Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 . . .

Wasn't as ghastly a year as 2012. That’s maybe not a ringing endorsement, but I had three surgeries in 2012 and was half-blind for most of it, so when looked at in that light, 2013 was actually kind of all right, you know?

The best thing to happen all year was a week at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which I spent with my grandson, his wife, and their two children, Kasumi and Andrew who, as you can see for yourself, are beautiful, brilliant children. Fun!

It was also a year in which I invested a whole bunch of myself and my money in what I laughingly call my writing career. For one thing, I went with a new publisher (ePW – and if you want to see what they do, click on the link), which repackaged, branded and republished the first six of my Daisy Gumm Majesty books as e-books. I think (although it's too early to tell) that they're actually going to make money! What a lovely departure that will be. You can see ’em here (and I’ve thoughtfully provided a link should you wish to purchase one, or even all, of them):

2013 was also a year in which a bunch of my own personal books were narrated and turned into audiobooks! This is quite a thrill for me, since I have such killer arthritis, it’s difficult for me to hold books any longer. You can see the ones that have been done to date here (and I’ve cleverly included links to Audible.com in case you have a sudden, burning urge to by one of them):

There are more audiobooks to come, what’s more. Here’s the cover for the next one that will be published, PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL, the reader of which, Heather Thompson, sounds precisely like Annabelle Blue should sound, which is a Very Good Thing:

Other than those things, life has proceeded pretty much the way it always does. Too many dogs, not enough money, constant pain (and this, in spite of the agonizing back operation I had in September of 2012). Guess I just ruined my bod during all those years of dancing and aerobicizing and having fun. I honestly wouldn’t mind getting old if it didn’t hurt so much.

On the doggie front, I lost one dog, gained two, and fostered a whole bunch of them. I’m sticking to fostering small dachshunds from now on, due the aforementioned pain issue. It’s always an honest thrill when a foster wiener gets adopted into a happy forever home.

So, what the heck. HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Month Full of Dogs
(to one degree or another)
As most of you probably already know, I belong to a breed-specific rescue group, New Mexico Dachshund Rescue. Mind you, this isn’t so much because I adore dachshunds as a breed (although I do. I think it’s because they’re so funny looking) as that they seem to be attracted to me. Kind of like a steel fragments are attracted to a magnet, cats to dead birds, and stuff like that.

However, the fact that I attract dachshunds is the reason last month was so full of the little creatures. It all started with my three foster children, Cindy, Santana and Mr. Sausage. Some kind person drove them all up to Albuquerque for a special NMDR Adoptathon held at the PetCo on San Mateo. I was intensely grateful not to have to foster those dogs any longer, not because I didn’t care for them, but because, with the exception of Santana who’s about as big as a peanut, they were big, heavy dogs (for dachshunds) and used to drag me all over the place. I’m not as young as I used to be (more about that later), and I’m kind of semi-crippled because of a deteriorating spine, so I’ve decided only to foster small or elderly dachshunds from now on. But it all worked out. Cindy, Santana and Mr. Sausage (whose name is now Jimmy Dean) were all adopted either at the Adoptathon or shortly thereafter, and I went to Albuquerque to join in the fun. And it was fun. Lots of nice people and a whole bunch of oddly shaped doggies.

That meant my own personal family of dogs had dwindled to a mere five. Until Jacob, the vet tech at the place I take my dogs, found a simply gorgeous dachshund puppy at the side of the highway. It looked as if she had been dumped, she was full of fleas, skinny as a toothpick, and had claws Freddy Kruger would envy. Jacob decided to keep the dog, whom he named Jazzy. The name fits her. Jacob had never had a dachshund before, and I guess he wasn’t prepared for the dachshund temperament, which is stubborn, not particularly smart (don’t tell my dogs I said that) and, often, wildly aggressive. When he couldn’t stop Jazzy from going after his standard French poodle, he asked if I could take Jazzy. Well, what could I say? So then I had six dogs. Again. Jazzy's coloring is called blue and tan. I've never met a blue-and-tan dachshund before. And now I own one. Whoopee.

