Snowflakes and Success Stories


Yesterday in Madison, the air was swirling with the most gorgeous snowflakes.  I snapped a few with my phone on my way to work and I thought I’d share a few – especially for those of you in warmer climates.

I have a few student and instructor updates to share, as well:

  • 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 and at Twitter: @jessicavitalis.

  • Tim Caldwell of Mount Pleasant, Mich., 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.

  • Our own Laurie Scheer wrote a guest post for Jane Friedman’s blog:  “How to Tell If Your Story Idea Is Mediocre – And How to Improve It”.  You can check it out here.
  • Valerie Poulin, Toronto, published in literary magazineValerie Poulin’s article, “Family Connections: Photographs,” was published Nov. 27, 2014 in the literary magazine and online blog called, The Rain, Party & Disaster Society.

    Check it out:

    Valerie was a student in the UW-Madison Continuing Studies online course, “Creative Nonfiction 1,” with instructor Wendy Vardaman.

  • Author JZ Howard has participated in our Weekend With Your Novel and Writers’ Institute events over the past two years. Laurie Scheer has also critiqued this volume of his work entitled All of Me Wants All of You. The book has just received the Inspirational/Romance Fiction Gold Award from the 2015 Illumination Book Awards.  Here is further information.  Congratulations to JZ!  (You can read more about the Illumination Awards here – JZ’s book is #15.)

Hope you’re all having a fantastic week!IMG_9567



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