Zoe Keithley, Writer

“Zoe Keithley is one of the great undiscovered writers in America.” 
(C. Michael Curtis, fiction editor, The Atlantic Monthly)

Zoe Keithley: “Crow Song”. “3/Chicago”.
“The Calling of Mother Adelli”.
Now on Amazon and Kindle!

Zoe is a nominee for the Forward Review finals in San Fran.
Read about her funding campaign.

photo by Fiona Renton

photo by Fiona Renton


“Everything helps you when you are a writer–speaks to you, imprints you with its many-sided selves. Writing fills you up with its astounding self. You are beholden to it and you pass the amazement of it on to others.”

Zoe is a masterful storyteller. Her stories give us vivid characters and bold story-lines, taking us places only a writer of her caliber can conjure-up.



Take along a good story:
Zoe Keithley and Kindle
wherever you go.
Find it online here.


A Note from Zoe Feb, 2015

On February 11, I appeared on the “Dr. Andy Show”, a broadcast from U of Calfornia Davis that covers arts and technology. It was a lovely broadcast which gave me time to comment on my own background in writing from Columbia College, Chicago, and well as the process of producing a novel over long years, now happily published: The Calling of Mother Adelli. I heard myself speaking into the microphone, talking about John Schultz writing approach at Columbia, describing the workshops I learned there and lead now in Sacramento, explaining about “image”, that it’s a live thing (as opposed to a mental construct). “Live,” I heard myself say, “and it expects something from you.” And I knew as the words came out of my mouth that this is deeply true and is a key to all writing, but especially to creative writing where you don’t know yet where something is going, or very much about it really as you begin.

zoe article2I have a new website. Still zoekeithley.net, but one that suits iPhones as well as desktop computers,so you can learn about my work and order a book while you’re going up in the elevator or waiting in the restaurant for your fried eggs and juice.

This Spring, the national association of Sacred Heart school graduates will devote a half page in their alum magazine to The Calling of Mother Adelli. The novel is still selling and I have entered it into a contest.

I am beginning a final draft of The Gathering Back, my next novel. Set in England and the Middle East, it is a fictional autobiography of a native of Exeter, Jophile Ballerais. Through his eyes we see life in his times, including the Second Crusade he is part of, and his introduction to a life in the Middle East so different from his own, and so the same. I’m hoping to have this novel out by Christmas.


Zoe promo poster (1)“THE CALLING OF MOTHER ADELLI”.
In an exclusive Catholic boarding school outside Chicago, story-time is September, 1948. Former ballerina Mary Agnes Adelli, now a member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart and newly appointed Mistress of the Third Cours, expects to make final vows in just nine months when a late registrant, a sixth grade student, Helene Rhenehan, enters her life. Enraged at being abandoned by her doctor father, the perceptive ten year-old channels her fear and desire to retaliate toward the nun. Helene rightly intuits that Mother Adelli is easy prey, for the twenty-eight year-old nun is riddled with fault lines that only wait for stress sufficient to cause their eruption. Helene, in her furious misery, creates a three-ring circus in the prim and proper school. Things spiral downward with dizzying speed, disintegrating Mother Adelli’s standing with her students and attacking the fault lines of her persona as a religious. Can discipline, reason, good intentions and prayer bring about the change needed before the girl damages other lives besides her own? The Calling of Mother Adelli is a coming-of-age-tale of a young woman caught in a Gordian knot with great institutions. Though set in 1945, her story mirrors the struggles of our own times where loyalty to establishments–inherited, required or chosen–may come into collision with the deep issues of social responsibility and freedom of personal conscience.


photo by Fiona Renton

photo by Fiona Renton

“… in the morning the apartment smelled of buckwheat pancakes baking in the kitchen, paper-thin, wrapped over chopped cooked apples flecked with brown sugar. His tea sat steaming and full-bodied on the table.  A little tune from his childhood sprang into his head to carousel away every unpleasant thought. He took a long breath. He had not felt so happy in years.” (“The Second Marriage of Albert Li Wu“) This short story collection is set in Chicago: An older Chinese man copes with being single, a business man tries to help a man in a wheelchair and the snarl he gets into, and a visit to a home or the elderly and the life-changing event you participate in.  Kindle link



Reader Reviews: “These really took me to a place of flesh and grit and steel, a place where the vulnerable are tough and the wind blows fierce. I love the punchy writing style and how the characters’ lives spin out before us.”  (Geoffrey Neill)

“Zoe Keithley is a masterful story teller and, as she promised us, this trio of stories takes the reader on a journey through the complicated turnings, dark alleys and sun-splashed gardens of the human spirit.  and, if one loves Chicago as I do, through dear, familiar settings.” (Carolyn Kelley Williams)

 About Zoe: Chicago born Zoe Keithley now lives in California, but has not forgotten her city.  A graduate of Trinity University and Columbia College, Chicago, Zoe is a master teacher in writing.  She has been writing, publishing and winning awards for over 30 years.


Zoe Keithley, Writer editor, writing coach, workshops



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