Meet Alice Duncan, a Delightful Author & Editor

I met Alice Duncan ten years ago when she edited my first novel for Five Star Publishing. Not only is she a great editor but she writes wonderful cozy mysteries. I hope you’ll enjoy her interview below, Thanks Alice!

What parts of you and your background feed your imagination? Particularly in my Daisy Gumm Majesty books, my entire life, especially my childhood, feeds my imagination. The books are set in Pasadena, CA, in the 1920s. I wasn’t around in the 1920s, but I love Pasadena, and I love history, so this is a match made in … well, maybe not heaven, but you know what I mean.

Tell us a little about the very first story you remember writing? The first story I remember writing was something about dinosaurs. Even then I wanted to be funny. I pointed out to my mother that I used the word “clodhoppers” in the story in order to make people laugh. Clearly, my sense of humor hadn’t developed to any kind of pinnacle, but heck, I was only six or seven. Oh, and I also used to write illustrated newspapers when I was a kid. All I remember is a line my mother had to correct: “Team finely wins a game,” or something like that. My mother told me the word I wanted was “finally” unless I meant the team did a spectacular job in winning the game.

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Creative people are often creative in other ways. Besides writing, what else does the muse encourage you to do? I used to dance and sing a lot. I was a member of two professional folk-dance companies. I know that sounds kind of like professional basket-weaving, but it’s not, really. I still love to sing. In California, I belonged to a Balkan women’s chorus. When I moved to Roswell, Balkan women’s choruses were thin on the ground, so I started singing in the choir of the Methodist Church my mother attended. I also participate in other music venues in town (the annual Concert of American Music and the St. Mark’s Advent chorus spring to mind). Oh, and I belong to a dachshund rescue group (http://newmexicodachshundrescue.org/). That’s not necessarily creative. It’s mostly because I’m an idiot.

 

What genre(s) do you like to write? Whatever genre I write in (romance, western, mystery), it absolutely has to be historical. I don’t get along well with the world the way it is. I prefer to pretend life was better in the olden days. In truth, if I’d been born in an age without antibiotics, I’d have died when I was 22, and then whatever would my daughters have done?

Tell us a little about your novel, its plot and the main character(s). UNSETTLED SPIRITS is the 12th (actually, it’s the 13th, but that’s not my fault) book in my series of cozy historical mysteries featuring Daisy Gumm Majesty, a fake spiritualist-medium in Pasadena, CA, in the 1920s; and her family and friends. In this present book, Daisy and her fiancé, Detective Sam Rotondo (who used to be her worst enemy), are in Altadena’s Mountain View Cemetery. Daisy wants them to receive a blessing from their deceased spouses before she and Sam marry. She wants to ensure this happens by visiting their late spouses’ graves. Sam thinks she’s nuts, but he goes along with her. Rather than a blessing, what she gets is her late husband’s dachshund, Spike, bringing her a shoe. Unfortunately, the shoe contains a foot, and thus the action begins.

Are any of the characters like you and if so in what way? Daisy is actually me, only she has a supportive birth family and none of my crippling neuroses. She also goes to a lot of the places I used to frequent in Altadena and Pasadena, and she lives in a house I used to own. What’s more, she goes to the doctor to whom I used to take my daughters when they were little. She also likes to dine in a Mexican restaurant called Mijare’s. Mijare’s was opened in 1920, and it’s still going strong! It has great food. I recommend it to anyone visiting Pasadena. In my Daisy books, one of Daisy’s clients, Mrs. Bissel, lives in the house my aunt used to own in Altadena. I kind of grew up in that house, and I love it.

What genre(s) or author(s) do you like to read? History is my passion. I love to read about specific periods in time, or books that explain historical eras or phenomena. For instance, I recently read a great book called GET WELL SOON, by Jennifer Wright, which documents the world’s worse plagues. Fascinating reading. I recommend it to anyone who’s interested in stuff like that. I enjoy historical mysteries, too. Lately I’ve discovered T.E. Kinsey’s Lady Hardcastle books. The only problem with them is that he doesn’t write them fast enough. I’m also a huge fan of Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple series.

