Announcing a New Membership Benefit: Writer Classifieds

“Taking advantage of your member benefits isn’t just about getting the full value of your membership fee each year: it’s about making sure you use all the tools at your disposal to continue improving your craft, learning about the business of publishing, and staying involved in our larger writing community.”

-Jordan Smith, WLT Member Services Manager

A Note from Member Services Manager Jordan Smith

14947906_337972356576742_3376264569295131995_n-3If you’re a Writers’ League of Texas member, we hope you’re aware of all that comes included with your membership, from meeting with staff one-on-one during our monthly Open Office Hours, to taking members-only online classes, to free publicity in our newsletter, and more. Need a refresher on benefits? Visit our website. Taking advantage of your member benefits isn’t just about getting the full value of your membership fee each year: it’s about making sure you use all the tools at your disposal to continue improving your craft, learning about the business of publishing, and staying involved in our larger writing community.

Speaking of community, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked in my role as Member Services Manager is, “How do I connect with other writers in my area or find a critique group?” Writing itself is typically a solitary practice, but the process of receiving feedback, revising, and rewriting is so much easier when you have writers who know you and your work to support you every step of the way.  That’s why I’m so excited to announce our newest member benefit: The Writers’ League of Texas’ Writer Classifieds.

Starting now, we have a private members-only page on our website where we’ll list “classifieds” for writers looking to form their own writing communities and professional partnerships. (Login to your membership account and click on “Writer Classifieds” in the sidebar; call our offices at 512-499-8914 if you don’t have your login information.) To add a listing to these classifieds, current Writers’ League of Texas members can fill out this form.

writer-classifieds

We can’t guarantee, of course, that you’ll find what you’re looking for in these classifieds, but adding your listing will most definitely increase your chances of meeting your writing match. And as always, we do have a bit of friendly, writer-to-writer advice:

1) We encourage you to be proactive in checking listings so you can reach out to those who might be a match for you.

2) Please only use the classifieds page for its intended purpose: to connect with other writers on a professional level.

3) Be respectful when responding to classifieds. After sending an initial email, give the person you’ve contacted a week to respond. Then, you’re welcome to send one more follow up email, but please do not email that person again if you don’t receive a response after that. And, if you’ve been contacted by another writer and aren’t interested for whatever reason, please feel empowered to decline, but do so politely.

4) Start small. Exchange a few emails, perhaps meet for coffee, and let things unfold naturally from there. If you’re not sure how to go about running a writing or critique group, check out our July 2016 Third Thursday podcast for advice: http://bit.ly/2fXgUOW

5) Keep using other resources! Post on social media, attend not only Writers’ League events but events in your area and throughout the state and country, find online communities…there are so many options available, and we’re always happy to brainstorm with you if you’re not sure where to begin.

Questions about this new membership benefit or anything else member-related? Call our offices at 512-499-8914 or email me at member@writersleague.org.

Happy holidays, and happy writing!

Meet the Members: Douglas Carlyle

“My motto is, ‘Writing Fiction and Saving Lives . . . All in a Day’s Work.'”

–Douglas Carlyle

A Writers’ League of Texas member since 2009, Douglas Carlyle lives near San Antonio.

me-croppedScribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

I write in multiple fiction genres:  Family Drama, Romantic Fantasy, Medical Thriller, and Crime Mystery.

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

Douglas Carlyle: I would like to share absinthe and champagne with Ernest Hemingway. My question to him would be, “If you could narrow it down to one thing, what event had the greatest impact upon your career?”

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

DC: On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

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

DC: Two things immediately come to mind. First, I learned that there are many excellent independent authors around the world who, like me, choose not to pursue traditional publishing. WLT helped me achieve that personal goal. Secondly, writing is acquired talent that takes a substantial amount of effort before one should consider him or herself proficient at the task. Even then, one can never stop refining one’s skillset. WLT offers the ongoing workshops and networking to assist in this matter.

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

DC: I’ve published four novels. A fifth novel is half complete. I hope to complete it upon my retirement next year and to continue writing as a way to maintain my mental acuity and to meet other talented authors.

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?

DC: News of the World by Paulette Jiles.

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

DC: I’ve rejected agency representation and traditional publishing because I’m certain the quality of my work would suffer from the prescriptive business practices I associate with going that route. I write what I want to write. Because I touch on subjects that have deeply affected me, it shows in the passion of my words.

There is a strong moral lesson in each of my novels. In my debut award-winning novel, In Search of the Fuller Brush Man, that lesson is “True love is never-ending.” That is a lesson I learned from my mother and my high school girlfriend, both of whom are now deceased, yet left indelible marks on my life.

