This page is an Archive of Past Events and Speakers for Valley Byliners

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GUEST SPEAKER: Frank Cortazo

Date: 01/09/2016
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Frank Cortazo will speak on The 5 Eyes of Fiction Writing. He is a retired elementary teacher of 31 years, the president of Valley Byliners, and holds a masters in bilingual education. Frank sits on the advisory board of the Harlingen Public Library and is a North American Dance Teachers Association certified instructor. The public is invited.
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WORKSHOP: Fern Brady

Date: 02/13/2016
Time: 8:30AM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library Auditorium

This year’s workshop presents Fern Brady, the founder of Inklings Publishing and the CEO of the Houston Writers Guild. The workshop will cover such topics as craft—conflict, setting of time and place, character motivation, theme, and plot; Community—critique circles and the writers journey; and Career—agents and editors, the pitch, and industry jargon.

For more information, call 956-347-3688
Registration: 50$ (Bag lunch included)
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GUEST SPEAKER: Roda Hilenski Grubb

Date: 04/11/2015
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Dr. Grubb's program One Step at a Time will examine the steps of writing a fiction book through the journey to publication, suggested changes in layout, and cover design of her self-published book by publishing agencies, and the newest information from Publish15 Convention in Georgia.  She has a degree in Theater/Speech Communication.  She is a freelance writer and has been a feature writer for the Valley Town Crier, McAllen Chamber of Commerce, Winter Texan Times, and has won state and national awards.  Her first published book is Rocksann Finds God.  She is currently working on her soon-to-be-released book Isle of Foote 2.    
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GUEST SPEAKERS: Don Clifford & Frank Cortazo

Date: 05/09/2015
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Don Clifford and Frank Cortazo will recount their experience at the Houston Writer’s Guild conference and host a panel discussion on the information. Topics will include self-publishing and how to get a literary agent. Don Clifford is the author of Zoo Nonsense, a children’s book. Frank Cortazo is the president of Valley Byliners and a multi-winner of our monthly short story contests. Their work can be found in The Rio Grande: A River with a Thousand Tales.
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Date: 06/13/2015
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

The days program is short story readings. Writers will have an opportunity to read their work aloud to an audience.
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GUEST SPEAKER: Dr. Noreen Graf

Date: 04/11/2015
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Join us for guest speaker Dr. Noreen Graf, UTRGV professor of rehabilitation. Her program is on Flash and Nano Fiction. Dr. Graf has published over fifty academic publications in the areas of trauma, rehabilitation and recovery. She has presented her research both locally and nationally and received awards for her work. Dr. Graf has written numerous flash fiction and short stories, and has completed her second novel.
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GUEST SPEAKER: Olga Valle-Herr

Date: 11/08/2014
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

The first Poet Laureate of McAllen, Texas, 2013-2014, Olga Valle-Herr, will read poems from her book, Pearl Harvest. Olga writes poems and prose in both English and Spanish about nature, family, grief, love, and healing. The public is invited.
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Date: 10/11/2014
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Poet, Psychologist, Ombudsman, and author, James Arnold, will share some of the beauty he feels was given to him in his program, The Trust—the responsibilities of an author, and discuss how to write a sestina, a fixed form poem. The public is invited.
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GUEST SPEAKER: LeRoy Overstreet

Date: 09/13/2014
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

LeRoy Overstreet—adventurer, fisherman, alligator hunter, inventor and patent holder—will talk about his book, Adventures and Escapades with Friends, Foes and Renegades as well as the help he received from Valley Byliners.

LeRoy's book brings to life his travels all over the U. S. and Canada while riding bucking horses and bulls in the rodeos, through his many inventions and finally, his adventures in Honduras and even Cuba.

LeRoy spins tales of cattle ranching and days gone by. At eighty nine years young, his tales and stories, preserve them for posterity, would have been enjoyed by ranch hands of days gone by and will be by young folks today.
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Date: 08/09/2014
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Glamour Girl--will speak on WORDS--Precious Gems and will discuss the power of words and challenge us to understand and use words in our writing. The public is invited.
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GUEST SPEAKER: Elizabeth Miller, M.D.

Date: 06/14/2014
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Join us for guest speaker: Elizabeth Miller, M.D., Cameron County Forensic Pathologist. Dr, Miller will speak on "Facts and Fiction of Forensic Pathology" and will answer authors’ questions on the relevancy of forensics to their work.
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GUEST SPEAKER: Richard Sanchez

Date: 05/10/2014
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Join us for guest speaker: Richard Sanchez, a Registered Nurse by trade, who will present “Unraveling the Road To The Jelly Jar".

