Gone Writing

Phyllis Entis


Reconstructing history

I am researching a book on the pet food industry.

This project is a true labor of love, allowing me to indulge in two of my passions at once: my love of animals, and my love of mysteries. For this is what research amounts to. Solving a series of mysteries.

I thought I’d share a few fun facts today on the history of pet food.

1876_ad_for_Spratts_Patent_Meat_Fibrine_Dog_Cakes-600x558James Spratt introduced the Spratt Patent Meat Fibrine Dog Cake in 1860. An electrician and inventor (of a lightning rod design), he got the idea for the dog cake when he observed sailors tossing leftover hardtack to packs of dogs on the Liverpool docks in England.

Ken-L-Ration, introduced in 1923, was the first canned dog food. It was soon followed by Ken-L Biskit, a dry dog food.

Maltoid_milk-boneThe first bone-shaped dog biscuit was introduced in the United States by the F.H. Bennett Biscuit Company in 1907. The Maltoid-Milk Bone, as it was then called, dominated the market for some fifteen years. The company was taken over by Nabisco in 1931.

The US pet food market was expected to hit $27 billion in 2018.

Approximately 68% of US households own at least one pet (as of 2017/2018), up from 56% ten years ago.

Finally, our household is among the 68%, and here’s the proof!




Celebrating Robert Frost

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost

One of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets is now in the public domain. Celebrating by sharing the poem on New Year’s Day.

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.


Celebrating Amy Reade’s new release – The Worst Noel

I am pleased to welcome Amy Reade for a return visit to Gone Writing.

amy-m-reade.jpgAmy M. Reade is a cook, chauffeur, household CEO, doctor, laundress, maid, psychiatrist, warden, seer, teacher, and pet whisperer. In other words, a wife, mother, community volunteer, and recovering attorney. 

She’s also a writer. She is the author of The Worst Noel, The Malice Series (The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross), and three standalone books, Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade. She lives in southern New Jersey, but loves to travel. Her favorite places to visit are Scotland and Hawaii and when she can’t travel she loves to read books set in far-flung locations.

Amy is celebrating the release today of her new cozy mystery, and she was kind enough to share an excerpt with us.



Christmas is supposed to be a time of peace, love, and joy, but for Lilly Carlsen, this Christmas is murder.

As a single mom, small business owner, and president of the local Chamber of Commerce, the last thing she needs is to find a dead body on the floor of her jewelry shop on the busiest shopping day of the year. And as if that isn’t enough, Lilly has to deal with a deadbeat ex-husband, a mother with declining mental health, and two teenagers.

But when a second body turns up, Lilly finds herself squarely in the crosshairs of suspicion. Can she figure out who killed the victims before she becomes one herself? And will her family’s Christmas be merry…or scary?


Lilly awoke hours before dawn to the sound of her alarm clock going off. She flung her hand in the general direction of the nightstand to find the snooze button and stop the incessant ringing, but only succeeded in knocking the clock to the floor.

“Ugh,” she groaned. She leaned over the side of the bed and clawed the floor, trying to reach the clock. When she found it, she turned it off and sat up groggily, wiping sleep from her eyes and yawning. Barney, the family’s Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, lifted his shaggy, brindle-hued head and stretched across the foot of the bed.

“I hate Black Friday,” she said to Barney. The biggest shopping day of the year brought a level of anxiety that gave her nightmares the other three hundred sixty-four days. She peered into the bathroom mirror before heading downstairs. Her brown hair was tangled from sleep and her eyes, normally bright hazel, were hooded and sported bags.

She needed coffee and lots of it. She went downstairs to find that the kids had left the kitchen light on all night again.”Good,” she muttered to herself. “I was hoping to give the electric company a nice fat check for Christmas.” She switched off all the lights but one and started the coffeemaker. Before long the kitchen was filled with the aroma of ground Arabica beans and Lilly’s senses started coming alive.

After showering, dressing, and grabbing a quick breakfast, Lilly poured herself a travel mug of coffee and slipped out the side door without making a sound. Normally Barney followed her downstairs for breakfast, but it was too early for him.

The car didn’t even have time to warm up during the short drive to Juniper Junction Jewels. Lilly drove along Main Street, smiling at the Christmas lights that hung from the shop fronts and the street lamps. She loved this festive time of year. And since this was Colorado, there were several inches of freshly-fallen snow on the ground to make the lights seem even prettier. At the end of the block, she swung her car around the back of the row of shops and pulled into one of the parking spots allocated for her jewelry store. Each store got two parking spots so employees wouldn’t have to go searching for spots when Main Street got really busy, as was often the case in the upscale Rocky Mountain resort town.

It was so early the plows hadn’t even been out yet, so Lilly stepped carefully when she got out of the car. Shifting her shoulder bag from one arm to the other and holding her coffee, she reached for the doorknob at the back of the shop.

It was unlocked.

Lilly’s stomach lurched; her body stiffened. This was a shop owner’s worst nightmare, made even more horrible when the shop sold precious stones, expensive gems, and custom jewelry. Lilly turned the knob slowly and pushed the door open, peering around it to make sure there was no one waiting for her in the back room.

She didn’t see anyone, so she closed the door softly behind her and set her bag and coffee down on her desk. She had been the last one to leave Wednesday afternoon and the shop had been closed for Thanksgiving Day; she shuddered to think that the shop had been unlocked for thirty-six hours. She wracked her brain trying to remember locking the door behind her on Wednesday, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t remember setting the alarm, either, but that obviously hadn’t gone off because the alarm company had her home number and her cell number.

Quickly walking over to the vault where she kept her inventory when the store was closed, she stopped short when she saw that the door to the vault was slightly ajar. She put out one finger to push the door open a bit farther; wave after wave of nausea swept over her when she saw that one of the sliding shelves that held the jewelry had been moved. She stepped into the vault and pulled the shelf out a bit further–there was a necklace missing.

A pearl necklace. She frantically pulled out all the other shelves in turn, not daring to breathe until she satisfied herself that nothing else had been taken. She backed out of the vault and strode to her desk, where she leafed quickly through the papers littering the top. Nothing else seemed to be missing.

She pushed open the sliding barn door that led to the interior of the shop.

Lilly prided herself on making Juniper Junction Jewels a homey, rustic place that looked like someone’s living room. As such, the lighting inside the store was provided mostly by lamps set strategically around the shop rather than cold, sterile fluorescent lights.

She turned on the lamp closest to the office. She didn’t notice the body lying on the floor behind one of the glass cases until she tripped over it.


You can connect with Author Amy M. Reade on her website, by following her Amazon Author Page and on the following social media sites:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor

Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/AmyMReadesGothicFictionFans

Twitter: www.twitter.com/readeandwrite

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/amreade

Instagram: www.instagram.com/amymreade

Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8189243.Amy_M_Reade


“They also serve who only stand and wait”

imagesOn this Remembrance Day, my thoughts are with the parents, grandparents, wives, sisters and sweethearts of those who fought for our freedom in both World Wars.


Left to right: Marvin Lutsky (Dad’s youngest brother, too young to enlist), Jacob Lutsky, Esther Lutsky, Gertrude Quint (to become Gertrude Lutsky in 1946)



Uncle Joe Quint (Mom’s brother) with my Aunt Lilian



Left to right: Aunt Lilian Quint, Mary Quint (my grandmother) Gertrude Quint (Mom), Jack Quint (my grandfather), Aunt Maizie Quint



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Book Review: The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum

“Regulation is bad for business.”

It’s an all-too-common refrain, but not exclusively a modern one.

