WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

FEASTS OF ABUNDANCE

HOLIDAY FOOD

   The holidays bring an abundance of culinary delights. It starts in October with Halloween candy and doesn’t let up until the traditional ham and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Many traditional holidays are based on ancient harvest festivals that have been adapted to celebrate this season’s abundance. Families gather to indulge. Diets are put on hold. Second and third helpings are enjoyed. Leftovers are sent home with revelers.

Food has been as much a part of literature as murder and romance. Your mission this week is to write a story or poem that includes the culinary aspect of our culture. One of my first published short stories, Bait, had a culinary theme. I am adding a link to a website that still has it posted as an example of one way this can be done. http://pixelhose.com/bait-by-tony-burnett/. Sit down with a cup of your favorite spiced beverage and enjoy. Feel free to share your results in the comment section.

Happy Holidays,

Tony

Advertisements

MEET THE MEMBERS

David Piper lives in Austin Texas. He has been a member of the Writers’ League for 5 years. I gave his Sci-Fi thriller, Church of the God Particle, a 5 Star review on Amazon shortly after the 2012 release. I was not alone on that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

David Piper: Crime thrillers with a bit of sci-fi.

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

DP: Dennis Lehane, Megan Abbott, Fred Pohl, Owen Egerton.

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

DP: Nature of Personal Reality by Jane Roberts

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

DP: Patience

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

DP: To self fulfillment.

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

DP: My first novel, Church of the God Particle

Wednesday Writing Prompt

‘TIS THE SEASON

Coexist_by_Chima1 (2)

    We have come to the time of year when virtually every culture, religion or lifestyle celebrates a major holiday. Some of these traditions were begun thousands of years ago and some are relatively new. Today’s writing prompt may require a bit of research. Often that is the case with writing.

Choose a culture that you are unfamiliar with and find out how they celebrate the season. Write a first person narrative describing that event and its meaning to you as a member of that culture. What are the rituals and ceremonies? Where does the magic come from? Why is it important?

Have fun and Happy Holidays

-Tony

Texas Author Interview

bookcover

Kelly Luce grew up in Brookfield, Illinois. After graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in cognitive science, she moved to Japan, where she lived and worked for three years. Her work has been recognized by fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Ragdale Foundation, the Kerouac Project, and Jentel Arts, and has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, American Short Fiction, The Southern Review, and other magazines. She lives in Santa Cruz, California, and Austin, Texas, where she is a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas and fiction editor of Bat City Review. Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail is her first book.

Kellyluce

I was fortunate to sit down over coffee with Kelly recently to discuss her new release and her road to publication.

Scribe: It’s interesting that your degree is in cognitive science, not literature.

Kelly Luce: One of my least favorite subjects in school was literary criticism. I loved reading the books but I hated to analyze them. I would rather approach them with the pure eyes of the child. Literary criticism was my most difficult subject. I think science and fiction have a lot in common.

Scribe: One of my favorite stories in Hana Sasaki was Rooey. When I read that story I realized that you get it. You understand how grief can twist someone around to become something they’re not.

KL: The brother of my closest friend died when he was 20. We were in our twenties. It was the first time I had ever experienced a young death. The only person I knew before that who had died was my grandfather. He was a chain smoker with lung cancer. He had a slow death, but expected. My friend’s brother was full of verve, the circumstances were mysterious and it came all of a sudden. It hit us hard. Four years later I had another friend who was hiking in Romania and she was mauled and killed by a bear. She was in her thirties. I helped her husband through the grieving process. I think I had started the story a few years before but dealing with his grief helped me complete it. It’s interesting that you pointed it out as one of your favorites. It’s most reader’s favorite. It was almost impossible to get published, such a long story, over 6000 words. I was convinced it was a bad story because it was so hard to get published.

Scribe: The first story, Mrs. Yamada’s Toaster, was a good one to start with. It brought a spunkiness and playfulness that’s endearing to the reader.

KL: It’s a fun one to perform at readings, especially if there are children in the audience. They love it. It’s kind of a dark story in a lot of ways, like predicting how you’re going to die. But that’s something that everyone thinks they want to know.

Scribe: Magical realism seems to be the direction a lot of short story writers are taking these days. Does that seem true to you or is it just my perception?

KL: I think you’re right. I’m the fiction editor for Bat City Review, a local literary magazine I read through a lot of slush piles. I’ve read over 1500 submissions in the last few months. We’re filling an issue and we’re almost done. We’re desperate for a realistic story. We’re getting a lot of really weird stories, I mean really out there in terms of tone, voice and structure. It’s hard to find a conventional story.