Where and when do you find the best ideas or inspiration for your stories? Honestly? I dunno. They pop up here and there. An old dancing and singing buddy of mine, Stephanie Cowans, is the person who gave me the beginning of SPIRITS UNEARTHED. We were e-mailing each other, and she suggested Daisy and Sam go to the cemetery to seek the blessings of their late spouses before their upcoming marriage. So I took that idea and ran with it. Well, that is to say, I sort of stumbled along with it, before hitting my stride.

 

I also love to cook. This is a peculiarity I don’t share with Daisy, who can burn water. In order to make up for Daisy’s deficiencies in the kitchen arts, I gave her an Aunt Vi (actually, my Aunt Wrennie, who owned Mrs. Bissel’s house) who is a fabulous cook. SPIRITS UNEARTHED features a recipe from Aunt Vi’s repertory: smothered Swedish-style chicken. In order to create this dish, you’ll first have to haul out your Scotch kettle. I puzzled that one over for a minute or two, then did some research and discovered a Scotch kettle is a Dutch oven! See?

 

If there was a message you could share with other writers what would it be? Never give up. There’s no assurance you’ll ever be published by anyone other than yourself—unless you give up. Giving up is a sure-fire guarantee you’ll remain unpublished. There’s also a quotation by Henry Van Dyke (he wrote THE STORY OF THE OTHER WISE MAN, which is definitely worth a read) I love it a lot: “Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”

 

Where can readers go to learn more about you and your work? 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!

Author Biography:

In an effort to avoid what she knew she should be doing, Alice folk-danced professionally until her writing muse finally had its way. Now a resident of Roswell, New Mexico, Alice enjoys saying no to smog, no to crowds, and yes to loving her herd of wild dachshunds.

Alice has written historical cozy mysteries under the names Alice Duncan, historical and paranormal romances under the names Emma Craig and Rachel Wilson, the Titanic series as Anne Robins, and western adventures as Jon Sharpe.

A prolific author, Alice has been praised for the Mercy Allcutt Mystery series, a cozy series called “a silly madcap romp” and “great fun.”

Her thirteen-book series, The Daisy Gumm Majesty Mysteries, are set in the roaring twenties in Pasadena, and are “absolutely endearing and linguistically spot on” with a “funny, spunky heroine” who works as a spiritualist and medium. “There is pluck, and then there is Daisy.”

She’s also known for The Dream Maker series, Meet Me at the Fair series, the Pecos Valley Diamond series, and many others. Visit Alice at www.aliceduncan.net.

 

Why writers don’t write more

Writer’s need to write, but for some stupid reason we procrastinate and avoid the page.

What if what I write is garbage? The first draft probably will be, but that’s what editing is all about. We are mining for the jewels in the trash.

What if no one wants to read what I’ve written? We want to share what we’re writing and have it resonate with someone else out there. Preferably, LOTS of someone elses. But, it should be okay to write for one’s self. To explore and express and not have to share it with the masses – RIGHT? Theoretically, yes.

Should I keep writing if no one buys my books? I guess it depends on why you’re writing. Every author wants to make money writing, but it’s not usually the case. So, why not take up ceramics or painting instead? Writer’s want to tell stories, and most of us would make ceramics or paintings if we had the time or inclination.

I think that we all want to excel in everything we do. That is the kicker. No one wants to write a bad story. No one wants to write a book that others don’t care to read. We’re a world of dreamers that don’t always realize our dreams.

Artists of all kinds (writers, musicians, sculptors, painters, etc.) dream of creating beautiful things that others will want for themselves. We can’t help it. We get so much joy creating our art that we want to share it. We long to be loved for our work. Oh my. Where did that come from? Could that be the flaw in our creative dreams?

Whenever I sit down to a blank page, I want to create something lovely, and it doesn’t happen every time. But the act of putting words down does allow for the creative flow to happen, the muse comes to visit and the story unfolds. The key – sitting down to the blank page and not letting it scare you off. Right. Note to self. Nothing will happen unless I do it. The story will not write itself. DUH.

