Stand Up for What You Believe In

Shepard Fairey's poster for the recent inauguration and Women's March, 2017.

Shepard Fairey’s poster for the recent inauguration and Women’s March, 2017.

Usually I use this space to scribble on about Texas or books I’ve written or trips I’ve made.  But this week I’ve got something else to say.  This week I am encouraging every American who loves this country–in all its diversity of land and people–to stand up for what they believe in.

We have a chaos president running the country now.  Someone totally ignorant of the issues, the causes, and the consequences.  He is pushing through a totally unqualified list of cabinet nominees.  People who don’t even know what their proposed agency does. Rick Perry and Betsy DeVos, I’m looking at you.

It’s going to be a tumultuous two years until the mid-term elections. Our goal should be to take back Congress at that time and put in back in the hands of intelligent, concerned people who won’t bully the American people.  Ted Cruz, that’s directed at you.  And oh yes, then impeach Cheeto, because by then we probably will have discovered undeniably who he’s beholden to (Russia, most likely, for starters).

Even after that, we’ll have Mike Pence, an ultra conservative who wants to turn this country back to 1950.  He would rather women die from botched alley-way abortions than be allowed decent medical care.  He would rather deport children’s parents who may have come from Mexico or other Latin American countries and leave the children to what? fend for themselves?  Unbelievable and UnAmerican.

I urge everyone who loves this country and refuses to live in fear of our neighbors to read this guideline to resistance  and take a stand. Make America Proud Again!

Where is Mary Going? Hint: It’s Not Texas!

Where is Mary going now? Hmmm....

Where is Mary going now? Hmmm….

I’m off on a magnificent trip for the next two weeks that I’ve been dreaming of for 40 years.  Using the photo above as a clue, guess where I’m going.  Leave your guess in the comments section below.  Correct responses will win a free autographed copy of my novel Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons, which has nothing whatsoever to do with this trip.

Now your job is to figure out what I’ve been thinking of for all these years…..

Catherine Wins a Free Book from “Where’s Mary?” Play and Win!

Where's Mary? Rocksprings, Texas, the Angora goat capital of the world.

Where’s Mary? Rocksprings, Texas, the Angora goat capital of the world.

We have a winner!  Catherine was the first to correctly identify the location of the little goat in the picture as Rocksprings, Texas.  Her winning answer came at 8:11 pm on July 2.  She wins a free autographed copy of my novel about the shaman who lived along the Rio Grande over 4000 years ago,   Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons. Thanks to everybody who entered through the website and Facebook.

The little goat sits on the corner of the courthouse square in Rocksprings, the self-proclaimed “Angora goat capital of the world.”  With a population of about 1200, Rocksprings is the county seat of Edwards County, on the edge of the Hill Country.  It’s also the location of the Devil’s Sinkhole Visitors’ Center, right on the square.  Sign up there for an evening bat tour at Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area, a few miles out-of-town.  Millions of bats fly out of their daytime home in the sinkhole about sunset every evening from March through October.

Watch for the next “Where’s Mary?” and enter your guess for the location of the photo.  Remember, you gotta play to win!

Somebody Knows Where Mary and the Smoking Dragon Are!

A reader has correctly identified the location of this dragon!

A reader has correctly identified the location of this dragon!

Emil is the winner in this month’s contest of “Where’s Mary?”  He responded correctly that I was in Uvalde, Texas, at a display of artifacts from Ft. Inge.  Well, he’s right, but the dragon is not from Ft. Inge.  It used to be on top of the Janey Slaughter Briscoe Grand Opera House, but during renovations several years ago, the original smoking dragon was put on display in the Opera House, along with materials from the abandoned U.S. Army post, Ft. Inge.   A replica dragon now tops the building.  Read about how to see the Opera House, the remains of Ft. Inge, where to eat and where to stay in my new travel guide coming out in Spring 2017.  Look for From the Frio to Del Rio: Travel Guide to the Western Hill Country and Lower Pecos Canyonlands wherever books are sold.

Emil will receive a free copy of Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons, my novel about the ancient Lower Pecos. Watch for the next edition of “Where’s Mary?” coming soon.  Play and win a free book!  Thanks to everyone who ventured a guess on this one, and be sure to enter again!

We have a Winner! Mary has been found

Can you see the author sitting inside at Darla's Cafe in Brackettville, Texas?

Can you see the author sitting inside at Darla’s Cafe in Brackettville, Texas?

Tiffany was the first to get the right answer to my first photo challenge!  I was at Darla’s Cafe in Brackettville, Texas.  Great place for breakfast if you’re staying at Fort Clark.  Thanks, Tiffany, and all the others who entered.  Five people actually submitted the correct answer, but Tiffany was first at 11:36 pm, May 17, 2016.  She wins a copy of my new novel Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyon.

Stay tuned for my next photo challenge in a few weeks, and play “Where’s Mary?”

Visitors’ Guide to the Lower Pecos and Southwestern Hill Country

Shaman statue by Bill Worrell welcomes visitors to Seminole Canyon State Park

Shaman statue by Bill Worrell welcomes visitors to Seminole Canyon State Park


Coming in 2017!

