Tag Archives: humor

Character Interview & Giveaway: The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts by Shelton L. Williams

Covey Jencks Mystery, #3
By Shelton L. Williams

Publish Date: December 8th, 2020
Pages: 233 pages
Categories: Mystery / Humor

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Covey and JayJay travel to China and then return home to deal with shady characters, spies, gangsters, and other tough customers. In an exciting last act, they solve a murder most foul.
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Character Interview

Maggie Mae interviews JayJay Qualls from


by Shelton L. Williams

Maggie: JayJay, you had lots of questions for me in The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts I am glad you’re allowing me to ask you some.

JayJay: Sure, but at the end, I have one more question for you. Deal?

Maggie: If I can answer, I will. Deal?

JayJay: Okay, fire away.

Maggie: Are you and Covey still sympatico? The FBI calls you the Love Birds, but you don’t ever seem to get jealous, and Covey calls you distant at one point in the book. Is there trouble in paradise?

JayJay: I don’t think of any relationship as paradise. I live in the moment and I am always ready to take care of myself. I have seen too many women fall into dependency on a man. That said, Covey and I very much a couple and I have made decisions to keep us a couple. Yes, we love each other.

Maggie: Can you tell us what decisions?

JayJay: Sure, Covey Jencks readers know that I did not move to Dallas or Ft. Worth to advance my acting career, and more than one old flame has tried to rekindle, especially now that I have got my own money. But I am stickin’ with Covey, at least for now.

Maggie: You like the detective business, don’t you?

JayJay: I do like it, but truth be told, I like solving mysteries with Covey. When we are working a case, we are equal partners. He includes me and listens to me. I push him to be bold and to think beyond the obvious. It’s pretty damned exciting. Besides, when he is working on oil and gas leases, you think he’s ever distant with me?

Maggie: That’s a good point. The books are more from his point of view and not yours even though you get your own chapters. After all, the series is called Covey Jencks Mysteries. Don’t you deserve your own book?

JayJay: My creative work occurs on the stage. I don’t need to sit alone at 6:00 a.m. trying to figure out what to say next before my real work starts. That sounds miserable. Maybe someday I’ll write my memoirs.

Maggie: You seemed to really be fascinated with Betty Williams and the Ghost of OHS story. Maybe you could write about that?

JayJay: Well, not long after the Chinese mystery ended, a book on the event called Washed in the Blood came out. Like many people out there, I have heard about the book but haven’t had time to read it. Maybe I will wait for the movie.

Maggie: What been your favorite adventure with Covey?

JayJay: By far, solving the mystery of the triple murder case on a college campus in Covey and JayJay Get Educated, but it was also fun to hook up with Covey to find out who killed Freddie in Covey Jencks.

Maggie: I have heard that lots of folks like Chinese Murder best. Comments?

JayJay: It’s a good story, for sure, but did I enjoy only being marginally involved and then — that ending. Who saw that coming? My role wasn’t exactly heroic, no?

Maggie: I hear ya, but I loved the book. I loved being the international woman of mystery in it.

JayJay: And you are a good one. West Texans would call you a sexy mama. I admit I was jealous of that first dress you wore in Odessa. I may go back to China to get me one of them. Time for my question.

Maggie: Okay, but I got that dress in New York. What’s your question?

JayJay: Will Covey and I ever see you again?

Maggie: I see what you are doing there. Sneaky. Will there be another Covey Jencks mystery?

Silence from JayJay. Maggie continues:

I think it depends on whether you guys stay stuck in West Texas or if you ever come back my way.

JayJay: To China?

Maggie: Hmm, no, the East Coast.

JayJay: Oh, that reminds me of my favorite part of The Chinese Murder of Edward Watts. The visit to Washington, D.C.  That was just as exciting for me as the mystery, and it was a stone cold turn-on as well. I’ll talk to the old man about that idea.

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced
International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on four occasions, and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are 
Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now the three books in the Covey Jencks series. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

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First, signed copies of all three Covey books.
Second, audio books of books 2 & 3.
Third, Kindle copies of all three books. 
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Blitz & Review: Stiff Lizard by Lisa Haneberg


Series: A Spy Shop Mystery
Publisher: Written Pursuits Press
Pages: 364 pages
Pub Date: March 13th, 2021
Categories: Women Sleuths / Cozy Mystery / Private Investigator / Humor

Rodent Roger, a popular Galveston Island exterminator, goes missing the day after he tells private investigator and spy shop owner Xena Cali about a concerning uptick in green iguana sightings on the island. They’re crapping in people’s boats and falling from trees. Are the lizards swimming over from Florida to escape the pythons, or is it something more nefarious? Can Xena help untangle the mess before the raucous reptiles take over Galveston?

