Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Excerpt: THE WHOLE DAMN CHEESE by Bill Wright

Genre: Biography / Texana 
Publisher: Texas Christian University Press 
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Publication Date: October 12, 2018
Number of Pages: 160 pages with B&W photos

Anecdotes about Maggie Smith abound, but Bill Wright’s The Whole Damn Cheese is the first book devoted entirely to the woman whose life in Big Bend country has become the stuff of legend. For more than twenty years, Maggie Smith served folks on both sides of the border as doctor, lawyer, midwife, herbalist, banker, self-appointed justice of the peace, and coroner. As she put it, she was “the whole damn cheese” in Hot Springs, Texas. A beloved figure serving the needs of scores of people in Big Bend country, she was also an accomplished smuggler with a touch of romance as well as larceny in her heart. Maggie’s family history is a history of the Texas frontier, and her story outlines the beginnings and early development of Big Bend National Park. Her travels between Boquillas, San Vincente, Alpine, and Hot Springs define Maggie’s career and illustrate her unique relationships with the people of the border. Vividly capturing the rough individualism and warm character of Maggie Smith, author Bill Wright demonstrates why this remarkable frontier woman has become an indelible figure in the history of Texas.



Maggie had a dry sense of humor and wasn’t reluctant to express herself. Once a woman wearing shorts and her family came down to Hot Springs. It was on a Sunday. She asked Maggie if there was a church nearby. Maggie advised the couple that the nearest church was in Alpine, almost a hundred miles away. The woman asked Maggie, “Well, what do you do to go to church?” Maggie said, “I don’t go to church. There’s no church to go to.” The lady said, “I think that’s ridiculous!” Maggie, who believed in modesty, was quick with a retort: “Well, if you want to know what is ridiculous, it’s you going around half naked. That’s more ridiculous than me not going to church. I can’t go to church, but you can put on some clothes!” she said, laughing. 

Maggie met all sorts of people who came to take the baths. Some of them were surprised at the primitive nature of the accommodations, but Maggie managed, in her direct and honest way, to win them over. She never let them get the upper hand. One patron who came from Louisiana complained about the situation: a hundred miles of dirt roads, hot weather, and other difficulties. He stated it was supposed to be a beautiful park and asked Maggie, “What part do you play?” She responded, “I’m the whole damn cheese here at Hot Springs if you want to know!” That settled the man down, and she later received a letter from him addressed, “Dear whole damn cheese.” After staying a couple of days, they became good friends. He fell in love with the country, becoming a regular customer, and later sent Maggie a pair of mounted steer horns as a gift.


For thirty-five years Bill Wright owned and managed a wholesale and retail petroleum marketing company. In 1987 he sold his company to his employees and since then has carved out a remarkable career as an author, fine art photographer, and ethnologist. He has written or contributed to seven books, and his photographs appear in Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

10/17/18                Excerpt                              Texas Book Lover
10/18/18                Character Interview           All the Ups and Downs
10/19/18                Character Interview           Max Knight
10/20/18                Author Interview               That's What She's Reading
10/21/18                Review                               Hall Ways Blog
10/22/18                Scrapbook Page                 StoreyBook Reviews
10/23/18                Review                               The Book Review
10/24/18                Excerpt                               Reading by Moonlight
10/25/18                Review                               Forgotten Winds
10/26/18                Review                               The Clueless Gent

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar October 15-21

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of October 15-21, 2018: 

Special Events:
Inkstravagaza Gala: The Writers Life, San Antonio, October 18

Teachers, Write! Workshop for Language Arts Teachers, Houston, October 18-19

Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival, Bryan, October 18-20

West Texas Book Festival, Abilene, October 18-20

Indiepalooza, Houston, October 19-20

The Dallas Area Writers Group (DAWG) Presents“Write to Publish: Climbing Toward Success!”, DeSoto, October 20

Mid-Cities Teen Book Fest, North Richland Hills, October 20

Fort Worth BookFest, October 20

EPCC Literary Fiesta, El Paso, October 20

San Anto Zine Fest, October 20

13th annual Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy, Richardson, October 21

Ongoing Exhibits:

The Texas Liberator: Witness to the Holocaust exhibition (from the book The Texas Liberators: Veteran Narratives from World War II), Houston, September 7-October 28

Texas Writers exhibition, Fort Stockton, October 1-22

Traversing Dimensions: An Exploration of Diversity in Science Fiction, Austin, October 1-31

Finding Sophie Blackall Exhibition, Abilene, October 11-February 1

Monday, October 15:

UT - Joynes Reading Room, a reading of fiction by LENI ZUMAS, 7PM

Sunrise Records, Houston Rap Tapes book launch, 7PM

Archway Gallery, Gulf Coast presents An Evening with Three Irish Poets: Conor O'Callaghan, Elaine Feeney, and Jessica Traynor, 6:30PM

Brazos Bookstore, Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera reading and signing WHAT IF IT’S US, 7PM

Richardson Public Library, Writers Guild of Texas workshop: "Fire Up Action Scenes" with Scott Bell, 7PM

Tuesday, October 16:
BookPeople, DEBORAH HARKNESS speaking & signing Time's Convert, 7PM [ticketed event]

Spiderhouse Ballroom, Austin Poetry Slam featuring Xavier CoolKid, 7:15PM

WTAMU - Cornette Library, WTAMU Faculty Poetry Reading, 7PM

Deep Vellum Books, Houston Rap Tapes book signing, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Joe Ide will sign and discuss Wrecked, 6:30PM

Stages Repertory Theatre, Tintero Projects Open Mic and reading featuring Hugo E. Rodriguez, 7PM

San Antonio
Trinity U - Fiesta Room, Poetry and Politics: An Evening With Remi Kanazi, 7PM

Thursday, October 18:
Deep Vellum Books, Ófeigur Sigurðsson reading and signing The Wasteland (with David Searcy), 7PM

SMU, The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World: Robert Kagan, Washington Post columnist and author, 5:30PM

El Paso
Literarity Bookshop, Kim Schweidel signs Folly Cove, 5PM

Brazos Bookstore, Kim Sagwa reading and signing MINA, 7PM

Lawndale Art Center, a reading with poet and Guggenheim Fellow Ange Mlinko, 7PM

River Oaks Bookstore, an evening of enlightenment and delight when Louisiana poets Bessie Senette and Clare L. Martin read their works, 5PM

Westchester Academy, Blue Willow Books hosts award-winning author Markus Zusak discussing and signing BRIDGE OF CLAY, 7PM [ticketed event]

George W. Bush Childhood Home, Laura Bush Literacy Program Reading Event, 4:30PM

San Antonio
The Twig Book Shop, Char Miller discussing and signing San Antonio: A Tricentennial History, 5PM

B&N - Town Square, Frank Cole signing The Eternity Elixir, 6PM

Sugar Land
B&N - First Colony, Story time with local author Maria Ashworth, 10AM

Friday, October 19:
Heroes Lounge, Dallas Poetry Slam presents Girls Night Out, 8PM

Interabang Books, Elliot Ackerman reading and signing WAITING FOR EDEN, 7PM

Jazz Becuzz Art Center, “OFF THE TOP OF THE DOME” poetry series, 8PM

Brazos Bookstore, Houston Poetry Fest Closing Celebration: Robin Davidson & Houston’s Favorite Poems, 7PM

Lawndale Art Center, Gulf Coast Reading Series featuring Jamel Brinkley, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Charles Belfoure will sign and discuss The Fallen Architect, 6:30PM

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Brazos Bookstore presents Anne Lamott reading from her new book, ALMOST EVERYTHING: NOTES ON HOPE, 7PM [ticketed event]

Writespace, Women's Voices Open Mic, 7PM

Marfa Book Company, Houston Rap Tapes with Lance Scott Walker, 7PM

BookPeople, JON LASSER & SAGE FOSTER-LASSER speaking & signing Grow Grateful, 2PM

