want to strangle that person. It’s probably a good thing the arthritis in my hands is so bad, I can’t. But honestly, do the “writers write” folks not care if their kids starve to death? I did, and if that was wrong of me, so be it.

Oh, dear, I’ve done it again, haven’t I? I didn’t mean to sink into negativity. Ahem.

Let’s get back to the exceptionally good thing that happened to me in May. After being published for so many years, earning so little money for my efforts pretty much sapped my writing energy. It wasn’t fun any longer, and I had trouble thinking up plots. It takes a long, long time to write a book that can be read in hours, and if the author isn’t making any money doing it, why do it, y’know? Fortunately for me, all those books having been published led some folks to think I knew what I was doing. Therefore, I was offered an editing job by a publisher. Which means, of course, I actually was making through my writing, although not precisely the way I’d imagined it would happen.

Anyhow, I began editing books written by Peter Brandvold. Mean Pete (he calls himself that; I’m not being unkind) writes really, really good westerns. His books are full to the brim with action, violence and sex. He has several ongoing series featuring people like Bear Haskell, Deputy US Marshal; Yakima Henry, a half-breed wandering law officer (he does other stuff, too); Mike Sartain, a Cajun who takes it upon himself to enact justice on people who would otherwise get away with their fell deeds; and Lou Prophet, a dissolute, funny, big-hearted, foul-mouthed bounty hunter. All these guys are young in the books Mean Pete writes about them in the 1880s and thereabouts. My books are set in the 1920s.

But you know what? Mean Pete gave me Lou Prophet! Mind you, Lou’s kind of a broken-down crock by Daisy Gumm Majesty’s day, but he’s still a firecracker, albeit an elderly and one-legged one. You see, after his youth was spent on tangleleg and loose women and he got too old to continue as a bounty hunter, a film company in Los Angeles hired him to be a consultant on some of their western flickers. Old Lou had himself a high old time for a while there. Then one night he got into a motorcar with two ladies of the night and a case of bootleg hooch, and somebody drove the car off a cliff in Santa Monica (which is right on the Pacific Ocean for anyone who doesn’t know). Lou was the sole survivor, although he lost one of his legs during the accident. Therefore, in 1925, poor old one-legged Lou, while still a foul-mouthed, uncouth sort of fellow, has fallen on hard times. In fact, in SHAKEN SPIRITS, the Daisy book I’m writing now and in which he has a part, he’s living at the Odd Fellows Home of Christian Charity in Pasadena, California.

Doesn’t it just seem inevitable that Daisy and Lou should get together? It did to Mean Pete and me. Daisy and Sam break him out of the Odd Fellows Home, and Lou is now helping Sam figure out who’s trying to kill Daisy. I haven’t had this much fun writing a book in, literally, years.

So thank you, Peter Brandvold! You’re not as mean as you like people to think you are. Most of the time. Here’s a picture of Mean Pete and me when he drove through Roswell on his way to Arizona to get away from the Minnesota winter for a month or so (he lives in Minnesota).
 
https://www.amazon.com/Peter-Brandvold/e/B001ITXEDW/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1527802177&sr=1-2-ent

For the record, if you’re of a mind to, you may pre-order SHAKEN SPIRITS, which will probably be published in October of this year (providing I have time to finish it. Editing cuts into writing time, dang it).


 
In the meantime, if you want to read Daisy’s latest adventure, SPIRITS UNEARTHED, in which Daisy’s dachshund, Spike, finds a shoe with a foot in it at the cemetery and chaos ensues, please feel free to do so:
 
 
Now. Whatever should I give away at the end of June? Beats me. Oh, I know! I’ll give away some of Mercy Allcutt’s books. There will be no more Mercy books, by the way, until I can get the rights back to the last one. At any rate, I’ll give away a copy each of LOST AMONG THE ANGELS, FALLEN ANGELS, ANGELS OF MERCY and THANKSGIVING ANGELS. If you live in a country other than the USA, you’ll have to settle for winning an e-book, because sending books all over the world is too expensive for this little old crippled lady.

If you’d like to enter the contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in e-mails, because I only write one blog a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!

 

Sunday, April 29, 2018


It’s May, For Pete’s Sake!


I swear to heaven, life is just flying by. I wouldn’t mind that so much if it didn’t stop to heap coals of fire upon people I care about (and me) every thirty seconds or so.

For instance, my very favorite great-niece (actually, I think she’s my only great-niece) already has scleroderma. Look it up. You don’t want it. Trust me on this. And now she’s been diagnosed with what her doctor thinks is a synovial sarcoma that finally grew so big it shredded her meniscus. She’s THIRTY-THREE YEARS OLD, for dog’s sake! I mean, I whine and moan about all the things getting old is doing to me, but the hideous meanness of life is hitting her now, when she’s young, and it’s not fair. Single working mom, a thirteen-year-old son. I mean, come on. Where are the gods of mercy when you need them?