What if you have so many stories and characters crowding your mind you can’t settle on one and finish it? That is a problem. Bottom line – pick one. Finish the first draft. Then you can move on to flesh it out more, editing as you, or put it aside and start on the next idea that won’t leave you alone. I know. I’ve been there. Done that. And continue to…

 

Happy Holidays & Goodbye to 2017

First of all, I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season. I hope that it will be a joyous and healthy time. Pay special attention to the stories being told over the dinner table; stories are our lifeblood. Listen with your feelings as well as your ears.  And be present, get out of your head and be present! Santa reading

Thinking back on 2017 it was quite eventful, although I didn’t always realize it. I started the year editing like a fiend on my first romantic suspense novel, “Your Every Move.” It was fun writing about college days in the 80’s, but having a stalker causes serious trust issues. “Your Every Move” was published in e-book in June and in print in July. It’s available in e-book everywhere and print via Amazon, Watermark Books & Cafe, and my closet. 

In case you were wondering why I didn’t blog much this year, well, there were lots of reasons. Life, mostly. You can always find me on the Author Expressions Blog the third Friday each month, however, so I hope you’ll pop over and see what this great group of authors have to say.

Sometimes we creative types have to expand our arena and dabble elsewhere. I like painting and had a blast visiting the Carriage Gallery in Newton with my friend Karen to paint Sunflowers in January. What a wonderful place to express yourselves and enjoy the artworks on display. They have classes for all ages and all levels of skill.

Because I’m not getting any younger (are any of us) my husband and I attended a retirement workshop this year at WSU. That was eye-opening, too bad we didn’t start saving sooner. We learned new ways to save and make money stretch, that’s always a good thing. 

My brother-in-law had a heart attack in February, but he is doing fine, enjoying retirement and learning to cook and count sodium. He is finding that everything has salt and it’s almost as prevalent as sugar. UGH.  We are truly blessed that he is going strong.

In March I had the pleasure of speaking to the First Thursday Bookclub about my novel, “Patchwork Family.” What a great bunch and lunch was very healthy as well as tasty. That same month I visited the Kansas Writers Association meeting, and we discussed query, synopsis and agents. That was a lively talk, I must say.

In April the Wichita Public Library at Westlink invited me to read and discuss, “The Log of the Cowboy.” OMG, what a blast. And I learned so much from the discussion. My current work-in-progress, tentative title “Finding Grace” is set in the 1890’s during the Oklahoma land rush, so the story of a trail drive across the Midwest helped to put me in the period.

I was also a part of the Watermark Literary Festival with three other authors during April. One of the folks from the cowboy discussion at the library came, brought a friend, and bought a book. What fun!

May brought another opportunity to talk about cowboys at Covenant Presbyterian Church. And yes, they were kind enough to feed me. I’m having lots of fun learning about the building of the plains area of our country, and it is fascinating.

Did you see the total eclipse in August? We did, and I must say it was an experience I will NEVER forget. In fact, I will probably become an eclipse groupie, there’s supposed to be one in Texas next year so count me in.

This fall one of my favorite aunts passed away. She had the most infectious laugh, and I loved her dearly. She was the sweetest person I know and we will all miss her.

In December a dear friend of mine, Lois Ruby and her son Jeff spoke at Watermark Books. They both have new books out, and it was so much fun to see them and hear about their writing journies. This is Jeff’s first novel “Penelope March is Melting,” and it’s been on the best seller list at Watermark for two weeks now. Go, Jeff! Lois wrote another spooky novel “The Secret Grave,” and I can’t wait to read it.

I hope you all don’t mind the chatty holiday letter and wish you all well. Let’s all read more books next year!

Bonnie (BD) Tharp

Your humble author and friend.

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Nathan Hill, Author of THE NIX

By now you’ve heard about THE NIX, Nathan Hill’s debut literary novel that has set the world on fire. Not only did I enjoy his book, but I love the man, who just happens to be my son’s best friend and I consider my second son. I’m very proud of him and his work.

Let me see if I can think of some other words with which to express my awe and joy in this work. The novel is epic, folks. The prose is amazing. I highly recommend it and although it is long, take your time and don’t miss a single word.

Nate will be at Watermark Books & Cafe in Wichita, October 25th, 6PM,  and my husband and I will be there. Come and join us, won’t you?

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Editing my fingers to the bone.

Sorry, I’ve not been posting regularly lately, but I’ve been editing, editing and editing some more. The 1970’s YA novel is now a 1980’s YA novel because the youth today know the 80’s references and so do their parents. So, the story can promote discussion….YES!

The new title is “Every Move You Make: I’ll Be Watching” and yes it has suspense, romance, betrayal, friendship, obsession and abandonment, not necessarily in that order.

