Monday, October 2, 2017

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

October Again

Wow, another year is all but over. Pretty soon Halloween will be upon us, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 2018! 2018???? Unbelievable!

However, on to the blog. There almost wasn’t one this month, thanks to an infected left hand on my own personal body. As with most of the weird stuff that happens to me, this began with a dog; or, more specifically, a dog bite. I tried to break up a fight between Cookie and Bella, reached the wrong way, and Cookie nailed me. Hard. So I cleaned the wound, disinfected it, put antibiotic gel on it, bandaged it, and it got better. The wound healed and everything seemed fine and dandy. Then, two Thursdays ago, the hand began to get extremely sore. I could hardly move it. Then it swelled up. Then it got blue. Then it was Saturday morning, and I went to the ER. The doctor concluded I had tendonitis and an infection, and he gave me antibiotics and a Velcro splint. The swelling went down, but the hand continued immensely painful. So I went for a follow-up visit to my regular doctor. She told me to get a tetanus shot and gave me a prescription for steroids. Boy, those steroids worked miracles. Within one day, the inflammation began going away, and today, October 1, the hand almost doesn’t hurt at all. In fact, I just allowed several of the hounds to take me for an afternoon drag, and the hand lasted quite well. Mind you, I kept the splint on it for safety’s sake, but I actually think I’m going to survive this infected-hand thing. Oh, and I got the tetanus shot.

As for September, a few good things happened in the world of what I laughingly call my writing career. For one thing, I finished Daisy Gumm Majesty’s 12th adventure, SPIRITS UNEARTHED, and turned it in to my publisher. The book begins with Daisy, Sam Rotondo (her fiancé), and Daisy’s dog Spike (a dachshund, naturally) visiting Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, California. While they’re all there, Spike finds a vagrant shoe. Unfortunately for all concerned, the shoe contains a foot. Thus begins the mystery of to whom the foot belongs, why it was in the cemetery, and what happened to the foot’s owner. If one can be said to own one’s feet. I don’t know why not.

The second good thing was that I began writing Spirits #13, SHAKEN SPIRITS. Ouchily for Daisy, the book begins with her being hit by a car. It hurts. Poor Daisy.

Then the third good thing was that Denise Stradling, who narrates my Daisy Gumm Majesty books for audio, finished reading SPIRITS REVIVED! Nina Paules, who has done all the wonderful covers for my Daisy Gumm Majesty series, even did the cover art for it. SPIRITS REVIVED is technically the 7th in my Daisy series, but the cover of this book says it’s #6 ½ because I don’t have the e-book or print rights back to the book yet. Eventually, I’ll get ‘em back, but I expect it will remain # 6 ½ in the series. What the heck, the cover’s already made and all. I adore this cover:



So a bunch of people have won copies of SPIRITS REVIVED in its audio form, and I’ll be in touch with them all individually.
 
This coming month, I do believe I’ll give away BRUISED SPIRITS, Daisy’s 10th adventure. I have a particular fondness for this particular book, because it’s based on a woman’s actual experiences. They weren’t happy. But everything turns out all right.



A word about my monthly contests. I love giving my work to people; however, I found out quite by accident a few months ago that sending books to Great Britain, Australia, and other countries outside the United States is beyond my monetary capability. If a resident of a nation other than the United States has an e-reader, I’ll happily supply that person with an e-book. If a person doesn’t have an e-reader and still likes to read book-books, he or she is on his or her own. I’m sorry, but what I laughingly call my writing career hasn’t made me wealthy yet. And it probably won’t, but let’s not get in to that because it always depresses me. So. That’s that.

If you’d like to enter the contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) 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 (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in e-mails, because I only write one blog a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!


Friday, September 29, 2017

Review: Star Trek Discovery -- the First two episodes


I was very much looking forward to this for so many reasons.  I have always loved Star Trek.  Even DS9 which my brotherly refers to as The Vulcan Chess Match.

Then - Sonequa Martin-Green!  Absolutely loved her as Sasha on The Walking Dead.

After lots of delays -- it has finally made it to watch!

