Community Member Guest Post: The Writers Workshop

“We all work toward a writing career, but first we need a life as a writer.”

-Ron Seybold

Community membership in the Writers’ League of Texas allows businesses and organizations to support our programming and services. It’s also a great way for our community of writers to learn about the many valuable and varied services, programs, and opportunities available to them.

The Writers Workshop is a resource that provides writing workshops for novels and memoirs, creativity groups, coaching, and editorial services. Read a guest post from Writers Workshop director and coach Ron Seybold below.

Patience, Presentation, and Practice: Three Assets for Success in the Book World

 

There are three assets everyone needs to move into a career in writing. We all work toward a writing career, but first we need a life as a writer. The three assets are patience, presentation, and practice. Whether you choose to work with a publisher, employ an editor to polish your book, or make your career by publishing yourself, these three “Ps” are essential. They lead you from inspiration to publication.

The first “P,” patience, is crucial to assisting creativity. As authors build skills and polish their own books, they find opportunities to reach out to one another. You might be doing beta reads for your friends’ full drafts, or even catching typos in a late-stage revision. Remember, you must be patient with your own work, too. You may find yourself saying things like, “Really, why can’t I have three first-person points of view for my cozy mystery?” Talk it through (patiently) with a fellow writer, a workshop group, or even a coach.

As you move into your career as a writer you’ll also want to practice the second “P”: presentation. To a writer, presentation means the ability to share, submit, and offer. You will rework and revise, polish and pare down, but showing your work to the world is what launches a writing life. Even reading aloud what you’ve just written is a start. Find other honest, hopeful ears and eyes of a trusted group or a partner and share again. All work should lead toward the moment of presenting your writing.

Of course practice, the third “P,” helps everything improve. We practice to become the hard-working authors who love to put our early efforts well behind us. Plenty of practice happens via traded emails and Track Changes notes in the margins. Practice makes doing the work easier, too.

In his memoir Father’s Day, Buzz Bissinger gives Eamon Dolan fulsome praise in the book’s acknowledgments. “With Eamon as fastidious editor and wordsmith—some chapters had more of his comments than they did my own words—what began as an earnest and rudderless first draft became a book.”

It’s Buzz’s book, yes. But it’s also a collaboration that benefited from patience, presentation and practice. The first feels like magic when we manage to conjure it. But it’s earned by applying the other two assets in order to create something worthy of notice. Buzz admits his fine memoir was rudderless at first, but he kept working toward the big presentation. Patience helped him steer the story, and practice was the wind that filled his sails.

Thanks, Ron!

Find out about upcoming programming at the Writers Workshop here.

Ron Seybold is director and coach at Austin’s Writers Workshop, a volunteer tutor for the Austin Batcave Literacy Program, and the author of a debut novel Viral Times.

Community Member Q&A: The Writers Workshop

“The best way to grow a book is to write it, and then get responses and guidance from other writers. It’s like an actor getting notes during rehearsals and then polishing the performance.”

-Ron Seybold

The Writers Workshop develops writers, edits books, and helps authors from inspiration to publication. Founded by editor and novelist Ron Seybold, The Writers Workshop is a resource that provides writing workshops for novels and memoirs, creativity groups, coaching, and editorial services. Ron, the author of the novel Viral Times, has been writing and editing for publication for 35 years. He is also a past finalist in the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest in the Memoir and Historical Fiction categories.

In addition to developing and inspiring authors, the Writers Workshop is a proud Community Member of the Writers’ League of Texas. Read the interview below with Ron Seybold to find out more.

Ron SeyboldScribe: Tell us a little about why you founded the Writer’s Workshop and its mission.

Ron Seybold: I wanted to build a service with a full spectrum for authors, from creation to workshopping and then to editing for publication. After more than 25 years of writing, editing, acting, and podcasting, I trained in the Amherst Writers & Artists practices. I started to lead weekly Creation Nights, which soon led to workshops for authors writing books. From there, I transitioned into editing services as well.

Back in 2006 editorial services for authors were just starting to bloom. I’d been working in publications, helping writers improve their work. We editors are lucky to play our part to help hard-working writers get to publication. The Workshop gives authors the services and support to bring their books to the world. The best way to grow a book is to write it, and then get responses and guidance from other writers.

writers workshop logo.jpgScribe: In July, you spoke on a Writers’ League Third Thursday panel about writing and critique groups. Why is it important for writers to find writing/critique groups?

