In parallel universes, two female Texas attorneys looked beyond the law books and briefcases to launch writing careers and – several successes later – their separate paths align as they each are signing copies of their newest releases this month in Houston. The book events for both Pamela Fagan Hutchins (named one of our 100 creatives for 2014) and Manning Wolfe (an Austin-based author and attorney) are each associated with Houston Writers Guild, though on different dates and venues.
Pamela Fagan Hutchins, former president and current board chair for the guild, is the guest speaker on the final day of the Houston Writers Guild Annual Conference, scheduled for April 29-May 1 at Marriott Houston Westchase. Her topic, "Indie Publishing Done Smart," will contain a few gems based on personal experiences with her husband, Eric Hutchins, whom she refers to as a caped crusader.
“By day [he's] a chemical engineer. On weekends and evenings he's the publishing empire – Eric and me,” she says. “We had a lot of success with the first few books, and it was fun to share that knowledge and bring other complementary titles.” She credits him for his “marketing and promotion genius” and also for saving her from being a lawyer. (For years Hutchins did workplace investigations as an employment attorney.)
She says her first book came out in 2012 and that her latest, Hell to Pay, is the seventh book in the series. The books all have ties to Texas, with “an interrelated cast of kick-ass female protagonists.” She says the novel's heroine (“a former rodeo queen turned paralegal”) returns to her home town in west Texas and discovers an extremist cult has set up shop and is terrorizing the local townsfolk.
In between writing and publishing, Hutchins and her husband have a pack of quirky rescue dogs. “We have an emotionally fragile and incontinent guard dog (Georgia). She's hilarious; she's just a joke.” There's also a one-eyed Boston Terrier (Pety), a compulsive eater (Louise) and one with Alzheimer's (“Layla, who's in her twilight years”). They recently added another rescue, this time a baby goat, when its mother died; his name is Peyton Manning. “He thinks he's one of the dogs – four dogs, on the walk – he's a dog wanna-be.”
Pamela Fagan Hutchins will sign copies of her book, Hell to Pay, on Saturday, April 30, beginning at 11:15 a.m.; and between guest speaking breaks on Sunday, May 1, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Houston Writers Guild Annual Conference, Marriott Houston Westchase, 281-787-1817, 2900 Briarpark, houstonwritersguild.org and pamelafaganhutchins.com.
Which brings our literary story back to Manning Wolfe, a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of law, who also is a member of the Houston Writers Guild. She'll be signing copies of her newest book, Dollar Signs: Texas Lady Lawyer vs Boots King at the guild's exhibitor booth at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference on April 20.
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Wolfe says she grew up in Humble and drew from her more than 20 years in the field of law to write the book. “This story came from an actual client file. My client was involved with this shady corporation and I spent a lot of years trying to extricate [my client] from a nasty situation.” She says the actual case didn't end well, but she was able to right the wrongs in her novel. “In the book it works out.”
While writing the first Dollar Signs, she submitted an early manuscript to the Writer's League of Texas and took home first place in its 2014 competition. Her heroine, Merit Bridges (an attorney and widowed mother who “works hard, drinks too much wine and sleeps with younger men”) is really gaining traction, and the second in the series, Dollar Signs: Texas Lady Lawyer vs Browno Zars, is set for release this summer.
Of her main character, Wolfe says she's "very feisty, a guardian of the rights of women, [has a] soft spot for women in jeopardy. She's not self-righteous, she's highly principled, she loves a good fight.” Sounds like she's got just the right stuff to take on opponents named Browno and Boots.
Manning Wolfe will sign copies of her book, Dollar Signs: Texas Lady Lawyer vs Boots King, on Wednesday, April 20, from 10:15 to 5 p.m. at the Houston Writers Guild exhibitor booth, Texas Library Association Annual Conference, George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, txla.org/annual-conference and manningwolfe.com.