Once Upon a Camel: Review and Giveaway

by Kathi Appelt
Categories: Middle Grade Fiction / Historical / Friendship / Ages 8-12 Publisher: Atheneum / Caitlyn Dlouhy Books Pub Date: September 7, 2021 Pages: 336 pages
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Zada is a camel with a treasure trove of stories to tell. She’s won camel races for the royal Pasha of Smyrna, crossed treacherous oceans to new land, led army missions with her best camel friend by her side, and outsmarted a far too pompous mountain lion. But those stories were from before.
Now, Zada wanders the desert as the last camel in Texas. But she’s not alone. Two tiny kestrel chicks are nestled in the fluff of fur between her ears—kee-killy-keeing for their missing parents—and a dust storm the size of a mountain is taking Zada on one more grand adventure. And it could lead to this achy old camel’s most brilliant story yet.

CLICK TO PURCHASE Simon and Schuster ~ Bookshop.org

Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt was purely a magical and spectacular read! We dive into the world of Zada, a camel from Smyrna, Turkey, and two young American kestrels named Perdita and Pard. This fable come to life is a tale of friendship and a journey based on real life events from the 1800’s when the US brought camels into Texas to transport supplies for the military. 

This was honestly the first I ever heard about the US bringing camels into Texas. I’m not a native to Texas and not as familiar with Texas history, but this tid bit of fact fascinated me. I think it’s fun and clever to base a work of fiction off of this historical fact!

Zada, who is lonely and missing her friends from Turkey, encounters a sandstorm that blows in. The kestrels are worried about their babies and Zada, courageous as ever, swoops in to help them. When the sand storm sweeps the kestrels away, Zada is left to take care of the little ones, and in so doing we learn about Zada’s life story. 

Zada is a gentle soul, and hearing her life story unfold was woven with imagery and a voice you can get lost in. 

Though this story is geared towards children, it’s easily enjoyable to read as an adult! And one I definitely recommend. This was exactly the kind of weekend read I needed! A purely enjoyable story!

Rating: 5/5

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, 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 Mogie, the Heart of the House. She lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband and five gifted and talented cats.
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Creatrix Rising Tour

OF MIDLIFE WOMEN By Stephanie Raffelock

Categories: Nonfiction / Self Help Memoir
Publisher: She Writes Press
Pub Date: August 24, 2021
Pages:176 Pages
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From the author of the award-winning book A Delightful Little Book on Aging comes a new self-help memoir Creatrix Rising: Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women. In her new book, Stephanie Raffelock liberates mold-defying midlife women, tired of the oft-inaccurate characterization of the “old crone,” to amplify the resounding strength within. Ever since Eve was banned from the garden, women have endured the oftentimes painful and inaccurate definitions foisted upon them by the patriarchy. Maiden, mother, and crone, representing the three stages assigned to a woman’s life cycle, have been the limiting categories of both ancient and modern (neo-pagan) mythology. And one label in particular rankles: crone. The word conjures a wizened hag—useless for the most part, marginalized by appearance and ability. None of us has ever truly fit the old-crone image, and for today’s midlife women, a new archetype is being birthed: the Creatrix.

In Creatrix Rising, Raffelock lays out—through personal stories and essays—the highlights of the past fifty years, in which women have gone from a quiet strength to a resounding voice. She invites us along on her own transformational journey by providing probing questions for reflection so that we can flesh out and bring to life this new archetype within ourselves. If what the Dalai Lama has predicted—that women will save the world—proves true, then the Creatrix will for certain be out front, leading the pack.


“The perfect topic at the perfect time, Stephanie Raffelock’s self-help memoir, Creatrix Rising, identifies a new archetype, the Creatrix, that transcends the old archetype of Crone. Her stories and insights about how far women have come is nothing short of inspirational. A must-read for any woman who wants to embrace the strength and creativity of midlife.” -Marci Shimoff, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Happy for No Reason and Chicken Soup for the Women’s Soul

“Poetic and philosophical, Creatrix Rising will inspire readers to claim the courage and confidence that already lives inside of them. An intimate story of transformation, of journeying through life on your own terms without apology.”
Richard Blanco, 2013 Presidential Inaugural Poet and author of How to Love a Country

“The new archetype Stephanie Raffelock assigns to midlife women underscores the assets and wisdom older women bring to our culture and to the greater good. Creatrix Rising is an affirmation and celebration of the feminine story taking place in leadership and creativity throughout our country.”
Gabby Reese, volleyball legend, Nike’s first female spokeswoman, and New York Times best-selling author

Click To Purchase: Amazon ~ Indiebound ~ Bookshop.org

Link To The Book Trailer On YouTube

By Stephanie Raffelock
(originally posted to the author’s website May, 2021)

Recently, my friend Tara was taking some pictures of me in the park. In one shot, the light was just right, revealing how silver my hair is becoming. This is a desired effect. I stopped dying my hair over two years ago, a liberating action that gifts me a crown of silver to wear into my seventies. It seems to me to be an appropriate marker. In this last year of my sixties, there are a lot of markers, pointing the way to what’s next in the brave and bold adventure of getting older.

