MEMBERS REVIEW

HER TEXAS: STORY, IMAGE, POEM & SONG

Edited by Donna Walker-Nixon, Cassy Burleson, Rachel Crawford, and Ashley Palmer

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Reviewed by Trilla Pando.

Texas writers cast their eyes across the Lone Star State from city streets to windblown prairies. The women writers collected in this extensive and inclusive anthology are among them. I explored the state as I explored the book.

Suddenly as I read Sherry Craven’s “Coleman, Texas and Us,” I’m a kid in the hot back seat of the family Chevy, windows down to catch the cedar-scented dust-ladened wind, craning to catch sight of the farm house on the hill and know that Grandmother, cold buttermilk, and love are waiting not that many miles from Coleman. Later, I found myself playing in the Gulf, sniffing rich magnolias, and listening to Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys.

From the early days of novelist Mary Holley, Stephen F.’s cousin, to the present day, women have shared their views and emotions about their state.  Growing up in Amarillo, I relished every word of my down-the-street neighbor Loula Grace Erdman who made the drab lives of homesteaders and school teachers shine. Do a computer search on Texas women writers and Erdman will pop right up, still fresh like her novels.

That search most likely will reveal another Lou—Lou Rodenberger whose anthologies of Texas women writers inspired this volume. An essay by Rodenberger appears as the second prose offering in the book—the first is a tribute to this strong, prolific woman. Read her essay first. Read it often.

This book, and I trust it will be followed by additional collections—so many writers, so few pages—will serve as a reference and a resource, but it is more. For me it will not be a straight-through read, but rather a dipping volume for when I am in need of a vicarious trip across time and Texas.

The more than fifty Texas women writers and photographers do this in myriad ways using stories, poems, songs, memoir, essays and photography. It’s a great trip.

Trilla Pando holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Houston; she taught in both Texas and Georgia. Her research focused on women in Texas and Houston. The Bainbridge (Georgia) Post-Searchlight published her weekly column on food and local history. She now lives and works in Houston.

Summer Writing Retreat: Instructor Spotlight

The 2015 Writers’ League of Texas Summer Writing Retreat will be held July 18-23 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, the perfect summer escape. There’s something truly special and one of a kind about the stunning landscape of mountainous West Texas — not to mention the refreshing afternoon showers and cool summer evenings — that inspires writers to commune with each other and their natural surroundings and to, most importantly, dig deep and hone their craft.

During this six-day retreat, five intensive writing workshops will be taught simultaneously by five of Texas’ premier authors, offering a unique experience for participants to enjoy an intimate class setting during the day and a larger group dynamic outside of the classroom throughout the week. Open to all genres and categories within fiction, non-fiction, memoir and poetry, with classes for both beginners and more seasoned writers, this retreat is singular in its focus, its emphasis on community, and its low registration rates.

We’re fortunate to have Texas Monthly’s Michael Hall returning this year, by popular demand, to teach a terrific class on non-fiction, “Capturing Real Life: Long-Form Narrative in a Short-Form World.” Read his Q&A below to learn more:

An Interview with Michael Hall

How do you think long-form narratives fit into the modern-day world of short attention spans and instant gratification? What can they achieve that maybe other writing styles can’t?

Michael Hall: I think that all the short pieces that everyone today loves—from tweets to Facebook posts to the shorter pieces on most online sites—have only made people want to read the longer stories even more. It’s not like we’ve evolved away from loving stories; everyone still loves a good narrative, and you just can’t do that in a tweet or in a 750-word entry in Slate or the Daily Beast. People love stories, whether hearing them or reading them, and good stories with compelling characters who do strange and noble and terrible things, stories that take time to write and read, will always be with us. It’s funny, but the short platforms  like Twitter and Facebook have become signposts for the longer stories—a way to tell people about the longform things out there. And the growth and popularity of sites like longform.org and longreads.com show just how vital the long story is.

What’s one of the most rewarding or exciting experiences you’ve had as a journalist?pols_feature-10606

MH: I did a story in December 2002 about problems with the death penalty in Texas called “Death Isn’t Fair” that focused on a man named Ernest Willis, who, after six months of reporting, I was certain was innocent. I visited him twice and got to know him pretty well. After the story came out, a federal judge ordered that Willis get a new trial and the Texas attorney general decided not to appeal, leading to the DA dismissing the indictment. Willis walked out in October 2004. I’m not positive my story led to his freedom but I’m guessing it factored into the equation the authorities were considering. I stayed in touch with Ernie afterward and did a couple of follow-ups on him.

