Meet the Members

Felix Morgan joined the Writers’ League last month. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Felix Morgan









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

Felix Morgan: I like the phrase weird fiction. In part because it can hold a lot in it. I write funny things, dark things, sexy things. Sometimes all at once. Someone called a short story of mine “horror erotica” recently which I thought was interesting. My current project is a comedic feminist werewolf romance novel, which I feel like is a real growth area.

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

FM: I want to have a beer or three with my former professor Stephen Graham Jones, my future best friend Pat Rothfuss, Owen Egerton because he’s just the best, and maybe we could prop up the corpse of Oscar Wilde in the corner. Get weird, you know.

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

FM: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Theres a lot happening in there that I love, so I could reread it. It also has a lot of pages so I could start fires, finally learn origami, or fashion myself paper mache shoes.

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

FM: There are so many more events and people doing amazing literary things than I realized! What a wonderful resource.

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

FM: I want to explore more about what scares people and why. I want to produce smart, sexy, and clever heroines that defy stereotypes in genre fiction. I want to make myself and others uncomfortable, freaked out, and a little turned on.

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

FM: I seem to have accidentally started a small press in Austin specializing in weird bits of short fiction. We just published a Halloween anthology where I asked local authors to imagine past relationships as monster stories. It’s called The Monsters Who Loved Me. You can buy our things here and can send us stuff to read at



by Kirk Lynn

Published in 2015 by Melville House

rules for werewolves









Reviewed by Bradley P. Wilson

I’ve been a fan of Kirk Lynn’s playwriting for a couple of decades. And after reading his gaunt debut novel, Rules for Werewolves (Melville House, 2015), I’m pleased to report I’m a fan of his novel writing too. Relying almost exclusively on dialog, Lynn’s cast of homeless scavengers moves as an unruly pack through the shadows of a contemporary suburban landscape, taking what it needs from a world that only suspects its presence. But this group of outsiders is tiring of living off the scraps. Its members are learning to transform themselves, perhaps physically as well as mentally. This pack is coalescing, discovering a taste for the hunt.

If you like things neat and tidy and clearly spelled out, then this book might prove frustrating. Rules for Werewolves trusts us to fill in a lot for ourselves. It challenges us to actively collaborate in the story’s creation. There are hardly any character or setting descriptions, and there are no dialog tags. Much of the time the reader is confronted with non-ascribed, often confusing, chatter. It really does get to feel like standing in a pack of excited dogs. But Lynn breaks up his “pack chapters” with strategically placed monologues that provide backstory and motivation for the major characters. He also uses detailed chapter titles to give the reader just enough context. Like this one: “Malcolm drags everybody down to the basement to show off his discovery before they all go to bed, except for Tanya and Malcolm, who stay behind to discuss it, but not like you think.”

Malcolm and Tanya are the lead werewolves. As the pack’s alphas, they spend a lot of their time and energy simply staying in power. Not to mention jockeying with each other on a peer to peer level.

Malcolm quickly establishes himself as the main antagonist to the seventeen year old hero Bobert. (That’s not a typo) At first, I wasn’t completely convinced Bobert was the protagonist because Malcolm dominates the opening chapters so thoroughly. And other characters pose stronger threats to his power. But Bobert does finally rally and stand up to his erratic pack leader.

Which is good, because Rules for Werewolves needs the entry point that a traditional hero provides. Without it Lynn’s choice to immerse us in the pack’s collective mindset might be too much. For example, while I came to agree with Lynn’s decision to leave out the dialog tags, it made me work hard to keep up. It was a distraction until I made the choice to give in and join the pack, to stop caring about who was saying what. I imagine some readers might choose otherwise. In other words, it’s a high risk novel.

This doesn’t surprise you if you know Lynn’s theater work. He’s always been a risk taker. And you know to trust him no matter what his writing asks you to do. Because it’s always worth it in the end.

