Connecting readers, books, authors, writers, publishers, booksellers, and others interested in Texas books and letters
our Top Ten
AUSTIN Mon., Apr. 6 , 7 PM BookPeople, T. C. BOYLE speaking & signing his new novel, The Harder They Come
Lit lovers, join us tonight as we once again welcome bestselling author (and BookPeople favorite) T. C. Boyle. Set in contemporary Northern California.
HOUSTON Tues., Apr. 7, 7PM Brazos Bookstore, BARNEY FRANK speaking & signing Frank: A Life in Politics From the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage
SAN ANTONIO Thurs., Apr. 9, 6 PM Our Lady of the Lake University, Denise Chávez reads from her new novel, The King and Queen of Comezón
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The Second Annual Dallas Book Festival (formerly the International Book Fair) will be held at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library Sat., April 18, from noon to 5 p.m.
Jodi Thomas—or Jodi Koumalats to those who knew her back when she and husband Tom Koumalats both taught school in Amarillo—is a fifth-generation Texan, whose grandmother was born in Texas in a covered wagon. The last book in Jodi's Harmony series, One True Heart, is due out this week, and she'll be on the road reading and signing all month. We're grateful this multiple RITA award winner and New York Times best-selling author took a few minutes out of her jam-packed schedule to talk about the ways writing has changed her life.
LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Jodi, you’ve published dozens of novels in the past quarter-century-plus. How did your first break come about?
JODI THOMAS: I’ve published over forty books now with Kensington, Berkley, Penguin, Putnam and HQN and HarperCollins. Most of the time I was standing still and the publishing world was buying out one another. >> read more
DENTON –Shelly Cumbie Tucker, author of Ghosts of Denton: The History of the Mysteries in a Small Texas Town, will speak and sign books at the 15th annual North Texas Book Festival Sat., April 11, in Denton. The festival, held 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts, 400 E. Hickory St., will feature more than fifty authors. The event is open to the public, and there’s no admission charge.
Tucker will also be the guest speaker at a Book Trails Dinner the previous evening, 6 p.m. Fri., April 10, at the Patterson-Appleton Center.
Tucker is known throughout Denton County as the tour director of the Ghosts of Denton haunted history tours. “Shelly is full of wonderfully chilling stories about Denton’s haunted history,” said Katherine Boyer, NTBF’s treasurer. “We are sure to be entertained.”
The dinner also will include the announcement of NTBF Book Awards winners in several categories, as well as grant presentations to several area libraries and literacy programs.
Tickets are $30 and are available via the event website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Texas Institute of Letters has named finalists for its annual awards, which honor the state’s best writing published during the previous year. Winners will be named April 11 in Houston at the annual meeting of the TIL, which is marking its 79th year.
Finalists for the Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction ($6,000) are Elizabeth Crook, for Monday, Monday (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Sarah Crichton Books); Manuel Luis Martinez, for Los Duros (CreateSpace); and Smith Henderson, for Fourth of July Creek (Ecco).
Finalists for the Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Non-fiction ($5,000) are Michael Morton, for Getting Life: An Innocent Man’s 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace (Simon & Schuster); Ezra Greenspan, for William Wells Brown: An African American Life (Norton); and Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, for Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine (Gotham).
For best debut fiction, finalists for the Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction ($1,000) are Merritt Tierce, for Love Me Back (Doubleday); Joe Holley, for The Purse Bearer (WingsPress); and Ralph Compton, for Comanche Trail (Signet).
Other nominees and prizes:
Ramirez Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book ($2,500)
Lawrence T. Jones, III, Lens on the Texas Frontier (Texas A&M University Press); Houston Faust Mount II, Oil Field Revolutionary (Texas A&M University Press); Alicia M. Dewey, Pesos and Dollars (Texas A&M University Press).
Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for Best Book of Poetry ($1,200): Katherine Hoerth, Goddess Wears Cowboy Boots (Lamar University Press); Jan Seale, The Parkinson Poems (Lamar University Press); Carmen Tafolla, This River Here: Poems of San Antonio (WingsPress).
Bob Bush Memorial Award For First Book Of Poetry ($1,000): Chloe Honum, The Tulip-Flame: New Poetry (Cleveland State University Poetry Center); Ben Olguin, Red Leather Gloves (Hansen Publishing); Gayle Lauradunn, Reaching for Air (Mercury HeartLink).
Edwin “Bud” Shrake Award for Short Nonfiction ($1,000): Pamela Colloff, “The Witness” in Texas Monthly (Sept. 2014); Alan Peppard, “Islands of the Oil Kings” in the Dallas Morning News (Dec 7, 14, and 21); Michael Hall, “The Murders at the Lake” in Texas Monthly (April 2014).
Kay Cattarulla Award for Best Short Story ($1,000): Brian Van Reet, “Eat the Spoil,” in the Missouri Review (April 2014); Paul Christensen, “The Man Next Door,” in the Antioch Review (summer 2014); Andrew Geyer, “Fingers,” in Texas 5x5 (Stephen F. Austin University Press).
Denton Record-Chronicle Best Children’s Picture Book ($500): Pat Mora, I Pledge Allegiance (Knopf); Arun Ghandi and Bethany Hegedus, Grandfather Ghandi (Atheneum); J. L. Powers, Colors of the Wind (Purple House Press).
H-E-B/Jean Flynn Best Children’s Book ($500): Nikki Loftin, Nightingale’s Nest (Razorbill); Naomi Shihab Nye, Turtle of Oman (Greenwillow Books); Greg Leitich Smith, Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn (Roaring Brook Press).
H-E-B Best Young Adults Book ($500): Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, Pig Park (Cinco Puntos Press); Katherine Howe, Conversion (G.P. Putnam's Sons).
Fred Whitehead Award for Best Design of a Trade Book ($750): Bill Wittliff, The Devil’s Backbone, illustrated by Jack Unruh (University of Texas Press); Zeque Penya, Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, design by Isabel Quintero (Cinco Puntos Press).
As previously announced by the TIL, the organization will present its prestigious Lon Tinkle Award, “for an outstanding career in letters that has brought honor to the state,” to Lawrence Wright.
The Spring Writers Retreat, previously scheduled for April 24-25, 2015, has been canceled. If you were registered for this event, or considering signing up, check updates here.
APRIL IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH
by Marilyn Westfall
IN RECOGNITION OF NATIONAL POETRY MONTH 2015, Lone Star Literary Life contacted three Texas Poets Laureate about their experiences while serving as state poets. Larry D. Thomas was awarded the position in 2008; Dave Parsons in 2011; and Jan Seale in 2012.
The title of Texas Poet Laureate was authorized by the legislature in 1933 in order to recognize a citizen of Texas for outstanding literary accomplishment. Judd Mortimer Lewis of Houston was the first of fifty-one writers named as poet laureate. In ancient tradition, a poet awarded the title of laureate was crowned with a wreath woven from laurel leaves. In the current era, countries, states, and many municipalities confer the title on notable individuals to honor their talent, publications, and devotion to teaching the art form. Charles Wright, for example, winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, serves as the 2014-15 United States Poet Laureate. >> read more
Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing (Images of Modern America)
January 19, 2015
Paperback, 978-1467132732, 96 pages (also available as ebook), $22.99
Reviewed by Rashda Khan
If you’re a wine lover and a history buff, you’ll enjoy Texas Hill Country Wineries by Russell D. Kane. It’s a treasure trove of geeky information about the wine culture in the central Hill Country area. Since the Hill Country begins north of Austin, then meanders south to San Antonio and sweeps westward for about two hundred miles (covering around 25 counties) there’s a lot of ground for Kane to cover. >> read more
Houston: Bright Sky Press (October 2014)
Hardcover, 176 pages, 978-1-939055-82-8, $29.95
Reviewed by Rashda Khan
The best thing about The Delicious Mischief: 100 Favorite Recipes from 25 Years of Eating & Drinking on the Radio is author John DeMers’ stories.
While the cookbook celebrates DeMers’ shows twenty five years on air, he pulls his stories from throughout his life – childhood in Louisiana, his globe-trotting days as the food editor with United Press International, and his time in Texas. In his warm, laid-back style, the host of the weekly "Delicious Mischief" food and wine show broadcast in several Texas cities shares stories of interviewing Julia Child and about family fishing trips. >> read more
The University of Texas Press has published an impressive full-color coffee-table book celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Destiny of Democracy ($39.95 hardcover), grew out of the Civil Rights Summit held last April at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library at UT. Speakers at the summit included Presidents Carter, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama as well as numerous pioneers and leaders of the civil rights movement.
Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library and host of the summit, wrote and produced Destiny of Democracy, pulling together remarks and excerpts from the many speeches, Q&A conversations, and panel discussions at the summit.
The summit, Updegrove writes, not only looked back on “the most important domestic movement of the twentieth century,” but also looked ahead at some of the issues facing the nation today, such as gay marriage, immigration, and education.
Destiny of Democracy also includes photos and text from the 1964 Civil Rights Act, signed by Johnson, and the 1972 Civil Rights Symposium which also was held at the LBJ library.
Texas Friends: Colorado physician-turned-author Stacy Childs, who grew up in Texas, has published his second novel, The Boys of the Dixie Pig (Crossroad Press Publishing, $26.99 hardcover, $15.99 paperback).
The fast-paced mystery revolves around five men who became best friends in junior high in Abilene forty years ago. The guys get together for a reunion in Colorado, where brainy pal Ace has established a lucrative futuristic enterprise freezing bodies so they might be brought back to life someday when cures are found for the diseases that plagued them.
