Tangible Spirits: Author Interview

Genre: Paranormal / Thriller / Suspense 
Publisher: Clear Creek Publishing
Date of Publication: May 13, 2017
Number of Pages: 316Scroll down for giveaway!

Reporter Gera Stapleton has a difficult choice to make: write the story of a lifetime or save the legacy of a town—and a man—she has come to love. Assigned to a piece in Jerome, Arizona about a once-friendly ghost gone on a crime spree, Gera stumbles upon an amazing tale of greed, deception, and family honor—and murder. When the killer targets her as the next victim, an unlikely savior comes to her rescue. Smart dialogue, plenty of action, and a touch of the supernatural make this a must-read novel.
“Becki Willis blends bits of history with bits of fancy and weaves a tantalizing tale you won’t soon forget.”


2018 Best Paranormal Fiction
by The Association of Texas Authors 
2018 RONE Award Finalist for Paranormal Long
Crowned Heart Recipient from InD’Tale Magazine


What’s something interesting, fun, or funny that most people don’t know about you?

When I was in high school, I met and interviewed country superstar Kenny Rogers during the height of his popularity. I share a funny anecdote about it on my website, http://www.beckiwillis.com.

 How has being a Texan (or Texas) influenced your writing?         

I try to be as authentic as possible. Several of my books are set in our beloved state, so I try to share the flavor and spirit that is unique to Texas without being over-the-top. So often, I read a book that continually reminds readers that it’s set in the Lone Star State, with long, unnecessary explanations, or, worse, some over-the-top situation that comes off portraying Texas, or Texans, badly. I try to weave the flavor of Texas in naturally, making it part of the scene.

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

Although I hope to reach many more goals in my lifetime, if the unthinkable were to happen tomorrow, I have already accomplished my primary goal in life: I’m the proud mother of two fine and extraordinary adults. They’ve made good choices in whom they married and are doing an excellent job of raising their own children. The bonus is that I’ve spent thirty-six years with a wonderful husband at my side, and I’ve realized my dream of being an author. Anything else I happen to accomplish is icing on the cake.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The research for Tangible Spirits was a lot of fun. The town of Jerome has a rich and colorful past, which I tried to depict within my story. Not only do I love history and learning about the past, but it was fun to go on the ghosts tours, especially with my daughter.

 Why did you decide to self-publish?

I can’t imagine doing it any other way. I’m a very hands-on person. (Some might call me a control freak.) After spending so much time and effort writing my books, I don’t like the thought of handing them over to someone else to decide their fate. By acting as my own publisher, I have full control of the entire project. Nice bonus: I also make more profit.

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

I’m a full-time writer but also a full-time wife, mother, and Nana. My husband and I own a business and are active in our community. Wearing so many hats, I have to be flexible but dedicated with my writing schedule. I’ve finally learned to tell my family “I’m writing today” in order to limit intrusions.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I love to read but my bookshelves, whether virtual or real, cover many different genres. Mystery, cozies, women’s fiction, historical fiction, a few romances and westerns, occasional autobiographies of people I find interesting, and some inspirational non-fiction or self-help books, in that order.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m in the process of launching The Lilac Code, Book 7 of my most popular series, The Sisters, Texas Series. I have three other books started – a new non-mystery series, a stand-alone novel, and Book 2 of The Spirits of Texas Cozy Mysteries. In the very near future, I’ll need to select which project to concentrate on and complete first. Wish me luck.

What do your plans for future projects include?

I actually have a movie option for one of my series, so we’ll see what happens with that. I’m developing a new series that will be a good fit for television, and I have an idea for a non-fiction book. I’d also like to do more stand-alone novels.   


To the delight of readers around the world, Becki Willis writes memorable characters in believable situations. Best known for Forgotten Boxes and The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series, Becki has won numerous awards, but says her biggest achievement is her family and her loyal reader base.

1st Prize: Signed Copy of Tangible Spirits + $20 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize: Signed Copy of Tangible Spirits

JUNE 27-July 6, 2018

(U.S. Only) 
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The Captive Boy: Promo, Review, and Giveaway

Genre:  Historical Fiction
Date of Publication: December 20, 2015
Number of Pages: 170Scroll down for the giveaway!

