Photo of Me with strike sign just to the side of Melrose Gate, 
Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California.
15 May, 2023

     As a writer (and lover of well-written movies and television), I stand in solidarity with the Writers' Guild of America, whose members are striking for fair payment and rights, as their negotiations with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) have come to a standstill. 
     There was so much energy on the strike grounds, and I met so many amazing writers, whose work is so important to all of us whose lives are enriched by movies and TV, and whose livelihoods have been stalled for many years now by unfair treatment.

     I hope the negotiations end quickly. The following summation from Deadline (via LA Weekly) notes the economic cost of resolution:

» WGA Strike: The Cost of Resolution

As the Writers Guild strike enters its third week, WGA negotiators argue that the cost of settling would be significantly less than the potential losses from a prolonged strike. This comes after the union estimates that its proposals would cost the industry approximately $429 million per year, while the strike's impact on California's economy is reported to be around $30 million per day.


The Notes:

🎬 WGA negotiators claim to settle would be cheaper for studios than a long strike
💸 Union estimates its proposals would cost the industry $429 million annually
📉 California economy losing $30 million daily due to strike
📝 WGA strike is now in its third week
🚧 Studios allegedly refuse to negotiate a fair deal for writers
📺 Tens of billions are spent on programming created by writers


For more information on exactly what the WGA is asking, please see the WGA website:

WGA Negotiations Status

    Are you a writer on strike? Please tell us your story in the comments! I stand with you! 

 "Look out, Iowa City, we're coming back, and this time we mean business!" --Amy Margolis, Director, Iowa Summer Writing Festival.

Yes, that's right, the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, which has been online over Zoom since the pandemic, is returning to Iowa City this summer, and I'll be there, walking those hallowed streets, eating in those nice restaurants, visiting with old friends and making new ones, and, oh yeah, teaching three classes... :) 

Mending the Muddle of the Middle (Of the Novel), Weekend Workshop, July 15-16

The Popular Novel (In Any Genre), Weeklong Workshop, July 16-21


Killer Openings, Weekend Workshop, Weekend Workshop, July 22-23 

Registration is not yet open, but you can start planning now by booking a flight and reserving a room at the Iowa House, the Graduate Hotel, or another hotel or Airbnb in Iowa City or the vicinity. 

Go to the ISWF website for more information at Iowa Summer Writing Festival or email me for questions at 

I'd love to have you in class and see you LIVE IN PERSON in Iowa City!

the "Dark Angel" sculpture at the cemetery in Iowa City 

Developing Dynamic Characters: Live ISWF Class Over Zoom 

I'm teaching a new live class over Zoom the last weekend of April through the University of Iowa


Come write with me!

xo Kelly

Zoom selfie
Lonely picture of me by myself on Zoom. Keep me company, please!


Developing Dynamic Characters (Weekend Workshop)

Kelly Dwyer, Instructor

Dates/Time: Friday, April 28–Sunday, April 30, 2023


Introductory Meeting and Overview, Friday on Zoom:


  • 7:00–8:00 p.m. Iowa/Central Time
  • 8:00–9:00 p.m. Eastern Time
  • 5:00–6:00 p.m. Pacific Time
  • 6:00–7:00 p.m. Mountain Time

Workshop Meetings, Saturday & Sunday on Zoom:


  • 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Iowa/Central Time
  • 12:00–5:00 p.m. Eastern Time
  • 9:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Pacific Time
  • 10:00 a.m.–3:00 a.m. Mountain Time


Saturday and Sunday meetings include a one-hour break. Class meets for four hours each day.


*International students should get in touch with Kelly if you would like to take the workshop but cannot make Friday night’s intro session. 

Course Description 

Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Toni Morrison’s Sula. Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. Richard Wright’s Invisible Man. Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett. Jade Chang’s Charles Wang. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield. Junot Diaz’s Oscar Wao. Steigg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert. Jeanette Winterson’s Jeanette. Malinda Lo’s Ash. Murakami’s Oshima. …

Dynamic characters. We may love them, hate them, or love to hate them, but by the end of the novels or memoirs in which they star, we feel like we know them better than we know our friends or family—and maybe even ourselves. They’re filled with contradictions, and yet they feel real. They linger long after we’ve finished their stories. And they change, going through a transformation that carries the plot of their books. How do we go about creating and developing such complex, memorable, and dynamic characters ourselves?

In this weekend workshop, we’ll discuss how to create memorable characters, and how to deepen characters we may already be working wit h. We’ll discuss how character relates to plot, and how, in creating a character arc, we’re also creating a plot outline that will help us map out (or revise) our stories, novels, or memoirs.

The weekend workshop will include lectures, discussions, exercises, and assignments, which writers will be encouraged to share on a volunteer basis. The workshop is for writers of all levels, from beginners who are just starting out, to intermediate authors who are in the process of revision, to advanced authors who may have already completed a book (or two or three) …

Writers are free to “bring” a character they’re already working with or to create a new one from scratch. The exercises and assignments will be adapted to your needs either way. This is a mostly generative workshop in which we will be working on new material, but writers are free to revise material if they prefer.

Writers will leave the workshop with an understanding of what makes a dynamic character, and will have already begun to write or revise a complex, memorable, and dynamic character themselves.

Copyright free photo by Roberto Carlos Román Don from Unsplash 


 Kelly Dwyer's third novel, Ghost Mother, will be published by Union Square & Company in Fall 2024. Kelly taught in the University of Wisconsin system for fifteen years and has taught at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival for over twenty years. Whether in person or online, Kelly is passionate about helping other writers achieve success. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Oberlin College, Kelly grew up in San Pedro, California, and now divides her time between Madison, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles. Kelly also writes flash fiction and plays, which have been performed in Boston, New York, and Glasgow. Feel free to visit



Registration & Fees


The fee for this course is $350. Payment in full is required to register.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Class size is limited to 10.


Note: Your credit card payment will be processed by an external provider and will appear on your credit card statement as “UI Writing—Magid Center.”



Refund & Cancellation Policy


If you need to cancel your enrollment, please let us know as soon as possible. We can only offer full refunds if you cancel one week prior to the start of class. After that, before the start-date of class, we can offer a 50% refund. We cannot refund day-of cancellations, and we cannot refund or partially refund registration fees once the class has begun.



Terms & Community Policy


1.   The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a program for adults. You must be at least 18 years old to enroll in Festival workshops.


2.   The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a community built on an assumption of shared enterprise, in the spirit of mutual respect. We reserve the right to a) revoke the registration of or b) dismiss from the program any person who disrupts the learning/working environment of others. Participants in the Festival are subject to all University of Iowa policies governing conduct in our community, whether online or in person. 





Contact the Iowa Summer Writing Festival: Phone: (319) 335-4160.


Our tiny staff is out and about. If you phone and we miss you, please leave a detailed message!

If you have any questions for me, the instructor, please contact me at 

We hope to see you over Zoom in April!

Copyright free photo by Mark Olsen from Unsplash

 I'm delighted to share the news that my novel GHOST MOTHER will be published by Union Square & Co., the imprint of Barnes and Noble, in 2024.

"Author of THE TRACKS OF ANGELS and SELF-PORTRAIT WITH GHOSTS, Kelly Dwyer's GHOST MOTHER, part psychological ghost story, part murder mystery, part character study, in which a young woman falls in love with a decrepit mansion, only to discover that her dreams house was the site of a gruesome triple murder/suicide in the 1950s, and she begins to experience strange occurrences that lead her to believe the house is haunted; but are her experiences of the ghost real, or is this a cascading mental breakdown? To Claire Wachtel at Union Square 7 Co. by Henry Dunow and Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner."

I've been working on this book for many years, so if you're a writer, the moral is, keep writing! And if you're a reader, I hope to connect with you again next year and you'll let me know what you think...

In the meantime, I'm wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!

(photo of lights and moon in San Pedro, CA, my hometown) 


BOOK LOVERS by Emily Henry was one of the many GoodReads Choice Award winners (and nominees) that I read and enjoyed this year. It's about books, book lovers, and love, and it's also laugh-out-loud funny...  

What are some of the favorite books you read this year? Please share in the comments, so I can add to my (ever-growing) reading list (and buy a few holiday gifts for myself), :) and feel free to connect with me on Goodreads!


(from @TheGoodwillLibrarian)

    When the leaves turn gold and red, the air feels crisp and smells like wet leaves, the temperature drops to the 50s, and pumpkins and mums appear on porches, my thoughts turn to scary books and films. 
    I love watching my favorite creepy movies, and I love re-reading and discovering new shiver-inducing books. A few recent discoveries these past few weeks have been Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak, about a young nanny, recently sober, who comes to live with a family with a five year-old child. When he starts drawing dark, disturbing pictures, the nanny, unsure of what she's seeing, begins to investigate an old murder. Fervor by Alma Hatsu combines Japanese monster stories with the Japanese internment camps in the United States during World War II, as well as a Zombie-like illness. Ray Russell's Haunted Castles: The Complete Gothic Stories contain some gothic stories that seem as though they could have been written during any time period, even though these were mostly written in the '70s. My favorite is the tale of how a man came to acquire a permanent disturbing grin on his face.
       I'm a fast reader, and these were page-turners. If there's a ghost haunting me, standing behind me, reading slowly, I'm afraid I disappointed them, for I was turning these pages as fast as I could to make sure the characters got out alive....
       What about you? Read any good (scary) books lately? What are you looking forward to reading this fall? 

Photo by Patrick Tomasso from Unsplash

The Iowa Summer Writing Festival Students and yours truly at our "Killer Openings" class, July 2022

"Happy Families are all alike; unhappy families are unhappy in their own way."--Tolstoy

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in posession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
--Jane Austen

"I am an invisible man." --Ralph Ellison

    In this weekend workshop over Zoom, these ten writers and I discussed what makes a Killer Opening Line, a Killer Opening Paragraph and first page(s), a Killer Inciting Incident, and a Killer First Act. Our purpose was twofold: we studied the subject and workshopped opening scenes in order to write Killer Openings that editors, agents, and readers would not be able to put down; and in order to have a roadmap for ourselves so that we would be able to finish our novels, stories and memoirs.

    Some writers came to the class with a project in mind, and some came without any idea about what they were going to write about. Some came with a novel completely finishshed, and these writers were interested in learning how to make their openings more compelling as they revised. 

    It was a fantastic class and weekend, due in part to the fascinating topic, and due in large part to the fantastic group of writers who participated.

    I'll be teaching the class again in the fall, and I'd love to have you in it.

    To sign up for the Festival's email list, just write to: iswfestival@uiowa,edu

    Hope to see you in a future class, so we can write some KILLER OPENINGS together!

Photo by Benjamin Balázs from Unsplash 


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