Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 25th annual Writers' Institute. We are already looking forward to 2015. All information below is from the 2014 event, here for your reference.
A world class writers' institute deserves—and demands—world class instruction
Our instructors are some of the best on the planet at what they do. They are award-winning writers and educators, and have traveled the globe to hone their craft and share their knowledge with all that are eager to listen. Some are returning to the institute, some are new, and we are lucky and proud to present them to you here.
Celeste Anton has been designing and managing websites for 15 years. She was the Internet Marketing Manager for the UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies until 2012. Now as owner of Dandelion Marketing Services in Madison, Wisconsin, she manages website projects for businesses large and small. She especially enjoys helping writers and small business owners get their online marketing off the ground through website design, Wordpress, email marketing, traffic building, and social media.
Kimberli Bindschatel: Born and raised in Michigan, I spent summers at the lake, swimming and chasing fireflies, winters building things out of cardboard and construction paper, writing stories, and dreaming of faraway places. Since I didn’t make honors English in High School, I thought I couldn’t write. So I started hanging out in the art room. The day I borrowed a camera, my love affair with photography began. Long before the birth of the pixel, I was exposing real silver halides to light and marveling at the magic of an image appearing on paper under a red light. After college, I freelanced in commercial photography studios. During the long days of rigging strobes, one story haunted me. As happens in life though, before I could put it to words, I was possessed by another dream—to be a wildlife photographer. I trekked through the woods to find loons, grizzly bears, whales, and moose. Then, for 6 years, I put my heart and soul into publishing a nature magazine, Whisper in the Woods. But it was not meant to be my magnum opus. This time, my attention was drawn skyward. I’d always been fascinated by the aurora borealis, shimmering in the night sky, but now my focus went beyond, to the cosmos, to wonder about our place in the universe. In the spring of 2010, I sat down at the computer, started typing words, and breathed life into a curious boy named Kiran. Together, in our quest for truth, Kiran and I have explored the mind and spirit. Our journey has taken us to places of new perspective. Alas, the answers always seem just beyond our grasp, as elusive as a firefly on a warm autumn night.
Nathan Bransford is the author of Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow (Dial, May 2011), Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe (Dial, April 2012) and Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp (Dial, February 2013). He was formerly a literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. and the social media manager at CNET, and is now the Director of Community and Social Media at Freelancers Union. He lives in Brooklyn.
Christine DeSmet is a novelist and short story writer, screenwriter, and writing teacher at UW-Madison where she specializes in one-on-one coaching of writers. In 2012, Christine sold a 3-book cozy mystery series to Penguin Random House and editor Danielle Perez; the first book of that series, First-Degree Fudge, spent 10 weeks on the Barnes & Noble mystery bestseller list when the book debuted in Fall 2013. Christine’s agent is John Talbot. 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 for Whiskey Creek Press: Mischief in Moonstone and Men of Moonstone. Christine, with script co-writer Peggy Williams, is a past winner of the Slamdance Film Festival and optioned that screenplay to New Line Cinema. Christine is 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 co-written with Peggy Williams, Climax!, about a struggling writer, was a top-10 finalist in a Wisconsin Wrights New Play Contest. Christine’s next novel, Hot Fudge Frame-Up, will be published in summer 2014.
Lori DeVoti is the multi-published, multi-genre author of urban fantasy, cozy mystery, young adult, paranormal romance, and romantic comedy novels. She is a member of Novelist Inc., a group exclusive to professional writers, and is owner of the How to Write Shop, an online source of articles on the craft and business of writing. Lori has had over a dozen works published by major publishers, and is also pursuing the new avenues open to authors in today’s digital world. Writing as Rae Davies, she made the April 3, 2014, USA Today Bestseller List with Loose & Lethal: Dusty Deals Mystery Series Box Set.
Jane Friedman has been teaching writers about the business of publishing for more than a decade. She is the former publisher of Writer’s Digest, and currently serves as the web editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review. She also teaches digital publishing at UVA. Since 2001, Jane has spoken at more than 200 events worldwide, including BookExpo America, SXSW, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, and numerous creative writing programs. She has also served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund in San Francisco. Her blog for writers enjoys 55,000 unique visitors every month. Find out more at JaneFriedman.com, facebook.com/janefriedman, or Twitter: @janefriedman. E-mail her at email@example.com.