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Interview with Vicki Hinze

I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to introduce fellow Belle Books author: Vicki Hinze. She’s an interesting person and great author. So read on, my friends…

What parts of you and your background feed your imagination?

I’ve always been a “what if” and “why” kind of person, with one foot planted in the clouds and the other firmly on the ground. My imagination is active. It seems natural to spin out scenarios—my mother and I played games like that when I was a child. My favorite part was to take the illogical and impossible and make it not only possible but believable and almost inevitable.

I guess those things, going back so far into my past, are so deeply ingrained, I’d feel naked without them.

Tell us a little about the very first story you remember writing?

It was a story about a bird who couldn’t fly because she was a tiny girl bird deemed too fragile to fly. She discovered she wasn’t fragile but strong, and that she could fly (or do anything she wanted) if she worked at learning how. At the end, she learned and soared!

Creative people are often creative in other ways, besides writing what else does the muse encourage you to do?

I used to do oil paintings. Flowers and landscapes mostly. I have a serious fondness for irises. And—don’t laugh—I love remodeling. There’s something powerful about knocking down walls. I have admittedly gotten carried away with one project after another until Hubby pled with me for a six-month moratorium. I agreed, but boy was it hard.

What genre(s) do you like to write?

I like them all, except horror, and have written in them all, except horror. My favorite is a hybrid novel with elements of suspense, mystery and romance. If a book has all three, I’m in heaven writing it—or reading it.

Tell us a little about your novel, its plot and the main character(s).

Beyond the Misty Shore is a light paranormal romance. (Romance, suspense and mystery, of course, with a light paranormal element for extra fun.) It’s about TJ MacGregor and Maggie Wright, who discover at Seascape Inn in Maine that they’re linked by an accident that caused the death of Maggie’s cousin and TJ’s fiancé. TJ doesn’t want a relationship with Maggie, and feels himself falling for her, but he’s unable to leave the inn. He’s held their by supernatural forces, though he doesn’t know why. Neither does Maggie, who doubts his being held there isn’t a trick of the mind until she witnesses TJ’s challenge firsthand. Both are wounded, broken, and struggling to find their feet. And forces conspire at the inn to offer them the chance to heal and find not just their feet but their hearts.

Many have said they found the story uplifting and inspiring. That’s how it struck me, too. I love the Seascape books.

Are any of the characters like you and if so in what way?

I’m chuckling here, wondering at the wisdom of admitting it. In their own way, they’re skeptics and stubborn, slow to be convinced and to change their minds. I think we’re alike in those things, but I honestly don’t think those things are bad. Actually, they can be amusing. I found myself amused often writing these two and then again later when reading them.

What genre(s) or author(s) do you like to read?

Suspense, romance and mystery genres. And thrillers. Love thrillers, provided they’re not gory. I don’t like gore. But the books that worm into my heart are healing books with elements of suspense, mystery and romance. Love those immensely.

Where and when do you find the best ideas or inspiration for your stories?

Ideas are everywhere! Boardrooms, bathrooms, overheard snippets of conversations overheard anywhere. My best ideas seem to come when I’m a) in the shower. Naturally, you don’t have a pen there, right? And b) grocery stores. Which proves God has a sense of humor because I don’t cook. If I’m stuck, I go to the grocery store. Ideas are all over there. And if none are the right ideas for what I’m after, I go to my kitchen table.

Growing up, my dad told me that 99% of genius was created at the kitchen table. So if I can’t see my way ahead (in writing or life), I go to the kitchen table to seek answers. They come. I’m not sure if it’s because I believe they will or because I’m so focused on finding answers when I’m there, but they always come.

If there was a message you could share with other writers what would it be?

If you can quit writing, do it. If you love it, you won’t be able to quit, and that’s the fastest way to find out if you’re a writer. Writing demands sacrifices—a lot of them—so you need to know quickly whether or not in it you’ll find and follow your bliss. This is the shortest route to doing so I’ve found.

Where can readers go to learn more about you and your work?

To my website. http://www.vickihinze.com. There you’ll find all kinds of information, chapter previews, blogs, newsletters, videos, and podcasts. More than even my mother would want to know. J

Thanks so much for your interest in me and my books. I hope you’ll enjoy all three of the Seascape novels.

