Sep 21 2016

Talking Stick 25 Book Release Party

Hi Everyone,

Thanks to all who attended our book release party for our 25th Talking Stick. We had a new location and a great day. The day started off with a fun workshop with Faith Sullivan. We listened and wrote, laughed and learned. Following the workshop, we had a fabulous catered lunch from Hilltop Inn of Hubbard.

Then more and more writers arrived to pick up their Talking Stick books. We were fortunate enough to have several of the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc founding members in attendance. We got to visit with Florence Witkop, Norma Thorstad Knapp, Linda Henry, Carolyn Spangler, and Deane Johnson. Linda Henry told us the story of the group’s beginnings and thanked us for taking care of her baby.

First we announced the winners of the poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction genres and had them read their winning pieces. Then we listened to many other readings from the book. Much laughter and enjoyment.

Our 25th book celebrates those determined writers who first formed the JWB. The book contains the work of our current members as well as reprinted favorites from the founders of The Jackpine Writers’ Bloc.

The JWB was founded over twenty years ago by a group of people who loved to write and wanted to get published. They created the first volumes of The Talking Stick, starting out small and using various local publishers and editors. The book began with poems and stories from just the Park Rapids/Menahga/Nevis area. Our book now includes writers from the whole state of Minnesota as well as writers who have a strong connection to Minnesota.

Thanks again to all who attended, thanks to all who helped with the event, thanks to Faith Sullivan for the excellent workshop. Thanks to The Patio for hosting our event. We are already planning for our next book, #26. We hope to see all of you again next time.

Dec 21 2015

Talking Stick Vol. 25 Call for Submissions!

Wanted: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

Published by Jackpine Writers’ Bloc of northern Minnesota.
THE TALKING STICK is a locally published and nationally recognized publication.

1. Writers must be from Minnesota or have some connection to this area.

2. DEADLINE: March 1, 2016. This year we will again offer monetary prizes in each of the 3 categories. Writers may submit for more than one category. Our Editorial Board will select the poetry and prose to be published in TS25. A published Minnesota author in each field will judge for the monetary prizes from the selected submissions, with authors’ names removed. Writers will be invited to our Book Release Party in September (tentative date is September 17, 2016). PLEASE READ SUBMISSION GUIDELINES COMPLETELY.

3. Prizes are $250 for first place and $100 for second place in each of the three categories. Works are to be UNPUBLISHED. This must NOT be on your Website or on a Blog. We want new things, unseen by the public. Submit manuscripts with name, address, and email address in upper right corner of each page. THIS MUST BE THE WAY YOU WANT YOUR NAME IN THE BOOK. Clearly mark the genre for which you are submitting: POETRY, FICTION, or CREATIVE NONFICTION. No simultaneous submissions, please. We would prefer that you do NOT start out your written piece with “inspirational” or “referenced” quotes from other literary works because of possible copyright issues, etc.

POETRY – Limit TWO entries per writer, each poem no longer than ONE page, typed single-spaced.  No word count necessary. See other requirements under #3 above.
FICTION – Limit ONE short story of 1500 words or less, typed single-spaced. Number the pages and include word count at end. See other requirements under #3 above.
CREATIVE NON-FICTION – Includes essays, travel, biography, memoir, etc. Limit ONE entry of 1000 words or less, typed single-spaced. Number the pages and include word count at end. See other requirements under #3 above.

4. Send only ONE copy of each submission along with SHORT bio. Please list any writing groups you belong to and tell us if you want them included on our writing group email list. If you have a pen name, you MUST stress in a cover letter what your real name is (for the contract and mailing) and the name you want on the submission in the book, in the table of contents, and back of book MUST BE THE WAY YOU HAVE IT ON THE PAGE(S) OF SUBMITTED WORK. Also, tell us what name you want in press releases. If you do not do this, we cannot promise that we will catch the different name. PLEASE SEND ALL OF YOUR WORK AT THE SAME TIME.

5. Send ONE SASE so we can send an acceptance letter and contract to you. All contracts are to be signed and returned, but in the event a contract is not returned, submission implies permission to publish. FORMAL NOTIFICATION is required if you wish to withdraw your submission or if it is published elsewhere during this time period. After May 1, 2016, submissions
cannot be withdrawn. SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE RETURNED. Decision of the editorial board and judges is final. Editors and editorial board of the JWB and JWB board members are eligible for publication in TS25, but not for the monetary prizes in this contest.

