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

Contributing Editor

Texas Reads >> archive
Glenn Dromgoole

Paperback mysteries
offer more bangs for buck


With hardcover mysteries by best-selling novelists priced in the $25-30 range, many readers prefer to wait for the mass market paperback edition to come out, usually a year or so later, priced at around $7 to $9.


New paperbacks by several popular Texas authors are now available in that price range.


Four paperbacks in the action-packed Sam Capra series by Austin writer Jeff Abbott have been released this year by Grand Central Publishing for $6 each – Inside Man, Adrenaline, The Last Minute, and Downfall.


Amarillo author Linda Castillo’s Amish mysteries continue to be popular. Last year’s novel, The Dead Will Tell, is now out in paperback from St. Martin’s for $7.99. Her upcoming hardcover After the Storm, the seventh in the series, hits bookstores on July 14.


Sandra Brown’s Mean Streak (Grand Central Publishing) is available in trade paperback, a little pricier than mass market at $15. But one of her earlier novels, Breath of Scandal (Grand Central Publishing), is now offered as an $8 paperback.


Midnight Crossroad (Ace), the first novel in Charlaine Harris’s new series, was published last May in hardcover and now is in paperback for $9.99. Day Shift (Ace), the second novel in the series set in the small, mysterious town of Midnight, Texas, comes out in hardcover later this month. All of Harris’s popular Sookie Stackhouse books have been reissued in paperback. Harris now lives and writes in Texas.


A true crime story, Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor’s Story by Lubbock author Dr. Steven L. Berk, was published in hardcover by Texas Tech University Press in 2011, and the trade paperback edition came out this spring ($18.95). Berk tells about his abduction at gunpoint from his home in Amarillo in 2005.


In some cases, such as Diane Kelly’s witty, sassy Tara Holloway novels, readers don’t have to wait for the paperback. They are released in paperback to begin with. Her newest is Death, Taxes and Cheap Sunglasses (St. Martin’s, $7.99), the eighth featuring Dallas IRS agent Holloway, who always manages to find herself in hot water as she ferrets out tax cheats.


Women Writers: Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem & Song is an interesting, important, and very readable 450-page anthology of creative pieces written by Texas women (Wings Press, $29.95 hardcover). Edited by Donna Walker-Nixon, Cassy Burleson, Rachel Crawford, and Ashley Palmer, the collection is divided into four major sections – creative nonfiction, song, poetry and fiction, with poetry by far the largest of the four groupings.


Contributions by about sixty women writers are included. Among them are Lou Rodenberger, Frances Vick, Tish Hinojosa, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sandra Cisneros, Loretta Diane Walker, Susie Kelly Flatau, Jan Seale, Diane Fanning, Mary Russell Rogers, and the four editors of the book. 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

  • Fiction

    Attica Locke

    Pleasantville: A Novel

    New York: Harper

    Hardcover, 978-0-06-225940-0, $26.99


    Pleasantville is a historical neighborhood in Houston, Texas, “a planned community…built specifically for Negro families of means and class” in the wake of World War II, and one of its favorite sons, Axel Hathorne, has just entered a runoff election for mayor of Houston. The same night, someone is watching Alicia Nowell, a teenage girl who had been handing out leaflets door-to-door for the election as she stands on a street corner waiting for her ride, “still wanting to believe a way out was possible, but already knowing, with a creeping certainty, that this this night had turned on her, that her disappearing had already begun.” How’s that for a hook? >> read more


  • 4.26.15


    Monday, Monday


    Elizabeth Crook

    Monday, Monday: A Novel

    New York: Macmillan, Sarah Crichton Books

    Hardcover, 978-0374228828

    352 pages, $26.00


    MONDAY, MONDAY, the latest novel by Austin’s Elizabeth Crook and winner of the Texas Institute of Letters’s Jesse H. Jones fiction award for 2014, is only nominally about Charles Whitman’s sniper attack from the tower on the University of Texas Austin campus in 1966; it could’ve been any horrific act of violence. This novel is actually about the butterfly effect (in the shape of a bullet), the long-term effects of violence on survivors, bonds forged during the aftermath, balancing conflicting responsibilities, atonement, and redemption. >> read more

Let's start celebrating again:
May Is Texas Writers Month

Barbara Brannon,
Managing Editor


For some time in the late 1990s, and stretching into the twenty-first century, May was declared to be Texas Writers Month. Just who declared it wasn't always clear. Some years it was the Texas legislature. Some years it was Austin screenwriter Cary Roberts, and later his nonprofit, the Texas Writers Project. Some years booksellers and libraries voluntarily banded together to peg their promotions on it as a joint theme. Official writers were named some years. Broadsides and posters were produced. Blogs were crafted.


As Texas book-scene expert Clay Smith put it back in 1999, writing for the Austin Chronicle, “Texas Writers Month, which is May, is a bit like Black History Month; there's never really been one particular office people can call to plan events or to gather information about the occasion.”


However it was positioned, the “occasion” was a noble endeavor. Honoring Texas writers old and new, aspiring and professional, in all genres. was a way to draw attention to the literary talent residing in every corner of the state. It was a hook to draw more readers to books they might like, given the chance to discover a geographical or cultural kinship. Or to convert fans of Texas into fans of good literature.


Hmmm, that's a lot like our mission here at Lone Star Literary Life.


Let's do it again. Let's revive Texas Writers Month — and even if we don't all join forces to put on a big show or campaign, let's give a boost, and a big thanks, to all the Texas writers we know. May it be so.


Hosting a Texas writer for an event this month? Feel free to download our badge for your promotional use, and send event details to


Pun-slingers ready for action in Austin May 9


The 38th Annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships will be held Sat., May 9, in Austin’s Brush Square, behind the O. Henry and Susanna Dickinson Museums at 409 E. 5th Street. More than 100 punsters applied for entrance to this year’s event; only 32 of them have qualified to compete in events, including Punniest of Show. >> READ MORE


Romantic Times coming to Dallas May 11-17


The RT (formerly Romantic Times) Booklovers Convention will be held Saturday, May 11-17, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency, Reunion Tower in Dallas. Events include agent and editor meetings with aspiring author attendees. RT Booklovers Convention is produced annually by RT Book Reviews. >> READ MORE

Sachse Author Con set for May 19


The Friends of the Sachse Public Library will host their first Author Con Tuesday, May 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. Sachse is six miles northeast of Garland, Texas.


A celebration of local authors showcasing works from children’s picture books to young adult, inspirational nonfiction, and thriller fiction novels, this event will provide attendees a chance to talk with authors, socialize with friends, and discover the services the library has to offer.


Award-winning writer and photographer Reavis Z. Wortham of Garland is the creator of the Red River Series, including Burrows and The Rock Hole.  >> READ MORE

Writing Poetry: Passion, Process, and Publication slated for May 21 at BookPeople


Join the staff of BookPeople Thurs., May 21, 2015, for a discussion about the craft and business of poetry, featuring four award-winning poets from varied backgrounds and literary traditions to give the panel a broad vantage point. Panelists are Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, Derrick Brown, Carrie Fountain, and Sasha West. >> READ MORE

Deep Vellum’s TEXAS: THE GREAT THEFT, publisher Evans, garner recognition


Dallas’s Deep Vellum Publishing’s growing enterprise broadens the dimension of Texas publishing, with their editions’ distinctive covers and impressive list. The publishing house, which was founded with the goal of fostering cultural exchange via literature in translation, shared several kudos recently via social media. >> READ MORE


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LONE STAR LISTENS interviews >> archive
Denise Chávez: Leer Es Vivir/To Live Is to Read

Kay Ellington,
Editor & Publisher


Internationally prize-winning author Borderlands Book Festival founder Denise Chávez is the author of The Last of the Menu Girls, Face of an Angel, Loving Pedro Infante, and A Taco Testimony: Meditations on Family, Food, and Culture. Lone Star Literary Life caught up with her by email to talk about writing, her shared culture of Texas and New Mexico, and her newest book, The King and Queen of Comezón (University of Oklahoma Press, 2014).


LONE STAR LISTENS: I have seen you at readings on more than one occasion, so let me just say, I could sit and listen to you all day. You actually started out as an actress, didn’t you? How did that background affect your writing?


DENISE CHÁVEZ: I started acting in high school, but my early recollection of theatre or “performance” began at home when my little sister, Margo, was asked to pretend she was various animals. She would say: “I’m a Bear. I’m a Dog. I’m a Cat,” etc. And then she would pretend she was the animal in question. I didn’t think she was very good. I knew I could do better. Also, I came from families on both sides that were incredible storytellers. The bar was set high from an early age. >> READ MORE

Northeast Texas Writers Org Conference makes convert of a first-timer

Patrick Hanford


I decided a month ago to attend the April 2015 conference of NETWO, the Northeast Texas Writers Organization. It was my first. I must start somewhere and this year was it. So I picked a place in Texas. I wasn't exactly sure where Mount Pleasant, Texas, was when I signed up but figured it was close to Dallas with Northeast in the name. When I landed in Dallas at 6:55 am, that meant I was up at 4:30 and on the plane by six, and I decided that this might not be what I was looking for.


Bookish Texas event highlights  5.3.2015  >> this week
Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor


  • AUSTIN  Sun., May 3, BookWoman, The Gender Book Reading & Signing, 3:30-7:30 PM

    Come to BookWoman to chat and mingle with the authors and get your copy signed while they’re in town for the Austin International Drag Festival.


    This project started in a cute grey house in Houston on Marshall street in the part of town called Montrose. The community on Marshall street was a blend of gender expressions, from the fabulous drag kings to the androgynous couch-crasher, to the soft-butch art teacher, the princess labrador retriever named Jack, little alpha pup named Noah, and a pair of ferrets.


    These individuals first helped educate each other, and then themselves, to learn more of what it means to live and express and perform one's gender role. The more they learned, the more they wanted to share with everyone else. They saw a need around them in transgender friends who wanted more options on their census forms, and transsexual lovers who had to educate their own therapists, and parents wanting to know how to be supportive of their gender-variant kids.

    Their solution: the GENDER book.


    More info at:

    Sunday, May 3, 2015 - 3:30pm to 6:00pm

    5501 North Lamar #A-105

    Austin, TX 78751


  • HOUSTON  Tues., May 5, Murder By the Book, Greg Iles signs and discusses The Bone Tree, 6:30PM


  • AUSTIN  Wed. May 6, Bullock Museum, Gregg Dimmick, author of Sea of Mud, discusses findings at San Jacinto, 12PM

    Wed. May 6, Bob Bullock Museum, High Noon Talk: Gregg Dimmick, author of Sea of Mud, tells stories behind his archeological findings at San Jacinto, 12PM

  • HOUSTON  Wed. May 6, Murder By the Book, Charlaine Harris will sign and discuss Day Shift, 6:30PM

  • SAN ANTONIO  Sat. May 9, B&N - La Cantera, Jesse Sublett signs 1960s Austin Gangsters, 2PM



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