Meet the Members: Martha Miller

 

“While writing may seem a solo activity, there is a huge, generous community of knowledgeable writers in the WLT that are happy to help.”

-Martha Miller

A member of the Writers’ League since 2004, Martha Miller lives in San Antonio, TX.

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

MM: Solely non-fiction including essays and a travel memoir about the 21-months my husband and I lived in Rome.

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

MM: Nora Ephron. Shall we just go ahead and order a bottle?

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

MM: A huge blank journal so I could write about what I was feeling, discovering and doing. I’ve kept a grateful journal for nearly 20 years; it is one of the keys to my happiness. No matter how tired I am, every night I note five things (different things) that I’m happy or grateful for from the day. It keeps me focused on the positive. Flipping through these books brings back a ton of details, special memories that would have been forgotten forever.

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

MM: While writing may seem a solo activity, there is a huge, generous community of knowledgeable writers in the WLT that are happy to help.

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

MM: I just published my first book, Times New Roman: How We Quit Our Jobs, Gave Away Our Stuff & Moved to Italy, and am thinking about a sequel. I’ve always wanted to live in New York, so how does Times New York sound?

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?

MM: Running on Empty: The Irreverent Guru’s Guide to Filling up with Mindfulness by Shelley Pernot (Austin). Pernot mentions Austin and Houston throughout with her hilarious writing style. Not too “woo woo,” she makes mindfulness accessible and actually fun.

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

MM: I’ll be doing a short talk and signing copies of Times New Roman at Barnes & Noble (San Antonio, San Pedro, across from Northstar Mall) on Saturday, May 27 from 2 to 4. Please come and bring friends! TNR is also available from Amazon and it’s on the shelf at Book People, travel section, first floor, near the cafe. Last time I looked it was between Under a Tuscan Sun and Wild. Pretty sweet place to be.

Thanks, Martha!

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: Walt Gragg

“Getting published is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s those writers who understand that and continue to persist, despite all the rejection along the way, who will succeed.”

-Walt Gragg

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas who recently rejoined after having previously been a member in the early 2000s, Walt Gragg lives in Georgetown.

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

Walt Gragg: Military thrillers.

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

WG: Tough question. It would likely be James A. Michener, Leon Uris, or James Clavell. Question — “How in the world were you able to write the incredibly complex stories you so masterfully wove together?”

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

WG: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

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

WG: A tremendous amount of things. Attending a number of the annual conferences really helped me to learn how to interact with agents and pitch my work. That paid off when I pitched my soon-to-be agent, Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency at ThrillerFest in New York in 2014. If asked to give advice to an aspiring writer, I would probably say the most important thing you need to learn is getting published is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s those writers who understand that and continue to persist, despite all the rejection along the way, who will succeed.

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

WG: If you ask my agent and editor, they would tell you the sky’s the limit. I was lucky enough to sign with a vice president and editorial director (Tom Clancy’s editor) with the Berkley Publishing Group at Penguin Random House. So I have one of the most highly respected editors and the force of the world’s largest publishing house behind me. My debut The Red Line comes out on May 2, 2017. In the February 13 edition of Publishers Weekly, I not only received a glowing “starred” review, but out of the 100 or so books they reviewed, The Red Line was one of only two books to received the highly coveted “boxed” review.  I’m getting up in age so will probably only write another five books or so, but I hope to eventually be on the New York Times bestseller list. On top of that, we’ve already signed with a producer in Hollywood who is looking to turn The Red Line into a blockbuster movie trilogy. So — so far, so good.

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?

WG: The Right Side of Wrong by Reavis Wortham.

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

WG: I’m told The Red Line is a great book. Something really special. Big, bold, and unique. Publishers Weekly confirmed that in their review. I hope it really is a novel everyone will want to read. We are having a huge release party hosted by Gather at 5540 N. Lamar in Austin on May 6, from 1 pm to 4 pm. Food, drink, free parking, and music by Austin’s great Beatles cover band, The Eggmen. There will also be 2-3 guest authors signing their work. We would love for the Writers’ League members to come out, have some fun, and chat a bit with us about writing.

Thanks, Walt!

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: Stacey Berg

“It’s been wonderfully affirming to meet other writers in various stages of our journeys to publication.”

-Stacey Berg

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for five years, Stacey Berg lives in Houston.

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

Stacey Berg: I write speculative fiction — science fiction and fantasy for adults and teens. My first novel, Dissension, was published by Harper Voyager Impulse in 2016.

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

SB: William Gibson, the author of seminal speculative fiction like Neuromancer and The Peripheral (and inventor of the word “cyberspace”). I’d ask him how he comes up with his astounding metaphors; for example, the description in his essay “Since 1948” of punk as “the detonation of some slow-fused projectile buried deep in society’s flank.”

