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7.16.17 News Briefs

West Texas Book Festival scheduled for Sept. 21–23 in Abilene

17th year for event, presented by Friends of the Library


ABILENE—The 17th annual West Texas Book Festival, presented by Friends of the Abilene Public Library, will celebrate reading and writing with three full days of activities, Sept. 21–23, 2017.


Fourteen authors will be featured in presentations, panels, and workshops free to the public on Friday and Saturday.


Two ticketed events will kick off the seventeenth annual book festival on Thursday, Sept. 21. The Boots & Books Culinary Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Thursday will be held in the Hunter Welcome Center. Fort Worth author Jeff Guinn will be presented the A. C. Greene Award, given every year to a distinguished Texas author, and the meal will be prepared from recipes in The Big Country Cookbook by featured cookbook author Tiffany Harelik (rhymes with garlic). Tickets are $35 each or $280 for a table of eight, and seating is limited. To inquire about reservations, contact Karen Turner at (325) 673-4307.


Thursday night’s Texas Cookbook Gala at the Abilene Country Club is a major fund-raiser for the Friends. The event, pairing Harelik’s cookbook recipes with Texas wines, is sold out.


Friday and Saturday’s programs will be at the Abilene Public Library downtown, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Also, two authors will be visiting six Abilene elementary schools throughout the day Friday as part of the festival’s Authors in Schools initiative.


Authors speaking on Friday at the library include Jeff Guinn and James Ward Lee from Fort Worth; Al Pickett from Abilene; S.C. Gwynne from Austin; and Lisa Wingate from Howe, Texas. Wingate will conclude the day with a free workshop at 2 p.m. on “Writing Your Family Stories.”


Saturday’s presenters are Chris Barton and Jennifer Ziegler, Austin; Preston Lewis, San Angelo; Stew Magnuson, Virginia; Diane Kelly, Burleson; and Penny Klostermann, Steven Moore, Joe Specht, and musician Greg Young, all from Abilene.


The Ricki Brown Abilene Librarian of the Year Award will be presented at a boxed-lunch program at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature at 11:45 Saturday. To conclude the festival, novelist Diane Kelly will conduct a workshop at 1 p.m. at the library on 20 Tips for Better Writing.


Abilene authors who have had a book published in the past year will be honored at a festival “preview” event, the Abilene Author Showcase, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17, at the South Branch Library in the Mall of Abilene. It is also free to the public. More information is available online at


Archer City Story Center offers two workshops in July


ARCHER CITY — ARCHER CITY — The Archer City Story Center is offering the workshop “Literary Nonfiction Workshop” Sun., July 23 through Sun., July 30.



The Archer City Story Center is a program of the Royal Theater, a non-profit theater group operating in Archer City since 1993 with its first production, Tumbleweeds. The Royal Theater, a small-town silver screen, was the inspiration for Larry McMurtry's 1966 novel The Last Picture Show, which was adapted into the Oscar-winning 1971 film starring Cybill Shepherd and Jeff Bridges. A fire gutted the theater in 1965 and the building stood in ruins for decades before being rebuilt by the Archer Community Foundation in 2000. The new theater sits adjacent to the original space, which now houses outdoor amphitheater programs.


In its new life, the 230-seat theater quickly became a leader in North Texas and beyond as a listening and live performance venue as well as a gathering spot for the arts. For generations, the Royal Theater has been more than the symbol of an iconic book and movie. It has been the soul of the town, a place for the community to gather with, as McMurtry once said, "something to do."



The Royal Theater and the restored 1928 Spur Hotel anchor the Archer City Story campus. Small-town, walkable Archer City is visited year-round by book and movie enthusiasts. Many of them come to visit Booked Up, the legendary used book store filled with titles curated by owner Larry McMurtry. Although McMurtry famously pared down his collection a few years back, Booked Up is still open and selling titles. Travelers also come for the collections of history found in the Archer County Museum.


In 2016 the Archer City Story Center began holding workshops.


“Literary Nonfiction Workshop” with writer-in-residence Kim Cross is a week-long workshop is designed to provide professional journalists and writers the opportunity to learn and practice the craft of long-form literary nonfiction.


Participating writers (no more than 12) stay at the Spur Hotel. Each day begins with an interactive discussion about a specific element of the craft (for example, dialogue), guided by the writer in residence. Writers are then dispatched into the town of Archer City to practice that element (in this example, by recording and writing a short scene involving dialogue). By suppertime, the group reconvenes to read and workshop their assignment and discuss what they learned in the process. The writer in residence and at least one mentor are available throughout the day to field questions.


To be eligible for a professional spot in this workshop, applicants must be 21 or older and possess a strong command of the fundamentals of writing. Ideally, they have at least five years of professional experience in journalism, publishing, or creative writing. Reporting experience is recommended, but not required. Graduate students in journalism or creative writing will be considered based on writing samples and recommendations.


