Wednesday, September 30, 2015


I've got three reviews in the new fall issue of Foreword Reviews! Follow the linked titles to read the reviews.

DARK WATERS (Crooked Lane Books) by Chris Goff

"Goff combines cultural detail, rich geographic description, and countless plot twists to create an engaging and satisfying thriller."

THE ACCIDENTAL ART THIEF (Twilight Times Books) by Joan Schweighardt
"An uncomplicated plot and even pacing allow the understated beauty of the language and deep-feeling characters to shine."

DEATH IN VERACRUZ (Schaffner Press) by Héctor Aguilar Camin
"Journalism and politics in a 1970s Mexico replete with petro dollars, corruption, and murder of the voiceless."

Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday Roundup September 28 - October 4

Bookish events in Texas for the week of September 28 - October 4, 2015: 

Special Events:
Voces Americanas: Latino Literature in the United States (a Humanities Texas exhibit), San Antonio, September 1 - October 8

Banned Books Week, September 27 - October 3

Georgetown Poetry Festival, October 2 - 4

The Edgar Allan Poe Victorian Festival (OkPoeberfest), Dallas, October 3 - 31

Author Extravaganza, Llano, October 3

Evening with the Authors, Lockhart, October 3

LibroFEST, Houston, October 3

Tweens Read, Pasadena, October 3

Buns and Roses: Romance Tea for Literacy, Richardson, October 4

Monday, September 28:
BookPeople, MysteryPeople Presents Lone Star Crime: REAVIS Z. WORTHAM speaking & signing Dark Places, BEN REHDER speaking & signing Bum Steer, and BILL CRIDER speaking & signing Between the Living and the Dead, 7PM

Brookdale at Beckett Meadows, Austin Poetry Caravan reading, 6PM


Murder By the Book, Martin Walker will sign and discuss the latest Bruno book, The Patriarch, 6:30PM

University of Houston, Fiston Mwanza Mujila will read from his debut novel, Tram 83, assisted by his translator, Roland Glasser, 1PM

Irving Public Library - South, Author Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows Launch Party, 7PM

Tuesday, September 29:
BookPeople, The Magic and Mayhem Tour: Bestselling Author LEIGH BARDUGO speaking & signing Six of Crows (in conversation with YA author of Dumplin' JULIE MURPHY), 7PM

Hole in the Wall, Bat City Review's fall kickoff featuring Nick Almeida Miller, John Fry, & David Schaefer, 6:30PM

Spider House BallroomAustin Poetry Slam, 8PM

HKS, Inc., photo-essayist Loli Kantor presents work from her new book, Beyond the Forest, 6:30PM

Fort Worth
AWTY International School, Fiston Mwanza Mujila will read from his debut novel, Tram 83, assisted by his translator, Roland Glasser, 9:30AM

Blue Willow Bookshop, Ransom Riggs will appear in conversation with Tahereh Mafi (SHATTER ME) to discuss and sign LIBRARY OF SOULS, 7PM

Brazos Bookstore, Fiston Mwanza Mujila and Roland Glasser read & sign TRAM 83, 7PM

Briscoe Museum of Western Art, Marian Haddad poetry reading, 6:30PM

The Korova, PuroSlam! with DJ Donnie Dee, 10PM

Wednesday, September 30:
Murder By the Book, Karin Slaughter will sign and discuss Pretty Girls, 6:30PM

San Antonio

The Twig Book Shop, H. Palmer Hall Commemorative Reading, 7PM

San Marcos
Wittliff Collections, reading by poet and author Tracy K. Smith, 3:30PM

Friday, October 2:
BookPeople, Local Author Night: Austin Novelist DWAINES LAWLESS speaking & signing Cajun Moon, 7PM

Brave New Books, Unspoken: Voluntaryist open mic for speakers, thinkers and artists, 7PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, C. Alexander London will discuss and sign his new middle grade book The Wild Ones, 5PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, Dallas Poets Community presents a reading by Vicki Mandell-King + open mic, 7PM

Richland College Library, Fiston Mwanza Mulila will read from his debut novel, Tram 83, assisted by his translator, Roland Glasser, 11AM

SMU, Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke will discuss their project The Additivist Manifesto and their upcoming publication, The Additivist Cookbook, 9AM

SMU, Fiston Mwanza Mujila reads from his debut novel, Tram 83, assisted by his translator, Roland Glasser, 2PM

El Paso
Sergio Troncoso Library, Sergio Troncoso will sign books at the renaming of the library, 2PM