After I’d written the first one, I received a number of letters from readers wanting to book a trip to Seascape Inn. I have to tell you, I’ve felt that way myself many times.

(It’s my pleasure, Vicki!)

Vicki_HinzeRaised in New Orleans, Vicki Hinze began writing before Kindergarten but her journey to writing books included a lot of corporate pitstops. Eventually, she settled in and her first novel landed an array of awards and on the bestseller list. With nearly 40 books published, she’s been back many times with awards in multiple genres and appearances on multiple bestseller lists, including USA TODAY. Vicki is recognized by Who’s Who in the World as an author and an educator and is best known for chilling suspense, trailblazing, and creating series that genre-blend. Her works include suspense, mystery and romance. Since 1994, this former VP of International Thriller Writers has written heavily about military and military families and in nearly all genres except horror. Hinze is a Floridian married to a former Hurricane Hunter/Special Operations Officer. She constantly pushes the boundaries on existing genres, opening the door for new novel blends.

HE KNOWS HOW IT FEELS TO WRITE

“You first dreamed of becoming a writer to create a deep connection. You wanted another person to know how you felt. You wanted to change someone’s life.” excerpt from Joe Bunting article on Writing Practice, Medium Daily

He writing wineis so RIGHT. Good books move me on so many levels. I want to write those kinds of books. It is my wish for readers and a dream for me. Thank you, Joe, for putting it so succinctly.

 

BOOK REVIEWS ROCK

The best gift for an Author is a Book Review. Did you just finish a good book? Then do not pass go, do not collect $200, get on Goodreads or Amazon and write a review!

Don’t forget that Readers also benefit from book reviews. That’s why I have shelves full of books to read – someone wrote a great review. bookshelves

It doesn’t have to be detailed or long. “I love this book.” or “I liked this book a lot.” or “These characters are so real!” give just enough information to others to tantalize them into checking out the book.

I’m writing my first mystery. I’ve never written mystery, but I’ve read hundreds of them. I’ve written two full length novels. And I had this cool idea for a story. Reader reviews are so important, to new writers and experienced writers alike, so I’m anxious to read the reviews once my mystery is published. (Date is yet to be determined.)

Authors learn from reviews. Personally, I get a kick out of the reviews that are very detailed and tell me just what the reader liked and didn’t like. Everyone is different and certain things appeal to some and not others, but I understand that not every reader is comfortable expounding on their impressions of a book. Sometimes we just don’t know why we liked a story, it just worked, that’s all. That’s part of the reason why I read lots of different genre’s. I never know what will strike a cord and pull me in.

I love to read new authors, as well as authors that I’ve read for years. Bottom line – we all enjoy a good story. So share the experience and write a review. We authors will appreciate you even more than we already do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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Novel By Wichita Author Takes State Organization’s Top Book Prize

WICHITA, KANSAS, May 2015 – PATCHWORK FAMILY, a novel by Wichita native Bonnie Tharp, has won first place in the Kansas Professional Communicators annual competition. The book won in the Novels for Adult Readers category.

Patchwork Family_cover1PATCHWORK FAMILY, published by Bell Bridge Books, is the follow-up to Tharp’s award-winning debut, FEISTY FAMILY VALUES, published in 2010 (under the name B.D. Tharp). The book, set in Wichita’s Riverside neighborhood, is a compelling story about ordinary people handling life challenges. For cousins Annabelle and Regina, growing older is easy; handling it with grace is the hard part. And chaos ensues when Peggy, Annabelle’s eldest granddaughter, seeks answers from her absentee father and struggles with adolescence. Will the pain and love stitch them together or tear them apart?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born and raised in Kansas, Bonnie Tharp spent much of her formative years in her grandmother’s kitchen as official taste tester. Although not much of a chef herself, she enjoys good food and believes all the best discussions happen at the kitchen table.

Bonnie Tharp graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wichita State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications, Women & Minority Studies and Fine Arts. Tharp has written for several publications, including: Active Aging, Generation Boom, Women’s Focus, the Wichita Register and East Wichita News.

A self-proclaimed book-a-holic, Tharp admits that when she’s not writing, she’s reading or watching old movies. Tharp’s books are available through bookstores and online. Check out her blog, book reviews, and novel excerpts at bdtharp.com.

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