Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

May was a pretty bad month for me, with much more mayhem than magic, although a couple of good things happened.

The absolutely worst, most horrible thing to happen in May that my half-brother, Elbert H. Duncan, Jr., passed away. Al died on May 9. He was a wonderful man. A truly good person. He was already grown up when I was born, and my mom used to tell me that when I was a baby, Al would say, “Screech, Alice!” and I’d screech for him. Then we’d both laugh like maniacs. Drove my mom nuts, but it shows his sense of humor. Sigh. He was the last male of the Duncan line, at least this branch of it. I feel particularly bad for Al’s widow, Connie. Al and Connie were married for tons of years. More than forty, anyway. They were a wonderful couple, and I’m sorry Connie has to go it alone now, although the rest of us in the family are available for her any time. Al is going to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on June 14, and I’d dearly love to go to the funeral. Unfortunately, further events during the mayhemly month of May will prevent that.

The next bad thing that happened was that my grandsons’ second-to-last Japanese relative died. Junko was their aunt, their late father’s older sister, and both Dai and Riki were saddened by her passing.

And then I learned that a childhood friend of mine, Chris Wolford, died. Chris had suffered from multiple sclerosis for several years, although her husband said she seemed to be doing pretty well. But the MS interfered with her breathing one night, and she died in her sleep. Chris had suffered many losses in her life, including that of her son and her first husband (who died of a stroke). But she and her second husband had twenty-two happy years together, and they fostered many, many children. I’m sure Paul and the kids are floundering without her.

All of that happened in one single week, one of the worst weeks of my life. Phooey.

Also, the author copies of my May release, FALLEN ANGELS, have evidently been abducted by aliens, because I don’t have them yet. I’m scheduled to appear on a panel in Rio Rancho on June 7, and I don’t know what I’ll do w/o the books. By the way, if you happen to be in Rio Rancho, NM, on June 7 and want to pop over to the Esther Bone Memorial Library, the panel will begin at 6:30 p.m. The address is 950 Pinetree Road, Rio Rancho, NM, and the phone number (should you want to check up on this) is 505-891-5012. I’d love to see a person or two there. I’ll bring some other books with me if FALLEN ANGELS doesn’t arrive on time.

And THEN I went to have a bone-density scan, they measured me, and I’ve shrunk THREE WHOLE INCHES! What the heck???? The results of the scan were good. My bones are as dense as iron rods. But where did those three inches go? Heck, I started out at only 5’3”. Now I’m barely five feet tall. Ain’t fair. Must be the degenerative disc disease, huh? Sheesh. No wonder my back hurts all the time. I’m falling apart from the inside.

Not only that, but my darling Daisy, who’s been my winner-picking wiener dog for lo, these many years, is now blind as a bat. I’m going to have to train a new winner-picking wiener dog. Giblett can’t do it, because he’d gnash the entries to death, and I’d never be able to read them. Skipper can’t do it, because he’d just stand there over the special contest doggie dish and whine for food. Maybe Rosie can be the new winner-picking wiener dog. She’s got cataracts, too, but she might be able to fill in for a while. I suppose Scrappy could pick the winners, but he’s not a wiener dog, and that will never do. There’s always Heidi, but she’s a little bit of a drama queen, and I’m not sure she’d be a perfect fit. Poor Daisy. She’s in pretty good health (although she’s getting her teeth cleaned next week) except for her cataracts. I guess cataracts happen to all of us if we live long enough.

One good thing happened. Naturally, it was followed by another bad thing. I got a really big (for me) Kindle royalty payment in May. The very next day, my hot-water heater went kaput, so all but $36 of that Kindle payment went to buy a new hot-water heater. Which means, of course, that I don’t have enough money to attend my brother’s funeral. Sometimes life just sucks.

Anyhow, here’s hoping June is a better month than May was. Couldn’t get much worse, I guess. I’ll be giving away copies of some Rachel Wilson (Rachel’s me in disguise) paranormal historical romances in June, so if you’d like to enter my contest, feel free to e-mail me your name and home address at alice@aliceduncan.net

I’ll get copies of May’s contest book, FALLEN ANGELS, as soon as I get my copies!

Oh, and every single one of my e-books is on sale during the month of June! You can get any book of mine you want for $0.99! You can get them for your Kindle (http://aliceduncan.net/page5.html) or for any other e-reading device you have—Nook, Sony, Apple, whatever (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/aduncanzianet). Heck, you can buy all 32 of them, and only spend $32.00. Whatta deal!

Visit my web site at http:aliceduncan.net to see all about my books.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Week


This week started on Sunday as a typical Sunday. There wasn't anything unusual and then Sunday afternoon came and all hell broke loose. Firt they prediced we would have a tornado headed for Parsons as it was by McCune coming our way. Later we received hail from golfball size to baseball size. Our cars did receive some hail damage. Lots of rain storms etc....but nobody could imagine what happened next as the storm moved from us (without the tornado) to one hour from us on the Mo side there was a tornado. Not your small hopping around tornado but the large staying put damning tornado that took lives, businesses, homes, pets and much much more.

This week slowly we learned we have everyday heroes, people are helping with the aftermath, organizations are taking donations, students are helping and I am veryvery proud of the midwest. As of right now we know that there 124 dead and hundreds are missing. 14,000 people are without electric and nobody who went through the tornado, saw the devastation, those helping, reporting and forecasting will ever ever forget this horror.

Last night tornado sirens off in Joplin and this time it was a false alarm. I only hope they all continue to be false alarms as we finish with spring and go into summer.

If this isn't enough then my daughter calls me at noon today to tell me she is safe. I asked what she meant by "safe" a tornado touch down by where she works in Overland Park, Ks/Mo today and she had spent the past hour in the hallways of her office building. Then she told me it was headed for Blue Springs, Mo and she would let me know about her family. My son called and he checked in and FINALLY  she called. I can report that all is fine but as a mother and grandmother I spent the better part of today either praying or with a lump in my throat. The folks in Sedalia. Mo were not so lucky because while Blue Spring was spared there was a tornado that touched down and did damage in Sedalia, Mo.

Now as many of you know we were in a tornado in 2000 and we lost a lot but we had eachother and avery good friend of mine helped me out or I do not know what would have happened to us. it happens fast and furious and Joplin's was an F5 Tornado which is as bad as you can get and our in 2000 was only an F3 and I still have my unsettling moments. Today being one of them last Sunday being the other one.

What I want to say is hug your, child, tell your spouse you love them (I know it sounds corny but do it anyway) call that friend you miss so much, see people do things because we are not promised anything but this moment. If you have favorite author tell them they're your favorite author. I don't mean to be a downer I just want all of you ro know how much Terri and I love and appeciate you. Whether your a friend, author, cyberfriend, stitcher, mother daughter etc... we love you and thank you for your support.

BTW Carolyn Hart, Lorraine Barrett, Elaine Viets, Leslie Meir, Mary Daheim, Laura Lavine, Nancy Cohen, Susan McBride, Carolyn Dunn, Emily Brightwell,Joanne Pence, Lisa Scottoline, Selma Eichler you're all my favorite authors. There are more but I don't want to PR this piece just want you to know if Idie I'm taking your books with me just in case there is an afterlife and they won't give me a library card I'll have something to read.



Friday, May 13, 2011

Review - How to Marry a Murderer



Publisher: Penquin

Cozy Mystery Series



Paige Turner is a crime magazine reporter, a mystery novelist, a girl friday at Daring Detective Magazine and of coure girlfriend to Dan Street a New York Homicide Detective. So when famous actress Ginger Allen asks Paige to find the person who is trying to murder her before the said person gets the deed done Paige is shocked that Ginger Allen wants HER to find the person.

What soon becomes apparent is only a hand full of people does Ginger trust to a around her and only a finger full of people can stand Ginger. Not only is Ginger very demanding and hard to work with and if anyone thinks themselves entitled to have tantrums it's Ginger.

More to the point Ginger uses people and there is no shortage of suspects when Ginger takes flying leap off of the top of the penthouse balcony. The police say it's suicide but Paige is not so sure and she does feel gulity about Ginger's death.

This is a definite must -read mystery. Set in the 50's when it was a man's world and set in the glamour of tv and movie stars this mystery cozies up to gossip, love affairs, money, madness and a quite a few laughs.

Paige Turner is my kind of sleuth and she definitely has us turning page after page. Just wait until you get a load of her best-friend Abby's new boyfriend and his poetry. It's quite a ride to solving this crime and what poor Paige endures at the hands of her coworkers well let's just say there is a reason we call a dog "Man;s best friend".

Oh and did I mention there is a dog in this story?

Anyway I think if you have not found this series then by all means let me introduce you to Sassy Paige Turner and her lively investigations.

This book receives 10 out of 10 stars.


Calling all Authors


Okay how do you do it? What am I talking about you ask? Well how do you keep a writing schedule from one day to the next while doing housework? How about errands, keeping up with family and other writing obligations? How do you do it? I ask, because for two weeks I have been trying to keep a writing schedule and I can ignore the phone (at least I have retrained myself to do this part) but when the laundry is piled up, bills need paying, floors and pets need attention, plants nad flowers need watering and the whole meal thing plus we always want a clean bathroom....

How do you divide your time? Are you an early morning writer? A night writer? Are you up and down all day/ all night?

Tell me how to handle this because after four books and zillions of interruptions to my day I am no better at it than I was the first book. This is not acceptable but until I have a contract that needs fulfilled I need help on how to handle this crazy schedule we call a "Writing Schedule", so HELP and no I am not whining I am merely needing suggestions and advice.

I need advice from authors who have been there done that....LOL



Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Just wanted to wish all of our readers and bloggers a very happy, safe and healthy Mother's Day. Let's all remember our mothers and if you're a mother whether it be a mother of fur babies or children enjoy your quality time this weekend.

I hope the weather is beautiful and books are pentiful. Maybe you can grab some quality time with a great book.

Me, I'll be on the road but thinking of everyone as we travel to Kansas City and this is Lady Mystery's first road trip. She loves car rides so we will see how she likes long car rides.

May your heart bloom this Sunday,



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

It’s May! It’s May! The merry month of May! Cue “Camelot” music here. If anybody besides me even remembers “Camelot.” Shoot, I’m old. Oh, well…

Not only is May a merry month, but it’s also the month FALLEN ANGELS will be published. This is the third book in my cozy historical mystery series featuring Mercedes Louise “Mercy” Allcutt, who left her Boston ivory tower to move to the wild and woolly west, where she got a job working for private detective Ernest Templeton. Both of these actions (moving West and getting a job) are deplored by Mercy’s mother. On the other hand, Mercy’s mother pretty much deplores everything Mercy does, so Mercy’s [almost] used to it.

Here’s a little blurb about FALLEN ANGELS:

Transplanted Boston Brahmin, Mercy Allcutt, has had some very exciting times as secretary to private investigator, Ernie Templeton. While it’s true she’s been in what she considers a wee bit of trouble (and Ernie considers out-and-out danger) a time or two, she’s determined to continue learning the ways of the “real” world.

However, when she sets out to find her wandering boss, Ernie, one hot September afternoon, she not only discovers a corpse, but she also finds Ernie, bound and gagged. Worse, when the police arrive to investigate the crime, they peg Ernie as the killer.

Well, Mercy isn’t about to let them get away with that, no matter how many times Ernie tells her to butt out of the police inquiry. The only question is whether she’ll survive her investigatorial efforts once again, or if she’ll become one more “Fallen Angel.”

As you can see, Mercy’s up to her knickers in the soup again, but that’s okay. She knows how to swim.

In this book I fashioned a church for Mercy to attend (in the hunt for clues). I wanted it to be representative of the Foursquare Church of God, founded by Aimee Semple McPherson, but I didn’t want to use those names, mainly because my publisher would never let me get away with it. Also, I have absolutely nothing against the Foursquare Church of God and think Ms. McPherson is a fascinating character in her own right. So I had Mercy attend the fictional Angelica Gospel Hall and meet its charismatic leader, Adelaide Burkhard Emmanuel. She gets to meet lots of other folks in her search to clear Ernie’s good name (what’s left of it), too.

The reviews have been pretty nice so far, by the way. Even Kirkus (which isn’t known for its soft heart), kind of liked it: “A young Boston Brahmin finds a fulfilling new life among the private eyes and criminals of Los Angeles. [bunch of words I cut out here, but it’s only plot stuff] Mercy's third appearance combines a nice feeling for life in 1920s Los Angeles.”

Publisher’s Weekly was not so kind: “Upper-crust Bostonian Mercy Allcutt, who works as a secretary for policeman-turned-PI Ernest Templeton, walks a fine line between endearing naïveté and annoying simplemindedness in Duncan's by-the-numbers third cozy set in 1920s Los Angeles.”

You can’t win ‘em all. However, other people have enjoyed it. Read on:

“The suspense is top-notch in the latest Mercy Allcutt book, and the humor between Mercy and her snooty Boston mother is hysterical. The theatrical world of L.A. is extremely fun and the feelings of love growing between Mercy and Ernie are getting stronger with each book. A great cozy mystery,” Romantic Times Book Reviews

Take that, PW! And then there’s this one:

FIVE STARS! I love how the author writes this series. Each case is told from the rich/privileged secretary's point-of-view. [cut, cut, cut] If you are looking for a classic-style mystery to test your wits on, look no further. Alice Duncan's stories simply burst with flavor. Excellent!” Huntress Book Reviews

So that’s nice, too. I understand Booklist will review the book favorably, too, which makes me happy. No word yet on Library Journal. It blows me away, however, that these prestigious review mags are all of a sudden reviewing MY books. Go figure. Maybe it’s because they’re coming out in hardback. I have absolutely no idea, but I like it. Even when they trash my books, I can’t help but giggle a little. THESE snooty magazines are reviewing MY books! Wowzers.

Anyhow, I know I’ve said this before, but Mercy Allcutt was more or less a consolation prize for me when I thought my “Spirits” books, featuring Daisy Gumm Majesty, were lost to me. However, I’ve come to enjoy Mercy in her own right, and I hope others do to.

During my May contest, I’ll be giving away three copies of FALLEN ANGELS, so if you’re interested in having your name thrown in to Daisy, the winner-picking wiener dog’s, special contest doggie dish, just e-mail me your name and home address (alice@aliceduncan.net). And if you want to read the first chapter of the book, feel free to go here: http://aliceduncan.net/page6.html .

By the way, Daisy (the dachshund) is feeling her age, and is now almost completely blind. I feel very bad about this. Not that I suffer from a paucity of wiener dogs, but I love Daisy dearly and hate it that she’s probably approaching the end of her life. Sniffle. It hurts to know that I’ll have to train another member of my herd to be the winner-picking wiener one of these days. Give your dog (if you have one) an extra pat for Daisy, please. And if you don’t have a dog, pet your cat. And if you don’t have a dog or a cat, go to the nearest shelter and adopt one, for Pete’s sake! I have an almost-totally depressing story about a rescued dachshund I took in during April, but I’ll spare you her story. If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you can read all about Mocha’s travails, but I thought I’d try to make May’s blog a happy one.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Guest Blogger - Avery Aames - And Congrats for winning the Agatha for best first novel!

"Writing Culinary Mysteries and also your books and how they came to be."