What’s one of the biggest challenges you encounter when writing narrative nonfiction, and how do you overcome it?

MH: My biggest challenge is always organizing my notes and getting them into a reasonable system so that when it’s time to write, I can make sense of it all. I usually try to nip this in the bud by doing as much writing as I can as I go along, but that has its own problems—like way too many words. But better too many than not enough.

In your opinion, what’s the future of long-form?

MH: I think the future is good—I think long-form is going to stick around. I’m not positive about the future of paper magazines, but people are becoming more and more accustomed to reading online, and the web is, of course, infinite—stories can be as long as you want them to be. As long as people want to read good stories they will want to read long stories.

As a preview for your upcoming summer class, what’s one invaluable tip for writing meaningful and relatable long-form narratives?

MH: The most important thing to writing great long stories is writing scenes that play out in the head of the reader. If you the writer can get in the habit of creating movie-like scenes so that the reader isn’t even aware he/she is reading—he/she is so immersed in your words that he/she feels like he/she is watching it—everyone is going to want to read your story.

–Thanks, Michael!

More information on the Summer Writing Retreat, including how to register for Michael Hall’s class, can be found here: 2015 Writers’ League of Texas Summer Writing Retreat.

We love this piece written by one of Michael’s students from 2013, Joyce Boatright.

PIECE BY PIECE

By Joyce Boatright

“Are you Leon Hale?”

If you’ve ever met the famed columnist of three Houston dailies, most recently the Chronicle, you know Hale has a distinctive face, flat and craggy, with intelligent eyes, so approaching him with the friendly question was an easy opener for conversation. I spotted him in the Holiday Inn Express on Hwy 67 in Alpine, TX, across from Sul Ross State University, where I was attending a summer writers’ retreat, sponsored by the Writers’ League of Texas.

He turned, not just his head but his whole lanky frame, and admitted with a nod, “What’s left of him.”

Rewind 49 years. I’m a sophomore in college sitting in Leon Hale’s feature writing class at Sam Houston State University. He is a daily columnist for the Houston Post, owned by Ovetta Culp Hobby, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in Eisenhower’s cabinet, and he supplements his newspaper salary with adjunct faculty pay from Sam Houston’s School of Journalism. He isn’t a lecturer and doesn’t pretend to be. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday he brings in a couple of his columns and gives us the backstory before reading them to us.

My parents are avid readers, but I’m a journalism major who doesn’t read the newspaper. I’m too busy playing shuffleboard or dominoes and drinking Schlitz from icy cold long-necks at the Paper Moon in Trinity, or Borski’s outside Willis or the Magnolia in Conroe.

Leon Hale frequents those places, too, looking for copy to fill his column. He takes the class on an occasional field trip, like to the Martin Boarding House on the corner of 15th Street and Avenue K. Mrs. Martin gives us a tour of her two-story hardwood house with its peeling paint exterior and peeling flower wallpaper interior. She rents rooms to college boys, mostly ag majors, who park their pickups off the street and on the grass-stripped, red dirt backyard. Their rooms are decorated with Playboy center-folds.

Hale has told us to take in the details. He says it’s the detail’s that make a feature story come alive. Maybe not those exact words, but something close enough because I’m jotting down the way Leta Martin is dressed in a man’s coveralls, how her red hair is a tussle of curls, how her pale freckled face is bare of makeup, how she smokes unfiltered hand rolled cigarettes. Leon Hale teaches us by example and then leads us to the small-town, ordinary folks he writes about and challenges us to describe them in detail so that the reader can see their character.

In the breakfast area of the Holiday Inn Express, I re-introduced myself to Hale as a former student from 1965. He asked my name, I told him, and he smiled politely. I looked past him toward the lobby, and he moved around me. “Here, let me get out of your way.”

I took the comment as a polite way to send me off. “Okay. It was so good to see you again.”

“Wait. What are you doing here?”

I was reminded of his journalistic curiosity and I thought to myself, a true journalist never loses that curiosity.

I told him I was at a retreat sponsored by the Writers’ League of Texas, taking a course in the long narrative from Texas Monthly senior editor Michael Hall, and then I asked what he was doing in Alpine.

“My wife is at the same outfit, taking an editing course in fiction for a novel she’s written.”

Small world.

I said goodbye for real—I didn’t want to be late for my class.

