October 15, 2019

In This Issue:

Third Thursday, Manuscript Contest, Book Awards, & More

October Third Thursday: 

Writing Great First Pages & Chapters  

Thursday, October 17, 2019 
7 p.m.
BookPeople (3rd floor) 
603 North Lamar Blvd. 
Austin, TX 78703 


Writers are often told that the first page and first chapter of a novel must be gripping, un-put-downable. But what does that mean? Given all the different genres and types of stories out there, are there any general rules or suggestions for what will keep readers, agents, and editors turning past page one? In this panel, four writers from different genres will discuss what they strive for in their own work and first pages from others' novels they have admired.

Find the event on  Facebook  and on  our website.

Have you been working hard on an unpublished manuscript that's finally ready to see the light of day? 
Are you looking for some constructive feedback on your work-in-progress? Would you like the chance to sit down with a literary agent in person to discuss your project?
You're invited to submit the opening pages of your unpublished work along with a short synopsis to the Writers' League of Texas's 20th annual Manuscript Contest. (And no, you don't have to live in Texas to enter this contest. It's open to everyone, everywhere!)
The winners in each category will receive a complimentary registration to the WLT's 2020 Agents & Editors Conference (yes, you heard us right!) and will meet individually with a top literary agent (and the final judge in their category).  All entrants who opt for a critique--whether winners or not--will receive feedback on their submission from an experienced editor.
Best of all, you do NOT need to have a complete, finished manuscript to enter this contest. All you need are the first (roughly) ten pages of the manuscript plus a synopsis that describes the rest of the book you have planned.

Calling all Texas authors! 
If you published a book in 2019, this contest is for you.
OPEN TO: The 2019 Book Awards Contest is open to Texas authors of books published in 2019. Authors are NOT required to be members of the Writers' League. This contest is open to indie or self-published authors as well as traditionally-published authors.
PRIZES: Winners in each of the five categories will receive a $1000 cash prize, a commemorative award, and public recognition at the 2020 Texas Book Festival in Austin, TX. In addition, five Discovery Prize Winners will receive a $250 cash prize.
MATERIALSEntry form (online) + 3 copies of book (printed)
ELIGIBILITY: To enter this contest, you must be a Texas author. "Texas author" is defined as anyone who (whether currently a resident or not) has lived in Texas for a period of 3 or more years.
Monday, November 4, 2019
6:30 - 7:30 PM 

This year, to kick off National Novel Writing Month, the Writers' League is offering a special members-only online event.

Writers' League Executive Director (and former literary agent) Becka Oliver and Program Director (and author of The Writer's Field Guide to the Craft of Fiction) will answer your burning questions about writing and publishing in a live webinar. (The recording will also be made available to everyone who signs up.)

To take part, here's what you need to do:
  1. RSVP here.
That's it. Seriously. Here's what we'll do:
  1. Send you an email with the link to the webinar and a form you can use to send us questions in advance (if you'd like us to think about them more deeply or if you're not sure you'll be able to attend the live session).
  2. We'll also send the link and form to any +1 that you indicate on the form.
  3. Respond to your questions with stupendously brilliant answers (the sent-in-advance questions and whatever you ask us during the webinar).
  4. Send you the recording so that you can replay those brilliant answers whenever you feel stuck.
It's going to be a fun, informative, event that is open to all members of the Writers' League of Texas (no matter where you live). You can also invite a +1! Just let us know on the form we send.

For years, we have been sending award-winning and bestselling authors into small community libraries across the state to talk about the craft behind their fiction, memoir, and poetry. Now, for the first time, we're gathering ten of those presentations in one place: Austin Community College's beautiful Riverside Campus in Austin, TX.

Texas Writes attendees across the state have a lot to say about these programs: 

" An excellent program!"

"The Texas Writes presentation is a first class program."
" I would highly recommend the Texas Writes program."

Don't miss your chance to experience Texas Writes in a whole new way! 
Throw More Stones: How to Build Your Character Through Conflict 
with Samantha M. Clark   
An online version of last Saturday's class called "high energy" by one student and which prompted another to say, "I can apply the content covered immediately to my story." 
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
No matter whether you're writing a character-driven or plot-driven story, comedy, drama or tragedy, it's the characters that readers follow. And to keep those characters moving and growing, you need conflict. Conflict can be big or small, come from outside or inside, but it must be challenging. When story gurus tell students to chase their characters up a tree then throw stones at them, they're talking about conflict. Conflict not only drives stories forward, it helps readers learn who the characters are by the decisions and actions they make. Conflict makes the story go round!
In this class, you'll learn about developing well-rounded, fully realized characters, the importance of conflict, types of conflict and how to use it to make your stories better.
The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret to Successful Story Structure 
with Jill Chamberlain    
Saturday, November 2, 2019
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
ACC Highland, Austin, TX 
In this information-packed class,  author and script consultant Jill Chamberlain will walk through the Nutshell Technique, the method she created to visually demonstrate to writers the difference between story and situation and to show them how to transform mere situations into surprising and satisfying stories.
Participants will learn:
  • the eight linked elements required to successfully tell a story and not just present a situation
  • how the protagonist's central flaw is the single best writing tool you're not fully utilizing
  • how to find that "inevitable yet unexpected" ending that both surprises and satisfies audiences.
Appropriate for all levels of writers, from those completely new to screenwriting to those who have already finished scripts. The Nutshell Technique can be used with film screenplays, television scripts, and novels.

