Backus retires as Texas A&M Press Director, Davies assumes post

Charles Backus, Texas A&M University Press’s Edward R. Campbell Press Director, retired from that position effective May 17. Backus came to Texas A&M in the fall of 1999, following previous assignments as director of the university presses at Vanderbilt (1993–1999) and Syracuse (1987–1993). He began his thirty-two-year career in scholarly publishing as the first acquisitions editor at the University Press of New England, based at Dartmouth College.

His long association with institutions of higher education also includes five years as a development officer at Tulane and Yale, one year as a visiting assistant professor at Bowdoin College, graduate study at Princeton (where he earned a PhD in Chinese history in 1978), and undergraduate study at the University of Southwestern Louisiana and the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center.

During Backus’s tenure at Texas A&M, the Press grew considerably in publication output and annual sales. Through the Texas Book Consortium, Texas A&M University Press also continues its statewide collaboration and distribution outreach through books produced by TCU Press, the University of North Texas Press, the Texas State Historical Association, and other scholarly publishers in Texas. Backus also substantially developed the Press’s Advancement Board to include a healthy and constructive mixture of forty outstanding members around the state and from as far away as West Point, New York.

This month Shannon Davies steps up as the new holder of the Campbell press director’s chair. Davies, who earned a PhD in American civilization from the University of Texas at Austin, arrived at Texas A&M as senior editor in 2000, following a decade as science editor at the University of Texas Press. In 2004 Davies was named the Louise Lindsey Merrick Editor for the Natural Environment; she added editor-in-chief to her title at the start of 2014, following the retirement of Mary Lenn Dixon from that position. “Shannon has developed an outstanding list in her areas of focus on nature and the environment, matching and showcasing many of the University’s academic hallmarks. There is no one anywhere who is better qualified to assume the reins at Texas A&M Press,” Backus said.

(From Texas A&M University Press reports)

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Texas Rising, A&E/History channel miniseries and book featuring work of Austinite David Marion Wilkinson, debuts Memorial Day 2015

Martha Louise Hunter, contributing writer

Austin novelist/screenwriter David Marion Wilkinson shared writing duties on Texas Rising, the ten-hour television series that premieres Memorial Day on A&E/History about the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers after the events at the Alamo. Wilkinson is author the of Not Between Brothers: An Epic Novel of Texas.

Credited as a co-producer for Texas Rising, Wilkinson came on board as a historical consultant and quickly began co-writing the script with Leslie Grief and Darrell K. Fetty. Wilkinson will also appear in the companion documentary, along with Texas historian H. W. Brands and series stars Bill Paxton, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson. The all-star cast of Texas Rising also includes Ray Liotta, Oliver Martinez, Brendan Fraser, and Kris Kristofferson.

Texas Rising comes from ThinkFactory Media, the same team responsible for the A&E/History’s blockbuster production Hatfield & McCoys. The soundtrack, which includes new music by George Strait, Kristofferson, and Jose Feliciano, will also be released as an album.

The five-night program on A&E/History begins Monday and Tuesday (May 25 and May 26) and continues the next three Mondays (June 1, 8, and 15).

Austin contributor Martha Louise Hunter is the author of Painting Juliana (Goldminds, 2014).

Romantic Times coming to Dallas May 11-17

The RT (formerly Romantic Times) Booklovers Convention will be held Saturday, May 11-17, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency, Reunion Tower in Dallas. The event schedule includes:

  • May 11 Writer’s Bootcamp
  • May 11 Cherry Adair Pre-Con Master Class
  • May 12 Blogger and Reviewer Conference and Symposium
  • May 13 Sessions on craft and marketing for a variety of genres
  • May 14 Sessions on the various approaches to publishing including traditional, hybrid, and self-publishing
  • May 15 RT Book Reviews Awards Ceremony and Winners Party
  • May 16 The Giant Book Fair, Meeting New Authors
  • May 17 Meet and Greet with readers and authors

Events include agent and editor meetings with aspiring author attendees. RT Booklovers Convention is produced annually by RT Book Reviews. For further information, visit

Sachse Author Con set for May 19

The Friends of the Sachse Public Library will host their first Author Con Tuesday, May 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. Sachse is six miles northeast of Garland, Texas.

