We asked three women with multiple novels under their belt to tell us what it’s like to be a writer in Milwaukee, and how they approach their craft.

Hundreds of thousands of books are published in the United States annually. Novels. Memoirs. Academic texts. Essay collections. Even books about books, about the process of actually sitting down and putting pen to paper in order to turn a barely-there idea into a polished, 100,000-word manuscript that publishers would salivate over.

All that is to say, a lot of ink has already been spilled over how and when and why an aspiring author ought to approach the writing process.

But much of it tends to be vague at best (William Faulkner’s quip to “Kill your darlings” makes sense but isn’t particularly instructive), and downright unusable at worst (like Ernest Hemingway’s suggestion that “All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed”).

So we asked three local novelists – all of whom will be making appearances at the 2019 Write Touch Conference taking place in our fair city April 4-7 – for the sort of concrete, genuinely applicable advice they wish they’d received when they were just starting out.

Here’s what they had to say:

“Any aspiring author, or even those well-trenched, can never get enough networking. Just like in any business or trade, shaking hands and meeting face-to-face opens more doors and provides inspiration; sometimes from the unlikeliest of corners, but the ripples are always worth it. Also, taking in a master class on craft and diving deep into character analysis is always eye-opening and exciting.”

Sara Dahmen, Acclaimed coppersmith and author of the historically inspired Flats Junction Series


“Take advantage of the wonderful author events at Boswell Books in Milwaukee and Books & Co in Oconomowoc. These are fantastic opportunities to hear authors discuss their writing process and books, and for you to ask them questions of your own.”

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Amy E. Reichert, Author of several novels set in Milwaukee, including The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go


“You must be persistent in your desire to succeed! Learn everything you can about writing technique and the publishing business. Do not take rejections personally – even JK Rowling and Stephen King received many rejections before their first yes.”

Valerie Biel, A Kindle Book Award Finalist and author of the YA Circle of Nine series


Books by all of the authors included in the above roundup can be found at local bookshops, like Boswell, Voyageur and Downtown Books.

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