Meet the Members: Jan Jenson

“Above all, I hope to make a difference in the lives of my readers by expanding their horizons above and beyond the limited scope of this world and this lifetime.”

— Jan Jenson

A member of the Writers’ League since April, Janet lives in Galveston.

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

Jan Jenson: I write fiction that crosses genre lines. This includes historical, paranormal, inspirational, psychological suspense, romance and adventure.

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

JJ: Emily Dickinson! I’ve always felt a spiritual connection with her and the life she lived in Amherst, MA in the 1800’s. I would like to know what her life was like – and who the mysterious man in her life was! So many biographies offer different “slants of light” and I’d like to confirm the truth about this amazing poet.

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

JJBits of Birch by Kay Karras. Kay, a relatively unknown poet, was a dear friend who has passed on, and left behind a legacy of poems that seem to transcend life as we know it. With an 8th grade education, she was somehow able to tap into an inspirational force that flowed through her fingers into her amazing poems.

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

JJ: So far I’ve learned that there are many talented Texas writers out there and that you offer some great opportunities to learn more about writing and marketing.

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

JJ: Now that I have an agent and a contract with World Castle Publishing for my upcoming novel, I’m looking forward to expanding distribution of my novels. Above all, I hope to make a difference in the lives of my readers by expanding their horizons above and beyond the limited scope of this world and this lifetime. The greatest reward for me is having received a note like this one from Stephanie A: “Your writing inspired me and touched me in many ways. You led me on an amazing journey that which I will be pondering for days to come. Your words touched my soul and revitalized me in many ways.” THAT is what it is all about for me!

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?

JJ: Galveston 1900 – A Story of Twin Flames by Ervin Mendlovitz.

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

JJ: Yes! My latest paranormal/psychological suspense novel, The Sisters by Janet Kay (my pen name) was released on April 30 by World Castle Publishing. It flows from the shores of historic Galveston Island, Texas to the icy depths of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota. Is it possible to penetrate the veil separating the world of the living from the land of the dead? My novel explores this intriguing possibility, while flashing back and forth in time between the Great Storm of 1900 and present-day life in Galveston. Texas writers and readers will recognize some of the places in my novel, including Ashton Villa where some of my characters live. Many scenes are set in places they will know – Hotel Galvez, the haunted Stewart Mansion, The Witchery.
Here’s a review blurb from Stacie Theis, Beach Bound Books Reviewer: “Janet Kay is a gifted storyteller who enthralls her readers with her brilliant imagination and alluring plots. You won’t be able to put this book down!”
For more information, please check out my website – NOVELS BY JANET KAY

Thank you, Jan!

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!

Advertisements

Meet the Members: Karen Fort

“Texas authors are still valued by national publishers.”
– Karen Fort
A member of the Writers’ League for a few months, Karen lives in Edinburg, Texas.

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

Karen Fort: All of the books I have written (eight published so far, none self-published) contain an element of Southern or Texas history.

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

KF: I would like to meet either Dewey Lambdin or Bernard Cornwell.  I would ask them how they developed the enormous story arcs they use for their novels.

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

KF: The Holy Bible

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

KF: I have learned that Texas authors are still valued by national publishers.  Years ago, I helped coordinate the Southwest Writers Conference held at the University of Houston.  Texas authors were in demand and their books were very popular with agents and editors, especially western and romance writers.  (Some agents and editors came to Houston expecting to find us all wearing boots, cowboy hats, and six-shooters.  I learned then that folks back east were not nearly as sophisticated as we and they thought they were. Yes, we had electricity and indoor plumbing, too.)

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

KF: I have one more non-fiction book to finish, then I will begin writing mystery novels.

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?

KF: I can’t think of any Texas-related books I’ve read in the last year.

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

KF: My book, A Feast of Reason, was published by State House Press last year.  Based upon a daily journal kept throughout the Civil War, the book tells the story of James Madison Hall.  A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Hall and his father came to Texas in the 1830s.  They settled in Houston County, where Hall served as county clerk in Crockett and owned a farm near his father’s on the Elkhart River.  He also lived at times in Liberty, where he was twice elected mayor.  Life along the Trinity River was busy, and the journal relates everyday happenings throughout the war years and through most of 1866.  Oh, did I mention that he was tried twice for murder?  The book is available through Texas A&M University Press.  My book, Bale O’ Cotton, is about the mechanical and social history of cotton ginning. It was re-issued by Texas A&M Press in 2015 (first published in 1992).  My book, Chasing the Bone Pile, is about the Strecker Museum at Baylor University. I also wrote five Image of America books about the Rio Grande Valley, which were published by Arcadia.

Thank you, Karen!

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: Henry D. Terrell

“I’m hoping to develop a sustainable routine where I’m writing one book, editing another, and talking to people about the older ones. I plan to keep doing it for as long as it feels worth doing.”

-Henry D. Terrell

A member with the Writers’ League since January, Henry lives in Houston.

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

Henry D. Terrell: Now that I’ve retired from the world of business journalism, I write about crime and adventure, with some coming-of-age thrown in. And, of course, Texas fiction, particularly West Texas. I like to focus on stories from 40 or 50 years ago, the ’60s through the ’80s, pre-computing, when the country was mutating at a furious rate, and the norms of things were changing. My favorite characters are flawed people with relatively minor ambitions, caught up in moral ambiguity and controlled by events.

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

HDT: I’ve always admired the writer Jim Harrison, who was a polymath—screenwriter, novelist, food critic, poet. If he were still alive, I’d love to ask him about something I heard him say in an interview once, something like “You cook down your life until the sauce is just right, then you can let go.” Harrison got more productive as he got older, which fills me with awe. His writing never grew stale—if anything, he got better with each book and each new poem. One of his best (and most famous) novels, Legends of the Fall, is barely 80 pages, and yet packs in more coherent themes and ideas than most writers manage in a thousand-page trilogy. If there’s a trick to becoming more prolific and more efficient with age, I want to know what it is.

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

HDT: This is All a Dream We Dreamed by Blair Jackson and David Gans. It’s a comprehensive history of the Grateful Dead on tour. I can see eyes rolling—okay, I’m not an obsessive deadhead, but most of the band’s live shows are available to hear streaming, so with this book you can read about a particular live show, all the human dynamics and everything that was going on at the time, and then listen to it. I’m assuming my deserted island has wifi.

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

HDT: It’s becoming clear that we have as much going for us on this coast as the literary world has in California or New York.

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

HDT: I’m extraordinarily lucky, because I don’t have to make a living as an author. However, with no real deadlines—I could just fritter away my retirement playing golf or whatever—sustaining discipline in writing, while keeping it fun, is a huge challenge. I’m hoping to develop a sustainable routine where I’m writing one book, editing another, and talking to people about the older ones. I plan to keep doing it for as long as it feels worth doing.

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? 

HDT: Keep in mind that I generally don’t read fiction while I’m trying to write it (I don’t want to adopt anyone else’s style, even unconsciously), but I love history and biographies. The Austin-based historian H. W. Brands’ newest book, The General vs. the President, is the best and most compelling account of cold war political struggles I have ever read. That’s almost too easy, since everything Brands writes is good. In the fiction realm, the writer Antoinette van Heugten is one of my favorite Texas novelists. She’s a Houston native of Dutch descent, living in Fredericksburg. She published a fine, gripping and personal story called Saving Max a few years ago, and is writing a sequel to that, which we may see in the near future.

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

HDT: I don’t expect to make a lot of money as a writer, though it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if I did. But I would like my books to be read more widely. I was talking with an author friend (who shall remain unnamed) about sales and promotion and whatnot. At the time, my first book Headfirst Off the Caprock had sales figures in the dozens. My friend said “I had high hopes for my book, but even with great reviews and really hard work, it only sold 300,000. Very disappointing.” Three. Hundred. Thousand. If I ever manage those kinds of numbers, I promise not to complain about anything ever again. Self-promotion however is not my forte (that’s what non-shy people are for) but with my latest book, Desert Discord: Marijuana, Music and Murder in a West Texas Town, I’ve started paying more attention to the marketing end. I’m not so excited about public speaking, but I like talking about my books one-on-one with people. Talking to book clubs in person or by Skype is a good option that doesn’t involve too much stress or travel time. Otherwise, I’m just sending out review copies and trying to get noticed by a large-circulation magazine or newspaper.

Thanks, Henry!

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: Indu Anish

“Having spent one-third of my life in the US and the other two-thirds in India, I feel blessed to know the best and worst of both worlds. My experiences in these two worlds and the people I meet are my sources of inspiration.”
– Indu Anish
A member of the Writers’ League for one month, Indu lives in Austin, Texas.
Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Indu Anish: Mostly literary fiction and drama.

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

IA: Khalid Hosseini. My first question would be – do you know the children in your books?

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

IA: Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

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

IA: I am new and open to learning everything Writers’ League has in store for me.

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

IA: My dream is to see my book in the store.

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?

IA: I just moved to Texas a few months ago so I have not read any Texas-related books within the past year. I hope to read one soon.

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

IA: Having spent one-third of my life in the US and the other two-thirds in India, I feel blessed to know the best and worst of both worlds. My experiences in these two worlds and the people I meet are my sources of inspiration. There are so many stories that are yet to be told and after each story/book I feel, I have not written my best one yet.

Thank you, Indu!

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: Alissa Sherry

“I have made more progress on my book during these months of my membership than I have in the last four years of my work.”

-Alissa Sherry

A member with the Writers’ League since 2017, Alissa Sherry lives in Austin.

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

Alissa Sherry: Narrative non-fiction

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

AS: Jon Krakauer. Will you teach me how to write like you write? Ha! I would not be able to stop at one question (and possibly not one drink either)!

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

AS: A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn because it’s long and you could read it one hundred times and learn something new each time.