Sanchez recently published "The Jelly Jar", a collection of his short stories, and is currently working on a collection of South Texas hunting stories with his brother, Charlie G. Sanchez. His third book will be Nursing Happened On My Way to Retirement.
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Date: 04/12/2014
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Author, historian, motivational speaker, humorist and retired registered nurse, Marge Flados will talk about ”A Writer’s Legacy.

Marge Flados grew up in the rural Midwestern upper plains, married a Texan and has lived in Texas for over 50 years. She is the author of two published books: "The Road From Spink" and "Retro Parenting."
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GUEST SPEAKER: Josè Palacios

Date: 03/08/2014
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Josè will talk about the idea behind his novel, “The Windbower,” soon to be published by Sarah Books, and how the story evolved.

He wrote the novel part time over a period of 5 years while he ran two full-time businesses, one of them dealing with international trade. The question of “How can a writer write a full length novel part time?” will be examined.

Ernest Hemmingway said his characters spoke to him and told him their unique storys. Josè believes there is a lot of truth to that statement. The pressure of people who don’t exist, talking to a writer, and constantly pressuring him to tell their story, is unbearable. The writer is ultimately forced to listen and bring them to life through the written world.
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WORKSHOP: Online Marketing Decoded-Build Your Platform-Sell More Books

Date: 02/08/2014
Time: 8:30AM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library Auditorium

Join Laurel Downing Bill (author of the critically acclaimed Alaska history series titled Aunt Phil's Trunk) and author Dr. Verne Wheelwright (author of It's Your Future... Make it a Good One!) for a five-­hour workshop dedicated to giving authors the tools needed to market  their books for FREE online.  

Participants wil learn to:
  • Build their brand
  • Rock their online presence
  • Create their author platform
  • Become social media savvy
  • Get books translated
  • Market books internationally

This  exciting workshop also will feature an hour-­long Q&A session with the presenters, moderated  by  Brenda Nettles Riojas, editor of The Valley Catholic newspaper and host of Diocese Insight, a half-­hour  television program and Corazón Bilingüe, a radio program.  

Java Café brown-­bag lunch is included in the registration fee.
Registration: $45.00
Students: 20$ (with school ID)
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GUEST SPEAKER: Francisco Loya, Jr.

Date: 01/11/2014
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Short story writer and guest speaker, Francisco Loya, Jr., will describe how he uses transitional words and phrases in English and Spanish to clarify dialogue.

Excerpts from hIs latest story, “El Anillo de Dona Inez,” will be used to illustrate his techniques.

Loya writes short stories involving cultural traditions and has given several seminars on “Teaching the Short Story."

The public is invited.
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Date: 11/09/2013
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Speaker Roger Young will pose the question “What kind of writer are you?” and lead a discussion on genres and writing styles and determining the right fit for each writer. Young, a member of the Western Writers of America, often writes as "Cherokee Parks."

The public is invited.
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Date: 10/12/2013
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Nelda Pérez, author of A Rose behind The Thorns, was raised in the Rio Grande Valley, in Texas. She lived and survived a neurological depression that almost took her life after the diagnosis and death of her husband with AIDS. She began her journey to recovery after this dramatic event which led her to write her amazing story

Author's Website
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Date: 08/10/2013
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Join us for a lecture from Kevin Garcia on Story Telling and Myth Making. Oral storytelling is an art that helped legends and epics evolve for generations. Now modern storytelling can help develop new myths. This talk is a look back at classic epics from a modern perspective, and a look at how modern epics are created in similar ways.

Kevin Garcia is an educator and a freelance writer in Brownsville, Texas. After over a decade of professional journalism with newspapers and websites, he now teaches writing and publishing-related skills at Porter High School. For the past several years, he has been a contributing writer to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and other publications with Marvel Comics.
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GUEST SPEAKER: Brenda Nettles Riojas

Date: 09/14/2013
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Harnessing one’s creative spirit can make the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary. This interactive workshop provides an insight into the creative process and provides tips participants can use to get their creative juices flowing on and off the page.

Brenda Nettles Riojas is a poet, journalist and public relations professional. An accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, she has more than 20 years experience in the profession. She currently works for the Diocese of Brownsville where she also serves as editor of The Valley Catholic newspaper and host of Diocese Insight, a half-hour television program.

Her first book focused on the history of the Catholic Church in the Rio Grande Valley, and her first collection of Spanish poems – “La Primera Voz Que Oí,” was published in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her poetry has been published in a number of anthologies and publications.

Brenda holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans. She is also the host of a weekly radio program - Corazón Bilingüe, which airs on KMBH FM 88.9/88.1, the local NPR affiliate and online ( The radio program features interviews with writers about the dynamics of language and culture and how it impacts writing.
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GUEST SPEAKER: Dr. Elizabeth Miller

Date: 05/11/2013
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Join us for a lecture by Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Forensic Pathologist for Cameron County, as we discuss the Myths and Misconceptions of Medico-legal Death Investigation Reality vs CSI (as seen on TV)

At last month’s meeting, Dr . Elizabeth Miller gave an interesting and unusual program.
Myths and Misconceptions of Medico-legal Death Investigation.

Reality vs CSI (as seen on TV)
Those of us lucky enough to have been able to attend the program were given a fact filled briefing on a profession far different from what we see on the TV screen and were given a lot of grist for our creative mills. There could be several short stories and a novella or two written from this material. Dr. Miller enthralled us until long after the library closing time.
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GUEST SPEAKER: Shirley Rickett

Date: 06/08/2013
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Join us for a lecture by Shirley Rickett, as we discuss Critique Groups. A Critique group can be a useful tool in developing your work. There are techniques that can be used by the writer and by the group to make the critique more productive. “The goal of questioning is to induce thoughts and feelings the writer may not have been aware of, not to help the writer move into agreement with the questioner.

Shirley Rickett wrote her first poem at age five but she can’t find it. She is a late bloomer and took her Master’s degree in English, Creative Writing from the Univer- sity of Missouri—Kansas City at age 65. (She also holds a Master’s degree in Education from UMKC.)

She was awarded a fellowship with Colgate University in 1999. She is the author of three chap- books, the latest,
Love: Poems for Vintage Song Titles, (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in over thirty journals and magazines. A convener of workshops, she has conducted them at the Writers Place in Kansas City, Missouri, in schools with poets-in-the-schools programs and with her own middle school students. She has taught in public schools on the secondary level, in government funded summer programs for urban youth, and as an adjunct at Park Uni- versity, Parkville, Missouri. A native Kansas Citian, she has lived in the Valley for 6 years. Shirley’s group,”Wild Horse Desert Writers”, meets in McAllen on the first Saturday of each month at 3 pm at Junction Cafe, Business 83 and Cage.
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Date: 04/13/2013
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Don Clifford was born at a very early age (his words, not your editor’s) in October of 1932, in Valparaiso, Indiana, and has been writing off and on ever since. His eighth grade teacher discovered and encouraged his talent with words. This talent carried him through college where he earned a journalism degree, his 20-year U.S. Air Force career, and later on, as a freelance writer for a Rio Grande Valley newspaper. He has written several articles for archaeological journals.

Don served as editor of the Cameron County Historical Commission's prize winning Newsletter as well as editor and co-editor of books devoted to local history including Blast From The Past, Vols. I & II. He is an occasional contributor to Studies in Rio Grande Valley History published by the University of Texas at Brownsville.

Don was chief editor of the Valley Byliners anthology, Collected Tales from the Rio Grande, has authored numerous short stories, the novel, Ben Solomon in Destiny Diverted, an action adventure historical novel. His most recent effort, a childrens' book called, Zoo Nonsense has been published by Sarah Book Publishing.

Don is the Immediate Past President of the Valley Byliners and a nominee for the Board of Directors.
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Date: 03/09/2013
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Dr. David Bowles, will speak on the importance of cultural and historical elements in crafting relevant, engaging literature.

Bowles launched his D'angelo Chronicles in 2009. In April of 2011, Absey & Co. published The Seed: Stories from the River's Edge, a collection of his YA short stories. In 2012, Bowles teamed up with painter Noé Vela to create Mexican Bestiary.

In 2013, Lamar University Press will release Flower, Song, Dance: Aztec and Mayan Poetry, a collection of Mesoamerican verse translated by Bowles. He has served as editor for the Along the River anthology series, Donna Hooks Fletcher: Life and Writings, the magazine Flash-Quake, and the la Noria Literary Journal. His book review column Top Shelf appears each Thursday in The Monitor, a regional newspaper.

David resides in the Río Grande Valley of South Texas with his wife and children.
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WORKSHOP: Writing Life with Jan Seale

Date: 02/09/2013
Time: 9AM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library Auditorium

Transport yourself from creation to revelation.

Learn how to get started on a subject, what it takes to keep going, how to edit your work before other eyes see it, “keeping-on-keeping-on” for the long haul, how to identify your particular subjects and your writing strengths and how to shape your work

Receive specific guidelines for writing poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, handouts, examples, exercises, and time for questions and answers, networking and inspiration time with other writers and a Java Café brown-bag lunch free of charge for each registrant

Byliners members - $25
Non-members - $30 by 2/1/13 ($35 @ Door)
Students - 10$ (with school ID)
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GUEST SPEAKER: Dr. Elizabeth Miller

Date: 03/09/2013
Time: 1:30PM - 3PM
Place: Harlingen Public Library

Join us for a lecture by Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Forensic Pathologist for Cameron County, as we discuss the Myths and Misconceptions of Medico-legal Death Investigation Reality vs CSI (as seen on TV)