Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Confessions of a Knight Errant: Interview and Giveaway

Gretchen McCullough

Humorous Fiction
Publisher: Cune Press
Page Count: 240 pages
Publication Date: October 18, 2022

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Confessions of a Knight Errant is a comedic, picaresque novel in the tradition of Don Quixote with a flamboyant cast of characters. 

Dr. Gary Watson is the picaro, a radical environmentalist and wannabe novelist who has been accused of masterminding a computer hack that wiped out the files of a major publishing company. His Sancho Panza is Kharalombos, a fat, gluttonous Greek dancing teacher, who is wanted by the secret police for cavorting with the daughter of the Big Man of Egypt. 

Self-preservation necessitates a hurried journey to the refuge of a girls’ camp in rural Texas. Then a body turns up nearby that is connected to Middle East antiquities, and they are on the run once more.


How has being a Texan influenced your writing? 

I am originally from Harlingen, Texas. Most of my fiction, though is set in Cairo, where I have lived for the last twenty-three years.

Part of Confessions of a Knight Errant is set in the Hill Country. My folks own a second home in Ingram, and we go there frequently. I went to Camp Capers, the Episcopal church camp, when I was a kid. I never went to one of the expensive camps that I wrote about in the novel but heard about them from pals. Did some research as well.  

The idea of the murder in Confessions was actually inspired by a real murder on the property behind my parents’ home in Ingram. One day my mother invited her artist friends over to paint and when they looked up in the sky, they saw police helicopters circling above. Our neighbor was murdered and buried in the back yard! It was drug-related. In my novel, the murder is linked to antiquities theft soon after the Arab Spring.  

Why did you choose to write novels?  

Even when I was writing short stories in the M.F.A. program at the University of Alabama. professors commented, “You have too many characters.” When I wrote my first novel, (that was not published), I loved how much space I had. I do write short stories, but the novel gives me room to breathe. I really love big, sprawling novels. Yet we live in a time where everything has to be short! I admire the humor and playfulness of Dickens, Twain. My husband, Mohamed, says I have a talent for creating cartoonish characters. 

Where did your love of reading and storytelling come from?

My parents read to us when we were little. That was how I got started reading. I remember especially, The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham! My father had an amazing library. I was reading all sorts of books in high school: sweeping historical biographies on WWI, Tolstoy, Fitzgerald, Twain, Garcia Marquez. Recently, my parents moved and they dismantled this wondrous library of about five hundred books! 

As for storytelling, we sat around and told stories. There was a lot of that, especially with my paternal grandparents. In high school, I had some wonderful teachers who encouraged me to write. 

Now, I also read widely in Arabic: Yehia Haqqi, Tewfik Hakim, Yusuf Idris, and listen to Egyptians telling stories in Arabic. Egyptians are great oral storytellers and they love to exaggerate wildly. Maybe this is something they have in common with Texans!    

Can you comment on your formal education? 

So many writers encouraged me in my formal education: Jaimy Gordon, R.V. Cassill, Robert Coover, Tamas Aczel, John Keeble, and George Garrett. But probably the one who I owe the most was the Texas writer, Allen Wier. He recruited me for the M.F.A. program at the University of Alabama. We stayed in touch after I graduated in 1995 and he became such a good loyal friend. He very generously read Confessions and gave me insightful feedback. Not as famous as Larry McMurtry, he wrote a marvelous epic novel called Tehano about Texas, published by SMU Press. After he died, I went back and read A Place for Outlaws and Disappearing Like Air. I was brought to tears by one of his descriptions of the last moments of a man who dies suddenly of a stroke. 

Did you first experience rejections when submitting manuscripts for publication?

Sure. Rejections are part of the game. Not fun. 

When I was in my thirties, I wrote a novel called The Cleopatra School, that was never published. It was an autobiographical novel about my experience teaching in Cairo in the ‘80s. That was devastating because I was so broke and suffered so much financially and emotionally to write it. I was even delivering pizzas at Dominoes. I never could learn how to fold a box! I recently fished The Cleopatra School out of the drawer and now think it’s better that it wasn’t published! You learn a lot just by writing. Unfortunately, we live in a world which demands success on the first attempt. That’s not how it works with novel writing—you have to be in it for the long haul. You have to be patient.  

