MEMBERS REVIEW

THE CHANGELINGS

By Christina Soontornvat

Published in 2016 by Jabberwocky/Sourcebooks.

the changelings

Reviewed by Bradley P. Wilson. 

I highly recommend Christina Soontornvat’s debut middle grade novel to all lovers of high fantasy, regardless of their age. The Changelings reads like an old favorite even as it keeps surprising the reader with its plot twists and character revelations. This is due in large part to the adept way the author weaves familiar fairy tale settings and characters into the fabric of her book. Most of the book is set in a parallel world called Faerie, a world that is tenuously, but necessarily, connected to our own.

It opens on eleven year old Izzy Doyle “in the school supply section of the Jiggly Goat, coming to terms with her fate.” Izzy and her little sister Hen have just moved to the small town of Everton and the endearingly world weary Izzy misses city life. Until the clerk at the Jiggly Goat tells her about the witch who lives next door to Izzy and Hen’s new home, perking Izzy’s interest. Of course the clerk has to be wrong about the next door neighbor. Or is he?

Either way, Izzy’s new home gets more interesting when she starts spying on her new neighbor. But little sisters can be problematic. They like to tag along. And sometimes they irritate big sisters until big sisters snap and say things that they regret. Worse than that, sometimes little sisters follow mysterious flute music into the woods where they stumble into the land of Faerie.

The Changelings is a classic fantasy quest: Izzy must find and rescue her sister. Then she has to get them both back home again. It’s the story of girl learning to fight for what she wants and come to grips with who she is. And, on a thematic level, it’s about different groups of people learning to live with each other. None of which stops it from being frequently funny. Plus it’s filled with complex and fascinating characters, many of whom can shapeshift. In fact, it’s Soontornvat’s cast that really elevates this book. While it’s definitely aimed at the middle grade market with its clearly drawn villain and hero, there is a depth to its characters – even the minor ones – that should draw in readers of all ages.

So buy a copy of Christina Soontornvat’s The Changelings when it comes out in September. Read it for yourself and then pass it on to a younger reader. You’ll be glad you did.

Bradley P. Wilson is much better at reading and editing other people’s novels than he is at writing his own. But he keeps trying. He’s a freelance fiction editor and ghost writer with Yellow Bird Editors and Greenleaf Book Group in Austin, TX. He’s also a stagehand. You can read his blog at bradleypwilsonliterary.com.

Meet the A&E Conference Faculty

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 23rd Annual A&E Conference in June, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here. 

An Interview with Agent Stacy Testa

Stacy Testa joined Writers House in 2011, after beginning her publishing career at Farrar, Straus & Giroux. She is seeking literary fiction and upmarket women’s fiction, particularly stories with international settings, unique subcultures, historical hooks, magical realism, and powerful women. On the nonfiction side, she is interested in acquiring remarkable memoirs, humor writing, narrative nonfiction, and prescriptive titles with strong platforms. She also represents a select number of realistic young adult titles.

Broadly speaking, Stacy is drawn to anything with an interest in social justice, a compelling narrative voice, and/or a great sense of humor.

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

Stacy Testa: It all comes down to one question: when I finish reading the manuscript, do I want to shout about it from the rooftops? If the answer is “no,” then I think it’s best for me to step aside. Without that kind of boundless enthusiasm, it’s difficult to effectively advocate for a project.

Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?

ST: I would say that’s true for nonfiction, since platform is so crucial in that arena. But I think that is less the case for fiction, especially debuts (let’s just say I’ve never sold a novel based on the number of Twitter followers an author has). So if you are in the beginning stages of your writing career, perhaps completing or pitching your debut novel, I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about social media. It will become more important once you secure a deal for publication, when social media is a useful tool for stimulating book sales. Your publisher and/or agent will be able to help you formulate a reasonable and effective social media strategy at that time.

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

ST: Recognize that it’s easy to lose perspective when reviewing your own work, so seek editorial feedback from fellow writers, and be receptive to that feedback! This doesn’t necessarily mean you should run with every single recommendation you get. On the contrary, you should only implement notes that resonate with you – those comments that make you say, “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?” So listen carefully with an open mind, but never cease to be discerning. After all, this business is nothing if not subjective.

Scribe: Tell us about 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; or tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an agent.

ST: I’ll never forget the first time I saw one of my author’s books on display in a bookstore. It was such an exciting and gratifying moment (though I don’t think my fellow Barnes & Noble patrons were too keen on my squeals of delight!). Happily, several years and many books later, I still get that rush of enthusiasm and pride every time I see a client’s book for sale in a real live bookstore.

— Thanks, Stacy!

Click here and here to read our 2016 A&E Conference agent & editor bios.

Click here  for more information on the 2016 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 24-26) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

January Third Thursday Wrap-Up

Beginning Again: How to Start (or Restart) a Writing Project

January 3rd Thursday

by WLT Board President Tony Burnett.

The inaugural Third Thursday Panel for 2016 began with an appreciative shout out to legacy and lifetime members of the Writers’ League of Texas. This being the League’s 35th year of service to the literary community of Texas, each Third Thursday in 2016 will honor folks who have volunteered time and services to promote the organization’s mission.

With a New Year’s theme of resolution in mind, the all-star panel’s topic was “Beginning Again: How to Start (or Restart) A Writing Project. Moderator Jennifer Ziegler led the discussion by first asking how the featured panelists came to be writers.

Suzy Spencer, the only nonfiction writer on the panel, initially wanted to be a photographer. The only path Baylor University offered for photography was through the School of Journalism. Once introduced to writing she saw a niche in fiction, a stylistic mix of Jackie Collins and Larry McMurtry. Unfortunately the world wasn’t ready for that combination. Her training in journalism won out with a succession of true crime novels followed by Secret Sex Lives, an award-winning memoir about her research into the fringes of American sexuality.

Panelist Greg Levin, author of the novel, The Exit Man, claimed to be born with the inability to shut up. When people quit listening to him talk incessantly he figured if he put his thoughts on paper folks might pay more attention. He credits Woody Allen as being his inspiration for melding humor with more serious literary topics.

By the time she was 12 years old Lindsey Lane felt she was living in an older world that would benefit from her enlightenment. She began by writing actual letters that you put in the mailbox. No immediate gratification for this girl! Her first excursion into creative writing was as a playwright in the booming late 20th-century theater scene. As that scene folded she became a crime-beat journalist for the Austin Chronicle. As is typical of many children’s book authors, having children pulled her toward the genre. She is the author of the YA novel Evidence of Things Not Seen.

Edward Carey grew up in England where he attended the Royal Naval Academy. He was the shortest in his class, not imposing enough to be a naval officer. He went back to University to study theater and enjoyed every aspect of the craft. He concentrated on writing plays but his plays tended to have a cast numbering more than 30 and lasting 12 hours. The other downside was answering to so many people. He wanted total control over the story, hence he became a novelist, authoring the YA series, The Iremonger Trilogy.

Then Jennifer got down to the crux of the topic by asking, “When you begin a project what comes first?”

Edward, because he is also an illustrator, draws pictures of the characters. He prefers “settings that don’t exist” so he can make it up. Plus it saves time on research.

Lindsay’s works are dark. Her characters have done something bad. She asks, “What situation caused them to take this action? What happened that made it crash in that particular way?”

Greg swears frustration led him to “at least try” to write a book. He wakes in the middle of the night with “the character knocking on my head” saying “I want you to tell my story”.

Suzy’s inspiration is “the desperate need for money.” You have to love her honesty! She goes on to say that her books require “some element of insanity and some element of sex”, all the things she repressed growing up. Ideas come from various sources; strangers, her agent, even stories she’s followed on the news.

Jennifer asked the panelists about the writing process. Edward noted that he dove right in, saying it could be dangerous to spend too much time thinking about it. “At least get four or five chapters in to see where it’s taking you”. One of the major decisions is the narrative point of view. He writes his novel length works in the first person. “You have to get into the voice. Never plan too much.”

Lindsay preferred to tell herself the story. The first draft is a skeleton of what the novel will be. Then the work of “slowing it down, deepening it” comes into play.

Greg has to begin with a title, maybe not the final title, then he writes the back cover material. That said, he never knows the ending until the first draft is finished. He gets to know the characters, the characters write the story. “Let it run wild.” You can always go back and edit.

After trying her hand at fiction, Suzy was surprised her nonfiction characters didn’t take their own path. She credits that to the massive pile of research she does to prepare for the first draft. When she transcribes the many hours of interview tapes she begins hearing the voices and getting to know her subjects intimately. Jennifer asked how she knew when to stop researching and start writing, Suzy’s one-word answer: “deadlines”.