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

AS: I have only been a member since September, but it has been one of the most meaningful professional experiences of my life. It has given me an anchor intellectually and creatively. I have made more progress on my book during these months of my membership than I have in the last four years of my work. At this age, it isn’t practical to go back to school for an MFA or whatever degree you think is going to help you be a good writer. I am blown away by both the content and the process of the courses taught with the Writer’s League, and the people and fellow members are wonderful.

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

AS: I was a fairly well published author in academia. I hope to be a well published author in narrative non-fiction – or at least published enough to eat.

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?

AS: I don’t read a lot of Texas genre, but I did just buy Skip Hollingsworth’s new book, The Midnight Assassin and I am looking forward to reading it. However, in the meantime, I will read anything he writes in Texas Monthly.

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

AS: Two weeks ago, in an effort to “go paperless,” I pulled out a binder I had been carrying around with me for twenty-five years full of writing ideas and various things scribbled on pieces of paper. These scribbles were all done before computers COMPLETELY took over our lives. I hadn’t looked in that thing for at least the last fifteen years. I couldn’t believe how much material was in there. It was full of true stories – things that happened to me or people around me that moved me in some way. There were essays, short stories and even thirty-eight pages of something entitled An attempt at a novel, which was really an attempt at a memoir. I had forgotten all that stuff was in there. I have a personality quirk of being overly thorough and that quirk was probably the driving motivation behind my pulling it out to scan in the first place. But it was a glorious reminder that this is where I have been trying to get to my entire life. Now that I have The Writers’ League of Texas, I feel like I can see the path to where I am supposed to go.

Thanks, Alissa!

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: Rodney Sprott

“The League’s a place for anyone—regardless of skill level— who wants to write. It’s also perfect for people who want to be a part of and supportive of the literary community.”

– Rodney Sprott

A member of the Writers’ League for six years and the WLT’s board president, Rodney lives in Austin, Texas.

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

Rodney Sprott: Mystery fiction. 

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

RS: Tough question since I like so many. If I had to choose just one, then it’d probably be Norman Mailer. Here’s why. I heard him lecture at the University of Texas years ago. There I saw a hunched-over figure hobble to a stool at center stage, then start to speak. In an instant, the atmosphere in the hall seemed to morph from black and white to Technicolor. For an hour, the audience was spellbound. How was it possible that voice and those ideas could come from a man who seemed so frail? His time on stage was much too short for most of us. I’d ask him to say more about the craft of creative non-fiction.

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

RS: The Complete Poetical Works of Wordsworth. Weird, huh? Let me explain. I’ve been a fan of the early romantic poets since my youth as a Bandera small-town “library kid.” Knowing that, my oldest brother gave me the book on my 21st birthday. A younger brother—and then still others—joined the cause and gifted me more volumes of poetry from that era — the works of Burns, Scott, Shelly, and Tennyson. Now, many, many years later, I still haven’t finished reading Wordsworth. Time alone on a deserted island might be what I need to get the job done.

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

RS: The League’s a place for anyone—regardless of skill level— who wants to write. It’s also perfect for people who want to be a part of and supportive of the literary community.

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

RS: I’d like to publish what I’ve written. To this point, I haven’t been especially hung-up on seeing my work in print, but recently my wife, Marcy, along with a good friend who both know I’ve labored for years to complete my first novel, gave me a swift kick in the pants. They each reminded me that finishing is the critical part of any project. Ouch! Guess I’d better hop to it. It’s high time I send some queries.

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? 

RS: Thursday Night Lights by Michael Hurd.

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

RS: Simply this: I stumbled onto the WLT six years ago when my family enrolled me in a creative writing class. Their Father’s Day card read something like this: “Put down the rake and pick up a pen. You have some work ahead of you!” The experience was transformative because it’s where I found a welcoming and nurturing world of writers. Now, six years later, I’m the League’s board president. Who would have guessed such a thoughtful gift could have such an impact? I think anyone who writes—or dreams of writing—belongs in the Writers’ League.

Thanks, Rodney!

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: Mahassen Ahmad

“The Writers’ League has taught me how to make events and characters come to life on their own.”
– Mahassen Ahmad
A member of the Writers’ League since 2005, Mahassen lives in Austin, Texas.
Scribe: In what genres do you write?
Mahassen Ahmad: Fiction. My first novel was historical fiction and my second was fantasy/magical realism.
Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?
MA: Ernest Hemingway, for he lived the life I yearned to live, but did not have the courage to try. My first question to him would be if his characters took over his inner thoughts or if he just learned the art of writing.
Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
MA: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?
MA: To make events and characters come to life on their own with no hint of a living writer.
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?
MA: During this year (2018) I was immersed in writing and publishing my latest novel. The Texas–related book that I read recently and recommend is C. Robert Cargill’s  Queen of the Dark Things, published in 2014. It is about the magical world of monsters and jinn roaming the streets of Austin, Texas.
Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for self-promotion!
MA: Here is the cover of my recent novel.

Thank you, Mahassen!

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!