BookPeople, MEREDITH LEE speaking & signing Digging Up the Dead, 6PM

BookWoman, Poetry Launch: with the dogstar as my witness by John Fry, 6PM

Malvern Books, an evening of enlightenment when Louisiana poets Bessie Senette and Clare L. Martin and Austin poet Robert Okaji share their work, 7PM

Twin Oaks Library, Austin Poetry Society meeting featuring haiku with Agnes Eva Savich, 1:30PM

Patrick Heath Public Library, UTSA's Daniel Gelo and Christopher Wickham discuss their book, Comanches and Germans on the Texas Frontier, 10:30AM

College Station
Half Price Books, local author Erica Dubois will sell and sign her semi-autobiographical novel, The Glass Mask: Monsters Lurk Beneath, 12PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, longtime Dallas Morning News sports writer and columnist Matt Wixon will sell and sign his novel, Fourth Down In Texas, 1PM

Interabang Books, Beth Vrabel reading and signing THE RECKLESS CLUB, 1PM

Blue Willow Bookshop, Crystal Allen will discuss and sign her new novel for children, THE MAGNIFICENT MYA TIBBS: MYA IN THE MIDDLE, 1PM

Brazos Bookshop, Elliot Ackerman reading and signing WAITING FOR EDEN, 7PM

Half Price Books - Clear Lake, Local Author Saturdays: Meet local Indie authors and pick up their latest release, while supplies last

Murder By the Book, Julie Maloney will sign and discuss A Matter of Chance, 1PM

Murder By the Book, Amy Stewart will sign and discuss her novel Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit, 4:30PM

River Oaks Bookstore, Gary Myers discussing and signing How 'bout Them Cowboys? Inside the Huddle with the Stars and Legends of America's Team, 3PM

Writespace, Workshop: "Scrivener 101" with Cassandra Rose Clarke, 9:30AM

Writespace, Workshop: "Writing the Immigrant Experience" with Onyinye Ihezukwu, 1PM

B&N, Kurt Caswell will be signing Laika's Window, 2PM

B&N - Preston/Park, Haunted Plano book signing with Mary Jacobs, 2PM

San Antonio
B&N - Town Square, Pamela Taylor signing Second Son, 1PM

El Paso
Literarity Bookshop, Homelands – A Conversation with Author Alfredo Corchado, 2PM

Brazos Bookstore, Lance Scott Walker discussing and signing HOUSTON RAP TAPES, 5PM

Inprint Houston, Tintero Projects: Fall Writing Workshop Series featuring Leslie Contreras-Schwartz, 6PM

Hyatt Regency North Dallas, Buns and Roses Romance Tea with Jodi Thomas, 2PM

San Marcos

Monday, October 8, 2018

Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar October 8-14, 2018

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of October 8-14, 2018: 

Special Events:
Lone Star Storytelling Festival, Frisco, October 12-13

Houston Poetry Fest 2018, October 12-14

Indie Author Day 2018, Dallas, October 13

Tweens Read 2018, South Houston, October 13

North Texas Book & Map Show, Fort Worth, October 13-14

Permian Basin Writer's Workshop, Midland, October 13-14

Writers in the Field: Chapter Two, Venus, October 13-14

Ongoing Exhibits:

The Texas Liberator: Witness to the Holocaust exhibition (from the book The Texas Liberators: Veteran Narratives from World War II), Houston, September 7-October 28

Texas Writers exhibition, Fort Stockton, October 1-22

Traversing Dimensions: An Exploration of Diversity in Science Fiction, Austin, October 1-31

Finding Sophie Blackall Exhibition, Abilene, October 11-February 1

Blue Willow Bookshop, Lauren Oliver will appear in conversation with author Liara Tamani to discuss and sign BROKEN THINGS, 7PM

