We're novelists, short story writers, essayists, poets, journalists, memoirists. We're also teachers who have spent thousands of hours in the classroom. Our team's deep understanding of the written word combined with our teaching experience give us the tools needed to help our clients tell their authentic stories.
Right now, in our first year, we're lean and mean but we collaborate with a highly-experienced group of former Columbia College Chicago adjunct professors trained in the Story Workshop® Approach to the Teaching of Writing, poets, and visual artists.
CHRISTINE RICE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Christine Rice's novel Swarm Theory was recently awarded the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award (Honorable Mention, Traditional Fiction), an Independent Publisher Book Award or ‘IPPY’ (Silver for Best First Book), and a National Indie Excellence Award – Winner (Regional Fiction – Midwest). Swarm Theory also made PANK’s Best Books of 2016, was included in Powell’s Books Midyear Roundup, the Best Books of 2016 So Far, and was called “a gripping work of Midwest Gothic” by Michigan Public Radio’s Desiree Cooper. Most recently, Christine's short stories have been published in BELT’s Rust Belt Anthology, The Literary Review, American University of Beirut’s Rusted Radishes, F Magazine, Roanoke Review, and Bird’s Thumb, among others. Her essays, interviews, and long-form journalism have appeared in The Rumpus, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Big Smoke, The Millions, the Chicago Tribune, Detroit’s Metro Times, among other publications, and her radio essays have been produced by WBEZ Chicago. She is currently the managing editor of Hypertext Magazine, and Executive Director of the social justice storytelling nonprofit organization Hypertext Magazine & Studio (HMS). Before creating HMS, Christine taught in Columbia College Chicago's Fiction Writing Department for over 20 years
KAREN HALVORSEN SCHRECK, DIRECTOR
Karen Halvorsen Schreck is the author of the historical novel Broken Ground (Simon & Schuster 2016), called a “masterfully written . . . must-read” by USA Today. Her previously published historical novel, Sing for Me, was described as “impressive…a well-wrought and edifying page-turner” (Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review). Karen’s Young Adult novel, While He Was Away (Sourcebooks), was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award. She’s also the author of Dream Journal (Hyperion), which was a 2006 Young Adult BookSense Pick, and the award-winning children’s book Lucy’s Family Tree (Tilbury House). Her short stories and articles have appeared in Hypertext, The Rumpus, Belt, and Image, as well as other literary journals and magazines, and have received various awards, including a Pushcart Prize, an Illinois State Arts Council Grant, and in 2008, first prize awards for memoir and devotional magazine writing from the Evangelical Press Association. Karen received her doctorate in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She works as a freelance writer and editor, teaches writing and literature, and lives with her husband, the photographer Greg Halvorsen Schreck, and their two children in Wheaton, Illinois.
SHEREE GREER, DIRECTOR
A Milwaukee, Wisconsin native, Sheree L. Greer is a writer and educator living in Tampa, Florida. She founded The Kitchen Table Literary Arts Center to showcase and support the work of women writers of color and is the author of two novels, Let the Lover be and A Return to Arms, a short story collection, Once and Future Lovers, and a student writing guide, Stop Writing Wack Essays. Sheree is a VONA/VOICES alum, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice grantee, and Ragdale Artist House Rubin Fellow. She has completed Creative Capital Core Skills workshops and was awarded an NEA artist grant to support her current work in creative nonfiction. Sheree teaches composition, creative writing, fiction workshop, and African American literature at St. Petersburg College in Florida.
CHELSEA LAINE WELLS, DIRECTOR
Chelsea is a graduate of the Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing Department whose work has appeared in Third Point Press, The Other Stories, Litro, Cease, Cows, The Butter, PANK, Wigleaf, Heavy Feather, Change Seven, Molotov Cocktail, and others. Honors include first place in the Columbia University Scholastic Press Association Awards, first place in the Guild Complex Literary Awards, nomination for two Pushcart Prizes and four Best of the Net awards, and finalist in Heavy Feather's Chapbook Contest, among others. Her work is represented by Maria Massie of Lippincott Massie McQuilken. She served twice as a co-editor of Hair Trigger, Columbia College Chicago's annual literary anthology, as well as a judge in CCC's Young Author Writing Competition. She is also founding editor of Hypernova Lit, an online journal dedicated to publishing the writing and visual art of high school students. Chelsea works as a high school librarian and creative writing teach at Bryan Adams High School Leadership Academy. She lives in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, Texas. Find more @ .
GREG GERDING, DIRECTOR
Greg is a noted underground poet and publisher. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in English Language and Literature, and then hit the streets to continue his education as a scholar and scrivener of the real world. He has published seven books: five books of prose poetry, a collection of essays entitled Venue Voyeurisms, and his most recent book I'll Show You Mine (The Sager Group, 2013), an oral history on the subject of intimacy. Find out more @ UNIVERSITY OF HELL PRESS
CYN VARGAS, DIRECTOR
Cyn Vargas’ short story collection, On The Way, (Curbside Splendor, 2015) received positive reviews from Shelf Awareness, Library Journal, Heavy Feather Review, and Necessary Fiction, among others. Book accolades include: Newcity Lit's Top 5 Fiction Books by Chicago Authors, Chicago Book Review's Favorite Books of 2015, Bustle's 11 Short Story Collections Your Book Club Will Love, and Chicago Writers Association 2015 Book of the Year, Honorable Mention. Her prose and essays have been published in the Chicago Reader, Word Riot, Split Lip Magazine, Hypertext Magazine, Midnight Breakfast, Bird’s Thumb, and elsewhere. She received a Top 25 Finalist and Honorable Mention in two of Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers Contests, is the recipient of The Guild Literary Complex Prose Award in Fiction, is a company member of the award-winning storytelling organization 2nd Story and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. She is currently working on her novel based in 1980s Chicago. Find out more @ CYNVARGAS.COM
JANET JOSEPH, DIRECTOR
Janet Joseph is a founding member of Impact Grants Chicago, a 501c3 that awards high impact grants that address critical needs and social issues in Chicago. She served on the board of directors of its predecessor, Impact 100 Chicago, from 2014 – 2016 and held the position of Grant Review Director. Janet served as President of the Board of Directors of Northside College Prep Parent Network from 2012 –2014. She is employed at @properties as a real estate broker and owns a home design business, A Good Eye. Janet’s LinkedIn profile can be found HERE.
Vesna Neskow is the author of travel guidebooks of Paris, London, Rome, Florence/Tuscany, and New York as well as guides on art and art exhibitions. Her short stories and features have been published in Hypertext Magazine (USA), Métal Hurlant (France), Alter Alter (Italy), and Playboy, Gynaika, and Ena (Greece). Her TV work has been produced by CBS Productions and independent studios, and broadcast nationally on PBS, A&E, and The Disney Channel, and internationally on RAI-2 (Italy). Vesna has translated numerous screenplays, including the Jacques Perrin/Galatée Film production Oceans. The recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts fiction fellowship, Vesna is the founder and poetry curator of “Pesma,” a series on Serbian poetry and song. For ten years Vesna served as president of Four Way Books (New York City) and, for eight years sat on the Board of the Guild Literary Complex (Chicago), serving as Vice President (2011-2012) and Treasurer (2012-2018).
After 20 plus years working with nonprofits, government agencies, literary presses, and authors, Ben Tanzer is excited any time he gets to talk to people about how they can enhance their focus on communications, branding, strategy, and organizational change. Ben currently serves as a Lecturer in the Lake Forest College In The Loop Program where I teach LOOP 202: Professional Development in the 21st Century and consults on creative strategy and story development with a variety of organizations and clients.Prior to this, he worked at the New York Foundling Hospital, the Heartland Alliance, and most recently at Prevent Child Abuse America for seventeen years, including serving as the Senior Director of Strategic Communications during his final eight years on staff. While at Prevent Child Abuse America, he introduced the organization to social media, wrote and managed grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, served as staff lead on the organization’s current strategic plan, and co-scripted the 2010 Emmy award-winning Ounce of Prevention of Florida “Prevent Child Abuse” public service campaign.
During this time, Ben also oversaw the launch of The Montana Institute's blog, Twitter and Facebook pages, working with the Institute's team to craft content and uncover their voice; and in supporting the emergence of Chicago independent publisher Curbside Splendor, played an active role in the acquisition, launch, and/or promotion of a number of acclaimed books including May We Shed These Human Bodies by Amber Sparks, Don't Start Me Talkin' by Tom Williams, Zero Fade by Chris L. Terry, The Old Neighborhood by Bill Hillmann, Once I Was Cool by Megan Stielstra, and The Dead Wrestler Elegies by W. Todd Kaneko.
In addition, Ben has had work published in Punk Planet, Clamor, and Men’s Health; published a series of award-winning books including Be Cool – a memoir (sort of), SEX AND DEATH, and Orphans; frequently speaks on topics such as branding, publishing, and writing personal narrative; and curates the cultural website This Blog Will Change Your Life.