Fort Worth
TCU Bookstore, Wm. Paul Young will discuss and sign Eve, 7PM

Brazos Bookstore, J. Kastely discusses and signs THE RHETORIC OF PLATO’S REPUBLIC, 7PM

The Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center, reading by poet and author Tracy K. Smith, 7:30PM

San Antonio
Our Lady of the Lake, San Antonio Poet Laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero signing A Crown for Gumecindo, 6PM

Our Lady of the Lake, an evening of poetry and music with San Antonio Poet Laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero, 7PM

Saturday, October 3:
Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords Project workshop: The Art of Improvisation with author Nancy Green, 12:45PM

Fort Worth
American Airlines C.R. Smith Flight Museum, Buzz Aldrin signs Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet, 10AM

B&N - Firewheel Mall, Signing Event With Tessa Dare and 15 Romance authors, 2PM

Brazos Bookstore, Celebrate Banned Books with Arte Público, Gulf Coast Journal, Houston Public Library, Tony Diaz, Eloísa Pérez-Lozano, and Jesús Salvador Treviño, 7PM (reception at 6PM)

Writespace, Haunted Authors Ball, 7PM (character costumes encouraged)


The Twig Book Shop, Paul Pineda reads and signs Valley of Tears, 6PM

Viva! Bookstore, Sally Wester Weismann reads and discusses August 26, 2013: The Day of Understanding, 1PM

South Padre Island
Paragraphs on Padre, Book signing, discussion and reception with Timothy Woodward, author of IF I TOLD YOU SO, 1PM


Sunday, September 27, 2015

BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2015: Celebrating the Freedom to Read


Banned Books Week Proclamation

WHEREAS, the freedom to read is essential to our democracy, and reading is among our greatest freedoms; and

WHEREAS, privacy is essential to the exercise of that freedom, and the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one's interest examined or scrutinized by others; and

WHEREAS, the freedom to read is protected by our Constitution; and

WHEREAS some individuals, groups, and public authorities work to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries of materials reflecting the diversity of society; and

WHEREAS, both governmental intimidation and the fear of censorship cause authors who seek to avoid controversy to practice self-censorship, thus limiting our access to new ideas; and

WHEREAS, every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of American society and leaves it less able to deal with controversy and difference; and

WHEREAS, Americans still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression, and can be trusted to exercise critical judgment, to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe, and to exercise the responsibilities that accompany this freedom; and

WHEREAS, intellectual freedom is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture; and

WHEREAS, conformity limits the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend; and

WHEREAS, the American Library Association's Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year as a reminder to Americans not to take their precious freedom for granted; and

WHEREAS, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that celebrates the American Library Association's Banned Books Week, September 27 - October 3, 2015, and be it further

RESOLVED, that encourages all libraries and bookstores to acquire and make available materials representative of all the people in our society; and be it further

RESOLVED, that encourages free people to read freely, now and forever.

Adopted by
Date September 27, 2105
Colorado City, Texas

Thursday, September 24, 2015


My review of The Jaguar's Children (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by John Vaillant was published in the new edition of Lone Star Literary Life! From the review:
The Jaguar’s Children is journalist and author (who cites as sources Luis Alberto Urrea and Charles Bowden; how could you go wrong?) John Vaillant’s devastatingly powerful first novel. Mexicans and Nicaraguans, men, women, and children, bakers, students and scientists, have paid coyotes (“They were talking fast all the time, but not as fast as their eyes”) to provide safe passage into the United States, welded inside a water truck (“like a bucket of crabs with the lid on and no place to go”). As the book begins, they’ve been abandoned for two days in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona (“la via dolorosa”). 
Héctor (“Pollo is chicken cooked on a plate— a dinner for coyotes. This is who is speaking to you now.”) finds a contact, AnniMac, with a United States area code in his friend César’s phone and tries to reach her. In an attempt to comfort himself and save his sanity, Héctor takes us with him as he “escapes into his head,” making audio files as he talks to AnniMac about his home. Héctor talks about his family, Mexican history and geography, religion and mythology, culture and sociology, as he describes the diversity of Mexico, not a monolith, and these people as individuals, not stereotypes.
To read the entire review click here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Promo: RANSOM CANYON by Jodi Thomas

From New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas comes the first book in a compelling, emotionally resonant series set in a remote west Texas town—where family can be made by blood or by choice.

Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendant of Ransom Canyon's founding father, is rugged and practical to the last. No one knows that when his troubling memories threaten to overwhelm him, he runs to lovely, reclusive Quinn O'Grady…or that she has her own secret that no one living knows.

