Meet the Conference Faculty: Agent Terra Chalberg

“Writing a fantastic book is important, but so is being able to talk about it with clarity, finding and connecting with its readers, and working well with others while upholding a vision for your career.”

-Terra Chalberg

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 25th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 29–July 1, 2018, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Terra Chalberg

Terra Chalberg began her publishing career in 2002 at Scribner after graduating from UCLA and working in film development. As an agent, she represents a range of fiction and nonfiction writers, including Victoria Fedden, author of This Is Not My Beautiful Life; Margaux Fragoso, author of the New York Times and international bestseller Tiger, Tiger; Elizabeth Isadora Gold, author of The Mommy Group; Lori Ostlund, author of Barnes & Noble Discover selection, finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize After the Parade; Andrew Porter, Flannery O’Connor Award-winner and author of the Indie Next List pick In Between Days; Melissa Radke, author of Eat Cake. Be Brave.; Alex Taylor, author of Kentucky Literary Award-finalist The Marble Orchard; and Glenn Taylor, NBCC Award Finalist in Fiction and author of A Hanging at Cinder Bottom.

Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?

Terra Chalberg: I tailor the job to the author and what she needs at any given part of the process, which can change book to book as well. There are periods when my authors and I are in constant, close communication (e.g. project development and sale), and periods when I take a backseat but am hands-on/involved as needed. Because part of the job is problem solving and liaising, I can best serve the client when author, editor, and, eventually, publicist all keep me in the loop. The more we work as a team, the better the results.

Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?

TC: Reserves of enthusiasm and optimism; the ability to revise based on feedback but with creative license and authority. I appreciate someone who is willing to put all he’s got into promoting himself and his brand, but I also understand it doesn’t always come naturally, so effort counts for a lot in my book.

Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?

TC: Putting aside the craft, a writing career is like any other in that there are components of the career that don’t involve the actual work but are still part of the job, like cultivating relationships with readers and other writers, and planning for long-term success. Writing a fantastic book is important, but so is being able to talk about it with clarity, finding and connecting with its readers, and working well with others while upholding a vision for your career.

Scribe: Has there been a project you took on because there was something special or unique about it, even though it wasn’t like projects you usually take on? 

TC: Yes. One of my first clients, Margaux Fragoso, who has since passed away, wrote a memoir called Tiger, Tiger. Her nuanced approach to the material and her beautiful command of language humanized a pedophile in a way our society refuses to do. It’s controversial, haunting, and a crucial contribution to the world. I hadn’t been looking out for a writer whose topic was her experience with a sexual predator, but I recognized its unique qualities and potential to educate readers.

Scribe:  Tell us about a recent book that you worked with–you know, brag on one of your writers!

TC: Melissa Radke—born and bred in East Texas—is a phenomenal writer, speaker, and entertainer whose book of hilarious, heartfelt personal stories called Eat Cake. Be Brave. is coming in July from Grand Central Publishing. The book’s title is inspired by one of the many Facebook videos that has given Melissa her huge social media following; she made the video on the eve of her forty-first birthday to remind herself and everyone else that we are all whole, good, and unique, and that we need to love ourselves as we are, even when (and especially when) the world is not being kind.

Thanks, Terra!

Click here to read our 2018 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2018 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 29-July 1) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

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Community Member Guest Post: Ageless Authors

“Those who continue to read and write well into old age suffer 48% less memory loss, dementia and other mental impairment than those who don’t take part in these activities. “

-Larry Upshaw, Ageless Authors

Community membership in the Writers’ League of Texas allows businesses and organizations to support our programming and services. It’s also a great way for our community of writers to learn about the many valuable and varied services, programs, and opportunities available to them.

Dallas-based Ageless Authors is the only national group exclusively for senior writers age 65 and older. Read a guest post from Editorial Director Larry Upshaw below, and find more information about Ageless Authors’ upcoming contest for senior writers at the end of the post.

Writing, reading key to mental agility in seniors

 

“Lyric poetry is a domain where talent is discovered early, burns brightly, and then peters out at an early age.”  This statement by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, when extended to writing in all its forms, presents a frustrating future for older writers wanting to publish.

