Success Story Spotlight Interview
with Gloria Amescua
The Austin Literary Community is a tight knit group of talented writers, illustrators, publishers, and industry gurus, alike. When one person is successful it isn’t difficult to celebrate that success as if it were our own. Many times, we here at The Writing Barn aren’t just friends with the writers we meet and teach, but fans of them as well. That’s why we’ve created this new blog series entitled ”Success Story Spotlight,” to showcase the achievements of authors who, having studied at The Writing Barn, were able to make their dreams into a reality.
I’m thrilled to receive the Lee and Low Books 2016 New Voice Award Honor for my picture book biography written in verse, Luz Jiménez, No Ordinary Girl. You can read more about the award here: 2016 New Voices Award Winner.
How did the The Writing Barn aid you in achieving this goal?
The Writing Barn has meant everything to my writing. This honor would never have happened without the courses I took and all the incredible teachers. This picture book biography was only an idea in my head. When I first encountered a pamphlet about Luz Jiménez at the UT Ransom Center, I knew I had to write about her, but I didn’t know how I would. Over a year later when I took Picture Book II at the Writing Barn and was assigned to work on a biography, I knew exactly who I would write about—Luz! The Nonfiction Picture Book course I participated in was what really helped me find the heart in all the research I had done. It was Bethany and Aimee Thomas’s urging me to write it in verse that made a huge difference. At first I didn’t think I could do it, but their encouragement, as well as the group’s, gave me that extra push I needed. I loved it, and the judges at Lee and Low Books loved “the poetic voice, the strong subject and thorough back matter.”
Have you made friendships/colleagues as well? How has that supported you?
The friendships I’ve made through the Writing Barn have supported me in so many ways. Many of the participants in our Picture Book I and II formed a writing group that met for many months. We live quite far apart and that has kept us from continuing to meet, but we continue to cheer each other on in our work. It’s also great to know people we’ve met in classes, be able to network with them, and be able to feel at ease at the SCBWI conferences and meetings.
Why do you think attending workshops/classes is important to writers at all stages of their career?
In the workshops and classes we continue to learn from our teachers and each other. I know I will continue to take courses; there is always something new to learn. I already know that the writing life is a long, and difficult one, and we need support and motivation as well as craft.
What is a takeaway you will carry with you far beyond this good news as you continue to build and develop your career?
My takeaway is that I would never have received this award without the support of the wonderful teachers and participants in of the workshops/classes I have taken. I need the feedback and suggestions from others, especially from the expert teachers. We are a writing family!
Any advice you have for writers/creatives having trouble staying the course in pursuing their goals?
Keep jotting down your ideas, keep writing, and find joy in the writing. Don’t give up on your dream.
Gloria received both her B. A. and M. Ed. degrees from UT at Austin. She has worked in education as an English teacher, and as the Secondary Language Arts Director of Round Rock ISD. A workshop presenter for youth and adults, she is an alumna of Hedgebrook’s Writers-in-Residence program. Gloria applied for and was accepted as an inaugural fellow in CantoMundo, a national Latino/a organization for poets. Gloria has been published in books and a variety of print and online journals. These include di-verse-city, Kweli Journal, Generations Literary Journal, Texas Poetry Calendar, The Acentos Review, The San Antonio Express News, Pilgrimage, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga, Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems, The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop, and Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art, published by UT Press.
She has also received the Austin Poetry Society Award and the Christina Sergeyevna Award for poetry. The author of two poetry chapbooks, Windchimes and What Remains, she is currently working on a book-length poetry manuscript and several picture book manuscripts, both fiction and biography. In addition, Gloria has received the 2016 New Voices Award Honor for her picture book manuscript, Luz Jiménez, No Ordinary Girl: Symbol of Mexico in Art and Literature.