Then Heidi, my oldest wiener, and the very last piebald in my family, got too sick to eat, and I had to have her put down on November 26. This wasn’t unexpected, but it was sad. And my canine family shrank back down to five again. Here's Heidi with an ex-foster of mine named Hot Dog:

Until November 27, the day before Thanksgiving, when I got a mega-urgent summons to check out a dog that was scheduled to be euthanized at Roswell Animal Control. If the dog was enough of a dachshund to pass for one, I was asked to bring her home and foster her; if she wasn’t dachshund enough to pass, I guess I was supposed to leave her there to die. You can probably guess what happened next. My family of dogs is back up to six again. But Cookie, the rescue doggie, is NOT going to stay with me. She’s going to be adopted by some kind person who really needs a darling little part-dachshund puppy. I’m taking applications.

I guess one of my Thanksgiving thank-yous went to the dogs in my life. I’ll be even more thankful when somebody adopts Cookie.

Then, on the 29th, came my umpty-umpth birthday. The minister of my church asked how old I was in dog years, and I figured it out. I’m 476 in dog years, and I’m feeling every one of them, in case you wondered. But I got a lovely pictorial gift from my younger daughter Robin, her husband Gilbert, and my younger grandson, Riki:

One good thing: on December 9, I’ll be flying to North Carolina (if the creek don’t rise and no snow falls anywhere) to visit my grandson, granddaughter-in-law, and two great grands! Now there’s something to be really thankful for.

My contest for this month is choose-your-own book. Send me an email with your name and address, and if Bam-Bam selects your name from the special contest doggie dish, you get to pick your own book. I’m too tired to pick one for you. My email address is alice@aliceduncan.net

Thursday, October 31, 2013

How’d it Get to be November Already???
Life is positively flying past, and I don’t approve. Life doesn’t seem to care if I approve or not, so I guess it will continue to fly. Sigh.

However, there are two or three interesting bookly things going on in my world. First, ANGEL’S FLIGHT is now a certified audiobook, read by Darlene Allen, and I’ll be giving away copies in this month’s contest. Here’s the cover and the link in case you want to buy it rather than wait until the end of November to find out if you won a copy:


Also, I received a box and a half of ARCs (advanced reading copies) for SPIRITS REVIVED, Daisy Gumm Majesty’s seventh adventure, and I’ll be giving some of those away, too, at the end of the month in my contest. Here’s the cover:

And there’s yet another audiobook in the works! CACTUS FLOWER, an historical romance novel that always makes me laugh (so be warned) will be released in audiobook format soon. My old buddy Jim Hull narrates this one.

Other than that, life is still full of dogs, although it’s not as full as it used to be, thank HEAVEN. My three foster wiener dogs are now in Albuquerque, awaiting the New Mexico Dachshund Rescue Adoptathon, which will be held on November 9, at the Petco on San Mateo. So if you want to be a good guy (or gal) and adopt a used dachshund, be sure to stop by. I’m planning to be there. It will be nice to get out of Roswell and in a real city! And it’ll be good for the dachshunds in our care, too. Here’s the full skinny:

And that’s about it from here. If you’d like to enter my November contest, during which I’ll be giving away free copies of ANGEL’S FLIGHT, the audiobook, and free copies of the SPIRITS REVIVED ARC, please send me an email with your name and home address. Let me know if you want the audiobook or the ARC. Send it to me at alice@aliceduncan.net and I’ll throw your name into one of two special contest doggie dishes. Then, on November 30, Bam-Bam will draw names from both bowls, and the winners will either be sent a coupon for the audiobook (via email) or an ARC (at their home address). You can read about both books on my web site: www.aliceduncan.net .

Gee, I think that sounds more complicated than it actually is. Oh, well. Thank you!

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Month Full of Water and Dogs. And Books.

Okey-dokey, the reason I write this blog every month is to, with luck, sell books. So don’t forget that all my Daisy Gumm Majesty books are available on Kindle and Nook! Here’s the link:

Also, here’s the updated cover art for SPIRITS REVIVED, Daisy’s seventh book, which will be published by Five Star in March 2014. I love this cover. It looks ever so much more twenties-ish than the first rendition did:

Then, merciful heavens, we actually had RAIN in September. Seven inches of it in a single day, actually. That was a teensy bit too much, as you can see in the following photographs. You can see the sunken garden in Cahoon Park as it’s Supposed to be and as it was after all the rain on September 12. It looks like it’s supposed to now:

After three years of drought, this water came as quite a surprise. Here’s a picture of the desert, where the Pecos River overflowed. For the past several years, there was no water at all in the Pecos River:

And then there were the dogs. I was down to one foster dog (Mr. Sausage) when suddenly I was asked to take in Santana, who was actually FLOWN to Roswell by a flying saint-type person. Then Cindy, who had been adopted, decided to eat her new owner’s Chihuahua, so she came back to me. Cindy’s a sweetheart, and so are Mr. Sausage and Santana, but this means I’m caring for eight dogs, which is at least five too many. Sob!