Ultima Penelope Roger is a best-selling writer of romance novels. The Lizard Liquidators have set up shop on Galveston Island. Herpetologist Quintana Flores, PhD, works on a bizarre cruise ship that sails out of the Port of Galveston. Sasha Barlow is a driven junior reporter who’ll do anything to get the story. Ned “The Pelican Man” Quinn writes a column about bird necropsies. Captain Ethan Slaughter is the head of the Major Crimes team at the Galveston Police Department. Xena and her team will have to partner with and/or battle this cast of characters and others to solve what becomes a disturbing murder investigation.

Stiff Lizard is the third full-length book in the Spy Shop Mystery series. If you like fast-paced crime novels, clever satire, and gritty beach towns, then you’ll love Lisa Haneberg’s humorous and contemporary cozy caper.



“Lisa Haneberg has a wicked sense of humor. She can also write a fast-moving, totally original mystery.” — Alan Rinzler

Lisa Haneberg’s newest entry in the Spy Shop Mystery Series lives up to its predecessors. A good number of laughs, lots of intrigue, a bit of titillation, lots of interesting information, and lots of mystery make for a good read.” – Verified
purchaser from Amazon 


Stiff Lizard by Lisa Haneberg was as cool and as funny as its protagonist – the amazing Xena Cali. I have said before that I would love to meet a book character in real life, but I have never meant it more than right now. Who wouldn’t want to spend time in a spy shop solving mysteries with a woman who practices parkour and lets people taze and pepper spray her for training?

And as if Xena’s character couldn’t be improved upon even further, I love that she is listening to Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People, and is seriously applying it to her personal and professional lives. (Side note: My mother has a certificate for completing the leadership training course in New York and has been harassing me to read the book since college. I can now pretend that I have read it, thanks to this wonderful book!)

Haneberg’s writing style is casual and I adore that she breaks the fourth wall repeatedly. I like how she talks about the local places in a way that assumes you know exactly what and where she is describing. I have yet to Google whether each place is actually real, but what I am most interested in researching before my next trip out to Galveston was piqued by this passage: 

“There are dozens of beautiful tree sculptures on Galveston Island carved to look like mermaids, dogs, pelicans, dolphins, angels, and other things. Most were commissioned by wealthier homeowners and nonprofit organizations after Hurricane Ike flooded the island in 2008.” 

I wonder how many of these sculptures I have walked by and never noticed. I will definitely stop by the visitor’s bureau to pick up the Tree Sculpture Tour map during my next trip.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of quirky characters – and this book has them by the bushels! Such a colorful (quite literally at times) cast from the spy shop employees and friends to the locals and, of course, the clientele and the suspects. There is also a character from Houston that I became quite fond of and sincerely hope plays a bigger role in upcoming books.

Haneberg does a great job of getting you up to speed if you haven’t read the previous books (I hadn’t) but she definitely dangles some great tidbits that make you want to go back and devour the entire series. The Spy Shop Mystery series is definitely on my TBR list and I will sign up for notifications so that I know when the next book drops!

 Purchase Links
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Lisa Haneberg loves to explore Galveston Island’s gritty back streets, stellar seafood joints, magnificent natural areas, and all points in between. In addition to the Spy Shop Mysteries, she’s a blogger and has authored over a dozen nonfiction books. She earned an MFA degree from Goddard College and a BS in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Maryland.

Before writing crime fiction, she was a seasoned human resources professional with a strange attraction to gnarly internal investigations. She lives with her husband and dog in Lexington, Kentucky. Lisa once owned a home on Galveston Island and is a frequent visitor.


