Meet the Members: Karen Hulene Bartell

“I’m beginning to realize the wealth of information that’s so readily available to us authors here in Texas.”

-Karen Hulene Bartell

A member of the Writers League’ since January, Karen Hulene Bartell lives in Driftwood, Texas.

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

Karen Hulene Bartell: Primarily, I write women’s literature, but also in the religion, spirituality, romance, and mystery genres.

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

KHB: Earnest Hemingway — last spring, we visited his home in Key West. I’d ask how much of his writing is fictional and how much is truth, with just the names changed to protect the “innocent.”

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

KHB: Okay, my roots are showing: Gone with the Wind. I read it for the first time when I was 13, and it’s influenced my life.

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

KHB: I’m beginning to realize the wealth of information that’s so readily available to us authors here in Texas. I especially enjoyed last June’s Agents & Editors Conference!

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

KHB: My goals are to write full time in nine months and earn what I’m currently making at my bread-and-butter daytime job as a technical 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?

KHB: Summer of ‘58 by Janice Gilbertson is one of my favorites, and River of Cattle by Alice V. Brock is another.

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

KHB: My book Lone Star Christmas: Holy Night is the Christmas story, updated and set in current-day Texas. Christmas in Cahokia: Song of the Owl is my most recent release (October 2017). Visit my website for upcoming events, including the release event for my upcoming book Sacred Heart: Valentine, Texas on February 3rd.

Thanks, Karen!

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: Deborah Lynn Blumberg

“I’m working on my first novel; it’s historical fiction based on the true story of how my great grandparents saved a group of Jews from the Holocaust with the help of a world leader.”

-Deborah Lynn Blumberg

A member of the Writers’ League since earlier this month, Deborah Lynn Blumberg lives in Houston, Texas.

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

Deborah Lynn Blumberg: I come from a journalism background and now freelance full-time. I write for publications and corporate clients and specialize in business & finance and health & wellness. I’m also working on my first novel; it’s historical fiction based on the true story of how my great grandparents saved a group of Jews from the Holocaust with the help of a world leader. I’d love to connect with other Texas writers working on historical fiction!

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

DLB: Erik Larson. I love his books that read like fiction but are about true events – Devil In The White City and Dead Wake. My own book is fiction, but it’s based on a true story set in the late 1930s. I often find myself going down the rabbit hole with research. I’d ask him, “How do you know when to stop researching?”

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

DLB: And Then There Were None by Agatha Chrystie. I love mysteries and books set in England. I have an old copy of her 1939 novel in my home library. It’s one of the few books I can read over and over again.

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

DLB: I went to a great WLT event in Houston about how to turn your mess of pages into a book. I’m part of the way through my first draft, and it’s always so inspiring – and encouraging – to hear tips and tricks from veteran novelists and short story writers.

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

DLB: I’m excited to continue building my fiction writing skills and eventually get my novel published. I also just finished a personal essay for a local magazine about my experience during Hurricane Harvey, and another piece for my alma mater (Wellesley’s) alumni magazine about my grandmother’s death and our home flooding. I really enjoyed working on them and would like to continue writing personal essays in addition to my other freelance work.

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?

DLB: I reviewed Austin writer Jeff Abbott’s recent thriller Blame for the Rice University alumni magazine and stayed up way past my bedtime several nights reading it. I couldn’t resist the cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. It was a page turner.

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

DLB: I’m the co-president of the American Society of Journalists and Author’s Texas chapter and am co-chairing ASJA’s first regional conference in Texas with fellow Writers’ League member Susan Johnson Taylor. We have an exciting day planned – a session on mindfulness for writers, a panel on self-editing, etc. – and would love to see fellow Writers’ League members there. Members can get a discount using code TX18-WLT-TX.

You can find me online at deborahlynnblumberg.com on Twitter at @dlblumberg.

Thanks, Deborah!

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: Melinda Freeland

“There are a lot of friendly writers and people associated with the writing world, and Texas sure has a lot of writers!​”

-Melinda Freeland

A member of the Writers’ League since 2011, Melinda Freeland lives in Canyon Lake, Texas.