To top it all off, a woman in Belgium who has a doggy rescue site on Facebook, discovered the photograph of a miserable little doggy that was being held at Roswell Animal Control’s shelter. Her time was about up, so one of my Facebook friends, whom I don’t know in person, sort of volunteered me to pick up the dog and do something with it until her new mommy, who lives in Florida, can work out transportation. Thank GOODNESS my good friends, the Laskys, agreed to foster this little girl, whose name is now Coco. You can see why everyone was concerned. Her Animal Control picture is truly pitiful. But she’s happy and frisky now:

I don’t know why I attract dogs, but I do. I guess it’s my fate. Or my rotten luck or something. Maybe it’s Karma. Maybe I baited bulls in another life. Whatever it is, I wish it would stop.

But what the heck! Please enter my October contest, in which I’ll be giving away a couple of copies of ANCIENT SPIRITS, Daisy Gumm Majesty’s sixth adventure. If you win, you may have it in hardback or as an e-book for Kindle or NOOK. If you want to enter, just send me an email to alice@aliceduncan.net and I’ll throw your name into my special contest doggie dish.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Daisy Gumm Majesty Books Recreated for E-Book Distribution

(and a new cover for SPIRITS REVIVED, the seventh Daisy book, which will be published in March 2014)

Publishing is a strange and daunting business if you’re a novelist. It probably is if you write nonfiction, too, although I’ve always heard that it’s easier to get nonfiction published than it is to get an editor to pay attention to fiction. This probably has something to do with the millions, if not trillions, of aspiring novelists out there banging on publishing-house doors.

 However, the times, they have a-changed, and nowadays there are many more opportunities to get your novels published. Heck, you can publish them yourself as e-books or print-on-demand books if you’ve a mind to. This new industry (self-publishing) has spawned many ghastly books, but it’s also given those of us whose careers have been middling at best another chance at success. By success here, I’m talking money. I’ve had fifty-some-odd books published by big New York publishers, which may count as success in some people’s minds, but nobody knows who I am and I’m dirt poor. This means I’ve either fooled a whole bunch of editors into thinking I write well, or I really do write well but I haven’t found my niche. Or maybe editors like my stuff but regular readers don’t. Or maybe . . . oh, who knows? It’s long been my opinion that luck and timing have more to do with anyone’s success in anything to do with the arts than does talent alone. Sour grapes? Maybe, although I’ve thought so for much longer than I’ve been published, so maybe not.

At any rate, I recently decided to take a huge chance and invest a sizeable amount of money (of which, I have little. See above) in presenting Daisy Gumm Majesty, spiritualist extraordinaire (however phony) to the world in new packaging. e-Publishing Works has provided Daisy’s first six books with new covers, and they’re actually going to promote them! Promotion! What a novel concept (sorry. I can’t help myself sometimes). Anyhow, here they are in their new duds and there’s a link to my author page underneath the covers:

Aren’t they lovely? What’s more, you can tell which book comes where in the series! Another novel concept! Now, if only folks would be kind enough to buy one or two of them and post reviews on Amazon, my own personal life would be even better. I understand that if a book gets ten or more (preferably fifteen) reviews on Amazon, it can then be discounted. So if you feel kindhearted and generous, maybe you could buy the first book and post a review of it approximately ten to fifteen days after your purchase. I know, I know. It’s too complicated for me, too. Sigh. Can you tell self-promotion isn’t my long suit?

But enough of that. Here’s the gorgeous cover for SPIRITS REVIVED, which will be published by Five Star in March 2014. In this book, Daisy not only encounters a real, honest-to-goodness spirit, but she gets to hold up a guy with a pair of chopsticks. Gotta love Daisy! This actually may not be the final cover, because I asked if they could find a more 1920s-era female. Mind you, this woman is gorgeous, so my request might make the book look worse, but oh, well.

