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 ( ), 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: . And if you’d like to be Facebook friends, please go here:

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:

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 ( 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 ( 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

Thank you!