December 5, 2011

Mystery We Write Winter 2011 Blog Tour Presents Alice Duncan

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//

The most difficult thing for me to do when I began writing actual, real live books, was to string a coherent story together that would fill 400 or so manuscript pages. Try it someday, if you don’t believe me. It’s hard! Maybe it’s easier for some folks than others, but I’m kind of a get-to-the-point kind of person, and it’s more in my nature to say something like, “William Kent was murdered on September 6, 1924, and Marilyn Phillips Kent did the dirty deed with a hatchet
in the library” than to go on for pages and pages. Heck, that doesn’t even fill up a paragraph.

Therefore, when I finally settled down to write books, after decades of rearing children and working horrible jobs (well, I was still working a horrible job, but at least my daughters were grown), it was difficult to put enough twists and turns into a plot to fill a book. I’m rather plot-challenged to begin with, so this deficiency on my part doesn’t help much.

In the first book I wrote from beginning to end, I found myself putting in chapters of history, which didn’t move the story forward one teeny bit. I’m not honestly sure what tipped the scales and allowed me to write a full-length novel, although I think writing synopses, laying out my entire plot ahead of time, helped. A lot.

Mind you, I veer from my synopses when I feel the need, but at least with a synopsis, I have the basis for a full-length story. Gotta have those plot points, you know? Recently, I added a second body for my heroine to stumble over, since I felt the book needed another murder, but I still had the basic plot written for me to follow. More or less. I mean, every now and then a character will take off on his/her own, you know? But I do try to keep them in hand. After all, it’s my name on the book. They’re my puppets, and they do what I tell them to do.

Don’t tell them I said that, okay?

I’ve had three books published this year, so I have three links to the books:

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):

Thanks for stopping by, Alice!  Folks, come back tomorrow for another terrific author’s blog to check out and maybe win a book.  All the authors on this tour are picking people who comment on their blogs, so please comment!

Cheers, all, Beth




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19 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. Interesting post, Alice. I know what you mean about get-to-the-point, and for me sometimes it’s hard balancing that with enjoying-the-journey. Your comments were right-on. I envy your synopsis ability, hard thing for me. Have a good editor who helped me a lot regarding sussing out key elements.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post.



  2. Thanks for having me on your blog today, Beth. And Madeline, my synopses sometimes consist of *really* bare-bones story lines.


  3. I just read your bio at, Alice. Fascinating, all of it. I especially loved this line:
    “Publishing’s a brutal business, but I’ve got more persistence than brains so the publishing gods haven’t killed me yet, although they seem to be trying awfully darned hard, curse them.” LOL, sounds so familiar! Do you ever get the feeling all of us are living in some kind of alternate universe, where we all think, “I wrote this book so of course that makes me rich and famous, right?” Keep up the good writing! As for me, I’m trying to decide which of your books I want to read first.


  4. Alice, you would have been a good journalist with your bare bones ability to get to the heart of the story, but I’m glad you were determined to turn out such good novels.


  5. Oh, yeah, Beth. I think that sort of thing all the time! Thanks, Jean. Maybe so, although I’ve never tried it.


  6. Thanks, Alice, sometimes don’t you wonder why we thought writing was better than any of the other jobs we have had along the way? And then the computer calls.


  7. Alice, I loved learning how you write your books. Three books in a year is mind-boggling to me. I stand at attention!


  8. I admire you if you can write a synopsis anytime, much less first. You must have read Beth’s article on it. Since I’m floundering on my WIP, maybe I’ll go back and see if I can write one. At this point, it could only help!

    You write about a time period I don’t know much about, so I’ll have to check them out. They sound interesting.


  9. Alice, I know I speak for a lot of your fans when I say I’m glad you got the hang of filling pages with words. Keep those wonderful books coming.


  10. I can’t write a synopsis after I’ve finished a book, much less before. How much would you charge to write one for me?


  11. I think you make an important point: too many historical writers get lost in the romance of the history. They end up info dumping which is the sign of an amateur.


  12. Ellis, the thing I do is start at the beginning, think of all the things that might happen that will lead to a conclusion, write it down, and call it a synopsis. Half the time, I still end up with a short book, but there you go…


  13. Thanks, Earl.

    Mike! I don’t believe that for a minute. Anyhow, don’t you have to write a synopsis in order to submit a proposal? They’re no darned fun, no matter when you do them; that’s for sure.

    Thanks, Jacquie. I learned the hard way, but I hope I learned!


  14. Great post Alice. I’m in awe of anyone who knows the journey or at least part of it before they start. I would like to be that organized, but I’m not! Thanks for the thoughts!
    W.S. Gager on Writing


  15. Oh, I so hear you, Alice. When I began I was exactly the same. It took some time before I realized it’s showing the character in the moment as the story evolves that makes a story. Readers need to experience certain events as the main character does, and me being me, I just want to shout, “Get on with it”.

    I had to learn to savor the journey!


  16. This was not only very funny, it was exactly what I needed.


  17. Thanks, everyone! Glad you enjoyed it, Brenda! Not so sure I did, but it all worked out in the end 🙂


  18. Thanks so much for all the great comments, folks. I’ve got names entered in my list for winning one of my three books, so come back, the tour still has several more days to go.


  19. Loved your post and the “herd of wild dachshunds” – since I raise foster kittens for the local shelter, I can relate. I’m a reader, not a writer, so I never thought much before about how books are actually “created”, so I really enjoyed the information. Keep those books coming!


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