The Fifth Semester is for you if…
  • You want the MFA experience but don’t have the time or money to invest
  • You can’t relocate to go to school
  • You have a great idea for a book or a strong draft
  • You have a good start but need help structuring your manuscript
  • You lack the confidence to start or are looking for due dates and accountability
  • You don’t really know what you have to do to get a book published

And, there to help you every step of the way, are our amazing faculty members, all of whom are published authors and university-level professors with a passion for great writing, years of teaching and publishing experience, and extensive industry connections.


Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 11.33.01 PMDr. Ann Garvin
, is an internationally published author, speaker and professor of health. Her novels On Maggie’s WatchThe Dog Year and  Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around are each about women who struggle to find their way in a world that asks too much from them, too often. Garvin balances her literary pursuits with teaching in the University of Wisconsin system, teaching at writing conferences, and speaking at Go Red, The Dream Bank & Madison Literacy Council. Her writing has been featured in BRAVA MagazineThe Unreasonable Institute, and The Last Word on Nothing. In her free times she runs the marketing collective The Tall Poppy Writers and raises a family. Garvin taught for five years in a low-residency MFA in New Hampshire and decided she could do something similiar for half their price and help wonderful writers access the knowledge and tools that traditional and low-residency MFAs in creative writing just don’t offer.

Celello - LTS - Author Photo 3 copyErin Celello is the author of two novels, Miracle Beach and Learning to Stay (both published by Penguin/NAL), and the forthcoming Colors Run. She received a B.A. in English from St. Norbert College, and a M.A. in composition pedagogy and an MFA in creative writing from Northern Michigan University. A born-and-raised Yooper, Erin now makes her home in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, two toddlers, and two crazy Vizslas, and is an Assistant Professor of writing for the University of Wisconsin system. She specializes in working with student veterans and on veterans issues. Her essays have appeared in Zocalo Public Square and Proximity Magazine. Erin is also a (co)founding member of the Tall Poppy Writers.

Visiting Faculty

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Nickolas Butler is the author of the internationally-bestselling and prize-winning novel Shotgun Lovesongs and a collection of short stories entitled Beneath the Bonfire.  His second novel, The Hearts of Men, will be published in early 2017 by Ecco.  He has taught at the University of Iowa, and is a Writer-in-Residence for the Chippewa Valley Writer’s Guild.

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Matt Bondurant received his B.A. and M.A. in English from James Madison University, then went on to earn a PhD in English – Creative Writing from Florida State University. He is the author of three novels, The Third Translation (Hyperion 2005), The Wettest County in the World (Scribner 2008), and The Night Swimmer (Scribner 2012), as well as numerous published stories, poems, essays, and reviews. His second novel, The Wettest County was made into a film by Director John Hillcoat (The Road) starring Shia Labeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman, and Guy Pearce, and was released in 2012. Matt’s short fiction has appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, The New England Review, and Glimmer Train, among others, and in 2008 he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He currently teaches literature and writing at University of Mississippi – Ole Miss.

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Craig Childs is a nonfiction author who writes about the relationship between humans, animals, landscape, and time. His stories come from visceral, personal experience, whether in the company of illicit artifact dealers or in deep wilderness. Childs has published more than a dozen critically acclaimed books, including his most recent book, Apocalyptic Planet, which won the Orion Book Award and the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Men’s Journal and Outside. An occasional commentator for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Childs lives in Western Colorado.

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Holly Wilson is a university professor, novelist/short story writer, and editor at Narrative Magazine. Her work has been anthologized in New Stories from the South and has also garnered her a Pushcart Prize nominationWilson received an MFA from Wichita State University and a PhD from Florida State. She teaches at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater.