Writers’ Success Stories


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Julie Holmes finds agent at Writers’ Institute
Julie Holmes, of Arlington, MN, has signed literary agent Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services to represent Just Plane Dead, a suspense novel. Julie met Cynthia at the 2016 Writers’ Institute in Madison, WI. Prior to that, Julie took her manuscript through the Master Class for novelists at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat held each June. Both events are sponsored by UW-Madison Continuing Studies.

Just Plane Dead features aircraft mechanic Sierra Bauer. Sierra is more worried about her stalker ex-boyfriend’s return than the body she finds in her inspection plane, until the detective in charge of the case pegs her as a suspect.

Master Class participant Eileen Schnabel gets book deal
Eileen Schnabel, Stoughton, WI, received a holiday gift (after much hard work, of course). Her middle-grade novel manuscript, One If By Land, Two If by…Submarine, pitched as National Treasure meets Back to the Future has sold to Alisa Gus at Curiosity Quills Press, for publication in Winter 2018. Eileen studied in classes taught by Angela Rydell and Christine DeSmet in our UW-Madison Continuing Studies programs for writers.

The plot summary: When Paul Revere is kidnapped by a time traveler determined to change the outcome of the American Revolution, a twelve-year-old is sent to Boston, 1775, to take his famous midnight ride; his four-person team has forty-eight hours to light the famous lanterns at Old North Church, warn Lexington and Concord that the British are coming, and rescue John Hancock and Samuel Adams from hanging as traitors to the crown.

Aparna Reddi’s flash fiction debuts in literary magazine
Aparna Reddi of San Fransicso, CA, wrote “Circadian Rhythms” while taking the online class “Fiction in a Flash,” and her story was accepted for publication even before she finished her final unit. The literary journal Link to literary magazine Foliate Oak Foliate Oak snapped it up, and will include it in their February issue. Congratulations, Aparna!

Here’s what she has to say about her experience in “Fiction in a Flash,” taught by Angela Rydell: “Angela’s class was instrumental in helping me have my first flash piece accepted for publication in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. Everything in the class is well thought out and executed—the content, the examples, and the feedback Angela provides on the stories we write. She has an amazing ability to read something and know exactly what feedback you need from both a story and editing perspective. I highly recommend taking one of Angela’s classes.”

Michael Graf’s script earns him a Bahamas residency!
Michael Graf, a Madison screenwriter and owner of Spot Filmworks, is one of four finalists in the Link to Bahamas International Film Festival Website Bahamas International Film Festival’s Screenwriting Residency Program. Michael was a guest speaker at the recent Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, held every June and sponsored by UW-Madison Continuing Studies.

His script, The Last Indian War, is the true story about a group of Native American children kidnapped by the US Army and sent off to a military boarding school where they invent the modern game of football.

Michael’s all-expenses-paid trip happens in December and includes a week of private mentoring with A-List producers and writers. Movie Maker magazine calls the festival “one of the Top 25 Coolest film festivals in the world.”

Heather Lyn Mann’s six-year ocean voyage captured in new book
Ocean of Insight/A Sailor’s Voyage from Despair to Hope, new this fall 2016 from Parallax Press, recounts the true story and incredible Atlantic Ocean journey Heather Lyn Mann, her husband, and their cat made on a small sloop over the course of six years starting in 2007.

Before publishing, Heather participated in the advanced critique sessions at Writers’ Institute. A Madison, WI, resident most of her life, Heather now lives in the Charleston area.

Teria Robens wins Chicago Black excellence fiction award
What the Mirror Sees, a women’s fiction novel by Teria Robens, won the 2015-2016 African American Arts Alliance of Chicago’s Black Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature-Fiction at their black-tie gala at the DuSable Museum on Oct. 24, 2016.

Teria took this women’s fiction novel through a Master Class at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat, with instructor Christine DeSmet. She’s also been a part of the writing community regularly attending the annual Writers’ Institute in Madison.

Debbie Rose, of Sarasota, FL, publishes first novel
What if you lived several past lives, witnessed the world getting worse, and decided to dive in and do something about it by re-inventing yourself in a new life? That’s the premise of Debbie Rose’s debut novel, Perhaps They Are Not Stars, published by Amazon in e-book and paperback formats. Debbie participated in the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat class on writing first novels that also included now-published authors Ann Garvin, Kathy Steffen, and Maureen Holtz.

Alan Perry of Eden Prairie, Minn., publishes in literary journal; places in contest
The online journal Gnarled Oak will publish Alan Perry’s poem “Crossing” in its upcoming Issue 10. The poem memorializes a ferry boat/tanker crash on the lower MS River on Oct. 20, 1976, where 78 of 96 people were killed. This is the first time one of Alan’s poems will appear in an independent literary journal. “As an aspiring poet, I’ve already piled up a number of rejections from other journals, so getting this news…was pure joy!”

Alan was coached by instructor Angela Rydell through UW-Madison Critique Services. He contacted her to say thanks for mentoring him. “Your careful, persistent and helpful feedback over the past several months is a key reason I found a publishing home for ‘Crossing’! I want you to know how much this first poem being published means to me and the fact that you were the mentor that helped get it across the finish line.” And shortly after getting that good news, Alan learned his poem “In Your Wake” took 3rd place in an annual contest of the League of Minnesota Poets. Alan wrote the poem while in the online poetry course “Poetry: Getting to Good,” also taught by Angela Rydell.

Write by the Lake alum publishes book
Author Carl Walworth participated in our Write By The Lake retreat and our How to Write a Selling Book Proposal online course. He has just published his book The Mayor of Moultrie Avenue: The Literary Journey of an Unlikely Pair, the story of a long-time reporter (Carl), who volunteers for a local literacy program and finds his weekly lesson with Eldo Ealy turn into a twenty-four-year friendship. The book explores education, health care, and poverty alongside the changing face of blue-collar work, newspaper publishing, and small-town America. Link to viewThe Mayor of Moultrie Avenue on Amazon.com Find it on Amazon .

Sean Higgins, of Ypsilanti, MI, publishes in The Iowa Review
The Blaze-Orange Freak Tag, a story by Sean Higgins, was selected as a Finalist in a contest at Link to The Iowa Review The Iowa Review , and will be published in an upcoming issue of the magazine. Sean worked with Angela Rydell through Continuing Studies’ Critique Services, and told her he used her edits and feedback as a springboard for his final draft. “Angela’s critiques were invaluable—not only for the story, but for my overall growth as a writer. Her knowledge of craft—along with practical, actionable edits—equipped me with the proper tools to roll up my sleeves and renovate an aimless short story into something I’m very proud of. Something picked up for publication.”

Bibi Belford, Chicago, sells another middle-grade novel
Bibi Belford has sold world rights to her middle-grade novel, Another D for DeeDee, to Sky Pony Press. This is Belford’s second sale since participating in a Master Class at the Write-by-the-Lake Retreat sponsored by UW-Madison Continuing Studies. Belford was also a presenter at the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute 2016.

Her book’s logline: “Feeling dumb at a new school, being diagnosed with diabetes, and missing her immigrant dad, who has disappeared, make DeeDee feel lonelier than ever – until a new neighbor offers to help.” Publication is scheduled for fall 2017.

Norma Jenckes of Pawtucket, RI, receives honors in Galway Kinnell Poetry Contest
Norma Jenckes’s dramatic monologue, “A Tour of the New Botanical Garden,” was awarded Honorable Mention in the Link to learn more about the Galway Kinnell Poetry Contest Galway Kinnell Poetry Contest , held as part of the annual Pawtucket Arts Festival. Norma’s been working with instructor Angela Rydell through our Continuing Studies Critique Services to hone her poetry. She said she used the feedback to balance the poem’s nuanced historical context with good crafting. “Taking the advice of Angela Rydell, I was able to make the contents of the poem more accessible.”

Dianne Hendricks of Corte Madera, CA, publishes flash fiction
Dianne Hendricks’s flash story Devotion can be read right now at Link to read Dianne’s story Devotion 101words.org . Check it out! Dianne worked with Angela Rydell in the online workshop “Fiction in a Flash.” When she shared the good news of her publication, she had this to say about her workshop experience: “Angela, your class gave me the information I was looking for and the confidence to send work to several flash fiction online and print publishers. Thank you so much. I really did love the coursework, the challenges of the writing exercises, and your most excellent feedback.”

Poet Jim Swierzynski of Reeseville, WI publishes poem in Chicago Quarterly Review
Jim’s poem “Easter Confession” was recently accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of Chicago Quarterly Review. A student in the online poetry workshop Getting to Good, Jim shared his good news with instructor Angela Rydell, “One of my socks has been totally blown off and the other is smoldering and dangling by a thread.” Jim was working on “Easter Confession” while taking Angela’s workshop. “I hadn’t submitted anything for a couple years prior to taking the course. Getting to Good was just the thing to get me jump started again.”

Colin Harris wins Florida film contest; has world premiere
Huge congratulations go to Colin Harris, Orlando, FL!

His suspense script, Haima, which Colin wrote in our online screenwriting course under the tutelage of instructor Christine DeSmet, celebrated its world premiere and received an award for “Best Florida Project” at the Sept. 3-4, 2016 Central Florida Film Festival. Haima is a suspense film about a woman being hunted while suffering amnesia.

Link to view video of Colin accepting the awardSee the video of Colin accepting the award .

Thomas Straka’s travel essay published
Thomas Straka’s travel essay “There’s Gold in Them Thar [Georgia] Hills” has been published in the online travel magazine American Roads and Global Highways.

Straka, of Pendleton, SC, struck gold after revising the essay’s title and hook while studying with instructor Noelle Rydell in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online course, Brushup Class for All Writers: Business, Academic, and Creative.

Children’s writer finds success through Critique Services
Marion Young, a student of Continuing Studies’ writing classes and critique services, has published Love Circles the World, a children’s picture book that connects the dots among global cultures. The book won a Silver Award from the Independent Book Publishers Association for Children’s Picture Book, as well as the Best Category Children’s Award from the Printing Industries of the Gulf Coast.

“Working with Christine (DeSmet of Critique Services) enabled me to have confidence in my stories and myself,” she says. “Over time, the words ‘I can do this’ became my mantra. Then everything I wrote, from stories to query letters to press releases, helped me to evolve as I rode the path to publication.”

Instructor Christine DeSmet wins script production contest
Christine DeSmet, an instructor and writing coach in UW-Madison Continuing Studies, and her scriptwriting partner, Peggy Williams, have won the 2016 short script contest sponsored by Link to Living Storm Productions websiteLiving Storm Productions , Madison. Called The Stone Carver of King Street, the script will go into production this summer.

Christine teaches online courses in scriptwriting and novel writing, and is director of the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat. Peggy Williams, Madison, is a recent past instructor at Writers’ Institute. Both writers are members of Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum, where they learned about the contest.

