Winning Texas by Nancy Stancill

Nancy Stancill 


Genre: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date of Publication: April 26, 2016
# of pages: 230
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When a female body is found floating in the Houston Ship Channel, Annie Price, an investigative journalist for a struggling Houston newspaper, is propelled into a dangerous web of intrigue. She must solve a complex mystery that includes a corrupt strip club empire, a ruthless human trafficking scheme, and deadly competition between two separatist groups seeking to impose their twisted visions on the Lone Star State. As two murders hit close to home, Annie and a fellow reporter risk death to expose the hidden secrets of a Texas ranch.


“Sex traffickers and guns-for-hire meet in a nefarious plot to see Texas secede and America shaken to its core. Witty, gritty and filled with brilliantly realized characters, this book is a pure delight for lovers of suspense as the ever-dogged Annie Price risks life and limb to uncover the truth.”
– Tony D’Souza, author of Mule
Winning Texas is a moody thriller, an ode to people with outsized dreams and the ones they prey on; to those who populate the city by day, and those who rule the night. In the wake of L.A.-noir and Florida glare, Nancy Stancill gives us Bayou City grime. In her pages, Houston seduces and leaves us breathless, begging for more.”


– Stefan Kiesbye, author of The Staked Plains
Nancy Stancill “captures a newsroom’s camaraderie and angst . . . while her descriptions of Houston and the whole of Texas make you feel the heat and see its beauty.”
— Mary Cornatzer, The News & Observer



 Winning Texas


The female body slipped into the oily waters of the Houston Ship Channel one night and surfaced early the next morning, floating by the Valero petroleum refinery where it spooked a middle-aged cleaning woman savoring a cigarette.

Annie Price heard about it on news-talk radio as she drank coffee and scanned two newspapers at her kitchen counter. She jumped off the bar stool, scaring Marbles, her cat, who was lurking underneath. She hurried to her bedroom, pulled on a pair of black jeans and a red blouse and twisted her hair into a low bun. Five minutes later, she backed out of her narrow driveway in the Heights neighborhood in her old white Camry, heading east to the ship channel.

She’d half-hoped for a light day filling in for Travis Dunbar, a reporter for the Houston Times, who normally covered daytime police. Travis had gone to the Rio Grande Valley to a court hearing for Phil Cantoro, a drug kingpin. As his editor, she made sure police was covered – day and night. Today, she was the only person available in the thinly staffed newsroom to work the early shift.

As she maneuvered through the early-morning traffic east of downtown, she tried to remember when she’d last worked police at the Times. Probably in her early thirties, not long after the paper hired her. She’d become an assistant metro editor three years ago, when her prized job of investigative reporter was eliminated. At forty, she might be the oldest reporter at the scene. Would any of her old sources be there to help her out? She wished she’d had time to wash and blow-dry her thick black hair, which she considered her best feature. Not that it would look good for long in this humidity.

A familiar mixture of excitement and anxiety welled up in her chest. She’d never outgrown a reporter’s stage fright, even now as a fairly experienced editor. She was spending too much time at her desk editing other people’s stories. Would she still be able to coax enough details out of the police? Could she frame her story fast enough to be competitive? Would she get all the details right?

Timing was everything on the police beat, especially now that Houston’s radio, TV and newspapers all had fiercely competitive websites. She was definitely rusty and she’d always performed better on longer stories with more expansive deadlines. But she knew that once she got to the scene, she’d stop worrying and her skills would take over.

She opened the car window to gauge the heat of the morning and was assailed by the very particular odor of Houston’s eastside. It was acrid and earthy at the same time, the corky burnt smell of the refineries in nearby Pasadena and the funk of heat and humidity with the faint aroma of overripe bananas. She wrinkled her nose, but didn’t mind it as much as outsiders did. The August weather drove hordes of Texans to Colorado or other, cooler mountain retreats, but Annie prided herself on having developed the stoicism of a native. If you outlasted the blast-furnace heat of Houston’s August, you’d be rewarded with balmy temperatures in February.


Nancy Stancill spent more than 30 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before she began writing fiction full-time. She was an award-winning investigative reporter at the Houston Chronicle and the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer and worked as a reporter and editor at other newspapers in Texas, Virginia and California. Stancill is a journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and received her master’s in creative writing from the University of Tampa in Florida in 2015.  She and her husband lived in London for three years before moving back to the United States in 2012.  She has a son in Virginia and she lives in Charlotte, N.C. with her husband, Len Norman, and black cat, Spud. Saving Texas was her first novel. Winning Texas is her second.


* Signed Copies of Winning Texas and Saving Texas *
* $15 Starbucks Gift Card * 
  June 30 – July 9, 2016

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