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Review: Why Stuff Matters by Jen Waldo

  Sub-genre: Literary Fiction / Humor
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Date of Publication: June 4, 2019 (US)
Number of Pages: 212
When Jessica, a grieving widow, inherits an antique mall from her mother she also inherits the stallholders, an elderly, amoral, acquisitive, and paranoid collection. 
When one of the vendors, a wily ex-con named Roxy, shoots her ex-husband, she calls on Jessica to help bury the body and soon Jessica is embroiled in cover-ups, lies, and misdirection. Into this mix comes Lizzie, Jessica’s late husband’s twelve-year-old daughter by his first marriage, who’s been dumped on Jessica’s doorstep by the child’s self-absorbed mother and it soon becomes apparent that Lizzie is as obsessed with material possessions as Jessica’s elderly tenants. 
Why Stuff Matters is a compelling ode to possession, why people like things and the curious lengths they will go to keep them. Returning to her fictional Caprock, Waldo turns her wry wit on the lives of those afraid to let go.


As per usual, I judged this book by its cover and immediately liked it. There’s a longstanding family joke where 3-year-old me proclaimed that my father’s favorite color was yellow (it wasn’t) and years later my college car was named Pichu because it was yellow. Hence, I really dig the color of this cover. Who knew that yellow, black, and negative white space could be visually interesting and soothing at the same time? I like the clean lines and the artistic simplicity conveyed by the hodgepodge of items: typewriter, phone (later discovered to be a tablet), baseball cards, bottles, urn, gun, suitcase, band instruments, safe, and bicycle. My second or third thought was that either the person in this story has a strange style of decorating or it takes place in a pawnshop.

I was wrong, but only just. The main character, Jessica, does have a strange style of decorating, but only because she doesn’t really care. And there are a few pawnshops that do business within the antique mall that Jessica inherits from her mother who passes away. Bit by bit, you get to know Jessica and why she acts the way she does. The slow reveal reminds me of cooking a stew. You can’t rush it or your protein will come out too tough. You have to keep it low and slow so that everything comes out tender and full of flavor. Well, Jessica is still pretty tough by the end of this book, but I would imagine she would be like beef jerky in a thin tomato base if she didn’t get to control the flow of things.

This is one of those books where I didn’t necessarily like all of the characters, but they were all very real to me. Waldo has a no-nonsense style of writing that never made me question her perspective on things. There were no games and the mystery had low stakes, but I was still eager to read on and find out what happened next. While Jessica is able to predict everyone’s next move or thought, I was taken by surprise many times. Not huge, ‘whoa, what was that?!’ kind of surprise, but a thoughtful, ‘wow, I didn’t see that coming at all.’

And I think that’s the true beauty of this book. Nothing flashy or over the top, but real people with real issues. Hint: Try not to obsess over right or wrong. Just enjoy the ride. And although the story doesn’t really travel far, it’s an experience all the same. I could see Wes Anderson directing the movie version of this if the author wanted a lowkey vibe on the screen. If Waldo wanted a little more whimsy, then I would say get Greta Gerwig to direct. Either way, the colorful characters and understated storytelling are the perfect recipe for a cult classic. It wouldn’t even require a Breakfast Club outro for you to realize exactly Why Stuff Matters.

Jen Waldo lived in seven countries over a thirty-year period and has now settled, along with her husband, in Marble Falls, Texas. She first started writing over twenty years ago when, while living in Cairo, she had difficulty locating reading material and realized she’d have to make her own fun. She has since earned an MFA and written a number of novels. Her work has been published in The European and was shortlisted in a competition by Traveler magazine. Old Buildings in North Texas and Why Stuff Matters have been published in the UK by Arcadia Books. Jen’s fiction is set in Northwest Texas and she’s grateful to her hometown of Amarillo for providing colorful characters and a background of relentless whistling wind. 



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Book Blitz & Giveaway: Max… Attacks by Kathi Appelt

illustrated by Penelope Dullaghan
Children’s Picture Book / Humor / Stories in Verse
Publisher: Atheneum / Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Date of Publication: June 11, 2019
Number of Pages: 40Scroll down for the giveaway!


Fish and birds and lizards and socks…is there anything Max won’t attack? 

Watch your ankles and find out in this clever, rhyming picture book about a very naughty kitty cat.Max is a cat. He attacks. From socks to strings to many a fish, attacking, for Max, is most de-lish. But how many of these things can he actually catch? Well, let’s just say it’s no even match.

