Meet the Members: H.R. Young-Lira

“My intention in joining [WLT] is to learn how to best be involved with my local writing scene and how to find the best home(s) for my work.”

— H.R. Young-Lira

A member of the Writers’ League since August 2018, H.R. lives in Austin, TX.

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

H.R. Young-Lira: Creative nonfiction, fictionalized memoir, and fiction.

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

H.R.: At this moment? Taylor Jenkins Reid. And I’d ask her this: How has having a baby changed your writing life and what do you do differently now?

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

H.R.: I’d say Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace because I know I’d forever have something to read, but to be completely honest, I’d probably be most grateful to myself if I’d happened to have packed my ancient copy of The American Tradition in Literature before being marooned. So much good stuff in those pages.

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

H.R.: I’m really new yet, but my intention in joining is to learn how to best be involved with my local writing scene and how to find the best home(s) for my work.

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

H.R.: I’m not quite sure, but I’m beginning to believe I’ll know I’ve arrived when I can post to Instagram and feel comfortable using only a single hashtag in the caption. But in all seriousness, I’m looking forward to watching my audience grow, and learning how I might be able to move readers in the same way I am moved by the stories that inspire me. I do also hope that one day my writing will afford me copious amounts of time to live exactly the life I want.

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?

H.R.: I can’t not recommend my book The Truth About Sunday Minor here. It published in February 2018 and I have been surprised and elated by reader response — it seems I’m not the only one who couldn’t let this story go! Otherwise, I don’t specifically seek out Texas-related books, and the last one (besides my own) that happened to be Tex-centric was published in 1993. I read it straight through from cover to cover as soon as I got my hands on it and I would recommend it in a heartbeat as an absolute must-read today — Drink Cultura: Chicanismo by Jose Antonio Burciaga.

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

H.R.: I’m currently working on Part II of the Sunday Minor series, and can’t wait to share the next part of this story with the world. I keep everyone updated on my progress via social media, and my primary platform is Instagram. I’d love to connect with other WLT members there, so come find me (@h.r.younglira) and say hi!

Thank you, H.R.!

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!

Advertisements

Meet the Members: Annette Pearson

“Wherever a writer is in his/her writing career, the WLT offers resources for feeding creativity and maintaining the writing practice, improving one’s craft, navigating all the business aspects of writing, making and maintaining connections, and so much more.”

— Annette Pearson

A member of the Writers’ League since 2016, Annette lives in Austin, TX.

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

Annette Pearson: Novel, short story, narrative nonfiction, and poetry.

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

AP: John Irving. I would ask him why there’s such a strong element of naturalism in his work. That might actually be a very personal question, though, so maybe I’d start off with something lighter, like… what author would he most like to have a drink with (whom he hasn’t already), and why.

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

APThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, hands down. Dumas’ classic is filled with duplicity, suffering, hope, courage, despair, faith, love, revenge, freedom…. I’d need all the humanity within this novel to keep me company, and the language, characters, plots and themes are rich and complex enough to provide new insights and enjoyment with each reading. The grim island imprisonment and isolation of the main character, Edmond Dantes, might just offer me a better perspective on my own island challenges!

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

AP: I should have become a member 25 years before I did! Wherever a writer is in his/her writing career, the WLT offers resources for feeding creativity and maintaining the writing practice, improving one’s craft, navigating all the business aspects of writing, making and maintaining connections, and so much more. I’m consistently pleased with the variety, quality and value of the classes, workshops, panel discussions, retreats, and the Agents & Editors conference. Writers are writers because they write, of course, but there’s so much more to the writing life, and I appreciate the support offered by WLT for the different aspects of it.

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

AP: I’m always surprised by the magic that can happen when I sit down to work – if I’m open to the creative process of writing and not too focused on the end product. When I wrote my first collection of short stories for a graduate program, I thought I knew “my genre,” but later as I got busy with life and teaching and raising children, I found that poetry offered me the kind of structure and word play I needed then. Right now, I’m revising a memoir and looking forward to editing a novel draft, but who knows what other projects will find me!

