Mockingbird and Watchman: Texas bookstores celebrate Harper Lee novels with myriad events

To celebrate the July 14, 2015, release of Mississippi novelist and Pulitzer Prize winner Harper Lee's long-awaited novel Go Set a Watchman, Texas chain and independent bookstores have scheduled special events throughout the week., the blog of Texas-based chain Half Price Books, posted a quiz on "14 Things You Should Know About Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird." Here's one: The book that Scout tells her father about, The Gray Ghost, was a real children’s book by Robert F. Schulkers—part of a series of adventure titles in the 1920s that Lee read when she was young.

On Monday, July 13, starting at 9 a.m., all Barnes & Noble stores invite guests to participate in reading Lee's acclaimed novel To Kill a Mockingbird from start to finish with special guest readers, including authors or local celebrities. (All Texas events are listed here on our Bookish Texas Events page.)

Many bookstores are opening early on Tuesday, July 14, release date for the new novel. In Houston, B&N Vanderbilt Square will start its Harper Lee Celebration at 7 am, and Katy Budget Books, plans a Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee Release Party for 6:30 pm.

In Austin, BookPeople's retail store manager Bryan Samsone was quoted in Entertainment Weekly as ordering 300 copies of Go Set a Watchman as soon as it was announced in February; since then, 100 of those copies been set aside for preorders.

“For a front list order for an independent bookstore," Samsone said in the magazine, "300 copies is not something that we usually request unless we’re doing an event, so this is quite unusual. There’s a lot of anticipation for folks.”

Barnes & Noble announces all pre-orders of the hardcover edition, 9780062409850, of Go Set a Watchman placed on on or before 12pm Eastern time July 13 will be delivered on July 14, the on-sale date. The bookstore chain has also made available a downloadable book discussion guide for clubs and classes.

At Half Price Books, the HPB Book Club is currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird as its discounted June/July selection. To chat with fellow HPB Book Clubbers, visit and join the conversation.

From the book description on the publisher's website:

An historic literary event: the publication of a newly discovered novel, the earliest known work from Harper Lee, the beloved, bestselling author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch Scout struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.

Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee's enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

(From bookstore and publisher websites)

Texas football classic Friday Night Lights 25th Anniversary edition debuts in August; author Bissinger in Lone Star Listens Aug. 9

Before the book, the movie, and the TV show, it all started in Odessa, Texas, in 1988. Author H. G. “Buzz” Bissinger returns this fall to the literary landscape that inspired Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream with Da Capo Press’s 25th anniversary edition of the book.

Bissinger (below right), a former reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and now author of six books, plans tour dates in Texas Sept. 14-18, 2015. We’ll have more information on his schedule as details become available.

Advertisers and publishers with other fall titles: Special Football Edition of Lone Star Literary Life August 9. Perfect for advertising your Texas football-themed books and titles. For more information, email us at

Author photo by Don Savini

From the publisher's website:

Return once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa--the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Odessa is not known to be a town big on dreams, but the Panthers help keep the hopes and dreams of this small, dusty town going. Socially and racially divided, its fragile economy follows the treacherous boom-bust path of the oil business. In bad times, the unemployment rate barrels out of control; in good times, its murder rate skyrockets. But every Friday night from September to December, when the Permian High School Panthers play football, this West Texas town becomes a place where dreams can come true. With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger chronicles a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires--and sometimes shatters--the teenagers who wear the Panthers' uniforms.

Four Christian fiction writers from Texas named finalists for 2015 Carol awards

Texans Gillian Bronte Adams, Kelly Irvin, Lisa Wingate, and Karen Witemeyer (noted by asterisks below) have been named among the finalists for the 2015 Carol Awards. The winners will be announced September 19 during the gala awards dinner at the annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas.

Look for a special focus on Christian literature in Lone Star Literary Life Sept. 6 and 13, along with special guest Lisa Wingate on Lone Star Listens Sunday, Sept. 6.


