Writers’ Success Stories

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


Image of woman writing

Here’s the latest from our writers:

Mystery to Me bookstore receives Sisters in Crime grant

The national Sisters in Crime association has awarded Mystery to Me bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin, with a $500 grant to help market local mystery writers. Owner-manager Joanne Berg has been a speaker at the UW-Madison Continuing Studies Writers’ Institute conference and has helped with its book fair for several years. Writers at our UW-Madison programs often have their publication debuts and book signing events at Joanne’s store on Monroe Street.

Congratulations, Joanne, and to all the staff at Mystery to Me!

Contest awards for Dave Cuzzolina of Hollidaysburg, PA

Congratulations go to Dave Cuzzolina for achieving Honorable Mention awards in two different contests for two short stories. “The Closet” earned Honorable Mention in the 2019 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, and “Loose Ends” garnered Honorable Mention in the Genre Short Story category of the 88th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.

Dave received help and encouragement on both short stories from Christine DeSmet with our UW-Madison Continuing Studies Critique Services.

Congratulations to Charles Long for YA novel!

Charles Long, Richmond, Virginia, began his YA novel, Streamline, in Kathy Steffen’s class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, held each June. Streamline—with a great cover—is now a reality, available on Amazon in paperback and e-book.

With the help of writers and teachers (including Christine DeSmet) at our retreat, Charles has completed two novels (another coming out in October) and three children’s books, with a third novel in the works. Charles says to fellow writers and teachers in his UW June retreats, “None of this would have happened without all of you!”

Charles will be with us again—now as a guest instructor—at the Writers’ Institute conference, March 26-29, 2020 in Madison.

Gregory Lee Renz earns First Place Gold Medal & Miami lit fest invite

Beneath The Flames, by Gregory Lee Renz, Lake Mills, WI, received the First Place Gold Medal Award for Fiction-General in The Readers Favorite International Book Awards, part of the Miami International Book Fair.

The literary fair is attended by approximately 300 authors and other speakers and 200,000 book lovers. This year’s fair happens November 17-24, 2019, and is held in downtown Miami, Florida, with sponsorship including Miami Dade College.

Gregory started his novel in our online course Write Your Novel Fast & Sure with instructor Christine DeSmet, began polishing the novel in her Master Class at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, and then added the final polish with Christine in the Writers’ Institute coaching program. He also took online courses from Angela Rydell and attended other workshops.

Gregory will be a headliner at Writers’ Institute in Madison, directed by Laurie Scheer, March 26-29, 2020.

Writers’ Institute winner published in literary magazine

Scott Mitchel May of New Glarus, Wisconsin attended the 2019 Writers’ Institute this year and won our Poem or Page contest for mainstream fiction. Scott says he felt the support of our writing community at the conference and that gave him the confidence to keep submitting his work to literary outlets.

His story The Idea of Dogs was published by Storgy Literary Magazine in early August.

Hilde Adler’s new book is selling well!

When is the right time to start thinking about moving to a retirement community? Should I or shouldn’t I? Am I old enough? (Of course not!) What’s it going to be like when I get there?

Author Hilde Adler of Madison, Wisconsin has been there, done that. Hilde attended our Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat in 2011 with instructor Laurie Scheer, and has attended numerous Writers’ Institutes. Her new book I Am Not Old Enough! The Twenty-Seven Stages of Adjustment to Living in a Retirement Community has been heralded by Kirkus Reviews, received celebrated reviews on Amazon, and has been enjoyed by many individuals adjusting to life in a retirement community.

Hilde wants you to know she’s happy in her new home, and we want to recognize her publishing success—she sold 172 books in April of this year alone!

Detours, debut story collection by Cynthia Dennis

Unusual personality quirks of human beings create a thought-provoking and entertaining debut collection of 12 stories by Cynthia Dennis of Paradise Valley, Arizona. Publisher is CK Books Publishing. Cynthia honed her short stories through our critique services with Christine DeSmet. For publication help, she worked with Christine Keleny, a past guest instructor at UW-Madison Continuing Studies Writers’ Institute.

Baleigh Scott publishes fast in her online writing course

It only took one lesson in her UW-Madison Continuing Studies online course for Stephanie Murray, who writes under the name Baleigh Scott, to get published. After feedback on lesson one’s essay from her instructor Julie Tallard Johnson in Creative Nonfiction 1, Baleigh revised and submitted her work and is now published in The Writing Cooperative.

Launch day for Deborah King!

Hurrah for Deborah King’s debut novel, Glory Bishop, that launched June 4. Deborah worked on her novel and honed it in all of the major writing events and retreats sponsored by UW–Madison Continuing Studies. Her wonderful novel is about a teen girl coming of age in Chicago where she experiences harsh realities in love and life.

Read an interview with Randee Green to get an overview of Deborah’s background and the book.

Poet Elizabeth Mathes of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho publishes two poems in literary journal

Elizabeth Mathes recently had two poems accepted for publication in Trestle Creek Review. “What to Head, Here to There” and “Instincts Still” will debut in the journal’s 2019 edition. A graduate of the online poetry workshops “Getting to Good” and “Taking the Poetic Leap” taught by Angela Rydell, Elizabeth began writing at age 55 after raising a child with autism. This is her first official publication. Congratulations, Elizabeth!

Robert Allen: Two poems accepted for literary publication

Robert Allen’s poems “Shells on the Beach” and “Furious Hearts” were recently published in Foliate Oak’s December 2018 issue.

He took both poems from first to final while working with Angela Rydell through UW–Madison’s Critique Services. Please join us in applauding Robert’s newest publications.

