May 2011

May 15 Meeting

The Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation


Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter


The Seventh Annual Barbara Burnett Smith

Aspiring Writers Event

   May 15, 2011   2:00-5:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Westlake-Austin


2:00 p.m. – Dave Ciambrone, President, Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter

Welcome, and Introduction of Gary Petry and W. D. Smith

2:10 p.m. – W. D. Smith

Presentation of Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Author  Foundation Awards

Donations are gladly accepted to continue honoring Mentor Authors in the future.

2:20 p.m. – W.D. Smith

Presentation of Sage Award to Russ Hall

Presentation of a set of Barbara Burnett Smith’s books to Russ Hall

Presentation to Russ Hall of previous Sage Award winners’ books:

Karen Swartz MacInerney
Dave Ciambrone
Micqui Miller, presented by her sister Dolores Sullivan
Sylvia Dickey Smith, presented by Dave Ciambrone

2:30 p.m. – Russ Hall, 2011 Sage Award Recipient

Keynote Speech:  “We Are Always Learning”

2:50 p.m. – “A Mystery in Four Parts” – Sylvia Dickey Smith, Coordinator

Authors:  Jennifer Old, Marcia Spillers, Kathy Waller, Joan Upton Hall

3:10 p.m. – Sarah Ann Robertson

Best Worst First Lines of a Mystery

3:20 p.m. – Dave Ciambrone

Russ Hall’s previous Aspiring Writers

Updates:  2007 Aspiring Writer Jacqueline Siglin  & 2010 Aspiring Writer Audrey Webb

Introductions:  2006 Aspiring Writer Julie Ann Candoli & 2009 Aspiring Writer Jennifer Old

Introduction of two of our previous Mentor Authors—Jan Grape  and Julie Wray Herman

Jan Grape (Mentor Author 2009, 2010) will give an update on her writing activities and then introduce her 2010 Aspiring Writer Valerie Chandler.

Julie Wray Herman (Mentor Author 2007, 2009) will give an update on her writing-related activities.

Introduction of 2011 Mentor Author Joan Upton Hall, who will introduce 2011 Aspiring Writer Margaret-Anne Halse

3:40 p.m. – Refreshment Break

4:00 p.m. – Mentor Author Joan Upton Hall and Aspiring Writer Margaret-Anne Halse will meet together

About 5:30 – Dinner with Russ Hall at La Madeleine

Our gratitude to Bob Kissinger, Manager of Barnes & Noble Westlake, for providing meeting space for today’s event and HoTxSinC monthly meetings; to Christy Kasper, Manager, Starbucks at Barnes & Noble Westlake for coffee service, and to Azar Owlia of the Dream Bakery for the cookies.



Remembering Barbara Burnett Smith

by William D. Smith III

Growing up around Mom wasn’t always the same as the later years and times weren’t always about helping others. For a long time Mom was very competitive and out to make a name for herself. Time was spent climbing the corporate ladder and trying to prove to everyone that she had worth. I believe it all stemmed from the divorce between her and my father along with being the daughter of an alcoholic father. She worked night and day and tried to write somewhere there in the middle. Much of the time was spent away from the house doing one job or another.

She always had the drive to be at her best and asked that those around her did the same. After she started writing and got out of the corporate world and took on the training game, she started to change. She wanted to give back to people and hope they had a better time of it than she did, trying to succeed in a man’s world. After a few years in the training game and running a successful business (or at least one that paid the bills), she really started to shine. She saw people for who they were and wanted to help in any way possible. I don’t think she ever watched Oprah but I believe she garnered sound bites from her show. She used a quote from Maya Angelou: ” People will not remember what you said to them, but they will remember how you treated them.”

When I started working for Mom it was only after I felt she came into her true being. The one that nurtured others and saw the glass half full. I was once asked why I trained? My comment was to see people shine and watch them succeed at something they didn’t think they could do. I am a big fan of TV shows that show the true human spirit accomplishing goals that once seemed impossible. I got that from her. Barbara was a true teacher and humanitarian. She loved people and always took an interest in them, no matter how insignificant their job, passion or story. It also goes to show what a great listener she could be, and I believe she worked really hard at listening.