All of the panelists admitted to having abandoned a project at some point. Edward is back working on a project that he abandoned five years ago due to being overburdened by complex research. Lindsay says it’s healthy to “let things go” as she recently has. If it’s not working move on. Greg abandoned an earlier project because the protagonist was a writer and his first novel was about a poet. He felt it was too soon but may go back to the project later as many of his writer friends have encouraged. Suzy worked on a project spending hours of research and even getting the subject’s family’s permission and encouragement. When unable to place the finished product with a publisher she felt as though she let the family and the subject down. Though she regrets it, she made no indication she would pursue it further.

All the panelists suggested that new writers keep their efforts to themselves until they have finished the first draft of a project. Edward said to stay true to yourself. The more you share the story the more it dies or changes. Lindsay encouraged the writers not to criticize themselves and suggested when you have a first draft read it aloud to yourself before sharing it. She also recommended side writing to develop a character or when you get stuck in the story. Greg said if you love writing don’t share it until you have a final product. He doesn’t even share his draft with his wife until he feels it’s complete. Suzy agreed, “hold it close” but added “don’t give up”. Determination and perseverance often exceed talent.

The panelists fielded a few well-considered questions from the audience. Then there was cake for everyone.

Join us next Thursday at 7:00 pm on the third floor of BookPeople for “Fictionalizing True Stories: Mining Real Life for Plots and Characters” with panelists Charlotte Gullick, Varian Johnson, Ruth Pennebaker, and Mary Helen Specht. Hope to see you there!

Tony Burnett has been a member of the Writers’ League of Texas since 2010 and currently serves on the Board of Directors. His story collection, Southern Gentlemen, is available everywhere and his first full length poetry collection, The Reckless Hope of Scoundrels is set for a spring debut. He resides with his trophy bride, Robin, deep in the heart of Texas.

Community Member Q&A: Shelton Interactive

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Shelton Interactive is an Austin-based full-service digital marketing and public relations firm. Founded in 2010 by Rusty Shelton, Shelton Interactive has represented numerous bestselling authors including Gary Keller (The One Thing), Katty Kay and Claire Shipman (The Confidence Code), and Tom Rath (Eat Move Sleep), just to name a few.

In addition to directing digital strategies for authors, Shelton Interactive is a proud Community Member of the Writers’ League of Texas. Read the interview below with Marketing and Sales Coordinator Wes Fang to find out more.


Wes Fang (3)Scribe:
Shelton Interactive offers public relations, social media strategy, web design & development, and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for writers. Tell us some of the advantages for a writer working with a full-service digital marketing and public relations firm.

Wes Fang: It’s all about trying to make it as easy as possible for our clients. We are well aware of how difficult and time-consuming writing a book can be. Amidst trying to find time to actually write the book, the concept of also marketing the book can seem overwhelming.  That’s where we’re able to help out. Our full-service model is built to bring everything under one roof. That means seamless collaboration across all marketing services. As an author who doesn’t have a lot of time for marketing, it often makes sense to have one firm handle all publicity, social media, web development and design efforts, rather than try to juggle multiple vendors.

Scribe: When is a writer “ready” to explore your services and what’s the best way to get in touch?

WF: As a general rule of thumb, the earlier, the better. Some clients already have more of an online infrastructure established; others require a little more work. Regardless, the farther out we are from “launch date”, the more capable we are to offer guidance on what’s going to make the campaign a success. Often times an author will reach out and all we do is point them in the right direction. Our goal is to assist in any way possible, even if this means prolonging our work together and referring them to an agent, editor, or coach that best meets their needs.

Scribe: We hear more and more how important it is for writers to have a presence on social media and how important it is for branding. What’s your take on this?

WF: Social media is vital to building your brand. What we’re seeing nowadays is that individuals have the power to connect directly with their audience. We refer to this as micromedia, in other words, individuals viewing themselves as their own media outlet. Before, you could only be discovered if you were featured in Oprah’s book club or televised on TV. Nowadays, with social media, you can engage directly with your audience and more importantly, potential buyers of your book.

Scribe: What do you see are the one or two biggest challenges facing writers today when it comes to being heard in a crowded social media world?

WF: One of the biggest challenges we see with individuals new to social media is learning to use them as a listening tool. The common approach with social media is to use them as a way to voice opinions, share, thoughts, etc. This can be great unless no one is looking for what you have to say. More often than not, first time authors have little to no following on social media so op-ed style content falls on deaf ears.