Matthew Duffus publishes poetry chapbook

“Problems of the Soul and Otherwise,” a debut chapbook by North Carolina poet Matthew Duffus, was recently accepted for publication by Finishing Line Press. Matthew worked with Angela Rydell in the online poetry workshop Getting to Good, and some poems he composed while in the class are included in his collection.

“When I first took poetry writing through UW, I imagined it as a short break from fiction writing, my main focus,” says Matthew. “But through Angela’s classes, I found a passion for the genre that I didn’t know I had, which I’ve continued to explore over the ensuing five years.”

We’re thrilled to celebrate the publication of Matthew’s first collection of poetry. Congratulations!

Congratulations, Julian Renner! Official selection in script competition

“Little Girl Lost,” a screenplay by Julian Renner, New Rochelle, New York, has been named an Official Selection of the 2019 Script Summit Screenplay Competitions. His prize includes free attendance at a Las Vegas film festival and screenwriters’ summit held in the summer. The Summit includes table reads and studio reps accepting pitches.

Julian wrote and developed this script with writing coach and instructor Christine DeSmet in the UW–Madison Continuing Studies online course in screenwriting.

Author r. r. campbell signs contract for sci-fi sequell

Author, editor, and Writescast Network founder r. r. campbell has signed a contract for the sequel to his science fiction novel,Imminent Dawn.

The second installment in his epic EMPATHY sci-fi saga, Mourning Dove will be published in April 2019 with NineStar Press. The first book in the series, Imminent Dawn, debuted as the number one new release in LGBT science fiction on Amazon, and has been called “sci-fi Game of Thrones” and “a Black-Mirror-esque sci-fi thriller.”

r. r. attended the Writers’ Institute in 2013, 2017, and 2018. He will return in 2019 as a speaker and participant in Friday’s success panel.

Lynne Handy signs agent Cynthia Zigmund for mystery novel

Lynne Handy, Avon, IN, has signed with literary agent Cynthia Zigmund to represent her mystery novel set in Ireland called, Old Sins.

Lynne participated in the 2018 Writers’ Institute and its Pathway to Publication coaching program to polish her manuscript, working with coach Christine DeSmet. Lynne will also be attending the 30th anniversary edition of Writers’ Institute in April 2019.

Congratulations to Lynne!

Holly Tierney-Bedord’s novel honored on select list

Holly Tierney-Bedord’s novel Sweet Hollow Women was an Amazon All-Star Winner in March and April of 2018 and is currently an Amazon Prime selection.

Sweet Hollow Women follows fifteen-year-old Carasine Busey who is devastated, but not surprised, when her family drops everything in Sweet Hollow, Louisiana to follow her dad’s shaky career as a welder. It’s not especially shocking, either, when he abandons them all shortly after they settle into their new home in the city.

Holly states “I think a lot of my success can be attributed to things I learned at past Writers’ Institutes. Your conference is so informative, inspiring, and educational. I recommend it to everyone I talk to!”

Holly will be part of our Success Panel at the 2019 Writers’ Institute. Congratulations, Holly!

First-time publication for Jabe Stafford

Congratulations to Jabe Stafford—a first-time author! His adult portal fantasy short story, “Other Side of the Line,” has been published in Kyanite Press, Vol. 1, Issue 3 (January 2019, Kyanite Publishing).

Jabe credits the wonderful help he got from his Middleton writers’ group and two UW–Madison Continuing Studies programs: Writers’ Institute and Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, where he workshopped a novel that is now making the rounds of agents and publishers.

David Hudson’s first novel debuts

Congratulations to David Hudson for the debut of his first novel, Through the Grapevine (Palmetto Publishing).

David began his novel with staff member Christine DeSmet in the UW–Madison Continuing Studies online course Write Your Novel Fast and Sure. David finished the novel with Christine as his novel coach.

In the story, retired schoolteacher Lynn Peterson and her husband, Hank, become caretakers on a ranch in Sonoma County, California. Soon, a local nurse friend of Lynn’s asks her to hide an undocumented worker who’s been raped by her bullying supervisor. Lynn agrees to help, but then finds herself embroiled in dangerous consequences.

Kristine Zeigler’s first short story anthology puts spotlight on water wars

Writer Kristine Zeigler has published her first anthology, Cover This Country Like Snow and Other Stories (Pupfish Press, 2018).

Kristine is a third-generation Californian and environmental non-profit leader focused on preserving nature. She worked with Laurie Scheer through our Critique Services while composing many of the short stories for this book that focuses on the water wars.

Notes Laurie Scheer, “She is a perfect example of a writer who took her passion for a specific place and merged historical facts with personal wisdom to tell her stories about the Owens Valley, California – then and now.”

In these ten stories set before, during, and after the water wars between the sophisticated City of Los Angeles and the rural underdogs from the Owens Valley, the characters want one thing—to survive. Here are swashbuckling, daring, and undisciplined explorers and miners, a former prisoner at a World War II relocation camp, abused and displaced Native Americans, and even one very ancient tree, brought together across time and terrain to tell their tales. Cover This Country Like Snow evokes the Wild West in its adventure, heroism, and majestic mountain vistas. But where land and water are involved, so too is cowardice, greed, and the violent ambitions of humanity to harness the power of nature—at any cost.

From Caleb True, Dynamo Verlag Press: “There’s something very contemporary about her writing—think Pierre Michon or Sabina Murray. And there’s something very old school about it as well—the way novels used to be written, when history and nature were inseparable from fiction, like Cather, Stegner, London.”

