Tuesday, March 29, 2016

MONDAY ROUNDUP: Texas Literary Calendar March 28 - April 3

Bookish events in Texas for the week of March 28 - April 3, 2016: 

Special Events:
Culture of Writing Festival, Dallas, March 29

International Children's Book Day, April 2

Inspirational Writers Alive! Conference, Amarillo, April 2

Lone Star LesFic Festival, Austin, April 2

Literary Death Match, San Antonio, April 2

San Antonio Book Festival, April 2

Teen Book Con, Houston, April 2

Ongoing Exhibits:

Monday, March 28:
Highland Park United Methodist Church, Authors LIVE! presents Jacquelyn Mitchard and Two If By Sea, 7PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, Penguin Teen on Tour featuring a panel discussion and Q&A with Alison Goodman (The Dark Days Club), Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel of the Sands), Rachel Hawkins (Rebel Belle series), Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes series) and April Genevieve Tucholke (Wink Poppy Midnight), followed by a book signing, 7PM [TICKETS REQUIRED]

The Wild  Detectives, Poetry Reading with Ann Fisher-Wirth and Danielle Sellers, 7:30PM

Fort Worth
The Dock Bookshop, Fort Worth Poetry Slam and Open Mic, 8PM

Brazos Bookstore, Rick Bass reads and signs FOR A LITTLE WHILE, 7PM

San Antonio

Thursday, March 31:

B&N - Vanderbilt Square, George Arnold signs Beijing Ding-a-Ling: Mao of the CIA, 4PM

Inprint House, First Friday Poetry Reading Series featuring Choonwa Moon, 8:30PM

MECA, 2016 Space City Poetry Slam Series: Pluto Preliminary, 6PM

Murder By the Book, Philip Kerr will sign and discuss his newest Bernie Gunther novel, The Other Side of Silence, 6:30PM

University of Houston - Moores School of Music, Moores School of Music Symposium: And His Burthen is Light? Handel’s Messiah and Its Cultural Baggage with Michael Marissen, author of Tainted Glory in Handel’s Messiah: The Unsettling History of the World’s Most Beloved Choral Work, 2:30PM

San Antonio
The St. Anthony Hotel, BOOK APPÉTIT: A Book Festival and Library Foundation Literary Feast for The Well Read and Well Fed featuring Stephen Harrigan (A Friend of Mr. Lincoln) and Thomas Mallon (Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years) in conversation about their latest novels with Dan Goodgame, 7PM

Saturday, April 2:

Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords workshop: "The Mind's Embroidery" with Viva Flores, 12:45PM

Fort Worth
The Dock Bookshop, Book launch party for Louis Frederick, author of Survive Police Contact, 4PM

San Antonio
The Twig Book Shop, Catherine Chagra reads and signs Dirty Darlings, 11AM

B&N - Town Square, Lisa London signing Darker the Night, 1PM

B&N - Baybrook, Thomas Flowers signing his "Subdue" series, 11AM

The Woodlands
B&N - Woodlands Mall, Alice Schiel signs Nora Mae, a Remarkable, Insignificant Person, 2PM

Monday, March 21, 2016

MONDAY ROUNDUP: Texas Literary Calendar March 21 - 27

Bookish events in Texas for the week of March 21 - 27, 2016: 

Special Events:
Wildcatter Exchange, Fort Worth, March 25 - 26

Ongoing Exhibits:

Monday, March 21:
The Korova, PuroSlam! with DJ Donnie Dee, 10PM

Villa Finale's Meusebach House, San Antonio's Historic Architecture presentation & book signing with T. Irwin, 5:30PM

Trinity University - Chapman Auditorium, Jan Jarboe Russell presents The Train to Crystal City, 6PM

