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Lone Star Reviews


Mary Pope Osborne (author), AG Ford (illustrator)

Hurricane Heroes in Texas (Magic Tree House #30)

Random House Books for Young Readers

Hardcover, 978-1-5247-1312-6 (also available as an e-book and an audio-book), 112 pgs., $13.99; August 7, 2018


Mary Pope Osborne’s beloved Jack and Annie return to Texas, landing in a backyard oak tree in Galveston on September 8, 1900, just in time for the Great Galveston Hurricane, the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the country.


Hurricane Heroes in Texas is the thirtieth installment in the mega-bestselling Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. In a “Dear Reader” note at the beginning of Hurricane Heroes in Texas, Osborne notes that she began writing a book about the worst hurricane to strike the United States in the summer of 2017, just as Harvey, another devastating hurricane, bore down on the Texas coast.  >>READ MORE





Rick Treon

Deep Background

Black Rose Writing

Paperback, 978-1-68-433167-3 (Kindle ebook also available); 228 pages, $18.95; December 6, 2018


Former Texas newspaper reporter and editor Rick Treon’s first completed work of fiction is an impressive, realistic dark thriller with an unnerving conclusion that wisely leaves a pathway open for a follow-up novel.


In Deep Background, Levi Cole, the chief investigative reporter for a Dallas newspaper, is forced to leave his high-profile job suddenly because of questionable writings that could bring him and his employer big lawsuits. To get out of the limelight for a while, Cole returns to his rural Texas hometown of Bison Ridge to help a colleague and married ex-girlfriend cover a murder.


However, as he digs deeper and deeper, Cole eventually discovers that he has gotten himself caught in a deep conspiracy that goes well beyond the murder. And his entrapment will compel him not only to take sides — a huge no-no for an “objective” reporter — but also to make disturbing choices.  >>READ MORE




Michael Scott Clifton

The Janus Witch

Book Liftoff

Paperback, 978-1-947946-42-2 (also available as ebook), 344 pages, $14.95

September 2018


East Texas, specifically the areas around Mount Pleasant and Longview, might not be your first choices for fantasy settings in a darkly toned, paranormal romance tale about a witch and an emergency room physician.


But in The Janus Witch, Mount Pleasant novelist Michael Scott Clifton uncorks a clever and entertaining tale that unfolds within a region he knows well.


In The Janus Witch, one member of a murderous witches’ coven somehow plunges into another realm (contemporary East Texas) while being pursued by witch hunters. Tressalayne is seriously injured when she falls through tree branches and hits the ground, and she is left temporarily without memory of her violent, paranormal past. >>READ MORE


Texas Reads

>> archive


Gaines, Kelton titles head new book lineup



New books by Joanna Gaines and Elmer Kelton head this week’s lineup, but I also will touch on several others that you might want to read or give this holiday season.


In Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave (Harper Design, $40 hardcover), Gaines offers practical and simple ideas to “empower and motivate you to create a home that communicates the soul and substance of the people who live within its walls.”


The full-color, oversized book, she says, “is a culmination of all that I’ve learned through the hundreds of homes I’ve designed over the years.”


Chapters are devoted to “identifying your design style,” followed by specific ideas concerning entry ways, living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, kid spaces, rooms to retreat, and utility rooms, with a detachable design template at the back.


Distinctive homes: Another home décor book new this fall is Helen Thompson’s Texas Made/Texas Modern: The House and the Land, with photographs by Casey Dunn (The Monacelli Press, $50 hardcover). Thompson and Dunn teamed up earlier on Marfa Modern.


Texas Made/Texas Modern takes readers on a delightful tour inside and outside 19 elegant and distinctive Texas homes featuring architectural modernism with a Texas twist — also known as Texas regionalism.


Kelton stories: Elmer Kelton’s many fans will be happy to know that Forge Books has released a new collection of Kelton’s short stories, available for the first time in book form.


The publisher brought out a collection of 11 stories last year under the title Wild West, and that one is now in paperback ($9.99).


The new collection, Hard Ride ($27.99 hardcover), includes 14 stories by the beloved San Angelo western author who died in 2009. The stories are from the 1950s when Kelton got his start writing for the old pulp western magazines before any of his novels were published.