Participants for “Literary Nonfiction Workshop” are selected by nomination. For more information, contact Kim Cross at


(Information from organization’s website and media sources; images from organization's Facebook page)


Submit to the 2017 PEN Southwest Book Awards


PEN Texas invites all writers in the Southwestern states to participate in the 2017 contest for excellence in writing in the categories of Poetry, Fiction, Creative Non-fiction, and Literary Translation. The winner in each category will receive a $500 prize, co-sponsored by PEN Center USA and PEN Texas.


The contest is open to full (regular) members of PEN Center USA and PEN America living in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. It is also open to Associate Members of PEN Texas. Entries must be books published between May 15, 2015 and August 1, 2017. Self-published books are eligible. Translations must be into English.


Entries must be received no later than September 1, 2017.

  • Author’s name
  • Title of the book being entered
  • Genre of the title being entered (poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and literary translation)
  • (3) Finally, mail three copies of each title to:
  • Joe Milazzo, 2639 Sharpview Land, Dallas, TX 75228


Books will not be returned. For acknowledgment of receipt, please enclose an email address. Please do not send fourth class book rate unless ample time for delivery is assured.


Winners will be announced in late January of 2018.


(From organization’s press release)


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Johnston named director of Michener Center


AUSTIN—Author Bret Anthony Johnston assumes the directorship of the Michener Center for Writers, in Austin, in July 2017.  He succeeds longtime director James Magnuson, who is retiring. Johnston has directed the creative writing program at Harvard University for the past twelve years. A native Texan, his fiction titles include the story collection Corpus Christi and the novel Remember Me Like This.


(Information from organization’s press release and social media)


Texas authors, performers featured at Texas Plains Trail Region Roundup, July 19–21, in Plainview


PLAINVIEW—The 9th annual Tourism & Preservation Roundup, a heritage tourism conference presented by the Texas Plains Trail Region, will feature authors Joe W. Specht on West Texas music history and Ryann Ford, creator and photographer of The Last Stop, during its three days of programming, July 19–21, 2017, in Plainview.


This year’s conference, which helps prepare tourism and historic preservation professionals and volunteers with ideas they can use to attract visitors to sites and events, will focus on the newly designated Texas Music Trail, historic highways, and other angles for incorporate cultural heritage into tourism initiatives and local economic development. It will also serve as a launching pad for celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Texas Heritage Trails Program, which began in 1968 as the Texas Travel Trails in connection with HemisFair ’68.


Destination marketers, museum workers, parks personnel, elected officials, and followers of Texas history are all welcome. Registration for the full conference, which includes:


• Wednesday afternoon tour of the Jimmy Dean Museum and other museums on the Wayland Baptist University campus, 400–5:30 pm;

• Wednesday evening reception (cash bar) and barbecue banquet at the Plainview Country Club, with a talk on West Texas music heritage by historian Joe W. Specht, author of The Roots of Texas Music and The Women There Don't Treat You Mean: Abilene in Song, preceded by Texas piano stylings of Lucy Dean Record and cowboy poetry performances by students of Boys Ranch, beginning at 5:30 pm;

• Thursday morning and afternoon sessions on museums, historic highways, trails, and more, including a presentation by Ryann Ford on The Last Stop: Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside;

• Thursday lunch with a program on the new Texas Music Trail;




• Thursday evening performance at the Fair Theatre, with actress Zoe Kirkpatrick of Post as Cynthia Ann Parker in the late Marybeth Little Weston’s one-woman show “The Comanche with Blue Eyes”, 7:00 pm;

• Friday hands-on session on publicizing your community’s music heritage, 9:00–11:00 am.


• Vicki Hamblen, author of the revised edition of E. Hamblen’s The Rim to Rim Road: Will Hamblen and the Crossing of Texas' Palo Duro Canyon, will also be on hand to sign copies of her book, publishedin 2014 by Texas Plains Trail Books.


The all-inclusive registration fee (dinner and lunch included) is only $99.00. Tickets to “The Comanche with Blue Eyes” are only $10 ($15 at the door). Special hotel rates are available at the Comfort Suites for overnight guests.


A full schedule of all presentations, sessions, and activities is at /www.TexasPlainsTrail/Roundup, along with online reservation and ticket reservations.


The event is made possible with the generous sponsorship of Main Street Plainview and the Plainview Chamber of Commerce, with sponsorships by the Post Chamber of Commerce and Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch.


The Texas Plains Trail Region (TPTR), an award-winning heritage tourism initiative of the Texas Historical Commission, is a nonprofit organization committed to increasing heritage tourism to the 52 counties of the Texas Plains and Panhandle.


For more information, call TPTR at 806.747.1997 (mobile 806.252.6544).


From organization’s press release


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