Monthly Archives: March 2018

Dam Nation book release blitz

 
DAM NATION 
BOOK RELEASE BLITZ 
Bonnie and Clyde #2
by
CLARK HAYS AND KATHLEEN McFALL
Genre: Historical / Alternative History / Romance 
Publisher: Pumpjack Press
Date of Publication: March 24, 2018
Number of Pages: 266


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Bonnie and Clyde: Defending the working class from a river of greed.


The year is 1935 and the Great Depression has America in a death grip of poverty, unemployment and starvation. But the New Deal is rekindling hope, with federally funded infrastructure projects, like Hoover Dam, putting folks back to work. So, why is someone trying to blow it up? 
That’s what Bonnie and Clyde set out to uncover in the novel Dam Nation by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall, the second book in a provocative speculative fiction series that re-imagines the outlaws’ lives. 

“A rollicking good read!” — Midwest Book Review 



EXCERPT
WHAT IF?
The Texas Ranger looked up at Sal, a mixture of fear, respect and revulsion in his eyes. “Let’s pretend for a minute it wasn’t Bonnie and Clyde in that ambush,” he said. “Why? Why would it be different people in that car?”
“How would I know?” Sal asked. “I work for the government. I trust that the government has my best interests at heart. I follow orders. You didn’t.”
“I won’t be quiet about this unless you can tell me why anyone would try to save them outlaws.”
“If they were still alive, I would tell you that everyone has a purpose in life, and perhaps they are fulfilling theirs. And if they were still alive, I would tell you that you don’t use good dogs to guard the junkyard, you use the meanest goddamn dogs you can get a collar around.”

       





ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed. Dam Nation is their sixth co-authored book. 



BONNIE AND CLYDE: DAM NATION
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Review & Giveaway: The Fleecing of Fort Griffin by Preston Lewis

 

THE FLEECING 
OF FORT GRIFFIN
by
PRESTON LEWIS
Genre: Western Humor 
Publisher: Wild Horse Press
Date of Publication: May 19, 2016
Number of Pages: 234

2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association:
Best Creative Work on West Texas


Scroll down for the giveaway!

 When the young Englishman Baron Jerome Manchester Paget arrives in 1878 Fort Griffin with a satchel full of money to start a buffalo ranch and find a bride, a horde of colorful swindlers from throughout Texas arrive to help themselves to a rich serving of his naiveté to frontier ways.  
  With a passel of oddball characters and more twists and turns than a stagecoach trail, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin pits the baron against crooked gamblers, a one-eyed gunfighter, a savvy marshal, conniving females, a duplicitous cavalry officer and a worldly stump preacher. 
   To stay rich, the baron must stay alive!  And to stay alive, the baron must rely on a fourteen-year-old orphan and a rooster that serves as his guard animal.  Even so, the odds and the cards are stacked against the Englishman and his bold vision of becoming the baron of bison in West Texas. 
   Written by Spur Award-winning author Preston Lewis, a master of western plot twists and humor, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin takes readers on an unconventional and uproarious journey through the Old West and some of its unsavory characters.  

PRAISE FOR THE FLEECING OF FORT GRIFFIN:

“… a work of colorful and humorous fiction,”
                             Albany Review
The Fleecing of Fort Griffin by Preston Lewis of San Angelo is one of the funniest westerns I’ve ever read.”
                             Glenn Dromgoole, Texas Reads
“If you’re looking for a delightful tale, check out The Fleecing of Fort Griffin.” 
                             Bryan Eagle