Embodying the role of an elder is upon me and it doesn’t look like what I thought it would. All of my best, saved up wisdom and advice means nothing to a younger generation. I certainly didn’t want the advice of older women when I was in my twenties, thirties and forties. The lesson is this: You don’t really become an elder until you learn to listen deeply to the younger people around you, and offer support, validation and goodwill. Then and only then, might you be honored with a conversation that will benefit each of you. A lot of being an elder is bearing witness to the process of youth as it struggles out of the chrysalis and unfolds it’s wet wings. Kindness, support and encouragement are powerful and empowering offerings to give to the next generation.

Another marker is the shift in energy that I’m feeling. I’ve lived a physically active life for all of my years. It’s a real blessing now. I know that most aches in my body can be transcended through a morning walk. I’m able to exercise daily, though some of my activities have changed. I no longer play tennis, but I walk for three miles every day. I do some stretching. A swimming allows me to have an easy range of motion. In spite of all of that, I’m feeling the need for quiet and rest. My Type-A personality can no longer go eight to ten hours a day. The disappointment I’m faced with is that the energy that once propelled me to meet all deadlines and be proactive in my work, has waned. This means that I have to choose the outline of my days more carefully so that it contributes to my health and not to burnout.

In the past couple of years, I’ve come to a deeper level of reflection, which has resulted in embracing past pain, joy, regrets, sorrow and love. My life has not been smooth. Most people’s aren’t. But the acceptance of my jagged edges has produced a tenderness that grows from a heart that cherishes the lessons and longings of life. That’s given me a great sense of peace.

As I embrace the years and the process of getting older, I’m drawn to the chairs on my back porch which overlook the forest. Nature keeps us alive after midlife for a reason. Obviously it’s not for the proliferation of the species. I believe that it’s for the purpose of reflection and contemplation upon the life we’ve lived and where all of that fits into the grand scheme of things. Aging brings a lot of outer changes — silver hair, waning energy and the emergence of a reflective heart.

At this age, I believe that I’m here to begin the slow, rolling surrender to some great, eternal love, some indescribable awe that pulls me into feeling that I am a part of everything. The stardust from which I was made is the same stardust to which I’ll return. And the knowledge of this particular marker fills me with gratitude. I love the accumulating years. What a wonder to evolve and grown psychologically and spiritually until the day we die.

Stephanie Raffelock is the author of Creatrix Rising, Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women, (She Writes Press – August, 2021). She also penned the award winning book, A Delightful Little Book on Aging.

A graduate of Naropa University’s program in Writing and Poetics, Stephanie was a contributor to The Rogue Valley Messenger in Oregon. She has blogged for Nexus Magazine, Omaha Lifestyles, Care2.com, as well as SixtyandMe.com.

A former i-Heart Radio host, she is now a popular guest on podcasts, where she inspires women to embrace the strength and passion of their personal story. Stephanie continues to build her speaker’s resume by giving presentations for groups like The Ashland Literary Arts Festival, Breaking the Glass, WINS at Charles Schwab and Southern Oregon University, Friends of the Hannon Library. Her commitment to uplift women extends to teaching personal development classes for incarcerated women and non-profits, including Dress for Success, Austin.

A recent transplant to Austin, Texas Stephanie enjoys an active life with her husband, Dean, and their Labrador retriever, Mickey Mantel Raffelock.

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Trace of Doubt: Review and Giveaway

Categories: Romantic Suspense / Christian Fiction / FBI Crime Solving Novel / Clean Romance Publisher: Tyndale House Pub Date: September 7, 2021 Pages: 432 pages
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Fifteen years ago, Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and was sent to prison. Now she’s out on parole and looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas. But starting over won’t be easy for an ex-con.
FBI Special Agent Denton McClure was a rookie fresh out of Quantico when he was first assigned the Pearce case. He’s always believed Shelby embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account. So he’s going undercover to befriend Shelby, track down the missing money, and finally crack this case.
But as Denton gets closer to Shelby, he begins to have a trace of doubt about her guilt. Someone has Shelby in their crosshairs. It’s up to Denton to stop them before they silence Shelby—and the truth—forever.


“Filled with high stakes, high emotion, and high intrigue.” – LYNN H. BLACKBURN, award-winning author of UNKNOWN THREAT and ONE FINAL BREATH

Trace of Doubt is a suspense reader’s best friend. From page one until the end, the action is intense and the storyline keeps you guessing.” – EVA MARIE EVERSON, bestselling author of FIVE BRIDES and DUST

“DiAnn Mills serves up a perfect blend of action, grit, and heart. . . Trace of Doubt takes romantic suspense to a whole new level.” – JAMES R. HANNIBAL, award-winning author of THE PARIS BETRAYAL

“Well-researched . . . with some surprising twists along the way. In Trace of Doubt, Mills weaves together a tale of faith, intrigue, and suspense that her fans are sure to enjoy.” – STEVEN JAMES, award-winning author of SYNAPSE and EVERY WICKED MAN


Link to the Book Trailer on YouTube

What a thrilling read!

