Publication Update

In January I announced that my latest book Tarnished Brass would be published sometime in 2019. Though I still don’t have a firm release date from Page Publishing, we’re getting closer!

For anyone unfamiliar with the publishing process, the submitted manuscript goes through various stages including editing, page and cover design. My book is currently in the cover design phase. I hope to approve the artist’s concept in the next couple of weeks, after which the hard-copy, paperback, and e-book formats should be available in four-to-six weeks. So, we’re probably looking at the June time frame for the book launch.

The novella looks at America’s involvement in El Salvador during its civil war (1980-1992) and the consequences of that conflict some twenty-seven years later. Gang violence from MS-13 and Barrio-18 is widespread throughout the capitol city of San Salvador and extends to all regions of the Central American country (consistently ranking its homicide rate among the highest in the world), and MS-13’s influence has also spread here in the United States.

Tarnished Brass will be the third book that I’ve published. However, since many of you have only recently started to follow this blog, here is a brief synopsis of the two prior publications:

Completed Book CoverSilver Taps was written following the death of my father. The memoir looks at our relationship, the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease and its effects on a family, and also discusses faith in the context of coping with loss. The title is derived from the time honored tradition at Texas A&M University remembering the deceased during the academic year. I am a proud graduate of that institution.

Palo Duro CoverPalo Duro is a novel of westward expansion focusing on the Plains Indian Wars in the Southwest United States towards the end of the nineteenth century. It is an ode to the rugged individualism that made this country and pays homage to the western genre with depictions of the great cattle drives, the cowboys and gunslingers that would become icons of the “Old West,” as well as the struggles of Native Americans and white settlers over contested land.

Both of these books are available online at Amazon.com

 

 

The Rainwater Secret: Author Interview

THE RAINWATER SECRET
by
Monica Shaw
Genre: Historical Fiction / Medical Missionaries
Publisher: Self-Published
Date of Publication: March 31, 2017
Number of Pages: 354

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

The Rainwater Secret is a deeply moving, historical fiction novel about a woman who travels

to Africa to teach the leper children who were banished from their villages. Single and feeling there is nothing left for her in small-town England, Anna embarks on an adventure as a volunteer teacher with the Medical Missionaries of Mary. Life as Anna has known it is forever changed as she learns the culture that would banish its sick, disfigured, and crippled to the bush. Babies are left to die on roadsides, children are chased away to live by whatever means they can find. The aged are abandoned.

Anna’s daily life is an adventure as she travels from one village to another across a hostile land with few passable roads, rickety bridges threatening to fall apart and casting occupants on the jagged rocks far below, and weather that turns a calm river into a roiling death trap. In spite of the trials, Anna also manages to find love and family in this godforsaken land.

 
Follow this adventure through disease, weather, strife, death, and determination to turn a few acres of land into a loving home for the outcast lepers of Nigeria.

>>CLICK TO ORDER YOUR COPY<<

AuthorInterview

Interview with Monica Shaw 

What did your great aunt do that inspired this book?

Well, back in 1950, my great aunt, Lily Murphy, heard that the Medical Missionaries of Mary were looking for a teacher to come to Africa to teach the leper children who were banned from their villages because of their disease.  It wasn’t just my aunt, it was the wonderful sisters with the Medical Missionaries of Mary who were able to take a few acres of land and make it into a home for the leprosy patients.  They gave each patient a plot of land to grow food, helped them build a thatched roof home, and gave them medical care and an education.

Also, I want to mention that a portion of the proceeds from the book goes to the Medical Missionaries of Mary who are still very humbly and quietly doing great work all over the world.

This adventure seemed like it would take a lot of courage.

Absolutely! It took them a month by boat to get to Nigeria and then at least another week by kitcar (which is a car built from spare parts) up to Ogoja where the first settlement was built.  One of the nuns I interviewed told me that she was nineteen when she made the trip and thought she was going to be a nurse’s aide and then get trained to be a nurse in a hospital.  She said when they drove up, there were no buildings, no housing – there was just a table under a tree where they were giving the leprosy patients inoculations.

How did you come across Lily’s story?

I was actually reading another book that was based in England, and it reminded me of Lily. I COULD NOT get her out of my head. I think there was a lot of divine intervention involved. I truly believe she was up in Heaven giving me a big nudge to get this story told.  I just started researching, and the more I found, the more fascinated I was. I contacted the MMMs in Drogheda, Ireland, outside Dublin, and planned a trip to research more in their archives. Once I met the sisters there and spent time with them and in the archives, I knew I had to figure out how to get this done.

