Writers’ Success Stories

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


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Here’s the latest from our writers

Natalie Schriefer publishes two flash stories in literary journals

Flash writer Natalie Schriefer of New Haven, CT, started UW-Madison’s online course “Fiction in a Flash” by writing two stories for Unit 1. She applied instructor feedback, revised, submitted both for publication, and they were published in a flash. “Swimming” is now live at the micro-fiction journal 101 Words. And “Relief” can be read at Fewer Than 500. Natalie worked with instructor Angela Rydell and continues to revise and submit stories she generated in the course. We won’t be surprised if they find homes in literary journals soon too.

George Morrison’s debut novel creates comic havoc
Congratulations to George Morrison, Wisconsin, for the publication of his debut novel, Novel Problems/Some Books Should Stay Buried.

Novel Problems is a humorous science-fiction story about a novel manuscript that causes its author unexpected grief. It starts when the protagonist uses confidential information to write a novel about alien spies. The unpublished manuscript falls into the hands of an ambitious admiral who mistakes it for a real document. He launches a manhunt for the aliens, with the author as his prime suspect. The author’s friends must help him clear his name, while the admiral’s inept minions try to put him away for good. All unaware that real aliens are watching the situation and deciding the fate of humanity.

George was a student in our UW–Madison Continuing Studies online course Write Your Novel Fast & Sure with instructor and staff member Christine DeSmet.

Ann Dallman’s YA book a winner again!
Ann Dallman, Menominee, Mich., is the winner in the multi-cultural category of the 2020 New Mexico–Arizona Book Awards with her YA novel Cady and the Bear Necklace.

Much applause for Ann Dallman’s prize-winning YA novel
Cady and the Bear Necklace, by Ann Dallman of Menominee, Mich., and published by Three Towers Press/Henschel Haus Books, is the winner of a 2020 Midwest Book Award (Young Adult category), sponsored by the Midwest Independent Publisher’s Association. The novel was also a Silver Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and has recently won a Michigan State History Award. Dallman was also recently awarded a Member for Members Scholarship from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators/MI Chapter. Readers’ Favorite has given the book a Five-Star review and it is included in the Top Ten of the U.P. Notable Books List.

Ann’s novel tells the story of a 13-year-old Native American girl who finds an antique Indian beaded necklace in her new home in Michigan, leading her to solve a mystery that improves her personal and family life. Prior to publication, Ann’s manuscript went through our UW–Madison Critique Services with mentor Christine DeSmet.

Fiction writer Margo Rife of Western Springs, IL, publishes two stories in literary journals

After workshopping her stories with Angela Rydell through UW–Madison Continuing Studies Critique Services, two of Margo’s rewrites were recently accepted for publication: Down a Rabbit Hole Darkly was accepted by thejjoutrereview.com and Memoir of a Lazy Eye by idleink.org. Margo’s dramatic writing is available to view on New Play Exchange.

Michael Hourston, O’Fallon, MO, publishes collection of stories

Congratulations to Michael Hourston for the paperback publication of his stories about justice, fairness, and the after-life called R.I.P.: When All Is Said And Done. Michael’s five stories in the collection were critiqued by Christine DeSmet through our UW–Madison Continuing Studies Critique Services.

Biography debuts about Edith Rockefeller McCormick

Congratulations to Andrea Friederici Ross, of Elmhurst, Illinois, for the publication of Edith: The Rogue Rockefeller McCormick (Southern Illinois University Press, August 2020).

The nonfiction book examines the life of Edith Rockefeller McCormick, who had a huge impact in the Chicago area.

Andrea was part of our annual June UW–Madison Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat a few years ago in Christine DeSmet’s section.

UW–Madison Marching Band member turns WGA Vice Chair

Kelly Jo Brick, a UW-Madison alumnus, has been awarded the title of elected Vice Chair of the WGA (Writer’s Guild of America, West) Genre Committee in Hollywood. Kelly Jo, a presenter at Writers’ Institute, states, “I’m excited to have the opportunity and to be able to help support other Guild members with all the things our group does.”

Kelly Jo is currently writing a television pilot about her years in the Wisconsin Marching Band.

Feature film sold by Writers’ Institute attendees

Faith-based film Hunter’s Creed starring Duane “Dog” Chapman, aka Dog the Bounty Hunter, has received a distribution deal and will be released in October, 2020. The film is directed by Justin Jackola and written Ken Miyamoto. Justin is a former media student of Laurie Scheer’s and Ken is an accomplished screenwriter and Hollywood expert and former student of Christine DeSmet’s. Justin and Ken met at UW-Madison’s annual Writers’ Institute while presenting sessions in 2017.

Author r.r. campbell’s debut novel wins international honor

Author r.r. campbell’s science fiction debut, Imminent Dawn, has been selected as an award-winning finalist in the 2020 International Book Awards sponsored by America Book Fest.

Campbell is an online instructor for the UW–Madison Continuing Studies writing department, including the upcoming Writer’s Institute Workshop: Enrich Your Novel’s Concept, Character, and Plot, held online for five meetings beginning Oct. 15. He has also presented workshops in-person and at the last two Writers’ Institute conferences.

Peggy Turnbull, Manitowoc, Wis., announces poetry chapbook publication

Peggy Turnbull’s poetry chapbook, The Joy of Their Holiness, has just been released by Kelsay Books (July 2020).

Peggy attended three editions of the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat sponsored by UW–Madison Continuing Studies. She attended two classes with instructor Marilyn Taylor, and in 2019 studied the poetry manuscript with Gale Walden. “I loved the intensity of the classes, how inspiring and helpful my classmates and teachers were, and how enjoyable it was to spend a little time in Madison.”

Publisher’s Weekly reports Jessica Vitalis debut novel sale

Martha Mihalick at Greenwillow has bought, in a six-figure preempt, North American rights to The Wolf’s Curse by Jessica Vitalis. Jessica’s sale was listed in the July 16, 2020 Publisher’s Weekly online “Children’s Bookshelf.”

The debut middle-grade novel, narrated by Death’s courier in a voice reminiscent of The Book Thief, follows a 12-year-old boy’s quest for revenge after the boy witnesses the invisible wolf steal his grandpapá’s soul. When the superstitious residents of his French-inspired village accuse the boy of crying wolf, he joins forces with another orphan to prove his innocence.

Publication is scheduled for fall 2021; Sara Crowe at Pippin Properties negotiated the two-book deal.

Jessica Vitalis is a past attendee in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat with instructor Christine DeSmet.

New novelist launches blog, features our own Christine DeSmet

Novelist Tracey S. Phillips, author of Best Kept Secrets, founded and launched a new blog, blackbirdwriters.com. Tracey is a past participant in Christine DeSmet’s online course Write Your Novel Fast & Sure. Check out Christine’s post that asks the question: Where are you traveling via the books you read and write?

Carole Young, Boscobel, Wis., is published using course material

Lesson Seven from the UW-Madison online course Creative Nonfiction 1 became Chapter 27, “Carole’s Story,” in Carole Young’s book, Smile Because It Happened: A Guide to Living the Rest of Your Life (Little Creek Press). Carole’s instructor was Wendy Vardaman, with lesson material by Laurie Scheer. Carole is currently enrolled in Creative Nonfiction 2 taught by Noelle Rydell. Perhaps more publications are on the horizon!

Heather Shumaker wins with first fiction novel

Congratulations to Heather Shumaker, Michigan, for winning the children’s fiction category in the Society of Midland Authors’ annual contest for books published in 2019. Her middle-grade adventure book, The Griffins of Castle Cary, was best in its category in the 12-state Midwest contest.

Heather has been a guest instructor in nonfiction books and book proposals at our Writers’ Institute and the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat.

Applause for Rose Bingham and her memoir!

Congratulations to Rose Bingham of Reedsburg, Wisconsin for her memoir, Buy The Little Ones A Dolly, earning a “Distinguished Favorite” designation in the 2020 Independent Press Awards, which had worldwide entries. Rose honed her craft in UW–Madison Continuing Studies programs including Writers’ Institute and the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat.

Maria Picone, Myrtle Beach, SC, publishes every poem written in online course

Since enrolling in the online course Poetry: Taking the Poetic Leap in 2014, Maria Picone has placed each of the poems she composed and revised for submissions. She says, “Writing these was really a great step forward for me and it helped me when I came back to writing to revise and put them out there in the world.” Her instructor was Angela Rydell.

The poems “Migration” and “Tell the Story” can be found in The Magnolia Review, Summer 2020 (forthcoming).

Also check out: “Elegy for A.” at Homestead Review (written), and Kissing Dynamite’s Audio Room (spoken), as well as “A Running Path” in Eye on Life Magazine.