So, the basic story -- Michael Burnham (Green) survived a horrific Klingon attack as a child and was fostered by Sarek of Vulcan - the first human in the Vulcan Science Academy.  Brilliant, and definitely conflicted  trying to balance emotions and logic.  Michael is first officer on the Starship Shenzhou - and along the edges of Federation space they find an alien relic and are quickly in conflict with a bunch of Klingons with religious ideaology wanting to provoke a war with the Federation.  

The cast is stellar and the twists are intriguing.  There is obviously a lot going on that has yet to unfold and I think the ride is going to be fascinating.

The only annoying this is you have to subscribe to CBS' streaming service.  Yet another monthly charge beyond cable, hulu, netflix, Acorn etc....  

Terri

Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Quincy is a survivor.  She is also is what the media called a "Final Girl" as she was the only survivor of a mass murder attack.  When another "Final Girl" supposedly commits suicide and another shows up on her doorstep, she can't hide from the past nor continue pretending to be fine.

I really enjoyed this book.  However, Quincy was portrayed as someone who had moved on and had her life on track, it was far from true and her constant Xanax popping really annoyed me.  Clearly NOT coping well at all.  Very superficial and a humongous amount of denial.

That said, the hardest part for me to buy into was that she allows a clearly messed up "Final Girl" into her home by virtue of that traumatic label they shared.

The twists were good and I enjoyed them.  Things circled around in a way I found satisfying except for the killer.  Just did not feel satisfied by that at all.  It was a motive thing for me.

That said, I was impressed by the author and will certainly try to read more.

Terri

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

September? Really?

It doesn’t seem quite fair that, the older I get, the faster time seems to fly. I remember sitting in schoolrooms when I was a kid, watching that stupid clock on the wall, and wishing I could push the minute hand faster so I could get the heck out of there and go home and play with my dog. Now I kinda wish time would slow down a trifle. Oh, well. If wishes were horses…

SPIRITS UNITED, Daisy Gumm Majesty’s eleventh adventure (well, it’s actually her twelfth, but until I get the rights back to SPIRITS REVIVED, her actual seventh adventure, the numbers don’t reflect the entire series). I appreciate everyone who bought a copy, and I’d appreciate even more if you’d buy copies for all of your friends and relations. Heck, even total strangers! I wouldn’t mind being a best-selling author once. Or even twice. But I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to beg.

During the first week in August of this year, I visited California. This was primarily to attend my best friend’s memorial service, but I also had a chance to revisit several places I recall from my youth back in the early middle ages. Some friends and I went to Morningside Cemetery in Altadena, where my best friend has finally joined her late husband. I also wandered around the place, said hello to my late aunt and several cousins, and I think I found about where Billy Majesty might have been planted back in 1922. Here it is:



Daisy’s next adventure, SPIRITS UNEARTHED, begins at Billy Majesty’s grave at the Morningside Cemetery, so you might want to keep the area in mind for future reference. By the way, one of my spectacular beta readers, Lynne Welch, mentioned that lots of town in the Midwest, East, and South have little cemeteries sprinkled all over the place. If you live in Altadena or Pasadena, you either end up at Morningside or in an urn on somebody’s mantel. My younger daughter told me I could reside in a box on her mantel in between two of her husband’s late dachshunds. Can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be for all eternity!

I also tootled past Daisy’s house. Whatta mess! If my second ex-husband, Old Weird Robert, still lives there, he’s sure not taking care of the place. I object. On the other hand, the house no longer belongs to me, so I guess there’s not much I can do about it.