It took you seven years to write, what was it like juggling being a mom and a first time author? 

Well the easiest answer is that it took me seven years, which should tell you something! It was a trick, but I LOVE this story.  I was so determined to make sure that I got the story told, I worked on it every moment I could.

What was so inspiring about Lily’s journey in life that you wanted to share it?

Lily and all the MMMs basically gave up many, many years of theirs lives to go to a foreign land, not knowing what they were getting into, to help others. Many gave their lives there.  Lily was interviewed in the Dallas Morning News a long time ago, and when they asked her about going on this adventure so far away and why, she just replied, “What’s the use of just working for oneself?”  which pretty much says it all.

What does your book say about the strength and spirit of women?

I think mainly that where there is a will, there is a way.  They went there not knowing what they would find and just had faith that they would be led in the right direction.  If that doesn’t describe inspirational women full of spirit and strength, I’m not sure what does.

 
Monica Shaw is a native of Dallas, Texas where she has been a successful entrepreneur. She attended St. Thomas Aquinas, graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, and earned her Geology / Petroleum Engineering degree from UT Austin. Her debut novel, The Rainwater Secret, started off as a personal research project looking into the life of her great aunt who became a missionary teacher. Monica is married with 3 children.

 ║Website ║ Facebook LinkedIn Twitter  
║ Instagram Goodreads Amazon Author Page  ————————————-
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
THREE WINNERS!
Choice of Signed Print or eBook Copy!
APRIL 23-May 3, 2019

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

4/23/19
Author Video
4/23/19
Bonus Post
4/24/19
Review
4/25/19
Scrapbook Page
4/26/19
Review
4/27/19
Author Interview
4/28/19
Review
4/29/19
Scrapbook Page
4/30/19
Review
5/1/19
Top Six List
5/2/19
Review
   blog tour services provided by
  

 

Panic Point: Character Interview

 PANIC POINT
Pepperman Mystery Series
Book Two
by
BILL BRISCOE
  Genre: Mystery / Crime Fiction / Stand-Alone
Publisher: self-published
Date of Publication: March 26, 2019
Number of Pages: 248
Scroll down for Giveaway!
  

When Earl’s bride Morgan vanishes in the Smoky Mountains on their honeymoon, the former Navy SEAL is certain she’s been abducted. The park rangers disagree, and after a storm washes away any potential evidence, they call off the official search. Then another man loses his daughter in the same area. Can one last lead help Earl find Morgan before he loses her forever?WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER

 

BUY THE BOOK
AmazonBarnes and Noble ║ Kobo ║ Apple

Character Interview

At a sporting event I had the opportunity to interview Jim Pepperman and Earl Helmsly from The Pepperman Mystery Series.

0420 MAX Character Interview 2 of 2

Bill:  Jim, I believe you’re the lead character of Pepperman’s Promise and Perplexity and Earl, you have the lead in Panic Point. Tell me how your role came about, Jim.

Jim: In the spring of 1966, I was a junior in high school at Odessa Permian. We’d won our first Texas state football championship in the fall of that school year. Getting ready for my senior season was the most important thing to me. I hoped we could have back-to-back championships. Then something happened and I started my senior year in Belleville, New Jersey.

Bill:  That must have been a shock to your system.

Jim:  You bet it was. After my family moved to Belleville, I got a job at a diner managed by Glynna Helmsly, Earl’s mother.  That’s how our families met. The connection clicked right away.  It was hard being the new guy from Texas, but the Helmsly’s helped me make the adjustment.

Bill:  Earl, how old were you when the two families met?

Earl: I was about three. When Jim came to our house, my twin brother Burl and I would latch onto his legs and he’d have to Frankenstein walk us up to our porch. I’m sure I was a pest.

Bill: Jim, I understand Pepperman’s Promise is not a mystery. Can you tell me a little more?

Jim: I tell my story beginning at age seventeen through my twentieth high school reunion. The main character in each mystery will be someone you meet in Pepperman’s Promise. Many of my fans told me they loved Glynna Helmsly and her family. I thought it was time to let someone else take the lead.

Bill: Okay Earl, this is your chance.

