Tag: Brainerd Writers Alliance

2017 BWA Writing Contest and Fall Festival


October 28, 2017

Where: Northland Arboretum
Time: 9:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.
See details on how to register, below.

Minnesota Writers – CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Submit your original work to the annual BWA writing contest.
See details on how to submit, below.

Book Fair Vendors

$5 for 1/3 of an 8-foot table space to sell your books.
Space is limited. Be sure to mention you’d like a spot when registering.

2017 BWA contest guidelines



2017 BWA Fall Festival Speaker, Faith Sullivan

“Aiming for Excellence: A Little Better Every Day

Faith Sullivan was born and raised in southern Minnesota. Married to drama critic Dan Sullivan, she lived twenty-some years in New York and Los Angeles, returning to Minnesota often to keep her roots planted in the prairie. She is the author of Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse (2015), Gardenias (2005),  What a Woman Must Do (2002), The Empress of One (1997), The Cape Ann (1988), Mrs. Demming and The Mythical Beast (1986), Watchdog (1982) and Repent, Lanny Merkel (1981). A “demon gardener, flea marketer, and feeder of birds,” Sullivan lives in Minneapolis with her husband. They have three grown children. For more information, please visit her website. Photo credit: Leila_Navidi   faithsullivan.com

Brainerd Writers Alliance 2017 Writing Contest


This contest is open to all writers who are residents of Minnesota.


Fiction: 2500 word limit.

Tips: Stories need a strong hook to get the reader into the first scene; good development of character and scene interwoven with action; clear rising action to a turning point and resolution; consistent point of view; theme or story idea is clear by end.

Creative nonfiction: 2500 word limit.

  • Memoir stories use fiction guidelines above but are based on actual events.
  • Essay should concern an issue but still have a hook and be developed using examples, narrative, cause-effect, or comparison-contrast; rising action to a climax – arguments get stronger to the turning point; and come to a clear conclusion.

Poetry: 3 poem limit (each poem limited to maximum 40 lines).

  • Poems need strong imagery that enhances the theme or emotion. Robert Frost said, “Poems should begin with delight and end with wisdom.”


$15.00 –  entry in fiction or nonfiction categories.

$15.00 – one to three poems in the poetry category.


Contest is open to writers who are residents of Minnesota. Work must be submitter’s original, not previously awarded, and unpublished.


Entries due postmarked August 30, 2017 (no metered mail) or before; winners will be notified by Sept. 30th.


  • Cover letter, separate from entry, to include
    • Name and contact info (address, phone, email)
    • List entry titles with category and word count. Example: “Olivia” – creative nonfiction – 2,455 words.
  • $15 entry fee per entry check made out to BWA
  • Two (2) typed copies of each entry
  • All entries must be typed on standard 8 ½ x 11 paper
  • Use 12 pt. Times New Roman font or similar, double-spaced / Poetry may be single- or double-spaced
  • Fiction and creative nonfiction include – title, category, and word count on top of each page; double-spaced, DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME.
  • Poetry include – title at the top of the page, DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME.
  • Submit by August 30, 2017
  • Postal mail entries to: BWA Writing Contest, 30755 Old Hwy 371, Pequot Lakes, MN 56472


Prizes are $75 for first place and $50 for second place and free entry to 2017 Fall Writers Festival. Winners will be notified after September 30, 2017 and are invited to read at the festival. Prizes will be awarded at the festival or by mail after the festival.


  • Winning entries will not be put on our website or published in any way, so that they may be submitted later as “not previously published” in magazines, anthologies, etc.
  • Our judges are skilled in the writing craft. We encourage them to attend the festival and give comments on the winning entries.
  • All contest entrants are encouraged to attend the BWA Fall Writers Festival October 28th at the Northland Arboretum.


  • A separate fee of $25 for the Festival includes a catered lunch.
  • Reservations are due on or before Oct. 25th.
  • To reserve your spot, send $25.00 check payable to BWA
    • Postal Mail: 6584 Parkview Circle, Baxter, MN 56425
    • Email: brainerdwriters@gmail.com, attn.: Bev, with your RSVP and pay at the door.

BOOK FAIR VENDORS: $5 for 1/3 of an 8-foot table space to sell your books. Space is limited. Be sure to mention you’d like a spot when registering.