Kelly Harms is the author of The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane, which Kirkus called "A perfect recipe of clever, quirky, poignant and fun." She has also worked with New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors, Edgar, RITA, and Agatha award winners, and Indie Next List Picks in her time as an editor at a division of HarperCollins and later as an agent at the Jane Rotrosen Agency. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her adorable and sometimes imperious toddler Griffin.
Roy Hoffman is author of the novels Almost Family, winner of the Lillian Smith Award for fiction, Chicken Dreaming Corn, endorsed by Harper Lee, and Come Landfall (spring ‘14), about 3 women, the men they love, and the wars that shape them. He is also author of 2 essay collections, Back Home, and Alabama Afternoons, and his articles and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Fortune, Southern Living, and his hometown newspaper in Mobile, Ala., where he was a long-time staff writer. A graduate of Tulane University who worked as a journalist and speechwriter in New York City before moving back south to Mobile Bay, he received the Clarence Cason Award in career nonfiction from the University of Alabama, and is on the faculty of the Spalding University Brief Residency MFA in Writing Program in Louisville, KY. On the web: facebook.com/RoyHoffmanWriter»
Ken Krimstein draws cartoons for The New Yorker, writes and draws for The Chicago Tribune's "Printer's Row" Literary Journal, writes humor for McSweeney's and The New York Observer, and Clarkson Potter published a collection of his cartoons entitled Kvetch as Kvetch Can—Jewish Cartoons. He has performed his first-person humorous essays in Chicago as part of the "Essay Fiesta," and "This Much is True," reading series. He also teaches in the College of Communication at DePaul. After a bunch of years in New York City, he moved his family and cat back to his ancestral stomping grounds of Evanston, Illinois a couple of years ago. Bats, left. Throws, left.
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.
Jeffrey Kurz: During his 7-year tenure as an acquisitions and production executive for both Miramax Films and Dimension Films, Jeffrey Kurz was involved in such varied and diverse films as Neil Jordan’s Academy Award-winning The Crying Game, Alex Proyas’ The Crow, Atom Egoyan’s Exotica, Guillermo del Toro’s Mimic, Chris Eyre’s Smoke Signals, Kevin Spacey’s Albino Alligator, and John Carpenter’s Halloween series. And he has worked with a wide range of talented filmmakers and writers—from Bryan Singer and the Wayans Brothers to Clive Barker and Wes Craven.
A graduate of UW-Madison, he formed his own production company, Belle City Pictures, in 2000. Recently produced films include The Vivian Maier Mystery for the BBC and FilmBuff. Current projects in development include: An Ocean Apart with 2-time Oscar nominee Lucy Walker for Film4 in London; and Blackdeer with writer John Roach and actor Adam Beach. As a writer, he is working with Vin Diesel’s One Race Films on his original script, This Might Hurt a Bit.
Dale M. Kushner grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey on a street that was once a peach orchard—Elberta Road. She has been a long time-investigator of the intersection between poetry and spiritual life. In the early 1990s, as a visiting writer to the former Yugoslavia, she attended an international conference on The End of Utopia and The New World Order. This experience kindled her awareness of the collective value of literature, and writers as the voice of national conscience. Her poetry and fiction have been influenced by Carl Jung and the power of myths and archetypal images at work in the world.
Ms. Kushner is the founder and director of The Writer’s Place, a literary center in Madison, Wisconsin. She is a recipient of a Wisconsin Arts Board Grant in the Literary Arts and has been honored by a fellowship to the Wurlitzer Foundation, The Ragdale Foundation, and the Fetzer Institute as a participant of their first writers’ conference on compassion and forgiveness. Her work has been widely published in literary journals including IMAGE, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Salmagundi, Witness, Fifth Wednesday, and elsewhere. Her most recent poetry collection, More Alive Than Lions Roaring, was a finalist for the May Swenson Poetry Award at Utah State Press, The Prairie Schooner Book Competition, the Agha Shahid Ali Prize at University of Utah Press and The Tupelo Prize. Her story When You Open the Door, Where Are You? was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is on the core faculty of The Assisi Institute, a Jungian think-tank in Brattleboro, Vermont and will assume the position of Poetry Editor for The Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling September 2013.
She lives with her husband in Madison, Wisconsin. The Conditions of Love is her first novel.