with Charlotte Gullick  
Saturday, December 7, 2019
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sunday, December 8, 2019
12 p.m. to 5 p.m.    
"Charlotte was knowledgeable, encouraging, honest, supportive, and her insights were eye opening and interesting."
Applications close on Thursday, October 23, at midnight. Everyone who is accepted will be notified by Monday, November 4.   
Location: Writers' League of Texas offices  
This two -day workshop is designed to address the needs of the intermediate or advanced memoir and essay writer. In an intimate setting (10 students maximum), registrants--with the guidance of an experienced instructor--workshop pages from an essay or memoir excerpt, submitted in advance. This experience (modeled after the MFA workshop style) is an invaluable opportunity for writers to both receive and offer constructive criticism, delve into the more complex elements of writing, and take their craft to the next level.  

WLT Executive Director Becka Oliver couldn't put down Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke. 

" Heaven, My Home  reminds me once again why we should all consider ourselves lucky to have Attica Locke writing about Texas.

WLT Program Director Michael Noll recently picked up Vincent Cooper's new poetry collection, Zarzamora. 

" While reading this new poetry collection about the inhabitants of a street named after a fruit, it's impossible not to think of Sandra Cisneros' most famous work."

Our Leadership Austin Fellow, Neena Husid, writes about Trish Hall's Writing to Persuade: 

" The former editor of the New York Times op-ed page underscores familiar writing rules while pulling some intriguing new rabbits out of her journalistic hat."

Read their full accounts on our blog here
Member News

Heather Harper Ellett (Dallas) will discuss her debut novel, Ain't Nobody Nobody, at Book People in Austin, alongside author Laurie Chandler on October 28.

James Garrison (Houston) has a new novel available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The Safecracker is a tongue-in-cheek legal thriller with a safecracker who tries to steal a safe set in a block of concrete in a fast-food joint and a plot to defraud an alternative energy project.

Launch for Walt Gragg's (Georgetown) next novel The Chosen One (Berkley/Penguin Random House) will be at BookPeople in Austin at 2pm on November 17.  Other Texas signings include Murder by the Book, Houston Nov. 21, Interabang Books, Dallas, Nov. 23, and Twig Bookshop, San Antonio Dec 4.  

C.M. Mayo's (on-the-move vaguely east of El Paso) M eteor won the Gival Press Poetry Award and was published this spring. Her translation of Mexican writer Rose Mary Salum's short story "The Aunt" appears in the current issue of Catamaran Literary Reader, and her own short story, "Sky Over El Nido," appears in Spinning Away from the Center: Stories from the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction (University of Georgia Press).

Larry Upshaw (Dallas) is offering a 2 for 1 sale on the story collection Dang, I Wish I Hadn't Done That and other senior moments from the Ageless Authors Writing Contest. Purchase the book here and also receive the group's first anthology, Ageless Authors Anthology.

Interested in having your news listed here? Current Writers' League members can submit their news to Announcements should adhere to the following guidelines: third-person, starting with your first and last name, followed by your city of residence, maximum 50 words. We may edit your announcement for style and clarity.
Open Office Hours
Sign up for a one-on-one meeting with a WLT staffer!  On the second Thursday of every month, the Writers' League is happy to open its doors for an opportunity to schedule a 30 minute meeting with a staff member in person or over the phone. Bring all of your burning questions on the craft and business of writing!

Open Office Hours for October will be held on Thursday,  November 14. 
Writer Classifieds 
Looking for a writing group or critique partner?
Look no further than our Writer Classifieds. Current Writers' League members can submit their name, contact information, and additional details to be included as a listing on a private page on our website.

Coming Up @ WLT
Classes, Free Programs, Deadlines, and Other Events Across the State

October 15
     Writers' League of Texas offices, Austin, TX   
     This class has sold out. 
October 17
     BookPeople, Austin, TX  
October 19-20
      This class has sold out.
October 23
October 26-27
     Texas Capital Grounds, Austin, TX 
November 2
     ACC Highland, Austin, TX (10 a.m.)
     Butt-Holdsworth Library, Kerrville, TX 
November 4
November 9-10
     ACC Riverside, Austin, TX  
November 12
November 16
     ACC Highland, Austin, TX
November 19
     Online Class 
November 20
     Online Class  
November 21
     Agard-Lovingood Auditorium, Huston-Tillotson University, Austin, TX  
December 7-8
     Writers' League of Texas offices 

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.  Visit Austin at

Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to .  

This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities,