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Lone Star Reviews

Lois Winston, editor

We’d Rather Be Writing: 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips

978-1940795348 Paperback, 200 pages; time-saving recipes and tips from authors, $10.29 (also available as e-book: $0.99)

October 28, 2015

Reviewed by Rashda Khan


In today’s world, time is a precious commodity for everyone. This is even truer during the whirlwind of the holiday season. We’d Rather Be Writing provides time-saving recipes and tips that will help readers tackle house guests, parties, and everything in between with aplomb and let them focus on what is important — enjoying time with friends and family and doing what brings them joy.


Editor and contributor has brought together almost ninety authors, people who are used to juggling family life, writing careers, often a second job, and more, to contribute their insights. >>READ MORE



Diana Finfrock Farrar

The Door of the Heart


Paperback, 978-1-4918-7124-9 (also available in hardcover and as an ebook), 425 pgs., $18.99

March 2014


Diana Finfrock Farrar’s first novel begins with fifteen-year-old Jamie O’Dell, gay and closeted, in the principal’s office at his high school, victim of chronic bullying since middle school. This time the football team’s intimidation has been so blatant that school officials can’t ignore the problem. The bullies have been sent to the alternative campus and banned from extracurricular activities for the remainder of the school year, but Texas Land Commissioner Ed Sloan’s son, Michael, is one of the bullies and Ed won’t take this punishment lying down. Tammy, Ed’s wife and Michael’s mother, is torn between remaining silent as she has for twenty-two years, or speaking out for what she knows is the right thing. As the controversy rages, Ed and Tammy’s jeopardized marriage mirrors the polarization in the media, the community, and the schools. >>READ MORE


Texas Reads

>> archive

Another Christmas romance
set in Twilight, Texas


Twilight, Texas: Prolific Texas romance author Lori Wilde, with seventy-eight titles to her credit, has produced another Christmas novel from her fictional town of Twilight, Texas, loosely based on the real town of Granbury.


I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Avon, 2015) features runaway law student Gabi Preston, who is served a piece of chocolate cake at a Twilight coffee shop and blurts out, “Oh my gosh! This is better than sex!”


To which a deep voice responds: “As delicious as Maddie’s cakes are, if you think cake is better than sex, then you’ve been doin’ something all wrong, darlin’.”


Gabi has just encountered Joe Cheek, probably the best-looking guy in town.


Other books in Wilde’s hot-selling Twilight series include last fall’s Christmas at Twilight as well as The First Love Cookie Club, which has been optioned for a TV movie. Read more at


Karen Witemeyer: The newest novel from Abilene’s Karen Witemeyer, a popular Christian historical romance author, is A Worthy Pursuit (Bethany House, $14.99 paperback).


The story, set in Texas in 1891, involves Stone Hammond, who is hired to find a wealthy man’s abducted granddaughter, and Charlotte Atherton, a teacher entrusted with the little girl’s care after her mother’s death. All is not as it seems to either major figure in the book — the teacher on the run and the bounty hunter pursuing her. Can the two adversaries learn to trust — even love — each other?


“I wanted to play with the idea of opposites attracting,” Witemeyer said. “So I chose a refined, educated headmistress who doesn’t trust men and paired her with a man of action and intrigue who practically walks off the pages of a dime novel.”


A Worthy Pursuit is Witemeyer’s seventh full-length historical romance; she’s also had two novellas published. Read more on her web site —



Max Lucado: San Antonio minister and Christian author Max Lucado may well be Texas’s best-selling writer of all time.


I say “may well be” because I haven’t been able to find any such listing. But with about a hundred titles and an estimated 80 to100 million copies in print, Lucado certainly ranks high on the ladder. His newest book, released this fall, is Glory Days: Living Your Promised Land Life Now (Thomas Nelson, $26.99 hardcover), with sixteen essays or chapters or sermons inspired by the biblical book of Joshua and accompanied by a study guide.


Lucado’s theme is that most Christians don’t fully claim all the powers and opportunities available to them. Most are content to be in the “wilderness” instead of moving on to the “promised land.”


“With God’s help,” he writes, “you can close the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be.”


* * * * *

Glenn Dromgoole, is co-author, with Carlton Stowers, of 101 Essential Texas Books. Contact him at

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




    Melissa Lenhardt

    Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery

    Skyhorse Publishing

    Hardcover, 978-1-63450-226-9 (also available in ebook and aduiobook formats), 288 pgs., $24.99

    November 15, 2015


    Jack McBride’s wife, Julie, has up and disappeared, abandoning McBride and their son, Ethan (“the proof they had once been in love and happy would walk in the room, ear buds in, the musty, sour smell of puberty following him like the contrail of a jet.”). Needing a fresh start, McBride has left his position with the Dallas FBI office and moved to the sleepy East Texas town of Stillwater with thirteen-year-old Ethan, to accept a position as chief of police. Stillwater has a freakishly low crime rate until McBride arrives to encounter murder, a fifty-year-old cold case, blackmail, rumors of the previous chief’s long-standing corruption, racketeering — and that’s just the first week. >>READ MORE

  • Spiegel & Grau

    Hardcover, 978-0-8129-9345-5 (also available as audiobook, as ebook, and on audio CD), 304 pgs., $26.00

    May 26, 2015


    “I’m not white, but I can feel the eyes of the few people outside on me, people who must think that I am, because I look white….This disconnect in my racial projection is one of the things I hate.… My mother was black — that counts, no matter how pale and Irish my father was.”