Back in class, Michael Hall’s teaching methodology reminds me of Hale’s teaching style. The class picks at Hall the same way we picked at Leon Hale, hungry for the details of the story behind the story, the story of how and why he wrote about the topics and themes he did.

Yep, we took pieces of Leon Hale like we take pieces of Mike Hall, and one day, maybe four decades from now, he may run into Suzanne Haberman, the youngest in the class, and she’ll ask, “Are you Mike Hall?” And he may well reply with a nod, “What’s left of him.”

Meet the Members

Pamela Ferguson has been a member of the Writers’ League for five years. She lives in Austin, TX.

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

Pamela Ferguson: Fiction wrapped around current/or past events. Thrillers, nonfiction, and textbooks related to Asian Medicine and Asian Bodywork Therapy.

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

PF: Oh, strong hot tea, always! Late authors: Graham Greene and Ruth Rendell. Living authors: Deborah Moggach and Abraham Verghese.

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

PF: Leonardo da Vinci’s On the Human Body.

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

PF: The League offers a wonderfully practical range of workshops, talks, and advice.

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

PF: My current work-in-progress is my memoir, titled Cornish Cactus.

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

PF: No self-promotion, just encouragement for all young writers to follow their vision, zeal and humor and to balance the solo activity of writing with a group activity like teaching.

MEMBERS REVIEW

THE PRICE OF VALOR: THE LIFE OF AUDIE MURPHY, AMERICA’S MOST DECORATED HERO OF WORLD WAR II

By David A. Smith

Published in 2015 by Regnery History.

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Reviewed by Ron Hunka.

When I was growing up in the fifties, almost every boy knew the name “Audie Murphy.” After all, he was a famous movie actor who had appeared in numerous westerns. But more than that he was a legitimate WWII hero in a time when “hero” was a more reserved accolade than it is now. He had won more medals, including the Medal of Honor, than any other American soldier in WWII. The 1955 movie, To Hell and Back, in which he played himself, documented his combat exploits and was a great box office success. But something was missing from Murphy’s personality after the war–nothing seemed to excite him anymore.

In this book, Baylor University senior lecturer, David A. Smith, tells the story of a kid, who grew up in miserable poverty in Hunt County, Texas in run-down houses with no electricity or plumbing. One such place was a converted boxcar. After his mother died, three of his younger siblings had to be sent to an orphanage. Murphy joined the army in WWII at 17 to escape his desperate circumstances.

Smith’s account of Murphy’s life is an interesting, highly readable effort that does justice to a man who bore the psychological burden of having killed an estimated 240 enemy soldiers and witnessed the violent deaths of many Americans.

During the war, Murphy saw action in North Africa, Italy, and France. Again and again, he distinguished himself with uncommon courage and leadership which won battlefield promotions for him through the rank of first lieutenant.

The action for which Murphy eventually won the Medal of Honor took place near the small French town of Holtzwihr on January 20, 1945. When two American tank destroyers proved to be overmatched against German Tiger tanks whose armor resisted their shells, he ordered his men to retreat. But he stayed behind. Firing a machine gun atop one of the disabled tank destroyers and calling in artillery strikes, he beat back the assault of a German company. Showing remarkable cool under fire, in response to an artillery crew question about how close the Germans were, he replied, “Just hold the phone and I will let you talk to one of the bastards.” Men under his command that day credited him with having saved their lives.

After the war ended, Murphy chose to return home to Texas. On June 10, 1945, accompanied by 13 generals and 45 decorated officers and enlisted, he began the long trip to San Antonio where a crowd of about 300,000 persons lined the parade route. He was the last one-off the plane. Scheduled to be the guest of honor at a dinner, he never showed up.

Back home in Hunt County, the locals could not get enough of Audie Murphy. With a gift of $1,700 in war bonds they gave him, he bought his sister a bigger house and got his three siblings out of the orphanage.

Within a week after Murphy came home, the war haunted his dreams. He suffered deeply from what is now known as “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”. With no appropriate treatment available at the time, he suffered from it the rest of his life. Friends learned that he slept with a revolver beneath his pillow.

On July 21, 1945, Murphy appeared on the cover of Life, the most popular American magazine of the day. Young and handsome, he looked the way Americans wanted their heroes to look. The issue helped make him one of the most recognized faces in the country, and it brought him to attention of the popular actor, James Cagney, who thought he might have a future in the movies. It was Cagney who persuaded Murphy to come to Hollywood.

