Meet the Members: Samantha M. Clark

“The WLT conferences and webinars (which I also really LOVE) have taught me about craft, persevering, and the business of publishing, as well as continue to inspire me.”

— Samantha M Clark

A member of the Writers’ League since 2012, Samantha lives in Cedar Park, TX.

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

Samantha M. Clark: My middle-grade novel The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast which came out from Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster in 2018, is contemporary fantasy, and nearly all my stories come to me with some kind of fantastical element, whether fantasy or sci-fi. I also write young adult novels and recently have been playing with picture books and chapter books, and I have an unpublished novella for adult readers that I love and ideas for more of them. I basically love to read and write stories for all ages and in many genres, as long as they stretch my imagination, make me think, and dig into my heart.

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

SMC: Hmmm. I don’t do well narrowing down my choices with questions like this. There are so many! I’d love to have a drink with Shakespeare and ask him — or her — who really wrote those plays and sonnets? But seriously, I’d love to learn how Shakespeare and other poets like Emily Dickinson and Maya Angelou translated their worlds into words, whether their amazing use of symbolism just came to them or took a lot of brainstorming. I’m hoping the latter, since that’s what I have to do.

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

SMC: Could I have a Kindle stuffed with books? In that case, I’d have the whole Harry Potter series, Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Cosmic, Ready Player One, the Narnia books, the Lord of the Rings books, The Hunger Games series, all of Linda Sue Park’s books, all of Laurie Halse Anderson’s books… If it has to be one print book, I’d want a notebook with lots of blank pages. I’ll find something to write with…

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

SMC: So much! Early on in my membership, I attended a class by the amazing author Liz Garton Scanlon on writing poetry. I left feeling, for the first time, that while I don’t consider myself a poet in any way, I could perhaps write like a poet. Years later, I put those lessons to use while I was revising The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast before it sold. I’ve also learned a lot at the WLT conferences over the years. Agent Sarah Davies did a fantastic session on writing thrillers a few years ago, which was so informative. The WLT conferences and webinars (which I also really LOVE) have taught me about craft, persevering, and the business of publishing, as well as continue to inspire me.

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

SMC: I’ve always hoped for a career in fiction, just the chance to tell stories full-time. I had a career in nonfiction, as a journalist and editor, before I started to focus on fiction. But having a sustainable career in fiction has many more challenges. For a long time, I didn’t believe it would happen. I queried four novels and had more than 100 rejections before I signed with my agent. And when we went on submission with The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast, I got around 14 rejections and had to do another big revision before it sold. After it sold, I kept expecting an email saying they’d made a mistake and had meant to acquire another book about a boy who wakes on a mysterious beach with no memory. It wasn’t until I got printed advanced reader copies that I thought, “They’re probably not going to back out now.” Now the book is in bookstores and libraries, the hardcover has gone into a second printing, and foreign rights have sold in three languages. Of course, one book doesn’t make a career, but I just finished another middle-grade that’s with my editor now, and I have a young adult that will be going on submission soon. I’m working on other books and have folders full of ideas that I want to tackle in the future. There’s no guarantee that any of these will sell, but having gone through it once, I have more hope, primarily because I now know what it takes: Hard work and never giving up. I did that for The Boy, The Boat, and the Beast. It was the third novel I wrote, but by the time it sold, I had written three more novels and a novella, learned from them and used what I’d learned to revise. My plan now is to keep on doing that. Write, revise, submit, repeat. Perhaps not every book I’ll write will sell, but if I keep working hard and never give up, hopefully this first novel can build into a career.

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?

SMC: I loved Sean Easley’s The Hotel Between, which was also published by Simon & Schuster last year. It’s a middle-grade fantasy about a hotel that magically connects all these different places all over the world, and the protagonist discovers the hotel through its Dallas door. It’s such a fun adventure. Check it out! And if you’re older than 12 and saying to yourself that middle-grade is too young for you, I challenge you to change that thinking. No book should have a maximum age. So dig into those younger books too. You’ll be surprised what you find.