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

SB: The complete Shakespeare would be my one indispensable book. There are dozens of worlds to explore in there, and hundreds of people to keep you company. The Riverside version is the one I grew up with, but maybe I’d pick the Norton so I’d have a new (to me) edition for the desert island.

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

SB: It’s been wonderfully affirming to meet other writers in various stages of our journeys to publication. The Writers’ League’s Agents & Editors Conferences definitely helped me take the crucial step from writing secretly in my study to submitting my work to agents and ultimately publishers.

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

SB: My first two novels have been set in the moderately distant future; I’m looking forward to stepping sideways into whole other worlds.

Scribe: Here are 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?

SB: I’m so far behind in my “to-be-read” pile that I’m not sure I read anything that technically qualifies. But I’m counting Maria Dahvana Headley’s Magonia, since she was at this year’s Texas Book Festival.

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

SB: Regeneration, the sequel to Dissension, is out now from Harper Voyagers Impulse. You can buy it here.

Thanks, Stacey!

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: Elise Holland

” In November 2016, I co-founded 2 Elizabeths, a short fiction and poetry publication, with my mother. We are committed to reading each and every single submission we receive, as there is no slush pile for us.”

-Elise Holland

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas since October, Elise Holland lives in Houston, TX.

elise-hollandScribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Elise Holland: I write articles, essays, short fiction, and poetry for 2 Elizabeths, which is a grassroots publication I co-founded with my mother late last year.

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

EH: That’s such a tough question! There are so many incredible authors that I would be honored to meet. A few that come to mind are Emma Straub, Erin Loechner, Gabriela Pereira, Mirtha Michelle Castro Mármol, or the literary ghosts of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I recently had the opportunity to interview Mirtha Michelle Castro Mármol for 2 Elizabeths. She continues to inspire me as a poet, but also as a woman. She is ceaseless in her innate ability to encourage women to uplift other women. Hearing her discuss how her mother helped to shape her, how her own girl friends support her, and her desire to continue to help other people to grow was both inspiring and motivating. She is truly a rare gem.

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

EH: Any one of Emma Straub’s books would most likely be among my top choices on a deserted island. Her witty sense of humor would keep me sane in a situation like that! If I truly had to select one, it would be Other People We Married. For one thing, I am a lover of short stories. (Very few people know she published a collection of short stories, and they are excellent!) For another thing, it could not be her book The Vacationers, as I would likely just grow far too jealous of the luxurious European vacation featured in that novel. I suppose it could be Modern Lovers, which is also fantastic, but for the purpose of this conversation, Other People We Married it is!

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

EH: I am still a relatively new member; however, the most important thing I’ve learned thus far is about the endeavors of other writers in Texas. I am a massive fan of Scribe, and I adore the opportunity to read these interviews of fellow writers. It is a massive honor to have the opportunity to participate as well!

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

EH: We are massively focused on 2 Elizabeths and the opportunities that it creates as a platform for other writers of short fiction and poetry. At this point, after only a couple of months, we have been able to publish the work of five writers and pay them for their contributions. In five years I hope that 2 Elizabeths grows to a point that we can offer exponentially more to writers of short fiction and poetry.

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?

EH: I just finished reading The After Party by Anton DiSclafani. The novel centers around the epitome of Texas glamour in the 1950s and focuses on Houston. Being from Houston myself, I found the entire story to be enthralling.

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

EH: In November 2016, I co-founded 2 Elizabeths, a short fiction and poetry publication, with my mother. We are committed to reading each and every single submission we receive, as there is no slush pile for us. We will always pay for the pieces of fiction, poetry, and cover art that we select to publish. For a copy of our submission guidelines, click here. We would love to hear from you!

Thanks, Elise!

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: Will Ottinger

“I’ve come late to writing fiction, but I believe I have a readable voice that resonates with audiences.”

-Will Ottinger

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for one month, Will Ottinger lives in Houston.

will-ottingerScribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Will Ottinger: I’m exploring several genres but leaning toward historical fiction, mysteries, and literary fiction.

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

WO: First author (if he was alive!) with whom I’d have a drink: Ray Bradbury. My question to him: “Of all the memorable characters you’ve created, which one is the closest to yourself?”

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

WO: The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (we both grew up in the Low Country around Savannah and Charleston).

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

WO: I just joined WLT, so I’m looking forward to learning what the League provides that will hone my writing skills.

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

WO: In the future, I would like to develop a series of novels based on the male/female protagonists in two of my books.

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?