Eventually, he would write more than 40 western novels and be voted by his fellow western authors as the best ever in that genre. Most of his books are still in print.


Women outlaws: Melissa Lenhardt’s new western novel, Heresy (Redhook Books, $15.99 paperback), concerns a female band of outlaws who seek revenge after they are run off their ranch by an unscrupulous cattleman.


Even as they pull off a series of robberies, the outlaws get no credit for their misdeeds, with the newspapers blaming the rival Jeb Spooner Gang instead.


Lenhardt relies on realistic-sounding (but fictional) journal entries, slave narratives, newspaper accounts, and other documents to craft the tale, her fourth western novel. Her other three were the “Sawbones” series featuring a tough woman doctor on the western frontier.


Plennie Wingo: One of the more unusual non-fiction books this year is Ben Montgomery’s tale about an Abilene man who set out to walk backwards around the world in 1931.


Plennie Wingo’s odd story is told in The Man Who Walked Backward: An American Dreamer’s Search for Meaning in the Great Depression (Little, Brown, $28 hardcover).


Forty-five years later, Wingo delighted Tonight Show host Johnny Carson with his tale, but it never made him the fortune he sought.

* * * * *


Glenn Dromgoole’s most recent book is The Book Guy: One Author’s Adventures in Publishing. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.


>> Check out his previous Texas Reads columns in Lone Star Literary Life




Twig’s Top Ten Bestsellers

November 2018

What are Texans reading these days, you ask? Lone Star Lit’s newest regular feature is a monthly list of trending titles at the Twig Book Shop, a leading independent bookseller in San Antonio. Click on any title for the Buy link. And we'll also include a hotlink to related content in Lone Star Literary Life.


1  Hugh Fitzsimons, III, A Rock Between Two Rivers: The Fracturing of a Texas Family Ranch, 978-0-524763138

2  Michelle Obama, Becoming, 978-0-524763138

3 Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist (Harper Perennial), 978-0-062315007

4  Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, 978-0-393609394

5  Heather Morris, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, 978-0-062797155

6 Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, 978-0762490547

7  Harvard Business Review, HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Mental Toughness, 978-1-633694364

8  Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, 978-0-062464347

9  Liane Moriarty, Nine Perfect Strangers, 978-1-250069825

10  Sarah Pekkanen, The Wife Between Us, 978-1-250130945







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Visit with Marti Dec. 3–21, 2018

12/2/18 Scrapbook Page Book Fidelity

12/3/18 Review StoreyBook Reviews

12/4/18 Audio Review Missus Gonzo

12/5/18 Excerpt The Page Unbound

12/6/18 Audio Review Forgotten Winds

12/6/18 Review Rainy Days with Amanda

12/12/18 Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog

12/12/18 Author Interview Story Schmoozing Book Reviews

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12/19/18 Excerpt Forgotten Winds

12/19/18 Guest Post Momma on the Rocks

12/20/18 Review Reading by Moonlight

12/21/18 Review Missus Gonzo



THE JANUS WITCH by Michael Scott Clifton

Visit with Michael through Dec. 13, 2018

12/9/18 Review Book Fidelity

12/10/18 Author Interview Rebecca R. Cahill, Author

12/10/18 Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog

12/11/18 Review Nerd Narration

12/12/18 Guest Post Rainy Days with Amanda

12/13/18 Review The Clueless Gent

12/13/18 Review Reading by Moonlight



COVEY JENCKS audiobook by Shelton Williams, narrated by Kathy James


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LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive

12.9.2018  Author Blake Kimzey returns to his North Texas roots with a novel in the pipeline and a vision for Writing Workshops Dallas

When Blake Kimzey was growing up in Prosper, Texas, it was a small town of 1,200 with one blinking light. The explosion of mega-bedroom community of the Metroplex seems an apt metaphor for the similarities in Kimzey’s writing career. A love of history and literature when he was an undergrad at Texas A&M took him to a creative writing class at a community college, and from there he’s been published in some of the literary leading journals and publications, and his collection of short stories have received notable praise. Along the way the professor of creative writing at UT-Dallas has established Writing Workshops Dallas to help other writers find their path. He talked with Lone Star Lit this weekend via email.


LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Where did you grow up, Blake, and how would you describe your experience?


