2013 Evening with the Authors

Bob Alexander is one of the most renowned historians of the Old West. A native Texan and veteran lawman, Bob retired as a special agent with the US Treasury Department and began a second career as an author.

The National Outlaw/Lawman History Association honored Alexander in 2004 with its Literary Award for Outstanding Contributions to Western Historical Writing.

He also won the 2007 Outstanding Book on Outlaw/Lawman History award. The honor, presented at the annual convention of the Western Outlaw/Lawman History Association (WOLA) in Cheyenne, Wyo., was for Alexander’s book “Desert Desperadoes”.

Well known for his lively writing style and prodigious research, Bob is the author of a dozen highly acclaimed and numerous articles for Outlaw/Lawmanand Western publications. His latest published research effort culminated in the just released Riding Lucifer’s Line Ranger Deaths Along the Texas-Mexico Border.

Sandwiched between public speaking engagements throughout the Southwest, Bob is awaiting publication of his latest nonfiction effort,an anthology Bad Company & Burnt Powder: Historic Six-Gun Tales of the Old Southwest.

In a nutshell, Bob’s most satisfying reward comes not from seeing a book or article in print, but in meeting and visiting with those folks who unselfishly lend that crucial helping hand and those folks still so keely interested in the true side of the Old West.  He is forver in debt to helpmates and audiences.  And pleasantly so!


Bob Alexander Books:

Dangerous Dan Tucker

Desert Desperadoes

Fearless Dave Allison

Six-Guns and Single-Jacks

Sheriff Harvey Whitehill

Miles Arceneaux is the storytelling alter ego of Texas-based writers Brent Douglass, John T. Davis and James R. Dennis. Miles was born many years ago among this group of old friends who penned, as a literary lark, the collectively-written novel Thin Slice of Life —a book that has given birth to a series of witty Gulf Coast thrillers based on its central characters. His second book,LaSalle’s Ghost, will be published in mid-September.


Brent’s inspiration for the series emanates in part from his family’s deep Coastal roots and the stories, characters and experiences he absorbed there as a youth. John T. Davis’s three decades of writing about Texas and Texans helps breathe life and authenticity into the novels’ various characters. James R. Dennis’s intimate knowledge of the law—both sides of it—and of Texas Ranger history and culture enriches the series and helps keep its hero on the side of the angels.



International businessman Brent Douglass writes in airports, hotel rooms and drinking establishments around the world. At present he is a principal owner of KBC Networks and peddles data transmission equipment in Latin America and the Caribbean. He is the cultured, cosmopolitan writer of the Miles Arceneaux trio.



John T. Davis has been writing about the music, culture and personalities of Austin and the Southwest for more than 30 years for local, regional and national publications. He is the streetwise and roguishly irreverent co-author of the Miles Arceneaux canon, albeit its most discerning.



James R. Dennis, a Dominican friar, practices law in San Antonio and across Texas. He writes and teaches on spiritual matters and lives with his two ill-behaved dogs. Of the three writers, he is the good-looking, funny one.

Margie Crisp is a writer and artist whose lithographs, hand-colored linocuts, drawings, and paintings can be found in private and public collections across the United States and Mexico. She was the Texas Book Festival poster artist in 2012. Her book, River of Contrasts: The Texas Colorado (Texas A&M University Press, 2012), is also the 2013 recipient of the Texas Institute of Letters’ Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Non-Fiction and the 2012 Ron Tyler Award for Best Illustrated Book on Texas History and Culture, presented by Texas State Historical Association. Crisp has a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin and is a member of the Contemporary Texas Regionalists group. She lives near Elgin, Texas with her artist husband William B. Montgomery.


As an artist, I find myself grounded in reality: the particular, the focused, the well-observed or specifically imagined.  But my art is also an emotional response to the natural world so I search for the moments and images that illuminate the simple truths, quiet joys, sorrows and the ordinary magic of life.


