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Weekend with Your Novel: Speakers

"A workshop like this makes the writing life real. From the instructors to the other writers, the group shared their stories and often received on-the-spot remedies for problems. My critique group was a gift. Laurie was wonderful in guiding us through a thoughtful and rich discussion of strengths in our opening pages. We all left ready to finish our drafts with renewed energy."

2014 Participant

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Speakers: 2017

Instructors and Critique Workshop Leaders

Liam Callanan is a novelist, teacher, and journalist. He’s the 2017 winner of the Hunt Prize, and his first novel, The Cloud Atlas, was a finalist for an Edgar Award. His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Slate, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle, and he’s recorded numerous essays for public radio. He teaches for the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and the UW–Milwaukee.

Christopher Chambers (MFA, University of Alabama) is an editor, teacher, and writer. He has been published widely in magazines and anthologies, including Best American Mystery Stories. He has received 5 Pushcart Prize nominations and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Work he edited has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Best American Poetry, O. Henry Prize Stories, The Pushcart Prize anthology, Poetry Daily, Verse, Daily, and The Utne Reader.

Christine Desmet (MA, UW-Madison) is a novelist and writing teacher at UW-Madison. She’s the author of The Fudge Shop cozy mystery series for Penguin Random House, set in Door County, Wisconsin, and the romantic suspense novel, Spirit Lake. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America. In 2014, she received the UW-Madison Robert and Carroll Heideman Award for Excellence in Public Service and Outreach.

Ron Kuka, (MFA, University of Iowa) is Creative Writing Program Coordinator at UW-Madison. He has published short stories in the Iowa Journal of Literary Studies, Toyon, and Pavement. His teaching has been recognized with the Chancellor’s Hilldale Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Ian Graham Leask was raised in London and lives in Minneapolis. He’s in his fourth decade of teaching writing at places like The Loft and the University of Minnesota. He’s the publisher of Calumet Editions, the founder of AuthorScope Services, a consulting group for writers, and hosts the long-running literary radio show in Minneapolis, KFAI’s “Write On! Radio.” He’s the author of The Wounded and other stories, and the novel House of Large Sizes.

Agate Nesaule is author of A Woman in Amber: Healing the Trauma of War and Exile (Penguin, 1997) which won an American Book Award, and the author of In Love with Jerzy Kosinski, a novel (UW Press, 2009). She was born in Latvia and grew up in the turmoil of World War II. A professor emerita of English and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, she lives, writes, and gardens in Madison.

Kristin Oakley’s (BA, JD, UW-Madison) debut novel, Carpe Diem, Illinois, received the 2014 Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award for non-traditionally published fiction and was a finalist for the Independent Author Network 2015 Book of the Year. The sequel, God on Mayhem Street, was published this year. Kristin is president and co-founder of In Print, a professional writers’ organization, a board member of the Chicago Writers Association, and the editor of The Write City Magazine.

Dan Román has worked as a crime scene investigator for the Madison Police Department for the past 25 years, armed with a BA from Harvard, an MA in 15th-16th century Spanish and Medieval Italian, and a Glock Model 19. He’s worked on hundreds of homicides, death investigations, officer-involved shootings, and other major crimes. He’s trained in Advanced Bloodstain Pattern Analysis, Fingerprint Analysis and Comparison, Shooting Reconstructions, Crime Scene Analysis and Reconstructions, Forensic Photography, Bomb Scene Analysis, and is a Haz-Mat technician. He has taught Death Investigation classes for the Madison Police Training center, Fingerprint Classification and Comparison, Forensic Science classes, and Renaissance / Baroque Art and Music for local colleges. An avid reader of Eco, Borges, García Márquez, J.R.R. Tolkien, Marcus Aurelius, and E.O. Wilson, he often wonders what he is doing working as a cop. He writes terrible poetry, practices calligraphy (key word here is “practice”), and carves “magic” wands.

Angela Rydell (MFA, Warren Wilson College) has been published in Indiana Review, Gulf Stream, NANO Fiction, Alaska Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Poets & Writers, and other journals. She won Portland Review’s Flash Fiction Friday contest, an honorable mention in the New Millennium Writings Awards Flash Fiction Contest, and was a finalist American Short(er) Fiction Prize and Gray Sparrow Flash Fiction Contest. She teaches for the UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies and workshops in Madison.

Laurie Scheer (MA, DePaul Univ) is a former vice president of programming for WE: Women’s Entertainment. She has taught at universities across the U.S. including Northwestern, UCLA, American University, and Yale. She is writing program faculty and a writing mentor in UW-Madison’s Continuing Studies Writing Program, and Director of the annual Writers’ Institute. Her book The Writer’s Advantage: A Toolkit for Mastering Your Genre explores storytelling in the transmedia universe.

Tim Storm (MFA, Pacific Univ) has taught literature and writing for 15 years, working with both fabulist and realist writers. His work was nominated for the 2011 AWP Intro Journals Project, “a literary competition for the discovery and publication of the best new works” by MFA candidates, and he’s the winner of the 2013 Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award for Creatures of the Deep.