Laurie Buchanan’s blog syndicated by The Good Men Project

The Good Men Project (@goodmenproject) has syndicated Laurie Buchanan’s blog, TUESDAYS WITH LAURIE. Every Tuesday they will select a post from Laurie’s blog to re-publish in their online magazine. They will also share a link to it on Twitter (192k followers) and on their Facebook page (914k followers).

Congratulations, Laurie!

Laurie has participated in UW–Madison Continuing Studies’ Critique Services as well as the Writers’ Institute Pathway to Publication program. She had also taught at Writers’ Institute.

Read the first blog post.

Deborah King captures first place; Ciaran Cooper honorable mention

Chicagoan Deborah King’s opening chapter to Glory Unbound captured first place in the 3rd Annual First Chapter Contest sponsored by the Chicago Writers Association. She receives a full scholarship to attend the Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp & Writing Retreat, May 19-25, 2019 at the Cedar Valley Center & Spa, northwest of Milwaukee (value $1,385).

Deborah worked on her full novel in the Master Class led by Christine DeSmet at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat held in June and sponsored by UW–Madison Continuing Studies. Her novel is about a young woman’s brave attempt to escape an abusive marriage.

Honorable mention contestant Ciaran Cooper has also polished his material in critique groups at UW–Madison Continuing Studies events, including Weekend with Your Novel. He’s also attended Writers’ Institute. His novel is titled Forty Miles An Hour.

Congratulations to r.r. campbell

Accounting for It All is a new novel by Madison, Wis., author r.r. campbell, who has attended the Writers’ Institute numerous times. He will be a featured speaker at the 2019 30th annual Writers’ Institute. Congratulations, r.r.!

The novel’s plot: Know-nothing porn-star-turned-accountant Robin Whethers finds herself mired in an IRS audit of a money laundering scheme she had no idea she was part of. As she struggles to shirk the auditors, she must also confront both her blossoming feelings for the man she’s enlisted to teach her accounting and the return of the woman she’s always loved, who’s finally ready to try to make things work.

Also known as Ryan, r.r. campbell interviews writers regularly on his podcast known as The R.R. Campbell Writescast.

Gregory Lee Renz sells novel to HenschelHAUS Publishing

Congratulations to Gregory Lee Renz, Lake Mills, Wis., who has sold his novel Beneath the Flames to HenschelHAUS Publishing, Milwaukee. Publication date is Fall 2019.

Beneath the Flames is the story of a volunteer firefighter who goes from a tragedy on a Wisconsin farm to firefighter training in Milwaukee, where he gets assigned to the busiest firehouse in the heart of the inner city. It’s a very emotional journey as well as a glimpse of what it’s really like to be a firefighter in the midst of battling flames.

Renz, a retired firefighter captain, started his novel in the UW–Madison Continuing Studies online course Write Your Novel Fast & Sure, taught by Christine DeSmet. He further worked with Christine in a Master Class at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, and then hired her as his coach in the new Writers’ Institute “Pathway to Publication” coaching program. Renz has also attended several other UW–Madison programs for writers and is working on his next project. Read about him in the Isthmus here >

Joyce Hooley’s memoir reveals midlife experiences in Ghana

Joyce Hooley, Asheville, North Carolina, has self-published her memoir, Outside My Skin: My Midlife Detour as a Trailing Spouse in Ghana, as an ebook available from Amazon.

Joyce describes the genesis of this memoir: “One spring the author’s husband awoke to his midlife discontent, and ten months later, despite her resistance, the couple had left their comfortable home on a mountain in western North Carolina, and were living in Accra, a bustling African city known for its poverty, pollution, and congestion. Outside My Skin tells the story of the author’s detour year in Ghana, as the “trailing spouse,” to her husband who had taken a job with the US Peace Corps. She arrived dragging her feet, still attached to the life she had left behind and anxious about losing her professional identity as a pediatrician. In the course of that year she grappled with one of the crucial tasks of midlife development––that of learning to let go, and she discovered a rhythm, a spiral path for midlife personal growth.”

Joyce is working on another manuscript about Ethiopia. She also writes a blog from Moldova, called “Cu Placere,” (Romanian for “With Pleasure”) about her life there.

Joyce worked on her writing with Angela Rydell in the UW online course From Notebook to New Work, and then continued onward in another online course, Creative Nonfiction 2, with instructor Noelle Rydell.

MJ Williams’ On the Road mystery novel earns big association award

Congratulations to Madison writers Peggy Williams and Mary Joy Johnson (aka MJ Williams) for receiving the statewide Indie Author Project award for their novel On the Road to Death’s Door from the Wisconsin Library Association at its ceremony held Oct. 25, 2018 in La Crosse, Wis.

Their novel is set in Door County, Wisconsin, and is part of the On the Road mystery series featuring a married couple that travels in an RV.

The award includes a check for $1,000 and the novel will be entered into the national competition for indie books. In addition to WLA, sponsors included BiblioLabs. The award honors independently published novels illustrating excellence in both storytelling and editing.

The novel will be promoted to all Wisconsin libraries and receive recognition in the national Library Journal.

The authors have been guest instructors in UW–Madison Continuing Studies programs including the Writers’ Institute.

Way to go, Peggy and Mary Joy!

Marsha Mittman’s humorous memoir finds publisher

You Know You Moved to South Dakota from New York City WHEN… is the title of Marsha Mittman’s humorous memoir coming out winter 2018-’19 from Scurfpea Publishing.

