Showing posts with label Texas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Texas. Show all posts

11 June 2018

Motivation or Get Outta That Rut?



Jan Grape and daughter Karla J. Lee
by Jan Grape

I think all writers sometimes feel in a rut. 

I think all creative people sometimes feel in a rut.

Maybe even a lot of people sometimes feel they're in a rut.

My daughter and I were having this conversation the other night.

She works eight or nine hours a day in an office, spending a lot of time staring at a computer screen. Then there's the 20-30-40 minute drive home depending on  the traffic. By the time she walks into her house and put on her comfortable shorts and T-shirt, pours a glass of wine and walks outside to her deck overlooking a river, all she wants to do is chillax. She makes a quick dinner and vegges out in front of the TV until bedtime.

She's a songwriter but has trouble getting motivated to pick up her  ukulele and creating a song. "I think I'm in a rut," she says.

Do y'all know that ukuleles are very popular again? When I was a young girl I would go visit my dad and bonus mom in the summer. I would beg my dad to play his uke and sing. And he would often agree. He played songs like "Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue" or "I Wanna Go Back To My Little Grass Shack" or "Lazy Bones." I love it. Now there are little pockets of uke players all over the country. Think I even saw a singer/player on THE VOICE tv show. (but I digress.) 

I understand being in a rut. I'm retired and have time to write, but I've often listened to my lazy self and after doing a few chores or trying to get my allergies or arthritis pain under control, I wind up vegging in front of the TV and never manage to get a word written on my next story. It seems that I'm in a rut.

It's all about motivation.

 How do you get motivated? What works for me may not work for you but I have to sit myself down and realize that I am in a rut with my life and decide to do something about it. 

Calling a good friend I haven't seen in months and inviting she and her daughter to meet me at a new Tex-Mex restaurant I've been wanting to try. 

Signing up for Yoga class. Signing up to volunteer someplace: meals on wheels, local library, visiting a children's hospital or nursing home each week, helping out at a soup kitchen. Just something to make it out of that rut.  Take a daily walk, learn to quilt or paint or to play piano. You can fill your days with something different.

If you're retired like I am, when you get up in the morning, fix your hair and make up if you're female, shave if male and dress if going to an office. Check your day planner then go to your writing work space.

Several years ago I was at a Bouchercon and Sue Grafton was giving a talk to four or five hundred people and she said if you have sat down at your computer and your writing time is three hours, stay there for three hours. Even if you stare at the computer screen and only write the word THE. Sit there for the full three hours.  Write something, anything and once you do this, hopefully, only one time of three hours with a blank screen, your creative muse will kick in. Because who wants to sit writing nothing for more than one day?  

If you are still working, it's a little different. And you are the only one who can decide what works best for you. Get up an hour earlier to write each day or three days a week. Or set your goal to write four hours a day on Saturday and four hours a day on Sunday. Whatever works for you. 

Just do something during the week that gets you out of your rut. Pack a sack lunch and go outside to eat in the park. Buy a ticket to a concert on a Friday night. Spend Sunday afternoon in a museum. 

You can decide to make your own happiness and to get out of your rut, JUST DO IT. 





27 February 2017

Lockhart Texas Book Club

by Jan Grape

This past Friday, the 24th I was invited by my Sister-in Crimes friend, of over 20 years Janet Christian, to be the guest of honor at the Irving Book Club in Lockhart, Texas. The Irving Book Club, named after Washington Irving is the second oldest according to the Federation of Women's clubs, formed in 1896.  Lockhart is known as the BBQ capitol of TX but, that is disputed by several other Texas towns. Lockhart is also one of Austin's bedroom communities, thirty miles south and slightly east. Since I live 45 miles west and slightly north, it was a 78 mile drive one-way. (I know that's 3 miles short but I'm going by map mileage here and not actual driven miles.)

The book club meets in the Dr. Eugene Clark Library which has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating library in the state, founded in 1899. The members of the club brought finger foods including desserts, everything homemade. Many of the members wear hats and you are immediately reminded of the hats on display at the Kentucky derby. I have a Cowgirl hat and a black and a red hat that are sort of fedoras, Private-Eye style but, the weather was too hot for any of those.  I searched my closet shelves and found a lovely hat box with three hats inside that I had forgotten about. The hatbox and the hats I had inherited from my bonus mom and the one I picked was a black mini-pill box hat with a veil. It more or less sits right on the top of your head. You can pull the veil down but that didn't work for me. I pulled the veil to the back and only a small part shows on front and side.

I had fun talking about how I first starting writing and sold my first short story for $100 and how I'm so glad I didn't quit my day job because I didn't sell anything else for 5 years. Also how I was writing a female private-eye novel that never sold but, I sold probably 12-15 short stories with the characters, Jenny Gordon and C.J. Gunn and likely made more with those that I ever would have with the novel.

Also told about how I took Citizen's Police Academy Training that was offered by the Austin Police Department which was set up to help folks who were interested in being part of the Neighborhood Watch Program. I applied for the program and was accepted. It was set up once a week for three hours, meeting for ten weeks and you learned a lot about each department of APD. Homicide, Robbery, Fraud, Firearms, and we got to ride along for a full shift in a patrol car with an officer. That's when I realized that every single call the police answered could turn-out to be dangerous. This was in the early 90s when police officers weren't being slain very often...at least not in Austin.

One fun thing after the ten weeks training we could join the Alumni Association and we could go out to the academy where the cadets were training and got to role-play and be a bad guy. Once I played a lady who had a warrant out for her arrest. The training officer who was watching the role-play had told me when the female cadet arrested me he wanted me to be rude to her, call her names and try do things to make her angry. The idea being that each cadet needed to learn to deal with a belligerent public and he wanted to see how she'd react. So when the cadet put the handcuffs on me, I cursed her up one side and down the other. I called her every name in the book. The only time in my life I got to cuss out a cop and get away with it. Then I told her the handcuffs were too tight. She finally loosened them one notch. Then put me in the squad car. I have small hand and wrists so I was able to slip the cuffs off. When they came to let me out of the police car I handed the cuffs to them. The cadets were not supposed to talk to each other but they did. All the remainder of the day, cadets put the handcuffs on so tight that everyone would have been mad at me if they had known it was my fault.

My next story was how while I was taking the Citizen's Police Academy training this woman named Zoe Barrow started talking to me in my head. Voices in my head happens to me all the time and the astonishing thing is no one calls the men in the little white coats to come after me. Zoe (rhymes with Joe) turned out to be an Austin Police woman and is the main character in my first book, Austin City Blue. In my second novel, Dark Blue Death the first chapter is almost word for word of a role-play scene out at the Academy. I was in a vehicle with a Training Officer and two cadets were out side. One on the driver's side and one on the passenger side...my side. They both stood back a bit from the vehicle. I could see the driver side cadet in the rear view mirror. When the training officer was asked for her name and phone number, she gave her name and then her phone number as 1-800-GOODSEX.  I could see the cadet trying to contain his laughter and almost choking.

The training officer had suggested I get out of the car and see what the cadet on my side would do. I opened the door and started to get out, the cadet says, "Ma'am, please stop. Police get back in the car. Please ma'am." I said, "I have to go to the bathroom." She said, "Ma'am, you must get back into the car." I said, "I'm pregnant. If you don't let me go now, I'll pee all over this car seat." Like I said, the ladies of the Book Club were so attentive and laughed in all the right places. They asked interesting questions and everyone told me afterward how much they enjoyed my talk.

These events are a lot of fun for me and you get inspired because people who love to read are there listening to you. I LOVE READERS  


22 June 2016

Writers League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference

by Jan Grape and Velma



22 June 2016



Footnotes


In This Issue
2016 Agents & Editors Conference
2016 Summer Writing Retreat
Quick Links
Follow Us


See You 
After the 4th!
fireworks-summer.jpg
The WLT Offices will be closed due to
post-conference fatigue syndrome from June 27-July 4. We will reopen on
Tuesday, July 5 at 10:00 am, fully recovered.



Members Only
"Members Review"
Interested in reviewing books? Contact us at member@writersleague.org with "Members Review" in the subject line and we will respond with more details. 

"Meet the Members"
Want
to be profiled on our blog? We are looking for willing subjects for our
weekly Q&A posts with current members. If interested, write us at 



Member News

Are you a current WLT member interested in submitting to Member News? Email your 50-word blurb (with links!) at member@writersleague.org. For a full list of guidelines, click here.



 Texas Writes
 
Our next Texas Writes event will takes place at the Marathon Public Library on Saturday, July 16 at 1:00 pm.
We're just starting to schedule our next round of events. The 2016/2017 schedule, available on the Texas Writes page on our website, will be updated as we add new libraries.


 Our Next Open Office Hours
July 14, 2016

Registration closes June 13 at 12 pm

Members: Meet one-on-one with a WLT staffer (in person or call in).

Click here for guidelines and to sign up. Current members only.  


Manuscript Contest

Congratulations to the 2016 Manuscript Contest winners and finalists! Click here for the list.

If you entered the contest and have not yet received your written feedback, please email our contest coordinator at sara@writersleague.org so that we can confirm your contact info and resend. All critiques have been sent as of May 20.



2016 marks the Writers' League of Texas' 35th Anniversary. 


To celebrate this milestone, we're asking members to consider renewing
their membership in 2016 at the special Anniversary Level or one of the
Premium Levels.

Details on the various membership levels and associated benefits can be found HERE.

