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Heath Dollar

Waylon County: Texas Stories

Sleeping Panther Press

Paperback, 978-0-9980661-4-1 (also available as ebook); $14.99


Waylon County: Texas Stories is a fresh-voiced, well-composed collection of thirty-one vignettes and short stories set in a fictional county in the Texas Hill Country.


Some of its characters include: a woman who fears Texas won’t let her get married a tenth time; a lowly state bureaucrat whose job is to write official letters of congratulation; a man trying to rekindle an old romance while claiming his pet monkey is a “comfort” animal; a linguist who wants to help keep alive the last remnants of the German dialect originally spoken by early Texas settlers; a young man sneaking beers and cigars into his dying father’s hospital room and pushing him outside in a wheelchair so they can share some final time alone; and a ranch hand hired by an aging, wealthy landowner to also serve as his personal philosopher.


Events such as county fairs, bingo games, and visits to beauty shops provide some of the settings. And several Texas cities, including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Fredericksburg briefly shimmer as backdrops in some of the stories and vignettes. But Waylon County is home for the characters. And their actions and interactions create compelling, often funny, and sometimes darkish portraits of life in contemporary small-town Texas.   >>READ MORE

Texas Reads

>> archive


 New biography tells Kinky Friedman’s story


Mary Lou Sullivan tells the story of one of Texas’s most colorful characters in Everything’s Bigger in Texas: The Life & Times of Kinky Friedman (Backbeat Books, $29.99 hardcover).


Kinky wrote the foreword to his own biography. Of course he did.


“I’ll be honest with you,” he begins the foreword, “I haven’t read this book.” But he adds, “I hear great things about it.”


Probably by now he has actually read it. Certainly, he spent many hours being interviewed by author Sullivan, who also spoke with dozens of his friends, family and musical colleagues in putting together her 300-page narrative.


“A true Renaissance man,” she writes, “Kinky is a man of many talents. He’s been a chess prodigy, camp counselor, swimming instructor, civil rights activist, Peace Corps volunteer, musician, songwriter, entertainer, satirist, and author of thirty books and countless articles. He’s been a columnist, politician, entrepreneur, and animal activist who cofounded a no-kill animal shelter in Texas.”


Kinky fans will find plenty of good stories in Sullivan’s account, but she also explores the serious side of his persona. “Kinky’s legacy,” Sullivan concludes, “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.”

Fried squirrel: In her Texas White Trash Cookbook: What Memaw Should Have Taught Y’all (Great Texas Line, $5.95 paperback), former pro “rasslin’” columnist Betty Ann Stout offers recipes for such delectable dishes as Oven Fried Squirrel, the ’Ol Carnation Burger Trick, Sick-Day Soup, Barbecued Vi-Enny Sausages, and Piglets in Blankets for Lazy Men.


Political dynasty: The Dukes of Duval County by (University of Oklahoma Press, $32.95 hardcover) takes an in-depth look at the notorious Archie/George Parr family and its pervasive political influence in South Texas, including the controversial Ballot Box 13 in 1948 that gave Lyndon B. Johnson an eighty-seven-vote victory statewide in his race for the U.S. Senate.


Dissident dispatches: E.R. Bills offers his take on Texas politics and values in Texas Dissident: Dispatches from a Diminished State, 2006–2016 (Wild Horse Media, $17.95 paperback), a collection of newspaper columns and articles that challenge the state’s politically conservative status quo.


Murder mystery: Former journalist and longtime Texan Jim Nesbitt sets his murder mystery, The Right Wrong Number (Spotted Mule Press, $14.99 paperback), in Houston, Dallas and the Big Bend. Featured character is Dallas private eye Ed Earl Burch. Read more at freshfiction.com.


* * * * *.

Glenn Dromgoole’s latest book is West Texas Stories. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.


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



Jennifer Park

The Shadows We Know by Heart

Simon Pulse

Hardcover, 978-1-4814-6351-9, (also available as an e-book), 304 pgs., $17.99

March 14, 2017


Sixteen-year-old Leah Roberts lives in a broken family at the edge of the East Texas piney woods. Ten years ago, her family has been shattered in the aftermath of the death, in those woods, of her brother Sam. Leah’s father is Pastor Roberts, and he has a lot of rules (no lip gloss, no bikinis); one of those rules is never, ever go into the woods. But the forest is the only place Leah can let down her emotional walls, be herself. “This forest is my religion, the towering cathedral of trees my church, and I’m reborn every time I leave,” Leah tells us.