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?

AP: Natalia Sylvester’s Everyone Knows You Go Home, a lovely, haunting book about risk, forgiveness, family and home, set on the Texas/Mexico border. Timely and relevant.

Thank you, Annette!

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: Kerry L Stevens

“The WLT is like a chest filled with treasures of classes. I’ve learned much about the craft and business of writing.”

— Kerry L Stevens

A member of the Writers’ League since April 2016, Kerry lives in Leander.

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

Kerry L Stevens: My debut book is a memoir about my maverick mother, and our unique relationship. It’s called Forever Herself: A Son’s Memoir of a Remarkable Woman.

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

KS: I would relish spending time with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. One of his earlier books, Strength to Love, changed my life. My first remarks would be to offer him my sincerest gratitude for the work he did and the inspiration he’s provided to so many people. Then we’d discuss how we could collaborate to continue to change the world.

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

KS: I don’t believe I’d need a book to keep me sane. I enjoy my time alone and exploring the world. I’m certain a deserted island would also hold many secrets waiting to be revealed. I seldom read the same book twice. So repeatedly reading the same book may add to my insanity, rather than detract from it. I’d desire to have a detailed reference book about the flora, fauna, geography, astronomy, and other scientific facts for islands in the region which I could use to survive and improve my life.

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

KS: The WLT is like a chest filled with treasures of classes. I’ve learned much about the craft and business of writing. The knowledge gained shaped the memoir I wrote and provided the energy to see it completed, then help prepare me to publish and promote it.

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

KS: The next phase is promoting my memoir, Forever Herself, released in October. It was written to honor my mother, a prolific writer who died without achieving her dream of sharing her words in a published book. It’s a fusion of her poetry and prose with my memories of our relationship. My next project may be publishing an entire book of her poetry or one of her Middle Grade novels. If I can find the right illustrator, I’d also love to publish one of her children’s 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?

KS: I’ve only recently read one Texas-related book. It’s called Soul Love: How a Dog Taught Me to Breathe Again. It’s a raw memoir of despair and hope written by a friend, Teresa Q. Bitner.

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

KS: Shaped by childhood adversity in an impoverished, fatherless home during the Great Depression, my mother grew into a strong woman who embraced life on her terms. But when she dared to be herself in our rural community, she endured ostracism and loneliness, finding solace in her faith. You may learn more about Forever Herself: A Son’s Memoir of a Remarkable Woman at my website www.KerryLStevens.com. Because my mother is a contributing author, her dream is now fulfilled.

Thank you, Kerry!

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: Lori Duran

“I have learned there is a wealth of information here in Austin about the craft of writing and there is great support available at the Writers’ League of Texas.”

— Lori Duran

A member of the Writers’ League since 2017, Lori lives in Austin.

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

Lori Duran: Nonfiction history.

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

LD: Isadora Tattlin, and I would ask, “What are your most prominent memories of Cuba during the 1990’s and the time you lived there?”

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

LD: I would bring Black Night, White Snow: Russia’s Revolutions 1905-1917 by Harrison Salisbury.

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

LD: I have learned there is a wealth of information here in Austin about the craft of writing and there is great support available at the Writers’ League of Texas.

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

LD: I would like to continue writing and I am interested in writing about a local politician and his family.

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?

LD: I could not put down Indelible Austin: More Selected Stories by Michael Barnes.

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

LD: My book titled “Austin’s Travis Heights Neighborhood” was released on October 8. The book includes 185 photos that highlight the history of the early south side of Austin. I also write history pieces for Society Diaries magazine. I am also serving on the Board of Directors and work as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Austin History Center and the Oral History Committee. History has been a life long passion for me and it is all around us, everywhere.

Thank you, Lori!

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: Jan Jenson

“Above all, I hope to make a difference in the lives of my readers by expanding their horizons above and beyond the limited scope of this world and this lifetime.”

— Jan Jenson

A member of the Writers’ League since April, Janet lives in Galveston.

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

Jan Jenson: I write fiction that crosses genre lines. This includes historical, paranormal, inspirational, psychological suspense, romance and adventure.