Earl:  What makes this easy for me is I get to tell you about a smart, beautiful woman I met in a common situation, but an awkward circumstance.

Bill:  Who is this woman?

Earl:  Morgan. I’m going to tell you how a guy from New Jersey meets a Tennessee woman. She ran track in high school and college, setting an SEC record in the 200 meter. She’s an avid camper and that’s where my story begins.

Bill:  I’m sorry to say our time is up. I guess everyone will have to read Panic Point to find out how your story unfolds.  Thanks, guys.

 
Bill grew up in the oil and gas refinery town of Phillips in the Texas Panhandle. After graduating from college with a master’s degree, he spent most of his career working for a major insurance company as an agency manager and consultant.
 
As his retirement was on the horizon, he had an idea about a book. That story, Pepperman’s Promise, became the prequel to The Pepperman Mystery Series, and Perplexity and Panic Point, the next two books in the series, are now available.
Bill and his wife of fifty years live in West Texas. 
Twitter ║ Facebook ║ Email

——————————————–

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
Grand Prize: Autographed Copies of the Full Pepperman Mystery Series
Two Winners: Autographed Copies of Panic Point
April 16-26, 2019
(U.S. Only)

CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

4/16/19
Book Trailer
4/16/19
Notable Quotable
4/17/19
Excerpt
4/17/19
Excerpt
4/18/19
Review
4/19/19
Review
4/20/19
Scrapbook Page
4/20/19
Character Interview
4/21/19
Review
4/22/19
Author Interview
4/22/19
Series Spotlight
4/23/19
Review
4/24/19
Promo
4/25/19
Review
4/25/19
Review

 

blog tour services provided by:

 

The Frozen Hours: My Review

The Frozen Hours Book CoverThe Frozen Hours by Jeff Shaara is not an exploration of the entire Korean War. It begins in September 1950 and follows the events taking place through mid-December of that year;  North Korea’s invasion of South Korea, the strategically brilliant amphibious landing at Inchon, and the 1st Marine Division’s heroic fight for survival at the Chosin Reservoir.

Like his other novels these historical events have been meticulously researched and faithfully documented. Where Shaara separates himself from other historical fiction writers is his ability to give voice to the people who actually lived them. The dialogue he creates articulates their hopes and fears, egos and ambitions, strengths and weaknesses. From the generals in charge to the “grunts” carrying out their orders emerges a very personal perspective on war that immerses the reader inside the hearts and minds of those who planned and fought in the campaigns and battles that set the stage for a brutal protracted war with no real victor.

The story that unfolds in The Frozen Hours reveals not only the horrors of combat and the terrible human costs involved, but the capacity of men to suffer and somehow survive not only a determined enemy but sub-zero weather with temperatures that often dipped to forty degrees below zero.

In fact, it was this aspect of the story, the conditions on the ground, that best reflects the human will to survive. My father served in Korea and, though he never talked about his combat experiences, did say on numerous occasions that it was the coldest he had ever been in his life. However, it was not until I read Shaara’s novel that I appreciated this simple reflection. Men’s hands froze to their weapons, heavy equipment malfunctioned because oil and gasoline couldn’t flow, boots and layers of clothing meant to keep men warm actually increased perspiration resulting in frostbite and the amputation of fingers and toes, widespread malnutrition and dehydration occurred not because of any lack of food or water, but because they both froze solid with no way to consume either. The dead were even used as defensive barriers because bullets couldn’t penetrate the frozen bodies.

While American and NATO forces had the tactical advantage of artillery and air support, and the Chinese possessed overwhelming manpower and the willingness to absorb huge losses, their common liability was the weather. It pushed human endurance well beyond its limits.

Shaara tells this harrowing tale of courage through the eyes of a select group of men – General Oliver P. Smith, the commander of the 1st Marine Division, Chinese General Sung Shi-Lun, and PFC Pete Riley, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. It is a memorable account of real people crafted by a gifted writer and testament to the memory of those who fought in what has often been called “The Forgotten War.”

 

 

The Stamp of Heaven: Lone Star Book Blog Tour Promo and Review

THE STAMP OF HEAVEN
by
JULIA ROBB
Genre: Historical Fiction / Civil War
Publisher: self-published
Date of Publication: February 19, 2019
Number of Pages: 196
Scroll down for Giveaway!

