From traditional to self-publishing: Diana Star Helmer

Helmer 300dpi 2000px highDiana Star Helmer switched to epublishing after traditionally publishing 43 nonfiction books and the popular picture book, The Cat Who Came for Tacos. Her ebook novel for middle-grade students, Elsie’s Afghan, highlights the transformative power of a shy girl’s love for the afghan hound she knitted. On The Studio, Diana discusses why, despite her love of printed pages, she embraced new technology. She also reveals tidbits about her creative process and how she and her husband, fellow writer Tom Owens, facilitate each other’s writing.

Diana’s book, Belles of the Ballpark, about the All American Girls Baseball League, was named to the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age list. She and Tom had seven of their coauthored books about Women’s National Basketball Association teams published in one year. That same year Diana had an eighth book, American Woman Suffragists, published, as well.

Admirably versatile, Diana also writes plays and teaches piano. She assisted aspiring writers by helping found statewide conferences of the Iowa chapter of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She also helped organize that organization’s mentorship program. Tune in!

Linda Egenes & Fairfield’s First Annual Local Authors Exhibition


Linda Egenes will explain “How to Stay Healthy While You Write (Or Work Any Desk Job)” at the Fairfield Public Library Wednesday, April 17th during Health & Fitness presentations from 7 – 9 PM. Three other wellness authors will speak Wednesday, too, and Mayor Ed Malloy will laud the First Annual Local Author’s Exhibition.

The Exhibition begins Monday at 7 PM with poetry readings at the Fairfield Public Library in celebration of National Library Week (April 14th-20th).

For details on all Exhibition events, see and tune in to The Studio with Cheryl on KRUU 100.1 FM Monday at 1 PM CDT.

Classical Music: Nancy McFarland Gaub & Gene Gaub Predict Its Future

Gene Gaub

At 7:30 PM on Sunday, April 7th the McFarland Gaub Violin and Piano Duo will perform three Johann Brahms sonatas at the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. On a recent KRUU episode of “The Studio” Nancy and Gene played bits of each sonata and discussed how each one is unique. They also made predictions about the future of classical music.
Gene and Nancy, husband and wife, are both faculty members in Grinnell College’s Music Department. As a pianist, Gene made his New York debut performing Bartok’s First Piano Concerto with the Juilliard Orchestra at Lincoln Center. He’s given solo piano recitals at Carnegie Hall and many other venues. He’s also performed with orchestras in Vienna and Salzburg. A specialist in chamber music, he’s performed with many ensembles throughout the U.S.
Nancy was a member of the first violin section of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for many years and now performs as soloist with the Grinnell Symphony Orchestra and the Ottumwa Symphony. The recipient of many music awards, Nancy has performed in festivals throughout the U.S. and in Mexico, Canada, Africa, and Europe. She’s also enjoyed recording many styles of music with popular artists and for film scores and commercials in New York City
Together Nancy and Gene founded and are co-artistic directors of Western New York’s critically acclaimed Roycroft Chamber Music Festival, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in June.
Nancy Gaub

Help Rob Cline Save a Genre! Read 365 Short Stories in 2013!


Rob Cline, Author of Pizza by the Slice

My February Reading List

32) The Last Rung on the Ladder, Stephen King

33) One for the Road, Stephen King

34) I Know What You Need, Stephen King

35) Sometimes They Come Back, Stephen King

36) Mrs. Box, Michael Chabon

37) House Hunting, Michael Chabon

38) Spikes, Michael Chabon

39) Love Is Not a Pie, Amy Bloom

40) Welding With Children, Tim Gautreaux

41) The Piano Tuner, Tim Gautreaux

42) Dancing with the One-Armed Gal, Tim Gautreaux

43) The Resurrection of Trout Fishing in America Shorty, W.P. Kinsella

44) The Pine Oil Writers Conference, Tim Gautreux

45) The Garden Party, Katherine Mansfield

46) Miss Brill, Katherine Mansfield

47) Paper Garden, Jerome Wilson

48) The School, Donald Barthelme

49) A Rose for Emily, William Faulkner

50) Barn Burning, William Faulkner

51) The Lady with The Pet Dog, Anton Chekov

52) Full Dark, No Stars, Stephen King

53) Bliss, Katherine Mansfield

54) The Fly, Katherine Mansfield

55) A Simple Heart, Gustave Flaubert

56) Shiloh, Bobbie Ann Mason

57) The Open Boat, Stephen Crane

58) A Good Marriage, Stephen King

59) A Party Down at the Square, Ralph Ellison

Thanks, Rob Cline, for suggesting a resolution I can keep!

The African American Museum of Iowa Is (Almost) 20 Years Old!

African American Museum of Iowa

Writers Visit the African American Museum of Iowa

Artist Jeni Reeves’ vibrant rainforest murals enliven the “Western Africa: Before the Boats” exhibit at the African American Museum of Iowa. Recently Jeni and museum curator Lynn Koos showed me and five writing friends Jeni’s detailed murals and the many other great features of this exhibit, which runs through March 30th, 2014. Next Monday on “The Studio” on KRUU-LP 100.1 FM, Lynn will explain this exhibit and the museum’s mission. She’ll also reveal plans for the museum’s upcoming 20th anniversary celebration.

B.K. Loren: How to Write Like a Wolf

B.K. Loren, Author of Animal, Mineral, Radical

B.K. Loren, Author of Animal, Mineral, Radical

Why did the editor of B.K. Loren‘s first book of essays accuse her of writing like a wolf? How does B.K. strive daily to live up to that accusation? B.K. answers these questions during an in-depth discussion of the creative process that helped her produce her novel,Theft; her first essay collection, The Way of the River: Adventures and Meditations of a Woman Martial Artist; and her newest book, Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food. B.K.’s writing has garnered Pushcart nominations, fellowships, and inclusion among Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies. To learn how B.K. crafts prose that reviewers deem visceral, lyrical, and incandescent, tune in to “The Studio” on KRUU Monday, Feb. 11 at 1 PM CST or on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7 AM CST.

Reading 365 Short Stories in 2013: January Tally = 31

1)   Lily White Boys by William Maxwell

2)   Blood Drive by John Grisham

3) Girl by Jamaica Kincaid

4) Thank You  Ma’am by Langston Hughes

5) The Personal Touch by Chet Williamson

6) A Worn Path by Eudora Welty

7) So Much Water, So Close to Home by Raymond Carver

8) Distance by Raymond Carver

9)  Lifelines by Rita Ciresi

10) Failed Fathers by Lewis Turco

11) First Cousins by Salvatore La Puma

12) Wear it in Good Health by Salvatore La Puma

13) Roman Fever by Edith Wharton

14) A Small, Good Thing, Raymond Carver

15) The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

16) The Grave by Katherine Anne Porter

17) Mother by Sherwood Anderson

18) Reply to a Dead Man by Walter Mosley

19) Paul’s Case by Willa Cather

20) The Killers by Ernest Hemingway

21) A Very Short Story by Ernest Hemingway

22) Little Frogs in a Ditch by Tim Gatreau

23) The Swimmer by John Cheever

24) Waiting for the Evening News by Tim Gatreaux

25) License to Steal, Tim Gatreaux

26) Returnings, Tim Gatreaux

27) Mercedes Kane, Elizabeth McCracken

28) What We Know About the Lost Aztec Children, Elizabeth McCracken

29) The Story of an Hour, Kate Chopin

30) San, Lan Samantha Chang

31) Cerebus Sleeps, B.K. Loren

An Easy-to-Keep Resolution for 2013

Cedar Rapids, Iowa Cultural Professional Rob Cline

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Arts & Culture Professional Rob Cline

Rob Cline, my second guest on “The Studio,” captured my attention by writing an article for The Iowa Source. His title–Reading Resolutions for 2013: Rob’s 365 Short Stories–mesmerized me. Short stories are the genre I most love to read. Bookcases all over my house are stocked with books of short stories I bought during different eras in my life. I’ve read them all, but for years I’ve longed for the time and discipline to sit down and reread them. Many times I’ve thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to read a short story every single day?’ Once I even taught a high school class where that’s exactly what we did; the students and I silently read (then discussed) a different  story–most were short, shorts–during each and every class. The stories the students wrote for that class surpassed many I’d seen from other writing students; could all that reading have made a difference? (Yes, is my guess.)

Well, here it is: day 26 of 2013, and I have Rob Cline to thank for the peaceful half-hour or so I’ve spent each day revisiting texts that feel like old friends from long ago. Right on target, today I finished Story #26 (“Returnings” by Tim Gatreaux). Honestly, I think this is one resolution I’m likely to keep straight on through to December 31st. Did you know June 21st, the longest day of the year, is International Short Story Day? Maybe that day I’ll stage some kind of celebratory read-in for reaching the nearly-half-way-there point.

As it turns out Rob Cline does much more than sit around thinking up fantastic New Year’s resolutions. As a Cedar Rapids Arts and Cultural Professional, he wears a lot of hats and they’re all related to forging meaningful connections between artists and audiences. Rob earned a B.A. and an M.A. in Teaching with an emphasis in English, Philosophy and Secondary English Education at the University of Iowa. Specializing in marketing, writing, editing, and public speaking, he’s currently the Director of Marketing and Communications for the University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium, the Grants Manager of the Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, and the Series Coordinator for Outloud, the Metro Library Network Author Series.

While maintaining these positions, Robb also somehow managed to write and self-publish a partially autobiographical mystery in 2012. Murder By the Slice features a pizza delivery driver whose hobby of devising rules of peaceful pizza delivery is interrupted by the murder of one of his customers. Tune in to learn more about Rob’s 365 Short Stories project and his many other creative endeavors.

Murder by the Slice by Rob Cline

Murder by the Slice by Rob Cline