A New Year’s Gift to You

sun 1

As the days begin to lengthen again, and Father Sun grows stronger, I send you all my best wishes for a wonderful new beginning and give you a gift: Chapter One of Peyote Fire Shaman of the Canyons.  Read it absolutely free, as my gift to you. Just click on the hot link or the Peyote Fire menu tab at the top of this blog.

Of course I hope you will enjoy it and want to read the rest of the book, too.  To buy a copy, just click on the link on the right. The book concerns a peyote shaman named Deer Cloud who lived 4,000 years ago along the Rio Grande.  He painted the stories of his gods on the canyon walls before he was called to the shaman path by his grandfather. He must become friends with hallucinogenic spirit herbs, and visit the terrifying wolf shrines. When he grows too strong, his enemy engineers his downfall with a dramatic challenge to call the buffalo to the people. Will Deer Cloud’s magic be strong enough to please the gods?

The desert region of southwest Texas is known for more 300 painted rock shelters and a famous cliff where hundreds of bison jumped to their death in at least three distinct episodes. A few of these sites can even be visited by the public today. To see them contact Seminole Canyon State Park or the Rock Art Foundation.

Like all historical fiction, the story is based on the known facts of the ancient people of the region. But we can never fully know the people’s understanding of their long-ago world or the actions of individuals from that time. Therefore I created characters to enact what is known of that time and place from archaeological records and other research. I constructed a fictional world-view, based on the work of rock art research, that brings meaning to the ancient people’s lives and explains the natural phenomena that surrounded them. I’ve also tried to imagine the stories embodied in the rock art, and the rituals, songs, and legends that are lost. Above all, I tried to listen to the people of the canyons and hear their voices. I hope you can hear them too, in the pages of this book. Peyote Fire is now available at Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook formats.


Peyote Fire Book Tour!

Join me on my virtual blog tour!

Join me on my virtual blog tour!

Join me on my virtual blog tour November 13 through December 18, 2014.   My new book, Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons, will be featured on various book review websites with everything from interviews, guest posts, spotlights, book reviews, and yes, GIVEAWAYS!  Just in time for Christmas!

Click here for full schedule

Thursday, Nov. 13           Baby Boom Reviews

Monday, Nov. 17             Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Tuesday, Nov. 18            Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Monday, Nov. 24            Passages to the Past          Giveaway!

Monday, Dec. 8              Broken Teepee and Book Nerd

Tuesday, Dec. 9              Celtic Lady’s Reviews

Wednesday, Dec. 10      With Her Nose Stuck in a Book and Just One More Chapter

Monday, Dec. 15            Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, Dec. 16            Peeking Between the Pages        Giveaway!

Thursday, Dec. 18         Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Mary Travels with Kaye George

Kaye George

Kaye George

The versatile and accomplished author Kaye George, Agatha award nominee for best historical mystery of 2013, hosted me this week as a guest on her blog, Travels with Kaye. Kaye is the author of People of the Wind novels, a series which follows the Hamapa tribe as an Ice Age approaches, among others. I really appreciated the opportunity to meet Kaye’s audience on her blog.

Peyote Fire Giveaway a Huge Success on Goodreads.com!

Deer Cloud is coming soon in Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons

Deer Cloud is coming soon in Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyons

The Peyote Fire giveaway on Goodreads.com was a huge success with 489 entries! Ten lucky winners will receive a FREE, autographed copy of my new book about the lifeways of the Lower Pecos 4,000 years ago. I will announce the winners soon. A big thank you to everyone who entered, and also to the 250 people who added Peyote Fire to their “want to read” list! The book is now available in both paperback and ebook formats on Amazon.com.

Watch this space for more chances to win in the coming months.

Another 25 people will receive a free, autographed copy at my book talk October 25, 2014, at the Embassy Suites Conference Center in San Marcos, Texas, at the annual meeting of the Texas Archaeological Society. I hope to see you there!

Books for Archaeology Awareness Month–including Mine!

              Texas Archeological Society Book Festival
                   Saturday, October 25, 2014
       Embassy Suites San Marcos - Hotel, Spa & Conference Center
         1001 E. McCarty Lane, San Marcos, Texas, 78666, USA
             TEL: +1-512-392-6450   FAX: 1-512-392-6451
  Sponsored by “Support Texas Archeology and History Research” (S.T.A.H.R.)

