Connecting readers, books, authors, writers, publishers, booksellers, and others interested in Texas books and letters

Cowboys survived rugged conditions in winter of 1884


Midland author Patrick Dearen’s latest novel, The Big Drift (TCU Press, $22.95 paperback), focuses on two cowboys—one white, one black—and the brutal conditions they endured during the blizzard of 1884 and the ensuing cattle roundup the next spring.


Although the story is fiction, Dearen writes authoritatively of what it was like to be a cowboy in those days in the rugged Middle Concho region of West Texas.


Drawing on his nonfiction accounts of interviews with old cowboys—Saddling Up Anyway: The Dangerous Lives of Old-Time Cowboys and The Last of the Old-Time Cowboys—Dearen spins a fast-paced tale about the cowhands from the Slash Five brand and their gritty determination to save as many of their herd as possible despite harsh weather, deadly stampedes, and numerous other adversities.


The two main characters, Zeke and Will, both carry unspeakable and unshakable burdens from their past.


Zeke, who is black, is on the run, believing he is responsible for the death of the best man he ever knew, his kindly boss Master Young.


And no matter how far he rides, Will, who is white, can’t outrun the memories from his childhood, when at age ten he helped his father pour kerosene on an East Texas black family’s shack and then watched in horror as his father set it afire, with the family inside.


Circumstances draw the two young men together, with Zeke saving Will’s life and becoming part of his outfit.


Together they barely get through the winter and then join with cowhands from other brands as they try to round up the surviving cattle that drifted south trying to escape the blizzard.


If you like a good western, “The Big Drift” puts the reader right in the middle of the action.


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Inspirational: McKade Marshall is the author of Tasting the Goodness of God (MLM Publishing, $15 paperback), a collection of 31 devotionals “for everyday living.”


Each piece is about three pages long, consisting of an inspirational message followed by suggested Bible readings and a thought for the day.




Keith Craft, founder of Elevate Life Church in Frisco, has written Your Divine Fingerprint: The Force That Makes You Unstoppable (HarperOne, $14.99 paperback). “That which makes you different,” he writes, “makes you great.” At the end of each chapter, he offers three “think, be, do” sets of questions or calls to action. Read more at


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Glenn Dromgoole is co-author of 101 Essential Texas Books. Contact him at

>> Read his past Texas Reads columns in Lone Star Literary Life here.




Texas Reads >> archive
Glenn Dromgoole


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I have a confession. My name is Sarah Negovetich, and I am a self-publishing literary agent.


I don’t mean I represent authors who self-publish (though several of my clients have self-published successfully). I mean I am a literary agent who made the decision to self-publish my own novel.

>> read more

Johnson City Library’s Writers Conference, Feb. 25

Registration is open for this full day of education and inspiration with Diane Bertrand, Owen Egerton, and Stephen Harrigan.


Matt Minor, chief of staff for a representative in the Texas House, will release his thriller The Representative on Texas Independence Day, Mar. 2.

Bookish Texas event highlights  2.22.2015  >> this week
Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor

    See How Small
    Little, Brown, 978-0316373807

    $25.00, 224 pp., February 2015

    See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart?


    Zadie, Elizabeth, and Meredith are closing up the ice cream shop where they work when the men with guns appear. After, the men set the shop ablaze. “It grew hot, dark and wet like first things.” Texans will recognize this scenario immediately. Four teenage girls were raped and murdered and the shop set on fire in an Austin I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt shop in 1991. In a bit of speculative fiction that borrows from historical events, Scott Blackwood creates a cast of haunted characters: the mother of two of the girls, the firefighter who found the bodies, a regular customer of the ice cream shop, a reporter, a suspect and—reminding me a bit of The Lovely Bones—the girls themselves.


    See How Small hooks you in the first paragraph with the voices of these girls, after. >> read more

  • 2.15.15  |  AMANDA EYRE WARD
    The Same Sky

    AMANDA EYRE WARD   The Same Sky

    FICTION   Ballantine, Hardcover, January 20, 2015, 2015, 978-0-553-39050-6, 288 pp., $25.00 (also available in e-book and audiobook versions)


    Y’all remember Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s faceless, nameless invading alien hordes? Well, her name is Carla. I was immediately charmed by this matter-of-fact girl with a child’s lack of euphemism. All she knows of El Norte is from the movies she’s seen through the windows of a PriceSmart electronics store. When her grandmother dies she is left to mother her younger brother. She lives in a shack with no running water and no bathroom. She must quit school to join others just like her scavenging in the dump for items to sell because they are hungry. She is just twelve years old when she embarks on a harrowing, dangerous journey from the shantytowns surrounding Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to join her mother in Austin, Texas. >> more

Lone Star Book Reviews >> more
Michelle Newby, NBCC,

Contributing Editor

LONE STAR LISTENS interviews >> archive
Politics and prose: caucusing with
insider Mark Minor on his legislative thriller
Kay Ellington

Texas political insider Matt Minor, who lives with his wife, Stacy, on their ranch property in Wharton County, Texas, and maintains an apartment in Austin, recently took time during a busy legislative session to talk with LSLL.

LSLL: Besides the obvious career connection, what led you to write The Representative?


Matt Minor: For a while I’ve wanted to combine the concept of art and politics. Basically using the idea that if art is a search for truth then politics is the concealment of it. The protagonist [of The Representative] is a poet, but his true art form is his romanticism. This he conceals from the world until he arrives at the state capitol and discovers his first love is there as well. Can love survive politics? is the question I asked myself repeatedly while writing it.  >> more


BEHIND THE SPINE industry insights with guest writers >> archive
I am a self-publishing literary agent
Sarah Negovetich

Houston native’s novel makes PW top ten in mysteries and thrillers

Pleasantville by Attica Locke, coming April 15 (Harper, hardcover, 978-0-06-225940-0, $26.99), tells the story of how on election eve 1996, a young black woman volunteering for a mayoral candidate goes missing from a community for upwardly mobile blacks on the north side of Houston. When an arrest is made, attorney Jay Porter must navigate a maze of dark money and family secrets in his effort to achieve justice.

>> read more

Boyhood volume explores Linklater's Oscar-nominated achievement

Gracing the cover of the University of Texas Press's spring catalog is a trio of Matt Lankes's striking black-and-white photographic portraits—of one young actor over the course of a dozen years of his life. Boyhood: Twelve Years on Film showcases Austin director Richard Linklater’s monumental film undertaking, Boyhood, which is up for several categories in the 87th Annual Academy Awards Sunday, Feb. 22.  >> more

Prime time
for Prime Crime

Texas author Susan Wittig Albert has made Publishers Weekly’s Spring 2015 list of Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers.


Bittersweet is set to launch April 7 (hardcover, $25.95,  978-0-425-25562-9, Berkley Prime Crime). The 23rd China Bayles mystery finds the herbalist and former lawyer teaming with an old friend to solve a complex case of theft and murder in a South Texas ranching community.


Albert is founder and past president of the Story Circle Network and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

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