It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing


Spooky Halloween Weekend

Posted by mcm0704 on October 29, 2020 |

Halloween was one of my husband’s favorite holidays. He enjoyed wrapping the stepladder in an old white sheet to make a ghost in our yard and setting up a sound system to play eerie music when kids came to the front walk. He’d sit on the porch swing, shrouded in a hooded cape and make more scary noises, to see which kids were brave enough to make the long walk from the public sidewalk to our porch.

Part of my husband’s delight was in seeing all the kids out having such a good time, back when so many kids went door-to-door to trick or treat.

The other part was the fact that this holiday kicks off the fall/winter holidays, which he loved so dearly.

It’s now been seven years since my husband died, and I have finally been able to enter into this special time with more joyful anticipation and less pain. As anyone who has lost a partner who was part of one’s life for years can attest to, those first few years of holidays without are excruciating.

Because of the COVID 19, this is going to be a very strange end of the year for holiday celebrations. First of all, my doctor advised that I stay away from close contact with people, so I won’t be giving out treats on Halloween or sharing the excitement with my neighbors who will be outside.

Sadly, I may not be gathering with any of my kids for Thanksgiving. We’ll just have to see what the next few weeks bring.

Christmas? It’s probably way too soon to speculate on that, so I won’t.

It’s been a while since I showcased the mystery, Doubletake, that I co-wrote with Margaret Sutton, so I thought I’d share a bit about how we came to write the story on the blog today.

While I’ve written most of my books and screenplays alone, there have been times I’ve shared the byline with someone else, and I must say, I enjoy the collaborative process. Two creative minds are sometimes better than one, if those creative minds can put egos aside and focus on the story. That’s what Margaret and I were able to do when we wrote, Doubletake, a police procedural mystery featuring a female homicide detective set in a fictional suburb of Dallas.

When I first met Margaret and we decided to write a book together, all I could think of was “The Odd Couple.” Not that either of us matched the personality types of Felix and Oscar, but we certainly were as opposite as opposites could get. I was a mom, a homemaker, and a humor columnist, known as the Erma Bombeck of Plano, Texas. Margaret was a successful business woman whose writing experience included invoices, business letters, and a single sale to Ellery Queen’s Mystery magazine.

How could we turn out anything even remotely appealing to fans of hard-boiled crime fiction?

Somehow, we managed to do it.

Right off, we realized how much research we needed to do. Collectively, we knew zip about law enforcement – speeding tickets not withstanding – and we had no clue how the criminal mind works. We were lucky in that we both had connections to people in law enforcement, and those people were happy to help us get it right.

Readers really do hate it when authors don’t get it right.

After the research and brainstorming sessions, we did a broad outline of the story, and we each chose sections to write. Usually, that was determined by who came up with the original idea for that part of the plot, and I was amazed at how effortless that process turned out to be. We would then meet once a week to trade pages, adding our touch to the other’s work.

When Margaret read my first attempt to get into the killer’s mind, she just gave me a look as if to say, “Really?”

My narrative was… well, how should I put this…so nice. But what did she expect from a mom? She put the pages down and said she doubted that any killer would have “Gosh, Golly, Gee” running through his mind as he was contemplating killing someone. Maybe he’d go for something with a little harder edge.

Margaret took me out behind her barn and made me use words I’d never even heard before. She made me say them over and over until she thought maybe I’d gotten that harder edge, and when I moved on to writing my own mysteries, I was grateful for that lesson.

A writing partnership that is a complement of talents is a real gift. In the two years we worked on Doubletake, Margaret’s strengths bolstered my weaknesses and my strengths bolstered hers. We each brought something unique to the process, and I couldn’t look at a chapter now and tell you specifically who wrote which section. I may know who started a chapter. Margaret does have a wonderful way of setting up memorable secondary characters-the introduction of the irascible Dr. Davis is uniquely hers-but beyond that, the lines blur; which is a very good thing. Even though quilts play a central part in the plot, I’d hate to think the book resembled one.

If you haven’t read this mystery, check it out at Amazon for Kindle versions and Draft2Digital for other e-reader versions.

Two brutal murders rock the quiet community of Twin Lakes, Texas, and Detective Barbara Hobkins must catch the killer before becoming the target of Doubletake. First published under the pen-name Sutton Miller, the book has been revised, updated, and re-released as an e-book and paperback.

“You’ll hate to put this one down until you have read that last word. Highly recommended by a satisfied reader, and I’m looking forward to the next book by this author. Enjoy.” Anne K. Edwards

That’s all for me for now, and I’ll be taking a few days away from the Internet. I’ll check back in on Wednesday to see who the president is, and hopefully the election will go smoothly with no violence.

What will you be doing on Halloween? Whatever you have planned for the weekend, be safe and be well.


#lsbbt Book Blog Tour – North to Alaska by Preston Lewis

Posted by mcm0704 on October 27, 2020 |


The Memoirs of H. H. Lomax, #6 



Genre: Historical Fiction / Western / Humor

Publisher: Wolfpack Publishing

Date of Publication: August 5, 2020

Number of Pages: 414

Scroll down for the giveaway!


Swindled out of a mining fortune in Colorado and blamed for an ensuing murder, H. H. Lomax two decades later must finally face up to his past in Skagway, Alaska. Along the way, he encounters legendary madam Mattie Silks, suffragist Susan B. Anthony, novelist Jack London, and a talking dog.

To survive his previous missteps and avoid a prison sentence for theft, Lomax must outshoot infamous Western conman Soapy Smith, outwit an unrelenting Wells Fargo investigator, and outrun Shotgun Jake Townsend, the greatest frontier assassin who never was.


This was my first introduction to H.H. Lomax and I really enjoyed meeting this interesting, funny character. At times, reading about his exploits and his social blunderings especially him not understanding what woman’s suffrage was about, I couldn’t help but think of this big blundering dog that one of my grandsons had, TEX.

I’m sure Lomax would probably roll over in his grave at being compared to a dog named TEX.  Not so much the dog part, but the Texas part, because he made it abundantly clear that he really didn’t like the Lone Star State. But keep in mind the fact that my grandson’s dog was a big, awkward, lovable dog who took a long time to get up to speed when playing chase-the-ball with my dog, Poppy. By the time TEX got to where the ball had been, after gathering himself and lumbering after Poppy, my dog would have retrieved the ball and come back.

Lomax was a bit like that, taking a long time to get up to speed about a number of things, and the scenes where he met Susan B. Anthony were priceless in their humor, especially when he voiced his opinion that he thought no woman should suffer so he didn’t understand what she was promoting.

Contrasted to that lovable dog part of his character, was the hard man who took no quarter from men who were out to do him wrong, even though his trusting nature often prevented him from acting sooner. Like his dealings with the crooked attorney he called Noose-Neck.

Something else I really liked was the somewhat sardonic and self-deprecating humor of Lomax, making him a truly three dimensional character. He poked fun at himself as much as he did others, and never shied away from dissing a place, “Some said that Leadville air was so thin that the house cats died there.”

It was such fun to take the journey from Denver to New Mexico to San Francisco, then on to Alaska with Lomax. He was running from the law and a crime he didn’t even know if he committed, and we, the readers, didn’t know either. Each place, each escapade, was written about in that trademark tall-tale style that has made the Memoirs of H.H. Lomax so popular, and, like many other readers, I didn’t care how much of it was true.  It was the storytelling that kept me reading.


Amazon    Barnes and Noble

Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of thirty novels. In addition to his two Western Writers of America Spurs, he received the 2018 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Humor for Bluster’s Last Stand, the fourth volume in his comic western series, The Memoirs of H. H. Lomax. Two other books in that series were Spur finalists. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin received the Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on the region.



TWO WINNERS: 1ST PRIZE: Signed copies of North to Alaska and First Herd to Abilene; 2ND PRIZE: Signed Copy of North to Alaska.

OCTOBER 20-30, 2020


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Or, visit the blogs directly:

10/20/20 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
10/20/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
10/21/20 Review Max Knight
10/22/20 Character Interview The Adventures of a Travelers Wife
10/23/20 Review Forgotten Winds
10/24/20 Series Spotlight All the Ups and Downs
10/25/20 Author Interview Reading by Moonlight
10/26/20 Review Book Bustle
10/27/20 Review It’s Not All Gravy
10/28/20 Scrapbook Page StoreyBook Reviews
10/29/20 Review The Clueless Gent


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#FridayReads – Excerpt From The Many Faces of Grief

Posted by mcm0704 on October 23, 2020 |

In addition to working on the fourth book in the Seasons Mystery Series, I’ve been writing a new nonfiction book, The Many Faces of Grief.

Back when the hardback version of my suspense novel One Small Victory was in pre-publication production at Five Star Cengage, I wrote a blog with the same title as this new nonfiction book. The subplots of One Small Victory revolved around the aftermath of the death of the central character’s son, showing how she, and her family, dealt with the grief.