RS: You may be able to envision what you want your book to be, but other writers will see what a reader wants and needs from your story. You don’t copyedit a book in a good group—you learn what’s working in your story, what confuses a reader, and where readers may have drifted in your writing. All three of those notes are important. In a good group, the authors are both honest and polite, encouraging as well as specific while they critique.

A group helps you produce on a deadline for others to read. You also get better at understanding the components of stories by annotating responses to other authors. You become adept at naming the parts of the world. The podcast from that Third Thursday says even more about how to workshop well.

Scribe: You recently created an anthology of some of your Workshop participants’ writing, titled Small Packages. Can you tell us a more about this anthology and how it came into being?

RS: After being an editor all those years, it was my dream to start a small lit journal. Over the first nine years of Creation Nights, some amazing writing emerged. Creation Nights are 25-minute writing sessions, and during those sessions, some people created completed flash fiction, some have now had short stories published in journals, and others wrote the building blocks that became books. It’s a thrill to know that I was able to assist writers whose work is now for sale BookPeople and Malvern Books. I love those bookstores.

Scribe: What’s important to you about supporting the Writers’ League of Texas and being a community member?

RS: The Writers’ League of Texas is essential to the health of our writing community. I tell every Workshop member to join because WLT teaches us to write better and more easily, as well as making us aware of the business side of the publishing world and giving us opportunities to make connections. The contests lift up authors, too. Craft, community, and business savvy are a powerful toolset for any writer. A Saturday spent with WLT instructors always gives me something to take back to my editing desk, writing groups, and my own keyboard.

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: Faking Lucky by Q.D. Perdu, who won the Writers’ League Manuscript Contest in the Romance category with the story a few years ago. Sweet, sexy, funny, wise, and set in Austin. How do you go wrong with a comic love story about a heroine named Desdemona?

Scribe: Anything else you’d like to share?

RS: Those Creation Nights are block-busters. Writing in them helps us stay in contact with our book projects. You never know where the writing will go. One writer worked her way onto the New York Times bestseller list. We have a new series starting in March, and a few seats open in our workshop groups, too.

 

Thanks, Ron!

Click here to visit The Writers Workshop website.

Are you a business or organization interested in getting involved?

Community Membership is a great way to connect with the Writers’ League’s membership base and share news and information about writing-related services and events. For more information on Community Membership click here or call our office at (512) 499-8914.

Meet the Members: Ginger McKnight-Chavers

“My first novel, In the Heart of Texas, was just released in October of 2015. It has helped me create a platform and gain the confidence to finally call myself an ‘author’ instead of a ‘recovering lawyer.”

-Ginger McKnight-Chavers

A Writers’ League of Texas member since 2015, Dallas-native Ginger McKnight-Chavers lives near New York City.

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

Ginger McKnight-Chavers: I write in the genres of contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, and humor. I also do some essay and article writing in the areas of culture, law, politics, and parenting.

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

GMC: I am more of a white wine and margaritas kind of girl, but I would have Cognac with James Baldwin, since he relied on Cognac and coffee to keep him warm in the Paris cafe where he wrote Go Tell it On the Mountain. Once we were warm and cozy, I would ask him for the skinny on his beef with Richard Wright.

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

GMC:  The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

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

GMC: I consider myself a Texan author, no matter where I happen to be in the world. The Writers’ League not only provides useful resources and workshops, but it keeps me connected with other Texan authors.

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

GMC:  My first novel, In the Heart of Texas, was just released in October of 2015. It has helped me create a platform and gain the confidence to finally call myself an “author” instead of a “recovering lawyer.” I plan to continue to write contemporary novels featuring interesting, Texan female protagonists. A second novel is already in the works, titled Oak Cliff, and it will focus on female friendship set in the rapidly gentrifying Dallas neighborhood where I grew up. I also will continue to write the occasional essay or article. I recently wrote an article about Beyonce for Essence.com that I hope will enable me to meet Queen Bey someday.

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?

GMC: How to be Texan: The Manual by Texas Monthly’s Andrea Valdez. Perfect for a homesick Texan like myself.

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

GMC: It was a very long road for me to have my first novel, In the Heart of Texas, published. In addition to a number of personal hurdles and challenges, the journey included praise by prominent agents (who still strung me along and never signed me), multiple rejections, a writing fellowship, a deal with a small press that folded, and finally a new home at She Writes Press, an independent publisher.