 The Visitors’ Guide to the Lower Pecos and Southwestern Hill Country has been accepted for publication by Texas A&M Press!  This first-ever travel guide to these regions should be available in 2017.  The guide explains the natural environment and history of two adjacent regions in Texas that are as different as night and day, yet only about two hours apart by car. Discover the desert, the rivers and lakes, state parks and natural areas, historic forts, prehistoric rock art, and more as you adventure off the beaten path in southwest Texas.

The Lower Pecos is a cultural region more or less centered in Val Verde County, Texas. Rough boundaries extend from the Devils River west about 100 miles through the Chihuahuan Desert. The southwestern boundaries of the region lie in central Mexico, with the northern boundary perhaps 30 miles north of Del Rio, Texas. Three major rivers flow through the Lower Pecos: the Rio Grande, the Pecos and the Devils. Because of these rivers, human beings migrated into the area more than 12,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. People have occupied this region ever since, and about 4,000 years ago, they painted numerous stories of their gods on the walls of rock shelters in the canyons.

The Southwestern Hill Country sits less than 100 miles from San Antonio or Del Rio, and only 168 miles from Austin. The area is southwest of the greater Texas Hill Country region, and thus its name. Some guide books overlook this remarkable subregion, but nearly one million visitors a year attest to its attractions. The clear, cool waters of the Nueces, the Frio, and the Sabinal rivers bubble up from springs on the Edwards Plateau and cut down through the Southwestern Hill Country, making this area ideal for recreation.

I hope you will use the guide and tell me about your experiences.  I look forward to seeing you on the road!





Peyote Fire’s A Winner!

campfire copy

Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons Wins First Place for Pre-Historic Fiction!

Yippee! I just found out Peyote Fire (2014) won first place in the Pre-Historic Fiction category for the annual Chaucer Awards!The Chaucer Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of historical fiction. The First Place Category Winners will be recognized at the Chanticleer Authors Conference and Awards Gala held in late September 2015. Chanticleer Reviews is an affiliate of the Historical Novel Society.

The CHAUCER FIRST PLACE 2014 Award Winners are:

That's me!

That’s me!

Women’s Fiction: J. L. Oakley for Timber Rose
Legend: Emma Rose Millar for Five Guns Blazing
Legacy: Michael D. McGranahan for Silver Kings and Sons of Bitches
Pre-History: Mary S. Black for Peyote Fire
Ancient History: Rebecca Locklann for The Thinara King
Roman/Grecian Classical: Elisabeth Storrs for The Golden Dice: A Tale of Ancient Rome
High Middle Ages: Helena P. Schrader for Saint Louis’ Knight
Late Middle Ages: Lilian Gafni for The Alhambra Decree: Flower from Castile
Elizabethan/Tudor: Syril Levin Kline for Shakespeare’s Changeling: A Fault Against the Dead
1600’s: Donna Scott for Shame the Devil (manuscript)
1700s & 1800s: Karleene Morrow for Destinies
Turn of the 19th Century: Ruth Hull Chatlien for The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte
Twentieth Century: David Brendan Hopes for The One with the Beautiful Necklaces (manuscript)
World Wars: Gregory Erich Phillips for The Love of Finished Years (manuscript)
Young Adult: Sharon Short for My One Square Inch of Alaska
U. S. History: J. P. Kenna for Beyond the Divide
World History: Michelle Rene for I Once Knew Vincent


Flooding down in Texas–but not for the first time

“It’s flooding down in Texas…” you may have heard that refrain from Stevie Ray Vaughn last week. And indeed it was true. We had over 17 inches of rain in Austin just in the month of May! Big storms also hit  Seminole Canyon State Park, Del Rio and Cuidad Acuna.

But this is not the first time floods have come to the desert of southwest Texas. The flood of record for the Lower Pecos and Del Rio is generally said to be the flood of 1954, when canyons were scoured and houses washed away. I found this amazing black and white film of that flood so you can see what I’m talking about.




Peyote Fire Now Available at BookPeople in Austin

I’m happy to announce that you can now purchase Peyote Fire Shaman of the Canyons at the fabulous BookPeople independent book store in Austin, Texas. BookPeople has been Texas’ leading independent bookstore since 1970. Located in the heart of downtown, BookPeople has been voted best bookstore in Austin for over 15 years. The rest of the country has caught on too; BookPeople was voted Bookstore of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly in 2005. With visits from some of the most interesting and important authors of the past 43 years, as well as by Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, BookPeople is the destination bookstore in Texas.

BookPeople is located at the corner of 6th & Lamar. They’re right across the street from Waterloo Records and in the same complex as REI & Anthropologie. They are open all week 9am-11pm, 364 days a year. The cafe is open everyday from 9am until 10pm. The cafe provides a full range menu of coffee drinks, sodas, sandwiches, and dessert. Including vegan and gluten-free options.

Come on down and enjoy the luxury of browsing in a real book store with staff who are truly knowledgeable. Sit in one of the easy chairs and read a sample chapter. Attend an author book signing or children’s story hour. Have a cup of coffee. Umm–sound wonderful?  Of course you can order your books online at BookPeople’s website as well, and they will either hold them at the counter for your pick-up or mail them to you. I am delighted to join the many authors and readers who support this wonderful store.

603 N. Lamar
Austin, TX 78703