A celebration of local authors showcasing works from children’s picture books to young adult, inspirational nonfiction, and thriller fiction novels, this event will provide attendees a chance to talk with authors, socialize with friends, and discover the services the library has to offer.

Award-winning writer and photographer Reavis Z. Wortham of Garland is the creator of the Red River Series, including Burrows and The Rock Hole.

Children’s authors to be featured include Bella and Charlie Campbell and their two titles, Building Bridges of Friendship and Got Mojo; Jolyn Singh, who has written the picture book The Little Olive Tree; and Alan Elliot, Willy, the Texas Longhorn.

Young adult authors include Amanda Thrasher, winner of the Mom’s Choice Award for her young adult novel The Greenlee Project. Other YA authors include Lindsay Cummings, Murder Complex, and C. K. Gallimore, Broken, a teen/young adult romance/mystery.

Two inspirational authors both of whom are Sachse residents, will be participating. Jema Hill Cook has written a devotional book for adults. Michelle Moore recently published an inspirational nonfiction book, Arm Yourself: Equipping Ourselves with the Armor of God. Kathryn Erikson, who writes inspirational fiction, will also be on hand.

Other featured authors include:

  • Sachse resident Ruth Glover, an active volunteer for the Sachse Public Library, has written a nonfiction book titled More Than a Paycheck: Inspiration and Tools for Career Change.
  • Multi-award winning author Lena Nelson Dooley writes historical novels.
  • Avid historian and retired pilot Charles Hemphill writes medical thrillers and historical romance. Virginia Lee writes science fiction and will be showcasing Untamed Valor.
  • Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical suspense with heart.”
  • Janis Susan May writes romance, mystery, and children’s books. She will have a selection of genres to showcase at the convention.
  • Chance Nix writes thrillers, horror, and fiction.
  • LaRee Bryant writes mysteries and historical romances and will featuring two of her mystery novels, Poppy Fever and Buttercup Blues from the Poppy Green Mystery series.
  • James Gary Vineyard writes suspense/thrillers, including the award-winning The Grave on Peckerwood Hill.
  • Kevin Crank is another Sachse resident who will be attending featuring his debut novel, When the Moon Shines Bright.

Check the website for more information.

Writing Poetry: Passion, Process, and Publication at BookPeople May 21

Please join the staff of BookPeople Thurs., May 21, 2015, for a discussion about the craft and business of poetry, featuring four award-winning poets from varied backgrounds and literary traditions to give the panel a broad vantage point. Questions will address the particular passion a poet must carry in order to produce work, the actual process of producing the work, and the distance a poet must establish between himself and the work in order to successfully publish. While each of these are highly personal to the poet, participants will learn how four of Texas’ best poets have carved their way.

Panelists are Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, Derrick Brown, Carrie Fountain, and Sasha West. BookPeople is located at 603 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703, 3rd floor.

The event is free and open to the public.

2015 WLT Writers and Editors Conference set for June 26-28 in Austin

The 2015 Writers League of Texas Editors and Agents Conference will be held June 26 through June 28 at the Hyatt Regency in Austin. Three days of panels, lectures, readings, workshops, and consultations give aspiring and established authors a chance to learn and grow in the writing profession.

Attendees network with agents, editors, writers, and other industry professionals, improve your craft, and learn about the latest market trends.

Querying writers hear tips on how to find representation directly from agents. All  writers can get story crafting tips from editors and published authors and discover how best to find and build an audience for your project.

Participating vendors will showcase the best services available to writers and authors.

Prices through June 5, 2015, are $489 for nonmembers and $429 for members (or until sold out; the conference filled to capacity last year).

The conference is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.  Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts. For further information, contact or call 512-499-8914;

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