Connecting Texas books and writers with those who most want to discover them
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 abilenetx.com/apl.
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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.”
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Glenn Dromgoole is co-author of 101 Essential Texas Books. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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.
978-0-89672-926-1, Texas Tech University Press, paperback, 136 pages, $24.95
June 15, 2015
The Land of Rain Shadow: Horned Toad, Texas is a collection of eight short stories by Joyce Gibson Roach, she of the impeccable c.v.: author, rancher, Fellow of Texas State Historical Association and Texas Folklore Society, member of Texas Institute of Letters and the Philosophical Society of Texas, past president of Horned Lizard Conservation Society, Honoree in the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and founder of the Center for Western Cross Timbers Studies.
The stories in Rain Shadow are linked by place, each set in the tiny, fictional town of Horned Toad. As these pieces reflect on the importance of the land, the characters and time periods change but the land abides. Roach quotes Tom Lea in her introduction: “Its richness is space, wide and deep and infinitely colored, visible to the jagged mountain rim of the world – huge and challenging space, to evoke huge and challenging freedom.” Roach and Lea are writing of West Texas, my home. >> READ MORE
One Red Thread
978-1-4405-8273-8, hardcover, 336 pgs., $24.99
If you could go back in time, would you? Would you change events if it were possible to do so? Intervene to prevent a tragedy? Should you? Courage, noble sacrifice or hubris? How would you determine which specific link in the chain to alter, which thread to pull to alter the pattern without the whole tapestry unraveling? Is it even healthy for us to understand “too well” the relationships between those threads? I am mixing my metaphors. Remember the Butterfly Effect. The perfectly chosen epigraph to Part I of One Red Thread is from Ecclesiastes 3:15 — “Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before.”
One Red Thread, a handsome book, is Austin writer and journalist Ernie Wood’s ambitious and accomplished first novel, taking on no less than time and space as well as history and the slippery nature of truth. Eddy McBride is a fortysomething architect much given to introspection and obsessive observation. He calls his defining habit “wool-gathering.” >>READ MORE
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
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
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
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
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!"
San Antonio, TX
Dallas Cowboy Books Blog
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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.
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)
>> READ MORE/FULL LIST
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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VISIT WITH POLLY AUG. 24–SEPT. 8
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
VISIT WITH DIANE AUG. 24–SEPT. 3
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
VISIT WITH KEN AUG. 27–SEPT. 4
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
VISIT WITH BETH THIS WEEK:
Aug 24 - Feather Pens, Tartan Dreams
Aug 25 - A Novel Reality
Aug 26 - Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books
VISIT WITH KEN THIS WEEK:
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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