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Best Texas Beach Reads & Travel Books

Lone Star Literary staff


Memorial Day is nearly here — and with it plans for rest, relaxation, travel, and a good book. What Texas reads will be going in your carry-on or beach bag? Let the staff of Lone Star Lit make your choices easier, with genres from historical fiction to YA. Our first installment appears May 10; watch for Texas travel guides and travel literature May 17. >> READ MORE


Texas legislature names Tafolla state poet laureate for 2015, Guerrero for 2016


Last week the 84th Texas State Legislature announced its appointments to the position of state poet laureate.


Carmen Tafolla (right) of San Antonio, an associate professor at UT–San Antonio, was named Texas Poet Laureate for 2015.


Tafolla is the author of more than twenty acclaimed poetry and prose books, including Curandera, Sonnets and Salsa, and The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans, which won the Tomás Rivera Children's Book Award in 2009. She has published works for both children and adult readers in more than 200 anthologies, magazines, journals, textbooks, and readers. Her works have been published in English, German, French, and Bengali.

Texas Rising, A&E/History channel miniseries and book featuring work of Austinite David Marion Wilkinson, debuts Memorial Day 2015

Martha Louise Hunter, contributing writer


Austin novelist/screenwriter David Marion Wilkinson shared writing duties on Texas Rising, the ten-hour television series that premieres Memorial Day on A&E/History about the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers after the events at the Alamo. Wilkinson is author the of Not Between Brothers: An Epic Novel of Texas.

Credited as a co-producer for Texas Rising, Wilkinson came on board as a historical consultant and quickly began co-writing the script with Leslie Grief and Darrell K. Fetty. Wilkinson will also appear in the companion documentary, along with Texas historian H. W. Brands and series stars Bill Paxton, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson. The all-star cast of Texas Rising also includes Ray Liotta, Oliver Martinez, Brendan Fraser, and Kris Kristofferson.


2015 WLT Writers and Editors Conference set for June 26-28 in Austin


The 2015 Writers League of Texas Editors and Agents Conference will be held June 26 through June 28 at the Hyatt Regency in Austin. Three days of panels, lectures, readings, workshops, and consultations give aspiring and established authors a chance to learn and grow in the writing profession. >> 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


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Texas Reads

>> archive

Friendship theme runs through Madigan books


Tim Madigan has republished his popular book, first offered in 2006, about TV’s Mister Rogers. I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers is now available in paperback from Madigan’s imprint, Ubuntu Books.


Madigan has also published a novel, Every Common Sight, which came out in paperback this year.


Rogers, in fact, was one of the first people to read an early draft of Madigan’s novel some years back. “What an enormous piece of work,” Rogers said, “beautifully composed.”


The compelling story, which I zipped through in one day, features two principal characters.


Wendell, an aging World War II veteran, bears scars and painful secrets from the Battle of the Bulge that have haunted him for decades. Claire, a young mother and library worker, has never discussed her own dark secret from a tragic night when she was eleven that resulted in her mother going to prison.


The old man and the young woman discover a bond that draws them together, to the bewilderment of their friends and families who suspect more is going on than just a friendship. Claire, after all, bears a striking resemblance to Wendell’s late wife—so is that the attraction? Or have they simply found each other to be willing and understanding listeners?


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Mailman Stories: I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading Kathy May Davies’ latest novel, Country Mailman. Davies, who has published fourteen other novels, features West Texas rural mail carrier Buck Buchanan, who takes his job seriously and knows his customers very well.


Like Stan Maeker, the beekeeper who attracts attention when his bees started producing blue, green, and pink honey. Seems they had found a dumpster containing discarded snow cone syrup. Then there’s Toby Williams, who orders toilet seats by the dozen, and Justin Brooks, who plays melodic trumpet solos to call up his cows for feeding.


Sometimes a simple thing like Buck getting his own coffee at Edna’s Café can become quite a story if it involves some milk that tastes funny and a crying baby in the background. Along the way, Buck rescues people and animals in distress, finds an abandoned artificial leg with the shoe attached, and helps search for a missing corpse and a jail escapee.