Rules for Werewolves follows this precedent. It may require a little more focus and effort to keep up with this pack of human predators, to be jostled and nipped by them for so long, to let yourself feel transformed into something you recognize but don’t want to be. But it’s worth it. Pick up a copy of Kirk Lynn’s debut novel. How else can you decide whether or not Bobert really does change into a werewolf?

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

Community Member Q&A: PR by the Book

PR by the Book

PR by the Book is a boutique publicity firm based in Austin with another office in Nashville. The firm specializes in traditional & online media relations, social media services, and book tour support for both new and seasoned authors of just about every genre. Founded in 2002 by Marika and Doug Flatt, PR by the Book has worked with clients such as Patagonia Books, HarperCollins, Thomas Nelson, Rex Pickett (Sideways), Debbie Adler (Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-free & Vegan Recipes), and Dr. Darrell Bock (Truth Matters) to name a few.

PR by the Book is also a proud Community Member of the Writers’ League of Texas. Read the interview below with Marika Flatt to find out more about them.

Marika FlattScribe: You founded PR by the Book over 13 years ago. What are some of the changes you’ve noticed in the past few years for authors in the world of publicity?

Marika Flatt: We work hard to stay ahead of the curve because book publicity changes every year. Some of the most recent changes include: shortening pitches (via email), utilizing an Experts Page online for each of our clients, and working to make the social media platform of the client sync up with their PR effort.

Scribe: You offer Social Media Coaching for authors. What aspects of social media do you focus on and what can an author expect from completing the training?

MF: We have a Digital Media Coordinator who handles our social media & the platforms of our clients. The basic service offering is a coaching session where she will review what you’re currently doing online and find where the holes are, what you’re not currently taking advantage of or accessing and give you homework to strengthen your social media platforms. For those of us who aren’t social media experts, it’s just impossible to know how to make your presence as robust as possible.

Scribe: How important is it for an author to build a brand? And is it equally important for fiction as it is for nonfiction?

MF: It’s absolutely important for authors of any genre. You have so much competition in the market—for readers, for media attention, for publishing opportunities. That’s what folks are looking for—an author who is crystal clear about who they are and what they deliver. Don’t ever try to be all things to all people— it won’t work out in your favor.

Scribe: What are the one or two biggest publicity mistakes you see authors make?

MF: The most common these days is not taking advantage of utilizing a strong social media presence to fully push out the media hits they’re getting through traditional and online PR. First and foremost, you need to be appealing online to a media outlet. We can get their attention but the first thing they’ll do is look up the author’s website and social media platforms and if they’re not contemporary enough (website), thorough enough, or lack a following, our opportunity might be dead with that outlet.

Another common problem we see with self-published queries is a lack of understanding when it comes to media expectations and poor book cover design.

Scribe: What’s your biggest piece of advice for avoiding these mistakes?

MF: A. Get trained on how to create a more robust social media platform. B. Don’t expect a first-time self-published author to catch the eye of top-tier media. C. Spend time and money on a cover design that can compete with major publishing houses.

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

MF:  I loved Austin author Clara Bensen’s No Baggage which comes out in January. I was able to review it for Texas Lifestyle Magazine’s winter issue (also out in January).

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

MF: We’ve been supporters of the WLT way back when I was at a different book publicity firm in the late 90s. We believe in helping our own and we’ve given away hundreds of hours in free advice over the years. We are happy to “pay it forward,” and do so on a regular basis. There’s a lot to know about this industry so it’s important to listen to the experts in the various areas. We enjoy working with Texans and know there’s a great deal of talent in our state.

Thanks, Marika!

Click here to visit PR by the Book’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.

Meet the Members

Pamela Fagan Hutchins has been a member of the Writers’ League for five years. She lives in “Nowheresville” – somewhere east of Austin and west of Brenham.

Pamela Fagan Hutchins









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

Pamela Fagan Hutchins: I write romantic mysteries and dabble in nonfiction.