 For my September contest, I’m going to be giving away five (FIVE) copies of the new e-edition of STRONG SPIRITS! If you’d like to enter, just send me your name and home address in an e-mail to alice@aliceduncan.net . And if you’d like to read an excerpt from STRONG SPIRITS, you can find the first chapter on my web site: www.aliceduncan.net


Monday, July 29, 2013



I finished a book in July. I know, big deal, huh? But it occurred to me after I said it to a friend last week that, when I used to say, “I finished a book,” I’d mean I’d finished reading one. The one I finished in July was one I wrote (Thanksgiving Angels, book #5 in my Mercy Allcutt series, to be published God knows when). Until I began writing books in 1993 or thereabouts, I’d finished tons and tons of books, but they weren’t books I’d written. They were books I’d read.

Also, until I began writing and publishing books, I’d only ever met one or two people who’d had books published. Now it seems that everyone I know is a writer to one degree or another. For some reason, perhaps because I’m old and lazy, I decided to write this month’s blog about how one’s life can change at the drop of a hat. Or, in my case, the death of my feet.

Okay, my feet aren’t really dead. But back when I was young(ish), I danced. And danced. And danced. Heck, I was even a professional dancer in the nineteen-eighties. Granted, I was in two professional folk-dance ensembles, and that’s kind of akin to being a professional basket-weaver, but, dang it, I was a professional dancer. I used to love doing high-impact aerobics, too. I tell you, I was in great shape back then.

Then my feet began to hurt. A lot. All the time. So I went to a doctor, he took X-rays, and he told me I’d managed, what with all my floor-banging exercise and dance, to batter most of the cartilage out of my toe joints. I got a second opinion, and it was the same as the first. Both doctors said they’d be glad to replace my toe joints with artificial ones, which I guess was nice of them, but they also told me the replacements parts only lasted five to ten years. As I was forty-two when this pronouncement was told unto me, I didn’t take either kind man up on his offer. I mean, I’m now sixty-seven. How the heck often can one’s toe joints be replaced anyway? I didn’t know, but it didn’t sound like a chance I was willing to take.

The diagnosis was a blow, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. The damage was done. At first I decided to scoff at pain and continue dancing, but my feet hurt too much, so I stopped. Boy, talk about a gigantic, gaping hole! Dancing was what I did. It was where my friends were. It took up all my spare time.

At first I cooked. I love to cook even now. But back then, in the late eighties, early nineties, I cooked feasts. Gigantic meals to share with my family. I became a compulsive baker and took goodies to my job at JPL every day. But cooking didn’t really fill the gap. Neither did eating. Trust me, I know.

So, what to do?

The only thing I’d ever truly wanted to do in my life was write books. When I was a little kid and someone asked me what I wanted to “be” when I grew up (stupid question), I’d say, “An author.” But I didn’t have a clue how to go about writing books, for Pete’s sake! Perhaps because I’m a Sagittarius, I tend to get from one point to another without meandering. If you start with a murder and the cop catches the villain in the next paragraph, you don’t have much of a book, do you?

Then one day, when my daughter Robin and I were visiting my folks in Roswell, New Mexico, we drove from Roswell to Fort Sumner where, no matter who tells you myths about somewhere in Texas, Billy the Kid was killed and buried (apologies to Earl Staggs here). Robin drove, and I looked at the scenery. There wasn’t a whole lot of it, southeastern New Mexico being desert and all, but boy, do we get skies. So I took a little notebook out of my purse and wrote a description of the southeastern New Mexico sky. I didn’t tell Robin. I just tucked my notebook back into my purse.

When we got back home to Pasadena, I began to write down little snippets of cool description and kept them in my computer at work. I didn’t have a computer at home yet. Then, one day, greatly daring, I decided what the heck, and began writing a book. I finished the thing, too, what’s more, and three or four more after that until I kind of got the hang of writing books, which isn’t as easy as one might think. Stringing together 400-500 coherent pages of one story takes a bit of planning, you know? Finally I enrolled in “Writing for Publication”, a class taught by a wonderful woman named Meredith Brucker at San Marino High School. It was Meredith who persuaded me to join Romance Writers of America, and it was Meredith who read my fledgling efforts, told me I was good, and made me feel more or less competent about my writing abilities. And her class taught us all precisely how to go about querying editors and agents.

