MEET THE MEMBERS

Tess Anderson has been a member of the Writers’ League of Texas for over a year. She makes her home in Austin Texas.

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Scribe:  In what genre(s) do you write?
Tess Anderson: I write fiction/memoir. I like to write short stories, and am in the process of putting some of those stories together in order to make a novel… which may end up just being a short story collection.

Scribe: What authors would you like to have coffee or a beer with and which beverage?
TA:  I don’t drink coffee or beer. However, I would love to have tea with Amy Tan and/or J.K. Rowling, a soda with Suzy Spencer. If we’re talking “living or dead” I would love to have any kind of cocktail with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Scribe:  If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
TA: I am terrible at the “stranded island” game because I am terrible at choosing. I find it incredibly hard to pick one, but I might go with The Liar’s Club or something else by Mary Karr, since her novels are set in the area where I grew up. I think the familiarity would help me cope.

Scribe:  What have you learned from your association with the Writers League?
TA:  From the Writers League, I have learned that there are a lot of writers here in Austin, and that there are a lot of resources.

Scribe:  Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
TA:  Hopefully my writing will keep taking me on the paradoxical simultaneous journey both inward and outward. I’d like to publish either a novel or a short story collection.

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

TA:  I have lots more to share the world, but the world will have to wait until I’m finished drafting and editing!

 

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MEET THE MEMBERS

Carol Moczygemba joined the Writers’ League of Texas in June 2013. She makes her home in Austin Texas.

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Scribe:  In what genre(s) do you write?
Carol Moczygemba: I write nonfiction – have been a writer and editor in the magazine world for about 25 years. I don’t have a special area of expertise — have written human interest stories, technical articles, explanatory articles, and stories in the “service journalism” vein.

Scribe: What authors would you like to have coffee or a beer with and which beverage?
CM: I would love to sit at a café table outdoors with Carson McCullers, Eudora Welty or Brenda Ueland and have a glass of fine red wine (or two).

Scribe:  If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
CM: My desert island book would be poems of Walt Whitman.

Scribe:  What have you learned from your association with the Writers League?
CM: My association with WLT has been short, but I have already learned that the organization is a valuable support for serious writers, no matter where they are on the experience spectrum. I have recently taken advantage of the writing sessions organized by the league, and have benefitted tremendously from them. Just being in the same place with other people engaged in the work of writing has given me energy and motivation.

Scribe:  Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
CM: I have no idea where my writing will take me in the future. For now it is a grounding element in my life.

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

CM: Share with the world? My Polish grandma made the best whiskey-soaked fruitcake in South Texas (and probably way beyond). It was so good nobody ever used one for a door stop.

 

 

 

MEET THE MEMBERS

David Marion Wilkinson has been a member of the Writers’ League of Texas off and on since the early 1990s. His most recent novel, Where the Mountains Are Thieves, was published in October of 2013. He makes his home in Austin, Texas.

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

David Marion Wilkinson: I have published historical fiction, contemporary mainstream fiction, and non-fiction memoir (with Joaquin Jackson, Texas Rangers, ret.)

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

DMW: Whiskey with J. Frank Dobie and John Graves. Water with Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Coffee with Michael Chabon. Green tea with Joan Didion.

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

DMW: FINEGAN’S WAKE, or maybe INFINITE JEST.

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

DMW: In the early years, I learned a lot about craft and technique. For many years, the Agents (and editors) conference has been a huge networking experience with industry professionals. I always come away from it with great information, new opportunities and more hope. Mostly, I’ve learned to appreciate the relationships I’ve built with other writers and kindred spirits. It seems like writing gets a little tougher each year, especially with the changes in the publishing industry over the last ten years. It’s great to have a support group like WLT to help you get more information about how to deal with it.

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

DMW: I’m doing quite a bit of screenwriting these days. I enjoy it, and it pays better than my fiction career ever did. But I hope to get back to writing big historical novels again. They have always been my passion.

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

DMW: I still love this job.

SUCCESS STORY

The 2014 Manuscript Contest is now accepting entries. The deadline for submission is February 21st, 2014 at midnight. Last year Cornelia Levy won in the Historical Fiction category. This is her story.

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One very late evening in May, I checked my e-mails and this is what I read: Congratulations! You are a WLT Manuscript Contest Winner

My heart started beating so fast I could not breathe.  I ran to the phone and called my son in Los Angeles and my daughter in Austin and burst out the news.

A few weeks before, I had found myself a finalist in the historical fiction category- an unexpected gift.  But nothing compared with being chosen winner. So what did that mean?  What was expected of me? A ten-minute conference with the agent who chose me winner, and “the opportunity to read a short excerpt from my work in front of an audience of conference attendees.”  There was much to be done and learned.

I first read the critique from the judges who chose me finalist. The synopsis is not a teaser, they said: be specific about the “inevitable.”   They loved my opening sentence, but asked I look at the rest of first page. “Don’t make a saint of this character.”  And, oh my, a cliché!  That is an abomination to any writer, but especially to a historical fiction writer.

Then I found out I only would have one and a half minutes to read from my manuscript- not narration but action.   This is where I started. I picked a scene that enhanced the characters, mentioned the conflict, and had a little humor.  But the timing was not right.  So I started cutting unnecessary words, making sure the dialogue was strong, and the setting worked. Having taught acting and creative writing, I wasn’t shy when I went up to read.  And to my delight, several of the attendees that night and the next day stopped by to tell me they enjoyed the reading.

            On Saturday morning I went to an outstanding panel on historical fiction where I met the agent I would see in the afternoon.  During our conference, she greeted me with a smile, told me there were passages in my first five pages that she liked, and invited me to tell her about my novel. Excited to share a story I love, I accepted. The agent seemed very interested and asked for the next two chapters and a query letter.

All summer, I made revisions, removed clichés, fixed my synopsis, and changed the title of my book. Though my story was not for her, I understood.  A few days after she let me know , I received e-mail from an editor of a reputable publishing house requesting I send her my novel.  “When a door closes, a window opens.”

And all because I entered the Manuscript Contest!  And look at all I learned in the process.  If you have written a story you want to share, get it ready, especially the first five pages, and enter the contest.   Add the critique to your entry.  I learned so much about beginnings, synopsis, characters, and clichés.

I can’t thank the Writers’ League of Texas enough for providing this opportunity to dreamers and writers.  “If not now, when?”

Cornelia Levy

To enter the 2014 Manuscript Contest go to:

http://www.writersleague.org/109/Manuscript-Contest

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

The Gift

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     While digging through my dresser, packing away the shorts and tee shirts in favor of bulky winter sweaters, I came across a red, heart-shaped tin  that brought back a memory.

My youngest daughter was in middle school when she read about an organization called Locks of Love. These folks make wigs from donated human hair for use by cancer patients who have lost their hair to chemotherapy. My daughter wore her beautiful auburn hair long. She decided to donate to the cause, but like most middle- school students she was able to find something amiss with her appearance. She spent a healthy chunk of her summer job money to have her “regular old brown” hair professionally tinted to a golden blonde. She then whacked the thick braid off at the closest point to her head. When she proudly delivered the thick braid to the charity she was told that they didn’t accept color treated hair. As a consolation I asked if I could keep the braid for her until she found a use for it. I still have it.

That reminds me of a famous story by local author O. Henry. I remember reading Gift of the Magi sometime around the fourth grade. I was often moved by literature even then but his story stays with me to this day.

For today’s prompt write a story, memoir or essay about a gift that took an unexpected turn. Have fun with it. Maybe you’ll be the next O. Henry.

Happy Holidays

Tony

MEET THE MEMBERS


Deanna Roy has been a member of the Writers’ League since 1995. She is the author of Baby Dust and Forever Innocent for adults. She also authored middle grade novels Jinnie Wishmaker and Marcus Mender. Deanna makes her home in Austin, Texas.

