Category: Greyhairs Rising

One of the great gifts given to regional writers is access to other regional writers of substance – not only of talent but friendship with that special spice which is the understanding that comes only writer-to-writer. Yesterday I enjoyed the day-long Sinclair Lewis Writer’s Conference in the company of one such talent, Julie Jo Larson – MStorian and road-trip pal of excellence.

JulieJo Larson and M E Fuller

JulieJo Larson and M E Fuller

We hit the road at 6:30 a.m., neither one of us thrilled with the early October black-out and fog morning. We arrived at the Sauk Centre High School in plenty of time to register and down cups of coffee before the first event of the day. The conference opened to a panel discussion with questions offered by the event organizer, Jim Umhoefer, fielded to an impressive panel represented by Faith Sullivan (Keynote Speaker), Judith Guest (author and screenwriter), Lorna Landvik (author and comedian), and Erik Hane (literary agent and editor).

Each attendee had the opportunity to learn from the professionals in one-hour sessions:

  • Writing a Screenplay – Judith Guest
  • Honor Your Imagination and Find the Fun in Writing – Lorna Landvik
  • Keys to a Strong Book Proposal – Erick Hane

Breaks were short and learning was intense with interesting questions and discussions between participants and guest presenters. JulieJo and I were ready for the conference reception at 4:30 in the Palmer House Pub. We later ate in the dining room then hiked up to our rooms on the third floor of the hotel, fully prepared for a night’s sleep interrupted by whatever bumps in the night at the haunted historic Palmer House. I slept soundly, thank you, but Julie Jo did have a visitor who chose her bedding as a better place for the bathmat to reside.

The Palmer House, Sauk Centre, MN

The Palmer House, Sauk Centre, MN

Featured Speakers

Faith Sullivan – the author of Repent Lanny Merkel (1981), Watchdog (1982), Mrs. Demming  and the Mythical Beast (1986), The Empress of One (1997), The Cape Ann (1988), What a Woman Must Do (2002), Gardenias (2005), Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse (2015).

Judith Guest – author of Ordinary People (1976), Errands (1996),  Second Heaven (1982),  Killing Time in St. Cloud (1988), The Mythic Family: An Essay (1988), Ice walk (2001), and The Tarnished Eye (2004).

Lorna Landvik – author of Patty Jane’s House of Curl (1995), Your Oasis on Flame Lake (1997), The Tall Pine Polka (1999), Welcome to the Great Mysterious (2000), Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons (2003), Oh My Stars (2005), The View From Mount Joy (2007), Tis the Season (2008), Mayor of the Universe (2012), Best to Laugh (2014), Once in a Blue Moon Lodge (2017).

Erik Hane – Literary Agent with Red Sofa Literary Agency, Editor, and Writer. Print Run is a podcast created and hosted by Laura Zats and Erik Hane.

The Conference

For twenty-eight years, the Sinclair Lewis Writers’ Conference has helped aspiring writers of all levels and genres better understand their craft. Through lectures, workshops and social events, this annual conference provides learning and encouragement from the best minds in the industry.

Sinclair Lewis, the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, was born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, in 1885. Although he was proud of his Midwestern roots, he traveled widely and was interested in many different aspects of American society, from business and medicine to religion and small-town life. His concern with issues involving women, race, and the powerless in society make his work still vital and pertinent today.

As Sheldon Norman Grebstein wrote, Lewis “was the conscience of his generation and he could well serve as the conscience of our own. His analysis of the America of the 1920s holds true for the America of today. His prophecies have become our truths and his fears our most crucial problems.”

Sinclair Lewis was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Main Street and Babbitt and won the award for Arrowsmith (although he turned it down). He was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in Rome in 1951. His cremated remains are buried in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

The Palmer House Hotel

When you stay at The Palmer House, choose from a room tucked away in the recesses of the hotel or directly above the Original Main Street where you can observe the hustle and bustle of small-town life. The spacious lobby is perfect for whiling away the hours reading & visiting. The distinct photography scattered throughout the hotel, restaurant and lobby tell the tale of Sinclair Lewis and his night clerk duties, as well as the story of the town. The Palmer House Hotel was at the center of Sinclair Lewis’ boyhood home, and the Original Main Street, of Sauk Centre, at 500 Sinclair Lewis Avenue, Sauk Centre, MN.

