Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bluster's Last Stand ~ ~Blog Tour, Character Spotlight, & Giveaway!

The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax, #4
  Genre:  Historical Western Fiction / Humor
Date of Publication: November 15, 2017
Publisher: Wild Horse Press

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Events on the Little Bighorn might have turned out better for George Armstrong Custer had he listened to H.H. Lomax rather than trying to kill him.  To save his own skin—and scalp!—Lomax must outwit Custer and his troopers as well as face hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors swarming Last Stand Hill. 

At least that is how Lomax in his inimitable style tells the story in this humorous romp across Old West history.  Lomax’s latest misadventures take him from the Battle of Adobe Walls to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.  In between, he’s a bouncer in a Waco whorehouse, a prospector in the Black Hills, a bartender in a Dakota Territory saloon and a combatant in the worst defeat in the history of the frontier Army. 

Along the way, Lomax crosses paths with Bat Masterson, Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, General Custer, his brother Tom Custer and the troopers of the Seventh Cavalry as well as hordes of Comanche, Kiowa, Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, not to mention the most dangerous adversary of all—a newspaper reporter with ambition.

Told with Lomax’s characteristic wit, Bluster’s Last Stand puts a new spin on the Little Bighorn and its aftermath.  Whether you believe him or not, you’ve got to admire Lomax’s luck and pluck in both surviving one of the darkest days in Old West history and writing about the disaster in the latest volume of The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax.
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“A new series by Preston Lewis features a protagonist, H.H. Lomax, who isn’t much of a gunfighter, horseman or gambler.  Instead, he is a likeable loser who runs into old western celebrities like Billy the Kid and the Jesse James gang, and barely escapes.”  Wall Street Journal

“It takes a special talent to write first-person novels based on the premise of ‘lost papers,’ but Preston Lewis is an especially fresh and innovative writer and he knows how to do it.”
Rocky Mountain News

Fans of the Western as a genre will delight in Lewis’ ongoing spoof of many traditions which fiction writers from Owen Wister to Elmer Kelton captured well enough to turn into key parts of our myths and folklore….Lewis’s wit is at times Puckishly wry, at other times bawdy in the manner of Chaucer.  It is always engaging.  Texas Books in Review

Several Old West historians have blessed the Lomax books as expertly crafted fiction. Dallas Morning News

Of the many characters Preston Lewis has created as a western and historical novelist, H.H. Lomax is the most endearing and enduring.  His droll wit, his irreverent perspective and his colorful idioms combine to provide insightful and often humorous perspectives on the events and characters of the Old West as well as on life in general.  Note Lomax’s perspective on various topics:

General Custer
There weren’t enough mirrors in the world to adequately reflect his opinion of himself. And my low opinion of the man did little to narrow the waistline of his bulging vanity…Fact was, if you had ordered a thousand sons of bitches from a Chicago mail-order house and only received him, you’d mark your bill paid in full. —Bluster’s Last Stand

Meeting Tom Custer:
That’s when I had the first inkling that bastards, like bananas, came in bunches.–Bluster’s Last Stand

Fight at Last Stand Hill
It seemed like forever, but it was over in an hour or less.  –-Bluster’s Last Stand

Philosophy of Life
Once things get to going good, something comes along and changes everything for the worse. —The Redemption of Jesse James

He didn’t strike me as the kind of man who’d grow bowlegged toting his brains around. —The Demise of Billy the Kid

Parental Responsibilities
The way I saw it, if Pa and Momma had brought me into the world, they should’ve made my life easier rather than putting me to doing chores. —The Redemption of Jesse James

Running a saloon is as respectable an occupation, as say, running for political office, and you get to meet a higher class of people. —Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral

Custer’s Presidential Ambitions
I knew Custer was just the type of man the nation needed, if we wanted to run the country into the ground.  That’s when I came to understand that ambition trumped truth and the quest for political power trumped decency. —Bluster’s Last Stand

Custer’s Political Future
I figured his future was in hell, then realized politics and hell were likely one and the same, there not being a decent person in either. —Bluster’s Last Stand

I certainly hadn’t intended to tell a lie, but the facts got away from me.  And I knew I would never tell another lie unless it couldn’t be avoided. —The Redemption of Jesse James

Texas was a big state. You could ride all day and not see anything worth seeing. Most of Texas was a hundred miles from civilization, fifty miles from water, and six inches from hell. —Bluster’s Last Stand

Generally I preferred Texans to smallpox, Republicans and tax collectors, but little else. —The Redemption of Jesse James

Frontier Civilization
In every boomtown I’d ever been in, I’d heard a clamor for the law to come in and civilize the place.  Only problem was, the law was just as bad as the lawless, and the little man got trampled by them both. —Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral

Farm Work
Farming is damn boring work, unless you enjoy watching a mule’s butt as you wrestle a plow through the stubborn earth. —The Redemption of Jesse James

Buffalo Bill Cody
With a dramatic gesture he must have learned from theater work, he yanked off his hat and bowed like a performer after a standing ovation.  That was Cody.  He craved attention and acclaim as well as the women that always seemed to be with him when his wife wasn’t. —Bluster’s Last Stand