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

JJ: Emily Dickinson! I’ve always felt a spiritual connection with her and the life she lived in Amherst, MA in the 1800’s. I would like to know what her life was like – and who the mysterious man in her life was! So many biographies offer different “slants of light” and I’d like to confirm the truth about this amazing poet.

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

JJBits of Birch by Kay Karras. Kay, a relatively unknown poet, was a dear friend who has passed on, and left behind a legacy of poems that seem to transcend life as we know it. With an 8th grade education, she was somehow able to tap into an inspirational force that flowed through her fingers into her amazing poems.

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

JJ: So far I’ve learned that there are many talented Texas writers out there and that you offer some great opportunities to learn more about writing and marketing.

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

JJ: Now that I have an agent and a contract with World Castle Publishing for my upcoming novel, I’m looking forward to expanding distribution of my novels. Above all, I hope to make a difference in the lives of my readers by expanding their horizons above and beyond the limited scope of this world and this lifetime. The greatest reward for me is having received a note like this one from Stephanie A: “Your writing inspired me and touched me in many ways. You led me on an amazing journey that which I will be pondering for days to come. Your words touched my soul and revitalized me in many ways.” THAT is what it is all about for me!

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?

JJ: Galveston 1900 – A Story of Twin Flames by Ervin Mendlovitz.

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

JJ: Yes! My latest paranormal/psychological suspense novel, The Sisters by Janet Kay (my pen name) was released on April 30 by World Castle Publishing. It flows from the shores of historic Galveston Island, Texas to the icy depths of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota. Is it possible to penetrate the veil separating the world of the living from the land of the dead? My novel explores this intriguing possibility, while flashing back and forth in time between the Great Storm of 1900 and present-day life in Galveston. Texas writers and readers will recognize some of the places in my novel, including Ashton Villa where some of my characters live. Many scenes are set in places they will know – Hotel Galvez, the haunted Stewart Mansion, The Witchery.
Here’s a review blurb from Stacie Theis, Beach Bound Books Reviewer: “Janet Kay is a gifted storyteller who enthralls her readers with her brilliant imagination and alluring plots. You won’t be able to put this book down!”
For more information, please check out my website – NOVELS BY JANET KAY

Thank you, Jan!

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: Karen Fort

“Texas authors are still valued by national publishers.”
– Karen Fort
A member of the Writers’ League for a few months, Karen lives in Edinburg, Texas.

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

Karen Fort: All of the books I have written (eight published so far, none self-published) contain an element of Southern or Texas history.

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

KF: I would like to meet either Dewey Lambdin or Bernard Cornwell.  I would ask them how they developed the enormous story arcs they use for their novels.

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

KF: The Holy Bible

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

KF: I have learned that Texas authors are still valued by national publishers.  Years ago, I helped coordinate the Southwest Writers Conference held at the University of Houston.  Texas authors were in demand and their books were very popular with agents and editors, especially western and romance writers.  (Some agents and editors came to Houston expecting to find us all wearing boots, cowboy hats, and six-shooters.  I learned then that folks back east were not nearly as sophisticated as we and they thought they were. Yes, we had electricity and indoor plumbing, too.)

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

KF: I have one more non-fiction book to finish, then I will begin writing mystery novels.

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?

KF: I can’t think of any Texas-related books I’ve read in the last year.

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

KF: My book, A Feast of Reason, was published by State House Press last year.  Based upon a daily journal kept throughout the Civil War, the book tells the story of James Madison Hall.  A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Hall and his father came to Texas in the 1830s.  They settled in Houston County, where Hall served as county clerk in Crockett and owned a farm near his father’s on the Elkhart River.  He also lived at times in Liberty, where he was twice elected mayor.  Life along the Trinity River was busy, and the journal relates everyday happenings throughout the war years and through most of 1866.  Oh, did I mention that he was tried twice for murder?  The book is available through Texas A&M University Press.  My book, Bale O’ Cotton, is about the mechanical and social history of cotton ginning. It was re-issued by Texas A&M Press in 2015 (first published in 1992).  My book, Chasing the Bone Pile, is about the Strecker Museum at Baylor University. I also wrote five Image of America books about the Rio Grande Valley, which were published by Arcadia.