As a fan of Bluster’s Last Stand, I can’t tell you just how much I looked forward to reading this book. Lewis has the rare talent of being able to write about some of the most gruesome times in our country’s history and make us laugh until we’re out of breath. His characters, partially or completely fictionalized, are colorful and so completely drawn in that you can practically see them.
The Fleecing of Fort Griffin introduces a British character who seems to even influence the narrative voice in the beginning of the novel. Something about Lewis’s turn of phrase in the opening chapter read like a classic British novel. It was almost too descriptive and the stage was set at sort of a languid pace. But then again, maybe the Texas heat was to blame for the sluggish descriptions.
It’s the description of the characters that I savor and would like to sop up every little detail. Count on Lewis to present every sort of person you would expect in a Western, and then some. With the exception of young Sammy, I had a feeling that everybody in that town, locals and visitors alike, were full of bullshit.
The title hits you over the head with a key bit of information from the start: Fort Griffin is about to be had. But you’re constantly guessing at how the chips will fall, what kind of hand the baron is going to be dealt… you get the idea. And while you worry about the British guy’s well-being, you have to wonder if a red herring will make an appearance. At times, the set up feels like the great-grandaddy of Ocean’s 11, at other times it reminded me of a rugby match. How there’s a dog pile of people jostling for position, constantly in motion (no down, set, hike like American football), and the progress can be so minute that you didn’t realize they’ve moved down the field a bit.
“The baron attracted business like dung drew flies,” (p. 68) was a particularly apt description of the man who reeled in all sorts of people who were just after his money. It was entertaining to watch seasoned scam artists leave whatever town they last duped to follow the money, and even law enforcement and military officers plotting to win some money off of him via gambling.
My only issue with the book is the cover. At first glance, the cover is among the best I have seen in a while. But upon closer inspection and after having finished reading the book, I’m pretty sure the baron’s hat is incorrect. He is said to wear a bowler, which, according to Google is accurate in the West, but it appears he’s wearing a top hat. Also, the money overflowing from his satchel are American greenbacks. I’m pretty sure the satchel only contained British pounds. Any American money he picked up along the way was usually stashed on his person. And lastly, the baron is missing his beard. Nitpicks aside, the art looks fantastic.

            Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 30 western, juvenile and historical novels, including The Fleecing of Fort Griffin, a western caper published by Wild Horse Press.  Fleecing won the 2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA) for best creative work on West Texas. 
     Lewis is best known for his comic novels in The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series. 
Bluster’s Last Stand, a novel about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, is the latest volume in the well-received series that began with The Demise of Billy the Kid.  Subsequent books in the series—The Redemption of Jesse James and Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral—were both Spur Finalists from Western Writers of America (WWA). 
           Blood of Texas, Lewis’s historical novel on the Texas Revolution, received WWA’s Spur Award for Best Western Novel.  His True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon won a Spur Award for Best Nonfiction Article.  In addition to his two Spurs from WWA, Lewis has earned three Elmer Kelton Awards from WTHA.
       Lewis’s novels have appeared under the imprint of national publishing houses such as Bantam, Zebra and HarperCollins and of regional publishing companies like Eakin Press and Wild Horse Press.  His short works have appeared in publications as varied as Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, Persimmon Hill, Dallas Morning News, True West, The Roundup, Journal of the Wild West History Association and San Angelo Standard-Times
       A native West Texan and current San Angelo resident, Lewis holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Baylor and Ohio State universities.  He earned a second master’s degree in history from Angelo State University.  He is a past president of WWA and WTHA.  Lewis is a longstanding member of the Authors Guild and an associate member of the Dramatists Guild of America.  

———————-

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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
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3/22/18
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Review
3/24/18
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3/25/18
Author Interview
3/26/18
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3/27/18
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3/28/18
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3/29/18
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Review & Giveaway: A Target on My Back by Erleigh Wiley

 

A TARGET ON MY BACK
A Prosecutor’s Terrifying Tale of Life on a Hit List
by
Erleigh Wiley
Genre: True Crime
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
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Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 176 with b&w photos

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Murders don’t happen in Kaufman County, Texas, a sleepy community where people raise their kids quietly and drive into Dallas for work and entertainment. In 2013, murder came to town when two professional prosecutors were slain in cold blood, simply for doing their jobs: one in broad daylight in plain view of the courthouse, and one in his home, along with his wife. Eric Williams is responsible for all the bloodshed—and he has a list of who to kill next.
A Target on My Back is the first-person true story of Erleigh Wiley, an accomplished lawyer who accepted the job as the new district attorney—after the death of her predecessors—which turned her into the next target on the killer’s hit list. This is her story of how she and her family endured the storm of the press, the array of Homeland Security agents assigned to protect them 24/7, and the weight of knowing she was someone’s prey. Though fearing for her life, she served as the prosecution’s final witness against the murderer, sealing his fate on death row. This chilling account of how she survived the hit list is a terrifying cat and mouse tale.

PRAISE FOR A TARGET ON MY BACK:

“A legal thriller with a twist: a crazed lawyer and his wife, believing they have been wronged, become a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde and go on a terrifying murder spree. Next on their kill list is the new DA, and her courage in confronting the killers makes this a fascinating read.”
Dennis L. Breo, coauthor of The Crime of the Century: Richard Speck and the Murders That Shocked a Nation 
“John Grisham and Scott Turow had better start looking over their shoulders. . . Wiley’s engaging, nimble style immediately draws you into the action and proves that sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. It’s a good thing for us all that she lived to tell about it!”
David Dean, Dallas attorney, former Texas secretary of state and chair of the North Texas Crime Commission
 
“When murder comes to her town, Erleigh Wiley steps into the shoes of the slain district attorney and finds herself on the killer’s hit list. In A Target on My Back, Wiley tells her personal story of overcoming fear in order to carry out her duty to hold Kaufman County, Texas, together while the killer is brought to justice. Don’t miss it!”
Mike Farris, author of A Death in the Islands: The Unwritten Law and the Last Trial of Clarence Darrow
 
A Target on my Back is a unique first-person look into the world of crime-fighting in which the tables have been turned. The author takes the reader on an all-too-real journey into what it means to stand for justice when your very life is in danger. A must-read.
Robert Kepple, executive director of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association

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Review
Lately, I have had the good fortune to review books at the perfect moment in my life. As I have finally caught up on all the old episodes of my favorite true crime podcast, this first person account of a would-be victim was next on my review list. That designation alone makes this book special, but the fact that Wiley is a judge makes the proceedings all the more technical and her recollection feel more trustworthy than other true crime tell-alls.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like most true crime books are either written by a court reporter or someone very interested in the case. Immediately, there is a distance between what really happened and what is written on the page. Neither writer would have a solid picture of what happened since it didn’t happen to them. Or on the other hand, some of these books are penned by victims whose stories are understandably colored by their trauma and the emotional rollercoaster of the media circus and courtroom drama. Details could be misremembered or forgotten.
When Wiley stated over and over how she did not feel like she was to be the next victim, I got the feeling that I was reading the account of a very level-headed individual. I understood her logic for distancing her part in the downward spiral of a mad man, and that was precisely what could have caused her even more harm. Crazy people don’t always have a motive that makes sense. They don’t always have clear origin stories such as an abusive upbringing or head trauma knocking their good sense loose. I love that she addresses that because psychologists are always trying to find that angle.
To be honest, I was getting antsy to read the nitty gritty about the crime. But it was awe inspiring to hear the journey of how Wiley came to be the first elected African American female district attorney in Dallas County. And as a mother, I felt inspired knowing how hard she worked in her office, but that her harder and most fulfilling work was taking care of her family and giving back to her community.
I would have liked to have more information about the murders upfront, since that seems to be more of the template for true crime books. It felt weird to finally gain a broader picture of what each victim was like and what happened to them in a few pages right before the Epilogue. I wanted more than that.
I have always thought the photo placement in these books is strange (usually right in the middle of a chapter that has nothing to do with the pictures), and this one follows suit. I like that the photos are in color, but the captions could have used some copy editing. One of my pet peeves is identifying people in the photo out of order. If there’s two people, just name them left to right!
The pacing was good but some editing could have made this book more suspenseful. The lack of copy editing and proofreading resulted in redundancies and typos. For future reprints, I would recommend revamping the cover design as well. A story that took place in 2013 shouldn’t have a cover that looks like it was printed in the ’90s.
Overall, I think this book is a nice addition to the true crime genre and that readers will appreciate the unique point of view.
Erleigh Norville Wiley was born and raised in Kaufman County. She is a graduate of Texas Tech University, Rawls College of Business; where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree with a degree in Finance. She attended law school at Texas Law at The University of Texas in Austin receiving her Doctorate of Jurisprudence.
In 1990, Judge Wiley joined the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. Her goal was to prosecute the criminals and protect innocent children and victims who have no voice. She was promoted to supervising attorney-training other new attorneys and managing fourteen different courts.
Wiley takes an active role in her community by volunteering. Some of her board work includes Chairman of the Kaufman County Juvenile Board, Trustee of Texas Health Resources- Kaufman, Kaufman County Children’s Advocacy Center and Kaufman County Children’s Shelter Board member.