So, by God, I did query agents and editors, and I sold my first book to HarperCollins in January 1994. And in July, 2013, I finished writing my fifty-first publishable book. And all because I couldn’t dance any longer. Amazing how things happen, isn’t it?

Please visit my web site at www.aliceduncan.net and my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925 . Also, please enter my contest for August, during which I’ll be giving away copies of Sierra Ransom, a pretty darned good historical romance novel, which is now an audiobook, too. All you need to do to enter is send me an email with your name and address thereon to alice@aliceduncan.net . Thanks!



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

ONE BRIGHT MORNING, the audiobook! 

(but not until after you read the blog)

I’m so happy that my very first book, ONE BRIGHT MORNING, is now available as an audiobook through Audible and Amazon. And I’d really like to thank Denice Stradling for narrating the book. She’s wonderful, and she makes the book sound good. Not that it isn’t or anything, but if I’d had the time to do it over, I’d edit the heck out of it and probably eliminate about 10,000 words. But that’s neither here nor there.
One of the main reasons I wrote ONE BRIGHT MORNING is that I used to suffer terribly from migraine headaches. That probably sounds odd, but it’s true. Anyway, I got to thinking about headaches one day. Headaches aren’t a modern problem. They’ve been around for millennia. People in ancient Egypt got headaches. People in ancient Roma got headaches. So that probably means that people living in what we fondly call the Old West also got headaches.
So . . . what might happen if a poor (and I do mean poor) widow woman with a daughter to rear, in a cabin, in the middle of the Sacramento Mountains near Lincoln (that’s where Billy the Kid did his thing), in the middle of the wild and woolly New Mexico Territory, in the late 1800s, woke up one morning with a migraine headache. No Excedrin Migraine for her. No doctor-prescribed medicaments available. She’s stuck. With a headache that makes it difficult for her to stand up, much less function in an environment that has absolutely NO conveniences, modern or otherwise. Heck, the woman had to chop her own wood and pump her own water, you know? And wash her baby’s diapers. By hand. On a scrubbing board. In water either freezing cold or that she had to heat in a cast-iron kettle over a fire. Heck, she even had to make her own soap. And milk her own cow.
And then, just for fun, what might happen if a gunshot stranger showed up at her door and she had to rescue him? And then, why not? what would she do if a Mescalero Apache Indian showed up in her kitchen. This was in the late 1800s, and relations between Native Americans and white folks weren’t exactly warm and fuzzy.
Yes, I burdened poor Maggie Bright with all of those problems. And those were only the physical hazards of her life. I also saddled her with the results of a miserable childhood during which she learned that she was stupid and couldn’t do anything right.
          I’m not usually a mean person, but . . . well, poor Maggie. And then, when I read the first line of my book to the folks gathered at the South Pasadena Public Library (having been invited to do so by Meredith Brucker, my very favorite teacher in the world at the time), everybody laughed. What’s up with that?
            But never mind. That’s how ONE BRIGHT MORNING hit the light of print. And now I’d like to ask Denice Stradling her thoughts about the book, since she had to read the thing, bless her heart.
Oh, Alice. how you make ME laugh . . . and (ahem) . . . I think I laughed, too, when I first read ONE BRIGHT MORNING to get ready to narrate it. C'mon . . . that first line is funny! And if you who are reading this blog want to know why, well, you'll just have to read—or listen to—the book!
A little history is in order here, I think. I first met Alice quite a while back, when she still lived in Southern California, and I was writing then. I still do, but have been focusing most recently on audiobook narration—I have such a passion for it, and find it the perfect way to blend my love of reading with my 25+ year acting background. She was a featured speaker at a Romance Writers of America meeting. Fast forward to now, when I saw that she was auditioning for some of her books on Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). I jumped at the chance . . . what could be better than telling the story of a good-hearted, loving, yet strong-willed and strong-backed heroine and her handsome, sexy, and—okay, I'll admit—stubborn, willful, and sometimes clueless—hero! She selected me to narrate ONE BRIGHT MORNING, and as Rick communicates to Louis at the end of “Casablanca”—it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
          There are many strengths in Alice's story-telling, but one of the things I love in ONE BRIGHT MORNING is the Native American/cowboy relationship. No typical stereotypical characters here. Whatever the political/social climate of the times, the relationship between Jubal and his “brothers”, Four Toes and Dan Blue Gully, was one of love, devotion, and support. They were all men of honor, and I loved how that was communicated in this story.
Another thing: this is truly a lesson in how our past sometimes just doesn't let go, but we CAN move on from it, if we choose. It was only when Jubal brought Maggie up short about her strengths and the lies that she had been fed about herself, which fueled her image of herself, that she was able to move forward and accept that she was a good person, a smart person, a loving person. (Another reason that I'm still harboring a secret crush on Jubal!)
Do you know how sometimes when you're in the middle of reading a really good book, it just stays with you? You go about your day, running your errands, taking care of business, just being in the busy-ness of the day, and then the great book you're reading will just kinda come filtering through into your thoughts? The characters, story arcs, and ambiance of the book will sort of meander through your mind, and for a few seconds, you're with it again, your world drops away, and you can't wait to get back to it? That's how narrating this book was for me. I loved the characters, the story line, the history. Maggie's tiny farm was a reality to me, as was Jubal's beautiful Texas spread. I just love when that happens!
Oh—and did I mention that this is a real tear jerker? There were times when I was recording, when I would just have to stop and grab some tissue, or drink some water to “clear the tears” out of my throat.  Not necessarily good for a narrator, but it sure makes for a yummy story!
Thanks, Alice for this great opportunity—I SO look forward to our next journey together!
Thanks, Denice! The nice folks at ACX have made five FREE COPIES of ONE BRIGHT MORNING available, so if anyone wants a free audio copy of my very first book, narrated by the multi-talented Denice Stradling, send me an e-mail (alice@aliceduncan.net) and I’ll stick your name in a jar from which Bam-Bam, my winner-picking wiener dog, will choose winners.
Thank you!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Merry Month of June

