Tag Archives: West Texas

Promo: Nowhere Near by Teddy Jones

NOWHERE NEAR
Stories
by
Teddy Jones
  Genre: Short Stories / Literary Fiction / West Texas
Publisher: Midtown Publishing, Inc.
Date of Publication: May11, 2017
Number of Pages: 206
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Characters in the eleven stories in Nowhere Near act in ways that some might call “divinest madness.” Some of them have been pushed near their limits by years of stress. Others mourn and grieve and discover feelings they can’t admit aloud. A sense of duty drives another to believe in aliens, at least for a while. Some of their behavior is simply laughable, other flirts with death, and the rest ranges from dangerous to near heroic. These characters vary widely, yet all have in common that they live in or come from West Texas, where spaces are wider and tolerance for strangeness seems just a bit greater. Whether readers agree these characters are nowhere near crazy, they may admit they all are doing what humans do—what makes sense to them at the time.
Praise for Nowhere Near:
“Teddy Jones writes about plainspoken people whose lives are entangled and wrought and marked by routine—routines they cherish, routines they wish to escape—and who glimpse, now and again, a sense of something beyond their ability to reason. The stories in Nowhere Near are deep, honest, and unsentimental, and they pierce you to the bone.—Robert Boswell, author of Tumbledown & The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards
There’s so much goodness in these stories, the kind of goodness that grows out of characters who endure hard lessons leading them to revelations and deep understanding. You’ll find real people here, with real heartaches and mistakes and regrets. With language as true as music, a steady and perceptive eye, and at times a blazing humor, Teddy Jones creates fully imagined and realized worlds. Subtly, she makes strangeness ordinary and the ordinary strange. You will recognize the people in this book the way you recognize your own neighbors and friends and co-workers and family: full of annoying quirks and surprises and, finally, a saving grace.”—Eleanor Morse, author of White Dog Fell From the Sky
“Teddy Jones is the real deal. With her characteristic wit and goodhearted characters, Jones draws a bead on West Texas life as it’s currently lived. Her precise ear for the rhythms of life and language guides the reader confidently from dry land farming to the double life of dreams and secrets. These stories stuck with me and left me wanting more.” –Summer Wood, author of Raising Wrecker


Teddy Jones has been a nurse, nurse practitioner, university professor, college dean, and occasional farmhand. She grew up in a small north Texas town, Iowa Park, and gained college degrees in nursing at Incarnate Word and University of Texas, a Ph.D. in Education at University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. She held nursing, teaching, and administrative positions in Austin, Denver, and Lubbock and as a family nurse practitioner in Texas and New Mexico. Writing fiction was her “when I know enough and have the time” dream all those years. Now she and her husband live near Friona, in the Texas Panhandle, where her husband farms and she writes full time.
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FIVE WINNERS!
One Grand Prize: Signed copies of both Nowhere Near and Jackson’s Pond, Texas, set of 10 hollyhock notecards, and a 11×15 print of the cover art from Jackson’s Pond.
1st Runner-Up: Signed copy of Nowhere Near + choice of notecards or print
Next Three Winners: choice of notecards or print
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  May 11-20, 2017

CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
5/11
Author Interview 1
5/12
Review
5/13
Scrapbook Page 1
5/14
Promo
5/15
Review
5/16
Excerpt
5/17
Scrapbook Page 2
5/18
Review
5/19
Author Interview 2
5/20
Review


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Guest Post: The Lark by Dana Glossbrenner

THE LARK
by
Dana Glossbrenner


Genre: Humorous Literary Fiction
Publisher: Boldface Books
Date of Publication: June 7, 2016
Number of Pages: 270

 

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You’re never too old to learn—or too young

 

Good-looking, good-hearted Charley Bristow’s the most sought-after hair stylist in five West Texas counties. He’s an expert on the dance floor and sharp at the pool tables, too—but when it comes to pick­ing cars, dogs, and women, luck hasn’t quite gone his way lately. And there’s the ever-present worry over his mother, whose own trailer-park plight he’d just as soon steer clear of. 

 

Just when he’s sworn off temptation of the female sort, an evening at the local honky-tonk drives two prime targets right into his path. Weighing the sudden wealth of options in his love life, while also searching for the right choice of wheels to suit his needs, Charley stumbles upon a long-hidden secret and an unforeseen road to re­demption. 

 

The colorful denizens of the Wild Hare Salon, Jarod’s Automotive, and Hopper’s nightclub, along with those of the Briargrove First Methodist Church and the Sulfur Gap Centennial Celebration, will two-step their way right into your heart, to music as familiar as Willie Nelson and Charley Pride. And you just might start to fall in love with an old Johnny Mercer tune, too, as Charley Bristow faces his past and embraces the challenge of his future.

 

Praise for The Lark
“Good-time Charley” Bristow is a popular twenty-something West Texas hairstylist who’s already dodged two bullets with two failed marriages (the second time, literally). . . . The Lark invites us to join Charley’s friends, the rural cosmopolitans of Sulfur Gap, and ride shotgun alongside this rogue with an honest heart . . . on a journey into his past.  Dana Glossbrenner has crafted a totally engaging quest for happiness, set it in a totally genuine contemporary Texas, and delivered up great characters for a great read.

 

Cliff Hudder, author of Splinterville and Pretty Enough for You

 

Charley Bristow takes some things seriously–work, dancing, pool-playing, and women, but maybe not in that order. He finds the true importance of friends and family.

 

— Rick Smith, San Angelo Standard Times
GuestPost

 

Where’d You Get Those Characters?

I began to hear the most frequently-asked question right away: “Are your characters based on anyone you know?” With my first published novel, The Lark, I gave advance reading copies to people whose opinion I value and, yes, to those who would post that valued opinion in an Amazon review when the book became available. They asked, “Where’d the characters come from?” Friends asked if they would recognize themselves in the book. And others inquired, “Where did you get the idea for Charley?”

When I first started writing short stories, I made up fictional names and told true stories. Truth is often better—and wilder—than fiction. There are remarkable situations when people say, “You can’t make this stuff up!” But I found myself working too hard to preserve the real story. The first time I wrote about a totally fictional character in a completely made-up story, my husband said, “Your writing is better when you’re not trying to fit things in to something you already know about.” I decided he was right.

Here’s how Charley, the main character in The Lark evolved. I knew a bunch of interesting ladies who work at the beauty salon I visit for haircuts and the occasional chair massage or manicure. I had written a couple of stories about women working in a salon. Someone observed, “Sounds like Steel Magnolias,” when I told her about my stories. Oh. Not too happy about my lack of originality, I decided to start a story with a young female hair stylist who marries an older man who is a drummer in a band. About thirty pages in, I began to bore myself. I was thinking, “How can I punch this up?”

I remembered a presentation by a local author at our writers’ club, in which he said, “If things feel too conventional, turn them upside down.” So Charlene became Charley, and the drummer, Lou, became an older lady. And then I decided to take off in a different direction from the plot I had in mind. The basic settings stayed the same—the nightclub (invented), the hair salon (adapted from my real one but different), and Sulfur Gap (a composite of small West Texas towns I know).

Once Charley appeared, he took on a life of his own. I knew him. Thomas Hardy said, “Character is destiny.” That’s true of real people as well as the characters writers create. Once I knew Charley, I knew what needed to happen within my world-view, which isn’t fantasy, sci-fi, or horror.

But characters don’t magically appear. When I’m formulating a story (a novel, a segment, or a short story), I start sketching. I write the character’s name in the center of a page, and then I jot down everything I know about that person and where he or she is headed in the arc of the plot. Sometimes I realize that the plot will need adjustments to fit the character, since a plot works best if it’s character-driven. Sometimes I change the character’s name.

I focus on the character’s conflicts—what the person brings into the storyline—both the baggage and the laurels. Has he or she missed out on life because of an over-developed sense of self-sacrifice? Does the character harbor a guilty secret? Is the character trying to overcome a handicap, such as being a total nerd? Has the character been hurt deeply by someone or by a stroke of fate? Who or what does the character love most? From this comes focus on motivation, which then drives the plot.

Alongside this diagram, I begin to jot notes about how the character’s segment of life that I am portraying will play out within the setting and the basic plot line.

Another helpful approach is to write a character sketch—like the old high school English assignments–Write a character sketch of Lennie in Of Mice and Men. If characters don’t come into focus, I write a description of them—discover who they are. What I describe about that character is what I will show as the plot thickens. It’s a great tool to solidify a character in my thoughts.

So this is part of the very long answer to the question, “Where’d those characters come from?”

The short answer is “My head.”

 

Dana Glossbrenner’s debut novel, The Lark, features Charley Bristow, a successful young hair stylist in a small West Texas town. His misadventures provide humor, intrigue, and catharsis, as he discovers a lost family history. Women Behind Stained Glass: West Texas Pioneers, a historical work, recounts the lives of women who helped settle the area around San Angelo, Texas.Glossbrenner taught high school and university English classes and worked as a guidance counselor. She grew up in Snyder, Texas, earned degrees from Texas Tech, Angelo State University, and Texas State University. She now lives in San Angelo, Texas.

She cites Larry McMurtry, Cormac McCarthy, and Elmer Kelton as major inspirations for writing about Texas.