Before I sent Confessions out, I revised it and sent it to many writer friends. 

With Confessions, I worked my way through agent lists. Went to conferences. Followed up leads from writer friends. I found my publisher, Scott Davis through a colleague that I had met on a Fulbright in Syria. Scott Davis’s press, Cune, has a Middle East list. Sadly, Scott died the same month the novel was published. He was wildly enthusiastic about my work. When he accepted the novel, he wrote back and said, “This is fun!” Enclosed in the email was a contract. I was stunned! After so many years of rejections…  

What’s your next writing project?

My new project is an exploration of Texas during the 1930s. My grandfather’s diaries from the 1930s encouraged me to do archival research at Sul Ross in Alpine, where he went to college. I found all sorts of interesting oral interviews about Big Bend and the CCC projects that were part of the New Deal. Instead of writing directly about my grandfather, I became enamored with a natural spring swimming pool called Balmorhea in West Texas. I would never have guessed that I would be writing about a man camp!   

Gretchen McCullough was raised in Harlingen Texas. After graduating from Brown University in 1984, she taught in Egypt, Turkey, and Japan. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama and was awarded a teaching Fulbright to Syria from 1997-1999. 

Her stories, essays and reviews have appeared in The Barcelona Review, Archipelago, National Public Radio, Story South, Guernica, The Common, The Millions, and the LA Review of Books. Translations in English and Arabic have been published in: Nizwa, Banipal, Brooklyn Rail in Translation, World Literature Today, and Washington Square Review with Mohamed Metwalli. Her bilingual book of short stories in English and Arabic, Three Stories From Cairo, translated with Mohamed Metwalli, was published in July 2011 by AFAQ Publishing House, Cairo. A collection of short stories about expatriate life in Cairo, Shahrazad’s Tooth, was also published by AFAQ in 2013. 

Currently, she is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric and Composition at the American University in Cairo. 

In Confessions of a Knight Errant, readers get a taste of the Hill Country.
One winner will, too, with a one-pound bag of pecans from 
Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company!
(US only; ends midnight, CST 4/28/23)

Monday, March 27, 2023

Pop-Up Blog-Hop SWEET COMFORT: Series Spotlight and Giveaway

Comfort and Joy Trilogy, #1

Women's Fiction / Later-In-Life Romance
Second-Chance Romance / Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Fish Tales
Page Count: 359 pages
Publication Date: January 21, 2023

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Welcome to the hometown everyone wants to call their own.

Gloria Bachman, a retired bank executive, has eight weeks to flip a location on Comfort’s High Street into a boutique chocolate shop. Defying expectations for “women of a certain age,” Gloria rediscovers talents and a sharpening of skills. If only she could read people as well as she does a spreadsheet. Even with the renovation in good hands, the subsequent struggle to name the shop brings Gloria and her business partner into conflict with a shady citizen. While Gloria is capable of remaining in her retirement rut while opening a business, two competing social groups try to lure her into their networks, causing Gloria to wonder if she ever knew Comfort at all. A murder rocks the community and revives investigative instincts honed by years in the banking industry.

Mason Lassiter, a disgraced CEO, has his own dramas to escape and the offbeat town seems the perfect place to recover his self-esteem. What was to be a quick reversal of fortunes becomes a quest to right a deeply felt injustice. Fascinated by the women driving the energy of Comfort, he extends his stay to find out why the small town is the backdrop to their best tales. Tangling with his neighbor Gloria becomes his favorite pastime and the key to unlocking the mystery of his past—if he can convince her to trust him.

Chocolate and joy become the glue bringing an unlikely cast together, which just might change Gloria’s and Mason’s course for the better. With characters familiar from previous Comfort novels and introducing fresh names, Sweet Comfort will entertain those who like their stories seasoned with coziness and sweet, second chances.

Welcome to the Comfort Stories

The Comfort Stories are contemporary stories of smart women, their best friends, sweet second chances, and the Texas Hill Country. Set in Comfort, Texas, the stories reveal modern, female entrepreneurs discovering their grit to reinvent themselves, find their purpose in life, and discover that a second chance at romance can sometimes be the choice that changes everything. 