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

PFH: Coffee, and lots of it, with Larry McMurtry. I need more Gus and Woodrow.

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

PFH: Where the Red Fern Grows. Yes, I know it’s a tearjerker, but it is so raw and beautifully human.

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

PFH: The Writers’ League was the organization that first gave me a positive glimpse into my writing potential (2010 Manuscript Award). My self-doubt was completely overpowering before then. Through WLT conferences and relationships, I have had the chance to improve my craft.

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

PFH: My writing has already taken me away from my job as a lawyer and investigator (yay!) and allowed me to travel in my mind to some of my favorite places: the U.S. Virgin Islands, New Mexico, and Hawaii. Where I really hope it takes me some day though is to a place where my husband doesn’t have to travel all the time for work anymore!!

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

PFH: You can download my WLT-Manuscript-Contest-winning series, Saving Grace (a romantic mystery) in e-book form everywhere, and you can get information about my quarterly writing retreats on my website.

Third Thursday Wrap-Up

Write Fright Night!
Dealing with Spine-Tingling Writerly Anxieties

intergalactic nemesis51Zg1-4XJ4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Rebel-HC-Cover

By WLT Intern, Hailey Clement.

This month’s Third Thursday was about a deeply personal but universal subject—writerly anxieties. To those who care as much about words as writers do, there are many types of powerful mental mires to slough through. But our panelists openly shared their experiences about facing difficulties, and what helps them get through it.

At the beginning of the discussion, authors Amy Tintera, Jason Neulander, and Anne Bustard talked about what led them to writing, and how they came to see themselves as writers. The discussion flowed smoothly through the process of self-acceptance and creation, to the ups and downs of actually getting published.

Amy’s trajectory snaked through her childhood, education, and early career. The author of Reboot and Rebel began writing as a youngster after being so unsatisfied with the ending of a book that she chose to write her own ending. Although she wrote six complete manuscripts before the end of high school, she ultimately went to Hollywood to try her hand as a screenwriter but ended up hating it. She eventually returned to her first love – writing fiction.

Jason has an iron in every fire. The author of the Intergalactic Nemesis is constantly working on multiple projects and across mediums, finding new ways to tell stories. His background in theater informed his writing – he’s written and directed plays, operas, and musicals. After collaborating on numerous projects he felt, similarly to Amy, that he could do better by writing on his own.

Anne, author of the middle grade novel Anywhere but Paradise has always been a book lover. With her background in education (both as a teacher and an “eternal student”) and as a book store owner, she’s always managed to surround herself with one of her greatest loves, books.

For all of them though, the struggle to “identify as a writer” was real. It was a stepping stone to admit it internally before ever voicing it, or at least voicing it seriously. “Writer” is a weighty title and it takes a while to be completely comfortable claiming it, especially for people who care so much about the written word. It was a matter of finding ways to work up the confidence just to say it. They had to get inside their own heads and force themselves to stop holding back. One of the first steps, as Jason put it, was to realize that “identifying as a writer doesn’t mean identifying as a good writer,” or, as Anne pointed out, a published one. Doing the work and having the dedication makes someone a writer well before they’re published, or good, for that matter.

Anne’s charm against the fear of being a bad writer came from the self-assurance that doing the work, putting the effort into writing, would ultimately be what makes her a better writer. Being a good writer is a matter of dedication, and once she decided that she was a writer, she only had to push herself to be committed and keep at it. Every draft, all writing in fact, helps improve her as a writer.

But once that huddle had been crossed, Anne found she had a new challenge. Facing thoughts like “can I even call myself a writer?” is particularly difficult in a genre as trend driven as YA can be. Being part of that world, it’s easy to fall sway to voices of other authors and people in the industry that discourage or promote ideas based on singular plot points or setting. Overcoming this was a matter of learning to focus on the idea behind her work and on making that the best she could, while tuning out the nay-sayers on the internet and in her agent-circles.

