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Lone Star Reviews




Mary Lou Sullivan

Everything’s Bigger in Texas: The Life and Times of Kinky Friedman

Backbeat Books

Hardcover, 978-1495058967, 344 pages, $29.99 (also available as ebook); October 2017

Reviewed by Si Dunn


Chicago native Richard “Kinky” Friedman has lived a bigger life in Texas than most other Lone Star State inhabitants would dare. Indeed, Kinky’s name is now recognized across the nation and in many other parts of the the world. But what he is remembered for, besides being famous, can be harder to pin down.


He is perhaps best known as a Jewish country-western singer and songwriter who became a mystery novelist, a Texas Monthly columnist, a serious candidate for Texas governor, and a national TV political commentator, among other things. He also is an animal rights activist and friends with many musicians and pop-culture celebrities. And, now in his seventies, he again has been hitting the road to perform his songs — drawing inspiration from two other still-traveling troubadours: Willie Nelson, now in his eighties, and Bob Dylan, now in his mid-seventies.


“Kinky’s legacy is the ability to inspire, to make people laugh, to make them think, to skewer sacred cows and hypocrisy, to continue to move forward, and to be his own man,” Mary Lou Sullivan writes.  >>READ MORE



Lone Star Lit launches Indiegogo campaign ’18: Help us showcase more books, more authors, more ways in 2018!


Lone Star Literary Life covers the Texas literary scene like no one else, week in and week out. Since 2015, we’ve given Texas authors, booksellers, libraries, publishers, and readers a trusted platform of their own. With shrinking coverage devoted to books in mainstream media — and most of that focused on the same handful of national bestsellers — where were Texas authors to get noticed, and where were Texas readers to discover the books they crave? We’ve stepped up to make sure the Lone Star State doesn’t lose touch with its rich literary heritage, and that Texas books get their due.


At the start of our second year, notable Texas literary figures gave us a boost by taking part in a testimonial video, produced by Doug Baum of Waco. We think our case holds up remarkably well — and we’ve featured it in our 2018 campaign as well. Check out out, below.



We hope you'll be able to spare a tiny bit of your budget to help take our coverage to the next level in 2018. We’ve got some great new books coming up as perks, and some attractive discounts on book promotional packages as well.


Visit the campaign site at https://igg.me/at/LoneStarLiterary


Thanks in advance, y’all!


Texas Reads

>> archive


 Author compiles stories of refugees in Texas


Dr. Daina Jurika-Owen has published an impressive book, Ten Cultures, Twenty Lives: Refugee Life Stories (Amaya Books, $16.89 paperback), consisting of first person stories of refugees who made a new life for themselves in Abilene, Texas.


Jurika-Owen, who is from Latvia in Eastern Europe, worked for nine years with a refugee resettlement agency in Abilene, so she got to know hundreds of refugees on a personal level. As she helped them get settled and find jobs, she listened to their stories and decided they needed to be compiled in a book.


The book includes stories by refugees from several African countries as well as Iraq, Cuba, and Nepal. African cultures represented in the book include Liberia, Rwanda, the Big Congo, and Burundi.  Their stories seem especially relevant given the recent developments in U.S. immigration policy.


“Refugees and their stories are close to my heart,” Jurika-Owen writes. “While each story is unique, it also shares many traits with other refugee stories, such as a happy childhood, a good life before the conflict or war, flight and loss, life in a refugee camp or asylum country, the resettlement process, coming to the U.S., and the new life in America.”



Dime Box? Actor Tom Hanks makes an obscure reference to tiny Dime Box, Texas, in his new collection of short fiction, Uncommon Type: Some Stories (Knopf, $26.95 hardcover).


In a story about a father and son going surfing at Mars Beach (“Welcome to Mars”), the father says to his son, “You ever been to the upper floors of the Chrysler Building?”


“In New York City?” the son asks.


“No,” the father replies sarcastically, “Dime Box, Texas.”


I wonder how Tom Hanks knows of Dime Box. I e-mailed the publisher, and received a reply from the publicist that she didn’t know and Hanks was too busy with the opening of his new movie, The Post, to answer e-mails.


Hanks spoke at the Texas Book Festival in November and took some questions from the crowd. I watched a video, but if anyone asked about the Dime Box connection, it wasn’t on the segment I saw. However, I did see Hanks help a man in the audience pop the question to his girlfriend on stage. That was quite a memorable marriage proposal.