Share Your Writers' League of Texas Story!

We're collecting stories, memorabilia, and photos from our members past and present to celebrate our 35th Anniversary.
We've created a form to make it easy to share stories or photos from our history. Click here to submit your contribution. 

For more information on our 35th Anniversary plans, click here.  



Support the Writers'
League at Your 
Local Randalls!






You can support the Writers' League of Texas when you shop at your local Randalls through the Randalls Good Neighbor Program.
Since 1996, The Good Neighbor Program has offered their customers an
easy way to donate to their favorite nonprofit organization.  
Read more about the program here and follow the link to the form. Be sure to include the Writers' League's Charity Number: 277.



Follow Us
Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  Visit our blog



2016 Agents & Editors Conference

Countdown to the Conference:
THREE DAYS TO GO!

It's not too late to join us this weekend in Austin.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday

June 24-26, 2016
Hyatt Regency Austin


The boxes are packed. The tote bags are stuffed. And the weekend ahead promises to be pretty amazing. In just three days, the Writers' League of Texas' 23rd Annual Agents & Editors Conference kicks off -- and we can't wait.

If you've been waiting to purchase your ticket to this year's event, the time is now and we do have a few spots left. You can find the full conference program on our website, including the weekend's schedule (Friday through Sunday), bios and photos of our visiting faculty, information on preparing for the many networking opportunities, details about the Hyatt and dining & entertainment options nearby, and the full list of our panelists, presenters, keynoters, moderators, exhibitors, and more.

We've also made available on Soundcloud our podcast of last week's June Third Thursday discussion, "Practice Makes Pitch Perfect." Whether you're planning to attend the conference (or another event) or you're looking to improve your query letter, we hope you'll listen to the recording (featuring a former literary agent and current publishing sales director) and take away some tips and tricks for both in-person and written pitches. LISTEN HERE


 
See you in Austin on June 24! 
And remember that we're here for you and happy to answer any and all questions ahead of time, so please do reach out. 





2016 Summer Writing Retreat

2016 Summer Writing Retreat: 
Seats Are Still Available!

 

Ever want to get away from it all and spend a week immersed in your
craft, taking in a truly breathtaking setting, and meeting fellow
writers?

Here's your chance with the Writers' League of Texas 10th Annual Summer Writing Retreat at Sul Ross State University in scenic Alpine, deep in the heart of West Texas.
Kicking off with an orientation the evening of Sunday, July 17, five classes are taught simultaneously by five terrific instructors, Monday, July 18 through Friday, July 22.

For additional information about this one-of-a-kind event, CLICK HERE. Seats are still available in two of the five classes!   


ONLY 4 SEATS REMAINING!

Writers who attend this class will come away with a clear sense of the distinct elements of effective storytelling to focus on for a revision as well as a definitive map for tackling the process and meaningful strategies to get (and stay) unstuck. Read a Q&A with Charlotte Gullick here, and visit the class page for more information and to sign up for her class.

Charlotte Gullick
is Chair of the Creative Writing Department at Austin Community College. A first-generation college graduate, she received her AA from Santa Rosa Junior College, a BA in Literature/Creative Writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a MA in English/Creative Writing from the University of California, Davis. She earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at the Institute of American Indian Arts in May
2016.

Charlotte's first novel, By Way of Water, was chosen by Jayne Anne Phillips as the Grand Prize winner of the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards Program, and a special author's edition was reissued by the Santa Fe Writers Project in November of 2013. Charlotte's other awards include a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship for Fiction, a Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship for Poetry, a MacDowell Colony Residency, Faculty of Year from College of the Redwoods as well as the Evergreen State College 2012 Teacher Excellence Award.


ONLY 1 SEAT REMAINING! 

With a winning combination of morning instruction & discussion and afternoon writing assignments, as well as personalized feedback from the instructor, this course will give you the basic tools to write lengthy, narrative-driven stories that are moreabout attitude than objectivity, more about getting at the heart of a story than just the facts. Visit the class page for more info and to sign up for this class.

Michael Hall graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1979. Before joining Texas Monthly in 1997, he was an associate editor of Third Coast magazine and the managing editor of the Austin Chronicle.
He won a Texas Gavel Award in 2003 for his story about capital punishment, "Death Isn't Fair," which was also nominated for a National Magazine Award. Hall's stories have appeared in the
Best American Magazine Writing, the Best American Sportswriting, the Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Da Capo Best Music Writing. He has also written for Trouser Press, The New York Times, Men's Journal, and the Austin American-Statesman






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CDA



The Writers' League of Texas
is a non-profit corporation, funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts.                
 
This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.


Writers’ League of Texas, Suite 200 A-3, 611 S. Congress Av, Austin, TX 78704
512-499-8914 • wlt@writersleague.org