The stories are filled with unconventional families, a village of characters and familiar landmarks, friends who become lovers, grumpy heroes, athletes, musicians, awesome women doing awesome things, and even a rekindling of a marriage at Christmas. With a PG-13 rating, this series will transport readers to a wholesome, clean town where good things eventually happen.

Sweet Comfort is the newest novel set in Comfort, Texas, and it’s the first book in the new Comfort and Joy cozy mystery series. 


Comfort Plans, 2017, 320 pages

Emeralds Mark the Spot, 2018, 54 pages

Comfort Songs, 2019, 348 pages

Comfort Foods, 2020, 385 pages

Comfort Zone, 2021, 287 pages

Comfort Christmas, 2022, 128 pages


Sweet Comfort, 2023, 311 pages

Kimberly Fish has been a professional writer in marketing and media for over thirty years, with regular contributions to area newspapers and magazines. As an accidental historian, she wrote two novels, The Big Inch and Harmon General, both based on factual events in Longview, Texas that changed world history. Kimberly also offers a set of contemporary women’s fiction novels and novellas, based in the Texas Hill Country, that reveal her fascination with characters discovering their grit and sweet, second chances; all four of the novels have won distinguished awards. Sweet Comfort is her latest novel, the first book in the Comfort and Joy Trilogy.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Brutal Season Cover Reveal and Book Blitz


The Seasons Mysteries Series #4

Police Procedural / Mystery
Publisher: MCM Enterprises
Coming April 10, 2023

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Eighteen-year-old Jamel Frederickson is shot and killed by a white, rookie Dallas police officer. His crime? Being black and mentally ill.

Following that unwarranted death, anger, and violence erupts on the streets, leading to the murders of two protestors who were marching around the downtown federal building.

Detectives Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson are thrust into the investigation of those murders, while desperately clinging to the threads of their partnership.

The shootings also raise questions about whether the alt-right white supremacists that invaded the city with their guns and inflammatory rhetoric are responsible.

Will more people get killed?

Is there more than one person out there with an agenda?

When a member of the team, Ryan O’Donnell, is shot while attempting to prevent looting, the tension in the city, and the department, ratchets up even higher. And it deeply affects Angel who’s been pretending she really isn’t falling for this white man.

Angel joins the protests to take a stand against racism in the city and within the department; an action that puts her job, her relationship with Ryan, and her fragile partnership with Sarah at risk.

For her part, Sarah comes to realize that she is not as enlightened as she thought she was, and both women just hope they can come through the personal and professional challenges and end up with something that resembles a true partnership.

While catching the killers in the process.


"In the compelling fourth installment of the Seasons Mystery series, Miller once again tackles difficult subjects in this absorbing, page-turning crime thriller."--Carrie Rubin, author of Fatal Rounds, a Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize Finalist

Maryann Miller, an award-winning author, has been in love with storytelling since she was a child and used to scare her sister with stories of the monsters in the cellar.

When she grew up, she started her professional career as a journalist, writing newspaper columns, feature stories, and short fiction for regional and national publications. Her novels are primarily mysteries, with an occasional mainstream novel thrown into the mix.

Miller is the recipient of the Page Edwards Short Story Award for her story Maybe Someday and the New York Library Best Books for Teens Award for her nonfiction book, Coping with Weapons And Violence In School and On Your Streets. Her mystery, Doubletake, was honored as the Best Mystery by the Texas Association of Authors. She took first place in the short story and screenwriting competition at the Houston Writer's Conference and was a semi-finalist at Sundance for her script “A Question of Honor.” She was also a semi-finalist in the Chesterfield Screenwriting Competition with the adaptation of Open Season, the first book in the Seasons Mystery Series.

When not writing, Miller loves to play on stage and play in her garden. She lives in Texas with her dog and three cats. The cats rule.


FIRST: $50 Amazon gift card
+ signed copies of the first three books in the series.
SECOND: Signed copies of the first three books in the series.
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 3/2/23)

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Friday, February 3, 2023

Murder's Legacy: Cover Reveal & Pre-Order Book Blitz


Murder’s Legacy

A Tori Winters Mystery, Book 2

By Anita Dickason 


Mystery / Women Sleuths

Publisher: Mystic Circle Books

Coming February 16, 2023


Scroll down for Giveaway!

