Meet the Members: Melinda Wyers

” …[I]f I’m indefinitely stuck somewhere it would be nice to read about immortality.”

— Melinda Wyers

A member of the Writers’ League since February 2019, Melinda lives in Hutto.

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

Melinda Wyers: I currently write mid to late Victorian Historical Fiction.

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

MW: Virginia Woolf. “Why would you try to cook eggs in bed?”

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

MW: The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, if I’m indefinitely stuck somewhere it would be nice to read about immortality.

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

MW: I’ve only started but hope to attend a few of the events this March and get to meet folks.

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

MW: I’m hoping to write at least two more books in the same genre or with the same characters, then move on to write about something more modern.

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:  I haven’t read one that has come out in the past year, most of what I read was written a while back but I’m starting research on Galveston in the late 1800’s (before the hurricane) so I’m about to jump into Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson.

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

MW: My current book, The Widow of Redbriar has been out for a year now, and is available in print and ebook. To get updates on my work and other projects you can visit my website.

Thank you, Melinda!

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: Amanda Waters

“There is such a supportive community of writers in Texas who are generous with their time, support, and knowledge.”

— Amanda Waters

A member of the Writers’ League since July 2019, Amanda lives in Houston.

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

Amanda Waters: Sweet Romance, YA

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

AW: Sally Lloyd-Jones. She’s a children’s book author, and seems like such a delightful person. The first question I’d ask her is what interesting thing she saw along the way to meet for our drink, because she seems to have a real gift for observing and noticing things, and I’d love to get a peek into her brain in that way.

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

AW: The first thing that popped into my mind is The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, because it would keep me entertained for a long time! Although if I could cheat a little and pick a whole series, I’d take the Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery.

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

AW: There is such a supportive community of writers in Texas who are generous with their time, support, and knowledge.

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

AW: I’d love to write and publish more novels that people enjoy reading and passing on to their friends — sounds simple, of course, but we all know it’s not! I’m currently working on a short story and a second novel starring minor characters in my first book, and I have an idea for some YA fiction that I’d like to branch off into one day.

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? 

AW: I really enjoyed the non-fiction book It’s a Love Story, by Houston based writer Lincee Ray. It’s part memoir, part collection of essays about love in many forms. The author grew up in a small town in Texas and writes some really touching and humorous stories that are so relatable and entertaining and very much capture growing up and living in East Texas. I like a book that makes me laugh, and this one definitely had me laughing out loud at times!

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

AW: My novel You Again is available now! It’s a sweet character-driven romance about a 62 year old widow who unexpectedly reconnects with her first love who broke her heart at 17. You can find out more information on my website along with book club resources and a link to my monthly newsletter where I talk about books I’m reading and other fun stuff. It’s also where you can hear about upcoming projects.

Thank you, Amanda!

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: Mark Billingsley

“I plan to be writing and publishing for the rest of my life.”

— Mark Billingsley  

A renewed member of the Writers’ League since January 2020, Mark works in Abilene during the week, but travels home to Leander on the weekends.  

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

Mark Billingsley: Professionally, I am a grant writer. I taught English and Journalism for 16 years, so all three areas of specialization have informed my writing. I began a fiction novel several years ago while attending a two-week New Jersey Writing Project training but did not finish it. I ran across rough drafts somewhere. Maybe I can resurrect it. I hope to write feature articles for magazines while also doing research and writing biographies in the short term. So both fiction and non-fiction would be the answer, I suppose.

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

MB: J.R.R. Tolkien. I would ask him what he thought of the movie adaptations of his books.

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

MB: The Bible.

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

MB: Well, I just started, so not much yet. I’m attending a training on Saturday, and my wife and I hope to take advantage of more opportunities in the future. Once I have a good draft of one of my books I hope to set up a one-on-one appointment with WLT for feedback. As soon as I see a workshop on publishing, I’m there.

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

MB: I’d like to make a living at it so I can fully retire. Regardless, I plan to be writing and publishing for the rest of my life. Traveling, researching and writing will make a nice retirement hobby.

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?

MB: I haven’t read a Texas-related book lately. Anything about the Beatles fits into the “unable to put down” category for me. In fact, a Beatles book is in my future, and since I’m a Texas boy, Texas will definitely be there.

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

MB: My wife is the more creative one. I’m a good wordsmith. Hopefully we can combine talents and really come up with a special book in the future.

Thank you, Mark!

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: Nikki Carter

“My overarching goal this year is to finish and publish a novel…”

— Nikki Carter 

A member of the Writers’ League since January 2020, Nikki currently lives in Copperas Cove, Texas. 

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

Nikki Carter: I’m a freelance writer, so I write a variety of content in that capacity and then personally, I write poetry, personal essays, and I’m working on my first fiction novel. My published work can be found here.

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

NC: I’m going to say Mary Gaitskill, because I love her prose. I would want to know all about her writing process! How does she stay organized? Does she schedule blocks of time to write? etc. 

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

NC:  This is a hard one. I’d probably just take something super long, so that I have something to occupy my time. Maybe it would be a perfect time to read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

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

NC: I just joined, but I’m looking forward to meeting other writers in the area.

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

NC: My overarching goal this year is to finish and publish a novel based on my personal experiences with toxic relationships. Sort of in the vein of “Normal People” by Sally Rooney. 

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?

NC: I admittedly have not read a Texas-related book lately, but am open to suggestions! I’ve been trying to read more women and people of color and I just finished On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong and loved it.

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

NC: Outside of my freelance work, I run a weekly jobs newsletter for women of color. Oh, and my best friend (who is also a writer and lives in AR) and I are hoping to launch a writing retreat this fall!

Thank you, Nikki!

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: Scott Semegran

“[The Writers’ League has taught me] that there are a bunch of kind, supportive, and very talented writers living and working in Texas.”

— Scott Semegran 

A member of the Writers’ League since December 2019, Scott currently lives in Austin, Texas. 

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

Scott Semegran: Up until now, I have written mostly Humorous Literary Fiction. My work-in-progress is what I would call Literary Suspense.

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

SS: I talk to so many authors through my web series Austin Liti Limits. But the one author I really would love to talk to would be Larry McMurtry. I would ask him for some writing career advice, and maybe ask him to give some insights into his writing process.

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

SS: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon.

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

SS: That there are a bunch of kind, supportive, and very talented writers living and working in Texas.

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

SS: I’m working on my ninth book, a literary suspense novel, so I hope to see it published in 2020.

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?

SS: The last book I read that is Texas-related (and takes place in Texas) that I would recommend is Hollow by Owen Egerton. Excellent novel! Before that, Ain’t Nobody Nobody by Heather Harper Ellett, which is also excellent. I know that’s two books, but I love promoting Texas authors.

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

SS: My latest book, To Squeeze a Prairie Dog: An American Novel, was the 2019 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Winner: Silver Medal for Fiction – Humor/Comedy and the 2019 Texas Author Project Winner for Adult Fiction. Buy a paperback at BookPeople or Malvern Books in Austin, TX or anywhere online. It’s available in paperback, hardcover, eBook, and audiobook.

Thank you, Scott!

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: Dorothy Paredes

“This is an exciting, challenging, scary and completely new journey for me.”

— Dorothy Paredes

A member of the Writers’ League since November 2019, Dorothy currently lives in South Austin, Texas. 

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

Dorothy Paredes: I am currently writing a memoir. I do have a couple unfinished manuscripts that are short story, novel-esque. 

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

DP: This is a hard one, there are several (of course) but the one that stands out the most, and it’s hard for me to admit this now because I don’t want to be “mainstream,” would be Margaret Atwood. I was first introduced to her through The Handmaids Tale back in the early 2000’s during a Woman’s Lit class and I was so struck by the story that I quickly began to read her other novels. My favorite is Surfacing. What is most impactful to me about her writing is her leading characters. They struggle to find and know themselves throughout the story. Regardless of the hardships faced, the character perseveres to attain a level of personal fulfillment and success. Therefore the first question I would ask is, when did she first start questioning herself?  

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

DP: If I were stranded on a deserted island, I would want to have Lucifer’s Hammer by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven with me to keep me sane.

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

DP: The value of the writing community to support (directly or non-directly) the mission of writing.

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

DP:  I see my writing taking me into the world of non-profits and motivational speaking.

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?

DP: Okay so I’ll be honest, I haven’t read a Texas-related book that has come out within the past year (2019 Calendar Year). But, the one Texas related book that came out close to 2019 (October 2018) that I read in 2019 and couldn’t put down, was Dare to Lead by Brené Brown.

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

DP: I am currently working on finishing my very first book that I aim to self-publish/promote in February 2020! This is an exciting, challenging, scary and completely new journey for me. The book will tell my story of self discovery, disappointment, and survival in the trying times of cancer at the age of 26. Wish me luck and send vibes of perseverance my way (I am a bit of a procrastinator).

Thank you, Dorothy!

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: JoDee Neathery

“Writers’ League gives authors the ability to grow as artists and individuals…”

— JoDee Neathery

A member of the Writers’ League since 2016, JoDee currently lives in Mabank, Texas. 

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

JoDee Neathery: Literary Fiction

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

JN: Pat Conroy. You have always said that four of the most powerful words in the English language are “tell me a story,” and you’ve given us many classics to enjoy. Do you have a favorite and if so, why?  

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

JN: Beach Music because the words are magical and allow you to read the same beautiful sentence a hundred times and never tire of it.

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

JN: There are many people and organizations that advertise their commitment to authors but few are as informative, supportive, and encouraging. Writers’ League gives authors the ability to grow as artists and individuals…like a 1400 member extended family.

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

JN: I have fulfilled a life-long dream of writing a novel and I thought that would be enough — it’s not. It’s evidently addictive once it gets in your blood. At my “young” age, I don’t imagine a career is on the horizon, but I’m going to write as long as I can still construct a sentence and who knows where that might take me. I’m currently engrossed in writing another novel, A Kind of Hush, and it excites me everyday to create something I love to do. One of my characters, a little four-year-old boy, came to me in the middle of the night and I knew he had to be in whatever I wrote next. I’m pretty sure he will be in my will! 

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?

JN: I loved Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird!

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

JN: I’m a living testament that if you are not blessed with the perfect resume for anything you pursue, you should always strive to be the person you wanted to be before someone told you who you should be. My “author pedigree” is on display in what I write, not on a diploma that hangs on the wall. I was told I was not “college material” but I always knew there was something deep inside that would eventually surface and it did. I’m very proud to have my name on the spine of a book and I hope my story will help others who might doubt their abilities.

Thank you, JoDee!

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!