2011 Evening with the Authors

J. Denniger Bolton



Denniger is the author of three hilariously funny, very popular, mystery-suspense-action-adventure novels.

The first is Hippie Hollow – Murder on a Nude Beach, set in Austin, Texas, featuring B. B. Rivers, rodeo cowboy, bouncer on 6th Street, and Austin’s newest private investigator.

The Armadillo Whisperer – Murder Behind Bars is B.B.’s second adventure, where he travels to Colorado.

His third novel is just out , Honk If You’re Jesus – Murder by the Bay, set in Taos, San Francisco and like the first two, includes of course, lots about Austin and the Texas Hill Country.

He’s working on the 4th book in the Trilogy, Cowboy on Fire – Murder Under the Volcano, which is set in Costa Rica and other exotic locales.

Our own Dripping Springs goat ropin’ cowboy has written a screenplay adapting the fun and magic of Hippie Hollow to the big screen.

He is a public speaker, available for humorous and informative presentations for book clubs and associations, as well as a book publishing coach,  He’s also part owner of a publishing company, Javelina Books of Austin, Texas.
Denniger has 5 children and 5 grandchildren and lives on a ranch outside of Dripping Springs, Texas.

Vannetta Chapman




Vannetta Chapman holds a BA and MA degree in English and has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups.  Her first Amish novel with Abingdon Press, A Simple Amish Christmas, quickly became a Christian Books Distributor bestseller. Her first Quilt Shop Murder Mystery, Falling to Pieces (Zondervan), will release in September of 2011–the first in a three book series. She has also signed a contract for a three book Amish romance series with Harvest House to release in 2012-2013.

I grew up in Paris, Texas where we had a small, two room library–one for adults and another for children. By the time I was in fifth grade, I was allowed into the adult room, because I’d pretty much exhausted the collection in the children’s room. I’m sure I owe a debt of gratitude to those librarians. I began writing Amish fiction at the request of my agent, but I soon found many connections between the Plain life and my own. My grandfather was born and raised in Albion, Pennsylvania and he spoke German at home, English at school … as the Amish do today. Once I received a contract and travelled to Indiana and Wisconsin to research, my husband and I found that Amish families are similar in many ways to rural Texas families: close-knit, simple, hardworking, and honest. Their lives offer unlimited possibilities for an author, and I’m honored to count many of the people we’ve met in our travels as my friends.

Elizabeth Engelhardt


Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, writes on and studies food, gender, race, and class in the southern United States. She and eleven of her graduate students set out to study the life and culture of barbecue in Central Texas. They’re a diverse group that includes native Texans, people from other barbecue strongholds of the U.S. South, a Chicagoan, and even a couple of northeasterners. They all share a passion for listening to stories, debating and trying to understand American cultures, and eating lots of barbecue.

Stephen Harrigan



     Stephen Harrigan was born in Oklahoma City in 1948 and has lived in Texas since the age of five, growing up in Abilene and Corpus Christi.
For many years he was a staff writer and senior editor at Texas Monthly, and his articles and essays have appeared in a wide range of other publications as well, including The Atlantic, Outside, The New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Audubon, Travel Holiday, Life, American History, National Geographic and Slate. Many of his magazine pieces have been collected in the essay collections, A Natural State (1988) and Comanche Midnight (1995). Another non-fiction book, Water and Light: A Diver’s Journey to a Coral Reef, was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1992.
Harrigan is the author of five novels:  Aransas (1980), Jacob’s Well  (1984), The Gates of the Alamo (2000), Challenger Park (2006) and Remember Ben Clayton (2011).
Among the many movies Harrigan has written for television are HBO’s award-winning The Last of His Tribe, and King of Texas, a western retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear for TNT. His most recent television production was The Colt.  Young Caesar, a feature production he wrote with William Broyles, Jr., is currently in development.
A 1971 graduate of the University of Texas, Harrigan lives in Austin, where he is a faculty fellow at UT’s James A. Michener Center for Writers. He is also a founding member of the Texas Book Festival, and of Capital Area Statues, Inc., a non-profit organization that commissions and raises money for monumental works of sculpture celebrating the history and culture of Texas. He and his wife, Sue Ellen, have three daughters, Marjorie, Dorothy and Charlotte, and two grandchildren, Mason and Travis.

Celia Hayes



Celia Hayes was brought up in an eccentric, baby-boom family, and earned a degree in English Literature (California State University, Northridge)  before an un-slaked thirst for adventure and foreign travel led her to enlist in the United States Air Force.

Of her life before writing full time Celia says “I was a radio and television broadcast technician, and sometime Public Affairs troop, and served for 20 years in places as various as Greece, Spain, Japan, Korea, Greenland and Ogden, Utah, in a wide assortment of duties and pleasures which included midnight alt-rock DJ, TV news anchor, video-production librarian, radio and television writer and producer, production manager…. and base tour guide. On one completely colorful occasion, I drove a bright orange Volvo sedan across Western Europe from Athens to Zaragoza, Spain, accompanied only by a small and cranky child.

In 2002, I started writing for the military-oriented weblog, “Sgt. Stryker’s Daily Brief” (now “The Daily Brief”) at http://www.ncobrief.com, writing essays and commentary on matters historical, personal, political, cultural, literary and military under the “nom du blog” of “Sgt. Mom”. I took it over as senior editor/manager in 2004, while working as an office administrator and manager, catalog editor, executive secretary and classical music announcer, before I decided that writing full-time was what I really, really wanted to be doing. My memoir “Our Grandpa Was an Alien” grew out of nostalgic essays that I wrote for the blog.  My historical novel “To Truckee’s Trail” also grew out of a series of essays for that blog.”

Her ”Adelsverein Trilogy” (the story of the German colonies in the Texas Hill Country) grew out of interest in the founding of the town of Fredericksburg, Texas.   “Daughter of Texas”, her latest book – the epic story of a woman’s life in early Texas- was released on San Jacinto Day – April 21, 2011. The sequel, “Deep in the Heart” will be available early in December, 2011.

Of why she writes about the American frontier and the 19th century, she says, “The 19th century made us what we are, what we would become. At the beginning of it, the United States was a handful of loosely organized states, clinging to the Atlantic seaboard, just beginning to spill over the barrier of the Appalachians. People lived very much as their ancestors had, by candle-light; traveled by horse or ox-team, powered their mills and ships by water and wind. News traveled only as quickly as a fast courier on horseback could go; it took six months to get a letter from the other side of the continent. And by the end of that century – the United States had spread to the shores of the Pacific, railways spanned the continent, and news arrived instantaneously by telegraph; electric light, powered air flight, factories turning out everything from cloth to automobiles, movie shows  . . .  and it would have been possible for someone to have experienced all that, in their lifetime!

“I tell stories about our past, because we need to be reminded about how incredible, what a miracle that our existence as a nation was and is. We need to remember our past, our heroes and heroines, to be inspired and reassured by their example. To live without a sense of history, is to live in a kind of cultural sensory-deprivation tank. We need stories, and we need to remember!”

James D. Hornfischer



James D. Hornfischer is a native of Massachusetts, and a graduate of Colgate University and the University of Texas School of Law.

He’s a member of the Naval Order of the United States, the Navy League, and was appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry as an Admiral in the Texas Navy. A former New York book editor, Hornfischer is president of the literary agency, Hornfischer Literary Management, located in Austin, Texas

Hornfischer’s writing career has grown out of a lifelong interest in the Pacific war. He has appeared on television on The History Channel, Fox News Channel’s “War Stories with Oliver North” and C-SPAN’s “BookTV.” A frequent speaker on the subject of the war in the Pacific, the U.S. Navy, and the experience of America’s sailors in World War II, he frequently addresses veterans organizations, youth and civic groups, and professional naval organizations on the inspiring stories found in his books.

He is the author of three books, most recently Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal. He also authored two other acclaimed works of World War II naval history:  The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour and  Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR’s Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of Her Survivors, both published by Bantam.

He lives in Austin with his wife and their three children.

Jeanette Larson



I am a freelance library consultant, trainer, and writer. After more than twenty-five years working in libraries, I “took my pension” and now channel my love of libraries, books, and reading into teaching for Texas Woman’s University, writing, consulting, and conducting face-to-face and online workshops. It’s a lot of fun being able to pick and choose projects, some for the money and some for love or the community good.

I’ve worked with a lot of public libraries in Texas and around the country. I’ve also worked with the  Texas Book Festival and helped Laura Bush by organizing authors for events like the White House Easter Egg Roll. I get a lot of joy from writing about books and writing to help librarians run their libraries “better.”

With the publication of Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas I crossed over to the other side of the book shelves. My first book for young people was released in February by Charlesbridge and it is beautifully illustrated by my friend and co-author, Adrienne Yorinks.

I’m very social and would describe myself as a “joiner.” I’m a member of SCBWI, the American Library Association, the Texas Library Association, Sisters in Crime, and a number of other organizations. I enjoy meeting people and getting to know them!

I live in Pflugerville, TX, a small community just north of Austin and south of Round Rock. We like to say that we live between a “rock and a weird place.” I share my life with my husband, Jim, two schipperke dogs, and two cats, including a “reformed feral.”

Christina Mandelski



I write books and poetry for children and young adults and am so thrilled to a part of this year’s Evening with the Authors (a worthwhile event if there ever was one!). Libraries have always played a key role in my life and fostered my life-long desire to be a writer. In fact, as a kid I would walk into the local library, find the spot on the fiction shelf where my last name would fall, and imagine a book, written by me, in that spot.

Fast forward a few decades and I don’t have to pretend anymore – my book is actually there, on the library shelf. In May, my first novel for young adults, THE SWEETEST THING, was published by Egmont USA. It’s the story of a 15 year old extremely talented cake decorator named Sheridan Wells. Sheridan has big problems, starting with her missing mom and a father whose dream is to be a reality TV chef. There’s plenty of drama and humor, not to mention a juicy love triangle (because what’s a book without one?)

