Dec 23 2015

December Writers Meeting

Hello Everyone,

Today we held our December meeting. Our January meeting will be held on Sunday, January 17, 2016, at Bella Caffe in Park Rapids MN from 12:30 to 3 PM.

Dawn, Sharon, Ryan, Jerry, Marlys, Erin, Carol, Angie, Mary, Lina.

Talking Stick 25 call for submissions is now out! Deadline 3-1-16.
Nelson Algren Literary Awards $3500 Short Story Prize Deadline 1-31-16 submission guidelines.
Fergus Falls area contest with deadline of 2-26-16. Writers are invited to submit poetry, creative nonfiction or short fiction to be considered for inclusion in a mini-anthology featuring works that highlight the unique history and character of the Fergus Falls environs. For more information, email
League of MN Poets Grades 6-8 and Grades 9-12 divisions—27th Annual Manningham Poetry Competition. For more information, email Peter Stein at
League of MN Poets national poetry convention. Natalie Goldberg is keynote speaker. Win your way to NFSPS Convention June 9-June 13, 2016 in Chaska MN. Deadline for contest 1-5-16. For more information, email Peter Stein at

Check out a program called Scrivener. It is a regular word program but has some helpful things for writers—note cards to move scenes around, templates, a writer’s bible to keep all info on a project in one place, etc. Scrivener also has the ability to export documents for specific markets.
Robert Daun (son-in-law of Lois Greiman) plans a podcast of a variety of short stories within the public domain or donated content. Once the podcast gains momentum, he plans to expand to a children’s podcast. Here’s a chance for you to get public expression of your work. We don’t know about Robert’s talent for storytelling, but he claims to tell them well. Jerry has corresponded with him, and as a result, Robert purchased Broken Hart and will consider the stories therein for his podcast. No money is involved, but the author will be credited. Ideal podcast length is 20 to 40 minutes. Give it a thought; you can reach Robert at
Ryan uses something called a Beat Sheet to plan out a novel. Here are the main steps he uses. He lists all these things: He discovers who his main characters will be, like a character inventory. He decides what drives them, motivates them, etc. Then he thinks about the settings. He decides what the overarching goals are for each character, what will drive the story. He creates a plot map, listing all the major plot points. He asks himself how the characters will go about achieving their goals and chooses inciting incidents and a climax. He then weaves the various character goals together. Listing all these as he goes, he comes up with his written beat sheet that will guide him through his writing. Then he fleshes out the details, adds the five senses and dialogue. If you want more of the details, I have a longer detailed email from him describing this and I bet he would allow me to share it.

We had a great time critiquing each other’s writing. Hope to see you all next time!

Nov 19 2015

November Writers’ Meeting

Hi Everyone,

Today we held our November meeting. Our next meeting will be held on Sunday December 20, 2015, at Bella Caffe in Park Rapids MN from 12:30to 3 PM.

PRESENT: Deb, Jan, Ryan, Mike, Carol, Jan, Wendy, Brett, Dawn, Jerry, Marlys, Scott, Angie, Mary, Niomi, Sharon.

TALKING STICK BOOKS: In December, we will be sending out the call for submission for TS25 for 2016.

We have been getting book orders and also donations. Thanks to you all! Give to the Max Day also brought in a nice amount of donations for us. Mary Casanova sent us a check for a percentage of her book sales at our book release party. We love you, Mary!

WRITING EVENTS: Marlys attended the Will Weaver workshop in Bemidji recently. She said he gave some great tips on revision and ways to tighten up your story. Use only strong nouns and verbs, cut your modifiers, get rid of words ending in “ly.”

Jerry spoke about the Brainerd Writers Alliance event. Niomi was the fiction judge. Jerry won second place. Pamela Joern put on a good workshop. She gave good tips that Jerry used in his current story. One was to change the sex of one of your main characters. Another is to mention what kind of shoes or boots your characters are wearing.

Jerry heard of a 3 or 4 day writing conference by Northland writers in Grand Marais. We will have to watch for that next year.

Jerry is involved with PRLAAC and working on an event called the Great American Story—oral story telling. This will be scheduled during Art Leap in September 2016. More on that as we learn about it.

Scott has been busy co-editing a book by Philip J Farmer and some comics. His next project will be involving a magazine called Red Canals which will be science fiction about Mars, a celebration in literature and/or comics.

Deb had 14 student writers this year in Pine River who were involved in her after school project. The students each write a book in a month and Deb gets them printed for them. What a wonderful project.

GOOD TIPS: Writing prompt: start off with this: Ten things I know to be true…

We had so many of us today that not everyone got to read, but most did. We had a great time critiquing and talking. It was one of those times where we just hated to quit talking and go home.

Oct 19 2015

October Writers Meeting

Hi Everyone, Our next meeting will be held on Sunday, November 15, 2015, at Bella Caffe in Park Rapids MN from 12:30 to 3 PM.

PRESENT: Erin, Marlys, Jan, Ryan, Sharon, Carol, Janice, Bradi, Angie, Mike, Jerry, Brett, Wendy

PAST WRITING EVENTS: Our Talking Stick 24 Book Release Party and Workshop by Mary Casanova were held on Sept. 19, 2015. Some said that this workshop was the best yet. Mary was so much fun and stayed later for drinks with her husband. Since the event, we’ve been receiving good book orders and donations.

Sharon is now taking her fifth online class at the Loft and enjoying it. She highly recommends these. This one is called “Writing to Remember.”

PRLAAC 10th Anniversary. This event was held on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 at the Park Rapids Armory. Jerry, Niomi, Ryan and Marlys all took part and did some reading. They all enjoyed the event. There was some discussion of doing something called the Great American Story. More on that later if it takes place.

COMING WRITING EVENTS: Will Weaver at Watermark Art Center in Bemidji—reading and book signing at 6 PM on Friday October 23—No fee for attending reading/signing.

Writing Workshop from 2-4 PM on Saturday October 24. Pre-register by calling 218-444-7570. Cost for workshop $30 or $15 for students.

Brainerd Writers Alliance 2015 Fall Writers’ Festival from 9:30 to 3:30 PM on Saturday October 31, 2015 at the Northland Arboretum, 14250 Conservation Drive, Baxter MN 56425. Book fair and special guest author Pamela Joern—she will speak on “Details Make a Difference.” Register by emailing or call Julie Jo 218-821-0263 by October 26 to hold your spot. $25 for the all day event which includes lunch. To sell your books, reserve your space: $5 for ½

Imagine Fergus Falls October Creative Writing Workshops, one class remaining: Saturday October 24, “What Else is Possible?” Free by participation capped. Send your name, contact information and a short statement about your reasons for attending to:

Author Sue Leaf to appear at the NYM Cultural Center in New York Mills on October 22, 2015 at 7:30 PM. Admission $5. She will make a presentation on her book A Love affair with Birds.

WORKSHOPS: Coursera, free college classes from California Institute of the Arts. Marlys is taking one called “Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop.” She is enjoying it very much.

Workshop with David Farland, a sci-fi author. Ryan is taking this class which is a series of 6 lessons, including videos online and twice a week conference on the business of writing. Each lesson gives you a month’s worth of work

GOOD BOOK ON WRITING: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell—how to write great fiction.

Almost a record crowd today! We had many new writers and we spent a lot of time reading and critiquing each other’s work. Hope to see you next time!

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