Saturday, June 30, 2012

Read The Damn Book!

Message From Kings River Life

New issue of Kings River Life is up and we have a review of Jan Burke's supernatural thriller "The Messenger", a chance to win a copy of the book & a video interview with her from Left Coast Crime

Also in KRL are reviews of Elaine Viets "Final Sail" and Josie Belle's "50% Off Murder" & a chance to win copies of both

And lastly is an interview with mystery authors Bonnie Hearn Hill & Christopher Allan Poe about their new non-fiction book on ebooks and marketing called "Digital Ink". There's also an excerpt and a chance to win a copy 
Happy reading,
Lorie Ham

Senior News---June 2012 Column

For some time now I have been writing a monthly book review column for the Senior News newspaper. The Senior News is aimed to the 50 and over crowd with news relevant to seniors regarding various issues, humor pieces, and my review column among other things. The newspaper is a giveaway at doctor offices, stores, etc. and can be received by via a paid subscription. There are multiple editions across the state of Texas and therefore there is some fluctuation in content in each area.

My column every month focuses on books of interest to the Texas audience. Therefore books selected for the column, fiction or non-fiction, are written by Texas residents, feature Texans in some way, or would have some other connection to the Texas based readership. At least two books are covered each month in the short space I am given.

Below is/was my June  column with the addition here of the relevant book covers……

Ten Healthy Teas
Valerie B. Lull
Outskirts Press
ISBN# 978-1-4327-8493-5
42 Pages
Frequently in the media there is a news story about the health benefits of various teas. Unlike some other foods that seem to either be good for you or not based on the most recent study done by whomever, teas of various types seem to be solidly good for you. Capitalizing on the idea is author Valerie B. Lull and her small book Ten Healthy Teas recently self-published though Outskirts Press. Set up as simply as possible, the book is designed for the person who has little time but wants to enjoy various teas beyond the most obvious ones on the store shelf.

The ten covered teas are “Ginger Tea, Garlic Tea, Green/Black Tea, Chamomile Tea, Cranberry Tea, Peppermint Tea, Raspberry Tea, Goldenseal Tea, Echinacea Tea” and “Lemon Tea.” Each tea discussed has between 2 to 4 recipes for variations along with information on the tea and a black and white picture of the tea. This very informative and easy to use small book closes with a resource list featuring four books for further reading.

Bruce Machart
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN# 978-0-15-603444-9
208 Pages

This powerfully good collection features stories, almost all set in Texas, about men at all walks of life literally doing the best they can. These are not stories of politically correct men worrying about their 401ks and their place in the family. These are real guys who do the work that many never notice and take for granted. There is an air of tragedy, dreams unfulfilled, about these characters as they go about their daily lives.  These ten stories are emotional powerhouses that are not easy reading by any means. 

The result is an intense and often emotionally draining work that makes you think long after the book is closed. These are characters that resonate within and will touch you in many different ways.  Ultimately they are the unsung men who walk among us all, heavy with burdens, doing the best that they can day in day out.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012

Our Afternoon Visitor

Extreme closeup......

If memory serves the Chinese believe these little guys represent good luck. I hope they are right as we really need it.


FFB Review: "Old Silver--A Michael Tanner & Mary Whitney Mystery" by Carl Brookins

If all has gone right this post has appeared shortly after midnight and that means it is Friday. That means it is time for Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by the wonderful Patti Abbott over at It has been a pleasure to be part of things on her blog.…
Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney return in this top flight cozy mystery set for most part on the waters of Lake Superior.  It is there that while sailing with friends Mary Whitney during a snorkeling trip finds and brings to the surface an old metal plate, probably from the boiler, stamped with the word “Amador” on it.  Little does she know that it comes from a ship that sank during a storm in 1905 and theoretically went down somewhere off Sand Island which is nowhere near where she has recovered the plate.

Packed with cargo and family heirlooms of the deVoles the sinking caused a search to be mounted more than once but nothing was found.  By finding the plate, Mary has stumbled across an old mystery and possibly a reference point for the shipwreck.  The ship went down 100 years ago taking some dark secrets with it.  As Mary and Michael start asking a few questions and a person cataloging a recent donation of papers from the family is killed, it becomes clear that there is certainly at least one if not several secrets that someone is trying to keep hidden. Whomever is behind the scenes orchestrating events seems to be willing to stop at nothing, even murder, to prevent them from coming out.

Opposite in tone and style from his novel, The Case of the Greedy Lawyers, humor is in short supply in this cozy style novel.  Most of the violence happens off scene with the majority of the focus on asking questions from a variety of sources and suspects.  This novel slowly builds a chain of clues together as Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney hunt for the shipwreck itself as well as the family secrets.  Old Silver--A Michael Tanner & Mary Whitney Mystery is an engrossing 259 page read in large paperback with a great depth of detail, rich characterizations, and a very good mystery tale.