In my second novel, Vinegarone, the lesson is “Greatness comes from the most unexpected people and places.” It alludes to the insensitivity with which we treat the homeless and the mentally ill.

My third novel, Boundaries, teaches us to “Beware of our misuse of technology.” It shows how greed and bureaucracy can destroy that which should give us great hope.

Finally, my most recent and second award-winning novel, Death by Times New Roman, plays on the cliché, “Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.” It leaves you wondering who you can trust. This novel is the first in my Cat Kavanagh Mystery Series featuring a heroine who is tough, smart, sassy, all the while struggling with her PTSD.

I live on our Domarja Mesa Ranch about 75 miles west of San Antonio between the “thriving” wide spots in the road Tarpley and Utopia. We refer to it as being “centrally isolated.” I am an electrical engineer by degree. I worked in the semiconductor industry in Texas for twenty-six years beginning in Austin in 1977. Travel around the world has given me great inspiration as has raising three daughters and leading the life of a gentleman rancher.

Since leaving the world of electronics in 2003, I have been able to focus my energy full time as both a paramedic and firefighter–my dream job I began over three decades ago. While discharging my duty and medical ministry, I encounter people most of us would likely not have the opportunity–perhaps not the desire–to meet. These people are colorful. They span the spectrum of human existence. They often are experiencing the most tragic, intense, painful, emotional, humbling, moment of their life. They confide in me. They tell me their story. Fragments of these incredible people who cross my path maybe just once, maybe many times, become bits and pieces of my characters. If the individuals in my novels appear genuine, that’s because they are.

My motto is, “Writing Fiction and Saving Lives . . . All in a Day’s Work.”

Thanks, Douglas!

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!

Instructor Q&A: Jodi Egerton

“When you crowdfund a book, you create buzz–before that book is even launched. Suddenly you have a whole group of backers ready to celebrate when your book is released. You’ve also got an automatic number of pre-orders you can share. Once the book is complete, your updates to your backers–planning the release, throwing a party to get some books into hands and thank your backers in person–easily work double time as marketing pushes.”

-Jodi Egerton

Jodi Egerton is the co-author of This Word Now, a crowdfunded book of writing prompts and essays on the craft and process of writing. She also crafts custom poems on vintage typewriters with Typewriter Rodeo (and has written poems for the likes of Sharon Stone and former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins). Jodi earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas at Austin, where she served as the Assistant Director of the Division of Rhetoric and Writing and the Training Specialist at the Undergraduate Writing Center. She conducts workshops that combine improvisation games with writing exercises to energize writers and encourage breaking through writer’s block. She also teaches workshops on effective writing strategies; the nuts and bolts of clear, concise writing; and communication and team-building.

Jodi is teaching a class for the Writers’ League of Texas called “Crowdfunding Your Book” on December 12 at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX. This class will teach students how to harness the power of social media and marketing to fund the publication of their books. Read the interview below and visit the class page to learn more.

jodiedgerton-2-2Scribe: Crowdfunding a book is a relatively new tool available to writers. For the uninitiated, what does “crowdfunding” mean? How does it work?

Jodi Egerton: Crowdfunding is a way of raising money for a project by gathering funds from a crowd. Rather than one big investor launching a product, a crowdfunded project gathers smaller amounts of money from a larger group of people, with the promise of rewards for their support. In the book publishing world, this generally means at a minimum pre-ordering the book, in print or digital format.

When you launch a crowdfunding project, usually you host your project on one of the crowdfunding platforms. You then set a timeline for your project, and a funding goal. Over the time period (usually about a month) when your project is live, you turn into a marketing/PR professional–you’re working hard to convince people to buy in to your project and to you as someone who’ll fulfill your promises about the project.

Once you reach the end of your campaign, if you reach your funding goal, you’re on your way! You get the money to work on your project, keeping your backers updated along the way, and then get the joy of sharing the completed project with them.

Scribe: Are there particular kinds of books that might be better suited to crowdfunding?

JE: In truth, much of the success of a crowdfunding project has to do with your ability to generate that crowd–convincing enough people that they want to pre-order your book. So rather than particular kinds of books, I’d say crowdfunding projects are better suited to people who are ready to get out there and hustle–you have to market a book that isn’t yet complete (most likely) and convince people that they want to put their money towards your project.

Scribe:  One thing that may deter people from crowdfunding is the risk involved: what if the funding goals aren’t met? Then what? What would you say to people worried about meeting or not meeting their goals?

JE: One of the big things we’ll talk about in the class is how to set a realistic funding goal. And that means both realistic for your needs for the project and also realistic for what you think you can raise via your community. Almost all of your funders will be people you know–we had 322 backers of our Kickstarter project, and less than 10% were people who were completely unknown to us. So that’s important–assessing your community, how you’ll reach out to them, and what expectations you might have for their support.

It’s wise to have a backup plan if you don’t meet your funding goal, and that’s something we’ll discuss further in the class. There are lots of options out there for getting your book out into the world these days. And also there’s a lot of value in pausing to assess your crowdfunding campaign and figure out why you may not have met that goal. We launched our Kickstarter partly as a test to see if there was interest in our book–if we didn’t reach our funding goal, we’d have a pretty clear answer.

Scribe: In the class description, you talk about how crowdfunding can work hand-in-hand with book marketing in general. Can you give an example of this from your own book?

JE: When you crowdfund a book, you create buzz–before that book is even launched. Suddenly you have a whole group of backers ready to celebrate when your book is released. You’ve also got an automatic number of pre-orders you can share. Once the book is complete, your updates to your backers–planning the release, throwing a party to get some books into hands and thank your backers in person–easily work double time as marketing pushes. And then your satisfied backers share your new book on social media, expanding the reach of your own network. We’ll talk in the class about different strategies for using your crowdfunding rewards distribution as part of a larger marketing plan.

Thanks, Jodi!

Click here to register for Jodi’s class.

Click here for our current class schedule.

Meet the Members Interview: Susan Elliott

“I think I’d like to have a latte with Stephen King. I would ask him to tell me a story.”

-Susan Elliott

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas since October, Susan Elliott lives in Beeville.

my-photoScribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Susan Elliott: Several! I have just a few pen names. Arwen Chandler writes science fiction and fantasy. Lori Steeplechase is working on crime novels, and Anne C. Heart, is a hopeless romance author. So, far I’ve only published one novel and short reads under Arwen Chandler; however, others are coming!

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

SE: I think I’d like to have a latte with Stephen King. I would ask him to tell me a story.

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

SE: Aside from my Bible, I would take Dracula. It’s always been one of my favorites.

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

SE: My mom was a member in the 80s back in Austin. I am still learning, and I am excited to be part of this amazing group!

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

SE: I hope it takes me to a summer house in Sitka, Alaska. I also hope it becomes something that supports us. My hubs (42 years old) had a stroke earlier this year, and I am trying to support our family through writing.

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?

SE: My year has been so crazy since the stroke, that I have only had a small amount of  time to read. Honestly, I’ve only read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, or what I’ve been writing. With that said, I look forward to hearing what others in the League recommend.a

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

SE: Well, The Collision of Fire and Ice, published under the name of Arwen Chandler, is now on Amazon. It took me several years to write, and I am so proud of it. It’s part Game of Thrones, part Merlin, and all me. I am currently working on the sequel. The working title is A Requiem of Fire and Ice.

Thanks, Susan!

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 Members: Emily J. Hooks

“I’ve read two books by Texas authors this year: My Unsentimental Education by Debra Monroe, which was delightful, and This Word Now, by Owen and Jodi Egerton. A witty and relevant read. I love books on writing and it’s a great addition.

-Emily J. Hooks

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for two years, Emily J. Hooks lives in Austin.

headshot3Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Emily J. Hooks: Spiritual, self-help nonfiction and memoir. I dabble in lowbrow fiction for fun.

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

EJH: So many to choose from. I’m going with Malcolm Gladwell today. He would be endlessly interesting and probably pretty funny.

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

EJH: Tao Te Ching. I read it everyday.

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

EJH: Just how big the writing community in Austin is. And, how to write a screenplay🙂

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

EJH: Into the unknown…my favorite place to be.

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?

EJH: If by “Texas-related” you mean by a Texas author, I’ve read two. My Unsentimental Education by Debra Monroe, which was delightful, and This Word Now, by Owen and Jodi Egerton. A witty and relevant read. I love books on writing and it’s a great addition.

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

EJH: I have a book coming out early next year called, The Power of Forgiveness: A Guide to Healing and Wholeness. I am running a crowdfunding campaign November 15-December 15 to finish printing and marketing of the book! Find out more at http://emilyjhooks.com/book and https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/forgiveness/the-power-of-forgiveness-book.

Thanks, Emily!

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!

Instructor Q&A: Carol Dawson

“When embarking on revision, every writer needs to enter a space that seems contradictory: both entirely objective (as if he or she was a reader picking up the work for the first time) and deeply in tune with the creative forces and intention that shaped the work’s first draft to begin with.”

-Carol Dawson

Carol Dawson is both a novelist and nonfiction author whose books include the novels The Waking Spell, Body of Knowledge, Meeting the Minotaur, and The Mother-in-Law Diaries, all published by Algonquin Books, Simon and Schuster, Viking-Penguin, and translated overseas. Her award-winning non-fiction book House of Plenty: The Rise, Fall, and Revival of Luby’s Cafeterias was published by the University of Texas Press. She has taught creative writing and literature at the College of Santa Fe, as well as in numerous workshops. In addition, her work has been published in magazines and journals, including Texas Monthly, Southern Living, The Oxford-American, Parenting Magazine, etc. Her latest non-fiction book, Miles and Miles of Texas: The Story of the Texas Highway Department, 1917-2017, was released on October 1, 2016 by Texas A&M University Press.

Carol is teaching a class for the Writers’ League of Texas called “Editing Toward Excellence: Fine-Tuning Your Manuscript to the Gripping Point” on December 3 at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX. This class will teach students how to look at their manuscripts from the editing vantage point. Read the interview below and visit the class page to learn more.

carolheadshot-1Scribe: Writers are often resistant to revision—and when they do begin to revise, it’s tempting to nibble at the edges, tweaking a word or phrase here and there. What is the mindset that a writer needs to enter in order to do his or her best revision?

Carol Dawson: When embarking on revision, every writer needs to enter a space that seems contradictory: both entirely objective (as if he or she was a reader picking up the work for the first time) and deeply in tune with the creative forces and intention that shaped the work’s first draft to begin with. It’s a sort of knife-edge walk down the page. To stand back and look at what’s working and what is not, and why, and what can be done to fix it requires a mindset of problem-solving and distance that a few word-tweaks will not necessarily satisfy.

Scribe: You’ve written six books. Does revision get easier as you go, or must you reinvent the process anew each time?

CD: I have actually written a great many more than that! I’ve published six books. Therefore, I’m very familiar with the early pain and conundrums that inflect the task of revision. But yes, revision does get easier as I go—to the point that, these days, I incorporate it (using that knife-minded objectivity I mentioned) as I write the first, second, and third drafts. That makes the end result much easier to achieve. That’s also the goal I wish for the students who take this class.

Scribe: In the class description, you mention creating “authority on the page.” What, exactly, does that mean? What distinguishes an authoritative sentence from a hesitant one?

CD: Verb usage, clarity of thought, strong voice, lack of clutter—a host of qualities. Above all, a certainty of intent, of what you want the reader to take away from the story.

Scribe: Students in the class will read a page of their work aloud. Why is reading one’s writing aloud a good revision exercise?

CD: It’s the best cure I know of for spotting problems. Glitches, mistakes, bloopers, clumsiness, poor syntax—you name it—all grow visible when read aloud to a listener in ways they never do when read silently. It instantly objectifies the text because you’re using your voice to give life to the words, and, therefore, you see and hear them in a completely different way yourself.

Thanks, Carol!

Click here to register for Carol’s class.

Click here for our current class schedule.

Meet the Members: Laura Mathis

“I’d love to incorporate travel into my writing. I am fascinated by the pursuit of happiness and the need for a sense of contentment. Perhaps I could travel to places that have made me happy over the years, and find out how to bring those experiences home.”

-Laura Mathis

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas since July, Laura Mathis lives in Austin.

headshotmathis_laura1Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Laura Mathis: I write primarily nonfiction and enjoy focusing on self-help, communication skills, parenting, and humor.

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

LM: I’d love to speak with Wayne Dyer. Sadly, he passed away last year. He made such an interesting transition from writing business books to self-improvement. The first question I would ask is, “What are your suggestions for writing a large quantity of work when you have young children in the home or general life distractions?”

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

LM: I would absolutely want Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss. It’s a simple book on how to adapt to life’s inevitable changes.

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

LM: My first event was the Writers’ League Agents & Editors Conference, which was mind blowing. I learned that this journey as a writer is so different for everyone, and that if you want to write, there are many people who will help you succeed.

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

LM: I’d love to incorporate travel into my writing. I am fascinated by the pursuit of happiness and the need for a sense of contentment. Perhaps I could travel to places that have made me happy over the years, and find out how to bring those experiences home. Most of all, I want a little writing studio on the water. I plan to hide away and write full time for a living.

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?

LM: My kids are obsessed with the children’s book Goodnight Texas. The book is beautifully illustrated and serves as a reminder of the great places we have been or want to go. We read it almost every night!

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

LM: When I was laid off from my sales job last year, I truly felt like the universe officially nudged me into the writing world professionally. It’s a world I have been enjoying for decades “on the side.”

I hope you will check out my portfolio HERE. If you know anyone who wants to have a stronger online presence with blogs or articles, I would love to meet them. I’m great at helping businesses grow by sharing their stories with my writing skills.

Thanks, Laura!

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!