The lovely and talented Denice Stradling, voice actor and audiobook narrator, is closing in on the final chapters of SPIRITS REVIVED, which will be published soon and will be available on Audible.com. I don’t have the cover art for the book yet, but I do have a picture of the room in which the ghost of Eddie Hastings shows up, much to Daisy’s distress, during a séance she held at Mrs. Bissel’s house in the book. The room doesn’t look awfully large in this photograph, but my aunt, her children, her two boarders (Burke and Jack, who used to own a gas station at Lake Avenue and Altadena Drive), and my own family of four (Mom, Dad, sister and me) used to dine there every evening. Everyone included, that was maybe ten or twelve people, and nobody was crowded. Of course, my aunt’s table was larger than the one depicted below. This was my Aunt Wrennie’s “breakfast room” back in the olden days. She had a dining room, too, which was much larger. I can’t even imagine what a table the size of hers would cost these days. That thing was huge:




If SPIRITS REVIVED is available by the end of September, I’ll be giving away audio copies of that book. If it’s not, you may pick your own book of those I’ve written (providing I have copies of same). I’ll be in touch with the winners of August’s contest to find out which book of mine they’d like to have either e-delivered or delivered by post, and I’ll attempt to get the books mailed in a timely manner.

Oh, and before I forget again, many people have asked me what “bishop sleeves” are. Daisy’s always making suits and dresses with “bishop sleeves.” So, for your continuing education, below is a picture of a couture gown from 1924 featuring bishop sleeves! Courtesy Jean Lanvin, in fact. Mind you, these are a little puffier at the wrists than lots of bishop sleeves, but that’s because they have slashes at the wrist and inserts of cloth of another color:




A word about my monthly contests. I love giving my work to people; however, I found out quite by accident a few months ago that sending books to Great Britain, Australia, and other countries outside the United States is beyond my monetary capability. If a resident of a nation other than the United States has an e-reader, I’ll happily supply that person with an e-book. If a person doesn’t have an e-reader and still likes to read book-books, he or she is on his or her own. I’m sorry, but what I laughingly call my writing career hasn’t made me wealthy yet. And it probably won’t, but let’s not get in to that because it always depresses me. So. That’s that.

If you’d like to enter the contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) 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 (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in e-mails, because I only write one blog a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Gina Royal is an ordinary suburban wife and mother until the day a truck runs into her garage exposing her husband as a horrific serial killer.  She is accused and acquitted of helping him with his crimes.  However, the internet will not let her forget.  Trolls threaten her and her kids and she has to live on the run with assumed identities.  She and her children have settled in a small town hoping for a respite, but when bodies are found in the lake by her house with the MO of her incarcerated ex-husband, her life is about to implode again and Mama bear has to protect her children at all costs.

This was a page turner and I really loved it.  

Terri

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: Fire and Ashes by Elaine Viets

This is the second book in the Angela Richman, Death Investigator series.  When Angela is called to a death scene after a fire in the Forest (a very affluent area), she finds a man killed in the fire while his fiancee' is suspected of his murder.  Because the Victim was wealthy and his much younger (and "Mexican") fiancee', Kendra is automatically convicted in the minds of law enforcement and the community.  It appears that The Forest is very polarized along economic divides and there is a very strong racism embedded in the culture.  Though there had been a series of non-lethal arsons leading up to the murder, Kendra and her father are arrested and accused of all the crimes.  Angela, isn't so sure.  She and her friends want to find the truth behind the racial accusations.  

It is a very well told story with strong characterizations and makes you think a lot about insider/outsiders in communities and the quick blame that is often thrown around at the expense of the truth which I find very timely as well.

I love this series and enjoyed the dramatic finale -- the suspense was palpable.  Oh - and it has horses used as stress therapy too -- an added bonus!

And BTW - Baby loved the book too! LOL



Terri

Monday, August 7, 2017

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

Spirits United!


I apologize for last month’s blog. I was so down in the dumps, I just couldn’t bear to be funny. Losing a best friend and another friend losing her daughter to murder just sort of wiped out the joy in life for a while. For the record, the murderer of my cousin’s daughter has been found and extradited to New Mexico to stand trial. So maybe he’ll be convicted and imprisoned. That’ll be okay, but it won’t bring Anita back, you know? And I doubt there’s any way a mother can ever recover from the loss of a child, especially to murder, so my friend whose daughter was murdered in June (and whose murderer then committed suicide) is pretty much doomed, I guess. As another friend of mine said, if a person decides to commit a murder-suicide, it’s better to commit the suicide first. I think that’s a brilliant solution to a dire problem, but I doubt it’ll catch on, people being what they are.