Old Silver--A Michael Tanner & Mary Whitney Mystery
Carl Brookins
Top Publications, Ltd. Co
Large Trade Paperback
ISBN# 1-929976-32-1

Kevin R. Tipple © 2006, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Life Choice

A Sandi Update

After being on leave since May 2011, Sandi's cancer doctor today has completely cleared her to return full duty at Wal-Mart. The paperwork has been faxed to the store and now we await their decision as to whether or not they will let her come back.

One hopes they say yes and that somehow we will make the rent one more time so she can go back to work.....

Review: "The Adventures of Summer McPhee of Ocracoke Island: The Midnight Skulker" by Douglas Quinn

Author Douglas Quinn introduces a new series aimed primarily at girls ages 8-12 with The Adventures of Summer McPhee of Ocracoke Island: The Midnight Skulker.  This is a series spun off from the book The Adventures of Quinn Higgins Boy Detective: The Cave of Blackbeard’s Treasure where
Summer McPhee was introduced.  Summer lives on Ocracoke Island on the outer banks of North Carolina with her mom.

Her biggest problem as the book opens is that it is Spring Break and she has a school writing assignment. She is supposed to write a short story over the break and is stumped. She is saved from thinking about it when a friend calls and wants to hang out. Summer meets up with her friend Angie and soon learns a classmate, Missy, has been arrested and is accused of stealing clothes.

Missy has trouble at school because of bullies and some issues at home. Missy’s life was hard enough and things are much worse now as she’s been arrested for stealing clothes off the line hanging in somebody’s yard. Ultimately she may be removed from her home and wind up in juvenile detention. Summer decides there is something very wrong and decides to look into things.

Despite the twists and turns of the case and the law of unintended consequences, Summer remains convinced Missy is innocent. Proving Missy innocent is going to take some time and is no sure thing in this fast fun read.
This new series features all of the positive hallmarks of the Quinn Higgins: Boy Detective series. Summer is, like Quinn, a young person that helps the kids being picked on, is supportive of others, and has a positive outlook. The hot button topic of the day--- bullying--- is subtly addressed here as well as a couple of issues very relevant to kids at this age group. Along with the subtle lessons at work behind the scenes there is a strong obvious mystery at work here for young minds to ponder.

While aimed at the 8-12 year old girl group, this book truly knows no gender. Just like the series for boys, this new series for girls works for any reader. As always the book is well written with no loose storylines, grammar issues, or technical flaws. Both series feature books that parents and caregivers can not only read and enjoy but have no concerns regarding reading material, language, themes, behavior of characters, etc. Single parents are shown in a positive light where they are in charge and respected. A fast fun read that imparts a little knowledge along the way while entertaining readers of all ages.

The Adventures of Summer McPhee of Ocracoke Island: The Midnight Skulker
Douglas Quinn
AAS White Heron Press (via CreateSpace)
April  2012
ISBN# 978-1470181260
115 Pages

Material once again supplied by the author’s publicist, Donna Higgins Colson, on the author’s behalf.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Colorado Wildfires, The Red Cross, and Authors

As many of us have seen the last few days, wildfires have exploded across the Western US and especially in Colorado. Much like the devastating fires in North Texas last year, these fires are completely out of control thanks to persistent drought conditions, high temperatures and winds. It is a nightmare for those living through it. Colorado has always been a very special place to me because many times as a child and a teen we went to Rocky Mountain National Park and elsewhere in Colorado during the summers.

While we can’t donate due to our own crisis situation, I can and will gladly post offers from folks seeking to raise funds to help those in their time of need. So, I gladly pass on the below posts with permission granted by the authors……

Terry Odell writes…….

It's unlikely that I'm in immediate danger from the Waldo Canyon Fire, although it's still a threat. However, resources are stretched to the limit, with over 30,000 people evacuated. I will donate 5% of any royalties from my book, DANGER IN DEER RIDGE, which is set in the Colorado mountains in a town very much like mine, and includes a hero who flies rescue operations for the local fire department.

You can purchase the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks, or Smashwords and I'll track sales and royalties between now and July 1st. (If you've already bought the book, you can give it as a gift; the sale will still be recorded). Links to buy are at the link below.

 Donations will go to the Red Cross.

Thanks for any and all support you can give these people who offer their lives to keep us safe, whether it's through buying my book or making your own personal donation.

Terry Odell

Peg Brantly writes….