Originally from New York City, Marsha now lives in Spearfish, South Dakota. Marsha honed her memoir with instructor Julie Tallard Johnson three years ago at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat sponsored each June by University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies.

Marsha has added several other accomplishments since her week in the UW–Madison retreat. She’s now counting over 80 poems, short stories, and essays accepted for publication with U.S., British, German, and Australian publishers. She was also awarded a month-long 2019 writer-in-residence at the Fairhope Center for the Writing Arts in Alabama. Marsha’s schedule has also included several appearances at arts and book events, and preliminary work on documentaries and stage productions involving her writing talents.

June writing retreat attendee publishes cancer survivor guidebook

Surviving the Pink Ribbon: Body and Soul Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors and Co-Survivors, by Rita Schunk, is now available as a paperback and e-book. Rita is having a launch open house on Oct 20 from noon – 4pm at The Sow’s Ear in Verona, Wisconsin.

Rita worked on her book while in instructor Julie Tallard Johnson’s section of the annual Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, held each June and sponsored by UW–Madison Continuing Studies.

You can find Rita at ritaschunk.wordpress.com and on Facebook.

Jen Rubin’s nonfiction book garners raves from The Nation

Jen Rubin is a frequent speaker/instructor with the writing department at Continuing Studies. She also leads the local presentation of The Moth here in Madison in addition to storytelling workshops with our Odyssey Project, the Arts and Literature Laboratory, Edgewood College, and other arts organizations. Her new book, We Are Staying: Eighty Years in the Life of a Family, a Store, and a Neighborhood, tells about the rise, struggles, and fall of Radio Clinic, a store on the 98th Street block of Broadway on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and the family that owned it across those decades.

It is a small business story and a story about a shop owner that keeps on going despite the odds. It is an immigrant story, a grandfather-father-daughter story, a story of the unique character a family business brings to a neighborhood, and a reflection on what has been lost as stores like these disappear.

Here is a brief review from John Nichols of The Nation:

“The best political stories are the human ones, and Jen Rubin recognizes this. We Are Staying is a remarkably powerful, poignantly told story of a family, a business, a neighborhood and a city. But what makes this book so brilliant, and so necessary, is the skill with which Rubin places this very personal story in the broader context of our struggles to understand one another and the common ground where we make our shared lives. Anyone who cares about urban policy, the history and the future of New York City and of a country that suffers from so much division, yet has the potential still to unite, will cherish this book.”

Flash fiction accepted for publication

Kristin Tenor’s flash fiction “Matinee” has been accepted for publication in Spry Literary Journal‘s eleventh issue. She worked on the piece in Christopher Chambers’ Flash Fiction and Memoir class at this year’s Write-by-the-Lake writer’s workshop and retreat.

Marty Kalmbach’s debut novel rocks in a Kirkus review

Toledo, Ohio resident Marty Kalmbach’s first novel, Gym Class Hero, has received a stellar review from Kirkus Reviews, and Publisher’s Weekly has also accepted the book for review.

For the best help to his writing, Kalmbach credits Kathy Steffen and her section called “Your First Novel: Fast and Finished” at the annual Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat.” The event is held every June and sponsored by UW–Madison Continuing Studies. “She gave me the best advice, encouragement, tips that made me a better writer, and insights with her critiques.”

Here’s a snippet from the Kirkus review for Gym Class Hero:

“A debut YA novel tells the story of a high school junior trying to get a grip on his basketball game—and his life. …Like many teenage narrators, Stevie is jocular and sarcastic. Yet Kalmbach’s prose isn’t one-note, and Stevie’s shtick often takes a back seat to more lyrical passages: ‘A first period rumor, its wildfire spread by the runners delivering passes from the main office, fanning the flames—a new girl in school and you ought to see her—whole classrooms inquisitive—their fascination displacing the Pythagorean Theorem, Iambic Pentameter.’ The author knows the game and is skilled at capturing its drama on paper, teasing out plays into meaningful encounters. This [novel] contains that potent combination of forces—friends, family, love, childhood passions, and new ideas—that summon to mind the transitional years of adolescence.”

Congratulations, Marty!

A big book sale for Theresa Kaminski and her agent

Theresa Kaminski, of Mount Horeb, Wis., an attendee of the UW–Madison Continuing Studies Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, has sold her nonfiction book, Queen of the West: Dale Evans, Music, Movies, Television and the Creation of Modern Celebrity. It’s the first full-length biography of Dale Evans, following her career from small-town girl and radio singer to movie stardom with her life and screen partner Roy Rogers. The sale was to Lyons Press, by agent Jacqueline Flynn at Joelle Delbourgo Associates. The agents have taken pitches in the past at the UW–Madison Continuing Studies Writers’ Institute.

Theresa is a recently retired history professor at UW-Stevens Point. The Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat is held every June.

Marshall J. Cook’s new novel Glorious—a home run

UW–Madison Continuing Studies emeritus writing professor, Marshall J. Cook, is the author of a new mainstream novel, Glorious.

From HenschelHAUS Publishing, the novel features Norah Stoddard, who tries out for the high school men’s varsity baseball team in 1986. She rocks little Glorious, Wisconsin out of the malaise spawned by the farm crisis. When her alcoholic mother and the latest of Mom’s abusive “boyfriends” drive Norah from her home, Bee Cooney and Reb Early, proprietors of Degan’s Dinky Diner, take Norah in.

Congratulations to Marshall!

