Monthly Archives: July 2011

Exciting Next Step

I’ve been informed that my mystery/thriller novel, With Full Malice, has been sent to the publisher’s art department  for a cover.

How exciting!

The director said they’ll be designing a cover for the ARCs, Advanced Reading Copies. The publisher then sends the ARCs for reviews.

I can’t wait to see the cover. Will it be dramatic? Intriguing? Will it hint of murderous evil-doers?

What an exciting time for an author.

I’m still calm, though. But once the ARCs are debuted to the world – at least the reviewer’s world – I’m sure I’ll be a basket case. After all, my creation will be read and judged by the so-called authorities, the experts who are supposed to know a good book when they read it. They’ll read and mark it for the public – worth reading or not.

Of course I’ll be hoping for a good mark, but still, I can’t help but remember the age-old adage, ‘Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.’

If that’s true, doesn’t a good book lie in the mind of the reader?

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Let’s Welcome Fabulous Author, Alice Duncan

In August of this year, GENTEEL SPIRITS, the fifth book in my “Spirits” series starring Daisy Gumm Majesty, will be published. This makes me very happy, since for a while I thought Daisy was dead in the water. But she lives on!

I love Daisy. She came to me out of the blue one day, perhaps because I’d been trying to think of how to use Pasadena, California, in a book. After I moved to Roswell, NM, I became rather nostalgic about Pasadena. Then I visited my daughter there and decided once again that Pasadena as it is now isn’t the Pasadena as it was when I was a kid in it. If that makes any sense.

What I wanted to write about was the Pasadena of the Good Old Days (which probably weren’t any better than our days for the people who lived in them) when it was a haven for wealthy easterners who wintered there and Hollywood folks who wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of work.

Of course, I know nothing about how rich people live, having been poor all my life, but I do know that rich folks need the rest of us to provide services for them. Then, all of a sudden, a hardworking phony spiritualist who has too many burdens to bear appeared as if by magic in my head, and Daisy was born! I’d recently met a woman here in Roswell, NM, whose last name is Majesty and she said she’d be glad to lend Daisy her last name. I gave her Gumm as a maiden name (don’t ask me how or why. These things just happen), an aunt who is possibly the best cook in the world, a supportive family (hey, authors always make things up) and a husband who’d been grievously wounded in the Great War, and I was set to go.

I had intended my “Spirits” books to be historical cozy mysteries, but that the Powers That Be at Kensington asked me to take out the dead bodies and add a subsidiary romance (since Daisy is already married to the love of her life, Billy). They marketed the first two books as romances, which they aren’t, so the series died unsung (actually, they weren’t entirely unsung. The few people who read them seemed to like them. Heck, the first book was a Romantic Times Top Pick and was nominated for a Reviewer’s Choice award). My favorite blurb of all time came from Booklist’s review of last year’s HUNGRY SPIRITS expresses my sentiments to a T: “This enjoyable series deserves to be much better known.” Couldn’t have said it better myself!

The books might have died easily, but their demise hurt me terribly, since I loved writing Daisy’s stories and Daisy is my very favorite character of those I’ve created. I was absolutely thrilled to death when Five Star, a publisher that primarily targets libraries, decided to pick up the series with HIGH SPIRITS.

And now it’s almost GENTEEL SPIRITS time! In GENTEEL SPIRITS, Daisy is hired to be the spiritual advisor to a spoiled-rotten silent-screen star named Lola de la Monica. Daisy’s bete noir (and her husband’s best friend), Sam Rotondo (a name lent me by a cousin, whose last name is Rotondo) is also on the set. He’s a Pasadena police detective and is pretty much always sure Daisy is up to something dire. Add some poison-pen letters and some folks with deep, dark secrets to protect, and Daisy’s really in the soup. It’s a good thing Daisy knows how to swim and doesn’t mind the heat.

I think it’s really funny that a penchant for spiritualism actually runs in my family (on my dad’s side). My late
brother Al told me he used to be dragged to séances all the time when he was a boy. I didn’t even know that until about a year ago. But I guess this spiritualist bent is in the genes.

If you’d like to read the first chapter of GENTEEL SPIRITS, click here. If you’d like to see Pasadena, California, in Daisy’s day, click here.