Davies seems to know her subject well, perhaps because her husband is in fact a rural mail carrier. The book is for sale at the Slaton Bakery in Slaton, Ruby Lane Books in Post, and online. You can read sample chapters on the author’s blog site,


Like some other self-published novels I’ve read, this one could benefit from a little copy editing, but the stories are entertaining and uplifting. Country Mailman is at least the third collection of Texas post office–related stories to be published in recent years—the others being James Ward Lee’s A Texas Jubilee (TCU Press, 2012) and my own Coleman Springs USA (Abilene Christian University Press, 2012).


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

>> Check out his previous Texas Reads columns in Lone Star Lit


Geaux Behind the Spine with the men of
Miles Arceneaux


How did three Texans manage it—to write a thriller with a generous helping of humor together, and live to repeat their success? Author and host Ally Bishop talks with the personable trio behind the Miles Arceneaux novels, Brent Douglass, James R. Dennis, and John T. Davis, to learn the genesis of Thin Slice of Life, La Salle's Ghost, and now, Ransom Island. Tune in to our new monthly audio interview to find out how Arceneaux nearly wound up in the editor's wastebasket—but came back to life in an entirely new guise. >> LISTEN NOW (mp3)




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  • Fiction

    Merritt Tierce

    Love Me Back: A Novel

    New York: Doubleday

    Hardcover, 978-0-385-53807-7

    224 pages, $23.95

    September 16, 2014


    Love Me Back is “5 Under 35” honoree and Rona Jaffe award winner Merritt Tierce’s debut novel. Marie is a young twentysomething woman who lands a coveted waitressing job at an upscale Uptown Dallas restaurant. Serving herself up night after night, Marie is mired in a miasma of hedonistic nihilism, the drugs and alcohol and musical beds her clawing for oblivion. “But it wasn’t about pleasure; it was about how some kinds of pain make fine antidotes to others.”
    >> read more


  • 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

Lone Star Reviews

LONE STAR LISTENS interviews >> archive
Fierce Tierce: The author of LOVE ME BACK on life and art


Merritt Tierce, a National Book Foundation '5 Under 35' honoree, was born and raised in Texas, and graduated from college at the age of nineteen. Her debut novel Love Me Back was selected by the Texas Institute of Letters in April as the 2015 Best First Published Fiction.  We caught up with Tierce via an email interview last Friday afternoon, as she was en route to the airport for a flight to New York.


LONE STAR LISTENS: As I was reading Love Me Back, I was struck by how evocative it was of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. In reading others' descriptions of your work, it seems that the word "uncompromising" comes up again and again. Which authors do you admire?


MERITT TIERCE: I admire writers who aren’t trying to capture anything beyond their own idea of what makes for beautiful reading. I’m not into plot or character except as water-bearers for language—language is all. I love Lydia Davis for her brilliant, vital play with language. I love Kay Ryan for the same reason. Her poems are endlessly exciting to me and reading them is pure joy. Edward P. Jones is perhaps more gifted than any other living American writer when it comes to telling a story that extends so deep and wide it crosses beyond beyond. Grace Paley and Gayl Jones are both ruthless and intent on seeing the broken, cutting edge of life, and not sanding it down for anyone. The best work of contemporary fiction I’ve read in a long time is Elisa Albert’s After Birth, which is so uncompromising. It’s relentless and blistering and hilarious and everything I’ve ever wanted in a book. >> READ MORE

Bookish Texas event highlights  5.10.2015
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor

  • BEAUMONT  Mon., May 11, Jamie Brickhouse signs Dangerous When Wet, 5:30PM

    Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Jamie Brickhouse reading, signing, Q&A and reception for Dangerous When Wet, 5:30PM

  • HOUSTON  Tues., May 12, B&N River Oaks, George Bush signs 41 A Portrait of My Father, 3PM


  • AUSTIN  Thurs., May 14, BookPeople, KATHY & BECKY HEPINSTALL, Sisters of Shiloh, 7PM

    Texas authors KATHY & BECKY HEPINSTALL speaking & signing Sisters of Shiloh, 7PM

  • AMARILLO  Sat., May 16, Barnes & Noble, Linda Broday Signs Twice a Texas Bride, 2PM

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