WO: I’m still looking for a recent can’t-put-it-down book that’s Texas-related, but I really enjoyed The Son by Philipp Meyer several years ago. Excellent read that’s been made into a new miniseries by AMC.

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

WO: I’ve come late to writing fiction, but I believe I have a readable voice that resonates with audiences. My first novel, A Season for Ravens, let me explore a lifelong fascination and received good reviews. My next novel (to be released later this year), The Savannah Betrayals, takes the reader to an entirely different time period and subject, being set in Savannah, Georgia in 1836. Future plans lean toward historical novels/mysteries, but other than a possible series, upcoming novels will explore different characters, historical periods, and settings. Like almost all new writers, I’m still unraveling the mysteries of promoting my work!

Thanks, Will!

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: Curt Locklear

“I believe in goal-setting, so I do not doubt that my books will ultimately take off and be sought after by all types of readers.”

-Curt Locklear

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for four years, Curt Locklear lives in The Woodlands, TX.

curt-locklearScribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Curt Locklear: I write in several genres: contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction. My published novel is historical fiction.

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

CL: Were she alive, I would like to have a drink, probably tea, with Mother Teresa. I would ask her how she was able to persevere and do  so much good for the poor, and indeed for the world, despite incredible odds.

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

CL: I would have to have the Bible, but if I could bring along a fiction book, it would be Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.

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

CL: I have attended some valuable workshops. I believe the people who run it are a confluence of geniuses. You know what writers need, and I applaud you.

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

CL: I believe in goal-setting, so I do not doubt that my books will ultimately take off and be sought after by all types of readers. Although my first novel trilogy is a historical fiction, many of my most enthralled readers do not typically read historical fiction. What I hear the most is something like, “OMG, I love this book. I love the characters.”

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?

CL: Anything by Anthony Whitt — sterling writing with strong characters. His books are about Texas cowboys facing incredible danger.

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

CL: I am a retired educator, having been a principal at elementary, middle school, and high school. I am an accomplished education consultant. In addition, I give talks about the Civil War or other historical eras, always accompanied by my banjo and guitar. I tell corny jokes and make the learning memorable and fun. I’m available to teach on writing, brain theory, and more. www.CurtLocklearAuthor.com and email curt@curtlocklearauthor.com.

Finally, it’s my humble opinion that Writers’ League rocks!

Thanks, Curt!

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: David Eric Tomlinson

“Writing, like nothing else, encourages me to focus on the bigger picture, to try and make sense of my community, my place within it, and how and where change can be affected.”

–David Eric Tomlinson

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas for three years, David Eric Tomlinson lives in Dallas.

tomlinson-webScribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

David Eric Tomlinson: I write fiction and the occasional book review or personal essay.

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

DET: My college writing professor, novelist and memoirist Mel Freilicher, who I haven’t seen in more than ten years. He always has a unique perspective on the intersection of art and politics, so I’d want him to explain the recent presidential election and what it all means. If anyone can do it, Mel can.

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

DET: Underworld by Don DeLillo. It makes sense of this modern world like nothing I’ve ever read.

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

DET: The Writers’ League has given me access to a whole diverse community of Texas writers, all of them pushing boundaries and taking chances with their work, which is so often excellent. I’ve reviewed several novels for the Members Review, something that has helped hone my own craft, because it forces a closer engagement with a manuscript, which is always a good thing for an author.

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

DET: I’ll keep writing novels. It’s a long game, many years from idea to finished product, but that process forces me to both retreat from and engage more deeply with the world around me. There is such a constant barrage of information these days, much of it meaningless. And writing, like nothing else, encourages me to focus on the bigger picture, to try and make sense of my community, my place within it, and how and where change can be affected.

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?

DET: I read a fantastic novel by Dallas author Joe Milazzo a few years ago called Crepuscule W/Nellie. It’s about a love triangle between Thelonious Monk, his wife (just diagnosed with cancer), and Monk’s benefactor, a wealthy baroness. It’s a big, brilliant, rambling, gutsy book that dives into jazz and the creative process and intimacy and friendship. Another great one is Carmen Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft, about Mexico’s invasion of Texas (which had been stolen from them), in 1859. It’s a funny, irreverent, and politically relevant take on the seemingly endless cast of characters struggling for control of the border.

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

My debut novel The Midnight Man was just released this month from Tyrus Books, now a division of Simon & Schuster. It’s a story about five Oklahomans who overcome deep racial, political, and social differences, to form a kind of family unit, in the year preceding the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The plot revolves around a capital murder trial. We’re having a book launch party on Monday, January 16, at The Wild Detectives bookstore, in Dallas. You can learn more about all of that here: www.DavidEricTomlinson.com.

Thanks, David!

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!