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

Melinda Freeland: Christian contemporary romance and women’s fiction​.

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

MF: Anita Shreve. Is any part of The Last Time They Met autobiographical?  (That’s my favorite book written by her.)​

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

MF: The Bible.  It’s long, so it would keep me occupied for hours. I would continue to learn some new insight each time I read it, and I could maybe figure out why G​od decided to stick me on a deserted island!

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

MF: There are a lot of friendly writers and people associated with the writing world, and Texas sure has a lot of writers!​

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

MF: My debut novel just came out in May, so I see many more years of writing novels in this genre and women’s fiction.​  If my writing could take me on a trip to the red carpet because my novels were made into a movie, that would be awesome!

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?

MF: I just finished reading My Hope Next Door by Tammy L. Gray.  It’s also a Christian contemporary romance like my debut novel and it’s also written about “real” people.  Like I say, “Christians are people, too!”  This author did a fantastic job of keeping me interested enough to read even when I was dead tired, making me really feel for the main characters, and portraying Christians realistically to show both their good and bad sides.

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

MF: If you love reading books that take place in Texas  and novels that are inspired by true stories, go to my website www.melindafreeland.com and check out the BOOKS tab. Love, Texas — Population 2 is a Christian contemporary romance novel inspired by my own true story of my life as a small-town reporter and photographer in Taylor, Texas; my reunion with my Austin high-school sweetheart; and my dynamic faith journey.  You can also check out the BUY tab on my website, where you’ll find a link to purchase a signed copy of my debut novel with PayPal or a major credit card. :)​

Thanks, Susan!

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! Please also email us, at the same address, if you’d like to learn more about WLT board service.

Meet the Members: John Payne

“I write on what I have most experienced. I value my crediblity.”

-John Payne

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for three years, John Payne lives in San Antonio.

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

John Payne: General fiction, as well as sci-fi and fantasy.

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

JP: Lee Child – When is Jack Reacher going to suffer a serious, incapacitating injury?

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

JP: Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s Killing Jesus: A History.

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

JP: Tips on how to develop characters.

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

JP: Moving solely into fantasy or historical romance.

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

JP: I recommend Vince Flynn’s Order to Kill (co-authored by Kyle Mills).

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

JP: I write on what I have most experienced – even in the fiction and fantasy works. I value my credibility.

Thanks, John!

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! Please also email us, at the same address, if you’d like to learn more about WLT board service.

Meet the Members: Judithe Little

“I love the process of researching, writing, and joining the two together. In particular, I like to write about people or events in history that have been overlooked.”

-Judithe Little

A member of the Writers’ League since 2009, Judithe Little lives in Houston.

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

Judithe Little: Wickwythe Hall, my first novel out now from Black Opal Books, is historical fiction and was inspired by a little-known confrontation between the British and the French during World War II. I’m currently working on another novel that takes place in France around the turn of the 19th century. I love the process of researching, writing, and joining the two together. In particular, I like to write about people or events in history that have been overlooked.

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

JL: I really enjoyed researching Winston Churchill, who plays a part in Wickwythe Hall, and would love to go back in time and have a drink with him. I’d have plenty of his favorite champagne, Pol Roger, on hand. I’d make sure his glass was never empty and would sit back and listen to whatever came out of his head.

I’d also like to ask Anthony Doerr if he has any tricks for coming up with the unique descriptions in All The Light We Cannot See. He has a great talent for using adjectives in unexpected ways. As a writer it can be so difficult to come up with new and interesting phrases to describe the mundane.

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

JL: I don’t like reading books more than once. I’ve never read the Outlander series so I think I’d bring those. I’ve heard they’re good, they’re long, and there are a lot of them. Plus I’m a sucker for a Scottish accent. But if I hadn’t already read The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, or Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, I’d bring one of those to get me through.

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

JL: I’ve learned that having a community of writers and a resource like the Writers’ League that helps writers connect with agents and publishers and gain insight into the publishing process is indispensable. Also, an excerpt from Wickwythe Hall was a finalist in one of the WLT Manuscript Contests and that was a great confidence booster.

