Lone Star Literary Life thanks supporters of our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign — you're keeping us going for a second year!

On February 2, 2015, Lone Star Literary Life published its first issue of Texas's only comprehensive statewide books-news coverage. And to celebrate our first anniversary and raise funds for more powerful software features and more robust audience reach, we turned to Indiegogo — and our own faithful readers and fans.

Over th 30 days, we raised a total of $5,727 from 74 backers. To those who contributed, we express our sincerest thanks! Your perks —and a personal note of thanks to each of you — are on the way. In next week's issue we'll publish a full list of contributors (after checking with you first).

We've got big plans in store for 2016. Stay tuned over the next few weeks!

Make a note of our hashtags: #LoneStarLit2016 #ComeAndFundIt

Lone Star Lit celebrates Black History Month 2016

One of the goals of Lone Star Literary Life is to shine a spotlight on the admirable diversity in Texas literature—a commitment that extends beyond demographics, but also to genre and publishing platform and approach.

In this spirit, we’re pleased to highlight Black History Month in February 2016, with a variety of features coming up.

  • Behind the Spine Podcast  Our monthly podcast, Behind the Spine, will feature bookman Billy Huckaby of Fort Worth, CEO of Wild Horse Media Group. Huckaby will be discussing with host Ally Bishop the range of Texas African-American titles at Eakin Press, an imprint of WHMG.
  • Lone Star Listens Author Sanderia Faye of Dallas will be profiled in Lone Star Listens on February 7. Her novel Mourner’s Bench (University of Arkansas Press, Sept. 2015) is a coming-of-age story of a young African-American girl told across the backdrop of a rapidly changing small town in the South during the 1960s.
  • Lone Star Reviews The first Sunday of February and the last Sunday of February will feature Texas African American–interest titles in our reviews.

If you are a publisher, publicist, or author of a recently published Texas African American title, and would like to mentioned in this month’s coverage, please drop us a note at info@lonestarliterary.com.

Black History Month titles from University of North Texas Press

Black History Month titles from Texas university presses

Marti Corn with introduction by Thad Sitton and foreword by Tracy Xavia Karner

The Ground on Which I Stand: Tamina, a Freedmen's Town (Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce)

Texas A&M University Press (May 9, 2016)

978-1623493769, Hardcover, 160 pages, $40.00

Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce (Book 22)

In 1871, newly freed slaves established the community of Tamina—then called “Tammany”—north of Houston, near the rich timber lands of Montgomery County. Located in proximity to the just-completed railroad from Conroe to Houston, the community benefited from the burgeoning local lumber industry and available transportation. The residents built homes, churches, a one-room school, and a general store.

Over time, urban growth and change has overtaken Tamina. The sprawling communities of The Woodlands, Shenandoah, Chateau Woods, and Oak Ridge have encroached, introducing both opportunity and complication, as the residents of this rural community enjoy both the benefits and the challenges of urban life. On the one hand, the children of Tamina have the opportunity to attend some of the best public schools in the nation; on the other hand, residents whose education and job skills have not kept pace with modern society are struggling for survival.

Through striking and intimate photography and sensitively gleaned oral histories, Marti Corn has chronicled the lives, dreams, and spirit of the people of Tamina. The result is a multi-faceted portrait of community, kinship, values, and shared history.

Richard F. Selcer, A History of Fort Worth in Black & White: 165 Years of African-American Life  (November 2015

A History of Fort Worth in Black & White fills a long-empty niche on the Fort Worth bookshelf: a scholarly history of the city’s black community that starts at the beginning with Ripley Arnold and the early settlers, and comes down to today with our current battles over education, housing, and representation in city affairs. The book’s sidebars on some noted and some not-so-noted African Americans make it appealing as a school text as well as a book for the general reader.