The Union Army wants former Confederate Army general Beau Kerry for alleged war crimes, but he’s hiding out where the Yankees least expect to find him: in the United States Cavalry. Beau is fighting Apaches out West and praying nobody recognizes his famous face.But Lieutenant Kerry’s luck changes when he runs into Sergeant Ike Jefferson and says, “The last time I saw you, I had you bent over a barrel and I was whipping you.” Ike is not only Beau’s best friend (or worst enemy, depending on the day), he’s Beau’s former slave — and Ike knows there’s a $5000 price on Beau’s head.

Caroline Dietrich has vengeance on her mind. Married to Colonel Wesley Dietrich, the Union fort commander, Caroline believes the best path to getting revenge against the Yankees, her husband included, is seducing her husband’s officers. Especially Beau.

From the killing fields of the Civil War, to the savagery of the Indian wars, the characters are also battling each other and searching for what it means to be human.

5-STAR PRAISE FOR THE STAMP OF HEAVEN:
“Her characters are vivid, relatable, and endearing. She brings to life the rigors of frontier duty, the harsh beauty of west Texas, and the complexity of war and reconciliation. A must read!” 
“Julia Robb creates a masterful tale of friendship, loyalty, cowardice, deceit, and redemption in this fascinating story set in the aftermath of the War Between the States…Not a simple western yarn, this novel will keep you thinking and asking the Big Questions long after you finish reading it.”

CLICK TO ORDER ON AMAZON

Review
Five-Stars
     In the aftermath of the Civil War it was not all that uncommon for former adversaries to serve side-by-side on America’s frontier. With Lee’s surrender at Appomattox the Confederate Army had been disbanded. The war’s end also saw the Union Army downsized and reorganized. However, resistance from Native Americans as the country expanded westward required the organization of new units to confront the threat.
     In the Trans-Pecos portion of Texas an all-black unit, the 9th Cavalry, is garrisoned at Fort Davis to stop attacks from the Apache. They are led by white officers, some of whom still view their race as inferior. Faced with the same bias and prejudice they experienced as slaves, the Buffalo Soldiers struggle to gain acceptance, respect, and equality while also facing a cruel and implacable foe.
     Envy and hatred also affect their leadership. Though President Lincoln had called upon the nation to heal its wounds “with malice towards none” the animosity that led to four years of internecine conflict still existed. “Yankee bastard” and “Confederate trash” were lingering sentiments that kept military commands divided. For the North, the scourge of slavery had almost succeeded in tearing the nation apart. For the South, the invasion of their homeland had destroyed a beloved way of life. These wounds simply would not heal.
     This is the setting for Julia Robb’s latest novel, The Stamp of Heaven. The fight against the Apache is a fight for survival in a harsh and unforgiving land. Yet it is only the backdrop to a far greater conflict, the fight for men’s souls.
     Robb writes vivid descriptions of military life on the frontier that capture the isolation and loneliness, the drudgery of garrison duty, the difficulties of campaigns against an elusive enemy, the violence of sudden confrontations. She also reminds readers of the horrors of human bondage and the magnitude of titanic battles fought during the Civil War, particularly recalling the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, Virginia in 1864.
     This is not a western or war novel in the conventional sense. It is an exploration of themes involving courage and cowardice, deceit and betrayal, love and regret, sin and redemption. It looks at personal relationships and both physical and psychological wounds, and asks deep questions about our humanity. What makes someone a good person? Is such a judgment based on an individual’s perception of themselves, or is it the perception of others that matters? Can past transgressions be overcome? What gives meaning to someone’s life? While each of us attempts to answer these questions, we don’t really know… “Maybe God does.”
Julia Robb is a former journalist who writes novels set in Texas. She’s written Saint of the Burning Heart, Scalp Mountain, Del Norte, The Captive Boy, and The Stamp of Heaven. 
 
Julia grew up on the lower Great Plains of Texas, eventually and lived in every corner of the Lone Star State, from the Rio Grande to the East Texas swamps. 

——————————————–

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
1st Prize: Signed Copy of The Stamp of Heaven + $5 Cash
2nd Prize: Signed Copy or eBook Copy of The Stamp of Heaven
April 3-13, 2019
(U.S. Only)

CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

4/3/19
Character Interview
4/3/19
Excerpt
4/4/19
Review
4/5/19
Guest Post
4/5/19
Author Interview
4/6/19
Review
4/7/19
Review
4/8/19
Scrapbook
4/8/19
Playlist
4/9/19
Review
4/10/19
Author Video
4/10/19
Top 11 List
4/11/19
Review
4/12/19
Review
4/12/19
Review

 

blog tour services provided by:

 

Lone Star Book Blog Tours: 2018 Bloggers’ Choice Awards

 

The Lone Star Book Blog Tours (LSBBT) Blogger Team has announced its 2018 Bloggers’ Choice Awards. 

To be eligible for a 2018 LSBBT Bloggers’ Choice Award, a book must have been featured on an interactive book blog tour in 2018.  Many authors (myself included) showcased their work on tour, providing readers over sixty titles to choose from in genres ranging from romance, mystery, paranormal, fantasy, spiritual, western, memoir, and historical fiction.

The LSBBT Blogger Team wrote nearly three hundred book reviews of the 2018 titles, and the winners in twelve different categories were determined by a combination of the reviewers’ average book ratings and team member votes. 

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2018
LONE STAR BOOK BLOG TOURS
BLOGGERS’ CHOICE AWARDS WINNERS AND FINALISTS
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 



 

Who Are Your Heroes?

 

Fallen Heroes

A confluence of events has caused me to reflect on this question. The first is the posting on social media by a very dear friend of photos of soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, policemen, and firefighters who have died in the performance of their duties. The second was a speech given this past Monday at the weekly luncheon at Aggie Park in San Antonio by the Fifth Army North Commander, LTG Jeffrey S. Buchanan, where he addressed this very question. Third is the upcoming gathering of Texas A&M University alumni to honor those Aggies who have died this past year. And last, though I don’t have an exact release date, is the publication of my most recent book, Tarnished Brass, and my inclusion of a section entitled “In Memoriam.”

The social media postings honor individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. Their photos are poignant reminders that service to country, whether in the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, or as Firefighters often comes at a very high cost. These men and women are the very embodiment of heroism. Their conduct reflects great courage, superior character and integrity in a noble cause greater than self, and it cost them their lives.

In his own way General Buchanan echoed these sentiments by relating the story of a subordinate officer who served with the general in various assignments throughout his career including multiple deployments in Iraq where he was severely injured by an IED, and in Afghanistan where he lost his life. The general wears a wrist band in his memory.

The Muster tradition, an annual gathering of fellow Texas Aggies that dates back to 1883, has evolved over the years from just celebrating college memories to honoring those Aggies no longer able to attend the ceremony due to their passing. Normally held on April 21st in remembrance of Texas Independence and San Jacinto Day, this year’s event at the San Antonio A&M Club will take place April 22nd. April 21st is Easter Sunday.

National recognition of Muster hearkens back to April 21, 1942 and the Second World War when a roll call of the twenty-seven Aggies serving in the Philippines on the small island of Corregidor was held. All would either be killed or captured by Japanese forces, but their solidarity in the face of overwhelming odds heartened the nation’s will to persevere.

On April 21, 1946 the memory of those twenty-seven Aggies was honored in a ceremony on Corregador at the Malinta Tunnel, and the tradition of remembrance has continued ever since. Aggies gather together wherever they are in the world, read aloud the names of the departed, and answer on their behalf… “Here.”

It is the solemnity of making that declaration that leads to me to my final thought before my book comes out. Tarnished Brass is a work of fiction but the war and many of the characters included in the novella are real. At the end I pay tribute to two of those individuals:

Lieutenant Colonel, James M. Basile, U.S. Air Force, served as the Deputy Commander, U.S. MilGroup, San Salvador during the years covered in the book. More importantly, he was my friend who I both admired and loved as a brother-in-arms. He was killed in a helicopter crash July 16, 1987 at age 43.

I also had the honor of serving under General John R. Galvin, who was the Commander, USSOUTHCOM during the three years that I was assigned to the J3. He passed away after a distinguished career September 25, 2015 at age 86.

Unfortunately, there is a tendency within our society to equate heroes with sports figures, celebrities, wealth and power. When asked, the average person will name their favorite football, baseball or basketball player as their hero. Those not into sports might name a famous pop icon, television or movie star. However, though fame and fortune may keep these individuals in the public spotlight, their notoriety does not constitute heroism and their designation as heroes does a disservice to those who have given their all in service to others.

Keep this in mind the next time you’re asked the question, “Who Are Your Heroes?”