The forest is Leah’s comfort, both freedom and sanctuary, and holds her biggest secret. “Heavy steps echo through the trees, the surefooted sound of creatures that have nothing to fear in this world,” Leah says. Would that that were true. “I’ve watched something that technically doesn’t exist come and go in the forest behind our home for years.” Leah has never told anyone because she’s pretty sure they’d stop listening at “Bigfoot.” But the morning she first sees the human boy with the Sasquatch, she knows she has a difficult decision to make. “The walls are falling down around me, pushing me closer to the human embodiment of everything I love about the forest. Leah is gone,” she thinks, “and in her place is a girl walking with a boy who feels like home, the way it was before everything fell apart.”  >>READ MORE


James P. McCollom

The Last Sheriff in Texas: A True Tale of Violence and the Vote


Hardcover, 978-1-6190-2996-5, (also available as an e-book), 272 pgs., $26.00

November 14, 2017


My dad, former deputy sheriff of Mitchell County, Texas, always said everything that happens in the big city happens in small towns, just not as often. The small towns in Bee County, Texas, were presided over by Sheriff Vail Ennis from 1945 until 1952. Ennis was a legend in his time, and his most dramatic exploit is also the beginning of this true story. Shot five times by an ex-con at a Magnolia station in Pettus, a wide spot in the road, on a cold November night in 1947, Ennis managed to empty his gun, reload, and kill both attackers before the ambulance arrived to speed him to a hospital.


The Last Sheriff in Texas: A True Tale of Violence and the Vote by Beeville native son James P. McCollom is told through the actions of two men, Sheriff Ennis and Beeville’s hometown-boy-made-good Johnny Barnhart. In the beginning it’s not clear what Barnhart’s part in the drama will be; we meet him as a yell leader and fraternity boy, then a law student, at the University of Texas at Austin. Barnhart returns to Beeville with his juris doctor, hangs out a shingle, and is promptly elected to the Texas lege, where his principles and idealism get him branded a subversive and smeared as a Commie during McCarthy’s Red Scare.  >>READ MORE

LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive

12.17.2017  Lubbock adman and first-time book author Phil Price reflects on a lifetime of marketing and messaging


“It is easier to write about yourself than getting  the facts correct about another person and compiled in a nonfiction book,” Lubbock adman Phil Price discovered five years ago when he undertook to tell the story of a fellow businessman and community leader who just happened to be a black man in majority-white West Texas.


On May 11, 1970, one of Texas’s most devastating tornadoes in history hit Lubbock, essentially wiping out the city’s bustling downtown. Price, discharged from the military that same day after finishing his tour of duty in Vietnam, had come home to a country that was less than supportive of the war. Price’s challenges were compounded by the tornado. He had expected to return stateside to a position as vice-president of a Lubbock publishing company—a career that never occurred thanks to the tornado’s destruction.


Instead, Price went into the ad business. For more than four decades he served as CEO of the company he founded and served the Lubbock community in a variety of civic and volunteer capacities.


Along the way, he became friends with T. J. Patterson, the first African-American elected to Lubbock’s city council, who was an activist and community organizer. The biography of Patterson, Equal Opportunity Hero, is Price’s first published book. Get to know these two trailblazers in this week’s Lone Star Listens.



LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Where did you grow up, Phil, and what influence did your upbringing play in your future writing life?


PHIL PRICE: Hollis, Oklahoma, was my first adventure in the arts. I produced and directed a play for my school. Plagiarism. Hansel and Gretel. The audience stood and applauded. I was hooked.     >>READ MORE


Above, from left, at Phil Price’s book launch at Lubbock’s Roots Arts Council Dec. 16: “Equal Opportunity Hero" T. J. Patterson; biographer Price; Price’s sister, bestselling author Jodi Thomas of Canyon; and Patterson’s daughter Sheila Patterson Harris, now serving as a second-generation member of Lubbock’s city council. (Photo by John Brock, Texas Tech University Press)


Texas's only statewide, weekly calendar of book events
Bookish Texas event highlights  12.17.2017
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor



  • No special events this week


DALLAS  Mon., Dec. 18  Deep Vellum Books, Dark Moon Poetry & Arts Series, 7PM


RICHARDSON  Mon., Dec. 18 Richardson Public Library, Writers Guild of Texas Holiday Party featuring games, prizes, refreshments, and the announcement of the 2017 WGT Flash Fiction contest winners, 7PM


SAN ANTONIO  Tues., Dec. 19 The Mix, PuroSlam Grand Slam Champion Showdown, 10PM


AUSTIN  Wed., Dec. 20 Malvern Books, Austin edition of the Why There Are Words reading series featuring Peg Alford Pursell, Butch Hancock, Ken Waldman, and Justin Booth, 7PM


DALLAS  Wed., Dec. 20 Half Price Books Mothership, legendary former Dallas Cowboys player Lee Roy Jordan discussing and signing his memoir, Lee Roy Jordan: My Story of Faith, Family, and Football (proceeds from book sales benefit the Paul W. Bryant Museum and the Lee Roy Jordan Academic Scholarship to The University of Alabama), 7PM [numbered pass required]


DALLAS  Wed., Dec. 20 The Wild Detectives, REJECTED: STORIES UNSOLD December reading and holiday party, 7:30PM


SAN ANTONIO  Wed., Dec. 20  The Twig Book Shop, Eduardo Cavazos Garza reads from his poetry collection, Hijacked by Fire, 5PM