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award–winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows and Max … Attacks

She has two grown children and lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband and their six cats. She serves as a faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts in their MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program.
Penelope Dullaghan is an award-winning illustrator whose work includes illustrations for ad campaigns, book publishers, magazines, newspapers, products, videos and most recently, children. Max … Attacks is her debut picture book.
Penelope works from her home studio in Indianapolis, Indiana where she also home schools her daughter, plays in the river behind her house, and tends to her front-yard garden.
She is especially interested in collaborating with brands that support sustainability, simplicity, and wellness. Connect with Penelope on her Website.
The real Max was neither blue, nor did he have a switchy tail. In fact, he didn’t have a tail at all. He was an American Bobtail, almost fire red, and in his prime he weighed in at over twenty pounds. For seventeen years, he served as best friend and roommate to the author’s oldest son Jacob Appelt, who adopted Max from the local animal shelter. Together they wrote music, traveled, entertained friends and family, and kept an eye on the neighborhood parrots. Even though Max was famous for attacking anything that moved, he was, and always will be, the biggest, sweetest cat ever! 
And many thanks to Jacob for the line: “a mighty nap attacked our Max.” Best line in the book!
June 11-22, 2019
(U.S. Only)

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Review & Giveaway: Fierce, Funny, and Female by Marti MacGibbon



A Journey Through Middle America,
the Texas Oil Field, and Standup Comedy

Genre: Memoir / Drama / Humor
Publisher: Stay Strong Publishing
Publication Date: March 20, 2017
Number of Pages: 412 pages



This book is the celebrated prequel to the critically acclaimed, nationally award-winning and bestselling memoir, Never Give in to Fear. In her raw, vivid, and unabashed style, author Marti MacGibbon delivers a sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, always engaging account of her passage through trauma, betrayal, and loss in adolescence and young adulthood to discover her inner badass self. As one of the first women to work as a laborer in the Texas oil field, she set off explosives and staked oil wells before realizing her childhood dream of becoming a successful standup comic. Marti introduces readers to a wide range of characters in her life: from sleazy authority figures, wannabe Sixties musicians and crazed Corn Belt cult leaders, to Texas oil billionaires and wildcatters, to wild-eyed redneck coworkers who robbed banks on their lunch hour―in the company truck. The book includes scenes with iconic comedians, Hollywood entertainment industry moguls, and a legendary bluesman, and offers insights into resiliency, courage, and self-empowerment.
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Humor
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards in Women’s Health
WINNER, 2017 Beverly Hills Book Awards in Women’s Issues 
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Humor
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2018 New York City Book Book Award, Women’s Studies
FINALIST, 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Memoir (Overcoming Adversity)

“Being funny is a survival skill. Fierce, Funny, and Female is not only a survivor’s tale but an inspirational story of overcoming the unthinkable, again and again…Her courage and comedy make Fierce, Funny, and Female a winner.” — Foreword Clarion Reviews

“An effervescently witty…chronicle of perseverance and the power to overcome the darkest of days…Perhaps the most rewarding chapter in this chatty, affecting book is the concluding one, where MacGibbon lists the tried-and-true pearls of wisdom that continue to sustain her…” — Kirkus Reviews

Fierce, Funny, and Female is a thoroughly engaging memoir packed with witty observations, high adventure, and a glimpse of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Highly recommended!” — Midwest Book Review

“MacGibbon is a natural storyteller, and her life story is a most interesting one. The characters she has run across during her life journey are well-drawn and absolutely fascinating, particularly the good ol’ boys in the Texas oilfields.” — San Francisco Book Review

