Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR 2/27-3/5

Bookish events in Texas for the week of February 27-March 5, 2017: 

Special Events:
FESTIBA, Festival of International Books & Arts, Edinburg and Brownsville, February 27-March 5

North Texas Teen Book Festival, Irving, March 3-4

Odessa Shakespeare Festival, March 3-5

Houston Writers Guild Annual One Day Conference, March 4

Sin Fronteras Independent Book Festival, Brownsville, March 4

Ongoing Exhibits:

Texas Writers: Humanities Texas Exhibition, Salado, March 3-31

The Art of Dr. Seuss: A Retrospective Exhibition, Austin, March 4-April 2

Monday, February 27:
Tuesday, February 28:
LBJ Presidential Library, An evening with journalist and author Cokie Roberts (preceded by book signing of Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868 and Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies at 5PM), 6PM

Malvern Books, Malvern’s Multi-Verse with Pen2Paper, 7PM

Spider House BallroomAustin Poetry Slam featuring Boatman (hosted by Christopher Michael), 8PM

SMU - Karcher Auditorium, Pia Orrenius, co-author of Beside the Golden Door: U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization, discusses "The Migration Challenge," 5:30PM

The Texas Theatre, screening of High Noon (1952), followed by a discussion with Dallas Morning News culture critic Chris Vognar and Glenn Frankel, author of High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic, 8PM

The Wild Detectives, Sofía Segovia reads and signs Hurácan, 7:30PM [bilingual event]

Fort Worth
The Korova, PuroSlam with DJ Donnie Dee, 10PM

Wednesday, March 1:
Avant Garden, Write About Now Poetry Slam, 7:30PM

Brazos Bookstore, Glenn Frankel discusses and signs HIGH NOON, 7PM

University of Houston, Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts presents the Cargo and Carrier Lecture Series: Artist Talk with artist and writer Jill Magid, 1PM

University of Houston, Poetry & Prose presents UH Creative Writing Program Professors Tony Hoagland & Nick Flynn, 5:30PM

San Antonio

Talento Bilingue de Houston, An Evening of Literary Tejana Power: Norma Cantu and Ines Hernandez read from the anthology Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art, 6:30PM

Texas Tech, Creative Writing Reading Series hosts Edward Kelsey Moore, 7:30PM

Midland Centennial Library, former First Lady Laura Bush will sign Our Great Big Backyard, 1:30PM

Odessa College, Writers' League of Texas presents Celebrating Texas Independents:Our Great Literary State's Independent Presses, Journals, Bookstores & More (panel discussion), 7PM
San Antonio
The Movement Gallery, Writing Workshop featuring Polly Anna, 7PM

The Twig Book Shop, Sofia Segovia reads and signs Huracan, 6PM

San Marcos
TSU - Alkek Library, Texas Music History celebrating the latest book in our Dickson Book Series, Pickers and Poets, with a panel discussion, book signing, and live music, 7PM

Friday, March 3:
BookPeople, KATHRYN SCOBLICK speaking and signing Ditch the Diets: It's Not All About The Food, and JEREMI SURI, WILLIAM INBODEN, and JOSHUA BUSBY speaking & signing Sustainable Security: Rethinking American National Security Strategy, 7PM

Casa Resistencia Books, Café Libro Open Mic: Celebrating Words and Verses of Michele Serros, featuring: Diana Gómez, Andrea Zarate, Marilyse Figueroa, Bianca Flores, Michelle Mejía, and Rachel Caballero, 7:30PM

Malvern Books, a night of poetry to celebrate the kick-off of Mathias Svalina’s Dream Delivery Service, 7PM

El Hueso de Fraile, Poesía en Atril, 6:30PM

B&N - Lincoln Park, Banana Cream Pie Murder book signing with Joanna Fluke, 7PM

University of North Texas, Claire Legrand reads and signs her 2017 Edgar Award-nominated Some Kind of Happiness, 3PM

B&N - Firewheel Mall, George Arnold signs Tragedy of the Commons: Dark Prophesies, 2PM

Houston Astronomical Society, Amy Jackson discusses Cassandra and The Night Sky, ?

