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.

 

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.

How to be a Great Writer

I don’t profess to be a GREAT writer YET, but I’m getting better at it every day. Back in September I read an interview with Stephen King about the 22 lessons he recommends to be a great writer. THANK YOU STEPHEN KING. The article in the Business Insider stimulated my imagination to the point that I wrote the following (it was kind of like a test of what I retained from the content):

G – Grammar is only for understanding

R – Read as much as possible

E – Endeavor to write every day

A – Avoid adverbs, passive voice and run on sentences

T – Tell stories about people

W – Write for yourself and don’t worry about what others think

R – Retreat from the world when you write

I – Imagination can help you create and describe clearly and vividly

T – Temper your writing with only what is necessary, info dribbles not info dumps

E – Edit, edit, edit “Kill your darlings” is what Stephen said, be balanced not egocentric about your writing

R – Resist twenty-dollar words with a dollar-word will do, don’t be pretentious

King inspires me. He writes so well, having been successful for many years. I aspire to that as well. Wish I had a first reader like his wife, Tabitha King (also an author), but I do okay with my critique group. They are a great bunch of writers with vivid imaginations, huge hearts, and good advice.

Enjoy the journey, fellow scribes!

helpwriter

On KCTU-TV 9/13 at 12:12 PM

Guess who’s going to be on KCTU-TV again? Yup. Me. Tomorrow. 12:12 with Sara Orr Jones to talk about KAC Our Town Conference coming in October. It may be streamed on the web, if you don’t have access (not through Cox). It’s called “Your Hour” channel 43 for those with att u-verse.See you in the movies!!

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Blog Hop Time – Join Us

Blog for those who love books, reading and meeting great authors.

FFVbookcover_thumbA little about FEISTY FAMILY VALUES: The orderly life of successful artist and regal widow, Regina Morgan-Smith, abruptly changes with the arrival of her frumpy cousin, Annabelle–and not for the better. Homeless and covered in bruises, Annabelle requires more attention than Regina’s willing to give. However, family ties are strong, and Regina takes Annabelle into her home in the once opulent Riverside area of Wichita, Kansas.

Where did the idea come from? The idea came to me my senior year of college, while I was working full time.

Who are the main characters? The main characters are Regina Morgan Smith, a snooty woman with resources to spare, but barely a kind word for anyone. Her cousin, Annabelle Hubbard, is homeless and abused and goes to her only remaining family as a last resort. Tilly is Regina’s best friend and house mate and ends up being referee for the cousins while they try to sort things out.

What actors or actresses would you play your characters if it were made into a movie? Sigourney Weaver would make a great Regina. She’s regal and beautiful and tall.

Kathy Bates would make a great Annabelle. She can be soft, but tough when things require her to be.

I picture Sally Field as Tilly. Small. Spunky. Sweet. Funny. Perfect.

Some fun stuff…looking thru fence
1. If I could live anywhere, would you rather live in a medium sized city with mountains or a beach nearby.
2. What would you prefer? Sweets. Definitely sweets.
3. If you were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing you couldn’t live without? My husband Jim.

4. If I had to choose one of these books, I would have to say Alex Cross. But these wouldn’t be among my favorite books. I’d rather chose Sullivan’s Island.
a. Pride and Prejudice
b. Alex Cross
c. Twilight
d. Snow White and the Huntsman
e. The Shining

5. Which word most suits you?
a. crazy
b. funny
c. carefree
d. studious
e. anxious          All at different times and different days, depending on the circumstances.

6. Tell me something about yourself that might be funny to others? It takes me awhile to work through a geometry puzzle, it’s not always logical but I generally come to the proper conclusion.

7. Which group of words explain what you are like the most?
a. fly by the seat of your pants
b. drama queen
c. don’t sweat the small stuff
d. footloose and fancy free.
e. Too tightly wound      All of these at different times and different days, depending on the circumstances.

woman readingThese questions were provided by Tracy Kaufmann, the lead on this Blog Hop. We hope you’ll enjoy them. Please stop by and visit these others participating authors:

Katie McKnight- http://www.writergirlkatie.wordpress.com/
Christine Rice- http://christinerice-author.com/blog/
Divon Delgado- http://www.divonville.com
Cinta García de la Rosa- http://authorsyouwanttoread.wordpress.com
Tracy Kauffman- http://tracykauffman.blogspot.com
Julianne Grider- http://www.jpgrider.com/jps-blog.html
Ruthie Derby- http://madisonpost.wordpress.com/
Kathryn Williams-Platt-  http://kathrynwilliamsplatt.blogspot.com
Jack Strandburg- http://jstrandburg.wordpress.com
Catalina Egan-  http://4covert2overt.blogspot.com/