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

Deanna Roy: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Middle Grade

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

DR: Margaret Atwood (Single-malt scotch as per her favorite), John J Asher (El Jimador tequila, his top pick), or Mimi Strong (We’d drink ALL the things then craft hilarious nonsensical revenge stories…)

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

DR: The World Anthology of Literature (is that cheating?) Maybe I should be practical. The SAS Survival Manual. Oh, who am I kidding, I’m dead within 48 hours with or without a manual. I might as well die laughing. I’ll go with Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. That’ll keep me smiling to the bitter end.

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

DR: How not to stalk an agent (especially in bathrooms during conferences.) That everyone’s journey is different, but still contains valuable lessons. That Sally Baker has clearly discovered the fountain of youth and will still know everything there is to know about WLT after the apocalypse, which she will survive, without the SAS Manual.

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

DR: 2014 is going to be a big year! I’ll have two releases out by January 10, an anthology and a novel, so I won’t be wasting any time! I’m the midst of two series, so my direction is pretty set.

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

DR: Be courageous. Be bold. Don’t let anyone tell you there is no market for your work. There is. Some books have a clear defined readership, and so they get agents and publishers quickly and easily. Other markets may have to be built, sale by sale, but you can do it. Do not allow your dreams to be deferred.

Visit Deanna’s websites: www.deannaroy.com, http://ddroy.blogspot.com

MEMBERS REVIEW

Bradley Wilson resides in Austin TX. He has been an active member of the Writers’ League of Texas for several years and volunteers at many of our events. He has generously allowed us to repost this review of Homicidal Aliens and Other Disappointments (Candlewick Press – 2013). The review was originally posted on his literary blog at: http://www.bradleypwilsonliterary.com

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Homicidal Aliens and Other Disappointments (Candlewick, 2013) by Brian Yansky is the sequel to Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences (Candlewick, 2010). It’s a YA, sci-fi novel set right after most of humanity has been destroyed by a race of machine hating, green plant loving, and ridiculously polite psychic aliens.

Don’t be put off if you haven’t read the first book (though I’m guessing you’ll want to after you read Homicidal Aliens, so you might as well get them both). Brian Yansky does a great job of bringing new readers up to speed quickly and interestingly. And he does it without a big, clunky “previously on” opener. Homicidal Aliens does start with a four page prologue, but it only takes about a page and a half to mostly summarize the first book. After that, Yansky begins to introduce the reader to a cool new revelation about his fictional Earth. This nicely crafted prologue turns out to be a structural harbinger of things to come. Throughout the rest of the adventure the author elegantly weaves relevant highlights from Alien Invasion into Homicidal Aliens like nothing more than well executed back story.

And then there’s the voice. Yansky’s hero and narrator, Jesse, has a dry, endearing wit that’s immediately engaging. I got hooked on his no frills, authentic voice at the start of the first book. So I was thrilled to find the second one carries on in the same gloriously unadorned way. Too often YA writers sound like adults talking “about” teens. Not Yansky. Jesse’s got lots of interesting and relatable personal dilemmas, with a rich internal life that really grounds the book’s first person narration. One of his most endearing traits is his way of swearing. Out of deference to his mom ­– killed like most of the rest of humanity in the initial alien invasion – Jesse substitutes literal translations of well-known profanity. Things like “son of a female dog.” I won’t spoil the fun, but suffice it to say, he gets much more creative with some of the other bad words you may know.

Something else I dig about this book is the way Yansky drops in little one-line snippets of social commentary. He deftly critiques huge social issues like racism, imperialism, and climate change with a refreshingly light touch. Don’t worry, this is not a preachy book. But it is a thoughtful one. Yansky’s creation works on lots of levels. Though none of Jesse’s passing comments and thoughts on human society change the fact that Homicidal Aliens is first and foremost a tightly paced sci-fi adventure.

It makes a great stocking stuffer for any teen who’s into aliens, dystopias, or adventure stories. And it’s especially ideal for any young male readers out there craving a quality story that doesn’t have a female protagonist. Actually, it makes an excellent present for anybody who just likes a well-crafted sci-fi novel.