The Write Stuff July, 2019

Welcome back to my newsletter, and to my new website! We’ve updated everything to reflect my love of famous Texas authors (and not-so-famous but wonderful ones as well), Texas female authors, and where the best books of Texas all come together. We have so much new going on here.

We’ve added a lot of entertainment and fun:​

And of course you can join us

Monthly giveaways of Bluebonnet Book Boxes filled with Texas trinkets and signed books and fun things. Each month will feature something new!

Words from a Friend, where authors and readers share their thoughts. Check out fabulous Texas Author Chris Manno in this edition. He shares an inside view of the healthy state of Texas Letters.

The Writers’ Corner for those hankering to write. Is that you? Then take the leap! I can help

The News Page, which contains interesting updates, upcoming contests and live events.​

​Not to mention our Wine Down section, because we all need some time to recharge, no? Here we’ll feature Texas wines and how we relax with a nice glass and good friends and good books.​

And a twice-monthly blog about the meaning and purpose we glean from books and stories.


Chris Manno

Author of the novels:
East Jesus, Voodoo Rush, Blood and Remembrance, and Sanctuary Moon.

One thing is clear to me in a double-barrel shotgun blast, as I write a book review of Jeff Guinn’s June release, The Vagabonds, for Lone Star Literary Life: writing is alive and well in Texas.

Rather, it’s more a distinctive, settling awareness but if that’s not enough, the reality that Texas writers and Texas book festivals, critical reviews, and writing projects are finding published print. This is no small feat. With Publisher’s Weekly estimating that this year alone a half-million new titles will join over two million titles currently in print, it seems exceptional that in the true Texas way, writing and literature soldiers quietly on regardless.

So here’s the final truth I know for sure and learned at the DFW Writers’ Workshop decades ago: writers write because they can’t not write. Period. For those who do, there are places to land, stories to write, festivals to highlight books, reviews to apply a critical eye, editors to read and craft, publishers to print. It ain’t easy, it’s mostly uphill, but make no mistake: writing is alive and well in Texas.


We all need some rest and relaxation, no? A time to unwind, to smell the roses, have a massage, read a good book. Or, as happens in my world—indulge in some delicious Texas wine. 

Jinny Tell and Susan enjoying Red Caboose wine

One of the things I like to do when I “Wine Down” is visit with friends. Recently I had the great pleasure of a visit from novelist Virginia Tell. She brought along George Strait. (No, not the musician, but a Labrador who came from me. His registered name is Bearpaw’s Amarillo by Morning) and he folded right back into the family for Labrador fun too!

We laughed and talked books and writing, capping off our Saturday evening with a luscious bottle of the Red Caboose Winery’s 2012 Touriga Nacional. Oh, do I ever love this bottle (Jinny did too!).

My first tasting of it came when I was in the throes of researching my new novel, The Angels’ Share, and spending a lot of time with the fabulous vintner at the Caboose—Gary McKibben. Such a wealth of information Gary provided. Check him out here 

A wonderful and unfiltered big red wine, made from a Portuguese grape grown in the Caboose’s estate vineyard, it’s so full bodied as to almost be a Port. With earthy flavors and aromas of cassis, coffee and raisins, it still manages to be smooth on the finish. Just delicious!

So what do you do to wine down? Do you have a favorite wine? Do you pair that with a great book by a Texas author or any other great writer from Texas or elsewhere? Please tell us all about it!


Rob Greebon

  • Introducing Rob Greebon – We want to take a minute to share some information about our new friend, Rob Greebon, the photographer behind the beautiful new imagery we’re using on the website. Rob is a landscape photographer based in Dripping Springs, Texas.

    As a fourth generation Texan, he travels and scouts the Lone Star State to share its scenic wonders with others. From less-traveled trails of the Big Bend area to the bayous of Caddo Lake to the sand beaches of South Padre Island, he attempts to photograph the landscape in the best light – almost always at sunrise or sunset. He has shot for magazines like Texas Highways and Texas Parks and Wildlife, and has been published both locally and nationally. His third book, a photo travel book of Austin, Texas, is scheduled for release later this year.  He currently enjoys his quiet but busy life in the Hill Country with his wife and two young girls. Check out his work at

A beautiful sunset comes to an off-the-beaten path location in Texas.
Rob Greebon photography

  • Texas Trinkets Giveaway – You don’t want to miss the chance to win exciting giveaways by entering our Texas Trinkets contest!  We will have everything from books, to wine charms, t-shirts and much more!


1). First off, decide what you’re writing.
By zeroing-in on the genre before you begin, you’ll save yourself countless heartaches in revision.

2).  in your genre. read Research and 
That way, you’ll know what readers expect. And—every bit as important—you’ll start seeing how the specs play out in successful authors’ books.

3). Start keeping a notebook and jot down thoughts as they come.
As all writers know, ideas and creative storms burst through at the most inopportune times! And the best ones disappear into the ethers if you don’t write them down.

4). Devise an outline.
You don’t have to stick to it. But this will keep you on track so you don’t end up in Brazil when your destination was the lower Antilles.

5). Carve out a writing schedule. Commit to it.
Identify a block of time you can write every day, undisturbed. Even if after midnight or at 4 AM. Then, just do it!

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You can see a fuller discussion of this here.
I’d love to hear about your own writing challenges. And let me know any topics you’d like to see discussed! 

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