Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop and Retreat

Join us June 26-30, 2017, for a new, expanded slate of 14 topics including Picture Book writing. Registration opens in early January.

We leave the 2016 information here for your reference.

Immerse yourself in hands-on mini-workshops, critiques, and time to focus on your writing. Choose from a dozen sections in fiction, nonfiction, freelancing, and poetry. Master classes including full-novel critique. For master classes, you can only register with permission of instructor.

At a glance

What: 5 days of professional instruction for writers of all levels

When: June 13-17, 2016 • 9:30a-12:30p each day

Who: Taught by leading educators and writers from UW-Madison and across the country

CEUs: Continuing education credits available, including optional graduate credits in English. See fees & credits» for more information.

Questions? Contact Christine DeSmet at christine.desmet@wisc.edu or 608-262-3447


Our writers get published!

Selling a book is a great way to follow up attendance at our annual writer’s retreat and that’s just what Angeline Haen did. The Wisconsin author has sold her creative nonfiction anthology book, Sweet Wisdoms, to Shanti Arts in Maine. The book chronicles Angeline’s unique and often humorous quest to gain wisdom. Angeline participated in the creative nonfiction book section led by Julie Tallard Johnson at the UW-Madison Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat in June 2014.

What the Mirror Sees, a women’s fiction novel by Teria Robens, won the 2015-2016 African American Arts Alliance of Chicago's Black Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature-Fiction at their black-tie gala at the DuSable Museum on Oct. 24, 2016. Teria took this women’s fiction novel through a Master Class at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, with instructor Christine DeSmet. She’s also been a part of the writing community regularly attending the annual Writers’ Institute in Madison.

Michael Graf, a Madison screenwriter and owner of Spot Filmworks, is one of four finalists in the Bahamas International Film Festival’s Screenwriting Residency Program. Michael was a guest speaker at the recent Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, held every June and sponsored by UW-Madison Continuing Studies. His script, The Last Indian War, is the true story about a group of Native American children kidnapped by the US Army and sent off to a military boarding school where they invent the modern game of football. Michael’s all-expenses-paid trip happens in December and includes a week of private mentoring with A-List producers and writers. Movie Maker magazine calls the festival "one of the Top 25 Coolest film festivals in the world."

What if you lived several past lives, witnessed the world getting worse, and decided to dive in and do something about it by re-inventing yourself in a new life? That’s the premise of Debbie Rose’s debut novel, Perhaps They Are Not Stars, published by Amazon in e-book and paperback formats. Debbie participated in the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat class on writing first novels that also included now-published authors Ann Garvin, Kathy Steffen, and Maureen Holtz.

Bibi Belford of Chicago has sold world rights to her middle-grade novel, Another D for DeeDee, to Sky Pony Press. This is Belford’s second sale since participating in a Master Class at the Write-by-the-Lake Retreats. Belford was also a presenter at the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute 2016. Her book’s logline: "Feeling dumb at a new school, being diagnosed with diabetes, and missing her immigrant dad, who has disappeared, make DeeDee feel lonelier than ever – until a new neighbor offers to help." Publication is scheduled for fall 2017.

The 26th annual Midwest Book Awards from the Midwest Independent Publishing Association include an author that we know well: Kathleen Ernst, for A Settler’s Year, photographs by Loyd Heath (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Madison, Wis.). Category: Arts/Coffee Table Books/Photography. Kathleen has taught for UW-Madison Continuing Studies in the past and was the keynote for the June 2016 Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshops.

Christine DeSmet, an instructor and writing coach in UW-Madison Continuing Studies, and her scriptwriting partner, Peggy Williams, have won the 2016 short script contest sponsored by Living Storm Productions, Madison. Called The Stone Carver of King Street, the script will go into production this summer. Christine teaches online courses in scriptwriting and novel writing, and is director of the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat. Peggy Williams, Madison, is a recent past instructor at Writers’ Institute. Both writers are members of Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum, where they learned about the contest.

Looking for inspiration from other writers who have signed deals, gotten published, and won awards? Read more Success Stories here»

2016 sessions and speakers

1. NEW! Through the Competition: Hands-On Workshop to Make Your Novel Pop to the Top, with Lori Devoti
2. NEW! Stories That Matter: Creating the Resonance That Publishers Crave. A Workshop for Novelists, Memoirists, and Short Fiction Writers, with Tim Storm
3. Your First Novel: Fast and Finished!, with Kathy Steffen
4. NEW! The Literary Memoir – Show, Tell, Muse, with Coleman
5. Richer Nonfiction Now For Writers of Essays, Short Memoir Essays, Blog Material, Stories, with Amy Lou Jenkins
6. Turning Your Life Experiences Into an Inspiring Book: Mystic, Mistress, Master, with Julie Tallard Johnson
7. Writing Compelling Creative Nonfiction Books, with Brad Schreiber
8. The Writer’s Advantage: A Toolkit for Mastering Your Genre, with Laurie Scheer
9. NEW! Section 9, Inside the Box, Outside the Frame: Writing Poetry Your Way, with Marilyn L. Taylor
10. Writing Short Fiction, with Christopher Chambers
11. Master Class: Your First Fifty Pages, with Angela Rydell
12. Master Class: Finish, Polish, Publish, with Christine DeSmet

How it works and what we offer

Choose the one session you're most interested in. Limit of 15 participants per session unless noted. (Master class #11 has a limit of 8 participants, master class #12 has a limit of 6.)

Sessions for beginning writers as well as those at publication level.

Optional: 1-3 graduate credits in English (offered in a partnership with UW-Madison Dept. of English).

Special low fees for nontraditional credit students. Plus, some grants may be available. See fees & credits page»

Meet your director

Author and scriptwriter Christine DeSmet teaches writing online and in person. She is the director of the annual June “Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat," director of the fall “Weekend with Your Novel,” and coordinator of “Critique Services” for writers.

Learn more about the sessions & speakers, location & lodging, fees & credits, other resources, and how to register.

Thank you for your interest in Write by the Lake!