Contact Contest Chair Bev Abear with questions at brainerdwriters@gmail.com

Check our website for updates on our Fall Writers Festival: www.brainerdwriters.com

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At Saturday’s Brainerd Writers Alliance meeting, one of our members, Bev Abear, shared her notes from a weekend workshop with Sheila O’Connor. The theme of the workshop was “Dream the Scene.” Ms O’Connor shared her thoughts on how to approach the writing of a scene for a novel. Her insights can also be applied to a short story or a work of nonfiction. According to O’Connor, the way to start any writing is in the writer’s imagination: dream (imagine) first the scene, then mind-map, then write.

I was first introduced to the idea of writing from the unconscious (dreaming) by my writing coach, Laurie Parker.  Through timed free-writes, using a legal tablet and a pen, I discovered how open my thoughts were, so much more so than when I typed the words. While I type – as I’m doing now – I’m correcting, back-stepping, rewriting. I’m operating from a technical area in my brain. It’s efficient. It’s fast. Typing reduced my writing to “telling,” – description – rather than “showing”, action.

Parker also gave me a tip on the fastest way to write my next novel. Using a stack of sticky notes, I was to jot down everything that came to mind about the story: theme, characters, descriptions, timelines – everything and anything that popped into my head. I was not to write sentences, just quick notes. She told me I might have a 1,000 of them and I might use only a few when it came time to begin the writing. She suggested that I stick them to a wall, in chronological order.

I followed her suggestion to the letter and for weeks, I stared at those sticky notes on my wall. They were not calling me to action. I didn’t know what to do with them. I couldn’t connect with a next step.

Sticky notes

One day I took them down, stacked them together. I thought I’d do morning writings off of each one until I fell into a rhythm. Now, I don’t know where those sticky notes are. So, what happened? It turns out I needed a more dynamic way to work with those notes. And that, for me, came with the reminder about mind-mapping.

I first learned about mind maps in the early ‘90s. I’d met an author and physicist, Peter Russell. He had come to Minneapolis for a talk on his book, “The White Hole in Time.” In a quote from Russell’s website page on mind maps, it states,

“Before the web came hypertext. And before hypertext came mind maps.

Mind maps were developed in the late 60s by Tony Buzan as a way of helping students make notes that used only key words and images. They are much quicker to make, and because of their visual quality much easier to remember and review. The non-linear nature of mind maps makes it easy to link and cross-reference different elements of the map.


Peter Russell joined with Tony Buzan in the mid-70s and together they taught mind-mapping skills in a variety of international corporations and educational institutions.” http://www.peterrussell.com/MindMaps/mindmap.php

The non-linear nature of mind maps makes it easy to link and cross-reference different elements of the map. I realized I could put my sticky notes in place on a mind map (story map) and they would come alive to me through sensory details as they connected with characters and theme and place and plot.

I did an internet search to find what authors had to say about the use of mind maps in writing. I came across C. S. Lakin’s blog article, “Creative Mind Mapping for Novelists.”  I suggest reading the article in its entirety.

Mind Map on the Macro and Micro Levels

I’ve never seen anyone specifically focus on novel structure or fiction plotting via mind mapping, so I’m going to show you ways I feel mind mapping can be useful for the novelist. The beauty of this technique is in its versatility. You can work on your novel on a macro or micro level. You can create a mind map for every major (and even minor) character, for all your main plots and subplots, and for other aspects like historical research and setting. C. S. Lakin


I know, I know, this doesn’t sound inspired, like just sitting down to write sounds inspired, but in fact, it is. When you sit down to write at the keyboard, you are, in essence, scratching an itch. Part of your brain is all lit up with creative energy, but it’s being lassoed and corralled by the mechanics of typing. I came away from Abear’s talk, excited to share these thoughts with you and then to sit down and start mind-mapping the next book. Oh, by the way, I can do that because I’ve already “dreamed the scene.”

What does that mean? I’ve imagined, lived with, played with, worked out the creation of the story or scene or novel, in my head. I’ve seen it. I don’t generally do any creative writing without first having an inner experience of the urge to write. I have the characters and the place in mind as I begin to jot my notes or start my timed free-writes. What my mind then delivers on paper is astonishing. It is intuitive. It is rife with action. It is rich in metaphor. It is the difference, for this writer, between telling a story and showing a reader the way through the story.

My thanks to Bev Abear for sharing her experience with Sheila O’Connor. It’s taking me to the next step in writing my next novel.




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