Wednesday, March 23:
AvantGarden, Write About Now poetry open mic, 7:30PM

B&N - Westheimer, Gary Whitney signs Thistle Downe, 10AM

B&N - Westheimer, Suzanne Huffer signing Earl Wilson, 1PM

Brasil Cafe, Glass Mountain reading, 7PM

San Antonio
Palo Alto College, opening reception for the San Antonio Poetry Archive with San Antonio Poet Laureate Laurie Ann Guerrero, 6PM

The Twig Book Shop, James McGrath Morris discusses and signs Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press, 5PM

Thursday, March 24:
Brazos Bookstore, Wendy Paris discusses and signs SPLITOPIA, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Harlan Coben will sign and discuss his newest stand alone novel, Fool Me Once, 6:30PM [TICKETS REQUIRED]

Poison Girl Bar, Poison Pen Reading Series presents Jill Talbot, author of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction, 8:30PM


Saturday, March 26:
B&N - Preston/Royal, Gerald Brence signs Ox in the Culvert, 1PM

El Paso
Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords Project workshop: "Riding the Range with your Voice" with Sheela Wolford , 12:45PM

Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, The Power of “This Bridge:” A plática with Cherríe Moraga, 7PM

Saturday, March 19, 2016


I reviewed Pennies from Burger Heaven (SkipJack Publishing) by Marcy McKay for Lone Star Literary Life. This is a mixed review. A very dark narrative from the point of view of a small child is a difficult technique. McKay is great with characterization but lets the plot run away with her. Stay tuned for the second installment in the planned series before you make up your mind. From the review:
Copper Daniels, a brash and scrappy eleven-year-old girl, and her mother, Corrine, are homeless. They sleep beneath a statue of an angel in a cemetery in the fictional Texas city of Remington. One morning Copper awakes alone. Corrine is missing and Copper, terrified that her mother is one of the “Disappeareds,” the latest victim of a serial killer stalking the “Nobodies” of Remington, sets out to find her. Copper searches for clues to her mother’s disappearance while dodging pimps, junkies, the police, televangelists, and gangbangers who are also looking for Corrine. Copper, prickly and paranoid, must learn to trust someone besides herself, accept help, and be a better friend if she’s to survive the hunt. 
Pennies from Burger Heaven, Marcy McKay’s first novel and the first in a planned series, won the Writers’ League of Texas Best Mainstream Novel manuscript contest in 2015. This is an almost unrelievedly grim and painful story. The relationship between Copper and her mother is not a proper one of parent and child. “We’re way more than mother and daughter,” Copper says proudly. “We’re business partners and best friends.” They panhandle for cash on street corners, and when that proves insufficient to support her mother’s meth addiction, Copper hides under the bed in by-the-hour motel rooms while Corrine earns more money on top of the bed.
To read the entire review please click here

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR March 14 - 20, 2016

Bookish events in Texas for the week of March 14 - 20, 2016: 

Special Events:
Little Free Library Texas Tour, various locations, March 2 - 15

Barrio Writers Spring Break Writing Camp, Austin, March 15 - 17

National Book Awards Festival, Huntsville, March 16 - 18

Texas-Mexico Relations and the 2016 Election, Dallas and Stephenville, March 16 - 17

ALL-CON 2016, Dallas, March 17 - 20

Ongoing Exhibits:
Shakespeare in Print and Performance, Austin, December 21 - May 29

Encounters and Discoveries in Literature: Celebrating Arte Público Press and Twentieth Century Latina/o Literature, Houston, January 18 - June 30

Fact, Fiction, and the New World: The Role of Books in the Making of America, Honey Grove, March 1 - 31

Shakespeare's First Folio Exhibit, College Station, March 8 - April 3

In His Own Words: The Life and Work of César Chávez, San Antonio, March 15 - April 30

Monday, March 14:
The Korova, PuroSlam! with DJ Donnie Dee, 10PM

Wednesday, March 16:
St. Edward's University, Cassandra Clare discusses and signs Lady Midnight, 7PM

Dallas Center for Photography, Loli Kantor discusses and signs Beyond the Forest, 6:30PM