“Selcer does a great job of exploring little-known history about the military, education, sports and even some social life and organizations.”—Bob Ray Sanders, author of Calvin Littlejohn: Portrait of a Community in Black and White

Bruce A. Glasrud and Milton S. Jordan, editors, Free Blacks in Antebellum Texas (September 2015)

Free Blacks in Antebellum Texas collects the essays of Harold R. Schoen and Andrew Forest Muir, early scholars who conducted the most complete studies on the topic, although neither published a book. Schoen published six articles on “The Free Negro in Republic of Texas” and Muir four articles on free blacks in Texas before the Civil War. Free black Texans experienced the dangers and risks of life on the frontier in Texas. Those experiences, and many others, required of them a strength and fortitude that evidenced the spirit and abilities of free blacks in antebellum Texas. Sometimes with support from a few whites, as well as their own efforts, they struggled and survived. The editors include a thoughtful introduction and a wide-ranging bibliography.

"Schoen and Muir were first-rate historians, and their pioneering work stands today as outstanding scholarship. The editors provide a solid overview of the subject, and their bibliography will be useful to anyone interested on free blacks in Texas."—Randolph B. Campbell, author of Gone to Texas and An Empire for Slavery

Richard Orton, The Upshaws of County Line: An American Family (November 2014), Ottis Locke Best Coffee Table Book Award from the East Texas Historical Association, 2015

Guss, Felix, and Jim Upshaw founded the community of County Line in the 1870s in northwest Nacogdoches County, in deep East Texas.  As with hundreds of other relatively autonomous black communities created at that time, the Upshaws sought a safe place to raise their children and create a livelihood during Reconstruction and Jim Crow Texas.

In the late 1980s photographer Richard Orton visited County Line for the first time and became aware of a world he did not know existed as a white man.  He went down the rabbit hole, so to speak, and met some remarkable people there who changed his life.

This book should appeal to anyone interested in American or Texas history, particularly the history of African Americans in the South in the aftermath of the Civil War. The book should also be of interest to anyone with an appreciation for documentary photography, including students and teachers of photography.

"There are giants in the earth and other 'presences' at County Line, and when you look closely at the photos of Orton perhaps you can sense some of them."—from the foreword by Thad Sitton

Border Regional Library Association honors UTEP filmmaker and author Sandoval; awards to be presented in El Paso Feb. 27

South Sun Rises: A Bilingual Poetic Narrative of the Borderland by Valentin Sandoval (Sherman Asher Pubishing) has been selected to receive a Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association. Congratulations to Jim Mafchir and Valentin Sandoval.

According to IMdb.com, Sandoval studied film at the University of Texas-El Paso, but his filmmaking skill and style is mostly self-taught, honed by hands-on work experience with writer/documentarian Jimmy Santiago Baca, cinematographer Lee Daniel and Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Paul Espinosa. From the start, Sandoval has not shied away from harsh subject matter or daunting imagery. At age nineteen, he produced a short film about a young heroin junkie entitled Instrumento, which screened at the Mesilla Valley Film Festival and garnered Sandoval's first award-the first-ever award for best independent filmmaking bestowed by UTEP. Since then, Sandoval made the documentary Clamor about young inmates in Chino prison, scoring three additional awards, plus short films and The Gray. His work has been screened at the Chicago Film Festival, Santa Fe Film Festival, South by Southwest Film Festival, and Dallas' Vistas Film Festival.

The awards banquet will be held on February 27, 2016, in El Paso. For more information, visit www.brla.info.

(From organization’s press release )

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Inspirational Writers Alive! accepting registration for

IWA! Spring Writers Conference, April 2, Amarillo

The Amarillo chapter of Inspirational Writers Alive! has announced the program for its spring 2016 conference, to be held Sat., April 2, 2016, in Amarillo.