This was back when blogging was in it’s infancy, but the publisher and I thought it would be good to do the blog leading up to release day of the book in a way to build some interest.

That original hardback edition of the book did quite well, then the e-book started to languish after I released it myself, so more recently I revised and updated the book and it was released last December in paperback, hardback, and digital by Next Chapter Publishing

But, back to the nonfiction book. For some time I’d been thinking about pulling all those old blog posts into a book, much like I compiled my long-ago humor column into A Dead Tomato Plant And a Paycheck and my husband’s sermons into Homilies From the Heart. This process of creating a book, involves more than merely copying the original work and pasting it into a longer manuscript, so I’ve been working on The Many Faces of Grief off and on for some time.

It’s getting there. 

So, today, I’d like to share an excerpt from the book. I hope you enjoy it.

“Peter, do you love me?”

“Master, you know I do.”

“Then tend my sheep.”

That’s paraphrased from John 21/15- 17 where Jesus asks Simon Peter three times whether he loves Him. They are also words in a hymn that I sang frequently in choir, and the message stirred my heart to accept a calling to answer my baptismal and confirmation call to discipleship. Maybe not the kind that Peter and the others had so long ago, but something.

When my husband was ordained as a Permanent Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, wives were invited, and encouraged, to “tend the sheep” in whatever way we could. I was already doing music ministry, which I loved, and my husband and I were in charge of Family Life for the parish, but I never felt like those were quite enough.

About that same time, a good friend was in the hospital. I called her to see if she needed anything when I came to visit, and she said she’d love to receive holy communion. I’d never taken communion to somebody in the hospital before, but how hard could that be?

As it turned out, not hard at all. On the appointed day, my husband got a host from the tabernacle at church and brought it to me in a Pix, which is a special round gold container to hold consecrated hosts for communion. I went to the hospital armed with the Pix and my husband’s prayer book, where he’d shown me the prayers for the sick.

Despite this being my first time, the little prayer service went smoothly, and afterward my friend and I chatted for a while. Before I left, my friend thanked me for the visit, especially for the prayers and communion. I can still hear her voice these many years later. “You’re very good at this, you know, Maryann.”

“At what? It’s just a visit.”

“No. It was more than that. It was a blessing, and you should do this for others.”

I thought that was very nice of her to say, and I was truly glad that she’d found the visit so beneficial, but I didn’t think much more about the last part of what she said, until a few weeks later. There was an announcement at church that a hospital ministry program was starting. Anyone who was interested could come and find out more about it during an evening meeting.

Could I?

Should I?

That was the first step in my journey to hospital ministry, first as a volunteer then later as a certified chaplain, but more about that next time I share an excerpt.

I do hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend. As happy as we can be in these challenging times. 

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Book Blog Tour – Nothing Short of Wondrous by Regina Scott

Posted by mcm0704 on October 20, 2020 |


(American Wonders Collection, Book Two)



Genre: Historical Fiction / Christian Romance

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: October 20, 2020

Number of Pages: 336

Scroll down for the giveaway!

In 1886, the U.S. government gave control of Yellowstone, the country’s first national park, to the cavalry to stop predation by poachers, hunters, and vandals. Mrs. Kate Tremaine is all for the change. The young widow and her late husband held the lease to operate one of the hotels in the park. She has raised her six-year-old son among God’s wonders and knows every inch of the mountainous park like the back of her hand. It is her home, and she has vowed to protect it.

Lieutenant William Prescott needs someone of Kate’s caliber more than he knows. Congress has appropriated funds for only one guide, who is required elsewhere in the park, and the cavalryman is having some trouble finding his way around much less tracking down the troublemakers. As Kate and her son help him, he doesn’t dare give in to the tender feelings she raises in him. A tragic mistake eight years ago nearly derailed his career and made him question his own abilities. Not even Kate’s encouragement or God’s forgiveness can blot out the stain on his conscience.

When Kate’s son disappears, Will and Kate must work together to rescue the boy and protect the park. In doing so, they may just find that two wounded hearts can lead to one powerful love when God is in control.


