Riki Markowitz, PWA founder, launched Professional Writers of Austin in January 2011 on and in September 2011, relaunched it as an independent organization. The idea for PWA came to Riki in a nightmare. She envisioned a world where she would never find a writing job in Austin. The next day she set out to find Austin-based writers to network with and couldn’t find an organization that fit the bill. Since its re-launch in September 2011, PWA has begun inviting aspiring writers to join our ranks.

Justine Tal Goldberg, PWA co-founder, is an award-winning writer and editor of both fiction and nonfiction. Her short stories have appeared in Anomalous Press, Whiskey Island, Fringe Magazine, and other publications. Her journalistic work has appeared in the Texas Observer, Austin Monthly, and Publishing Perspectives, among others. She owns and operates WriteByNight, a writing center and writers’ service, and official sponsor of PWA.

Carlos Gieseken, membership coordinator and January guest blog editor, is a former reporter for the Stevens Point Journal in Wisconsin. Currently, Carlos is a web content editor and writer for the Texas Department of Transportation. His life revolves around the bowel movements of his adopted Australian Cattle Dog mix, Bella. He enjoys sending text messages to jealous friends and family in the Northeast and Midwest when it’s, say, 68 degrees on an early January day in Austin.


Erin Rose Coffin, PWA editorial assistant and volunteer jobs editor,  was born in Anchorage, Alaska and has spent the subsequent twenty-four years moving around the country and writing. Coffin earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She also served as the poetry editor for Atlantis, UNCW’s creative magazine.

Kenneth Hanner, PWA’s June/July guest blog editor, is a former national editor of The Washington Times and former managing editor of Human Events. Currently, Ken is a freelance writer/editor in Austin, Texas.


Sandra Kleinsasser, PWA May/June guest blog editor, loves bringing order from chaos. She is the owner and project manager at, providing efficient writing, blogging, editing and problem-solving services for online and print. Her journalist background sets her company apart. As executive news editor at the Austin American-Statesman she managed people and projects through periods of rapid change and pounding deadlines.  Learn more about her at or email [email protected].

Thao Votang, PWA copy editor, is an emerging short fiction writer. Her creative nonfiction was published in New Texas and she does freelance work as a social media expert. A collaboration between her and her partner has resulted in Tiny Park. She blogs about art/fiction, food, and motorcycles.

Megan Swicegood, PWA copy editor, is small town girl from rural Michigan and a graduate of the University of Southern California where she studied Creative Writing. She’s worked as a technical writer specializing in end-user documentation (also called instruction manuals) and as a freelance editor translating tech speak into layperson terms. In the eight years since graduating USC she’s lived in seven U.S. cities and is currently working as a freelance writer/editor in Austin, TX.

Bridget Carter, PWA editorial assistant, is currently working on her bachelors in forensic science and English writing and rhetoric from St. Edward’s University. Living in Austin, Texas for 12 years, Carter has become philanthropically involved in the community by volunteering at organizations such as Frontsteps Homeless Center and the Austin State Mental Hospital. She is a writer for the Hilltop Views Newspaper.



Contributing PWA Blog Editors

Cameron Lindsay, PWA’s April guest blog editor, is an Austinite by birth and  aspiring writer. His work has been published in The Daily Texan. His hobbies include writing poetry, performing stand-up comedy at area open mics and twisting clichés until they shatter with that glassy pop previously created only by very hot incandescent light bulbs. For more of his patent style of irreverent, self-effacing metahumor, you can follow him @cameronclindsay on Twitter.

Margaret Barry, PWA’s February blog editor, is an award-winning marketing communications expert who specializes in the design and execution of strategic, multi-channel marketing programs, including social media campaigns. She writes web content, blogs, e-newsletters, annual reports and marketing collateral for clients ranging from nonprofits to software companies. Her feature writing has been published in several newspapers and magazines, including Child magazine, New York Woman and Lake magazine, including its sister publication, Lake Home.