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Serendipity Road

April 29, 2020

Most of the time I believe destiny is a figment of other people’s imaginations, but there may be something to the idea of serendipity.

Serendipity Rd graphicI’d walked along the road every morning for years and had found any number of treasures on the sidewalk — notes, receipts, deposit tickets, homework, jury summons, even a job. But I’d never before found money that might be traceable to its owner, with a little bit of detective work.

Was it destiny? Or serendipity?

Read $77 on Serendipity Road in the Essays section here.

Under the Moon Shot

July 16, 2019

Buzz Aldrin and the U.S. Flag on the MoonEvery time the topic of the first moon landing arises, I go back — even if it’s only momentarily — to a place I’d rather forget. Where was I when the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon? In the little suburban subdivision ranch house of a friend, and I use that term very loosely.

On March 19, St. Joseph’s Day, of my senior year in high school, I was in our subdivision park with a neighbor. That was when I saw him — an adorable short, black-and-white haired hippie babe, flying a kite. I was immediately smitten.

Read on in the Essays section.

A Short Publishing Saga

December 27, 2017

Ah, publishing. What a crazy business.

cover imageMy novel was published in April 2016, and it’s already going out of print. Through no fault of my own. My small Missouri publisher is getting out of the business, as of Dec. 31. I expected to have until the end of the contract (in April) to arrange a new publishing avenue, but the publisher decided to speed things up. So I’ve not had time to make the switch (because I’ve been busy making a living).

Not that there are many options. Publishers don’t want to take on a previously published book unless it has mega sales figures, or so a friend who’s an agent (not mine) tells me. My book has specialized appeal — in the 21st century, a book set in the classical music world isn’t going to be a blockbuster — and needs time to build an audience by word of mouth (or tweet or click).

This I always knew. And I’m not ready to leave it to languish in the out-of-print graveyard of selected libraries and the trunk of my car. I had a story to tell. I worked hard on it, developing characters and daily schedules for them, researching pieces of music (“meticulously researched,” said a reviewer I don’t know) and obsessively plotting a timeline. My agent friend suggested this craft of writing might be satisfying in itself, with or without publication. But I already know the story. Telling it to others requires publishing.

So I want to keep it available in print and e-book form for that specialized audience to discover. That probably means going the route of the publishing arm of a well-known online bookseller sometime in the next couple of months. Not my first choice, but, as noted, the options are limited.

Through Dec. 31 (2017), the first edition of “The Not-Ready-for-Juilliard Players” is still available for purchase from Amazon, City Music or The BookHouse in Maplewood, MO. Check my Book Guide page for updates.

And, of course, in the interim, there’s always the trunk of my car.

Beautiful music and flowers in the Gateway City

September 1, 2017

Although my blog posts are few and far between, I often add pages featuring essays,  reprints of my published articles, and other goodies.

Some recent additions spotlight two long-running programs in St. Louis, both celebrating big anniversaries this year.

Cathedral cutThe Cathedral Concerts series is celebrating its 25th year of offering beautiful music in a uniquely beautiful venue, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. Nearly every surface in the Cathedral (still called the “new” Cathedral by the locals.) is covered with handmade mosaics, applied over a 62-year period by one family of artisans. But that’s just part of the backstory, something that contributes to the arresting acoustics of the space. The season just started — check it out in Great Music in a Great Space under the Nonfiction tab.

large petalMeanwhile, a band of dedicated green-thumbed volunteers at Brightside St. Louis are celebrating 35 years of keeping St. Louis’ streetsides and gardens blooming and clean. Most St. Louisans have seen Brightside’s roadside daffodils in the spring but maybe didn’t know how they got there. Read that backstory in BRIGHTSIDE St. Louis under the Nonfiction tab.

Thanks to the West End Word for allowing me to reprint these articles and especially to Ursula Ruhl for letting me reprint her fabulous photos here.

Last call for 99-cent sale

May 7, 2017

There’s just a few more hours to get ‘The Not-Ready-for-Juilliard Players’ Kindle edition for a buck.

