Monday, April 30, 2018

Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR April 30-May 6, 2018

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of April 30-May 6, 2018: 

Special Events:
Writefest, Houston, April 30-May 6

Austin Book Awards, May 4

Knot Your Average Folk Tale: WTAMU's 2018 Storytelling Festival, Canyon, May 4

Texas Frightmare Weekend, DFW Airport, May 4-6

New Fiction Confab 2018, Austin, May 5

Free Comic Book Day, various locations, May 5

Voices de la Luna 21st Annual Texas Voices Award, San Antonio, May 6

Ongoing Exhibits:

Monday, April 30:
Central Branch Library, "Genealogy: Family Stories Spark Imagination" with author Jodi Thomas, 6:30PM

SMU - McFarlin Auditorium, Arts & Letters Live presents David Sedaris, author of Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977–2002, 7:30PM

Interabang Books, Nina Lorez Collins discussing and signing WHAT WOULD VIRGINIA WOOLF DO?, 7PM

The Wild Detectives, Tracy Everbach and Jacqueline Ryan Vickery, co-editors of Mediating Misogyny: Gender, Technology and Harassment, will be joined by local journalists to discuss issues and best practices for dealing with the patriarchy on the Internet, 7:30PM

El Paso
The Black Orchid Lounge, BorderSenses presents a Barbed Wire Open Mic, 8PM


The Mix, PuroSlam, 9:30PM

The Twig Book Shop, James Loyd and David Matheson reading and signing Starter, 5PM

Wednesday, May 2:
Deep Vellum Books, Marfa For the Perplexed with Lonn Taylor and Mark Lamster, 7PM

Interabang Books, David Nelson Wren discussing and signing ARDROSSAN: THE LAST GREAT ESTATE ON THE PHILADELPHIA MAIN LINE, 3PM

Latino Cultural Center, Wordspace Dallas presents International Impressions: YURI HERRERA-GUTIERREZ, award-winning author of Signs Preceding the End of the World, 7:30PM

Moody Performance Hall, Storytelling: Oral Fixation presents "Broken Record," 8PM

The Wild Detectives, Inner Moonlight Reading Series: In keeping with the Women Galore events for May, we have two incredible women featured this month: Lauren Brazeal (Gutter) and Stevie Edwards (Sadness Workshop), followed by an open mic available to women only, 7:30PM


Brazos Bookstore, An evening of poetry with Carol Moldaw & J.S.A. Lowe, 7PM

George R. Brown Convention Center, Storytelling: The Moth in Houston: GrandSLAM Championship, 7PM

Thursday, May 3:

Brazos Bookstore, Tom Perrotta reading and signing MRS. FLETCHER, 7PM

Haggard Library, Ace Atkins discussing and signing Robert B. Parker's Old Black Magic, 7PM [ticketed reception 6PM]

Sugar Land
Brazos Bookstore, Reception: Meet the Agents: Writefest 18 Literary Agents Panel and Q&A, 7PM

Inprint House, Inprint’s First Friday Poetry Reading Series presents Marie Brown, 8:30PM
Murder By the Book, Ace Atkins will sign and discuss Robert B. Parker's Old Black Magic, 6:30PM

B&N - Palms Crossing, Local author Iona Cordero reads FireFighters to the Rescue with special guests the McAllen Fire Department, 10AM

San Antonio
Imagine Books & Records, Dr. Kenneth Womack signing Maximum Volume with music by Vintage Pictures, 8PM

Saturday, May 5:
El Paso Public Library - Memorial Park, Tumblewords Project workshop: "El Año Perro, Year of Reconnections" with Karla Nabil, 12:45PM

Fort Worth
The Dock Bookshop, 10th Anniversary Celebration Dinner, 5PM

Blue Willow Bookstore, Newbery Award-winning author Katherine Applegate will discuss and sign her novel ENDLING, 11AM

Brazos Bookstore, Ana Emilia Felker reading and signing AUNQUE LA CASA SE DERRUMBE, 7PM

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

Murder By the Book, Christina Lynch will sign and discuss The Italian Party, 4:30PM

Ring Neighborhood Library, Public Poetry Reading Series featuring Robin Davidson, Paige Quiñones, Katherine Hoerth, and Daniel Peña, 2PM

Space 25 Gallery, join writer and activist Jasminne Méndez for a reception and reading as she launches her new book, Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e, 6PM

Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area, Culture & Cocktails on the Prairie with a poetry reading by David Taylor (a Fundraiser benefitting LLELA), 5PM

B&N, Unconditional: Ever Changing Never Ending Family Love book signing with local author Gloria Davis, 2PM

San Antonio

B&N - San Pedro, Vincent Di Blasi signing Creating Cassandra, 2PM

Friday, April 27, 2018

Review: LIMELIGHT by Amy Poeppel

I reviewed Limelight: A Novel (Atria Books) by Amy Poeppel for Lone Star Literary Life. "Limelight is a fun, charming, and surprisingly touching tale about the meaning of home and human connections in a world moving at an ever-accelerating pace into what often seems an ever-increasing superficiality."

Amy Poeppel
Limelight: A Novel
Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Hardcover, 978-1-5011-7637-1 (also available as an e-book, an audio book, and on Audible), 416 pgs., $26.00
May 1, 2018

Allison Brinkley’s family is discombobulated. They’ve just moved from suburban Dallas to the heart of Manhattan. Husband and father Michael is nervous about his new job. The substitute teaching position Allison had lined up falls through. Seventeen-year-old Charlotte had to change schools for senior year, leaving behind her first boyfriend. Fourteen-year-old Megan’s grades are dropping and she’s acting out, dealing with hormones. Speaking of hormones, eight-year-old Jack discovers one of those your-body-is-changing-in-new-and-confusing-ways books, which ended up in one of his moving boxes by mistake, and he’s got questions.

When Allison sideswipes a mirror off the door of a BMW, she meets Carter Reid, a Justin Bieber sort, once a charming, dimpled child crooner turned churlish, out-of-control, pop-singing bad boy. Allison accidentally becomes Carter’s personal assistant after discovering him in the ugly aftermath of a drug-infused bender with his entourage, and it’s her job to ensure Carter is ready for his Broadway debut, an adaptation of the Charles Chaplin 1952 classic film Limelight.

Limelight: A Novel is the second book from Amy Poeppel, following the critically acclaimed Small Admissions: A Novel (Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 2016). Limelight is a fun, charming, and surprisingly touching tale about the meaning of home and human connections in a world moving at an ever-accelerating pace into what often seems an ever-increasing superficiality.

When I was sixteen I moved from Odessa, Texas, to SoCal—that’s Southern California for you uncool people. And I was uncool there; it was like getting sucked through a wormhole and landing in a galaxy far, far away. Limelight opens as Allison stands in the doorway of her new tenth-floor apartment wondering if she needs a doormat in a carpeted hallway and how to trick-or-treat in a high-rise. The refrigerator is wood-paneled, a “barren expanse” upon which magnets won’t stick. Allison’s mother can’t imagine why Allison would trade their house in Texas for a New York apartment; it’s “like going from an Escalade to a Vespa.” It’s the small things that bring home a profound sense of dislocation.

Limelight is like one of those Russian matryoshka dolls, a story within a story within a story. It’s cleverly plotted and fast paced, populated with a variety of interesting characters. A handful are merely two-dimensional types, but many others who are complex and intriguing and fully capable of surprising us. Allison is thoroughly loveable, a bit naïve and trying her best to apply her Texas values of “a square meal, good, motherly advice, and some tough love” to a Kardashian kulture.

The dialogue in Limelight is laugh-aloud funny, ranging from arch to the equivalent of slapstick. “We need you to ensure that for the next eight or nine months,” the Broadway producers explain to Allison, “our very expensive star is a goody-two-shoe, wholesome, mindful, meditating, kelp-eating, oxygen-breathing, nonsmoking, celibate monk.”

Told through Allison’s winsome first-person account, Limelight tells a story of relationships and comfort zones. Allison feels for Carter, seeing past the attitude to an isolated teenager whose worst tendencies are enabled by leeches. She offers kindness and reliability, enabling Carter’s courage to scale new heights because now there’s scaffolding and a softer place to land if he falls.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Excerpt: SEARCHING FOR PILAR by Patricia Hunt Holmes

Genre: Contemporary Suspense / Thriller
Publisher: River Grove Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 320 pages

Scroll down for giveaway!

Pilar, an innocent young wife and mother, is abducted during a fake job interview in Mexico City and forced into sex slavery in Houston. Can she survive the horrors of a world—one which many good Americans don’t see or ignore—long enough for her brother Diego to find her?

Searching for Pilar breaks open the secretive and dangerous world of sex trafficking, while exploring human nature and our connections to each another. Diego’s guilt transforms him from a rudderless youth into a man of purpose, and courage. While he searches, Pilar finds a strength that could save herself and a young girl who needs her. The themes of family, love, faith and the law intertwine in this action-packed tale of the Bayou City.

“Patricia Holmes fictionalizes the heartbreaking reality of cross-border sex trafficking in her novel, Searching for Pilar. This cautionary tale should be required reading for high school classes to foster awareness, understanding, and ultimately solutions to this horrific epidemic.”  --Joanne F. Phillips, author of Revenge of the Cube Dweller.

“In Searching for Pilar, Patricia Hunt Holmes makes us aware of the terrible nature of sex trafficking in the context of a fast-paced, exciting Houston story that moves from affluence and glitz to barrio cantinas and the federal courthouse. The charitable, can-do nature of Houston is reflected in the wide cast of residents who help a young man on an extremely dangerous mission to find his kidnapped sister.  This book will be an added weapon in our fight against sex trafficking.” –Sylvester Turner, Mayor, City of Houston

Mexico City
Chapter Three Excerpt from Searching for Pilar
By Patricia Hunt Holmes

     “I need to go to the Colonia Tabacalera, near the Monumento a la Revolución,” she told Diego.
     “I know where it is. It’s on the western edge of downtown.”
     Diego parked opposite the monument. “Um, do you need me to go with you, Pilar?” he offered, while he glanced at his watch.
     Pilar could see he was worried about having time to watch the professionals. She said, “I have directions. You can drop me off and pick me up here. At 4:00 p.m.?”
     “Are you sure you don’t mind?” Diego asked, his face brightening.
     “I don’t mind,” Pilar said, although she was terrified of walking on the streets of Mexico City alone and she hesitated before she got out of the truck.
     “Bueno!” he said. “Nos vamos esta tarde. We will meet again this afternoon!”
     Pilar stopped at a taco stand with a faded yellow umbrella for a quick bite to eat. The taco seller tried to start a conversation, but she just smiled. She kept checking her watch and fumbled for change to pay him.
     Pilar surveyed the neighborhood. It was filled with centuries-old, once-elegant homes. Office and apartment buildings had replaced some of the houses, but everything looked run down. Salsa music blared from a cantina down the block where two women in very short skirts and high boots stood outside talking to a group of men. The people sitting at the other tables did not look like her mental picture of business people. A dark young man dressed in jeans, sunglasses, and a black leather jacket with tattoos on his neck and hands stared at her. It made her uneasy. She avoided making eye contact. She wished she had asked Diego to stay with her, but she had no way to contact him. She didn’t want to stay where she was with the dark man staring at her.
     Pilar saw a shabbily dressed woman about her own age standing nearby, staring at the people eating at the tables. She looked hungry. A thin little boy was crying while he held tight to her hand. The pair made her remember why she taken the desperate steps she was taking. She wished she had some pesos to give the woman, but her purse was empty after buying lunch.
     At 12:55, Pilar found the building. It was a nondescript old concrete office building with several coats of red and black graffiti on the outside of the ground-level floor. She had never ridden in an elevator, so she took the stairway, although it had an unpleasant smell. Telling herself to be strong, she finger-combed her hair, said a quick Hail Mary, and straightened her crucifix. She entered suite 435.
     The only thing in the room was a row of five metal folding chairs lined up against the wall. Pilar hesitated, then took a seat and waited for something to happen.
     Shortly the door to the hallway opened again and a petite, pretty young girl with curly brown hair and hazel eyes came into the room. The girl smiled nervously as she sat down. Pilar guessed she was thirteen years old. I wonder why her mother is not with her?
     The door to the inner office opened and a tall, attractive woman with a stylish black suit, high heels, and auburn hair pulled back into an upsweep stepped into the reception area. She was the most sophisticated woman Pilar had ever seen, straight out of a telenovela. She wore a thick silver chain around her neck. Big silver rings covered her fingers.
     “Señora Chavez?” she asked.
     “Sí, señora,” Pilar spoke up, standing quickly.
     “Won’t you come into my office? I am Alma Diaz. It is good to meet you.” She motioned for Pilar to sit in a large overstuffed chair on the other side of her desk while she looked Pilar up and down, an approving smile on her face.
     Looking around, Pilar observed two gray upholstered chairs, a small wooden side table, a bookcase, and a desk. Paper shades covered the windows. Picture frames sat on Alma’s desk, but they were turned the other way, so Pilar could not see what she assumed was Alma’s family. The bookcase held very few books. A framed map of Mexico City provided the only color on the wall. A small vase with red roses sat on the desk; their sweet smell helped calm her nerves.
     “Perfect,” Alma said, smiling. “We are glad you came to see us. Can I get you something to drink? Café? Cocoa?”
     “No, thank you. I just ate something.”
     Alma’s brow wrinkled slightly. “Perhaps later,” she said. “Let’s get to know one another, shall we?”
     “Do you have siblings?”
     “Oh, sí, two brothers, Diego and Carlos. My older brother, Diego, drove me here today, and I am meeting him at the monument at four.”
     “How perfect,” Alma said. “You have a big brother to watch out for you.” 

Patricia Hunt Holmes spent 30 years as a public finance attorney with the international law firm of Vinson & Elkins LLP. She was consistently listed in Best Lawyers in America, Texas Super Lawyers, Top Lawyers in Houston, and awarded the highest degree by her peers in Martindale Hubbell. She was a frequent speaker at national public finance and healthcare conferences. Patricia has also served on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Tennessee, and University of Texas Health Science Center Houston. She has written and published in the fields of intellectual history and law.

Patricia has been a member and board member of social service organizations in Houston that focus on helping women, including the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast Women’s Initiative, Dress for Success Houston, and the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red. She was a founding member and first board chair of Houston Justice for Our Neighbors, which provides free and low cost legal services to immigrants. For the past five years, she has been taking writing workshops with Inprint, associated with the outstanding University of Houston Creative Writing Program. She began to write Searching for Pilar in a workshop after learning that Houston is one of the biggest hubs for sex trafficking in the country.

1st & 2nd Prizes: Signed Copy of Searching for Pilar + Mexican Necklace
3rd Prize: Signed Copy of Searching for Pilar + $20 Amazon Gift Card
(U.S. Only)

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR April 23-29, 2018

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of April 2-29, 2018: 

Special Events:
Lib-Con, Abilene, April 25-28

Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival, McAllen, April 26-29

15th Annual Mansfield Reads! with Carlton Stowers, April 26-27

ATX Bookstore Crawl, Austin, April 28

Authors in the Parks, various locations, April 28

2018 Dia De los Niños / Dia de los Libros, El Paso, April 28

Independent Bookstore Day, various locations, April 28

Northeast Texas Writers Organization Annual Spring Conference, Mt. Pleasant, April 28

Austin SCWBI 2018 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference, April 28-29

Austin Short Short Fiction Festival, April 29

Ongoing Exhibits:

Monday, April 23:
Arlington Public Library, Kwame Alexander reading and signing Rebound, the sequel to The Crossover, 5PM


Interabang Books, Masatsugu Ono reading and signing LION CROSS POINT, 7PM

The Black Labrador, Houston Writers House meeting featuring RD Vincent, author of the Donbridge Series, 6:30PM

Brazos Bookstore, Literary Couple Brendan Kiely (TRADITION; THE LAST TRUE LOVE STORY; co-author with Jason Reynolds of ALL AMERICAN BOYS) and Jessie Chaffee (FLORENCE IN ECSTASY) talk books, writing, and life with author Katherine Howe (CONVERSION; THE APPEARANCE OF ANNIE VAN SINDEREN), 7PM

Houston Advanced Research Center, World Affairs Council of Greater Houston hosts former CIA operations officer Charles Goslin discussing Understanding Personal Security and Risk: A Guide for Business Travelers, 7PM

University of Houston Hilton, Former Congressman Bill Sarpalius, author of The Grand Duke from Boys Ranch, in conversation with Jim Granato, executive director of the Hobby School (followed by a book signing), 6:30PM

San Antonio
The Mix, PuroSlam featuring Amanda Flores, 9:30PM

Wednesday, April 25:
Bazan Branch Library, Voices de la Luna hosting a "Writing Our Lives Senior Workshop," 1PM

Thursday, April 26:
Central Branch Library, Downtown Lunchtime Book Club with Jodi Thomas speaking about MORNINGS ON MAIN, 12:15PM

UTA, Homerathon: A day-long oral recitation of Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey, 7AM

Brazos Bookstore, Joshua Wheeler discussing and signing ACID WEST, 7PM

Poison Girl Bar, Poison Pen Reading Series featuring Micha Bateman, Arna Bontemps Hemenway, and Antonya Nelson, 8:30PM

Texas Tech, the Creative Writing Reading Series presents poet, scholar, and teacher Stanley Plumly, 7:30PM

Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center, Shepperd Institute Distinguished Lecture Series presents "Shale and Texas Energy: Past and Future" panel discussion, which includes Gary Sernovitz, author of The Green and the Black: The Complete Story of the Shale Revolution, the Fight over Fracking, and the Future of Energy, 7PM

San Antonio
Barshop Jewish Community Center, Leigh Olson discussing and signing The Joys of Jewish Preserving with a hands-on cooking demonstration with the author, 7PM

Memorial Library, National Poetry Month-Open Mic Readings, 6:30PM

The Twig Book Shop, Barbara Ortwein reading and signing her Texas trilogy, 5PM

Sugar Land
B&N - Westheimer Crossing, Harry A. Milman signing Soyuz: The Final Flight, 11AM

Blue Willow Bookstore, Ginger Zee, "ABC News'" chief meteorologist, will meet and greet fans and sign her books, 5PM

Brazos Bookstore, Jenny Molberg and Christian Bancroft will be joined by UH’s Michael Snediker for this evening of readings from ADELAIDE CRAPSEY: ON THE LIFE AND WORK OF AN AMERICAN MASTER, 7PM

Inprint House, The Poetry Lab at Inprint hosted by Poets Reading the News, 6PM

Rudyard's British Pub, Gulf Coast Reading Series featuring Carlos Hernandez, Katie Condon, and Jennifer Lowe, 7PM

Saturday, April 28:
Northwest Branch Library, Writing Round Table: Writing as a Career or Hobby? A conversation with Jodi Thomas who has spent 30 years in the game as a working writer, 10AM


B&N - Golden Triangle Mall, Local Author Jim West signing Genocide by GMO, 2PM

El Paso
El Paso Public Library - Memorial Park, Tumblewords Project workshop: "What's the Matter?" with Gene Keller, 12:45PM

Fort Worth
The Dock Bookshop, Power Session and book signing with Sharetha Nicole, author of Purpose Defined: A Guide Towards a Renewed State of Mind, 5PM

Galveston Bookshop, T. Felder Dorn will sign The Downfall of Galveston’s May Walker Burleson, 2PM

B&N - River Oaks, John Evans signing Catalyst, 2PM

Blue Willow Bookstore, Marshall Cobb, a former Nottingham Forest resident, will discuss and sign his novel THE PROMISE OF THE ORB, 11AM

Brazilian Arts Foundation, Writing workshop followed by a poetry slam hosted by Houston VIP National Poetry Slam Team, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Meg Lelvis will sign and discuss Blind Eye, 4:30PM

River Oaks Bookstore, D.F. Brown reading from and signing Ghost of a Person Passing in Front of the Flag, 3PM

Centennial Park, Poetry in the Park: A Celebration of National Poetry Month, 2PM

Irving Library - East, El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros (Children’s Day/Book Day): stories from award-winning author and illustrator Joe Cepeda, followed by children's crafts and refreshments, 2:30PM

Centennial Library, Jimmy Patterson signing Midland from A to Z, 1:30PM

Pflugerville Public Library, National Poetry Month Contest Reading, 4PM

B&N - Creekwalk Village, Mark Stuertz discussing and signing Secret Dallas, 2PM

Richardson Civic Center, Writers Guild of Texas workshop: "Troubleshoot Your Novel, Simplified: The Pitch as a Tool" with author Annie Neugebauer, 9AM

San Antonio

Collins Garden Branch Library, celebrate "Trafficking in Words" for National Poetry Month with Voces Cósmicas poets Fernando Esteban Flores, Jacinto Jesus Cardona, Alicia Galvan, Suzanne Green, Ed Cody, Liz Vera, and Stephanie Velasquez, 2PM

Dead Tree Books, Diana Anderson-Tyler signing Armor for Orchids, 1PM

San Antonio Central Library, MENTE REBELDE, CUERPO AUTÓNOMO: a writing workshop + open mic in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month with Ana Ortiz Varela and Isabel Zepeda Ramos, 12:30PM

The Twig Book Shop, Byron Browne signing Spanish Missions of Texas, 11AM

Spicewood Community Library, Writer's League of Texas workshop: "Texas Writes" with presentations from former literary agent Becka Oliver and author Michael Noll, 10AM

Sugar Land
Half Price Books, local author Sonya Hurst will sell and sign her Christian living book, Prayers that Open the Portals of Heaven, 1PM

Sulphur Springs
The Bookworm Box, April Author Signing: E.K. Blair, Sierra Cartwright, Anne Conley, Tigris Eden, Misha Elliot, Nicole Flocton, Olivia Hardin, Barbara Blue Johnson, Wren Michaels, and K.D. Robichaux, 1PM

B&N - Baybrook, Shelly Brown signing Mustaches for Maddie, 11AM

Sunday, April 29: