Monday, December 31, 2018

Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar December 31, 2018-January 6, 2019

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of December 31, 2018-January 6, 2019: 

Ongoing Exhibits:
Finding Sophie Blackall Exhibition, Abilene, October 11-February 1

30 Poems for the Tricentennial: A Poetic Legacy, San Antonio, December 3-April 25, 2019

Monday, December 31:
No public events today. Create your own. 

Tuesday, January 1:

Fort Worth
The Dock Bookshop, Open Mic Poetry Night, 8PM

San Antonio
The Mix, PuroSlam, 9:30PM

Wednesday, January 2:
Avant Garden, Write About Now: New Year, New Sh*t Poetry Slam , 7:30PM

Thursday, January 3:
Sugar Land
B&N, Story time with local author Maria Ashworth, 10AM

Friday, January 4:
Half Price Books - North Oaks, Local Author Saturdays: Meet local Indie authors and pick up their latest release, while supplies last

Katy Budget Book, New Year, New YA: a pizza party with beloved favorites Sophie Jordan, CC hunter, and Mary Lindsey, and new favorite Cheyanne Young, sign their latest releases, 3PM

Scenicwood Branch Library, Public Poetry Library Reading Series featuring Chenelle John, Vanessa Zimmer-Powell, Ji Yoon Lee, and Ayokunle Falomo, 2PM
San Antonio
B&N - San Pedro, H. Rick Goff signing A Line in the Water, 1PM

South Padre Island
Paragraphs on Padre, POP writer's workshop, 2PM
Sunday, January 6:
Aaron Family JCC, an evening with Father Patrick Desbois, author of the National Jewish Book Award-winning book The Holocaust by Bullets, 7PM

Dallas Museum of Art, Arts & Letters Live presents Elaine Pagels discussing Why Religion? A Personal Story (moderated by Rena Pederson), 2:30PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, Dallas-native children’s author Sharon Jones-Scaife will sell and sign her children’s self-help book, I Miss You, Papa, and Dallas-native travel author Diane Van Buren will sell and sign copies of her travel book, Enlightened Rome: Discover the Magic of Piazzas and Public Spaces in Rome, 1PM

Candy Shack Daiquiris, Poetry Exclusive "Sweet Tooth," 6PM

Half Price Books, Local Author Sundays: meet local indie authors and pick up their latest releases, while supplies last
San Antonio

Monday, December 24, 2018

Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar Dec 24-30

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of December 24-30, 2018: 

Ongoing Exhibits:
Finding Sophie Blackall Exhibition, Abilene, October 11-February 1

30 Poems for the Tricentennial: A Poetic Legacy, San Antonio, December 3-April 25, 2019

Monday, December 24:
No public events this Christmas Eve. Please feel free to create your own.

Tuesday, December 25:

Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 26:
Avant Garden, Write About Now Last Poetry Open Mic of 2018, 7:30PM

Thursday, December 27:
El Paso
B-17 Bombers Oyster Pub, Barbed Wire Open Mic Night, 8PM

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

Friday, December 28:
Heroes Lounge, Dallas Poetry Slam, 7:30PM

El Paso
Fahrenheit 180, Open Mic featuring Joann "Paradigm" Roberts, 8PM

La Madeleine French Bakery, Houston Writers Guild Holiday Social, 7PM

Saturday, December 29:
The Dock Bookshop, Community Kwanzaa Celebration, 3PM

Half Price Books - Clear Lake, Local Author Saturdays: Meet local Indie authors and pick up their latest release, while supplies last
Half Price Books, Johnny Dodds will sell and sign copies of his book,The Difference in Me is Christ, 1PM

Sunday, December 30:
Half Price Books Mother Ship, Meet local Indie authors and pick up their latest release, while supplies last

Crowley Theatre, Pete Gershon signing Collision: The Contemporary Art Scene in Houston, 1972-1985, TBA

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Top 20 Texas Books of 2018

Whew. What a year. As 2018 slips into the rear-view mirror, on behalf of Lone Star Literary Life, I would like to say thank you to all of the authors who have written books about our state or set in our state, but I’d like to pay special recognition to my favorite Texas books of 2018.

I read and review dozens of books set in Texas or written about Texas each year. This year’s selections reflect the diversity, tastes, and range of the state and its readers, with settings from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods, from the Gulf Coast to the Chihuahua Desert. The twenty authors include twelve men and eight women, ranging in age from thirty-six to seventy-one; their subjects are many and varied, including history, politics, memoir, medicine, weather, art, immigration, families, criminals, victims, grief, bliss, growing up, and growing old.

Here’s my favorite fiction and nonfiction of 2018, with publishers’ descriptions and links to Lone Star Literary Life’s reviews and interviews, in no particular order, though if my arm were twisted, I’d tell you my favorite novel this year is Oliver Loving (Flatiron Books) by Stefan Merrill Block and my favorite nonfiction is Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution (Ecco Books) by Ben Fountain.

Let the argument — ahem, I mean spirited discussion — begin!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar Dec 17-23, 2018

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of December 17-23, 2018: 

Ongoing Exhibits:
Finding Sophie Blackall Exhibition, Abilene, October 11-February 1

30 Poems for the Tricentennial: A Poetic Legacy, San Antonio, December 3-April 25, 2019

Artful Books, Alpine, December 7-17

Monday, December 17:

Tuesday, December 18:
The Mix, PuroSlam, 9:30PM

South Padre Island
Paragraphs on Padre, Zane Grey Day, 12PM

Wednesday, December 19:
Checkered Past Winery, Dallas Poetry Slam: DFW Unplugged: Holiday Edition, 8PM

Avant Garden, Write About Now Poetry Slam featuring Erica Nicole, 7:15PM

Blue Willow Bookshop, Julie Murphy will appear in conversation with actress Maddie Baillio to talk about DUMPLIN', 7PM

San Antonio
The Love Shack, Faith Harper discussing and signing Unf#ck Your Holiday Stress, 7PM

The Twig Book Shop, Mark Hainds discussing and signing Border Walk, 5PM

Thursday, December 20:
Front Street Books, Border Walk author and wayfarer Mark J Hainds, 6PM

The Village Cafe & Art979 Gallery, William E. Moore signing The Texas Calaboose and Other Forgotten Jails, 4PM

River Oaks Bookstore, Zane Carson Carruth presents The World’s First Tooth Fairy… Ever: The Adventures of Abella and Her Magic Wand, 5PM

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

San Antonio
The Twig Book Shop, Carrie Fountain reading and signing I'm Not Missing, 5:30PM

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

Friday, December 21:
Austin Books & Comics, ABC's annual Christmas Party, 10AM

El Paso
Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords Project workshop: "Writing for Dark Times" with Donna Snyder, 12:45PM

Galveston Bookshop, Kimber Fountain signing Galveston’s Red Light District A History of the Line, 1PM

Sunday, December 23:
Half Price Books Mother Ship, Meet local Indie authors and pick up their latest release, while supplies last

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Review: HURRICANE HEROES IN TEXAS by Mary Pope Osborne

I reviewed Hurricane Heroes in Texas (Magic Tree House #30) (Random House Books for Young Readers) by Mary Pope Osborne for Lone Star Literary Life. "Jack and Annie are industrious, compassionate little MacGyvers who will also awe and inspire."

Mary Pope Osborne (author), AG Ford (illustrator)
Hurricane Heroes in Texas (Magic Tree House #30)
Random House Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 978-1-5247-1312-6 (also available as an e-book and an audio-book), 112 pgs., $13.99
August 7, 2018
The place you must go
On this late summer day
Is an island in Texas
Between Gulf and bay.
“We’re here to help!”
Is what you must say.
“Seek high ground now!
Do not delay!”
For those in the dark,
Adrift and astray,
A single bright star
Can show them the way.
Learn from a hero
Who is humble and brave,
Who welcomes the hundreds
Arriving on waves.
Mary Pope Osborne’s beloved Jack and Annie return to Texas, landing in a backyard oak tree in Galveston on September 8, 1900, just in time for the Great Galveston Hurricane, the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the country.