Young Lucas Reyes has his eye on the prize—college, and the chance to become something more than a ranch hand's son. But one night, one wrong decision, will set his life on a course even he hadn't imagined.

Yancy Grey is running hard from his troubled past. He doesn't plan to stick around Ransom Canyon, just long enough to learn the town's weaknesses and how to use them for personal gain. Only Yancy, a common criminal since he was old enough to reach a car's pedals, isn't prepared for what he encounters.

In this dramatic new series, the lives, loves and ambitions of four families will converge, set against a landscape that can be as unforgiving as it is beautiful, where passion, property and pride are worth fighting—and even dying—for.


Praise for Ransom Canyon

Ransom Canyon is a tale of redemption and hope filled with authentic dialogue and characters engaging enough to chat with over a cup of coffee.” – Fort Worth Star Telegram

“Western romance legend Thomas opens her latest series in a small Texas town…. Ransom Canyon will warm readers with its huge heart and gentle souls. For all romance collections.” – Library Journal

“Once again a delightful entry into a new series by a favorite of mine. Jodi Thomas has the ability to reel me in every time with her enterprising, intelligent and caring cast of characters and RANSOM CANYON has some of the best yet. ” – Fresh Fiction

A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and “checking up” on their two grown sons.

blog tour services provided by

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday Roundup: September 21 - 27

Bookish events in Texas for the week of September 21 - September 27, 2015: 

Special Events:
Voces Americanas: Latino Literature in the United States (a Humanities Texas exhibit), San Antonio, September 1 - October 8

West Texas Book Festival, Abilene, September 21 - 26

First Annual Indiepalooza, Houston, September 25 - 26

Inside Books Project Book Sale & Work Party, Austin, September 25 - 26

Waco Wordfest, September 26 - 27

Texas Teen Book Festival, Austin, September 26

Banned Books Week, September 27 - October 3

Huston-Tillotson University, Hispanic Heritage Month reading with Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla and Octavio Quintanilla, 12:30PM

Round Rock
B&N - La Frontera, The Round Rock New Neighbors' Book Club Welcomes Taylor Stevens, Author of The Mask, 1PM

Tuesday, September 22:
Fort Worth
Brazos Bookstore, E.R. Bills discusses and signs BLACK HOLOCAUST, 7PM

Wednesday, September 23:

The Woodlands
B&N, Rae Carson signs Walk on Earth a Stranger and Sophie Jordan signs her second book in the Uninvited Series, Unleashed, 7PM

Thursday, September 24:
Allen Public Library, Joe Milazzo (Crepuscule W/Nellie) will discuss writing, 7:30PM

Brazoria County Historical Museum, Allan Andrade discusses and signs Leopoldville - A Tragedy Too Long Secret, 6:30PM


College Station
The Wild Detectives, Wordspace First Hearings: Harry Hunsicker presents The Grid, 7PM

Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library, Rossy Evelin Lima presents her book, Aguacamino/Waterpath, 6PM

Fort Worth
Fort Worth Public Library, Wordslingers 2015: Kathy Reichs Author Visit, 6:30PM

Blue Willow Bookshop, Carolyn Mackler will discuss and sign her new YA novel, THE INFINITE IN BETWEEN, 7PM

United Way/Grtr. Houston Community Resource Center, Writers' League of Texas Panel: Being A Good Literary Citizen, 7PM

Round Rock
The Book Spot, author Bridget Heos will discuss and sign Mustache Baby and Mustache Baby Meets His Match, 6:30PM

San Antonio
B&N - La Cantera, Kathleen Winter poetry reading, 7PM

Trinity University, DeCoursey Lecture Series presents Dr. Jane Goodall + book signing, 7:30PM

Friday, September 25:
Saturday, September 26:


University of Houston - Clear Lake, Biennial Comics Symposium: comiCulture, 10AM

Half Price Books - Huebner, READING IS MAGIC Show and Book Signing, 1PM

Fort Worth
Fort Worth Public Library - Diamond Hill/Jarvis, Writing a Book that Rocked the World - Alex Sanchez Author Visit, 2PM

B&N - River Oaks, George Arnold signs Beijing Ding-a Ling Mao of the CIA, 11AM

The Lift, kickoff Banned Books Week with a Grapes of Wrath (a.k.a. white wine) Happy Hour, 4PM

San Antonio
San Antonio Public Library, Meet Author/Illustrator Yuyi Morales, 2PM

Promo: MYSTERIES OF LOVE AND GRIEF by Sandra Scofield

Reflections on a Plainswoman's Life

Sandra Scofield

Frieda Harms was born into a farming family in Indian Territory in 1906. Widowed at thirty and left with three children in the midst of the Great Depression, she worked as a farmer, a railroad cook, a mill worker, and a nurse in four states. She died in 1983.