The sale ends at 11:59 p.m. CDT tonight.

But you can still enter the Goodreads giveaway contest for a free copy of the paperback through May 12.

Indy Bookstore Day, Mystery Week, Ebook sale …

April 27, 2017

In the shameless self-promotion department, “The Not-Ready-for-Juilliard Players” will be in a minor spotlight over the next couple weeks.

cover imageI’ll be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 29 with a booksigning at The Book House, 7352 Manchester Road in Maplewood (Missouri), from 1 to 3 p.m. Several other local authors will be signing, too, and the store has other fun, bookish events scheduled throughout the day. Come and support a local bookstore and local authors!

On Amazon, I’ll be celebrating Mystery Week May 1–7 with a 99-cent Kindle sale of “The Not-Ready-for-Juilliard Players” e-book.

Wrapping up Mystery Week at Goodreads, I’m sponsoring a giveaway of one print copy of the book. Sign up from May 4-12, and if you win, you’ll get a signed copy delivered to your mailbox. Only Goodreads members can enter (but it’s easy and free to join).

Happy reading!

The Crew — Dec. 1, 1943

November 27, 2016

By Eileen P. Duggan

On Dec. 1, 1943, my father didn’t die. But the rest of his B-17 bomber crew did. And he spent the rest of his life trying to fulfill the purpose for which he was spared.


B-17 bomber A/C 229794, a.k.a. Mizpah II, in flight

The crew of Mizpah II, officially aircraft No. 229794, of the 322nd Bomb Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group (known as the Ragged Irregulars), 8th Air Force, was based in Bassingbourne, England, during World War II. 2nd Lt. Les Duggan Jr., my dad, was the co-pilot of the crew with whom he had trained in Washington state and Oregon. As the end of 1943 drew near, the 322nd was training Lt. Harry Hollinger to pilot his own crew. His trial run would be a combat mission to Germany with Mizpah II and other aircraft. On Dec. 1, Lt. Duggan sat out so Hollinger could fly.


Lt. Lester W. Duggan Jr.

The mission target was Leverkusen, Germany, but over Vossenack, the formation of bombers and fighters met enemy fire. The Mizpah II was one of five planes that were lost that day at Vossenack, three of them with the 322nd Squadron.

It was the thick of WWII, and the Western Allies were making bombing runs over Germany, in efforts to put an end to the Nazi regime’s numerous grave misdeeds. On Dec. 1, 1943, the 91st Bomb Group sent three squadrons including 28 aircraft to assist in a bombing raid of a chemical works plant at Leverkusen, then were diverted because of cloud cover to a secondary target at Solingen. The Mizpah II was one of those bombers. Although the crew referred to their plane as Mizpah II, in honor of a previous Mizpah that ditched at Stuttgart three months earlier, the 91st labeled it as a no-name B-17G, serial No. 229794. The plane was piloted that day by Leonard (Andy) Anderson and trainee co-pilot Hollinger.

Also on the mission was the Wheel ’N Deal, co-piloted by 2nd Lt. Robert Dickson, who happened to be Hollinger’s best friend. Incidentally, Dickson also was substitute pilot flying with a crew not usually his own. While forming up over England, Dickson’s and Hollinger’s planes were mixed up in the planned formation, when another bomber had to abort from the mission.

When they neared the target, flying at about 26,000 feet, the American B-17 bombers attracted 40 to 50 German Luftwaffe Focke-Wulfs on their tail. For about 20 minutes from 1140 and 1200 hours, the Flying Fortresses had no fighter escort. During this period,

For the rest of the story, see the Essays section at right.

Joining a local author pack

November 3, 2016

cover imageLater this month, I’ll be joining dozens of other St. Louis area writers at an annual Local Author Open House sponsored by the St. Charles City/County Library District to support local authors and provide readers with an opportunity for some early Christmas shopping for books for both children and adults.