Inprint House, First Friday Reading Series featuring poet Gerald Cedillo, 8:30PM

Saturday, March 4:
B&N - Lincoln Park, Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors book signing with President George W. Bush, 9AM [wristband required]

Dallas Museum of Art, Arts & Letters Live presents Texas Bound II: Fish Out of Water featuring Octavio Solis, Luke Wilson, Lydia Mackay, and G. W. Bailey, 7:30PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, Tim Dorsey signs Clownfish Blues, 5PM

The Writer's Garret, Workshop: "Finding Your Voice" with Melissa T. Schultz, 1PM

El Paso
Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords Project workshop: "Fashion as Art & Film" with Sandy Torrez, 12:45PM

Fort Worth
The Dock Bookshop, Writers and Readers Roundup, 11AM

B&N - Firewheel Mall, George Arnold signs Tragedy of the Commons: Dark Prophesies, 11AM


River Oaks Bookstore, William and Graham read and sign What I Cannot Abandon, 6PM

Writespace, Workshop: Jumpstart Your Writing with Andreana Binder, 1PM

North Richland Hills
North Richland Hills Library, Behind the Book: Joanna Fluke discusses and signs Banana Cream Pie Murder, 1PM [ticketed reception at 12PM]

Round Rock
San Antonio
B&N - San Pedro, local author Laura Johnstone signs Sesame the Miracle Cat, 12PM

The Twig Book Shop, Jon Lasser reads and signs Grow Happy, 11AM

B&N - Town Square, George Dalton signing A Collision of Dreams, 12PM

The Storybook Garden, Author Meet & Greet with Rebecca Luna, 11AM

Yorktown Public Library, Writers' League of Texas workshop: Texas Writes with Greg Garrett and Donna Johnson, 10AM

Sunday, March 5:
Half Price Books Mothership, Local Author Sundays: Meet local Indie authors and pick up their latest release, all day

B&N - Firewheel Mall, George Arnold signs Tragedy of the Commons: Dark Prophesies, 11AM

Brazos Bookstore, Reception for the launch of IN THE EYES OF OUR CHILDREN: HOUSTON, AN AMERICAN CITY, 5PM


B&N, The Adventures of George Pitts book signing with George Pitts, 1:30PM

San Antonio

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Review: NORTE by Edmundo Paz Soldán

I reviewed Norte (University of Chicago Press) by Edmundo Paz Soldán, translated from the Spanish by Valerie Miles, for Lone Star Literary Life. This English translation of a story of displaced people couldn't be more timely.

Edmundo Paz Soldán
Translated from the Spanish by Valerie Miles
Norte: A Novel
University of Chicago Press
Paperback, 978-0-2262-0720-9, (also available as an e-book), 312 pgs., $18.00
October 26, 2016
‘In Spanish there’s an expression, “perder el norte,” which means to lose one’s way, to lose sight of a goal, to lose control, to lose the sense of where is up and where is down on a compass.’
Three tales are told in Norte: that of Jesús, a serial killer from Northern Mexico who rides the rails across the United States; that of Michelle, an aspiring graphic novelist and dropout from a Latin American literature doctoral program in Texas; and that of Martín, a schizophrenic artist locked in a California asylum, whose works eventually hang in the Guggenheim and the Smithsonian. Each of these characters have immigrant origins (some legal, others not): Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico. Everyone here is addicted to something: substances, sensations, emotions, people, power; and none of their American dreams are turning out as they’d hoped.

Norte, an unflinching exploration of displaced people (“my wife and children are here Your Honor, I’m a political refugee from my country Your Honor, if you send me back the narcos are going to kill me Your Honor, Your Honor, Mister Lawyer, sir, mister, mister, please, please, please”), and physical and emotional violence, is Edmundo Paz Soldán’s ninth novel, and the third to be translated into English. Originally from Bolivia, Paz Soldán is a professor of Latin American literature at Cornell University. His previous works have won the Bolivian National Book Award and the Juan Rulfo Short Story Award, among others. Valerie Miles, translator, editor, writer, and professor of literary translation at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain, translated Norte from the Spanish.

Norte’s construction is unusual, more a series of linked short stories than a novel. The narratives move backward and forward in time between 1931 and 2009, and the settings range from Texas to California to Mexico, and roam the country with Jesús on the railroads. In the end, these narratives come together in creative and unexpected ways.

In unadorned prose with a noir-ish quality, Paz Soldán shifts seamlessly between characters, settings, and perspectives, conveying stark contrasts. Jesús is uneducated, crude, and psychotic; Michelle is educated, middle-class, and aimless; Martín is haunted, anxious, and poignant. Jesús’s and Martín’s narratives are told in third person, Michelle’s in first person.

Norte seems to draw from Paz Soldán’s biography. He pokes fun at the insular academic world (“so self-absorbed, fascinated at hearing ourselves speak”), and Michelle’s creative breakthrough mirrors his own experience with the development of Norte. Paz Soldán also draws from actual people and events. Jesús was inspired by the real Railroad Killer, and Martín is Martín Ramírez, whose works do hang in museums throughout the world. Paz Soldán’s channeling of Martín’s inner world is particularly moving, his imagery evocative (“Shadows conspired with each other along the rooftops”).

The publication of the English edition of Norte couldn’t be more timely. “Or what if nobody was forced to migrate anymore? Leaving one’s place on earth is a cruel experience.”

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Reporting the JFK Assassination

  Genre: Biography / Journalism
Date of Publication: November 1, 2016
Number of Pages: 280

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Thanks to one reporter’s skill, we can fix the exact moment on November 22, 1963 when the world stopped and held its breath: At 12:34 p.m. Central Time, UPI White House reporter Merriman Smith broke the news that shots had been fired at President Kennedy's motorcade. Most people think Walter Cronkite was the first to tell America about the assassination. But when Cronkite broke the news on TV, he read from one of Smith’s dispatches. At Parkland Hospital, Smith saw President Kennedy’s blood-soaked body in the back of his limousine before the emergency room attendants arrived. Two hours later, he was one of three journalists to witness President Johnson’s swearing-in aboard Air Force One. Smith rightly won a Pulitzer Prize for the vivid story he wrote for the next day’s morning newspapers.

Smith’s scoop is journalism legend. But the full story of how he pulled off the most amazing reportorial coup has never been told. As the top White House reporter of his time, Smith was a bona fide celebrity and even a regular on late-night TV. But he has never been the subject of a biography.

With access to a trove of Smith’s personal letters and papers and through interviews with Smith’s family and colleagues, veteran news reporter Bill Sanderson will crack open the legend. Bulletins from Dallas tells for the first time how Smith beat his competition on the story, and shows how the biggest scoop of his career foreshadowed his personal downfall.


“So much of what we know about any story depends on how reporters do their work. Bill Sanderson takes us through every heartbreaking minute of one of the biggest stories of our lifetime, with sharp detail and powerful observations. As you read the book, you’ll feel all the pressure and adrenaline rush of a reporter on deadline.” —Neal Shapiro, former president of NBC News, current president of WNET

“The life and work of a noted White House reporter…. Focusing on [Merriman] Smith’s reporting of the Kennedy assassination, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, Sanderson conveys the tension and confusion after the event, as Smith and other newsmen scrambled to ascertain facts.” —Kirkus Reviews

“To read Bulletins from Dallas is to touch the fabric of history, through Sanderson’s artful weave of many voices, from presidents across the decades to the last words uttered by J.F.K. Swept back through the corridors of time, we hear the urgent bells and clatter of the teletype machine: Merriman Smith’s first report to the world, ‘Three shots fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade today in Downtown Dallas.’ This compelling narrative takes us to that moment when our whole nation cried, and, even now, to tears of primal sympathy that never seem to end.” —Allen Childs, author of We Were There: Revelations from the Dallas Doctors Who Attended to JFK on November 22, 1963

* Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Indiebound *

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for pay since I was 18 years old -- much like Merriman Smith, the protagonist in Bulletins from Dallas. I had my first paying newspaper job in 1978, more than 38 years ago. Smith started writing for newspapers when he was in college in the 1930s and kept it up to his death in 1970.

What kinds of writing do you do?
Mainly I’ve written for newspapers. I estimate that during my 32 years as a full-time news reporter -- from 1981 to 2013 -- I had between 6,000 and 7,000 newspaper bylines. I still write for newspapers and websites, but not as much as I used to. Bulletins from Dallas is my first book.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Gathering information. The guts of the book are well known. Merriman Smith, the White House reporter for United Press International, hogged the only radiotelephone available to the reporters riding in President Kennedy’s Dallas motorcade. This let him report the shooting in Dealey Plaza five minutes ahead of his competitors at the Associated Press -- a huge scoop. But by itself, that’s not enough of a story for a book. The book's success depended on whether I could learn more about Smith and his life, and how the assassination fit in it.

When I started, I wasn’t sure how much I would find. Luckily Smith's family was very cooperative with recollections and giving me access to information about his personal letters. Also, I found a big cache of his personal papers at the Wisconsin Historical Society -- I spent a week there taking notes and making copies of everything I could.

I found plenty of material at two archives in Texas -- the LBJ Library in Austin and, of course, the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, which has a huge collection of material about the assassination. The Sixth Floor Museum’s oral histories of people who were involved in the news coverage on November 22, 1963 were a big help.

Altogether, it turned out to be a heck of a story. The book covers Smith’s life and career before and after the Kennedy administration. He had a really interesting relationship with Lyndon Johnson which few people today know about. Some who knew Smith think the assassination was a factor in the problems that led him to kill himself in 1970. If you read the book, you can decide that for yourself.

What were the biggest surprises you learned during your research?
I uncovered two long-forgotten documents about Merriman Smith and the news coverage of the assassination.

One was a letter from Smith’s competitor, Jack Bell, written a month after the assassination. Bell complained bitterly that Smith boasted too much about being the first to get the assassination story on the newswires. Bell wrote this note on the letterhead of his employer, the Associated Press. Everyone knew Bell was angry about how Smith beat him reporting the assassination. I don't think anyone alive today knew that Bell put his anger in writing.

Another was a letter from Smith to his bosses written just before he left for Texas with President Kennedy. Smith was behind on his expense reports, and his bosses at United Press International did not give him an advance for the trip. Smith was pretty angry about this and went into his assignment in Texas in a foul frame of mind.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
The process of writing itself. Once I had the material I needed, it was fun to sort it into a story with a beginning, middle and end. Also, I happen to enjoy rewriting and editing -- cutting stuff, adding stuff, doing the work of making it make sense.

Who are some of the authors you feel were influential in your work?
Among fiction writers -- I really like Willa Cather and Somerset Maugham. I grew up on the farm in New Hampshire where Cather edited My Antonia. She’s a great story teller, and she did the research a good fiction writer needs to do to make her characters and stories seem real. Maugham had a lot of good ideas about the process of writing. He said he considered himself in the first row of the second rank of British writers -- I think that’s about right, and I admire that kind of honesty and clear thinking. The Moon and Sixpence is one of my favorite novels of all time.

Among non-fiction writers -- right now I’m a fan of Michael Lewis, for the way he takes incredibly complicated topics and makes them understandable and interesting. Also I’m catching on to Sarah Vowell. Assassination Vacation was one of the books I read to prepare for Bulletins. Vowell is a lot of fun; I like her spin on things like religion in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and late 19th-century US politics. And I’m an Erik Larson fan -- I especially liked In the Garden of Beasts.

Who would you cast to play the main characters in Bulletins from Dallas?
Tom Hanks would be a great Merriman Smith. He’s about the right age and I think he’d get across the right mix of cynicism and gravitas needed to portray Smitty. I’d have Billy Bob Thornton play Jack Bell. I think Bell was a guy with a lot of nervous energy -- but his energy went in all the wrong directions.

Bill Sanderson spent almost two decades as a reporter and editor at the New York Post. His work has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Observer, and the Washington Post. Sanderson lives in New York City. Connect with Bill:



February 21 - March 2, 2017


Scrapbook Page
Author Interview
Book Trailer
Video Interview
Guest Post

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR 2/20-26

Bookish events in Texas for the week of February 20-26, 2017: 

Special Events:
Texas Medal of Arts Awards, Austin, February 21-22

Johnson City Library 9th Annual Writers Conference, February 22

Symposium: THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION OF 1917: A CENTENNIAL VIEW, Dallas, February 22-23

Estamos Aqui Hispanic Storytelling Festival, Midland, February 23-24

People's Poetry Festival, Corpus Christi, February 23-25

Wild Wicked Weekend, San Antonio, February 23-25

NACCS Tejas Foco 2017, Bryan, February 24

Artists Writings on Materials and Techniques: EODIAH Symposium, Dallas, February 24-25

31st Annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Alpine, February 24-25

Poetry Out Loud Texas State Finals, Austin, February 25

2nd Annual Southwest Regional Slam, Austin, February 25

SCBWI Austin Book Marketing Boot Camp, Round Rock, February 25

Speer Memorial Library Book Festival, Mission, February 25

WordWyse 2nd Annual Marketing Workshop for Authors, Mount Vernon, February 25

One Day Jewish University, Dallas, February 26

Ongoing Exhibits:


BookPeople, ALEXANDRA BURT speaking & signing The Good Daughter, 7PM

Spider House BallroomAustin Poetry Slam hosted by Jomar Valentin, 8PM

College Station
George Bush Presidential Library & Museum, Presidents Day with Kate Andersen Brower, author of The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House and First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies, 7PM

GVEC boardroom, Mary O. Parker and Jeff Parker discuss Explore Texas: A Nature Travel Guide, 7PM

Crescent Club, DFW World Affairs Council presents Geneive Abdo, author of The New Sectarianism: The Arab Uprisings and the Rebirth of the Shi'a-Sunni Divide, 6:30PM

The Wild Detectives, Joe Lansdale reads and signs Rusty Puppy, and Kathleen Kent reads and signs The Dime, 7:30PM

El Paso
The Black Orchid Lounge, Barbed Wire Open Mic Series featuring Rachel Marie, 2016 Frontera Poetry Slam Champion, 8PM

Fort Worth


San Antonio
Rebar, Kinyo Poetry Live: "Spursless," 8:30PM

Thursday, February 23:


Texas Tech, Creative Writing Program Reading Series presents poet Bob Holman, 7:30PM

San Antonio
Carmens de la Calle, A Very Jazzy Gemini Ink Black History Month Celebration featuring readings by special guests with live music by The Rene Saenz Jazz Trio, 8PM

San Marcos
TSU - Alkek Library, The Wittliff Collections reading series presents Elisa Albert, 3:30PM

South Padre Island
South Padre Island Community Center, local author and historian Steve Hathcock discusses local history, 12PM

Friday, February 24:

Warwick Melrose Hotel, Elliot Ackerman discusses and signs Dark at the Crossing, 4:30PM


Brazos Bookstore, Krishna Dronamraju discusses and signs POPULARIZING SCIENCE, 7PM

Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center, KAP reading series presents Elisa Albert, 7:30PM

Eldorado Country Club, Elliot Ackerman discusses and signs Dark at the Crossing, 11:45AM

Port Neches
Fleur Fine Books, Doneane Beckcom signs Eat, Drink and Be Merry through Menopause, 2PM

South Padre Island
Paragraphs on Padre, Meet the Author Series: Vijay Chopra discusses and signs Colors of Leaves, 1PM

Saturday, February 25:
B&N - Preston/Royal, Colin Cahoon signs The Man With the Black Box, 1PM

Dallas Museum of Art, Arts & Letters Live presents Jessi Klein, author of You'll Grow Out of It, 7:30PM

Half Price Books Mothership, New York Times bestselling author and Fox News Channel’s chief political anchor Bret Baier will sign copies of Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission, 2PM

The Wild Detectives, Elliot Ackerman discusses and signs Dark at the Crossing with Ben Fountain, 1PM

The Writer's Garret, Workshop: Flash Fiction, Postcard Essays, and Micro Prose: Exploring Short Forms with A. Kendra Greene, 1PM

El Paso
Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords Project workshop: Nancy Lorenza Green presents Inspirational Voices: Junot Diaz, 12:45PM

Fort Worth
Monkey & Dog Books, Rosalind Bunn will sign Thunder and a Lightning Bug Named Lou, 11AM

Hood County Library, Writers' League of Texas workshop: Texas Writes with Meg Gardiner and Susan Wittig Albert, 1PM

Harker Heights
B&N, Beyond the Quest to Become a Physician: Insightful and Inspirational Tales of Parenting, Perseverance, and Pediatrics book signing with Dr. Robert Burke, 1PM



B&N, Joseph A. Willis signs Teaching Lessons: Creating a Cultural Infrastructure for Great School, 11AM
San Antonio
South Padre Island
Paragraphs on Padre, Meet the Author Series: Sue Boggio discusses and signs Long Night Moon, 1PM

Sugar Land
Half Price Books, Darrellon Prince will sign Princess Grace and the Pincushion Gang, 1PM

Sunday, February 26:
B&N - Preston/Royal, Yvette Grove Reads and signs Lily's Deliciously Different Day, 1PM

Dallas Museum of Art, Arts & Letters Live presents Adam Gidwitz, author of The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, 3PM

Deep Vellum Books, Dark Moon Poetry, 7PM