Alan Perry of Eden Prairie, MN, wins cash prize for poetry
Alan Perry’s poem Wolfen, inspired by a prompt in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online course Poetry: Getting to Good, won the Arizona State Poetry Society’s monthly free verse contest for members. He received a cash prize and the poem will be published in the next issue of Link to Arizona State Poetry Society’s poetry journal siteSandcutters , the semi-annual poetry journal of ASPS.

When Alan shared his good news with instructor Angela Rydell, he had this to say: “The best part is getting the encouragement of something like this to keep writing and (hopefully) improving the work… I especially want to say thank you very much for your ongoing critique and support. You have been and continue to be a great instructor and guide in helping me achieve my poetry goals!”

Cover design award for Goss book and HenschelHAUS publishing
The Midwest Independent Publishing Association (MIPA) gave first-place winning gold to the cover design of author Margaret Goss’s 2015 suspense/thriller novel, The Uncommitted, at the awards ceremony, May 13, 2016 in St. Paul, MN.

The award-winning artist was Clarissa Yeo. The book is published by Three Towers Press, a division of HenschelHAUS Publishing, Milwaukee.

Goss and HenschelHAUS Publishing have participated in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies Writers’ Institute and other writing programs.

Another Writers’ Institute participant and HenschelHAUS author, Nick Chiarkas, made the MIPA finals in the Fiction-Mystery/Thriller category for his suspense, Weepers. MIPA serves a 12-state region.

Julian Renner script receives “Diamond” award
SAVED, an action-drama script by Julian Renner, New Rochelle, NY, was chosen a “Diamond Prize Winner” in the Filmmakers International Screenwriting Awards sponsored by Filmmakers Magazine, Write Bros., and the Radmin management-production company. The prize includes professional story notes and consideration for representation and production.

Here’s the logline for SAVED: Pastor Samuel Jones, about to testify for the FBI against a dangerous drug dealer, refuses to enter witness protection unless his wife, Monica, with secrets of her own, is included in the deal.

Julian wrote his script in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online course, “Screenplay: Write Your First Draft Fast” with instructor Christine DeSmet.

MIPA contest finalists include Ernst and Chiarkas
The 26th annual Midwest Book Awards from the Midwest Independent Publishing Association include 2 that we know well:

Kathleen Ernst, for A Settler’s Year, photographs by Loyd Heath (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Madison, WI.). Category: Arts/Coffee Table Books/Photography. Kathleen has taught for UW-Madison Continuing Studies in the past and was the keynote for the June 2016 Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat in Madison, WI.

Nick Chiarkas, for Weepers (Three Towers Press, Milwaukee, WI.). His novel is set in NYC in 1957. Category: Fiction-Mystery/Thriller. Nick was recently on panels at the Writers’ Institute in which he talked about the great help he received from UW-Madison Continuing Studies Critique Services and Christine DeSmet.

Angeline Haen, of Sobieski, WI., sells nonfiction book after UW retreat
Selling a book is a great way to follow up attendance at our annual writer’s retreat and that’s just what Angeline Haen did. The Wisconsin author has sold her creative nonfiction anthology book, Sweet Wisdoms, to Shanti Arts in Maine. The book chronicles Angeline’s unique and often humorous quest to gain wisdom. Angeline participated in the creative nonfiction book section led by Julie Tallard Johnson at the UW-Madison Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat in June 2014.

Marion Young, TX, takes home 2 Silver Awards in IBPA
Marion Young’s picture book, Love Circles the World, illustrated by Christina Mattison Ebert, has won 2 silver awards in the Independent Book Publisher’s Association Link to Benjamin Franklin Awards website2016 Benjamin Franklin Awards . Marion worked on her book extensively with Christine DeSmet through UW-Madison Continuing Studies Writing Critique Services.

Love Circles the World is an enchanting peek into cultures around the globe. Its message of love and family is so simple it’s sublime. People of all cultures share love with each other or with nature, despite their differences or perhaps in the midst of their differences.

Marion won silver for both Children’s Picture Books 0-3 and Best New Voice: Children’s/YA. The IBPA members include librarians, bookstore owners, reviewers, designers, and editors.

Jim Swierzynski, Reeseville, WI, wins prize for poem written in UW online class
Jim Swierzynski’s Haze Grey Wedding won Link to Rockford Writers’ Guild websiteThe Rockford Review’s “Winter Weddings” contest. Jim won a cash prize and publication in the summer edition of the journal, which is a twice yearly publication by the Rockford Writers’ Guild. He wrote the poem while taking the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online poetry class “Getting to Good.” Jim told instructor Angela Rydell, “The poem grew and flourished with your observations and suggestions. Many thanks.”

Doreen Pfost published by University of Nebraska Press
Doreen Pfost has attended a number of Writers’ Institute conferences and her book This River Beneath the Sky: A Year on the Platte, was published in February 2016 by University of Nebraska Press. It’s a collection of essays that weave together memoir, natural history, and human history in an exploration of Nebraska’s Platte River, where a half-million sandhill cranes stop over each year during their spring migration. Link to article featuring Doreen and This River Beneath the Sky on the Kearney Nebraska local news websiteRead more here

L.C. Hanson garners great Kirkus review on debut YA novel
Kirkus Reviews gave a glowing, featured review for The Gideon Protocol, a Young Adult debut novel by L.C. Hanson (a.k.a. Christopher Epstein), of Bethesda, MD. Publisher is Off World Publications. In The Gideon Protocol, 13-year-old Gideon finds himself stranded on a hostile, plague-ridden alien world, hunted by mutated humans and a fiendish monster-maker who covets his DNA. The lengthy review concluded: “Fans of comic-book fiends and feats will be sated. A post-apocalyptic adventure novel that delivers an adolescent monster mash.” The novel was written with the coaching help provided by the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online course, “Write Your Novel Fast & Sure,” taught by Christine DeSmet.

