Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Hi folks,
Here's an interview I did recently for the Writer's League of Texas in conjunction with an upcoming appearance I'm making with them on May 16. Details are on their website. I can't wait!

Instructor Spotlight

Les Edgerton has published eighteen books including the novel The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping and his most recent work, Finding Your Voice: How to Put Personality in Your Writing. His fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, the Derringer Award, Spinetingler Magazine Best Thriller Award, Texas Institute of Letters Jesse Jones Book Award, and the Violet Crown Book Award, among others. One of his screenplays was a semifinalist in the Academy Award’s Nicholl’s Foundation and another was a finalist in both the Writer’s Guild Awards and Best of Austin Screenplay competition. He’s taught creative writing for the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program, was the visiting writer-in-residence for the University of Toledo for three years, and the visiting writer for Trine University. He currently teaches an ongoing private novel-writing class and provides private coaching.
Les is teaching a class for the Writers’ League called “Watch to Write: Lessons for Novelists in Thelma and Louise” at St. Edward’s University. A native Texan, Edgerton is making several appearances in Texas this summer including this workshop, an appearance at BookPeople in Austin, an appearance before the San Antonio Writer’s Group, and will be on staff for the Writer’s Retreat Workshop at the Oblate Retreat in San Antonio, all in May. Details can be found on his website. Read the interview below and visit the class page to learn more.

LesEdgertonScribe: When did you know you were a writer? Was there a defining moment in your personal history?
Les Edgerton: I knew at about the age of five. When I read my first book by myself I knew at that moment that I wanted to be a writer. I’ve never wavered for a moment. I thought at the time I could write a better story than the one I just read. I couldn’t then… but I can now.

Scribe: You’ve been a lot of things — homeless, a hairstylist, a life insurance agent, among other things. Do your array of experiences provide a foundation for writing?
LE: I wouldn’t call it a “foundation” exactly. It’s always been about material and experiences. When I was very young, I knew I wanted to be a writer and I thought at the time the best way to accomplish that was to accumulate experiences and then write about them, ala Jack London. A couple of years ago, I read an interview with Flannery O’Connor and she said if a person lived for the first 17 years of their life in the same house and same little town, he/she would have enough material for a lifetime of writing. Wish I’d read her years before—I could have saved myself a lot of trouble! Except, I’d do the same thing. I knew at that early age that one day—if I lived long enough—that I’d be 80 years old and sitting in that wheelchair at the nursing home with that blanket over my lap and all the money, cars, houses, clothes, et al, wouldn’t mean a thing, but if I had memories, I’d have something. I’ve got those memories now and wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Scribe: You recently published a book on craft. When did you become confident enough in your writing ability to start being able to write about writing?
LE: When I was in my thirties. I wrote Finding Your Voice, but it wasn’t published until my forties. I wrote it a few years before that, but didn’t know how to go about getting it published until a few years later. Actually, I knew how to get published but craft books don’t earn large advances as a rule and my agent at the time didn’t want to mess with something that was only going to offer a $10,000 advance. So, eventually I just sent it out myself.

Scribe: What is the intersection of film and books? What advantages do books have over movies and vice versa?
LE: The “intersection” is that they’re both forms of storytelling and that’s what good fiction is always about—creating a story. Books have a decided advantage over films because novels allow the writer to include the protagonist’s thoughts, whereas movies only show what can be seen and heard. That means that they naturally can provide more depth. Movies have an advantage over books in their production values—the senses of sight and sound are affected much more profoundly. That advantage however, is also a disadvantage, simply because they affect more than one sense. That reduces the audience’s level of active participation. The audience of a movie is more of a passive subject as most of the experience is provided for them and they don’t need to bring much to the experience to gain the benefit. As Marshall McLuhan so brilliantly delineated, a media that only affects one sense (as in reading) requires the audience to bring their imagination to bear to make the experience work, i.e., a “cool” media. Movies, being a “hot” media, don’t require nearly as much imagination from the participant, who merely has to sit there and experience the story passively. One’s brain usually isn’t overtaxed watching a movie… That “dumbing of America” that received so much press years ago really is true, as our entertainment tastes evolved to where more people went to movies and watched TV and reduced their reading, so did the overall intelligence as their imaginations were utilized less and less… To enjoy a movie, all one has to do is sit there and not do a whole lot of thinking. Reading, however, requires an active imagination, not to mention a larger source of information to call upon. What’s interesting is that old chestnut often posed–which did you like better, the movie or the novel?—was found in studies to be bound to whichever form the story was experienced in first. If a person read the book first, overwhelmingly they claimed to like the book better. If they saw the movie first, the movie won out. It’s basically a case of expectations. If you saw the movie first, you’ll “see” the characters a certain way and the book usually won’t match up to those expectations, and the reverse holds if the person read the novel first. Although there are always a certain percentage of those polled who will almost always answer one or the other consistently, probably because they have a bit of the “snob” gene working…