When I started out to write the great American mystery, I had no idea what a culinary mystery was.  I grew up on Nancy Drew books and Agatha Christie stories. I broadened my reading to include Dickens and Graham Greene and other astonishing writers, but I always returned to mysteries. I remember reading a mystery with Nero Wolfe and though his sandwiches would be fabulous if only we knew each of the ingredients. I even remember reading another author [Lawrence Block, maybe?] who wrote about a PI that built sandwiches, piece by piece, while working through his theories. How I wanted to have a list of ingredients for those.  When I read books by Joanna Carl and Joanne Fluke and others, getting hungry in the process, and realizing they had recipes at the end, I was hooked.

So when the opportunity to write A Cheese Shop Mystery series came along, I thought super! I love food. I can weave food into my mysteries.  I had no idea how much time I would spend researching cheese, concocting recipes, and tasting food so I could become more expert. Not an expert, mind you, just more expert.

I’m not professionally trained. I haven’t taken cooking classes. But I’ve been cooking since I was a little girl, and experimenting—I always loved chemistry.  [Mysteries are like chemistry; put in all the ingredients, and come up with an answer.] I’ve become a pretty good cook, so my husband tells me.  I promise you he wouldn’t have liked my first layer cake where I decided granulated sugar would make just as good icing as powdered sugar.  And even better it was baby blue!  Ugh.  However, the chocolate cream pies in graham cracker crust that I sold to my neighbors was a smash hit.

But I digress. How did my books come to be?  I have to admit that I wasn’t the brainstorm behind writing about a cheese shop. My publisher was.  Berkley Prime Crime had a niche in their culinary mysteries that they wanted to fill.  My agent knew about the premise and asked if I wanted to audition for the job. I did. I’d written a number of books that my agent liked but didn’t think she could sell in the (then) current market. So I wrote three sample chapters for Berkley. My agent loved them. She sent them to the publisher, and the publisher loved them, and the rest is history. I was offered a contract, I wrote the first book, THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE, which became a national bestseller, and subsequently, I’ve fallen in love with Fromagerie Bessette and the quaint town of Providence, Ohio and all of its inhabitants.

Like Charlotte Bessette, my protagonist, I adore cheese. I can’t believe how many I’ve tasted in the past year. I always knew about Cheddar and Swiss, Blue and Gouda.  But I’d never heard about Tuscan Tartuffo or Abbaye de Belloc or San Simon cheese.  Manchego? One of my favorites. Doux de Montagne is smooth and delicate. Fromager de Affinois, delectable!

My life is a journey, and from this point on, whether I’m writing about cheese or not, I will always be tasting a new cheese, trying a new recipe, seeking out new flavors.  I feel adventuresome when I do, and isn’t that what reading is about? Delving into a new world and learning something that you never thought you would learn? And hopefully, in the process, solving a crime!

What a joy.  Say cheese!


Avery Aames is the author of A Cheese Shop Mystery series.  The first, The Long Quiche Goodbye, is a national bestseller. Avery is an Agatha Award nominee for “Best First Novel.” Avery blogs at Mystery Lovers Kitchen, http://www.mysteryloverskitchen - a blog for foodies who love mysteries. And some of her characters show up on the Killer Characters blog, http://killercharacters.com  You can order LOST AND FONDUE here: http://www.averyaames.com/book_sellers.html

 And here is a bonus recipe from Avery:



1 pie shell (home baked or frozen)
Dash of white pepper
2 slices pineapple, fresh, diced.
4 slices thin ham [I use Applegate Farms Black Forest Ham], diced.
2 oz. sour cream
2 oz. light cream or whipping cream
2 oz. milk
2 eggs
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 oz. shredded Edam or Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Dash of cinnamon


Sprinkle white pepper on pie shell.
Arrange meat in pie shell.  Arrange pineapple on top.  Sprinkle with sugar.
Mix milk, creams, and eggs.
Pour into pie crust.
Sprinkle with cheese.  Dash with cinnamon.

Bake 35 minutes at 375 until quiche is firm and lightly brown on top.

Review: Blotto, Twinks and the Intimate Review by Simon Brett

Blotto and his friend go see  Light and Frothy;   a new popular show and his friend falls for the star of the show.  After his friend is k...