Writer Julie Jassinski teaches cooking class

Writer Julie Jasinski presented her first cooking demonstration at the VOM FASS Gourmet Grocery Store in the Shorewood Shopping Center on University Avenue. The two hour session From the Market: Mid-Summer Mediterranean Flavors featured vegetables she gathered from our Saturday Farmers’ Market on the Square. The recipes were from her blog The Deliberate Pickle, deliberatepickle.wordpress.com,  a blog that focuses on cooking for singles. Julie’s book, based on her blog, is currently being written. She has spent many a Tuesday afternoon with her group of nonfiction writers in Laurie Scheer’s Creative Nonfiction writing class. Her next cooking class Mid-Week Mastery: Beneficial Fish is scheduled for September 12 at VOM FASS. No one left the session hungry and everyone made plans to head to their nearest farmers’ market so they could prepare their own delicious pesto, ratatouille, and Greek salads.

Christine DeSmet’s novella debuts

Celebrating the beauty of northern Wisconsin in the autumn, Book 4 in Christine DeSmet’s re-issued novella series, When the Dead People Brought A Dish-to-Pass, debuted July 20, 2018 in paperback and e-book forms from publisher Writers Exchange E-Publishing.

The humorous, romantic story has fun with the conventions of ghost stories and the trouble people encounter when refurbishing old houses. It also delves into the notion of never forgetting our relatives that have passed before us. They just might cross back over and meddle in your life with a potluck dinner for you at the worst possible time. And bring along their cat!

Christine is a writing coach and instructor of online novel writing and screenwriting courses in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Continuing Studies. She’s also director of the annual June Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat where she teaches a Master Class for new novelists.

Julie Tallard Johnson and student in Brava magazine

Kudos to UW–Madison Continuing Studies adjunct instructor Julie Tallard Johnson, who is profiled in a current Brava magazine article by Meg Rothstein, Middleton. The article features one of Julie’s students, Jo Ann Woodford, who gives high marks for her experiences at the UW–Madison Continuing Studies Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat. Brava contributor Rothstein also enjoyed Johnson’s teachings through the instructor’s private classes on transformational writing. The article lists several opportunities for adult learning, including UW–Madison Continuing Studies educational travel programs.

Congratulations to HenschelHAUS Publishing and Rose Bingham

A supporter of Writers’ Institute—HenschelHAUS Publishing—had nine of its books noted as winners in the 2018 Book Excellence Awards sponsored by Literary Excellence Incorporated.

Kudos to Kira Henschel, editor and publisher!

Finalists included Rose Bingham’s new memoir, Buy the Little Ones a Dolly. Rose was featured on the Writers’ Institute 2018 Success Panel.

Nice going, Rose!

Sue Roupp has new book on memoir writing

Sue Roupp, Rib Lake, Wis., is the author of the new nonfiction book out this June 2018 called Memoir Writing in 6 Easy Steps: Your Life Counts (HenschelHAUS Publishing).

Sue has been an instructor at Writers’ Institute in Madison and has attended several years’ editions of that conference. Sue teaches memoir and other writing classes through her Writers Studio in Rib Lake as well as through Art Start in Rhinelander, Wis. She is the editor of Furrows, a literary journal celebrating the work of Wisconsin’s rural writers.

Congratulations, Sue!

Writers’ Institute Success Panel honoree Rosenberg wins book award

The 28th Annual Midwest Book Awards presented by the Midwest Independent Publishing Association has announced the 2018 Finalists.

Within the Education/Learning category, 2018 Writers’ Institute Success Panel author Dr. Stephen Rosenberg of Madison has been recognized with an award for his book Cancer: What You Need to Know.

Congratulations, Stephen!

Short story by Jane Curtis accepted for literary magazine

“Easy to Be Hard,” a short story by Madison writer Jane Curtis, has been accepted for publication by Rosebud literary magazine for their 25th anniversary December issue. She worked on the story with the manuscript critique service.

Sara Krebsbach published in British journal

Sara Krebsbach’s article, “The Cost of Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications,” has been published in the LDN Research Trust newsletter, based in the United Kingdom.

The editor has also invited Sara to be interviewed on a radio show at the end of the summer.

A Madison, WI, resident, Sara got assistance and encouragement from her instructor Julie Tallard Johnson in the UW–Madison Continuing Studies online course, “Creative Nonfiction 1.” To work on a book, Sara is also attending Julie’s class at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, June 11-15, 2018.

View Sara’s blog at sarahealingwhatailsme.wordpress.com.

Joe Siple goes from Write-by-the-Lake Retreat to award-winning novel

Attending the UW–Madison Continuing Studies’ writing retreat some years ago was a first foray into such events for Joe Siple, Fort Collins, CO, formerly of Rochester, MN.

He reports he put what he learned in Christine DeSmet’s novel section to good use. His literary/mainstream novel, The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride (Black Rose Writing, publisher) has won “Book of the Year” from the Maxy Awards.

The logline for his novel: With all his family and friends gone, one-hundred-year-old Murray McBride is looking for a reason to live. He finds it in Jason Cashman, a ten-year-old boy with a terminal heart defect and a list of five things he wants to do before he dies.

Laurie Buchanan takes first place

Laurie Buchanan, Boise, Idaho, has been awarded FIRST PLACE for her nonfiction entry, “The Trouble with Angels” in the 2018 Idaho Writers Guild writing contest. Laurie was an instructor at Writers’ Institute 2018 and has also used the UW–Madison Continuing Studies Critique Services. She is the author of the self-help book, Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth, and the forthcoming The Business of Being/Soul Purpose In and Out of the Workplace.

Lance Erlick lands contract with Kensington

Writer Lance Erlick has attended past Writers’ Institutes and worked with Laurie Scheer through UW–Madison Continuing Studies Critique Services. His new novel, Android Chronicles: Reborn, the first of a 3-book contract with Kensington Publishing, is available through most online retailers in print and ebook. Audiobook (CD & eAudio) is also available. Lance thanks Laurie and the Continuing Studies writing department for their help during his developmental years of writing.

Bibi Belford garners prestigious Christopher Award

Bibi Belford, Chicago, is among the winners of the 69th Annual Christopher Award.

The award salutes those in publishing, radio, television, and film that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.”

Belford won for her young adult book Crossing the Line (Sky Pony Press/Skyhorse Publishing).

Belford is a speaker at this year’s 29th annual Writers’ Institute and she has attended a novel Master Class in the past at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, both events sponsored by UW–Madison Continuing Studies.

Sarah Carlson sells YA novel

Sarah Carlson, Fitchburg, Wis., has sold her YA contemporary novel, All the Walls of Belfast, to Turner Publishing.

The novel set in Ireland will be released in bookstores and via e-book format in March 2019.

Sarah’s path to publication included a step-by-step approach using several UW–Madison Continuing Studies resources. She utilized Critique Services with Christine DeSmet for her writing and a query letter, and then joined a critique group and novel-planning course taught by Angela Rydell. She attended Weekend with Your Novel, Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop (where she received an advanced full-manuscript critique from Lori Devoti), and finally Sarah attended the Writers’ Institute (where she pitched and got her agent).

Congratulations, Sarah!

Nick Chiarkas wins John E Weaver Award

Nick Chiarkas, Middleton, Wis., has won the John E Weaver Excellent Read Award bestowed by the Earthshine Media Group for his novel, Weepers.

The award honors John Weaver, writer and founder of the Fox Croft Group, now part of Earthshine Media Group. For twenty years, Weaver worked with authors doing literary publicity and founded the Book Cover Award. He died of cancer in April 2016.

In writing his novel, Nick called on experts in UW–Madison Continuing Studies Critique Services and also attended the Writers’ Institute and Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat.

Nick is among the speakers at the 2018 Writers’ Institute.

Joan Gray’s essay in Santa Clara Review

Madison, Wis., writer Joan Gray has taken part in numerous in-person and online writing courses with instructors Christine DeSmet, Laurie Scheer, and Angela Rydell, and she has attended both our Write-by-the-Lake Retreat and Writers’ Institute conference over the past few years.

Her essay “Game of Hearts,” originally titled “Grandpa’s Last Move,” has been published in the Winter 2018 issue of the Santa Clara Review.

Joan has sent the following note to her instructors: “My thanks come from the bottom of my heart for always being there, critiquing my work, encouraging me, and never ever discouraging me. For all of the millions of words that I wrote and you critiqued, I thank you again.”

Join us in applauding Joan’s essay and wishing her much continued success.

Poet Robert Allen publishes poem in literary journal

Even after 147 submission attempts, Robert Allen did not stop submitting or revising. On his 148th try, his poem “Upon Hearing My Footsteps,” was accepted by the Aurorean, and will be published in an upcoming issue. Robert worked with Angela Rydell through UW–Madison Continuing Studies Critique Services, and his hard work paid off. Congratulations, Robert and Angela!

Publisher’s Weekly “Pick of the Week for January 8” — Chloe Benjamin!

Special guest speaker at the June 11-15 Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat is Chloe Benjamin, Madison, Wis., whose new novel, The Immortalists, was just chosen as a “Pick of the Week” for January 8, 2018 by Publisher’s Weekly. The book also made it to Number 5 on their hardcover bestseller list for the week of January 22.

Congratulations, Chloe!

Author Jon Etter Jon Etter strikes publishing gold following Writers’ Institute attendance

Jon Etter attended the 2014 Writers’ Institute and paid serious attention to his writing. As a result, and after attending the 2015 and 2016 Writers’ Institutes, he has had nine short stories and one poem published.

And now the latest news—his agent Adria Goetz of Martin Literary Management, sold his completed three-book, middle-grade, comedy/fantasy series entitled Those Dreadful Fairy Books to Amberjack Publishing.

The first book, A Dreadful Fairy Book, is due out in June of 2019 and is about a bookish, not-very-cheerful fairy named Shade who begrudgingly goes on an adventure to find an elusive library, as told by the reluctant narrator Quentin Q. Two sequels are due in June of 2020 and 2021.

Jon recently contacted Writers’ Institute director Laurie Scheer and stated, “I definitely owe some of this to things that I learned about the craft and the business of writing from the Madison Writers’ Institute, so again thank you so much!”

Congratulations to Jon!

Online course participant publishes short story in literary journal

“Piedmont Lake, 1962,” a story by Kristin Tenor of DePere, Wisconsin, will be published in the 2018 edition of the Midwest Review. Kristin began the story while taking the online course “Notebook to New Work,” and contacted Angela after receiving the good news: “I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your mentorship. It has meant a great deal to me. Your generous feedback, insight, and support have helped me become a much stronger writer.” Congratulations, Kristin!

Deborah King garners novel contract

Deborah King, of Bolingbrook, Illinois, a participant in a Master Class at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, has sold her mainstream novel manuscript called Glory to Red Adept Publishing.

Deborah workshopped Glory in the 2016 retreat with instructor Christine DeSmet. The retreat is sponsored by UW–Madison Continuing Studies.

The plot of Glory: In 1980s Chicago, 17-year-old Glory can escape her abusive home if she accepts the proposal from a minister ten years older than she is, but that means giving up on her true love.