The Sinclair Lewis 2017 Writers Conference is made possible by the financial sponsorship of the following organizations: The Stearns History Museum, Minnesota National Bank of Sauk Centre, First State Bank of Sauk Centre, Central Minnesota Federal Credit Union, Stearns Electric Association, and the Sinclair Lewis Foundation. This activity is also made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Central MN Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Private donors include Pat Hanauer, Dick and Pat Lewis and Dave and Linda Simpkins. Sauk Centre Community Education is a co-sponsor of the event.

I’m looking forward to the North Shore Readers and Writers Festival , November 2-5 in Grand Marais, MN, featuring authors and book professionals: Erik Anderson, Mary Casanova, Sharon Chmielarz, Tim Cochrane, Lily Coyle, Staci Drouillard, Katie Dublinski, Chris Fischbach, Peter Geye, Diane Glancy, William Green, Emily Hamilton, Patricia Hampl, Erin Hart, William Kent Krueger, Julie Landsman, Lise Lunge-Larsen, Shoshanna Matney, Ann Regan, Kathryn Savage, Sun Yung Shin, Nina Simonowicz, Moheb Soliman, Faith Sullivan, Bart Sutter, Kari Vick, and Kao Kalia Yang.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

 

 

 

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I’ve abandoned my posts recently – okay, it wasn’t that funny – for good reasons. The garden vegetables needed to be harvested and processed and packaged and frozen for deep winter consumption. Home-grown veggie lasagna with eggplant noodles tastes like sunshine on a dark and frigid January night. Pans and pans of lasagna and squash gratin were prepared, cooled, tasted, tasted some more, then flash frozen. And I’m not done yet. No.

Now come the winter squash bakes and apple cakes, sauce, and crisp. And the pumpkins – not just for carving – are better in pie and cake and pudding. And then the gardens have to be put to bed.

Pumpkin

In this year of learning about being a full-time creative, my intended work-a-day schedule has been blown over and over. I may not go to an employer’s office any longer, but the household demands continue to fight me for time and attention. How can we ever find the time to do our creative work when there is so much else to be done, that has to be done?

Do the work when the work needs to be done.

I suspended writing for the summer to prepare work for the Arts off 84 art crawl on Labor Day weekend. I discovered that I missed sketching and drawing and painting and that I love it as much as I do love writing. This past year, painting had its season during the summer months. The upcoming year will find a few hours each week – maybe even every few days – set aside to plan and prep and start the next collection of paintings.

Worried Boy and Kitten

But I also have self-imposed deadlines to meet. My first novel, “Saving the Ghost,” was sent out into the world as a finished work in search of an agent. It received the attention of a small press and an agent – which in itself for a first work is an achievement. The agent provided feedback which let me know that the book is not quite where it needs to be. Thanks to the Five Wings Arts Council and the McKnight Foundation, I’ve received a 2017 Artist Project Grant, to go back into editing and revision. I also have a second novel in the works. Both projects need to be off my desk by April 30, 2018.

blankpage-pen

And that’s how getting things done works. If I hadn’t picked the tomatoes and squash at the right time and done the work to turn them into meals at the right time, all my soil prep and seed planting and garden tending would have been wasted effort. I love my writing and my painting as much or more as I do my homemade marinara sauce. I won’t waste my creative efforts by wondering when I might find the time to do the work when the work needs to be done.

NEWS!

You can read my latest flash fiction piece, “Abel March,”  in Talking Stick 26.

The Talking Stick is a Minnesota literary journal published by the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc. Produced entirely by Minnesota writers for Minnesota writers since the beginning in 1995.

Buy it now from Jackpine Writers’ Bloc or on Amazon

 

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Hi, everybody. Yesterday was the wrap up of Arts off 84 from Pine River to Longville, MN. Thank you to everyone who came out in support of our regional artists. You are appreciated.

 
artsoff84-4

 

Tuesday, the first true work day of September 2017, will find me building my business plan for the year. In order to stay afloat as an artist, we have to earn income. I have goals to set and deadlines to meet and a slew of work ahead to help me stay in business as an artist. I’ll keep you apprised of my successes, which I hope to be many.

Have a lovely labor-free day. See you next week.

 

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Hi, everyone. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that writing a novel is a new enterprise for me. I’ve always written stories and poems and ad copy. I’ve never attempted anything like assembling words into a flow for a reader of a novel. It’s hard work.

I see people all day long, launching their 2nd and 3rd and more in a series – mostly romance and dystopia – and self-publishing on Amazon. They’ve got giveaway programs running and pleas out for reviews. I have trouble believing that there can be much value to this material, and yet, this is exactly how Andy Weir published “The Martian.” http://www.npr.org/2015/09/27/443192327/sandstorms-explosions-potatoes-oh-my-martian-takes-its-science-seriously It’s being done right and well, but I am not that writer, not yet.