Brazos Bookstore, Cyrus Farivar discussing and signing HABEAS DATA, 7PM

University of Houston, The School of Art presents a talk by Caroline Jones, professor of art history at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of The Global Work of Art: World’s Fairs, Biennials, and the Aesthetics of Experience, 6:30PM

B&N - NE Mall, Dry B&N Exclusive Edition signing with Neal Shusterman, 7PM

San Antonio
Central Library, Joel Salcido will discuss and sign The Spirit of Tequila, 6PM [includes a tequila tasting--attendees must be 21 years old and bring a valid state-issued picture ID]

Tuesday, October 9:

BookWoman, Dr. Mara Karpel discussing and signing The Passionate Life: Creating Vitality & Joy at Any Age, 7PM

Flat Track Coffee, Living Room Lit: Spoken Word Open Mic + Mingle with Chicon Street Poets, 7:30PM

Spiderhouse Ballroom, Austin Poetry Slam featuring Jackson Neal, 7:15PM

Cedar Hill
Zula Bryant Wylie Library, Dallas Area Writers Group meeting with Jim Donovan of Jim Donovan Literary, 7PM

Aaron Family JCC, Dallas Jewish Bookfest presents Alexandra Zapruder, author Twenty-six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film, 7PM

Interabang Books, Erin Gibson will discuss and sign FEMINASTY, 7PM

Klyde Warren Park, The Wild Detectives' Locals Only Book Club hosts Harry Hunsicker and The Devil's Country, 6PM

The Wild Detectives, a wine- and literature-fueled bacchanal for book lovers with Rachael Small, Director of Publicity at Europa, and Terrie Akers, Director of Marketing at Other Press, 7:30PM

B&N - Stonebriar, Dry B&N Exclusive Edition book signing with Neal Shusterman, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Charlaine Harris will sign and discuss An Easy Death, 6:30PM

Warehouse Live, The Moth StorySLAM presents "Disguises," 7:30PM

Centennial Library, Project Literacy author visit with Mac Barnett and Extra Yarn, 4:30PM

San Antonio
SMU - Fondren Library, Anne R. Keene discussing and signing The Cloudbuster Nine: The Untold Story of Ted Williams and the Baseball Team That Helped Win World War II, 5:30PM

Murder By the Book, Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker will sign and discuss Dracul, 6:30PM

United Way of Greater Houston, the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston hosts Bob Spitz discussing and signing Reagan: An American Journey, 6:30PM

South Irving Library, The Darkdeep Tour featuring Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs, 6PM

Centennial Library, Project Literacy author visit with Nathan Hale and Hazardous Tales: Lafayette, 4:30PM

The Drawing Board, Writing Workshops Dallas: "How to Start a Career in Journalism" with Cyrus Farivar, 6:30PM

San Antonio
The Twig Book Shop, Ira Sukrungruang and Mobi Warren Gemini Ink Reading, 6PM

Thursday, October 11:
Deep Vellum Books, Writing Workshops Dallas MFA Panel, 7:30PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, Fangoria magazine staff writer Preston Fassel will discuss and sign copies of his debut horror novel, Our Lady of the Inferno, 7PM

Blue Willow Bookshop, tea with Kate Morton discussing her new novel, THE CLOCKMAKER'S DAUGHTER, 1PM

Brazos Bookstore, Ramachandra Guha discussing and signing GANDHI: THE YEARS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD, 7PM

Jewish Community Center, 46th Annual Ann and Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Festival Sneak Preview Night, 7:30PM

Murder By the Book, Aaron Mahnke will sign and discuss The World of Lore: Dreadful Places, 6:30PM

Sam Houston State, SHSU Common Reader Keynote with Dan Rather, author of What Unites Us, 2PM [for current SHSU faculty, staff & students - ticketed event]

Texas Tech, TTU Creative Writing Reading Series featuring poet and translator Curtis Bauer, 7:30PM

Centennial Library, Project Literacy author visit with Katherine Applegate and The One and Only Ivan, 4:30PM