There’s another advantage to movies these days. When movies began their existence, they borrowed their structures from literature. However, nowadays the opposite is true. Today’s novels borrow their structure from film. Two good examples of that are transitions and beginnings. When movies began, they borrowed transitive models from books—that old “meanwhile, back at the ranch” scrolling across the screen as we went from one scene to another. All of that is gone and transitions ala the models we used even ten years ago in novels are fast disappearing. Beginnings in movies used to be taught along the same lines as novel beginnings. In movies, that used to be a standard ten minutes. No mas. Today, the setup time isn’t usually much more than a few seconds, or at most a minute or two. Same way with novels, because of the influence of film—no more beginning with setup and backstory and all that nonsense these days… At least not in work that wants to have a chance of being published.

Scribe: Why Thelma and Louise and not another movie?
LE: Great question! I’m writing a new craft book based on this workshop and T&L and at first, I intended to use parts from a lot of movies. I have a library of over 1,000 movies and meant to draw from many of them at first. However, the more I looked at other films, the more weaknesses I saw in all of them. Thelma & Louise was the only movie I’ve seen that doesn’t have a single writing weakness in it. Every single frame presents a valid and valuable teaching moment. I simply can’t say that about any other movie I’ve ever seen. There are a couple that come close, but none that were as consistently brilliant as this movie is. It’s quite simply a work of genius as the audience will discover. I’ve watched it over 200 times and I keep looking for a flaw but so far haven’t been able to find one. I’m speaking of writing techniques here. There are other movies I Iike better on an entertainment level, but none approach even remotely the level T&L does in providing perfect teaching lessons on how to write publishable, contemporary fiction. None come close to it. Discovering that was great, as it makes it extremely easy to use for teaching and a beautiful model for learning. In a workshop situation, I don’t have to rely on the audience knowing a bunch of movies to see great examples instantly. Virtually everything a writer needs to know and understand about contemporary fiction writing techniques will be shown at our gathering. And, they’ll get to see not only flawless writing but how the whole of the many parts comes together to create a powerful story. That is really important to me as I see a lot of writer education based on bits and pieces of diverse work presented as examples. We learn “parts” of writing, but not story as much. By watching a film that works on every single level and to see how all the parts we’ll go over come together into a seamless story, is extremely valuable. Please believe me that after watching this movie the way we will, I unhesitatingly guarantee the participant’s writing I.Q. will be raised significantly. If you attend you’ll see what I mean and I’m very confident you’ll feel like I’ve understated just how great a teaching and learning tool this movie presents. I predict participants will look back and identify many, many “aha!” moments.

Scribe: Last question … will there be popcorn?
LE: I hope so! Like Blanch Du Bois, I depend on the kindness of others. The only thing I’m not working at this showing is the concession stand…
— Thanks, Les!

Monday, April 13, 2015

New paperback version of FINDING YOUR VOICE

Hi folks,

I have a bit of cool news. Years ago, I wrote my first craft book, Finding Your Voice, and Writer’s Digest Books published it. Last year, they decided not to bring out an ebook version and graciously gave me back my ebook rights to it. My agent went about the work of getting out an ebook version and it’s continued to do well

Well, Writer’s Digest has recently sold out all the paperback copies of it and again, graciously ceded me those rights also. And, we were able to bring out the paperback version of it along with the ebook and now you can obtain it in a paperback version.

That means it’s now available in three versions—ebook, paperback and also a Snippets version. The Snippets version is really cool. It’s an abridged ebook version and sprinkled with “snippets” (videos) of me discussing various points throughout the book. I had a lot of fun helping create it and I’ve had a lot of people tell me they really like the idea of watching the videos.

The ebook and paperback version are available here on Amazon. The Snippets version is also available at their site and also on the blog here.

Hope you enjoy one of the versions!

Blue skies,

Openings still available...

 Back to Calendar

Hi folks,

There's still a few spots left in my upcoming presentation on May 16 from 10 am - 4 pm at St. Edwards University for the Writer's League of Texas. Go here  for additional info on registering and attending. Hope to see some of you there!


"Watch to Write: Lessons for Novelists in Thelma and Louise" with Les Edgerton

Register until

Members: Login to receive members-only pricing.

St. Edward's University, Trustee Hall 303
3001 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704


5/16/2015 From 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

$69 for members (please log in for member pricing)

$129 for nonmembers
Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

Note: Online registration will close at the end of Thursday, May 14. After that you can pay admission at the door with a check for the walk up rate - $79 for members and $139 for nonmembers - as long as seats are available. Thank you!

Watching good movies can make you a better fiction writer.
That’s the entire premise of this workshop. The power of visual storytelling can allow writing teachers to demonstrate fiction-writing techniques in a more effective and entertaining way. 

