I have written about this a number of times over the months, but it’s time to say more. A couple of years ago, through my poetic writing muse, Geoffrey, I met Zoe Keithley. I started attending monthly writing workshops she led. Her workshops are different than your usual writing group — where people write from prompts or bring works in progress for discussion and critique.
No, instead, Zoe takes writers on a journey that takes participants both inside their heads and into the scenes that form the foundation of stories. We sit and listen for a sound outside and then place it in a scene and describe the scene. We take a location and identify the sights, sounds, and smells that exist in that location. It is a very mental, visual, creative approach. One that can and should lead to a deeper, more profound telling of a story.
Halfway through life, Zoe changed the course of her existence. She attended Columbia College in Chicago and participated in the writing program there, led by a man by the name of John Schultz. He created the Story Workshop approach that Zoe uses now in her own workshops.
Zoe has been writing almost longer than I’ve been alive. She grew up in Chicago, right around the same time as my father, who will be 82 this year. I’ll never give out the secret of Zoe’s age, but that gives you an idea, doesn’t it? 🙂
Anyway, after a year or so of attending Zoe’s workshops, I learned from poet-writing master Geoffrey that Zoe was interested in self-publishing. Like just about every other one of us out there, she has had her struggles finding an agent or a publisher. Agents who express an interest and then lose the manuscript and then take two years to provide a definitive response. Agents who … well, never mind. Zoe had grown tired of it.
I offered to help. The last year has been quite a journey as Zoe and I have embarked on an effort to put her works out there. It began with Chicago /3, a collection of three short stories. It will continue within the next few weeks with …
A novel. In paperback and e-book for the Kindle. A story, like those in Chicago /3, told the old-fashioned way.
Here’s what John Schultz says about it: “Engrossing, character-driven with strong movement, The Calling of Mother Adelli speaks to anyone who can’t help but follow their vision of doing right. Sensitive, poetic. A great read.”
Here’s what C. Michael Curtis, who just so happens to be the fiction editor for The Atlantic Monthly, says about Zoe: “Zoe Keithley is one of America’s great undiscovered novelists.”
Our original goal was to have this published by the end of Summer … 2013. Then, it was October. Then it was the end of 2013. Life intervened. Edits were needed. More reviews. Live intervened. Then there was the cover. And, well, you know, nothing ever seems to go as planned with these things.
Today, I uploaded the files to CreateSpace. Zoe and I will be reviewing the proof in the next week or two and, after that, it will all go live. Paperback and Kindle.
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be a part of this and to help Zoe realize her dreams of having this novel published. I also know that there is much more to come from her. If only we have the time and can move these things along a little faster in the future.
When I come back here to let you know that The Calling of Mother Adelli is published, I hope you’ll give it a try. I hope you’ll give Zoe a try. Take yourself back to a time and place where stories breathe and live and grow.