In fact, knowing when to listen to people opens a whole new can of worms. A critique group or a supportive friend can give perspective or reveal the hidden parts of a work. Often times, getting someone else’s perspective can help a writer move past being stuck. All three panelists agreed that that can be very valuable. But although writing groups can be supportive, it’s sometimes much better to tune them out. Knowing yourself well enough to know when to reach out vs when to tune out is incredibly helpful.

Grad school taught Amy just that. She found critique groups were poison to her idea formation process. She’s found that she works much better sending out drafts that she’s reviewed and rewritten 3-4 times to a trustworthy friend. Jason, however, credits working in theater for forcing him to get over the anxiety involved in sharing. There’s such an element of collaboration and tangibility in testing ideas and running scenes that it became obvious that showing someone early drafts would lead to improvements. He found the immediate feedback incredibly encouraging. Anne goes back and forth, following her feelings in the moment. When she has worked with critique groups, they’ve been indispensable, and said she “couldn’t do it without them.” They help her know what the impact of her work is and what she can do to make her work better.

These relationships help nurture and grow new works. They can also reinvigorate you when the inevitable rejection heartache takes its toll. Learning to deal with rejection without allowing it to stifle you is a useful tool in any career. Amy survived 75 rejections and assured the audience that it gets easier. She’s learned that since writing is what makes her happy, she begins developing another project while she’s in the publishing phase for another. This helps her separate herself from the rejection drama the first piece inspires. Like ripping off a bandage, rejection is just a part of the experience and it’s never as bad as expected. “It’s part of the deal,” Anne said. What hit Anne hardest wasn’t just rejection, but the two times she’s been told to start over completely. After putting years of effort into a book, it can be devastating to be told to keep the idea, but throw everything else out. And although it was a difficult situation, it was those rewrites that got published.

But getting published is never the end of the story. A whole new set of confusing and overwhelming feelings come from that stage of a piece’s life. Instead of relief, there’s sometimes doubt. The journey to getting published can be so full of potholes and torn maps, that actually getting published can be empty or anticlimactic as Jason pointed out.

Maintaining creativity and being a part of sympathetic circles are the best mental balm for these overwhelming experiences. There’s always a way to recuperate from the negative feelings. Anne has noticed a pattern within herself that every time she starts working on a new project, it takes her about two weeks to really get into the groove, but only about one week to lose all hope. Having a friend who knows this and who can comfort and encourage her has helped her tremendously.

Wandering through the sometimes nail biting experience of being a writer, there are so many things that can trip us up on a daily basis. But soldiering through and attempting to create something—to write something—is what matters. Join us on November 19 at BookPeople for our next Third Thursday panel. Authors Meg Barnhouse, Owen Egerton, Greg Garrett, and Donna M. Johnson will discuss writing about religion and spirituality. See you there!

Instructor Q&A

Charlotte Gullick is a novelist, essayist, editor, educator and Chair of the Creative Writing Department at Austin Community College. A first-generation college graduate, she received her AA with High Honors from Santa Rosa Junior College, a BA with Honors in Literature/Creative Writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a MA in English/Creative Writing from the University of California, Davis. She began a MFA in Creative Nonfiction at the Institute of American Indian Arts in July 2014.

Charlotte’s first novel, By Way of Water, was chosen by Jayne Anne Phillips as the Grand Prize winner of the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards Program, and a special author’s edition was reissued by the Santa Fe Writers Project in November of 2013. Charlotte’s other awards include a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship for Fiction, a Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship for Poetry, a MacDowell Colony Residency, Faculty of Year from College of the Redwoods as well as the Evergreen State College 2012 Teacher Excellence Award.

Charlotte is teaching a class for the Writers’ League on November 21 called “Minor Characters and Major Insights: How to Create a More Compelling Narrative through an Exploration of Secondary Characters” at St. Edward’s University. This class is currently sold out but we plan to offer classes similar to this in the future as well as invite Charlotte back to teach for us again. Please take a look at our other fall classes here.