River of Contrasts: The Texas Colorado, is my first book. I was not trained as a writer so embarking on the project was akin to paddling the Colorado in my kayak: I had to push off the bank, pick up my paddle and trust that my boat was sound and I had the strength to make it down the river miles to the takeout. It was a fabulous journey of over five years. Along the way I met extraordinary people who welcomed me into their lives, shared their stories and taught me about the river.  Currently I’m working on a couple writing projects (again by the seat of my pants) and I’m eager to see where the journey leads.

LAURA FURMAN was born in New York and educated at Hunter College High School and Bennington College. After college, she lived in New York City, in Stockholm, and in Washington County, New York. In 1978, she moved to Texas, where she’s lived ever since, in Houston, Galveston, Dallas, Lockhart, and Austin. She lives with her husband, Joel Warren Barna, and their son.

For many years, Laura Furman taught in the English Department of the University of Texas at Austin, where she was Susan Taylor McDaniel Regents Professor of Creative Writing. While at UT Austin, she foundedAmerican Short Fiction, a literary journal. In 2006, she was given the UT Austin President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award. She has also taught at Wilkes College, Wilkes-Barre, PA; The University of Houston, Houston, TX; Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX; and the Institut du Monde Anglophone, Sorbonne University, Paris, France.

Her first story appeared in The New Yorker in 1976, and since then work has appeared in Yale Review,Southwest ReviewPloughsharesAmerican ScholarMademoiselle, and many other magazines. Her essays have appeared in PreservationMirabella, and House & Garden, among others. Her books include three collections of short stories: The Glass House (1981), Watch Time Fly (1983), and Drinking with the Cook (2001); two novels: Tuxedo Park (1986) and The Shadow Line (1982); and a memoir: Ordinary Paradise (1998). With Elinore Standard, she co-edited an anthology about reading, Bookworms.

She is the recipient of fellowships from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Dobie Paisano Project, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has been awarded residency fellowships from the Corporation of Yaddo and the Dobie-Paisano Project, and she was a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome. Her short stories have won the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, The Smart Family Foundation/ Yale Review Prize for Best Short Story, the Ritchie-McGinnis Award for Best Work of Fiction in Southwest Review, and the Texas Institute of Letters Short Story Award.

In 2002, she became the ninth series editor of The PEN/ O. Henry Prize Stories, published annually by Anchor Books. Each year, she picks the twenty winning stories and writes an introduction for the volume.

With Lynn C. Miller, Laura Furman is author of “Passenger on the Ship of Fools,” a play for three actors about the life and work of Katherine Anne Porter. The play had its premiere in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2009.

Laura Furman’s new book of fiction is The Mother Who Stayed: Stories.

When the Austin writer Jacqueline Kelly’s first novel, “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate,” was published in 2009, it drew the sort of response every first-time author hopes for: positive reviews from Publishers Weekly and The New Yorker and an honorable mention from the Newbery Medal Selection Committee.

It is not hard to see why adult readers were impressed with this children’s book. “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” fits an old notion of literature for young people: It is slow-moving, morally grounded and filled with the young narrator’s careful descriptions of the natural world — in this case, the grasshoppers, cardinals and toads that populate rural Central Texas.

She was born in New Zealand and raised in Canada, in the dense rainforests of Vancouver Island. Her family then moved to El Paso, Texas, and Kelly attended college in El Paso, then went on to medical school in Galveston. After practicing medicine for many years, she went to law school at the University of Texas, and after several years of law practice, realized she wanted to write fiction. Her first story was published in the Mississippi Review in 2001. She now makes her home in Austin, Texas.

It is not surprising that Ms. Kelly’s favorite childhood book is the 1908 classic, The Wind in the Willows. “I read The Wind in the Willows for the first time when I was 8 and I was transported.” The book had such an effect that she decided that her second novel would be a sequel, called Return to the Willows .

Return to the Willows goes in for fast-paced, madcap adventure. When she makes author visits to schools, she often asks how many students have read The Wind in the Willows.”“Maybe three or four or five out of 60 kids raise their hands,” As Ms. Kelly began writing Return to the Willows she found one of the characters taking over the story — specifically, the one who represents the sort of disregard for convention.

“When I started out I couldn’t stand Toad. I thought he was awful. But he insisted I write about him. At first, she struggled to come up with situations to complicate Toad’s life. Her medical practice provided an answer.“An A.T.F. agent told me about people who make homemade fireworks and trade recipes online and occasionally blow their fingers off. And I thought, that is the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a long time. And then I thought, Oh, Toad, Toad can make fireworks. And of course disaster ensues.”

She is currently writing another sequel — to The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate— but the work is going slowly. Her first book was inspired by the many hours she spent observing the flora and fauna around her weekend home, a Victorian farmhouse in Fentress. But she no longer has that option.“The house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground two years ago,” Ms. Kelly said. “A lot of that first book was written sitting on the front steps waiting for something to come by — a spider, a lizard, a hawk, a mole. Now, I don’t have anywhere to sit and do that”.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Return to the Willows

Becky Crouch Patterson is the author of Texas best seller Hondo, My Father, a memoir of life with her folk-hero father Hondo Crouch of Luckenbach, Texas fame. She graduated from St Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin and majored in Fine Art at the University of Texas at Austin. She has been a textile artist for more than 40 years, specializing in liturgical art for churches throughout Texas. She is the owner, with sons Kit and Sky, of Stieler Hill Ranch near Comfort, Texas.

I didn’t choose writing. Writing chose me. Trinity University Press asked me to write The Ranch That Was Us after seeing some paintings I had done of stories of our historic ranch. It is a memoir of what was one of the largest producers of wool and mohair in the nation. More importantly, it’s about a ranch I knew and loved. A strong sense of place and home inhabits a 5th-generation Texan. But universal to everyone is loss, which was my motivation – loss of life, of lifestyle, of ranch land.

I hope the tough pioneer spirit of my German immigrant ancestors and the wisdom and strength of my mother Shatzie Stieler Crouch pass down to me. Born and raised on a ranch, I am especially inspired by the paradox of nature – its reality and cruelty, as well as its beauty and symbols of truth that bring understanding and healing.

Since Trinity University asked me to paint 40 illustrations, and after my own long dry spell, I hope to continue painting. I am trying to hang on to what’s left of this ranch, to preserve my inheritance through word and image – the only things that live forever.

Mark Pryor is a former newspaper reporter from England, and now an assistant district attorney with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, in Austin, Texas. He is the creator of the nationally-recognized true-crime blog D.A. Confidential. He has appeared on CBS News’s 48 Hours and Discovery Channel’s Discovery ID: Cold Blood.

THE BOOKSELLER is his first mystery novel and upon release was Library Journal’s Debut of the Month with a starred review. RT Book Reviews called it “a fantastic debut!” and gave it 4 and 1/2 stars, and Oprah.com listed it as an “unputdownable mystery.”It was released only last October, but has already been republished in seven countries, and six different languages.  His second in the Hugo Marston mystery series, THE CRYPT THIEF, was released in May of this year. It became an instant regional bestseller and Booklist declared, “The Hugo Marston series now belongs on every espionage fan’s watch list.”  Mark is also the author of the true crime book, AS SHE LAY SLEEPING, which is the account of a “cold” murder case he prosecuted. Published in January 2013, Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review and called it “compelling” and “riveting.”


Being published has been a whirlwind this past year, as exciting and fun as I imagined it would be. I feel very fortunate to be in this position, frankly, and it looks like I’ll be continuing the Hugo Marston series over the next few years. I just finished the third book, called THE BLOOD PROMISE, which will be released around Christmas. And I’m talking with my editor about another three-book contract to keep Hugo alive and investigating. If that happens, I have carte blanche to move him around Europe, so expect to see him exploring places like Barcelona and London.


While keeping the Marston series fresh, I also hope to find time to write a stand-alone mystery set in Texas. My job as an ADA provides plenty of real-life stories to adapt, even though some are too odd to be credible as fiction!  If things continue to go well with the writing, I may be able to quit working and write full time, which would be my dream come true. As things stand, though, I have a fascinating day-time job and am publishing my mystery novels, so I have no complaints!

Patty Shafer, Ed.D., is an American author, best known for her “Annie the Texas Ranch Dog”


series, fictional stories written for children and young teens.  The series is written both to entertain through the antics of a Pit Bull mix dog and to inspire young people to develop strong positive character traits.

Born on January 23, 1951, in Coleman, Texas, Shafer was raised in Port Lavaca on the gulf coast of Texas as the only child of James and Inez Sikes.  She fell in love with books as a baby in her mother’s lap listening to bedtime story books. Although she wrote prose and poetry as a child just for fun, Shafer did not try to publish any of her works until adulthood.  During her career as an educator, she published a book for counselors and several magazine articles for principals.  While teaching teen girls at church, she also wrote “Now What Do I Do: A Teen’s Handbook for Helping Others” published by Christian Communications in Nashville, Tennessee.

Although she loves to travel worldwide, Dr. Shafer has lived her entire life in Texas.  Most of those years were spent serving children through her career as teacher, counselor, principal, and superintendent of Texas public schools.

Also high on her  list was retiring to the family’s ranch and, along with her husband Cecil, of over 40 years, building their own house together.  During her last year as superintendent of the San Marcos School District, her husband called from the ranch where he had begun work on their house.  He shared his news of an emaciated and fearful Pit Bull mix that had wandered up to him.  Food and attention convinced this dog which they named “Annie” to adopt them and become a much-loved member of their family.

Since Shafer had always loved dogs and wished she knew what they were thinking, this was the perfect subject for her books.  Writing from the dog’s perspective, she created a character based on the real “Annie” who wanders up the home of a state park ranger and his veterinarian wife on a ranch near the small town of Utopia and adopts them as her family.  Annie soon hits the road with the park ranger to different Texas state parks, rescuing people and solving mysteries.

Presently, there are three “Annie the Texas Ranch Dog” books in print, A New Life in Utopia, Injured Hero, and Danger at Lost Maples.  Several more are written and waiting in line for publication.  She wants the Annie in her books to show young people that they can overcome difficulties in their own lives.

As a native Texan, the history, resources, and diversity of her state have always fascinated her.  Through the years, her family has savored camping adventures in the state’s park system.  The works of Texas authors, such as Elmer Kelton, have helped her step into past times and far-flung places in Texas.  She has surrounded herself with dogs throughout her life.   And… her favorite years as an educator were spent as superintendent of the small, rural school district of Utopia ISD.  This all comes to life  in the “Annie” series.

Since the publication of her books, Shafer has delighted in author visits to school children.   Sharing anecdotes and photos of the real “Annie,” she becomes a teacher again, as she reviews literary elements using excerpts from her books.

Daniel is an expert on Texas barbecue, and an open-minded smoked meat adventurer of any style of barbecue. He is a former architect who writes for Texas Monthly as the country’s only Barbecue Editor. While researching his book The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue and writing his blog Full Custom Gospel BBQ, he has logged tens of thousands of miles on the highways and backroads of Texas and eaten at nearly 700 barbecue joints. He lives with his family in Dallas, Texas.

Amanda Eyre Ward was born in New York City in 1972. Her family moved to Rye, New York when she was four. Amanda attended Kent School in Kent, CT, where she wrote for the Kent News.

Amanda majored in English and American Studies at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She studied fiction writing and spent her junior fall in coastal Kenya. After graduation, Amanda taught at Athens College in Greece for a year, and then moved to Missoula, Montana.