For 15 years Shelby Pearce had remained behind bars for a crime she says she did not commit. She spends her time turning over a religious leaf and finding her heart in Christianity. Once she is released, she wants nothing more than to live a quiet life. But then her paths cross with Agent Denton McClure, a man with his own agenda, set out to prove that Shelby is a murderer and a thief. 

Over the course of the story, these two characters souls collide in a beautiful way. Shelby shares her faith with Denton a little at a time, which over the course of the book helps him to find his faith as well. The love that develops is a slow one, but it’s deep and real and gave me all the feels!

What I loved about this story was how gentle and patient Denton was. He gave her time to heal and grow until she was ready to be in a relationship with him. 

I also loved all the plot twists in this book and how over time Shelby’s story and her life slowly begins to unfold. The ending packs quite a surprise! One I didn’t see coming! 

You can tell Mills put her heart into this story, with its gripping plot and it’s deeply developed characters. The pace is a real page turner, and the story was so easy to get lost in. I was very impressed with Mills writing and would love to read more of her books in the future. 

If you are a fan of thrillers, suspense, and romance, this book is definitely for you! 

Rating: 4/5

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a storyteller and creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Retreats: Marketing, Speakers, Nonfiction and Novelist with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion for helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

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No Names to Be Given: Excerpt and Giveaway


Categories: Women’s Fiction / Vintage Fiction / Adoption / 1960s Publisher: Admission Press Inc. Pub Date: August 3, 2021
Pages: 334 pages
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1965. Sandy runs away from home to escape her mother’s abusive boyfriend. Becca falls in love with the wrong man. And Faith suffers a devastating attack. With no support and no other options, these three young, unwed women meet at a maternity home hospital in New Orleans where they are expected to relinquish their babies and return home as if nothing transpired.

But such a life-altering event can never be forgotten, and no secret remains buried forever. Twenty-five years later, the women are reunited by a blackmailer, who threatens to expose their secrets and destroy the lives they’ve built. That shattering revelation would shake their very foundations—and reverberate all the way to the White House.

Told from the three women’s perspectives in alternating chapters, this mesmerizing story is based on actual experiences of women in the 1960s who found themselves pregnant but unmarried, pressured by family and society to make horrific decisions. How that inconceivable act changed women forever is the story of No Names to Be Given, a heartbreaking but uplifting novel of family and redemption.


A gorgeous, thrilling, and important novel! These strong women will capture your heart. Stacey Swann, author of Olympus, Texas.

An insightful and sympathetic view offered into the lives of those who were adopted and those who adopted them. Pam Johnson, author of Justice for Ella.

A novel worthy of a Lifetime movie adaptation. Jess Hagemann, author of Headcheese.

Readers can expect deep knowledge of the world the characters inhabit. Sara Kocek, author of Promise Me Something.

This book is a relevant read and one that will keep readers guessing page after page until the very end. The US Review of Books

Today’s young women, especially, need to absorb No Names to Be Given. Midwest Book Review, D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer

CLICK TO PURCHASE Amazon ~ IndieBound ~ Barnes and Noble

Excerpt, Part One

from No Names to Be Given

by Julia Brewer Daily


Most of all, Sandy knew she longed to hold her child. Becca still declared love for her baby’s father. 

“I must go on a hunger strike. Do you want me to barricade myself in the nursery?” Becca made her announcements in a loud voice. 

“Hush, Becca. You’re disturbing the entire Home.” A nurse leaned over her bed, speaking harshly.

Sandy saw perspiration beading under Becca’s eyes and watched as she swiped it away with her palm.

“Everything’s gonna be alright.” Sandy soothed the erratic behavior Becca exhibited. She feared Becca would spring from the bed and run toward the nursery.

Sandy pulled the opposite curtain and found Faith with her hands clasped as if in prayer. 

“Faith, are you okay?” Sandy’s voice lowered. She always spoke to Faith as if she were a child. They were all the same age, but Faith’s innocence made her seem so much younger.

“I’m miserable over here,” Faith said.

“Me too. I feel like a medieval torture device stretched my limbs,” Sandy said.

 Faith chanted prayers for her baby.

“Please, Lord. Please let my baby have the very best parents. I know you will take care of him—or her.” She hummed the lyrics of Jesus Loves the Little Children. “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.”

“How are we expected to walk away and pretend nothing happened?” Becca blurted out. 