This blog has been checked by Grammarly: http://www.grammarly.com/ 'cause what the heck. We all need help, and I need more than most.

After hurrying like a madwoman (not difficult, given the state of my sanity at the best of times) in order to get all my work done, I left New Mexico for my home state of California on June 19! The purpose of this visit was threefold:

1.    2013 is the fiftieth anniversary of my graduation (along with approximately 999 other kids) from John Muir High School in Pasadena, California, and I wanted to attend the reunion.
2.    I wanted to see my younger daughter, Robin; my younger grandson, Riki; Robin’s husband, Gilbert; and several of my old Pasadena buddies.
3.    I wanted to EAT! You can’t get good food in Roswell unless you make it yourself. I wanted to dine on Japanese, Middle Eastern, and East Indian food. And I did!

Therefore, the trip was a rousing success. Missions accomplished. Here’s a picture of John Muir High School, the school of my youth, which doesn’t seem so all-fired long ago, although everyone who attended the reunion looked terribly old:

At the reunion I also touched base with a woman with whom I played flute at the Eliot Junior High School Band. Janet Levine was her name back then. She’s Janet Levine Goldberg now, and it was mega-fun to see her again. Here are Mary Ray Cate (now a physician in Santa Fe, with whom I’ve been in touch for years), Janet and me in the Muir Auditorium. Hey, I played a Winkie in The Wizard of Oz in that auditorium! I think they left the Winkies out of the movie. Story of my life.

I got a ticket coming home from California. I deserved it, too. I was going eighty-five in a seventy-five mile-per-hour zone. However, since the ticket was given to me by a Laguna Pueblo Police Officer, it won’t go on my permanent driving record. It’s treated more or less like a parking ticket. I don’t understand why that is, but I’m grateful my insurance rates won’t suffer.

Then, when I came home again, much to the delight of my dogs and the kind people who cared for them while I was away (Ann and Barry Lasky), I participated in a Concert of American Music on June 30. It was so much fun! The only problem with singing in choruses, etc., is that I have a very low voice for a female and, therefore, sing with the tenors. I’m five feet tall. All the rest of the tenors are a lot taller than I am. Ergo, since I sat at the end of the second row for this concert, I had to take a giant step to my right in order to be seen and heard by the audience. What the heck. I guess we all use the talents we’ve been given. If I was meant to have been a soprano, I guess I’d have been born one, huh? Anyway, that was fun.

Altogether, June was a much more enjoyable month than May was. Here’s hoping good things for July.