IndieBound ◆ Amazon ◆ Barnes & Noble ◆ Kobo ◆ Books-A-Million ◆ Additional Retailers


     Reading this book was a real treat as it brought back memories of a trip I took to Yellowstone several years ago. And now, taking the literary walk through the park, I remember how beautiful so many areas are. That made me appreciate how Kate fell in love with Yellowstone and decided to make it her home even though she had been a city girl living in Boston prior to her husband buying the Geyser Gateway Hotel.
       When I took my trip to Yellowstone I sure wish that there’d been a hotel like that on the premises with a wonderful hostess like Kate and a cook like Alberta. I would have loved a slice of her huckleberry pie. And I would’ve preferred to traverse the trails on horseback, rather than by a car.
     The relationships between the characters, especially Kate and lieutenant Will Prescott and her son Danny, were a delight to read. Everyone, including the guests,  were all clearly unique people, and the romantic relationship between the central characters was loving, and engaging without being sappy or sweet. I don’t think sappy and sweet would have worked for Kate and Will, nor would it have fit with their rugged, independent natures.
     Likewise, the religious and spiritual aspects of the story were well in line with the characters’ personalities, and nothing about that was forced to make a point. Nothing will ruin a Christian story faster for me than for the author to whap me over the head with doctrine or personal beliefs. Whatever happens on the page should be true to the people on the page, and Ms. Scott does that admirably.
     In a note at the end of the book the author explained how she researched the thirty years that the Cavalry patrolled the park to protect the wildlife from poachers and to protect the people. That historical accuracy added another element of enjoyment to a story that was truly a delight to read.




Regina Scott is the author of fifty works of warm, witty historical romance, including A Distance Too Grand. She was twice awarded the prestigious RT Book Reviews best book of the year in her category. A devotee of history, she has learned to fence, driven four-in-hand, and sailed on a tall ship, all in the name of research. She and her husband of thirty years live south of Tacoma, Washington, on the way to Mt. Rainier.  Website ⬥ Facebook ⬥ Blog ⬥ Pinterest

Goodreads ⬥ BookBub  ⬥ Amazon Author Page


THREE WINNERS! FIRST PRIZE: Both books in the American Wonders collection, tote bag, book swag, and $25 B&N gift card; SECOND & THIRD PRIZES: Copy of Nothing Short of Wondrous and book swag.

October 13-October 23, 2020

(U.S. Only)

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Or, visit the blogs directly:

10/13/20 Notable Quotables Forgotten Winds
10/13/20 BONUS post Hall Ways Blog
10/14/20 Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog
10/15/20 Review The Adventures of a Travelers Wife
10/16/20 Review Book Bustle
10/17/20 Excerpt Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
10/18/20 Scrapbook Page The Page Unbound
10/19/20 Review Momma on the Rocks
10/20/20 Review It’s Not All Gravy
10/21/20 Series Spotlight All the Ups and Downs
10/22/20 Review StoreyBook Reviews


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#FridayReads – Excerpt from Evelyn Evolving

Posted by mcm0704 on October 16, 2020 |

Before sharing the excerpt, I want to let readers know that the book, EVELYN EVOLVING is on sale for Kindle for only .99, a saving of $2. So if you are interested in reading this book about the struggles my mother faced in her life, this is a good chance to get the Kindle version at a good price.

Also, my publisher just let me know that the book is available in paperback and hardback at most bookstores, distributed through the Ingram Catalog. There are various ISBN numbers associated with the book, depending on dimensions, but this is the ISBN for what I’d think would be the most popular, the 6×9 paperback: 9781715385361. If your local bookstore doesn’t have the book yet, you can always request it. Pricing is going to range from $5 to $8 for paperbacks and $13 to $20 for hardcover. 

I’m super excited about having the book in the brick and mortar stores, as well as other online retail stores besides Amazon.

Now, here’s the excerpt: 

Evelyn pulled her brown sweater tighter against the frigid air in the long hallway. It was little protection against the cold that chilled her to the bone and turned her fingers blue. Viola had taken the sweater away from her after Evelyn pulled it from the donation bag first, then after Evelyn begged, gave it back. Evelyn has happy to have it, even though it was thinly woven, and the cold air found its way in. This winter was harder than last year, and even the year before that. Sister Honora said it wasn’t any colder outside. It was just that there wasn’t enough coal to heat the whole building. The sleeping ward was so frigid that at night all the children huddled under thick quilts, still wearing their clothes.

The only warm spot in the entire building was the dining room and that’s where Evelyn was headed now. Viola should already be there.

All this week, Viola had finished her morning chores early and was first in line for lunch. In addition to having choice work assignments – she had been chosen to clean the altar in the chapel – Viola was allowed to attend classes in the afternoons.

Evelyn was not.

Two years ago, the good sisters had decided that there was something wrong with Evelyn’s brain. She was slow. She was stupid. She was never going to be able to learn, so she might as well be doing chores all day. Those chores were still the worst a person could hope for, lot of floor scrubbing, which left her hands red and made blisters on top of callouses.