Most people are cynics when it comes to new ideas, stories from others, and achievements that make people out to be larger than life. Not Barbara: she would listen, ask questions and be present at that moment. It is something that we all need to do, and her spirit lives on in us that can be present in a situation that isn’t about us, and we get no perceived value from. I know this is why she always won at sales and out-performed others in the field. She was present, listened and asked, ” How can I help you?”

Busia is what my kids called her. It’s Polish for Grandmother. She never really looked like a Busia and definitely didn’t act like a grandmother. Her first sign of aging found her buying a motorized Razor scooter to ride down the street. Her second act was dying her hair a Reba McIntire red and cutting it very short. Not a good look for her, but it did make her look different.

Then one day she decided to go ice skating with the our kids at North Cross Mall. During the first or second trip around the ice, she fell and hit her head. So bad was the fall that a trip to the hospital ensued after a phone to her son in Houston. We made a mad dash to Austin, frantic over the fact that she couldn’t speak and our two kids were stuck at the hospital without their Busia. After a crazy 4-hour drive, we arrived at Seton to find her barely conscious in her room with Gary by her side. Walking in to see her, the first thing I noticed was a huge blue streak in her hair. After some concerned questions about what happened, I found out that prior to going skating, she and my daughter decided to use some party die for their hair, and she decided she liked the Patty Smythe 80’s look and decided to keep it in for the night. Like I said, a very young-at-heart woman that wasn’t afraid to be a little different.

What I miss most is how she would make Christmas the biggest holiday of the year. She wanted lots of presents and all of them had to be individually wrapped. We always played a game every year and guessed what our presents were while they were under the tree. If you have ever played this game and disappointed the person that gave the gift it could ruin the moment. To really make this interesting, though, I can remember getting a pair of socks with a Lipton soup packet wrapped around it, and a bell inside of that to make sure the noise you heard would throw the most experienced guesser off the trail. I think that is why she liked mysteries so much. To this day I still have a 5-cent candy-striped pencil with a worn elfin head on it that we used to pass back and forth year after year. I guess you could say I got stuck with it last. It’s okay, because some day I will give it to one of my kids and let the games begin again.

Regarding the many presents at Christmas: I have received wooden spoons, stationary, pens, socks, ties, gum, and other dollar MacFrugal gifts because she just didn’t think a person could live with only 3-4 presents under the tree.

The last story I will tell about Mom was about her cooking. I am not sure why she didn’t learn to cook until she turned 40-something, but it was never a priority. I especially remember one Thanksgiving that we spent, just the two of us. Usually I was gone that holiday and she ate alone at Luby’s. This year was different and I mean different. She got a smoked turkey, made candied yams, sour cream green beans, and some Jell-O salad that only she liked. Everything had been cooking for hours and the house smelled great.

We set the small dining table and prepared for the feast. One bite of the beans and we found out the sour cream had soured for real and they were uneatable. The candied yams never got soft in the oven so they were also not able to be eaten. We still had the turkey! At least we could make turkey sandwiches. We sliced several juicy pieces of turkey and put it on 3 hard pieces of bread because the soft stuff was green. A typical find in the bread drawer. One bite and we both just about spit it out. The smoke flavor tasted like it came from chinaberry trees or some other slightly toxic wood. Everything went in the trash and we enjoyed a deliciously cooked meal at CoCo’s off of Anderson Road. At least she didn’t spend it alone at Luby’s.


Russ Hall to Receive 2011 Sage Award

The Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation is pleased to announce Russ Hall as the recipient of the 2011 Sage Award.  The Sage Award is given to the Mentor Author that demonstrates an outstanding spirit of service in mentoring, sharing and leading others in the mystery writing community.  Mr. Hall will be honored at the Seventh Annual Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event on Sunday, May 15, 2011. 2:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble -Westlake, Austin, co-sponsored by  Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter.

Russ Hall is author of three mystery series, as well as thrillers, westerns young adult books, short stories, essays and articles.  He has received numerous writing awards including the prestigious Nancy Pickard Mystery Fiction Award–in which the runner-up was himself under another pen name.  He has also co-authored other books including the bestseller Do You Matter?  How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company written with Robert Brunner, the former head of design at Apple. His books have been reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal Review, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist Review.

His mystery series include:   Esbeth Walters, a retired school teacher and amateur detective who solves cases in spite of local law enforcement wishing she’d quit bothering them; Travis, The Blue-Eyed Indian, an Austin-area P.I.; and the not-yet published 15-year-old genius P.I., Adam Clay, who rubs everyone the wrong way, and his sidekick, Sylvie Thomas, who drives the car, carries the gun, and sees that people don’t put Adam over their knees for the spanking he just might richly deserve.

Mr. Hall is a popular presenter of workshops and seminars on writing and getting published. His workshops presentations include “So If You Want to Get Published” and “Everybody Has a Story.”  He will present the 2011 “How To Write a Mystery” workshop, sponsored by Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter and BookPeople.  It will take place May 13-14 at BookPeople in Austin.

Russ Hall received his Bachelor of Arts in Classics and his Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Ohio State University.  In addition to his writing he has been an editor for major publishing companies including HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Pearson. Moving to the Austin area from New York City, he now lives on the North Shore of Lake Travis with a front yard herd of deer that has adopted him.

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.  The purpose of Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter is to promote women mystery authors, and to combat discrimination against them.

 For more information please contact The Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation, W.D. Smith <>, or Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter <>



If You Missed Last Month’s Meeting

Dr. Satish Chundru, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for Travis County, presented a program on forensic science at the April 2011 HoTXSinC meeting. He explained the role of the medical examiner in Texas, discussed the categories covered by the term manner of death; and described how a forensic scientist would determine cause and manner of death.

The medical examiner (ME) is a physician trained in both pathology (four years) and the sub-specialty forensic pathology (one year). Approximately one month of toxicology training is included.

Texas has a Justice of the Peace/Medical Examiner System. Of its 254 counties, only 13 have ME offices. In counties without a medical examiner, the (elected) justice of the peace has all the power of the ME without the medical background. While counties may contract for services with an out-of-county ME, the justice of the peace decides whether to refer deaths for autopsy.  A hospital must report any death that occurs within 24 hours of admission. If the family of the deceased requests an autopsy, the ME will request medical records and then decide whether the autopsy should be performed. The ME has no way of knowing about unreported deaths. The ME does not police physicians.

Manner of death refers to the circumstances surrounding how a death came about. There are five categories of manner of death: natural, accidental, suicide, homicide, and undetermined. Using slides shielded from public view, Dr. Chundru showed examples of tissue taken from natural deaths and compared them to tissues from deaths that occurred under unnatural circumstances: a diseased heart, showing blocked arteries, scar tissue, enlargement, or blood in the pericardium, for example, would be more likely to indicate death from natural causes.  Dr. Chundru also explained the procedures involved in performing an autopsy.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a term coined by physicians attempting to explain to parents the reason for an unexpected and shocking death, is now attributed to suffocation, often an accident that often occurs when an infant sleeps in a bed with adults.

Asked critique portrayal of MEs in television programs, Dr. Chundru said that there is no way to tell time of death (except between the last time the deceased was seen alive and the time he was found dead), that there is little microscopic work, and that there are no Hummers. He said the book Forensics for Dummies is an “okay” resource for research.

Dr. Chundru shared a wealth of information with HoTXSinC members–much more than can be detailed in this brief article. For more information, including articles on “Safe Living,” check out The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office website,

Dr. Satish Chundru received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He graduated from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and served a residency in pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. After training in forensics at the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Department, he joined the department staff. In 2008, he moved to Austin, where he serves as Travis County Deputy Chief Medical Examiner. He has been practicing forensics for seven years.



Texas Mystery Month Events

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter is pleased to announce the Thirteenth Annual Texas Mystery Month: May 2011. The purpose of Texas Mystery Month is to spotlight Texas Mystery Authors.

Texas Mystery Month activities include panel discussions, book signings, author presentations and more.  

February 15-May 15  Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Project, Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter and the Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation 

May 5, Thursday, 1:00 p.m. Texas Mystery Author Dave Ciambrone.  Marble Falls Library Mystery Book Club,  Marble Falls, Texas

May 6, Friday, 4:00 p.m. Texas Mystery Author George Arnold. Barnes & Noble-Baybrook, Webster, Texas

May 7, Saturday, 10:00 a.m.   Texas Mystery Author George Arnold.   Barnes & Noble-Baybrook, Webster, Texas

May 7, Saturday, 1:00 p.m.   Texas Mystery Author Janice Hamrick signing “Death on Tour,”  Murder by the Book, Houston, Texas

May 8, Sunday, 11:00 a.m.  Texas Mystery Author George Arnold.   Barnes & Noble-Baybrook, Webster, Texas 77598

May 9, Monday, 6:30 p.m.   Texas Mystery Author Jim Parker presenting “The Sound of the Baskervilles” for the Sherlock Holmes Society of Austin aka Waterloo Station.  La Madeleine-Arboretum Austin, Texas

May 13, Friday, 6:00 p.m.  Texas Mystery Authors Presentation.  Hill Country Book Store, Georgetown, Texas

Friday 13,  7:00 p.m. – Sisters in Crime Workshop: How to Write a Mystery, Part 1
Sisters In Crime, an international organization that promotes the professional development and advancement of women writing crime fiction, is hosting this workshop free of charge. Established crime novelists will take you through the the writing process, focusing on ideas settings, characters, emotion, building suspense and approaches to the craft. The second part of this workshop will be held on Saturday, May 14th, 9am. At 12pm on Saturday, May 14th, Sisters in Crime will also host the workshop, “How to Seek an Agent or Publisher.”

Saturday 14, 12:00 p.m. – Sisters in Crime Workshop: How to Seek an Agent or Publisher
Sisters in Crime, an international organization that promotes the professional development and advancement of women writing crime fiction, lead this free workshop with published authors where they’ll be discussing publishing options, query letters, proposal packages, and getting the right agent or publisher.

Saturday 14, 3:00 p.m.  Mystery author ROBIN ALLEN will speak about and sign the debut novel in her Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop series, If You Can’t Stand the Heat. This is a clean, humorous mystery series that features an Austin, Texas public health inspector and lots of behind-the-scenes information about the restaurant industry.

Saturday 14, 7:00 p.m.  Bestselling author CHRIS BARTON will speak about and sign his new Young Adult book, Can I See Your I. D.?: True Stories of False Identities.  Barton is the award-winning author of the picture books Shark Vs. Train and The Day-Glo Brothers.

May 15, Sunday, 2:00-5:00 p.m.  Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event with presentation of the 2011 Sage Award to Russ Hall, and the 2011 Mentor Authors and Aspiring Writers Barnes & Noble-Westlake, Austin Texas

May 20, Friday, 7:00 p.m. Texas Mystery Authors Writers’ Forum: George Arnold, Ken Squier. Barnes & Noble-San Pedro Crossing, Debra Castanon, Community Relations Mgr. 1-210-342-2386, 321 NW Loop 410 #104, San Antonio TX 782161

May 21, Saturday, 10:00 a.m.   Texas Mystery Author George Arnold  Berkman Books, 611 South Washington Street, Fredericksburg, Texas

May 27, Friday, 10:00. Texas Mystery Author George Arnold. The Book Spot, Danny Woodfill, Mgr. 1-512-278-5411, 1205 Round Rock Ave., Round Rock, Texas

May 28, Saturday, 9:00 a.m.  Texas Mystery Author George Arnold. The Book Spot, Danny Woodfill, Mgr. 1-512-278-5411, 1205 Round Rock Ave., Round Rock, Texas

May 29, Sunday, 12:00 p.m., Texas Mystery Author Janice Hamrick Book Launch Death on Tour, Book People, Scott Montgomery, Crime Fiction Coordinator 1-512-472-4288, 603 N. Lamar, Austin Texas 78703.

TBA Texas Mystery Authors presentation.  Barnes & Noble-Northwoods, Jacki Dyess, Community Relations Mgr. <> 1-210-490-0937 18030 Hwy 281N Ste.140, San Antonio Texas 78232.



Blog Tour de Troops!: Support Our Troops with Free E-books

The following letter from author Amber Scott was shared on the SINC Guppies discussion group last week. Amber has given permission to reprint the letter here.

This Memorial Day weekend, May 27-30th, participate in the charity that gives back to the troops!

