Illumination Celebration lights up Abilene, Storybook Capital of Texas, Mar. 8

On Tues., March 8, 2016, downtown Abilene will celebrate its designation as the “Storybook Capital of Texas” with special lighting for its seventeen Storybook Sculptures.

Abilene received the official designation during the 84th legislative session, and families have already found the city, home of the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, a delightful destination to visit. Now, special lighting has been designed for all around the city’s downtown. Trees lining segments of Cypress and Cedar Streets will be permanently dressed in twinkling white lights.

The Abilene Cultural Affairs Council worked with local businesses, which will pay the electricity for its trees. All lights in the project are cost-saving LED lighting.

Former Disney lighting designer John Haupt and outdoor lighting specialist Oscar Welch visited Abilene in May to develop a plan.

Not only will the evening celebrate a brighter downtown, the documentary program “Voices in America,” will be filming the event as part of a segment on Abilene.

The ACAC will sell glow sticks, elementary school choirs and the Revolution Strings musical troupe will perform, and Food Truck Tuesday will move to North First Street for the event. Storybook characters also will be on hand.

There will be a nighttime scavenger hunt using the free GooseChase app on iPhone or Android systems (look up the “Storybook Illumination Celebration” game).

The event begins at 6 p.m. with music performances. The illumination will take place at 7:30, which is also when the scavenger hunt begins.

For more information, visit

(Compiled from Abilene Cultural Affairs Council information and media reports)

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

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, 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

(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, and agents and editors attending.


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

Dallas Book Festival,
Apr. 30, Expands With
Best-selling Novelists, Award Winners

Several nationally prominent authors — including best-selling novelists and winners of both a Pulitzer and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize —  are headed to the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library for an expanded Dallas Book Festival.

Among those just announced for the free, all-day, April 30, 2016, event:

Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, which won the 2015 Dayton prize in nonfiction; Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower; Jessica Knoll, best-selling author of  Luckiest Girl Alive; Historian/analyst Andrew Bacevich, who is about to release America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History; Adam Mansbach, famous for that picture book that is known in its polite form as Seriously, Just Go to Sleep; Ghostwriter to the stars David Ritz, whose books include Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin, and Curtis Sittenfeld, the American Wife author who is about to release her newest book, Eligible, in April.

Local authors taking part will include Karen Blumenthal, Nancy Churnin, Tim Cowlishaw, AG Ford, Sarah Hepola, Don Tate and Merritt Tierce.

The festival itself iwas founded in 2006 as the Dallas International Book Fair and renamed in 2014. For more information contact Ronnie Jessie at: or call 214-670-7809.

(From organization’s press release and website)

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

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

(Information from organization’s press release)

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