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

SMC: Well, not so much about me, but… Keep writing. Keep believing. Keep reading! Oh, and if you’re looking for books to read, The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast comes out in paperback on June 25!

Thank you, Samantha!

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: Nancy Hudgins

“Writers are awesome, wonderful people, willing to share their knowledge and expertise with others — especially newbies.”

— Nancy Hudgins

A member of the Writers’ League since February 2015, Nancy lives in Gilmer, TX.

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

Nancy Hudgins: Contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and western historical fiction.

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

NH: Linda Howard and/or Sandra Brown. I would ask: What’s your secret for making characters come alive on the page?

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

NH: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

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

NH: Writers are awesome, wonderful people, willing to share their knowledge and expertise with others — especially newbies. There are so many opportunities for [writers] to hone our skills. It’s an awesome organization.

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

NH: I love it when someone says they were moved by something I wrote. As long as I am able to do that, I will be a happy camper. I simply love to write.

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?

NH: Goodness, there are so many wonderful Texas authors. The last one I read was by a new author, Michael Scott Clifton. His book The Janus Witch was recommended to me. It’s not a genre I normally read but I was intrigued by the fact that it involved so many different elements. Witches, time travel, romance, modern day. It had some dark places in it, but man was it a good read!

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

NH: I have a new release coming out soon. A contemporary romance entitled Chasing Hope, which is set in a small town in East Texas. A wounded warrior with a solitary past, a single mom with lonely present. Can a precocious child be the catalyst to heal wounds that can’t be seen and offer hope for a brighter future?

Thank you, Nancy!

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: Ray Spitzenberger

“I am looking forward to doing more of what I love to do most, writing — especially poetry and essays.”

— Ray Spitzenberger

A member of the Writers’ League since February 2019, Ray lives in East Bernard, TX.

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

Ray Spitzenberger: I write poetry and nonfiction — nonfiction including magazine articles, newspaper columns, Christian inspirational articles, essays, and a book of memories about the 1930’s and 1940’s. As a poet, I write free verse — Haiku and Tanka.

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

RS: I would like to have a drink (cup of coffee) with Billy Collins, and I would ask him how he came to be a well known contemporary American poet, considering America’s waning interest in poetry.

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

RS: This is a very difficult question to answer, because if I were stranded on a deserted island, I would want a whole stack of books to read.  However, to answer the question, I would choose Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, because it’s a great book which I could reread many times and which contains reproductions of Van Gogh’s greatest paintings.

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

RS: What I have learned from my very short association with the Writers’ League is that I have desperately needed to be a part of a support system like this.

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

RS: At age 84, I can’t look too many years to the future, but, after retiring from two careers, I am looking forward to doing more of what I love to do most, writing — especially poetry and essays. I also plan to publish what I write.

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?

RS: The Texas-related book I’ve read during this past year that I couldn’t put down was Austin, Texas, a collection of poems by my friend, Dave Oliphant.  I think Dave’s book was re-published this year, because he appeared at a special celebration in Austin where he lives honoring him and the book. I love the city of Austin and Dave’s book!

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

RS: I love this last question about “blatant self-promotion”! So here goes! I live with my beautiful wife, Peggy, and our cantankerous old cat Gatsby in the rural town of East Bernard, Texas, 50 miles west of Houston. I am a retired college English teacher with a Doctor of Arts in English from the University of Michigan. I am also a retired Lutheran pastor with an Ordination by Colloquy from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. In spite of those facts, I was born and reared in Dime Box, Texas, and have lived in Texas most of my life. My parents and both sets of my grandparents were born and reared in Texas; all of my great grandparents were born in Germany, but lived most of their lives in Texas. I love Texas passionately!

My self-published book, It Must Be the Noodles, a joyful and humorous recollection of growing up Wendish in Dime Box, Texas in the 1930’s and 1940’s, is on sale at Amazon for $12.99 (paperback) and $8.99 (eBook).  My daughter, Rae Spitzenberger, a New York book designer, designed the book for me.

Thank you, Ray!

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: Nancy G. West

“A writer must always keep learning and stretching one’s skills.”

— Nancy G. West

A member of the Writers’ League for ten years, Nancy lives in San Antonio, TX.

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

Nancy G. West: I write mystery/suspense. To date: one suspense novel, four Aggie Mundeen cozy mysteries, and a spin-off from the Aggie series, The Plunge: Aggie Mundeen Lake Mystery #1, a short novel of mystery, suspense and disaster.

I’m also working on a stand-alone novel, completely different from the Aggie Mundeen mysteries, in the vein of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. The book centers a risk-averse sixteen-year-old boy trying to protect his newly-divorced mother from a suspicious stranger, while discovering secrets about his family and himself.

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

NW: William Kent Krueger or Alan Eskin. What’s your greatest challenge in blending empathetic characters and family dynamics with mystery and suspense?

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

NW: The Bible.

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

NW: That there are a lot of fine writers and teachers associated with WLT, and that a writer must always keep learning and stretching one’s skills.

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

NW: Toward writing novels with deeper stories and more lyrical language with a goal towards literary mystery/suspense fiction. And also publishing some good 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?

NW: Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird (I adored A Love Letter to Texas Women, her 2016 book.)

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

NW: I’m an ardent supporter of WLT and honored to be interviewed by Scribe!

My website is here: http://www.nancygwest.com

My Amazon author page is here: https://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Glass-West/e/B001KIYL1A

Visit me on Facebook:  http://on.fb.me/215ZtvV

And if you’d like to know how Aggie Mundeen views the steps and missteps of her author (me), check out Aggie Blogs: https://nancygwest.com/aggies-blog/
To sample my newsletter, sign up at any link above or email me at ngwest@sbcglobal.net. I LOVE hearing from writers and readers.

Thank you, Nancy!

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 Holcomb

“Having a network of writers helps me grow as a writer. We do not “succeed” in a vacuum. We are all part of the success of others. “

— Will Holcomb

A member of the Writers’ League since 2016, Will lives in Smithville, TX.

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

Will Holcomb: Most of my current writing is what I would categorize as inspirational fiction. When people ask what I write about, I say “human potential.”

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

WH: Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. My first question would be, “What do you want to talk about?” and then I would just listen and see where the conversation goes. I love unscripted, free flowing conversation with thinkers and dreamers.

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

WH: The Dummies Guide on How to Build a Satellite Radio from Coconuts. But if you’d give me a second book, it would be Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. There are so many books I want to read, and I have very little time to read. I’ve read Zen twice and I’m thinking about reading it a third time.

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

WH: Connections and collaboration. Having a network of writers helps me grow as a writer. We do not “succeed” in a vacuum. We are all part of the success of others.

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

WH: I fell into writing simply because I started writing. When I started writing, the stories that formed in my head first were very strongly directed towards the future of humanity because that’s something I am excited and worried about at the same time. I’m not a planner. I just let what happens happen. I have a couple science fiction stories started, a superhero graphic novel, a rock opera with about 20 songs, another one-act play, and much more. I’m not running low on ideas yet.

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?

WH: Just one? Although they didn’t come out in the last year, I enjoyed two authors whose books take place in Texas. Catherine Chagra’s memoir, Dirty Darlings (2015), tells about her life growing up as the daughter of the biggest Marijuana dealer in the US in the 1970’s. Tim Bryant’s book, Dutch Curridge (2010), is a 1950’s noir taking place in Hell’s Half Acre (Ft. Worth area). It is a very interesting view into that period of Texas.

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

 

WH: I’ve completed Part III of my novel series, The Infinite Jeff, and all are available for sale on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Will-Holcomb/e/B074F14K6P). My two-act play, Clinically Un-Depressed, played at the Bastrop Opera House last August for three weekends and was the highest grossing show of their 2017/2018 season. My one-act play, The Puzzler, was performed at Frontera Fest in 2017 and we are working on dates for dinner theater. I’m working to have the fourth, and final, part of The Infinite Jeff done soon, so I can focus on my other writing projects. People can learn more about me at on author site, http://willholcombauthor.com and by following me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/willholcombauthor/ and https://www.facebook.com/theinfinitejeff/.

 

Will received a Pen & Fork scholarship to the 2018 Writers’ League of Texas Agents Conference given in the name of Eva Marie Gonzales, who embodied joy, championed individual expression, and continues to inspire us all. She lives on in the hearts of the Pen & Fork writing support group members, including (among others): Beth Sample, Rodney Sprott, Gina Springer Shirley, Betty Lew Bewley, Sue Cleveland, Dixie Evatt, Gogi Hale, Rosemary Hook, Sherry Lowry, and Ilene Markowitz Haddad.

Thank you, 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: Rick Treon

“I’ve also learned just how many resources [from WLT] are available to me now, and all the different ways I can get them (podcast, classes, workshops, booths at fairs, etc.). “

— Rick Treon

A member of the Writers’ League since January 2019, Rick lives in Amarillo, TX.

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

Rick Treon: Right now I’m working in the thriller/mystery/suspense genre. My last draft was in that same category. My next project may have some speculative elements, though I’m still letting that idea percolate.

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

RT: Living: Larry McMurtry. I would ask him to describe the moment he knew that parts of Charles Goodnight’s journey and life had to be used as inspiration for parts of Lonesome Dove. No longer with us: Ernest Hemingway: I would ask him if he really said half of what he’s credited with saying on the Internet (and what he thinks the Internet has done to/for writers).

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

RT: I’m torn between Infinite Jest because it would occupy so much time and the Boy Scout Handbook (I was one) for practical purposes.

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

RT:  I’m still new, but I have learned just how large and wide-reaching the organization is. I’ve also learned just how many resources are available to me now, and all the different ways I can get them (podcast, classes, workshops, booths at fairs, etc.).

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

RT: I won’t pretend like I don’t want to write a bestseller or ten, but more important to me is consistently putting out quality fiction that entertains a lot of people, makes them think about their world in a new way, and hopefully leaves a lasting impact on them.

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?

RT: Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard. It’s a psychological thriller set in Austin and a small fictional East Texas town in 1986. Native Texans and UT grads like me might notice some small things that could be changed for accuracy (one liberty taken is mentioned in the acknowledgments, which is always good), but it has some incredibly interesting characters and a big reveal that was unexpected.

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

 

RT:I feel fortunate to be among those who were able to write a work of fiction that is novel length and get it published. I feel even more fortunate that Deep Background (https://amzn.to/2MIWQPn) was my first completed work of fiction of any length. I just finished the first draft of my second novel, and I know there’s no guarantee it’ll be published, but being able to write a second is something I’m proud of. Also, for news about me and excerpts of that second novel, people can subscribe to my newsletter at this link (http://eepurl.com/gaRVwD) or by visiting my website, http://ricktreon.com.

 

Thank you, Rick!

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: Danielle Jaussaud

“Belonging to a community of writers brings confidence and offers a lot of support. “

— Danielle Jaussaud

A member of the Writers’ League since January 2018, Danielle lives in Austin, TX.

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

Danielle Jaussaud: Narrative nonfiction.

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

DJ: Janet Walls. I would ask: What prompted you to write your story, and did writing about the difficult moments of your childhood bring healing?

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

DJ: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery.

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

DJ: Belonging to a community of writers brings confidence and offers a lot of support.

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

DJ: I’d like to write about historical and political figures passionate about promoting peace and justice.

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?

DJ: Riverwoods: Exploring the Wild Neches by Charles Kruvand.

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

DJ: A long time ago, my high school friends decided that I would one day be either a journalist, or a spy. Funny how close they were, as I have been a little of both in my quest for adventures.

Thank you, Danielle!

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!