Although Cagney paid and treated Murphy well, the actor eventually gave up on him, concluding he “couldn’t act’. Now on his own in Hollywood, Murphy was forced to sleep in back of a gym owned by a friend and get by on an army disability check of $87 a month. Eventually, though, he began a movie career of nearly 50 mostly forgettable films–many of them westerns.

One of his good friends said the general public assumed Murphy had easily adjusted back into civilian life, making a fortune in the movies and living happily ever after. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Along the way, Murphy had two marriages. Concomitantly, as he acquired wealth from his movies, he began betting large sums of money, which, of course, he lost. Seemingly, the gambling was an attempt to generate some excitement in his life.  In 1969, he lost more than $90,000. He had to borrow money to keep up with his debts.

By the middle 1960s, WWII had been over for about 20 years, and there was a lot less interest in war stories about battlefield heroics. That trend was reflected in the movies being made.

In 1971, the story of the My Lai Massacre broke in the news when American soldiers under the command of Lt. William Calley executed Vietnamese civilians. Murphy acknowledged Calley’s “error.”  But admitted that “indoctrinated to a fever pitch in WWII,” he might have made a similarly tragic error in judgment.

In May, on a business trip to discuss his latest project, Audie Murphy, along with several business associates, was killed in a private plane crash in Virginia. He was 45 years old. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

In addition to historical book reviews, Ron Hunka writes about history in general. He has published over a dozen articles on castles and monasteries in the German-speaking world, and he has documented the fraudulent careers of notorious Texans Billie Sol Estes, Frank Sharp, and James Bowie. Other subjects include the Spanish shipwrecks of Padre Island and the financial difficulties of the Republic of Texas.

Instructor Spotlight

Karleen Koen’s first novel, Through A Glass Darkly, spent 21 weeks on the New York Times’ bestseller’s list. Other novels include Now Face to Face, Dark Angels (Indie Next bestseller), amd Before Versailles (best historical fiction, Library Journal and RT Book Reviews). Her books have been Book-of-the-Month Club and Doubleday Club selections as well as Book Sense picks, Border’s New and Notable, and Historical Novels’ Society’s Editors’ Choice. They have been published by Random House, Crown Publishing, Avon Books, Kensington Books, Sourcebooks, Three Rivers Press, as well as by a number of foreign publishers. She is an experienced and award-winning magazine editor and also the co-founder of Women in the Visual and Literary Arts (WIVLA) in Houston. She was a Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Writing Fellow Summer 2010.

Karleen is teaching a class for the Writers’ League on May 23 called “Finding the Heart of Your Story” at St. Edward’s University. Read the interview  below and visit the class page to learn more.

Karleen Koen 2014

Scribe: What part of writing is most challenging for you? From coming up with ideas, to fleshing out characters, to revision, what’s the hard part

Karleen Koen: The drafts, and there are always more than one, though most are partial drafts, are challenging. I’m trying to combine so many things, character, place, inner and outer stories. Ken Achity calls the middle of a book the Serengeti Plain. A writer must march across it and drag her readers with her. Setting up the route of that march exhausts me. It is easy to write a good beginning, but there is the middle before the ending. The strength of the ending depends on the middle.

Scribe: What do you love best about writing historical fiction?

KK: I cut my reading teeth on historical fiction, reading my grandfather’s cheap paperbacks when I was a kid, and so I have always loved history.  Historical fiction is a fun way to learn history, too. Having found a spot to settle in, 1660-1745, I love collecting the really interesting details of life and character: that Charles I and Henrietta Maria, his queen, had a true love story; that George I wasn’t the idiot historians claim he was; that Louis XIV was far more than a wig and tights. Most of all, I’m interested in woman and how they coped, in the place of women in the life that was. They were there, so few of them noted. Historians glide over the women that surrounded great men as if their pens are steeped in coconut oil. The misogyny of history is staggering. But the gaps give me lots of elbow room, and I take it.

Scribe: You have significant experience as an editor. How has this perspective shaped your writing? Do you find yourself editing more as you write, or do you hold off until the work is finished?

KK: My experience as an editor aids me in knowing a story’s shape, in knowing when I have one. I try to hold off using my inner editor until I’ve done a draft or two because the editor likes to focus on spelling or grammar and remind you continually that you don’t have the story shaped yet. Yeah, I know that. Can’t shape unless you have words on the page. Draft is exploration time, unknowing time. Down, dog!