Wiley has been lauded by various organizations for her work in the legal community as a Judge and as the Criminal District Attorney in Kaufman County. Some of the most notable were in 2013, from the State Bar of Texas, Outstanding Leadership-Profiles of Courage Award and Texas District & County Attorney’s Association, Lone Star Prosecutor Award; as well as the Dallas Black Police Officer’s Association with the Paved the Way Award in 2015.


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3/16/18
Excerpt
3/16/18
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3/17/18
Review
3/18/18
Author Interview
3/19/18
Review
3/20/18
Author on Video
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3/22/18
Review
3/23/18
Author on Audio
3/24/18
Author Interview
3/25/18
Review
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Excerpt & Giveaway: Stolen Obsession by Marlene M Bell

 

STOLEN OBSESSION
Annalisse Series, Book 1
by
Marlene M Bell
Genre: Spicy Romantic Mystery
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: March 20, 2018
Number of Pages: 284

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PEOPLE DIE, BUT LEGENDS LIVE ON.
Manhattan antiquities appraiser Annalisse Drury dreams of a quiet life on the family farm among the sheep she loves, when her best friend is murdered. The police assume robbery is the motive because her friend’s expensive bracelet is missing. But the 500-year-old artifact is rumored to carry an ancient curse, one that unleashes evil upon any who dare wear the jewelry created for the Persian royal family—and Annalisse believes her friend is the latest victim.
Weeks later, Annalisse sees a necklace matching the stolen bracelet at a gallery opening. Convinced the necklace is part of the deadly collection, Annalisse begs the gallery’s owner to destroy the piece, but her pleas are ignored— despite the unnatural death that occurs during the opening. With two victims linked to the jewelry, Annalisse is certain she must act.
Desperate to keep the gallery owner safe, Annalisse reluctantly enlists the owner’s son to help—even though she’s afraid he’ll break her heart. Wealthy and devastatingly handsome, with a string of bereft women in his wake, Greek playboy Alec Zavos dismisses Annalisse’s concerns—until his parents are ripped from the Zavos family yacht during their ocean voyage near Crete.
Annalisse and Alec race across two oceans to save his mother, feared dead or kidnapped. As time lapses, the killer switches mode and closes in on the man who’s meant for Annalisse with the lifestyle she wants most.
But when it’s her turn as the hunted, will she choose to save Alec and his mother, or sacrifice everything to save herself?

Hold on for a heart-thumping adventure through exotic lands in this fast moving, romantic suspense mystery by Marlene M Bell.

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EXCERPT: Chapter Six, Part Two

From Stolen Obsession

By Marlene M Bell

 

Click to read part one on Lone Star Book Blog Tours 3/2/18 blog stop!

Annalisse walked over to the officer while he bagged and sealed the card.

“This message could just be a prank,” he said.

“I’m no detective, but Ismail lives means something to someone. Do you know what information Agent Norcross wants?”

“You have a translation?” Mooney removed a notepad from his breast pocket. “I wouldn’t worry, Ms. Drury. Harry was a very simple man and had few close friends. That brother-in-law of his could barely string three comprehensible words together. We’ll talk to him again when he’s sober.”

“It’s unusual to find him snockered this early, but he’s alcoholic and won’t admit it.”

Norcross joined them, with Alec and Generosa in tow.

Generosa offered, “The guest book showed one-hundred-eighty-three guests at my party. Any one of them could’ve left the card.”

“Was anything inside the case missing?” Norcross asked. “Or anywhere else?”

Annalisse replied, “Chase cleared all of the jewelry displays after the party. Isn’t that right, Gen?”

Generosa nodded slowly at Annalisse. “I don’t leave jewelry displayed at night. It’s always locked in my safe.”

“And you know Chase Miller?” The agent addressed Annalisse. Her honeyed twang seemed out of place, but she had the practiced intimidating look down perfectly.

“Yes. I’ve explained the relationship. You spoke with him about Sam that day, too, remember?”

