Fourth of July food deals in San Antonio

La Panaderia’s festive red white and blue croissant. Photo: La Panaderia, used with permission. 

Due to the sharp increase of COVID-19 cases in San Antonio, the San Antonio Museum of Art made the decision to postpone this weekend’s family day to Sunday, August 2. In an attempt to keep staff, volunteers, vendors and visitors safe, the San Antonio Museum of Art is choosing to hold off on the event for the time being.

More Fourth of July deals:
Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery will offer drink specials at their outdoor oyster bar near Pearl Park. Pearl patrons can stop by to get $1 off the famous house punch, frosé and canned wines. (Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery, 2020)

La Panaderia will offer a festive red, white and blue croissant. This fun twist on their original croissant is filled with strawberries and cream and topped with red and blue frosting. This colorful croissant will only be available on Friday, July 3rd and Saturday, July 4th. The star-spangled treat will be available to order online and at all La Panaderia locations. (La Panaderia, 2020)


Willie Nelson’s iconic 4th of July Picnic to air as concert film

Willie Nelson’s annual 4th of July Picnic will air as epic hybrid concert film. Courtesy photo, used with permission.

This year, Luck Productions is bringing Willie Nelson’s annual 4th of July Picnic to the people: part Picnics past, part what is to come and all in the spirit of the Picnic’s storied history. On Saturday July 4 starting at 3:30pm Central, fans will be able to enjoy interviews with characters from the Picnic’s past and see new, live performances from their favorite Luck Family artists. (Luck Productions, 2020)

Luck Productions was set to host the 47th annual event, welcoming the Picnic back to its hill country home, and while friends and family will not be crowding into Willie’s Luck, TX, ranch this summer, the man himself will be performing alongside his band from his nearby recording facility, Pedernales Studios. In addition to Willie, performers will include the likes of Sheryl Crow, Ziggy Marley, Margo Price, Steve Earle and Kurt Vile. Tickets for digital admission are $35 ahead of the event and $45 day-of-show are available online.

This July 4th, the Picnic will kick off with a Prime Cuts episode with Chef Scott Roberts of Salt Lick BBQ and special guest Ray Benson, followed by live-streamed performances from Luck’s Saloon and Chapel stages before leading into a 90-minute concert film segment. The film will feature remote performances from Picnic artists, an all-star house band curated by The Texas Gentlemen’s Beau Bedford, featuring Charlie Sexton, John Michael Schoepf, and Josh Blue, and interviews and Picnic memories stitched in throughout. Additionally, SiriusXM’s Willie’s Roadhouse will broadcast the 90 minute stream to subscribers.

Tickets to the event grant access to highly curated food and beverage delivery packages from Assembly Kitchen, Austin Food and Wine Alliance grant recipients, and Sourced Craft Cocktails. One dollar from each ticket sold will support The Luck Reunion Fund, managed by the Austin Community Foundation, directly benefiting five designated organizations. Budweiser, Michelob Ultra, and Karbach Love Street will also be matching donations. Beneficiaries for this event include All Together ATX, Six Square, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, SIMS Foundation, and Central Texas Foodbank.

Performances will include Willie Nelson & Family , Asleep At The Wheel, Charley Crockett, Devon Gilfillian, John Doe, Johnny Bush, Kinky Friedman, Kurt Vile, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Lyle Lovett, Margo Price, Matthew Houck (Phosphorescent), The McCrary Sisters, Particle Kid, Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen, Shakey Graves, Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, The Peterson Brothers, Vincent Neil Emerson and Ziggy Marley.

“Our goal with the 2020 Picnic is to bring it back to what it was—in the only way we can during these times. We were set to host this year’s event at Luck, to welcome the Picnic back to its hill country home. The Picnic is really one of a kind, it has always been scrappy. Cars on fire. Mass arrests. You name it…it happened at the Picnic.” – Ellee Fletcher Durniak, co-founder of Luck Productions


Local businesses offering Fourth of July deals

Pre-orders start today for Fourth of July pies from Bakery Lorraine. Photo: Bakery Lorraine, used with permission. 

