March 2011

The Texas Rangers Are Coming!

TEXAS RANGERS current badge and MEXICAN coin

Image via Wikipedia

Sergeant Cody Mitchell

Texas Rangers Company “F”

speaks on

History of the Texas Rangers
Current Border Operations

March 13, 2011

The Sisters in Crime March 13 speaker is Sergeant Cody Mitchell with the Texas
Rangers Company “F.”  He has been in law enforcement for approximately fifteen
years and holds a Master Peace Officer license.  His work history includes
experience as a city police officer, deputy sheriff, and Texas Highway Patrol
trooper stationed in Houston, Texas.  Awards received include medals for
merit, lifesaving, 2008 Harris County 100 Club Officer of the Year, and Texas DPS Directors Citation, as well as two medals for valor.  He is also the co-creator of “Interdiction
for the Protection of Children.”  This is a first-of-its-kind national training program
that teaches officers indicators that will lead to the discovery of missing/at-risk
children or the presence of child predators while conducting normal duties.
He is currently stationed in Austin, Texas.

Sergeant Mitchell will talk about the history of the Texas Rangers from the
beginning in 1823 to the present, including information about the evolution
of the division.  He will discuss current projects being conducted, such as
border operations.

For information contact Joyce Arquette, Publicity, at (512) 266-6543.


Aspiring Writers Invited to Submit Manuscripts for BBS Event

Deadline March 31, 2011

Aspiring writers of mysteries, cozies, suspense, thrillers and true crime are invited to submit a one-page synopsis and the first 500 words of your unpublished manuscript to the Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Project.  Aspiring mystery writers who are selected will each be matched with a published Mentor Author for one-on-one sessions, and recognition at the Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event on May 15, 2011. This is not a contest – there is no judging and no fee.  It is a wonderful opportunity for writers unpublished in the mystery field to get to talk with and be mentored by published authors. Full details about the March 31, 2011, deadline submission can be found at


Nominations Due for Fifth Annual Sage Award

Deadline March 21

The Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation is pleased to announce the Fifth Annual Sage Award.  The Sage Award will be awarded to the Mentor Author who demonstrates an outstanding spirit of service in mentoring, sharing and leading others in the mystery writing community.

The Sage recipient will be honored at the seventh annual Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event on Sunday, May 15, 2011, at Barnes & Noble Westlake in Austin, Texas. The recipient will offer the keynote speech.  In addition, each of the  Aspiring Writers will have the opportunity to meet with his or her Mentor Author for an extended discussion.
This event is the culminating activity of the annual Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Project.  The Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Project is co-sponsored by Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter.

In a one page e-mail, please send the name and contact information of your nominee
and the reasons for your nomination to The Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors
Foundation at <wsmith (at)>. NOMINATIONS ARE DUE MARCH 21, 2011.

Nominees must agree to be present at the Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers
Event on Sunday, May 15, 2011, and agree to give the Keynote Speech.

The Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation is a non-profit organization
dedicated to the support and encouragement of mentor authors, and the growth and
development of aspiring writers in the mystery community.

For more information, please contact the Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring
Authors Foundation at <wsmith (at)> or by phone at (512) 258-1185 .


If You Missed Last Month’s Meeting…


by Sue Vertrees

At the February 13 HoTXSinC meeting, Claudia Grisales, a crime reporter with the Austin American Statesman for the last 10 years, shared her tale of progressing from working in a temp agency in Houston to a well established reporter in Austin. At the temp agency Claudia was introduced to several convicts who were recently released from prison.  After receiving threats from the convicts she decided this was not a career path for her and left that position. She had no job, moved to Austin and began journalism classes. One of the requirements was to work on the Daily Texan.  When she descended the steps to the basement where the Daily Texan was created, Claudia was captured by the sight, sound and fragrance of journalism in print–the printing machines thudding and the scent of ink permeating the area.  A new career was forming.

Claudia left Austin to continue her education at Syracuse University in New York where she received her Master’s in Fine Arts for Journalism. After that she worked as an intern for Reuters in New York and later worked in Boston during the exciting days of the Bush/Gore elections.  Claudia returned to Austin in 2001 and was originally on the business desk.  As she investigated the Pedernales Electric Cooperative, her interest in crime reporting grew and her work was applauded in bringing forward facts that ended in the indictment of PEC General Manager Bennie Fuelberg and lawyer Walter Demond on money laundering and felony theft charges.

