Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: 'Knock, Knock' Who's There? The Truth about Jehovah's Witnesses by Anthony James

This is a true account of a former Jehovah's Witness who explains their version of the 'Truth" and their beliefs in a concise, logical way.  Most of us have had experiences with Jehovah's Witnesses and know some basic things - like their door-to-door prosthetizing, their refusal to celebrate holidays, birthdays and the like, their refusal to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, cross their heart for the National Anthem etc...  I personally, have never been able to understand their beliefs until I read about The Watchtower Society, its teachings and revisions to the 'Truth' that have happened throughout the years.  I have also been offended by the outright misogyny I have encountered -- tried discussing it with a JW coworker who basically could not discuss it in any logical way.  The more and more I read about the JW, I see how cult-like its behaviors are and how harmful the isolation of members can be.  This book is one man's experience but he explains things in a way you can understand and is very thought provoking.

For all the sincere belief many of its members have, I find it sad that they have such a horrible view of the world and the people in it.  I am happy for the author - his leaving the JW seems to have made him happier.

I have said before, a true good religion should stand up to questioning and in fact, should welcome it.  Not just give authoritarian pronouncements and oppress its members to live us/them dynamics which never amount to good.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Gust Blogger - Alice Duncan

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!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Review: Adrift: A Mer Cavallo Mystery by Micki Browning

Mer is a marine biologist who is currently working as a safety diver on a charter boat, The LunaSea (I love that name). The boat is chartered by a group wanting to do paranormal studies on a sunken boat. During the dive, things go wrong and the crew's leader, Ishamel, disappears, presumed dead.

Mer is a scientist and she needs to protect her reputation after the accident. So she starts looking into things, where she discovers many inconsistencies.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. She is determined and smart, but I thought she was a bit harsh in her criticisms of the "ghost hunters". I am also not sure at all about her relationship with her neighbor. This is a great start to a series.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Review: Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer

Ron and Dan Lafferty kill their brother's wife and daughter that they claim God told them to kill in blood atonement.

Krakauer reviews not only the case and its consequences, but the history of the Mormon Church and its splinter Fundamentalist groups (of which the Lafferty brothers were part of) and their strict adherence to Polygamy (which is at the root of this case.  Allen Lafferty lived a polygamous lifestyle and his wife Brenda, rebelled against his 'prophecies'.

It is a well researched history and very informative.  What I find so sad, is that the legal and court systems seem to fail these victims of Polygamy so frequently) and that these religious 'fundamentalists' are just as violent as other extremists - using God to justify flat out murder.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Review: Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka: The Horrific True Story Behind Canada's Ken and Barbie Killers by Ryan Becker and Nancy Veysey

An account of the crimes of Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo - the so called Ken and Barbie Killers.  Paul Bernardo was already active as the Scarborough Rapist before he met and married Homolka.    Apparently when the two met, it was a match made in Hell.  Though she claimed to be a victim in court to get what is arguably one of the most sweet plea deals ever, it is evident from the video tapes they made, that she was actively involved in raping, torturing and encouraging Bernardo in his crimes.  As to who committed the murders, both claim the other did - not that it should matter - they both committed horrific crimes - even raping and murdering Karla's younger sister - her virginity being Karla's GIFT to Bernardo.  It is repulsive.  Anyway, this book is very informative and covers more current info than other books on the subject I have read

Monday, September 10, 2018

Review: Deadly Secrets by M. WIlliam Phelps

Fred Andros was an influential town servant with some sort of charisma that allowed him to carry on affairs with multiple women while he is wheeling & dealing (and stealing).  As his legal woes are coming upon him, he convinces a woman he is  having an affair with to murder another woman he had been sleeping with.  This woman, Dawn, was also sleeping with the woman at his request.  The author is great at researching the background to the crime and giving insight into what happened and why.  The story is incredibly sad and the book a sad and insightful read.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Review: Murder in the Cretaceous Period by Fadhil Qaradaghi

Rasti is a theater director who is schizophrenic and paranoid. Based on his detective plays, a rich man hires him to find out who kidnapped his daughter and killed his son.

Rasti dives into the task, but as a very unreliable narrator, it is often hard to follow his thinking and delusions to see what is really going on.

He also goes back to the Cretaceous Era where under his name Tatanka, he talks about the wicked morals and infection of Man. When a dinosaur murders for sport rather than food, he believes The City and humans have infected the world and thus lead to the extinction.

He talks a lot about Cosmic Plan and Eras.

I enjoyed the story, but felt I had to work for it.

Review: 'Knock, Knock' Who's There? The Truth about Jehovah's Witnesses by Anthony James

This is a true account of a former Jehovah's Witness who explains their version of the 'Truth" and their beliefs in a concise...