Scribe: What’s your biggest piece of advice for meeting these challenges?

WF: The key to success in building a platform on social media is strategic listening; this is especially true for authors who don’t have a following. If an author isn’t sure where to reach their audience, places like Twitter and LinkedIn can be great resources to find thought-leaders, and more importantly, followers who are already engaged with their message. If you write about a similar topic, there is a strong likelihood that their following is the audience you want to build. Begin relationship building with these individuals by liking, commenting, sharing their posts.

Scribe: Pick one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you personally couldn’t put down.

WF: Brene Brown’s most recent book, Rising Strong, has been my jam. It discusses the power of vulnerability and how to rumble with emotions when we’re in the pits. It’s not necessarily a Texas-related book, but it’s by a Texas author – I guess that counts?

Scribe: What’s important to you about supporting the Writers’ League of Texas and being a community member?

WF: We support writers because they are the life-blood of creativity and learning. Every person’s message matters and we have the pleasure of helping spread the word.

Thanks, Wes!

 

Click here to visit Shelton Interactive’s website.

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.

Instructor Spotlight

Nan Cuba’s novel Body and Bread (Engine Books), won the PEN Southwest Award in Fiction and the Texas Institute of Letters Steven Turner Award; it was listed as one of “Ten Titles to Pick Up Now” in O, Oprah’s Magazine, and was a “Summer Books” choice from Huffington Post. Cuba co-edited Art at our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers and Artists (Trinity University Press), and published other work in Quarterly West, Columbia, Antioch Review, Harvard Review, and storySouth. She is the 2016 Dobie Paisano Fellow; founder and executive director emeritus of Gemini Ink, a nonprofit literary center; and teaches in the MA/MFA Program in Literature, Creative Writing, and Social Justice at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, where she is writer-in-residence.

Nan is teaching a class for the Writers’ League called “How to Tackle the Embarrassing, the Forbidden, and the Emotionally Difficult” on Saturday, February 13 at St. Edward’s University. Read the interview below and visit the class page to learn more.

Scribe: Can you think of a time when you transferred your own emotions and experiences into a story in a completely unexpected way?

Nan Cuba: Once I listened to an audio tape my grandfather made sometime during the 1950s. He was a co-founder of Scott & White Hospital (now part of the Baptist Hospital system) in Temple, and this was his attempt to honor a woman who had been an anesthesiologist during the hospital’s early years. They recalled wild experiences, such as an emergency trip in a two-seater airplane, with her scrunched into the tiny floor space between my grandfather and the pilot, who were strapped in. Later, while I was writing a scene about a surgeon having an epileptic seizure while performing an appendectomy in a cotton field at the turn of the century, my grandfather’s adventures drove my imagination as I wrote, even though the doctor was an audacious man of questionable character in his early twenties.

Scribe: What is one way you connected with characters as you writer, including characters who are very different from you, morally or otherwise?

NC: I’ll give you an example. Years ago, I found myself writing a story from the point of view of a woman who put her teenage daughter in uncomfortable situations with boys. This woman seemed like your average mother, and she did indeed love her daughter. But she couldn’t stop herself from doing this because she enjoyed the sexual tension; she lived vicariously through her daughter’s banter and interplay. When I realized what the story was about, I was tempted to make the mother into a villain, which would prove that she wasn’t anything like me. But I knew that writers should never judge their characters; they should always empathize. In other words, I had to find a way to relate to her, to make her sympathetic, to make her complex enough to seem like someone readers could know, maybe even remind them of aspects of themselves. But how? In the final draft, the mother is recovering from a mastectomy, and her husband, a decent man, has stopped any physical contact. She feels neutered and unloved, and without any conscious understanding of what she’s doing or why, she allows herself, through her daughter, to imagine feeling whole and desired again.

Scribe: What is one piece of advice you have for how writers can get into that intensely emotional state without it overwhelming them and thus compromising the quality of the work?

NC: My novel, Body and Bread, is loosely based on the aftermath of my brother’s suicide. My protagonist’s brother also commits suicide, so I had to write that scene. It doesn’t appear until near the end of the book, and I dreaded writing it for years. When it came time, I used several filters to help me. First, the sister narrator was not present when her brother died (neither was I when my brother died), so she had to imagine what happened instead of an omniscient narrator or witness going into graphic detail. In other words, this gave me emotional distance from the scene. Second, the methods of suicide were completely different, as was the brother character from my brother; the men were similar in some ways, but the character and his death were not my brother and his experience. Third, the setting was completely imagined, as were all the other characters, so while writing the scene, I focused on conjuring descriptive details and figuring how the relatives’ reactions would impact the plot. Use filters/diversions; concentrate on craft.