Scribe: Most writers with your credentials want to publish the Great American Novel. What made you pursue publication of a short story collection since they’re so difficult to get published?

KL: I love the short story as a form. I don’t believe there’s a death knell for it. When I came back from Japan I didn’t know what to do. Do I continue my education in cognitive science or do I get an MFA in writing? I decided to apply for an MFA and went to the University of Miami. I soon found that it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t writing at all. I just wanted to write. I moved to California, worked part time and wrote as many stories as I could. Short stories were the barometer by which I could tell if I was going to be a writer. I had a novel idea when I was at University of Miami. I wrote about 100 pages. All that’s left of that is three words.

Scribe: How long did it take you to put this collection together?

KL: The oldest story in his book is Ash. it was written in about 2007, one of my first stories. Around 2010 or 2011 is when I put the collection together. I started sending it out under the title Mrs. Yamada’s Toaster. It was a finalist for several prizes but it was always a bridesmaid. I was thinking, ” Why? What is wrong with it?” How it got published is a strange story. Jill Meyers and Callie Collins worked with American Short Fiction. They had some stories of mine. They were editors there. This was before I ever thought of coming to Austin. I was living in California. As I was moving to Austin to attend the Michener center, they left American Short Fiction to start their own publishing company. I received an email asking if I had a collection ready for publication. I waited about 4 seconds and e-mailed back ” sure”. That’s how I ended up published by A Strange Object. They’re really insightful editors and easy to work with. I think they like projects that involve a little risk taking. Mine was the first book they published.

Scribe: How did your release go?

KL: It was a wonderful. There must have been over 100 people there; my classmates, friends that I had met, people from the literary community. I have only lived here a little over a year. It was amazing to have all that support.

Part 2 of the interview will appear next Friday accompanied by a Member Review of Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows A Tail.

Editor

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

The Weather Outside is Frightful!

pine-ridge-2sm

Well it only took Texas until the end of November to finally give us some cold weather! But I guess “better late than never” applies to winter cheer as well. As a former Oklahoman, I enjoy the cold a bit more than native Texans probably do, so I have been loving this chilly weather. It’s the perfect atmosphere to drink a hot cup of peppermint tea, bake some holiday cookies, and curl up with a blanket and a good book.

For this week’s writing prompt, let the weather be your inspiration! The plot and characters can be whatever you’d like but the setting has to be cold! Write out your favorite chilly Thanksgiving memory, a snowstorm poem, or a short story about a romantic winter date, for example.

Happy writing and stay warm!

Cheers,
Annie

MEET THE MEMBERS

MARC HESS

marc hess

Marc lives in Fredricksburg, TX. He joined the Writers League before the 2013 Agents and Editors conference on the advice of his editor. He writes: I have lived in Fredricksburg most of my life but the old Germans would object to me saying I’m ‘from’ here. (“If your kittens were born in the oven would you call them muffins?” That rhymes in German.)

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

Marc Hess: Literary Fiction, trying to use words for their social impact.


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

MH: Any of the dead ones because what a story that would make, eh?

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

MH: Norton’s Anthology of English Literature. Nothing like the Brits to keep one sane.

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

MH: Writing is a business and you have to work it like it’s your primary job.

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

MH: I want to generate words that will help open doors and cause readers to stop and reconsider the how we look at ourselves, others and the way we live together.

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

MH: I declare that I am “America’s Oldest Promising Young Writer.”

MEMBERS REVIEW

We’re excited to introduce a new Scribe feature with today’s very first “Members Review” post. Starting today, we’ll be bringing you periodic book reviews, written by Writers’ League members about books that are recently published and are either written by Texas writers or written about (or set in) this great state of ours. Our intention is to bring attention and support to Texas writers and we hope you’ll enjoy these reviews as much as our members are enjoying writing them.

Our first Members Review is posting today, on this the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, because the book we chose is a compelling new addition to the national dialogue surrounding that dark day in November: Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis (Published in October 2013 by Twelve/ Grand Central Publishing).The review is written by WLT member (and Board of Directors member), Joseph Pluta. Joe has been a member since 2013 and resides in Austin.

Who Killed JFK? Oswald or Dallas?

Many accounts of the Kennedy assassination focus on conspiracy theories, Warren Commission inaccuracies, and reinterpretations of either established facts or loosely derived opinions. Dallas 1963 offers a long overdue fresh approach to this much-studied American tragedy. Its co-authors, from the University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University in San Marcos, emphasize the mood of hatred and obsession that had been building up within the Dallas community since the 1960 presidential campaign. Their research is based on thousands of heretofore untapped written primary sources, personal interviews, unreleased photographs, and film footage. The result is a professionally penned work, a captivating read, and a perspective that substitutes documented references for sensationalism.

Within their carefully structured format, Bill Minutaglio and Steven Davis provide a month-by-month chronicle of events in Dallas and elsewhere from January 1960 to November 1963. They expose the sinister relationship that top Dallas politicians and business leaders shared with the KKK, the John Birch Society, fundamentalist religious extremism, and hate radio broadcasts. Leaders in these institutions routinely and systematically bashed the UN, the NAACP, civil rights marchers, labor, liberals, Catholics, and the Supreme Court, the latter largely because of its landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision. With more passionate fervor than sound logic, all of these arbitrarily discredited groups were somehow linked to Communist infiltration.

Some of the book’s leading characters include ultraconservative oil billionaire H. L. Hunt, newspaper publisher Ted Dealey, Baptist minister W. A. Criswell, Republican Congressman Bruce Alger, and defrocked U. S. Army General Edwin A. Walker who would later be incarcerated for psychiatric evaluation. Among other stances, Hunt proposed that people in the lower 40 percent of the income scale be denied the right to vote and that the wealthiest Americans be given seven votes each with the option to purchase more. Dealey renamed the New Deal “the Queer Deal”, despite the fact that Dealey Plaza was a 1930s WPA project named after his father. The family run Dallas Morning News routinely opposed integration and once referred to Washington as “the Negro Capital of the U. S.” Criswell, pastor of the largest all white Baptist Church in the country, regarded the Catholic Church as an evil equivalent to Communism. Alger organized an ugly clash between Nixon supporters and the LBJ family on Commerce Street just days before the election. Walker, a closet homosexual and devout segregationist supported by the American Nazi Party, believed, without offering any evidence, that “Texas is a prime target of Soviet attention.” In July of 1961, Alger, Dealey, and Joint Chiefs-of-Staff Chairman Curtis LeMay, publicly advocated a first strike nuclear attack on Soviet cities.

The authors also detail efforts by retailer Stanley Marcus to create a more cultured metropolitan environment in Dallas. In addition, they cover the roles played by African American educator, the Reverend H. Rhett James, and by NAACP activist Juanita Craft, to organize civil rights protests and to enhance economic opportunities for African Americans. In-depth discussion of conflicts between this trio and the above extremists is both compelling and frightening. Marcus is one of the more interesting case studies as he moves to desegregate his famous department store restaurant, supports the Kennedy-Johnson ticket, and alerts the President it may not be safe for him to come to Dallas.

Readers are also treated to a number of less well-known events that some may find surprising. These include the 1959 visit of Robert Kennedy to the LBJ ranch, the hurling of insults at President Kennedy by Dealey at a White House dinner for journalists, General Walker’s high profile role in the 1962 University of Mississippi riots to protest James Meredith’s effort to enroll, and Lee Harvey Oswald’s near miss in and clever escape from his attempt to kill Walker (seven months before the death of Kennedy). Perhaps even more astounding is the description of business leader fears that customers would avoid the city after the assassination. This resulted in a letter to the President’s widow asking her to sign a testimonial to Dallas hospitality!!!

The authors never say explicitly either that Dallas killed the President or that the city’s intense animosity created an environment within which someone was destined to step forward and commit the crime, even if that person were not Oswald. Throughout the book, however, the reader becomes compelled to address the possibility that the atmosphere in then culturally limited Dallas contributed to an anti-Kennedy sentiment where some form of violence might naturally take its ugly course.

Dallas 1963 is a powerful book filled with precisely marshaled evidence that took many years to uncover. It is also an entertaining read, especially for those who appreciate historical accuracy and mesmerizing prose.

Joseph Pluta has published 21 books, over 70 short stories, and more than 60 articles in academic journals. He has served on the faculties of 8 universities and has been Editor of a magazine, host of a radio show, director of a University Honors Program, and consultant to both foreign governments and U. S. businesses. Joe grew up in New Buffalo, Michigan and still enjoys traveling throughout the state and Canada. He lives in Austin, Texas.