Last Family Standing by Jennifer AlLee (Abingdon Press)

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

* The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate (Tyndale House)


Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson (Howard [Simon & Schuster])

Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke (Tyndale House)

What Follows After by Dan Walsh (Revell–A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Historical Romance

For Such a Time by Kate Breslin (Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden (Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

While Love Stirs by Lorna Seilstad (Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)


Poison Town by Creston Mapes (David C. Cook)

A Way of Escape by Serena B. Miller (independently published)

A Cry from the Dust by Carrie Stuart Parks (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


An October Bride by Katie Ganshert (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

I’ll be Home for Christmas from Where Treetops Glisten by Sarah Sundin (Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

* A Cowboy Unmatched by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)


The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

* Love Redeemed by Kelly Irvin (Harvest House Publishers)

Somebody Like You by Beth K. Vogt (Howard [Simon & Schuster])

Romantic Suspense

Under a Turquoise Sky by Lisa Carter (Abingdon Press)

No One to Trust by Lynette Eason (Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Deceived by Irene Hannon (Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Short Novel

Second Chance Summer by Irene Hannon (Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Rescuing the Texan’s Heart by Mindy Obenhaus (Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Wyoming Heir by Naomi Rawlings (Love Inspired [Harlequin])


• Orphan’s Song by Gillian Bronte Adams (Enclave Publishing)

A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes (Enclave Publishing)

Jupiter Winds by C. J. Darlington (independently published)

Young Adult

This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof (independently published)

Samantha Sanderson at the Movies by Robin Caroll (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Storm Siren by Mary Weber (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Debut Novel

Playing Saint by Zachary Bartels (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

For Such a Time by Kate Breslin (Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall (Whitaker House)

(Information from American Christian Fiction Writers website)

20th Anniversary Texas Book Festival set for Oct. 17–18; Texas Teen Book Festival, Sept. 26

Dates have been set for two of Texas’s most highly anticipated annual book events. The 2015 Texas Book Festival will be held October 17–18, 2015. The Texas Book Festival Weekend is free and open to the public and takes place in Austin, at the state capitol and surrounding grounds. One of the largest and most prestigious literary festivals in the country, the festival features more than 250 nationally and critically recognized authors at more than twenty venues including the capitol; more than eighty exhibitors; live music, local food trucks; family activities; and opportunities to meet authors and fellow book lovers.

The roster of participating authors is typically released in late July, along with the announcement of the year’s festival poster.

The Texas Teen Book Festival is one of the largest of its kind in the nation, a highly anticipated annual event in the young adult literature world, drawing some of the most popular authors who write for the age group. More than 4,000 YA enthusiasts attended the Teen Book Festival in 2014 to hear a lineup of 29 authors, the first year that the gathering was held at St. Edward’s University.

The Texas Teen Book Festival is produced and sponsored by the Texas Book Festival and BookPeople, with support from St. Edward’s University and Humanities Texas, and in partnership with the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation. It is free and open to the public, thanks to sponsors and volunteers.

(Information from Texas Book Festival website)

Cisco Writers Club 39th Annual Summer Writing Contest open for submissions

The Cisco Writers Club 39th Annual Summer Writing Contest is now accepting entries. Writers anywhere may enter; membership in the Cisco Writers Club is not required. Six categories are available, with several special prizes offered.

1. Poetry, maximum 30 lines

2. Publication Briefs:

        (a) Anecdotes (as in Reader's Digest), maximum 200 words;

        (b) Columns), maximum 750 words

3. Articles), maximum 2,000 words

4. Short Stories:

        (a) For Children (12 and under) ), maximum 1,200 words;

        (b) General), maximum 2,500 words

5. Books, submit brief synopsis and first two chapters

6. Children Write! Any genre, maximum 1,000 words (Age limit: 15 or younger)

Enter by mail or online. The deadline for submission is July 31, 2015. Visit for eligibility, formatting guidelines, and entry.

(From organization’s news release)