With the Fourth of July around the corner, several businesses around the San Antonio area are offering special deals to help celebrate in style. Whether food or entertainment, Bakery Lorraine, EVO Entertainment, San Antonio Museum of Art and La Panaderia have something for everyone.

Bakery Lorraine:
This Fourth of July, Bakery Lorraine will have their famous Apple pie made with five different apple varieties and donning a lattice decor this holiday season. A new decadent, Chocolate Creme pie will also be available along with their traditional Buttermilk pie topped with fresh berries. This will make the perfect addition to any socially-distanced barbecue, virtual or home celebration. Pies are $26 each and available for pre-order starting on Thursday, June 25. Pre-orders can be done online or by calling the desired store. All pie orders must be placed by Tuesday, June 30, at midnight. Pickup in-store Friday (7/3) or Saturday (7/4). Available at all Bakery Lorraine locations in San Antonio and Austin. (Bakery Lorraine, 2020)

EVO Entertainment:
In celebration of Independence Day, EVO Entertainment will be offering their play on a buy-one-get-one special, where guests can get a free game card equaling their food & beverages purchases at EVO. For example, if a guest spends $20 in refreshments, they are eligible for a free $20 game card to play arcade style games with opportunities to win prizes. There is no cap on how much they can spend or receive for this Fourth of July special. The offer is valid on July 4, 2020 and is available at participating EVO locations in Schertz and Kyle. In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, EVO operates under strict protocols to keep guests and staff safe, including the sanitation of high-contact surfaces every 30 minutes. (EVO Entertainment, 2020)

San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA):
On Sunday, July 5 from Noon to 3p.m., the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) will host its Family Day See + Do, a free event for SAISD students and their families. A perfect addition to the holiday weekend, families will have an opportunity to meet Pegasus and other mythical animals as they explore the realms of fantasy in this no-contact, physically distanced family day. Families will have the opportunity to invent their own magical animal and draw it on scratch art paper, sculpt a multi-headed hydra and enjoy a self-paced scavenger hunt. The Family Day See + Do has been generously underwritten by the Charity Ball Association of San Antonio and the Faye L. and William L. Cowden Charitable Association. (San Antonio Museum of Art, 2020)

La Panaderia:
The popular San Antonio bakery will be open to visitors this Fourth of July at both locations so guests can stop in and treat themselves to decadent pan dulce while taking a break from the heat. Guests can also enjoy signature menu items at each restaurant such as the La Panaderia Patty Melt, a unique twist on the Texas favorite. (La Panaderia, 2020)

Texas Book Festival announces virtual festival

2019 Texas Book Festival
The Texas Book Festival will take place entirely online from October 31 through November 15.  Photo: Texas Book Festival, used with permission. 

For the first time ever, the Texas Book Festival will take place entirely online. Featuring two full weeks of free virtual programming, the 2020 Festival will run October 31 through November 15 and will bring together thousands of readers and authors across Texas and beyond for sixteen straight days of engaging, enlightening and educational programming. TBF’s vision is to inspire all Texans to love reading and this year’s virtual Festival will expand that vision beyond Texas to ensure book lovers across the country and the world can join in celebrating literacy, ideas and imagination. (Texas Book Festival, 2020)

The 2020 Texas Book Festival will feature more than 125 authors participating in virtual sessions, including programming for adults, young adults, middle-grade readers and children. The 2020 Texas Teen Book Festival will also take place during the two-week virtual festival, featuring conversations with acclaimed Young Adult authors aimed at teenage readers.

The TBF’s annual First Edition Literary Gala, which raises significant funds for TBF’s programs and is traditionally held on the Friday evening before the Festival Weekend, will also take place virtually on November 6, 2020. The first of its kind, this year’s Gala will bring together supporters of the arts, members of the TBF community and some of the world’s leading literary minds for an evening filled with good books and wonderful conversation.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak and stay-at-home measures in the U.S., the Texas Book Festival has produced dozens of online programs with Texas readers and book-lovers. These include Instagram Live author interviews, children and middle-grade story times on Instagram Live, conversations and lessons from acclaimed children’s book illustrators, educational resources for students and parents and children’s story times from beloved authors and Texans as part of the Festival’s Read Together Texas series. TBF is excited to continue providing additional online programming in the months leading up to and through the two-week virtual Festival, offering even more book discussions, author panels and interviews and bringing exciting conversations from celebrated and emerging writers, journalists, artists, scientists, chefs and more into the homes of readers across Texas and the country.