In this class, we will watch the movie Thelma & Louise in its entirety, stopping frequently to desconstruct and discuss techniques that Callie Khouri (the screenwriter) uses to create a wonderful work of art—the same techniques used by the best fiction writers. Virtually every frame of this movie offers a valuable teaching moment for writers, and on top of that it provides an entirely pleasurable way to learn.

Class take-aways will include:

- How actions both inform characterization and provide a dynamic means to create character arc, creating believable, exciting people and not “characters.”

- How to write riveting scenes and set up future scenes up by foreshadowing.

- How to handle exposition and backstory.

- Giving your characters physical actions to define them and show character arc.

- How to utilize setting to define character.

- Surface-problem and story-worthy problem--How each is related and resolved.

- How to write resolutions that satisfy emotionally.

- How to create “watercooler moments”

- A bonus takeaway is learning how to create a novel that is cinematic in nature which could help sell it as... you guessed it...a movie!

This workshop would be valuable to every skill level of writer—from the raw beginner to the polished writer who has been published several times. And, even though it’s an event geared to novel writers, the same principles we’ll cover apply also to screenwriters. So… everybody is welcome!

About the instructor:
Les Edgerton has published eighteen books. His fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, the Derringer Award, Spinetingler Magazine Best Thriller Award, Texas Institute of Letters Jesse Jones Book Award, and the Violet Crown Book Award, among others. One of his screenplays was a semifinalist in the Academy Award's Nicholl's Foundation and another was a finalist in both the Writer's Guild Awards and Best of Austin Screenplay competition. He's taught creative writing for the UCLA Extension Writer's Program, was the visiting writer-in-residence for the University of Toledo for three years, the visiting writer for Trine University, taught creative writing online for Vermont College, Phoenix College, St. Francis University, Writer's Digest, for the New York Writer’s Workshop and others. He currently teaches an ongoing private novel-writing class and provides private coaching. The workshop on Thelma and Louise is the heart of his newest craft book, A Fiction Writer's Workshop at the Bijou.

A native Texan, Edgerton is making several appearances in Texas this summer including this workshop, an appearance at BookPeople Bookstore in Austin, an appearance before the San Antonio Writer’s Group, and will be on staff for the Writer’s Retreat Workshop at the Oblate Retreat in San Antonio, all in May. Details found on his website at

REGISTRATION BY MAIL: If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click HERE for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it.

NOTE: Tickets are not refundable, but they are transferable. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at or 512-499-8914 and let us know so that we can update the class roster. For policies, please visit our Classes page.

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

The Writers' League of Texas would like to thank St. Edward's University for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit

Blue skies,

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Hi folks,

Just got a great review from my friend and fellow writer, Gregory C. Randall, on his blog, Writing 4 Death.

Greg and I met in person at the last Bouchercon in Long Beach and instantly hit it off. I was already a fan of his books and we had corresponded via the Intergnat, and were “Gnat” friends, and when I met him in the flesh, we became great friends. He’s the kind of guy you enjoy having drinks with. And, then, he cemented our friendship when, after I got finished with a panel I was on, he came up and presented me with a San Francisco Giants t-shirt, commemorating their latest World Championship! No one’s ever done anything like that!

Anyhoo, here’s Greg’s review of Kidnapping…

Review by Gregory C. Randall
The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping
By Les Edgerton

Les Edgerton and I share a few things, most especially our love and appreciation of baseball and the San Francisco Giants. His latest book The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping is just downright fantastic and tres-tres cool. Les, after more than a dozen books covering everything from baseball to many things underworld in New Orleans, knows exactly how to hit that nerve that is both sharp and edgy. His prose is as crisp and crusty as a backroads Louisiana road-kill and as soft and mushy as a Café Du Monde beignet.

Pete Halliday is a failed baseball player (ex-Giant); seems he has this thing for gambling and it cost him his spot in the rotation and the team. Now in debt to a bookie he needs to get a chunk of money or suffer badly – and the best way out . . .kidnap the head of the local Cajun Mafia, cut off his hand, and hold the thing for ransom. And that’s just the main leitmotif of the story. There’s also the hooker with a heart of gold, a guy who thinks he’s a real Indian (maybe not), a double-cross, a classic case of Tourette’s syndrome in the face of some serious killers, and of course New Orleans. A place that Les says has broken his heart since Katrina. It is relentless and pulls you under like a fifteen-foot alligator in the bayou. It is a five star must read.

That’s it—thanks, Greg! As I’m not one who disbelieves in the philosophy of quid pro quid—I do—I’d like to recommend his own work. A great place to start would be with his DIAMONDS FOR DEATH

I firmly adhere to the principle of quid pro quid but only when the work merits it… and Greg’s work most assuredly does.

Blue skies,