Month: April 2016

Women Love Mysteries

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Murder mysteries are leading the way in print and television entertainment, so surveys  show.  According to a survey conducted by Sisters in  Crime, an organization  of women mystery and crime writers, women aged  50 and over are reading and watching the most.

Another survey tells us that Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple have led the list of sleuths for decades.  Today their competition is a parade of women on television whose backgrounds spring from a bakery, a garage, a flower shop and a bookstore all promoted by Hallmark. The aspect of this that interests me is “how do these ladies operate their businesses while they are running around solving crimes?” Once I interviewed a lady who had started a bakery and she was working day and night producing her cakes and pies and cookies and then seeking out commissions for  wedding cakes on the side.  So, I am just assuming that these lady sleuths have help minding the store and making a living out of it.

A friend of mine, a mystery writer named Millie Mack, tells me that there are two types of mysteries: the crime setting and the cozy mystery.  The crime story gets messy  with police facts, etc. and the cozy mystery just tells you there has been a murder and skips over the grizzly parts.

Something that Millie Mack has done that brings attention to her books, since she is not on TV yet, is write a mystery blog that you might enjoy.. It offers crossword type puzzles and other information about the classic mystery sleuths, etc.  Give her blog a try. It is   She also is the author of a new mystery, her third, called “Take a Byte Out of Murder.” via Amazon.

I never quite got the hang of writing mysteries or romances so that is probably why I have been writing children’s stuff for years.  This is by the way the first birthday of my last book “Spirit Dog” available on Amazon. Check it out!.





Turn Signals

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Do you have a pet peeve?  Mine is people who drive but do not use their turn signals. I always thought that using the turn indicators on your car was to tell other drivers what you were going to do.  Apparently everyone does not think that!

Using a turn indicator is a relatively simple tool to use. Just flip it up or down and the signal gives you a left or right.  For some people, however, that may be like my learning to text.  It is difficult to comprehend.

I like to hear voices when someone is speaking.  Listening has become something of a pass time with me.  But no one seems to be talking anymore, even to one’s self.  One place where I have to listen very carefully is to the BBC programs.  Often I do not catch every word because they are thick, slurred or pronounced the British way.  One catchy phrase that the British use is “walk around.”  We hardly ever hear an announcer here say “the Candidate or  President  walked around shaking hands.  We just observe it.

I often drive behind a truck that has a question painted on the back of the truck.  It asks “how am I doing?”   Do you ever take the time to call the number that is usually given?  One thing that most truck drivers do do is use their signals.

So now I have made a cycle and come back to my original thought.  That may be a signal to quit!















Spirit Dog Anniversary

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It hardly seems that a year has passed.  But today, I celebrated by going on Tweet.

Here’s the Tweet:  Celebrate the anniversary of “Spirit Dog” Read a  review on  Amazon. Just recently I sold a few “Spirits” at a meet the author night at a local historical society. Sold a couple of books.  Each author was asked to bring an appetizer for the buffet table. So no profit here.  But enjoyable.

• Frances Altman: Celebrate anniversary of “Spirit Dog” Read a review on Amazon.



A Spirit Dog Travels  the Texas Road

“Spirit Dog” was the name the Indians called Adolphus a dachshund that traveled the Texas Road to  Oklahoma Territory with Jeffery Martin and his family  Adventure begins at Fort Gibson when they  explore a riverboat where they discover a captive Cherokee Indian boy named Hawk. The threesome head for freedom only to be captured by fierce Osage Indians. Unlike the Indians’ wolf dogs, Adolphus is a strange new breed with a long,  low body, short legs and drooping ears that fascinates the Indians. He must be a spirit!  At the Osage village they are befriended by an Indian Princess called the Ancient One. An opportunity to escape comes at the annual salt boiling but now the boys hesitate leaving  an ailing Ancient One behind. As their plans to escape begin to evaporate she helps them find a solution and a way back home. Their adventure brings the boys and dog  closer together with their competitive spirits growing into admiration, and a new respect for living in America’s expanding West. Set against a background of history and folklore.  Grades 3-5.

Learn a Dog’s History

What do you know about a dog’s history?  Originally some dogs were breed to hunt, others to work helping herd cattle or sheep. Most dogs originated in Europe or Asia. When selecting a dog as a pet, its  history should be considered.  For instance does it love to hunt? Or run? Originally many  dogs were hunters—burrowing after badgers or moles. Others such as a Norwegian Elkhound love to run and run and run chasing an elk or deer for miles without tiring.  The author of “Spirit Dog” grew up with dachshunds and later raised and showed Norwegian Elkhounds.

She often wondered what people who saw a dachshund for the very first time would think. Then when she moved to Oklahoma she began to think about how the Indians that lived there would think when they first saw a dachshund. A dog with such short legs, long nose and flopping ears was very different from the wolf-like dogs that lived in the Oklahoma Territory. It was understandable that they would think this was a Spirit!



Who Reads Books?

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Millions of books are being written every year.  They are published by traditional presses usually through an agent, small presses where you don’t need an agent, presses that help you publish your book and then there are writers like me who do it yourself.  Like me.  I am called an indie author and publish through Create Space a division of Amazon.

Whenever I get together with other authors, I ask how they are published.  Most are indie writers. Some with small presses.  Now and then one has a traditional, medium sized press.

So who reads books?  According to a Pew Survey taken in October 2015, 27% of adults said they had not read a single book in the last year. That equates to 55 million adults. On an average American adults read 12 books per year. If you read 2-3 pages a day you’d read four books a year, says Pew. I belong to a library book club and I  read or scan one book a month to report about.

With those interesting facts in mind, I wonder  why I continue to write.  An author acquaintance recently mentioned to me that she writes as it gives her “artistic satisfaction.”  I feel that is as satisfying an explanation as any.  And to a great extent I feel she is correct.  Generally no one is making a great deal of money. More like pocket change and the fun of meeting other writers, and socializing.

I watch the BBC series “As Time Goes By” in which Lionel wrote a book about his earlier  years in Kenya.  He goes on a promotional tour and makes the rounds of bookstores doing signings, etc.  At one point in a conversation he reveals that he has made $32 pounds or dollars over the past  year.

Other things to consider today when you publish a book in the traditional way, is that the publisher takes a percentage, and if you are so lucky as to have an agent, she takes a percentage and so you still end up with just pocket money.  Like myself, my acquaintance has had a couple of publishers go out of business because they could not make a go of publishing and selling books.  Mine, T.S. Denison, fell prey to the second Bush administration when they cut funds to school and public libraries.  That was Reggie the Goat. which would you believe still is available to purchase in hard washable cover from Amazon.  In some way, that sounds like a vicious cycle.  Check it out on Amazon.  .

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