Student Successes

As a dedicated teacher, Chuck Caruso is incredibly proud to share these success stories from his former creative writing students.  Here are a few:

Since taking Caruso’s creative writing class, Sione Aeschliman has quit zir day-job and become a full-time editor, writing coach, and writer of fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction.  Zir writing has been published by various online zines.  Zir prose poems  “The Munchies” & “The Break-up,” are on World Citizen.  Zir flash fiction “The Undead Metaphor” is available at Deadly Ever After.  And ze has a  creative non-fiction piece called “On Voice” published at Voice Catcher Journal.  Visit zir website:  Follow zem on Twitter: @writelearndream

Sione says, “What I appreciated most about Chuck’s fiction writing course was that, in addition to workshopping our writing, we learned about what it’s like to be a writer. We went to readings, got to chat with published authors, talked about publishing and marketing, and worked on our synopses and query letters. Chuck treated us like serious writers, like colleagues, and not just as college students trying to get a grade in the class. And because of that, some of us came to see ourselves as serious writers.”

Jim Smiley took Caruso’s Creative Writing: Mystery class several years ago.  Since then, he has not only become a contributor to Dark Discoveries magazine but has also self-published a Southern Gothic horror novel called In Their Good Books, and two very good hard-boiled horror novels featuring haunted gumshoe Bill Brennan.  Girls’ Night In introduces Brennan with a case involving organized crime, elite private schools and pair of succubi hunting young girls.  Both Alike In Dignity finds Brennan once again on a case that puts him at odds with the supernatural realm.  Jim writes with sharp wit and a strong sense of plot.  His books are lively reads, and all three are available through Amazon.

Jim says, “Caruso has compounded the felony that is his life. No one should have that much talent; he also teaches well, and adds encouragement. To add to his crimes against humanity, he not only pushed me off the Novelist Cliff, but he introduced me to the editor-in-chief of Dark Discoveries, James Beach. After some give and take, I ended up working for James as a contributing author. I might add that Caruso pushed me in the direction of the Western, and most of my beta readers seem to be enjoying the genre.”

Since taking my Creative Writing: Mystery class, Jeanie Grey has become an active author of supernatural romance and erotica.  Her short story “Crouch” was published online by The Darker Half, and she has self-published two vampire novellas featuring the bewitchingly enigmatic Lilly Frank:  Awakening and Awakening 2, both available through Amazon.  You can find out more about her on Facebook ( or follow her on Twitter: @jeaniegrey

Jeanie says,  “I took Chuck’s Genre Fiction Writing class a few years ago and worked on the novel that became Awakening. Chuck’s guidance helped change the way I think about writing. He encouraged us to analyze books we like to see how we could borrow from them, and he taught us to think about researching in order to get as close to our characters as humanly possible (considering it’s genre fiction). Never been in the military but your protagonist has? Interview a couple people who’ve been in the military. Never shot a gun but your protagonist has? How can you make that happen? Never been bitten by a vampire but your protagonist has? Well…everything has its limits, including research. But you can draw inspiration from other vampire books you admire. Thanks for helping me be a better writer, Chuck!”

Louie Wilkerson took my Creative Writing: Genre Short Stories as a writer of “serious fiction” who was only genre-curious, but since then he’s developed better writing habits, a strong sense of how to build stories from character and conflict, and a growing list of publications to his credit.  Most recently, he published a flash piece called “Retarded Salmon” at the crime e-zine Shotgun Honey.  You can follow him on Twitter: @NateWilkerson1

Louie says of my class, “Not only was I given the tools to create my own stories, but I came away with the resources and knowhow to get them out there.  If it weren’t for Caruso’s class, I would have never taken the critical step for anyone who wants to be a writer: sending things out.  I learned how to accept a rejection, but to bounce back quickly.  Make changes to stories that need change.  Perhaps most importantly, Caruso helped me blur the line between working on something and having fun with it.”

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