The silver lining of the struggle was that I learned a great deal about the business of publishing and promoting one’s self as an author, my writing improved immensely along the way, and, most of all, I was empowered by the fact that I never gave up on writing or myself.

In the Heart of Texas recently won the USA Best Book Award in the category of Fiction: African American, and it has received praise from Redbook, PopSugar, Bustle, Parade, BuzzFeed, Library Journal, RT Book Reviews, Brit + Co, and SoulCycle, among others. I am greatly enjoying meeting readers and sharing this labor of love with them.

Between promoting the novel and a part-time writing assignment with an online media group, I am finally living the writing life, after close to 20 years as a corporate and arts/entertainment lawyer. I am looking forward to being able to devote more attention to my second novel-in-progress, Oak Cliff. And I am helping my elderly mother, Dr. Mamie McKnight, write a memoir and family history. As a longtime educator and historian who is in the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, and who is very modest about writing about herself, I want to make sure she shares her amazing Texan story with the world. Others can learn from her experiences in the way that I have, as her daughter.

Thanks, Ginger!

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!

Introducing Online Classes!

“I live in Dallas, so I appreciate being able to access WLT classes via a webinar.”

“My experience with this online class was excellent in all aspects.”

—Students in Michael Noll’s WLT Online Class “Hook Readers from Page One”

online-classes-fall-2016-1

Great news! Writers’ League of Texas members who live in El Paso, Brownsville, Houston, Dallas, Abilene, and all the places in between can participate in WLT classes on the craft of writing and the business of publishing. This November, we’re introducing WLT Online Classes. We could write more about them in this blog post, or we could use our online teaching platform to show you more. For a preview, click the photo below. (You will be asked to enter your name. Don’t worry! We’re not collecting any information.)

online-class-snapshot

We’re kicking things off with three of our most popular in-person classes:

“The Novel Hatchery: Moving a Novel Idea into Its First Draft” with Stacey Swann: Tuesday, November 1, 6:30-9:30 pm

“Minor Characters and Major Insights: How to Create a More Compelling Narrative through an Exploration of Secondary Characters” with Charlotte Gullick: Thursday, November 10, 6:30-9:30 pm

“Positioning Your Book in the Marketplace” with Shennandoah Goodson: Tuesday, November 29, 6:30-9:30 pm

To learn more about online classes from the Writers’ League of Texas, visit our website or give us a call at 512-499-8914.

Community Member Q&A: Ageless Authors

“You must continue to create and flourish at all ages. Statistics bear that out, so [we] wanted a vehicle to urge people on. Ageless Authors is that vehicle.”

-Larry Upshaw

Ageless Authors highlights the work of writers and artists ages 65 and older. Founded by Ginnie Bivona and Larry Upshaw, Ageless Authors celebrates senior creativity by publishing anthologies of work created solely by those over the age of 65.

In addition to promoting the work of seniors, Ageless Authors is a proud Community Member of the Writers’ League of Texas. Read the interview below with Larry Upshaw to find out more about them.


LarryWeb2Scribe:
 Can you tell us a little more about your mission and what inspired you and your co-founder, Ginnie Bivona, to start Ageless Authors?

Larry Upshaw: Ginnie Bivona is an 85-year-old Dallas author and poet who started writing in her fifties. Her first novel became a made-for-TV movie, Bound by A Secret, on Hallmark. She has another novel being considered for a TV series. She believes that you must continue to create and flourish at all ages. Statistics bear that out, so she wanted a vehicle to urge people on. Ageless Authors is that vehicle. We encourage people 65 and older to enter our writing and art contests. We publish the best entries in an anthology, and we both work with older aspiring writers, teaching them how to write and publish. Her areas are fiction and memoir. I have ghostwritten a dozen business and professional books, and that is my area of expertise.

GinnieWebScribe: Your site lists titles of several planned anthologies, including: “Remembering Romance & Magical Moments In Life” and “Baby Boomers Look at 65.” How did you select the topics for these anthologies?

LU: Memory can be a wonderful thing, and that’s what older people have in abundance. Memories can be a lubricant for the brain. I can’t think of anything more productive at this stage of my life (age 68) than telling a great story from my past. Too often we get hung up on whether these stories are real or imagined, but if you become a storyteller that doesn’t matter. Ginnie and I had a good time conjuring up these anthology titles. Our favorites are one military memories, about tales of the battlefield and the home front, and “Dang I Wish I Hadn’t Done That,” sure to be a rich collection of tales about the foolish or destructive things we did earlier in life.