Keynote speaker Vivian Stewart, past poet laureate of Oklahoma, will talk about “The Key to Successful Writing—Passion.” Stewart will also present the following workshops:

  • “How Writing Sonnets Can Improve Your Poetry and Prose”
  • “Create Characters That Your Readers Will Never Forget!”
  • “How to Write Song Lyrics Even if You Can’t Read Music”

Terry Burns will present the following workshops:

  • “Just Say Yes”
  • “Writing in Obedience”
  • “Survive Your Way to Publication”

A former literary agent and an author with more than forty books in print, with wide experience in all aspects of the writing field, workshop leader Terry Burns will be sharing information that makes him a welcomed guest at venues all over the country.

Marsha Kay Oldham will present the following workshops:

  • “Become a Savvy Contestant”
  • “Perfecting Your Query”
  • “What’s in a Name?”
  • “Imagery in Writing”

Oldham is a talented and energetic writer with wide accomplishments, including poetry books, magazine publications, generous service to organizations (contest chair of the Poetry Society of Oklahoma and the 2016 contest chair for Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc., to name two), song leading on piano, and eight children who have blessed her with twenty-six grandchildren.

In addition, critique sessions are available with Terry Burns. Slots may be reserved in advance by contacting Helen Luecke, HelenLuecke@clear.net.

Conference schedule:

Sat., April 2, 2016, Kingswood United Methodist Church, 4801 South Austin, Amarillo, Texas

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; registration 8-8:30 a.m.

Lunch included in advance registration fee of $65.00 with advance registration ($35.00 for university, high school, and home school students)

For further information, or details about IWA! monthly meetings, contact Karl Smith at karlwk@suddenlink.net or 336-5164.

2016 IWA! Spring Conference Contests are open for submission through March 1. Award presentations will be held at the closing ceremony of the conference. Contact Karl Smith, Contest Chair, at (806) 336-5164 or karlwk@suddenlink.net for details.

Sachse Author Con accepting author applications for May 21 event

SACSHE—Authors looking for an opportunity to promote their books are invited to apply for the upcoming Sachse Author Con event at the Sachse Public Library. The event, sponsored by the Sachse Public Library, is set for Sat., May 21, 2016, from noon to 4 p.m.

The event, which is free to the public, is designed to showcase local Texas authors. Each author will be provided an individual table to display and sell books and mingle with the reading public.

Library staff are searching for a variety of authors of fiction genres. Authors who write for children, young adult, and adults are encouraged to participate in this showcase event.

Interested authors should submit an application, along with one of their published books for review, no later than February 5, 2016. Contact Mignon Morse, Library Manager, for more information and to request an application. Authors who are selected to attend will be notified of their acceptance no later than March 1.  If accepted, a $30 registration fee will be required no later than March 15 to be included in publicity. Lunch will be provided for each author.

Download the application at www.cityofsachse.com/library

Mignon Morse, Sachse Public Library, 3815 Sachse Road, Building C, Sachse, TX 75048; mmorse@cityofsachse.com, 972-530-8966.

(Information from organization’s press release)

DFW Writers Conference, April 23-24, announces special guest speakers, classes, agents, editors

DALLAS—The 2016 DFW Writers Conference, to be held April 23-24, 2016m at the Fort Worth Convention Center, has released a partial list of its classes and authors and the lists of agents and editors who will be attending as well.

Three special guest speakers will be appearing at the 2016 DFW Writer’s Conference.

Christopher Golden is the award-winning, bestselling author of such novels as The Myth Hunters, Wildwood Road, The Boys Are Back in Town, The Ferryman, Strangewood, Of Saints and Shadows, and (with Tim Lebbon) The Map of Moments. He has also written books for teens and young adults, including Poison Ink, Soulless, and the thriller series Body of Evidence, honored by the New York Public Library and chosen as one of YALSA’s Best Books for Young Readers. Upcoming teen novels include a new series of hardcover YA fantasy novels co-authored with Tim Lebbon and entitled The Secret Journeys of Jack London.

Thomas Kunkel is the president of St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. He has served as president of American Journalism Review and as dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. He is the author or editor of five previous books, including Genius in Disguise, Enormous Prayers, and Letters from the Editor. Recently, his book, Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker is causing quite a stir in literary circles.