Most people, when asked what they know about the origin of the US Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, are likely to respond with either a shrug or a blank stare. A few may credit Upton Sinclair’s exposé of the horrendous practices in Chicago slaughterhouses, as described in his novel, The Jungle. Others may give credit to President Theodore Roosevelt, whose disgust at the food supplied to his troops in Cuba during the Spanish American War impelled him to support the campaign for safer food.

It would be a rare person, indeed, who would recognize the name of Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley. Yet, without Dr. Wiley’s persistence, the first Pure Food and Drug Act might never have been signed into law.

Before the turn of the 20th century, food adulteration was rife, and food labeling non-existent. Formaldehyde and other harsh chemicals were used to extend the shelf life of perishable commodities, while dyes derived from coal tar were incorporated into everything from candy to peas. Unregulated, free enterprise prevailed. Embalmed beef, swill milk, and fake food were the order of the day.

In 1882, Dr. Harvey Wiley joined the US Department of Agriculture as Chief Chemist, a position he would hold for 30 years. The first 24 years of his stewardship were devoted to promoting the passage of a safe food law. The remaining six years were consumed with protecting the act from emasculation.

The Poison Squadis the story of Dr. Wiley’s lifelong crusade for safe food in the face of opposition from large swaths of the chemicals, dyes, and food processing industries. Author Deborah Blum guides the reader through a complex and compelling saga with skill, and with a clear mastery of the subject matter. Consumers and legislators alike can learn from Blum’s portrayal of Dr. Wiley’s legacy.

About the Author
Deborah Blum is director of the Knight School Journalism Program at MIT and publisher of Undarkmagazine (undark.org). In 1992, she won the Pulitzer Prize for a series on primate research, which she turned into a book, The Monkey Wars. Her other books include The Poisoner’s Handbook, Ghost Hunters, Love at Goon Park, and Sex on the Brain. She has written for publications including the New York Times, Wired, Time, Discover, Mother Jones, the Guardian, and the Boston Globe. Blum is a past president of the National Association of Science Writers, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a lifetime associate of the National Academy of Sciences.

Author Spotlight

Today, the Gone Writing spotlight is shining on my new release, courtesy of Vicki Mejia-Gewe of FanGirlNation

TGDC audiobook final cover

The Gold Dragon Caper, audiobook edition

Phyllis Entis is the author of the Damien Dickens Mysteries series, which includes The Green Pearl Caper, The White Russian Caper, The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper and The Gold Dragon Caper. Her debut novel, The Green Pearl Caper, was a Library Journal SELF-e Selection. Phyllis is a free-lance writer and retired food safety microbiologist with degrees from McGill University and the University of Toronto. In 2007, ASM Press published her non-fiction book, Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives.

Read more…




Announcing a new arrival

The Gold Dragon Roars

The Dragon has been soaring, and now it’s roaring.

Less than five months after its release in paperback and ebook formats, The Gold Dragon Caper is now available in an audiobook edition.

I was thrilled to collaborate once again with Tom Lennon, the original voice of Damien Dickens, in the production of the fourth audiobook in the Damien Dickens Mysteries series. This is the third time Tom and I have worked together, and I enjoyed renewing our collaboration.

And, speaking of collaboration, a tip of the hat to my talented cousin, Hilary Quint, for her assistance in the design of the audiobook cover.

TGDC audiobook final cover

Hear Here!

No need to do a double-take. The heading is not a misprint. You can HEAR a sample of the audiobook HERE. Just turn up the sound, and click on the link.

Free Audiobook

Not yet an Audible subscriber? Then, I’ve got a deal for you.

Sign up for a FREE 30-day trial subscription with Audible and download your copy of The Gold Dragon Caper audiobook absolutely free. If you choose not to continue your subscription at the end of the 30-day trial, you get to keep your copy of The Gold Dragon Caper anyway. No strings attached.


This update wouldn’t be complete without a current picture of Shalom. Here she is, in one of her favorite poses, as she looks out the window to watch the street. She has taken to jumping right over the back of the sofa when she spots someone or something of interest outside.