Meet the Members: Patricia Holmes

“I am a published author [now] and couldn’t be happier. I guess my message to others is to just keep doing what you enjoy and you may end up being exactly what you always wanted to be.”

-Patricia Holmes

A member of the Writers’ League for two years, Patricia lives in Houston.

Scribe: In what genre do you write?

Patricia Holmes: My first published novel, Searching for Pilar is fiction, but it is inspired by true events. I have also recently published essays about current social trends, including “The Lingerie Party” and “Tips for Men Who Still Don’t Get It.” Both were published in the past six months by Texas Lawyer. I enjoy telling stories with a social message. I have also written memoir pieces about what it was like to be a woman breaking into the legal profession in the early 1980’s, but I haven’t decided on a final format in which to present them.

Scribe: What writer would you most like to have a drink with and what are the first questions you would ask them?

PH: Amor Towles. Your knowledge of Russian history and culture is so accurate. What did you do to become so knowledgeable? Were you working on A Gentleman in Moscow for all of the twelve years since your first novel, The Rules of Civility?

Scribe: What book would you want to have with you on a desert island to keep you sane?

PH: Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I first read it in high school and I reread it about every ten years. I love Tolstoy’s writing and his social message. My PhD dissertation was a study of his theories on power and non-violence as a tool for revolution and his influence on later activists.

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

PH: I attended the Agents and Editors conference last June. It was an amazing experience! All of the panelists were informative and I met some interesting writers. The Writers’ League put on a great panel in Houston at Brazos Bookstore earlier this year. I learned useful information about how book stores select books to sell and creative marketing tips from the panelists.

Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?

PH: I love the process of writing and the self-discovery that comes with it. Although Searching for Pilar is not at all autobiographical, the exploration of the importance of family, different types of love, community, and the existence and role of God in our lives, has allowed me to explore feelings I had never verbalized. I can see myself writing a memoir and a study of ethics in law firms in the future.

Scribe: What is one recent Texas related book that you couldn’t put down?

PH: Joanne Fox Philips’ Revenge of the Cube Dweller is set in Tulsa and Houston. I read it nonstop while on a plane trip and couldn’t stop laughing. It’s about a clever, middle-aged, female internal auditor of a mid-stream energy company who uncovers and reveals fraud, pomposity and greed. 

Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world?

PH: My 94-year-old mother has a motto that I have embraced: “Just keep moving.” I have been fortunate to have had several careers in my life. I went to the University of Missouri to be a creative writer/journalist, but ended up falling in love with non-US history. So, I got a PhD in Russian and South Asian History instead. After teaching at the Universities of Missouri and Tennessee, I took a research and administrative job with a big law firm in Houston for four year while I had my two beautiful daughters. Law school followed. I spent the next 30 years in a fulfilling career as a public finance lawyer, writing trust indentures and offering statements that resulted in the building of hospitals and other non-profit enterprises. After retirement, I finally went back to my original goal of being a writer. Now I am a published author and couldn’t be happier. I guess my message to others is to just keep doing what you enjoy and you may end up being exactly what you always wanted to be.

Thanks, Patricia!

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!

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Meet the Members: Jeanette Hargreaves

“I write to help me find my own sanity!”

-Jeanette Hargreaves

A member of the Writers’ League for one year, Jeanette lives in Austin, Texas.

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

Jeanette Hargreaves: Mommy Blogging and Self-Help Curriculum.

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

JH: I would ask the real Saint Paul, “Tell me what happened on the road to Damascus, or is that just a legend?”

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

JH: Any of my own writing – I write to help me find my own sanity!

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

JH: Attending classes and interacting with members has helped me to learn some publishing lingo and enhance my professionalism.

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

JH: I think I will write a book about my life coaching work, helping moms who lose their temper. I’d love to go on a book tour where I meet moms and make a difference in their lives.

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?

JH: Hands down: Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown. What’s not to love about these chapter titles? “People Are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In,” and “Speak Truth to Bullshit. Be Civil.” Yes, ma’am!

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

JH: The moms I work with are strong women who don’t normally ask for help and they are stuck in patterns of anger and shame. (I’ve been there too, and it stinks.) If you know someone like that, please send them to my website. I have an online business, so I can coach anyone in the world. The interwebs are cool like that!

Thanks,  Jeanette!

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: Evelyn Palfrey

“I have never attended a Third Thursday meeting where I didn’t learn something I needed to know.”

-Evelyn Palfrey

A member of the Writers’ League for twenty years as well as a Writers’ League Board Member, Evelyn Palfrey lives in Austin.

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

Evelyn Palfrey: Romantic suspense for the marvelously mature.

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

EP: Octavia Butler. Is there an unfound manuscript of the third book in the Parable series?

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

EP: Audio of Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.

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

EP: Too much to tell. I have never attended a Third Thursday meeting where I didn’t learn something I needed to know.

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

EP: I would love to write science fiction.

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?

EP: I loved reading Michael Noll’s short story in Best American Mystery Stories 2016.

Thanks, Evelyn!
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!

Community Member Guest Post: ACC Creative Writing

“Taking a creative writing class represented a bit of a risk for me – I hadn’t written much of anything that wasn’t business-related in 25 years – but also a chance to try something new.”

-Summer Rohrict

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.

The Creative Writing Department at Austin Community College offers a wide variety of creative writing classes, each limited to 15 students. Summer Rohricht is a student of the program, so Department Chair Charlotte Gullick invited her to share her thoughts on what the experience was like for her.

Summer: “About two years ago, I decided to make a priority of exploring some areas of interest that I had largely ignored while I was working full time. I did some research and eventually enrolled in a creative writing class through the Continuing Education Program at Austin Community College.

“Taking a creative writing class represented a bit of a risk for me – I hadn’t written much of anything that wasn’t business-related in 25 years – but also a chance to try something new. It offered me the challenge I wanted but without all the investment and pressure of a master’s program. Basically, the class provided a level of structure but also fit with my lifestyle.

“I did have some concerns, however. Since I was not working toward a degree, I worried that I would be “on the sidelines” – that I would be treated like I was more of an auditor of the class than a “real” student. I was also curious about how my writing skills would calibrate with the other students as I understood there would be a mix of continuing education students and those who were taking the course as a required credit in their Associate or Bachelor degree programs. I also assumed there would be those who were already somewhat accomplished in their craft and others who were just beginning. I wondered if I would be bored – or behind. And, not having a finished body of work, I was basically middle aged and starting from scratch – was that going to be “ok”?

“As it turns out, my worries were unfounded, I have genuinely enjoyed the classes I’ve taken, and my writing continues to improve and evolve. In each of the classes, I found the content – a mix of reading, writing, analysis, critiques, and lecture on the more technical elements of writing – extremely engaging. Even more importantly, I have appreciated how each of my professors was able to create a supportive environment where a diverse group of students felt secure – excited even – to share their work and provide insights and feedback to each other. The instruction in each of the classes was delivered in a manner that seemed to resonate with a variety of learning styles and at a pace that kept the classes interesting but left no one behind. One of the aspects I found particularly engaging was that my professors were willing and able to speak extemporaneously to questions that were off topic but relevant to the class discussion.

“The classes have fulfilled me and fueled my passion for writing. I am genuinely grateful for the experience and so happy I took the risk!”

Thanks, Summer and Charlotte!

For more information about fall courses, click here, and to learn more about enrolling through continuing education, click here. Or you can call or email the department chair, Charlotte Gullick, at 512-913-4479,cgullick@austincc.edu

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.

What We’re Reading Now: THE WHICH WAY TREE

The Which Way Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Elizabeth Crook

Published in February 2018 by Little, Brown and Company

Reviewed by Amanda Moore

In the middle of the night on a small farm in rural Texas, a young girl is attacked by a panther outside of her home. Her mother runs to her aid and is tragically killed by the panther in a brutal and vicious manner. Traumatized by the events of that night, Samantha Shreve develops a deep-seated obsession for revenge and uses every opportunity to hunt and kill the wild animal.

The Which Way Tree is a fascinating and captivating tale told primarily from the perspective of Samantha’s half-brother, Benjamin Shreve. As a young boy living in the late 1800’s, he witnesses the panther attack and other questionable incidents that occur close to his home. Years later and now seventeen years old, Benjamin is asked by a local county judge to give a written account of these incidents.

Benjamin’s descriptions of his experiences and the actions of other characters are surprisingly mature and insightful. He demonstrates honesty and integrity in his caretaker role as a brother, but he also experiences the normal fears and concerns of an adolescent.  Throughout the novel, he recalls his constant state of distress as he tries to prevent his sister from engaging or provoking the animal that freely roams the countryside. Samantha’s obsession overshadows her concerns for her personal safety and that of her family. Readers will undoubtedly recall other literary tales of revenge and obsession including that of an infamous white whale and the captain who pursued it in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Through the eyes of the narrator, readers will observe the challenges and hardships of living on the Texas frontier and the unique relationship between a brother and a sister. Benjamin not only tries to protect his sister from a violent individual who crosses their path, but he also tries to care for her well-being even when he disagrees with her choices. It is a well-told story that explores the different emotions of the human experience – fear, compassion, courage and hope.