Claudia Marinelli wins festival screenplay scene reading

Claudia Marinelli of Italy earned a “Best Scene Reading” with actors for her screenplay CHASING WHITE INFINITY at the Fantasy/Science Fiction Film and Writing Festival.

This was Claudia’s first screenplay. She worked on it with instructor Christine DeSmet through the UW–Madison Continuing Studies online course, Screenwriting: Write Your First Draft Fast.

A video of the reading and an interview with Claudia are posted online at the festival’s website.

Writers’ Institute attendance spurs Rosenberg’s publication success

Stephen Rosenberg, Madison, attended the 2017 Writers’ Institute and found the experience to be very rewarding. As a result he self-published his book Cancer What You Need to Know, a resource for cancer patients and their families.

The book outlines the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in a clear and appropriate way for everyone to understand. The book was a #1 New Release in Health Risk Assessment on Amazon and has continued to do well (in the top 10 in numerous categories on and off since its recent release). Reviews have also been strong and continue to be posted through Kirkus Reviews and on Amazon.

Congratulations, Stephen!

Julian Renner’s script takes top prize in Scottish film fest

Congratulations to Julian Renner for winning the 2017 Scottish Independent Film Festival’s  category for unproduced screenplay with “Land That I Love.”

Julian wrote the screenplay with coaching help from Christine DeSmet, faculty associate at UW–Madison Continuing Studies and instructor of its online course in screenwriting, which Julian used to get his script career underway. “Land That I Love” is about a West African school girl prostitute, trapped by her circumstances, who believes she’s found true love when a mining executive offers her a chance to go home with him to the United States.

Julian lives in New Rochelle, New York.

Wall Street Journal accolades for Martha Phillips’s book based on father’s journals

Martha Phillips wrote a book based upon her father’s turn-of-the-century canoe journals. Border Country, the Northwoods Canoe Journals of Howard Greene, 1906-1916 was published by the University of Minnesota Press this fall. The book received a half-page review in the Wall Street Journal Holiday Books section in an article entitled A River Ran Through It by Gerard Helferich, November 17, 2017.

The book is also receiving accolades through an OnMilwaukee article . Martha consulted with Laurie Scheer regarding the structure and marketing of this book. Congratulations, Martha!

Kate Warpeha, Chicago—new graphic novel author Cover of Kate Warpeha's I was A Teen Ghoul

Kate Warpeha is a Chicago mad scientist and inventor. She attended Writers’ Institute a few years ago and continued working with Laurie Scheer through our Critique Services. The journey of completing her first graphic novel, along with illustrator Lisa Noble, has been an exciting labor of love. This is a beautiful story of generations coming together in a creative way. Congratulations to Kate and Lisa!

Rose Bingham’s memoir published

What happens when a mother goes into town, and disappears? Leaving 7 children behind? With a teenager in charge? Rose Bingham, Wisconsin Dells, Wis., has written a beautiful memoir, Buy the Little Ones a Dolly, published by HenschelHAUS Publishing.

Bingham, a retired nurse, worked on her memoir at two UW–Madison Continuing Studies events: Writers’ Institute and the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat. Rose has won numerous awards for her poetry and writing.

“Buy the little ones a dolly” were some of the last words Rose received from her mother in a Christmas letter when Rose was 15, sent without a return address. The mystery surrounding her mother’s disappearance comes to light 59 years later.

Laurie Buchanan’s nonfiction book a finalist for national award

Boise, Idaho author Laurie Buchanan’s Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth (She Writes Press) has made Aspire Magazine’s list of the Top 10 inspiring and motivational books for September 2017 . The book was also named a 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Finalist. Laurie utilized Critique & Coaching Services of UW–Madison Continuing Studies for her book. She is a recent past guest instructor at Writers’ Institute.

The Writer magazine applauds our June retreat!

The September 2017 issue of The Writer magazine features the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat in a colorful two-page spread. The Writer said: “It’s like two semesters of an MFA program. You work so hard and get so much to take home with you.” The article features an extensive interview with Christine DeSmet, director, and instructor of one of the event’s novel Master Classes. Writers from across the country and working in every form of writing attend the program held in June. It offers sections for all levels. The 20th edition will be held June 11-15, 2018 on the UW–Madison campus. Registrations begin in January, but Master Class applicants can apply any time of year.

Joanne Passet’s Write-by-the-Lake Retreat essay published

Congratulations to Joanne Passet of Bloomington, Indiana. Her essay, “The Quilter,” written in Amy Lou Jenkins’ essay writing workshop at the 2016 Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat at UW–Madison, has been featured in the online journal, Biostories .

Larry Balliene’s essay published in Badger Sportsman

Larry Balliene’s essay, “Musky Moments,” has been published in the May/June 2017 issue of Badger Sportsman  Larry, of Monticello, Wis., participated in the UW–Madison Continuing Studies “Writing Nature” workshop at the Arboretum in Madison this spring.

Madison-area author Valerie Biel earns international book award

Madison-area author Valerie Biel recently earned a place of distinction in the Eric Hoffer Book Award Contest. The final installment in her Circle of Nine Series, Sacred Treasures, made the grand prize short list as well as being honored as the First Runner-Up in the young adult category.

The Eric Hoffer Award honors the memory of the great American philosopher Eric Hoffer by highlighting salient writing, as well as the independent spirit of small publishers. The Hoffer Award was founded at the start of the 21st century (with permission from the Eric Hoffer Estate) to honor freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit. Since its inception, the “Hoffer” has become one of the largest international book awards for small, academic, and independent presses. “I’m so pleased that Sacred Treasures caught the eye of the award committee from amongst the thousands of worthy entries they receive each year,” Biel says. “It’s tough to gain attention in this business, so when you receive news like this, it is especially sweet.”

