September 20th 2008

2008 Talking Stick 17 Book Release Party and Jackpine Writers Annual Celebration

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Northwoods Bank Community Room, Park Rapids MN

Our event today was a great success. We had nearly 70 people. Writers and readers came from all over the state to pick up their contributor copies or to buy books. We sold many TS17 books as well as the 20×20 event books and older TS books. We also had books available by each of our 3 celebrity judges for this year’s book.

We started out the day at 1 o’clock with Kent Nerburn (celebrity judge for creative nonfiction) doing a book signing. We also had refreshments as the writers mingled and bought books.

Our program began at 2 o’clock with Cindie Ekren talking of the history of our group. We started out in 1993 with a small group of writers, mainly women. She also mentioned the excellent workshops we had in 2008: Doug Ohman, Scott Stewart, Kate Hopper. We are right now offering an Artists’ Way workshop for 12 weeks. We may offer it again in the future as it has been very popular. The book Artists’ Way by Julia Cameron is life changing. Cindie also reminded us of NANORIMO coming up in November. This is National Novel Writing in a Month where people write 50,000 words in 30 days. This is a national event that has been in existence for 10 years. For the last 4 years, Cindie has promoted it for our group. We have had quite a few writers who have completed novels during this project. She also spoke of our 20×20 event that we had this summer. We invited 20 Minnesota artists to bring 20 pieces of art to Park Rapids. Then we invited 20 Minnesota writers to be randomly matched with those art pieces and write a one page poem or story about the one they were matched with. The writings and art pieces were displayed in Jackpine Java in Park Rapids for several weeks and a private reception was held for the participating artists and writers in early August. This was a great event and we have printed several books to commemorate the event. These books are available at We may do this event again in the future.

Sharon Harris then spoke about the monthly meetings we have now on the third Sundays of each month at Bella Caffe in Park Rapids MN. Our group now seems to be mainly men. Our books keep getting bigger every year. She spoke about the procedures we use each year when publishing our books. The submissions come in and an editorial board of 5 JWB members go through them and choose the ones that will go in the book. Then the top 5 to 7 from each category are sent (with the names removed) to the celebrity judge for that category. For this book, the judges were: Poetry judge: Joyce Sutphen, Fiction judge: Judith Guest, Creative Nonfiction judge: Kent Nerburn. The JWB board members and editorial board members are NOT eligible to win the prize money. Sharon and niece Tarah Wolff have done the last 6 books. Tarah does the layout for the TS books and has also designed a beautiful website for us. So many people help each year with all our events. Marilyn Wolff helps with the proof reading on the books. Cindie Ekren does the workshops. Jerry Mevissen and Scott Stewart are always around to help too. Many others pitch in to help at our events.

Jerry Mevissen is one of our members who has had two books published. Nimrod Chronicles and Broken Hart. Jerry took the microphone to introduce our judge and the winners and other readers.

Kent Nerburn spoke next. He is from Bemidji and is the author of 10 books on spiritual values and Native American themes. Among his published works are Simple Truths, Small Graces, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace, A Haunting Reverence, and Letters to My Son. He talked of writing and he read from several of his books. We all enjoyed his humor. He introduced the winner of the Creative Nonfiction category that he judged.

Vern Thompson of Park Rapids is the winner of our Creative Nonfiction category. He read his piece “Revisiting the Great Raid” and accepted his $500 check. Vern had us all rolling in the aisles with his humorous story.

Susan Wolter Nettell of Eden Prairie is the winner of our Fiction category. She read her piece “Gone. Fishing.” and accepted her $500 check.

Nicole Borg of Wabasha is the winner of our Poetry category. She read her piece “when things get back to normal” and accepted her $500 check.

After that, many other writers who were published in the book came up to read their stories or poems. Jerry thanked Fair Havens Golf Course (Marilyn and Tarah) for putting on a benefit golf tournament this summer to help pay for our book. He also thanked Beagle Books for their continued support and for their assistance with the 20×20 project this summer. He thanked Jackpine Java for their help on the 20×20 project, giving us a space to display the art and writings and a place for our reception. Also, he thanked Region 2 for their assistance with the 20×20 project.

As always, probably the best part of the event was just meeting and greeting all the writers who had joined us for the day. We greeted old friends and made new friends. Thanks to all who attended and made this a very special day!!