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Ransom Canyon series of novels set in West Texas



Friendship that may blossom into romance is a major theme in Ransom Canyon, the first book in a new series by best-selling Amarillo author Jodi Thomas (HQN Books, $7.99 paperback). The book goes on sale Tuesday.


The setting is the fictional small town of Crossroads and a nearby farm and ranch in the rugged Ransom Canyon area of West Texas.


Third-generation rancher Staten Kirkland and lavender farmer Quinn O’Grady are longtime friends and secret lovers, but both seem reluctant to take their relationship to the next level.

Young ranch hand Lucas Reyes aspires to finish high school a year early and go to Texas Tech, and he enjoys sharing his thoughts with Lauren Brigman, the sheriff’s nearly sixteen-year-old daughter. Their fondness for each other grows deeper after a late-night adventure goes awry.

Fresh out of prison, Yancy Grey finds himself in Crossroads, trying to figure out how to make a quick buck and get out of town. Instead, he finds the road to riches takes some unexpected turns that could change his life forever.


Meanwhile, sinister forces are at work in the town and the canyon, and someone could get killed.

With about fifty books to her credit, Thomas certainly knows how to keep the story flowing and the pages turning. At the end, she offers a two-chapter preview of the second book in the series, Rustler’s Moon, due out early next year.


Thomas, the 2013 A. C. Greene Award winner, will kick off next month’s West Texas Book Festival in Abilene with a talk about the new series at noon Monday, Sept. 21, at the Abilene Public Library. Read more about the festival at


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Hoot and Holler: San Angelo author Linda Hermes has created enduring characters in her “Hoot and Holler” series about two army mules that served in the early years of Fort Concho, established in 1867.


In the third installment, The Ranch, mules Hoot and Holler accompany soldiers to the George Washington DeLong ranch to purchase food and hay for the fort. While at the ranch, the soldiers pitch in to help DeLong build a dam that is still in use today.


Hermes, who also illustrates her stories, mixes history and adventure in her books, written at the second or third grade level. She says the stories, while fictional, are “historically correct — well, except for mules that talk to each other.”


Her books are available at Fort Concho and Cactus Books in San Angelo and online.


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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


Bissinger Texas events for 25th Anniversary Friday Night Lights


In conjunction with Da Capo Press's Aug. 11 publication of the 25th anniversary edition of  Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, author H. G. “Buzz” Bissinger returns to Texas for a series of events. The publisher announced the following schedule this week:


Buzz Bissinger Book Events, Fall 2015

  • 9/14/15, Hastings (Odessa, TX), 7 p.m., with support from the Odessa Council for the Arts and Humanities
  • 9/15/15, High School TBD (Midland, TX)—morning or lunchtime solo talk
  • 9/15/15, Midland County Public Library (Midland, TX), Centennial branch, 5:30-6:30 p.m., solo talk, B&N to sell books
  • 9/15/15, Yucca Theater (Midland, TX), 7:30 p.m.—panel moderated by Jay Hendricks, CBS 7 anchor; ticketed event as fundraiser for Midland County Public Library Foundation
  • 9/16/15, Brazos Bookstore (Houston, TX), 7 p.m.
  • 9/18/15, Abilene Public Library (Abilene, TX), 12 p.m., Texas Star Trading Company to sell books
  • 9/19/15, Half Price Books (Dallas, TX), 2 p.m.
  • 9/20/15, BookPeople (Austin, TX), 2 p.m.



Gerald Duff

Playing Custer


277 pgs., 978-0-87565-606-9, $22.95 paper

TCU Press, June 2015

Reviewed by Rod Davis


The multi-voiced, time-jumping narrative in Gerald Duff’s latest novel, Playing Custer, recounts the bizarre world and psychologies of reenactors, in this case of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. But the spine of the story is surely in the evolution of the longtime if cranky friendship between two Texans who after years of commuting to Montana to take bit parts in the outdoor drama wind up finding themselves in the prized roles. One becomes General Custer; the other transforms into Crazy Horse, the Sioux war chief whose daring spelled doom on the Great Plains for the 7th  Cavalry on June 25, 1876.


LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive


Raisin' Caine: On the persistence of the vampire story—and the persistence of the storyteller—with Texas author Rachel Caine

The prolific Rachel Caine may be Texas’s version of Stephen King on account of her incredible title output. She has been known to write several books a year—for decades—and was at the forefront of the urban fantasy movement in literature.

     Caine is the New York Times bestselling author of more than forty-five novels to date, and many short stories, including fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, young adult fiction, mystery, thriller, and horror. Her notable series include The Morganville Vampires, Weather Warden, Revivalist, Red Letter Days, and Outcast Season novels. She graduated from Socorro High School in El Paso and earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Texas Tech University. Her first short story was published in 1990 and her first novel in 1991.


LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: What inspired you to become a writer?


RACHEL CAINE: When I was about fourteen years old, a teacher gave my class an assignment: write a short story using a “prompt sentence. I still remember the sentence: it was “The clock struck twelve, and everything changed.” I was entranced with this assignment. I wrote and wrote, and ended up with about a fifteen-page story about two wizards dueling it out for control of an old Western town at high noon ... well before Harry Potter. My teacher was so excited she encouraged me to keep writing, and I have. So I owe it, in large part, to her inspiration. >> READ MORE

Bookish Texas event highlights  8.23.2015
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor

  • ALPINE  Mon., Aug. 24  Front Street Books, Anna Badkhen presents Walking With Abel, 5:30PM

    Front Street Books, Anna Badkhen presents Walking With Abel: Journeys with the Nomads of the African Savannah, 5:30PM

  • AUSTIN  Wed., Aug. 26  Writing Barn, Words & Wine, Carrie Fountain, Liz Garton Scanlon, 7:30PM

    The Writing Barn, Words and Wine with Carrie Fountain and guest moderator Liz Garton Scanlon, 7:30PM

  • AUSTIN  Thurs., Aug. 27  Malvern Books, Ten Years After: Remembering Katrina, 7PM

    Malvern Books, Ten Years After: Remembering Katrina - NPR correspondent John Burnett in conversation with Tom Zigal, author of Many Rivers to Cross, 7PM

  • POST  Fri., Aug. 28  Heritage House, lunch with Jodi Thomas & Ransom Canyon, 11:30AM

    Heritage House, lunch with Jodi Thomas and a discussion and signing of Ransom Canyon, 11:30AM

Hundreds turn out for East Texas Book Festival Aug. 21–22

By Michelle Newby, LSLL Contributing Editor


Above, from left: Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, Thomas H. McNeely, Michelle Newby at 2015 East Texas Book Festival



The 7th annual East Texas Book Festival, a collaboration among the University of Texas at Tyler, Smith County Public Libraries, and Tyler Area Partners for Literacy, was held at the Harvey Convention Center in Tyler this weekend, August 21–22. This festival gets bigger and better each year; with more than 100 authors in attendance this weekend for workshops, panel discussions, readings and book signings. According to organizers, more than 400 people attended the festival. >>READ MORE



Permian Basin Writers’ Workshop
slated for Sept. 18–19 in Midland


The Permian Basin Writers’ Workshop will be held September 18–19, 2015. Sponsored by the Midland Library Foundation, the workshop has been designed to offer two tracks that attendees may move between at their discretion. One track addresses elements of the writing process, and the other will focus on navigating the industry.


Venues will be Midland Centennial Library and Midland College, and registration cost is $35.


Presenters include Sara Cortez, Stephen Graham Jones, Seth Fishman, Kay Ellington, and Barbara Brannon.



Above, from left: Sara Cortez, Seth Fishman, Stephen Graham Jones




Best All-Time Texas Football Books


Our August 2015 "All-Time Best Texas Football Books" feature snagged lots of interest and comments—but none more insightful than the alternate suggestions of blogger Fred Goodwin of San Antonio. Check these out:


Gary Shaw, Meat on the Hoof (1972)

Steve Perkins, Next Year's Champions (1969)

Kern Tips, Football Texas Style: An Illustrated History of the Southwest Conference (1964)

J. Neal Blanton, Game of the Century: Texas vs. Arkansas (1970)


"Hard to argue with your list," he writes, "especially when it's limited to ten titles!"


Fred Goodwin

San Antonio, TX

Dallas Cowboy Books Blog


* * * * *

We also heard from Gaines Baty, who writes, "I believe that a new book, Champion of the Barrio, belongs on your 'best' list." Mr. Baty, we're with you, and we hope this title will endure as long as a Texas gridiron classic —and with as much influence—as Coach Buryl Baty's career.


For their suggestions, each reader has won a free copy of H. G. Bissinger's Friday Night Lights 25th Anniversary Edition. Keep those letters coming.


15th annual West Texas Book Festival, Sept. 21–26, 2015, announces featured authors


The West Texas Book Festival, which will celebrate its 15th annual festival this year during the week of September 21-26 at the Abilene Public Library in Abilene, Texas, announced its lineup of authors this week.


The festival seeks to celebrate books, literacy, and reading, with a special emphasis on local and regional authors. The event is community driven and provides the public with the chance to interact with local authors on a more personal level. The festival includes a number of meet and greet sessions as well as readings and talks. For more information contact Janis Test at (325) 676-6017.



Clockwise from upper left: O'Neal, Bissinger, Castillo, Kent, Thomas, Dearen, Specht (photos from Amarillo Public Library website)




Bissinger kicks off month of literary/literacy events in Midland and Permian Basin, September 2015


Buzz Bissinger, author of the classic Friday Night Lights, returns to the Permian Basin in September and will be an active participant in many literary and literacy events in Midland and Odessa. Midland has a rich schedule of literary events in September including Project Literacy and the Permian Basin Writers Workshop.  >> LISTEN NOW (mp3)






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The Neptune Challenge by Polly Holyoke



Aug 24 - Books and Broomsticks - Guest Post

Aug 25 - Because This is My Life, Y’all - Promo Post

Aug 26 - Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books - Promo Post

Aug 27 - Texas Book-aholic - review

Aug 28 - TexasBookLover - Guest Post

Aug 29 - All For the Love of the Word - promo post

Aug 30 - Bookishjessp - promo

Aug 31 - Feather Pens, Tartan Dreams - Promo Post + Author Q&A

Sept 1 - A Novel Reality - review

Sept 2 - Book Crazy Gals - Guest Post + promo

Sept 3 - The Crazy Bookseller - review

Sept 4 - Secret Asian Girl - review

Sept 5 - My Book Fix - review

Sept 6 - The Page Unbound - review

Sept 7 - Hall Ways - Author Q&A




Death on Paradise Creek

by Diane Smithwick-Braden



Aug 24 - Books and Broomsticks promo

Aug 25 - The Page Unbound promo

Aug 26 - Bookishjessp promo

Aug 27 - TexasBookLover Author Q&A

Aug 28 - Because This is My Life, Y’all promo

Aug 29 - Missus Gonzo Review

Aug 30 - Hall Ways Review

Aug 31 - A Novel Reality  Author Q&A

Sept 1 - Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books Review

Sept 2  - The Crazy Booksellers - review



Arctic Warriors by Ken Bangs


Aug 26 - All For Love of the Word

Aug 27 - Bookishjessp

Aug 28 - My Book Fix

Aug 29 - The Crazy Bookseller

Aug 30 - Because This is My Life, Y’all

Aug 31 - Hall Ways

Sept 1 - Books and Broomsticks

Sept 2 - Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books

Sept 3 - Texas Book-aholic

Sept 4 - Book Crazy Gals Blog



Diverted Heart by Beth Ann Stifflemire



Aug 24 - Feather Pens, Tartan Dreams

Aug 25 - A Novel Reality

Aug 26 - Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books



Rosco Jack of Gateway Farm by Ken Bangs


Aug 24 - Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books

Aug 25 - Because This is My Life, Y’all

Aug 26 - The Crazy Bookseller


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