University of Iowa

Mary Kay Shanley

Mary Kay Shanley has 10 books that cross multiple genres, tapping into her skills as storyteller, essayist, historian and journalist. She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes, a little book about friendship, became a best-seller. An Iowa Author of the Year, Shanley has led writing groups forever. She also co-sponsors four-day reflective writing retreats throughout the Midwest and presents programs on behalf of Humanities Iowa. They range from Writing the Obituary—Yours or Someone Else’s to Our State Fair—Iowa’s Blue Ribbon Story, an award-winner. She’s taught classes within the walls at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville—a life-changing experience. This is her twenty-first year with the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Mary Kay and her husband live in West Des Moines. Over a period of years, their three adult children relocated from Washington, DC, New York City and San Francisco to Los Angeles. This saves a lot of money when it’s time to go visit everyone. Still, there is this assumption that visiting parents pay for those dinners at nice restaurants.

Instructor Events

Weekend July 13 to July 14 2019
Instructor(s): 
Mary Kay Shanley

Even before the first draft of a memoir is written―sometimes before the first sentence is written―a wave of doubt can sweep the writer out to sea. “What if,” you gulp, “people disagree with what I write?” It’ll probably happen for one simple reason: Your memoir is written from your perspective. You see, understand, remember and interpret the people, places and events that merge to become your story from your vantage point. Others in your story see it from their vantage points, and these twains will not all meet.

Weekend July 27 to July 28 2019
Instructor(s): 
Mary Kay Shanley

A common problem that plagues writers without a boatload of experience is attempting to tell your reader everything. All-At-Once. But what results is a lot of information that skims the surface. Period. That means your readers miss the richness of all those smaller-picture stories waiting beneath. Stories that harbor marvelous details and vibrant conversations, characters who unfold on the page, places rich and real. Stories strung together in a timely manner—one after another—deliver the heart and soul of your project.