Thank you, 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!

Meet the Members: Henry D. Terrell

“I’m hoping to develop a sustainable routine where I’m writing one book, editing another, and talking to people about the older ones. I plan to keep doing it for as long as it feels worth doing.”

-Henry D. Terrell

A member with the Writers’ League since January, Henry lives in Houston.

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

Henry D. Terrell: Now that I’ve retired from the world of business journalism, I write about crime and adventure, with some coming-of-age thrown in. And, of course, Texas fiction, particularly West Texas. I like to focus on stories from 40 or 50 years ago, the ’60s through the ’80s, pre-computing, when the country was mutating at a furious rate, and the norms of things were changing. My favorite characters are flawed people with relatively minor ambitions, caught up in moral ambiguity and controlled by events.

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

HDT: I’ve always admired the writer Jim Harrison, who was a polymath—screenwriter, novelist, food critic, poet. If he were still alive, I’d love to ask him about something I heard him say in an interview once, something like “You cook down your life until the sauce is just right, then you can let go.” Harrison got more productive as he got older, which fills me with awe. His writing never grew stale—if anything, he got better with each book and each new poem. One of his best (and most famous) novels, Legends of the Fall, is barely 80 pages, and yet packs in more coherent themes and ideas than most writers manage in a thousand-page trilogy. If there’s a trick to becoming more prolific and more efficient with age, I want to know what it is.

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

HDT: This is All a Dream We Dreamed by Blair Jackson and David Gans. It’s a comprehensive history of the Grateful Dead on tour. I can see eyes rolling—okay, I’m not an obsessive deadhead, but most of the band’s live shows are available to hear streaming, so with this book you can read about a particular live show, all the human dynamics and everything that was going on at the time, and then listen to it. I’m assuming my deserted island has wifi.

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

HDT: It’s becoming clear that we have as much going for us on this coast as the literary world has in California or New York.

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

HDT: I’m extraordinarily lucky, because I don’t have to make a living as an author. However, with no real deadlines—I could just fritter away my retirement playing golf or whatever—sustaining discipline in writing, while keeping it fun, is a huge challenge. I’m hoping to develop a sustainable routine where I’m writing one book, editing another, and talking to people about the older ones. I plan to keep doing it for as long as it feels worth doing.

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? 

HDT: Keep in mind that I generally don’t read fiction while I’m trying to write it (I don’t want to adopt anyone else’s style, even unconsciously), but I love history and biographies. The Austin-based historian H. W. Brands’ newest book, The General vs. the President, is the best and most compelling account of cold war political struggles I have ever read. That’s almost too easy, since everything Brands writes is good. In the fiction realm, the writer Antoinette van Heugten is one of my favorite Texas novelists. She’s a Houston native of Dutch descent, living in Fredericksburg. She published a fine, gripping and personal story called Saving Max a few years ago, and is writing a sequel to that, which we may see in the near future.

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

HDT: I don’t expect to make a lot of money as a writer, though it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if I did. But I would like my books to be read more widely. I was talking with an author friend (who shall remain unnamed) about sales and promotion and whatnot. At the time, my first book Headfirst Off the Caprock had sales figures in the dozens. My friend said “I had high hopes for my book, but even with great reviews and really hard work, it only sold 300,000. Very disappointing.” Three. Hundred. Thousand. If I ever manage those kinds of numbers, I promise not to complain about anything ever again. Self-promotion however is not my forte (that’s what non-shy people are for) but with my latest book, Desert Discord: Marijuana, Music and Murder in a West Texas Town, I’ve started paying more attention to the marketing end. I’m not so excited about public speaking, but I like talking about my books one-on-one with people. Talking to book clubs in person or by Skype is a good option that doesn’t involve too much stress or travel time. Otherwise, I’m just sending out review copies and trying to get noticed by a large-circulation magazine or newspaper.

Thanks, Henry!

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!