Scribe: I like that you mention the importance of avoiding the melodramatic. What is one way writers can avoid getting into melodramatic territory?

NC: If you’re focusing on word choice (sounds, syllables, formality, imagery, allusions), sentences (syntax, length, rhythm, pacing), paragraphing, and variations of these, while depicting multidimensional characters who develop then change and settings that create atmosphere and force revelations about the characters, you won’t be controlled by emotion while you write. You use craft to build, piece by piece, the finished product; your emotions are your inspiration. A symphony is composed note by note; a painting is created color stroke by color stroke; a scene is written word by word. Keep in mind that the narrative voice should be convincing and natural, not overblown or hyperbolic. If this is a temptation, imagine the narrator describing the scene to someone you know, preferably a skeptic, someone who would laugh if you tried to impress. That way, you’ll have to be honest (no exaggeration), convincing the reader that this really happened. Rely on craft to guide you; be honest.

— Thanks, Nan!

Click here to register for Nan’s class.

Click here for our current class schedule.

Instructor Spotlight

Shennandoah Goodson, is a copywriter and business professional from San Antonio, Texas. Goodson received her first paid copywriting gig at the age of 15. Since then she has worked with experts, small businesses, publishers, and Inc 500 companies producing content and marketing strategies. Passionate about education, Goodson empowers writers to take charge of their careers by teaching them about writing, marketing, and publishing.

On Saturday, February 20, Shennandoah is teaching a class for the Writers’ League of Texas called “How to Make Writing Your Day Job” at St. Edward’s University. Read the interview below and visit the class page to learn more.

shennandoah 2013Scribe: How did you realize copywriting was right for you personally?

Shennandoah Goodson: I initially stumbled into copywriting by accident. I was 15 years old and needed to raise money for my fees and expenses for the local pageant. I drafted a letter explaining the competition, my qualifications, my needs, and the benefit to the business as a sponsor or advertiser on my behalf. Not only did I get all of my expenses covered, I also picked up gigs writing sales letters and flyers for a couple of local dealerships.

Even though I started copywriting at the age of 15, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties and looking for a better fit career-wise that I started looking at copywriting as a full-time career. I always loved to write—ever since I can remember—and had a knack for putting other people’s thoughts into words. In my early twenties I came across some books by Robert Bly, a well-known professional copywriter, and learned how to really take my talent from a side gig to a full-time business. Copywriting gave me a means to use what I did best to support my family and build myself up as a professional. At first I worked freelance, so it also gave me the flexibility schedule-wise that I needed as a single mom with a young child.

Scribe: You make the distinction between “copyrighting” and copywriting? Why do you think this is important?

SG: Every time I say “copywriting,” whether in print or orally, people immediately think of the legal term “copyrighting” which is completely different. Most people aren’t familiar with the term “copywriting” which is the writing of copy for businesses, marketing, and other purposes.  Thus, I make the distinction so that 1) people know what I am talking about and 2) we don’t end up with an angry student thinking they are there to learn how to protect their legal claim on their work.

Scribe: In what ways do creative writing skills come in handy with copywriting?

SG: Creative writing—and all writing skills—are critical to effective copywriting regardless of whether you are writing a script for a radio spot or you are writing a technical proposal. Creative writing teaches you how to communicate in order to develop an image, experience, and/or feeling in the reader’s mind. You use imagery and setting and other techniques to illicit a very specific response from the reader. The same is true of copywriting. Every document or item we develop as a copywriter has a specific goal. Those goals could be to persuade a customer to purchase, encourage constituents to vote, or motivate employees to adhere to certain corporate policies. Your worth as a copywriter is determined by how well you are able to satisfy that goal. As a committed professional, you want to have an arsenal of writing skills at your disposal. Creative writing techniques are an essential part of that arsenal.

Scribe: Besides the ability to write well, what other skills are called for when copywriting?