Amanda Moore is an attorney and writer living in Austin, Texas.  She won first place in the Texas Bar Journal 2015 Short Story Contest and was asked to return as a judge in the annual competition for two consecutive years. She has been a member of the Writers’ League of Texas since 2014.  Amanda is an avid reader and book aficionado.

Interested in writing reviews? Current WLT members are eligible to write reviews and can send an email to kelsey@writersleague.org.

Have a book you’d like us to review? We review books by Texas authors, as well as books that are set in or about Texas. Email kelsey@writersleague.org for instructions on sending a review copy.

Meet the Members: Marit Weisenberg

“I would like to always have a work in progress. No matter where my career takes me, it keeps me sane to always be working out a story.”

-Marit Weisenberg

A member of the Writer’s League for one year, Marit lives in Austin.

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

Marit Weisenberg: Young adult fiction.

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

MW: E.B. White. I have so many questions! First, I’d want to hear about the early days at The New Yorker.

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

MW: Pride and Prejudice for sure.

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

MW: I’ve loved seeing the breadth of classes offered and how different topics related to craft are approached. As soon as I read the descriptions, I want to take each and every one of the craft class but I know I should take the business ones as well.

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

MW: I would like to always have a work in progress. No matter where my career takes me, it keeps me sane to always be working out a story. It’s also a way to know what I’m thinking about and what I want to explore. For now, I want to stay in the young adult genre.

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?

MW: Amanda Eyre Ward’s The Nearness of You. It’s about motherhood and exactly what makes a family, all through the examination of surrogacy. Especially interesting is how states have different laws in place regarding parental rights and surrogacy. The book takes place in Houston but complications ensue when the action travels over state lines.

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

MW: I’m very excited for the sequel to my first novel, Select, to come out on 10/9/18. It’s titled Select Few. The series is a duology so it was hard but also satisfying to say goodbye to the characters I’ve lived with for the past five years!

Thank you, Marit!

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!

What We’re Reading Now: I’M NOT MISSING

I’m Not Missing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Carrie Fountain

Published in July 2018 by Flatiron Books

Reviewed by Tony Burnett

In her richly-sculpted debut novel, I’m Not Missing, Carrie Fountain deftly details the tumultuous lives of Miranda Black and her best friend Syd. These two competing personalities are drawn together by the similarities of their daily existence – Miranda and Syd were both abandoned by their mothers, raised by their fathers, and confused by it all. Though the genre of I’m Not Missing is considered by its author to be young adult, as an older adult I found the novel to be moving and hopeful. With two award-winning books of poetry to her credit, Fountain uses her finely honed literary talent to take this complex and emotional tale to a wide audience.

Miranda Black is a high school senior, struggling, albeit successfully, to achieve admission into an Ivy League university while questioning whether or not it’s the right path to take. Her mother left in search of religious fulfillment before Miranda was in middle school. Her father, a NASA engineer, struggles with the complexities of his daughter’s puberty and the emotional baggage left by a mother who is allowed no further contact with the family by the leader of the religious cult she joined. Meanwhile, Miranda’s best friend Syd has a mother who abandoned her family with no explanation and no forwarding address. Syd’s father then creates an unbearable living situation by bringing home a girlfriend who detests Syd and makes her life miserable.

Though the narrative has a limited number of characters, multiple complex plot lines are deftly interwoven by Fountain’s excellent storytelling. The story is part domestic suspense, part romance, part family saga, and even a little horror perfectly packaged as a young adult novel. Miranda handles her myriad of trials valiantly and maturely for her age — she questions herself and her motives for wanting to leave her home town of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and struggles with her attraction to the young man she believes to be the nexus of her disappointment and humility.

Fountain writes with passion and compassion, humor and heartache, and a conviction that immerses the reader in the narrative. You will experience the story as if you were Miranda and Syd’s classmate. I lost myself so deeply in this book that I hated to see it end. Fountain ties up her complex plots cleanly and unexpectedly, leaving the reader no doubt that there is hope in relinquishing control of society to the youth of today.

Tony Burnett is the managing editor of Kallisto Gaia Press, a 501(c)3 literary press supporting poets and writers at all stages of their careers by paying those we publish. 

Interested in writing reviews? Current WLT members are eligible to write reviews and can send an email to kelsey@writersleague.org.

Have a book you’d like us to review? We review books by Texas authors, as well as books that are set in or about Texas. Email kelsey@writersleague.org for instructions on sending a review copy.