The lives of former football star Willie, arms dealer Mack, and devoted family men Goody and Donnie soon become intertwined with Ace’s increasingly bizarre ideas, motives and morals.
Mack is dodging would-be assassins, Willie is dealing with alcoholism, depression and a failing marriage, and Donnie and Goody have more-or-less normal lives in Texas, until they come under Ace’s spell.
Meanwhile Ace, who wasn’t much of a ladies’ man in high school, has a hot new girlfriend who turns out to have an Abilene connection of her own. And Ace has business dealings with a Las Vegas mobster who is determined to kill Mack over a bad debt that has escalated into a full-fledged feud with international ramifications. The Boys of the Dixie Pig will keep you turning the pages as you follow the fates of the five friends.
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Glenn Dromgoole is co-author of 101 Essential Texas Books. Contact him at email@example.com.
New York: Scribner
Hardcover, 978-147684960 (also available as ebook) 156 pages, $23.00
Most of the Mexicans we read about in the United States are immigrants, maids, janitors, day laborers, and the like. In this country we don’t often read about Mexicans in Mexico unless they’re drug lords – cartel kingpins and their enforcers – or the poor, desperate classes victimized by them. We almost never get fiction in English telling the other side of that conflict. So Antonio Ruiz-Camacho’s Barefoot Dogs: Stories is a rare thing on this side of the Rio Bravo. >> read more
Fiction (New York: St. Martin’s Press)
Trade paperback, 978-1410479167; e-book 978-1410479167 ; 320 pages, $15.99
In Happiness for Beginners Katherine Center tackles the well-trod territory of a woman on the verge, but what matters is the telling and Center turns it into a fun, entertaining read that has a lot to say about our preconceived notions of others. And of ourselves.
Helen Carpenter, a prim, proper, orderly thirty-two-year-old teacher, has just suffered the worst year of her life: a strained relationship with her younger brother, an estrangement from her mother, a miscarriage and a divorce. Deciding that she needs to toughen up and make a radical break with her comfort zone, Helen signs up for a wilderness survival course in Wyoming. “The plan…was to drive out to Wyoming and have a brave adventure with a bunch of strangers that would totally change not just my life, but my entire personality. The plan was to set out alone into the world, conquer it, and return home a fiercer and more badass version of myself.” >> read more
Renowned poet, author, and activist Nikki Giovanni will be among scores of poets of all ages taking part in the world’s largest non-juried poetry festival, in Austin April 9-12, 2015 at a variety of locations throughout the city. All registered poets attend free. Tickets are available to the public for $20-60 each.
LUBBOCK – In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Texas Tech Presidential Lecture & Performance series presents Robert Hass, U.S. Poet Laureate (1995-1997), Friday, April 10, 7 p.m. at the Allen Theatre on the Tech campus, for a reading followed by a book signing. Hass’s work is rooted in the landscapes of his native Northern California. Widely read and much honored, he has brought the kind of energy in his poetry to his work as an essayist, translator, and activist on behalf of poetry, literacy, and the environment.
Hass was selected for the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, twice honored with the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, named winner of 2014 Wallace Stevens Award, and in 1973 selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1973. He is professor of English at UC Berkeley.
General admission is $18, Tickets are available from Select-A-Seat at ( 806) 770-2000. Admission for Tech students is free ticket with valid TTU ID.
The San Antonio Book Festival will feature more than 75 acclaimed national, regional, and local authors Sat., April 11, 2015. In its third year, SABF is a free, day-long, family-friendly event that draws thousands to the Central Library and the Southwest School of Art for readings, panel discussions, book sales, recipe demonstrations, children’s and teen activities, food, and live music. >> read more
Twenty-eight authors and illustrators will be showcased in Houston Sat.,, April 11, 2015, for TeenBookCon, a free, all-day event at Alief Taylor High School designed to connect Houston teens with national authors and illustrators of young adult fiction and graphic novels. TeenBookCon is a day-long event featuring panel discussions on topics ranging from fantasy to realistic fiction.
Gayle Forman, best known for her If I Stay duo of books (the first is a major motion picture starring Chloë Grace Moretz) will open the event.
David Levithan and Ally Carter will close TeenBookCon. Levithan is the author or co-author of eighteen books for teens and adults, including Two Boys Kissing. Carter is best known for her multi-award winning Gallagher Girls series.
Texas authors slated to appear at TeenBookCon include Houston’s Jennifer Mathieu (The Truth About Alice) and Joy Preble (Finding Paris); Austin’s Joe Shine (I Become Shadow); and San Antonio’s Guadalupe Garcia McCall.
Teens and their parents are encouraged to pre-register. TeenBookCon is organized by a committee of local school, public, and private school librarians with the support of Blue Willow Bookshop.
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