Scribe: Ageless Authors is hosting its first contest for its first-ever anthology. Can you tell us a little more about this contest and how interested writers can submit?

LU: This first contest has a deadline of August 31, 2016. You can write about anything for this first anthology. We are looking for outstanding essays, short stories, poetry and art (cartoons and line drawings). We will award cash prizes for winners in each category, and the best entries will appear in our first anthology this fall. Entrants can be professional writers or beginners. The easiest way to enter is to go to agelessauthors.com and click on contests to submit online. To submit via mail, please find details on our website.

Scribe: As a professional writer – you’ve written for numerous publications and have published over a dozen books – what is one piece of advice you’d like to give aspiring authors?

LU: Just keep at it, and enjoy the process of writing. I’ve heard all this bull about writing being so tedious. At my age, sitting down to write almost anything is the best part of my day. I’ve written books that sold well and some that I still have in my warehouse, but that did not determine the amount of enjoyment they gave me.

Scribe: What’s important to you about supporting the Writers’ League of Texas and being a community member?

LU: Anything that encourages literacy beyond 140 characters and a gang of emojis is good for our culture. We’ve become a nation of consumers. Time to produce something.

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?

LU: Maybe it’s this Ageless Authors project that has made me turn to the past. Once I was hired by The Dallas Morning News book editor to travel the country interviewing Texas writers. The one I found most interesting was William Goyen, who wrote about the decadent South from his office at the corner of Hollywood and Vine in LA. I’m rereading his first and last novels, The House of Breath and Arcadio, and consider them masterpieces.

Scribe: Anything else you’d like to share?

LU: Many of your members are not old enough to participate in Ageless Authors, but almost everyone knows someone who is. We ask you all to encourage people 65 and older to take part in our contests and anthologies. Using your mind like this will keep you young.

Thanks, Larry!

Click here to visit Ageless Authors’ website.

Are you a business or organization interested in getting involved?

Community Membership is a great way to connect with the Writers’ League’s membership base and share news and information about writing-related services and events. For more information on Community Membership click here or call our office at (512) 499-8914.

Meet the Members: Debbie Fleitman

“I’m a Texan, born and bred…Texans tell stories with honesty and from the heart.”

-Debbie Fleitman

A member of the Writers’ League of Texas, since January, Debbie Fleitman lives in Gainesville, TX.

_DSC0237Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?

Debbie Fleitman: My first book is nonfiction. Life after the Storm is a book about a family who survived the Joplin tornadoPresently, I am writing a novel that is set in the 1960s.

Scribe: What authors would you like to have coffee or a beer with and which beverage?

DF: I always wanted to have coffee with Harper Lee because To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book. Her writing transcends time and place—it is a masterpiece.

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

DF: The Bible—it encompasses almost every genre and literary aspect of a good book. It provides wisdom, inspiration, conflict, death, suspense, dynamic characters and unbelievable acts (miracles, the supernatural). It is the complete package.

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

DF: The Writers’ League provides helpful workshops and seminars at different venues that enable any author to hone his/her writing skills and reinforce the concepts that make a good writer.

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

DF: I want to complete and publish the novel I’m currently writing. Like other writers, I have many stories swimming around in my head. It would be wonderful to have one of my books made into a movie.

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?

DF: Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir is a must for all writers. I’ve been a fan of hers since The Liars’ Club. She tells the honest truth without the frills on how difficult and wonderful the art of writing is. She exposes every layer of herself and makes the reader feel like she is talking directly to you. She expounds greatly about finding your “voice.” Her advice has been profoundly valuable to me.

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

DF: I’m a Texan, born and bred, and feel Texas is definitely God’s country. Texans tell stories with honesty and from the heart. I feel like I’m still a novice in the writing world and want to network with other writers.

Thanks, Debbie!

 

Introducing Our New Program Director: Q&A with Michael Noll

“When we talk about the literary community, it’s tempting to think only in terms of ‘what can the community do for me?’ But this is the wrong way to think.”

-Michael Noll

There’s lots going on here at the Writers’ League as we look ahead to another month of terrific weekend classes (before we take some time off for the summer), gear up for the big Agents & Editors Conference in June and the Summer Writing Retreat in July (hence the time off from weekend classes), and (drum roll, please) prepare to launch our Third Thursday podcast so that our monthly panel discussions can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.

