Interview: Preston Lewis, author of BLUSTER’S LAST STAND

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BLUSTER’S LAST STAND

The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax, #4

by
PRESTON LEWIS
  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.
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PRAISE FOR THE HH LOMAX SERIES:

“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

 

AuthorInterview

 

How has being a Texan influenced your writing?  Texas provides a sense of place, history and pride that I haven’t seen in residents of other states.  I was a Kiplinger Fellow at Ohio State University and had the opportunity to work closely with a dozen journalists from other states, primarily in the Midwest and Northeast, and they didn’t share the same sense of identity with state that I did.  When I graduated from high school, I said West Texas had seen the last of me, but after living in Central and Southeast Texas and then in Ohio and Michigan, I realized I missed West Texas, both the landscape and people, and was glad to get back in West Texas where I have remained ever since.

Why did you choose to write historical books?  I always loved history and growing up in West Texas, the Old West was the history that surrounded me, from old forts to cattle trails to dramatic landscapes.  My youth was a heyday for western movies, which my father enjoyed and took us to, so that was the screen stories of my childhood.  Perhaps the event that most cemented my fascination with the Old West was a trip my parents took my brother and me to Lincoln County, New Mexico, where I could walk in the footsteps of Billy the Kid.  The final impetus was the birth of our first child and I realized I was going to have to ultimately put our son (and later his sister) through college.  So, I needed to start making more money to save for their education.  Shortly, after our son was born, Bantam had a First Western Contest.  I wrote a western and submitted it.  Though it didn’t win the contest, it gave me a manuscript to circulate, and it was ultimately published by Tower.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?  I have done various types of writing, both on and off the job.  With newspapers I wrote hard news and features.  In higher education, I wrote features, news releases, brochures, ad copy and web copy over the years.  As a freelancer, I’ve had articles appear in daily newspapers, airline magazines, history magazines and scholarly publications.  I’ve written western, historical and juvenile novels, an occasional short story or poem as well as three dramatic productions, two of which were staged, and an unproduced screenplay.  Blood of Texas, my historical novel of the Texas Revolution, earned me a Spur Award for best novel and three other novels were Spur finalists.  My True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon also received a Spur for best short nonfiction and another True West article was a Spur finalist.  My comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin earlier this year earned an Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on West Texas.  Two of my juvenile novels also won Kelton Awards.  

What cultural value do you see in books?  Books provide the cultural continuity of our civilization.  For instance, I took Latin in high school and college and by the time I was done, I could pick up the narratives of Caesar and read them as if Julius Caesar was speaking about the Gallic Wars straight to me across the centuries.  Similarly, I could do the same thing with memoirs of later military heroes Ulysses S. Grant or Dwight D. Eisenhower as well as common people like Anne Frank or Mary Boykin Chestnut.  Books capture the ephemera of the day for posterity.  

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?  I’ve never been a fan of George Armstrong Custer, as is evident on page 1 of Bluster’s Last Stand, so I had not read or researched much on him and the Little Bighorn.  I was shocked at how much material was available on him and his troops.  All the 7th Cavalry soldiers that are mentioned by name in the book were actual participants in the battle, and their descriptions were taken from their military records.  So, I picked out soldiers whose stories I liked or fit my narrative.  There was one Texan in the battle so I had to use him.  On top of that, there were some accounts of a couple soldiers who had survived the fight at Last Stand Hill.  I used one of those soldiers to help tie the book together at the end.  

What question do you wish someone would ask about your book, but nobody yet has?  What do you have against George Armstrong Custer?  Answer:  While he was unquestionably brave (or perhaps impulsive), he was a self-aggrandizing pompous ass with little compassion for his men.  A lot of them died as a result at the Little Bighorn.

Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book?  In Bluster’s Last Stand, I have a self-educated black gentleman who my protagonist rooms with in a Waco brothel where they both work.  The idea was to reflect in Earl Eaton an educated man to contrast with my protagonist, H.H. Lomax, who was more interested in adventure than education.  I also have a Sioux warrior who plays an important role in resolving the conflict, though he appears only in a few chapters.  Using under-represented characters is tricky in these politically correct times, but I try to use them when the plot requires it or I can make it work for my protagonist, who needs a whole range of foils to make the humor work.

Which character from your books is most or least like you?  There’s probably a little of me in all the characters in my books.  My favorite is H.H. Lomax, protagonist in Bluster’s Last Stand, though he is probably least like me because he is outspoken, cynical and irresponsible whereas I tend to be more traditional in my outlook on life.

What did you find most useful in learning to write for publication?  What was least useful or most destructive?  Award-winning novelist Jeanne Williams, who was a great mentor for me and many other western writers, told me once that she had watched a lot of young novelists start out, many with great talent and others less so.  However, she said persistence at writing generally trumped talent as the determining factor in their success.  Talent grows with writing experience while persistence is difficult to cultivate.  As for the least helpful advice, it’s write what you know.  Problem is we know so little, especially when we are writing about historical topics.

What projects are you working on at the present?  For my next book in The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series, I am researching a trail drive novel, giving me a chance to re-read some of J. Frank Dobie’s works and a lot of the classic trail drive histories and memoirs.  I’m always looking for odd or offbeat facts that I can put a humorous spin on or that give me an idea of how to turn the conventions of the genre upside down.

How important are names to you in your books? How do you choose names?  I play around with names and sometimes throw friends with slightly disguised names into my books just for the fun of it.  Of course, I always get their permission, but it is fun and it ensures at least a couple buyers of each book.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?  Time travel so I could do research and resolve many unanswered questions about what happened in the past.  

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?  Dodge City, Kansas.

If you could time travel, what time period would you first visit?  My favorite period in American history starts with the beginning of the Civil War and ends with the conclusion of World War II.  That covers the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, the classic period of the Old West, the Progressive Era, World War I, the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression and World War II.  What period I would visit would depend upon my mood of the day.

What is your favorite quote?  “I cannot live without books”—Thomas Jefferson and “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please”—Mark Twain.

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.  

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Interview: Gina Hooten Popp, author of UP NEAR DALLAS

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UP NEAR DALLAS

Winds of Change — Book III

by
GINA HOOTEN POPP
  Genre:  Texas Historical Fiction / Romance
Date of Publication: November 12, 2017
Number of Pages: 307

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 UpNearDallas_6x9_Cream_310_cover110717_PRESS
The year is 1934. Economic turbulence rocks the country. And record drought dries up crops, along with the spirits of every farmer south of the Mason-Dixon. Yet for sixteen-year-old Mick McLaren, life is good as he takes to the open road to chase his dream of being a musician. Riding boxcars, hitchhiking, walking and driving his way across Depression Era Texas, he finds not only himself, but the love of a girl from Dallas named Margaret. Along the way, they befriend Cowboy Larson, a Delta Blues guitarist. Together the three teens, from three very different worlds, come-of-age as their life-changing journey carries them through killer dust storms, extreme poverty, and the unprecedented gangster activity of the Dirty Thirties.


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AuthorInterview

 

How has Texas influenced your writing?

For starters, all my books are set in Texas. This was not a conscious decision on my part, it just happened that way. I think it may be because there are so many good stories to tell about this area of the country. Take for example my latest book, Up Near Dallas, set in 1934. The characters roam all over the state hopping boxcars but end up back in Dallas where the music scene was hot at the time. Texas has always had a lot of musicians and artists on the forefront of things—from Austin to San Antonio to Dallas and more—Texans have paved the way into new creative territory. I’ve always thought that this is because Texas is a little untamed and not too fast to tell others what they can and cannot do. Therefore, if a guy plants Cadillacs upright in a row or starts a new style of country music, then good for him because there are all kinds of people around the state and the country that will more than appreciate it.

Why did you choose to write historical books?

I’ve always had a love for history and literary books, so it was only natural for me to write what I love to read. My sister got me hooked on historical fiction novels. So, you’d have to blame her, I guess.

Where did your love of storytelling come from?

My grandmother was a great storyteller. From a young age, I would ask for a story and she’d just make one up out of thin air, and it would be interesting. In fact, she could even make a story about going to the grocery store or the gas station tense and exciting. Nothing in her life was ever mundane. And, as the old saying goes, the nut doesn’t fall for from the tree. In fact, you’ll see a lot of her colorful sayings in my stories. I think she’d be proud.   

How long have you been writing?

I have a long history of creativity and writing. In school, I always did well in literature classes and art classes. When I graduated from Texas A&M/Commerce, I went into advertising. First, I started as an art director. Then I kept writing behind the scenes on ads, menus, and brochures. After I’d collected enough awards for writing, my boss at The Richards Group (Stan Richards) let me work as a writer/art director. I’m forever grateful to him because it made for a great career as I moved from agency to agency as well as worked on my own as a freelancer. So, I’d been professionally writing for about fifteen to twenty years when I decided to start writing novels. About ten years ago, I took a class at Texas A&M/Canyon in West Texas and got involved with the West Texas Writers’ Academy, hosted by New York Times bestselling author, Jodi Thomas. I would suggest that anyone wanting to write books seriously consider this week-long summer camp. It’s a game changer for making it in the world of writing.

How does your book relate to your faith?

Before I do any creative project, I always pray God will allow the Holy Spirit to flow through me influencing my work. Yes, I’ve always done this whether I’m working on websites and brochures for an airline, tech company, or restaurant, or whether I’m writing a novel about a hurricane, drug dealer, or fighter pilot. I see myself as a vessel through which creativity flows.  

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I write in a simple conversational style that moves fast for the reader.

What is your favorite quote?

I have two favorite quotes at the moment:

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”        —Mother Teresa   

“Be kind to one another.” —Ellen DeGeneres

 

A native Texan, Gina Hooten Popp was born in Greenville and now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Along with writing novels, Gina has enjoyed a long career as a professional writer in advertising. Her debut novel THE STORM AFTER was a finalist in the 2014 RONE Awards, and her just-released book CHICO BOY: A NOVEL was a 2016 Medalist Winner in the New Apple Annual Book Awards. Recently, her novel LUCKY’S WAY, about a young fighter pilot from Houston, was endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission. 


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Review: COWBOY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE by Lori Wilde {giveaway}

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COWBOY, 
IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

A Twilight, Texas Novel

by
LORI WILDE
  Genre:  Contemporary Holiday Romance
Date of Publication: October 27, 2017
Publisher: Avon 
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Number of Pages: 400

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lori Wilde’s Twilight, TX Christmas novels are beloved for their emotional depth and ability to capture the sweetness of the holiday season. In her latest Twilight, Texas novel, COWBOY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE, the holiday season is once again full of romance and surprises.
Everyone in town knows that Christmas in Twilight has a way of bringing lovers together . . . but will its magic bring this pair from “I won’t” to “I do?”
Wearing a too-tight “Santa Baby” costume held in by a double pair of Spanx, Paige MacGregor runs headlong into a gorgeous, grey-eyed hunk of a long, tall cowboy. And not just any cowboy, but country-western star Cash Colton, visiting Twilight to perform in a charity concert. Most women would melt at his feet, but Paige knows all-too-much about self-assured men with cocky attitudes, so she tells him to get lost.
Cash is in town, nursing his own broken heart, but Paige has knocked him off his feet. He’s convinced she’s perfect—someone to inspire his music and share his now-empty bed. True, he’s not marriage material, but he’s determined to convince her that they’re perfect together—at least for a while. But what he doesn’t count on is falling in love with the one woman who isn’t about to give him the time of day!
“When it comes to striking exactly the right balance between sweet and sexy, Wilde has the equivalent of perfect pitch.” — Booklist 

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Review

Lori Wilde >>>> Twilight, TX + Christmas = MAGIC

I knew before I even got started how wonderful this book was going to be, and I was blissfully right!

Paige MacGregor returns home to Twilight for a new start after a conman scams her out of her money and steals her identity.  The last thing in the world she wants to do right now is hook up with some cocky, self-absorbed male.  But meeting Cash Coulton makes it very hard to remember that.

Cash is in Twilight to perform a charity concert, after taking a hiatus from his music career.  He’s not looking for love, but he can’t control the feelings he gets for Miss Paige MacGregor and the fact that she has awakened his muse.  Her playing hard to get just makes him want her even more.

All he wants to do is convince her to give “them” a shot.  With a little trust and a whole lot of Twilight magic, love is their Christmas surprise.

What can I say about Lori Wilde and the TWILIGHT, TX series that hasn’t already been said?  Country charm.  Cowboys with Heart.  And Twilight is the place EVERYONE wants to visit.  The one thing you can guarantee when you pick up one of her books is that you’ll get that warm-fuzzy feeling all over, and close the book with a sigh and a smile.  As far a Christmas stories go, COWBOY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE is one of the best I’ve read.  With all the magical charm of the rest of the TWILIGHT, TX series all wrapped up in festive Christmas decor, it will keep the hearth burning long after the last page.

HIGHLY recommended for romance readers who love a feel-good story, or any of you Hallmark channel watchers out there.  You’ll be happy you read it.  You’ll be grabbing up the rest of the series.  And you’ll be trying to figure out just how to get to Twilight, TX.

 

 

A fifth generation Texan, Lori Wilde is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 82 works of fiction. She’s a three-time nominee of the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award and has won numerous other awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University, and a certificate in forensics. She is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor, and runs a yoga/creativity retreat for artists at Epiphany Orchards in Weatherford, Texas, the Cutting Horse Capital of the World.
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Review: TOO FAR DOWN by Mary Connealy {giveaway}

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TOO FAR DOWN
Cimarron Legacy Book 3

by
MARY CONNEALY
  Genre: Western Historical Christian Romance
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 322

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With Danger Drawing Ever Closer, The Boden Clan Risk Losing Their Ranch Forever

Having returned home to the ranch, Cole Boden finds himself caught between missing his time back east and appreciating all that New Mexico Territory offers. Sure, he fights with his siblings now and then, but he does care for them. He enjoys his new job running the mine and, when he’s honest, he admits that Melanie Blake captures his interest in a way no other woman ever has.

Melanie has been a friend to the Bodens forever. A cowgirl who is more comfortable with horses and lassoes than people, she never expected to find herself falling for someone, particularly for refined Cole Boden, a Harvard graduate who can’t seem to make up his mind about staying in New Mexico.
When a deadly explosion damages the CR Mining Company, the Bodens realize their troubles are not behind them as they thought. Shadowy forces are still working against them. Melanie is determined to help Cole and the family finally put an end to the danger that’s threatened all of them. But will putting herself in harm’s way be more dangerous than anyone expected?
PRAISE FOR TOO FAR DOWN
“Connealy crafts relatable characters who will inspire readers with their love, loyalty, and fortitude, and the mystery remains intriguing until the end.” Publishers Weekly 
“Recommended for those who enjoy a fast, smart historical-set suspense.” RT Book Reviews
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Review

A fine blend of suspense, action and romance, all wrapped up in classic Western fashion.

Cole Boden might have been raised on the Cimarron Ranch, but he left that behind for Harvard and a refined life on the East Coast.  Family duty has begrudgingly brought him back home to the New Mexico Territory and his new endeavor owning and running the gold mines on the family property.  Until he spends time with Mel, that is…Melanie Blake is the daughter of successful ranch owner, and a lifelong friend to the Boden family.  She’s 100 percent cowgirl, but finds herself falling for “city boy”, Cole.
The Boden family is fighting to save their ranch, and their lives from an outside threat.  Mel is determined to help Cole save his family, even if it means putting herself in harm’s way.
Another hit by Mary Connealy.  The story has the perfect amount of action and suspense to keep the pages turning. The story picks up after the Boden family has been targeted by kidnappers and several members of the family shot, in multiple attempts at their lives.  Cole is trying to make his way in back home by running the mine when the “bad guys” blow it up and try to shut it down.  The romance picks up naturally and develops as the two characters work together to find out who is fixed on ruining the Boden family and taking Cimarron Ranch.
I enjoyed getting to know the Boden family, and the romance between the main characters.  I did feel a little lost at the beginning, not having read the first two books, since I didn’t know much about what transpired previously or about the other Boden family members.  I’d suggest grabbing the first two books, because it looks like I missed some good stuff there!
I highly recommend TOO FAR DOWN to lovers of great Western romances.  You’ll be flipping those pages faster than a prairie fire with a tail wind!

Mary Connealy writes “romantic comedies with cowboys” and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie’s Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

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Review: :LAMAR’S FOLLY by Jeffrey Stuart Kerr