Congratulations to Mary Behan, first-time novelist

We’re proud to congratulate Mary Behan, Mazomanie, Wis., on the publication of her first novel, A Measured Thread (Laurence Gate Press, April 2020).

Her novel is the story of Maggie O’Connor, who moved from Ireland to a Wisconsin farm. When Maggie retires she hires Isobel to help go through her things, an activity that yields a secret Maggie has to confront.

Mary credits her writing success with the community of inspiring writers and knowledge she found by attending Writers’ Institute and Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat. Mary is from Ireland and recently retired from the UW–Madison neuroscience department.

Applause for Ann Dallman, Julie Holmes, Greg Renz

Gregory L. Renz and Ann Dallman have reached the finals of the 2020 awards sponsored by the Midwest Independent Publishers Association.

Renz, from Lake Mills, Wis., is the author of the mainstream fiction novel Beneath the Flames (Three Towers Press), and Dallman, Menominee, Wis., is the author of the YA novel Cody and the Bear Necklace (Henscel Haus). Holmes, from Arlington, Minn., is a finalist with In Plane Sight in the mystery category of the 2020 RONE Awards sponsored by InD’Tale Magazine. All three finalists have participated in our writing programs and coaching/critique services.

Liz Stroud signed to prestigious New York City literary agency

UW-Madison Continuing Studies Writing Department and the Pathway to Publication Mentoring Program is proud to announce that writer Liz Stroud has signed a contract for representation for her mainstream/literary novel manuscript Beneath the Peace to agent Jane Dystel of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.

Under the mentorship of Christine DeSmet, Liz completed her manuscript during the last year. She attended the 2019 Writers’ Institute and registered for our Pathway to Publication program immediately following the conference last April. States Liz: “My goal was traditional publishing and as of today, within one week, I’ve had three offers from excellent agents. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without Christine’s mentoring.”

Here is a short description of her novel: In 1968, at the isolated intersection of the Wicked and Peace Rivers in northwestern Canada, an American apocalyptic cult is squatting on crown land. There, they will ride out the worldwide apocalypse prophesied by their leader.

Daniel Holland memoir details draft resistance movement

Daniel Holland, Milwaukee, participated in our 2014 UW-Madison Continuing Studies Weekend With Your Novel program and enrolled in our Literary Magazines 101 course in 2015. His new memoir Death Wins All Wars: Resisting the Draft in the 1960s details his involvement as an activist in the 1960s draft resistance movement.

Chapters highlight his memories and current reflections on events such as draft board raids as well as the legal adventures that followed: indictment, arrest, arraignment, defending himself at trial, and sentencing. A surprise ending is followed by an afterword contemplating our personal responsibilities for peace.

Silvia Acevedo earns excellence award from SCBWI

Congratulations to Silvia Acevedo of Wisconsin for winning the Spark Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for excellence in independently published work for her novel, God Awful Rebel. The God Awful series for young readers is the tale of a not-so-likeable Cupid who loses his place in Olympus and works his way back—and into our hearts. Silvia is a past guest instructor at the Writers’ Institute sponsored by UW-Madison Continuing Studies.

Christine DeSmet’s script makes quarterfinals

“Romeoville,” a romantic comedy family film by Christine DeSmet, Fitchburg, WI, and writing partner Peggy Williams, Madison, WI, has made the quarterfinals of the ScreenCraft Family Screenplay Competition, results announced Feb. 5, 2020. This year’s jury for the contest include executives and directors from Rob Marshall’s Lucamar Productions, Hallmark Movie Channel, 3Pas Studios, Montana North Media, and Sony’s Affirm Films.

Christine is a Distinguished Faculty Associate of writing and a writing coach in UW-Madison Continuing Studies, and Peggy is an adjunct instructor and coach for UW-Madison Continuing Studies. Logline for “Romeoville”: Jula Byrd, a fortune teller who believes in the magic of love, falls for a guy who refuses to believe in magic at all, and both come under the spell of a young orphan looking for love all his own.

Matthew Sheetz story accepted for publication

Congratulations to Matthew Sheetz, Indianapolis, IN, whose short story “Hunter-Gatherer” has been accepted for publication in the magazine Boned, which focuses on stories having to do with the skeleton. Matthew polished his writing in a Master Class at the June 2019 Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, with instructor Christine DeSmet, of UW-Madison Continuing Studies.

