Texas Blood: My Review

Texas Blood Book CoverTexas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands is far more than the genealogy of author Roger D. Hodge’s family. It is the story of the land itself, the past and present history of the border Southwest.

It isn’t an easy book to classify. It’s scope is as big as the state – a rambling account that is part memoir, travelogue, and history book. Meticulously researched, it can at times read like a textbook. Moreover, people, places, events, and the author’s thoughts are not presented chronologically and the juxtaposition of time and place can be disconcerting to the reader. However, if you can adjust to the many digressions that result from Hodge’s stream of consciousness style of writing you will encounter a lyrical, unsentimental, and sometimes brutal account of the Lone Star State.

The reader must decide whether Texas Blood refers to the blood that runs through Hodge’s veins or the bloodshed that has flowed ever since the conquistadors attempted their conquest of the New World, Native Americans (including the Apache, Comanche, and others) perpetrated depredations against Anglo settlers and each other, or the drug cartels fought to expand their narcotics and human trafficking networks. Violence has always been a part of Texas’ past and present and Hodge is unflinching in his account of its impact on the state.

The probability that anyone would choose to live in such rugged country and endure the unbelievably harsh and cruel conditions therein seems unlikely, and for this reason Hodge has retraced the  footsteps of his ancestors… to find the answers to their settlement in West Texas. “What was it that brought my people to this particular place? Why would  anyone attempt to settle in this unforgiving landscape? What were they searching for that was found here, in the devil’s own country, alongside his namesake river?”

His attempt to resolve these questions has yielded a richly descriptive portrait of the contested borderlands along the Rio Grande. It is the story of human habitation. It is the story of a country and its hardships. It is an ode to the land and its people from Native Americans, to European settlers, to today’s occupants. It is the story of the ongoing struggles along the international boundary with Mexico. It is the continuing saga of Texas.

Fierce, Funny, and Female: Guest Post

FIERCE, FUNNY,
AND FEMALE

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

by
MARTI MacGIBBON
Genre: Memoir / Drama / Humor
Publisher: Stay Strong Publishing
Publication Date: March 20, 2017
Number of Pages: 412 pages
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

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

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

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

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

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

GuestPost

Build Your Creativity and Invite More Fun into Your Life

You don’t have to be born a genius, a gifted person, in order to be creative; you can develop and build your own creative genius. The key to creativity is action. A person who thinks of innovative, exciting ideas, and then doesn’t act on them, is an imaginative person, but not a creative person. The act of creation brings something into being.

Whatever you think, whatever you believe, you become. Believe in your creative abilities and motivate yourself daily. Sometimes staying motivated means taking one or two baby steps per day. Other days, you’ll accomplish two or three giant strides. The key is to stay in the game. Keep chipping away at your project and it will take shape before you know it. Your genius will emerge, one day at a time.

Let go of limitations — open yourself up to opportunities. Throw your brain a curve ball — try something new: make changes in your daily schedule, drive a different route to work, rearrange your furniture, wear different colors or clothes than usual. Learn a new language. Shake things up. Free yourself to think outside the box. Avoid negative self-talk that stifles innovation. Instead, make affirmations such as, “I am creative,” or “I’m a prolific writer,” or “I have a unique vision and voice.” These are self-enhancing statements that build confidence and switch on creativity and charisma.

When it comes to unleashing your creativity, go “crazy.” The primitive part of the brain speaks of fear, listing all the “shoulds and shouldn’ts,” and the “ought tos” and “could’ves,” which hampers creativity. Often the craziest idea, the one most feared, is the one to explore. Try embracing the things that unsettle you, or the things you’re inclined to immediately reject — you may discover a creative wellspring which will feed your productivity. Allow your imagination free rein, never giving in to the urge to downplay who you are. Stay loyal to yourself and your goals.