Hurricane Heroes in Texas is the thirtieth installment in the mega-bestselling Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. In a “Dear Reader” note at the beginning of Hurricane Heroes in Texas, Osborne notes that she began writing a book about the worst hurricane to strike the United States in the summer of 2017, just as Harvey, another devastating hurricane, bore down on the Texas coast.

The first Magic Tree House book, Dinosaurs Before Dark, was published in 1992, introducing Jack and Annie, a brother and sister who discover a magical tree house filled with books. (What else would a magical tree house be filled with?) The tree house spins Jack and Annie away on their first journey, an adventure in prehistoric times. For those unfamiliar with the series, each Magic Tree House tale begins with a prologue which succinctly summarizes the premise in two pages so that any child can begin with any volume.

Cues in the text, such as clothing and machinery, provide clues for kids to link historical time periods and places. Magic Tree House Fact Tracker Texas is the companion to Hurricane Heroes in Texas, which includes heroes of Hurricane Harvey. The first two Magic Tree House Fact Trackers appeared in 2000, co-written by Osborne and her husband, Will Osborne. These nonfiction compilations provide children a way to find out more about their favorite places, time periods, and subjects. The historical consultant for this adventure is Andrew J. Torget, a professor of history at the University of North Texas in Denton.

The series is recommended for ages six through nine. Though a few passages in Hurricane Heroes in Texas are genuinely scary, as they should be, and may alarm little ones, Jack and Annie are industrious, compassionate little MacGyvers who will also awe and inspire.

The Magic Tree House franchise includes a website where kids can continue the educational fun by going on more adventures with Jack and Annie.

“To the tree house!”

Monday, December 10, 2018

Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar Dec 10-16, 2018

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of December 10-16, 2018: 

Special Events:
Going Out of Business Sale:books, pamphlets & paper ephemera, Llano, December 13-14

Ongoing Exhibits:

Spiderhouse Ballroom, Austin Poetry Slam featuring Wayne Henry, 7:15PM

The Mix, PuroSlam, 9:30PM

Wednesday, December 12:

Sandaga 813, LitNight with Sanderia Faye, 7PM

The Wild Detectives, Inner Moonlight poetry featuring Trista Edwards and Bess Whitby, 7:30PM

B&N, Meet the Author: Misty Boyd, 5PM

Friday, December 14:
Deep Vellum Books, Cinestate Presents: HEADCHEESE: a special launch party and Q+A with Fangoria author Jess Hagemann, 7PM

El Paso

B&N - Palms Crossing, Meet The Author: Daniel E. Valdez, 12PM & 5PM

Half Price Books, local spiritual author Diane Johnson will sell and sign copies of her 52-week devotional, Walking with God, 1PM

The Drawing Board, Writing Workshops Dallas seminar: "Legal Issues for Writers with Mike Farris, 3PM

San Antonio
Dead Tree Books, Dead Tree Books, John C. Payne signing Three and Out, 12PM

The Twig Book Shop, Philip Mathis signing Goodbye Sky Harbor, 12PM

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Excerpt: THE JANUS WITCH by Michael Scott Clifton

Genre: Paranormal Urban Fantasy / Romance
Publisher: Book Liftoff
Publication Date: September 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 372 pages


Malice vs Love
A beautiful witch, a member of a murderous coven, is torn from her medieval world and transported to East Texas. The passage leaves her with no memory of her previous life. She falls in love with a young pediatrician, but her dark past threatens to reassert itself…and make her a threat.


This book is filled with magic, intrigue, excitement, and fantasy. Michael Scott Clifton is a truly gifted author. -- Teresa Syms, Readers’ Favorite

This novel was an absolute page turner with action and great character development. I enjoyed every minute of it. I'm excited for the next work by Mike Clifton. -- Bronwyn Pegues, Librarian, Longview Public Library

Michael Scott Clifton weaves and casts a magical spell in his fantasy romance The Janus Witch. A must read for any Fantasy Romance, Urban Romance, or Paranormal Romance enthusiast! -- Ranay James, Author of The McKinnon Legends: A Time Travel Series

A continuous flow of witchery and energy that kept this reader captivated until the end. -- The Electric Review, 5-Star Review