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LAMAR’S FOLLY

by
Jeffrey Stuart Kerr
  Genre: Texas Historical Fiction
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
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Date of Publication: November 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 320
Mirabeau Lamar seeks nothing less than a Texas empire that will dominate the North American continent. Brave exploits at the Battle of San Jacinto bring him rank, power, and prestige, which by 1838 propel him to the presidency of the young Republic of Texas and put him in position to achieve his dream. Edward Fontaine, who works for and idolizes Lamar, vows to help his hero overcome all obstacles, including the substantial power of Sam Houston. Houston and Lamar are not only political, but personal enemies, and each man regards the other with contempt.
Edward’s slave Jacob likes and admires his master, but cannot share his hatred of Sam Houston. The loyalties of both Jacob and Edward are tested by President Lamar’s belief that a righteous cause justifies any means necessary to sustain it. Lamar becomes infatuated with a married woman who resembles his deceased wife. He sends the woman’s husband on the ill-fated Santa Fe Expedition, the failure of which humiliates Lamar and provokes a crisis in his relationship with Edward, who in turn jeopardizes the trust that Jacob has placed in him. Edward laments the waste of Lamar’s genius, while Jacob marvels at the hypocrisy of both men.
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Review
Growing up Texan gave me a certain deep-rooted respect for its history.  It’s like that with just about every Texan.  Just ask one.  So, given the opportunity to read/review a piece of historical fiction featuring this subject was not only an opportunity to read a story, but my duty as a Texan (I know, I know.  You’re rolling your eyes.  Seriously, go ask another Texan, and you’ll get the same thing.  It’s just how we are.)
I love a good fictional account of a period of history I know a lot about, and LAMAR’S FOLLY delivered.  As any good fictional account of real events should do, the story left me guessing.  Who were these people REALLY?  Texas history is always larger than life, as are the stories of the major players, such as Sam Houston and Mirabeau Lamar.  LAMAR’S FOLLY gave these characters back a semblance of realism, with character flaws and personality that the history books just can’t teach.  It was fun to imagine these men, especially through the alternating point of view of Edward Fontaine and his slave, Jacob.  What I really enjoyed was seeing what each character perceived from the same situations, each with their own notion of right and wrong, and each with their own hope for the future.  The alternating point of views gave this story the perfect balance of realism, keeping Fontaine’s aspirations from taking over the story with Jacobs straight-forward accounts of what he witnessed and felt in reaction to the same situations.
If you change the setting and characters of the story to another place in history, the story remains the same.  It’s the timeless story of ambition, pride and jealousy causing the ruin of a country, much like Napolean Boanaparte (how strange that Lamar’s shares this surname as his middle name).   Mirabeau Lamar, though portrayed as modest and humble at the start,  fed off the rank and power he gained as he climbed to the Presidency of the Republic of Texas.  This power was fueled by his disdain and all out contempt for the popularity of Sam Houston in the new republic.  What happens with the expedition to Santa Fe is the result of his ambitions for more power and his need to show up Houston, thus turning the outlook of a young nation very dark, and causes rifts in the foundation of his power, his relationships.  Poignant.
I recommend LAMAR’S FOLLY to anyone who likes a good historical fiction, but especially to those Texas History buffs who like to do a little bit of “what if” from time to time.
 
Jeffrey Stuart Kerr is the author of several titles, including Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas, winner of the Summerfield G. Roberts Award and a True West Best Western Book.
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Excerpt: COMFORT PLANS by Kimberly Fish

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COMFORT PLANS
by
KIMBERLY FISH
  Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Date of Publication: May 23, 2017
Number of Pages: 320
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Colette Sheridan is being remodeled.

As a San Antonio architect, she’d have vowed her career was to investigate the history and create new functions for the structures everyone else saw as eyesores. The old German farmhouse in Comfort, Texas, might be the screeching end of that dream job. The assignment seemed so ideal at the start; generous clients, a stunning location, and a pocketful of letters that were surely meant to explain the ranch’s story. All that goodness crashed louder than a pile of two-by-fours when her grandfather announced he’d lured Colette’s ex-husband back to San Antonio to take over the family architecture firm. Now, not only does Colette have to endure the challenges posed by Beau Jefferson, the client’s handpicked contractor, a house that resists efforts to be modernized, and letters that may hold the secret to buried treasure, but she also has to decide if she has the courage to fight for her future.
Set against the backdrop of the Texas Hill Country, Colette and Beau have to rely on plans neither of them constructed in order to navigate the changes of a house with a story to tell, and a future they couldn’t even imagine.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Kimberly Fish’s unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character’s life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can’t wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish.”
–Vickie Phelps,Author of Moved, Left No Address

Excerpt

Excerpt, Chapter 1, Part 3

from Comfort Plans

Continued from the Lone Star Book Blog Tours 8/5/17 Stop

Scooping up a handful of chiffon, Colette scooted across the leather driver’s seat and wondered if her grandfather followed-through with a candidate, if a new president at Sheridan’s would gain much traction in the market. The boutique firm specialized in historical restoration and had a niche in South Texas. Since Nathan Sheridan was the guru of that style, she doubted anyone would ever replicate the success her grandfather had maintained in an industry that could change on the whims of the stock market.

Point number twelve for why he needed to groom a stronger replacement.

She backed out of the driveway but stole one last glance at the man who never went a day without Brylcreem. His custom-tailored shirt was rolled at the sleeves, and he was wearing his dress slacks on a Saturday night. The Big Ben of her world—he was classy, reliable, and just as unbending as any national monument London had ever produced.

He was flagging her to roll down her window.

Colette cranked the window below her nose. “Yes?”

“Aren’t you at all curious who I’ve finally selected to manage my empire?”

Empire was a bit of a leap. The last quarter-profits weren’t anything to get excited about. “Knowing that you would scour the face of the earth to find someone worthy of the Sheridan name and that it’s taken you years since the last serious candidate, I’m hopeful this man is capable of carrying your legacy forward.”

“That’s a lot of faith from the girl who questioned me about the wisdom of maintaining my breakfast ritual at Earl Abel’s.”

He did have a nasty habit of smothering all forms of nutrition with sausage gravy, which was another reason to force him into a doctor’s appointment.

“I’m looking out for your general health because I want you to hang around and torment me for years to come.” Which was true. She adored her resident curmudgeon and delighted in being one of the few people in the world who could make him laugh.

His lips turned down even more than usual. “I’m one of the short timers, which is why I want to know that you and my firm are going to be in good hands.”

She shivered. “Don’t talk like that. You know what Momma says about positive thinking.”

“Your mother is a flake.”

Colette sighed and knew she’d be even later to this wedding than was acceptable. “I can see you want to tell me who you’ve hired, so what’s his name? Or am I supposed to guess based on last month’s Architectural Digest article about the ‘it guy’ from Los Angeles?”

She’d seen her grandfather poring over those pages like they were printed in gold leaf. She hadn’t seen anything brilliant when she’d snatched the article from the breakfast table, but her inability to see modern trends was another excuse she’d offered as to why she’d make a lousy president of the firm.

Finish reading Chapter One on the Lone Star Book Blog Tours 8/13/17 Stop

Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won The Writer’s League of Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting.
She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats and in 2017, released the first novel in a series set during the World War II years in Longview, Texas – The Big Inch.
She lives with her family in East Texas.
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Review: BLOOD OATH by Melissa Lenhardt – Badlands Blog Tour

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BADLANDS
Sawbones, Book 3
by
MELISSA LENHARDT
!!NEW RELEASE!!
  Genre: Historical / Western / Action-Adventure / Romance
Publisher: Redhook
Date of Publication: June 27, 2017
Number of Pages: 416

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in the conclusion to Melissa Lenhardt’s fast-paced historical series.

Laura’s worst fears have been realized: Kindle has been taken into custody and she is once again on the run. The noose awaits her in New York, but Laura is realizing that there are some things worse than death. Finally running out of places to hide, it may be time for Dr. Catherine Bennett to face her past.
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review
I was eager to get my hands on this after having read the author’s first book in the series, SAWBONES.
I was not disappointed. Lenhardt’s writing is raw, gritty and doesn’t hold back.
As the story begins, Laura and Kindle are on the run again.  Their path has been wrought with death and violence, and they are running away from what has happened as much as the Army and bounty hunters.  Life in 1800’s frontier wasn’t easy and the author captures the sense of danger and desperation these characters faced and holds no punches.
Lenhardt really knows how to put her characters through the wringer!  Just about the time you think you’ve figured out what’s about to happen, she rips the story open and twists it in a whole new, white-knuckled direction.  So I guess I don’t need to tell you that I’ve already started BADLANDS, Book 3 in the series.  I’ve got to know how this all works out and if our hero and heroine get their day in the sun.
I highly recommend this book to lovers of historical mystery/thrillers and love the frontier setting.  Even though you don’t HAVE to read the first book, SAWBONES first, I recommend you do, or you’ll miss out on the tension and conflict at the beginning of the story.

Melissa Lenhardt is the author the Jack McBride mystery series, as well as the Laura Elliston historical fiction series. Her debut mystery, STILLWATER, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and SAWBONES, her historical fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new subgenre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband and two sons.

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Guest Post: Karen Witemeyer, author of Heart on the Line

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HEART ON THE LINE
Ladies of Harper’s Station #2
by
Karen Witemeyer
  Genre: Christian / Historical / Frontier Romance
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: June 6, 2017
Number of Pages: 336
Scroll down for Giveaway!
 

Grace Mallory is tired of hiding. She hungers for a normal life, perhaps even a suitor like two of her friends in Harper’s Station have found. But when the man she believes responsible for her father’s death discovers her whereabouts, survival takes priority.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His fellow telegrapher, the mysterious Miss G, has been the ideal companion. For months, their friendship—dare he believe, courtship?—over the wire has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intends for him. However, when he intercepts an ominous message and discovers her life is in peril, Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

PRAISE FOR HEART ON THE LINE:
“Witemeyer blends history, suspense, and romance with touches of humor. Women will enjoy this story that proves heroes come in unexpected shapes and sizes and not always on a white charger.”Christian Market

“Online dating meets 1890s Texas in this charming, spiritually deep, laugh-out-loud funny romance!”—reader review on Goodreads
 PURCHASE LINKS:
GuestPost

 

Ten Fun Facts about Karen Witemeyer
  1. I live next door to my in-laws . . . and LOVE it! From built-in day care for the kids when they were smaller to easy family meals together, to shared grills and shared newspaper subscriptions, having my husband’s family move in next door a decade ago was an unexpected blessing.
  2. I once lost the diamond out of my wedding ring only to find it a week later (after searching everywhere at home and at work) when I pulled a tissue out of my bathroom tissue box. Somehow the stone had fallen into the box and when I pulled out a new tissue, I heard a tinkling sound and found the diamond on the Guest Post 2 Image 1counter. Never have I thanked God more for a runny nose!
  3. My oldest child (my only daughter) graduated from high school last year on my 45th birthday. No, I didn’t feel old or anything (OK, maybe a little). I was too proud listening to her valedictorian speech. Smart and sassy, just the way I like my heroines.
  4. I have a black thumb. Well, not literally. In respect to plants. I have a tendency to kill the majority of plants that have had the misfortune to come home with me. A few hearty ones have survived, like the aloe vera plant in the kitchen window that continues to survive despite my best efforts to do it in. And the roses on the side of the house have managed to pull through despite a run in with some sort of blight last year. I should post a sign on my back door that says, “If you contain chlorophyll, enter at your own risk.”
  5. My favorite animal is the hippopotamus. When I was in junior high, one of my friends and I decided we were going to have unique favorite animals. No cats or dogs for us. She selected the armadillo and I selected the hippo. When I was 16, I took a mission trip to Kenya, and was so excited to see my favorite animal in his natural habitat. I’ve been hooked ever since. This year for Christmas, my hubby got me a hippopotamus shirt and socks. Fun new outfit!Guest Post 2 Image 2
  6. I’ve ridden a mule in Bryce Canyon, swum with sea turtles in Maui, and when I was young and stupid, held a 13 pound boa constrictor around my neck. I recommend the first two but not the third.
  7. I was a band nerd all through junior high and high school but switched to choir in college because of the boy I was dating. Ended up marrying that fella, and now we have our own harmonizing quintet on the church pew every Sunday. Love it! (Though, I’m raising band nerds at the same time. My daughter plays my old flute, my older son plays the French horn, and my youngest plays the trumpet.)
  8. I don’t drink coffee. Ever. I know, I know. It’s shameful. Coffee’s supposed to be the elixir of life, right? Especially for writers. But I never developed a taste for it. I prefer a simple cup of Lipton hot tea sweetened with honey. Mmmmm.
  9. Whenever I have free time (a very RARE commodity), I love to cross stitch. Here’s a set of simple cameo silhouettes I made for my editors a couple years ago for Christmas.Guest Post 2 Image 3
  10. Even though I write historical romance, I hated history classes in school. Math was more my style. Maybe it was because my teachers always seemed to be coaches that got stuck in the history classroom, or maybe it was because all the textbooks emphasized wars and politics. Boring. Yet I loved historical novels. Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, THAT was the history I fell in love with. So when you read one of my novels today, you won’t find a plot that centers around war or political intrigue or even key historical events. No, my books are focused on people and the lesser known, yet meaningful aspects of life in 19th century that shaped their lives and their loves.
 
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. 

 





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Sneak Peak: HITCHIN’ POST by Julie Barker

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HITCHIN’ POST
by
Julie Barker
 Genre: Children’s Picture Book / Rhyming / K-3
Publisher: LifeRich Publishing
Date of Publication: July 14, 2016
Number of Pages: 46
Scroll down for Giveaway!
Hard work and the cowboy life on the 6Bs Ranch is nothing new to old jackrabbit Hitchin’ Post.  Hitchin’ Post is a picture book written in rhyme describing old Hitch’s life on the 6Bs Ranch and his journey in finding what it truly means to be thankful.  His beloved ranch goes through a terrible drought, but Hitch decides that despite challenges, there is always something to be thankful for. He discovers that it is relationships with his friends and his beloved ranch that makes him feel rich.

 

 

PRAISE FOR HITCHIN’ POST:
**2017 North Texas Book Festival Honorable Mention award*
Wonderfully told with beautiful, rustic illustrations. — Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Readers’ Favorite 
I can’t wait to share this book with my granddaughters! –- Amy, Goodreads Review
Hitchin’ Post is the most adorable story with the best illustrations! We love, love, love it!!! Cory, Amazon Verified Customer
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Preview
Hitchin Post image
 
Julie Barker was born and raised in west Texas, and currently resides in Quanah, Texas, with her husband and three children.  She maintained her west Texas roots into college when she attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, receiving a degree in social work.  Julie has grown up surrounded by the ranching heritage, and felt drawn to share this way of life through the adventures of the little cowboy jackrabbit, Hitchin’ Post.  Hitchin’ Post marks Julie’s debut into the world of children’s literature.  She was fortunate to have her mother, artist Carolyn Altman, provide the cute, whimsical illustrations of old Hitch and the 6Bs, making this project extra special.
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Review: THE SWIMMING HOLES OF TEXAS

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THE SWIMMING HOLES
OF TEXAS
by
Julie Wernersbach & Carolyn Tracy
  Genre: Travel / Outdoors / Swimming
Publisher: The University of Texas Press
Date of Publication: May 16, 2017
Number of Pages: 240, 100 color photos
Scroll down for Giveaway!
review

A Must-Have, So-Much-More-Than a Guide Book – helping Texan families survive the summer (and learn a little too).

I absolutely loved The Swimming Holes of Texas.  Of course, majoring in geography and being a “fun fact” junkie might make me a bit biased.  The comprehensive information about each location, including historical, geographical and geological information, alongside the wonderful photography, serves the reader so much more deeply than the average “travel guide”.  

As mentioned in the introduction, summers are unbearable here in Texas and free time usually includes finding a way to cool off from the heat.  This book is a fantastic guide to the oasis that is the swimming hole.  Don’t miss the “pro-tips” for insider info (so you don’t get caught with your pants down – literally).  And most importantly, I think, the author stresses the importance of taking care of our natural sites.  Clean up after yourselves so that we leave it for others to use.  Kudos for making sure to reiterate that point.  We love our state, hence the motto, “Don’t Mess with Texas”.

Whether you’re a traveler just visiting, or a family looking for a unique place to have fun, you’ll find something to meet your needs in this book. The photographs are fantastic, capturing the magnificence of these unique places.  No matter where you are in Texas, you’ll find a place not too far away to make a day trip worthwhile.

I highly recommend this book, and will be keeping it handy to find a spot to cool off this summer.

 

Nothing beats a natural swimming hole for cooling off on a scorching summer day in Texas. Cold, clear spring water, big old shade trees, and a quiet stretch of beach or lawn offer the perfect excuse to pack a cooler and head out with family and friends to the nearest natural oasis. Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or an unforgettable summer vacation, let The Swimming Holes of Texas be your guide.

Julie Wernersbach and Carolyn Tracy highlight one hundred natural swimming spots across the entire state. The book is organized by geographic regions, so you can quickly find local places to swim—or plan a trip to a more distant spot you’d like to explore. Each swimming hole is illustrated with an inviting color photo and a description of what it’s like to swim there, as well as the site’s history, ecology, and conservation. The authors include all the pertinent info about admission fees and hours, parking, and on-site amenities such as showers and restrooms. They also offer tips for planning your trips and lists of the swimming holes that are most welcoming to families and pets.

So when the temperature tops 100 and there’s nothing but traffic in sight, take a detour down the backroads and swim, sunbathe, revel, and relax in the swimming holes of Texas.




Julie Wernersbach, Austin, is the literary director of the Texas Book Festival and a former marketing director at BookPeople, Austin’s largest independent bookstore.
Carolyn Tracy, Austin, is a freelance photographer who works for an animal welfare nonprofit. They are the authors of Vegan Survival Guide to Austin.

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