The question I’m asked most frequently about my debut novel is “Are you a cake decorator?” The answer (though I did take a class while writing the book) is a solid No. Cake decorating is an art form, and one that I greatly admire. Sadly, it’s an art form that I have neither the talent nor the patience to pursue (though I am always happy to eat cake, anytime, anywhere).

It’s been exciting an exciting ride since the book was released; I’ve been a part of some amazing events and met some wonderful fellow readers and writers. But my favorite place to be (when not with my family) is back at my desk, working on the next story.

Speaking of my family, they are a constant source of inspiration, support and silliness and I’d be lost without them.  We live in a constant state of busy-ness in a suburb of Houston. If you look closely, you might see them (my husband Michael and two lovely daughters) hovering around me tonight.

As for what comes next, I’m working on a manuscript that is a contemporary young adult novel with a paranormal twist (think Cinderella meets Dr. Faustus). I loved every minute I spent on THE SWEETEST THING, but it’s great fun to work on something new. Other short-term plans include outlining more story ideas, organizing my mess of an office, and expanding my cooking repertoire beyond tacos and store-bought rotisserie chicken. All in good time.

Wes Marshall




Wes Marshall started collecting wine when he was 17 years old and the legal drinking age was 21. He later discovered the salutary effect taking girls to his college dormitory room to show them his ill-gotten wine collection (“You drink wine? How interesting!”). Since then, his writing career has centered more on music and film and the equipment to enjoy them with at home. But during the dot-com boom, his home town of Austin developed a thirst for fine wine, and he was able to wangle a job with a newspaper covering wine.

One day, his editor asked him to cover Texas wine. Wes was not very interested, but, under duress, went to a couple of wineries and was shocked to discover good wines! Shortly thereafter, he was at a wedding and found that he was standing next to a publisher. Wes said he might be interested in doing a book on Texas wines. The publisher asked for an outline. Wes sent him one, and a week later, a contract arrived. The book, titled “The Wine Roads of Texas,” went on to win the Wine Press Award from the Texas Wine and Grape Growers, and is currently in its fifth printing with a second edition due in 2007. Best of all, the local PBS affiliate is making a three-part documentary based on Wes’s book that will be distributed nationally to PBS stations.

Wes now has a column in the Austin Chronicle, he is a special contributor to the Dallas Morning News, and writes regularly for the San Francisco Chronicle, Wine Country International, Wines and Vines and Salud! He continues to write about home theater equipment, opera and classic films for SoundStage!

Gretchen Rix



The Cowboy’s Baby is Gretchen Rix’s first published novel. Two of her short stories (When Gymkhana Smiles and The Taking of Rhinoceros 456) have also been published as short ebooks for Amazon.com’s Kindle. Later this year she will publish her second novel, Arroyo, a pulp fiction action adventure Western horror tale set in 1893 Texas. A Lockhart-based murder mystery is her next goal.

Ms. Rix grew up in Greenville, Texas, in the early sixties when it was still okay to run up and down the street yelling like Tarzan and ride your bike all over town, ride horses through other people’s fields and trick-or-treat without adult escort each Halloween. She doesn’t like to admit to having run through the DDT clouds as the city exterminated mosquitoes, but she did. It was fun.

High school graduation was followed by a degree in journalism from the University of Houston and several years working as a professional writer for small companies and newspapers. Then jobs as a typist (in the pre-computer age), dispatcher for a trucking company, and finally claims processor for a insurance corporation took up most of the rest of her time. Now retired, she’s writing more.

She is a member of Romance Writers of America, The Irving Club, and Texas Democratic Women of Caldwell County. She can often be seen early mornings being walked by the family dog Boo Radley on the streets of Lockhart. Her recent success as a writer is attributable to her family’s support, the Austin RWA writing challenge of 100 words a day, and retirement.

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you writing isn’t fun,” she says. “It is.”

The Cowboy’s Baby, which is a romantic novel, was written entirely from the title and the setting. In an article published by Romance Writers of America ten years ago they affirmed that any book with the words “baby” or “cowboy” in its title would be bound to sell well. Ms. Rix was not the only writer to put the two words together and attempt a bestseller. She picked a golf course residential community for the setting from personal history and then moved it into Central Texas when she relocated to Lockhart in 2009. The novel is loosely based on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale and also involves goats eating toilet paper.

Gretchen’s sister Roxanne Rix has started a small publishing business as Rix Café Texican (RixCafeTexican.com) that will eventually branch out from publishing only Gretchen’s work to feature other Central Texas writers and creative people. The trade paperback of The Cowboy’s Baby is its first endeavor. Both Buffalo Clover on the square in Lockhart and The Citrus Peel consignment shop on San Antonio carry copies.

Gretchen writes a blog called Rix Café Texican at http://gretchenrix.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Follow the progress of the Rix sisters’ publishing company at http://rixcafetexican.com.

Published on August 14, 2012 at 2:31 am  Leave a Comment  

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