MacGibbon knows how to hook a reader. What a standup comic is doing in the middle of gunfire will rouse most people’s interest, I think. The prologue is a teaser of what is to come in the middle of the book. First, MacGibbon takes you back, way back. She walks you through her innocent beginnings and then the sad descent into adolescent corruption. It’s a wonder that she made it to adulthood, and dug herself out of a pretty deep pit.
The lighter sections read like the memoir of funny lady Tina Fey, very smart and entertaining. When we get to the darker parts, the book reads like nothing I have ever held before. At times, I cringed at the horrible things she endured, but she writes about them in a way that doesn’t elicit sympathy. She’s not clinically detached, but she never feels sorry for herself; so you don’t feel sorry for her. Every victory that comes her way is hard earned and you can’t help but pump your fist in the air (mentally, at least) every time something good happens.
After all the abuse dispensed upon her by the opposite sex, it is incredible that she not only bounces back, but chooses two careers that are notorious for being boys only and rises to success. What I find particularly inspiring is that all of her success stems from the need to be a good mother to her daughter.
When I reached the end, I reflected on all that I read and was pleasantly surprised to find that this memoir was sort of a behind-the-scenes look of not only the early Texas oil days, but of the comedy club circuit and television as well. The oil parts were longer than I had anticipated, but the cover of the book should have clued me in. Since oil field work was her shtick, I wish that MacGibbon shared some of that material in the book. I guess I will just have to scour YouTube.
Despite the difficult subject matter it contains, I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. 
A compelling speaker and storyteller, Marti MacGibbon delivers high-energy presentations and writes books on overcoming adversity, addiction and recovery, and inspiration, with humor and a genuine, down-to-earth style. She’s experienced critical situations that no human being should have to face. In the past, she hit rock bottom in every possible way as a hard-core drug addict, was homeless, and was trafficked to Tokyo and held prisoner by Japanese organized crime. Her story of triumph is testimony to the power of the human spirit. Marti lives her message. She reveals simple, effective strategies that anyone can use to get back on track, build resiliency, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of humor.
Marti is a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, certified addiction treatment professional, Gorski certified relapse-prevention specialist, and member of the National Speakers Association. She’s been interviewed in Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily, on ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and numerous radio shows. And she’s funny: Marti traveled all over the U.S. as a professional standup comic and performed at the Hollywood Improv and Comedy Store. She is founder, producer and host of Laff-aholics Comedy Benefit for Recovery, an annual charity fundraiser in Indianapolis featuring nationally headlining comedians. She also serves on the outreach committee of IPATH, Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force.
║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram  
 ║ Goodreads  Amazon Author Page  YouTube 

Each of Three Winners Gets a Signed Copy of the Book PLUS:

$100 Spa Finder gift card + $25 Starbucks gift card + Moroccan oil sample collection
Estee Lauder Limited Edition Gift Set + $25 Starbucks gift card
$25 Starbucks gift card.
DECEMBER 12-21, 2018
(U.S. Only)

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Review & Giveaway: Bluster’s Last Stand by Preston Lewis


The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax, #4

  Genre:  Historical Western Fiction / Humor
Date of Publication: November 15, 2017
Publisher: Wild Horse Press

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Events on the Little Bighorn might have turned out better for George Armstrong Custer had he listened to H.H. Lomax rather than trying to kill him.  To save his own skin—and scalp!—Lomax must outwit Custer and his troopers as well as face hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors swarming Last Stand Hill. 
At least that is how Lomax in his inimitable style tells the story in this humorous romp across Old West history.  Lomax’s latest misadventures take him from the Battle of Adobe Walls to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.  In between, he’s a bouncer in a Waco whorehouse, a prospector in the Black Hills, a bartender in a Dakota Territory saloon and a combatant in the worst defeat in the history of the frontier Army. 
Along the way, Lomax crosses paths with Bat Masterson, Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, General Custer, his brother Tom Custer and the troopers of the Seventh Cavalry as well as hordes of Comanche, Kiowa, Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, not to mention the most dangerous adversary of all—a newspaper reporter with ambition.

Told with Lomax’s characteristic wit, Bluster’s Last Stand puts a new spin on the Little Bighorn and its aftermath.  Whether you believe him or not, you’ve got to admire Lomax’s luck and pluck in both surviving one of the darkest days in Old West history and writing about the disaster in the latest volume of The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax.
=================== ║=================== 


“A new series by Preston Lewis features a protagonist, H.H. Lomax, who isn’t much of a gunfighter, horseman or gambler.  Instead, he is a likeable loser who runs into old western celebrities like Billy the Kid and the Jesse James gang, and barely escapes.”  Wall Street Journal
“It takes a special talent to write first-person novels based on the premise of ‘lost papers,’ but Preston Lewis is an especially fresh and innovative writer and he knows how to do it.”
Rocky Mountain News
Fans of the Western as a genre will delight in Lewis’ ongoing spoof of many traditions which fiction writers from Owen Wister to Elmer Kelton captured well enough to turn into key parts of our myths and folklore….Lewis’s wit is at times Puckishly wry, at other times bawdy in the manner of Chaucer.  It is always engaging.  Texas Books in Review
Several Old West historians have blessed the Lomax books as expertly crafted fiction. Dallas Morning News