Fort Worth

Collin College - Spring Creek Campus, Book In Common: writer's workshop with Peter Heller, 10AM

Colling College - Spring Creek Campus, Book In Common: Peter Heller discusses and signs The Dog Stars, 7PM

Thursday, March 17:
Horchow Auditorium, Arts & Letters Live - Tracy K. Smith & Kevin Young: Poetry, Place & Race, 7:30PM

Murder By the Book, Brian Freeman will sign and discuss his newest book Goodbye To The Dead, 6:30PM

The Health Museum, Molly and Gary Whitney present Thistle Downe, 2PM

Collin College, Book In Common: Peter Heller discusses and signs The Dog Stars, 1PM

Friday, March 18:

Murder By the Book, Owen Laukkanen will sign and discuss The Watcher in the Wall, 6:30PM

Unity of Houston (Unity Church of Christianity), John Bradshaw, author of Bradshaw On: The Family, lectures on "Recovering Your Innocence," 7:30PM

San Antonio
Viva Tacoland, Gemini Ink: Featured readers are Debra Monroe, Ben Olguín, and Frances Santos, 6:30PM

Saturday, March 19:
B&N - Preston/Royal, Meet children's author Wanda Vassallo, 11AM

Horchow Auditorium, Arts & Letters Live - Rainn Wilson: Quirks, Comedy & Creativity, 7:30PM

Latino Cultural Arts Center, In Reality and Fantasy - Diversity Done Right featuring author Cynthia Leitich-Smith, 9AM

El Paso
Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords Project workshop: "It's in the Cards" with Snookie Golding, 12:45PM

Fort Worth
B&N - Hulen Center, Rainbow Wings book signing with C. T. Ford, 1PM

Half Price Books, local author Lonna Enox will sell and sign Blood Relations, 1PM

Congregation B’nai Israel, Memoir and Writing Workshop with Marion Winik, 10AM

Rosenberg Library, Reading by Marion Winik, 3PM

B&N - Westheimer, Dr. Glenn Toby signs Lil' G Faces the Brooklyn Bully, 12PM

Round Rock

San Antonio
Gemini Ink, "Life Becomes Art: Form in the Essay & Memoir" workshop with Debra Monroe, 10AM


Sunday, March 20:

Malvern Books, The Lion & The Pirate Unplugged inclusive open mic with Special Guest Maria Palacios, 4PM

Recycled Reads, spoken word, 2PM

B&N - Preston/Royal, E. C. Murray signs A Long Way From Paris, 2PM

South Dallas Cultural Center, In The Words Of a Sistah: I Am Here - all female poetry show, 5PM

Congregation B’nai Israel, OLLI class with Writer in Residence Marion Winik, 2PM

San Antonio
B&N - San Pedro, T. Irwin Sessions signing San Antonio's Historic Architecture, 2PM

The Twig Book Shop, T. Irwin Sessions discusses and signs San Antonio’s Historic Architecture, 11AM

Sunday, March 13, 2016

ARTHUR ZARR'S AMAZING ART CAR: Guest Post by Cathey Graham Nickell

by Cathey Graham Nickell
illustrated by Bill Megenhardt

Genre: Children's Picture Book/Outsider Art
Publisher: Twenty-Eight Creative
Date of Publication: November, 2015
# of pages: 40


Arthur Zarr is a quiet man with few friends. His life is rather plain, and his car is plain, too. But not for long! When Arthur gets a creative idea to add everyday objects to his car’s plain exterior, he’s noticed for the first time. Neighbors and other bystanders add their own artistic flair to the car, too. What happens when he enters his bedazzled vehicle in the town’s art car parade? Mr. Zarr finds happiness and makes friends by building an amazing art car. In this whimsical story, children learn about recycling, community, friendship building, and the power of imagination. The book includes a “History of Art Cars” page for readers who’ve never heard of this creative form of artistic expression. It also has a subtle ABC theme, as Arthur Zarr adds objects to his art car in alphabetical order! This is the first—and so far, the only—children’s book published about an art car. Suitable for all ages but especially ages 4-8. Illustrated by Houston graphic artist, Bill Megenhardt.