HOUSTON  Thurs., Dec. 21  Under the Radar Brewery, Francois Pointeau hosts the inaugural Radar Talk Series featuring four bizarro-horror-dark-comedy writers: John Wayne Comunale, Kelby Losack, Andrew Hilbert, and Robert Dean, 6PM


THE WOODLANDS  Fri., Dec. 22   The Woodlands Children’s Museum, Storybook Theatre: Margaret McManis will read and sign her new children’s book, Tally Ho Ho, 11AM


AUSTIN  Sat., Dec. 23  Austin Books & Comics, Christmas Party featuring the prize tent, sales and specials, and free cocoa and candy canes, 10AM


GALVESTON  Sat., Dec. 23   Galveston Bookshop, Steve H. Alexander signing Exploring Galveston, 2PM


News Briefs 12.17.17

Texas Writes at the Alvarado Public Library in Alvarado Jan. 13, 2018


Texas Writes is a statewide program that brings accomplished authors to rural libraries for a half day of presentations and panel discussions. Each event is free and open to the public.


This event will feature presentations from authors Jeramey Kraatz and Karen Witemeyer at the Alvarado Public Library in Alvadaro, Texas, Jan. 13, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.. More information on the presentations will be posted prior to the event. To pre-register for this event, contact the library at (817) 783-7323.


KidLit: Writing for Children and Teens

Writing for kids is a terribly rewarding endeavor, but can be tricky; How do you know what age group your story is for and ensure that your work is resonating with your audience? In this talk Jeramey Kraatz breaks down the differences between Middle Grade and Young Adult novels and focuses on strategies to make your kidlit stories as dynamic as possible.


Jeramey Kraatz is the author of The Cloak Room series and The Space Runners series from HarperCollins. He lives in Texas, where he writes scripts for the cartoon industry and teaches.


Tapping Into Personal Emotions to Create Unforgettable Characters

No matter what genre you write, the key to creating a memorable experience for your reader is to tap into that universal element that makes us all human—emotion. The good news is that you’ve already done all of the necessary research. You lived! This workshop will teach you how to take personal emotion and turn it into powerful prose that will grab a reader’s attention and capture their heart by developing a genuine author voice, utilizing a deep point of view with your characters, and mastering the aspects of narrative pacing.


Karen Witemeyer is a life-long bookworm, living her dream by writing historical novels. Her books have consistently hit bestseller lists and garnered numerous awards. She lives in Abilene with her family. www.karenwitemeyer.com





Troncoso presents awards at El Paso Public Library branch, Dec. 2017



At the Sergio Troncoso branch of the El Paso Public Library system, readers received an extra special  honor for completing their reading challenges in 2017. The author for whom the library is named, Texas Institute of Letters member Sergio Troncoso, was on hand to congratulate the reading challenge winners.


(Information and photo from organization’s press release)


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

Lone Star Listens compilation available fall 2017, 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 Fall 2017

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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Bonnie and Clyde: Resurrection Road by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays Visit with Kathleen and Clark Dec. 18–30, 2017

12/18/17 Teaser Tangled in Text

12/19/17 Excerpt 1 Texas Book Lover

12/20/17 Review Momma on the Rocks

12/21/17 Guest Post 1 The Librarian Talks

12/22/17 Review Chapter Break Book Blog

12/26/17 Excerpt 2 The Page Unbound

12/27/17 Review Hall Ways Blog

12/28/17 Guest Post 2 The Clueless Gent

12/29/17 Excerpt 3 Books and Broomsticks

12/30/17 Review Forgotten Winds



Holding the Fort by Regina Jennings Visit with Regina Dec. 18–30, 2017

12/18/17 Excerpt 1 Hall Ways Blog

12/19/17 Review Texan Girl Reads

12/20/17 Notable Quotable Books and Broomsticks

12/21/17 Author Video Forgotten Winds

12/22/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews

12/26/17 Excerpt 2 Tangled in Text

12/27/17 Notable Quotable A Novel Reality

12/28/17 Review Missus Gonzo

12/29/17 Top Ten List The Page Unbound

12/30/17 Review Books in the Garden



Baugh to Brady by Lew Freedman Visit with Lew through Dec. 20, 2017

12/17/17 Promo A Novel Reality

12/18/17 Review Reading by Moonlight

12/19/17 Audio Interview Chapter Break Book Blog

12/20/17 Review Syd Savvy



Bluster’s Last Stand by Preston Lewis Visit with Preston through Dec. 22, 2017

12/17/17 Review Forgotten Winds

12/18/17 Scrapbook Page Texan Girl Reads

12/19/17 Review The Clueless Gent

12/20/17 Excerpt 2 The Page Unbound

12/21/17 Author Interview Books and Broomsticks

12/22/17 Review Reading by Moonlight



Cowboy, It’s Cold Outside by Lori Wilde Visit with Lori through Dec. 18, 2017

12/17/17 Review Momma on the Rocks

12/18/17 Promo Margie's Must Reads



Up Near Dallas by Gina Hooten Popp



Yonderings by Ben H. English



Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms by Leigh Greenwood

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