Secrets that defy time!

An inconceivable disaster brings Tori Winters’s plans for the historic house she inherited to a traumatic standstill. A section of the escape tunnel built by her great-grandfather, a notorious Dallas gangster, has collapsed. Within the rubble, there is a gruesome discovery. A skeleton with a bullet hole in the skull.

The shocking cave-in triggers an ominous scheme to condemn her property as accusations arise that the tunnel is dangerous.

Embattled, Tori soon discovers that more than the destruction of the house is on the line. It seems she can’t escape the past. It keeps clawing its way into her life with deadly consequences.

Who hides in the shadows with a motive for murder?
And … is Tori the target?



Check out the book trailer!


Award-winning Author Anita Dickason is a twenty-two-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer, and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.

Anita writes about what she knows, cops and crime. Her police background provides an unending source of inspiration for her plots and characters. Many incidents and characters portrayed in her books are based on personal experience. For her, the characters are the fun part of writing as she never knows where they will take her. There is always something out of the ordinary in her stories.

In Anita’s debut novel, Sentinels of the Night, she created an elite FBI Unit, the Trackers. Since then, she has added three more Tracker crime thrillers, Going Gone!, A u 7 9, and Operation Navajo, which are not a series and can be read in any order, and Deadly Business, a crime thriller.

As a Texas author, many of Anita’s books are based in Texas, or there is a link to Texas. When she stepped outside of the Tracker novels and wrote Not Dead and the Tori Winters Mysteries series, she set them in the small Texas communities of Meridian and Granbury, respectively.









Tori Winters Series tote bag + personalized coffee mug
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Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Find the Moon: Blitz and Giveaway


By Beth Fehlbaum

Young Adult / Social Issues / Family Issues
Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press
Pages: 298 pages
Expected Publication Date: January 10, 2023

For as long as she can remember, Kylie Briscoe's been searching for the moon even though she has no idea why it soothes her. Placed in an impossible situation by her mother, Kylie cries for help. It brings rescuers and a new life, but it feels more like a death sentence when she is separated from her three-year-old sister Aliza, the only person Kylie's ever really loved.

Now she's in tiny Patience, Texas, with her eccentric potty-mouthed grandmother, ever-patient stargazing grandfather, an uncle who reminds her a lot of a cop who terrified her during a drug bust, a herd of Norwegian Dwarf goats, their "guard donkeys," and three canine roommates occupying Kylie's former nursery.

When the authorities make a mistake that could cost her everything, Kylie must decide whether to tell the truth-all of it-in order to save herself and her sister.


Pre-order a copy of Find the Moon and enter the author's giveaway! Three lucky winners will win a $50 Amazon Gift Card, signed set of THE PATIENCE TRILOGY, and signed copy of BIG FAT DISASTER. Ends 12/30/2022. Visit Beth's website for more information and to enter!

Beth Fehlbaum is the author of the young adult novels Find the Moon, Big Fat Disaster (on the Spirit of Texas-High School Reading List, 2014-2015), Courage in Patience, Hope in Patience (A YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers), and Truth in Patience. With Dr. Matt E. Jaremko, Beth co-wrote the creative nonfiction book, Trauma Recovery: Sessions with Dr. Matt. She is a high school English teacher. 

Authenticity, calling out hypocrisy, and finding one's voice are frequent themes in Beth's work, and they are absolutely essential themes in her life, as well. Beth has a B.A. in English, minor in secondary education, and an M.Ed. in reading. Beth is in-demand as an author-panelist, having presented/appeared at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference, the American Library Association's annual conference, YALSA, N.C.T.E./ALAN, and numerous YA book festivals. She's a member of The Author's Guild, SCBWI, Romance Writers of America, and the Texas Federation of Teachers.  She loves doing school visits and meeting teens, teachers, and librarians! 

Beth lives in the woods of East Texas in a house on a slice of family acreage. The home was built by her family over one very hot humid summer, a task she wishes never to repeat again. This sanctuary-of-sorts is lined by pine trees, and the woods are inhabited by raccoons, possums, and feral cats. All of these creatures appear to consider Beth their cat-food-providing goddess. There is no place she would rather be.


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