Judging this “memoir” by its cover would be as big of a mistake as judging H. H. Lomax at first impression. Without the well-written synopsis or blurb to guide you, you could mistake this book for a cheesy spoof novel based on the title and artwork. And you would probably walk by and miss out on the funniest and smartest historical fiction book that I have ever read.
Lewis manages to bring levity to a story and a part of history that was rather tragic. The West wasn’t too kind on women and it can be shocking to think of how prostitution often was a more desirable position than being a married woman. Political corruption was rampant and fed racial tensions and uncertainty for all sides involved. Journalism appeared to be a joke early on. And, of course, the treatment of the Native Americans was appalling.
But everything wasn’t so cut and dry then, and Lewis underlines that fact with the wonderfully colorful character of H. H. Lomax. Although gold is the goal, the man is a true diamond in the rough. While the man lacks culture, he certainly has enough brains to make his way without having to rely on Forrest Gump-like luck. He has had so many sudden stops and starts in his life that I was surprised to find out that he was only in his mid 20’s. For some reason, I was imagining a man in his late 30’s or 40’s. Maybe I watch too many Clint Eastwood films.
Speaking of films, when you think of a western spoof, you might think of Blazing Saddles or something similar. Well, this reimagining of events leading up to Little Bighorn is far from corny. While there is some adolescent-leveled humor (i.e., fart jokes and nicknames), Lomax’s wit is often subtle and nuanced. It usually goes undetected because it is so unexpected.
I could write about Lomax for days but then the other characters would feel left out. With the exception of the bullies, Bonner and Quirt, I think that all of the characters are so much more than they seem. We definitely get to see that with Medusa and Buffalo Bill. If Lewis wanted to, he could write spinoff novels about practically anyone in this book (if they survived to the end) and they would be great reads. In particular, I would find it fascinating to read about the people who went against their culture’s grain, like the minister or Crazy Horse.
The pacing felt a little slow at times. About halfway through the book, Lomax is still working in Medusa’s whorehouse and I’m trying to figure out when Custer and the battle come into play. But looking back, the pace was perfect. The battle was short, so even a detailed account shouldn’t run up half a novel. If it did, I would have fallen asleep. Also, I think my favorite parts of the book were when Lomax worked in the whorehouse. I don’t think any men less than Lomax or Lewis could ever drag that sort of sentiment from me.
Even if you don’t care much for history, I think you will find this book entertaining. Lomax’s hilarity and heart of gold (see what I did there?) soften the blow of the harsh realities in this part of history, and make them interesting. Or if you want to set the humor aside, there are some provoking thoughts on morality and perception that might stir you up. I look forward to reading more about Lomax’s adventures.
            Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 30 western, juvenile and historical novels, including Bluster’s Last Stand published by Wild Horse Press.   
            Bluster’s Last Stand, a novel about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, is the latest volume in Lewis’s well-received Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series of comic westerns 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). 
            Lewis’s historical novel Blood of Texas on the Texas Revolution received WWA’s Spur Award for Best Western Novel.  His western caper The Fleecing of Fort Griffin in 2017 earned him his third Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA) for best creative work on West Texas. 
            His True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon won a Spur Award for Best Nonfiction Article.  In addition to True West, his short works have appeared in publications as varied as Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, Persimmon Hill, Dallas Morning News, 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 a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University and master’s degrees from Ohio State in journalism and Angelo State in history.  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.  
1st Prize: Full 4 Book Set in the Lomax Series
2nd Prize: Bluster’s Last Stand + The Fleecing of Fort Griffin
3rd Prize: Bluster’s Last Stand

*all copies signed*

December 13-December 22, 2017
(U.S. Only)

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Review: How to Be a Texan: The Manual by Andrea Valdez