Sandy watched Faith twist her hands. Sandy’s memory of Faith telling about her assault was difficult enough to keep secret. Now, a living reminder of it existed. Faith said she did not want this baby to carry the blame for its conception. She appeared to experience a panic attack when she gulped breaths as if drinking water with a cupped hand from a bucket.

Sandy stood and helped Becca and Faith to the bathroom or shower. The next day, she and her roommates were back in room 310, recuperating from long labors and quick births. They bound their breasts to diminish their milk production and swapped out thick pads to contain blood’s constant flow from their wombs. The midwife brought heat lamps to place between their legs to help heal delicate body tissues from episiotomies. 

Sandy peered over her bent knees. She thought the three of them looked like they were on a camping trip with their legs creating pup tents from draped sheets and glowing lights. Next, they sat in baths of scorching water and Epsom salts to soften the stitches. Each agreed she felt split into pieces, both physically and emotionally. I feel like a robot, Sandy thought. I’m going through the motions to survive each moment. 

Starting 8/23/2021, click to continue reading this excerpt on That’s What She’s Reading.

Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a southern accent. She holds a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has been a Communications Adjunct Professor at Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi, and Public Relations Director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson, MS. She was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson, and even shadowed Martha Stewart. As the Executive Director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (300 artisans from 19 states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public. Daily is an adopted child from a maternity home hospital in New Orleans. She searched and found her birth mother and through a DNA test, her birth father’s family, as well. A lifelong southerner, she now resides on a ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband Emmerson and Labrador retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star.

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The Forgotten World Book Blitz

The Forgotten World
Nick Courtright

Genre: Poetry / Travel / Fatherhood
Publisher: Gold Wake Press
Date of Publication: August 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 88 Pages

In his third collection, poet Nick Courtright explores the world at large in an effort to reconcile selfhood as an American in the international community, while also seeking anchors for remembering a wider world often lost to view in our shared though increasingly isolated experience of reality.

Beginning in Africa with investigations of religion and love, The Forgotten World then moves to Latin America to tackle colonialism and whiteness. From there it travels to Asia to discuss economic stratification and Europe to explore art and mental health, culminating in a stirring homecoming to troubled America, where family, the future, and what matters most rise to the forefront of consideration.

Through all of it, Courtright displays a deft hand, at once pained, at once bright, to discover that although the wider world seems farther away than before, the lessons it offers are more needed than ever.

“In The Forgotten World, Nick Courtright explores the intersections of being a citizen of one country and the desire to live as a citizen of the world…” – Octavio Quintanilla, author of If I Go Missing and 2018-2020 Poet Laureate of San Antonio 



Nick Courtright is the author of The Forgotten World (2021), Let There Be Light (2014) and Punchline (2012), and is the Executive Editor of Atmosphere Press. His work has appeared in The Harvard Review, Kenyon Review, and The Southern Review among dozens of others. With a Doctorate in Literature from the University of Texas, Nick lives in Austin with the poet Lisa Mottolo and their children, William and Samuel. Find him online and watching birds on his porch.



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Dark Intentions Book Blitz

Bean to Bar Mysteries Book 2
Categories: Cozy Mystery / Woman Sleuth / Romance
Publisher: Golden Tip Press
Date of Publication: July 20, 2021
Number of Pages: 260 pages
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An Idyllic Chocolate Shop. An island with endangered species. And a murder.
Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand is bringing in plenty of customers – in part due to the notoriety of the recent murder of one of her assistants, which she managed to solve. Things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Her new assistant, Mateo, even gets along with Carmen, the shop’s barista turned pastry chef. Felicity thinks she’s learning to cope with change – right up until one of her friends gets engaged. Everyone’s expecting her to ask Logan, her former bodyguard, to be her plus one. But even the thought of asking out someone else still makes her feel disloyal to her late husband’s memory — so maybe she hasn’t moved on from her husband’s death as much as she thought.

Felicity isn’t planning to contact Logan any time soon. Only, Felicity finds ANOTHER body right outside her shop – making it two murders at Greetings and Felicitations in as many months. That night, Mateo disappears, leaving Felicity to take care of his pet octopus. The police believe that Mateo committed the murder, but Felicity is convinced that, despite the mounting evidence, something more is going on, and Mateo may actually be in trouble.

When Logan assumes that he’s going to help Felicity investigate, she realizes she’s going to have to spend time with him – whether she’s ready to really talk to him or not. Can Felicity find out what happened to Mateo, unmask a killer, and throw an engagement party all at the same time?