Evelyn tried to pretend she didn’t care that Viola had the lighter load, but sometimes resentment reared its ugly head. Evelyn was sure that she could be as smart and as good as Viola if the sisters would just give her a chance. They were always impatient with her. Wanting her to give the answer to an arithmetic problem right now. Right this very second. Not letting her take the time she needed to come up with the correct answer. And she read too slowly. At least that is what Sister Marie said in front of the whole class.

It was no surprise that Evelyn read slowly and stumbled over the words when told to read aloud. Everyone in the class stared at her, including Sister Marie, impatience furrowing the brow under the white wimple. Having all the eyes in the room focused on her made Evelyn want to run away and hide. She was sure that everyone was poised to react the minute she made her first mistake in pronunciation. And, of course, the nervousness made the mistake come quickly.

The laughter followed.

Stepping into the relative warmth of the large dining hall, Evelyn saw several kids in line to pick up a tray and be served by Sister Magdalene, who stood behind the large metal pans ready to dole out portions of food. Evelyn had to walk the entire length of the line, passing by Viola, who was first, to get to the end and wait. Stepping into the line in front of her sister was not possible. That was an infraction that could get them both punished, and Viola was standing firm in her resolve to champion herself above Evelyn.

At every meal, the children had to stand in line until everyone had filed into the dining hall. Then Sister Honora would walk to the front of the room and lead the prayer before serving could begin. Lately, Evelyn had noticed that the food portions were dwindling along with the coal supply. Porridge used to be just for breakfast, but sometimes now they had it for lunch or for dinner. Sister Magdalene, who was in charge of the kitchen, said that come spring and summer when they could plant a garden, the offering in the food line would improve. It’s just that there wasn’t enough money right now to buy all that the orphanage needed.

Viola had taken to eating with some of the other older girls, so Evelyn sat at a table with other eleven-year-olds and ate her bowl of porridge slowly. She wanted to linger in the dining hall as long as she dared; just to be warm for a few more minutes. She had to scrub the floor in the sleeping area this afternoon, and it would be colder there than anywhere in the building. But she couldn’t put it off forever. She scraped the bowl for the last bit of food, then carried the empty bowl to the cart where they put the dirty dishes. Some lucky girl would get to wash those in the relative warmth of the kitchen.

After depositing the bowl, Evelyn went to the room off the kitchen where cleaning things were kept and got a bucket and mop.

Once in the sleeping area for the girls, she first went to her cot and pulled out a cigar box from underneath. The box held a couple of pencils, some paper, a pretty rock she’d found last summer by the creek that ran behind the orphanage, and the spoon she’d brought from Miz Beatrice’s. Her one connection to a happier time.
It also still held her mother’s handkerchief, which wasn’t a connection to a happier time, but something she treasured none the less. The cloth no longer held the sweet smell of her mother’s perfume. That had long ago faded, but Evelyn didn’t care. It had once belonged to that mysterious woman she longed to know.

Running a finger along the lace on the edge of the cloth, Evelyn thought about her mother. Where was she now? Did she ever think about her and Viola? Then she thought about Miz Beatrice. Had The Cancer taken her?

“What are you doing?”

Startled, Evelyn looked up and saw Sister Honora. “Nothing, Sister. Just—”

“You weren’t sent here to do nothing.”

“No, Sister. I will get to work right now.”

“What do you have there?”

“Nothing… I” Evelyn tried to drop the handkerchief into the box, but Sister Honora grabbed it. “Please don’t take it. It’s the only thing I have left of my mother.”

Sister looked at the cloth in her hand for a moment, and Evelyn hoped.
“Your mother left you here, child. What should you care about a stupid handkerchief?”

The words punctured Evelyn’s heart. “May I please have it back?”

Her plea was barely a whisper, but even that was ignored.

Sister held onto the handkerchief, and Evelyn slid the box back under the cot, tears burning in her eyes. She blinked the wetness back, not wanting to show weakness, and stood. Sister was still standing there, watching, and little prickles of alarm erupted on Evelyn’s back. It didn’t bode well when Sister stood like a statue, her eyes boring into Evelyn. “As your punishment for shirking your duties, you will not have supper.”

Anger reared its ugly head, and Evelyn fought to control it. This was so wrong. She was not shirking. She worked hard, but she knew better than to voice any of her thoughts. Nothing was right or fair in this horrible place.

“You will also mop the boys’ ward.”

Evelyn forced the anger aside and nodded.

“Don’t just stand there.” Sister pounded her walking stick on the floor to punctuate her words. “Get busy.”

That’s all from me for the weekend. I’ll be taking in as much of the virtual Bouchercon2020 as I can today and tomorrow. The pain in my head is still not under control, so I’m saving my energy and pain pills for my panel today at 11 (PDT) and 1pm (Central) I’m excited to be sharing time with some terrific authors, a few new to me, and I’ve enjoyed meeting them and getting some new books. Here are my partners in crime:  James L’Etoile (Moderator), Robin BurcellFrankie Bailey, and Terry Shepherd . If you like mysteries and mystery writers, maybe you’d like to join us for the conference. It’s a great way to have some of the best of the conference for a very low fee.

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The Club That Never Was

Posted by mcm0704 on October 12, 2020 |

My friend Slim Randles is filling in for me today as I’m still in the midst of treatments for the nasty pain in my head and not able to work for long. I found this older column of his from when I was the managing editor of and he shared his work there. That’s how I first met Slim, virtually, as we’ve never met in person, and he’s been kind enough to let me continue posting his columns here on my blog even after was no more. 

Home Country, the column, is syndicated in over 300 newspapers nationwide, and he has a book of the same name.


Grab a cup of coffee and join the gang at the Mule Barn Truck Stop as they consider very pressing social matters.



The Club didn’t last long.

It wasn’t the dues, which were nothing. It wasn’t being worried about being elected recording secretary or something if you missed a meeting. There were no officers, no directors and no meetings.

It was born of an idea that occurred to Doc one day. He said the members of the Mule Barn truck stop’s philosophy counter and world dilemma think tank should organize.

After his third cup, Doc turned to the others and said sitting there having coffee day after day without any real purpose just didn’t seem right.

Doc said, “There are so many things a real organization can do.”

“What would those things be, Doc?” Steve asked.

“Giving shoes to orphans,” Doc said. “Or curing hunger in third world countries. Or we could watch TV and file complaints.”

Then Dud piped up. “Would we have to wear funny hats and have a secret handshake and a password?”

“Absolutely,” Doc said. “Otherwise, how would you know who was one of your brother club members and who wasn’t?”

Mavis said, “What’s your secret password? Regular or decaf?”

“I don’t think we should let women join,” said Bert.

Nobody nodded until after Mavis had topped off the cups, and had gone into the bowels of the kitchen.

“Okay,” Steve said. “Let’s get this straight. No meetings. No name for The Club, right? No officers. No dues to pay. All we have to do is give our shoes to some orphans, right?”

“And feed kids in third world countries.”

“I don’t know any kids in third world countries. Could we feed one or two around here, just to kinda e-e-e-ease into it?”

“I don’t think so,” said Doc. “We gotta come up with a third world country and then find out who’s in charge of feeding kids. Then we can send them something.”

“I move we adjourn this meeting,” said Steve.

“There are no meetings,” said Doc.

Since no one could name a third world country without a map or listening to National Public Radio, The Club died a quiet death.

Brought to you by “Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing,” at

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program.

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Book Blitz – Saving Irene by Judy Alter

Posted by mcm0704 on October 9, 2020 |


A Culinary Mystery


Cozy Mystery / Women Sleuths

Publisher: Alter Ego Press

Date of Publication: September 10, 2020

Number of Pages: 208

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Irene Foxglove wishes she were a French chef. Henrietta James, her assistant, knows she is nothing more than a small-time TV chef on a local Chicago channel. And yet when Irene is threatened, Henny tries desperately to save her, wishing always that “Madame” would tell her the truth—about her marriage, her spoiled daughter, her days in France, the man who threatens her. Henny’s best friend, the gay guy who lives next door, teases her, encourages her—and maybe loves her from afar. Murder, kidnapping, and some French gossip complicate this mystery, set in Chicago and redolent with the aroma of fine food. Recipes included.


“A nicely convoluted murder mystery and a glorification of America’s diverse cuisines, played out against the attractions of a lovingly drawn Chicago.”—Fred Erisman, In Their Own Words: Forgotten Women Pilots of Early Aviation

“You’ll find yourself cheering for Henny James as she works beyond her job description as prep assistant to save her boss, Irene Foxglove, glamorous local French-ish TV chef.”—Kaye George, Deadly Sweet Tooth (Vintage Sweets Mysteries Book 2)

“Get lost in the beauty of Chicago and the intrigue of a Texas girl making her way in the world . . . You won’t see the end coming.”—Mary Dulle, avid cozy fan


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After an award-winning career writing historical fiction about women of the nineteenth-century American West, Judy Alter turned her attention to contemporary cozy mysteries: the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries and Blue Plate Café Mysteries. Her avocation is cooking, and she is the author of Cooking My Way Through Life with Kids and BooksGourmet on a Hot Plate, and Texas is Chili Country.