Andrea Valdez
Illustrated by Abi Daniel


Genre: Texas Customs / Social Life / Humor
Date of Publication: May 3, 2016

# of pages: 208, 58 B&W Illustrations

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There are certain things every Texan should know how to do and say, whether your Lone Star roots reach all the way back to the 1836 Republic or you were just transplanted here yesterday. Some of these may be second nature to you, but others . . . well, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have a few handy hints if, say, branding the herd or hosting a tamalada aren’t your usual pastimes. That’s where How to Be a Texan can help.
In a friendly, lighthearted style, Andrea Valdez offers illustrated, easy-to-follow steps for dozens of authentic Texas activities and sayings. In no time, you’ll be talking like a Texan and dressing the part; hunting, fishing, and ranching; cooking your favorite Texas dishes; and dancing cumbia and two-step. You’ll learn how to take a proper bluebonnet photo and build a Día de los Muertos altar, and you’ll have a bucket list of all the places Texans should visit in their lifetime. Not only will you know how to do all these things, you’ll finish the book with a whole new appreciation for what it means to be a Texan and even more pride in saying “I’m from Texas” anywhere you wander in the world.
Let me begin by saying that I love these kinds of books. Tongue in cheek lifestyle manuals with fun illustrations and quirky takes on how-to’s and history are totally my bag. Daniel’s black and white illustrations are a tip off that this is book is not supposed to be the gospel truth on all things Texan. If you’re looking for historically accurate information, read a Texas history book. But if you’re like me and prefer a book that’s fast and entertaining to read (but interests you enough to research certain subjects in depth), then you can’t do any better than Valdez’s manual. She even provides bibliographical information for further reading. So considerate!
I hate to admit this, but I don’t read Texas Monthly often. I have tons of respect for anyone who is published in it (my favorite professor at UT was a regular contributor) because I know how prestigious it is. Valdez’s writing style, beautiful but not flowery, funny but not cheap, makes me want to read the magazine. And the subjects covered in this book  inspire me to read more about our great state and the people who make it so.
Although I’m that disgraceful Texan who’s lived here all her life but has never been to the rodeo (don’t worry! I will go! I promise!), I still know a thing or two about farm life, firearms, and Texan cooking. I know how to two step and Cumbia (the latter not so well), but I have yet to buy my first pair of authentic cowboy boots. This manual has opened my eyes to some lifestyle tips and historical events that I haven’t put too much thought into. Also places in Texas to visit that weren’t even on my radar. And I plan on learning more about these things and places.
I highly recommend this book, especially as a cutesy gift to give to either a new Texan or perhaps a homesick Texan. Me, I would proudly showcase this beauty as a coffee table book or put it up on the shelf next to my copy of The Jane Austen Handbook.

A native Houstonian who has worked for Texas Monthly since 2006, Valdez is the editor of texasmonthly.com. She has written on a wide range of subjects, including more than forty columns on activities every Texan should be able to do, which provided the inspiration for this book. She also helped Texas Monthly launch The Daily Post and TMBBQ.comFOLLOW ON TWITTER



May 3 – May 17, 2016


Check out these other great stops on the tour!

5/3       Country Girl Bookaholic          — Promo
5/4       It’s a Jenn World         — Review
5/5       Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their BooksAuthor Interview #1
5/6       Forgotten Winds         — Review
5/7       StoreyBook Reviews    — Excerpt #1
5/8       All for the Love of the WordPage Preview #1
5/9       Book Chase     — Review
5/10     Margie’s Must Reads  — Guest Post
5/11     My Book Fix Blog        — Author Interview #2
5/12     Books and Broomsticks           — Review
5/13     The Crazy Booksellers — Page Preview #2                 
5/14     The Page Unbound      — Excerpt #2  
5/15     Hall Ways Blog  — Review        
5/16     Byers Editing Reviews & Blog — Promo
5/17     Missus Gonzo               — Review
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Author Interview: With THIS Ring?

  With THIS Ring?
A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry
Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, 
Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jagears
Genre: Romance, Humor
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Date of Publication: January 5, 2016
# of pages: 368

Love isn’t always a fairy tale, and it doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes the best stories, though, are the ones that are the most unexpected. Join Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jagears for novellas that celebrate the power of love to triumph . . . even when circumstances go awry!


The Husband Maneuver


When ranch foreman Daniel Barrett seems ready to leave her life forever, Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins on their relationship. But to have any hope of maneuvering him into a proposal, she has to act fast or risk losing him completely.


Her Dearly Unintended


Josiah Huckabee just wanted to make sure Katie Ellen Watson was safe, but when the only bridge to her farm is washed out, the two find themselves alone. Alone, that is, until a menacing stranger appears. Maybe by pretending to be newlyweds, they’ll save their reputations–but can pretending to be in love turn into the real thing?


Runaway Bride


Hired to help Carrie Halsey escape from a dangerous man intent on making her his wife, Big John Conroy never expected the job to interrupt his solitary Texas Ranger life. But now that he’s promised to keep Carrie safe, he discovers he may just want to make a few more promises.


Engaging the Competition


Harrison Gray and tomboy Charlotte Andrews have been rivals for years. With Charlotte intended for someone else, it seems they’ll never settle their differences until an accident changes things completely. When Charlotte breaks Harrison’s glasses–without which he’s nearly blind–she must help with his teaching position, and working together forces these former adversaries to reconsider everything.

“This quartet of authors consistently write with hilarity, warmth, and toe-curling romance. Their individual contributions to this entertaining collection hold true to form. Connealy tips her hat to long-time fans with a grin-inducing reunion and clever word-smithing. Witemeyer’s ingenious story-within-a story adds even more humor and drama to her contribution. Jennings and Jagears perfectly complete the ensemble with witty tales of friendship and breathless kisses.”—RT Book Reviews Top Pick





Karen Witemeyer: Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three children. Visit her website or connect with her on Facebook.
Mary Connealy: Mary Connealy writes “romantic comedies with cowboys” and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has over half a million books sold. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero. Visit her website or connect with her on Facebook.
Regina Jennings: Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of At Love’s Bidding and four other novels, and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. Regina has worked at the Mustang News, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children. Visit her website or connect with her on Facebook.
 Melissa Jagears: Melissa Jagears, an ESL teacher by trade and the author of A Bride for Keeps, A Bride in Store, and A Bride at Last, is a stay-at-home mother on a tiny Kansas farm with a fixer-upper house. She’s a member of ACFW and CROWN fiction marketing, and her passion is to help Christian believers mature in their faith and judge rightly. Visit her website or connect with her on Facebook.
February 5-18, 2016
(Winners must have US mailing addresses)



SPOTLIGHT: Author Interview: Melissa Jagears


What literary character is most like you?

I am a female Mr. Darcy. I remember totally understanding him and wondering what was wrong with all the other characters who thought he was awful. Then one day, a friend asked me who I was character-wise from Jane Austen’s novels and I was trying to mesh Lizzy and Elinor and finally gave up and picked a male character, Mr. Darcy. Later, I learned that my Myers-Briggs personality type is the one attributed to Mr. Darcy (and Jane Austen herself!). I was just so excited to find my first INTJ character in literature who was NOT the villain…well, at least the people who mattered most figured out he wasn’t the villain before the end. 🙂


What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?

The most useful tool I found in learning to write was serious, professional writers who exchanged work with me in a group. Having a critique group was very eye opening to things I couldn’t see myself. I could read writing craft books, understand the examples even, but having someone point out where I failed and how to fix it was beyond helpful. Plus, in a group, after I critiqued someone’s work, I’d read what others had to say and see what they caught that I didn’t, which honed my eye even more to finding craft problems in my own work.


I think the least useful was putting my story into a critique group one chapter at a time without having a clear idea where I was going with the story or having written the entire thing first. For when someone suggested a fix to a problem, I’d feel compelled to go that way and so, it began to feel like it wasn’t my story. The next book, I did a fast rough draft of the whole thing first before putting it into the critique group. Then when a critter gave me a suggestion, I could either disregard it because I knew my way was better or the advice didn’t mesh with my vision, or I would snatch it up and use it because it was way better than what I had come up with myself!


Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

I’m a part-time writer. I’m a stay-at-home mother and homeschooler to little ones. That’s why I write after everyone goes to bed; it’s the only time I have to myself, so I’m writing from 10pm to 2am. Sometimes I’m up until 4am on deadline! I’ve always wondered if I’d write better if I slept more. Hopefully someday I’ll find out!


Do you have any strange writing habits you wouldn’t mind sharing with readers?

Whenever I’m stuck on what to write next, I take a shower. I can think better there for some reason. It’s dangerous to take a shower right before I intend to go to bed because then I usually have to go “back to work” to put down all the new ideas. Perhaps it’s not more sleep that I need to be a better writer, but a bigger budget for hot water.


What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

Raising children to become adults of integrity.


Check out these other great blog stops on the tour!

2/5      The Crazy Booksellers – Promo

2/6      Missus Gonzo – Author Interview

2/7      Books and Broomsticks – Promo

2/8      My Book Fix Blog — Review

2/9      The Page Unbound – Author Interview

2/10   Because This is My Life Y’all – Guest Post

2/11   Texas Book-aholic — Promo

2/12   The Librarian Talks – Author Interview

2/13   All for the Love of the Word — Review

2/14   Hall Ways Blog — Review

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