San Diego poet Sally Sandler’s chapbook manuscript in three-way tie with two other poets

Unsolicited Press in Oregon will be publishing Sandler’s chapbook, A Long Way from Kansas. Her manuscript, which gives voice to her generation of Baby Boomers and their elders, was in a three-way tie with two other poets, and all three will be published in one book in 2021. Sally worked with Angela Rydell in the online courses Poetry: Taking the Poetic Leap and Poetry: A Guide to Poetic Forms. You can find her other works, including her biography Sowing Seeds of Wonder and children’s book Rocket’s Run, on Amazon.com or her website, sallysandler.com.

Sarah J. Carlson sells second YA novel

Sarah J. Carlson, Fitchburg, Wis., is following last year’s stellar debut in the Young Adult arena with a second book coming out from Turner Publishing Company in May 2020 called Everything’s Not Fine. Sarah said, “I wanted to give acknowledgement to all the support I received from the UW Continuing Ed writing program.” Sarah has attended Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat in June, the fall Weekend with Your Novel, and the spring Writers’ Institute conference where she made it to the success panel with her first YA novel, All the Walls of Belfast. Everything’s Not Fine features Rose, 17, who aspires to be a famous artist like Frida Kahlo, but Rose’s life unravels in a big way when she finds her mother dying of a heroin overdose on the kitchen floor. Check out more details on this Goodreads page.

Alan Perry of Maple Grove, Minnesota publishes poetry chapbook

Alan Perry’s debut chapbook, Clerk of the Dead, was a finalist and honorable mention selection in the 2019 Cathy Smith Bowers poetry competition, and will be published by Main Street Rag Publishing in early 2020. Alan was a participant in Angela Rydell’s online course Poetry Writing: Getting to Good, which helped generate his first published poem, included in his forthcoming collection. Alan adds, “As a result of her course and individual critique services, Angela was instrumental in helping me get my first poems published. I’ll be forever grateful!”

Brad Schreiber’s new book: Music is Power

Brad Schreiber has a new book out: Music is Power: Popular Songs, Social Justice and the Will to Change (Rutgers University Press). An award-winning author, journalist, and screenwriter, Brad is a past instructor at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, sponsored by University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies. Music Is Power takes readers on a guided tour through the past 100 years of politically conscious music, from Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie to Green Day and NWA. It covers a wide variety of genres, including reggae, country, metal, psychedelia, rap, punk, folk and soul.

Meg Matenaer’s debut novel about writers and holiday magic

Congratulations to Meg Matenaer, Madison, WI, for the publication of her first novel, Write in Time. Meg started and completed much of her novel in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies’ course Write Your Novel Fast and Sure with instructor Christine DeSmet.

Plot summary: A young mom, a hotshot lawyer, a beleaguered landscaper, and a feisty widow sign up for a writers’ workshop hosted by a professor who doesn’t want to be there. Their families, careers, and even the city they love depend on whether they champion each other’s stories or write one another off before a Christmas contest deadline.

David Horton publishes two flash fiction stories in literary journal

Shortly after taking UW-Madison’s online courses How to Write Compelling Fiction and Writing Powerful Scenes in Fiction and Nonfiction—both taught by Angela Rydell—Dave Horton of Sun Prairie, WI, published two stories in Flash Fiction Magazine under his pen name David Lee: “Karma” and “Food Fight.”

Online student Erin Leiman gets nod for MFA school

Congratulations to Erin Leiman, Cambridge, Mass., for her acceptance into the Goucher College Master of Fine Arts in Nonfiction program. Erin honed her writing with Noelle Rydell in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online course, “Creative Nonfiction: Part 2.”

Novel by Elliott Foster receives great reviews

Panic River (Calumet Editions), a novel by Elliott Foster, St. Paul, Minnesota, is receiving great reviews. The novel follows the story of Corey Fischer, a middle-aged man whose past and present struggles converge on him as he unexpectedly finds himself at the family cabin in northern Wisconsin during deer hunting season, heading into the woods with his spouse, both of them carrying loaded guns as long-kept secrets and betrayals are slowly revealed.

The San Francisco Book Review gave it a 4/5 star-rating and called it a “fascinating read about love, tough love…engaging and entertaining.” Midwest Book Review said “powerfully evocative, thought-provoking.” “Courageous…a page turner,” said Emilio Degrazia, Minnesota Book Award-winning author of Billy Brazil

Elliott worked with Angela Rydell in her critique workshop at the Fall 2018 edition of the UW-Madison Continuing Studies Weekend with Your Novel.

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 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.

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.

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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