Going into this, I knew I had a strong story but to create a novel from a good idea requires some talent, dedication, education, and great editing. I received a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, my regional arts support organization, for an online class with Mary Carroll Moore on how to write a novel. I also received money for a first draft edit. This past May I began to send the book – finished as I thought it to be – out to agents and publishers. I wanted the validation of acceptance by a traditional channel.

I got lucky. I was right. The story is strong. The writing is good. But I lost out on a deal with an agent because I still don’t know how to write a novel. I’ve taken a lot of classes and workshops. I’ve been dedicated. I’ve done a good job as far as that goes. But there was something missing.

I know I need a new editor. I know I need to work a little harder. I know I’ll have to ask for more funds to complete this book. As of tomorrow, I’m diving in with an application for a writing residency and an application for editing help and a little more education tied to networking.

Turns out, writing a novel is as much work as any job I’ve ever done. It is the most satisfying and exciting work I’ve ever done. I believe in my story. My writer community believes in me. It’s a new day to learn a new way to get this book done and in your hands via traditional agent or publisher.

The new editor I will be working with has given me these notes – followed by 6.75 pages of all the work I’ll need to do.

Let me begin right off the bat with yet another testimonial to the power of this book. The soul, the heart—it’s strong. These are some of the realest and most compelling characters I’ve ever met. That, by far, is your strongest talent as a writer. And on top of it, you’ve created an emotional journey for these characters that is fraught with pain, yet it leads us toward healing. It’s one of the most universal human stories, with the power to change the reader’s life—even if it’s quite difficult to face this particular topic of sexual and physical abuse.

As I keep saying, our goal is to make sure the story’s bones and muscle and flesh are as strong as its soul. So let’s dive into how we might do that.

I’m going to start again, again. Follow along for weekly updates. But you’ll have to wait until October. I have a lot of reading to catch up on in September.

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Welcome, Sunday readers. As you know, I’ve been preparing new art for the Arts off 84 art crawl coming up over Labor Day weekend. Well, I’m mostly ahead of schedule for once. I still have three paintings in process, four sketches that I might work up, and some larger pieces out in the shop drying. Oh, and there are plenty of older pieces to choose from as well. Yes! Fist pump.

 

Art - 2017 MEFuller 20170813_171111

Enjoy your week.

#art #painting #acrylics

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Labor Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, come out to see me at Arts off 84, site #4. https://www.artsoff84.com/find-us/ Here’s a sample of what I’ve been working on.

Woman with Chicken, 2017 M E Fuller

Woman with Chicken, 2017 M E Fuller

 

#ampainting #art

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Not much to report this week. Just making a mess as I build the base for my Arts off 84 paintings. Themes are Relationships in Love, Conflicts in Nature, and some miscellaneous oddball images that strike my fancy.

Charcoal Sketch - Fox and Hare

Hope you’ll come out to the show on Labor Day weekend. You’ll get a taste of Minnesota’s Northland for sure.

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2017 BWA Writing Contest and Fall Festival

ATTEND BWA FALL FESTIVAL and BOOK FAIR

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-FestivalPoster

 

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

GUIDELINES and INFORMATION

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

CATEGORIES

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.”

FEE TO SUBMIT

$15.00 –  entry in fiction or nonfiction categories.

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

ELIGIBILITY

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

DEADLINE and NOTIFICATION

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

HOW TO SUBMIT

  • 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

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.

OTHER NOTES

  • 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.

ATTEND BWA FALL WRITERS FESTIVAL

  • 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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Welcome back! Yes, you’re right, I skipped a week. Sometimes life doesn’t fit my schedule. Sometimes I’m just along for the ride. I try my best to keep to what I promise. I try hard. I usually succeed.

After a week of recovery from Cirenaica which included organizing my workshop notes, followed by a week of fireworks and birthday candles and setting up for a new round of paintings, I’m back on task. Well, I’m back on task as much as my summer distractions allow. Squash is growing, tomatoes are showing up, and banana peppers scream, “Pick me! Pick me!” Flower baskets beg for water.

petunias2

 

The dog wants out to laze in the sun then wants in because the flies and mosquitoes are driving her crazy.

It seems a long time since I’ve devoted myself to my sketchbook. I’ve been preoccupied with the first novel and now writing the second, while still editing and revising the first. But I have to sketch because I cannot paint until I sketch.

Sketching

Sketching finds the feeling that feeds my wrist and fingers and brushes to make the paintings I want to produce. This year I’m concentrating on mixed media, stylized images that express comfort and love. I want to make things that make other people smile and feel good.

And more… I’ll see how far I get this week and what catches my interest.

2Sketches

See you back here next Sunday (or some day during the week). Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

 

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Welcome back!

I know, I know, it’s Tuesday, not Sunday. Before sharing my experiences at Cirenaica (sarah-neye-kah), I needed some thinking and recovery time. I’m awake now and exploding with thoughts and notes for you.

The intention behind this year-long weekly series, Greyhairs Rising, was to share with anyone – especially retirees – how I reconstituted my artistic career in both writing and painting. I’ve given you a lot of how to get started and stay in the game information. I’ve shared a load of resources to explore. I am now in a state of being with my work that goes beyond the nuts and bolts of how to.

I was ready to take a big leap forward and chose to apply to Cirenaica, knowing full well that I might be overwhelmed and overrun by REAL writers – educated, perceptive, smart, critical thinkers who know how to use their words in writing and speaking, offering up the very best of critique and support for their fellow artists. Truth be told, I didn’t know all of that going in. I wanted to have the experience of being in residency with other writers, in a teaching environment, without letup, but I was also worried.

My apprehensions were about:

  • Living among, young, energetic, creative types
  • Could I keep up?
  • Could I stay awake?
  • Would I have any “senior” issues that would get in the way? (You all know what I mean!)
  • What if I didn’t like the people, place, or any of it?
  • Would anyone care about what I had to say?
  • Would I have anything of value to contribute?

 

Photo credit: Geoff Carter

Photo credit: Geoff Carter

I can say to you happily, that not one of my concerns was an issue. When it came to keeping up with the lively younger folk, I didn’t have to. Eight or nine o’clock in the evenings, when I disappeared, they might ask, “Where’s Maggie?” but somebody would know and say so, “I think she went to bed.” And when I got up at 5:00 a.m., I had the quiet of the space to myself, got the coffee brewing, and went to work writing. It was glorious.

And everyone was good natured and unafraid to expose their work to critique. Each participant submitted 15 to 25 pages of writing for everyone else to read and critique before we met. Each day, about 11:00 a.m., we gathered with our notes and spent a good hour to hour and a half on one writer’s submission. The writer was not allowed to comment while we, one by one, responded to the work. Near the end, Nickolas Butler, our artist in residence at his own house down the road, made summary comments and then took the writer aside for a brief one-on-one. This process is referred to as workshopping.

Workshopping

 I admit to being confused for a day about the use of the word workshop in this context. I understood a workshop as an opportunity to work on a topic – like a class. I understood critique as a separate and more line-by-line approach to providing feedback. The workshopping we were doing was neither. This was whole-hog, educated reader, skilled writer, perspective on:

  1. Favorite sentence
  2. What’s working
  3. What’s not working
  4. Title – yes, no, middle-of-the-road
  5. What’s it about?
  6. Theme

I understand that this process will vary from artist to artist – everyone has their own way of doing things, right? I did find that limiting the comments to these points – especially the first three – and actively listening to what everyone had to say – gave me a deeper appreciation of every single story we were given to read.

Photo credit: Geoff Carter

Photo credit: Geoff Carter

Before the workshopping began, the writer chose a section of their own story to read aloud. I cannot stress enough, the value of reading aloud. Some stories I had no particular feel for, came alive for me when the writer read. The stories took on an entirely different dimension as I listened to others talk about the work. I realized, and I’m hanging my head in shame here, that I read too fast, with too critical and impatient an eye and mind. I need to change.

I could write about this experience for days, but I’ll stop now. Well, before I do, I have to give kudos to the chef, Brent. He went out of his way to accommodate my food allergies and served up some of the most delicious food ever to pass my lips. And BJ Hollars, the coordinator of the event, is a fabulous man.

I encourage you, one and all, to seek out a residency experience if you’re at all able. You’ll thank yourself after a day of recovery!

Photo credit: Justin Patchin

Photo credit: Justin Patchin

A note on Cirenaica

The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild is pleased to partner with Cirenaica for our second year of summer residencies!  Nestled on 43 acres of hills, farmland, and forest near the quaint village of Fall Creek, Wisconsin, our residencies promise participants of all levels and genres an intensive yet rejuvenating experience amidst an inspiring backdrop.

See you back here next Sunday (or some day during the week). Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

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