“Royer has concocted a sweetly dark confection with 70% DARK INTENSIONS, the second serving in her Bean to Bar Mysteries series…You’ll read this yummy treat late into the night.” –Amy Shojai, author of September Day & Shadow pet-centric thrillers
Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate at www.amberroyer.com. She also teaches creative writing for both UT Arlington Continuing Education and Writing Workshops Dallas. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes.
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Making it Home: Excerpt and Giveaway

By Teddy Jones

Publisher: MidTown Publishing Pub Date: July 26, 2021
Series: Jackson’s Pond, Texas Series
Stand Alone: YES Pages: 275
Categories: Family Fiction / Racism / Ku Klux Klan / Texas Women’s Fiction / Rural Fiction
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In this third novel in the Jackson’s Pond, Texas series, fifty-five-year-old Melanie Jackson Banks encounters racism, intolerance, and violence both in her family’s distant past and in current day Jackson’s Pond. She leads family and community efforts to create reconciliation for past wrongs and also to demonstrate strength and defiance in the face of vandalism, cross-burning, domestic violence, threats to Jackson Ranch’s operation, and kidnapping. In the midst of this stormy period, she finds allies in her mother’s long-time companion, Robert Stanley; her mother, Willa Jackson; her daughter Claire Havlicek; and many others.

Praise for Making It Home “Making It Home could not be a more timely book… We live in an imperfect world, but it is still possible to think, imagine and make things better. The cast of characters in this strong family affirms this through their hope, decency, and tenacity!” —Eleanor Morse, author of Margreete’s Harbor “Jones’ talent for creating indelible characters endures, as does her way with a compelling plot. … This is a timely page-turner.”  Robin Lippincott, author of Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell


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Albert Jackson had always thought of home as peaceful. After the war it seemed dull. But the article circled in this week’s Floyd County Tribune told him things were changing out there. He read aloud to Delia, his bride-to-be, as she sat on her parents’ living room sofa, straight as a poker, perched like a wren near the edge of the cushion.


“This is from last week, dated December 1, 1920.” He pointed to the article on the front page, making sure Delia saw it. “‘Sunday, C. C. Jackson contacted the county sheriff in Calverton saying that he’d found a body on his property that morning. The deceased was a Negro man, tentatively identified as Lincoln Berryhill, age thirty-four, from Bosley, Oklahoma. That identity was based on items found nearby. Deputy Asa Moore described the condition of the corpse as follows:  ‘completely naked, except for a tattered sock on the right foot. Appears to have been killed by a blow or blows to the back of the head, which has a bashed in appearance. Both legs are broken below the knees, with bone visible sticking out from both.’”


If Delia reacted at all to the gory details, he couldn’t tell from looking. The expression on her face, pleasant and somewhat distant, a carbon copy of her mother’s, had not changed since he began reading the article to her. Come to think of it, her women friends he’d met while visiting Longview all wore similar faint, far away smiles.


Wondering why he hadn’t thought before about that intentionally vacant expression, Albert hesitated. Today, exactly as he had each week since he and Delia Carson became officially engaged, Albert Jackson sat with her in the front parlor of her parents’ Longview, Texas, home. Doing his best to fit in, for the time being at least, with the way things were done in her family and in East Texas, he visited from Fort Worth. His Model T made the five-hour trip easily. But as far as he was concerned, the two towns were worlds apart. In Fort Worth, he could stretch his legs, hear talk of men dealing in cattle and land, feel the same as he’d always felt back home in the Texas Panhandle where he knew he was a man involved in the important work of helping feed the country. Everything about Longview felt cramped, a place more like the old South, full of manners and formal courtesies and open secrets.


He’d received an edition of the newspaper he held in the mail each week from his father, C.C. Jackson, since they reached their understanding. First, his father had sent that telegram letting Albert know in no uncertain terms that the fact he fought in the Great War didn’t mean it was the last work he’d ever need to do.


Right away, he’d gone home to Jackson’s Pond and explained to his father he was courting a woman he’d met in Fort Worth and had to be there to win her hand. After a long talk they reached an understanding that got him a bit of a reprieve. They both knew his mother’s dying last year had left the house in need of a woman.


Now that he and Delia Carson were engaged, plenty of things required his presence in her hometown. But his father let him know, with this regular news delivery, that he was watching, and the clock was ticking. After the wedding three weeks from today, Albert and his bride would make their way westward across the more than four hundred miles from Longview to the Jackson Ranch, home.


Albert straightened out a fold in the paper and read on, “Found nearby were overalls and a red union suit, an empty billfold, and a letter introducing Lincoln Berryhill. The letter stated Berryhill was working his way down to Fort Stockton, Texas, to stay with an elderly uncle who once had been stationed there as a Buffalo Soldier. The letter, torn into four pieces found scattered near the clothing, also said Berryhill was a good worker and trustworthy. It was signed Marshall Lee, President of the Bosley, Oklahoma, First National Bank. By press time, no relatives have been located to verify identification, and Mr. Lee has not replied to our inquiries.”


She asked, “What does that have to do with us?”


“Nothing, I hope. But it could mean the KKK is trying to stir up problems out there. They kill people for no other reason than being Negro. I’ve also heard they aim to get elected to office and run the big cities in the state. Dallas, Austin, even Wichita Falls.”