Did you know what over 300 overseas troops who have requested books?

And this blog tour is going to make sure they get them!

How are we going to do that?

Through the Indie Book Collective‘s massive social media presence, the Collective is gathering together as many authors as possible to give away as many eBooks as possible to the troops!  We hope to get each and every one of our brave men and women the books they want!

How do you join in?

For a super low $15 buy in, you get to participate in this amazing charity event! Your titles sound like a great fit.

How does it work?

Each participating author’s site will be linked to the next site, creating a bunny hop chain that readers can follow.

Each commenter receives a free eBook and an eBook for the men and women who safeguard our freedom. After all, what is being Indie if not being free? (Commenters can either specify a troop or we have teamed up with a non-profit organization to distribute the ebooks to those who have requested them).

In addition, the non-profit organization will distribute care package items and the grand prize… A Kindle!

We’re talking big buzz and big numbers for authors, all for a great cause.

Your $15 fee goes towards the Grand Prize drawing.  We’ll be posting on the topic of gratitude and the more authors we gather, the more Kindles we can give away to the troops. So get in on this now. Reply to this address and I’ll get you to the next step in Blog Tour de Troops! Know of an author who’d be interested? Pass this along!

Amber Scott
Will 3 be the magic number? Fierce Dawn for Bestseller For a Day! May 18th.
Twitter: @amberscottbooks

Amber adds that pre-published authors are welcome to join in the fun by partnering with an indie author on tour in their post. This can help name building plus being more closely involved.



Book Review

The Mozart Conspiracy, by Scott Mariani.

Review by Gale Albright

Was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart murdered? Were his killers members of the mysterious Society of Ra, a shadowy organization of powerful reactionaries dedicated to stopping all progressive political movements in 18th-century Europe? Is the Society of Ra operating today, still manipulating and killing, trying to destroy democracy?

This is the premise of The Mozart Conspiracy, a fast-paced suspense-action thriller by Scott Mariani.

If you like action, action, and more action, you will enjoy this novel. There is no dawdling about over high tea conversation (the main character is British, don’t you know), just rock ’em, sock ’em action and a protagonist who is good with guns, knives, and hand-to-hand combat.

The hero, Ben Hope, is suitably tall, blonde, handsome, and craggy. Actually, if The Mozart Conspiracy is made into a film, I nominate Daniel Craig to play the lead. Ben, a former British commando with a somewhat mysterious past, is reunited with his long-lost love, Leigh Llewellyn, a beautiful Welsh opera singer. Her brother, Oliver Llewellyn, Ben’s old army chum, has died in a mysterious accident in Austria. Leigh believes that her brother’s research project, a book about Mozart, might have led to his death. Oliver was searching for a mysterious old letter that could hold the key to Mozart’s possible murder.

Hired killers come after Leigh in her country home in Wales. Despite being outnumbered, Ben takes them out, and the pair goes on the run across Europe, sometimes only half a step ahead of ruthless, faceless killers. Why do these people want Ben and Leigh dead, and what are they searching for? Could it be the computer disks Oliver mailed to Leigh just minutes before his death?

Soon, the bodies start dropping like flies. Is the Society of Ra determined to hide its past crimes as well as its present activities? Did Oliver stumble onto the secret, only to die in a cover up?

The Mozart Conspiracy has lots of nasty villains doing nasty things in Wales, Ireland, London, Vienna, Italy, Slovenia, Turkey and so on. There are international plots, sadistic bad guys, torture, violence, children in danger, nuns in danger, a loyal dog, snow, lots of snow, car wrecks, helicopter wrecks, shooting, kidnapping, and sundry mayhem.

Want an exciting adventure read with villains you can boo and heroes you can cheer? Get yourself a copy of The Mozart Conspiracy and hang on for the ride.

The Mozart Conspiracy
Touchstone, March 2011
Simon & Schuster
Hardcover, 352 pages
ISBN-10: 1439193363
ISBN-13: 9781439193365


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

Gale Albright is a member of HoTXSinC, a former Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writer, and a 2008 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest Winner, YA Division. She is working on a historical novel for middle grade readers and a mystery novel.