Claudia keeps her ear to the police scanner and uses to alert her to potential crimes that need her attention. She can determine the urgency of an event from the level of anxiety she hears on the scanner and as a result she was one of the first on site after Joseph Stack flew his plane into the IRS building. To increase her anxiety on that call was the knowledge her husband worked in one of the buildings. Luckily, his was not the building hit and she was able to see him. Reassured, Claudia covered the event and detailed the facts in her fine manner.

At a crime scene the journalists are kept at a distance from the actual event but they are able to question the bystanders and relatives nearby. They have flexibility and can go to the family of the suspect or victim, which is the toughest part of the job, especially where children are involved.

Another difficult aspect of the job is separating work from home. It is important that the job doesn’t go home with Claudia and it was easier when she worked the business desk. When crimes include children or when Claudia receives threats, it becomes more difficult. She has her family to consider and they are most important. But she also has their support.

As Claudia walks the fine line of home and work, look for her byline at the Austin American Statesman. She’ll be covering more crime in the Austin area and providing us the facts.

Sue Vertrees is Assistant Editor of HotShots!


Book Review

The Poet Prince by Kathleen McGowan

Reviewed by Vallie Fletcher Taylor

How brave can an author be when attempting to crawl inside mountains of yellowed records and find unknown caves of insight filled with first person narratives?  Kathleen McGowan not only used her intuition to recreate heretofore unknown personal stories from Renaissance years in Florence, Italy, she also made good use of her imagination to derive motivation for those who either ushered in the Renaissance or worked diligently to destroy it.

A most unlikely and engaging narrator, who has managed to observe it all through centuries of time, shares ancient secrets with the reader. St. Longinus, the Roman Centurion who tormented Jesus on the cross by sticking a lance into his side, is doomed to live on earth throughout centuries to pass on teachings of love and devotion to God. He becomes “a man tormented eternally in a world that would never understand him.”

Using many names, Longinus serves as a beloved teacher, or “Master,” and draws others into The Order of the Holy Sepulcher. In this order, his students study the Libro Rosso, or Book of Love, which tells of the secret traditions of Jesus Christ and his descendants. Their Madonna is Maria Magdalena whom they believe to be the wife of Jesus, mother of his children and writer of her own gospel.

Searching for hidden church corruption, as well as insights into the Order, a present day writer, Maureen Paschal, uses clues provided in the works of Renaissance artists, poets and their patrons. Familiar names, like Donatello, Bottacelli and Michelangelo, populate the pages of this book and help tell the poignant love story of Lorenzo De Medici, a powerful banker and Poet Prince of his day, and Lucrezia Donati, the love of his life. Maureen just happens to have a romantic involvement with a poet prince of today. Her life becomes ultra complicated when ancient prophecies seem to be coming to pass just in time to block their plans for the future. Would-be assassins fueled by religious fanaticism lurk around every corner.

Themes of reincarnation, soul mates, or twin souls, and painful separations brought about by pre-arranged marriages keep repeating themselves throughout the pages. But, wait… these twin souls who were so cruelly parted will have another opportunity for unequaled joy because “The Time Returns!”

If you are still embroiled in a fervent soul-mate search, take heart because, “Love is the only true reality and the rest is a dream.” All you need is patience to wait until the process of reincarnation reunites you with that lost love from another century.

Art lovers, history buffs, armchair travelers and romantic souls awaiting an encounter with their twin soul should all be in line to buy this book. As an extra bonus within these pages, I discovered the perfect gift for an engaged couple. Now all I have to do is sit back until that invitation arrives.

Vallie Fletcher Taylor is  the author of Spirits of Texas and Eyes in the Alley: Memories of San Antonio and the Great Depression. A member of HoTXSinC, she can be contacted at vallie46 (at)

FTC Disclaimer: HoTXSinC received a free review copy of this book from the publisher. Receiving the book did not influence the review.