The classes, the conference, the panel discussions, and more—all are important pieces that contribute to the year-round programming we offer here at the Writers’ League, to members and nonmembers alike, and none of it would be possible without a top notch Program Director at the reins. This month, we officially welcome Michael Noll as the Writers’ League’s new Program Director and we couldn’t be more excited to have him join our staff.  Michael is no stranger to the WLT, having taught classes and participated in event programming for some time now.  He’ll make his public debut as Program Director this Thursday when he moderates our panel discussion on writing and publishing short fiction (7 pm at BookPeople; details here).  If you’re in the Austin area, we hope you’ll come by to say hello in person.  In the meantime, we asked him to answer a few questions for us here and he was kind enough to oblige.

Michael NollScribe: Tell us a bit about Michael Noll, Writer.  When and how was your creative fire lit?

Michael Noll: I always wanted to be a writer—the fire was always lit, I guess, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I began by imitating writers and stories I loved. In 6th grade, all the way back at Robinson Middle School, I won a class contest with a story that basically ripped off a John Bellairs novel. When I got to college, I imitated Hemingway, and in my first attempts as a MFA student, I found myself copying Tim O’Brien and Sherman Alexie. I didn’t publish any of this work, and I’d likely be embarrassed for anyone to see it now–but it did perform an important function in my development as a writer. I couldn’t match any of the writers who inspired me, but I began to get a feel for how their work was put together, and, occasionally, I’d write a scene or paragraph that I liked. If we’re sticking with the fire metaphor, you could say that these inspirations and imitations were the bellows that kept it lit.

Scribe: You wear many hats—”writer,” “teacher,” “blogger extraordinaire,” and now, we’re happy to say “Program Director”—how do you balance them all and, most important, when do you sleep?

MN: First, I want to say that Program Director feels like a position that involves all of the hats you mention. I’m grateful to be combining them in this way for the Writers’ League of Texas. In my own life, I balance them by (and I’m serious about this) working hard not to freak out. It’s a situation most writers will be familiar with. I’ve got a job, a family, and several different writing projects going at once. I tackle each as I’m able and as each demands. Sometimes it means not much writing gets done for a few days or that my kids eat fish sticks for dinner or get to watch an extra show on TV that day—and that’s okay. It’s tempting to create false deadlines and ultimatums for ourselves: if we don’t finish this book by this date, we’re a fraud, or if our kids don’t get the very best, healthiest, most enriching experience every minute of their lives, they’re doomed for failure. So, I try to give myself reasonable goals and manage my expectations in a way that doesn’t feel like throwing in the towel but also doesn’t lead to a freak out (How can I possibly do everything!). As we all know, freak-outs shut everything down. Staying calm is good. I mostly succeed at this.

As for sleep, hmm, I’ll get back to you on that one!

Scribe: Can you tell us a bit about your first introduction to the Writers’ League?

MN: I learned of the Writers’ League through Jodi Egerton. I’ve long admired her as a teacher, and I saw her post on Facebook about a class she was teaching through WLT. I wondered, “Hmm, what is that?” So I wrote to (former Program Director) Jennifer Ziegler, and pretty soon I was teaching a class myself. So, that was my introduction. The thing that most impressed me—and continues to impress—was the level of talent and enthusiasm I encountered in that first class. The members are passionate about developing their craft and supporting each other. The Third Thursday events are packed. It’s an energizing, positive environment, and I’m grateful to be part of it.

Scribe: We’re all about community and the many opportunities we see in Texas and beyond to bring writers together to support each other. What are some of the ways being a part of the larger literary community has impacted you as a writer?

MN: Without the literary community, there would be no Michael Noll, Writer. When I was attending the MFA program at Texas State years ago, I started teaching after-school writing classes through Badgerdog (whose educational programming was, at the time, run by this smart, awesome woman named Stephanie, who I’m now married to!). Through Badgerdog, I met Jill Meyers, who worked with American Short Fiction, which was also run by Badgerdog. Jill published my first story, which led to an editor at another journal requesting work. Jill gave me the opportunity to teach classes to adults. When ASF briefly went defunct  and those adult classes vanished, I took the teaching philosophy I’d developed in them and started a blog, Read to Write Stories, where I post writing exercises based on published fiction and nonfiction. Through my blog Read to Write Stories, I’ve discovered so many writers whose work I admire. I’ve interviewed them about their work and met them when they came to town for readings or at conferences around the country.