SG: There are numerous other skills that are critical to finding success as a copywriter:

  1. Active Listening: People hire us because they don’t know how to put their thoughts into words. We have to listen, ask questions, and understand the client’s needs and goals in order to effectively deliver on our promise.
  2. Time Management: As a copywriter you are often juggling multiple clients and/or projects at a time. It’s important that you manage and schedule your time so that you can meet deadlines. There is no “waiting for inspiration” in copywriting. You have deadlines and they must be met or you don’t get paid.
  3. Technical Knowledge: As a copywriter it’s important that you have technical knowledge of the subject matter or industry for which you are writing. For example, I am currently working for a Construction Project Management firm. As a result I needed to develop knowledge of the construction process, project management methodologies, and other related technical skills in order to meet the demands of the written materials. When I worked with publishers I did the same thing. You must know and understand your client’s work before you can effectively write about it.
  4. Collaboration and Team Building: As a writer you are often part of a team. Even if you are working as a freelance agent you will need to coordinate with marketing directors, HR Managers, Business Owners, developers, and other professionals in order to deliver your content. It’s important that you have developed your team building and interpersonal skills. This includes conflict management and diplomacy. A bad reputation can kill your career.
  5. Technological Skills: The variety and level of technical knowledge needed really depends on what types of copywriting you are doing and for which industries. However, it is important to know how to use all of the core technologies and software available today including document sharing tools like Dropbox, software like Microsoft Office, and in some cases website tools such as WordPress.
  6. Humility and Detachment: This is the most challenging and most critical for writers, in my opinion. When you are writing for a client it is important to balance pride in your work with an understanding that 1) you do not own what you produce 2) the client is paying for something that satisfies their wants, not yours and 3) you are creating a product, not a work of art. Thus, you need to be receptive to feedback and criticism and recognize that you are not perfect and that you were ultimately hired to give the client what they want, not to satisfy your ego.

Scribe: What aspect of copywriting do you enjoy most?

SG: What I have found is that because I am able to put things into words that my clients cannot, I am able to bring life, clarity, and direction to their ideas, goals, and intentions. Through that I’ve been able to help people connect, help companies grow, improve a company’s culture and morale, and develop things that have real, long-term value. I have since evolved beyond copywriting to more strategic and operational activities, but through it all my skills as a writer have served as the golden key unlocking doors for me.

Scribe: Does it require much face-to-face interaction or do you communicate more over email as a copywriter?

SG: That depends on the client and how you are working. Not all copywriters are freelance. Many nowadays are in-house writers serving as members of marketing and development teams. I manage projects for teams both local and across the country, so I have to use a mix of both. My team members really value face-to-face communication and so we have all travelled to connect with each other and collaborate in person in addition to our email and phone exchanges.

For those who do work outside of the organization, email and other tools give one the freedom to work remotely and with clients across the globe. However, there is still tremendous value in face-to-face communication, even if it is through Skype or some other face-time chat tool. It helps us build a deeper and more personal connection with our clients. People connect with people, and they will trust (and re-hire) someone they have interacted with face-to-face versus someone who is a faceless name in an email.

— Thanks, Shennandoah!

Click here to register for Shennandoah’s class.

Click here for our schedule of upcoming classes.

Meet the Members

Melinda Holley has been a member of the Writers’ League since last October. She lives in Fredericksburg, Texas.

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

Melinda Holley: My genre is fiction, primarily “cozy mystery”.

Scribe: What authors would you like to have coffee or a beer with and which beverage?

MH: I would have wine with Patricia Cornwell or high tea with P.D. James, if she were still with us.

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

MH: If stranded, I would want the Annotated Sherlock Holmes.

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

MH: From the excellent presentation by Becka Oliver at our local Writer’s Conference, I gained insight into the process of getting published, including tips, tricks, and pitfalls. From a more recent writer’s symposium, I met successful authors, attended their breakout sessions and learned the different paths they took to get to their goals. For someone just getting started, it helps to know that everyone has roadblocks to overcome. The Writers’ League offers excellent classes and seminars, which I plan to take advantage of. The more you learn, the better your chances of success!

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

MH: My first book is completed and now in need of serious professional editing. It will be the first in a series, not sure if it will lend itself to self-publishing or the traditional route. I’ve wanted to write since junior high school and I won’t let anything stop me from finally achieving that goal.

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

MH: Our Fredericksburg Writer’s Conference just held a short story contest, with the winner being published in our local newspaper. I was delighted and astonished to have been selected the winner. So technically, I’ve already been published!