Hanks’s stories, by the way, have a common link. They all mention a typewriter in one way or another, and pictures of Hanks’s own manual typewriters (he collects them) are interspersed throughout the book.


* * * * *

Glenn Dromgoole has been writing his Texas Reads column since 2002, focusing on Texas books and authors. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.


>> Check out his previous Texas Reads columns in Lone Star Literary Life


* * * * *




Elizabeth Crook

The Which Way Tree: A Novel

Little, Brown and Company

Hardcover, 978-0-3164-3495-9, (also available as an e-book and on audio CD), 288 pgs., $26.00

February 6, 2018

Judge E. Carlton: How many times did you have contact with [Clarence Hanlin] after seeing him on the Julian?

Benjamin Shreve: It was ongoing, sir, after what my sister done to his finger. He was tracking us for two full days and a portion of another. On occasion he gave chase. There was words spoken. There was shots fired.


Fourteen-year-old Benjamin Shreve lives with his younger sister, Samantha, near Camp Verde, Texas. There are many things to be afraid of on the Texas frontier in the aftermath of the Civil War — “Indians and Sesech and bushwackers and vigilantes.” Benjamin is hunting for dinner when he stumbles upon Hanlin, wearing a Confederate uniform, picking the pockets of eight hanged men at Julian Creek. The next time Benjamin sees Hanlin, he and Samantha are trying to trap and kill a panther, the same panther that had mutilated Samantha and killed her mother several years ago, and had returned to bedevil what’s left of their farm. Hanlin is violently abusing an animal, and Samantha takes a shot at him. The ensuing altercation with Hanlin is interrupted by Mr. Pacheco, a Tejano man traveling on a fine horse with a complicated provenance. During the hullabaloo, the panther escapes, and the entire party, with disparate motivations, heads out to track it down.


The Which Way Tree: A Novel is new historical fiction from Austin’s Elizabeth Crook. It was inspired by an incident during which Crook’s son was lost in the same rough country portrayed in the novel. Search-and-rescue found her son several hours later, no worse for wear and tear, but they also found a mountain lion tracking the boy.  >>READ MORE


Meg Gardiner

Into the Black Nowhere: An UNSUB Novel

Dutton Books

Hardcover, 978-1-1019-8555-7, (also available as an e-book, an audiobook, a paperback large print, and on audio CD), 368 pgs., $26.00

January 30, 2018


Shannon Kerber wakes in the night and discovers her infant daughter crying in the arms of a stranger seated on the living-room sofa. When Shannon’s husband returns from a San Antonio Spurs game, she’s gone, the baby cold and crying in the draft from the open front door. Shannon is the fifth abduction in the area in the last six months. Caitlin Hendrix, a newly minted special agent with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (the famous profilers), heads to fictional Solace, Texas, to hunt a hunter.


Into the Black Nowhere: An UNSUB Novel is Meg Gardiner’s second installment in her new UNSUB series of thrillers, soon to be a CBS television series.  >>READ MORE

Lone Star Lit launches Indiegogo campaign ’18: Help us showcase more books, more authors, more ways in 2018!  >>READ MORE

LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive

1.21.2018  Thriller author Meg Gardiner on Austin, Alpine, and a new TV series in the works

“Her novels are, simply put, the finest crime-suspense series I've come across in the last twenty years.” —Stephen King


Austin author Meg Gardiner has written thirteen critically acclaimed novels. Her latest, Into the Black Nowhere: An UNSUB Novel, is the second installment in her new series of thrillers, soon to be a CBS television series. A native Californian, she now calls Austin home, and her latest book is set in Texas. If you love thrillers — and trust Stephen King’s judgment — you’ll want to get to know her work. This week she spoke with us via email and you can get to know the author personally in Lone Star Listens.



LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Meg, You were raised in Santa Barbara, California. How would you describe your growing-up days? And how might they have influenced your writing?


MEG GARDINER: Santa Barbara was a wonderful place to grow up. It’s a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and beaches, and I spent much of my childhood outdoors. My parents were teachers—my dad was an English professor at the University of California—and both were classical musicians. They gave me a love of music, art, literature, and encouraged my creativity. They believed I could be anything I wanted to be, which gave me the courage to aim high. I’ve set six of my novels in Santa Barbara.


