Writers’ Success Stories

Continuing Studies writing students sign deals, get published, and win awards. Here are a few of their accomplishments.

Jessica Vitalis, Atlanta, signs agent and wins contest
Jessica Vitalis is now represented by Saba Sulaiman at Talcott Notch Literary with a middle-grade novel called Nothing Like Lennon.

The novel subsequently won first place in the Middle Grade/YA fiction category of the Southern Breeze conference sponsored by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Jessica credited her attendance at the spring UW-Madison Writers’ Institute conference, the June Write-by-the-Lake Retreat master class with Christine DeSmet, and Angela Rydell’s critiques for playing important roles in her career launch.

“The coaching I received from Angela and Christine provided industry knowledge and confidence necessary to develop a winning query.” Her query was spotted at WriteOnCon (an online conference for children’s writers) and she received an offer of representation 24 hours after submitting the full manuscript.

Congratulations, Jessica! You can find her at jessicavitalis.com and at Twitter: @jessicavitalis.

Valerie Biel, Columbus, WI, publishes contest-finalist YA novel
Valerie Biel attended her first UW-Continuing Studies Writers’ Institute in 2009, bringing her Young Adult manuscript pages to a critique group led by Christine DeSmet. From there she joined a critique group in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Then her novel, Circle of Nine—Beltany, was one of 5 finalists (out of 1,000) in the Gotham Writers’ YA Novel Discovery Contest.

Now readers get to enjoy what we already know—she’s a superb writer! Her novel is available in paperback and e-book versions. Circle of Nine—Beltany is about modern-day Brigit Quinn, who on her 15th birthday discovers she’s descended from a legendary Celtic Tribe. Birthday surprises ensue, including treachery from the past. valeriebiel.com»

Author Hillary Dickinson has published her new bookCover of current catalog
Wisconsin 5-0: From High-Risk Police Calls to Comic Cop Stories is a behind-the-scenes account based on interviews with more than 30 statewide law enforcement officers. The book gives an inside look behind the badge and shows how these calls emotionally affect officers.

Hillary has this to say about our writing department staff: “I received wonderful instruction, mentorship, and critiques from Laurie Scheer’s creative nonfiction class and a Write-By-The-Lake class I took with Kathy Steffen. I became a better writer and this instruction made my book a much better book. I also made some great friends with fellow writers at WBTL whose continued critiques and support were much appreciated.”

The book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Like Wisconsin 5-0 on Facebook»

Malaysia writer Paik-Leong Ewe publishes thriller
In Paik-Leong Ewe’s first book, A China Doll of KL (2014, Monsoon Books, Singapore), a mainland-China hooker comes to the seedy underbelly of Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, to seek her fortunes, and falls in love with one of her clients, an alcoholic artist, while a serial killer targets her as his next victim.

Paik-Leong worked with Continuing Studies instructors to prepare his book for publication: Laurie Scheer in the online course “Creative Nonfiction,” Angela Rydell in “How to Write Compelling Fiction” and “Take Your Characters to Dinner,” as well as Lori Devoti in “Deepening Fiction: Advanced Story-Telling Techniques.”

Paik-Leong says, “By keeping their pointers and advice in the forefront of my mind while writing, I was able to perk up my prose to a publishable standard. Several submitted assignments were tweaked into scenes for incorporation into the novel. ”

J. Z. Howard’s new book All of Me Wants All of You is now available.
Mr. Howard has attended both our Weekend With Your Novel and Writers’ Institute events over the past few years. He also worked through our critique process with Laurie Scheer. Click here to read an interview with the author»

Writer/Historian Kristine Zeigler’s short story “Parable of the Pupfish” has been published in Volume 8 of Forge, an eclectic journal of modern story, culture, and art, available now at forgejournal.com. Kristine has worked with Laurie Scheer as she composed her short stories and book proposal for her nonfiction anthology Cover This Country Like Snow and Other Stories, a volume of work that celebrates the Owens Valley in the Sierra Nevada Mountains about 5 hours northeast of Los Angeles. This short story – and this book – is for anyone who knows the wild, lives in the wild, or dreams of the wild.

Poet Erick Porter of Oklahoma City, OK, wins poetry award
Erick's poem "Who Will Do This" was awarded 1st Place in the Men's Division of the 2014 Senior Poetry Contest, a statewide contest run by the 39th Annual Oklahoma Conference on Aging.

Erick, a student in Angela Rydell's "Getting to Good" online poetry course, says, "As a part of the awards ceremony, I had the privilege of reading my poem before approximately 1000 people attending the conference luncheon. As a warmup, I read my poem at Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City before a crowd of 12 people. So, to be faced with reading the poem before 1000 people was a bit of a challenge for an aging introvert. I was surprised how well I did: no cotton balls in the mouth, no shaking hands, no sweating like a race horse... Thanks, Angela, for your encouragement. It was kind of a shot in the arm to have been awarded 1st Place."

Matthew Duffus of Shelby, NC publishes poem in online journal
Congratulations to Matthew on publishing his first poem. "Nature Boy, C'est Moi" appears in the Spring 2014 online issue of Barrelhouse.

Matthew took the online course "Getting to Good" with instructor Angela Rydell. He says, "'Getting to Good' helped me feel more comfortable with the basics of writing poetry. Within a few lessons, I saw improvement in the poems I wrote outside of the course as well, including 'Nature Boy, C'est Moi,' which is my first published poem. Thanks again for all the help. I'll definitely be signing up for another class!"

James Croteau, Kalamazoo, MI, publishes poems in literary journals
James Croteau’s poems "Evan" and "Cover Boys" will be published in Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, Issue 15, July 2014. The issue will be available through Amazon. "Evan" first appeared in the November 2012 postcard issue of HOOT: a postcard review of {mini} poetry and prose.

James writes, "I took Angela Rydell's class ‘Getting to Good’ in the late summer of 2012 and am in ‘Taking the Poetic Leap’ now. Her feedback is some of the most helpful (and challenging) I have gotten on my work. Both of the poems mentioned here have been worked on in one or both the classes and would not have made their way to publication without the class. 'Evan' was the first poem I ever had published and 'Cover Boys' has special meaning for me. I am grateful for Angela and these classes." Congratulations, James!

Elizabeth Ridley’s screenplay in development
Writer/producer Elizabeth Ridley (Milwaukee) and co-producer Paige Brien (Lake Mills, WI) are excited to announce that their first full-length feature film, the family holiday drama Handle With Care, is officially in development with award-winning writer/director Brent Notbohm attached to direct. Acclaimed British actor and Oscar nominee Peter Firth is attached to take the lead role of Kevin.

The original script of Handle With Care was written by novelist Elizabeth Ridley under the guidance of Christine DeSmet through the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online course, “Screenwriting: Write Your First Draft Fast.” Paige Brien’s narrative short film, Tapped, which she wrote, directed, and produced, is presently on the festival circuit. The producers plan to film Handle With Care in Milwaukee in January 2015.

Harold Thorpe captures regional history in his new novels
Harold William Thorpe is the author of the O’Shaughnessy Chronicles, a series of epic family novels set in Iowa County, Wisconsin in the early-to-mid 20th Century. He is also the author of the Good Friends Storybook series for children that mixes adventure, quirky talking animals, gentle lessons about friendship, and Wisconsin history. Both the adult and children’s series are published by Little Creek Press in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Aubrey's Attic, the latest of the Good Friends Storybooks, is now available online. 