Colonel Mac McKenna’s Fourth Cavalry recaptures white captive August Shiltz from the Comanche, only to find August is determined to return to the Indians. McKenna attempts to civilize August to nineteenth century American standards and becomes the boy’s foster father. But when August kills another boy in a fight, McKenna rejects him, and August escapes from Fort Richards (Texas). When war with the Comanche breaks out, McKenna discovers August is a war leader – and his greatest enemy.


“THE CAPTIVE BOY by Julia Robb is a story told in a unique way – through journal entries by several different characters, and a novel within the novel. Robb is masterful in her depiction of each character, bringing to life an intriguing tale of the Old West.”
 Writer’s Digest competition judge

“It will capture you and keep you engaged from the beginning all the way through the end and also give you insights into the difficulties faced by those who fought on both sides of the Indian Wars in Texas after the Civil War. Buy this book. You will not be disappointed.”
— Steve Mathisen

“Ms. Robb’s research is evident on every page. Without becoming bogged down in detail, she employs just enough of it to paint an accurate picture of a dangerous and unforgiving time.”

— Samuel L. Robinson



One of the many hardships endured by settlers along the Texas frontier was the abduction of their children by the Comanche. The Captive Boy by Julia Robb looks at the emotional toll and tragic consequences of these abductions in the story of one such captive.
The author uses the perspectives of different characters in the book to advance the plot. This approach is simultaneously the strength and lure of the story as well as a challenge to readers to funnel the multiple points of view into a cohesive body of work. Each of the character’s accounts is presented as either a memoir, a journal entry, or even a novel within the novel, which certainly adds to the story’s authenticity, however it also means that the writing styles vary from first to third person and the sequencing of events is not always chronological.
The fictional anthology alternates between the memoirs of Joseph Finley Grant, “With the Fourth Cavalry in Texas,” published as a serial in 1899, “On the Frontier with McKenna,” published in 1878 by Major Sam Brennan, the journal of Dr. Rufus Champ covering 1870-1874, and an Untitled Novel, discovered at West Point, author unknown.
Just as there are alternating viewpoints, there are multiple subplots – the violent confrontations between Native Americans, settlers and soldiers; acts of torture and brutality perpetrated by both sides; murder, suicide, and frontier justice; as well as the  hidden agendas, tested loyalties, and romantic relationships that threaten both friendships and military careers. At the heart of the the story, however, is the relationship between August Shiltz and Colonel Theodore McKenna.
Captured at age nine, August is adopted into the Comanche tribe as the son of a war chief and isn’t returned to white society until five years later. By this time he has accepted his new identity and lifestyle, but Colonel McKenna is determined to make him forget his former life as an Indian. He becomes a surrogate father to the boy and almost succeeds before fate intervenes. After another officer’s son bullies and even physically attacks August, he retaliates by killing his tormentor which leads McKenna to denounce August as a savage. The boy escapes and returns to the Comanche where he will become a warrior and enact his vengeance. The climactic ending plays out in the context of the Indian Wars.
As someone who has researched and written about this period in Texas history, I lobbied for the opportunity to read and review this book. I devoured it in a few nights, but confess to some trepidation writing this critique. Certainly the style is unique. It’s as if the reader is pouring through actual historical documents rather than reading a novel. Since each account is dissimilar in its presentation, the whole doesn’t come together until the very end.
Initially I found this style distracting, but credit Julia Robb with forging a detailed, historically accurate portrait of the Texas frontier, and a poignant tale of psychological trauma and self-discovery. 
Julia grew up on the lower Great Plains of Texas, eventually became a reporter, and lived in every corner of the Lone Star State, from the Rio Grande to the East Texas swamps. She couldn’t shake images and experiences and began writing them down.

A priest once disappeared on the Mexican border and that inspired parts of Saint of the Burning Heart. She discovered a hypnotic seducer, who she turned into Ray Cortez, the bad guy in Del Norte. Reading about child Comanche captives and their fates made her want to write about a cavalry colonel who attempts to heal a rescued boy, and that turned into The Captive Boy. Finally, what happens to a man who is in love with another man, in a time and place where the only answer is death? That became Scalp Mountain.
Two Readers Each Win a Signed Copy

JUNE 19-28, 2018

(U.S. Only) 

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The Which Way Tree: My Review

