Writers' League of Texas Podcast
Summary: Conversations on the craft and business of writing. Featuring panels, discussions, and interviews with authors, seasoned writing experts, and publishing professionals. Visit writersleague.org to learn more about our programming and for more information about our free monthly Third Thursday panel discussion in Austin, TX, at BookPeople.
As an narrative artform, memoir has grown and transformed from its early days in slice-of-life ruminations from writers such as Montaigne to tell-all shockers from the latest hot celebrity to the current state of the genre. In this panel, author Katherine Catmull, author Rachel Starnes, and Telling Project found Jonathan Wei discussed how the narrative forms and arcs of memoir differ from those of novels, the purpose and appeal of the genre, and what makes one person's story stand out from all the rest.
With the recent passing of Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold (who was also a very fine music critic), we're reminded of how important a role cultural criticism plays in our understanding of not just a particular aspect of culture (like food or music) but also in our understanding of a place and the people living there. In this panel, Michael Noll spoke to three music critics/scholars about their own approaches to writing about music and the culture, place, and people at the heart of it: Joe Gross, Kayleigh Hughes, and Omise'eke Tinsley.
Of the three essential participants in a book's life (author, agent, editor), the editor's job is often the least understood. What do editors look for in the acquisition process? How do they work on a manuscript with the author? What should authors expect from their editors and how should they communicate with them? When should a writer seek out a professional editor before submitting a book for publication? What about magazine editors? What is the best way to get and keep their attention? In February 2018, WLT Program Director Michael Noll talked with three different types of editors and one author/editor about what makes an author/editor relationship a success. Listen to his conversation with panelists Carolyn Cohagan, Casey Kittrell, Sara Kocek, and Kate Rodemann.
In the age of Instagram, it can seem as if almost everyone you know is photographing & writing about food. But what does it take to convey the wonders of a delicious meal in full sensory detail, and how does that differ from writing (and testing) a recipe that others can replicate accurately? How do cultural issues impact the way we think -- and write -- about what we eat? Beyond food journalism and recipe writing, how can fiction writers use descriptions of preparing or eating a meal as a way to understand characters or move a narrative forward? WLT Member Services Manager Jordan Smith talked with Megan Myers (of the blog Stetted), Eric Silverstein (of The Peached Tortilla), and Mary Helen Specht (of the novel Migratory Animals) at our March 2018 Third Thursday about these questions and more.
Attending the upcoming Agents & Editors Conference (or a similar event) and need help honing your pitch for consultations, mingling at receptions and general sessions, and other networking opportunities? Or maybe you're ready to contact literary agents and could use help boiling down your project's plot in a brief, intriguing, and marketable way for query letters. This informative and lively discussion features two publishing professionals: Becka Oliver, WLT's Executive Director and a former literary agent, and Lance Fitzgerald, a current publishing sales executive. They go over the ABCs (really, the 4Cs) of pitching. If you've listened to past podcasts on pitching, you won't want to miss new information on pitching in-person.
Writers have long been powerful voices in writing about and confronting injustice. In the past few years, however, we have seen examples of writers misunderstanding their social justice subjects and characters in important ways. In this panel, three writers discussed the many approaches such writing takes (novels, stories, essays, and op-eds), how not to ruin a story with didactic prose, and to how to write to urge readers to action. Panelists Nan Cuba, Vivé Griffith, & Alejandro Puyana spoke with WLT Program Director Michael Noll.
Sometimes the trickiest part of writing is simply beginning. You can't finish what you don't start, but there is something overwhelming about the blank page or empty screen. And revisiting a manuscript you abandoned a while ago dredges up all kinds of fears and worries. So how do writers cope? How does one motivate his/herself to sit down every day and keep going? In this episode, WLT Program director talks with panelists Doug Dorst, Jardine Libaire, ire’ne lara silva about how to take a project from the idea stage to the writing stage.
