Great writers writing in Minnesota

In the three years that I’ve been involved with Brainerd Writers Alliance while learning the how-tos of writing a novel, I’ve been stunned at the level of great talent I’ve found in Minnesota.  Talented writers abound. Maybe it’s the isolation of winter that opens the creative spirit – create or die from cabin fever. Maybe it’s the natural beauty of our region that inspires the muse. Whatever the spark, our writers are some of the best. And many of you are unknown.

That’s why writing groups across the state hold writing competitions every year, so we can experience your work. You can enter our contest through August 31.

I listened to Erin Hart speak last Saturday at An Open Book event in Wadena. She shared with the audience that her first short story – and only short story – won first prize in the Glimmer Train new fiction writers category. Not only is that a remarkable achievement but she also received an inquiry from an agent wanting to see the first fifty pages of her novel, barely a work in progress at the time. That agent became her agent and remains her agent to this day.

Which leads me to this question: Would winners of the Brainerd Writers Alliance writing contest like to have their work published on our website?

We haven’t done this in the past because we’re so small and do not publish an anthology of regional writers work. It may be unlikely that an agent would find your work published on our small-traffic website. Because we don’t publish on our website, your winning work is then available for first publishing rights should you enter other competitions.

We’d like to hear from you. Your input will be considered at our September planning meeting for 2019.

On another note, Erin Hart will be our fiction category judge and our guest speaker at the Brainerd Writers Alliance Conference and Book Fair this year. She is an enthusiastic speaker and rich with information about her research and writing practice. I can’t wait to hear her speak again.

And, sadly, An Open Book author event will end as of this October. It’s moderator, Jerry Mevissen, is retiring to his new passion for found object sculpture. We’re happy for him, but this will leave a vacancy for celebrated authors to come to our area for talks and book signings.

Keep current on our author talk events:

August 25
Bonnie West will talk about her book, Boyfriends, an anthology of short stories, recently released in paperback! Sage on Laurel, 11:00 to 12:30.

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Deadline for contest submissions is extended to August 31, 2018.

August 12, 2018
Contact: Maggie Fuller

 Deadline extended to submit to Brainerd Writers Alliance annual writing contest for Minnesota Writers

Brainerd Writers Alliance is seeking submissions from literary authors across the state of Minnesota in the categories of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.

Winners in each category will receive a cash prize and free entry to this year’s writers’ conference featuring Erin Hart and will be invited to read their winning entries. Details on the contest and how to submit can be found on our website at

DEADLINE IS EXTENDED TO AUGUST 31. Please submit by August 31. If you have questions, contact

Brainerd Writers Alliance is a group of published and unpublished writers at every skill level, who write in a variety of genres.


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Writing Fiction

Not that I’m doing that this week. I’m imaging myself writing fiction but instead, I’m promoting the Brainerd Writers Alliance MN writers contest and the writers’ conference. We still need submissions and we still need registrations to make this thing go. So that’s how my time is used.

If you want to help me get back to writing fiction, then submit and register and get your friends and family to submit and register. Or forget about my needs and do it for yourself!

Open to Minnesota poets, and writers of creative nonfiction and fiction. Find details on the website.

Contest link:

Conference link:

“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.” Joyce Carol Oates

We always start with the first sentence. Its brilliance draws the writer to the desk and to write. But it’s not likely that first sentence will keep its place in the book, or poem, or article. The first sentence, first words, is where we as writers begin, but that first sentence does not often suggest or answer enough questions in readers to propel them forward. Why? Because the writer does not yet know enough about the story to answer the critical question, it starts here because…

My first novel began with a horrific flashback to 1940.

Matthew Elias McInnis was a tall man, a strong man, from farming for three decades, since he was eight years old. He was a funny man and smart but a bad, bad man when he was drunk and this night he’d been drinking since dinner.

What I did not know, did not recognize, until well into the 5th draft is this: the story is not about Matthew Elias McInnis. The story is about his granddaughter’s struggle for emotional balance after terrible childhood abuse and neglect by her parents. Matthew Elias McInnis barely enters the story after three years of writing. But, it was his story that compelled me to write and in writing, I discovered Ellen McInnis and her story.

I still can’t quite get over the loss of so much of my beautiful writing. I’ve been so clever with my words, but, as I mentioned in the last post, that doesn’t matter. What matters is the reader if you want readers to read your words. So write fiction as it unfolds in you, knowing that the story will change and you, dear writers, will have to change with it.

Good writing today. M E Fuller




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But first you have to know how to write a scene.

Then you can write the book, then you can follow these steps to write the summary.

How to Write a Novel Synopsis

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Northwoods Art and Book Festival

Join our member authors and many more with artists and music and food on August 11, 2018, Hackensack, MN   Northwoods-Poster

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Brainerd Writers Alliance Annual Conference and Book Fair

 Saturday, October 27, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

This year you can register online for tickets. Your registration includes a buffet lunch, coffee break beverages, and snacks. (Menu is to be announced.)

Tickets are on sale June 1, 2018. Seating is limited.

This year’s conference will feature Minnesota Book Award finalist Erin Hart, author of Haunted Ground, Lake of Sorrows, False Mermaid, The Book of Killowen.

Our volunteer judges will share their thoughts on this year’s writing contest entries and winners are invited to attend and read their winning works.

The book fair will be ongoing with a long break during our buffet lunch, allowing time to browse book tables and visit with participating authors. New this year are door prizes and a brag board, not just for our members, but for all participants.

Plus, we’re bringing the conference to one of the new conference spaces in downtown Brainerd. Both in consideration are still under construction and we eagerly await completion so we can get a look inside!


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Our annual writing competition is open for submissions!

You can submit your work at Please follow guidelines carefully.

Our judges will be announced soon.

Don’t forget to register for our annual conference with guest speaker, Erin Hart.


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May 2018 Brainerd Writers Alliance News and Meeting Agenda

Oct. 27, 2018
9:30 to 3:30 p.m., Location to be announced
Ticket sales open June 1

2018 Conference Speaker|
Minnesota Book Award finalist
Erin Hart
Author of Haunted Ground, Lake of Sorrows,
False Mermaid, The Book of Killowen

Spread the word to your writer friends to attend our annual conference and book fair:

BWA Members Conference only: $2o.00
BWA Members Conference plus Book Vendor: $25.00
Non-member Conference only: $25.00
Non-Member Conference plus Book Vendor: $30.00

The location is yet to be determined but it will be in one of the new downtown Brainerd conference spaces soon to open. Posters will be available when we determine the location.

You are invited to enter the 2018 BWA writing contest.
Submit your best original work.
Open for submissions, June 18, 2018.

Spread the word! Details and guidelines here: This year entries can be paid for online and submissions directed to  Entries submitted before payment/June 18, will be ineligible.

BWA Member writing contest entry: $10.00
Non-Member writing contest entry: $15.00

 Our 3rd Brainerd Writers Presents author talk with Barbara Schlichting was fun and informative. There were twelve in attendance and discussion about Barb’s research was lively. Thanks to all our authors who have given us their time.

We won’t have an author talk in May due to the Memorial Day weekend.

Cracked Walnut Hosts Heartland Poets including our own member, Char Donovan. Open to the public. Sat., May 5, 3-5 p.m. at Prairie Bay Grill, 15115 Edgewood Dr, Baxter, Minnesota 56401

Upcoming Author talks at Sage on Laurel, 11:00 to 12:30.

June 23
Susan Smith-Grier will talk about oral and written traditions of storytelling.
Children are encouraged to attend.

July 28
Jerry Mevissen will introduce his new book, Animal Tracks.

August 25
Bonnie West will talk about her book, Boyfriends, an anthology of short stories, recently released in paperback!

September 22
Beth Hautala, children’s book author, will talk about writing her books, Waiting for Unicorns and The Ostrich and Other Lost things. Children are encouraged to attend.

November 24
Doug Lewnadowski“Psychology and Storytelling”

If you know an area writer who would like to give a talk for free, have them contact If you’re interested in classes, please send us your ideas.


May 12, 2018 BWA Meeting Agenda.