Terry, what a wonderful idea. As a fellow Colorado author, I will add RED TIDE, set in a fictional town near Aspen to yours.

Like Terry, I will donate 5% of any royalties between now and July 1st to the Red Cross.

Peg Brantley

As seen elsewhere----Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Free for Kindle for Next 5 Days

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Free for Kindle for Next 5 Days: PULP INK eBook: Eric Beetner, Chris F. Holm, Matthew C. Funk, Richard Godwin, Reed Farrel Coleman, Allan Guthrie, Hilary Davidso...

Barry Reviews: "THE DEMON OF DARTMOOR" (1993) by Paul Halter

THE DEMON OF DARTMOOR (1993) by Paul Halter

English translation by John Pugmire, 2012

Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Over a period of several years, mysterious deaths have occurred in the English village of Stapleford—deaths apparently caused by an invisible man. Three of them involving teenaged girls occurred on Wish Tor, "the favorite spot for local lovers....A massive granite spur, at the foot of which a rushing stream splashed noisily against the rocks on its way to the village a mile below, some found its shape reminiscent of the Sphinx." The fourth occurred in Trerice Manor when the woman of the house was pushed down a flight of stairs by an invisible entity. Witnesses to a couple of the events on Wish Tor saw the victims thrust out their arms, as if they'd been shoved from behind, to try to prevent themselves from falling a moment before they plunged to their deaths into the stream far below. At midnight on the day after Eliza Gold vanished, Basil Hawkins beheld a headless horseman ride into the sky.   

Spring forward several chapters and a few years later to the story's present, the mid-1930s. Actor and playwright Nigel Manson has a hit on his hands with the play he's written and co-stars in with Nathalie Marvel, a comedy titled The Invisible Man, inspired by his past visit to Stapleford and, in particular, by a visit to Trerice Manor where he heard the story of the village's invisible killer. Nigel surprises his wife Helen with the news that he has purchased and renovated Trerice Manor, and that they will be spending a couple of weeks there. Joining them the first weekend, he tells her, are Nathalie Marvel and Frank Holloway, the man who promoted Nathalie to stardom.

When the invisible murderer strikes yet again, claiming another victim in front of several witnesses, chief constable Superintendent Weston requests help from an old friend, the head of  Scotland Yard, who in turn assigns Inspector Archibald Hurst to investigate the crime. "He had a knack—all his colleagues were unanimous on this point—for being stuck with all the most complex cases." Hurst calls upon his friend Dr. Alan Twist, criminologist, who "often lent a hand in the investigations," to accompany him to Stapleford.

The solutions to a couple of the murders struck me as a bit of a stretch, although they weren't entirely implausible.

Thanks to John Pugmire's translations, I've now read four of Paul Halter's exceptional novels—two starring Alan Twist, two starring Owen Burns—and a collection of his short stories. I am certain the great John Dickson Carr, were he alive and thus able to read Halter, would not only admire him but also conceivably envy him for his inventiveness in concocting and solving seemingly impossible crimes. Halter's oeuvre is invariably compared to Carr's, and this is as it should be because Halter has readily admitted in interviews that impossible crime stories are his favorite kinds of detective stories and that Carr was his inspiration. 

But there are significant differences between the two. Carr's prose was richer—lusher, if you will—undoubtedly a product of the era in which he was raised, and influenced by the stories he read growing up. Halter's narrative style is much leaner, and he has a fondness for using dialogue as much as possible to advance the story. Although Halter succeeds in creating an eerie or sinister atmosphere when one is called for, he's no match for Carr, who was probably as good at atmospherics as anyone who has ever written. Carr has sometimes been criticized for weak characterization, but in that aspect he is definitely superior to Halter. The latter's characters often have traits or interests that are vital to the story, but otherwise they are rendered in the sketchiest manner imaginable. Halter is more  purely concerned with the puzzle elements in his work than any other mystery writer I can think of, and some of the puzzles he devises are very original.

My criticisms of Halter's weaker qualities are not intended to dissuade readers. I have enjoyed every one of the novels and stories of his I've read, and I look forward to reading more of them if Mr. Pugmire continues to translate them. His work is eminently worth the time of any fan of Golden Age-style impossible crime stories, and should in fact be considered essential reading. And with that, The Demon of Dartmoor is strongly recommended.   


Barry Ergang ©2012

Barry has his personal books for sale at He'll contribute 20% of the purchase price of the books to our fund, so please have a look at his lists, which have recently been added to. Some of his written work is available in e-book formats at ( and at Smashwords (

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: "The Adventures of Quinn Higgins Boy Detective: The Case of Blackbeard's Treasure" by Douglas Quinn

It has been a few months since the events The Case of the Haunted House and now as this fourth book in the well done series opens, it is Christmas time.  This means it is time for his Dad to come to Quinn under the divorce visitation agreement between his parents. This year, Quinn and his Dad will be going to see his dad’s sister, Aunt Kim. Aunt Kim has a daughter, Summer, who is Quinn’s age. They live on Ocracoke Island which is located on the outer banks of North Carolina. It has been a long time since they were there but, Quinn remembers having a good time before and is eagerly looking forward to the trip.

Quinn and his Dad soon arrive at the home of Summer and Aunt Kim. It doesn’t take long for the boy detective to figure out there are problems. The biggest issue is the fact that Aunt Kim may lose the house because she can’t make the payments. Quinn figures there has to be a way to help.  Maybe if Summer and Quinn actually found  Blackbeard’s treasure that would save the house.  Of course, they aren’t the only ones looking and eyes are watching Quinn and Summer every move.

Aimed primarily at boys 8-12, this book is a fun fast read. Along the way the history of the Wright Brother’s famous fight and a few other things are skillfully worked into the story. A story that moves forward at a steady pace providing plenty of action and clues to consider. Like the other books in this series that began with The Case of the Missing Homework the read is positive, uplifting, and just flat out good stuff.

The Adventures of Quinn Higgins Boy Detective: The Case of  Blackbeard’s Treasure
Douglas Quinn
AAS White Heron Press (via CreateSpace)
March 2012
ISBN# 978-1470093365
111 Pages

Material once again supplied by the author’s publicist, Donna Higgins Colson, on the author’s behalf.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Short Story Review: “The Missing Sniper” by Earl Staggs

Thanks to his gift, Adam Kingston knew he would get a phone call. Who was calling, why he would be called, he didn’t know.  But, he knew it would be a call about someone dying somewhere and he would be involved. Hard to sleep when you know something is going to happen. Hard to sleep when you know for absolute certainty just enough to be worried.

The phone call finally comes by way of Sheriff Dillon Corbin of Mendes County, Florida.  Adam is on a master list of Law Enforcement consultants and the good Sheriff needs his help. Three weeks ago somebody tried to take out a State Senator.  While they know where the shots came from they knew nothing else and have no suspects. The shooter is still out there and may try again if he or she isn’t stopped.

Soon Adam is in Jacksonville, Florida with Sheriff Dillon working the case. The target, Senator Willy Thornton, has plenty of enemies because of his politics and the way he lives his life.  Business rivals, spouses of the women he has seduced and many others have good reason to want him dead.  Good thing Adam has a bit of ability with extra sensory perception and can pick up a few images along the way as he helps with the case.

Released from Untreed Reads last January this is the short story that ultimately gave rise to Earl Staggs' powerfully good novel Memory of A Murder.  This cozy style type read is full of twists and turns and on that will keep you very entertained as it moves through the pages.

The Missing Sniper
Earl Staggs
Untreed Reads
January 2012

It should be noted as I have mentioned before Earl and I are members of a local writer’s group.  Because of Earl’s ongoing willingness to drive me and put up with my slowly worsening mobility issues and needs, I am still able to sporadically attend. Beyond that, I consider Earl to be a good friend and mentor. However, I did not ever provide any assistance through the group or have any input at all on this story as it was first published years ago before I joined the local writers group. Earl supplied this story quite some time ago for possible review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2012

Review: "Longnecks & Twisted Hearts: A Bill Travis Mystery" by George Wier

Bill Travis has a lot on his mind as this novel the third in the series opens. His wife Julie is pregnant and could give birth nearly any day now. A friend of his is in court locked in a lawsuit with some guy who cheated him out of 100K. Then he gets word that his best friend since second grade, Brad, is dead.

According to his wife, Mary Jo, he was murdered and she knows exactly who did it. Obviously, Bill is going to pack up and leave Austin, Texas to head back home to Bryan to see Mary Jo and help any way he can. Fortunately, a very pregnant Julie is very understanding and before long Bill is on his way to Bryan.

It is clear before the makes it back home to Bryan, Texas that his presence is not wanted in his old hometown. The first clue was the local officer who harassed him and ordered him to turn around and leave. At least the officer was not subtle about it like some others. As if not wanted and threatened  would stop him in this tale of murder, greed, and a quest for treasure dating back to the 1600’s. 

People have killed for a lot less and sunken treasure is a powerful motivator.