If you’d like to enter my contest, this month I’ll be giving away a couple of copies of PECOS VALLEY RAINBOW, Book #3 in my Pecos Valley series. To enter, all you have to do is send me your name and home address in an e-mail to alice@aliceduncan.net . Also, please visit my web site: www.aliceduncan.net and join me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Why Does Everything Happen At Once?

Before I get into the topic of this month’s blog, let me say that something great happened: I have a new audiobook available! Wheeeee! This one is SIERRA RANSOM. It’s an historical romance novel set during the California Gold Rush in 1852 or thereabouts. It features Zenobia Gray and Sam Ransom. It’s narrated by my very OLD friend, Jim Hull, and he’s good. The book’s good, too. Honest! Here’s the cover and where you can buy it:

And LOST AMONG THE ANGELS is also available as an audiobook now! Busy month, May, but more about that later. Here’s the cover and where you can buy it:

Now. Down to business. This month’s blog is on the frustrating topic: Why does everything happen at once? Naturally, I’m talking about my own life here, but I’ll bet I’m not the only one to whom this happens.

For months, I’ve been twiddling my thumbs, begging for work, writing bits and pieces of my own book, and wishing I had work that I actually got paid to do. I know not all writers write the same way. Some can sit all day long, writing and writing and writing. I can write for about an hour or an hour and a half, and that’s it. The well’s dry. Mind you, I can pump out five-ten pages in that hour, and I wish I could write all day long. Heck, if I could, I could write a billion books a year. Well, maybe not quite a billion, and I’d still be unable to make a living at it, but my output would increase significantly.

No, I make most of my money from editing. I edit for a well-respected publishing company, but I can make real money from folks who can afford to have their books edited by a competent editor before they self-publish. There aren’t many people who want to do this, because nobody likes spending money. And there are more iffy editors out there than there are good ones. I’m a good one. This isn’t a boast. It’s the truth. There’s only one thing I do well in this world, and it’s use the English language. Well, and collect stray dachshunds, but that’s more of a curse than a blessing.

This year, things have been dry. Dry, dry, dry. I live in Roswell, New Mexico, and we’re halfway into our third year of the worst drought ever. That’s bad enough, but this year too, nobody’s wanted me to do any work. NOBODY. Not the publisher and not individuals. No one. Zero. Zilch.

Until May. Then EVERYONE decided they wanted me to edit their books. I was thrilled to death when the first person approached me. She had written what may well be the World’s Longest Book, and she wanted me to edit it. Wheee! I could go to California for my—wait for it—50th!—high school reunion! Wow. Then another person asked me to edit his book. His isn’t the World’s Longest Book, because, after all, there can only be one of those, but it’s real, live, paying work.

Then the publisher for whom I work suddenly wanted me to edit four books. And the company (ePublishing Works) I’m using to repackage and promote my first six Daisy Gumm Majesty novels sent me the first book (STRONG SPIRITS) to review. With the promise that the other five Daisy books will be sent to me at approximately twenty-day intervals.

Then there were the two Roswell Humane Society meetings I had to attend, weekly choir practice, and rehearsals for 2013’s Concert of American Music, which we’ll be singing on June 30. Rehearsals began—you got it—last week.

Gulp. So okay. I’ve been really busy lately, and I’m going to be even busier before I leave for California and my reunion on June 19th. But, what the heck, in the life of a writer/editor, I guess it’s better to be busy than not, although sometimes I do wish things would even out. Ya know?

Please enter my contest this month, during which I’ll be giving away a couple of copies of FALLEN ANGELS, Mercy Allcutt’s third adventure (which won the New Mexico/Arizona Book of the Year Award for mystery/suspense). And what the heck, I’ll give away an audio copy of SIERRA RANSOM and one of LOST AMONG THE ANGELS, too. Feel free to visit my web site: www.aliceduncan.net and my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925?ref=tn_tnmn


Sunday, April 28, 2013

An Author’s Voice

Today we’re going to chat about “voice”. Not just any voice, but an author’s voice. It took me, literally, years to understand what my own personal author’s voice was, and this in spite of everyone telling me I write just like I talk. So I’m a slow learner. Blame it on my mother, who’s dead and won’t mind.