When we talk about the literary community, it’s tempting to think only in terms of “what can the community do for me?” But this is the wrong way to think. Writers must give to their community—by teaching or helping with programs and reading series. We ought to participate in communities because we’re excited about the writers involved in them. People pretty quickly suss out if someone is simply trying to climb some imaginary literary ladder. Everyone wants to succeed—that’s a given. Being a writer, however, and being part of a literary community means hoping that others succeed and appreciating their success when it comes.

Scribe: You’re turning your attention to the upcoming Agents & Editors Conference program and the full schedule of panels, presentations, genre meet-ups, and more. What can you tell us about your plans for June 24-26?  What are you most excited about sharing with the attendees?

MN: I grew up on a hog farm in rural Kansas, so my understanding of the publishing industry was limited to the knowledge that books existed. There wasn’t a bookstore for sixty miles. I didn’t personally know a single writer. As a result, I’ve had to learn how publishing works—the process that takes manuscripts on someone’s computer and turns them into commodities for sale in stores and available in libraries. But this has been difficult because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. For a long time, I thought that you simply wrote a book, sent it out, and got published. If you step back far enough, that’s what happens, but it leaves out a lot of the sausage making.

The great thing about the Agents & Editors Conference is that it brings the industry—writers, agents, editors, marketers, booksellers—to Austin. It’s an opportunity to see the industry firsthand and learn how it works. If you have a manuscript, it’s a chance to pitch it to an actual agent—a real, living person rather than the larger-than-life figures we sometimes imagine from our desks and tables. There really isn’t any substitute for sitting in a room with the people who make up the publishing industry. You get a feel for what they want, what they hope for, what they dislike. You begin to learn how you fit into the industry. It’s a necessary step for any writer.

Scribe: Finally, tell us about a book by a Texas author that you read recently that you can recommend to our readers—we love hearing what writers we admire are reading and admiring themselves.

MN: I can’t pick just one, so I’m going to cheat. Benjamin Alire Sáenz has a new Young Adult novel, Dante and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe, that is set in El Paso, where Sáenz lives and teaches and has the most charming characters you’ll read this year. (Heads up: Sáenz is speaking at the Agents & Editors Conference Keynote Luncheon. He’s also the author of Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club, which won the prestigious Pen/Faulkner Fiction Prize.)

Kelli Jo Ford’s story, “You Will Miss Me When I Burn,” is in the most recent issue of Virginia Quarterly Review and can be read online here. Kelli was a Dobie Paisano fellow a couple of years ago. Her story is set in North Texas, with references to the Red River, Bob Wills, and Dairy Queen.

One of my former students in a writing class in Austin—Alejandro Puyana—has a story forthcoming in Huizache, the literary journal published by CentroVictoria at the University of Houston-Victoria. The journal is dedicated to publishing writing by and about Latinos and regularly puts out great work.

Native Austin-ites should read Scott Blackwood’s novel See How Small, Mary Helen Specht’s novel Migratory Animals, and Amanda Eyre Ward’s novel The Same Sky, all of which capture the city at different moments and show how differently it can be experienced.

Michael Rosenbaum had a story, “Daily Double” in the fall issue of North American Review. Michael grew up in El Paso, and this story is set there, at a horse track.

Antonio-Ruiz Camacho’s story collection, Barefoot Dogs, imagines a very different outcome for the wildfires of 2011.

Thanks, Michael!

Before joining the Writers’ League as Program Director, Michael Noll taught writing at Texas State University. He created and edits Read to Write Stories, a site that offers writing exercises based on published stories, novel excerpts, and essays. His work has been published atAmerican Short Fiction, Chattahoochee Review, Narrative Magazine, Huffington Post, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and The Good Men Project. He was formerly the writer in residence at the Katherine Anne Porter House in Kyle, TX. He’s currently at work on a story collection set in rural Kansas and a novel, Seven Attacks of the Dead.

Join us at our next Third Thursday on April 21st, where Michael will be in conversation with Michael Barrett, Jill Meyers, Chaitali Sen, and Kirk Wilson for a panel on “Keeping it Brief: Writing and Publishing Short Stories.” More details and RSVP on our Facebook event page.