Students in CCAC Community Education writing classes become published authors

Noretta Willig with her book
Nancy Alauzen with her book
Karen Coughlan with her book
Article by: CCAC Public Relations

PITTSBURGH-Ann Howley, a writing instructor at Community College of Allegheny County, is very proud of her students, and with good reason-since taking her noncredit writing classes at CCAC, four students have become published authors. Howley, who wrote the coming-of-age story "Confessions of a Do-Gooder Gone Bad,"  started a memoir writing workshop at CCAC in 2015 so others could learn from her experience as a new author navigating the complex process of writing and publishing.

"I said to myself so many times, 'I wish someone had told me that!' That was my goal-to share what I had learned."

When the four-week class was over, the response from students was so positive that it was extended for another four weeks and has been offered several times since, along with other classes taught by Howley.

Noretta Willig signed up for the memoir workshop when she was stalled in a book she was writing about her uncle-a 19-year-old soldier whose remains were found 90 years after he died in France during the final days of WWI-as well as the impact of the Great War on three generations of her family. In the class, Willig found the support she needed to complete "Carl's Story," which has received wide acclaim. In fact, the book has been endorsed as an official project of the World War I Centennial Commission.

In a note to Howley, Willig said, "I found that your encouragement and the positive responses from fellow students gave me the reinforcement I needed to move the book forward. This book has been a life-changing experience, and I am forever grateful to you and the people from Memoir I at CCAC."

Three other students have had essays and stories published in anthologies-Michael Burroway's story about growing up gay and then making peace with his abusive father on his deathbed was published in the 2017 edition of OASIS Journal; Nancy Alauzen, who suffers from a rare genetic bone disease, had an essay published last year in "Weak Bones, Strong Wills, the Stories of XLH"; and Karen Coughlan is a contributing author in the recently published "Clunk on the Head: How the Holy Spirit Got Our Attention."

In class, the students learn to give and receive constructive feedback, said Howley, a former accounting professional who has been a regular writer for Pittsburgh Parent magazine for six years and is also working on a novel. She makes it clear that every student should feel they can safely share their work.

"We really learn so much from each other. All of us have to support each other to become better; not only to improve our craft, but also to keep the momentum going. I feel like, if I can do this, they can too."

Writing a book or essay is only part of the effort, Howley said, so she also teaches classes that delve into the publishing and marketing of one's work. This fall, Howley will teach the following classes at various CCAC campuses and locations: How to Write for Magazines; Writers Support Group; Memoir Writing Workshop; How to Find a Writer's Agent; How to Build an Author Platform; How to Teach a Class for Community Education; and Writing Short Stories.

For more information on CCAC Community Education classes, visit:, contact or call 412.788.7507.

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