 

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   July 25 – August 8, 2016
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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
7/25    StoreyBook ReviewsReview

 

7/26    The Librarian Talks – Author Interview #1

 

7/27    Texas Book Lover – Excerpt #1
7/28    Reading By Moonlight — Review
7/29    It’s a Jenn World – Author Interview #2
7/30    Country Girl BookaholicReview
7/31    The Crazy Booksellers — Promo
8/1       Missus GonzoGuest Post
8/2       Byers Editing Reviews & Blog – Excerpt #2
8/3       Kara The Redhead — Review
8/4       The Page UnboundAuthor Interview #3
8/5       Margie’s Must Reads — Review
8/6       Books and Broomsticks — Promo
8/7       Forgotten Winds – Excerpt #3

8/8       My Book Fix Blog – Review


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Review: East Jesus by Chris Manno

EAST JESUS
by
Chris Manno
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Publisher: White Bird Publications
Date of Publication: March 8, 2016
Number of Pages: 314
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In the summer of 1969, a small town in west Texas prepares to send one of their finest young men off to fight a faraway, controversial war. A parallel battle of domestic violence erupts at home as a younger generation struggles to reconcile older notions of right and wrong and even fractured family ties with the inevitable price that the fighting demands. 

Much like today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Vietnam war is little understood by those left behind, but the lessons of strength, commitment and duty are timeless, then and now. East Jesus, the story of that national struggle today as well as back in 1969, is a plangent, soulful journey lived through the eyes of a wide-ranging, colorful array of characters, with a conclusion readers will never forget.

 
There’s more.  “East Jesus,” said one editor, “is a message of hope for our children.” Too often, teenagers who’ve survived a young lifetime of domestic violence believe “this is the hell I was born into, this is the hell I must accept for life.” East Jesus turns that notion on its ear: though there’s a price to pay, there’s a better way that rises above the violence.
The novel is peopled by strong characters, particularly women, in a salt-of-the-earth, small town, west Texas community. The price of a far away, unpopular war always comes due in small town America, then (set in 1969) as well as now (Iraq and Afghanistan). But the lesson of hope, sacrifice and redemption is timeless.
To read East Jesus is to live that story, to transcend the fighting at home and abroad, and to embrace the hope and faith in what’s right above all else.

Experience East Jesus, live the story–you’ll never forget it.

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Review
Now I know that this book isn’t YA, but I have to say that Manno has the teen speak and tone down to the point that I was not expecting the man in his picture (see below) as the author. Sorry if that’s ageist, but I mean it as a compliment. As someone who loves reading YA because I never outgrew the teen angst and obsession with anything Apocalyptic, I don’t think that I could maintain a tone as authentic as Manno. But I’ve digressed.
While I had trouble keeping all the characters straight in the beginning (there are lots of people… and dogs… with strange names), I think I finally got a hang of things about a quarter of the way through. And while I didn’t particularly care for some characters (Travis lost the parent lottery), I found them all interesting and realistic.
So many books have domestic abuse in them and I’ve found that most have some sort of an explanation (not justifying it, but there’s usually some stupid reason) for why it occurs. The reason unfolds at the end of this book. But I was so wrapped up in whatever moment was happening that I didn’t sit and ponder about it.
I’ve lived my whole life in Texas, most of it bordering a sleepy ol’ Western-ish town, but I still feel like I’m reading about foreign places when I read novels like this one. I guess that’s an attribute to just how vast and varied our great state is. I don’t think the fact that it’s set on the cusp of the 70’s is the issue either. There’s just something very different about a town where there’s literally only a handful of places to spend a Friday night. And yes, football does make an appearance.
My takeaway from this book is you don’t get to pick who your family is, but you can pick the people around you who can be your new family. And you might not succeed in protecting each other, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on building a new, good life. Manno doesn’t paint a pretty picture of this town and time period, but I found this book refreshing all the same.

Chris Manno matriculated from Springfield, Virginia and graduated from VMI in 1977 with a degree in English. He was commissioned in the Air Force and after completing flight training, spent seven years as a squadron pilot in the Pacific at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa and Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. He was hired by American Airlines as a pilot in 1985 and was promoted to captain in 1991. He flies today as a Boeing 737 captain on routes all over North America and the Caribbean. He earned a doctorate in residence at Texas Christian University and currently teaches writing at Texas Wesleyan University in addition to flying a full schedule at American Airlines. He lives in Fort Worth.
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Each winner gets an author signed copy of East Jesus PLUS 
a free download of Chris’s cartoon book #RudeLateNightCartoons 

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  May 10 – May 19, 2016
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:


5/10   Texas Book Lover  – Guest Post #1

5/11   Missus Gonzo  – Review
5/12   Country Girl Bookaholic  – Promo
5/13   Forgotten Winds  — Review
5/14   StoreyBook Reviews     – Excerpt      
5/15   A Novel Reality            – Author Interview #1     
5/16   Book Chase      – Review      
5/17   All for the Love of the Word     – Guest Post #2     
5/18   My Book Fix Blog – Author Interview #2                                      
5/19   Hall Ways BlogReview

 

 
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