All posts by Karen Kao

Since 2011, Karen, a former attorney, has had the good fortune to write full-time from her home in Amsterdam. "I work all day with the characters I’ve created and learned to love. If I get lucky, they sit up and tell me their stories. I work with language – no longer to convince or badger or corner – but to paint a picture." Karen is the winner of the 2022 Kenyon Review Short Nonfiction Contest and a nominee for the Pushcart Prize, VERA, and Best of the Net. Her debut novel, The Dancing Girl and the Turtle (Linen Press 2017) is the first of a quartet of historical novels set in Shanghai. Karen’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, Hippocampus Magazine, Tahoma Literary Review, The Common, and The Shanghai Literary Review, among others. With authors Lan Samantha Chang and Yiyun Li and the University of British Columbia, Karen has studied novel-writing. Karen is an alumna of the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop where she studied creative nonfiction with Dinty W. Moore. You can read more about Karen and her work on her website.

What Karen's students say


Why teens need creative writing

Many of us writers begin as children scribbling our stories in an unsteady hand. Others discover the joy of writing …Read More

Profile PhotoKaren Kao7 May 2023

Where to submit: Magazines with a fresh perspective

The new year is all about change, and the journals on this month’s list seek to explore the world in …Read More

Profile PhotoKaren Kao7 January 2023

Meet new teacher Sussu Laaksonen

Sussu Laaksonen’s writing career began in her home country, Finland. She has worked in Finnish television and film and translated …Read More

Profile PhotoKaren Kao7 January 2023

Meet Tint Journal editor-in-chief Lisa Schantl

Lisa Schantl is Austrian by birth and global by vision. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Tint Journal, a …Read More

Profile PhotoKaren Kao6 December 2022

Summertime Publishing Opportunities

Most literary journals take a break in the summertime, which means that in August the submission opportunities are few and …Read More

Profile PhotoKaren Kao1 August 2022

Student Writer Finds a Killer First Line and a Novel Is Born

Mackenzie Cool started writing as a child. Then life happened and writing got away from her. After university, she rediscovered …Read More

Profile PhotoKaren Kao1 August 2022

My Daily Practice

Every term, my students ask: how do you develop a writing practice? If you’re taking one of our core writing …Read More

Profile PhotoKaren Kao1 December 2020

How to write historical fiction

In this post, teacher Karen Kao talks about what historical fiction is, the importance of research and how to weave …Read More

Profile PhotoKaren Kao7 April 2020

If you want to get published…

Instructor and novelist Karen Kao shares her own experiences and advice on publishing in literary magazines. Last year, I took …Read More

Profile PhotoKaren Kao24 July 2019

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