The Earp Brothers
I came to believe there were several nooses hanging in their family tree. —Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral

Doc Holliday
Guns weren’t always loaded, but Doc generally was, which was what made him so dangerous. —Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral

Big Nose Kate
I had to admit she was a comely woman, save for the nose, and I had a good curiosity about how she treated a man.  But I’d never considered suicide, which I figured I might be doing by messing with Doc’s woman, even if she was her own woman most of the time. —Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral

Waco and Religion
Waco … seemed to have more churches than people …On top of that, the fine people of Waco had a fancy four-story brick jail, promoted as the best in Texas. The way I figured it, Waco shouldn’t need a jail with so many churches and pious folks around. —Bluster’s Last Stand

Female Poise
Nothing gives a woman more confidence than good looks and plenty of money.
The Demise of Billy the Kid

Bad Company
I knew these were all bad men and I didn’t much care for them, but I sure liked their food...There’s no better steak than one from another man’s beef. —The Demise of Billy the Kid

Fine Dining
Eating jerky’s about like chewing an old boot, though not as tasty. —The Demise of Billy the Kid

Rustling Cats
Now, I tried to be a law-abiding citizen whenever I could, so I considered the law as I knew it.  It was against the law to steal cattle, but this wasn’t a cow.  It was against the law to steal horses, but this wasn’t a horse.  It was against the law to steal chickens, but this wasn’t a chicken.  I had never heard of a law against stealing cats.  “Here, kitty, kitty,” I whispered. —Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral

Death Threats
Waiting to be killed is an easy assignment.  You just sit around and worry. —Bluster’s Last Stand

His Future:
I didn’t know where I was going, but that was nothing new for me. —The Redemption of Jesse James

            Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 30 western, juvenile and historical novels, including Bluster’s Last Stand published by Wild Horse Press.   
            Bluster’s Last Stand, a novel about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, is the latest volume in Lewis’s well-received Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series of comic westerns that began with The Demise of Billy the Kid.  Subsequent books in the series—The Redemption of Jesse James and Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral—were both Spur Finalists from Western Writers of America (WWA). 
            Lewis’s historical novel Blood of Texas on the Texas Revolution received WWA’s Spur Award for Best Western Novel.  His western caper The Fleecing of Fort Griffin in 2017 earned him his third Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA) for best creative work on West Texas. 
            His True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon won a Spur Award for Best Nonfiction Article.  In addition to True West, his short works have appeared in publications as varied as Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, Persimmon Hill, Dallas Morning News, The Roundup, Journal of the Wild West History Association and San Angelo Standard-Times
         A native West Texan and current San Angelo resident, Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University and master’s degrees from Ohio State in journalism and Angelo State in history.  He is a past president of WWA and WTHA.  Lewis is a longstanding member of the Authors Guild and an associate member of the Dramatists Guild of America.  
1st Prize: Full 4 Book Set in the Lomax Series
2nd Prize: Bluster's Last Stand + The Fleecing of Fort Griffin
3rd Prize: Bluster's Last Stand
*all copies signed*
December 13-December 22, 2017
(U.S. Only)

Excerpt 1
Author Interview
Character Spotlight
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Excerpt 2
Author Interview

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Yonderings: Trails and Memories of the Big Bend ~ ~ Blog Tour & Review!

Trails and Memories 
of the Big Bend
Ben H. English
  Genre: Memoir / Travel / Texas
Publisher: TCU Press
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Date of Publication: November 17, 2017
Number of Pages: 221

It was a time before Terlingua Ranch, chili cook-offs, and when you could drive a hundred miles without seeing another vehicle or another person.  The year was 1961, and the tides of humanity that ebbed and flowed into the lower reaches of the Big Bend were at their historical nadir.  It was a vast, empty land spotted by isolated ranch headquarters, a national park with few visitors, and the many ruins of a past shrouded in legend, lore, and improbable truths. Six generations of Ben H. English’s family have called this enigmatic region home.  With his family headquartered at the old Lajitas Trading Post, he worked and lived on ranches and in places now little more than forgotten dots on yellowing maps.  He attended the one-room schoolhouse at Terlingua, prowled the banks of the Rio Grande, and crisscrossed the surrounding areas time and again on horseback and on foot.

Some fifty years later he writes about those years, revealing along the way the history and legends of the singular land he knows so well, separating fact from fiction, and bringing the reader into a world that few have experienced.  He also explores the lower Big Bend as it is found now, and the extraordinary vistas one can still discover just over the next rise.  


Amazon ▪ Barnes& Noble ▪ Indiebound 
▪ Texas Book Consortium 


“Born of a family with the innate urge to go and see beyond 
what the eye could first perceive, for me the die was cast
at conception and it came as natural as breathing.” 

Early on in Yonderings: Trails and Memories of the Big Bend, author Ben English establishes that his love of the Big Bend runs deep within his bloodlines. As readers follow English as he meanders through that country, it’s clear that the Big Bend is also housed deep within his soul.

In parts hiking guide and history book, and fully memoir, Yonderings takes readers on a series of journeys with the author as he travels, mostly on foot, on the trails and off the beaten track of the Big Bend country of Texas.  As English says, “No matter what you may have in mind for extravagant scenery, there is likely a little bit of it to be found someplace within the Big Bend.” Though I’m not sure he’d be pleased to have more tourists invading his sacred spaces, the result of English’s publication may very well be readers coming in droves to see the sights so spectacularly described.

And, oh, the descriptions! English has a way with words that puts the reader in the scenery and sets a tone of wonderment. Whether it’s the breathtaking, sweeping views which are “a work of art filling the mortal soul with contemplation and awe,” or the abandoned and long forgotten homesteads where the author passes by quietly, “observant to an open graveyard of someone else’s dreams,” readers will feel immersed in the landscape. There is a sense of slipping back in time as the author considers the forces of nature that created the Big Bend as well as the human history of the place. He is at times melancholy, but he is always thoughtful and considerate in his recollections and ruminations.

One characteristic that impresses me to no end is English’s self-control. He would know that just around the bend/down the slope/up the mountainside/across the ravine likely lay a feast for the eyes and mind: possibly the century-old detritus of man, possibly the eons-old creations of nature. Rather than pressing forward, he’d check his watch, his trusty topographical maps, and his surroundings and turn around and head back from where he came, leaving the undiscovered, undiscovered. English knows and respects the limitations of man – and that’s what’s kept him alive, though he will readily admit (and elaborates upon) how even the most experienced can make rookie mistakes with near deadly consequences.

It is in English’s elaborations that the book shines. His unique and sage perspectives allow the reader to view the world from a new angle.  Having made several trips to Big Bend, I enjoyed gleaning new information about familiar sites. I laughed and nodded having had similar experiences with road closures and blocked passages, all of which led me to discover new and amazing things. Though my husband and I weren’t like the driver of the van English describes in one story, on one of our trips, we did have a Dodge Grand Caravan that we took places it shouldn’t have probably been in Big Bend. Our motto, after all, was “Mini-van, Mega-fun.”

Of note: English's writing is beautiful – even mesmerizing at times – and it calms and quiets the spirit. And hallelujah! The book is cleanly edited. Included in the book are numerous photos, all either taken by the author or from his own collection. Though I wish they were in color (I completely understand why they aren’t), even in black and white, they are dramatic and many still convey the sheer awesomeness of the Big Bend and give perspective of how small we are in the grand scheme of things – physically and otherwise.  They make a fine addition to the book and perfectly complement the text.  The only elements missing, especially if one intends to find any of the trails or places discussed in Yonderings, are maps. Of course, this may have been an intentional exclusion since the author loves NOT seeing people on his hikes. Nonetheless, even to the armchair explorer, and overview of what is where would be fabulous.

Perhaps it’s my own (limited) firsthand knowledge of the Big Bend that took this reading experience to the next level and created a real yearning within me to return there. (Ahhh, to see Santa Elena Canyon up close again. It’s been ten years.) But I am certain that after reading Yonderings, even those who have never been there will find themselves itching to make plans – and wondering if Mr. English would consider being their guide. *HINT* In the meantime, in several places, English references numerous other novels in the works. HOORAY! I am most thankful that he’s been meticulous in recording his journeys and the history of a place that nature is recapturing, and I eagerly await future publications.

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours, TCU Press, and the author for giving me a treasured print copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 

An eighth-generation Texan, Ben H. English was raised mostly in the Lajitas-Terlingua area. An honors graduate of Angelo State University, he served in the United States Marine Corps for seven years, was a high school teacher, and retired after twenty-two years in the Texas Highway Patrol.  

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Baugh to Brady: The Evolution of the Forward Pass ~ ~ Blog Tour Promo


The Evolution of the Forward Pass
  Genre: Sports History / Football
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
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Date of Publication: December 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 296

There are three things that can happen when you throw a pass, and two of them are bad.   –Woody Hayes

The quarterback pass is one of the leading offensive components of today's National Football League and college football's top level of play. This was not always the case. In early American football, the strategy focused entirely on advancing the ball one running play at a time, with the player tucking the then-roundish ball on his hip and sprinting ahead until tackled by a swarm of defenders. The revolution that transformed the sport began in 1906, when passing was first legalized. The passing weapon made the game safer, altered strategy, turned the quarterback into a key offensive player, and made possible the high-scoring games of today.

Lew Freedman traces football's passing game from its inception to the present, telling the tale through the stories of the quarterbacks whose arms carried (and threw) the changes forward. Freedman relies especially on the biography of "Slingin' Sammy" Baugh--who hailed from Sweetwater, Texas--as a framework. Baugh, perhaps the greatest all-around football player in history, came along at just the right time to elevate the passing game to unprecedented importance in the eyes of the sports world.

Lew Freedman is a veteran newspaper sportswriter and experienced author of more than seventy-five books about sports as well as about Alaska. He spent seventeen years at the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska and has also worked for the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer. Freedman is recipient of more than 250 journalism awards.

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