It’s well known that novelist Jonathan Safran Foer wrote his 2002 bestseller Everything is Illuminated when he was 19. And Stephen King published Carrie, Salem’s Lot and The Shining before he was 30. Somehow, though, we discount the fact that Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at age 58 and Laura Ingalls Wilder completed her Little House series at age 76.

We have bought into the obsession with youth, searching for effective ways to combat aging. There is a physical side to it all, packing fitness centers to aim for peak performance by strengthening muscles and building endurance.

We also have what you might call mental gyms. For a small monthly fee, websites like Lumosity.com and MyBrainTrainer.com promise to enhance memory, attention and other mental processes through a series of games and brain teasers. They fit perfectly with our instant gratification culture, providing ready-made mind exercises for people who worry that time is catching up with them.

For members of Ageless Authors, the nationwide organization of senior writers age 65 and older, the answer may be closer at hand. A 2013 study published in the journal Neurology suggests that writing and even reading books slows down cognitive decline in old age and those who participate in these mentally stimulating activities over their lifetimes have a striking edge in memory and mental agility over those who never read or write.

Those who continue to read and write well into old age suffer 48% less memory loss, dementia and other mental impairment than those who don’t take part in these activities. This jibes with the purpose of Ageless Authors, which is to promote and encourage creativity and especially writing as long in life as possible.

In a Smithsonian.com article explaining this phenomena, journalist Marina Koren writes:

“Reading gives our brains a workout because comprehending text requires more mental energy than, for example, processing an image on a television screen. Reading exercises our working memory, which actively processes and stores new information …. Writing can be likened to practice: the more we rehearse the perfect squat, the better our form becomes, tightening all the right muscles. Writing helps us consolidate new information for the times we may need to recall it, which boosts our memory skills.”

The key to mental acuity is the same as physical superiority over the long haul; start your exercises (reading and writing) early and stick with them throughout your life.

Senior writers, when you are forced to look up a word that was in your active vocabulary just a decade ago, or you confuse John Irving with John Grisham, know that you are doing everything you can to slow aging.

Just curl up with a book or your trusty word processor.

Thanks, Larry!

Find out more about Ageless Authors here.

Larry Upshaw is Editorial Director of Ageless Authors, the only national group exclusively for senior writers age 65 and older. This group is now conducting its second annual writing contest awarding cash prizes and publishing. Deadline is Wednesday, February 28. Click here for more details and to enter. For more information, email larry@agelessauthors.com or call 214 405-5093.

Are you a business or organization interested in getting involved?

Community Membership is a great way to connect with the Writers’ League’s membership base and share news and information about writing-related services and events. For more information on Community Membership click here or call our office at (512) 499-8914.

 

Photo credit: #WOCinTech Chat

 

Meet the Conference Faculty: Agent Susan Velazquez

“A great is idea is nothing without great execution. Great writing isn’t much without a great idea driving it forward.”

-Susan Velazquez

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 25th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 29–July 1, 2018, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Susan Velazquez

Susan Velazquez is the assistant to Eddie Schneider and Joshua Bilmes and manages audio rights at JABberwocky Literary. She was born and raised outside of Dallas and studied Creative Writing at SUNY Oswego. Susan generally gravitates towards any story that details a complicated family dynamic, illustrates a transformative coming-of-age experience, or features multicultural characters or unique voices. In non-fiction, she is interested in memoirs, pop culture, and history. In science fiction and fantasy, she is looking for richly built worlds to become immersed in and stories that explore what humanity is like–or could be like.

Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?

Susan Velazquez:  I would describe my approach as “part-Jedi trainer, part-cheerleader.” Part of my job is to guide authors through the publishing business and help them understand all the possible avenues for their creativity, which can include books, film/TV, merchandise and licensing, etc. The other part, which is my favorite, is to help authors shape their ideas into the best possible version. I am happy to provide editorial feedback, but I never try to steer the story one way or the other. Our authors have amazing stories to tell and I want to do everything I can to help share them with the world.

Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?

SV: Excellent writing skills and boundless creativity. If a writer has both of these, the world is theirs. A great is idea is nothing without great execution. Great writing isn’t much without a great idea driving it forward.

Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?

SV: Show your character’s personality on the page! One of the quickest ways I fall in love with a story is if I fall in love with the characters. There’s so many ways to express a character’s personality: in their dialogue, their inner monologue, or their driving motivations. Characters should feel as human as possible because it makes it easier to develop an emotional connection to them and thus, the rest of the story.

Scribe:  Tell us about a recent book that you worked with–you know, brag on one of your writers!

TC:  I’m currently working with one of our newest clients, Joy Lanzendorfer, on a historical family saga set in California that spans the Gold Rush, the Great Depression in Hollywood, and the beginning of World War II. Joy has created these beautifully complicated women who are trying to chase a version of the American Dream, no matter the cost. They are not always likable, but it’s mesmerizing to watch them go after what they want. She’s a wonderful, talented writer and I’m so excited to help bring this book (and her other future books!) to life.

Thanks, Susan!

Click here to read our 2018 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2018 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 29-July 1) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

Meet the Members: Pamela Camosy

“My writing honors my patients and allows me to tell our shared stories while expressing gratitude for the privilege of caring for them.”

-Pamela Camosy

A member of the Writers’ League for nearly two years, Pamela Camosy lives in Garden Ridge, Texas.

Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Pamela Camosy: Memoir and narrative medicine.

Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them? 

PC: Frank Slaughter, a physician who wrote elegant historical fiction in prolific fashion. His Road to Bithynia, the story of the Biblical physician Luke, got me hooked on his books decades ago. When Dr. Slaughter and I meet in heaven over a cup of tea, I plan to ask him how he was able to research his subjects and write dozens of engaging books while maintaining a busy surgical practice.

Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?

PC: My trusty The Norton Anthology of English Literature. I bought it in college and later grew to love it when, in my mother’s waning years, she asked me to read it aloud to her.

Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League? 

PC: The value of the counsel of experienced successful writers to those of us who are beginning our journey. WLT’s annual Agents & Editors Conference provided me with meaningful feedback that I used in revising my work.

Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future? 

PC: Looking back with a writer’s eye on my decades a family physician, I see a path forward in narrative medicine. My writing honors my patients and allows me to tell our shared stories while expressing gratitude for the privilege of caring for them.

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

PC: The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward. The author describes the people and places of our state capital as only an Austinite could, focusing on a kind-hearted young woman finding her place in life. At the same time, a teenage girl in Honduras is struggling to get to Texas and endures brutal impediments along the way. Amanda’s well-crafted tale demonstrates strength of spirit that I find inspiring.

Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!

PC: I invite readers to join me in the pages of my new book, Healer’s Heart: A Family Physician’s Stories of the Heart & Art of Medicine.The book is a tribute to the healing power that lies within all of us, physicians and non-physicians alike, and is available through Amazon in print and e-book.

Thanks, Pamela!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

Meet the Conference Faculty: Agent Kristina Moore

“Plot points in fiction or narrative argument in nonfiction can be improved through editorial work, but the fundamentals of writing have to be there from the start.”

-Kristina Moore

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 25th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 29–July 1, 2018, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Kristina Moore

Kristina Moore joined The Wylie Agency in 2009. She specializes in literary fiction and narrative nonfiction, and is particularly interested in reportage, history, biography, science, sports writing, and arts and cultural criticism. She also represents authors’ estates. She graduated from Harvard College and began her career as an editor at SCOTUSBlog.

Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?

Kristina Moore: We seek to represent authors for the life of their careers, and in all aspects of their creative work—books, magazine, film/TV, speaking engagements. We’re not looking to represent one commercial hit, but rather to represent the highest quality writing in both fiction and nonfiction, and to find authors who are in dialogue with other important work. We’re advocates and cheerleaders, business managers and tacticians; we’re not editors, except in rare cases where the author has asked for our guidance.

Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?

KM: The strength of the writing and voice—plot points in fiction or narrative argument in nonfiction can be improved through editorial work, but the fundamentals of writing have to be there from the start.

Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?

KM: Don’t try to chase a trend or write “the next Gone Girl”—you really do have to write what you know.