While you’re creating, remember to have fun. Fun helps you stay energized and enjoying the process. Here are 11 ways raise your fun quotient and build creativity:

  1. When you wake up, take a few moments to visualize yourself surrounded by love and beauty, and filled with purpose and the power to realize your dreams. You can see it in your mind as a movie, a still photo, or a series of images. This action primes your subconscious mind to the idea that wonderful things can happen.
  2. Get outdoors and into nature. Take a walk in the park. Sit under your favorite tree and enjoy a beverage. Step outside at night and spend some time star gazing or appreciating the moon.
  3. Laugh whenever possible. Watch funny movies and television shows. Call up an old friend and reminisce about crazy, embarrassing, or ridiculous past experiences you’ve laughed about together. Reading humorous memoirs will help you remember/recognize ways to see the humor in your life. Watch standup comedy¾live or on TV.
  4. Join a group and share new experiences with new people. Take an art class. (Paintnite https://www.paintnite.com/ offers a night out in a restaurant or microbrewery combined with oil painting on canvas. Sierra Club can connect you with a hiking group. Try taking an improv class. The rule of improv is: Always say yes! Agree with what your improv partner has created, and go with the flow. You’re saying, “Yes, and…
  5. Do emotional check-ins. During the day, take a moment to observe your emotions, then describe them to yourself. This keeps you in touch with how you’re experiencing life. Use creative words for your feelings, that is, don’t use “good,” “great,” or “okay,” but be specific. This can be a fun word search, even if you’re feeling peeved or frustrated. Finding synonyms for annoyance and frustration can lead to sarcasm, then on to goofy hilarity.
  6. Crank up the volume on your favorite music! Jump up and dance to it. Lean back and luxuriate in it. If you’re driving, sing along with it, even at stoplights, and especially if you’re stuck in traffic. Don’t sweat the drivers around you, even if some stick-in-the-mud eyes you with disdain. You rock, so rock your commute! Fun is contagious, you might even spark a sing along in the next lane.
  7. Just before leaving the house, look in the mirror and tell yourself, “Dang, you’re cute!”
  8. Take a meditation class. Mindfulness meditation is easy, and it’s fun. The number one rule of mindfulness is, “Refrain from judging.” This is a cool way to open-up your mind to new attitudes and experiences, right?
  9. Do nothing. Yes, give yourself thirty minutes or an hour a day that is absolutely free and is only for you.
  10. Be kind to yourself and others. Forgive yourself and others. Give freely of your time or resources, to someone or something that serves the greater good. These are “feel good” acts.
  11. Take gratitude breaks during your day. Make a gratitude list on paper or in your head. Express gratitude to a co-worker, a neighbor, or a friend. Begin and end each day giving thanks.

A compelling speaker and storyteller, Marti MacGibbon delivers high-energy presentations and writes books on overcoming adversity, addiction and recovery, and inspiration, with humor and a genuine, down-to-earth style. She’s experienced critical situations that no human being should have to face. In the past, she hit rock bottom in every possible way as a hard-core drug addict, was homeless, and was trafficked to Tokyo and held prisoner by Japanese organized crime. Her story of triumph is testimony to the power of the human spirit. Marti lives her message. She reveals simple, effective strategies that anyone can use to get back on track, build resiliency, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of humor.
Marti is a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, certified addiction treatment professional, Gorski certified relapse-prevention specialist, and member of the National Speakers Association. She’s been interviewed in Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily, on ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and numerous radio shows. And she’s funny: Marti traveled all over the U.S. as a professional standup comic and performed at the Hollywood Improv and Comedy Store. She is founder, producer and host of Laff-aholics Comedy Benefit for Recovery, an annual charity fundraiser in Indianapolis featuring nationally headlining comedians. She also serves on the outreach committee of IPATH, Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force.
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12/15/18
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12/15/18
Excerpt
12/16/18
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12/19/18
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12/19/18
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12/20/18
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12/21/18
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Covey Jencks: Guest Post

COVEY JENCKS
by
SHELTON L. WILLIAMS
Narrated by Kathy James
Genre: Mystery / Social Thriller
Publisher: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 229 pages
Audio Book Length: 6 hours, 38 minutesSCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

Covey Jencks is a murder mystery with a social conscience. Set in West Texas with a cast of colorful and humorous characters, it follows a young lawyer from Washington, DC back to his hometown of Odessa, Texas. He wants and needs to solve a murder case from 1979 in 1993. The problem is that the Odessa Police Department has already found its man, and no one wants to re-visit the case of a black prostitute whose life was seemingly of no consequence to anyone. But Freddie Mae Johnson’s death matters to Covey, and eventually he discovers an old flame, JayJay Qualls, who also knew and loved Freddie. Together they undertake an investigation that uncovers not only the truth about Freddie but also the secrets of Odessa’s south side, Mexican gangs, a Boston mobster, and the fallacy of unexamined assumptions. Finding out who killed Freddie is one thing, but preventing their own demise is quite another! 
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PRAISE FOR COVEY JENCKS:
 