San Antonio
Palo Alto College, National Coming Out Day and Poetry Open Mic, 11AM

Mighty Fine Arts, Poets on X+ Feature and Open Mic: Brian Cox, 8PM

Christ Church Cathedral, Mitch Albom reading and discussing THE NEXT PERSON YOU MEET IN HEAVEN, 7:30PM [ticketed event]

Murder By the Book, John Sandford will sign and discuss his new Virgil Flowers novel, Holy Ghost, 6:30PM

San Antonio
Saturday, October 13:
Galveston Bookshop, Lance Scott Walker signing Houston Rap Tapes, 12PM

Galveston Bookshop, Jan Johnson signing Unforgettable Galveston Characters, 3PM

Brazos Bookshop, Special Story Time with Joy Sewing, 10:30AM

The Hunt Store, Mike Marvins at The Hunt Store as he discusses his book, "The Texas Hill Country: A Photographic Adventure, ?

South Irving Library, Unexpected Texas Historic Cemeteries and Bucket List Day Trips of North Texas with author and travel blogger Tui Snider, 2PM

Olton Are Library, Writers' League of Texas presents Texas Writes with authors Jennifer duBois and David Eric Tomlinson, 1PM

Wild Magnolias, NeoSoul Poetry Slam featuring Teresa Johnson, 6PM

Chocolate Angel, Fresh Fiction Afternoon Tea with Lorraine Heath, 3:30PM

El Paso

Dr. Pepper Arena, Dav Pilkey's Howl with Laughter Tour, 2PM

Inprint Houston, Tintero Projects: Fall Writing Workshop Series featuring Natasha Carrizosa, 6PM

Last Concert Cafe, TZ Press presents the Fall Shindig, 7PM

Screwed Up Records & Tapes, Houston Rap Tapes book launch, 12PM

Friday, October 5, 2018

Review: BOOKJOY, WORDJOY by Pat Mora

Bookjoy, Wordjoy
Pat Mora, illustrated by Raúl Colón
Lee & Low Books
Hardcover, (978-1-6201-4286-8), 32 pgs., $18.95
August 7, 2018

“Books and Me”
 We belong
books and me,
like toast and jelly
o queso y tortillas.
Delicious! ¡Delicioso!
Like flowers and bees,
birds and trees,
books and me.

Bookjoy, Wordjoy is the newest collection of poetry for children from Pat Mora, recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Institute of Letters and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Texas at El Paso, among many distinctions. Especially in Texas, y’all may know her best as the founder of Children’s Day, Book Day (in Spanish, El día de los niños, El día de los libros), which celebrated its twenty-second anniversary this year.

Raúl Colón’s whimsical, joyful illustrations are inspired by Mora’s poems and Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo. The colors are rich but muted, reminding me of a child’s colored map pencils. One of my favorites in this book is a boy attempting to capture words with a butterfly net as they cavort through the air:

words that move, like wiggle
that have a brown scent, cinnamon
that sweetly stretch, car-a-mel
hard words, brick
soft words, lullaby

Mora describes “bookjoy” as the fun of reading and “wordjoy” as the fun of writing — listening to words, combining them and playing with them.

Mora excels at experimenting with words — sometimes in an easy mix of Spanish and English, the musical language of the borderlands, she calls “braiding” — words that can fill your senses, an onomatopoeia of touch, taste, smell, and sight that will stir little ones (and me) out of doors, into the night where fireflies may be

held by sprites
who tumble, ride
the evening breeze

or a place like “Antelope Canyon” where she writes of the changing seasons and antelope that “lick spring stars at sunset.”

In Bookjoy, Wordjoy, books are a feast and libraries are the laden tables. In “Library Magic,” Mora’s Tomás praises the library as “a treasure house that’s free” and exhorts readers to explore. In “¡Bravo! Hip-hop Book Day!” she writes that “Savoring a book buffet, / I become a book gourmet.”

