Today is National Dog Day. While Rosie was a 7th birthday present for our daughter Alice, who is now 16, she has become the best friend to all of us. I am sure that cats also make great companions for writers (I'm allergic, so I'd hardly know, though I did have a beautiful Manx cat once), but one nice thing about dogs is that at least once a day they make you get out from behind your computer and go outside for a walk. Rosie is 9 1/2 and this is still the favorite part of her day, though she also likes to cuddle, takes naps, and meditate in the sun. For a writer who still suffers from headaches over too much computer time, she is a wonderful role model.

Do you have a dog? A pet? What do you love about him or her?

Happy National Dog Day, from Rosie and me! xo
Iowa Summer Writing Festival

It's time to register for Adult Summer Camp for Writers--aka, The Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Every year, writers gather in this UNESCO City of Literature to write, learn, share, create, be inspired, inspire, prespire (whether due to hard work or Midwestern humidity or a combination of the two, I'll let you decide...) and I can't wait to be a part of the fun. I'm teaching:

FLASH FICTION IN A FLASH: Writing (and Submitting) Publishable Flash Fiction June 23-24

FIVE ELEMENTS OF THE NOVEL: One for Every Day of the Workshop Week June 24-29

WRITING THE POPULAR NOVEL: in Any Genre July 21-22

PLOTTING THE NOVEL July 22-27

Hope you'll sign up for a class with me (or with one of my fantastic colleagues)! Let's get those novels started--or finished!



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Due to Univeristy of Wisconsin system budget cuts, we don't have quite enough money to print enough copies of our beauitful color glossy literary magazine, THE SPIRIT LAKE REVIEW, as we're used to doing this year, so the college students such as Kendrick (above) and I decided to have a fund raiser. Jordan (and others) work at our local Culver's restaurant, so they organized a share night--which means that Culver's shares its sales with us. The community came out to eat burgers, fries, and custard, the students delivered food and wiped down tables, and we'll earn a percentage of the night's sales. Will it be enough to make up the difference between what the campus allocated us, and what we'll need to print a couple of hundred copies? Stay tuned... In any case, we had fun!

And if you're a Wisconsin writer, or an artist from anywhere in the U.S., then please submit your work to us by 22 February at: SpiritLakeBooU@gmail.com.

We'll try to promise not to eat it up, no matter how yummy it is!

I've always enjoyed reading Woman's World Magazine and For Women First, so imagine my joy now that I'm writing for www.FirstForWomen.com about perimenopause. Menopause is defined by not having a menstrual period for a year. Perimenopause is defined by the time before that, when a woman is losing estrogen, but is still having periods (if irregularly), and experiencing symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. The average time of perimenopause is 4 years, though it can last up to a decade. (Yeah...)

Excerpt from "Perimenopause is Turning Me Into My 15 Year-Old Daughter"

"I can imagine a magazine quiz: Is it puberty, or is it perimenopause? Choose the picture of Gordon Ramsay’s facial expression that shows how angry you become when someone eats the last of the Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia you were saving for tonight. When you listen to Nirvana’s 'Smells Like Teen Spirit,' are you young again, or just young? How many Kleenexes do you need when Sarah McLachlan’s ASPCA commercial comes on?"


I'd love it if you read my article, filed under BEST YOU, titled, "Perimenopause is Turning Me Into my Fifteen Year-Old Daughter," and tweeted it, shared it, or pinned it. And please, let me know what you think! 



Thanks, readers, and happy new year! May you be your best you--in 2018 and always!





It’s December, which means that in between grading English composition papers, reading college creative writing finals, and doing my own editing and writing, it’s time to think about … presents!

Some of my favorite presents to give—if the recipients are willing, obviously; I mean, I don’t give these to people like cough syrup, because they’re good for you—are books.

We’re a “mixed” religious family. My mother was Jewish, my dad Catholic, and my husband was also raised Catholic. In our household, we celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas. I give our daughter a book every night of Hanukkah, “because Jews value reading and education,” I used to explain to her, until my friend told me that sounded kind of bad.

“Bad, how?”

“You make it sound like other people don’t.”

“I was just referring to the fact that when people came to set fire to your house with pitchforks, the one thing they couldn’t take from you was your education. At least, that’s how my mom explained it.”

“How do pitchforks start fires?”

"Hmm?"

Anyway: I stopped with the explanation. But I kept on with the book-giving tradition.

If the books are good, my daughter reads them in a day. If they’re not good, she abandons them after a chapter.

Anyone have any good recommendations for fifteen-year old girls? Or husbands who like to read poetry? (Don’t worry. My family doesn’t look at my website.)

Happy reading and happy gift-giving, everyone!

I worked with close to fifty writers in my two weekend and two weeklong workshops at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival this June and July.  I taught a class on dialogue ("Better Talky-Talky: The Art & Craft of Dialogue") with this fantastic group below, which included a Catholic priest, a Lutheran minister, a horse lover, a recent college grad, etc., fabulous writers, all...


Then I taught a weeklong class on Plotting the Novel. Some writers came having already written drafts. One writer came without a clear idea of what she wanted to write about, and we brainstormed ideas. Most writers were somewhere in between. We spent the week plotting, so that they left with the tools and structure to go home and write or finish their awesome books. I loved it when Ellie said, "I came here with 99 problems and Kelly solved 97 of them!"  (That means that Ellie is doing better than Jay-Z at this point. Go, Ellie!) Here we are pictured in front of one of the many amazing Aristotelian plot outlines we workshopped over the week...



Flash Fiction is always a fun class for me to teach, partly because I find the form so satisfying that I love sharing my passion with others. It's a great form for me to write my Disney Princesses at Middle Age stories. And I find that almost all writers, even those with very little experience, write really well when they're forced to write with brevity, making every word count. The writers in this class, from beginning writers to advanced authors, were no exception; they all wrote publishable flash pieces that I hope they'll be sending out very soon so that the world can read their beautiful works.


I wish I'd taken a group picture of my Novel in a Week class. Somehow the week got away from me. I guess that happens when you try to write a novel in a week. We came to Iowa with a plot outline, created a character arc, wrote or revised an opening scene, wrote or took notes on what the climax needed to accomplish, created or heightened an oppositional force, and wrote, revised, or contemplated the ending. No wonder I didn't have time to take a group picture! But a waiter at the festival dinner did namange to snap this one of the participants who remained to chat a while after Thursday's dinner was over, after many of the others went back to their hotel rooms to write book jackets. (Slave driver, I know...) This was another fantastic class.


You would think that out of fifty writers, there would be some themes that would come up again and again, some voices that would feel stale, some stories that would be repetitious. But you would be wrong. Every writer I worked with had a different story to tell, a unique voice, and a different way of looking at the world.

And as the park bench says, DIFFERENT IS GOOD.

I loved all of their stories, and I loved all of the people I met at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.


I'll be teaching two weekend writing workshops and two weeklong writing workshops this summer. I can't wait! 

Flash Fiction in a Flash: Writing (and Submitting) Publishable Flash Fiction | Weekend Workshops June 24-25
Plotting the Novel | Weeklong Workshops June 25-30
Novel in a Week | Weeklong Workshops July 9-14

I'll also be giving an eleventh-hour presentation on "How to Write (and submit for production) the 10-Minute Play" on Wednesday June 28th. The presentation is at 11 AM and is free and open to all festival participants.

My creative writing workshops are fun, productive, and stimulating. Writers always come away with plenty of ideas, inspiration, newfound skills, and the confidence to complete their projects.

To register, or for more information, go to:


Come write with me this summer!


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