I’ll be signing and selling copies of “The Not-Ready-for-Juilliard Players” from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17. The event will take place at the Spencer Road Branch Library, 427 Spencer Road,
 St. Peters, MO 63376. Entry is free, but registration is encouraged for a refreshment count: or call (636) 441-0522.

If you go, please stop by my table as you shop for holiday gifts that make a lasting impression — no batteries needed. Send friends, too!

Hope to see you there!



“U. City’s Bravest and Kindest” on sale

July 2, 2016

helmet008 copyMy long-form feature article, “U. City’s Bravest and Kindest,” is 100 percent off through the month of July on Smashwords during the 2016 Summer Sale.

Smashwords is a distributor of independent eBooks, providing readers an opportunity to discover new voices in all categories and genres of the written word.

“U. City’s Bravest and Kindest” tells the true story of the University City Fire Department’s 50-year friendship with an elderly developmentally challenged newspaper vendor. The depth of devotion of the firefighters to George inspired the community after George was stabbed early one morning in the U. City Loop.

Visit and choose the sale coupon code at checkout.

For a preview, see this page.

The Not-Ready-for-Juilliard Players is here

April 19, 2016

My novel is now available in paperback from the Rocking Horse Publishing website and St. Louis area bookstores The Book House and Left Bank Books. Left Bank will ship almost anywhere for 99 cents. The Kindle e-book and paperback are available at Amazon.

The story follows four music majors at a community college, where a manipulative professor tries to spin average students into late-blooming Juilliard-bound prodigies.

Lynnéa, Erin, Holly and Austin form close friendships despite the fact that two of them study piano with the incompetent and predatory Professor Elbert Wayne Dickson, despised by the other two. When the professor is murdered years later, the friends reunite at the cemetery, meet the detective investigating the case and finally learn the truth about what really happened all those years ago.

For more about the story and the characters, see this page under the Fiction menu.

Thanks to Gerry Love for the fabulous back cover photo, taken at the Steinway Piano Gallery in Maryland Heights, courtesy of Pat Sonnett and Judy Malzone at Steinway.

I will be signing books and talking about the connection between music and writing from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 28 at the Maplewood (Missouri) Public Library, 7550 Lohmeyer Ave. (next to the high school and behind the pool), 63143.

The Not-Ready-for-Juilliard Players now available in e-book

March 30, 2016

cover imageThe Kindle edition of The Not-Ready-for-Juilliard Players is now available. For those of you (like me) who prefer paper, the print book is on the way, hopefully to be available in local bookstores such as Left Bank Books and The Book House. More details and other locations to follow.

New St. Louis Symphony CEO settles in, aims to draw in a wider audience

October 21, 2015
Marie-Hélène Bernard Photo by Ursula Ruhl

Marie-Hélène Bernard
Photo by Ursula Ruhl

Marie-Hélène Bernard officially took over as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s president and chief executive officer on July 1, but already she’s immersed herself in the St. Louis community.

Since she arrived, she’s absorbed an impressive amount of information about the St. Louis area, the local institutions, the people and the orchestra itself with lightning speed — the tempo at which she talks.

Read the whole story, an expanded version of the original recently published in the West End Word, here.

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***The new stuff on Versatiliosity isn’t always on the front page. Check out these other recent offerings from the sidebar:

Terrell Carter called as Webster Groves Baptist’s first African-American pastor

Terrell Carter, the new pastor of Webster Groves Baptist Church, is a true Renaissance man. He’s a painter, carpenter, construction manager, community activist, former police officer, blog writer and the author of three books published in the past year. And, of course, a pastor with three related degrees.

Read the rest here.

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Thought-provoking Slices of St. Louis History from Julius Hunter: New book tells the story of Priscilla & Babe

Author and broadcaster Julius Hunter has long been enthralled with telling the history of St. Louis, especially the hidden details of the city’s untold stories. Now he’s turned his attention to two former slaves who became millionaire madams in St. Louis’ red light district in the Victorian age.

Read the rest here.

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