Interview with James Hime

by Margaret-Anne Halse

“The way you learn to write is by reading great writers.”  So says Texas mystery author James Hime, creator of retired Texas Ranger Jeremiah Spur who solves crimes in the town of Brenham, Texas.  Who does Hime consider to be a great writer?  Top of the list is Shakespeare.

“No genius like Shakespeare,” he says.  “If you read what he writes four hundred years later, it’s still fantastic.”  Melville runs a close second.

Hime started writing as “something of a hobby.” His ear for the nuances of language and his knack for telling a gripping tale have won him notable reviews for the three novels featuring Jeremiah Spur.

For example, “Beautiful writing, memorable characters, seamless dialogue, and a timely and original story, tough and gritty as a Texas landscape…. A gem,” says Agatha-winning author Hank Phillippi Ryan of Spur’s most recent outing, Where Armadillos go to Die. The other two novels are The Night of the Dance and Scared Money.

Hime draws inspiration for his writing from Cormac McCarthy, whom he calls “a great stylist.”

“McCarthy is good at depicting the humanity of simple people. He gets the nobility of people who have been overlooked, simple guys looking to do the right thing.”

This perspective is evident in Hime’s protagonist, Jeremiah Spur. Spur is a Texas Ranger for a reason, Himes says.  “Rangers have a mystique. They are larger than life, taciturn and understated; speak more in action than in words.”  And they are seen largely as the good guys with strong principles, the white hats.

Spur has a colorful supporting cast of characters, including Sheriff’s Deputy Clyde Thomas, whose ongoing struggles with his personal demons make him a sympathetic figure.

“I wanted them (the characters) to feel like real people,” Hime says. “I wanted them to be authentic. That’s a challenge in real life or in fiction; to find the things in there that are likeable about them.”  In creating Thomas, Hime was also paying homage to Elmore Leonard and his character Maurice “Snoopy” Miller in Out of Sight.

The voices in his novels are distinctly Texan, but also distinctly individual. “I work at the voices extremely hard,” he says.  “I pick up the language of the people around me, and I’ve got an ear for expressions.” For example, this sentence from Scared Money: “Most of them would rather peel and eat a skunk than truck with cops.”

The locale for the stories is a small town in Texas.  Hime went to high school in Kingsville, near Corpus Christi, and his books are really “all about Kingsville.”  However, he set them in Brenham, located half-way between Austin and Houston, to satisfy a plot twist in the first book.

These are murder mysteries; how does Hime handle the violence?  “Violence is a part of life,” he says.  “In my books I show the effect of violence, but I try to keep the gory, gruesome stuff off-screen.”  Spur is also retired because, Himes says, “I could avoid all that CSI stuff.  Spur’s rural, so he can give himself latitude to avoid all the details.”

As all writers know, it takes discipline to produce a novel.  What is Mr. Hime’s secret?

“I get up early in the morning, get coffee.  I have the same objective as Graham Greene – to write 500 words a day.” But, he says, “I finish my sentences each day.” Of the hard slog of writing, “It’s hard to keep the tension up. Rewriting or rethinking is an important process. You have to think all the way to the end of the book.  Good writers can do that.”

When Hime takes time off from his writing (and his day job), he reads.  “I’m currently reading Churchill’s memoirs.  I have a hard time reading in the (mystery) genre without screwing myself up. But I do read Alan Furst.”    He also watches movies with his wife, about whom he says, “Marrying my wife made up for every dumb thing I ever did.”

Finally, if he could get together with any writer, living or dead, for a drink, who would it be?  “Shakespeare, over a beer. To sit for an hour and hear about how Shakespeare thought about the world would be incredible.”

Biographical note:  James Hime ordinarily resides in Houston, but his day job with a global corporation has taken him temporarily to Abu Dhabi. He plans to write his next novel in the summer, when temperatures around 140˚ F make it too hot to do anything else.

Where Armadillos Go to Die
Minotaur Books, November 2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-53486-8, ISBN10: 0-312-53486-8,
320 pages

Margaret-Anne Halse is a 2011 Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writer. Joan Upton Hall is her Mentor.