Guest Post from Author Cathey Graham Nickell

My Old SUV Inspired a Picture Book

I remember the playful statement I made to my teenage son last year on the way to his school. “Will, I need to be a polite driver and obey the laws of the road, because my car is so incredibly recognizable. Other drivers notice me, you know.” Will’s response? Eye roll, wrapped in a deadpan reaction, surrounded by mockery. “Uh, no, Mom, no one ever notices you. No one. And they definitely don’t pay attention your car.” We both laughed and went back to listening to our favorite morning drive radio show.

See, I’ve spent many years braving the freeways of Houston during rush hour while chauffeuring my kids to school. What you don’t know about me is that I like to cover the back of my SUV with meaningful bumper stickers. There’s one from my alma mater, Baylor University. Will’s school, Bellaire High. Katie’s college, Southern Methodist in Dallas. Pamela’s law school at the University of Texas in Austin. Mason’s college, University of St. Thomas. Then there are my declarative stickers: I ♥ Telluride, I ♥ My Havanese, and Do What You Like/Like What You Do! The bumper stickers have become a running joke with my friends and family. But you can’t blame me for trying to make my car seem a little less ordinary than the plain, whitish-bronze, 2003 SUV that it is.

I teased Will that morning about having a memorable car that everyone notices. He bantered back that no one would ever notice me. It was a simple joke, but it got me thinking. What else—besides bumper stickers—makes a vehicle stand out? What makes a car memorable? My own questions triggered me to contemplate art cars. Art cars are pretty darn memorable, I thought. By the time I had finished my morning carpool, the idea for Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car was born. And even though I’m not an illustrator, I knew it would somehow become a picture book.

Do A Bit of Research.  I wondered. Has anyone already written a story like this? Are there books available for children that describe art cars? I visited bookstores and libraries, and I researched the topic. I found several interesting photographic art car books for adults. But no colorful children’s books. No imaginative made-up stories. I asked around, and I was surprised that many people don’t even know what art cars are.

It seems that most residents in and around Houston know about art cars, because Houston is home of the country’s first and largest annual art car parade (now in it’s 29th year). But most of my friends and relatives outside of Houston have never seen or heard of an art car. This discovery made me want to write and publish my story even more. I couldn’t wait to see the Arthur Zarr of my imagination come to life.

I rushed home from my library/bookstore quest to write. The story is set in a small, imaginary town, where Arthur Zarr is a quiet man with few friends. His life is rather plain, and his car is plain, too. But not for long! Arthur gets a creative idea to add everyday objects to his car’s exterior. People in his community start noticing him for the first time. Neighbors and other bystanders join Arthur by adding their own artistic flair to his car. Soon, he becomes a contender in the town’s Art Car Parade. Arthur Zarr finds happiness and makes friends by building an amazing art car.

Be Sure to Collaborate: All this, just from a silly conversation about my bumper stickers! My husband read the manuscript first, and he liked it. His enthusiasm gave me the confidence to continue to pursue the project. Friends and family encouraged me to self-publish, but I needed objective advice. A local advertising guru agreed to a gratis consult. He listened to my idea, and he said the same thing: go home and self-publish your book. He said something else that stuck with me: “Start talking about your book, Cathey. I’ve seen ideas die on the vine simply because someone was afraid to talk about it. Start talking about your book. Start collaborating.”

I had already written and self-published a nonfiction history book, but never a picture book. I asked around and made a few calls, which led me to a handful of illustrator options. I narrowed the list down to Bill Megenhardt, an experienced Houston children’s book illustrator with great references. His services weren’t exactly inexpensive, but he wasn’t the most expensive either. It was manageable. The illustration and print costs are not small, so this is a serious venture for me. But as my bumper sticker advises, I’m doing what I like and liking what I do! If all goes as planned, the book will be ready by November. 

