At any writers’ conference you’ll hear about how important a captivating book proposal is for wooing agents. But there’s one proposal section that’s seldom discussed and little understood—yet which warrants more attention if you want to succeed. That’s the section listing “comps” for your book. The name alone invites confusion. Ask three agents what it means and you could get as many responses. Competitive books, one might say, while the others suggest comparative or complementary titles. And, . . .
Thanks to Austin Woman for featuring me on the cover and highlighting the great work of the Texas Book Festival, Austin Public Library Friends Foundation, and I Live Here I Give Here. It's an honor to work within such a vibrant nonprofit community, fighting for more equitable distribution of our region's vast resources. . . .
Grandparents’ Day may be in September, but a new crop of picture books is here to help us celebrate grandmas and grandpas and nanas and paw-paws year-round. That’s only fitting, because there are more grandparents today than ever before, according to The Census Bureau. And the special ways they love, teach and relate to their children’s children is proven fodder for vivid, powerful storytelling. Look no further than these three titles I discovered at the Texas Book Festival. May they remind . . .
Emphatic and unsparing, Kiese Laymon’s Heavy explores the weight of wellness in a culture obsessed with lean. His expansive intelligence and fluid prose bear up to haunting family secrets and American deceptions with deep, potent wells of beauty, humor, and empathy. Initially conceived as a weight-loss story chronicling his family’s struggles with food and violence, the writing of Heavy, which was recently named a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction, got murkier when relatives . . .
The stunning Austin Central Library, already a finalist for the International Federation of Library Associations’ Public Library of the Year, leaped in prestige by winning LEED Platinum Building Certification this summer. The award confirms that the space’s design and construction exemplify the utmost concern for human and environmental health. The library scored high marks for its green power, water-recycling systems, daylight use, views and community connectivity. Yet, we should feel . . .
Dark and absorbing, Nafissa Thompson-Spires’ debut story collection, Heads of the Colored People, explores the unstable moorings of black identity and citizenship in blistering stories peopled with indelible characters. The title derives from a series of 19th-century literary sketches of free black laborers penned by Dr. James McCune Smith. That Smith, a black abolitionist, intellectual, and elite, chose washerwomen and gravediggers for literary representation and pondered them as “heads” of . . .
Tayari Jones is unequivocal in her belief that mass incarceration, with its attendant state violence, is the “most pressing civil rights issue of our day.” Yet her latest novel, An American Marriage, makes an unjust incarceration the backdrop for a nuanced interrogation of another issue of social freedom and equality: a wife’s right to pursue her own desires and fulfill her aspirations independently of her husband. Celestial is an artist on the cusp of critical and commercial success at the . . .
It is an honor to be featured in Tribeza Magazine's People of the Year for 2017-the artists, thinkers, builders, and visionaries shaping the future of Austin. . . .
National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward has stared down truth and rendered it on the page with poignance and precision before. But for her third novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, Ward forged a fresh set of writing tools—historical research, multiple first-person points of view, and a touch of the supernatural—to grapple with the legacy wounds of American racism. Urgent and evocative, Sing, Unburied, Sing explores the inescapable force of history bearing down on thepresent. Dense, multigenerational . . .
Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s grandfather graduated from college and six of his children followed suit. But the next generation struggled to keep pace even as the specter of Jim Crow receded. “I wanted to know why,” she says, and chose fiction as her probe. The Dartmouth and UC Berkeley Law graduate’s research revealed the war on drugs and mass incarceration as modern barriers to opportunity. Her challenge became illuminating the culprits in narrative form. That is, writing a page-turner, not a . . .