Third Thursday


Our Third Thursday program offers free and open to the public monthly discussions on the craft and business of writing. Each month, we focus on a specific topic of interest to writers and readers, bringing together four distinguished panelists for a conversation moderated by the Writers' League of Texas' Program Director.

** Unless otherwise noted, all meetings take place on the third Thursday of the month (except December) on the third floor of BookPeople.





How to Unite, Ignite, and Get It Right:


Writing about Social Justice


Thursday, February 16, 2017, 7 PM
BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.



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, four writers will discuss 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. 

Join the Writers’ League of Texas on the third floor of BookPeople for a conversation on how to explore social justice in our prose.

Nan Cuba is the author of Body and Bread, winner of the PEN Southwest Award in Fiction and the Texas Institute of Letters Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction, and co-editor of Art at our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers and Artists. Her work has appeared in Antioch Review, Harvard Review, Columbia, Chicago Tribune’s Printer’s Row, LIFE, Third Coast, and D Magazine. She has received a Dobie Paisano Fellowship, an artist residency at Fundación Valparaiso in Spain, and was a finalist for theHumanities Texas Award for Individual Achievement. She is the founder and executive director emeritus of Gemini Ink, a nonprofit literary center, and teaches in the MA/MFA Program in Literature, Creative Writing, and Social Justice at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, where she is writer-in-residence. Her website is


Vivé Griffith is the former director of Free Minds in Austin, Texas, a program that offers free college credits in the humanities to low-income students. Griffith built it from a pilot project to an established part of Austin's educational landscape and oversaw its move from the University of Texas to Foundation Communities. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Sun, Oxford American, Gettysburg Review, as well as online at RoleReboot and in Edible Austin. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Weeks In This Country. She has taught poetry community poetry workshops to children and adults, co-edited a literary magazine, and judged numerous writing contests. For two years she served as a volunteer writing mentor in the Veterans Writing Project, working with veterans and active service men and women. She teach poetry and creative nonfiction at Austin Community College.


Alejandro Puyana grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, but lives in Austin, Texas. His work has been published by the Tin House blog, The Toast, Huizache, and adapted for radio by NPR's The Texas Standard. He makes a living as a political writer for progressive causes, focusing on the Hispanic electorate. He worked as part of the Hillary for America Media Team in 2016.  







Daniel Oppenheimer is a writer and short documentary filmmaker whose articles and videos have been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Tablet Magazine, and His first book, Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century, was published last year. He received his BA in religious studies from Yale University and an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. By day he works in communications with The University of Texas System Office of Population Health. He lives in Austin, with his wife, historian and psychotherapist Jessica Grogan, and three kids.









Links to information on our 2016 Third Thursday panel discussions (including available podcasts) can be found below. 

January 21, 2016 - Beginning (Again): How to Start or Restart a Writing Project -Panelists Edward Carey, Lindsey Lane, Greg Levin, and Suzy Spencer discussed how they deal with the paralyzing effects of starting (or restarting) a manuscript. Visit the link above to read panelist bios and listen to a podcast of this Third Thursday, and visit our blog to read a recap of the event.

February 18, 2016: Fictionalizing True Stories: Mining Real Life for Plots and Characters - Panelists Charlotte Gullick, Varian Johnson, Ruth Pennebaker, and Mary Helen Specht transforming autobiographical events into fictional ones. Visit the link above to read panelist bios and listen to a podcast this Third Thursday, and visit our blog to read a recap of the event.

March 16, 2016: Writing About the Military - Panelists Brandon Caro, Leila Levinson, Jack Woodville London, and Jonathan Wei discussed how authors of fiction and nonfiction can expertly dealt with this complex subject matter. Visit the link above to read panelist bios, and visit our blog to read a recap of the event.

April 21, 2016: Keeping it Brief: Writing and Publishing Short Stories
 - Panelists Michael Barrett, Jill Meyers, Chaitali Sen, and Kirk Wilson discussed both the art of the shorty story and the process of publication. Visit the link above to read panelist bios, and visit our blog to read a recap of the event.

May 19, 2016: Me, Myself, & I: Writing the Personal in Nonfiction and Memoir - Panelists Michael Hall, Donna Johnson, Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, and Deb Olin Unferth discussed writing memoirs, personal essay, and first-person reportage. Visit the link above to read panelist bios.

June 16, 2016: Practice Makes Pitch Perfect - Panelists Lance Fitzgerald and Becka Oliver discussed honing your pitch for query letters as well as for consultations, cocktail mingling, and other networking opportunities. Visit the link above to read panelist bios and listen to a podcast of this Third Thursday.

July 21, 2016: Meet Your Match - Panelists Nikki Loftin, Karen MacInerney, and Ron Seybold discussed how to find writing partners and writing groups, how to give feedback to other writers, and how to keep your groups going. Visit the link above to read panelist bios.

August 18, 2016: Black Literature Matters - Panelists Michael Hurd, Varian Johnson, Doyin Oyeniyi, and Jennifer M. Wilks discussed the importance of diversity in literature and what can be done to support writers of color. Visit the link above to read panelist bios.

September 15, 2016: Straight Out of Science Fiction and Fantasy

 -Panelists P.J. Hoover, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Rebecca Schwarz, and Adam Soto discussed what defines science fiction and fantasy genres and the stories that are framing how we understand the world now. Visit the link above to read panelist bios.

October 20, 2016: Thrills and Chills: Writing to Thrill and Scare

-Panelists Amanda Downum, Meg Gardiner, Amy Gentry, and Scott Johnson discussed how novelists like Steven King and Gillian Flynn create that tense, white-knuckle effect that we love so much. Visit the link above to read panelist bios.

November 17, 2016: How to Turn a Mess of Pages Into a Novel

-Panelists Carolyn Cohagan, Evelyn Palfrey, Rene S. Perez II, and Stacey Swann discussed strategies for shaping early drafts and giving them direction—a must-listen conversation for anyone who has thrown themselves into NaNoWriMo or wants to return to a novel draft that they've put aside.


January 19, 2017: Become a More-Involved Literary Citzen: How to Create Literary Discussions and Support Journals and Literary Events

-Panelists Joe Brundidge, Rebecca Markovits, and Richard Santos discussed the importance of reading groups, book reviews, journals, and literary events and share practical ways to support them.




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


WLT would like to thank BookPeople for helping to make the Third Thursday program possible. In addition to providing space for the program, BookPeople kindly offers a 10% discount to WLT members. WLT and BookPeople applaud your support of independent bookstores and local businesses.