The Texas Book Festival connects authors and readers through experiences that celebrate the culture of literacy, ideas and imagination. Founded in 1995 by former First Lady Laura Bush, Mary Margaret Farabee and a group of volunteers, the nonprofit Texas Book Festival promotes the joys of reading and writing through its annual Festival Weekend, the Texas Teen Book Festival, the Reading Rock Stars Title I elementary school program, the Real Reads Title I middle and high school program, grants to Texas libraries and year-round literary programming. The 2020 virtual Texas Book Festival Weekend will take place from October 31 through November 15. Thanks to generous donors, sponsors, and volunteers, the Festival remains free and open to the public.

“Nothing will stop us from bringing people together around books, including a global pandemic. We are committed more than ever to serving our community and excited that people from all over Texas, the country, and the world can participate in this year’s Festival.” – Texas Book Festival Director Lois Kim

Upcoming release: ‘Hawk’ by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

‘Hawk’ will be available on July 6, 2020. Photo: google

James Patterson is an American author and philanthropist whose works include the Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women’s Murder Club, Maximum Ride, Daniel X, NYPD Red, Witch and Wizard and Private series. He has also written many stand-alone thrillers, non-fiction and romance novels. As a generous supporter of universities, teachers colleges, independent bookstores, school libraries and college, he has donated millions of dollars in grants and scholarships with the purpose of encouraging Americans of all ages to read more. The Maximum Ride series centers around Maximum Ride and her “flock” – Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angels.  They are more than just ordinary kids; except they have wings – and fly. James Patterson’s new book “Hawk,”  co-authored with Gabrielle Charbonnet, is a story for a new generation of Maximum Ride fans.  It will be released Monday July 6, 2020.

“Hawk” is the story of 17 year-old Hawk who is growing up hard and fast in post-apocalyptic New York City until a perilous destiny forces her to take flight. Ten years ago, a girl named Maximum Ride fought to save the world but then she disappeared. Now she is just a fading legend, remembered only in stories. Hawk does not know her real name, who her family was, or where they went. The only thing she remembers is that she was told to wait on a specific street corner, at a specific time, until her parents came back for her. She stays under the radar to survive until a destiny that is similar Maximum Ride’s forces her to take flight. Someone is coming for her. Except it is not a rescue mission but an execution.

Summer Movie Nights at Woodlawn Theatre

Dreamgirls is the next movie showing at the Woodlawn Theatre as part of their Summer Movie Nights series. Photo: google

This year, the Woodlawn Theatre is celebrating 75 years of entertaining San Antonio and are turning back the clock with Summer Movie Nights.  For five Fridays, the Woodlawn is revisiting the days as a grand movie theater and showcasing some of their favorite musical feature films on their indoor big screen. Proceeds will benefit Woodlawn Theatre and Woodlawn Theatre Academy. Tickets are $10 each and must be purchased in advance, online, prior to each film. There will be no in-person ticket sales at the box office leading up to or at any time prior to showtime.  Seating begins at 6p.m. and the movie starts at 7p.m.  (Woodlawn Theatre 2020)

To comply with the state’s COVID-19 measures, Woodlawn Theatre will not exceed 50% capacity for each Summer Movie night. All tickets are general admission and guests must print ticket at home in advance and bring it with them or have it ready for viewing via a smartphone upon entering. Everyone over the age of two must wear a mask. More COVID-19 protocols are available online. 

