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!

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

Promoting Self-Published Books

Kate & Book

Author Kate McGuinness read from her legal thriller Terminal Ambition on Sept. 19th, 2012 at the Fairfield, Iowa Public Library. Her publicity efforts for this self-published mystery novel, which educates readers about sexual harassment in work places, began nearly a year before its publication date. Listen to Kate’s tips regarding how to promote self-published novels (and her advice to people experiencing sexual harassment at work) on Kate makes good use of social media sites to promote her book: visit her Pinterest boards for examples of creative marketing techniques.

Kate McGuinness and Cheryl Fusco Johnson

Kate McGuinness and Cheryl Fusco Johnson

Legal Thriller Explores Sexual Harassment


Kate McGuinness, Terminal Ambition

Friday, Sept. 7 on Writers Voices I’ll interview a very learned and accomplished guest. Kate McGuinness studied writing at the University of Southern California where one of her teachers was Janet Fitch, the author of the Oprah book club selection, “White Oleander.” Kate studied creative writing at UCLA, too. Earlier she’d earned a J.D. from the University of San Diego. For 17 years Kate practiced law at a major international law firm, where she was one of a handful of women to achieve partnership status. Later, a Fortune 500 company recruited Kate to be its General Counsel. Eventually Kate decided to leave the corporate world and devote herself to writing. Today she uses her writing career to advocate for women’s rights. Her essays on women’s issues have appeared in many publications, including Forbes Woman, The Women’s Jezebel, and The Girls Guide to Law School. In 2012, Kate’s first novel, Terminal Ambition, was published: it’s a legal thriller that explores issues of discrimination and sexual harassment. An appendix defines sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, and other pertinent terms. Kate also includes 12 steps people faced with these problems can take. Join us Friday at 1 PM CT on Writers Voices at!