Valerie Laken's short story collection, Separate Kingdoms, was longlisted for the Story Prize and the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Her novel, Dream House, received the Anne Powers prize for fiction and was listed among Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2009. Her work has been published in numerous journals, including Ploughshares, Chicago Tribune, and Alaska Quarterly Review, and has received a Pushcart Prize and a Missouri Review Editors' Prize. She holds an MA in Slavic literature and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan, and she teaches in the graduate program for creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Thoughts on Workshop: My goal in workshop is to foster a supportive community where writers feel safe sharing complex, imperfect work, and where readers are dedicated to helping their peers discover the best ways to advance and refine that work. We learn and show respect by taking one another’s work seriously and offering generous, thoughtful reactions rather than formulaic instructions. In my workshops, the author is free to ask questions, express their intentions for their work, and redirect the discussion. Our goal, as a group, is not to impose our values or aesthetic on someone else’s work, but to help each author discover and build on what is most unique and essential in their voice.