Sarah Hopkins, Oshkosh, WI., receives major screenplay prize
Sarah Hopkins has earned second place in the Screencraft Action & Thriller Screenplay Contest 2015 for her script, FET (Female Engagement Team). The script is about a U.S. woman soldier serving with an FET in Afghanistan. Prizes awarded to Sarah include $500, a call from a literary manager, and her script will be presented to Screencraft’s list of agents, managers, producers, and studio executives. Sarah wrote the script in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online course, “Screenplay: Write Your First Draft Fast,” with mentor/coach Christine DeSmet.

Poet MaryAnn Moenck of Dresser, WI, publishes debut collection
MaryAnn Moenck’s poetry chapbook, Bees in the Attic, comes out this spring from Link to Bees in the Attic page on the Finishing Line Press website Finishing Line Press . She attended Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat in 2011 and worked with Angela Rydell on her poetry. MaryAnn credits the workshop with enriching her skills and enabling her to see her poems through the reader’s eyes. In 2012-2013 she was awarded participation in the Loft Mentor Series at the Loft Literary Center.

Theodore Wesenberg of Chicago, IL, publishes in literary journals
Theodore Wesenberg’s story, Cadillac Ranch, can be read in the December issue of ASU’s Link to read Cadillac Ranch in Superstition Review, an online literary magazineSuperstition Review. He’s also recently placed stories in Sleet, Memoryhouse, and Midwestern Gothic while working on his MA at Northwestern University.

To hone his writing, Theodore enrolled in UW-Madison Continuing Studies online courses and attended the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat. His instructors have included Angela Rydell, Laurie Scheer, and Kathy Steffen.

New novel from Teri Woods, Madison
Author Teri Woods, writing as T.E. Woods, is back with the 5th installment of her best-selling thriller Justice Series, Fixed in Fear (Alibi/Random House).

Teri was featured on our Writers’ Institute success panel. She also attended the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat to start her journey to novel success.

Jim Swierzynski’s story in The Rockford Review
Jim Swierzynski’s short story, The Judas Kiss, will be published in the Winter-Spring edition of The Rockford Review. He is retired and currently an online student in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies grammar-and-punctuation course taught by Noelle Rydell. He and his wife, Jean, live in Reeseville, WI.

Jim Papandrea publishes 2 new books
Jim has been a speaker and Success Story Panelist at our Writers’ Institutes. He continues to write and he has published 2 new books. Congratulations Jim! Please view his Link to Jim Papandrea’s personal websitehome page and Link to Jim Papandrea’s Amazon Author PageAmazon Author Page .

Handed Down: The Catholic Faith of the Early Christians (from Catholic Answers). This book is about the beliefs and practices of the early Church, for Catholics to understand their faith better, and for Protestants to understand where Catholics are coming from.

Novatian of Rome: On the Trinity, Letters to Cyprian of Carthage, Ethical Treatises (Brepols’ Corpus Christianorum in Translation Series). An English translation (from Latin) of the complete works of the third century theologian Novatian.

Jonathan Muzzall’s story in New Ohio Review
Congratulations to Jonathan Muzzall of Helena, MT, for the publication of his short story, A Whole Lot of Men with Guns, in the New Ohio Review, issue 18, published this fall 2015.

Jonathan used our Critique Services and received help from writing coach Christine DeSmet to polish the story. Jonathan’s stories have also appeared in Rosebud, Beloit Fiction Journal, and elsewhere. He lived in Madison, WI., for ten years before moving to Helena where he now works for the Lewis & Clark Library.

Margaret Goss, Madison, has first novel published
The Uncommitted, a first novel for Margaret Goss, Madison, was published in paperback by Three Towers Press (an imprint of HenschelHAUS, Milwaukee). The novel is about a young mother (Josephine Reilly) who discovers she’s a messenger between the dead and living — a discovery that makes her and those close to her the target of an invisible evil. The setting is suburban St. Paul, MN.

A launch party is planned Thursday, Oct. 29, 5-8 p.m. at the Great Dane Pub, 876 Jupiter Dr., Madison.

Margaret attended Writers’ Institute and also received critique services from staff member Christine DeSmet.

Sharon Scholl of Atlantic Beach, Fl, publishes 5 poems in literary journals
After working with Angela Rydell in the UW-Madison online poetry course “Getting to Good,” Sharon Scholl got busy publishing poems.

“I learned a lot in the course I took and put it immediately to work.” Over a year’s time she published “Love at 80” in Third Wednesday’s 2014 summer issue, “At Alonzo’s” and “The Fall” in Heron Tree and Clementine’s Spring 2015 issues, respectively, “Silence Before Music” in Cahaba River Journal’s July-September issue, and most recently, “By Chance,” in the August issue of Rats Ass.

Barbara Belford and Blair Hull garner novel contracts
Two members of the same Master Class at Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat recently signed contracts for the publication of their novels. Barbara Belford, Chicago, writing as Bibi Belford, sold her middle-grade historical novel, Crossing the Line, to Skypony, a division of Skyhorse Publishing. This is Barbara’s second novel sale. Her first hardcover novel for middle-grade readers, Canned and Crushed, was published recently and features a Hispanic boy and his family.

