Writers’ Success Stories
Continuing Studies writing students sign deals, get published, and win awards. Here are a few of their accomplishments.
Here’s the latest from our writers:
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).
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.
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.
Julian Renner’s script takes top prize in Scottish film fest
Congratulations to Julian Renner for winning the 2017 External link to Scottish Film Festival websiteScottish 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 External link to read article on OnMilwaukee siteOnMilwaukee article . Martha consulted with Laurie Scheer regarding the structure and marketing of this book. Congratulations, Martha!
Kate Warpeha, Chicago—new graphic novel author
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 External link to read the list of top 10 inspirational and motivational bookslist 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, Link to read articleBiostories .
Larry Balliene’s essay published in Badger Sportsman
Larry Balliene’s essay, “Musky Moments,” has been published in the May/June 2017 issue of Link to Badger Sportsman websiteBadger 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.
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.