6. Send hard copy to: Sharon Harris, TS SUBMISSIONS, 13320 149th Ave, Menahga, MN 56464. Send ALL your submissions for ALL categories in ONE 9×12 ENVELOPE—do not fold or staple sheets. Submission guidelines are also on our website: We are accepting submissions in electronic format again this year!! We will NOT accept submissions in the body of an email—only with our electronic form, either pdf or Word document. Do NOT send docx files—we cannot guarantee format to be correct. A SASE is not required but would be greatly appreciated. CLICK HERE TO GO TO OUR ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION FORM!

7. Contributors who have one or more pieces selected for publication in TS25 will receive ONE free copy of TS25. Your copy may be picked up at our Book Release Party in September 2016. Any books not picked up will be mailed later—we appreciate receiving $3.00 for postage. JWB requires first publication rights only. Submissions may be chosen for future publication on our website.


Sep 28 2015

Talking Stick 24 book release party!

Our next regular monthly meeting will be on Sunday, October 18, 2015, from 12:30 to 3 PM at Bella Caffe in Park Rapids MN. See below for report on the TS24 book release party AND also a report on the PRLAAC 10th birthday event.

Thanks to all of you who attended our 2015 workshop and Talking Stick 24 book release party on Saturday, September 19, 2015. We held the events at beautiful Blueberry Pines Golf Club located between Park Rapids and Menahga, MN. We had a workshop from 9 to 12 AM with Mary Casanova, author of over 30 books. Her books frequently land on state reading lists and have earned many awards. Many people said this was the best workshop yet. Mary gave us many writing prompts that brought out some gems from many of the writers. We love those writing prompts that get us started on something we can build on and finish later. Mary also spent some time talking about her own journey in getting published—something we all enjoyed.

Following the workshop, we had an excellent lunch. Then the folks started arriving for the book release party at 1 PM. We had close to 60 people in attendance. Shannon from the Park Rapids Enterprise came to take photos and do a write-up for us.

We gave a brief history of our group. We started in 1993 with a community ed class for writers called Getting Published. The group of attendees kept on meeting and called themselves the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc. By 1995, the group started publishing the Talking Stick books and by now we are up to volume 24. We started out with just local writers but eventually opened up to the whole state. Now we also include writers with a strong connection to MN. We hope to do something special for our 25th volume next year.

Our procedure each year is that we send out a call for submissions in December. The deadline is March 1. We have 5 members of our group (the Editorial Board) read all the submissions and choose the writings to go in the book. Then we choose our favorite 5 to 7 pieces in each genre. These, with the authors’ names removed, are sent to the celebrity judge for that category. These judges each choose the ones to win the prize money in their own category. The JWB board members and Editorial Board members are NOT eligible to win the prize money.

As we read the submissions each year, it seems that somehow there seems to be a main theme—different each year. From this, we choose a subtitle for the book. It just happens; we never ask for certain topics.

This was perhaps the first year that we had all 3 celebrity judges in attendance as well as all 6 of the top winners. We had Laura Hansen as the celebrity judge for poetry. Laura is from Little Falls. She was a bookseller for 20 years and has two published chapbooks. We had Marge Barrett for creative nonfiction. Marge is a teacher at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and has had much poetry and prose published. Mary Casanova was our fiction judge.

We provide monetary prizes to first and second place finishers in each of the 3 genres. The 3 judges assisted us in introducing these winners and asking them to read. We enjoy reading all the work that comes in as we make our decisions on the writings that will go in the book. Somehow, hearing them read by the writer gives us a whole new appreciation and understanding of these fine writings. Then we had the honorable mention writers come up and read and then opened up the floor to anyone else who had been published in the book.

Following the book release party, a number of the writers stayed on for drinks and meals. We had a great day, seeing old friends and meeting new writers. Thanks to all who attended today and also to all who submitted for the book.

Sharon Harris/JWB

You would have been proud of your fellow Jackpine Writers last night at the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council (PRLAAC) tenth birthday party at the Park Rapids Armory. We were invited to showcase our literary talent, as others showcased vocal and instrumental music and dance talent. It was quite the show.

Your JWB representatives were Niomi Phillips, Marlys Guimaraes, Ryan Neely, and Jerry Mevissen. The audience heard a sample of our fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry—some from The Talking Stick, which was featured on our display table.

Well done, fellow writers and readers. I accepted many compliments on behalf of the group in the after-party chat.

