The Jackpine Writers’ Bloc is an active writing group in north central Minnesota, in existence since 1993. Our group kicks off each year by opening up for submissions to the next Talking Stick Book. These books are collections of poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction submitted by Minnesota writers.

During each year, we put on writing workshops, prepare the book, and put on an annual book release party where we pay out prize money for the top two places in each of the three writing categories. We continually look for new ways to entertain and inspire writers and fellow artists.

We want to thank the writing and arts community for their continued enthusiasm for our group and our books. Bring your friends to our workshops and parties.

For many years, we supported ourselves with donations, book sales, and a few grants. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to fund our books. Without your support and donations, there would be no Jackpine Writers’ Bloc and no Talking Stick books. Remember, your tax donation is tax deductible. We are a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization.

The Jackpine Writers’ Bloc is native to Minnesota. We are a writing group as well as a publishing company. Our literary journal, The Talking Stick, has become a state-wide publishing ground for amateur and experienced writers alike. Our goal in publishing writers is simple – we publish to encourage solid writing that shows promise, creativity and brilliance.

We started where most writers up here seem to start – hiding behind jack pines with few outlets and few who could enjoy our craft with us. Things have changed. The writers in our group, and those from many other writing groups that have sprung up in nearby cities, offer experience, criticism and encouragement in abundance.

Board of Directors

Sharon Harris (website)

Sharon Harris has been writing poetry since she was 15. She has had over 170 poems published in various anthologies and magazines. She is proud to have had several poems in The Lake Country Journal and Lakes Alive and The Talking Stick, all local publications. She was born and raised near Park Rapids and currently works at First National Bank of Menahga & Sebeka as Operations Officer and Assistant Cashier. Her hobbies include photography and reading. She has published two books of her poetry, Timeless Tracks in 1984 and Life Savors in 2000. A third book is in progress.
Sharon Harris has been the co-editor for the TS books since 2003. She does proofing and editing, serves on the Editorial Board, handles the submissions, etc. and she organizes the monthly member meetings and prepares the minutes. She is also on the Board of directors for the JWB.

Niomi Phillips

Niomi Rohn Phillips retired as assistant dean of the Graduate School at the University of North Dakota in 2000. In the past decade her work has been published in periodicals: Generations, Among Women, Lakes Alive, and Lake Country Journal. She has written travel and garden features for the Enterprise, the national publication, Greenprints, and AARP online. She has published work in an anthology, Winter a Season on the Prairie and in literary journals: Whistling Shade, Talking Stick, and Dust and Fire. Her work has won awards from Northwoods Arts Council, the Brainerd Writers Alliance, and Talking Stick.

Scott Stewart

Mike Lein

Tarah L. Wolff (website)

Tarah is a native to Minnesota and has been writing fiction for several years. She is the current webmaster and web designer in the group; the website you’re seeing now was her doing. She has been the co-Editor of the Talking Stick since she joined the group in 2002, and since has been the Layout Designer of all of the books the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc has done (The Talking Stick Volumes 12-Current, Broken Hart by Jerry Mevissen, both of the 20x20s, and five books she has done for other members of the JWB). She owns Web Services of Park Rapids and her blog on writing (The official website of Tarah L. Wolff) has garnered hundreds of followers reading about her journey becoming a novelist. She self published her first book in the spring of 2012 Embraced by Darkness – Book One, Sacrifices.

Evolution of the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc

By Linda Henry

It started in the fall of 1993, with a community-ed class offered through the Park Rapids school system. I was the instructor. The class was given the optimistic title, “Getting Published,” and it was my intention to get local writers who enrolled in the class to send out query letters and manuscripts to potential publishers, collect rejection slips by the truckload, and finally, at long last, to help these budding writers achieve the goal of getting published.

It was a diverse group of teachers, doctors, retirees, renaissance women, and small business owners. My only credential as their instructor was that I’d been working as a freelance writer for several years and had some success getting published in magazines.

After the first couple of weeks, we decided to break up into small groups for a couple of sessions so the students could critique each other’s work. But a few days before the first group was to meet, my family was involved in a horrible car accident. My husband and I were badly injured, and our beautiful baby girl, not quite 16 months old, was killed.

The students were notified that I would not be able to teach the class, and were offered a reimbursement. Each one of them refused the money, asking instead that it be sent to my family as a memorial gift. They also decided to meet for the critique sessions as planned.

As that sad winter progressed, I was cheered by the funny little newsletter sent to me every month by Dr. Carson Gardner, a published poet and student in the class who had become defacto leader of the group. It was a great comfort to me, knowing “the writers’ group” was meeting, and writing, and waiting for me to rejoin them. A few more local writers joined. In one of the newsletters, Carson mentioned they were discussing possible names. Someone had suggested “The Jackpine Writers’ Bloc.” I started attending meetings the following March, just in time to see that the name stuck (by refusing to call the group anything else).

