Meet the Members: Alissa Sherry

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

-Alissa Sherry

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

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

Alissa Sherry: Narrative non-fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

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

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

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

Thanks, Alissa!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

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Meet the Members: Rodney Sprott

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

– Rodney Sprott

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

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

Rodney Sprott: Mystery fiction. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down? 

RS: Thursday Night Lights by Michael Hurd.

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

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

Thanks, Rodney!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

Meet the Members: Mahassen Ahmad

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

Thank you, Mahassen!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

Fredericksburg Writers Conference

“We put together this conference to help talented writers find an audience and a publisher for their works.”

-Mara Fox

The Fredericksburg Writers Conference, coming up next week – Friday and Saturday, November 2 & 3, at the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg, Texas – offers two days of programming for writers in the area who are ready to explore their publishing options. If you’re wondering what the event has in store, here are some highlights from a conversation with Robert Demming and Mara Fox, facilitated by WLT board member (and Fredericksburg-based writer) Marc Hess.

WLT: First things first, what made you decide to host this conference?

Mara Fox: You, as a writer, have choices on how to turn your finished manuscript into a successfully published book. We put together this conference to help talented writers in Fredericksburg find an audience and a publisher for their works. If you are pursuing a route into traditional big-house publishing, you’ll be able to pitch your work to an established literary agent. Or you can learn the tricks that will make your self-published book successful. You can learn from both and choose the path that works best for your story.

WLT: This sounds great. Who will be coming to the event?

Robert Demming: A big problem you face as a writer is finding someone to publish your work. And, like Mara said, there are many directions you can go. To help you choose the path that’s right for you we’re bringing in Jeannie Loiacono, of Loiacono Literary Agency. She is a talented literary agent who specializes in helping first-time authors. You will be able to talk to her directly about the book you are working to get published.

MF: For those of you considering self-publishing we have speaker Eva Pohler, PhD, former professor at UTSA, self-published author, sharing her expertise on “The Road to Successful Self-Publishing.”

RD: Eva is also delivering a keynote address titled “Shameless Self-Promotion.”

WLT: Oh, that should be good. I’ve got to catch that one.

MF: We also have Tom Hutton, MD, award winning author of Carrying the Black Bag,  leading a session on “The Road to Publication at a University Press.”

RD: And the Cooks; newspaper publisher Ken Cook will be here with his wife, author Christina Granados, discussing “Writing for Newspapers and Magazines.”

WLT: That is a big day. And who is the audience that you would like to attract?

MF: Simply said: anybody who is writing anything.

For more specific information and to register go to https://fbgwriters.yolasite.com/ or contact Sally Clark sally@sallyclark.info  Follow the conference on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Fredericksburg-Writers-Conference-150074461819386

Thank you to Marc, Mara, and Robert!

Meet the Members: Michael Hurd

“I wish I could have had a conversation with Hunter S. Thompson and whatever he was drinking – a scary thought!”

– Michael Hurd

A member of the Writers’ League for four years, Michael lives outside of Houston, Texas.

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

Michael Hurd: Nonfiction, primarily about Black history and sports. But I had a long career in newspapers as a sportswriter before I began researching and writing about black history.

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

MH: I wish I could have had a conversation with Hunter S. Thompson and whatever he was drinking – a scary thought! His book, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, about the Nixon-McGovern 1972 presidential campaign was brilliant, irreverent, and funny as only HST could be. So, right away, I’d love to get his thoughts about the rise of Trump.

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

MH: I’d want something lighthearted. For several consecutive springs during the 1970s, to get in the spirit for the upcoming baseball season, I read Ball Four by former big league pitcher Jim Bouton. It’s an insightful, but laugh out loud hilarious diary of his 1969 season in the Major Leagues.

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

MH: Just the number of supportive resources that are available for writers, and the enthusiasm and love for writing we see when we interact with aspiring and even veteran writers through our programs.

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

MH: I love historical fiction, so I’m going take a serious first run at that and write about an event that happened during World War I. I’ve been researching the subject for more years than I care to admit, I have a good sense of the story and I’m at the point where I just need to sit and write. Actually, I’ve been at that point for a while, so no more procrastination.

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

MH: I’m so behind in my reading, because I was immersed in researching, writing, and finishing my own book last year. I’m just starting to try and get caught up, and there are plenty of new “Texas” books that I want to read. But, unfortunately, I don’t have anything to share here, for now.

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

MH: My third book, Thursday Night Lights, was released by UT Press last fall. The book is about football programs at the all-black high schools that played in the Prairie View Interscholastic League in Texas before integration, covering 50 years – 1920 to 1970. Quite a few great athletes, coaches, and teams came out of the league but they didn’t get a lot of media attention and certainly no in-depth coverage. Around the state, those schools played their games on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Thanks,  Michael!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

Meet the Members: Marisa Wolf

“I want to keep learning and growing – try different narrative techniques, grow worlds that feel lived in and real, write the kind of books that give a window into a might-have-been/could-be/good-goodness-let’s-avoid-that-happening.”

– Marisa Wolf

A member of the Writers’ League since January, Marisa lives in Houston.

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

Marisa Wolf: Science fiction and fantasy, centered around my favorite question – “what if…?” Both allow for a lot of genre-blending, bleeding into mystery, thriller, romance, and heists.

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

MW: Ursula Le Guin. First question – What did you learn over the course of your career that you wish you could have told your starting-out-self and do you think it would have changed any of your early work? (only a slight cheat, but I’d buy the drinks to make up for it!)

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

MW: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – I’ll need to laugh, be reminded not to panic, and see even the most hapless of adventurers can make it out the other side.

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

MW: The first event I attended was brilliant — a panel on bookselling from a great mix of authors/publishers/booksellers/bookbuyers – and the other attendees were as awesome as the panelists. The sense of community the League brings keeps writing from being the stereotypical lonely hermit on the mountain experience, and I look forward to continuing to learn and socialize for a long time.

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

MW: I want to keep learning and growing — try different narrative techniques, grow worlds that feel lived in and real, write the kind of books that give a window nto a might-have-been/could-be/good-goodness-let’s-avoid-that-happening. The dream is to have a book or series that has its own dedicated following — conventions, cosplay, the whole nerdy wonderfulness.

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

MW: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke — noir-ish, with great characters. I loved mysteries and thrillers for so long, and then fell out of the habit of reading them, and this was an excellent return to the genre.

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

MW: My first novel is out in 2018: Assassin with Kacey Ezell, from Chris Kennedy Publishing. Our publisher has asked for a sequel, so between that and some short stories I’m hoping to get out into the world! The plan is to develop one of those real “processes” writers talk about to get disciplined and on a schedule. All advice welcome!!

Thanks, Marisa!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!

Meet the Members: Lisa Compton

“[WLT has taught me] that I’m not alone and there is a lot of support out there.”

-Lisa Compton

A member of the Writers’ League since January, Lisa Compton lives in San Antonio.

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

Lisa Compton: Paranormal and Procedural.

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

LC: Ted Sullivan (screenwriter for Star Trek Discovery). How did you get to live the dream of every Trekkie?

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

LC: Who wants to be sane on a deserted island? Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.

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

LC: That I’m not alone and there is a lot of support out there.

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

LC: I would really love to see my characters on a Netflix or Amazon Prime series.

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?

LC:Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

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

LC: My first novel, Seven Seconds, is the first in the Olivia Osborne series. I’ve written three so far and see many more on the horizon!

Thanks, Lisa!

If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at member@writersleague.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!