Williams seamlessly braids a murder mystery with a love story and a drama about the pervasiveness of racism in the South… The author’s prose is buoyantly eccentric, both insightful and self-effacingly humorous. And the clues Covey and JayJay track down are meted out to readers with impressive judiciousness: The author never prematurely surrenders so much information that the conclusion is rendered foregone while the tale’s swift pace prevents it from becoming tedious. An engrossing crime drama that’s both entertaining and provocative. — Kirkus Indie

 

GuestPost

BY SHELTON WILLIAMS

Covey Jencks has been with me a long time, but it took my grandchildren to bring him to life. Covey had been a character in a previous unpublished book, but I never forgot him. When my four grand kids started getting older, however, I told them “Deputy Dan Stories.” Deputy Dan was always as old as the child listening; he worked at his dad’s car wash; and he always solved a crime. After each case, Odessa’s sheriff awarded Deputy Dan a piece of wardrobe that made him more officially a crime solver: a cowboy hat, boots, a belt, and finally a star. The older they got, the more the stories related to current events. The confrontation at Charlottesville, VA., in 2017 prompted me to dust off Covey Jencks to help explain bias, why lives matter, and a bit of history. I thought that would be better than simply telling them: “It’s complicated.”

 

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.
My first part time job while I was in high school was announcing at the local radio station, and I had fun being “on the air” and using my sarcastic sense of humor.  I worked in the radio business for more than twenty years. My favorite pastimes are teaching figure skating, getting lost in a great book, and watching movies.  I narrate and produce audio books in my home studio, and I truly enjoy bringing an author’s characters to life with an audio book. I currently reside in Minnesota with my slightly overweight cat and two childlike golden retrievers.  
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11/29/18
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11/30/18
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12/1/18
Author Interview
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Character Interview
12/2/18
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Gratitude: The Art of Being Thankful – Guest Post

GRATITUDE:
THE ART OF BEING THANKFUL
by
Vickie Phelps
Genre: Non-Fiction / Inspirational / Devotional
Publisher: Inspire Books
Date of Publication: July 11, 2017
Number of Pages: 92, 4.5″ x 6″
 
Scroll down for Giveaway!
This ninety-two-page gift book is a compilation of devotions, poems, prayers, and lists of things to be grateful for. The difference between having what you want and having what you need is a principle some people never grasp. In the reading of this book, you may realize you have much more to be grateful for than you were aware of.  Use this little book as a daily devotional or pick it up at random times to remind yourself that you are a blessed individual.


PRAISE FOR GRATITUDE: THE ART
OF BEING THANKFUL:
This little gem of a book arrived before we left on vacation, so I took it along. It became our shared devotional and ‘thought for the day’ outlook…and colored our time away with gratitude. This unique discovery is one to treasure.” – 5 Star Review, Amazon verified purchase 

 

GuestPost

Guest Post by Vickie Phelps

For the past year and a half, I’ve been putting together a little gift book on the subject of gratitude. It’s a compilation of devotions, prayers, scripture, quotes, and lists of things to be thankful for. Before you think that I did this to teach you something, or because I think people aren’t thankful for what they have, let me assure you that I did this for myself as much or more than I did it for anyone else. I wanted to think about all the things I have to be thankful for. I wanted to remind myself of what I have. I wanted to jot down verses and quotes that I could whisper to myself in the middle of the night or when bad times come. I wanted to list those things that I sometimes take for granted and open this little book once in a while to refresh my memory.

For many years, we have lived in a country that has been prosperous and blessed. But I think we forget just how much we do have. It’s only when we experience some kind of loss or someone close to us does that we tend to think about our blessings. Often we think of blessings as big things, but sometimes it’s the little things that make us stop and think. Like the time a tornado swept through our town and left a lot of people without electricity. Suddenly, we couldn’t brew a cup of coffee, use our hair dryer, or turn on a light. If you’re a coffee drinker, like I am, you were fretting the next morning after the storm because you didn’t have that cup of coffee to start the day. You either had to do without it, drive to a restaurant or fast food place that still had power, or maybe hook up a generator for a limited power supply. And then Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the Texas coast, and we watched those people suffer great loss. And it wasn’t just our state or country, but all over the world, people were losing their homes and sometimes family members as a result of storms or some other tragedy.