Listen to that kernel of inspiration that might be tickling the back of your mind. Pay attention to the silly stuff you joke about with friends or family. You never know; an object as ordinary as a 12-year-old SUV covered with bumper stickers might be all it takes to trigger your next project. And, like Arthur Zarr, maybe you’ll build something as amazing as an art car.

 Praise for Arthur Zarr's Amazing Art Car:

“Nickell’s book is a treat for sight, sound, and sense, for readers and artcarfans (no, you won’t find the word in your dictionary just yet, anyway) of all levels.”
Lone Star Literary Life. 

“A wonderful story of art, opening up to the joys of life, and celebrating the artist in everyone.”—Lynette Wallace, Executive Director, Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, Houston, Texas.

“Cathey Nickell’s book will help fuel the desire to make positive changes in our world through artistic endeavor.”—Alicia Duplan, Assistant Director, Art Car Museum, Houston, Texas.

“Cathey’s story. . . is both engaging and warm. By the end, I found myself rooting for Mr. Zarr. I even felt a small twinge of disappointment when he didn’t win the trophy. Artcar Nation highly recommends this book. Give it to all the children you know.”— Paul McRae, Artcar Nation.


BEER CAN HOUSE, 222 Malone St., Houston, Texas (weekends only). 
BERINGS Baby and Kids Dept., 3900 Bissonnet St. and 6102 Westheimer Rd., Houston, Texas.
BETWEEN THE COVERS BOOKSTORE, 224 W. Colorado Ave., Telluride, Colorado.
BLUE WILLOW BOOKSHOP, 14532 Memorial Dr., Houston, Texas.
BRAZOS BOOKSTORE, 2421 Bissonnet St., Houston, Texas.
CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM, 5216 Montrose Blvd., Houston, Texas.
THE JUNG CENTER BOOKSTORE, 5200 Montrose Blvd., Houston, Texas.
TOY FAIR at Pierremont Mall, 4801 Line Ave., Shreveport, Louisiana.

Cathey Graham Nickell is an author, mother, and wife living in Houston, Texas. She is best known as the seeing-eye-person for her little blind dog named Cricket. Cathey launched her first children’s picture book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car, in November 2015. She doesn’t drive an art car herself, but she has a habit of covering the back of her SUV with bumper stickers! Cathey also snaps pictures of art cars—which are plentiful in Houston—when she sees them. Her all-time favorite car was the bright-yellow Volkswagen Beetle that her grandmother drove in the 1970s. 

Cathey draws from her experience as a former newspaper reporter and public relations professional. After taking a few years off to raise four children, Cathey started freelance writing again in 2012 when a non-profit organization called the Institute for Spirituality and Health hired her to research and write its six-decade history. Uniting Faith, Medicine and Healthcare: A 60-Year History of the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center was published in 2015. The book is used as a marketing and communications tool, and all financial proceeds benefit the Institute (not Cathey). Cathey graduated from Baylor University with a BA in Journalism in 1985. She earned a Master of Arts from Louisiana State University-Shreveport in 2013. Find her online where she blogs about her writing and publishing adventures.

GIVEAWAY!!  Three winners will each win 
$20 CASH & an Author and Illustrator 
Signed Copy of the Book!

Check out these other great blog stops on the tour!

3/7     Hall Ways Blog  – Review
3/8     Because This is My Life Y'all – Author Interview
3/10   Books and Broomsticks -- Review
3/11   The Librarian Talks – Excerpt 
3/12   The Page Unbound – Review
3/13   Texas Book Lover – Guest Post
3/14   The Crazy Booksellers – Promo
3/15   Missus Gonzo  -- Review
3/16   A Novel Reality  -- Author Interview

 blog tour services provided by