Jerry Mevissen/JWB

Aug 18 2015

TS24 Book Release party and Workshop!!

Saturday, September 19, 2015
and Writers’ Workshop
Blueberry Pines Golf Club

The Talking Stick 24 Book Release Party and Writers’ Workshop will be held on Saturday, September 19, 2015, at Blueberry Pines, located between Park Rapids and Menahga, MN on Highway 71. This is a celebration of writers and the written word. Please join us for a day where those who work in the solitary world of writing can come together. There is a fee for the workshop and meals but the Book Party is free to all who are interested in writing.

9 AM to 12:00 Noon: We offer a workshop with Mary Casanova. YOU MUST PREREGISTER FOR THIS WORKSHOP. (See information below on workshop.) This all-genre workshop is entitled: “Story Matters.”

Cost for the workshop is $38. (This includes lunch at noon after the workshop. You will receive a coupon for the lunch.)

12:00: Lunch at Blueberry Pines. JWB will pay for your lunch if you have the above-mentioned coupon with the workshop. If you are just attending the Book Party, you may come at noon to have lunch on your own if you wish.

1 PM (approximately): If you have work in Talking Stick 24, you may pick up your one free contributor’s copy of the book. Additional books will be available for sale. We hope to have books for sale by the three celebrity judges who chose this year’s winners: Laura L Hansen for Poetry, Marge Barrett for Creative Nonfiction, and Mary Casanova for Fiction.

One or more of those celebrity judges may be in attendance to meet the writers and to sign and sell their own books.

Other local and/or member writers may be on hand to sell their books.
1 PM (approximately): Program with readings
Introduction of winners of Talking Stick 24 Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction. All writers published in Talking Stick 24 are invited to read.
4:00 PM (approximately): After the readings, please stay and have dinner on your own with the writers at Blueberry Pines.

Directions to Blueberry Pines near Park Rapids, MN: Blueberry Pines Golf Course and Dinner Club is located approximately 4 miles north of Menahga, MN on Highway 71. This is approximately 8 miles south of Park Rapids, MN.

Local Motels in Park Rapids or near Menahga:
AmericInn 218-732-1234
Super 8 218-732-9704
C’Mon Inn 218-732-1471
Red Bridge Inn 218-237-7337
Jewel of the Northwoods B&B 218-564-6162

For more information, call Sharon at 218-732-3782 or email
—Please RSVP # of attendees to—


All-genre Workshop with Mary Casanova

Stories are what bridge our lonely islands. No matter if it’s a conversation over coffee, a poem, or an epic novel—it all comes down to story. Join Mary Casanova as she shares how she discovered the power of story and journeyed in her craft to write over 30 books, from picture books to historical novels.

Date and Time: Saturday, September 19, 2015, from 9 AM to 12 Noon.
Cost of Workshop and lunch: $38. (You will receive a coupon for the lunch.)

Mary Casanova grew up on the edge of St. Paul with parents who regularly headed up north to a cabin. Those treks instilled an early love of wilderness that eventually led Mary and her husband (Charlie) to move to the Canadian border after college.

Mary appeals to a wide audience. Her books frequently land on state reading lists across the country and have earned countless awards, including the ALA “Notable,” Parent’s Choice “Gold Award, Booklist Editor’s Choice, and two Minnesota Book Awards.


The Talking Stick 24 Book Release Party and this Writers’ Workshop will be held on Saturday, September 19, 2015, at Blueberry Pines, located between Park Rapids and Menahga MN on Highway 71. Blueberry Pines Golf Course and Dinner Club is located approximately 4 miles north of Menahga MN and 8 miles south of Park Rapids MN.

The Workshop will run from 9 AM to 12 Noon. The Workshop cost includes lunch at noon. The Book Release Party will start at 1 PM and run till approximately 4 PM. The Book Release Party is free. Lunch at noon will be on your own if you are just attending the Book Release Party.

Dinner/supper after the Book Release Party will be on your own.


YOU MUST PREREGISTER FOR THE WORKSHOP. Please email Sharon Harris at to sign up. Be sure to include your name and mailing address, phone number, and email address. Make your $38. check out to Jackpine Writers’ Bloc and mail it to: Sharon Harris, 13320 149th Ave, Menahga MN 56464

Location: Blueberry Pines Golf Club, Menahga, MN 56464
We will limit this workshop to the first 30 participants.