Scribe: Your class will focus on finding “What’s going on?” in a story. In your writing, is this something that comes to you at the beginning, or during the process?

KK: In the four novels I’ve written, I’ve known the ending and written toward it. Now that brings up the question of where in the story do you start? On an interesting day, right? In this fifth novel, I haven’t known the ending, only that I wanted to present a certain, true slice of history, but obliquely, and must wrap a compelling story around it. I have a sense of the ending now, but it was both challenging and frightening to write without knowing what I was heading toward. That was my focus in this draft: where am I heading, why am I writing this. Dwight Swain’s story question, which I’m presenting in this class, helps a writer see how a story is shaped and see the questions he or she must ask and answer to create a vibrant plot.

Let me talk a moment about a story’s heart. The imaginary world must be real. The dream created by the writer must invade and occupy the mind of the reader. You have the heart of your story when it feels real. I can’t speak for others, but there comes a day when I open my computer and go into whatever page I’ve stopped at, and as I reread, I get a sense that this world feels real. That’s when I know I have the book. It doesn’t mean I’ve finished. It doesn’t mean the rest of the writing will be easy. It means the story has a beating heart, and I’ve captured the heartbeat, and if I keep my head down and keep going, the reader will one day hear it too.

Scribe: If a novel doesn’t have a lot going on, is it easy to spot? How does this lack of “heart” manifest itself in a story? How can writers recognize this in their work?

KK: It depends on the skill of the writer as to whether they can recognize the lack of heart. Sometimes, a first reader, a good one, aids in that and helps the writer focus. If you don’t know where you’re going, the reader will feel it, even though your prose may be fine enough to carry them along. That’s why some books feel distant as you read them. Or why they flat out don’t work. The heart of a story comes from character as well as plot, but solidity in either one will do a lot. The heart of the story is the dream the writer creates and the reader then dreams too.

–Thanks, Karleen!

To register for Karleen’s class, click here.

For a full list of upcoming classes, click here.

Summer Writing Retreat: Instructor Spotlight

The 2015 Writers’ League of Texas Summer Writing Retreat will be held July 18-23 at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, the perfect summer escape. There’s something truly special and one of a kind about the stunning landscape of mountainous West Texas — not to mention the refreshing afternoon showers and cool summer evenings — that inspires writers to commune with each other and their natural surroundings and to, most importantly, dig deep and hone their craft.

During this six-day retreat, five intensive writing workshops will be taught simultaneously by five of Texas’ premier authors, offering a unique experience for participants to enjoy an intimate class setting during the day and a larger group dynamic outside of the classroom throughout the week. Open to all genres and categories within fiction, non-fiction, memoir and poetry, with classes for both beginners and more seasoned writers, this retreat is singular in its focus, its emphasis on community, and its low registration rates.

An Interview with Scott Wiggerman

Scott Wiggerman is the author of three books of poetry, Leaf and Beak: SonnetsPresence and Vegetables and Other Relationships. He is also the editor of several volumes of poetry including Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga and Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry, named in the 2015 Poet’s Market as one of “Six Stellar Sources of Poetry Prompts.”  Recent poems have appeared in Decades ReviewFrogpondPinyon Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, and the anthologies Forgetting Home: Poems about Alzheimer’s and the Lambda award-winning This Assignment Is So Gay. Wiggerman is chief editor for Dos Gatos Press in Austin, Texas, publisher of the Texas Poetry Calendar, now in its eighteenth year.

Scott Wiggs

Scribe: What’s your favorite part about the writing process?

Scott Wiggerman: Without a doubt, my favorite part of the writing process is the initial part, the creation, taking nothing and turning it into something (the same holds true for other arts as well). I feel alive when I have taken a blank page and filled it, even when I know that what it’s filled with isn’t necessarily worth anyone’s attention; yet there’s always something there—a phrase, a metaphor, an image—that makes the time spent writing worthwhile for me.

Scribe: Where is your ideal writing place? What’s the benefit of a secluded writing atmosphere like in Alpine?

SW: My usual writing place is cushioned on the end of a couch, in a bathrobe, with a cat, and a cup of coffee. I always write drafts freehand, and I only keyboard them when the page gets so messy with arrows and cross-outs that I need to type them to follow what I’ve written. Obviously, Alpine is not my ideal writing place, but it’s extremely conducive to thought and introspection—the views, the space, the quiet are all marvelous stimulants (and probably much better for me than coffee).

Scribe: Your class will focus on revising poetry. Do you have a critique partner, or is revision a personal process?

SW: Ultimately, revision is a personal process, but that doesn’t mean I don’t value the opinions of others. I am fortunate to be married to another writer, who is always my first critique partner. For many decades I’ve participated in both a live workshop and an online workshop, and my poems have benefited immensely from the critiques they’ve received from both groups over the years. I believe writers should not revise in total isolation; we need the perspectives of others.

Scribe: As a poet, you’re typically working within a more structured format, where every word is significant. Does that make you a harsher critic of your other types of writing? Or even as you read? Are you more aware of when other writers should have cut a line here or there?

SW: I don’t think being a poet makes me a harsher critic of other genres, but it definitely makes me a harsher critic of poetry, especially as I’m reading it. I’m constantly reading poems that I feel would be stronger with a cut line or a removed stanza, or poems that should start a bit later or end a bit sooner—and this happens even when I read top-tier poets. Reading other genres gives me a break in a way, as I can enjoy them without critiquing.

Scribe: Revision is often described as “killing your darlings.” How do you kill your darlings? Do you smother them with a pillow, or push them off a cliff? In other words, do you find yourself reworking lines more often, or just cutting them completely?

SW:  It took me years to accept the need to kill my darlings, and I now fully accept that brutality is a necessary part of revision. Yes, I often try to rework lines, but I just as often let them go, sometimes pushing them off a cliff, sometimes burying them alive, sometimes allowing them to live in a closed container for a future repurposing. No matter how much I may love a particular line or stanza, I let it go if I feel that the poem as a whole will be better without it, and my revision course will definitely encourage this same brutal behavior.

–Thanks, Scott!

Click here to register for Scott’s Summer Writing Retreat workshop.

Click here to learn more about our Summer Writing Retreat.

 

Meet the Members

Katie Drake has been a member of the Writers’ League for about three years and is attending the 2015 Agents & Editors Conference in June. She lives about an hour from Austin—close enough to enjoy live music and Writers’ League of Texas events.
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Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Katie Drake: I have two YA novels, Torrent and The Ragnarok Recurrence, and one short story called The Children of Muspell written in the Fantasy genre. A while back I started a YA Sci-fi project.

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

KD: V.C. Andrews authored the first YA books I read and I was instantly hooked. Some of her themes pop up in my writing. I’d add Diana Gabaldon, George R.R. Martin and Jaqueline Carey because I want to understand what kind of minds create stories so full of unexpected adventures. Roald Dahl could come, too. His books Boy and Going Solo were the first autobiographies I read. I like to support small breweries, so I think I would serve up some Blood and Honey from Revolver Brewery.

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

KD: I’m debating between two. One is a thick compilation of Shakespeare’s work currently sitting on my husband’s side of our library and filled with lovely words, characters to admire or despise and it will take me forever to get through it. The other is Eclipse because I can’t resist it and can read it over and over. It’s currently on my side of the library with the rest of the saga because, I admit, I am a Twihard—say what you like.

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

KD: I learned to take my writing seriously. Writing takes time and effort and commitment to honing your skills. I’ve enjoyed meeting other authors and learning the ‘biz’—five years ago I would never have dreamed of sending work to an agent let alone pitching to one face to face. While learning more about the meaning of being creative, I found that a person cannot be said to have created until the product has been shared. I am ready to share.

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

KD: I’m just about ready to begin queries for my YA Fantasy The Ragnarok Recurrence, the prequel to Torrent. I have fallen into V.C. Andrew’s practice of writing a story and then writing the prequel. It was a happy accident, but I think I’ll keep it up. I plan to work on The End Where I Begin, the Sci-Fi novel I’ve only half-finished. Does anyone else ever feel guilty about leaving their characters just hanging around, waiting?

I’m starting to make submissions to magazines, journals, and anthologies. There are more out there than I imagined. Having writing credits in my queries is important to me.

I would like to have an agent, but I am not afraid to self-publish. I just want to start getting my work out there for more eyes than just my writing group. Shout out to Novel Ideas!

I can see myself writing for the other passion in my life-Gifted Education.

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

KD: First thing to come to mind is building my platform and with it comes social media. Follow me on Twitter: @KDrakeAuthor. I’d like to connect with more Texas authors. I made a Pinterest page to keep track of ‘all things writing’. The link is on my Twitter profile. I’ll be at the 2015 Agents and Editors Conference this summer. Come say hello. I’ll be the one with coffee in one hand and business cards in the other.