The Un-Comfort Zone with Robert Wilson


Until I was thirty years old, I wasn’t much of a fisherman. I’d take a rod and reel along on a camping trip, but I never expected to catch much of anything. In my mind, fishing was a relaxing pastime you enjoyed with friends and beer. Then my buddy Brian asked me to go fishing. I took him to a lake I knew that was hidden in the woods; and he taught me how to fish for bass. He showed me how to cast my lure along the edge of the lake; how to give the line a couple of tugs to “jig” the lure and attract the fish; then to reel it back in quickly.

I accepted his instructions affably, but with little faith, then popped open a bottle of beer and started to get into the rhythm of relaxation. Cast, tug, reel. Swig. Cast, tug, reel. Swig. Cast, tug, reel… Whoa! Something hit my line. Hard. Really hard! I’d never felt anything like that before. My line started spinning out of the reel with a high-pitched whining sound. I cranked it back in as fast I as could, but the drag was set too low and the fish was pulling it back out faster than I could turn the handle.

Suddenly, a hundred feet in front on me, a bright green monster burst out of the lake. It was a large-mouth bass that came full length out of the water. Shimmering in the sunlight, he shook his head back and forth in an attempt to break free from my hook, then splashed back beneath the surface. I couldn’t believe it – it was just like I’d seen on television – and it was happening to me.

Afraid that I’d lose the fish, I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Brian, Help!” He was nearly halfway around the lake, but he dropped his own rod and charged toward me; yelling instructions all the way. I tightened the drag and reeled the fish in a little, then let him pull the line back out to tire him. It felt like an hour, but was probably less than ten minutes, before I finally got him in.  He was 18 inches long and weighed eight pounds. The bass wasn’t the only one to get hooked that day; I was too–I couldn’t wait to go fishing again!

For the first time in my life, I had experienced fishing success. Success in anything is very motivating. It builds confidence and encourages you to keep pursuing that particular endeavor.

In sales, getting to that first closed deal is critical for getting people to stay in that profession. When I started out in my first sales job, I recall becoming deeply discouraged by hearing “No,” over and over again. I mistakenly took the rejection personally, and wanted to give up too soon. I recall the old timers advising me, “It’s just a numbers game – you have to get a certain number of rejections before you’ll get a sale.”

Over time, I realized that was not really accurate. It is only a numbers game in that every single sales attempt is a baby step up the learning curve. You learn how to read body language; and how to listen carefully to what your prospect is telling you about his or her needs. Then from these things you gain clues in how to share your expertise so that your customer has enough confidence to buy from you. Eventually, you go from baby steps to giant steps. Wealthy, successful people have always said, “The first million is the hardest to make.”

Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is a motivational speaker and humorist.  He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators.  For more information on Robert’s programs please visit

This article is used by permission of the author.


There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.

~ Henry IV, part 1

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Image via Wikipedia

If one of your characters finds himself in need of an insult, something a little out of the ordinary, try the Shakespeare Insulter at

If, on the other hand, you’d rather compose your own, go to the Shakespearean Insult Kit at

Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!

~Timon of Athens


The Word on Our Members and Friends

Full Circle, the newest E.J. Pugh mystery from Susan Rogers Cooper, is now being released in the United States.


Sylvia Dickey Smith’s appearance in the Conversations With series at The Women’s Museum in Dallas, originally scheduled for March 10, has been postponed and will be rescheduled. Sylvia will speak about A War of Her Own, the story of Bea Meade, young mother and Texas version of “Rosie the Riveter,” who lives and works in Orange, Texas during World War II.


Vallie Fletcher Taylor and Rolando Hinojosa-Smith will read from their work at Gemini Ink’s Free Reading Series on Friday, April 1, at 6:30 p.m. Gemini Ink is located at 512 S. Presa, San Antonio, Texas. For more information, e-mail info (at), call (210) 734-9673, or go to the Gemini Ink website at


Vallie Fletcher Taylor will teach The Story of You at Gemini Ink in San Antonio on Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

“History has been best served by first-person narratives written by individuals who never ruled a country or led thousands of warriors into battle. The greatest gift you can give your descendants is a memoir, and you are the only expert on your life. You will be gently guided into writing vignettes from your life’s journey during this workshop. Using poetry therapy, we’ll dive into the pool of the past and watch in amazement as forgotten events float to the surface. You will leave with your memoir underway in prose and/or poetry.”