Scribe: What is a secondary character from a novel that you really appreciate?

Charlotte Gullick: It’s funny – when I sit back and think about this, you know who popped into my head right away? Jim Casy, the preacher in the Grapes of Wrath – he runs as such a counterpoint to Tom Joad, paralleling him in action and values, yet they both take different paths. That’s what good secondary characters do: they work to reveal aspects of the main character in plot-informing ways.

Scribe: What do you find exciting about writing secondary characters that you don’t find when you’re writing main characters?

CG: I feel more freedom with them – I often feel so beholden to my main characters – duty bound to render their struggles with clarity and compassion, but secondary characters are a chance to get to know your main character and your story better, so they offer pockets of insight in ways that, for me, I don’t always find with the main characters.

Scribe: What is one common trap that people often fall into when writing minor characters?

CG: I think many writers, including myself, forget that the story is more interesting (and more like real life) if the characters are profoundly similar in some ways. When we remember this, we can create a more compelling world and story. The minor characters are there to reveal something about the main character–it’s all part of a web as John Truby puts it; if a character isn’t somehow tied into the other people in the work, he/she becomes flat and readers can feel this.

Scribe: Can you briefly explain the importance of minor characters in your novel, By Way of Water?

CG: They basically serve as three mirrors for the family: those in the religion reflect back on the mother character; the “hippies” reflect back on Justy, the main character, and the men in the woods reflect back on the father. Minor characters offer readers a view into how other people are facing/handling/coping with the difficult choices in the world of the book.

Scribe: Do you tend to leave your minor characters more ambiguous? Or do you try to delve into their pasts and motivations, too?

CG: I think I do both – at first, they are vague, and serve as ideas, but as I revise and deepen, I need to understand them more so I do the work outside of the actual novel/story/memoir to explore them further and to see how a better understanding of motivation and experiences could be shaping who they in the present narrative and how that shaping might influence plot.

— Thanks, Charlotte!

Click here for a full list of fall classes.

Meet the Members

Joe Pluta has been a member of the Writers’ League for two years and serves on the Board of Directors. He lives in Austin, TX.

Joe 3









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

Joe Pluta: Now — historical fiction, especially short stories. In the past — nonfiction in the areas of history and economics.

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

JP: Living authors — Doris Kearns Goodwin, Naomi Klein, Philip Roth, and Joyce Carol Oates. Deceased authors — Aesop, Thorstein Veblen, James Michener, Ernest Hemingway, & Ida Tarbell. Beverage — these days, probably coffee. (I sure wouldn’t want to have to pick up Hemingway’s bar tab.)

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

JP: Confessions of an Economic Hitman, by John Perkins. If you read this book, you will discover from someone who actually participated in the deception that U.S. foreign policy throughout the 20th century has been based on horrible values and has been a disaster, the full consequences of which have yet to be felt. (I’d also like a second book that is more light-hearted. Maybe Bossy Pants by Tina Fey?)

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

JP: I have met so many perceptive and creative people who have helped to make me a better writer, and a more broad-minded person, just because of my conversations with them. There is an openness and friendliness among employees (Becka, Jenn, Noelle, and Jordan) and board members that make one feel very welcome. Classes and Third Thursday panels at BookPeople are great.

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

JP: After being a university professor for 46 years, I am now retired. It is wonderful to have so much time to write. I hope to use it well. In the past, I have based much of my writing on eccentric characters I have known or unique situations I have experienced. In the future, I would like to attempt more
purely fictional stories where I create characters (who are even more eccentric) and situations that are imaginative yet realistic.

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

JP: Well…Okay, if you insist! I have four short story collections, Whatever Happened to Our Dreams? (just published and on the shelves at BookPeople), 21 Yesterdays, Small Town Michigan Tales, and Two Peninsulas. All four are available on Amazon. Visit my website.