Harold's new website is designed to connect readers to his books, but also to expand their knowledge of the history, geography, and culture of the settings for his stories—Iowa County, Door County, and Butte des Morts, Wisconsin. Check it out at haroldwilliamthorpe.com. Harold has participated in our June retreat and our Critique Services. His publisher, Little Creek Press, participated in the past 2 editions of Writers’ Institute.

Rebecca Williams Spindler YA novel earns honor
Rebecca Williams Spindler’s and her daughter Madelyn Spindler’s novel, Moving Out and Moving On (Little Creek Books), has received Honorable Mention for the 2013 Tofte/Wright Children's Literature Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. The honor will be bestowed at the awards banquet May 10, 2014. Rebecca has attended many of our UW writing programs. Congratulations, Rebecca and Madelyn, on this award!

Minnesota Regional author, Rhonda Fochs, published by North Star Press of St. CloudCover of current catalog
Rhonda Fochs’ Minnesota’s Lost Towns is a newly released local history book published by North Star Press of St. Cloud. The book tells the tale of over 125 northern Minnesota lost locations. Each town, once thriving and now no longer existing as a town, is covered in a short, fun-to-read narrative. Read how the towns were created, how they grew and prospered, why they died, and what you will find there today. Filled with anecdotes, historical photos, current photos and the history of each community, the book appeals to historians, genealogists, tourists, travelers, area residents, and anyone that enjoys a good story. Rhonda worked with Laurie Scheer as a participant of our online creative nonfiction courses.

Pat McConnel of Portland, Oregon publishes poem in literary journal
Pat's poem "The Mammogram" was published in the Spring, 2014 issue of Enhance Magazine, an online and print magazine. She has taken the online courses "Getting to Good" and "Taking the Poetic Leap" with Angela Rydell, and worked with Angela through DCS's critique services.

Pat says, "It has been a pleasure and a very positive learning process to work with Angela Rydell in her online classes and with her critiquing service. Angela works in a thoughtful and direct manner when editing. I appreciate it when she can tell me where I need to 'show rather than tell' and when she points out those places in my poems where I have led the reader astray by not expanding on a theme or straying from an established metaphor. In addition, I value Angela's encouragement to stay with a poem that has good bones and keep revising it. I have had 2 poems published since starting my online work with Angela and the UW online classes."

Pat is writing and publishing poetry at 70 years of age.

Writer Theodore Wesenberg accepted into Northwestern University's MFA program
Theodore Wesenberg, of Oshkosh, Wis., starts work on his MFA at the prestigious Northwestern University (Chicago) this summer. He credits the “Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat” and the online courses “My Manuscript Coach,” “The Dialogue Shop,” and “Take Your Characters to Dinner” for helping him prepare his MFA submission.

Theodore says, "I trust the instructors at DCS [Division of Continuing Studies] to take my writing as seriously as I do. My instructors, such as Angela Rydell, Laurie Scheer, and Kathy Steffen not only critiqued my submission, but provided the tools and techniques I needed to fix it." Congratulations, Theodore!

Writer Jack Bennett an awardee at Phoenix Film Festival 2014
Jack Bennett, Glenwood City, Wisconsin, earned Honorable Mention at the Phoenix Film Festival (April 3-10, 2014) with his action-drama TV pilot, “Generations,” which he describes as “Justified” meets “Heroes.” Jack took Christine DeSmet’s screenwriting workshop and received coaching from Christine on this script.

Christine DeSmet featured on Cozy Chicks blog
Continuing Studies writing teacher and author Christine DeSmet is featured today as a guest at the Cozy Chicks blog talking about the new Poirot on the literary scene. "Cozy" refers to the cozy mystery genre. Fun fact: Hannah Reed, a Cozy Chicks author/member that Christine mentions in the blog got her start in mystery writing by attending the Write-by-the-Lake Writer's Workshop & Retreat. Next edition is June 16-20 in Madison.

Denise Dalton, Vermont, publishes her first novel
Out of the Ashes is Denise Dalton’s new women’s fiction novel and an especially good one for those who love “foodie” books. It’s set in the restaurant world. The character of Julia Harmon fell in love as a teenager with George, but then his betrayal sets her on a twisting path that takes her cross-country. Find out more about the book at Denise’s website, www.denisedalton.com. Denise received help with her novel from Christine DeSmet of our UW-Madison Continuing Studies Critique Services.

George Smullen’s debut mystery thriller set in a state prison
Using his 26 years as an educator in the Wisconsin state prison system—including time as a hostage in a prison riot—George Smullen has written a dandy, fast-paced thriller with gritty reality. The lead character in A Price to Pay is a former war hero who gets a job at the prison just as an undercover female investigator shows up to look into the dirty dealings at the prison, including a murder cover-up. George wrote his novel using our Critique Services and mentor Christine DeSmet, UW-Madison Continuing Studies.

George will introduce A Price to Pay at the Waupun Public Library, 123 S. Forest St., Waupun, Wis., on Wednesday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m.

Poet Ion Corcos, of Sapphire Beach, NSW, Australia, publishes 5 poems
Two poems Ion wrote while in our Continuing Studies online poetry course Taking the Poetic Leap have been accepted for publication—plus 3 more! You'll find In the Tide in the 2014 Winter Issue of The Greensilk Journal, and Adrift in issue 20 of Message in a Bottle. Read all his published poems at his website (including 2 more published in Lake City Lights) at ioncorcos.wordpress.com. Ion says of his online course experience: "I really enjoyed the course Taking the Poetic Leap. Angela was thorough, detailed, and prompt in her responses to my poems. I was able to work on new poems in a supportive context."

David Girard—new novel and new Indiana writers’ group
Indiana resident David Girard has published the novel, Passing Through The Gate, to stellar reviews. The coming-of-age story is about 2 young boys at a Midwest boarding school who come upon a mystery that puts them in grave danger. Also, David and several other writers have started “Booking Culver: The Maxinkuckee Writers’ Group.” Check them out online and on Facebook. David received critiques from staff member Christine DeSmet and attended our annual Writers’ Institute and Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat.

Madison writer gets published by Random House and gets a Doug Moe writeup in the Wisconsin State Journal
The Fixer is the first of a 3-book murder mystery series by Teri Woods, pen name T. E. Woods. A clinical psychologist, she knows plenty about the workings of the human mind, and her book is being hailed as "pitch perfect" by Kirkus Reviews. Teri got coaching from Christine DeSmet at Write-by-the-Lake, and attended the Writers' Institute right before she started submitting to agents. The Fixer is available February 4, and The Red Hot Fix comes out in June.

Chicago writer Pauline Gruber publishes to rave reviews
Pauline Gruber’s new YA novel, The Girl and the Raven, published by Dragonfly Ink in December 2013, is getting rave reviews. It has a great cover and premise. It’s about 16-year-old Lucy Walker who is a half-witch and half-demon, drawn to both good and evil. But she wants a normal life and needs to choose. She’s also got big problems: how to keep her demon dad from killing her boyfriend, how to keep the witches in her life from killing her dad, and how to keep her non-supernatural friends safe. Pauline’s book, available at Amazon, received help through our Critique Services and Christine DeSmet of our staff.

Writers' Institute attendee Jenny Benjamin publishes new book
This Most Amazing (2013, Armida Books). This work of literary fiction intertwines a contemporary romance with the concept of time travel. Go on a voyage to 18th-century Italy and accompany the charismatic Dahlia on her quest to love and enlightenment.

“Readers will be absorbed in the story, but they will also be intrigued by its central question: how does the past endure, not just in history but in our own bodies?” - Angela Sorby, author of Distance Learning, Bird Skin Coat, and The Sleeve Waves.

“Reminiscent of Tracy Chevalier’s The Virgin Blue [...] Benjamin’s prose is evocative, her characters finely drawn, and the worlds she creates for us give us new ways to think about our own.” - Melissa Schoeffel, author of Maternal Conditions: Reading Kingsolver, Castillo, Erdrich, and Ozeki.

New book by new UW retreat instructor Julie Tallard Johnson
The Zero Point Agreement/How to Be Who You Already Are (December 2013, Destiny Books), by Julie Tallard Johnson, offers a different approach to self-discovery, one where we create our meaning from within rather than seek it from the outside world.

Julie shows there is a science behind personal spiritual experiences and creativity. Her book presents 11 core principles for the Zero Point Agreement as well as thought exercises, meditations, and journaling practices that help you break free from negative habitual states, liberate yourself from your attachment to the behaviors of others, take full responsibility for motivation and effort, express gratitude, focus your intention, and learn to co-create with the natural world.

Julie is leading a new section at the June 16-20, 2014 “Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat” in Madison called “Turning Your Life-Changing Experiences into a Book.” Space is limited; enrollment for Julie’s section will open Jan. 15, 2014. Graduate credits are an option.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada writer Debbie Bateman publishes in anthology
Debbie Bateman's personal essay, "Amongst the Unseen and Unheard," was selected for publication in Shy: An Anthology, published this fall by University of Alberta Press. Check out the anthology at http://www.uap.ualberta.ca/UAP.asp?LID=41&bookID=1095. Debbie's a graduate of our Creative Nonfiction online course with Angela Rydell as her instructor. Congratulations, Debbie, on your first personal essay publication!

Lynda Forrester's story a finalist in Gotham Prompt Contest
Lynda Forrester, of  Knoxville, TN, wrote "Meal Planning" in response to the flash fiction prompt When nobodys watching... Her story was one of the very best submitted to the Gotham Prompt Contest. You can read it here: http://www.writingclasses.com/prompt. She recently completed "Fiction in a Flash," taught by Angela Rydell. Lynda says the course "was one of the best online classes I have taken. Not only was it well presented but interesting and a great price value. Writing flash is a great way to learn to make every word count and Angela Rydell's instruction and feedback were excellent." 

Staff member Christine DeSmet on Barnes & Noble bestseller list
Christine DeSmet’s editor at Penguin Random House sent the good news that First-Degree Fudge, the debut novel in Christine’s Fudge Shop Mystery series, spent 10 weeks on the B&N mystery mass market bestseller list this fall 2013.

Writers' Institute attendee Sue Fox publishes book
Sue Fox attended the Writers' Institute in the spring of 2011. She reports: It was a great experience. And now, I am happy to inform you that my book, "Little Women of Baghlan: the Story of a Nursing School for Girls in Afghanistan, the Peace Corps, and Life Before the Taliban," has been published!

You can check out the author profile at www.amazon.com/author/foxsusan, and note the reference to the Writers Institute in Madison Wisconsin!

I wanted to let you know, because I remember vividly the day you told a group of us that yes, it does happen, and that yes, if anyone in the room got their project to publication, you wanted to hear about it. www.littlewomenofbaghlan.com www.facebook.com/suefox.writer

Critique Services alum Melissa Stanziale published again!
Melissa Stanziale, Johnston, Rhode Island, had her short story "To Be Thirsty" accepted by Blood Reign magazine. It will be in its first digital issue that comes out on Dec. 13, 2013 (Friday the 13th), and it will also be in its print anthology issued June 2014. Melissa’s story went through our Critique Services with Christine DeSmet. Another story, “Blue Meat,” was also polished with Christine’s help and was published in summer 2013 in the British horror magazine, Tales of Obscenity.

Judith Norling Carlson publishes mystery novel begun at SOA
Judith Norling Carlson, of Rhinelander, WI, and Spring Hill, FL, has published Thunder in the Tropics, a mystery starring two nurses on vacation in Maui, Hawaii. The book is available in paperback and e-book editions. Judith’s novel got its start in workshops taught by our staff member Christine DeSmet at the annual School of the Arts, a Continuing Studies week-long retreat for writers and artists held every July in Rhinelander.

In Thunder in the Tropics, Ashley Morgan and Candace Maguire discover an acquaintance of theirs on a tour has been reported missing after arguing with a male friend. When the woman turns up murdered, Ashley and Candace begin sleuthing. But soon the tables are turned and they become the hunted.

So you are a debut novelist…
I was thrilled this week to make a 2-book deal with Kensington Publishing for first time author, Kerstin March. I think this happy ending can be instructive for debut novelists, especially those writing mainstream women’s fiction or genre fiction, so I thought I’d share a little bit about how this came to be.

Kerstin came to my attention through a writer’s conference (Madison Writers Institute) in Madison, Wisconsin, where I was presenting along with other agents, authors and publishers. This is a particularly well-organized and informative conference where this agency has discovered authors in the past, so I was very pleased to attend for the second time. So lesson #1 is that first time authors could do well to ask their writing friends about their experiences at writing conferences, as some are better than others. But the better ones bring in talent from the publishing world around the country, and sponsor interesting and educational programs and panels, as well as providing writers with an opportunity to meet one on one with publishing professionals. This is fantastic, of course, in giving new writers an overview of the industry, but also in connecting them with other writers who are serious about getting published.
Click for the rest of the article»

Ed Semon's new memoir :  1930s Jewish experience in Athens, Wis.
Ed Semon has published The Place Where Time Stood Still, a memoir about growing up in Athens, Wisconsin, in the 1930s, in the only Jewish family in town. Ed says, "It's about a boy growing up in that magical time and place. The real power of memory lies in the richness of experience a town such as Athens offered. I don't fully understand the strength of that bond, yet I feel the power of attachment."

Ed has participated in our programs, including the Write-by-the-Lake Writer¹s Workshop & Retreat with instructor Christine DeSmet.

Frances Presley’s Screenplay Selected As A Starz Denver Film Festival Competition Semi-Finalist
Screenwriter Frances Presley’s screenplay DADDY KING AND ME has been selected as a semi-finalist for the Starz Denver Film Festival Screenwriting Competition.

The Starz Denver Film Festival is highly acclaimed and the largest of its kind in the region. It will take place November 1 - 11, 2013 and will celebrate its 36th year. It showcases more than 200 new films from around the world with over 175 international filmmakers, directors, actors and other film artists participating in the twelve-day event. The annual celebration of film provides an important showcase for the best of world cinema, a platform for international film artists, and promotes dialogue among filmmakers and the public.