          Morganna picked up both bodies as if light as straw, and carried them to a dark, filth encrusted alley beside the tavern. Rats scurried from the witch to disappear in moldering piles of spoiled food and garbage. With an effortless heave, she sent the bodies flying down the narrow lane to land with a graceless thud. Wiping her hands on her dress, the witch turned back to Tressalayne and Argatha. 
          “Another advantage of these seedy inns is dead bodies rarely draw attention. A couple of men with slit throats in a back alley is more likely to elicit a yawn than any kind of investigation. I’ll wager they’ll lay there until they become so ripe the smell forces the innkeeper to remove them.“
          Quickly changing tack, Morganna asked, “Tressalayne, do you have the changeling powder?”
          Tressalayne nodded and handed Morganna a blue bottle whose contents glimmered in the weak light. 
          With practiced ease, the dark-haired witch pulled the cork from the bottle while muttering words in a harsh, guttural, language few if any in the village, county, or even kingdom would recognize or understand. Arranged at arm’s length from one another, Argatha and Tressalayne stood while she tapped a minute amount of powder in her hand. Blowing a portion of it, first on Argatha, then the next on Tressalayne, Morganna re-corked the bottle and waited. 
          At first nothing happened. Only the mournful creaking of the tavern sign relieved the quiet of the night. Then, like embers from a fire, sparks fell from both women. Sluggish at first then building in intensity until with a crescendo, the raging fire completely enveloped both women. With a pop the sparks disappeared, and in their place stood two shorter, scantily-clad women. Argatha wore a stained, blue gown opened to her navel and barely covered her straining breasts. Of a light, transparent material, it left little to the imagination. Tressalayne wore a torn and patched green gown. The garment contained a slit which ended at mid-thigh to expose milky skin and shapely legs, while her breasts threatened to fall out of the loose bodice. Cheap jewelry in the form of rings and bangles flashed from both witches’ hands and wrists. 
          Scrutinizing them, Morganna, nodded, satisfied. She handed the bottle of powder to Tressalayne. “My turn.” 
          Tressalayne stared at the bottle before comprehension began to sink in. “You—you mean—”
          “Yes. You are ready. It’s time for you to start using the spells I have taught you as my apprentice,” the dark-haired witch said with a tight smile.
          But you haven’t let me try transmogrification and I am older and more experienced!” Argatha protested. 
          “True,” Morganna conceded, “but then Tressalayne is already a more skillful apprentice than you and I have no doubt, more powerful. Now shut up and let’s get on with it.” 
          Argatha opened her mouth to further protest, but a steely glance from the coven leader caused her to quickly swallow the comment. 
          Tressalayne fumbled with the cork and almost dropped the bottle. Fighting to keep her hand steady, she spilled some of the powder into it while repeating the spell spoken moments earlier. Finally, she blew the powder onto Morganna. 
          Time passed and nothing happened. Argatha chortled and Tressalayne feared she incanted the spell incorrectly. Just as she was about to ask for a second chance, sparks dripped from Morganna’s figure. A twisting tornado of sparks and flames roared to life until with a bang, it winked out. 
          Morganna stood before them, shorter and plumper in a worn, wine-red gown. Tight, it clung to her voluptuous figure, the gown cut low to expose the deep valley of Morganna’s enormous bosom. 
          The coven leader examined herself with a critical eye and nodded in satisfaction. “A little overboard with the tits, but otherwise well done.” Turning to Argatha, she said, “Get our ‘guests’.” 
          Cackling, the young witch returned to the cart and stuck her head in the back of the wagon and commanded, “Come!” 

Michael Scott Clifton, public educator for over 38 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator, currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas with his wife, Melanie, and family cat, Sadie. An avid gardener, he enjoys all kinds of book and movie genres. His books contain aspects of all the genres he enjoys...adventure, magic, fantasy, romance, and relationships. He has been a finalist in a number of short story contests. Clifton’s fantasy novel, The Conquest of the Veil, won a First Chapter Finalist award. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary Education Magazine. Clifton’s latest book, The Janus Witch, the July Book Cover of the Month, is a featured book on the We Love Indie Books website. Currently, Clifton is completing Book I of The Conquest of the Veil, which will be released in March 2019. He can be reached at

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