Shortly after moving here several years ago, I wrote an article for an obscure, east-coast literary journal. “Many times in my first months here [in Menahga],” I wrote, “I’ve been tempted to put an ad in the local paper. It would run alongside those selling turkey manure or soliciting adoptable white babies for couples with 212 area codes. Mine would say: ‘Wanted: People who like to read and discuss things over cold mugs of beer or even cocktails.’ I imagine that such smart, artistic people must live around here somewhere. They wear wire-rimmed glasses and they’re really skinny, so they can hide behind the jack pines to avoid detection.”

The members of the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc are those people. Okay, so I was misguided in making a correlation between cocktails and intelligent conversation, but I was coming from a New York City mentality, where a couple of drinks makes one instantly witty and smart, at least in one’s own eyes. And my kindred spirits are not all rail thin, nor were they hiding behind the jack pines. They were simply living their lives, oblivious to the big-city prejudices about signs of intelligent life in the northern woods, writing their poetry, stories, reminiscences, and confessionals, open to criticism and always supportive of one another in a world that is not very supportive of writers. We’re not isolated up here. On the contrary, we’re tightly connected. I hope that this literary journal will be a celebration of life in north-central Minnesota, and of the highly intelligent decision to live outside so-called civilization.

Linda Henry

Linda Henry is an essayist, storyteller, and occasional poet. She has written hundreds of articles for national magazines, including Reader’s Digest, Parenting, Travel & Leisure, and Glamour, as well as regional and trade publications, websites, and newspapers. She was a co-founder of The Talking Stick, and was editor in chief of its first 8 volumes (1992?1999). From 1999 through 2001, she contributed a column to Lake Country Journal, “Of Woodstoves and Websites,” about her life as a single mother in northern Minnesota. A full-time freelance writer and editor for eleven years, she is now editorial manager for Children’s Home Society & Family Services. In her personal writing life, she has many works in progress.


Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 from 12 to 3:30 PM at Park Rapids Public Library, Writing Close to Home with Will Weaver. To register, Region 2 Arts Council 218-751-5447 or alice@r2arts.org.

Saturday March 24, 2018 9 AM to 5 PM, Second Annual Rosemount Writers Festival and Book Fair. Stei0010@gmail.com 651-423-2569.

Saturday August 11, 2018 Northwoods Arts Council Book and Art Festival at Hackensack MN. www.northwoodsartscouncil.org

Saturday Sept. 22, 2018 Jackpine Writers’ Bloc workshop and Talking Stick 27 Book Release Party—location undecided yet. Workshop is 9 to noon and Book Party runs from 1 to 4 PMapproximately.


Saturday August 12, 2017 Northwoods Arts Council Book and Art Festival at Hackensack MN. www.northwoodsartscouncil.org

Saturday Sept. 16, 2017 Jackpine Writers’ Bloc workshop from 9 to noon with lunch for attendees. JWB book release party for Talking Stick 27 runs from 1 to 4 PM. Location: Blueberry Pines Golf Club.

Saturday Sept. 23, 2017 Great American Story event, 1 PM in Park Rapids MN.


April 22-24, 2016 Candace Simar, A Writing Retreat for all Genres Lanesboro MN www.candacesimar.com Register by 4-1-16. Anna V’s Bed & Breakfast 507-467-2686 *

June 11, 2016 Debate for This Yea’s Great American Think-Off New York Mills Cultural Center, New York Mills, MN www.kulcher.org Deadline to enter 4-1-16. *

June 20-26 Northwoods Writers’ Conference in Bemidji *  http://northwoodswriters.org

August 13 Saturday, Hackensack Book Arts Festival *  http://www.northwoodsartscouncil.org

September 17 Saturday 9 AM, Workshop with Faith Sullivan at The Patio near Hubbard MN south and east of Park Rapids MN sharrick1@wcta.net

September 17 Saturday 1 PM, Book Release Party at The Patio near Hubbard MN south and east of Park Rapids MN sharrick1@wcta.net


Saturday August 15, 2015 Northwoods Arts Council Book and Art Festival at Hackensack MN. www.northwoodsartscouncil.org

Saturday Sept. 19, 2015 Jackpine Writers’ Bloc workshop and Talking Stick 24 Book Release Party at Blueberry Pines Golf Club. Workshop is 9 to Noon with lunch for attendees. Book Party runs from 1 to 4 PM approximately. Sharrick1@wcta.net


June 16-21, 2014  Bemidji Library Book Festival ericssonp@krls.org

June 20-22, 2014 Nimrod 5 at Jerry Mevissen’s farm. Event is full sharrick1@wcta.net

June 22-28, 2014 Northwoods Writers’ Conference in Bemidji http://northwoodswriters.org

August 23, 2014 Saturday, Hackensack Book Arts Festival  http://www.northwoodsartscouncil.org

September 13, 2014 Sat. 9 AM, Workshop with Marsh Muirhead at Blueberry Pines Golf Course south of Park Rapids MN sharrick1@wcta.net

September 13, 2014 Sat. 1 PM, Book Release Party at Blueberry Pines Golf Course south of Park Rapids MN sharrick1@wcta.net

September 26-28 Jane Hirshfield event in Bemidji  Friday—Jazz Party, Slam and Open Mic Saturday—readings from The Beat, craft lecture by Jane, book signing, evening reading and reception Sunday—closing brunch of the Bards, TBA mgmuirhead@midco.net 218-556-6313

October 4, 2014 Sat. Lake Region Writers Network meeting MN State, Fergus Falls MN www.lakeregionwriters.net


March 1 – Deadline for Talking Stick 22

April – *Red Bridge Film Festival

June – *Wadena Affaire de Artes Sat. 11 AM to 4 PM. $30.00, partially refundable. wadenaarts@hotmail.com or Mim Maas 218-631-1751 or Cheryl Prindle 651-283-1811.

August 17 – *Hackensack Book Arts Festival

September 21 – 9 AM, Workshop with LOUANN SHEPARD MUHM at Blueberry Pines Golf Course south of Park Rapids MN

September 21 – 1 PM, Book Release Party at Blueberry Pines Golf Course south of Park Rapids MN

October 5 – *Lake Region Writers Network meeting MN State, Fergus Falls MN www.lakeregionwriters.net

*Sponsored by other groups, not JWB


June 16 Saturday 2 to 5 PM Blank Canvas Gallery Authors event

June 22-24 Friday 5 PM to Sunday 3 PM, Third annual writers’ retreat at
Jerry Mevissen’s farm with Marge Barrett as instructor (Event is full)

July 28 Ror Schach Music and Arts Festival Hubbard County Fair Grounds,
Park Rapids MN, 11 AM to 1 AM Tarah L. Wolff will be there with her book Embraced by Darkness

August 18 Saturday, Hackensack Book Arts Festival

September 15 Saturday 9 AM, Workshop with Linda Lein on Revision at
Blueberry Pines Golf Course south of Park Rapids MN

September 15 Saturday 1 PM, Book Release Party at
Blueberry Pines Golf Course south of Park Rapids MN

September 21 Friday evening, Legacy Weekend at Century School in Park Rapids MN. Renamed the Park Rapids Legacy Showcase. In conjunction with the Kinship spaghetti dinner. From 5:30 until 9 PM. JWB will sell books.

October 6 Saturday Lake Region Writers Network meeting MN State, Fergus Falls MN


August 20 Hackensack Book and Art Fair, 9-3

September 17 Sat. Book Release Party at Northwoods Bank

September 23 Fri. 5 – 8 PM PRLAAC event, sell books, etc. Century School

September 27 Real Men Do Write Poetry
John Thornberg and Marsh Muirhead
Tuesday 1:00-2:30 PM at Northwoods Bank
Community Room in Park Rapids

October 1 Lake Region Writers Network meeting
MN State, Fergus Falls MN www.lakeregionwriters.net

October 4 Women’s Hearts and Modern Poetry
Laura Hanson and Penny Swan
Tuesday 1:00-2:30 PM at Northwoods Bank Community Room in Park Rapids


Jul 24, 2010 – Marge Barrett – Writing the Short Short
Apr 17, 2010 – Scott Stewart – Page to Screen: The Nuts & Bolts of Screenwriting

Aug 02, 2008 – Kate Hopper – Writing Family
Jun 21, 2008 – Scott Stewart – Targeting your Writing, Editing, and Marketing
Mar 25, 2008 – Doug Ohman – Photography and publishing

Oct 29, 2007 – Mark Munger – Self Publishing
Sep 24, 2007 – Deborah Keenan – An Evening of Poetry with Deborah Keenan
Aug 11, 2007 – William Kent Krueger – Writing Compelling Fiction
July 28, 2007 – LouAnn Shepard Muhm – Poetry Manuscript Preparation
July 14, 2007 – LouAnn Shepard Muhm – How to Get Started Writing Poetry

Sep 09, 2006 – Faith Sullivan – Writing Creative Nonfiction
Aug 07, 2006 – Catherine Watson – Memoir Workshop
July 15, 2006 – LouAnn Shepard Muhm – Compression: Writing the Short Poem

Aug 06, 2005 – Mark Vinz – Readers & Writers of Poetry
Mar 19, 2005 – Florence Witkop – Fire Your Therapist! Writing Without Angst

July 31, 2004 – Linda Henry – Writing for Profit/Prophet

Sep 20, 2003 – Florence Witkop – What Editors Want
Sep 20, 2003 – Linda Henry – Writing Magazine Proposals