Mora is inspiring and encouraging. “No one sees a tree just the way you see it or hears the wind just the way you hear it,” Mora writes in a welcome to the book. “So no one can write exactly what you can write.” In “Who’s Inside?” the poet prompts children to “draw, / your inside self, write / your inside poem.”

Bookjoy, Wordjoy may be the first creative writing handbook for children.

Originally published in Lone Star Literary Life.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Excerpt & Giveaway: OLD BUILDINGS IN NORTH TEXAS by Jen Waldo


  Sub-genre: Literary Fiction / Dramedy
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Date of Publication: April 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 213

Scroll down for the giveaway!

After rehab, Olivia, a 32-year-old cocaine addict, is required to move back in with her mother and pregnant sister. Having left a promising career in journalism in New York, she’s now working as a sales assistant for a family friend in her home town in North Texas.

Under pressure from her court-mandated counselor – an old high school friend - to take up a hobby, Olivia decides on "urbexing." Soon she’s breaking into derelict homes, ex-prisons, and old drive-ins across North Texas, and it’s not long before she’s looting state property and making money off the possessions, fixtures, and fittings that have been left behind.

Old Buildings in North Texas is about a modern woman’s search for personal equilibrium and wild adventure -- the attempt to find stability in existence without losing sight of what makes life worth living. Jen Waldo’s style modulates effortlessly from domestic nuance to taut adventure, tackling social and moral transgressions with incisive observation and vivid humor.


“A lot of Jen Waldo’s debut novel takes place out on the porch of Olivia’s mother’s house. […] With its casual, confidential tone, Old Buildings in North Texas puts the reader in one of those porch chairs, reclining on a warm evening with a cool drink.” -- The Skinny

Old Buildings in North Texas is an amusingly written and well worked book” -- Trip Fiction

“This novel is an absolute blast. There are serious moments of course, but Jen Waldo looks for the comedy in everything to create a memorable scenario that reminded me very much of the style of Six Feet Under.” -- Shiny New Books



These days my paycheck goes straight into my mother’s hands rather than into the hands of various friends; and by friends I mean dealers. In an effort to avoid the humiliation of bankruptcy, and also because she believes that honorable people meet their financial obligations, Mom sits down with me weekly and goes over my finances, meticulously allocating and writing out checks to all the people I owe. Most of the debt is medical—eight hundred for the ambulance, twelve thousand to the hospital, thirteen thousand to the rehab facility.  Also there’s about ten thousand in unpaid credit card debt and a couple of thousand I borrowed from friends.  Debt is an insurmountable wall between me and my future. 

Mom also organizes my doses of medication into small click-top containers, doling them out daily, not even able to trust me with my own stupid pills. Her fingers are thinner than they once were and the blue veins on the back of her hands are more prominent, but she is still youthful and strong, still in complete charge of her world. 

          I wasn’t the only one who used.  I didn’t know a single person who didn’t amp on a regular basis. Co-workers, friends I went out with, people I saw occasionally, people I saw every day—they all used. Now I’m forbidden to communicate with any of them. Am I resentful? Hell yes. Why did this happen to me and not Mary, who won’t even get out of bed until she has, as she puts it, found her center; or Erik, whose feet haven’t touched the ground in five years? Why does one person fall hard when another doesn’t stumble at all?

Jen Waldo lived in seven countries over a thirty-year period and has now settled, along with her husband, in Marble Falls, Texas. She first started writing over twenty years ago when, while living in Cairo, she had difficulty locating reading material and realized she’d have to make her own fun. She has since earned an MFA and written a number of novels. Her work has been published in The European and was shortlisted in a competition by Traveler magazine. Old Buildings in North Texas and Why Stuff Matters have been published in the UK by Arcadia Books. Jen’s fiction is set in Northwest Texas and she’s grateful to her hometown of Amarillo for providing colorful characters and a background of relentless whistling wind. 


1st Prize:
Signed Copy of OBiNT + $10 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize:Signed Copy + $5 Amazon Gift Card
3rd Prize: eBook Copy of OBiNT
October 2-11, 2018


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