Of course, California also suffers earthquakes and wildfires, which I’ve written about. And the Santa Barbara area has just been devastated by mudslides. It’s heartbreaking. I’m relieved that friends survived and are digging out.   >>READ MORE


Texas's only statewide, weekly calendar of book events
Bookish Texas event highlights  1.21.2018
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor



  • FronteraFest 2018, Austin, January 16-February 17
  • Austin Book, Paper, and Photo Show, January 20-21


HOUSTON  Mon., Jan. 22  Brazos Bookstore, Anthony Graves discussing and signing INFINITE HOPE, 6:30PM


DALLAS  Tues, Jan. 23  Interabang Books, Writers’ League of Texas panel discussion: Building Your Writing Community: How to Find Writing Groups & Support Other Writers with Kathleen Kent, Blake Kimzey, Melissa Lenhardt, and Arianne "Tex" Thompson, 7PM


SOUTH PADRE ISLAND  Tues., Jan. 23 Paragraphs on Padre, Meet the Author Series: author and poet Lynn McLaughlin discussing and signing Child of the System: Little Lynn’s Story, 1PM


DALLAS  Wed., Jan. 24 The Wild Detectives, Literary Arts in Dallas: a panel discussion (part of the Dallas Cultural Plan 2018. Led by the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs), 7:30PM


FORT DAVIS  Wed., Jan. 24 Fort Davis County Library, Ben English discussing and signing Yonderings: Trails and Memories of the Big Bend, 6PM


AUSTIN  Thurs., Jan. 25 Austin Public Library- Central, Mayor's Book Club Author Event with Osama Alomar (The Teeth of the Comb and Other Stories) and Wendy Pearlman (We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled), 6:30PM


AUSTIN  Thurs., Jan. 25  BookPeople, GARY P. NUNN speaking & signing At Home with the Armadillo, 7PM


DALLAS  Thurs., Jan. 25  Highland Park United Methodist Church, Friends of the SMU Libraries present Lea Berman and TREATING PEOPLE WELL, 6PM

ALSO SIGNING IN AUSTIN  Fri., Jan. 26 LBJ Library, an evening with former White House Social Secretaries Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard as they discuss their joint book, Treating People Well: The Extraordinary Power of Civility at Work and in Life, 6PM

ALSO SIGNING IN NORTH RICHLAND HILLS  Fri., Jan. 26  North Richland Hills Library, Behind the Book: Laura Bush's Social Secretary Lee Berman, 1PM


HOUSTON  Thurs., Jan. 25  The Printing Museum, Open House: The Print Museum reopens!, 6PM


HOUSTON  Fri., Jan. 26  Brazos Bookstore, Writers' League of Texas Panel Discussion: "What Makes Books Sell?" with ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Benjamin Rybeck, and Marina Tristán, 7PM


FLOWER MOUND  Sat., Jan. 27  Flower Mound Public Library, Former U.S. Women's Chess Champion Dr. Alexey Root will sign Prepare With Chess Strategy, plus simultaneous chess exhibition. Players who defeat Root in chess win a copy of the book, 2PM


News Briefs 1.21.18

Writers’ League of Texas 2018 Manuscript Contest open for submissions through Jan. 31


AUSTIN — The Writers’ League of Texas invites writers to submit a short synopsis and the opening pages of an unpublished work to the Writers' League of Texas’s 18th annual Manuscript Contest. (And no, you don't have to live in Texas to enter this contest. It's open to everyone, everywhere!)


The winner in each category will receive a complimentary registration to the WLT’s 2018 Agents & Editors Conference to meet individually with a top literary agent (and the final judge in their category). All entrants who opt for a critique — whether winners or not — will receive feedback on their submission from an experienced editor.


Best of all, writers do need to have a complete, finished manuscript to enter this contest.  — only the first (roughly) ten pages of the manuscript plus a synopsis that describes the rest of the planned book.  >>READ MORE


Texas Book Festival announces 2018 weekend to take place on October 27–28

Nonprofit celebrates successful 2017 Festival Weekend with record-setting attendance and Hurricane Harvey book donations


AUSTIN — The Texas Book Festival is proud to announce that its 2017 Festival Weekend was the most successful on record, with 50,000 attendees coming together on November 4 and 5 in the largest celebration of books and literacy in the Festival’s history. The Texas Book Festival will return for its 23rd year on October 27 and 28, 2018, and will once again be held in and around the Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin.