But really, when my very first book, ONE BRIGHT MORNING, was published in 1995 (it will soon be available as an audiobook), Meredith Brucker, the fabulous teacher who taught a “How to Get Published” class at San Marino High School in 1993, asked me to read from my book at the South Pasadena Public Library. Oh, and as an aside, you’ll notice the name of the class was “How to Get Published”, not “How to Write”. I honestly don’t think you can teach people how to write books. You can give them all the tools, and if they have two brain cells to rub together, they’ll learn to use them well, but you can’t teach them to make 400 or 500 manuscript pages interesting enough for an editor to read.

Anyhow, to get back to the South Pasadena Public Library. I read the first line from my novel, of which I was very, very proud (not because it was so great, but because Meredith’s advice had worked, and I’d got the blasted thing published), and the audience laughed. I looked up, startled. That line wasn’t supposed to be funny. After all, I, a migraine-headache sufferer for decades, had decided to plop a young widowed woman with a little baby alone in a cabin in the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico (well, it was the New Mexico Territory at the time, and there wasn’t a Lincoln National Forest, but never mind that), give her a I-can’t-even-stand-up-much-less-open-my-eyes-and-do-anything migraine, and then gift her with a gunshot stranger to tend. There is absolutely nothing funny about that scenario, especially when you add in the gunshot stranger's two Mescalero Apache friends, who scared poor Maggie Bright to death when they suddenly popped up in her kitchen. But everyone laughed. I, on the other hand, was not amused.

And then someone told me she’d read the book and asked me why I’d included in the book a couple of fellows named Ferrett and Pelch as hirelings for the villainous Prometheus Mulrooney. I said I’d added them for comic relief. She said the book didn’t need comic relief because it was funny already. Huh? That book had taken my heart and my soul, dammit! It was emotional. It was romantic. It was gripping. It wasn’t funny. To prove it, here’s the lovely cover Melissa Alvarez just made up for the audio edition of ONE BRIGHT MORNING:

Evidently people disagreed with me. Well, nuts to them. At any rate, I let my writerly juices flow some more, and my second opus, TEXAS LONESOME, was published in January of the next year. Okay, that book was funny. But that’s only because it contained dachshunds, and there’s just something laughable about an animal that’s two dogs long and half a dog high, you know?

Then I submitted a book to Berkley’s “Homespun” line, the requirements for which were that the books be set in the Old West, radiate family values, and contain at least one child. So I sent ‘em a manuscript in which a woman steals a baby, runs to her alcoholic foster-brother in (ta-da!) New Mexico Territory, after also stealing a whole bunch of money. They bought it, and called it SWEET CHARITY. Which might possibly make one wonder about Berkley’s notion of family values, but that’s not the point. The point is someone said she read the book and laughed her way through it. Wait a Minute! Darn it all, that book wasn’t funny! It was emotionally gripping and full of angst and anguish. Wasn’t it? Well . . . I dunno. Maybe it wasn’t.

Anyhow, along about the fifth or sixth year of what I cynically call my writing career (I wouldn’t be cynical if I could make a living at it), I gave up and realized that, yeah, I do write like I talk. And ever since I was a kid, people have laughed at the things I said. Not at me, mind you, but at the things I said. And there, I do believe, we have the crux of the issue. I grew up among difficult people. It’s the truth. Therefore, in order to deflect attention from my own flaws, I made ‘em laugh so they couldn’t get at me. The rest of the time I tried to remain locked in my room as much as possible.

I wonder if other authors know how their own personal “voices” evolved. Wouldn’t surprise me, and it also wouldn’t surprise me if other people who write “funny” are outraged and depressed a whole lot of the time, as I am. But enough of that. And just for the heck of it, here's the audiobook cover for LOST AMONG THE ANGELS, Book #1 from my Mercy Allcutt series, also created by Melissa Alvarez. I love this cover!

 Please feel free to enter my monthly contest by sending your name and address to me at alice@aliceduncan.net . At the end of May I’ll be giving away copies of, what the heck, TEXAS LONESOME. I’d give away copies of ONE BRIGHT MORNING, too, but I can’t find any. Also, please feel free to visit my web site, where you can read the first chapter of darned near every one of my fifty or so books (www.aliceduncan.net ), and feel free to hang out on my Facebook page, too, if you feel like it: https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925?ref=tn_tnmn