In 1998, Amanda moved to Austin, Texas where she began working on Sleep Toward Heaven. She wrote for the Austin Chronicle and worked for a variety of Internet startups. In 1999, Amanda won third prize in the Austin Chronicle short story contest with her story Miss Montana’s Wedding Day.She published Butte as in Beautiful that same year.

In July, 2000, Amanda married the geologist Tip Meckel in Ouray, Colorado.
They spent a summer in New Orleans, Louisiana, where Amanda wrote the short stories The Beginning of the Wrong Novel and Classified.

During that summer, Amanda finished Sleep Toward Heaven,Sleep which won the Violet Crown Book Award and was optioned for film by Sandra Bullock and Fox Searchlight. To promote Sleep Toward Heaven, Amanda, her baby, and her mother Mary-Anne Westley traveled to London and Paris.

Amanda moved to Waterville, Maine, where she wrote in an attic filled with books. Amanda’s second novel, How to Be Lost, was published in 2004. How to Be Lost was selected as a Target Bookmarked pick, and has been published in fifteen countries.

After one year in Maine and two years on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Amanda and her family returned to Austin, Texas.

To research her third novel, Forgive Me, Amanda traveled with her sister, Liza Ward Bennigson, to Cape Town, South Africa. Forgive Me was published in 2007.

Her new novel, Close Your Eyes, published in July, 2011, received a four-star reiew in People Magazine, won the Elle Lettres Readers’ Prize for September, and inspired the Dallas Morning News to write, “With CLOSE YOUR EYES, Austin novelist Amanda Eyre Ward puts another jewel in her crown as the reigning doyenne of ‘dark secrets’ literary fiction.”

Close Your Eyes was named in Kirkus’ Best Books of 2011, and won the Elle Magazine Fiction Book of the Year.  It was released in paperback in August, 2012.
Amanda currently writes every morning and spends afternoons with her children.

I think the thing I love best about what I do is the imaginative feedback I get from family and friends. I love creating worlds and stories, but only if I can share them. There is nothing better when your child or children are inspired by something you have created- when they give it back to you and you then become inspired; it’s a dynamic ring, art.

I have always sketched- Drawing was an escape for me when I was young, I found that I needed to create in order to feel normal, plus it was a fun get-away from the homework gloominess. Not that I didn’t find school to be important or interesting, but I much preferred creating my own histories, sciences and characters rather than learning about them in class. Daydreamer.


I attended the Art Institute of Dallas and received a degree in computer animation and multimedia. Co

mputer animation was just beginning to be used as an visual FX tool, and A.I.of Dallas was offering a course in the art of animation.  It seemed like a perfect tool for film and art, not to mention loads of fun!


Inspiration comes at me from just about anything. My daughter inspires me, she loves to draw and I find myself picking up the pencil more and more when she wants to sit and doodle. Outdoors is another big inspiration, I love to sit and draw outdoors, especially trees; I have a fascination with tree bark, roots and leaves and the gnarly way it gets all intertwined.



Currently I am a concept artist working in the gaming industry in Austin, Texas. I’m also illustrating children’s books and some of my own stories and ideas.


You can currently find my work in the book “Return to the Willows” by Jacqueline Kelly (being a sequel to the Ke

nneth Grahame’s classic “The Wind in the Willows” If you’re in need of adventure or you just feel like “messing about in boats” it’s the perfect read aloud book. 🙂

My new book, what I’m working on now, is called “Toast.” Toast is my daughter’s stuffed pig and the story of his adventures in a land where all make believe friends and children’s wishes, dreams (and nightmares) go to live. It’s a coming of age story that asks the question “What do our make believe friends do, after we have grown up?” It’s also a love letter to all the things I found great about the stories and characters I loved as a child- and the importance of imagination, believing in yourself, and passing down the things we cherish most.

Published on August 20, 2014 at 2:39 am  Leave a Comment  

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