Delia leaned forward a tiny bit, deposited her teacup, still full, on the end table. She turned to face Albert and said, “That’s not necessarily a bad idea. Women right here in our town know we’re safe primarily because of the protection of the Klan. After a brief pause to retrieve and sip her tea, she said, “How can women feel safe out in West Texas if there’s no one keeping the order of things?”


“That’s what the sheriff’s department’s for. And courts.”


Delia said, “Justice sometimes must be swiftly administered. People who can’t or don’t want to live like the rest of us have to be taught a lesson. If I didn’t know better, I would think you were trying to start an argument with me. And here, so near to our wedding.”


“I’m trying to have a discussion, to understand what you believe. If that sounds like arguing, well so be it.” He stopped talking, made a show of checking his watch.


She said, “I think I am due an apology.”


“I have to go. I need to get out to the ranch. I’ll be back next week.”


Delia shot up from the sofa. “You’ll do no such thing. Critical preparations for the wedding and our honeymoon must be attended to.”


“This is more critical.”


She stamped her foot, noiselessly because of the thick rug, but he saw the movement. She said, her voice louder than he’d ever heard, “That’s debatable.”

Teddy Jones is the author of three published novels, Halfwide, Jackson’s Pond, Texas, and Well Tended, as well as a collection of short stories, Nowhere Near. Her short fiction received the Gold Medal First Prize in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition in 2015. Jackson’s Pond, Texas was a finalist for the 2014 Willa Award in contemporary fiction from Women Writing the West. Her as yet unpublished novel, Making It Home, was a finalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition in 2017 and A Good Family was named finalist in that contest in 2018.

Although her fiction tends to be set in West Texas, her characters’ lives embody issues not bounded by geography of any particular region. Families and loners; communities in flux; people struggling, others successful; some folks satisfied in solitude and others yearning for connection populate her work. And they all have in common that they are more human than otherwise.

Jones grew up in a small Texas town, Iowa Park. Earlier she worked as a nurse, a nurse educator, a nursing college administrator, and as a nurse practitioner in Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico. For the past twenty years, she and her husband have lived in the rural West Texas Panhandle where he farms and she writes.

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The Chase: Author Video Interview and Giveaway



U.S. Marshals Series, Book Two


Publisher: Revell Publication Date: July 6th, 2021 Pages: 320 Pages Categories: Fiction/ Christian/ Suspense

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US Marshal Madison James may not be sure who shot her three months ago, but she does know one thing–it’s time to get back out into the field. When her partner, Jonas Quinn, receives a message that a federal warrant just came in on a man connected to a string of bank robberies, Madison jumps at the chance to get back to work. What she and Jonas find is a bank robbery in progress that’s gone wrong–and things are about to get worse.
For these bank robbers, it’s never been just about the money. It’s about taking risks and adrenaline rushes and getting caught is not part of the game. When the suspects escape, Madison and Jonas must hunt them down and bring them to justice before someone else–someone close to them–gets hurt . . . or worse.
From Seattle to the San Juan Islands, bestselling author Lisa Harris takes you on a nonstop chase where feelings are complicated, and failure isn’t an option.

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Video Author Interview with

Honorary Texan, author Lisa Harris

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Lisa Harrisis a USA Today bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel from Romantic Times for her novels Blood Covenant and Vendetta. The author of more than 40 books, including The Escape, The Traitor’s Pawn, Vanishing Point A Secret to Die For,and Deadly Intentions, as well as The Nikki Boyd Files and the Southern Crimes series,Harris and her family have spent over 17 years living as missionaries in southern Africa. She is currently stateside in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Inclined Elders: Sneak Peek and Giveaway



Publisher: BookBaby
Publication Date: July 24, 2020 
Pages: 246 Pages
Categories: Nonfiction / Positive Aging

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·     Have a desire to continue living a purposeful life, no matter what your age. 

·     Are interested in learning how to maintain a positive attitude from adulthood to elderhood. 

·    Want to learn how to create a living legacy and serve as a role model for future generations. 



For the first time in history we are not only living longer, everyone has an important choice to make: commit to a meaningful, purposeful life of “Incline” as we get older or believe that a new stage – one of steady “decline” – is inevitable. What is not helping is that in the media and society in general there continues the somewhat negative connotation surrounding the concept of aging. And while, at least not now, we cannot do anything about the chronological process of becoming 60, 70, 80 years and beyond, we can change the mindset for it. Embracing change and looking at life with a keener sense of curiosity will lead to living with increased courage to live life to its fullest. 


Inclined Elders is a call to action for you to opt for Incline. Not only for your personal fulfillment, but also to help fuel a social “legacy” that increases the number of positive older role models in everyday life. I have written this book to inspire, inform, and challenge you. By the time you reach the last page, I hope you will have made a new choice: to become an inspiring example of a life of Incline so our society relinquishes – once and for all – the notion that aging is synonymous with “decline,” “decrepit,” “senile,” and “over-the-hill.” 