The series started last Friday with Chicago and continues with:

June 26 –  Dreamgirls (2006)

July 3 – Hairspray (2007)

July 10 – Evita (1996)

July 17 – Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’ by Stephen King – Twentieth Anniversary Edition

The Twentieth Anniversary Edition of Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ is now available. Photo: google

Stephen King is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and many of them have been adapted into feature films, miniseries, television shows and comic books. He is best known for “Carrie,” “It,” “The Green Mile” and the Dark Tower series. The twentieth anniversary edition of “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” is now out with contributions from Joe Hill and Owen King.  For those unaware, Joe Hill and Owen King are Stephen King’s sons, both writers, with Joe Hill being the author of “NOS4A2,” a best-selling horror novel whose second season returns tomorrow June 21 on AMC.

I have my own copy of “On Writing” and it is a must-read for writers.  The best advice I took from it is:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.  I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in…Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns.  The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthful as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered anyway.”

From amazon:
Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, “On Writing” will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

Author Q & A: Ryan Gutierrez, Part II

Photo: google

With the formalities out of the way, it is time to get into the deeper topics of Ryan Gutierrez’ “Scars in Time: A Novel (The Nowhen Stories).” Here is the second and final part of my Q & A with the author.

Sandra Cruz:  Have you ever considered going back in time for purely altruistic reasons?
Ryan Gutierrez: You know, if I could, I think I would have to. When you talk about time-travel, people often go to the baby Hitler conundrum. Would you kill baby Hitler to stop the Holocaust? Well, perhaps I’d just kidnap baby Hitler and help him find a nice adoptive family in our time, but I would have to do something. You can’t not try to stop the heinous murder of millions of innocents.

That’s why it was so important for me to limit the time travel in my story to a micro and personal level. I wanted Brennan to be limited to what he could do within his own lifetime only. I didn’t want him getting sidetracked stopping the holocaust.

SC:  Your book reminds me of the movie The Butterfly Effect. Did it inspire your story?
RG: I haven’t actually seen that movie. I think it came out during this weird time when I was on an anti-Kutcher kick for some reason. I actually admire the heck out of him now and all he’s done for victims of the sex trade. I did, however, draw inspiration from the Butterfly Effect that is a part of chaos theory. Basically, a small change to proceeding events could have massive repercussions on the resulting consequences.

SC:  Is this the first book in a series? I would love to read more of Brennan’s travels.
RG: Yes and no. It is the first book of the Nowhen Stories, but Brennan will be taking a backseat role to let others shine. I wanted Brennan’s focus to return to his family and living life well. However, Brennan’s travels through time opened the world to the effects of the Nowhen, the realm that functioned as a sort of way-station between times. The Nowhen is going to be for South Texas, what the Hellmouth was for Sunnydale, what the meteor shower was for Smallville, or the particle accelerator explosion was for Central City. A catalyst for supernatural and extraordinary.

The Nowhen Stories will tell those tales.

SC:  Were you concerned that some readers might not understand some of the Spanish you used?
RG: I was. I decided to do it anyway because I wanted the book to reflect and connect to the heavily Latino roots of the RGV and South Texas in general. I wanted to tell a story that felt universal, but also felt close to the heart of Latinos who may feel underrepresented in pop-culture.

SC: Considering that it contains religious themes/topics, it is geared towards a Christian audience?
RG: Not really. I would love for Christian people to enjoy the book, though I think some of my fellow Christians might frown upon some of the language and the level of violence. I really want the book to express hope for people in general, whether they are or aren’t Christian. It’s a crazy and entertaining story, if I may say so myself, but it’s ultimately a story of hope and restoration. I think that’s a message we all need. It just so happens that in my experience, hope and restoration tend to be intricately woven up with God.

Whataburger and Pluckers Wing Bar offering Father’s Day deals

Whataburger is just one of the restaurant chains offering Father’s Day deals. Photo: Whataburger, used with permission. 

Just in time for Father’s Day, Whataburger is serving up a new buy one, get one deal. Now through June 28 at participating locations, guests can purchase one Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich and get a second one free. The offer is redeemable online only for quick and convenient curbside pickup or delivery. (Whataburger, 2020)

To redeem this offer, sign in to an existing Whataburger account or open a new account by downloading the free Whataburger App from the App Store or Google Play. Guests can also order online.