Tara McKelvey, a fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, is a correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. She is also a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the author of Monstering: Inside America’s Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War. She is now a White House reporter for the BBC.

In addition to guest speakers, the conference has an extensive list of classes, including:

Does My Plot Look Too Big?

Addison Fox

We’ve all heard about publisher-requested word count. 50,000 words. 70,000 words. 90,000 words. Category-length. Single-title length. Novellas. Short stories. In this workshop Addison Fox discusses the plot elements that fall out of story length and why word count plays a role. Content, pacing and character growth all develop differently when writing to certain word counts and she will give you several pointers, tips and questions to ask yourself when you sit down to write your next book.

Marketing Tips for Writers

Bonnie Stufflebeam and D.L. Young

Writers today are expected to actively participate in the marketing of their work. Whether you’re self-publishing or publishing with a press large or small, knowing a thing or two about marketing your writing will give you an upper hand. The UNT Press marketing manager will go over basics and which techniques seem to be most effective. Social media, advertising, blogging, and working in tandem with your press or publisher will be a few of the topics explored.

Make Your Fantasy and Horror Stories Feel Real

C Dean Andersson, Horror Writers Association award finalist whose publishers include HarperCollins and Kensington, reveals how to tell unforgettable fantasy and horror stories. Use the emotional heart to override the rational head. Amaze and frighten yourself then show, don’t tell readers how you feel. Face your inner shadows. Visualize fantastic worlds. Nurture your sense of wonder. In this presentation, learn how to trigger the strong emotions readers crave and won’t forget by making your fantasy and horror stories feel real.

Rayguns or Magic Wands: Building Your World in 500 Words or Less

Dantzel Cherry

So you want to write an immersive fictional world, but infodumps and maid-and-butler dialogue aren’t in vogue. Whether you’re writing short stories or hefty epic novels, your readers want a world that they can dive into head-first while still following the plot. Come get tips on how invite readers to lose themselves in your world – without getting lost.

Comic Writing Boot Camp

David Doub

Writing comics and novels are very similar yet worlds apart and we’re going to show that in action.  During this workshop participants will be encouraged to draw as well as write to fully immerse themselves in making comics.

Should I Invest in a Marketing Agent?

Harry Hall

Whether or not you’ve enjoyed success as an author, you have probably at least considered working with a marketing professional. Many successful writers wouldn’t think of launching a book without one. But the idea, much less the process, can be daunting. How can you find the right one? Which programs work, which ones don’t? How do you sift through all the information? So what do you do? Earlier this year, award-winning author Harry Hall committed to a 10 week marketing program with a marketing agent. In this session, he will share with us about that experience: what he did, what he didn’t do, what he should have done, and what he would do next time.

Historical Research for Fiction Writers, Where to Start

J. Kathleen Cheney

About to tackle historical fiction? J. Kathleen Cheney discusses some of the decisions you need to make before you begin, where to start looking, and some neat tricks she’s learned along the path of publishing Historical Fantasy.

Delivering Your POPs and Payoffs

Jaye Wells

Good stories don’t happen by accident. To master the art of delivering satisfying tales, writers must learn how to effectively make story promises in Act One as well as how to deliver satisfying payoffs by The End. This class will explore the types of promises you must make from the first line of your story, demonstrate a variety of tools you can use to make those promises, and offer strategies to avoid cheating your readers out of satisfying payoffs.

Title This

JC Davis

Finding the perfect title for your novel can seem as painful as writing a one-page synopsis. But it doesn’t have to be. Come learn a few helpful tricks, techniques and ideas to help you find just the right words.

Digging Deeper: An Interactive Novel Writing Workshop

Jenny Martin

Sure, you know the basics of novel writing…plot, dialogue, description. But are you ready to dig deeper into theme, characterization, subtext and world-building? Are you ready to ready to truly master the craft of writing, delivering the kind of story that lingers, staying with the reader long after the book has been closed? The kind that never goes out of print? If so, Join author Jenny Martin for a brand new, hands on, intensive workshop, in which you’ll have the opportunity to try out new techniques, and discover the keys to writing profoundly memorable fiction.

Writing the Odd, Publishable Poem

Joaquin Zihuatanejo

In this interactive workshop facilitated by published poet and World Poetry Slam Champion Joaquin Zihuatanejo, we will look at what goes into making a poem that forces an editor to lean into it because it is just so wonderfully odd.  Walking that line between esoteric academic poetry and accessible poetry that borders on the narrative or spoken word is a very complicated thing to do well.  In this workshop we will look at poets who do this well and examine how they are doing it well.

So You Wanna Critique

Julie Murphy and Natalie C. Parker

Writers are told time and time again that in order to grow and improve, they must find critique partners. What we aren’t told is what it means to critique. In this session, we’ll focus on concrete methods for transforming an opinion into an accessible analysis.

The Power of Secrets

Kay Honeyman

Everyone has secrets. It is part of what makes us human. And those secrets are powerful motivators. Our stories (real or imagined) often form out of those secrets. Secrets can be devastating or inspiring. They can show the best and worst in each of us. They reveal our frailties and our strengths. And they can drive a story or a scene. Through discussion and activities we will explore the role secrets play in stories, and dig for the secrets our characters try to hide. Writers will come away with some fresh tension for their stories and micro-tension for their scenes.

The Ugly Duckling and Other Popular Romance Plots

Keith Thomas Walker

Beauty and the Beast. The Ugly Duckling. The Chase. Keith Thomas Walker will discuss why these romance plots are so popular, why they always work and how writers can still create a new and fresh story while using the same old plot.

Freelance Editing

Leslie Karen Lutz

How to turn your writing skills into a part-time or full-time editing career. I will cover the different types of editing, how to find work, how to deal with clients, and ways writers can improve their editing skills through online editing classes. We’ll also discuss resume building tricks and how to set your editing rates.

World Building and Creative Research: A Primer

Mark Finn

Have you ever spent half a day googling for the correct shape of the zipper tangs on 1960’s Soviet Astronaut jumpsuits? Or you lost your train of thought trying to come up with a compelling reason why magic in your world is blue? Whether you’re writing historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction, or just need specific details for that book chapter that takes place inside a World War II era Sherman tank, getting the details right, and making decisions about what to use can wreak your well-laid-out writing schedule. Author Mark Finn has a slew of useful tips and tricks for getting you over that hump that will keep your daily word count high and your creative juices flowing.

S.L.A.M. Spoken Language Arts Movement

Michael Guinn

Facilitated by World Renowned Spoken Word Slam Master and UT Arlington Alum Mr. Michael Guinn-MSSW. His award winning workshop S.L.A.M. is a multifaceted and multicultural creative writing approach that foucuses on the dynamic fusion of life and art as a true reflection of the soul. This a super intense workshop that will challenge the writer emotionally, artistically and most of all spiritually.

Faith-Based Writing

Michelle Stimpson

Writing from a point of faith doesn’t mean your work has to read like a fairytale. Join bestselling, award-winning Christian fiction author Michelle Stimpson as she shares tips for creating characters and plotlines that connect with loyal faith-based fans while reaching out to those who may be searching for a source of hope. We’ll discuss “church-ese” to avoid, topics to explore (or maybe not), and essentials to include in a well-rounded work for this genre.

Writing Diverse Contemporary Romance

Michelle Stimpson

Readers come in a variety of ethnicities, backgrounds, and cultures—and they’re all hungry to read characters that reflect their own lives. This workshop includes insight from contemporary romance authors who have successfully incorporated characters from various racial and ethnic groups. Come learn the to-do’s and no-no’s of writing a diverse story that speaks the universal language of love.

Working With Your Editor/Working With Your Writer

P.N. Elrod

Author and editor P.N. Elrod lets you know what to expect and what to look out for from both sides of the job. Whether you’re seeking commercial publication or going indie, the writer and editor should have the same goal of making a good work even better.

