Friday, December 2, 2011

Alice Duncan: my MYSTERY WE WRITE guest blogger today

BOOK GIVEAWAY! Alice will be giving away a copy of her one of her books (either print or Kindle version) to a lucky commenter during this blog tour.
Award-winning author Alice Duncan lives with a herd of wild dachshunds (enriched from time to time with fosterees from New Mexico Dachshund Rescue) in Roswell, New Mexico. She's not a UFO enthusiast; she's in Roswell because her mother's family settled there fifty years before the aliens crashed. Alice no longer longs to return to California, although she still misses the food, not to mention her children, one of whom is there and the other of whom is in Nevada. Alice would love to hear from you at And be sure to visit her Web site at http//

Thanks for hosting (hostessing?) me on your blog today, Jinx!

You asked that those of us participating in this Mystery We Write Tour to tell folks a little about ourselves, our writing styles, and our books.

The first part of that equation is really easy. My life is totally boring, I’m old, arthritic, and my back hurts. Well . . . maybe it hasn’t always been thus. I spent the first part of my adult life rearing my two lovely daughters, Anni and Robin, in Pasadena, California. I was a single parent, so all I did was deal with kids, take them to child care, go to work, do my job, pick up my kids, go home, cook dinner, help with homework and read. Oh, yeah, and sleep. We never got goodies like child support or anything, so we didn’t live large.

After my kids grew up, and after my poor body began falling apart (which put the kibosh on an interesting, if perhaps a trifle out-in-left-field folk-dancing-and-singing career) I started doing the only thing I’d ever wanted to do, which was write books. Naturally, I still had a job, so I began sneaking bits and pieces of writing in between work tasks. I wrote a whole bunch of books that way. In 1993 or thereabouts, I took a “writing for publication” class at San Marino High School on Tuesday nights, where our delightful teacher, Meredith Brucker, taught us how to put together a book proposal (you know: cover letter, synopsis, first three chapters). So I did that, also in between tasks at work. I became quite skillful at flipping on my screen saver whenever anybody walked past my desk.

Anyhow, I tried to get an agent interested in my work, failed, decided to heck with it, and sent out seven proposals to seven different publishers. Then, on a Monday in January, 1994, an editor from Harper Collins called and asked if the book (ONE BRIGHT MORNING) was finished. I said yes, and she told me to send the complete manuscript. I remember the day well, because we had a huge earthquake that morning (the Northridge Quake, if anyone’s interested). My boss was in Boston, and when he called to check in, I told him that plaster was falling from the ceiling tiles and we kept having aftershocks. Mind you, that was true, but my purpose in talking up the quake was so he’d let me go home and I could get my manuscript printed out and on its way (Fed Ex, naturally) to Harper. He did, bless him. The editor called me on Friday of that very week and told me Harper wanted to buy my book. Squeee! I was so very happy. I believed I was on my way to a real, genuine, lucrative writing career.


But that’s okay. After Harper bought my book, I received six rejections on the same story (which, by God, won the HOLT Medallion for Best First Book) from the other publishers to which I sent it. I still enjoy writing. And I continue to write in snatches. Honestly, if I were given twenty-four hours to write something, I’d still write in a blind fury for forty-five minutes or so, and that would be it for the day. By that time the brain is drained.

As for my writing style, people tell me I write like I talk. Since we’re not chatting at the moment, I can’t exactly prove that, but I do currently three first-person historical cozy mystery series ongoing, so if you’re interested in how I talk, please feel free to read any of my books! By the way, I hadn’t planned to have three first-person historical cozy mystery series being published at the same time, but things in publishing have a way of working out oddly. Trust me on this.

Oh, and did I mention that I rescue dachshunds? Well, I do. There’s something rather like a wiener-magnet within me that attracts dachshunds. It’s a curse, and I can’t help it. I swear to heaven, I can be standing still, doing absolutely nothing, and somebody will thrust an orphaned dachshund into my arms. Fortunately for me, these days I’m associated with New Mexico Dachshund Rescue, so I don’t have to keep all of those dachshunds forever. We find lovely forever homes for the dogs who come into our foster care. Thank God, I might add.

Please check out my books! Here’s a short biography and links to the books published this year (one in each series. Sigh):

·         PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL (featuring Annabelle Blue, and set in Roswell, NM, in 1923):
·         FALLEN ANGELS (featuring Mercedes Louise Allcutt, and set in Los Angeles, CA, in 1926):
·         GENTEEL SPIRITS (featuring Daisy Gumm Majesty, and set in Pasadena, CA, in 1922):


Alice Duncan said...

Thanks for hosting me today, Jinx!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

You have a colorful background, Alice. It's great that you do dog rescue work.

SandyG265 said...

I'm glad that you found a publisher.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I loved your post, Alice. It has shades of deja vu in it for me. Single mothers have to struggle to survive and writing really helps to relieve the angst.

Alice Duncan said...

Thanks, Jacquie, Sandy and Jean! I'm glad I found a publisher, too, Sandy :-)

And yeah, Jean. Working mothers have a very hard time of it. Sometimes I look back and wonder how I survived. And my kids survived, too, which is perhaps even more astonishing!

M.M. Gornell said...

Great post, Alice. And you know you've won my heart rescuing dogs!


Jackie King said...

Alice, I loved your post. And I'm sure your life isn't boring. I'll bet you live inside your imagination, like me, and do all sorts of fun things from your favorite and very comfy chair.

Alice Duncan said...

Thanks, guys. And Madeline, if you ever need a wiener dog, just let me know :-)

WS Gager said...

How interesting that you received "the call" on the day of an earthquake. Talk about timing!
W.S. Gager on Writing

jennymilch said...

Alice, you have had a very interesting journey, and you clearly give back--first to your girls, now to the dachsunds (I love that breed--I think I've told you that :) I hope Harper calls again, or even if not, that 45 minutes of fueled writing gives you many books and joy.

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