“Of course. Yes.” Norcross scratched something in her notebook and turned to Generosa. “How about the security system? Any issues when you opened this morning?”

“Colum, you followed us out last night when we closed. Chase set the alarm—come to think of it, the security panel didn’t beep today like it normally does when we unlock. I thought it was odd.” Generosa pointed at the alarm panel.

Mooney walked beneath one of the matte black motion detectors near the door. “These units should show an active red light. This one doesn’t.”

“I’ll check the one upstairs.” Alec moved to the bottom of the steps. “Dark here, too.”

Mama Mia. My system’s off. For how long? I’m sure it was working last night.”

“Detective, let’s bring in a tech team. No one touches anything.” Norcross took the mystery card from Mooney, studied it front and back, then stashed it in her jacket. “Damn Mafia.”

“Good lord! Here in my shop? I don’t deal with garbage business types.” Generosa’s shoulders sagged. “I can’t tell Pearce. He’ll be worried sick.”

Alec moved close to Annalisse; she felt his warmth on her skin.

“How do you know we had a break-in, Agent Norcross? Couldn’t someone have stayed behind after Mom’s party and fooled around with the alarm as a joke? It was nuts around here.”

“The security company should’ve notified the station of a breach. A joke, no. He, or she, may have tried to destroy the security video and found a way to circumvent the alarm and detectors. Gen, we’ll need the names from the catering company and all guests who signed in. Including those invited who may not have attended,” Mooney said.

“None of this makes any sense. Nothing’s been stolen. All for a silly note? Colum, really.”

“That’s it, then. Mom, the gallery closes.”

“But, son, that’s foolish. It’s an insignificant scribble.”

“We won’t open again until every inch of this gallery’s been scoured,” Alec said. “We had a death here and with all that Annalisse told us—”

Both Mooney and Norcross alerted.

“About the loss of her friend. That’s all I meant.” He chewed the corner of his lip.

“I’d post a security guard, too. Your card is more than scribbles, Miss Generosa, if I may call you by your first name. We believe Carradine’s death was no accident and the card you found—let’s just say, fits a certain profile we’ve been monitoring. I spoke out of turn earlier, about the Mafia. I’m sorry.” Norcross looked at her watch. “We’ll take the card down to forensics.”

“Gen, my partner knows a reliable man. Ex-military. He moonlights as security when he isn’t working as a private dick,” Mooney added.

“I still can’t believe Harry had any enemies. That poor, poor man.” Generosa swiped an eye.

The detective handed her a tissue from inside his jacket.

Alec took Annalisse aside while Generosa and the officers wandered to the middle of the foyer. “Are you all right?”

“I will be.” She gripped the seam on her jeans to hide the shakes. “There’s lots Norcross is keeping to herself. She’s uncovered more about Sam. How can we be sure other people weren’t exposed to the same poison as Harry?”

“We can’t be.”

“Shouldn’t Gen notify her guests?”

“Of their possible poison exposure?” He dimpled one cheek. “Let’s wait and see what develops before we open a legal nightmare. Harry could’ve been poisoned before he got here.”

“True. Blabbing to the world without knowing the facts wouldn’t be smart.” She glanced at her watch and gasped. “Crap. Chase is going to send out the military. It’s nearly nine. Here comes Gen.”

 

To be concluded with part three on Lone Star Book Blog Tours 3/9/18 blog stop!

 

Marlene M Bell is an acclaimed artist and photographer as well as a writer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of publications such as, Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living and Sheep Industry News. Ewephoric, her mail order venture, began in 1985 out of a desire for realistic sheep stationery. A color catalog of non-fiction books and sheep-related gifts may be requested at www.marlenembell.com or www.texassheep.com.

Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside on a wooded ranch in East Texas with their 50 head of Horned Dorset sheep, a lovable Maremma guard dog named, Tia, and 3 spoiled cats who rule the household.

 ║ Website║ Facebook Twitter   ║ LinkedIn ║ Google+ ║ Blog 

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3/1/18
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3/1/18
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3/2/18
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3/2/18
Excerpt 1
3/3/18
Review
3/4/18
Review
3/5/18
Author Interview
3/5/18
Excerpt 2
3/6/18
Review
3/7/18
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Review
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Excerpt 3
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