The Word on Our Members and Friends

May Is Texas Mystery Month: Celebrate With A Home-cooked, Austin-style  Debut

Set in Austin, If You Can’t Stand the Heat gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant biz from one of the sharpest eyes in the industry: the health inspector

Austin, Texas — In Austin-based Robin Allen’s debut foodie mystery, world-famous chef Évariste Bontecou is found dead during the grand re-opening of Markham’s Grille, and public health inspector Poppy Markham  must stick her neck out to save the family business. If You Can’t Stand the Heat is available in stores and online May 8.

“[A] red-hot saucy debut . . . Readers will want to see more of this laid-back Austin-style snoop.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Poppy’s father had hired Bontecou as a guest chef for the grand re-opening, but he couldn’t have known that the “too many cooks spoil the broth” adage would prove fatally true. The recipe is rife with suspects, including the restaurant’s fulltime head chef, Poppy’s stepsister Ursula; sous-chef and philanderer Trevor Shaw; an opportunistic waitress; a jealous widow; a greedy new general manager; and a wicked, social-climbing stepmother. When Poppy’s house is burned to the ground, she knows her investigation has leaped out of the frying pan and into the fire, but can she catch the killer before her goose is cooked?

“It’s always fun to discover a new author, and Robin Allen delivers big time, with colorful characters and an intriguing plot that keeps you turning the pages. Can’t wait to see what Poppy Markham cooks up next.”—BEN REHDER, Edgar Award finalist and author of the Blanco County mystery series

Robin Allen’s writing has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Country Woman Magazine and Writers’ Journal. In addition to writing, the author has worked as a food server, cocktail waitress, bartender, sales representative, marketing director, technical writer, copy editor, software QA analyst, personal assistant, yoga instructor, knitwear designer and barista. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio. If You Can’t Stand the Heat is her first mystery novel. Allen is a member of Sisters in Crime (SinC) where she lives in Austin, Texas. She can be found online at

If You Can’t Stand the Heat by Robin Allen
US $14.95 CAN $16.95 | Trade Paperback Original | ISBN 978-0-7387-2607-6
Publication date: May 8, 2011 | Midnight Ink Books

About Midnight Ink

* Mystery’s Finest Hour * Midnight Ink publishes the very best in popular mystery paperbacks, from English countryside cozies to big city thrillers, and is dedicated to sleuthing out talented new authors wherever they may be found. Our diverse line-up includes award-winning cozies, amateur sleuth novels, soft and medium-boiled suspense novels, and more. Founded in 2005, the Twin Cities-based Midnight Ink has since published over 100 mysteries, including the 2009 Agatha Award-winning novel by G. M. Malliet, Death of a Cozy Writer. Uncover more of our scandalously popular and critically-acclaimed mystery fiction at


To request a copy for review, or to arrange an interview with the author, please contact:
Marissa Pederson, Publicist
Midnight Ink Books
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125-2989
phone: 651-312-8453 * mystery’s finest hour *


A review of If You Can’t Stand the Heat appears in the Austin American-Statesman.


Kaye George’s Choke released May 1 by Mainly Murder Press!

Kaye George (Taylor) is debuting her mystery, CHOKE, at Malice
Domestic. Twenty-two-year-old Imogene Duckworthy is waiting tables at Huey’s Hash in tiny Saltlick, Texas, itching to jump out of her rut and become a detective. When Uncle Huey is murdered in the diner, Immy gets her chance. Available at Amazon and B&N.

Or one can search on “choke kaye george” at Amazon or B&N.


Find out why Elaine Douts likes Kaye George’s new novel Choke at Writers Who Kill.

Choke is also featured on Killer Characters, where Immy Duckworthy’s boss, Mike Mallett, answers the question, “Should Emmy Duckworthy Become a PI?”


Sarah Ann Robertson with Sisters in Crime (, mystery author Janice Hamrick (, and mystery author Robin Allen were interviewed by Hopeton Hay on Mystery/Crime Authors Roundup on May 9 KAZI Book Review at 12:50 p.m. on May 8. Here is the link to the show: To read about the show, click here.


Chris Barton, author of Can I See Your I.D.?: True Stories of False Identities will sign copies of his books at Barnes & Noble Round Rock on Saturday, May 21, at 2:00 p.m. The store is located in the La Frontera Village at the intersection of IH-35 and SH-45.