Longnecks & Twisted Hearts: A Bill Travis Mystery is another good one in the series. Bill Travis is a solid good guy who does not back down and as a result consistently gets himself in the middle of things. Something his now wife Julie learned from personal experience in the first book, The Last Call.  We learn little new about the character here as he was already fleshed out well in the proceeding books. An adventure/thriller type novel with some mystery, the read is a good one featuring crime, history and greed in deep South Texas.

Longnecks & Twisted Hearts: A Bill Travis Mystery
George Wier
Flagstone Books
December 2011
Kindle E-book

Material supplied by the author in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2012

FOUND!!!---Missing Plano Mom

Woke up to local media reports and just confirmed on the family facebook page that Janice Klein has been found. Sometime yesterday afternoon DFW Airport Police discovered a disorientated woman  who they took to the hospital. Sometime over night it all came together and the family was thankfully reunited.

How she got all the way out there with no keys, no cell phone, no id and no wallet remains a mystery that will be sorted out hopefully in the coming days. Thankfully she is alive and recovering in a local area hospital.

The search is over with the best possible outcome. What a great way to start the day.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Missing Plano Mom

This is the missing Plano Mom who vanished yesterday afternoon. A store manager believes she came in his store at Park and Preston in the same area as the TOM THUMB GROCERY STORE later that day according to media reports. 



A facebook page has been set up at to assist with the search and provide information. Per that page the following notice was posted Saturday evening....

NOTICE: Plan to continue search at 8:00 a.m. at Daffron Elementary school gym (Preston Meadow & Lorimar). Police have set up command post to send out massive search teams tomorrow. Anyone that can help is needed!

Please dress appropriately (either for door to door search or creek/woods/greenbelt search) and wear sunscreen. Until then, PLEASE PRAY FOR JANICE'S SAFETY and peace for the family.

Market News

I am always on the lookout for market news. Especially right now as just a couple of days ago I collected a rejection on one of my stories. A story I first started working on before everything blew up with me back in March 2010. It took months and months before I was able to get back to it--let alone finish it.  All my hard and often physically very painful work resulted in a form letter rejection. Just the way of the business and I do get that.

I know the rejected short story won't work for several of the big name markets. It just isn't their thing. Thanks to the blog post written by John M. Floyd this morning over on SluethSayers I have some more ideas. The piece is well worth reading and can be found at

SleuthSayers: Selling Short: by John M. Floyd There's been a lot of talk lately in online blogs and forums (I can't bring myself to say "fora") about short ...

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Thanksgiving Anthology

The Killer is back!

We had so much fun with The Killer Wore Cranberry back in 2010, that we felt it was time to revisit the anthology. So, we're happy to present The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping.

As in the previous anthology, all the stories contained within must be about murder and mayhem happening at Thanksgiving, and must feature a typical Thanksgiving dish as a vital part of the story (i.e.: turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie). Most must be funny! This anthology is all about making people laugh while enjoying a great mystery short at the same time. The anthology will be edited by Editor-in-Chief Jay Hartman.

And now, the rules:

1. All stories must be between 1500-5000 words.
2. Deadline for submission for consideration is September 1st, 2012. This is a firm date; no submissions after this date will be considered.
3. All submissions should be sent to Jay Hartman at jhartman@untreedreads with the word THANKSGIVING in the subject line.
4. Submissions must be in DOC, RTF or ODT format.
5. Unlike the previous anthology, we will not be publishing the stories individually. Only the anthology will be available.
6. Authors will receive royalty, but not upfront payment. Authors will each receive a share of royalties of 50% of net (net = cover price - vendor commission) based on the number of authors in the final anthology.
7. Characters appearing in other Untreed Reads series or other series not published by us are strongly encouraged (i.e.: Wade J. McMahan's Richard Dick, Beth Mathison's Mobsters or Young at Heart or Albert Tucher's Diana Andrews)
8. Your story MUST have humor in it, feature a Thanksgiving dish and have a great mystery or crime at the heart of the story.
9. Stories not accepted for the anthology may be still be considered for other publication.
10. Previously published works are fine providing that electronic rights have reverted to the author and the story is not currently offered for free anywhere on the Internet or currently published through a self-publishing venue (i.e.: Smashwords, Amazon KDP, etc.).
11. There are no restrictions whatsoever on age, race, sex, sexual orientation, etc in the work.. Just tell us a great story!

Please direct any questions to Jay Hartman at We recommend looking at the original The Killer Wore Cranberry for an idea of the types of stories we're looking for.

All decisions on material will be made by September 15th, 2012. Every attempt will be made to notify all authors of the status of their submission at that time. Please do not inquire about status prior to September 15th, 2012.

This anthology has an expected publication date of October 15th.

This is an open call, and may be reposted anywhere and everywhere.

Jay Hartman
Untreed Reads Publishing