Mary Kay Shanley is the author of 11 books that cross multiple genres, tapping into her skills as essayist, historian and journalist. Her journey to now began when her sixth-grade teacher told her she could write.


Such insights can chart a youngster’s future.


She began as a journalist, then wandered into weaving stories, including She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes, a national bestseller about women’s friendship. She has been honored as Iowa Author of the Year for Our State Fair—Iowa’s Blue Ribbon Story, an illustration-rich bookchronicling the first 150 years of people-stories. She has also garnered numerous awards for magazine feature articles and essays.


Mary Kay’s officemat
(and sometimes the boss)

Mary Kay is currently writing a memoir about the complexity of having been adopted in a world very different from today. The book will include her experiences, as well as those of other women — some who were required to give up their newborns to an adoption agency, and others who, like Mary Kay, were those babies given away.


As with other authors, Mary Kay’s career is blessed with serendipity. Early on, a teacher-friend invited Mary Kay to sit down in a little chair and talk with second graders about writing. She’s since expanded on that, as adjunct instructor at two state universities as well as at the University of Iowa’s Summer Writing Festival each year. Also, Mary Kay and Diane Douiyssi, a writer and a mentor to other writers, offer multi-day creative writing and reflective writing workshops throughout the US. But Mary Kay’s most rewarding experience will always be teaching inside prison walls. That’s where, truly, instructor and students learn from and teach one another.


Mary Kay believes there’s always one more story to tell  —
one more book to write —

one more workshop to offer  —
one more speech to give —
one more experience to savor.




The Magical Gift of Friendship


I’ve been on an amazing journey — or probably I should say “amazing journeys.” And so have you.


Unexpected journeys that begin when you meet a stranger by happenstance. Think about that. Unplanned and orchestrated by no one. A chance meeting, void of any notion that your paths might ever cross again.


Hello — Nice to Meet You — Move On


Because life is already busy, already full. Friends enough, not to mention family, work and the daily routine. Sad but true, there’s still only 24 hours in a day. So realistically, where would you even find the time?


And yet, your paths cross again. And again. And again. A pattern that surprises, delights, requires reflection, ignites curiosity. There’s this non-relationship that doesn’t evaporate.


You’ve wandered down that road more than once, right? Most always, the trip’s enjoyable. Sometimes, one of those here-she-is-again strangers begins to feel more like an acquaintance, a person you see now and then. Once in awhile, you realize one of those acquaintances has, somehow or other, become a friend. And finally — and oh, so rarely — a friend grows into being a best friend. Like family, but without all the tangles.


Our journey became my first book, She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes — a national bestseller. This is a simple story of two strangers who become best friends. I want to share my journey with all of you through this blog. I believe you will see yourself in my story, as well as in the stories other visitors to this site may share. I know, deep down, this will bless all of us.




I’m not new to either storytelling or writing, but I am new to blogging. So please, revisit my website this fall. By then, I’ll be ready for all of us to acknowledge and celebrate the joy of friendship.


One last thing: Artichokes has been out-of-print for several years. Now, the illustrator Paul Micich and I are on working to bring the book back to the marketplace. I’ll keep you updated on that.