The 2017 Festival Weekend featured 300 authors, including Tom Hanks, Dan Rather, Gail Simmons, Attica Locke, Min Jin Lee, Mark Bittman, Jenna Bush Hager, Barbara Pierce Bush, and Walter Isaacson. Held November 3 at the Four Seasons Hotel, the annual First Edition Literary Gala raised more than $630,000 for the nonprofit organization and its literacy programs. >>READ MORE


The Writers’ League of Texas hosts Dallas workshop Jan. 23: “Building Your Writing Community: How to Find Writing Groups & Support Other Writers”

January 23, 2018, 7 p.m.; free and open to the public


Interabang Books, 10720 Preston Rd., Ste. 1009B , Dallas, Texas 75230


Writing can feel like a solitary pursuit, but, in reality, a strong community can be key to writing success. If you're seeking motivation to put pen to paper or looking for feedback on your work, finding a writing/critique partner or group can take you and your work to the next level. But how do you go about finding your writing soul mate(s)? And once you've found them, how do you deliver effective feedback on others' work and you keep your group or partnership going? Join this panel of writing professionals for insights into finding your writing community.  >>READ MORE


North Texas Teen Book Festival 2018 confirms 76 authors confirmed for one of the nation’s largest teen book fests, April 2018


IRVING — The North Texas Teen Book Festival has announced 76 rock-star and debut authors attending the fourth annual event. April 20 and 21, more than 12,000 students, parents and educators are expected to pack the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas for the massive event. The festival began as a dream of an Irving Public librarian, and in 2017, the festival earned the distinction of becoming the nation’s largest educator- and librarian-run book festival for teens and tweens.


Presenters include the world-renowned Dav Pilkey, famous for the “Captain Underpants” franchise; Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments series; and Angie Thomas (above), whose meteoric rise to fame began with her 2017 debut novel The Hate U Give. The 2018 event includes a wide assortment of new and returning bestselling authors appealing to the young and the young at heart, such as Jenny Han (Always and Forever, Lara Jean), Jennifer and Matthew Holm (Babymouse), Leigh Bardugo (The Language of Thorns), Nicola Yoon (The Sun is Also a Star) and local favorite Michael Merschel (Revenge of the Star Survivors). >>READ MORE

 ——­——— A D V E R T I S E M E N T —————

Lone Star Listens compilation available spring 2018, for readers, fans, and writers everywhere


The present generation of Texas authors is the most diverse ever in gender, age, and ethnicity, and in subject matter as well.


Week in, week out, Lone Star Literary has interviewed a range of Texas-related authors with a cross-section of genre and geography. To capture this era in Texas letters, we're pleased to bring you


Lone Star Listens:

Texas Authors on Writing and Publishing

edited by Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon; introduction by Clay Reynolds

Available in trade paper, library hardcover, and ebook Spring 2018

360 pages, with b/w illustrations and index


Featuring novelists, poets, memoirists, editors, and publishers, including:

Rachel  Caine • Chris  Cander • Katherine  Center • Chad S. Conine • Sarah  Cortez • Elizabeth  Crook • Nan  Cuba • Carol  Dawson • Patrick  Dearen • Jim Donovan • Mac Engel • Sanderia  Faye • Carlos Nicolás Flores • Ben Fountain • Jeff  Guinn • Stephen  Harrigan • Cliff  Hudder • Stephen Graham Jones • Kathleen Kent • Joe R. Lansdale • Melissa Lenhardt • Attica Locke • Nikki  Loftin • Thomas  McNeely • Leila  Meacham • John  Pipkin • Joyce Gibson Roach • Antonio  Ruiz-Camacho • Lisa  Sandlin • Donna  Snyder • Mary Helen Specht • Jodi  Thomas • Amanda Eyre Ward • Ann  Weisgarber • Donald Mace Williams


As a collection of insights into the writing and publishing life, the book will be useful in creative writing classes (not just in Texas alone) and other teaching settings, as well as for solo reading and study—and a great Texas reference volume.


  • Examination and review copies will be available fall 2017 in watermarked pdf format.











11.26.17  The Texas Poetry Calendar 2019 seeks submissions of poems about the culture(s), geography or  iconography of Texas. Submissions open December 1st  2017-  February 20th 2018. We pay contributors for the work we publish. See www.kallistogaiapress.org for guidelines.





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