The Which Way Tree Book CoverI wasn’t sure how I felt about the book as I read it. The style is unique. It evokes the humor of Mark Twain in both “Tom Sawyer” and the “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” while also recalling the work of Charles Portis and his novel “True Grit.”
The story unfolds in a series of letters written by seventeen year old Benjamin Shreve in which he gives testimony to a circuit judge about a chance encounter with a hanging and its perpetrators. It’s the letters and manner in which they’re written that are reminiscent of Twain.
To give his testimony Benjamin also tells the story of his younger half-sister Samantha and her relentless pursuit of a panther that mauled her face and killed her mother. It is her dogged determination for revenge that is at the core of the story and which reminded me so much of the character Mattie Ross and her need to avenge her father’s murder in Portis’ novel.
It wasn’t until the final few chapters that I truly appreciated all the colorful characters that take part in this adventure, the dialogue and locales that capture the Texas Hill Country of the late 1800’s, and a tale that might well have been handed down as legend in Comal County.
Frankly, I’m still mulling over my reaction to the book, which is exactly why “The Which Way Tree” is worth reading!
COMMENT: Let me know whether you’d like to see “STAR” ratings attached to these reviews. I’ve avoided doing so to date because of their subjectivity and different interpretations dependent upon the social media platform in which they appear. I prefer to simply post my written review and let the reader decide.

The Demise of Billy the Kid: My Review

The Demise of Billy the KidPreston Lewis has once again combined his sense of humor and gift for story telling to give readers the real life history of the Lincoln County War as told by someone who claims to have been involved in most of the momentous events that shaped Western lore, H. H. (Henry Harrison) Lomax.
In the first of a series of books featuring the adventures of this fictional character, the author begins with his purported discovery of Lomax’s memoirs while conducting research at Texas Tech University. While acknowledging that most historians have dismissed their authenticity, he expresses his own tongue in cheek confidence that they were indeed written by H. H. Lomax but he “can’t vouch for their veracity.”
So begins the humorous recollections of Lomax’s association with Billy the Kid, the legendary cattle baron John Chisum, Sheriff Pat Garrett, and the factions that fought over cattle interests and control of the dry goods business in the New Mexico Territory in the late 1800s.
Lewis certainly captures the violence of the period. The Lincoln County War began with the cold blooded murder of John Tunstall by the Jessie Evans Gang. Tunstall, an Englishman, was a newcomer to the territory who challenged the monopoly of the local general store known as “The House.” Billy the Kid was in the employment of Tunstall at the time, so he and his “Regulators” followed up his murder with a revenge killing of their own. The ensuing feud resulted in countless deaths and continued until 1881 when Pat Garrett finally hunted down and killed the famous gunman at Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
Lewis ameliorates the historical accuracy of his narrative with his typical wit and humor. H.H. Lomax rides a mule named Flash, is frequently mistaken for a conman and swindler by the name of Gadrich Lomax who pays in counterfeit money, sells a blind horse, cheats at cards, and peddles bad liquor, and Lomax also has the same love interest as Billy the Kid, the hot-tempered señorita, Rosalita. Of course all of these lead to hilarious circumstances and outcomes, indelibly establishing H.H. Lomax as someone who “had the good or bad luck to be where Western History was made,” and whose subsequent exploits will link him to the Outlaw Jesse James, the Gunfight at the
O.K. Corral, and Custer’s Last Stand.
I’ll definitely be along for the ride!

