My former and present students at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival have had a great year! Many of them have finished their novels and memoirs, and some have published them! Here is a probably not definitive round-up of their recent book publications. I hope you will join me in celebrating their accomplishments (and yours!) and buying and reading these wonderful books:


Patricia Boomsma’s latest novel, Flotsam, came out at the end of September, 2023. Please visit her website and find it at or wherever books are sold: 

Flotsam by Patricia Boomsma


Renee Enna’s novel Serendipity at Sea is available on Amazon as a paperback and e-book:

 Serendipity at Sea by Renee Enna

Jennifer Rosner’s novel, Once We Were Home (MacMillan/Flatiron books), was published in hardcover in March, 2023, will come out in paperback in March, 2024, and is now available in hardcover, as an e-book, and on Audible.  Please find it at Barnes & Noble or wherever books are sold:

Jennifer Rosner's Once We Were Home

Sally Stevens, author of I Sang That: A Memoir of from Hollywood, published in 2022, will also be publishing The Odyssey of Mrs. Naomi Billingsley very soon. Please look for it, and in the meantime, please find the former wherever books are sold.

I Sang That by Sally Stevens


What’s your news? How is your writing coming along? Let us know in the comments!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year, filled with love, friendship, inspired writing, and book deals!

Xo Kelly





 I'm excited to announce that I'll be teaching some upcoming writing classes online live over Zoom through the University of Iowa's Iowa Summer Writing Festival! 

Please join me for Flash Fiction in a Flash weekend of December 1-3, 

Prepping for Publication, a one-day workshop on December 9,

and/or Advanced Novel Workshop, an eight-week workshop beginning in January.

For more information, and to register, please go to 

ISWF Online Course Catalog

If you have questions, email me at

Let's get inspired for the new year!

Hope to see you and write with you soon! Kelly

 How are you doing? 

When the world is a mess, I find that writing helps. Limiting the news enough to stay informed but not get overwhelmed helps. And animals, who keep us in the moment, help.

What helps you stay cared for and sane in tough times?

And in the spirit of most trivial thing possible to post about right now... Happy National Pug Day from me and Roman, at five months old. Love and peace to all. xo


(Picture of me, Kelly, wearing a t-shirt that reads, "Coffee, Books, Dogs.")

My time is no longer my own. Our house is a wreck, with shoes and toys all over the floor. I'm awakened too early every morning to the whines of a joyful young being ready to take on the day. And yet, all this trouble is worth it, because we're all so in love with our new family member. 

If it sounds like we adopted a toddler, you're not far wrong. Meet Roman, our three-month-old pug puppy.

(Picture of Roman)

He is a handful, but he is a happy, friendly, adorable, sweet handful, and after grieving over our beloved Rosie for over a year, we are so delighted to have a new dog in our lives. 

Roman (loosely named after one of our characters in the TV show "Succession") loves everyone, and everyone loves him. 

(Above: Roman with daughter Alice and husband Louis; 
Below: Roman with Alice and her boyfriend Ziggy)  

Are you a dog person? What kind of pets do you have? And do you agree that "Coffee, Books, Dogs" is a pretty good list for contentment? πŸ’—


    The University of Iowa's Iowa Summer Writing Festival is returning to campus this summer, and I can't wait! While I so enjoy the convenience and opportunities for forging connections around the world that the live online classes afford, there is nothing quite like being in this UNESCO City of Literature and meeting writers in person. 

    I'll be teaching three classes:
    Weekend Workshop, July 15-16:
    "Mending the Muddle of the Middle" is for novelists (and memoirists) who find themselves in that quagmire of the middle of the novel (or memoir), and want some help (in the form of insights, strategies, and assignments) to help them get to their Electrifying Ending!™  (forthcoming...)

    Weeklong Workshop, July 16-21
    "The Popular Novel (in any genre)" will help novelists (and memoirists) increase readership, no matter if they're writing literary novels, rom-coms, sci-fi, YA, etc., by discussing and writing exercises based on some of the most important elements in fiction that are proven to make novels "popular."

     Weekend Workshop, July 22-23
    "Killer Openings" is a course designed to not only help writers write killer opening lines, pages, inciting incidents, and first acts, but also to help writers create a course for themselves which will put them on the right track for completing their novels (or memoirs or stories). 

To register, and for more information, please see the links below. If you have questions, feel free to contact me at

Let's write our novels together in Iowa City this summer!



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
πŸ’Έ Union estimates its proposals would cost the industry $429 million annually
πŸ“‰ California economy losing $30 million daily due to strike
πŸ“ WGA strike is now in its third week
🚧 Studios allegedly refuse to negotiate a fair deal for writers
πŸ“Ί 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 RomΓ‘n 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) 

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