In this book over 50 men and women ranging in age from 40 to 100 share their tips and techniques on how to live a life of Incline. Their strategies are supported by scientific evidence from the fields of Positive Psychology, Anthropology, and Sociology. 



We are the women and men who have made a conscious choice to ignore society’s negative mindset of “decline” and “over-the-hill” as we age. Instead we embrace a positive mindset of continuing to Incline and climb ever upwards. 


Serving as vibrant role models, the Inclined Elders I spoke to for this book are leaving their own unique legacies of wisdom and inspiration for future generations. There needs to be more of us like them to effect real social change. So why not Incline too? There’s an amazing view from up here. Come with us and see for yourself. 


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Galen “The Magician” shares his “magic illusion” philosophy of life. He doesn’t view it as a time of decline. His philosophy is carpe vitum or “seize life” rather than simply carpe diem or “seize the day.” At 70, his second “career” is as a magician and he’s having a ball!

 The Amazing Miss Lee shares her “recipe for living to 95 and beyond” – highlights include having a positive attitude and keeping the inner child alive.

 Raymond “tunes out” the negative talk of decliners and follows the philosophy of “not letting the old man in.” An avid outdoorsman, Raymond shared that while he doesn’t climb mountains anymore, he still enjoys hiking around them. It’s simply a matter of modification.

 Carolyn tells you how she managed to “dance” even though it was not permitted by her religion and how she continues dancing today at the age of eighty by applying that same principle to other restrictions in her life.

 Kathy explains how she “laughed fear in the face” and how it helped her to find the courage to live the life she chooses.

 Dorie defines the importance of “relationships” and their positive impact on her life.

David explains how his philosophy on community and service has shaped his life and allowed him to be a “good man.”

Darlene shares how she refuses to be put into society’s “stereotypical box” about aging and how she has benefited as a result.

Dora shows how she triumphed over her cultural tradition of migrant farm work by earning a bachelor’s and then a master’s degree, leaving an ongoing legacy of empowerment for her family. 

Polly shares how she overcame her introversion and shyness, chose “self-empowerment,” and is now reaping the rewards of serving others by volunteering in her community.

Ramona Oliver has long been a passionate educator with former roles as a human resource manager/director, career coach, and director of outreach for St. Edward’s University. As a human resource director for many years, she championed the professional development of employees. While serving as president of the Austin Human Resource Management Association, she led a team that designed, developed, and implemented an award-wining leadership program. In addition, she launched a workforce readiness committee that partnered with community organizations to implement workforce readiness initiatives. At St. Edward’s University, she promoted lifelong learning and the adult undergraduate and graduate programs to older adults in the Austin community. 

Ramona currently serves as an advocate of positive aging. Rather than accepting a mindset of decline, she is passionate about living life with an attitude of Incline. Ramona has been published on the Changing Aging website, offering posts with titles such as “Can We Please Stop Calling It Aging,” “What Are We Missing When We Settle for Life Stages?” and “Leave a Legacy and Live It Now!”  

Ramona is a recipient of a Book Excellence Award for her current book, INCLINED ELDERS: How to rebrand aging for self and society. It has been recognized for high-quality writing style, book design, and overall marketing appeal. 

She earned her Master of Business Administration from St. Edward’s University. Ramona lives in Austin, Texas where she enjoys practicing yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, and Nia and participating in various community groups. 

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 2 winners: autographed copies of 
Inclined Elders. 
2 winners: Kindle copies of 
Inclined Elders.
Giveaway ends midnight, CDT, 7/17/21; US only.


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for direct links to each stop on the tour, updated daily. Or, visit the blogs directly: 


Notable Quotable

It’s Not All Gravy


Sneak Peek

The Page Unbound



The Plain-Spoken Pen





Author Interview

Chapter Break Book Blog



Book Fidelity



StoreyBook Reviews



All the Ups and Downs



Jennie Reads


Character Interview

Librariel Book Adventures


Guest Post

Book Bustle



Hall Ways Blog



That’s What She’s Reading


Scrapbook Page

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife



Reading by Moonlight



Forgotten Winds

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River, Sing out: Interview and Giveaway


Categories: Contemporary / Literary Fiction
Rural Fiction / Crime Fiction / Coming-of-Age
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Date of Publication: June 8, 2021
Number of Pages: 315 pages

“And through these ages untold, the river did act as the lifeblood of all those things alongside it.”

Jonah Hargrove is celebrating his thirteenth birthday by avoiding his abusive father, when a girl named River stumbles into his yard, injured and alone. The teenager has stolen thousands of dollars’ worth of meth from her murderous, drug-dealing boyfriend, but lost it somewhere in the Neches River bottoms during her escape. Jonah agrees to help her find and sell the drugs so she can flee East Texas.

