Pen to Paper

Local Authors Demystify the Road to Publishing
By Rachel Werner

Best-selling Madison novelists Susanna Daniel, Michelle Wildgen, Erin Celello and Ann Garvin are working in pairs to share their expertise with other writers yearning to publish the next great American book. These dynamic duos offer intensive writing courses that are more accessible than some university or post-graduate programs. And they offer publishing tips and help budding writers find agents and learn plot and character development.

Daniel and Wildgen describe their Madison Writers’ Studio, which they co-founded in 2013, as a passion project. “We both love developing workshops and how honing a particular skill can elevate the level of any piece—our Advanced Fiction Workshop, for example, and our Character Bootcamp are both four-to eight-week classes that work with any focus or theme a writer is interested in exploring. We converse with writers about their work and process—at the craft level, at the level of impulse and drive, and at the level of execution,” Wildgen says.

For writers looking for a more immersive program, The Fifth Semester, founded by Celello and Garvin, offers two three-day residencies, first at a swanky mansion in Chicago and then in New York City. In between are four months of hands-on mentoring.

Both women say getting that first book in print is a lofty, yet attainable goal.

“Our greatest desire is to build community and connection. Writers are such solo souls; we need each other to flesh out our publishing dreams,” Garvin says. “Erin and I are teachers at heart. We work with people wherever they are in their writing journey; but we don’t just want a hit-and-run because, in the end, it is the connection that keeps me nourished. I write stories to stay connected to the world—it just took my career journey to find what my inner world really craved.”


By Erin Celello: “Learning to Stay” and “Miracle Beach”

By Susanna Daniel: “Stiltsville” and “Sea Creatures”

By Ann Garvin: “I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around,” “The Dog Year” and “On Maggie’s Watch.”

By Michelle Wildgen: “Bread and Butter,” “But Not for Long” and “You’re Not You.”

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