Limit: 12 participants.

Discounted fee: $70

Registration deadline: March 30, 2011.

Required reading: Eyes in the Alley, available at Gemini Ink, bookstores, and online.

Vallie Fletcher Taylor has published three non-fiction books, fictional short stories and poetry. Taylor’s careers include years as a public school history teacher. She has trained future teachers for the University of Houston and Sam Houston University, as well as served as a feature writer and columnist for Houston area newspapers. Taylor also organizes seminars and workshops in Austin and at her ranch in North Texas. She currently works as a consultant for several film production companies and teaches “The Story of You” at centers for creative arts. Taylor has traveled throughout the U.S. to speak at various universities and organizations on a variety of subjects related to her books.

For more information, e-mail info (at), call (210) 734-9673, or consult the Gemini Ink website at



3/3/11 Deadline to register for Houston Indie Book Festival (4/2/11). Details and registration form at

3/3/11 Deadline for submissions to Houston Writers Guild Spring Contest. More information at Rules at

3/6/11 History of Mystery Class, BookPeople, 5:00 p.m.

3/11/11  MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Jasper Fforde, author of One of Our Thursdays is Missing, 7:00 p.m.

3/13/11 MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Sara J. Henry author of Learning to Swim and Darryl Wimberley, author of Devil’s Slew, 5:00 p.m.

We have two authors, each with a great series novel. Sara J. Henry’s
debut, Learning To Swim, has already earned accolades from esteemed authors
in the genre. It starts with heroine Troy Chance saving a young boy thrown
off a ferry, leading her into a mystery involving kidnapping, family
secrets, and many twists and turns we don’t want to spoil. Darryl Wimberley
comes back with Barrett Raines, a black lawman in rural Florida. When
Barrett has to shoot a vet back from Afghanistan, he’s drawn into drug
smugglers, a band of sometimes humorous but always lethal ex-military red
necks, and a wartime secret. Both are talented authors that have a lot to
say about what they do.

3/15/11 Deadline for submissions for the annual Gulf Coast Prizes in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Contest guidelines are at

3/16/11  MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Taylor Stevens, author of The Informationist, 7:00 p.m.

This debut by Dallas author Taylor Stevens has been a favorite of
our thriller fans that work here as well as attracting national buzz.
Vanessa Monroe is an expert at getting all the information a client needs by
any means necessary. When she’s hired by a wealthy Texan to find his missing
daughter, she travels to Equatorial Guinea where she has to face a part of
her past she has blocked out. This book has been described as “Robert Ludlum
on crack”. Local author Daryl Wimberley will interview this rising star in
what should be an exciting Q&A.

3/20/11   MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Ian Rankin, author of The Complaints, 3:00 p.m.

The celebrated Scottish author Ian Rankin introduces us to Malcolm
Fox, a detective in Edinbrough’s version of Internal Affairs. British
critics have said Fox is a worthy successor to Rankin’s much loved Rebus,
and this is a rare chance to meet the mystery author many consider to be one
of the best in the world.

3/21/11   HoTXSinC Deadline for Sage Award Nominations

3/29/11  MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Harlan Coben, author of Live Wire, 7:00 p.m.

Harlan Coben returns with Myron Bolitar, the sports agent with many
a trouble prone client. In his tenth book, Myron has to deal with his
pregnant tennis star client, her missing rock star husband, and his own
dysfunctional family. Funny and fast paced, with just enough pathos, this is
a great introduction to one of the biggest fan favorites in series

3/31/11   HoTXSinC Deadline for submission to Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Project

4/1/11   Gemini Ink Free Reading Series presents Vallie Fletcher Taylor and Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, 6:30 p.m.

4/2 & 3/11  Vallie Fletcher Taylor teaches The Story of You, at Gemini Ink, San Antonio, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

4/3/11     History of Mystery Class, BookPeople, 5:00 p.m.

4/10/11   HoTXSinC presents Satish Chundru, Travis County Deputy Chief Medical Examiner

4/9/11  MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Libby Fischer Hellman, author of Set the Night on Fire, and Cara Black, author of Murder in Passy, 3:00 p.m.