Valerie has been present at our Writers’ Institute conferences, participating as a speaker and as part of our Success Panel and Author Slam events.

Midwest Review contributor wins national award

Lolilta Ditzler’s essay “Life With Linda” that was published in the Midwest Review 4 has received a First-Place Award in the National Federation of Press Women contest.

Awards will be presented during the conference in Birmingham, Alabama, Sept. 7-9, 2017. Ditzler has been a member of the organization for more than 30 years and this is her first first-place award.

The essay with photos was reprinted in the May 2017 edition of Ditzler’s local newspaper Neighbors. Once a month that free publication is mailed to all in the Durand, Lake Summerset, Davis, Rock City, and Dakota areas in Wisconsin.

Writing, creativity, and aging—new Retiree Rebels podcast

Do you know somebody who thinks he or she is too old to write stories or that their writing wouldn’t matter to others? Please have them listen to the Link to listen to new podcastnew podcast  from the Retiree Rebels called “Writing, Creativity, and Aging.”

It’s a lively and often poignant discussion featuring authors Jerry Apps, Peggy Williams, and RJ McKnight.

The Retiree Rebels podcasts are produced by fiction writer and journalist Carol Larson and life coach Mary Helen Conroy. Carol Larson was honored for Retiree Rebels on the “Success Panel” at the 2017 UW–Madison Writers’ Institute. Peggy Williams and Jerry Apps have taught writing at UW–Madison Continuing Studies events.

Jabe Stafford—How to build writing confidence

Jabe Stafford’s new blog post about steps to take to get the writing done despite all of life’s distractions is right on! Check out Link to read Jabes blog posthis post  titled Confidence Means, “Do It Anyway” …then get back to your writing!

Jabe polished his manuscript at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat (held every June) and he’s attended workshops and pitched at the Writers’ Institute—the national award-winning “roll-up-the-sleeves” conference sponsored by UW–Madison Continuing Studies in Madison.

Jabe is currently marketing a science fiction novel manuscript and also writes a new Link to view Jabes new fantasy and science fiction blogfantasy & science fiction blog  that’s a lot of fun.

Writers’ Institute Speaker has a new book

Heather Shumaker has worked in land conservation for two decades and served as the coastal program director for protecting Arcadia Dunes in Northern Michigan. She has a master of science degree in land resources from UW–Madison and is a national speaker who has participated in numerous annual Writers’ Institutes. Her new book Saving Arcadia: A Story of Conservation and Community in the Great Lakes is available now. Link to learn more about Saving ArcadiaLearn more  about this very important book.

Additionally, DCS faculty associate Laurie Scheer assisted Heather as an editor for this book.

Midwest Review essayist wins First Place in Illinois!

Lolita Ditzler, Durand, Illinois, has received a First Place award in the Illinois Woman’s Press Association contest with the essay Life with Linda. The essay was published in the current edition of Midwest Review (Issue 4, Spring 2017). The essay will be sent on to the National Federation of Press Women contest.

Congratulations, Lolita!

The Midwest Review is a literary journal published by UW–Madison Continuing Studies once a year in conjunction with the Writers’ Institute. With an early fall submission deadline, the journal accepts fiction, nonfiction, art, and photography. Link to the Midwest Review websiteGet copies or learn more .

Death in Cold Water
Fresh from appearing at our 28th Annual Writers’ Institute, author Patricia Skalka has informed us that The Council for Wisconsin Writers just announced that the 2016 winner of the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award is her latest book Link to view Death in Cold Water on Amazon.comDeath in Cold Water . She is surprised, delighted and humbled. Join us in congratulating and celebrating Patricia!

Marianne Flynn Statz signs agent after Writers’ Institute pitch
Writer Marianne Flynn Statz of Madison, Wisconsin has signed agent and attorney Paul Levine to represent her nonfiction book, The Gift of Goodbye. Marianne pitched her project to Mr. Levine at the Writers’ Institute 2016. The book relates the story of solving a particularly troublesome crime and how it affected the detective’s life. Both the author and agent will be attending the upcoming March 24-26, 2017 Writers’ Institute conference in Madison.

Debut for Angeline Haen’s self-help book, Sweet Wisdom
Sweet Wisdom, a nonfiction self-help book by Angeline Haen of Sobieski, Wis., will be released in paperback and e-book versions on Feb. 15, 2017, by Shanti Arts Publishing of Maine. Angeline worked on her book in the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat with instructor Julie Tallard Johnson.

Here’s the book blurb: Not all wisdom is siphoned from bitter life experiences; wisdom has a sweet side. For Angeline Haen, wisdom is revealed through a natural curiosity about the mystical messages in our everyday circumstances: a van full of preschoolers, daily walks with Wally, ponderings over split-pea soup, and every pause of wonder in between. This charming and sublime book is an easy, big-hearted read, and it will inspire its readers to recognize and acknowledge the simple sweet wisdoms in their own life experiences.

Fartumo Kusow announces novel sale
Fartumo Kusow, of Windsor, Ontario, CA, has sold her novel, Tale of a Boon’s Wife, to Second Story Press. The novel tells the tale of a young Somali woman who falls in love with a man lured into the pirate culture in the Indian Ocean. The author launched her novel in the UW–Madison Continuing Studies online courses, “Write Your Novel Fast & Sure,” with instructor Christine DeSmet, and “My Manuscript Coach” with instructor Laurie Scheer.


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