The Fleecing of Fort Griffin: My Review

The Fleecing of Fort Griffin Book CoverI can’t remember the last time I enjoyed reading a book this much. Preston Lewis has crafted a story chocked full of indelible characters whose antics in pursuit of money will keep you smiling throughout.
The locale is Ft. Griffin, the westernmost Army post and town in Texas. It is the Spring of 1878, and royalty has arrived by stagecoach in the person of English Baron Jerome Manchester Paget, who proposes to buy land upon which he plans to establish a buffalo ranch.
The absurdity of this idea is highlighted even more by the $25,000 equivalent in British currency that he carries about in a satchel and openly flaunts in a frontier town renown for its lawlessness. The expression “a fool and his money are soon parted” becomes the prevailing attitude amongst both residents and visitors in Ft. Griffin, all of whom scheme to swindle the baron out of his money.
There’s Cat Tails, a Tonkawa Indian with an unquenchable thirst for whiskey and the feline appendages from which he derives his name.
There’s Colonel John Paul Jenkins, the commander of the military garrison whose Buffalo soldiers bear no love for their leader.
There’s the widow Flora Belmont, whose five previous husbands have died under suspicious circumstances.
There’s the Reverend G.W. (God Willing) Tuck, whose sermons and apparent miracles serve to line his pockets, not give hope or redemption to sinners.
There’s the gunman One-Eyed Charlie Gatliff, who aims to kill the baron and take his money, and the professional gambler Joe Loper, who won’t let that happen before he can get the baron in a poker game and cheat him at cards.
There’s the husband and wife team Wanda and Wallace Sikes, who use her sexuality to get men into compromising situations so they can be blackmailed.
There’s Lop-Eared Annie Lee, whose disproportionate bosoms keep customers lining up for a peek and a poke. And… so many more!
Baron Paget must use his wits and the services of fourteen-year-old orphan Sammy Collins and a rooster to ward off this colorful cast of characters.
Someone is certainly going to get fleeced, but who and how is at the heart of this humorous western classic that will have readers guessing and howling with laughter.


COMMENT:  Some followers of this blog are going to notice book reviews that have appeared previously on other literary websites such as Goodreads and Amazon. My purpose in re-posting them here is to reach the widest possible audience.

Memorial Day 2018


May 28 (1)

Every year I wonder how many Americans pause on Memorial Day to reflect on the sacrifice made by the men and women who have been killed fighting the nation’s wars. Because society no longer bears a collective responsibility securing our freedoms, it is only military families that truly share and understand the anguish, pain, and pride of losing someone under combat related circumstances.

The cost in human lives has been and is staggering. The following numbers reflect combat related deaths in America’s principal wars and combat operations since World War I. They do not address the number of wounded, missing in action, or the psychological toll of veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Battle Deaths:

WWI – 53,402   WWII – 291,557   Korea – 33,739   Vietnam – 47,434   Iraq (Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, New Dawn, Inherent Resolve, and Freedom’s Sentinel) – 6,855   Afghanistan (2001-2017) – 942.

Think about those numbers for a moment and let them sink in. Then think about countless other wars from the American Revolution to the present that are not listed. Then think of the ongoing war against terrorism. Freedom is not free!

Today we have men and women stationed in hot spots around the globe protecting America’s interests. The reality is that many of these individuals will also give their “last full measure of devotion” to preserve our democracy.

If you really want these numbers to sink in, visit one of the 147 national cemeteries or 24 permanent American burial grounds on foreign soil. Gaze upon the row upon row upon row of headstones. It is both overwhelming and inspiring. Finally, get on your knees and give thanks for such courage, commitment, and love of country. You may have not known a single one of them, but you owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

God Bless the deceased and God Bless America!





Killers of the Flower Moon: My Review

Killers of the Flower Moon Book CoverFrom 1921 to 1926 a series of murders were perpetrated against the Osage Indian Nation in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. The murders were calculated to cheat the Osage out of their rights to land that had been forced upon them by the United States government. Once large deposits of oil were discovered the Osage became some of the wealthiest people in America, but unscrupulous individuals, including prominent citizens, local law enforcement officers and members of the judiciary all conspired to take their wealth from them.
In his meticulously researched book, “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” author David Grann reveals the corruption, prejudices, and Old West attitudes that resulted in this “Reign of Terror.”
In their day the murders were headline news, but Grann not only sifts through old newspapers, but court records, eyewitness accounts, descendent interviews, and FBI files to get at the truth. In doing so he recounts the early formative days of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, its director J. Edgar Hoover, and the men hand-picked to impartially investigate the murders and establish the FBI as the nation’s premier law enforcement agency.
What may shock readers, however, is the magnitude of the conspiracy and the great many murders that were never investigated.
The book is a window into a very dark period in American history; an account that definitely deserves telling, will have the reader invested in the story that unfolds, and provides yet another chapter in the saga and legacy of poor treatment of Native Americans


COMMENT:  The content of this blog includes works that I have authored, books that I’ve read of my own volition, and promotions on behalf of Lone Star Literary Life. I wrote of my intent to help promote the Texas literary scene working with LSLL on March 23rd, and I have since used this site for several of their Book Blog Tours. Whenever I write in that capacity it should be evident by the use of their logo.