Anyway, enough of that. I’ll be in touch with the winners of July’s contest via email since I didn’t specify a book to be given away. You get to pick your choice if you’re a wiener. I mean a winner.

SPIRITS UNITED, Daisy’s eleventh adventure (actually, it’s her twelfth, but who’s counting?) was just released, so here’s the cover art and links to it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble:

 


Okey-dokey, a little bit about SPIRITS UNITED. I was afraid the book would be terrible. You see, I had such an emotional investment in BRUISED SPIRITS, I figured the next book would be a flop. However, people seem to be enjoying it! Go figure. I’m happy about that, and I’m working diligently on the next Daisy book. It seems to be coming along nicely. In order to prepare for it, which is titled SPIRITS UNEARTHED, I’ll be taking photographs at the Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, California, when I’m in California next week for my friend’s memorial service. Feel free to speculate from there.

As for SPIRITS UNITED, it begins at Daisy’s home on Marengo Avenue in Pasadena, but Sam Rotondo (Pasadena police detective and Daisy’s betrothed) comes over just as Daisy is about to visit the library (she hangs out there a lot). Therefore, Sam goes with her on her jaunt to the library since he doesn’t trust her not to stumble over a dead body if she visits there alone. Doesn’t work. A woman is murdered in the biography stacks while Sam is with Daisy at the library. Horrors! Worse, Daisy’s friend, Robert Browning (not the poet), is discovered holding the bloody knife used to murder the poor dead woman. This naturally puts Robert at the top of Sam’s suspect list, although Daisy doesn’t believe for a second he did the dirty deed.

Anyhow, Sam, still recovering from the gunshot he got in BRUISED SPIRITS, and still hurting from it and forced to use a cane, is cranky as heck. Nevertheless, he gets to work.

Daisy gets to work, too, although Sam doesn’t want her to. Eventually the murderer is discovered, thanks to a lot of snooping on everyone’s part. Not only that, but Daisy is thrilled that she’s become a matchmaker. Again. She’s almost as good at matchmaking as she is at sewing and spiritualist-medium-ing.

Oh, and in SPIRITS UNITED, it’s Sam’s Voodoo juju that acts up rather than any of Daisy’s spiritualist paraphernalia. Sam neither believes in nor appreciates its help.

In order to get a feel for the library where SPIRITS UNITED begins, I wanted to see pictures of the Pasadena Public Library as it was in 1924. The present library was opened in 1929. I used to practically live there when I resided in Pasadena, and I worked for quite some time in the children’s room there. Love that library and still visit it when I’m in Pasadena. However, that’s not the library in which Daisy’s latest body was found. Here are photographs (found for me by my lovely niece, Sara Krafft, and a wonderful Facebook buddy, Andie Paysinger) of the old library. It looks like it was a beautiful place:






The only truly awful thing about SPIRITS UNITED is that I murdered a librarian in it. It’s not my fault! Lynne Welch, a valued friend and excellent beta reader, is a librarian, and she told me she’s always wanted to bump off a librarian. So I did it for her. I still feel guilty about doing so, too.

I’ll let folks pick any old book you want from my backlist at the end of August. If you’re name is chosen from my special contest doggie dish by Bam-Bam, my winner-picking wiener dog, I’ll send you the book you select, providing I have a copy.

Oh, and a word about my monthly contests. I love giving my work to people; however, I found out quite by accident a few months ago that sending books to Great Britain, Australia, and other countries outside the United States is beyond my monetary capability. If a resident of a nation other than the United States has an e-reader, I’ll happily supply that person with an e-book. If a person doesn’t have an e-reader and still likes to read book-books, he or she is on his or her own. I’m sorry, but what I laughingly call my writing career hasn’t made me wealthy yet. And it probably won’t, but let’s not get in to that, because it always depresses me. So. That’s that.

If you’d like to enter the contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) 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 (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in e-mail, because I only write one blog a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.


Thank you!

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

October Again Wow, another year is all but over. Pretty soon Halloween will be upon us, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 2018! 2018 ??...