And then my wonderful neighbor and friend has been diagnosed with macular degeneration. That means she’s going to be blind one of these days. Talk about horrible!

My older daughter has such trouble with her feet, she has to use a wheelchair to get around. Gimme a break, life! My younger daughter also has trouble with her feet, and she just got through surgery for a detached retina and cataract surgery. These are what my daughters and I call “family heirlooms,” since they seem to pass from generation to generation (I’m sure both Anni and Robin will begin to suffer from back problems soon). Some families pass along… oh, I don’t know. Money. Jewelry. Wealth. Health. You know, good stuff, to their children. Not my family.

And yes, I know every family has its problems, but these things seem particularly harsh to me. And I haven’t even talked about my own problems yet, although you might have read about them on Facebook.

I came down with bronchitis. Bad stuff, bronchitis. It morphed into sinusitis. My face hurt, my teeth ached, my ears itched. And then, BOOM, all of a sudden I couldn’t hear out of my right ear! Mind you, I expected some hearing loss as I age, but this just happened all of a sudden in one swell foop, you know? So my regular doctor, after making sure all the various infections were cleared up, sent me to an ear-nose-throat guy who checked my ears and throat and did a lot of strange things (well, they seemed strange to me, anyway) with various instruments. Then he sat me down and said I had two options. One was to do nothing, and the problem might resolve itself eventually. Or it might not. The second was to insert a titanium ear tube, and the problem might resolve itself eventually. Or it might not. So, since I pay through the NOSE for a Medicare Plan F, I decided to go for the titanium. What the heck, if I never hear out of that ear again, I guess I can always sell the titanium.

This ear thing has been quite bothersome, however. I’m already unbalanced (and I’m not talking about my mental state, although that’s iffy, too). I had lumbar surgery in 2012. When I woke up in the recovery room, the adorable 16-year-old Austrian neurosurgeon smiled hugely at me and said, “Oh, my, you gave us such a challenge!” So happy to have given her something interesting to do for ten hours, y’know? Anyway, since then, my back has been full of so much hardware, I set off alarms in airports, and I tend to walk funny. Then I had to have my left hip replaced, so I have a metal hip. And (this is the important part as far as my unbalanced state goes) my left leg is now slightly longer than my right leg. So I wear heel lifts in my right shoes. What with the defunct ear now messing with my equilibrium, I’ve managed to take a couple of truly spectacular falls in recent weeks. I’m trying to remember to take my cane with me when I go places, but I more often than not forget it. Sigh.

I know I whine a lot, but jeez, I’m used to being an independent person! I’ve lived alone on purpose for years and years and like it that way. Yes, I have dachshunds. I also have lots of friends, and I adore them. I also adore most of the dachshunds. But I used to be a dancer, for pity’s sake! And a singer! My voice is now shot, too, thanks to the bronchitis-sinusitis junk. Not that I was an opera singer or anything, but I did enjoy singing in choirs and local choral groups from time to time. I even used to have a fairly respectable (loud, anyway) tenor voice. Now I croak when I talk. Singing is out of the realm of possibility at the moment. I really hope this all comes to an end, preferably before I do. It would be nice to be able to hear out of both ears again, you know? Whine, whine, whine.

Okay, enough of that. The wieners of SPIRITS UNEARTHED, Daisy Gumm Majesty’s 12th (or 13th, depending on who’s doing the counting) are: Linda Tippit, Prentiss Garner, Jeri Dickinson, and Brenda Winslow. I have to buy some more envelopes before I can send your books, but I promise I will get that done soon(ish). Congratulations, and I hope you enjoy the book!


Here’s my regular caution about my monthly contests. I love giving my work to people; however, I found out quite by accident a few months ago that sending books to Great Britain, Australia, and other countries outside the United States is beyond my monetary capability. If a resident of a nation other than the United States has an e-reader, I’ll happily supply that person with an e-book. If a person doesn’t have an e-reader and still likes to read book-books, he or she is on his or her own. I’m sorry, but what I laughingly call my writing career hasn’t made me wealthy yet. And it probably won’t, but let’s not get in to that because it always depresses me. So. That’s that. However, if you WANT to read a book, you may do so with an app on your computer, so let me know if you live in some far-off country (Canada, maybe), and you can still read the book on your computer with a Kindle or Nook app.

Um . . . about May’s contest. It’s the merry month of May, or so they say, so why not give away a merry book or two? Let me ponder a moment to see if I can think of my jolliest books. Ha! Found ‘em! How’s about I give away a couple of copies of SPIRITS ONSTAGE, in which Daisy gets to play the mean and nasty Katisha in Gilbert and Sullivan’s MIKADO; and two copies of UNSETTLED SPIRITS, during which people drop dead during communion services at Daisy’s church. Sounds like fun to me.



If you’d like to enter the contest to win a copy of, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in e-mails, because I only write one blog a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!