4/12/11  MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Jason Goodwin, author of An Evil Eye, 7:00 p.m.

4/13/11  MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Joe Lansdale, author of Devil Red, 7:00 p.m.

4/29 & 30/11 The Northeast Texas Writers’ Organization (NETWO) 25th Spring Writers’ Roundup at Camp Shiloh Retreat on Lake Bob Sandlin. Details at or call 903-572-0580.

5/1/11   History of Mystery Class, BookPeople, 6:00 p.m.

5/2/11   7% Solution Book Club at BookPeople, discussing Heat Wave by Richard

5/7/11  The Writers Toolkit Conference, Houston Writers Guild, Sugarland First Baptist Church. More information at

5/14/11  MysteryPeople at BookPeople Presents Robin Allen, author of If You Can’t Stand the Heat, 3:00 p.m.

5/20/2011 Deadline for submissions to Killer Nashville’s Claymore Dagger Award. For more information, go to



Rasana Atreya offers information about “Rooting Out Malware” at On Getting Published, Good Books, and Living Goddesses:


Gretchen Rubin, author of New York Times best-seller The Happiness Project, writes about a letter Ray Bradbury wrote to a fan, describing “the most important decision” Bradbury “ever made”–when he was nine years old. It’s a letter worth reading:


On Jane Friedman’s There Are No Rules, Susan Cushman discusses the lawsuit against Kathryn Stockett, author of The New York Times bestseller The Help, for “unpermitted appropriation” of the “name and image” of a maid who works for Stockett’s brother and his wife. John D. Mason, a literary agent and a literary/art and entertainment attorney with The Intellectual Property Group, PLLC, in Washington, D.C., answers Cushman’s questions about legal issues related to the case:

Mason cites Mark Fowler’s article “Can You Tell Your Own True Story Even If It Impinges on the Privacy of Your Lovers, Friends, and Family?” (which appears on Rights of Writers: A Blog About Writing and the Law) as “a great discussion of the issue.” Find Fowler’s article at


Jane Friedman also points to “6 Common Plot Fixes,” “an excerpt from “The Ultimate Revision Checklist” by James Scott Bell, featured in the Writer’s Digest special issue, Write Your Novel in 30 Days“:


Beth Groundwater ( is in the middle of a virtual book tour to celebrate the publication of Deadly Currents, the debut book in her RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series. Check out Beth’s schedule of guest appearances on blogs and radio shows at

Beth says, “Every time you comment on one of [her] guest blog posts, or comment on her blog during the tour, you will be entered into a drawing for an autographed copy of Deadly Currents.”

A member of Sisters in Crime, Beth also belongs to the SinC Guppies:


Note to Reviewers

Thanks to all HoTXSinC members who read and review books for HotShots! You introduce us to new titles and authors and keep us reading.

Since December 2009, FTC rules require that reviewers on blogs disclose whether they received free review copies or monetary compensation for their reviews. 16 CFR Part 255.

So–when submitting a review to HotShots!, please mention where you got the book and whether it was free so we can add the appropriate disclaimer. We know our reviewers would never say positive things about a book in exchange for either goods or money, but if the FTC wants us to state that explicitly, we will certainly comply.

The Editor’s Atelier

Informing readers that The Happiness Project is available in paperback, author Gretchen Rubin adds the following: “As I’ve mentioned before, if you’re inclined to buy the book, it would really help if you’d buy it NOW, because early sales are so important for books. Buy early and often!” I’ve emphasized that one clause because it applies not just to Rubin’s book, but to all books: Strong early sales can determine whether a writer signs a new contract or goes looking for another publisher. That’s something to remember as we support our sisters and brothers in (and out of) crime.


Oxalis acetosella

Image via Wikipedia

May those who love us, love us,
And those who don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts,
And if he can’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping!

May the best day of your past
Be the worst day of your future.

May you live to be a hundred years
With one extra year to repent.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day


Image of Texas Ranger badges by Hartmann352 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Image of William Shapespeare comes from the Portrait Gallery of the Perry–Castañeda Library of the University of Texas at Austin. According to the collection’s title page, theimage is in the public domain and no permission is needed to use it.

Image of shamrocks by graymalkn ( [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.


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