Blair Hull, of San Jose, CA, sold St. Mary’s Private Dancer, a mystery featuring a woman minister sleuth, to Apocryphile Press in Berkeley, CA. It will be a Spring 2016 release.

Both Belford and Hull were in the 2012 Master Class led by Christine DeSmet at Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop and Retreat, sponsored by UW-Madison Continuing Studies.

Katherine Kane, Milwaukee, WI, publishes flash fiction story
“Don’t,” a flash fiction story by Katherine Kane of Milwaukee, WI, can be read in the fall 2015 issue of Link to Serving House Journal websiteServing House Journal . After her acceptance, she wrote to share her good news. “So many thank yous go to Angela Rydell, Christine DeSmet, and Tim Storm for sharing their wisdom with me.”

Stories and poem by Jim Swierzynski, Reeseville, WI, published
Jim Swierzynski’s stories “Spring Break for Poor Guys” and “Where the Kigh Oats Howl” appeared in the Summer-Fall 2015 The Rockford Review. His poem “Loverly Uglies” was also published in the same issue. He resides in Reeseville, WI. Jim’s instructor was Noelle Rydell in the online course, “Grammar and Punctuation: Paths Toward Clarity.”

Poetry by Margaret Trapnell, Charing Cross, Ontario, Canada, published
Link to Mused Literary Review websiteMused Literary Review chose 3 poems by Margaret Trapnell for their Spring Equinox issue: “Holy Words,” “Summer Chiller” and “Wallflower.” Margaret workshopped “Holy Words” and “Summer Chiller” with Angela Rydell in the online poetry workshop “Getting to Good.” And her poem “Wallflower,” says Margaret, “started out from one of the exercises but took on a life of its own.” Congratulations, Margaret!

Poet Patricia McConnell of Portland, OR published again!
Avalon Literary Review will publish Patricia McConnell’s poem “Enduring Goodbyes” in their September issue. She honed her writing skills working with Angela Rydell through UW-Madison’s Critique Services, as well as the online courses “Poetry Writing: Getting to Good” and “Poetry Writing: Taking the Poetic Leap,” and is currently dabbling in flash fiction through the course “Fiction in a Flash.”

Still Life, the first novel in D.B. Kennison’s Randi Lassiter series, debuts
This quirky murder mystery with Evonovich-esque humor got Kennison a contract on her birthday. Darlene’s manuscript opening was workshopped in Angela Rydell’s fiction critique group during Weekend with Your Novel.

Darlene wrote to Angela Rydell, “I feel like my writer’s journey is just beginning and I wanted to say thank you. Your feedback, as well as the group’s, was invaluable to my completing the manuscript. I literally cried tears of joy as I drove out of Madison that night because of the guidance and encouragement that the experience gave me… There were two big take-away items from the group: Everyone laughed (so they got my humor—bonus!), and everyone said I needed to get to the dead body sooner. We handed in ten pages and my dead body showed up on eleven. LOL. When I got home, I first moved the body and then finished the novel.”

Darlene’s advice to other writers: “Be fearless! No matter what point you’re at in the writing process, stay focused, work on your craft and don’t give up.” Find her blog at Link to Whispers in the Air blogWhispers in the Air .

Julian Awooner Renner, NY, earns award, gets admitted to festival, and advances to Sundance consideration round
Little Girl Found, a screenplay by Julian Awooner Renner, New Rochelle, NY, has advanced to the second round of consideration for the Sundance 2016 January Screenwriters Lab. It also earned 2nd place in the Cinestory Foundation 2015 fellowship contest, and has been selected for the Filmmakers International Screenwriting Awards festival.

Julian’s screenplay is about how a destitute teen girl in Sierra Leone navigates her treacherous world. Julian worked on his screenplay start to finish with instructor Christine DeSmet in the online course, “Screenwriting: Write Your First Draft Fast.”

Donna Urbikas’ memoir has been accepted for publication by the University of Wisconsin Press
An excerpt of Donna Urbikas’ memoir “My Sister’s Mother” appeared in this year’s issue of our Midwest Prairie Review Journal. The memoir about growing up with WWII survivors of Soviet Labor Camps has just been accepted for publication by the University of Wisconsin Press. For more information about “My Sister’s Mother” and to reserve your copy, please visit Donna’s website . Donna also presented at this year’s Link to Polish Fest websitePolish Fest in Milwaukee to present her book. Join us in congratulating Donna in both her publication in our journal and with UW Press.

Ed Timmer essay published in literary journal
Ed Timmer of Janesville, WI, a graduate of our online course in creative nonfiction with instructor Wendy Vardaman, has not only recently self-published a collection of writing but has now been published in the online literary journal About Place Journal (Black Earth Institute) with his essay, Link to read Ephraim Frog on the About Place Journal website“The Ephraim Fog.”

Sean Higgins of Ann Arbor, MI, publishes in literary magazines
Sean’s story, “Hypnotizing Chickens,” is forthcoming from Link to Bluestem Magazine’s websiteBluestem Magazine in June 2015, and “The Night Shift Sardine and Sauerkraut Club” will be published shortly in Link to Crack the Spine literary journal websiteCrack the Spine literary journal.

Sean took the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online course “How to Write Compelling Fiction” with Angela Rydell. He said the course “is exactly the jolt that my writing life needed. The lessons themselves delve into technique in a very practical way, and Angela’s critiques are specific and detailed — enough so that I was able to start using them in my writing immediately. I’m happy I took this course, and I plan on signing up for further classes that Angela has in the future.”

Debbie Bateman of Maple Bay, British Columbia, Canada publishes personal essay in literary journal
In 2010, Debbie signed up for “Creative Nonfiction” and began work on an essay with an untraditional approach: the risky 2nd person POV. Although instructor Angela Rydell cautioned her about the difficulty of writing and selling a piece of this type, Debbie persevered because she felt it was the only way the story could be told. “Fractured” explores long distance running, aging, and the lure of the Boston marathon. When Debbie emailed Angela with the good news, she shared this: “My piece was rejected 42 times, but I’ve been unwilling to stop sending it out. Today, Link to Euphemism arts journal websiteEuphemism accepted it for publication.” “Fractured” will appear in the May 2015 issue.

Kathleen Serley, Wausau, WI, publishes poem in literary journal
Kathleen Serley’s first sestina, “Faded Faces,” will be published in Volga River Review, Upper Iowa University’s literary journal. She wrote the sestina in “A Guide to Poetic Forms,” working with Angela Rydell. Kathleen says of the course: “‘A Guide to Poetic Forms’ is an interesting class with well-organized, informative units. I have enjoyed the challenge of shaping my poetic intent to fit a form, and a little surprised that I could actually do it.” Congratulations, Kathleen!

Ramon (Ray) Collins of Boulder City, Nev., publishes in literary journal based in Ireland
The quarterly journal The Linnet’s Wings snapped up Ray’s flash story “Smell of Rain” for their Spring 2015 issue. Congratulations, Ray!

Ray honed the story in the course “Fiction in a Flash” with instructor Angela Rydell. He says, “The University of Wisconsin has its ear to the wall of fiction’s future with ‘Fiction in a Flash.’ It’s probably the way future generations will read; consequently, fiction editors will be interested. Angela Rydell provides knowledgeable suggestions to make our words into professional stories.”

Poet Sylvia Cavanaugh, Cedar Grove, WI., published in literary journals
Sylvia Cavanaugh’s poem, “Cherry in Seattle,” can be read in the latest issue of Link to Seems Literary Magazine websiteSeems Literary Magazine , and “Biker Bar” will be published in this spring’s Link to Midwest Prairie Review websiteMidwest Prairie Review .

Sylvia wrote both poems in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online poetry workshop “Getting to Good” while working with Angela Rydell. When she emailed Angela the good news, she shared this: “I learned a great deal from the class, and continue to revise my poems based on what I learned in the class. I plan on taking the other poetry class in the future. Thank you very much for being such a good instructor, and helping me to get closer to good.”

More successes for Tim Caldwell of Mount Pleasant, MI
The printed version of the Crab Creek Review (2014, Volume 2) came out in December with Tim Caldwell’s short story, “The App,” and his beautiful story featuring a little boy and his grandfather, “Natural Wonders,” will be published later this week (around March 28, 2015) in the on-line journal, Link to The Penmen Review, Southern New Hampshire University’s Online Journal for Creative WritersThe Penmen Review . Tim got critique help for both stories from Christine DeSmet of UW-Madison Continuing Studies.

Diverse Voices Quarterly, Volume 7, Issue 24, is available as well on the Link to Crab Creek Review literary journalCrab Creek Review website or on the Kindle. It has Tim’s personal essay, The Fire Chief.

Local author Rhonda Fochs releases 2 new books
North Star Press of St. Cloud will release 2 new books by local author Rhonda Fochs, in the “Minnesota’s Lost Towns” series. The “Lost Towns” series highlights the stories, people, and tales of long ago towns in Minnesota. The first book in the series featured 135 northern towns and was released in May of 2014.

The second book, Minnesota’s Lost Towns: Central Edition, features over 200 towns in the central portion of Minnesota, including the metropolitan area. The third book, Minnesota’s Lost Towns: Northern Part II, highlights another dose of northern Minnesota towns and covers over 125 towns. Many towns in Todd, Cass, and Morrison counties are covered as well as many other nearby counties. Fochs learned of many towns while traveling the state with the first book. Many attendees at her presentations asked about specific towns and the third book covers many of those places.

Instructors Christine DeSmet and Rebecca Williams earn script awards
Christine DeSmet and her screenwriting partner Peggy Williams earned third place in the short script contest sponsored by the Project Famous group in Madison with their script, “The Stone Carver of King Street.” Christine’s script is about a stone carver who is grieving a loss and finds hope in unexpected ways. Christine teaches the UW’s online course in screenwriting.

And first place went to one of Christine’s screenwriting students—Rebecca Williams, who wrote “Wrong Number? Right Day.” It’s about what happens when a wrong number is dialed and two strangers do the unexpected. Rebecca teaches an online course in young adult fiction for UW-Madison Continuing Studies. Rebecca’s 12-page script will be produced this summer by the Project Famous filmmakers.

All finalists received prize packages of software, books, and more.

Kate Conklin Corcoran gets published!
Kate attended our Writing Your Nonfiction Book Proposal session in 2012 with Laurie Scheer. As a result, she writes “I just wanted to let you know that the workshop I took with you helped us in our journey toward publication, and to share a positive experience with Link to CreateSpace, an Amazon company’s websiteCreateSpace , for you to share with others.”

Ten years in the making, the anthology Under a Shared Umbrella: Tales of Synchronicity and Happenstance, an anthology of 90 stories of synchronicity–more than coincidence, less than six degrees of separation–contributed by people from all over the world has been published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Co-editor Bobbi Zehner and Kate are excited to share this project with others. Kate states; “The process did matter–it gave us a lot of joy and laughs and time spent together–but the product is the best part!” The book is available on Link to purchase Under a Shared Umbrella on Amazon.comAmazon or you can buy from her Link to Kate Conklin Corcoran’s Facebook page, where she can be contacted directlydirectly .

JZ Howard’s book All of Me Wants All of You has just received the Inspirational/Romance Fiction Gold Award!
Image of All of Me Wants All of You book coverAuthor JZ Howard has participated in our Weekend With Your Novel and Writers’ Institute events over the past 2 years. Laurie Scheer has critiqued Link to LZ Howard’s personal webpageAll of Me Wants All of You. The book has just received the Inspirational/Romance Fiction Gold Award from the 2015 Illumination Book Awards. The Illumination Awards are intended to celebrate and recognize the exemplary books produced by the ever-growing Christian branch of publishing and bookselling. A vast array of new titles is released from this thriving sector each year, bringing inspiration and answers to millions of readers exploring their faith. Congratulations to JZ!

Kristin Oakley’s novel takes top prize!
Carpe Diem, Illinois, the debut novel by Link to Kristin Oakley’s personal webpageKristin Oakley , Madison, has won the Chicago Writers Association 2014 Book of the Year Award for Non-traditionally Published Fiction. In Carpe Diem, Illinois, the first in a planned series with journalist Leo Townsend, a small town’s embrace of “unschooling” reveals massive government corruption and personal battles. Kristin worked on her novel at the our Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop and Retreat in a section for first-time novelists led by Christine DeSmet. Kristin now teaches writing online and in person at conferences for UW-Madison Continuing Studies. Congratulations, Kristin!

Valerie Poulin, Toronto, published in literary magazine
Valerie Poulin’s article, “Family Connections: Photographs,” was published Nov. 27, 2014 in the literary magazine and online blog called The Rain, Party & Disaster Society. Valerie was a student in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online course, “Creative Nonfiction 1,” with instructor Wendy Vardaman.

Ann Stawski signs with agent from Writers’ Institute 2014
Writer Ann Stawski, formerly of Wisconsin and now in Charlotte, NC, has signed with literary agent Tina Schwartz of the Purcell Agency. Ann pitched her YA called I Don’t Believe You at Writers’ Institute 2014. She also got an advanced critique at the event from Christine DeSmet of UW-Madison Continuing Studies.

Harold Thorpe has new children’s book published
Harold William Thorpe has just released another children’s chapter book. Link to learn more about Grayson’s GarageGrayson’s Garage is available from Little Creek Press, located in Mineral Point, WI.

Harold is a retired UW-Oshkosh professor and associate dean. Harold began his fiction writing career by participating in our Critique Services and programs including the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat in June and the Writers’ Institute. He now has several books published. Little Creek Press has also participated in our spring conference.

Lisa Reily earns Top 10 finalist placement in screenwriting contest
“Still Life,” a family drama by Lisa Reily, from Australia, was selected as a top ten “Official Finalist” in the drama category of the 2014 World Series of Screenwriting Contest. This follows on the heels of being nominated for 2 awards in the Fresh Voices contest.

Lisa wrote the script in our online course called, “Screenwriting: Write Your First Draft Fast,” taught by Christine DeSmet.

Minnesotan Julie Holmes wins contest with novel manuscript
Julie Holmes, Arlington, MN, is the 2014 winner of the “Critique My Novel” website’s writing contest with her novel Daughter of Pele, a suspense introducing cop Alexandra Drake in a story featuring Hawaii and the city of San Francisco. An agent has asked to see the full manuscript.

Julie’s novel was workshopped in Christine DeSmet’s Master Class during our Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat.

Connie Wanek to be published
Connie Wanek’s poem Wallye was published in the first issue of our Midwest Prairie Review journal 2 years ago. Connie has informed the Writing Division at UW-Madison Continuing Studies that she will soon have a new collection of poetry. It will be called Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems, and it’ll be published next fall (2015) by the University of Nebraska Press, a nonprofit scholarly publisher. Wallye is included in the volume.

Tim Caldwell, Mount Pleasant, MI, published in literary journals
Tim Caldwell’s short story, “Time and Again,” has been published by the Ginosko Literary Journal, Edition 15.

Another story, “The Library,” will appear in Westview, a semi-annual publication from the Language Arts Department of Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

Tim honed his writing with UW-Madison Continuing Studies Critique Services, working with Christine DeSmet.

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

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

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

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

Congratulations, Jessica! You can find her at Link to Jessica Vitalis’s personal websitejessicavitalis.com and at Twitter: Link to Jessica Vitalis’s Twitter page@jessicavitalis .

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

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

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

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

The book is available at Link to Hillary Dickinson’s author page on Amazon.comAmazon and Barnes & Noble. Like Wisconsin 5-0 on Link to Wisconsin 5-0 on FacebookFacebook .

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Duffus of Shelby, NC publishes poem in online journal
Congratulations to Matthew on publishing his first poem. “Nature Boy, C’est Moi” appears in the Spring 2014 online issue of Link to Barrelhouse literary journal’s websiteBarrelhouse .