Whataburger has last-minute gifts for Dad – check out the new Father’s Day items and more online. While prices vary by product, free shipping is included on orders $50 or more by using the code DAD at checkout for a $5 restaurant gift card.
Pluckers Wing Bar is thrilled to announce that this Father’s Day, Sunday, June 21, dads eat free when dining in at all locations. All dads can enjoy a complimentary entree, side and non-alcoholic beverage, up to a $15 value, from Pluckers’ extensive menu when they show their Pluckers Club or Pluckers Club Lite membership on the Pluckers mobile app upon arrival. (Pluckers Wing Bar, 2020)

Additionally, Pluckers is offering their full menu for takeout and delivery orders and dads will get a free Holy Macaroni with a $30 minimum purchase. Guests can also order online.

Pluckers menu includes such fan favorites as Fried Pickles, Holy Macaroni, the Bypass Burger topped with bacon, cheddar, grilled onions and jalapeños, and the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. Additionally, Pluckers will offer their famous wings paired with signature sauces Buffalo, Spicy BBQ, or Spicy Ranch, along with unique flavors Fire in the Hole, Ginger Peach Sriracha, Gochujang, Spicy Mandarin and the newest flavor, Jamango Jerk.

Author Q & A: Ryan Gutierrez, Part I

Photo: google

Ryan Gutierrez’ debut novel, “Scars in Time: A Novel (The Nowhen Stories)” is about Brennan Ramirez, a man determined to change his wife’s traumatic past by going back in time.  As Brennan test drives The Machine, he begins to experience true power, true control, or so he thinks. With every trip, every choice, Brennan realizes that his newfound control may be an illusion. I found the book entertaining and enlightening so in an effort to get to know the author and his motivations for writing it, I recently asked him a series of questions.  Here is the first part of my author Q & A.

Sandra Cruz:  Was this a hard book to write or is this a story you have been thinking about for some time?
Ryan Gutierrez: “Scars in Time” was definitely a difficult story to write, but not necessarily in terms of creativity. The outline process took a few months and once that was complete, the first draft went quite smoothly. The most difficult part about writing “Scars” was the real life scars I was picking at, pun most definitely intended. There are real life events, real trauma, that I exaggerated and fictionalized for the story.

SC:  How much research did you have to do into the topic of time traveling?
RG: Honestly, not too much. I’m a huge sci-fi geek, so in a way I’ve been researching for this my whole life. I think my biggest time-travel related influence for this story is 11/22/63 by the great Stephen King. 11/22/63 starts as a bigger-than-life journey, stop the JFK assassination, but it becomes this personal story of love and growth. That aspect definitely influenced me.

SC:  Some authors base their characters on people they know, was this the case with Brennan? Is it in any way autobiographical?
RG: It definitely is. I’m not Brennan, but there are parts of Brennan that are definitely from me. The PTSD and feelings of powerlessness stemming from his time in CPS were a reflection of my own. The panic disorder symptoms in the book are basically a walkthrough of the panic attacks that I faced in my life. Brennan is the most like a real person, but there are elements of Deidre taken from my wife, elements of Abby taken from both my daughters, elements of James taken from my brother, and so forth.

SC:  Do you consider Brennan a hero/superhero?
RG: No, I don’t. The thing with Brennan is that HE thinks he’s the hero. He wants to be Batman or Superman, but the more power he gets, the closer he is to playing the role of tragic villain. I think that when Brennan realizes he’s not a superhero, he notices the heroic characteristics of those around him. Abby’s immutable joy and unique perspective, Deidre’s resilience and strength, or James’ ability to look to tomorrow. He has to learn from them in order to take his final heroic turn.

SC:  As someone who suffers from panic attacks, I sympathize with Brennan as he suffers through his. His experiences are hauntingly realistic. Is this your way of reaching out to those in similar situations?
RG: Yes, definitely. Brennan’s panic attacks are realistic because they’re based on the real attacks I suffered. I wanted people who have suffered with them to be able to relate to a character who is flawed and doesn’t overcome them by just having some feel good mantra or attitude. By the end, Brennan knows this may be a lifelong struggle, but he knows there is hope in that struggle. As for people who have never suffered from them, I wanted them to get a little peek into them, a way for them to better understand their loved ones who do have those struggles.