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

August Writers’ Meeting

Hi Everyone,

Today we held our August meeting. We will not hold a meeting in September since the normal third Sunday would be the day after out big Book Release Party on Saturday Sept. 19, 2015. Catch us at our regularly scheduled October meeting on Oct. 18, 2015 at Bella Caffe from 12:30 to 3 PM in Park Rapids MN.

PRESENT: Mike, Ryan, Jan, Jerry, Mary, Sharon, Bradi. Welcome, Bradi!

TALKING STICK 24 BOOK RELEASE PARTY AND WORKSHOP: We can still take a few more writers in the workshop with Mary Casanova from 9 to 12 on Saturday 09-19-15. Please email me to get signed up! I can send anyone more information if they want it. Also, please email me to let me know if you will be attending the book party program at 1 o’clock. The whole thing will last till 4 or 4:30. Then anyone who would like to, should stay and have supper there at Blueberry Pines.

WRITING EVENTS OR NEWS: Sharon and Marilyn and Niomi and Jerry attended the Northwoods Arts Council Book and Art Festival in Hackensack on Saturday, August 15, 2015. We have had a table there for many years. It was so hot. We did sell around $80 in books and talked to lots of people. It is always a great event.

Jodi Tweed is the new contact person for Lake Country Journal. Mike has had quite a bit of success getting his stories published there.

Ryan took an online class called Story Puzzle with David Farland, a fantasy author. It was on outlining.

Jerry reported that the Loft Literary Center in MPLS is having its fortieth birthday and there will be 40 parties. He will be attending several of them. We love the Loft’s online classes.

Jerry is now on the Board of MIPA (Midwest Independent Publishers’ Association) and they will be keeping him very busy.

Jerry reported that Northwoods Press in Nevis has been printing stories by some of our members called Life on the Water. He also showed us an insert from the Pine River paper called Our Neck of the Woods.

PRLAAC is having a 10 year birthday party. This is on Sept. 26 from 7 to 8:30 PM at the Armory in Park Rapids. Niomi and Ryan and Jerry will probably be there to do some reading.

PLACES TO SUBMIT: PULP Literature has a deadline in August—coming up soon. Email for information and fiction guidelines.

Brainerd Writers Alliance has a deadline coming up soon also—August 20, 2015. 2015 Writing contest and Fall Writers Festival.

Mystery Writers All Day Workshop on Sept. 12, 2015 from 9 to 4 at Bloomington Old Town Hall for registration information. Kate Pettit 612-860-3359 or or Susan Anderson 952-393-8707.

After discussing the above items, we took turns reading things we had been working on. The rest of us gave comments and suggestions. There were some really great writings today. Even with all the things going on in the summer time, we still find time to write. And again, welcome to Bradi.

Hope to see you all next time.

Jul 21 2015

July Writers’ Meeting

Hi Everyone,


Today we held our July meeting. The next meeting will be held on Sunday, August 16, 2015, at Bella Caffe in Park Rapids, MN from 12:30 to 3 PM.


PRESENT: Sharon, Ryan, Jan, Mike, Mary

TALKING STICK 24: We have the Talking Stick books back. Our Book Release party is Sept. 19, 2015 at Blueberry Pines Golf Course. We will have a writers’ workshop that morning with Mary Casanova. Be sure to get signed up. Email for more information.

WRITING EVENTS: Last month, Niomi told us of her story published by, an online literary journal. I had listed it Sorry for the error.

July 31, 2015 is the deadline for sending in poems to Northwoods Arts Council for the Book and Art Festival on August 15, 2015. They are accepting poems for their 8th annual poetry display/recognition event. You could email Sue Ready for more info.

August 20, 2015 deadline for Brainerd Writers Alliance 2015 writing contest. Fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Check their website for updates on their Fall Writers Festival:

MISCELLANEOUS: Ryan told us about a website that offers online management for your submissions. It also helps you find literary journals and places to submit. There is a fee though there is a free trial. This sounds like a great idea.

Mary told us to check out for Tigerlion Arts, Nature for the Nation, a walking play. Touring the MidwestJuly-October 2015. The outdoor telling of Emerson, Thoreau, and their mutual love of the natural world. Mary loved it.

Mike told us he had been in a play once where he played the King of the Fairies. We need to hear more about this.

We had a short but excellent meeting where many of us read and the others critiqued. We always enjoy the encouragement from our fellow writers.

Hope to see you next time!

Jun 22 2015

June Writers’ Meeting

Hi Everyone,

Today we held our June meeting. The next meeting will be held on Sunday, July 19, 2015, from 12:30 to 3 PM at Bella Caffe in Park Rapids MN.

PRESENT: Ryan, Niomi, Mike, Sharon, Mary

TALKING STICK 24:    The editing is basically done. We will be ordering our first proof soon.


  • Our Nimrod 6 event was greatly enjoyed by all attendees. Dialogue was the topic this year. We had a special guest, Faith Sullivan, who attended the last part of the event. As usual, wonderful food, great prompts, a lot of learning. Sharon joined them on Sunday to hear the readings.
  • Marlys is attending the Northwoods Writers Conference in Bemidji. We hope she will have a report for us at our next meeting.
  • We hope Jerry will have a report from New York Mills and other events when he returns for the next meeting. We need to discuss PRLAAC in September at that time.
  • Lake Region Writers Network has disbanded. We are sorry to hear that.

SUGGESTED ITEMS: Book: All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Several of our members expressed how much they enjoyed this book. is a place that gives assignments and publishes writing. I’ll try to get the website address and put it in next month’s minutes. James Patterson Master Class. Ryan told us about this. It is more for beginning writers and is very encouraging.

Most of us brought things to read and the rest critiqued. Another good meeting with lively comments. Hope to see you next time!