    Warren Duffy’s father has died, and Warren returns to Philadelphia from Wales, leaving a failed comics shop, career, and marriage behind, to settle his father’s estate. Broke, Warren appears at a local comic convention with his illustrations, maybe to sell a book or two. Instead Warren discovers that a youthful fling with a Jewish white girl has bequeathed him a seventeen-year-old daughter, Tal. She moves in with Warren and while searching for a new school the pair discover the Mélange Center for Multiracial Life, which turns out to be a sort of biracial commune for “inclusion of all perspectives of the…mixed-race experience.” Is this the answer to Warren’s search for home? >> READ MORE


Texas Books Make Great Gifts   SHOP NOW!


Looking for the perfect present for the Texas book lover in your life? We have armloads of ideas—from inspiration, romance to history and popular culture. Books make great gifts—especially Texas books!  >>SHOP NOW


LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive


Ray Benson: “So many other great stories of life in the road, and we ain’t done yet”



2015 has been quite a year for author Ray Benson, founder and leader of the legendary country/western swing band Asleep at the Wheel. In June the band was inducted into the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame alongside Loretta Lynn, and in October Benson was among the nation’s leading authors invited to the Texas Book Festival.


On a Wednesday morning in November, despite the fact that his book launch was set for that evening at BookPeople, he took time from his busy schedule to answers our interview questions by email.



LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Ray, why and how did you and your bandmates decide to start Asleep at the Wheel those forty years ago in Paw Paw, West Virginia?


RAY BENSON: We wanted to escape the craziness in the cities at that time — race riots, pollution, crime — and live in the country to farm forage and live a simpler life while playing country western and roots American music. Lucky met two bothers in Maryland who were caretaking a 1,500-acre former peach and apple orchard in West Virginia who invited us to live in this 150-year-old log cabin there outside Paw Paw and help with farm work a little and get our act together. >>READ MORE


Bookish Texas event highlights  11.22.2015
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor

  • AUSTIN  Tues., Nov. 24, BookPeople, Academy Award Nominee ETHAN HAWKE speaking & signing Rules for a Knight, 7PM

    BookPeople, Academy Award Nominee ETHAN HAWKE speaking & signing Rules for a Knight, 7PM

  • DALLAS  Tues., Nov. 24,  Lucky Dog Books - Oak Cliff, The Writer's Garret presents Stone Soup Showcase with Gayle Bell, Christopher Soden, Daniel Evans, and Opalina Salas, 7PM

    Lucky Dog Books - Oak Cliff, The Writer's Garret presents Stone Soup Showcase with Gayle Bell (Poetry), Christopher Soden (Mixed Genre), Daniel Evans (Prose and Poetry), and Opalina Salas, 7PM

  • DALLAS  Wed., Nov. 25, Dallas City Performance Hall, Oral Fixation storytellers present "Too Many Cooks," 8PM

    Dallas City Performance Hall, Oral Fixation storytellers present "Too Many Cooks," 8PM

  • AUSTIN  Fri., Nov. 27, Callahan's General Store, Cheryl Beesley signs Landscaping with Edible Plants in Texas: Design and Cultivation, 10AM

    Callahan's General Store, Cheryl Beesley signs Landscaping with Edible Plants in Texas: Design and Cultivation, 10AM

  • HOUSTON  Sat., Nov. 28, Blue Willow Bookshop, Bower Yousse will meet and greet readers and share the biography, FREDDIE STEINMARK: FAITH, FAMILY, FOOTBALL, 1PM

Texas Poetry Calendar contributors to read in Austin Dec. 5


On Sat., Dec. 5, 2015, Dos Gatos Press editors Wade Martin and Allyson Whipple will host the last reading of the year from Texas Poetry Calendar contributors, 3:00 p.m., at Malvern Books in Austin.


Always the press’s biggest reading of the year, it features a lineup of poets from around the state: Ralph Hausser, Jerry Hamby, Cheney Crow, Katherine Oldmixon, Mary Lynn Stafford, Stan Crawford, Marcelle Kasprowicz, Joanne Holladay, Tina Posner, Beth Honeycutt, Christa Pandey, Shubh Schiesser, Lyman Grant, Julieta Corpus, Sarah Webb, Cindy Huyser, Ben Groner, Laura Pena, Amy Greenspan, and Diana Conces. >>READ MORE


2015 Texas Book Festival in Pictures


According to our friends at the Texas Book Festival:

"There is nothing we like more than seeing all the people that made the 2015 Festival a success. Smiling children receiving books during Reading Rock Stars, Gala attendees in their finery, thousands of readers filling Congress Avenue, and authors keeping the literary conversation going late into the night with Lit Crawl. These are the images that will keep us going through the year until we see you again."  Check out the Festival photos!


(From organization's email bulletin and website)


Texas turns out for Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month continues through Nov. 30


National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.


On November 1, participants began working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.


More than 20 Texas groups, and tens of thousands of Texas participants, have registered on the organization's website for 2015.  >>READ MORE


Writers’ League of Texas offers
group write-ins throughout November


This November, in partnership with Austin Community College's Creative Writing Department, the Writers’ League of Texas will again offer an opportunity for Austin-area writers to come together and enjoy a group write-in experience throughout the month.


Whether you are doing NaNoWriMo or just need a kick in the pants to finally finish that draft, this is the opportunity for you. One ticket for $25 gets you admittance to all write-in sessions. Come to as many as you need and stay as long as you can. There are 15 different sessions at three different locations. >>READ MORE


Sachse Public Library continues NaNoWriMo with sessions for local authors


That recurring dream of walking across the stage and accepting the National Book Award for the novel you wrote in just one month could actually happen, says Sachse Library manager Mignon Morse. “It’s possible,” she said. “There just may be that exceptional writer out there.”


The Sachse Public Library is participating in the National Novel Writing Month campaign, providing support, guidance, inspiration, and motivation to local writers and non-writers who participate in the unique program. The month-long campaign, known as NaNoWriMo, encourages would-be novelists to start writing their novel on Nov. 1 and complete their 50,000 words manuscript by midnight, Nov. 30. >>READ MORE


Houston Writers Guild launches Kickstarter with Dec. 3 goal


The Houston Writers Guild has launched a Kickstarter campagin to support establishment of the HWG Press, an internal publishing press that works to bring undiscovered authors' works to the public.


Thr group hopes to reach its fundraising goal to provide the opportunity to produce a series of genre and theme-bases anthologies to be published biannually. These funds will not only finance the production of these books, but also assist in the promotion and marketing needed to publicize these authors' contributions while promoting literacy.


The guild hopes to reach its $2,000 goal by Dec. 3, 2015. Learn more at


The Houston Writers Guild is a community of writers of all skill levels striving to improve their craft and career through education, workshops, conferences and webinars.


(From organization's press release)


Christian romance novelist Becky Wade on her approach to fiction


Becky Wade, Dallas-based inspirational novelist with Bethany House, discusses her path to publishing—and advice to writers. Wade is the Carol Award, INSPY Award, and Inspirational Reader's Choice Award winning author of contemporary Christian romances My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, Meant to Be Mine, and A Love Like Ours as well as Love Is in the Details and The Proposal, out fall 2015.  >> LISTEN NOW (mp3)




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Murder at Peacock Mansion by Judy Alter


Monday, Nov. 30 - Books and Broomsticks - author interview

Tues., Dec. 1 - Book Crazy Gals - promo

Wed., Dec. 2 - Bookishjessp promo

Thurs., Dec. 3 - The Page Unbound promo

Fri., Dec. 4 - Missus Gonzo - review

Sat., Dec. 5 -Blogging For the Love of Authors and Their Books promo

Sun., Dec. 6 - Texas Book Lover  author interview

Mon., Dec. 7 - Because This is My Life, Y’all review

Tues., Dec. 8 - Hall Ways - review

Wed., Dec. 9 - Texas Book-aholic - review



Lucky Shot by B. J. Daniels


Friday, Nov. 20 -  My Book Fix - promo

Monday, Nov. 23 - All For the Love of the Word - promo

Wednesday, Nov. 25 - Books and Broomsticks - promo

Friday, Nov. 27 - Crazy Book Chicks - review

Monday, Nov.29 - Bookishjessp - review

Wednesday, Dec. 2 - The Page Unbound - promo

Friday, Dec. 4 - Hall Ways - author interview

Monday, Dec. 7 - Missus Gonzo - review

Wednesday, Dec. 9 - Texas Book-aholic - review

Friday, Dec. 11 - Blogging For the Love of Authors and Their Books promo



Wyoming Rugged by Diana Palmer


Nov. 23 ​Missus Gonzo review

Nov. 25 ​Texas Book-aholic review

Nov. 27​ Secret Asian Girl review

Nov. 27 Bookishjessp promo

Nov. 30​ Book Crazy Gals review



The Door of the Heart

by Diana Finfrock Farrar




The Whole Enchilada by Angelina LaRue




Freed to Forgive

by Julie B. Cosgrove




A Cold Creek Christmas

by RaeAnne Thayne


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