Scribe: Has there been a project you took on because there was something special or unique about it, even though it wasn’t like projects you usually take on? 

KM: I recently sold a collection of sci-fi short stories, even though I don’t work in the sci-fi genre and short stories are generally a tough sell, because the literary quality of the writing was so unique, and the author was a supremely interesting young woman.

Scribe:  Tell us about a recent book that you worked with–you know, brag on one of your writers!

KM:  Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends received such an amazing critical reception, and it is a true privilege to bring her work to US readers. She’s only 26 and we’ve just sold her second novel.

Thanks, Kristina!

Click here to read our 2018 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2018 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 29-July 1) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

Meet the Members: Bill Thompson

“After years as a CEO in the corporate world, I started writing in 2009. I’ve written thirteen books so far, and I’m loving it.”

-Bill Thompson

A member of the Writers’ League since August of last year, Bill Thompson lives in Dallas, Texas.

Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

BT: I’ve written eleven archaeological thrillers (think Indiana Jones) and two teen fiction books.

Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?

BT: Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child (I’m counting my “one author” as that pair). I’d ask them, “how did you come up with such a bizarre character as Aloysius Pendergast, one of my all-time favorites?”

Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?

BT: The Bible, because it takes a long time to read and even longer to understand. Plus you might need a little spiritual guidance while stuck on the island.

Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?

BT: I’m a newer member, so I’m excited to start learning!

Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future? 

BT: After years as a CEO in the corporate world, I started writing in 2009. I’ve written thirteen books so far, and I’m loving it. My writing takes me all over the world. My archaeological adventures are set in Central America, Israel, Egypt, etc. I get to go there myself and research my books!

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

BT: As a “new” Texan (2009), I wanted to learn about the state’s history. I read Texas Rising by Stephen L. Moore. It’s a history of the Republic and the Texas Rangers. Very interesting.

Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!  

BT: If variety is the spice of life, my life has been spicy indeed! At one time or another over the years I’ve been: an international insurance broker; a mayor; head of a state prison board; a newspaper reporter; in jail (briefly, and wrongly!); a Bourbon Street piano player; a corporate entrepreneur; a church organist; a goat herder; president of an animal shelter; a father and grandfather; a world traveler; an attendee at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s knighting in Westminster; fluent in Russian; a passenger on the Concorde; a choir singer; a lifetime dog lover; a husband; and now . . . an author! My life is filled with blessings and I love every minute of it. I’m an armchair adventurer now, and I live vicariously through Brian Sadler, the primary character in my books!

Here’s my offical bio: Bill Thompson is the award-winning author of twelve novels. His latest is Temple: The Prophecy of the Hidden Treasure, and it’s available now on Amazon in paperback or ebook. Visit billthompsonbooks.com for more information!

Thanks, Bill!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

Meet the Conference Faculty: Agent Arielle Datz

“Read! Consider it research for your career.”

-Arielle Datz

Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 25th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 29–July 1, 2018, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Arielle Datz

Arielle Datz started as an intern at Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner in 2011. She then worked in the foreign rights department at WME, followed by 2 years at the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency. She returned to DCLA in 2015. She is looking for fiction (mostly adult, but is open to young adult and middle grade), both literary and commercial. In nonfiction, she is looking for essays, unconventional memoir, pop culture, and sociology.

Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?

Arielle Datz: I am as involved as the author wants me to be. I have a strong editorial eye, so I am very involved pre-book sale, and once a book is with an editor at a publisher I take a step back unless my input is needed. I see myself as a guide for the author through the labyrinth of the publishing world.

Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?

AD: A strong voice with a story (or stories!) to tell.

Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?

AD: Read! Consider it research for your career. Read books within your genre, and stay up to date on what is successful in mainstream publishing.

Scribe:  Tell us about a recent book that you worked with–you know, brag on one of your writers!

AD: If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio–the story set me ablaze from the beginning, and then it turned out that we work tremendously well as a team. She has a keen sense of voice and her characters weasel their way into my brain, such that I can’t stop thinking about them.

Thanks, Arielle!

Click here to read our 2018 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2018 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 29-July 1) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.