Chasing after them is John Curtis, a local drug kingpin and dog fighter, as well as River’s boyfriend, the dangerous Dakota Cade.

Each person is keeping secrets from the others—deadly secrets that will be exposed in violent fashion as all are forced to come to terms with their choices, their circumstances, and their own definition of God.

With a colorful cast of supporting characters and an unflinching violence juxtaposed against lyrical prose, River, Sing Out dives deep into the sinister world of the East Texas river bottoms, where oppressive poverty is pitted against the need to believe in something greater than the self.


”With echoes of Jim Harrison, Cormac McCarthy (and perhaps a smidge of Flannery O’Connor), River, Sing Out is a beautiful, brutal meditation on survival and love in the face of nearly unspeakable violence and depravity in an East Texas community ravaged by the meth trade. Taut, lyrical, and precise, the prose soars in this important new novel by James Wade.” —Elizabeth Wetmore, New York Times bestselling author of Valentine

”If you read one novel this year, make it this one. James Wade’s River, Sing Out, is an instant classic filled with characters that will break your heart, lyrical prose as haunted as the river it evokes, and a Southern Noir undertow that wholly sucks you in and keeps you turning the pages until it’s searing, masterful conclusion.” —May Cobb, author of The Hunting Wives

”Wade, whose striking debut, All Things Left Wild (2020), traveled back a century in Texas history, uses an unlikely friendship to explore an equally wild present-day landscape…A haunting fable of an impossible relationship fueled by elemental need and despair.” —Kirkus Reviews

Interview with James Wade


How has your formal education impacted your writing?

When I started trying to break into the fiction world, I felt inadequate in a number of ways, but one of the biggest was my lack of an MFA. Everyone I knew or met or talked to was always asking where I’d gone to grad school. There was a time (and sometimes I still feel this way) where I thought every single writer in Texas had gotten an MFA at Texas State or UT. I had an agent at a conference tell me that I would only be taken seriously if I went back to school.

But then I was published a few times in literary magazines, and I won a couple of contests, and all of a sudden not having an MFA became like a point of pride– even a little bit of a chip on my shoulder that kept me working hard.

I’m an incredibly privileged person (far too privileged to complain as much as I do), and there are very few instances where I can claim the role of underdog, but the absence of a formal writing education gives me a little bit of that extra motivation.


Did you experience rejection when submitting this manuscript for publication?

I didn’t, but only because I had signed a three-book deal with my publisher (River, Sing Out being the second of the three books). However, I did receive several rejections for my first novel from agents I queried. When I finished All Things Left Wild, my wife and I sat down, and each made a list of ten agents we thought would be right for the book. My agent, Mark Gottlieb at Trident Media, was the top name on both of our lists. So I sent a query to Mark and about a dozen other folks. Mark reached out the same day asking for more, and he read the manuscript over a weekend and signed me the following Monday. I emailed the other agents and basically told them not to waste their time (which to an agent is like gold). Still, a few of them got back to me with rejection emails. Some were templates, others more personal (and brutal), and I couldn’t help but wonder how different that would have felt if I hadn’t already found Mark. In fact, Mark had secured a great deal with Blackstone Publishing before most of the agents had even replied. But I could see how devastating that might have been if I were receiving rejections up front, so I always tell new writers not to get too caught up on how long something is or isn’t taking. There is so much luck and timing involved, but at the end of the day you only need one ‘yes’ to be a published author.


What do you like to read in your free time?

My daughter just turned one, so free time seems like a hilarious and cruel concept. But in that great yesterday, when the house was quiet and my wife and I were free to lounge about at our leisure, I read as much as I could. First and foremost, everything Cormac McCarthy has written (novels, screenplays, essays, etc.). I also enjoy the novels of William Gay, Kent Haruf, and William Faulkner, as well as the short stories of Flannery O’Connor. Much of my reading time is devoted to religious and moral philosophy, political science, and histories, and more recently I’ve been fascinated with geology (Texas geology in particular). When I open a book, I’m looking to learn– learn about lyrical prose from masters of fiction, or learn about mercury mining in West Texas, or cattle ranching on the high plains, or how the Caddo Indians in East Texas believed the world was created.


Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?

Of course. It’s the one subject no author should ever write about: Mathematics.


What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

I think the appropriate answer is something like, “be a good father and husband,” or, “find peace and happiness,” or even, “write a NYT bestseller and win a Pulitzer.” But the only real goal, real desire, that I have is to write a novel that I’m happy with. Unfortunately, as is the nature of writing, that is almost guaranteed to never happen. So, here’s to a life of frustration.


What do you want your tombstone to say?

It has been a wonderfully strange privilege.


James Wade lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country with his wife and daughter. He is the author of All Things Left Wild, which is a winner of the 2016 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest, a winner of the 2021 Spur Award for Best Historical Fiction, and a winner of the 2021 Reading the West Award for Best Debut Novel. His fiction has appeared in various literary journals and magazines.