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Turtle On A Post: Memoir of Texas State Senator Carl Parker

as told to Jim Sanderson

Lamar University Literary Press, 2024


 Turtle on a Post is a collection of memoirs that tells the story of the life and legacy of Senator Carl Parker as told to Jim Sanderson. Parker was a Texas State Senator and served in the House of Representatives. His long career in politics lasted from 1962 to 1995. In these pages, you will get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the interworking of the Texas political machine. You'll also get to know the man behind the legend-a father, husband, and world traveler who lived a full and fascinating life. This book is perfect for history buffs, political aficionados, and those who just want to read a well-told tale. 


Gambled Dreams, Moonshine Cove Publishing, 2021

“A brilliant, intense carefully crafted narrative with no feeling of strain or effort. This is masterwork. The language and vision match, so the world opens for us as readers without any waver of authenticity. We are in it and trust what we are learning. There is always more to understand than we can, at the moment.”Mary Hood, author of highly praised short story collection How Far She Went.


Sample chapters

"But that doesn’t mean all is well that ends well, and “Gambled Dreams” offers no happy endings. That’s what makes this book so fascinating and worth reading. Come for the thrilling plot and the stark, gruesome details, but the complicated characters are what keep the pages turning. “Gambled Dreams” offers readers no easy answers, but instead, it takes us on an adventure filled with mystery, grit and poetic justice." Katherine Hoerth, Beaumont Examiner, April 22, 2021

"Nobody does West Texas as well as Jim Sanderson. His character portraits are complex and show conflicting motivations being resolved into actions and life pathway decisions in a way that seems utterly real. Plus, grit. Lots of grit. Settle in for a great read, Sanderson never disappoints!"  David, a reader

"Distinguished by its striking execution and razor-sharp dialogue, the novel places Sanderson among the best of contemporary crime novelists. In a glut of gritty crime drama, this one stands out."  July 7, 2021 Prairie Book Review

Messing with Texas -2020-09-07-22-06-25.

Messing With Texas, an e-book Compilation, of Safe Delivery, La Mordida, and El Camino del Rio, Brash Books 2020.

Safe Delivery, republished, 2020 Brash Books.  

"All the fleeing, losing, faithless characters in Safe Delivery speak this particular kind of English. Sanderson's significant accomplishment, like that of the past masters of his genre, is that he helps us find beauty in their sad, lost and selfish words."  (T.R. Hull, Tucson Weekly, July 20-26, 2000). Amazon

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La Mordida, republished, 2018 Brash Books.


"What makes this book great isn’t the mind-bending mystery or the peculiar characters we meet along the way. In La Mordida, we, like Dolph are forced to confront some of the toughest questions of all. What truly is justice? What’s so great about mercy anyway? And who gets to define the meaning of grace?"--


Katie Hoerth review in Beaumont Examiner, June 2018

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El Camino Del Rio, reprinted 2016 Brash Books.

"How I wrote El Camino del Rio."

 "Getting Hyphens" video from Brash books.

Interview with Brash Books publisher, Lee Goldberg.


Circling buzzards lead U.S. Border Patrol agent Dolph Martinez to the corpse of a man executed in the desert…a murder that shatters the fragile calm in a dusty, Texas town. His investigation pits him against the Mexican Army, the DEA, big-money Houston real estate interests, a Catholic nun who practices voodoo, a charismatic revolutionary wanted on both sides of the border, and perhaps deadliest of all, the demons from his own, tortured past.

Hill Country Property, 2015, Livingston Press. From the Author:  Thirty years ago, Hill Country Property existed as unrelated short stories.  Then, when an editor rejected one because, as he said, it was the start of a novel, not a short story, I took his advice and started making the stories a novel.  In that thirty years since, Hill Country Property kept almost getting published.  Editors died or quit, publishing houses closed, markets changes.  I thought that, by sending it out, I was killing editors and destroying publishers.  And after each "almost," I rewrote the novel.  One very young reviewer didn't like the novel because, as she said, though a novel about the "70s," its characters were any different from contemporary ones.  So I began sending it out as a "historical novel."    Hill Country Property is a prequel to Nothing to Lose because it traces Roger Jackson's development into a sleazy private eye.  It also concerns Austin, San Antonio, San Marcos, and Southwest Texas State University through forty years of change.

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Roger Jackson is a grouch. He drinks too much with the wrong sorts of people. He dislikes where he lives—Beaumont Texas, a small, humid southeast Texas town caught between a marsh and an impenetrable forest, between racial and social strife, between rival versions of Jesus. He dislikes his job—taking photos of cheating spouses. He dislikes his past. (He could have been a lawyer.) And now, he finds himself entangled in a crime.

"Southeast Texas readers will enjoy the story’s setting as well. Sanderson brings his audience right down the streets of modern Beaumont by making references to post-Hurricane Rita blue roofs, the Walmart Supercenter and the (former) Krispy Kreme donuts on Dowlen Road. Thick, steaming August air — mixed with rotten-egg and sour smells emitted by local industry — is among several familiar touchstones of Southeast Texas realism Sand­erson includes." Beaumont Examiner, Feb 20, 2014

"If Larry Brown and Raymond Chandler got together over a bottle of Wild Turkey, their literary baby would probably be something like Jim Sanderson. Mixing southern grit with old school noir, Sanderson's newest novel, Nothing to Lose, has all the charm of a traditional mystery as well as the sharp rose and character development of more literary works. It is a swift and exciting book." William Jensen, Texas Books in Review, Fall 2014

From the editor:  "While these are linked stories, you can read them in any order, and all of the tales will grab your attention and keep you turning pages “Bankers”—the story featuring Gregory and his trouble delivering his boss’s car--won the Kay Cattrulla Award for Short Fiction presented by the Texas Institute of Letters for the best story by a Texan in 2012."

"In the Grit Lit genre, Jim Sanderson is as gritty as they come.  His eleventh book is peopled with whores, murderers, corrupt bankers, sleazy lawyers, and other misfits whose lives have been irreparably damages by hardships and cruelties that seem to be the properties of a malevolent world.  What makes this collection of eight stories work is their believability.  Sanderson's world is as credible as the harsh worlds drawn by Ron Rash, William Gay, and Larry Brown.  He creates a habitat where we can will imaging residing; perhaps at various times we have.  HIs characters inspire in us what Aristotle said were the requisite emotions of tragedy:  pity and fear.  That is to say, again in good old Aristotelian fashion, we delight in these stories because we learn from them."  Mark Sibley Jones, Texas Books in Review , Spring 2014."

Trashy Behavior, 2013 Lamar

University Literary Press

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Dolph's Team,

2011 Ink Brush Press


Dolph's Team, about a group of aging friends from both sides of the law investigating the (seemingly) cut-and-dried murder of a friend, is the fourth Sanderson mystery. He's also an accomplished short story writer, and many of the characters in the new novel also appear both in his other mysteries and his most recent story collection “Faded Love.” A recurring theme is the almosts of life, or, as writer-turned-bug-exterminator Walter tells the reader: “the importance of what could have happened.”

Joe O'Connell, San Antonio Express and News, Jan. 29, 2012

Faded Love, 2010 Inkbrush Press

Finalist for 2010 Jesse Jones award for best book of fiction about Texas or by a Texan, sponsored by Texas Institute of Letters

"Sanderson, who has carved out a 30-year career exploring human nature while publishing in the trenches of university and small literary presses, leaves us to ponder if all of the striving is worth it. Boone, the screenwriter, perhaps offers the book's definitive answer:  'He went for the beauty.' So does Sanderson in these well-crafted tales."  Joe O'Connell, Austin American Statesman, Nov. 14, 2010

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Nevin's History, A Novel of Texas,

2004 Texas Tech University Press

"A delightful and instructive panorama of South Texas's late nineteenth-and early twentieth-century past. . . .An epic, exciting story."--Tom Pilkington, Tarleton State University

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La Mordida, 2002  University of New Mexico Press

"Barren indeed. And dry. And murderous. West Texans will enjoy La Mordida."--West Texas Historical Association Yearbook

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Safe Delivery, 2000 University of New Mexico Press

Finalist for the Violet Crown Award, 2000

"Sanderson offers a unique view of love, border wars, bail jumping, and life in San Antonio . . . an intriguing mystery plot blended with a realistic and slightly racy love affair will convince readers that this novel is one worth reading and Sanderson's writing career is one worth following." --Review of Texas Books

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El Camino Del Rio, 1998 University of New Mexico Press

Winner Frank Waters Award, 1997

"Makes the gritty, thankless landscape of the border come alive, from the relentless heat to the failed hopes."--Paul Skenazy, Washington Post Book World

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A West Texas Soapbox, 1998 Texas A&M University Press--Essays

"'I shun father and mother and wife and brother, when my genius calls me. I would write on the lintels of the doorpost, Whim.' . . . I'm not sure if I got these slogans from Emerson or from Reebok athletic shoe commercials. Emerson wrote some convoluted essays but some great one-liners."—Jim Sanderson

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Semi-Private Rooms, 1994 Pig Iron Press

 Winner of the Kenneth Patchen Prize for fiction, 1992

Textbooks for Fiction Writing and Composition

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Sanderson's Fiction Writing Manual, 2015 Lamar University Press

Written Specifically for Lamar University students with examples of prize-wining stories from Lamar University Students.

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Some Ways of Writing/A Writers' Way: A Supplemental Guide to Writing for Composition and Sophomore Literature, 2007 & 2012 Kendall/Hunt

Written for Lamar University's composition program.  2012 2nd edition available.

Shorter works

Short Stories, Articles, scholarship, and Essays in Lone Star: From the Red River to the Rio Grand-100 Years of Texas Literature, Texas Bound III, Concho River Review, Dark Horse, Phoebe, New Growth I & II, Houston Chronicle, Journal of American Culture, Amarillo Bay, Literature/Film Quarterly, High Plains Review, Pleiades, Early American Literature, North Atlantic Review, Portland Review, Chariton Review, New Mexico Humanities Review, descant, Sports Literate, Post Script, and others. He won the 2012 Kay Cattarulla sponsored by the Texas Institute of Letters for the best short story written by a Texan or about Texas for "Bankers," published in Descant.  In 1998,  Texas Bound selected "Ladies Man"to be read at the Dallas Museum of Fina Arts by Larry Hagman and recorded. 

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