Close-Up Talk Radio spotlights author B.D. Tharp

Show dates:

  • Friday, March 8th at 4pm EST (Jim Matthews)
  • Friday, March 15th at 4pm EST (Jim Matthews)
  • Friday, March 22nd at 7pm EST (Doug Llewelyn)
  • Friday, March 29th at 7pm EST (Doug Llewelyn)

Contact: Close-Up Talk Radio, (631) 421-8500

Wichita, KS – While the family has always been defined by a husband and wife and their children, today “non-traditional” families have become the norm. If you share in love and responsibility for each other, anyone can be your family.

B.D. Tharp is the author of Feisty Family Values. First published in 2010, the novel tells the story of cousins Regina, and Annabelle, along with their friend Tillie, make up an unlikely and unconventional family, to say the least. Wildly different personalities thrust together by circumstance; together the women confront abuse, illness and an unexpected surprise at their doorstep. Tharp’s compelling voice and rich characters have made the book a favorite among readers.

“When I started the book, I had no concept of who the characters were going to be, but they typically develop from people I know,” explains Tharp. “I had all these puzzle pieces I needed to put together. Annabelle is a composite of my grandmother and other mother figures in my life. I saw Feisty Family Values as an opportunity to explore a character who has a hard time standing up for herself.”

Indeed, the Baby Boomer Generation represents about 28 percent of our total population; thirty-eight million women just like Annabelle, many of them vulnerable to physical, emotional and financial abuse. Tharp’s experience as a reporter for Active Aging magazine inspired her to further examine the subject of elderly abuse, a recurring theme throughout Feisty Family Values.

“That kind of abuse is just not talked about,” says Tharp. “I felt very strongly about addressing this subject and making sure people become aware. I so admire cultures that revered their elderly. If we don’t respect and protect our elders, we can’t learn from them.”

Fans of Feisty Family Values will be excited to learn Tharp has completed her second novel, a sequel to Feisty Family Values, tentatively titled Patchwork Family, to be published in March of 2014. The novel picks up a year after the events of Feisty Family Values.

On revisiting her characters, Tharp says, they just weren’t done telling their stories yet.

“I liked the idea of looking at another character in the family and exploring how their lives had changed amidst all the upheaval. It’s a book forgiveness and tolerance. They’re each unique, they all have flaws, but they’re a family.”

Close-Up Talk Radio will feature B.D. Tharp in a four-part interview with Jim Masters on March 8th and March 15th at 4pm and with Doug Llewelyn on March 22nd and March 29th at 7pm EST.

Listen to the show www.blogtalkradio.com/closeuptalkradio. If you have a question for our guest, call (347) 996-3389.

For more information on B.D. Tharp, visit http://www.bdtharp.com.

“Be who you are – originals are much more valuable.”

“Be who you are – originals are much more valuable.” 

No arguments here! It’s the similarities about us or our interests that might bring us together, but it’s our individual differences that make people fun and interesting.

When I started writing Feisty Family Values I had trouble hearing each woman’s individual voice. The pictures of them in my mind were vastly different, their character sketches showed a variety of unique experiences, but somehow I couldn’t hear the differences in their dialog.

It took me several pages before they really came to life and I began to “hear” their voices. And about a quarter of the way into the book they started to take on a life of their own. The creative muse kicked in and wowza, I found myself writing about three original and distinct characters.

One of my favorite shows is NCIS. I always get a kick out of Tim McGee’s writing adventures. Like all of us he finds his characters in the people he meets and interacts with. But those are just impressions usually, a character has to be more three dimensional. We’ve got to see, hear, feel and even smell them sometimes.

How do you get to know them? One tool is to interview your characters. Develope their background, their careers, their relationships, their likes and dislikes. It’s all brainstorming and gut response, don’t plan too much or they will become stiff and unnatural. Readers want characters they can relate to, ones that seem real on the page. It’s an interesting journey to discover who your characters are and tell their stories as vividly as possible. And don’t forget to enjoy the ride, my friends.

NEW NEWS!

Hey everyone, I have news! I will be guest speaker on ” Close-up TV News” internet radio with Doug Llewelyn March 8 & 15 from 3-3:30 PM Central, and w/Jim Matthews March 22 & 29th 7-7:30 PM Central. Stay tuned!!!