Doug Moe is a lifelong Madisonian, a graduate of UW-Madison, and has worked as a Madison-based journalist and author for 35 years. For the past 16 years he has written a daily newspaper column about the city, first for the The Capital Times, and now the Wisconsin State Journal; prior to that, he was editor of Madison Magazine. He is the author of numerous books, including The World of Mike Royko, a Chicago Tribune Choice Selection of the Year, and Lords of the Ring: The Triumph and Tragedy of College Boxing's Greatest Team, which was runner-up for the Derleth Award as best non-fiction book of the year by a Wisconsin author and received honorable mention on the Chronicle of Higher Education's list of the best college sports books of all time.
Kristin Mitchell founded Kristin Mitchell Design in 1997. A full-service graphic design company, Kristin and her team work with all types and sizes of businesses including non-profits, small businesses, and corporations. They believe in building strong relationships, thinking boldly, and designing mindfully. The award-winning Kristin Mitchell Design team specializes in print media and publishing. In 2011, the company expanded to include a publishing division, Little Creek Press. Little Creek Press provides personalized publishing services including award-winning design, editing, marketing, public relations, and sales for high quality books and magazines.
Jacqueline Mitchard is the New York Times bestselling author of 16 novels and 4 children's books, a memoir, and an essay collection. Her first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was the inaugural selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club and named by USA Today one of the top 10 most influential books of the past 25 years. Editor in chief of Merit Press—a new Young Adult only imprint under the aegis of F&W Media—Mitchard also is an instructor in the MFA program in Creative Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Massachusetts with her family.
Ken Miyamoto is a produced screenwriter, former studio liaison for Sony Studios, former script reader/story analyst for Sony Pictures, and public speaker and educator for the art and business of screenwriting.
He relocated back to his home state of Wisconsin from Los Angeles with his wife Amy and 2 sons Jackson and Tyler in order to raise his boys closer to family.
Ken is currently shepherding a new format, eScripts, for writers and readers through eScriptsHub.com. He has published 2 of his own eScripts, Doomsday Order and Revelation, through Amazon. eScripts are hybrids of e-books and movie screenplays, offering screenwriters a new platform to share their stories, and showcasing a new style of story telling for e-book readers.
Kristin Oakley is a freelance writer, a founding member and 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 including the current UW-Continuing Studies online course “The Edge of Your Seat--a Cliffhanger How-to.” She has a B.A. in Psychology and a J.D., both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kristin is working on a sequel to her first mainstream novel, Carpe Diem, Illinois, and is playing around with the idea for a science fiction novel.
Michael Perry is a New York Times bestselling author, humorist, and radio show host. Perry’s bestselling memoirs include Population 485, Truck: A Love Story, Coop, and Visiting Tom. Raised on a small Midwestern dairy farm, Perry put himself through nursing school while working on a ranch in Wyoming, then wound up writing by happy accident. He lives with his wife and 2 daughters in rural Wisconsin, where he serves on the local volunteer fire and rescue service and is an amateur pig farmer. He host the nationally-syndicated Tent Show Radio, performs widely as a humorist, and tours with his band the Long Beds (currently recording their third album for Amble Down Records). He has recorded 3 live humor albums including Never Stand Behind A Sneezing Cow and The Clodhopper Monologues, is currently finishing his first young adult novel, and can be found online at sneezingcow.com»
Perry’s essays and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Backpacker, Outside, Runner’s World, and Salon.com, and he is a contributing editor to Men’s Health magazine. His writing assignments have taken him to the top of Mt. Rainier with Iraq War veterans, into the same room as the frozen head of Ted Williams, across the United States with truckers and country music singers, and—once—buck naked into a spray-tan booth.
In the essay collection Off Main Street, Perry wrote of how his nursing education prepared him to become a writer by training him in human assessment, and he credits singer-songwriters like Steve Earle and John Prine with helping him understand that art need not wear fancy clothes. Above all, he gives credit to his parents, of whom he says, “Anything good is because of them, everything else is simply not their fault.” His mother taught him to read and filled the house with books; his father taught him how to clean calf pens, of which Perry has written, “a childhood spent slinging manure – the metaphorical basis for a writing career.”