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

James Croteau, Kalamazoo, MI, publishes poems in literary journals
James Croteau’s poems “Evan” and “Cover Boys” will be published in Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, Issue 15, July 2014. The issue will be available through Link to purchase Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, Issue 15 on Amazon.comAmazon . “Evan” first appeared in the November 2012 postcard issue of Link to Evan poem in HOOT Issue 14, November 2012HOOT: a postcard review of {mini} poetry and prose .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calgary, Alberta, Canada writer Debbie Bateman publishes in anthology
Debbie Bateman’s personal essay, “Amongst the Unseen and Unheard,” was selected for publication in Shy: An Anthology, published this fall by University of Alberta Press. Check out the anthology here. Debbie’s a graduate of our Creative Nonfiction online course with Angela Rydell as her instructor. Congratulations, Debbie, on your first personal essay publication!

Lynda Forrester’s story a finalist in Gotham Prompt Contest
Lynda Forrester, of Knoxville, TN, wrote “Meal Planning” in response to the flash fiction prompt When nobody’s watching… Her story was one of the very best submitted to the Gotham Prompt Contest. She recently completed “Fiction in a Flash,” taught by Angela Rydell. Lynda says the course “was one of the best online classes I have taken. Not only was it well presented but interesting and a great price value. Writing flash is a great way to learn to make every word count and Angela Rydell’s instruction and feedback were excellent.”

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

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

You can check out her author profile on Link to view Sue Fox’s Amazon.com author profile pageAmazon.com , and note the reference to the Writers Institute in Madison WI!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Portland, OR poet Patricia McConnell publishes via UW online course
Patricia McConnell’s poem “My Turn Next” was recently accepted for publication in Link to Pudding Magazine: The Journal of Applied Poetry websitePudding Magazine . Her poem will appear in the September issue (#61). Congratulations, Patricia!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teri Woods, Madison, WI., is this week’s Kirkus Reviews “Indie Pick” for her new suspense book The Fixer
Teri Woods, Madison, WI., a past participant in our Write-by-the-Lake Retreat and Writers’ Institute conference, is this week’s Kirkus Reviews “Indie Pick” for her new suspense book, The Fixer (available at Link to The Fixer on Amazon.comAmazon ). You can also learn more on Teri’s Link to Teri Woods’ personal websitepersonal website . Congratulations to Teri!

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

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

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

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

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

—Wes Crenshaw, PhD ABPP, KS Licensed Psychologist

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

Instructor Angela Rydell nominated for a Pushcart Prize
Angela Rydell’s poem “The Stepmother and the Mosquito Bird,” published in The Cleveland Review, was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Angela teaches “Poetry Writing: Getting to Good” and “How to Write Compelling Fiction” for UW-Madison Continuing Studies. Angela also teaches in person for us and will be teaching flash fiction next June in the annual writers’ retreat in Madison.

Instructor Christine DeSmet has a Christmas story published and is featured writer at JewelsoftheQuill.com
Christine DeSmet, teacher of many writing courses at UW-Madison Continuing Studies and director of our June retreat, is the author of a new holiday story called “The Christmas Magi of Birch Bay” in the book Christmas Gems, a collection of holiday stories published by Whiskey Creek Press. Christine is also this month’s featured author at the Jewels of the Quill Link to Jewels of the Quill website (no retired)website , where you can read excerpts of her writing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Critique Service client Carl Miller becomes first-time author
Critique Service client Carl Miller of Palm Beach, FL, is a new first-time author with a suspense, The Fires of Remorse, from Whiskey Creek Press. Carl said he’s really a hometown Wisconsin guy because he attended grade school in Milwaukee, WI.

Night of the Wolf by Sheri Matheson
Sheri Matheson, Portage, WI, is the author of Night of the Wolf, with a distinctive wolf cover, a historical suspense novel that includes details of the famous Peshtigo fire that occurred the same day as the even more famous Chicago fire. Sheri’s book can be found Link to Sheri Matheson’s book Night of the Wolf on buybooksontheweb.comhere .

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

Several writers from our programs announce good news

  • Amy Gangl (online screenwriting course), Middleton, WI, and her writing partner, Brooke Miller Hall (attended various UW writing programs), placed 8th in the 2010 Writer’s Digest script category with their screenplay “Babymoon Blues.”
  • W. Lionel Williams (critique services), Hempstead, NY, has published A Lamb to the Slaughter/Hope and Defeat in the High School Classroom through IUniverse.
  • Cathy Douglas (“Take Your Characters to Dinner” online course with Angela Rydell), Madison, WI., had her poem “Mother’s Maiden Name” published in the online version of Verse Wisconsin. And her story, “The Video Game,” was published in a recent issue of Lorelei Signal as well as the Mystic Signals Anthology.
  • Dr. Phillip Dibble (online dialogue course), Mission Hills, KS, is the author of The Fundamental Things, a book from Authorhouse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpts of the stories are available at the Jewels of the Quill Link to view the Jewels of the Quill websitewebsite .

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

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

Congratulations, Tina!

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

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

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

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

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

Critique Service grad Mary Lindsey signs with literary agent
Congratulations to Mary Lindsey, Houston, TX, who on May 2, 2008, signed with agent Elizabeth Jote of Objective Entertainment. Mary used our Critique Services to polish her writing. On her website, Mary calls Christine DeSmet of our staff her “critique goddess.” Mary’s written a fine YA book involving time travel, romance, and a true historical event. It’s the start of a series. Learn more about Mary and her writing on her Link to Mary Lindsey’s personal websitepersonal website .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpts of Christine’s stories can be found at the Link to view the Jewels of the Quill websiteJewels of the Quill website .

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