March 21st 2004

First of all, we want to let everyone know that we now have a new website address. (The old address will still get you there also.) The new address is: Also, the submission guidelines for Talking Stick 13 are out now. The are available on the website or you can get them from Sharon Harris by e-mailing

Today, March 21, 2004, we held our March meeting at Beagle Books in Park Rapids. Today ended up being a business meeting rather than our usual readings and writing tips. We had many attendees today, some new people and some of the board members and original members. We had two people from Region 2 Arts Council who spoke about ways they could help our group.

Present today were: Cindie, Sharon, Tarah, Russ, LuAnne, Carolyn, Florence, Jerry, Rosa, two new people who came with Rosa were Carol and Kathryn. The ladies from Region 2 were Mary and Terri.

The next meeting will either be on April 4 or 25. We will be discussing that and let you know what the final date is. The April meeting will be at Beagle Books in Park Rapids from 1:30 till 4 PM. We may decide to have some Sunday meetings at a different location, such as Black Moose, just for a change of atmosphere once in a while. We will let our Sunday meeting attendees vote on that at the next meeting.

Terri Widman and Mary Thoreson Clemenson joined us today from Region 2 from Bemidji. Their organization has funds available for arts projects grants. They wanted to know how they could help our group. We had prepared a list of 9 items and we went through the list with them.

1. grant money to put on more writing workshops or publish future books
2. grant money to get more well-know writers to put on workshops

There definitely is grant money available for workshops and future books. They gave us grant forms and their website address ( They said it was important for us to know the grant deadlines, which are March and September of each year. They also work with the McKnight Grants Program and their deadlines are in January of each year. We have done these in the past.

3. help with marketing, flyers, ads in papers

They do not help with marketing but could help us with resources. They suggested doing more readings, having the books in doctors’ offices (which we do), sponsor something like Art in the Park, take books to the resorts in the summer (signs saying “Bring something home from the Lake!” with a picture of our most recent Talking Stick book), send out postcards, get books to the bookstore in Dorset (open only in the summer.)

4. more contact between MN writers’ groups, helping to sell each others’ books, combining sales of books at book parties, sharing the main e-mail address from each group to send each other info such as writing tips, places to submit, etc.

How to find other writers’ groups? Try the Internet, but not all of them have web sites. We suggested sending e-mails to all our contacts asking for names and e-mail addresses of any writers’ groups that they know of. We would also put a blurb in MN Literature asking for writers’ groups to contact us so we could connect the groups. Also this could go in the Region 2 Newsletter

5. assistance with readings

They suggested Creative Words Coffee house in Bemidji. Every third Friday, they have writers come in and do readings.

Since we are non profit, we could do news releases for readings.

An important thing is when we have the readings. People are more apt to go to those things on Friday or Saturday evenings. We also should go back to Headwaters Life Long Learning. We could get involved more with colleges and schools. We could contact English Teachers. We could do readings right at the bookstore. Perhaps Jill could help us get a well-known writer up here to do a reading and some of our writers could also do readings.

6. how to attract good new members and keep the group going with fresh blood

Actually, we have done pretty well with members. We often get e-mails from interested person. We do want to contact English teachers and encourage high school students to get involved with our group.

7. sustaining the board

There are workshops on how to build a board. Terri can get us more info on this.

8. some help with basic bookkeeping (taxes mostly) for nonprofits

One of our new attendees thinks she knows a semi-retired CPA who might be willing to answer some tax questions for Cindie.

9. keeping group cohesiveness even though members want different things from the group

Mary and Terri asked us what things would help each of us improve as writers. Some people answered a peaceful and quiet place to write. They said we could get a grant to sponsor a mini-retreat for our writers. We also said that workshops really help us improve our writing. We also discussed mentoring. Perhaps we could assist new writers or high school students with their writing. Susan Hauser and Will Weaver have done that, working with individual writers. We wouldn’t necessarily be showing them our work, but we could help them find work that would give them ideas that would help them find their writing voice. Russ keeps samples of writing that he likes. We could help them find good sources and share them. There are some good textbooks like “What If” and “On Writing” that we could suggest.

We could get a projects grant to have a well-known writer come here and mentor some of us individually. Then the project funds would pay this writer to do this on an on-going basis. We could e-mail our writings to him/her ahead of time and he/she would review them and send comments back to us.

Jerry has mentioned to the Loft to do an outstate writing class. We could call it an Outhouse Retreat.

Another idea was to get someone like Mary Casanova to come up to Beagle and do a workshop on Children’s literature and she could also do something at the school for high school kids. The school could get a grant for that.

Thanks to Mary and Terri for joining us today with lots of good information!!

The Loft is putting on a reception/reading for Jerry Mevissen on April 23, a Friday evening from 7 to 9 PM, put on by North Star Press. We can have a table to sell some of our books there. It would be great if some of our group members could attend. Congrats, Jerry!! Keep up the good work.

Jerry had recently attended a great party put on by Great River Writers of Little Falls. It was their 4th anniversay. They had 2 well known writers and readings from their own group. They had a skit put on at the end that was just hilarious. It was a great time.

Jerry brought up the idea of JWB having a 10 year party. It has been 11 years since the group started and probably 9 years since the first Talking Stick was printed. We would want the charter members of the group to be invited as well as writers who were in various Talking Sticks and then went on to bigger things. We could try to get a class list from the original Community Ed Writing group that Linda taught at the beginning. We suggested this summer. We had thought this could be with the book party, but the book won’t be out until fall. We thought the party should be in Park Rapids, something that should be both indoors and outdoors. We would want someone to talk about the history of the JWB, introduce charter members, someone give a report on our book inventory and sales, do 3 minute readings, have a book sale table. We would want at least one well-known writer to read. We could ask for more ideas from Laura Hansen, who planned the Great River Writers’ party. Cindie made a motion that Jerry should chair the party committee and Florence seconded it. Motion was carried.

One thought would be to put out a book with “The Best of…” with excerpts from all our previous Talking Sticks. But, we have already sent out submission guidelines for TS13 so unless we do two books this year, we won’t be able to do this. And there is no way we could get it done in time for a summer party.

Jerry also mentioned Stone House Press. He would like to see them get going on a project such as one of our Talking Sticks. They would give us some help with marketing and it would be nice to have a publisher as opposed to us self publishing again. We would have to provide funding and do pretty much all the work as we do now. We decided to enter into discussions with them. Jerry made a motion and Carolyn seconded it and the motion carried. Jerry and Sharon will attend a Thursday evening meeting with Stone House Press near Fergus Falls.

Jerry also asked why some of our books were not in the Snyder Drug Store in Park Rapids. At the time we asked, they did not appear to want them, but he is going to ask them again since his book Nimrod Chronicles is there.

Russ told us that the Detroit Lakes Library has some interesting programs called Third Sundays featuring well-known writers. In February, they had Faith Sullivan, March was Erin Hart and April 18 will be Carol Bly. These sound like great programs to attend.

We sent out an e-mail recently requesting workshop ideas. Thanks to all of you who responded. We have a nice list of suggestions now and we are working on planning several workshops for the summer of 2004. Cindie will be planning these. Anyone who has questions or suggestions can either e-mail Sharon at or Cindie at

Sharon has received several e-mails about the workshops we had last summer saying how helpful they were. Several people said they had had some publishing successes after the workshops.

Sharon mentioned that we have received e-mails from other writers’ groups lately asking for suggestions on putting out a book, etc.

Beth Walter has had two of her essays published by Lake Country Journal in their March/April issue. Angele Burlingame has had an article accepted by Lake Country Journal for the near future. We think Niomi Phillips has also had something accepted by Lake Country Journal recently. Congrats, all of you!! Wonderful work.

A great meeting with lots of topics covered. See you next time!!