Sandra Scofield spent most of her childhood with her grandmother Frieda and remained close to her in adulthood. When Frieda died, Sandra received her Bible and boxes of her photographs, letters, and notes. For thirty years, Sandra dipped into that cache.

Sandra always sensed an undercurrent of hard feelings within her grandmother, but it was not until she sifted through Frieda’s belongings that she began to understand how much her life had demanded, and how much she had given. At the same time, questions in Sandra’s own history began to be answered, especially about the tug-of-war between her mother and grandmother. At last, in Mysteries of Love and Grief, Scofield wrestles with the meaning of her grandmother’s saga of labor and loss, trying to balance her need to understand with respect for Frieda’s mystery.

BUY LINKS: AMAZON ~ Texas Tech Press ~ B&N


Throughout her depiction of her own family, Scofield kept me surprised—a moment of generosity when I didn't expect it or of anger when I didn't expect that. Mysteries remain as they must, but I trusted the insights as well as the mysteries. I thought it was a very beautiful book, smart and sharp.
—Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and The Jane Austen Book Club

Largely ungoverned by chronology, Scofield’s journey of discovery unfolds organically, true to the way memory works. Seeking to know her grandmother, she honors the lives and artistic bent of many women marginalized by gender and poverty in the early to mid-twentieth century. This is a unique and necessary work.
—Lorraine M. López, author of Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories and The Darling

A native Texan, Sandra Scofield divides her time between Missoula, Montana, and Portland, Oregon.

She has written seven novels, a memoir, and a craft book for writers. An excerpt from Mysteries of Love and Grief won first place in Narrative magazine’s 2014 Spring Story Contest. She is an avid landscape painter.

blog tour service provided by

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Review: TRAM 83

My review of Tram 83 (Deep Vellum Publishinrg) by Fiston Mwanza Mujila (translated from the French by Roland Glasser) was published by The Rumpus! From the review:

Part The Day of the Locust, part Saturday Night Fever, and part Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle,” Tram 83’s pervasive nihilism threatens to overwhelm or become monotonous, and therefore it successfully, viscerally conveys this anarchic, disintegrating society. If you begin to think, “Well the hell with it,” just reading it, what must it feel like to live it? Cognitive dissonance is inescapable when farce and tragedy become your daily reality. 
The unnamed narrator relates the story with a world-weary, contemptuous humor about what he considers to be Lucien’s pointless affectations of conscience. This attitude begins as droll amusement but gradually morphs into outrage at Lucien’s “ungratefulness”—his impractical attempts to resist the ubiquitous local corruption. Lucien manages to insult virtually everyone by daring to be different and attempting to better himself and others. A “show-off,” Lucien has committed the crime of setting himself apart in the old (false) dichotomy between street smarts and pointy-headed professors. “I just didn’t imagine there were any brainy people left in the City-State. This country’s been knocked flat, it’s all got to be rebuilt: roads, schools, hospitals, the station, even men. We need doctors, mechanics, carpenters, and garbage collectors, but certainly not dreamers!” Cynical and ambitious, Requiem has no patience for Lucien’s writer’s sensibilities and literary pretensions.
To read the entire review please click here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


My review of Hill Country Property (Livingston Press) by Jim Sanderson was published by Lone Star Literary Life! From the review:
Hill Country Property is a sociological study of a very particular time and place — Austin and the Texas Hill Country in the 1980s. Roger Jackson is a middle-aged former lawyer and student radical whose current job as a private investigator involves stalking and photographing wayward spouses for a divorce attorney. He is unwillingly separated from his wife, Victoria. His father-in-law, Henry, is dying and wants to see his estranged wife, Rebecca, who abandoned the family decades ago, before he dies. Roger embarks on a quixotic quest to find Rebecca for Henry in the hope that this will somehow save his own marriage.
To read the entire review click here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday Roundup: September 14 - 20

Bookish events in Texas for the week of September 14 - September 20, 2015: 

Special Events:
Voces Americanas: Latino Literature in the United States (a Humanities Texas exhibit), San Antonio, September 1 - October 8

Friends of Irving Public Library Read-a-Thon, 24 locations in Irving, September 17

American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, Dallas, September 17 - 20

Permian Basin Writers' Workshop, Midland, September 18 - 19

Mansfield Book Festival, September 19

Murder By the Book, Hester Young will sign and discuss her debut novel, The Gates of Evangeline, 6:30PM