We will meet in the small conference room of the library. We have the room from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Visitors are welcome.

Teaching Moment or Writing Exercise. Writing Your Artist Statement. Bring what you’ve worked on and we’ll discuss.


  • 10:00 Meet and greet / coffee and snacks
  • 10:15 Member news & kudos (brag board) – includes a review of events members have attended.
    • Angela Foster’s class on writing memoir (Maggie)
    • Quick overview of notes from Five Wings Art Council “Design for Success” Day in Staples. Guides to BWA mid-year planning for 2019. (Maggie)

There will be no critiques this month since we’ll be working on everyone’s artist statement together.

JOIN BRAINERD WRITERS ALLIANCE. Invite fellow writers of all ages—aspiring and accomplished—to join us. Membership is $15 per year and includes discounts on Brainerd Writers Alliance events and classes. Keep in mind that work discussed in critiques may not be appropriate for all ages and tastes.

Visit the website or our Facebook page for breaking news.


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April 18 meeting minutes

For our April 14 meeting, we met in the large conference room of the Brainerd Public Library. Next month we’ll meet in the small conference room. Be prepared for a packed house.

Moderator: Maggie
Teaching Moment or Writing Exercise. Writing Your Artist Statement
Snacks: Thank you, JulieJo!
Time: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Time was a little short this month. We were told another group had the room at 12:30 but that turned out not to be the case. Okay by us, we’re always still talking long after the end of the meeting.


10:00 Meet and greet / coffee and snacks.
We had 9 in attendance which included 3 new. All say they will join. Our newest paid member from the bunch is Becky F. Welcome and welcome to our visitors, too. You contributed your knowledge and goodwill to our discussions. We had no coffee this month because our beloved and faithful member, Bev, attended a writing workshop by Candace. She’ll give us the highlights at our next meeting. Phil was none too happy about dry coffee pot!

10:15 Member news & kudos. Maggie finished her novel and has started the querying process. Karen is fighting her way through all the piles of work she’s accomplished over the years and is actively submitting pieces to competitions. Jack has begun work on his travel memoir. Great work, by the way. Will was stuck but managed about 500 words. Julie Jo is still working on her novel and articles for the Lake Country Journal. Phil is working on his newest book about the best and worst leaders in history.

10:45 Discuss writing challenges. We all helped Will find his way back to the writing. Jack M. questioned how much historical information to add to his travel memoir. We all agreed that we like his stories and the historical facts could be put aside. But of course, we don’t have the final say. Maggie is struggling with empty nest syndrome after the completion of her novel that underwent a developmental assessment, revision, and content edit over 7 months. We decided to help her out by having a celebratory lunch after Barb Schlichting’s talk at Prairie Bay on April 28. A Facebook event will be created, and a member email will go out soon. Please join us to celebrate YOUR accomplishments, too!

11:15 Writing exercise or lesson. We abandoned our intended topic of Writing Your Artist Statement. New people felt they wanted time to work on it at home and to bring theirs for critiques at the next meeting. Everyone was in favor so there will be artist statements to discuss during our next meeting on May 12. Guidelines for writing the artist statement:

12:00 Workshopping. Jack M. read a few pages of his memoir and we talked about how he might transition from one memory to another. Karen Crider read a couple of her pieces.

Our next meeting will be May 12 in the small conference room at the Brainerd Public Library from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Be prepared for a packed house. 


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April 14, 2018 BWA Meeting Agenda

We will meet in the large conference room of the Brainerd Public Library. We have the room from 10.00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Another group has the room at 12:30.

Moderator: Maggie

Teaching Moment or Writing Exercise. Writing Your Artist Statement

Snacks: Everybody!

Location: Large meeting room, Brainerd Public Library

Time: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


  • 10:00 Meet and greet / coffee and snacks
  • 10:15 Member news & kudos (brag board) – includes a review of events members have attended
  • 10:45-12:30 Writing Your Artist Statement

We’re going to work on developing our artist statements at our April meeting. An artist statement should be written in third person and offer a brief introduction to who you are as an artist. We will be interviewing each other and writing an artist statement for the person we interview.

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