All of these situations made me take a second look at how blessed I am, and I wanted a record of it. I wanted to write down my thoughts about these blessings and what I had to be thankful for. And I wanted to share those thoughts with others. The result is a little 92-page book titled, “Gratitude: The Art of Being Thankful.” I hope it will bless you and maybe you will make your own list of what you have to be thankful for.

Vickie Phelps writes to encourage, inspire, and influence. She has published 200 articles, devotionals, and essays in more than fifty magazines and contributed to several anthologies. Vickie is the author of the novels, Postmark From the Past,Moved, Left No Address, Waiting for Joy, and a devotional book, Psalms for the Common Man. Vickie is co-author with Jo Huddleston of the gift book, Simply Christmas, and Writing 101: A Handbook of Tips & Encouragement for Writers. 
 
 
 
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3rd Prize:  Signed Copy of The Art of Being Thankful

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NOVEMBER 7-16, 2018

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The Whole Damn Cheese: Character Interview

THE WHOLE
DAMN CHEESE
MAGGIE SMITH BORDER LEGEND
by
BILL WRIGHT
Genre: Biography / Texana 
Publisher: Texas Christian University Press 
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Publication Date: October 12, 2018
Number of Pages: 160 pages with B&W photos
Anecdotes about Maggie Smith abound, but Bill Wright’s The Whole Damn Cheese is the first book devoted entirely to the woman whose life in Big Bend country has become the stuff of legend. For more than twenty years, Maggie Smith served folks on both sides of the border as doctor, lawyer, midwife, herbalist, banker, self-appointed justice of the peace, and coroner. As she put it, she was “the whole damn cheese” in Hot Springs, Texas. A beloved figure serving the needs of scores of people in Big Bend country, she was also an accomplished smuggler with a touch of romance as well as larceny in her heart. Maggie’s family history is a history of the Texas frontier, and her story outlines the beginnings and early development of Big Bend National Park. Her travels between Boquillas, San Vincente, Alpine, and Hot Springs define Maggie’s career and illustrate her unique relationships with the people of the border. Vividly capturing the rough individualism and warm character of Maggie Smith, author Bill Wright demonstrates why this remarkable frontier woman has become an indelible figure in the history of Texas.
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Character Interview

Inside Maggie Smith’s Mind:

An Imaginary Interview with the Whole Damn Cheese

PART 2 OF 2

Click to read part one featured 10/18/18 with Lone Star Book Blog Tours

Q: Now tell us about one of the weddings you attended and how you conducted that wedding.

A: Well here’s a story that combines a wedding and birth. I was invited to a wedding in Mexico. I was asked to be the “madrina” which is like a best man, except in Mexico, they have a best woman. And well, when we got to the little ranch for the wedding we were told that there was a woman who was real sick. She had rode twelve miles to come to the wedding, and she was expectin’ a child. So I went into this room where they had her and they had her tied up into the ceiling with a goat hide underneath her.

Q: Standing up?!

A: Yes. That’s some belief—I don’t know what—in Mexico. So, I had ‘em cut her down and I delivered a baby boy they named Henry after our 12-year-old Henry who was there that night. Well, the family took the baby home after the party that night. The woman rode the horse twelve miles home with that baby, back to Mexico!

Q: There’s a story about some cattle you saved. Tell us about that.

A: That was at Paisano Pass—a gap in the mountains in Presidio County. I stopped there during a blizzard while moving cattle. It was real bad weather and it took us five months to move the cattle from a ranch below Sierra Blanca, down on the river, to a ranch at Carrizo Springs. I was in my early 20s when I made that trip.

Q: You believe that you have the BEST treatment for a rattlesnake bite because it saved the life of your son-in-law, Madge’s husband, twice. Tell us how that story goes.

A: Well he and my younger daughter, Leila, were getting’ a boat out of the river and he stepped on a cottonmouth water moccasin that bit him twice on the foot—he was barefooted. There was no car—we had taken a part of our cart and sent it to town to have it replaced. So I took powdered alum and kerosene and put it in a five gallon can and packed his foot in that. I kept the mixture ‘til it would turn green, and then emptied it and put more in there. Of course, I had a LARGE sack of powdered alum! It was three days before the pickup came from town and we could git help. He went to the doctor in Alpine and the doctor said that it was perfect—that his foot was all right! He took a blood sample and most of the blood was clear. I guess that saved his life, because they said cottonmouth water moccasins have a deadly bite.

Another time I didn’t have anything like that, and they brought this Mexican in—he had been bitten by a rattlesnake on the back of the leg. They brought him from across the river at Boquillas. That time I took a live chicken and slit it down through the breast—I don’t have a queasy stomach—and wrapped this chicken around his leg. I believe the beating heart pulled the poison out. Anyhow, it worked!

Q: As you said yourself, you were “the whole damn cheese” in Hot Springs, Texas. You were also known to be an accomplished smuggler. What did you smuggle?

A: I prefer not to answer. And by the way, I really don’t like talking about myself. Can’t we talk about the country instead?

For thirty-five years Bill Wright owned and managed a wholesale and retail petroleum marketing company. In 1987 he sold his company to his employees and since then has carved out a remarkable career as an author, fine art photographer, and ethnologist. He has written or contributed to seven books, and his photographs appear in Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.
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The Encouragement Letters: Excerpt

THE ENCOURAGEMENT
LETTERS
by
SHANNA SPENCE
Sub-genre: Middle Grade / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Book Liftoff
Date of Publication: November 22, 2017
Number of Pages: 180
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WILLIAM CROMWELL, at age eleven, knew what it was like living with new changes. In 1865, Manchester, England a new textile factory moved into town and after a tragedy that befell him and his mum, they struggled to live. With so many things going on in his young life he wanted to be the encouragement that his father was to him.
As everything changes along with terrible hardships, just maybe the hope he gives to the growing town will find its way to Will…
PRAISE FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT LETTERS: 
This was such an uplifting wholesome book! It was so nice to read something positive about a time when people were so willing to step in and help someone in need without expecting anything in return! I couldn’t put it down!– 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer

Excellent read!! This story speaks to people in all walks of life. It is encouraging, sweet, and funny at the same time. I would recommend this book to anyone needing to see what it means to “treat others as you want to be treated.” — 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer

A very inspiring book from a great new author! — 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer

A charming tale of a simpler time. Yet, the message is ageless. I congratulate Ms. Spence on this her first effort and look forward to more entertaining reads from her in the future.— 5 Stars, Kindle reviewer
Excerpt

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER TWO

OF THE ENCOURAGEMENT LETTERS

BY SHANNA SPENCE

          Mrs. Cromwell was home cutting up a few vegetables that she managed to get that day. She had a couple of good days of work, repairing some work trousers for an older gentleman and made a few aprons that she sold. Work was getting harder to find. Most days, he thought she would skip eating just to make sure he could get enough to eat. After all, he was a growing boy!

          As she prepared a small meal, Will studied his mother for a moment. She had grown paler and thinner. She had dark circles under her eyes and hollowed cheeks.  Her dress hung from her thin shoulders. He felt a pang of desperation. I just don’t know what to do for her, he thought. Suddenly, a coughing spell hit his mother after she cleared her throat and had a sip of water.

          “Tell me what you are thinking, my son,” Mrs. Cromwell said.

          Will wasn’t good at hiding his emotions. Mrs. Cromwell looked at him and saw what she thought was fear. William’s father died with a cough; not his mother too!

          “Nothing at all, Mum. Why do you ask?”

          “Well, the look on your face is troublesome to me. I know you must be worrying again.”

          “I won’t lie, Mum, you look thinner to me. Have you been eating?”

          “Now, William, you know I do!”

          “You must not be eating much. You look like you have lost some weight.”

          “Tsk, stop worrying about me. I’m fine! Now, go wash up for dinner.”

          With that, he went to the wash basin and washed his hands, still feeling uncomfortable with his mother’s response. I will keep an eye on her.

          As the days passed, Will noticed that his mother took her tea and ate nothing for the mornings. He could not tell if she ate anything for lunch while he helped Uncle Henry. For the evening meal, she ate, but he was unsure if it was enough.

          He had to do something to get more food for them. He could not allow them to starve. It was one thing for his mother to have no work, but not to be able to eat was another thing.

          I know what I can do! I’m going to plant a garden! Will thought. At least we will have vegetables to eat. Let’s see, I have to figure out where to get some seeds.

          Will lay down after reading some of his father’s letters that evening. He knew he had to get another letter out and was wondering to whom he could write a letter. What I will do tomorrow is go to town to scout out some seeds for the new garden and I will look around for inspiration to write a letter. With that as his last thought, he fell fast asleep.

          The morning came early for Will. He jumped out of bed, dressed, and was out the door before the morning tea.

          “Have a good day, William. Don’t forget to pick up your school work for the day!”

          “I won’t, Mum. See you this afternoon!” Will said as the door was closing behind him. Will ran most of the way to town. Again, he stopped from time to time to get the pebbles out of his shoes. The holes in his shoes were getting bigger.

          I’m going to have to try and patch those holes soon.

Shanna Spence is a wife, mother, and registered nurse of over twenty years. She has written poetry since the age of thirteen and always dreamed of writing books. Raised in a small East Texas town, she pursued a career of nursing in Dallas, Texas but eventually went back to East Texas to settle down and raise a family.
Now she finally has found the time to fulfill her dream of writing stories that will hopefully bring out the imagination in others — as well as inspiration. She is currently living in Longview, Texas. 
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Old Buildings in North Texas: Excerpt

OLD BUILDINGS
IN NORTH TEXAS
by
JEN WALDO
  Sub-genre: Literary Fiction / Dramedy
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Date of Publication: April 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 213
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After rehab, Olivia, a 32-year-old cocaine addict, is required to move back in with her mother and pregnant sister. Having left a promising career in journalism in New York, she’s now working as a sales assistant for a family friend in her home town in North Texas. 
Under pressure from her court-mandated counselor – an old high school friend – to take up a hobby, Olivia decides on “urbexing.” Soon she’s breaking into derelict homes, ex-prisons, and old drive-ins across North Texas, and it’s not long before she’s looting state property and making money off the possessions, fixtures, and fittings that have been left behind.
 
Old Buildings in North Texas is about a modern woman’s search for personal equilibrium and wild adventure — the attempt to find stability in existence without losing sight of what makes life worth living. Jen Waldo’s style modulates effortlessly from domestic nuance to taut adventure, tackling social and moral transgressions with incisive observation and vivid humor.
PRAISE FOR OLD BUILDINGS IN NORTH TEXAS
“A lot of Jen Waldo’s debut novel takes place out on the porch of Olivia’s mother’s house. […] With its casual, confidential tone, Old Buildings in North Texas puts the reader in one of those porch chairs, reclining on a warm evening with a cool drink.” — The Skinny
Old Buildings in North Texas is an amusingly written and well worked book” — Trip Fiction
 
“This novel is an absolute blast. There are serious moments of course, but Jen Waldo looks for the comedy in everything to create a memorable scenario that reminded me very much of the style of Six Feet Under.” — Shiny New Books
 
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Excerpt

EXCERPT FROM

OLD BUILDINGS IN NORTH TEXAS

BY JEN WALDO

“What are the twelve steps?” my sister asks.

“Six steps. One, accept that you’re out of control; two, lean on a higher power; three, confide in a sponsor; four, make amends; five, replace the old life with a new one; and six, help others though their addiction recovery.”

“Are you doing all that stuff?” she asks.  “Is it working?”

An honest answer would disappoint her. The stripped-down truth is, I’m a broken-down truck in a country driveway. I doubt my sincerity as regards the recovery steps. I try to communicate with a higher power, but it seems hypocritical when I’m not even sure I believe in one. I’m in debt and I’m stashing secret money. I’m keeping secrets from my mother and my therapist. I’m disingenuous with my parole officer. I’m sneaking and stealing.

Am I making progress? Yes, in my recovery, I am; and it’s slow and it’s difficult.  But my goal is to get better, not to be better. Maybe in the future I’ll be wise, generous, and productive; but at this point, I am what I am—a self-absorbed addict with murky morals. Chloe was right when she said I’ve traded one addiction for another. Slipping into buildings, taking things and selling them, watching my bank account grow—these aren’t things a good person does. But they’re things I do.

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

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