What’s the Big Idea?

Paul Black

So you got this big idea, eh? Or do you? It’s the most important thing in writing, even more than writing itself, but it’s hard to know if it’s good or not. National awarding-winning fiction author, Paul Black, reveals the secrets to developing the initial concept. Students will learn how to research and hone their idea, develop a great log-line, dissect the good from the bad, vet their concept and outline their story.

What Ghostwriting Takes: Getting Real

Robin Underdahl

Listening is only the beginning of your work. A ghostwriter has to develop the voice and story of a real person in a way that captures more truth than the subject would be able to get onto the page without your help. It is both a relational and an artistic task. A few of the challenges we will cover are breaking into crystallized areas of memory, the importance of research, legitimate license, acquiring or borrowing expertise, and achieving unity in the work as a whole.

Self-Promotional Materials for Writers

Sally Hamilton

All about promotional materials including business cards, bookmarks, buttons, postcards, and posters, how to avoid basic graphic design mistakes, and how to wisely hire a graphic designer.

Things No One Tells You About Querying a Novel

Seth Skorkowsky

Author Seth Skorkowsky discusses the tips and tricks to prepare for and survive the terrors of querying a novel that no one told him until it was too late. Unlike the many resources that detail how to craft a query letter, this class covers the other stuff that no one talks about.

A Writing Workflow for Short Fiction

Shawn Scarber

The student will learn a consistent process for developing a short fiction idea, turning that idea into a first draft, and then revising that draft. This class is ideal for the student struggling to consistently write quality short fiction or the student interested in learning to apply a regular writing process to their craft.

Self Promotion for Introverts

Sophia Dembling

Writing the book is introvert heaven. Publishing the book is divine. But then the really hard work starts: Selling the book. My class will discuss strategies for promoting your book and yourself when you’re the kind of person for whom “networking” is a dirty word.

The Plate Tectonics Theory of Dialogue

Tex Thompson

When it comes to dialogue, a good scene is a ‘geologically active’ one. Like pieces of the Earth’s crust, characters clash, fold, and buckle as they interact (and yes, sometimes even bump and grind!) In this class, we’ll analyze the features of real human speech, and how to amplify and manipulate them to suit your purpose. Whether your current scene is as subtle as a tremor or as explosive as an earthquake, come learn how to craft dialogue guaranteed to keep your plot moving, your pages turning, and your readers on their toes.

How to Hook Readers by Using the Three Rules

Weina Randel

Admit it, you’ve done this before, and you’re still doing it – you read a few lines of a book and you’re bored. Or maybe you read thirty pages, and you shrug, “What’s the big deal?” Then you put the book down and never pick it up again. You want people to pick up your book, read a few lines, and say, “I want to know what’s going to happen next!” How do you write a book like that? In this class, I’ll show you how to construct a scene that’ll hook readers. I’ll tell your three vital rules in writing a book-that-can’t-be-put-down by analyzing some popular books.

Attendees interested in pitching their work to agents or editors can register for that opportunity online when they register for the conference.

Here is the DFW 2016 agent & editor lineup:


Nadia Cornier of Firebrand Literary

Mark Falkin of Falkin Literary

Saritza Hernandez of Corvisiero Literary Agency

Joanna MacKenzie of Browne & Miller

Monica Odom of Bradford Literary Agency

Bree Ogden of Red Sofa Literary

Jodell Sadler of Sadler Children’s Literary

Steven Salpeter of Curtis Brown Ltd.

Tricia Skinner of Fuse Literary

Eric Smith of P.S. Literary

Gordon Warnock of Fuse Literary

Jason Yarn at Jason Yarn Literary Agency


Anna L. Davis of Henery Press

Rachel LaMonica of Little Lamb Books

Glenn Yeffeth of BenBella Books

All information is subject to change and is based on the best information available at the time. For more information, visit www.dfwcon.org.

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