March 16th 2003

Today was our monthly meeting at Beagle Books in Park Rapids. Present were: Russ Jacobson, Beth Walters, Tarah Wolff, Sharon Harris and LuAnne White. The next meeting will be on April 13, also at Beagle Books in Park Rapids from 1:30 to 4 PM.

LakesAlive is having an essay contest this spring.
We mentioned several writing exercises. Write a story twice — from two different points of view. Try describing moonlight without using the words moon or the word light. Try writing a poem using a specific amount of syllables in each line. Seven, five, seven, five, etc. Punctuation or the lack of it makes such a difference a poem. It would be nice to have a class on forms of poetry.
It would be helpful for some of us if we could find an online or correspondence course in writing. Sharon will contact Susan Hauser about college classes on writing. LuAnne is taking a correspondence course in writing for children.


Sharon will have some of her poems on display in Tri-County Hospital in Wadena in the near future. Her poems will be displayed with the photographs on Theresa Reed from Eagle Bend. This is the same place where Jerry Mevissen had his photos and words displayed last fall.


We are reminding our local members again that they need to get a bio and photo to Tarah to put on the web site. Again, the web site address is:
Tarah now has the purchase information for older Talking Sticks on the web site. We still would like to have a featured poet or writer occasionally.


Tarah and Sharon need to get the program for layout of the next book from Carolyn. LuAnne mentioned another program called AmazingPublishing.
We have received information from Morris Publishing. They will do as few as 200 or 250 books. This looks much more feasible. Russ had gotten this name from an Atlantic magazine. He will see if there are a couple more small publishers listed there that we can check out.


We discussed what happened at the Board Meeting on March 1. We decided that we could sell older volumes of the Talking Stick to our current members for $1.00 each. We will sell them on the website for $2.00 each plus postage. The newest TS11 will sell for $8.00. The paper TS1 will be free to anyone who orders.
We discussed Morris Publishing and the fact that we could probably publish a short run of books without a grant. We decided to go ahead with a poetry and prose contest and use them for the next TS also. We would use photos again. A workshop around the time of the book publishing would also be a good thing. Perhaps Linda Henry and Florence Witkop could put on a workshop.
We discussed the submission guidelines and whether or not to charge a reading fee. We also discussed the places to write to or where to put flyers up. This group did not think that we should charge a reading fee. Just publication and a small cash prize would be okay.


Several of the writers present read some things they were working on recently. Great job, everyone!


The Jackpine Writers’ Bloc board of directors held a board meeting at Minnesoda Fountain in Park Rapids on Saturday, March 1 at noon. Six of us discussed the goals of our group over sub sandwiches and salads. Present were Cindie Ekren, Carolyn Spangler, Florence Witkop, Jerry Mevissen, Sharon Harris and Tarah Wolff. We reviewed the profit and loss statement for last year, recent expenditures, and our total assets.


We discussed how much the Talking Stick volumes cost us. For some volumes, we paid the editor and marketing person. For some volumes, we also paid the contributors. This really increased the cost. For the last volume, we paid for the printing, but we did not pay anyone for the work they did on it. We paid the contributors with book copies only.
We feel that if we could find a cheaper printer and if we could print less copies, and if everyone who worked on the book would just volunteer their cost, we could probably pay for Volume 12 by ourselves. We discussed a printer in Nebraska named Morris Publishing who does a run of 200 books at $3.15 each. This would be very nice to get a smaller amount of them. We will ask them for a sample book and further information. The above price was for a book of 40 to 70 pages.
If we could do something like this, we could avoid having to get a grant. Trying to get a grant is so time consuming. We said that we would definitely like to stay with photographs, since that is so much less work than doing art. The photographs looked great in the last book. Also, it is so much less work to leave the names on rather than taking them off like last time.
We discussed the marketing of the Talking Stick, which is where we always fall short. Once the immense workload of just getting the book printed is done, we are all too exhausted to do much marketing. It is easy to get into stores, we do have name recognition now, but the books just don’t sell well. If we bought less, then there would be less sitting around that we would feel we would need to sell. We could just concentrate more on selling them to contributors and their friends and relatives.
Sharon has taken samples of the older Talking Sticks to several doctor’s office waiting areas. We now have cards that we have stapled in the backs of the books so people will know how to contact us if they wish to purchase books. We discussed the prices we want to put on the website for the books. Volume 11 will be sold for $8.00 plus shipping and handling. Volume 2 and 5 are sold out. We have six boxes of Volume 1 (the paper one from the Enterprise) and we will send one of them free with each order. Volumes 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 will be sold for $2.00 each plus shipping and handling. We have discovered that to mail 1 book, it costs $1.29 plus envelope, 2 books $2.21, 3 books $3.13, 4 books $3.95. Envelopes are 30 or 50 cents each, more if we go with padded ones. We will round these off and come up with figures for the website. We don’t expect to make huge sales, but at least we will have available a way for people to purchase them.
We had mentioned giving a set of books to the newer writers who attend on Sundays. We decided that we should charge $1.00 per book if they do want them.


We discussed sponsoring a poetry contest. We could publish the winners on the web site. We realize that we would have to get a contract from each of these winners. The contract would have to request one time electronic rights; we would go through this with Florence. We could also sponsor a short prose contest. All entries for both contests would be considered for publication on the web site and also in the next volume of the Talking Stick. We could charge a submission fee of $5.00 or $10.00. A good choice might be up to three poems for $10.00 and a short prose piece (no more than 2 pages) for $10.00. We could offer a $100. prize. Possibly they could submit for just the Talking Stick and pay no fee, or submit for both and pay the fee. We will be working on these guidelines.
We also need to decide if we want to really stay regional, just for local writers, or go for a broader group of submissions. Probably we could say that we prefer local writers or writers with some connection to this area but that we will consider others.

We discussed the fact that Region 2 would like to give out grants for work shops. In the past, we have done workshops with Faye Sullivan, Penny Swan, Carol Sordahl. We could ask Will Weaver, Rose Weaver, Susan Hauser. Perhaps we could do a workshop with Linda Henry and Florence Witkop.

We all want to see the group continue. We want to see a writers’ group in the community. We want to see the book continue also, if at all possible. It has always been a real struggle to keep unity within the group while also putting out a book. Our original reasons for starting the Talking Stick were to get ourselves and other local writers published. We have also done workshops that have been well received.
We feel that we have met our original goal. There are several writers doing well that we helped to get started. Louis Jenkins, Kate Keiser. Perhaps we could get quotes from them to put on our website.
What is our goal now? We decided to list our strengths and weaknesses.


nonprofit status
our history
our credibility
name recognition
we have had 11 publications
we have a pool of good serious writers
we have money in the bank
we don’t have trouble getting good submissions


no effective marketing plan
lost our group cohesiveness
lost our mission?
no clear vision or purpose
not been able to balance publishing with our unity group
not enough workers

Perhaps if we can line up with a decent publisher, we can get back to our original goal. Jerry mentioned Northstar Printing. They do editing and publishing. They have great distribution — the MN Book Fair,, etc. There is also Stone House Press in Fergus Falls.
Carolyn brought up the fact that we need more manpower. Would a larger board of directors help? Are there people that are just interested in writing as an art and want to see our group keep on — that would be willing to help with things but are not necessarily writers themselves? We need some helpers. How about book store owners, teachers, librarians, book club members? How about at the school, English Teachers, the home extension office? We need a larger group of people with time to help with things. Helpers could go to the Art Fair for us and market the books, take them to bookstores. Carolyn mentioned putting an ad in the paper stating our problems. Then we would have to call people. Perhaps there could be a Friends of Jackpine Writers’ Group to help out.
The Headwaters Center for Lifelong Learning seemed to like our group. We will contact Peggy Gerard.
We seem to have split into two groups: one group of four on Monday evenings every two weeks and one group of five or more on Sunday afternoons once a month. Both groups enjoy bringing their work and hearing comments and criticism from others. You don’t really want more than 4 or 5 people in a group when you are doing this, so perhaps this is a good thing. We can see that we will have to have separate business meetings in order to get things done.
We discussed that this next Talking Stick will be #12, an even dozen. Perhaps after that, we could consider doing something slightly different, perhaps one author to a book. Perhaps we could change to a definite northern Minnesota flavor, a volume with a different title, previously Talking Stick.


Tarah keeps expanding the website. She will be putting the prices of the books on there soon. We reminded the Jackpine Wrtiers that we wanted photos and bios of them for the web site. We discussed having an occasional featured poet. We would have to have contracts if we published their work on the web site.
We discussed that for now we want local writers. Someday we could perhaps expand to include writers further away since the web goes out to the whole world.


Jerry will attend the Bemidji Writers’ Conference in June to represent our group. We discussed the Hackensack Arts Fair held in August.
Jerry had his photos and words at Tri County Hospital in Wadena. From there, he took his display to New York Mills. Now he will be checking with the North Country Museum of Arts in Park Rapids. Sharon and a lady from Eagle Bend may be doing a joint venture of Sharon’s poems and her photos in Wadena.
We discussed the Hackensack Arts Fair. Several of us attended in the past and we did sell some books. It is usually held in August. We will get information on this year’s event.
Jerry brought a publication newsletter called realgoodwords by KAXE. We mentioned doing a newsletter instead of a book. Getting a grant to do a newsletter might be easier because it would be something new. Jerry mentioned that on the KAXE radio station would be a good place to put out a call for submissions for our contest or book. Also, we could ask Heidi to put a mention of our request for contest or book submissions in the realgoodwords newsletter.
We could also send information on stuff we are doing to New York Mills Region Arts.
Lakes Alive will be having more contests.


Sharon and Tarah are to go ahead with plans for poetry and prose contests with a book to follow. The original members will be available for questions and guidance and probably some assistance.
In the past we ordered 500 or 1000 books costing up to $3000. We will try to only publish about 200 this time. Isn’t the main thing to just publish ourselves and local writers — perhaps we don’t need to feel like we have to sell a bunch of them. We need to get going on submission guidelines. Carolyn will get the software for the layout to Tarah so she can start working with it.
Jerry will take volumes 9, 10 and 11 to show to North Star publishing.
Sharon will get information from Morris publishing.
We will ask Linda Henry about any rules or laws that affect contests and submission fees, prizes, etc.
It was mentioned that we may need to get other board members and remove some of the ones who have moved away, if they no longer have interest.
We will have another business meeting in 4 to 6 weeks.