Notably, Frances is an alumni of the Hollywood- based ScreenwritingU ProSeries and the logline for her screenplay was a finalist for the ProSeries Alumni (PSA) Screenwriting Logline Contest. She is represented by Beverly Hills Producer/Manager Bettina Vivianoof Accelerate Entertainment who represents some top Hollywood writers.

Frances optioned the rights to the book, "Daddy King And Me" by Murray Silver. The biography is of Martin Luther King Sr.'s influence in the civil rights movement and politics. Her screenplay has attracted the interest of an A-list actor and her manager is now marketing the screenplay to top producers.

Portland, Oregon poet Patricia McConnell publishes via UW online course
Patricia McConnell's poem "My Turn Next" was recently accepted for publication in Pudding Magazine. Her poem will appear in the September issue (#61). Congratulations, Patricia!

She drafted and revised the poem while working through Unit 2 of "Taking the Poetic Leap," taught by Angela Rydell. She says of the course, "I've had an excellent writing experience with 'Taking the Poetic Leap.' Angela Rydell's line-by-line critique of my poems was thoughtful and helpful without infringing on my emerging poetic voice. I am pleased and grateful for the support given to me in making 'My Turn Next' a good poem. Thank you!"

Teri Venker’s travel story on Morocco published
Madison, Wis., writer Teri Venker’s travel article, “Into the Sahara Sand Dunes: A Moroccan Misadventure (of Sorts),” has been published at the Journey Beyond Travel website. Teri attended our Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat in 2011 to study fiction with instructor Bob Curry, then returned in 2012 to study personal essay writing with Amy Lou Jenkins. Teri also attended a creative nonfiction workshop in 2012 with Laurie Scheer.

Carol Larson, Fitchburg, Wis. places in Writer’s Digest contest
Carol Larson, an attendee at the Writers’ Institute in April 2013, has good news. She earned Second Place in the annual Writer's Digest contest in the inspirational category for an essay, “My Lunch with Liz,” about a friend going through cancer treatment. Congratulations, Carol!

Eric Rudd published
Continuing Studies writing student Eric Rudd of Duluth, MN, has indie-published Hope, a contemporary mainstream novel he started in our online course, Write Your Novel Fast and Sure, taught by Christine DeSmet. The logline and plot summary: Rachel Bernardi is a sea captain with a problem: a developer wants the ocean-view property her aged neighborhood occupies and is willing to play hardball to get it. Rachel, whose native resistance to adversity has been hardened at the helm, fights back. Forces from the past and present lend a hand, including a rangy country songwriter whose music Rachel cannot ignore.

Colleen Rowan Kosinski signs with AKA Literary Agency
Colleen Rowan Kosinski of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, has signed for representation of her middle grade/YA novel, A Promise Stitched In Time, with Terrie Wolf of the AKA Literary Agency. Colleen used our UW-Madison Continuing Studies Critique Services and worked with Christine DeSmet.

Helen Townsend, of Fort Scott, Kansas, publishes six poems in anthology
Poet Helen Townsend, of Fort Scott, Kansas, had six poems selected for inclusion in Chatter House Press's 2012 Reckless Writing Anthology: The Modernization of Poetry by Emerging Writers of the 21st Century.  The anthology focuses on the evolution of poetry in the 21st century and showcases over 125 poems from new and previous published authors.  Helen is a recent graduate of the online class "Taking the Poetic Leap," taught by Angela Rydell. Congratulations, Helen!

Diego Pérez Giménez of Reus, Spain, publishes short story in anthology
Reus, Spain, writer Diego Pérez Giménez recently published his story “Encuentro afortunado” ("Lucky encounter") in the Spanish anthology Cuentamínate, coming out this autumn. Diego wrote his story while enrolled in our online course “How to Write Compelling Fiction,” and emailed instructor Angela Rydell when his story was accepted: “I'm glad and proud to say that a short story that I wrote has been selected to be published in an anthology here in Spain (in old style paper). I would like to thank you because you're responsible in part for this success. Your workshop has been very helpful.” Congratulations to Diego and Angela!

Screenplay by Jon Duff, Gainseville, Florida, advances in contest
Gainseville, Florida writer Jon Duff’s screenplay, “Paramedhicks,” about a big-city paramedic who’s sent to help those in a small, rural town, has reached the top 100 out of 850 entered in the annual Blue Cat Screenplay Competition.  Jon wrote the script in our online screenwriting course taught by Christine DeSmet. We wish Jon well in the next judging round!

Rose Garcia’s first YA book earns high praise
Houston, Texas, author Rose Garcia is garnering some nifty reviews for her first YA novel, Final Life, the first book in a new series. It’s a paranormal romance about a girl you moves from Michigan to Houston, and on top of that major change in her life she discovers she’s lived eight past lives and there’s now a Transhuman hunter who wants to make sure her current and ninth life is her last. You can find out more on the internet, including at www.RoseGarciaBooks.com. Rose used our Critique Services and worked with Christine DeSmet. Congratulations, Rose!

Houston, Texas, writer Steve Childress publishes via UW online course
Steve Childress of Houston, TX, recently published a flash fiction story, "Returning Children," in NANO Fiction (forthcoming in Volume 6, Number 1). Steve wrote the story while taking "How to Write Compelling Fiction," taught by Angela Rydell.  Between units 2 and 3, he sent Angela a note sharing the good news and said, "Looks like your critique of the story and suggestions were spot on." Congratulations, Steve!

Angela teaches two online fiction courses for UW-Madison Continuing Studies, "How to Write Compelling Fiction" and "Take Your Characters to Dinner," and is writing new online course entitled, "Fiction in a Flash: The Art of the Very Short Story." She also teaches at our annual June writer’s retreat in Madison.

Lloyd Christensen’s new Caribbean mystery series debuts
Congratulations to Lloyd Christensen, a past participant in School of the Arts and our Critique Services, on the publication of his mystery book, Murder in the Caribbean, from Outskirts Press.The plot features a resortowner, George Schroeder, who becomes a sleuth when one of his guests turns up dead during Christmas week on the island of Sunrise Caye, just off Belize. A nice subplot features a secret in George’s past that keeps him and his wife wrestling with emotional trauma. Lloyd lives currently in Santa Clara, CA but considers Texas to be home.

Teri Woods, Madison, Wis., is this week's Kirkus Reviews "Indie Pick" for her new suspense book The Fixer.
Teri Woods, Madison, Wis., a past participant in our Write-by-the-Lake Retreat and Writers’ Institute conference, is this week’s Kirkus Reviews “Indie Pick” for her new suspense book, The Fixer (available at Amazon). Check it out at tewoodswrites.com. Congratulations to Teri!

And if honing your work toward publication and glory is in your plans, there are still spaces available at Write-by-the-Lake Retreat in Sections 1, 3, 5, 6, 7. (Sections designed for writers of novels, nonfiction books, scripts, rhyming books for kids, and flash fiction.)

Cheryl Yeko, Waukesha, Wis., is the recipient of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for her romantic suspense novel, Protecting Rose.
The award is given annually by the Romance Writers of America and its Southern Magic chapter to honor Gayle Wilson, an author of multiple awards in the romance industry. Cheryl sharpened her dialogue through our online course taught by Christine DeSmet, “The Dialogue Shop.”

Wes Crenshaw, Lawrence, Kansas, gets big endorsements for his new books featuring teens and teen advice!
Wes Crenshaw, writer and psychologist who has attended the Writers’ Institute in the past, is one of our first 2012 success stories. He sent us this news: 

I wanted to share with you two new books we have out based on our weekly “Double Take” newspaper column in the Lawrence Journal World. We've received amazing endorsements from authors Foster Cline (Parenting with Love and Logic) Michael Bradley (When Things Get Crazy with Your Teen), and Rosalind Wiseman (Queen Bees and Wannabes). You can read what they and others have to say at http://www.dr-wes.com/. Titles of the new books are Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Parents of Teens, and Dear Dr. Wes: Real Life Advice for Teens.

I'm really proud of these books. They're unique in the field of advice for parents and teens because they combine my nineteen years of professional experience with the wisdom of young people, all of whom were teens when they wrote these columns. As I was reading back over them and editing these books, I was impressed once again with just how smart teens are, and just how smart they have to be to get through this big, complex world we've left for them.  I hope these two books help teens and their parents navigate that world a little better! —Wes Crenshaw, PhD ABPP, Kansas Licensed Psychologist

Participant from 2011 Write-by-the-Lake Retreat gets two-book deal
We’re pleased to announce that Melissa Olson, Madison, Wis., a participant in Lori Devoti’s section in our “Write-by-the-Lake Workshop & Retreat” in 2011 has sold a sci fi/fantasy murder mystery, Dead Spots, to editor Alex Carr at 47 North in a two-book deal done by agent Jacqueline Flynn at Joelle Delbourgo Associates. By coincidence, Joelle Delbourgo will be taking pitches at our upcoming April 13-15, 2012 Writers’ Institute in Madison. Lori Devoti will be leading a new full-manuscript critique Master Class during the upcoming June 18-22 Write-by-the-Lake Retreat.

Instructor Angela Rydell nominated for a Pushcart Prize
Angela Rydell's poem "The Stepmother and the Mosquito Bird," published in The Cleveland Review, was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. You can read the poem here: http://clevelandreview.org/the-stepmother-and-the-mosquito-bird-by-angela-rydell . Angela teaches “Poetry Writing: Getting to Good” and “How to Write Compelling Fiction” for UW-Madison Continuing Studies. Angela also teaches in person for us and will be teaching flash fiction next June in the annual writers’ retreat in Madison.

Instructor Christine DeSmet has a Christmas story published and is featured writer at www.JewelsoftheQuill.com
Christine DeSmet, teacher of many writing courses at UW-Madison Continuing Studies and director of our June retreat, is the author of a new holiday story called “The Christmas Magi of Birch Bay” in the book Christmas Gems, a collection of holiday stories published by Whiskey Creek Press. Christine is also this month’s featured author at the Jewels of the Quill website, where you can read excerpts of her writing. Check out www.JewelsoftheQuill.com

Screenwriting course in Delta Sky magazine
We're high in the sky! The Delta Sky magazine (October issue) took a look at the "Cool Online Courses" being taught across the country and included our very own "Screenwriting: Write Your First Draft Fast," taught by Christine DeSmet. The article said:  "That great movie idea you've been noodling? Give it shape with help from a professional screenwriter." Download the article (pdf).

Instructor Christine DeSmet has new short story in Christmas collection
Christine DeSmet’s holiday short story set in northern Wisconsin called, “The Christmas Magi of Birch Bay,” appears in the new Christmas Gems: A Jewels of the Quill Christmas Anthology,” available now from Whiskey Creek Press in paperback or electronic formats.

Christine’s story leads the collection. Her story is a sweet romance involving a young war widow who finds the loneliness of the holiday lifted by an ordinary Joe venturing into her antique shop to look for an elusive baseball card for his collection.

Past Writers’ Institute speaker Marnie Mamminga’s historic memoir coming in Spring 2012
The Wisconsin Historical Society Press is publishing in spring 2012 Marnie Mamminga’s story of her grandmother’s Wisconsin cabin, called Return to Wake Robin: One Cabin in the Heyday of North Woods Resorts. Mamminga, of Batavia, Ill., has been an instructor at the annual Writers’ Institute conference. Marnie explains about the book’s title, “Wake Robin is the common name for the spring flower trillium that blooms abundantly in Wisconsin and is also the name my grandmother gave our cabin when she had it built in 1929.” The book is a series of essays that focus on the 1920-1960s glory era of camps and cabins.

Jon Duff makes top 25% at Page International Screenwriting Award Contest
A screenplay by Jon Duff, Gainesville, Florida, made it into the top 25 percent of the Page International Screenwriting Awards Contest. Jon's script, "Paramedhicks," tells the story of a paramedic challenged with saving a troubled rural area's emergency response team while also dealing with his own personal problems. Jon is currently enrolled in our online course "Screenplay: Write Your First Draft Fast" with instructor/writer Christine DeSmet.

Cynthia Mehta finals at the Mexico International Film Festival
Congratulations to Cynthia Mehta, Sun Prairie, Wis., whose script, “No More Tears” is an official finalist at the Mexico International Film Festival, May 20-21, 2011, in Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico. Cynthia was a student in our online course, “Screenwriting: Write Your First Draft Fast,” taught by Christine DeSmet.

Christopher Mohar earns prestigious award
Staff member Christopher Mohar, Madison, will be honored at an awards luncheon May 14 by the Council for Wisconsin Writers. He will receive the Larry and Eleanor Sternig Short Fiction Award and $500 for his short story, “The Five Points of Performance,” which appeared in The Southwest Review, where it also won the journal’s McGinnis-Ritchie Award for Fiction.

Bill Bibo and Brooke Miller Hall make finals
Bill Bibo, Madison, finished in 8th place out of 450 international entries in the flash fiction contest sponsored by NYC Midnight (nycmidnight.com). Published authors and editors in New York City were final judges. Bill is a past participant in our screenwriting lab.

Brooke Miller Hall, Racine, and her father, Mark Miller, are among 11 finalists in the seventh annual Snowdance Theater competition. Snowdance is an annual competition of 10-minute comedic plays, with audiences voting to determine the winners. Brooke’s play, “Dr. Jellyfish O.B.,” will be performed during Jan. 28 through Feb. 27, 2011, at Racine’s Sixth Street Theater, 318 Sixth St. Brooke is a past participant of our Continuing Studies programs including the online screenwriting course.

New Authors with great book covers!
Den Adler, a long-time attendee of our Writers’ Institute conference and a Critique Service client, has a new book out in time for holiday giving called Janesville, published by Arcadia Publishing, a well-known publisher of postcard books. Den’s book features 228 postcards giving a pictorial history of Janesville, Wis., where Den resides. He and his wife Judy used their own collection of cards in addition to those found at the Rock County Historical Society and local collectors.

Critique Service client Carl Miller, Palm Beach, Florida, is a new first-time author with a suspense, The Fires of Remorse, from Whiskey Creek Press. Check out his hot cover, pun intended. Carl said he’s really a hometown Wisconsin guy because he attended grade school in Milwaukee, Wis.

Sheri Matheson, Portage, Wis., is the author of Night of the Wolf, with a distinctive wolf cover, a historical suspense novel that includes details of the famous Peshtigo fire that occurred the same day as the even more famous Chicago fire. Sheri’s book is found at www.buybooksontheweb.com.

Congratulations, Den, Carl, and Sheri!

Online participant has three poems published
Dennis Trujillo, Dongducheon, Korea, recently published three poems in the Fall 2010 issue of Wild Goose Poetry Review, an on-line journal. His poems are: "Why I Run in the Rain," "Precious Moments" and "Dragonflies and Algebra." Dennis registered for "Getting to Good" taught by Angela Rydell. Angela is now teaching a new online UW-Madison Continuing Studies poetry course called "Taking the Poetic Leap." Congratulations, Dennis!

Several writers from our programs announce good news
Amy Gangl (online screenwriting course), Middleton, Wis., and her writing partner, Brooke Miller Hall (attended various UW writing programs), placed 8th in the 2010 Writer’s Digest script category with their screenplay “Babymoon Blues.”

W. Lionel Williams (critique services), Hempstead, NY, has published A Lamb to the Slaughter/Hope and Defeat in the High School Classroom through IUniverse.

Cathy Douglas (“Take Your Characters to Dinner” online course with Angela Rydell), Madison, Wis., had her poem “Mother’s Maiden Name” published in the online version of Verse Wisconsin. And her story, “The Video Game,” was published in a recent issue of Lorelei Signal as well as the Mystic Signals Anthology.

Dr. Phillip Dibble (online dialogue course), Mission Hills, Kansas, is the author of The Fundamental Things, a book from Authorhouse.

Online course writers get poetry and essays published
Peter Schaller, of Managua, Nicaragua, a graduate of our online course, "Creative Nonfiction," recently published two essays. "Gray Baby, Purple Shoes," can be read in Alligator Juniper, issue #15, and "Rules of Temporary Marriage" appears in Jelly Bucket, a literary journal published by Eastern Kentucky University, due out in October 2010. "I recently took the Creative Nonfiction class with Angela Rydell, and it was a great catalyst for my writing. The exercises were very practical, and helped me to focus on the craft of writing, rather than just flowing with the passion of words. The course helped me to develop new skills and perspective that will enable me to more fully develop my potential as a writer."

Jeff Jenkins, of Forest City, North Carolina, a recent graduate of the poetry course "Getting to Good," will have his poem, "Ruminations of a Butterfly Collector," published in the fall 2010 issue of Willows Wept Review. He wrote and revised the poem during the course. "I appreciate that Angela kept urging me to stay true to the meaning of the poem, employ concrete imagery, and avoid conflicting metaphors. I definitely feel that my writing has improved as a result of taking this course—and the price is a bargain." Also, his prose poem "April Again," published under his pen name (Jeff Alan), is in issue 59 of The Pedestal.

Past Writers' Institute speaker collects national award
Congratulations to Simone Elkeles, a 2009 UW-Madison Writers' Institute conference speaker and New York Times bestselling author who just earned the national Rita Award from Romance Writers of America for Best Young Adult Romance 2010 for her novel, Perfect Chemistry. Simone is from the Chicago area. Awards were given out Saturday night, July 31, at the national RWA conference in Orlando.

Elizabeth Lee, Washington, D.C., makes Nicholl Contest quarterfinals
Elizabeth Lee, a graduate of our online screenwriting course taught by Christine DeSmet, has advanced to the quarterfinal round of the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship Contest that is sponsored by the same people that bring you the Oscars—The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Liz’s screenplay is one of 326 to survive the first round of 6,304 entries this year. Up to five $30,000 fellowships will be awarded to new screenwriters in the final round. Congratulations, Liz, on this huge milestone, and good luck in the semi-final and final rounds!

Cathy Scibelli, East Norwich, New York, publishes in NY Newsday
Cathy Scibelli’s essay, “Super Match at the Market,” was published June 13, 2010 in New York Newsday, a major New York metro region newspaper. Cathy recently completed our online course “Creative Nonfiction” with instructor Angela Rydell.

Cathy said about the course, "The two things from the ‘Creative Nonfiction’ course that helped me so much with my writing were learning to FOCUS on my theme and to include those important details! My first version of my essay was so long and wordy, until I edited it with the idea of finding the focus and realized what made the story good was focusing on my mother's central role as a checker in the supermarket. And when the editor from Newsday was going over my story, she kept laughing at certain points where I had included dialogue or little details and saying ‘This is truly adorable!’ I was thinking of your extensive editing comments on my course essays, always telling me to put more of myself into the story, and more of those specific details that readers love. As I listened to the editor yesterday I was thinking, ‘Thank you, Angela!’”

Charles Fiore, North Carolina, sells his novel.
Congratulations go to Charles Fiore, Durham, NC, and formerly of Chicago, for the sale of his novel, Green Gospel, to Livingston Press for publication in Spring 2011. Charles workshopped his novel at the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute conference in 2006, met with agents at the event in 2007, then worked with Laurel Yourke of our staff for some polishing.

Here’s the summary of his novel:  Fleeing the FBI, eco-terrorist Edie Aberdeen escapes to the small, rural town of Arcadia, Florida. She hopes to reinvent herself and forget her criminal past. But when she falls in with a mega-church whose pastor preaches a fiery brand of environmental fundamentalism, she must choose between abdication and one final, radical act to save the church from financial ruin.

Pat Fitzgerald finals in script contest
Kudos go to Pat Fitzgerald for her fine showing in the contest sponsored by the Table Read My Screenplay Contest, www.tablereadmyscreenplay.com. Formerly of Racine, Wisconsin, Pat now lives in rural Capitan, New Mexico. Finalists are chosen based on their loglines. Here’s the logline for her script, “Millard Does the Martian Mash”: A bumbling Earth man must travel into outer space to rescue an abducted hometown gal, a feat he can’t accomplish without the aid of an alien—who arrived on Earth to assassinate him. …Good logline! Pat’s a graduate of Christine DeSmet’s online screenwriting course, and Pat’s attended many of our Writers’ Institute conferences and other programs.

Kyle Fleishman’s screenplay to be honored at upcoming 2010 Canada Film Festival
Calgary writer Kyle Fleishman’s screenplay, “Chasing Thunderbirds,” was selected as an Honorable Mention in the screenplay competition sponsored by the Canada Film Festival, March 19-21, 2010. Congratulations, Kyle!

Kyle wrote his screenplay in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online course called, “Screenwriting: Write Your First Draft Fast,” taught by Christine DeSmet.

Kyle said, “Christine DeSmet's course helped me improve my screenwriting immensely. Christine is at turns encouraging and a tough critic, just what I needed to stop writing mediocre screenplays that I would abandon after 30 pages and finish a screenplay I can be proud of. I am sure that my screenplay would not have received any of the accolades it has were it not for this course and Christine's fantastic help. It would probably not even be finished.”

Writers' Institute attendee Sherry Croyle published
Congratulations to Sherry Croyle, Medine, Ohio, and a past (2008) attendee of the Writers' Institute conference. Her novel, The Caretaker, was published in print by the Wild Rose Press on October 2, 2009 under the penname Gabriella Lucas. Sherry is proud to report that the reviews have been great—one by a romance review site and one by the Akron Beacon Journal.

