Saturday, August 11, 2012


Most people blow past Terrell, Texas on their way to Dallas or Shreveport—although a few budget conscious motorists hankering for discount shopping might make a pit stop at the outlet mall off Interstate 20—never guessing what a gem of a town lies beyond the busy byway.
Recently, I had the good fortune to explore Terrell and meet some of the colorful townsfolk who showed up for my book signing at Books and Crannies, a most awesome bookstore owned by Gayle and Ron Harris.

 I’ve been to many a book signing in my eighteen years as a published author, but it’s rare to find a bookstore (and a town) with so much heart and character as Books and Crannies. The minute I walked in the door, I felt like I’d come home.

 Gayle is a quiet woman with a shy, welcoming smile, dreamy eyes and a calm inner strength that says, I love books and people equally. You’re immediately drawn to her like a cool drink of water on a hot summer day. They call her the Book Whisperer.

 Her husband Ron is the colorful front man—expressive, animated, witty, and good-looking in a unique way—but what made me most admire Ron, beyond the fact he’s a former fireman, is his obvious devotion to Gayle. They make a great team and I immediately wanted to put them into a book.

Gayle and Ron are just the beginning of this lovely adventure. There’s the bookstore itself, housed in an old converted theatre that comes complete with a resident ghost. Every other Friday, they show an old movie in the small black box theatre at the back of the bookstore. The movie is free of charge, as are the refreshments, so if you go, please tip. The local acting troupe called the Vagabond Players—Ron and Gayle are founding members—also put on plays in the theatre.

There’s Maddie, an entitled Calico who lives in the store. She’s a Hurricane Katrina survivor and has a penchant for crawling into customers’ handbags. Maddie is featured in a book called Shelter Stories and if you ask nicely, she’ll give you her pawautograph on a copy.

 There are Gayle’s employees who are just as colorful as everything else in this place. Ruth, who so kindly tells authors how much their books mean to readers, has worked at the store for many years. She and her husband Mike raise Haflinger horses (there’s an entire blog post in that story!) and they’re mad for ballroom dancing.

Holly is another employee and a gorgeous blonde who could pass for her daughters’ sisters. She’s got five kids and she passed along her love of reading to them, especially her thirteen-year-old daughter, Ariel. Holly’s mom made refreshments for the signing and the delicious homemade cookies were so perfectly executed that they looked like store bought.

Then there’s the community itself. City councilman, Don, dropped by to purchase a book for his wife’s birthday. Don and LaDonna have been married 57 years. Don told me a fascinating story about British pilots being trained in Terrell during World War II and the Texas Heritage Museum that commemorates the history. There was local real estate wheeler-dealer, Pat, who came over to say “hi” and buy a book. Newspaper man, Mike, from the Terrell Tribune also showed up. I was deeply appreciative that they ran a front-page story about my book signing!

 And last, but certainly not least, are the readers who patronize the bookstore. From Emily to Chris and Chris to Margaret and Dawn (who are part of the Vagabond Players) to Sandy and Sylvia and Danielle and Linda and oh gosh, I’m going to forget someone. We talked about books for two hours and the time just flew by! 

Afterwards, several of us went out to eat at a quaint Mexican restaurant across the street called Taqueria Dos Aces. I met the restaurant owner—who has a heartwarming coming-to-America success story—and had my picture taken with him, which he promptly put up on his wall.

At the restaurant, Gayle and Ron shared the story of how they met. It’s a delightfully romantic story, but it’s not mine to share. Let’s just say that when Ron told me that he was a better man because of Gayle, my heart melted. Now that’s a hero!

Next time you’re headed from Dallas to Shreveport or beyond, stop by Books and Crannies, Gayle and Ron will be happy to tell you their love story themselves, sell you a few books and make you feel like you’re one of the family.           

To say that I came away enchanted with Terrell is an understatement. On the ride home, my mind spun, toying with ideas for my next small town Texas series. Don’t be surprised if one day all this turns up in a book.


  1. It sounds like a wonderful town. I just love small towns, they always feel so "homey". Thanks for sharing your experience and the pics. I hope to go on a road trip around the country after I retire next year and you make this place sound just like one of the towns I would like to visit. Its always nice to hear how you get some of the inspiration for your stories.

  2. Thank you again for coming to Books and Crannies. It was such a delight to meet you! You are so sweet and lovely to talk to. I am looking forward to reading A Cowboy for Christmas! :)

  3. Oh my GOSH!!!! Now I wanna go to Terrell. I went there once, like sixteen years ago to go to the outlets. I remember my boyfriend at the time (husband now) and my future mother in law discussing Terrell and her saying that there wasn't anything there expect the mental hospital.

    Now I'm wishing I was back in Dallas, just for the chance to go to this bookstore. I can definitely see you writing a book involving a bookstore resembling Books and Crannies, with characters similar to Gayle and Ron.

  4. Hey, even the state mental hospital has character! It's an interesting place.

  5. Oh, I hope I can go to Books and Crannies someday. It sounds like a place I would end up spending the whole day in and not wanting to leave. :-)

    1. what a wonderful post. I love going into book stores myself and this one looks quite charming. the whole town sounds wonderful.

  6. Everyone should have such a bookstore in their town!