Irving Public Library - South Branch, Julie Murphy’s launch party for the release of Dumplin', 7PM

Midland County Public Library - Centennial Branch, Project Literacy: Marc Brown signs his series of Arthur books, 5PM

Hastings, Buzz Bissinger signs Friday Night Lights 25th Anniversary Edition, 7PM

San Antonio

The Twig Book Shop, Dr. Raymond Barfield reads and signs The Book of Colors, 6PM

Tuesday, September 15:

Parish Episcopal School - Midway Campus, Nicholas Kristof presents A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, 6:30PM

The Wild Detectives, LOUISA HALL reads and signs SPEAK, 7:30PM

Fort Worth

St. Andrew United Methodist Church, Book Signing: Ask Faith Questions in a Skeptical Age by Rev. Author Jones and Bishop Scott J. Jones, 7PM

San Antonio
The Korova, PuroSlam! with DJ Donnie Dee, 10PM

Wednesday, September 16:
BookPeoople, Bestselling YA Author MARI MANCUSI speaking & signing Smoked, 7PM

Spider House Ballroom, The Austin Review presents Amber Tamblyn and Derrick Brown: Lazers of Sexcellence 5.0 - Motorcycle and Poetry Tour, 7PM

Dallas City Performance Hall, Oral Fixation presents "Push the Envelope", 8PM

Brazos Bookstore, Buzz Bissinger discusses and signs FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS 25th Anniversary Edition, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Todd Moss will sign and discuss his debut novel Minute Zero, 6:30PM

Midland County Public Library - Centennial Branch, Project Literacy: John Erickson signs his Hank the Cowdog series and Sophie Blackall signs her ‎Ivy and Bean series‬, 5PM

Museum of Fine Arts Houston, MFAH Lecture: How Elihu Yale Made His Fortune in India and Founded Yale University with Benjamin Zucker, co-author of Elihu Yale: Merchant, Collector & Patron, 6:30PM

San Antonio

Half Price Books, IndieVengeance Day Book Signing including Debbie Reece, Ben Ditmars, Stacey Roberts, Julie Frayn, James William Peercy, Jacqueline E. Smith, Amber Jerome-Norrgard, Paula Walker Baker and Susie Clevenger, 5PM

B&N - River Oaks, Marie LeNotre signs Appetites: A Memoir, 4PM

Blue Willow Bookshop, Eoin Colfer and Jonathan Stroud will discuss and sign THE FOREVER MAN and THE HOLLOW BOY, 5PM

Books are GEMS, Paul Garcia reading his children's picture book, The Adventures of Rocky Bear, 10:30AM

Memorial Park Public Library, Sarah Walker workshop: Swallowing the Pits: Finding Beauty andSensuality in Unlikely Ways (a Tumblewords Project), 12:45PM

Fort Worth
The Library Cafe, Love Jonz Fort Worth Presents Spoken Jazz With B'nor, 8:30PM

B&N - Stonebriar, Acclaimed Mystery Author: Reavis Wortham signs Dark Places, 2PM

Half Price Books, IndieVengeance Day Book Signing including Debbie Reece, Ben Ditmars, Stacey Roberts, Julie Frayn, James William Peercy, Jacqueline E. Smith, Amber Jerome-Norrgard, Paula Walker Baker and Susie Clevenger, 12PM

Galveston Bookshop, Frank Urbanic signs We Were Prepared: Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts Stories of Tragedy, Heroism, and Preparedness in the Texas City Disaster of 1947, 2PM

Blue Willow Bookshop, Audrey and Don Wood will discuss and sign their new picture book, FULL MOON AT THE NAPPING HOUSE, 11AM

Murder By the Book, Jesse Sublett will sign and discuss 1960s Austin Gangsters, 4:30PM


B&N - Palms Crossing, Rio Grande Valley ABC by Rickey Pittman presentation and signing, 4PM

Port O'Connor
The Sanctuary at Costa Grande, Friends of the Port O'Connor authors fundraising dinner and auction, 6PM

Round Rock
B&N - La Frontera, Ernie Wood signs One Red Thread, 2PM

San Antonio

Malvern Books, An Afternoon with poets Kathleen Winter & Jenny Browne, 3PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, Tracy Lawson will sell and sign her new YA novel, Resist, 1PM

Brazos Bookstore, for Houston Design Week - Printspiration Jam: presentation and discussion of print design, 12:30PM

Museum of Fine Arts Houston, author Annie Cohen-Solal discusses and signs Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel, 2PM

The Woodlands
B&N, Audrey Wood signs The Full Moon at the Napping House, 2PM