BLAKE KIMZEY: I grew up in Prosper, Texas. The town has grown since I graduated high school in 1999, but I remember it as a small town, just 1,200 people, a blinking yellow light sagging over Highway 289, and a FINA gas station. We lived out in the country on a few acres. I have three brothers and we were always outside, always in the woods, where I discovered my imagination.


When did you first decide you might want to be a writer?


I always loved telling stories, tall tales out in the woods with my brothers and cousins, but it wasn’t until I got to Texas A&M and took literature and history classes that I discovered a love for reading, for narrative. This led to writing, and my first instinct was to be a journalist. I wrote for the student newspaper at A&M, The Battalion, and covered sports and wrote a column. I was writing so much on deadline that I built up the confidence to write my first bit of fiction, and from that point I was hooked. It wasn’t until I took an Introduction to Fiction class at a local Dallas community college, though, that I realized I wanted to seriously pursue creative writing.  >>READ MORE


Texas's only statewide, weekly calendar of book events
Bookish Texas event highlights  12.9.2018
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor



  • Going Out of Business Sale: books, pamphlets & paper ephemera, Llano, December 13-14



  • Literary Frontiers: Historical Fiction & the Creative Imagination, San Marcos, August 1-December 14
  • Finding Sophie Blackall Exhibition, Abilene, October 11-February 1
  • 30 Poems for the Tricentennial: A Poetic Legacy, San Antonio, December 3-April 25, 2019
  • Artful Books, Alpine, December 7-17


AUSTIN  Mon., Dec. 10 Esther's Follies, Austin History Center hosts a fundraiser to for printing costs of Bill Leissner's forthcoming book, Austin Icons of the Eighties: Music, Theatre, Politics, 7PM


DALLAS Mon., Dec. 10  Aaron Family JCC, Tal Keinan discussing and signing GOD IS IN THE CROWD: TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY JUDAISM (in conversation with Rabbi Stefan Weinberg), 7PM


AUSTIN  Tues., Dec. 11  LBJ Library, Author and historian Michael Beschloss will be speaking about his latest book, Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times, as well as reflecting on the life and legacy of President George H.W. Bush (moderated by LBJ Foundation President and CEO Mark K. Updegrove), 6PM


DALLAS  Tues., Dec. 11   Hall of State at Fair Park, Dallas Historical Society Brown Bag Lecture: E.R. Bills discussing Texas Far & Wide, 12PM


BOERNE  Wed., Dec. 12 Patrick Heath Public Library, Book Club Brunch with Sarah Bird, author of Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, 11AM


DALLAS Wed., Dec. 12   Sandaga 813, LitNight with Sanderia Faye, 7PM


HOUSTON  Wed., Dec. 12   The Menil, Jay Wehnert discussing and signing Outsider Art in Texas: Lone Stars, 7PM


SAN ANTONIO  Wed., Dec. 12   The Twig Book Shop, poet Linda Simone will read from and sign The River Will Save Us, 5:30PM


AUSTIN  Thurs., Dec. 13 Palmer Events Center, Donna Marie Miller signing The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk, 6PM


ALPINE  Fri., Dec. 14  West Texas National Bank, Texas Mountain Trail Writers: Becka Oliver and Michael Noll of the Writers' League of Texas present "The Craft & Business of Writing," 5:30PM


BEAUMONT  Fri., Dec. 14   Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Robert Craig Bunch signing The Art of Found Objects: Interviews with Texas Artists, 6PM


DALLAS  Sat., Dec. 15 Deep Vellum Books, Cinestate Presents: HEADCHEESE: a special launch party and Q+A with Fangoria author Jess Hagemann, 7PM


EL PASO  Sat., Dec. 15   Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords Project workshop: Becka Oliver and Michael Noll of the Writers' League of Texas present "The Craft & Business of Writing," 12:45PM


SAN ANTONIO  Sat., Dec. 15   The Twig Book Shop, Ken Roberts signing The Cedar Choppers: Life on the Edge of Nothing, 11AM


News Briefs 12.9.18

Arts & Letters Live 2019 Season Announced by Dallas Museum of Art


DALLAS — The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) has released its schedule for the 2019 season of Arts & Letters Live. The propular literary series will kick off its 28th season January 6 with renowned religion scholar, National Book Award winner, and New York Times bestselling author Elaine Pagels, whose new book is Why Religion?: A Personal Story. The book “weaves together a personal story with the work that she loves, illuminating how religious traditions have shaped how we understand ourselves,” according to the DMA.


Arts & Letters Live is a literary and performing arts series for all ages that features award-winning authors and performers of regional, national, and international acclaim. The series is recognized for its creative multidisciplinary programming — combining literature with visual arts, music, and film—and for commissioning new work from musicians, dancers, and poets, inspired by works of art in the museum's collection and special exhibitions.  >>READ MORE


Submissions open for Writers’ League of Texas 2019 Manuscript Contest


AUSTIN — Have you been working hard on an unpublished manuscript that's finally ready to see the light of day? Are you looking for some constructive feedback on your work-in-progress? Would you like the chance to sit down with a literary agent in person to discuss your project?

If so, you're invited to submit a short synopsis and the opening pages of your unpublished work to the Writers' League of Texas’s (WLT) nineteenth annual manuscript contest. It’s not necessary to live in Texas in order to enter this contest.


Winners of the 2019 manuscript contest will:

  • Win a free registration to the WLT's 2019 Agents & Editors Conference (June 27-30, 2019, in Austin)
  • Meet one-on-one with a literary agent in your category or genre (in person at our annual conference or via phone call) if you're one of our ten winners
  • Be recognized during the opening session of the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference and in the printed program (if you're a winner or a finalist)
  • Receive valuable, specific written feedback on your work.  >>READ MORE


Letters About Literature 2018 open for submissions through Dec. 14


AUSTIN — Has a book brought you to laughter or tears, or changed your life? Write a letter to the author.



Letters About Literature is a reading/writing contest for fourth through twelfth graders under the direction of the Library of Congress. Texas submissions for the 2018–19 contest are due to the new online submission platform by December 14, 2018. A permission form is required for all students under the age of 13 on November 1, 2018.


Tens of thousands of students from across the country enter Letters About Literature each year. State winners receive $100 and a trip to the Texas Library Association Conference. National winners receive $2,000 and travel assistance to Washington D.C. for a special awards ceremony.


How to enter

There are three categories for contestants:

Level 1 — Grades 4-6

Level 2 — Grades 7-8

Level 3 — Grades 9-12


Read: Select a fiction or nonfiction book, a poem or play you have read that you feel strongly about. It might be a book that helped you through a difficult time, or it might be a book that simply touched your heart or inspired you.  >>READ MORE


 ——­——— A D V E R T I S E M E N T —————

Lone Star Listens compilation available fall 2018, for readers, fans, and writers everywhere


The present generation of Texas authors is the most diverse ever in gender, age, and ethnicity, and in subject matter as well.


Week in, week out, Lone Star Literary has interviewed a range of Texas-related authors with a cross-section of genre and geography. To capture this era in Texas letters, we're pleased to bring you


Lone Star Listens:

Texas Authors on Writing and Publishing

edited by Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon; introduction by Clay Reynolds

Available in trade paper, library hardcover, and ebook Summer 2018

360 pages, with b/w illustrations and index


Featuring novelists, poets, memoirists, editors, and publishers, including:

Rachel  Caine • Chris  Cander • Katherine  Center • Chad S. Conine • Sarah  Cortez • Elizabeth  Crook • Nan  Cuba • Carol  Dawson • Patrick  Dearen • Jim Donovan • Mac Engel • Sanderia  Faye • Carlos Nicolás Flores • Ben Fountain • Jeff  Guinn • Stephen  Harrigan • Cliff  Hudder • Stephen Graham Jones • Kathleen Kent • Joe R. Lansdale • Melissa Lenhardt • Attica Locke • Nikki  Loftin • Thomas  McNeely • Leila  Meacham • John  Pipkin • Joyce Gibson Roach • Antonio  Ruiz-Camacho • Lisa  Sandlin • Donna  Snyder • Mary Helen Specht • Jodi  Thomas • Amanda Eyre Ward • Ann  Weisgarber • Donald Mace Williams


As a collection of insights into the writing and publishing life, the book will be useful in creative writing classes (not just in Texas alone) and other teaching settings, as well as for solo reading and study—and a great Texas reference volume.


  • Examination and review copies will be available fall 2017 in watermarked pdf format.



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