JoAnne Mills, Oshkosh, WI, finals in screenwriting contest
Congratulations! JoAnne Mills is among five finalists in the Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum annual contest with a screenplay she worked on in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online screenwriting course taught by Christine DeSmet. Christine earned an Honorable Mention in the same contest. JoAnne’s script is “Papa’s Hand.” Logline: When a white drifter poses as black to legally marry a mixed-raced woman in segregated 1920s Virginia, he experiences bigotry from whites and blacks for the first time. He fights back by using the town’s superstitious fears against them, but it all unravels when his past crime of murdering a white man is uncovered and the Klan seeks revenge.

Retreat attendee Maureen Holtz, Monticello, IL, published
Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat alumna Maureen Holtz of Monticello, Illinois, has co-authored a biography called Robert Allerton: The Private Man and the Public Gifts, available September 2009 from The News-Gazette. The book covers the life of the heir to a Chicago stockyard and banking fortune, and “Chicago’s Richest Bachelor” of 1906. He never married but at the age of 87 became the first Illinoisian to adopt another adult, his sixty-year-old "protege." His legacy to the public: acres of formal gardens and nature trails, vast art collections, and an aura of mystery surrounding his private life. Congratulations, Maureen, on your first book!

Retreat attendee Maureen Holtz, Monticello, IL, published
Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat alumna Maureen Holtz of Monticello, Illinois, has co-authored a biography called Robert Allerton: The Private Man and the Public Gifts, available September 2009 from The News-Gazette. The book covers the life of the heir to a Chicago stockyard and banking fortune, and “Chicago’s Richest Bachelor” of 1906. He never married but at the age of 87 became the first Illinoisian to adopt another adult, his sixty-year-old "protege." His legacy to the public: acres of formal gardens and nature trails, vast art collections, and an aura of mystery surrounding his private life. Congratulations, Maureen, on your first book!

New author talks about our retreat as a “game changer.”
“I will forever be grateful for Laurel Yourke’s encouragement and critical eye. I can honestly say that taking her novel revision class two years ago during Write-by-the-Lake was a game changer for me. Her approach to evaluating prose was eye-opening and the tools she taught for assessing narrative perspective were incredibly useful. I’m also glad that after rewriting my YA novel, I used the critique service to have her look at the first 50 pages. Again, her global comments were insightful and constructive, while her line edits blew me away. I realized how much over-writing I was doing at sentence level. Following her rigorous approach, I polished the rest of my manuscript. I know that last revision made all the difference. In January this year, a great agent offered me representation and within two weeks he sold my novel to Scholastic in a two-book deal. I’m thrilled to say that Dark Life is due in bookstores in May, 2010. Thanks for all the help and guidance!!” Kat Falls, Evanston, Il.

Several new publications for Matthew Cole, Riverview, Florida
Matthew Cole, a graduate of our online screenwriting course, is the author or several new publications. Look for three new short stories on www.associatedcontent.com. They are: "Seeing Double," crime; "Forever Mine," horror; and "Indian Summer," romance. A new novel, The Marshal: a Novel of Bill Tilghman, will be published by Whiskey Creek Press in September 2009.

First sale for Kirsten Johnson, Madison, WI
Kirsten Johnson’s first novel, Footsteps (Plain View Press), presents the intriguing and richly-detailed life of a girl growing up in Kenya and going through the passage to womanhood. Check out the beautiful cover at her publisher’s website, where you can also buy a copy of the book. Kirsten is a past attendee of our programs featuring critique workshops and she also worked with Christine DeSmet through our Critique Services. Congratulations, Kirsten, on your first sale!

"Weekend with Your Novel" is published
Richard Davidson, a 2008 participant in “A Weekend with Your Novel” held every fall in Madison, is the author of Lead Us Not Into Temptation. This is the first book of a mystery series starring former NASA engineer, Arthur Blake, who is a minister in the fictional Chicago suburb of Parkville. The book is available from Virtualbookworm.com, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com, and the author’s website, www.davidsonbooks.com. Richard is vice president of the Chicago-area Off Campus Writers’ Workshop group.

Write-by-the-Lake Retreat participant sells book
Ann Garvin, Stoughton, Wis., a professor at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, has sold her novel, On Maggie’s Watch, to Berkley (Penguin), to be published in November 2010. The book was formerly called A Congregation of Crocodiles when Ann workshopped her pages in Christine DeSmet’s June retreat section for first-time novelists. Ann’s agent is Eve Bridburg from Zachary, Shuster, Harmsworth Literary Agency. Ann’s humorous and poignant novel is about a pregnant Maggie Finley, who learns a lot about herself and the judgments she makes about others when she sets about ridding her neighborhood of a sexual predator.

Success for William Dollear
William Dollear's short story, "Tequila," that was workshopped at Angela Rydell's and Laurel Yourke's class, "Tricks Poets Can Teach Every Writer," was published in the online journal, Stockyard Magazine. William also attended the Write-By-The-Lake Workshop & Retreat this summer. He participated in the class, "Writing for Children," led by Kathleen Ernst. Keep on writing!

New author Joan Maze, from Minnesota, has two books out and more!
Joan Maze, from Minnesota, a past attendee of our Writers' Institute conference in Madison, just signed with Red Rose Publishing with her first mystery, Murder by Mistake, available as an e-book. (Paperback coming later on.) Red Rose will also publish her single title romantic suspense book, Framed In Fear, this spring. Murder by Mistake is the first book in the Mollie Fenwick Mystery Series, a "cozy" series. Joan is polishing her second cozy, Murder For Kicks. Congratulations, Joan!

Karen Bryson in screenwriting finals
Karen Mueller Bryson, of Gold Canyon, Arizona, has placed in the top 20 of this spring's Phoenix Film Festival screenwriting contest with her romantic comedy script, "Zak Goes Back to School," the story of a famous boy band member who can't shake his past when he returns to college. Winners will be announced March 18, 2009. Karen is a graduate of the UW-Madison online screenwriting course, "Write Your First Draft Fast," in which Christine DeSmet mentors writers on their scripts from the idea stage through the finished script's FADE OUT. Congratulations, Karen, and good luck in the finals!

Malta screenwriter and UW online student is semi-finalist
Philip Spiteri, of St. Julian's, Malta, is a semi-finalist in the Screenplay Festival contest in the action-adventure category with his feature film script, "The Cost of Redemption." Philip wrote his script in the UW–Madison online course taught by Christine DeSmet, "Screenplay: Write Your First Draft Fast." Philip's script is about a reclusive medical doctor who discovers his new neighbor and her young son must go on the run because of what they know about a murder plot implicating the White House. Congratulations, Philip!

Christine DeSmet in the EPIC finals
One of our very own learned today (Dec. 2) that her characters in little Moonstone, Wisconsin, are up for a national/international award.

Christine DeSmet's anthology of related humorous romantic mysteries, Mischief in Moonstone, published by Whiskey Creek Press, is a finalist for a 2009 Eppie Award from the Electronically Published Internet Connection (EPIC), the association for e-book authors and electronic presses.

The book is also available in trade paperback.

This is Christine's first anthology collection. Winners are announced at the spring EPIC conference.

Excerpts of the stories are available at the Jewels of the Quill website, www.JewelsoftheQuill.com.

Christine teaches fiction and screenwriting, and critiques manuscripts at UW–Madison Liberal Studies & the Arts. She can be reached at cdesmet@dcs.wisc.edu.

Mary Hughes - new published author!
Congratulations go to Mary Hughes, West Bend, WI whose first novel, Biting Nixie, a paperback vampire tale, came out in time for Halloween from Samhain Publishing. The e-book version will be issued in January 2009. Mary has attended the UW-Madison "Weekend with Your Novel" and "Writers' Institute" conference.

Tina Russ a winner in Faulkner novel writing contest
Tina Russ, of Riverwoods, IL, past attendee of the Writers' Institute conference in Madison, has won the novel-in-progress category of the Pirate's Alley William Faulkner Society creative writing competition with her first novel, After Paradise. Tina's judge was Deborah Grosvenor, a literary agent from the Washington D.C. area.

Congratulations, Tina!

Published in fiction the first time! Kris Babe, Pewaukee, Wisconsin
Congratulations, Kris! Trillium Literary Journal will be publishing Kris’s fiction for the first time (a short story), as well as a piece of creative nonfiction. This follows major successes for Kris in nonfiction: a profile of author Benjamin Percy, Nov/Dec 2007 Poets & Writers magazine; an interview with author Shauna Singh Baldwin, December 2007 issue of The Writer’s Chronicle; and an essay in the “My Wisconsin” column, Nov/Dec 2007 issue of Wisconsin Trail’s magazine. Kris has attended Writers’ Institute, A Weekend with Your Novel (offered again this fall), and School of the Arts in Rhinelander. She’s currently in Laurel Yourke’s weekly fiction critique workshop and credits Laurel’s fine teaching for getting her to a publishable level.

Bruce Noble poem accepted
Bruce Noble has just had the poem "Returning To My Hometown" accepted by the prestigious "Fox Cry Review," now in its 33rd year of continuous publication.

Tennessee's Moberg signs with agent
Kurt Moberg, Nashville, Tennessee has signed with agent Kristopher O'Higgins of The Scribe Agency, Madison, WI to represent his science fiction book, We Are Stardust. Interesting backstory: The agent told us he'd originally rejected the manuscript, but the author decided to go ahead with his private pitch meeting at the 2007 "Writers' Institute" conference and use the meeting to brainstorm the revisions. Kris said, "The new beginning is awesome and the rest kicks butt, too."

Teri Woods signs with agent
Teri Woods, Madison, winner of the fiction category of the "Poem or Page Contest" at the recent Writers' Institute, has signed for representation with Victoria Skurnick, Levine/Greenberg Literary Agency. Teri pitched her mainstream novel during a meeting with Victoria at the event. Teri used our critique services and workshops with Christine DeSmet and Laurel Yourke. Congratulations! -May 7, 2008.

"What Kindergarten Teachers Know"
A book by Lisa Holewa , Milwaukee,  and Joan Rice,  Cudahy, Wis., came out May 7, 2008, from Perigree (Penguin Group). Lisa had a pitch meeting with agent Marilyn Allen (Allen O'Shea Literary Agency) at the 2006 Writers' Institute. Congratulations, Lisa and Joan!

Critique Service grad Mary Lindsey signs with literary agent
Congratulations to Mary Lindsey, Houston, Texas, who on May 2, 2008, signed with  agent Elizabeth Jote of Objective Entertainment. Mary used our Critique Services to polish her writing. On her website, Mary calls Christine DeSmet of our staff her “critique goddess.” Mary’s written a fine YA book involving time travel, romance, and a true historical event. It’s the start of a series. See Mary’s interview at www.querytracker.net/maryL.php, and more about her writing at her website, www.marylindsey.com.

Judith Jones' memoir published
Congratulations go to a past keynote speaker at our annual conference, Judith Jones, on her new memoir, The Tenth Muse/My Life in Food, from Alfred A. Knopf.

Judith was the editor of Julia Child, James Beard, and many other powerhouses in the food world, as well as fine fiction writers including Anne Tyler and John Updike. Judith was the keynote speaker for our 1999 (10th edition) Writers' Institute in Madison.

Screenwriting student wins award from BBC
Martin McSweeney, Cork, Ireland, a graduate of our UW online course in screenwriting, won a writing award from the BBC on Oct. 31, 2007, for a TV script based on his novel, Two Weeks In June. Martin now gets into BBC workshops and gets a chance at a commissioned script. Congratulations!

Writer Lisa Holewa finds agent and a sale at Writers' Institute
Lisa Holewa had a pitch meeting with agent Marilyn Allen (Allen O'Shea Literary Agency) at the 2006 Writers' Institute. That turned into a sale for Lisa's and Joan Rice's book, Elephant Ears and Marshmallow Feet, a guide for parents that takes tricks and activities developed by teachers and translates them into techniques parents can use at home to get their children organized, listening, and cooperating. The book sold to Maria Gagliano at Perigee (Penguin Group). Congratulations, Lisa!

Critique Service Writer gets published
Prayas Abhinav's short story, "The Secret Life of Superheroes," has been published in the literary magazine, Muse India. Prayas polished the story through our UW critique services and with Christine DeSmet as his writing mentor. Prayas retains the rights to the story and is re-submitting it to other magazines. The story takes on the theme of whether each of us could be a superhero and might actually have the strength to fly to save others when caught in the middle of horrific events. Prayas lives in Bagalore, India, and grew up in Ahmedabad. Congratulations, Prayas!

Screenwriting and short story news from Christine DeSmet
Christine DeSmet has learned that a romantic comedy she wrote with writing partner, Peggy Williams, made the top ten percent semi-finals in the annual Austin Film Festival contest. Called "Anyone Can," the story is about four slacker guys who think they can get rich quick by writing a romance novel but instead end up in the crosshairs of a real romance writer out to destroy them. Christine teaches the UW's online screenwriting course, and welcomes new writers anytime.

Christine DeSmet has two new short stories published this fall, including her first ghost story, "When the Dead People Brought a Dish-to-Pass," in the book, Shadows in the Heart/A Jewels of the Quill Halloween Anthology, published by Whiskey Creek Press. The light-hearted romantic mystery is about what happens for a troubled young woman when her dead relatives from centuries before decide to cheer her up by giving her a Halloween party and bringing food from each of their eras, as well as a possible suitor. The story takes place in fictional Moonstone, Wisconsin, on the south shore of Lake Superior.

Christine's other story takes place in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. "Stolen Pleasures," is in The Object of Romance Anthology, from new publisher, Beacon Books Publishing. In that romantic mystery, an art shop owner's bad luck with dating gets worse when the most recent guy turns up dead after eating her maraschino cherry cake.

Excerpts of Christine's stories are at www.JewelsoftheQuill.com

Online screenwriting course grad tops in two contests, options script
Mike Mason, Norwich, England, has finished in the top ten in the 2007 Scriptapalooza contest with his script, "LA Coincidental," a comedy send-up of film noir detective movies. He optioned the script to Hero Pictures. Mike wrote the script in our UW online course, "Write Your First Draft Fast," with Christine DeSmet, continuingstudies.wisc.edu/classes/online-screenwriting-first-draft-fast. An interview with Mike is online at the Scriptapalooza website. Mike also won first place in the Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum contest, where second place went to another of Christine's students, Pat Fitzgerald. Her script is "Kid," the true story of Billy the Kid.