First drafts of novels and memoirs can begin with a spark of an idea and a rush of enthusiasm. But after 70-100 pages, that initial clarity often vanishes, along with any sense of the way forward into the book. Or perhaps you're researching for a nonfiction project, but you feel lost at the thought of organizing your notes into a coherent narrative. The panelists -- Dalia Azim, James Crowley, Alison Macor, and Cory Putman Oakes, moderated by WLT Program Director Michael Noll -- discuss strategies for shaping early drafts of book-length projects and giving them direction—a must-attend event for anyone who has recently thrown themselves into a new project or wants to return to a memoir or nonfiction draft that they've put aside.
In August 2017 at the Blanton Musuem of Art, this panel brought together writers and scholars who have explored and been inspired by myths and legendary tales from many traditions. What can we learn from the ways these myths were developed and revised for their audiences, and what appeal do they continue to have for modern readers and writers? Sheila Black, Dr. Richard R. Flores, P.J. Hoover, and Dr. Helena Woodard spoke on this panel, moderated by WLT Program Director by Michael Noll.
Some of the bestselling books in recent years have been historical fiction or nonfiction that examines events from the recent or distant past. The appeal of such books is, in part, the joy of immersing ourselves in these long-gone worlds. Yet anyone who tries to write such a story quickly realizes that research and worldbuilding can overwhelm the actual narrative. Novelists Jame L. Haley, Natalia Sylvester, and Sherry Thomas and nonfiction writer Dan Oppenheimer discuss the ways that writers can both bring a historical world to life and also tell a riveting story in this conversation moderated by WLT Program Director Michael Noll.
Novels and memoirs are often described as cinematic, but the truth is that writing for film and television is quite different than writing prose. This panel discussion will focus on how screenplays and scripts are written: How they begin, what makes them work, how to know when they're finished, and how they become stories you watch on the screen, big or small. For this topic, WLT Program Director Michael Noll spoke with experts Jill Chamberlain (founding director of the Screenplay Workshop), Matt Dy (Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition Director, Joe Gross (culture writer for the Austin-American Statesman), & Maya Perez (screenwriter & producer for the Emmy-winning On Story).
Every writer who is a parent or who once read picture books (which means pretty much everyone) has contemplated writing one at some point--and inevitably learned that it's not easy. This panel will deconstruct the parts and structure of picture books, answer commonly-asked questions, and discuss the business of getting books published. WLT Program Director Michael Noll speaks with children's book authors Chris Barton, Jason Gallaher, and Liz Garton Scanlon and author/illustrator Emma Virjan for this conversation.
Texas has a thriving literary scene – are you taking full advantage of the opportunities in your own state, especially in your own backyard? Whether you’re a Texas writer looking for publication, or a book lover who wants to support Texas-owned and operated businesses, you should know about your local bookstores, literary journals, and publishers. In this podcast, WLT Member Services Manager Jordan Smith talks with experts on being independent in Texas. Colleen Devine Ellis of University of Texas Press, Will Evans of Cinestate, Abby Fennewald of BookPeople, and Sunny Leal of fields magazine and Feminine Inquiry.
Every year, thousands of books are published by major publishing imprints, not to mention books from independent publishers and self-published authors. What makes some books stand out while others seem to vanish as soon as they're released? How do publishing houses decide which books will receive their biggest marketing pushes? In September 2017, WLT Executive Director Becka Oliver spoke with Brian Contine (Sales Manager for Penguin Adult), Gillian Redfearn (National Accounts Manager for Macmillan Publishing ), Deanna Roy (six-time USA Today bestselling author) and Julie Wernersbach (Literary Director at the Texas Book Festival) for an inside look at the book-selling process.
Writing and reading may be solitary acts, but their survival depends upon a thriving, supportive literary community. Now more than ever, we need vibrant conversations about great, challenging books and stories. In January 2017, WLT Program Director Michael Noll spoke with panelists Joe Brundidge, Rebecca Markovits, and Richard Santos about the importance of book reviews, journals, and literary events, and practical ways to support them.