A look at famous authors

December 2019 – A Christmas Classic

A Christmas Classic Saved a Writer Glenda Bonham

It’s just not Christmas without a telling of the classic tale of ‘A Christmas Carol’. We all know the names of Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and Ebenezer Scrooge. Over 150 years and 150 Christmas Eves have passed since Charles Dickens penned the famous tale.

Few readers know Charles Dickens was dead broke, in debt, and on the verge of eviction at the time he wrote it. He had already gained popularity for his other works, but also donated his earnings flamboyantly to charity organizations and to beggars on the streets of London. He was the father of four children and his wife was expecting with a fifth.

Dickens had grown up bitterly poor, for his father and older brother had been cast into ‘debtors’ jail’ when Charles was only 12. He went to work at a blackening factory to support the family. After grueling months of labor in child slavery conditions, Charles understood wanton poverty and loathed it. He later wrote himself out of poverty. This was a rare feat for an author in 1843.

The short story took six weeks to write and he borrowed money to self-publish and get it into print. He could only afford to print 6,000 copies, but it went on sale on December 3 ahead of the Christmas season, which started on December 15th. By Christmas Eve all 6,000 copies had been sold.

‘A Christmas Carol’ became a play and Dickens toured with the show, gaining more fame and a share of the profit from ticket sales. His story of a rich man who became generous, helped a poor man to once more claw his way out of poverty. That is a special kind of Christmas story. So, be generous to the less fortunate this Christmas season, for if nothing else, you might help salvage the future of another writer.

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November Newsletter: Critique Café Publishes Book

Critique Café Publishes Book

The eighth edition of The Best of Critique Café releases in November 2019. The theme for the current edition is Children’s Stories: The Magic of Books. We’ve included stories for children of all ages, and we had a great time doing it. The members of our writer’s group are strong in different genres, but we found it challenging and rewarding to pursue this collection of stories for kids. We decided to hold an art contest and have featured the winners on the front and back covers. First and second place winner is a 14 year-old Fort Stockton homeschooler, Jessica Meierhoff. We think her first place piece perfectly embodies the theme.

We will celebrate this release with a launch party at the Fort Stockton Public Library on Monday night, November 18th at 6:00 p.m. We’ll have our books available that night, award the art contest winners, and enjoy some light refreshments. Join us!

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A look at famous authors, Book Review

July Newsletter Book Review: Lewis Grizzard

Screen Shot 2019-07-23 at 2.55.55 PMBook Review by Glenda Bonham ~ Lewis Grizzard

If you’re in the mood for some light reading this summer to rest your brain along with your body, consider picking up one of 25 books by Lewis Grizzard. Born in Georgia, he was first a sport writer, writing for the Atlanta Journal and moved on to become executive sports editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. His career was successful, but he was unhappy living in Illinois and longed to go back to the South. He outlined his personal struggle in “If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I’m Gonna Nail My Feet to the Ground”.

After two failed marriages, he returned to Atlanta to write sports, but found his calling in humor as a columnist. He soon enjoyed enduring popularity across the nation because of the perceived humor, humanity, patriotism, and “old-fashioned” values that permeated his writings. At his peak, he was syndicated in 450 newspapers and was making regular appearances on television and the stand-up comedy circuit. He appeared with famous comedians such as Jerry Clower. In 1988, Grizzard made his television acting debut on the sitcom Designing Women, in the episode ‘Oh Brother’ where he portrayed a half-brother of Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker.

Some of his humorous books are collections of his newspaper columns “Chili Dogs Always Bark at Night” and “Shoot Low Boys – They’re Riding Shetland Ponies”. Other writings are results of his failed relationships such as “If Love Were Oil, I’d Be About a Quart Low” and “They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat”.

Some of his book titles have become main stream remarks such as “Life Is Like a Dogsled Team; If You’re Not the Lead Dog, the Scenery Never Changes”.

If there was one thing Lewis Grizzard was not, it was being politically correct, even for the time of his popularity. He made relentless fun of Yankees and pointed out flaws as he perceived them in politics and pop culture of the 80’s and 90’s.

Biting Southern humor knows no age limit. Lewis Grizzard’s books stand as testimony of this statement. Screen Shot 2019-07-23 at 2.56.09 PM.png

A look at famous authors

September Newsletter Look at a famous author: James Michener

James Michener—by Glenda Bonham


James Michener was one of the most prolific authors of the 20th century publishing over 40 novels in his lifetime. Most of his works were fictional, lengthy family sagas covering the lives of generations in particular geographic locales and in- corporating solid history. He was known for his meticulous historical research behind his books.

His first novel was “Tales of the South Pacific” for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948. His first book was adapted as the Broadway musical “South Pacific” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and later as a feature film in 1958.

He went on to publish 26 other novels, all adapted to television mini-series or feature length movies such as “Centennial” starring Robert Conrad, a twelve-part mini-series about the lands and peoples of the Rocky Mountains. He also penned “The Drifters” that became a feature film and “Hawaii” written the same year the state was annexed. One of his most lengthy and successful novels was “Texas” with real and fictional characters spanning hundreds of years, such as explorers, Spanish colonists, American immigrants, German Texan settlers, ranchers, oil men, aristocrats, Mexican businessmen, and others, all based on extensive historical research. At 1,076 pages, it was the longest Michener novel published by Random House. Given the success of his previous novels, the company did a first printing of 750,000 copies, the largest in the company’s history. The novel was adapted in 1994 as a made-for-TV movie.

Michener became a ma- jor philanthropist, donating more than $100 million to educational, cultural, and writing institutions. He donated more than $37 million to University of Texas at Austin. By 1992, his gifts made him UT Austin’s largest single donor to that time.

He could have lived out his retirement years at any location, but chose Austin, Texas as his last home. He passed away in 1997 at the age of 90 and his remains rest in Austin.

A look at famous authors

August Newsletter Look at a famous author: Jules Verne

Jules Verne by 


Frances Armstrong

One of my favorite authors is Jules Verne. I have many favorite authors, but Jules Verne made me feel like I was there with him as he walked me through his story.

Jules Verne was born in Nates, France on February 8, 1828 and died in Amiens, France on March 24, 1905. He was trained to be a lawyer, but preferred writing as his real profession. After his death, his son Michel Verne over saw the publication of Invasion of the Sea and The Lighthouse at the End of the World.

One of the first Jules Verne books I read was Journey to The Center of The Earth. A fabulous book about overcoming the negativity of people and going with what you feel is right in your heart.

While the heroes of the story, Otto Lidenbrock, Axel and Hans are battling the natural hazards that they encounter at the center of the earth, I felt like I was there with them every step of the way. It was an adventure like no other.

Jules Verne’s other books are all the same way. He leaves you wondering how a man from the 1800’s could come up with the ideas he did. He talked about cars and flying to the moon in a space ship before they were made. Just comes to show what an imagination and a good quill with accomplish.