True crime, desperation, fraud and adventure. From the impoverished young woman who enchanted nineteenth-century British society as a faux Asian princess, to the sixteen-year-old boy who “stole” a subway train in 1993, to the lonely but clever Frank Abagnale of Catch Me If You Can fame, these ten vignettes offer riveting insight into mind-blowing masquerades. Graphic panels draw you into the exploits of these pretenders, and meticulously researched details keep you on the edge of your seat. Each scene is presented in the second person, a unique point of view that literally places you inside the faker’s mind. With motivations that include survival, delusion, and plain, old-fashioned greed, the psychology of deception has never been so fascinating or so close at hand.

Chris Barton blew his cover as an ordinary husband, father, and chicken owner by winning a 2010 Sibert Honor. He lives in Austin. His previous books are Shark vs. Train (2010) and The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors (2009).

All events are free and open to the public.


Milton Burton, author of Nights of the Red Moon, will sign copies of his book at Barnes & Noble Round Rock on Saturday, June 4, at 2:00 p.m. The store is located in the La Frontera Village at the intersection of IH-35 and SH-45.

It’s not hard for longtime Sheriff Bo Handel to keep Texas’ Caddo County in line. He handles pretty crimes and rabble-rousers, runs a competent police force and maintains a relationship with his steady girlfriend while keeping things quiet.

But when the local minister’s wife, Amanda Twiller, is murdered and dumped on the church’s front, Bo suddenly finds himself with his hands full. Unfortunately for Bo, finding Amanda’s killer won’t be as easy as rounding up the town’s usual suspects. He’ll have to get past sleazy attorneys and drug lords first. When he discovers that Amanda was not only addicted to narcotics but also having an affair with one of the roughest men in town, the lazy days of his past are a distant memory.

Soon, Bo realizes there are only so many cocaine kings and Mob bosses that one man can juggle. But the murderer is out there, and it’s up to Bo to find out who it is. This small town sheriff is used to a light workload. So what happens when heavy crime comes to town?

Milton Burton is the author of two previous crime novels. He has been variously a cattleman, a political consultant, and a college history teacher. He lives in Jacksonville, Texas.

All events are free and open to the public.




The Writers’ League of Texas’ Scribe’s May 6 Friday Filler lists a plethora of contests:

Scare the Dickens Out of Us
Glimmer Train

and 34 more listed by Poets & Writers.


Killer Nashville is calling for submissions for the new Killer Nashville E-Magazine. If you’re interested in contributing or would like to be interviewed for one of the issues, contact KN asap:

Killer Nashville E-Magazine
P.O. Box 680686
Franklin, TN 37068-0686

contact (at)

E-mail queries are encouraged.




To read “Sisters in Crime at the Quarter Century: Advocacy, Community, and Change,” a paper presented by Barbara Fister at the International Popular Culture Association Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas, April 23, 2011, click here.


HotSinC  2011 Program Schedule

  • January 9 – Jerry Carruth, Retired Federal Prosecutor, and George Sanchez, Retired Federal Investigator: Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling
  • February 13 – Claudia Grisales:  Crime Reporting in Austin, Texas
  • March 13 – Texas Ranger Sergeant Cody Mitchell: The Texas Rangers
  • April 10 – Satish Chundru, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner
  • May – Texas Mystery Month
  • May 15 – Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event
  • June 12 – George Arnold & Ken Squier present:  An Author’s Guide to Successfully Selling Your Book
  • July 10 – Jennifer Aguirre: Crime Scene Analysis
  • August 14 – Shelia Hargis: Making Sense of Crime in Austin–Crime Analysts in Action
  • September 11 – Detective Ruben Vasquez: Murder Investigation Step by Step
  • October 9 – Marian K. Williams: The United States Postal Inspection Service
  • November 13 – Ron Franscell, Author of Delivered From Evil: My Life of Crime: A Crime Writer’s Journey
  • December 11 – Karen and Mike Cross: Christmas Mysteries


The Editor’s Growlery

Please e-mail material for June’s Hotshots! to kathy.davis.waller (at) by May 28.


Cenizo, Texas Silverleaf, Purple Sage (Leucoph...

Purple Sage--Image by Charles & Clint via Flickr