Connecting Texas books and writers with those who most want to discover them

Lone Star Reviews

Texas Reads

>> archive

Skullduggery, murder explored in true mystery


When he was a lawyer, Abilene author Bill Neal spent time on both sides of criminal cases — as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney. But for the past decade or so, he has taken still another side — that of an objective researcher, historian, and writer delving into interesting, even bizarre old murder cases and producing well-crafted books about them.


His first book was Getting Away with Murder on the Texas Frontier, followed by several others, including the provocative Sex, Murder and the Unwritten Law.


His fifth book, published this year by Texas Tech University Press, is Skullduggery, Secrets, and Murders: The 1894 Wells Fargo Scam That Backfired ($34.95 hardcover), about an 1894 case set in Oklahoma Territory and Texas.


The story revolves around a seemingly foolproof get-rich-quick scam that resulted in the murders of two peace officers — a sheriff in Canadian, Texas, and a Wells Fargo agent sent to investigate the scheme. Neal delves into the two murders and the eight resulting trials and tries to sort it all out.


* * * * *


Small Town Tales: Joyce Gibson Roach explores life in a fictional small West Texas town in The Land of Rain Shadow: Horned Toad, Texas (Texas Tech University Press, $24.95 paperback). The eight stories are set in different eras in the twentieth century, from 1902 to 1991, covering such topics as “The Day After Pearl Harbor,” “Won’t Somebody Shout Amen?,” and “The Worst Christmas Pageant Ever.”

* * * * *

Award Winner: Diane Gonzales Bertrand’s prize-winning bilingual collection of short stories for teens, There’s a Name for This Feeling (Arte Publico Press, $10.95 paperback; Spanish-language translation by Gabriela Baeza Ventura), explores issues relevant to young people today.


In one story, members of a track team search for a mysterious naked woman with embarrassing results. In another, two girls at a wax museum are in for a surprise when they disobey signs about touching the figures. And in another, a young girl grieves for the loss of her baby, a miscarriage her mother calls a “blessing.” The ten stories, for readers ages 10-13, are told in English and Spanish.


* * * * *


Bank History: First Financial Bank began as a local Abilene bank but has expanded to about thirty cities across Texas, from Hereford in the northwest part of the state to Orange in the southeast.


In celebration of its 125th anniversary, the bank commissioned author Loretta Fulton to compile — and Abilene Christian University Press to publish — a full-color illustrated history of the bank. FFB Chairman and CEO Scott Dueser presented copies of First Financial Bank: 125 Years of Vision, Integrity, and Service to shareholders attending the bank’s annual meeting in April. The hardcover book retails for $25. Call (325) 672-9696.


* * * * *

* * * * *

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

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


9/20 Bissinger final Texas Friday Night Lights event


In conjunction with Da Capo Press's August 2015 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 following is your last chance to catch the author's talk in Texas:

  • 9/20/15, BookPeople (Austin, TX), 2 p.m.


Llano to host Author Extravaganza Oct. 2


The Author Extravaganza and Fair will be an all-day free literary event set right in the heart of the Hill Country at the Llano Library in Llano, Texas, Sat., Oct. 3, 2015, from 11 M to 7 pm. Featuring two New York Times best selling authors, six authors scheduled for speaking sessions throughout the day, two writers’ workshops, more than twenty area authors, and several local organizations providing food and drink sales onsite, the event will be a celebration of authors, books, and the love of reading.


Featured authors include Celia Hayes, historical fiction; Scott Zesch, historical non-fiction; Karen Witemeyer, historical romance; Tiffany Harelik, cookbook author; Leila Meacham, author of the bestselling Texas historical novels Roses, Tumbleweeds, and Somerset; and Linda Castillo, author of the Kate Burkholder Amish mystery series.



Richardson Adult Literacy Center to host Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy Oct. 4

by Lorraine Heath


October 4, 2015, will mark the tenth year that romance authors and readers have gathered for the Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy in Richardson, Texas, to benefit the Richardson Adult Literacy Center. Hats, laughter, and the joy of talking books abound.


Katie Patterson, executive director of RALC, says, “For the Richardson Adult Literacy Center, Buns & Roses is an incredible expression by romance writers and readers from across the country of their passion for helping others improve their literacy. Because of this event, RALC is able to continue offering English as a Second Language instruction to hundreds of adults in our community who are eager to improve their lives through improved literacy skills.” >>READ MORE

  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    978-0-544-29008-2, ebook, 280 pgs., $12.99, 2015


    Thu Apr 5— 08: 31 [text]

    hello i am sorry to bother you but i need your assistance— i am hector— cesars friend— its an emergency now for cesar— are you in el norte? i think we are also— arizona near nogales or sonoita— since yesterday we are in this truck with no one coming— we need water and a doctor— and a torch for cutting metal


    The Jaguar’s Children is journalist and author (who cites as sources Luis Alberto Urrea and Charles Bowden; how could you go wrong?) John Vaillant’s devastatingly powerful first novel. Mexicans and Nicaraguans, men, women, and children, bakers, students and scientists, have paid coyotes (“They were talking fast all the time, but not as fast as their eyes”) to provide safe passage into the United States, welded inside a water truck (“like a bucket of crabs with the lid on and no place to go”). As the book begins, they’ve been abandoned for two days in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona (“la via dolorosa”). >>READ MORE

  • Livingston Press

    978-1-60489-152-2, paperback, 284 pgs., $18.95 (also available in hardcover)

    September 10, 2015


    According to Jim Sanderson, chair of the English and Modern Language Department at Lamar University, Hill Country Property began as a collection of unrelated short stories thirty years ago. After many near misses, it’s been reworked as a novel. Not having read those stories thirty years ago, I can’t compare them against the finished product but suspect that the amount of reworking is responsible for the meandering quality of the novel. Hill Country Property is an average novel with the potential to be better.


    Hill Country Property is a sociological study of a very particular time and place — Austin and the Texas Hill Country in the 1980s. Roger Jackson is a middle-aged former lawyer and student radical whose current job as a private investigator involves stalking and photographing wayward spouses for a divorce attorney. He is unwillingly separated from his wife, Victoria. His father-in-law, Henry, is dying and wants to see his estranged wife, Rebecca, who abandoned the family decades ago, before he dies. Roger embarks on a quixotic quest to find Rebecca for Henry in the hope that this will somehow save his own marriage.  >> READ MORE

LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive

Stephen Harrigan on the varieties of a literary career — and opening up that envelope with a first copy of a book


From the Alamo to the astronauts, the books of Stephen Harrigan have captured historic and modern Texas. The bestselling author of The Gates of the Alamo and Remembering Ben Clayton has also published fiction and non-fiction with university presses. As we focus on university presses’ fall lists this week Harrigan talked with us about university presses and publishing in general, his career, and his exciting new opportunity The Texas Bookshelf, a UT Press Texas history initiative in the works for 2017.


Steve, over the course of a long literary career you’ve published with houses of all types. I’d like to ask you more about some of your bestsellers and television projects in a minute, but since we’re focusing this week on the fall lists of university presses, I wonder if you’d tell us a bit about your experience with that segment of publishing.


I’ve published three books—all of them essay collections—with the University of Texas Press, and am working on a fourth book for them, which will be an I-hope-not-too-massive history of Texas. The three previous books were made up of material that had been previously published in magazines, but the Texas book is a “real” book, a major project that will be original work from start to finish. It wasn’t my idea to write this book. David Hamrick, the director of UT Press, called me up one day and asked if I might be interested. I immediately said no, thinking of all the ground I would have to cover—roughly five hundred years of Texas history from Cabeza de Vaca to Ted Cruz. But Dave’s enthusiasm and vision were contagious, and even as I was telling him no there was a busy little part of my brain that kept whispering yes.


What would you say is the value of university press publishing, especially in Texas?


The Texas book I’m working on might be regarded as a bit of an outlier to the typical university press publication. It’s meant to be a big, sweeping, highly readable general interest story. What’s great about UT Press, in particular, is the ambition they have to seek out a mainstream while still honoring the great tradition of publishing books that exist for their own sake, for the worthy knowledge they contain. >> READ MORE


Spotlight on University Presses Fall Lists


University presses are a particular treasure, publishing important books that advance knowledge and increase understanding and enjoyment of our region, state, and world. The Association of American University Presses recognizes University Press Week each November. But we didn't want to wait that long to give you a glimpse of some of their recent and forthcoming titles. Here's a sampling from five of Texas's dozen university presses.




Bookish Texas event highlights  9.20.2015
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor

  • AUSTIN  Sun., Sept. 20, BookWoman, Paths to Publishing (A Story CircleNetwork event) with authors Susan Wittig Albert, Debra Winegarten, and Susan Spittler, 3PM

    BookWoman, Paths to Publishing (A Story CircleNetwork event) with authors Susan Wittig Albert, Debra Winegarten, and Susan Spittler, 3PM

  • DALLAS  Mon. Sept. 21, Cullen Theater, Inprint's Margarett Root Brown Reading Series presents Jonathan Franzen, 7:30PM

    Cullen Theater, Inprint's Margarett Root Brown Reading Series presents Jonathan Franzen, 7:30PM

  • AUSTIN  Thurs, Sept. 24, Blanton Auditorium, Michener Ctr. Reading Series, Jesmyn Ward, 7:30PM

    Blanton Auditorium, Michener Center Reading Series featuring Jesmyn Ward, 7:30PM

  • COLLEGE STATION  Thurs., Sept. 24, Texas A&M Rudder Theater, Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters concert followed by a signing of Gaines' autobiography, I’ve Been Out There, 7:30PM

    Texas A&M University - Rudder Theater, GRADY GAINES AND  THE TEXAS UPSETTERS concert followed by a signing of Gaines' autobiography, I’ve Been Out There, 7:30PM

  • GALVESTON  Sat., Sept. 26, Galveston Bookshop, Jim Sanderson signs Hill Country Property, 2PM

    Galveston Bookshop, Jim Sanderson signs Hill Country Property, 2PM

Texas Teen Book Festival Sept. 26 in Austin


The Texas Teen Book Festival will welcome more than thirty authors appearing at its annual event, which takes place this year Sat., Sept. 26, 2015, on the campus of St. Edward’s University in Austin. The keynote speaker is Emmy Award¬–winning actress and writer Sonia Manzano, best known for her role as Maria on the PBS series Sesame Street. After more than four decades on the show, Manzano announced her retirement last month and will present her latest work, a coming-of-age memoir titled Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx. She will speak from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. >>READ MORE



Permian Basin Writers’ Workshop brings Fishman back to hometown for reading


Above: The Permian Basin Writers’ Workshop, Sept. 18-19, welcomed Midland native Seth Fishman (above, leading a presentation at the Midland Centennial Library on working with a literary agent) back for a first-ever reading in his hometown. >>READ MORE


15th annual West Texas Book Festival, continues Sept. 21–26 in Abilene; honors state historian O'Neal


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.  >>READ MORE


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



300 authors at Texas Book Fest Oct. 17-18

20th anniversary lineup to feature Margaret Atwood, Taye Diggs, Nick Flynn, Linda Gray, Daniel Handler, Gary Hart, Chuck Palahniuk, and more


AUSTIN—A record 300 authors are coming to the 2015 Texas Book Festival, Oct. 17 and 18, the largest number in the Festival’s twenty-year history. Nationally renowned authors include Margaret Atwood, Taye Diggs, Nick Flynn, Linda Gray, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Gary Hart, Luis Alberto Urerra, Margo Jefferson, Attica Locke, Marie Lu, Chuck Palahniuk, Tavi Gevinson, and Adrian Tomine.  >>READ MORE


Atwood, Diggs, Simon to be featured presenters at Texas Book Fest Gala Oct. 16


AUSTIN—Acclaimed novelist Margaret Atwood (below, right); actor, Broadway star, and children’s book author Taye Diggs (center); and National Public Radio host and author Scott Simon (left) will be featured presenters at the Texas Book Festival’s First Edition Literary Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel Fri., Oct. 16, 2015. >>READ MORE


Bestselling author Lisa Wingate on The Sea Keeper’s Daughters and the Huckleberry Report


Lisa Wingate, bestselling author of 25 books, talks about her latest novel, The Sea Keeper’s Daughters, and publishing mainstream and Christian fiction. >> LISTEN NOW (mp3)



Christy nominee Allison Pittman and the shifting sands of a writing career


Alison Pittman, author of 13 Christian novels, three of which have been Christy nominees, talks about her latest novel, On Shifting Sand.

>> LISTEN NOW (mp3)




Don't miss a reading or a good read! Sign up for our FREE weekly







Ransom Canyon by Jodi Thomas



Sept 21 - Books and Broomsticks promo

               Because This is My Life, Y’all review

Sept 23 - TexasBookLover (guest post or Author Q&A)

Sept 25 - Hall Ways (Author Q&A or guest post)

Sept 26 - Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books  promo

Sept 28 - The Crazy Bookseller  promo

Sept 30 - Missus Gonzo review

Oct 2 - Texas Book-aholic review

Oct 5 - My Book Fix review

Oct 7 - The Page Unbound (Author Q&A or guest post)

Oct 9 - Texas Book-aholic Review




Mysteries of Love and Grief
by Sanda Scofield




Sept 14 - Feather Pens, Tartan Dreams - promo

Sept 15 - Books and Broomsticks promo

Sept 16 - The Crazy Booksellers promo

Sept 17 - Because This is My Life, Y’all promo

Sept 18 - The Page Unbound promo

Sept 19 - Book Crazy Gals promo

Sept 20 - Bookishjessp promo

Sept 21 - TexasBookLover Author Q&A

Sept 22 - Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books Review

Sept 23 - My Book Fix Review

Sept 24 - All For the Love of the Word Author Q/A

Sept 25 - Texas Book-aholic Review

Sept 26 - Secret Asian Girl Review

Sept 27 - Hall Ways Review

Sept 28 - Missus Gonzo Review




Fate's Betrayal by Beth Ann Stifflemire




Sept 21 - Books and Broomsticks

Sept 22 - Because This is My Life, Y’all

Sept 23 - Feather Pens, Tartan Dreams

Sept 24 - Bookishjessp

Sept 25 - My Book Fix

Sept 26 - Missusgonzo

Sept 27 - The Crazy Bookseller

Sept 28 - Book Crazy Gals Blog

Sept 29 - Texas Book-aholic

Sept 30 - Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books



Dark Places by Reavis Z. Wortham


Sept 13 - The Page Unbound

Sept 14 - All For Love of the Word

Sept 15 - Book Crazy Gals


Lone Star Literary Life Facts and FAQs

Editorial policies

Review policies

Advertising policies

Event and resource list policies


Lone Star Literary Archives

• Weekly issues

• Lone Star Listens Interviews

• Lone Star Book Reviews

• Texas Reads

• Events

• Announcement: LSLL Launches


COMING SOON: Bookish Texas Classifieds

Looking for a job, a designer, an editor, a publisher?

Starting in fall 2015, we'll help you find them in our online classifieds section. If you're interested in advertising for pennies a day, contact to run your listing here.




LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE   copyright © 2015–18 Paragraph Ranch LLC  •  All rights reserved  •  CONTACT US