Workshop and TS32 Book Release Party

Hello Everyone, thanks so much to all of you who attended our September 16, 2023, Talking Stick 32 Book Release Party and the Sharon Chmielarz workshop entitled “Lift Up Your Pens.” Writers came from far and wide. Some stayed at beautiful Jack Pines Resort either Friday or Saturday night. Some stayed in Park Rapids. Some drove early and battled the road construction that was on all sides of us.

For Talking Stick 32, our judges were: poetry, Laura Hansen; creative nonfiction, Julie Jo Larson; fiction, Cindie Ekren. The winners for the new creative twist genre were chosen by our Editorial Board.

We had a great day. We had a good number of writers who brought some of their own previously published books and had them for sale. They included: Mike Lein, Ryan Neely, Sharon Chmielarz, Erin Marsh, Niomi Phillips, Marsh Muirhead, Sharon Harris. Writers started showing up early. Those who had been published in TS32 picked up their one free copy of the book and many purchased more. We also had older volumes of Talking Stick available. The workshop ran from 9 to noon followed by an excellent lunch of soup and sandwiches. Sharon Chmielarz gave us some excellent tips for revising our poems. Writers took turns reading short excerpts of their writing during the workshop.

After lunch, we had more writers arrive. The book release party started at 1 PM. Sharon Harris talked about the group and our history. Tarah Wolff and Sharon Harris realized that this year marked 20 years that they have been working on the Talking Stick books together—from TS12 through TS32. Tarah and Sharon have also done about 20 other books together, various poetry collections, short story collections, a few novels. Other JWB members help with reading submissions, serving on the Editorial Board, helping with proofing, helping with events, etc.

Then other JWB members introduced the winners of each genre. Other speakers were Sharon Chmielarz, Niomi Phillips, Ryan Neely, and Mike Lein. Each winner who was present came up to read their poem or story and receive their prize money. Then anyone else who was published in TS32 was invited up to read. Many stories and poems were very sad and touching. Many were humorous. All were enjoyable. Laughter and applause filled the event center.

At the end, we thanked everyone who helped with the event, everyone who attended, everyone who submitted to the book, everyone who had helped with donations, etc. We are proud of the fact that we have never charged a reading fee or membership fee but we still have been able to give out prize money.

Exhausted, we packed up our books around 3:30 PM. About a dozen JWB members and visiting writers went to the Cookhouse, the Jack Pines Resort restaurant. There we visited for several more hours and had an excellent meal. We hated to leave. Be sure to visit the Cookhouse when you can. Their Sunday brunch is especially spectacular.

For those in TS32 who were not able to attend, we will be mailing out your one free book over the next couple of weeks!

August Meeting Minutes 2023

Hello Everyone, today we held our August meeting.


Sharon, Mike, Erin, Dawn.


The TS32 books are here and ready to go. This week, Tarah and Sharon plan to put together the folders for the workshop. Remember the Workshop and party are to be held on Saturday Sept. 16. We will be having soup and sandwich for lunch for the workshop attendees. We are concerned about road construction.


Mike attended the August meeting. They discussed Art Leap, Art Beat, a contest for artists, their musical.


     The Book and Art Festival was held in Hackensack on Saturday, August 12. Mike sold many books. Sharon and Dawn sold some Talking Stick books and some of Sharon’s poetry books. Niomi sold some of both of her books. Dawn is an amazing saleswoman, reeling in the customers.

     There will be a poetry slam (super slam) at Fozzie’s in Bemidji on Sept. 21.

     There will be a Storytelling event for scary stories at the Keg & Cork basement in Bemidji in October.

    We read pieces we have been working on and others critiqued. Three of us used the monthly words. This was a really good meeting when we all wanted to keep talking and no one wanted to leave. We won’t have a September meeting due to our book party.

July Meeting Minutes 2023


Sharon, Mike, Marlys, Jan, Erin.


The books are done and ordered and should be here this coming week. We were worried about a UPS strike possibly coming on August 1 so we wanted to get them done and delivered.

Be sure to sign up for the workshop or book party if you wish to attend on Saturday, Sept. 16. We are discussing lunch with them right now, probably soup and sandwich like we have done the last few years.


Hackensack is coming up. Saturday August 12 from 9 to 3. Niomi and her daughter and Dawn and Sharon will be attending.

Sharon did an online poetry workshop with Sarah Ann Winn, a writer she took a Loft Class with a while ago. There were 10 short morning meetings with prompts (Sharon was only able to attend one on July 4) and then all the prompts were emailed out to the attendees at the end.

Erin reported that there will be a Story Slam in Bemidji at the Bemidji Brewery at 7 PM on August 1.

The Northwoods Writers Conference in June in Bemidji was well attended. Erin did auditing; she was able to attend all events but the workshops.

At the end of June, Mike attended a book signing of the book The Meat Eater, a cookbook by Steven Rinella. This very popular author also wrote a book on how to get kids involved in the outdoors, Catch a Crayfish, Count the Stars. He has written many other books also.

We had a good meeting, reading things we have been working on and critiquing the others. Hope to see you all next time!

June Meeting Minutes 2023

Hello Everyone,

Today we held our June meeting.


Sharon, Mike, Mary.


We are now proofing the book. Be sure to sign up for our book party and/or the writers’ workshop on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. We are now talking to Jack Pines Resort regarding the lunch.


Mike attended the last two meetings. They discussed a new mural for Park Rapids, Art Leap on Sept. 23 and 24, Nemeth Art Center, children’s art workshops, sculpture trail, their playwright event, music, a popular pianist, Thursday events, etc.


     Saturday, August 12, 2023 from 9 to 3, Hackensack Book and Art Festival in Hackensack.

     Bemidji Poetry Slams

     Lakes Area Writers Alliance fall conference is on October 21, 2023 at the Arrowwood Lodge in Baxter, Minnesota. There will be a panel of speakers. Email for more information.

     Author Mike Lein will be at Sweetheart Days in Hackensack selling and signing his books from 12:30 to 2:45 on July 8, 2023.

     Contact for information from Matt Lucas regarding his organization called For the Love of Writing. They are a non-profit who is setting out to help school-age kids better understand what it takes to become an author. He is looking for anyone who might be interested in donating time or money to help the organization (that can include helping to teach some of the courses they are going to provide).


     Mary told us about Calm Meditation. It is an app on and it has daily reflection questions so you can explore your interior landscape. There are daily meditations, categories, music, stories, literature, essay and memoir. She has done 288 days of daily prompts.

     Northern Wild Magazine of Grand Marais.

     2023 Midwest Indie Bookstore Roadmap from Midwest Independent Booksellers Association.

The three of us had some good conversation and we each read something we had been working on while the others critiqued. Hope to see you all next time!