Perry has recently been involved in several musical collaborations, including as lyricist for Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Geoffrey Keezer, and as co-writer (with Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon) of the liner notes for the John Prine tribute album Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows. Perry also collaborated with Vernon and Flaming Lips lead singer Wayne Coyne on a project that began when Vernon approached Perry and said, “Say, you’re a nurse…” The results were bloody, but then that was the point.
Of all his experiences, Perry says the single most meaningful thing he has ever done is serving 12 years beside his neighbors on the New Auburn Area Fire Department. Mike says: "If I had to sum up my ‘career’ in one word, it would be gratitude. I get to write and tell stories all around the country, then come home to be with my family and hang out at the local feed mill complaining about the price of feeder hogs. It’s a good life and I’m lucky to have it."
Sue Roupp has worked teaching writing for 25 years. For the last 2 years she taught Memoir, Creative Writing for GrownUps: Write Your Life in 8 Lines, 24 Words at a division of Wind Ridge Publishing called the Writers’ Barn in Shelburne, VT. Prior to that she taught 10-week fall/winter/spring classes on the north shore of Chicago. She has given workshops in 5 states, was guest editor on literary magazine East on Central, was on the board of the League of Vermont Writers, was President of Off Campus Writers Workshop in Winnetka, IL, taught at the prestigious artist's community at Ragdale in Lake Forest, Il, worked with Billy Collins and Mark Strand at Dodge Poetry Festival Workshops, for 2 years hosted smalltalk etc., a TV show on the north shore of Chicago, attended Maui Writers Conference, is a graduate of Piven Theater School in Evanston, IL, and is a certificated National Speakers Association professional speaker. Learn more at sueroupp.com»
Angela Rydell (MFA) has taught creative writing through UW-Madison Continuing Studies since 2006. Programs include Write-by-the-Lake Writer's Workshop & Retreat, School of the Arts, Writers' Institute, and Weekend with Your Novel. She has been a poet-in-residence in elementary schools, guest poetry editor of Midwest Prairie Review, and the lead judge for the Wisconsin People & Ideas poetry contest. Angela Rydell's fiction recently won The Portland Review Flash Friday contest, received honorable mention in New Millennium Writings' New Millennium Awards, and was a finalist for the American Short(er) Fiction contest and the Grey Sparrow Journal Flash Fiction Contest. She is a recipient of Poets & Writers’ Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award, and is currently working on a novel.
Karyn Saemann is a Madison-based freelance author, book reviewer, and book editor. Her reviews have appeared in the Chicago Book Review, Clarion Review, US Review of Books, Midwest Book Review, Madison Magazine, and on her independent website, Inkspots, Inc. Her debut children’s chapter book, about Stockbridge Indian Electa Quinney, will be released in January 2014 from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. She is currently writing her second book. Karyn is a former daily newspaper reporter and editor. She has a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is an active member of the Chicago-based Midwest Writers Association. She lives in Deerfield, Wisconsin, with her husband and two children. (photo credit: Tessa Claire)
Laurie Scheer, 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. She is the author of a book about working in Hollywood entitled Creative Careers in Hollywood and her DVD How to Pitch and Sell Your Screenplay has been a perennial favorite at screenwriting events. 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, the Willamette Writers Conference. She has served as a judge for numerous screenplay competitions, film festivals, and the International Emmys. 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 Writer’s Institute. She is also the Managing Editor of the new anthology, The Midwest Prairie Review. Her current interest is in exploring ways to preserve good storytelling within the 21st century transmedia marketplace, and sharing her new book The Writer's Advantage: A Toolkit for Mastering Your Genre (Michael Wiese Productions, 2014) with writers in-person, online, and worldwide. 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.
Dave Watson is the Editor of Movies Matter, a web site devoted to discussing films, new and old, and their impact. He is the author of Walkabout Undone, a memoir of his travels in Australia, and still tries to improve at his day job as a middle school teacher. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his family.
Kathie Fong Yoneda is an entertainment consultant specializing in development and marketing of live action and animated film, television, literary, and web projects. A former exec at Disney, Touchstone, Island Pictures, and Disney TV Animation, she has taught workshops worldwide. Her clientele includes several award-winning writers and she is the author of The Script-Selling Game. Kathie serves on the board of directors for Imago (French production company) and The LAWEBFEST, co-exec produced the cable series Beyond The Break and teaches a popular online class, Pitch & Presentation, for Screenwriters University.
Interested in some one-on-one time with any of these instructors? Check out the meet with your instructors page»