Peyote Fire Shaman of the Canyons

Peyote Fire Shaman of the Canyons

Nine books and eleven authors–including me!– will be featured for the first time at a special session of the Texas Archeological Society Annual Meeting, October 25, 2014, in San Marcos, Texas. As the only novel among the other non-fiction works, my book is a little different from the usual academic books found at the conference. I’m proud to be included in the group, and grateful for the opportunity. But I will have a bit of explaining to do.

Like how mine is FICTION. That means not everything that’s in it really happened in the way portrayed. And things didn’t happen as fast as the book implies. And I might have streteched a few things, even. Like the part about the bees. The hero of the book, Deer Cloud, steals honeycomb from wild bees in one scene, and gets stung. In reality, if there were bees along the Rio Grande 4,000 years ago, they were probably a mild stingless variety of Melliponi bee. But getting stung made a better story.

You can win a free copy by signing up for the giveaway on Goodreads.com (see right), or be one of the first 25 to attend my brief talk October 25.

To find some great books for Archaeology Awareness Month and for the complete agenda for the session, click on the link below.

Achaeology Awareness Month in October All Over Texas

Dr. Dirt, Professor of Texas Archaeology

Dr. Dirt, Professor of Texas Archaeology

October is Archaeology Awareness Month in Texas. Follow Dr. Dirt to www.texasbeyondhistory.net to learn about the history of our state, as found by archaeologists. Explore the area where you live, and look for announcements of events in local newspapers. Fun activities will be open to the public all around the state this month, so grab your hat and go! Enter the Goodreads Giveaway to win a free, autographed copy of Peyote Fire, Shaman of the Canyons that explores life 4000 years ago along the Rio Grande. Peyote Fire is based on extensive archaeological and rock art research. It’s perfect for your October reading!

A Better Presa Canyon Experience

Dr. Stephen L. Black leads the Ancient Southwest Texas archaeological project in the Lower Pecos.

Dr. Stephen L. Black leads the Ancient Southwest Texas archaeological project in the Lower Pecos.

Some of you may remember my whine about hiking Presa Canyon in Seminole Canyon State Park last November (see Nov. 2013, Hiking Presa Canyon). I lost five toenails on that one, and very nearly suffered heat stroke.  My husband Steve took a similar hike last Sunday, with considerably better results. In fact he thoroughly enjoyed it.

It was the same canyon, same terrain, but with a few notable differences. First, it was 65 degrees F instead of 95  F last year when I went.  Since stone canyons heat up like ovens when the sun hits them, this difference was huge. No heat stroke for Steve and his companions.  This time of year in the Lower Pecos the weather is variable, and you have to be prepared for anything. I’ve been there in March when it was 95, and I’ve been there in March when it snowed. Luck of the draw on that one.

The second difference was that Steve is in much better physical condition than I was when I went.

Steve gives the Bobcat wave.

Steve gives the Bobcat wave.

After all, he’s been hiking up and down canyons everyday for the past two months. That strengthens the quads, folks. Very useful when climbing over boulders. Now, he did have knee surgery last year, but he did his physical therapy and recovered fully.  I on the other hand, lackadaisically went to the gym twice a week and moaned every time I had to do a leg lift. It shows. I’m still bad.

The third big difference was that Steve and his pals got a kindly rancher to pick them up after six hours, instead of hiking the complete eight-hour trip!  What I wouldn’t have given for a pickup outta there!  I would’ve called EMS for a helicopter ride out except that A) there’s no cell service down in a canyon [yes, my lovelies], and B) it would’ve cost $1500.00.  So I opted to keep walking. But I thought about it!

Because of his better preparation and more hospitable situation, Steve really didn’t suffer.  He slept

Steve Black overlooking the Pecos River in New Mexico.

Steve Black overlooking the Pecos River in New Mexico.

well that night, but he didn’t hurt all over.  I slept 12 hours the night after my hike!  My body needed that much to recover. After all, I’d pushed these old bones pretty hard for a city slicker, which I am but wish I weren’t.

The beauty of the canyon was there for both of us, however, and any of you who make the trip. The cry of the birds, the flower hanging precariously from the stone, the buckeye trees in bloom. And of course the rock art. Because there is rock art, we  fool ourselves into thinking that’s what we go to see, that that’s the reason for going. But it’s not.  The canyon itself is the reason. Just to be there, in the air, surrounded by astounding beauty, as the hawks fly overhead.