May|June Alumni Authors

Red Carpet Rivals

by Bobbi Kornblit, BA ’73

With verve, narrative flourish, and vivid detail, Red Carpet Rivals traces the lives of Hollywood’s movers and shakers as they jockey for power and stardom. What makes this fictitious account so compelling is that Kornblit herself walked the red carpet, hobnobbed in the gleaming ballrooms, and strolled through star-studded power corridors for years. She takes on difficult questions of women’s empowerment, sexual harassment, and discrimination in Hollywood, which have renewed importance today.



Cuchara Bear’s Wildlife

by Lance MacNeill, MPA ’15, Life Member
(Illustrated by Ana Rankovic)

Inspired by the quiet, woodsy town of Cuchara, Colorado, and its frequent black bear sightings, Cuchara Bear’s Wildlife shows a friendly side of the mammals who inhabited the town long before it was discovered by humans. This children’s story follows Cuchara Bear as she adjusts to the changing seasons, meets with fellow furry friends, and celebrates the Fourth of July in the town square.



The Election

by Landon Wallace, BA ’82, JD ’85, Life Member

Blake Buchanan has a storybook life: a great family, unrivaled wealth, and political power. Nonetheless, he launches a longshot bid for the Texas governorship, pitting him against a competent, scheming Republican primary opponent. As Buchanan barnstorms across Texas he becomes involved with a former lover. With storm clouds forming and meddling reporters hot on his trail, he gets a respite as past skeletons come back to haunt his opponent—just in time.



It’s News to Me

by Olga Campos Benz, BS ’77, Life Member

After a night of drinking, Marisa Cavelo wakes up sick and disoriented in a stranger’s bed. As the night before begins to materialize in her mind, she realizes she’s late to an important meeting with her boss at the news station. Compounding her problem: she was hired just three days before in an attempt to increase Hispanic viewership. But in addition to dealing with snobby co-workers and a prejudiced boss, Marisa soon discovers illegal activity concealed by the news station and is threatened by the criminals responsible who work to conceal their illicit activity at all costs.



Cowgirl Power: How to Kick Ass in Business and Life

Gay Gaddis, BFA ’77, Life Member

Drawing inspiration from cowgirls, who Gaddis argues bucked gender stereotypes decades ago, Cowgirl Power: How to Kick Ass in Business and Life focuses on women empowerment. She writes about her experience founding and managing one of the largest woman-owned ad agencies in the U.S. Gaddis offers plenty of advice about harnessing inner power, building competence, and planning an ambitious life. The book concludes with a cowgirl power toolkit, which serves as a handy guide to remember the advice dispensed throughout her book.



W is for Weird: An Austin Alphabet

by Lori Otto Samocha, BS ’09, MA ’11, Life Member
(Illustrated by Lauri Johnston)

This children’s book composes an alphabet out of the quirky, enchanting, and quintessentially weird places and objects that define Austin. The illustrations take readers on a journey through all of the city’s staples: B is for the bats under Congress Bridge, D for the historically haunted Driskill hotel, L for paddle boarding across Lady Bird Lake, and, of course, Q for queso, and T for tacos.



Whispers of Change: Transforming into the Real You

by Dawnie Dahir, BBA ’75, Life Member

Dahir’s book speaks to the power of self-discovery and personal betterment. Whispers of Change comes after years of the author focusing her attention inward, grappling with questions such as “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?” From these lessons, she has penned a guide of transformation lined with “whispers,” or nuggets of advice. The book is grouped by different categories, along with questions and actions to lead the reader to transformation.



Quite a Life! From Defeat to Defeat…and Back

by Carol Schwartz, BS ’65, Life Member

Schwartz shipped off to the nation’s capital decades ago, and along the way, has rubbed elbows with powerbrokers, befriended some of the nation’s foremost politicians, served on the D.C. Council, and acquired a comprehensive knowledge of the world’s preeminent political town. She has also suffered through plenty of hardship, such as the premature and unexpected death of her husband and five unsuccessful mayoral bids. In the end, she radiates an upbeat tone and reflects on a life-well-lived in a book the Washington Post called “suitably epic.”



American Schoolgirl Explores Mexico: A Memoir

by Ellen Lopez, BA ’76, Life Member

With vivid details Lopez recalls a formative road trip that she took over 50 years ago with her family. The Lopez clan set out from Dallas, Texas, in an “old, two-toned, olive-green 1957 Desoto.” Not knowing what to expect, they were captivated with the bucolic countryside, rich history, and culinary excellence. Lopez weds a staple of the late-20th Century American zeitgeist—the road trip—with an unfamiliar yet captivating portrait of Mexico in a bygone era.



The Million Dollar Real Estate Team

by Chris Watters amd Bradley Pounds, BJ ’09, Life Member

Watters, working with Pounds, netted over a million dollars of income in three years using his new proprietary “team” model in the real estate business. This was all the more impressive given the timing: it was in the middle of the financial and housing crises of the late aughts. Written for a niche audience—real estate agents—this book comes stocked with practical advice, from building a team to teaching lead conversion basics, to deploying a stock CRM and more.



Teaching Absurd

by Elizabeth C. Howard, BA ’61, PhD ’93, Life Member

After retiring from the university education system, Howard taught language arts to adolescent boys at a high-security prison, where she quickly learned that teaching kids in “juvie” has a steep learning curve. In this firsthand account, Howard recalls plenty of stranger-than-fiction stories and an absurd cast of students. What’s most compelling, though, is the author’s realization that without the drugs, gangs, and structural problems that landed these kids in the criminal justice system, they are just like any other teenage boys.



The Gift of Goodbye: A Story of Agape Love

by Rebecca Whitehead Munn, BBA ’85, Life Member

The Gift of Goodbye is a highly personal, vulnerable, and blunt debut memoir. Munn, the mother of two young
children, is going through a particularly difficult divorce when she discovers that her mom, who lives thousands of miles away, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. From the tragedy comes opportunity, as mother and daughter grow closer together and hone in on what really matters. Throughout the experience, Munn finds strength and power in her faith, love, and family.




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