Born in Chicago, she has made her home in Fort Worth for over fifty years. Judy is also a proud Scot, a member of Clan MacBean. One trip to the Highlands convinced her that is where her heart is, and she longs to write a novel set in Scotland.

Judy is an active member of Sisters in Crime, Guppies, Story Circle Network, Women Writing the West, and the Texas Institute of Letters. When she is not writing, she is busy with seven grandchildren and a lively poodle/border collie cross.

Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Goodreads ║ Amazon ║ Website

BookBub ║Blogs: Judy’s Stew & Gourmet on a Hot Plate


THREE WINNERS: Autographed paperback copies of Saving Irene.

October 9-16, 2020


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Book Blog Tour and Giveaway – 6 Feet Under Texas by Tui Snider

Posted by mcm0704 on October 8, 2020 |


 Unique, Famous, & Historic Graves in the Lone Star State

(Cemetery Tales Book 1)



Genre: Nonfiction / Texana / History / Texas Travel

Publisher: Castle Azle Press

Date of Publication: August 15, 2020

Number of Pages: 250 pages

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Explore the cemeteries of Texas with Tui Snider as she reveals overlooked history in these fascinating open-air museums.

Along the way, you’ll meet fascinating characters, including a whistleblower who died in suspicious circumstances, an oilman who added a phone line to his mausoleum, and the events that caused two “frenemies” to be chained together in death.

Who doesn’t enjoy tramping through a graveyard to read headstones and maybe uncover an interesting historical tidbit? Well, maybe not everybody enjoys doing that except mystery writers and journalists, and since I’m a bit of both I’ve spent time wandering around cemeteries. Like Tui Snider, I have a great interest in what one can find out about a place, and the people that lived in that place, by spending an afternoon in a local cemetery.

What fun it was to get Snider’s book and read the fascinating stories about the graves she found. Previously, I had no idea how many interesting and unusual people are under the ground in places around Texas. There’s the alien in Aurora and the clown, Sassy Lee, in Azle, among so many other notable people: musicians, actors, and even a prominent cowboy, Bose Ikard, who once was a slave.

When I came to the chapter about the actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies, I couldn’t help but smile. While many Star Wars fans were swooning a bit over Hans Solo I liked the giant furry friend a little bit more. Not that the young Harrison Ford was dismissible, but I’ve always had a soft spot for pets, big or small, real or not.

Tui Snider once again takes her journalistic background and applies it to another well-researched book that is fascinating, as well as very enjoyable to read. The chapters are short, so they can be read in just a few minutes when one has a break from work, and there is an extensive bibliography for those who’d like to read more about who is buried in Texas.





Tui Snider is an author, speaker, photographer, YouTuber, podcast host, and musician who researches historic cemeteries and symbolism, offbeat Texas travel, overlooked history, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction–but then I moved to Texas!”

Snider’s best-selling books include Understanding Cemetery Symbols100 Things to Do in Dallas-Fort Worth Before You DieParanormal Texas, and many more. Snider has several books in progress and enjoys connecting with readers all over the globe through social media, her weekly newsletter, and website:







Paperback + $10 Amazon Gift Card + Thank You Postcard

2ND PRIZE (US only): Paperback & Thank You Postcard

3RD PRIZE  (worldwide): e-book

  September 29-October 9, 2020




or visit the blogs directly: 

9/29/20 Review StoreyBook Reviews
9/29/20 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
9/30/20 Review Momma on the Rocks
10/1/20 Review Missus Gonzo
10/1/20 Review The Clueless Gent
10/2/20 Review Reading by Moonlight
10/2/20 Review The Adventures of a Travelers Wife
10/3/20 Review Forgotten Winds
10/4/20 Review That’s What She’s Reading
10/5/20 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
10/6/20 Review Hall Ways Blog
10/7/20 Review Max Knight
10/7/20 Review All the Ups and Downs
10/8/20 Review It’s Not All Gravy
10/8/20 Review Book Fidelity


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Mid-Week Humor with Slim Randles

Posted by mcm0704 on October 7, 2020 |

Grab a cup of coffee or tea to go with a piece of pie and sit back to enjoy this story from Slim Randles who’s my Wednesday’s Guest today. You can top your apple pie with cheese or ice-cream, but I’ll be putting mine in a bowl and adding milk and a little bit of sugar. That’s the way my father taught me to eat pie and cobbler, and I call it breakfast.



Dewey Decker showed his new business cards to the other guys at the Mule Barn Truck Stop’s philosophy counter, and each member of the world dilemma think tank got to keep one.

Steve, our owlish-appearing cowboy, scratched his head as he studied the card.
“Okay, Dewey, I’ll bite … what’s a verm-a- ….?

“Vermiculturist, Steve,” Dewey said, proudly. “It means I raise worms.”

Dewey, the beloved accident-prone member of the think tank, began his new career with just a shovel and his pickup, spreading manure in people’s yards. Now, thanks in great part to the genius of his girlfriend, Emily, (she of the magnificent cheekbones) he was earning a decent living. Back when they fell in love … and that’s literally, because Dewey tripped. she took this crash-and-burn disaster and molded him into a multi-dimensional businessman, while still keeping him away from sharp objects or things that crush.

Dewey has branched out now into compost, worms (excuse me … vermiculture) and fertilizer tea. The tea goes on the lawn, not in the tea cups.

“Dewey,” said Doc, “this vermiculture stuff now … how much work is it, really?”

“That’s the good part about it, Doc. You see, I don’t have to do anything at all, really, except keep them in … product, you know. They reproduce without any outside help, and turn manure into the best compost in the world. Then you can sell them to other people to work their compost piles, or to fishermen.”

“Well, Dewey,” said Herb, “it looks to me like simply being a vermiculturist doesn’t really cover the subject. Wouldn’t those red wigglers also make you a compostocologist?”

“Hadn’t really thought about …” Dewey said.

“And when it comes to selling them to fishermen,” Doc said, “wouldn’t you be an ichthymasticatiousdietician?”

“I … I …”

“Yes, Dewey?”

“I refuse to be anything I can’t spell.”

Brought to you to honor those masked folks who wait on us in the coffee shops and take our temperature at the doctor’s office. Thank you for your courage.

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program.

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Monday Morning Musing

Posted by mcm0704 on October 5, 2020 |

Since my week is going to be tied up with some treatments for pain that lay me low for several days, I’m going to let Slim Randles entertain you today and Wednesday, then there will be a book review on Saturday. My plan is to be feeling much better after my last treatment next Monday, so I can be bright and chipper for the panel I’m on at Bouchercon 2020

First, I just want to respond to a couple of polling questions that popped up in my e-mail today. Perhaps because I’ve been active on some political sites like Vote Save America and Powered by People, as well as making a few campaign contributions, I get inundated with requests to answer surveys and polls. Or maybe everybody gets all these messages. I don’t know, and usually I delete them all, but the two I saw today deserve an answer:

Do I think Trump should get the Nobel Peace Prize?


Do I think the remaining Presidential Debates should be canceled?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Okay, now here’s Slim. Enjoy…

There really wasn’t anything going on at the school crossing, much to the consternation of Billy … our town dog. It was one of Billy’s duties to escort kids across the street to the school. He’d been doing it ever since Sally, the former town dog, passed away on Doc’s porch.

Billy spent each morning curled up next to the dog house the high school woodshop kids built for him, waiting to do his job. He wasn’t nuts about the inside of the dog house, but there was some instinct deep inside our large brown dog that let him know the house was his and had been created in love.

But Billy certainly didn’t understand why the kids weren’t coming, and he certainly didn’t know the words “quarantine” or “virus” or “remote online learning.”

Martin, the crossing guard, wasn’t there either.

It was a dog-thinking dilemma, taken all in all.

Should Billy leave his post and go sponge some food over at Delbert Chin’s Chinese restaurant? He’s not supposed to do that until all the kids are at school. And none of them have come again today.

Fortunately, this day his dilemma didn’t go unnoticed. There were two boys over on the school playground, horsing around and enjoying the morning, and they noticed Billy just lying there by his house. So, they walked over, petted the dog, and waited until there were no cars. Then they crossed the street.

So did Billy, of course, wagging his tail.

Several street crossings later, the boys went back to the playground, and Billy headed for the backdoor of the Chinese restaurant.

Having an official town dog requires love as well as dedication…on everyone’s part.

Brought to you to honor those masked folks who wait on us in the coffee shops and take our temperature at the doctor’s office. Thank you for your courage.

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program.

That’s all from me for today, folks. Whatever you have on your agenda this week, I hope you are safe and well. And I do want to add a final note that I hope Trump and Melania recover from the COVID-19 virus quickly.

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