Weekend With Your Novel: Speakers

Look for this year's agenda, coming in August 2015. In the meantime we leave all 2014 information here for your reference.

Instructors and critique workshop leaders

Christine Desmet (MA, UW-Madison) is a novelist and short story writer, screenwriter, and writing teacher at UW-Madison where she specializes in one-on-one coaching of writers. Christine’s latest projects include a best-selling, 3-book cozy mystery series for Penguin Random House called the Fudge Shop Mystery Series, set in Door County, Wisconsin. Christine’s previous novel, a romantic suspense, Spirit Lake, was an award-winning, best-selling novel for publisher Hard Shell Word Factory/Mundania Press. Also a short fiction writer, her humorous romantic mystery series set in Wisconsin appeared in 2 volumes:  Mischief in Moonstone, and Men of Moonstone. Christine is a past winner of the Slamdance Film Festival and optioned that screenplay to New Line Cinema. She’s a member of Writers Guild of America, East; Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum; Romance Writers of America; Sisters in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; and Jewels of the Quill. Her stage play, “Climax!,” about a struggling writer, was a top-10 finalist in a Wisconsin Wrights New Play Contest. In 2014, Christine received the UW-Madison Robert and Carroll Heideman Award for Excellence in Public Service and Outreach.

Ann Garvin, luncheon presenter, is the author of 2 new novels, The Dog Year, and On Maggie’s Watch (Berkley Penguin). While working as a nurse she completed her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in exercise psychology, publishing extensively in the area of exercise, mental health, and media. Decades of teaching and studying characters in their natural habitat proved a perfect backdrop for her novels about loss and how the deep affection between friends and animals can save lives. Ann writes with both humor and empathy, giving tough topics wings. Ann has a full-time position at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and has an adjunct MFA position at Southern New Hampshire University. She lives in Wisconsin with her family and 2 dogs, Millie and Peanut.

Ron Kuka (MFA, University of Iowa) has been the Creative Writing Program Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for over 20 years. His stories had appeared in Iowa Journal of Literary Studies, Toyon, and Pavement. His teaching has been recognized with the Chancellor’s Hilldale Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Kristin Oakley (JD, UW-Madison) is a freelance writer, past president of the professional writers' organization In Print, and a board member of the Chicago Writers Association. She has led a wide variety of writing workshops and critiqued other writers' work extensively. She is the author of the novel, Carpe Diem, Illinois, and teaches for UW-Madison Continuing Studies.

Laurie Scheer (MA, DePaul Univ), Media Goddess, is a former vice president of programming for WE: Women's Entertainment. She has worked as an assistant, d-girl, and producer for ABC, Viacom, Showtime, and AMC-Cablevision. Laurie has been an instructor at numerous universities across the US including Northwestern, UCLA, American University, and Yale. As a professional speaker, she has appeared at annual conventions for NAB, NATPE, The Great American Pitch Fest, Screenwriters’ World, Reel Screen, WIFV, FTX West, and the Willamette Writers Conference. She is currently an Associate Faculty Associate/Writing Mentor with UW-Madison’s Continuing Studies Writing Department where she is critiquing writers’ works, conducting numerous online and in-person courses, and the Director of the annual Writers’ Institute. She is also the Managing Editor of the annual regional journal, The Midwest Prairie Review. Her new book The Writer's Advantage: A Toolkit for Mastering Your Genre (Michael Wiese Productions, 2014) explores storytelling in the transmedia universe.  Most recently, Laurie received the Marquette University Alumni Association “James T. Tiedge Memorial Award” for her outstanding work as a graduate of the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication.

Kathy Steffen’s novels have won numerous awards, including the CRW Award of Excellence and the Beacon Award for Best Historical Fiction. Her books have been finalists in the IPA Benjamin Franklin Awards and at the London Book Festival. She is the author of the Spirit of the River Series: First, There is a River; Jasper Mountain; and Theater of Illusion. In addition to published articles and essays on writing, Kathy's short fiction has appeared in anthologies and online. Kathy speaks at writing programs across the country and has taught at AllWriters' Workshops, the University of Wisconsin’s Writers’ Institute, Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, Rhinelander School of the Arts, and online at the How to Write Shop. She teaches in person and online with students from across the globe, and her book on writing, Storyography: Mastering the Art of Writing Unforgettable Fiction is coming out this year.