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

JL: I feel like it has already taken me where I’d like to go! I started working on Wickwythe Hall over twelve years ago. To be able to hold the book in my hand is a dream come true. Next, I’d love to see my current work-in-progress published and sent out into the world. A research trip to France would be nice too.

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?

JL: The Promise by Ann Weisgarber, a lyrical novel set against the Galveston storm of 1900. It came out in 2013 but experiencing Hurricane Harvey and seeing the massive destruction the storm caused here in Houston, my thoughts have been going back to the characters and haunting scenes in The Promise.

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

JL: Foreword Reviews says Wickwythe Hall is “a riveting and enlightening mix of history and fiction that puts a human face on the costs of war.”  It was released by Black Opal Books on September 30. River Oaks Bookstore in Houston is hosting a launch party on October 21 at 4 pm.  If you’re in Houston, come by! To learn more about Wickwythe Hall, please visit my website at judithelittle.com.

Thanks, Judithe

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! Please also email us, at the same address, if you’d like to learn more about WLT board service.

Meet the Members: Stina Leicht

“”If I ever met Ursula K. LeGuin, I’d thank her for being so amazing.”

-Stina Leicht

A member of the Writers’ League since June, Stina Leicht lives in Austin.

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

Stina Leicht: Science Fiction and Fantasy.

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

SL: If I ever met Ursula K. LeGuin, I’d thank her for being so amazing.

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

SL: It’d have to be Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.

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

SL: I’m looking forward to meeting more local writers!

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

SL: My hope is to actually win a literary award—not just get nominated. I also hope to sell more novels as well as short stories.

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?

SL: A Texas author you should be on the look out for is Nicky Drayden. Her Prey of Gods is a fun read.

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

SL: I’ve four published novels: Of Blood and Honey and Blue Skies from Pain (a duology set in Northern Ireland during The Troubles); and Cold Iron and Blackthorne (books one and two of an Epic Flintlock Fantasy series.) Blackthorne just came out in August, and it was published by Simon & Schuster’s Saga Imprint. I’m currently working on a feminist science fiction novel titled Persephone Station for the same publisher. It’ll debut in 2018. I’m a two time Campbell Award nominee and a Crawford Award nominee.

Thanks, Stina!

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! Please also email us, at the same address, if you’d like to learn more about WLT board service.

Meet the Members: Chip Dameron

“If I were stranded on a deserted island, I’d want to have The Norton Anthology of American Literature. I’d have such a variety of creative voices to keep me company.”

-Chip Dameron

A member of the Writers’ League for 3 years and a current Writers’ League Board Member, Chip Dameron lives in Brownsville, TX.

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

Chip Dameron: Primarily poetry, though I’m in the middle of drafting a novel.

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

CD: I’d enjoy clinking glasses of raki with novelists Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak and asking them about the challenges of depicting life in modern Turkey without triggering censorship and possible imprisonment.

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

CD: If I were stranded on a deserted island, I’d want to have The Norton Anthology of American Literature. I’d have such a variety of creative voices to keep me company.

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

CD: That there is a great thirst across the state for interacting with other aspiring and practicing writers, for learning more about the craft through short courses from accomplished writers, and for pursuing avenues to publication. The Writers’ League serves as catalyst in creating opportunities for all these activities to happen. I’m extremely impressed with the dedication of the staff of the Writers’ League and the board members I have the privilege to serve with.

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

CD: While I continue to write poems, I’m currently immersed in, and (mostly) enjoying, the process of spinning out a novel. I still have a long way to go.

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?

CD: I’ve just finished Amy Gentry’s Good as Gone, a fast-paced novel with memorable characters and a plot full of twists.

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

CD: I invite everyone to check out my recent book of travel poems, China Sketchbook, published by Purple Flag and available online from Powell’s Books, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Thanks, Chip!

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! Please also email us, at the same address, if you’d like to learn more about WLT board service.