Also (happy thought) you can get the first three books in the series (STRONG SPIRITS, FINE SPIRITS, HIGH SPIRITS and HUNGRY) for your Kindle or your iPod, so you can read ‘em in order. If you’re interested in doing so, click here.

By the way, the cover art for GENTEEL SPIRITS is probably my favorite cover of the . . . um . . . let me count them. Well, of the 50-odd books I’ve had published. 50 books. And I’m poorer than your average church mouse. There’s definitely something wrong with this picture!

However, there’s nothing wrong with this picture! It’s the cover art I just got for ANCIENT SPIRITS, Daisy’s 6th adventure, which will be published in January of 2012. I don’t like it quite as well as the cover for GENTEEL SPIRITS, mainly because the lady’s nose is a little . . . well, longish. Still, click here if you’d like to see it. I’m especially pleased with this cover, because I asked the Powers That Be to allow Daisy to be riding a camel on it, and they actually did it! How often does that happen? I can tell you: not often.

Please feel free to visit my web page at www.aliceduncan.net (where you can see a photograph of my grandson, Dai Oshita, who is an Army Medic, and who was just promoted to sergeant) or to write me at alice@aliceduncan.net

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Too Much Sex in Beyond the Quiet?


Since my novel, Beyond the Quiet, hit Amazon’s top bestsellers in Suspense, Kindle edition, I’ve had quite a few reviews. And I appreciate them. Some seem to really like the story. Others slam it as hard as they can, most due to the sex scenes. One reader even sent an email asking why I chose to be so detailed.

Beyond is the only one of my novels that includes sex scenes, so why did I write them? And why so detailed?

I’ve given it a lot of thought. I could delete them if I wished, but I’m reluctant to do so. And after further reflection, I’ve decided to let the novel stand as written.

What made me decide in favor of the sex? Am I a porno-loving woman? Did I merely want sensationalism?

I don’t think I’m either. I’m a mature, divorced woman who’s still discovering her own life. Lisa, my main character in Beyond, has, like me, has taken a journey to find her life, her ‘self’ and to follow her dreams.

But it’s taken her quite a while to do so, and even then, it was forced upon her after a series of traumatic events.

Isn’t that the way of most of us? Don’t we plod along day by day, following the rut we’ve carved out for ourselves? And doesn’t it take a major event for us to gather the courage to step out of it and try a new lifestyle?

I’m living a totally different life than the one I’d led for nearly most of adult life, one I thought I’d live until the end of my days. And I didn’t enter the new lifestyle by choice.

However, now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But as a new widow, Lisa was also forced into another lifestyle – and she was sinking fast. She also had another problem, a major one. Outwardly, she’d been cold, remote, forced in childhood to hide her emotions. And to survive in her marriage, she’d had to continue in that deception. As a result, she was heartbreakingly estranged from her only child, her daughter.

As the writer who wanted to tell her story, what could I do to help her connect again with her daughter? I decided she needed to first connect with her feelings – to recognize and acknowledge them instead of hiding them. Only then could she set them free.

How to do that?

First, I wanted her to learn to love freely, emotionally and uninhibitedly, and be loved in return. And in the process, I wanted her to learn about her own body, to learn that passion and sex are not vile, but expressions of love shown in its ultimate form.

So I decided to have Lisa experience it in as much detail as I could provide.

Then the question was, how to write it for the readers? I could say she had sex and it was glorious, and she was awakened to every sensation imaginable.

But does that show the reader Lisa’s awakening?

And later, if I write in another intimate scene that Lisa finally emerges from her constricting emotional cocoon to freely show love to her partner, would that show how she finally gloried in her own body? I chose to write it out.

Then, by emerging from her repressed emotional cocoon, she could begin to repair the damage she’d done to her daughter. Finally she could show her all the love she’d always felt but didn’t know how to express.

There will still be readers who’ll disagree with me, and that’s understandable. I don’t agree with every writer, every story.

But this was my way of telling Lisa’s story. I hope you like it, but if you don’t, I hope I at least provided some entertainment and allowed you a look into another woman’s life.

And while the main characters in my new mystery/thriller, With Full Malice, also experience emotional problems, there is no sex – at least no detailed sex.

Beyond the Quiet:

Ten Times Guilty:

With Full Malice – my new mystery/thriller novel to be released in 2012:

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