Our annual writing competition is open for submissions!

You can submit your work at https://brainerdwriters.com/2018-writing-contest/. Please follow guidelines carefully.

Our judges will be announced soon.

Don’t forget to register for our annual conference with guest speaker, Erin Hart. https://brainerdwriters.com/writing-contest-and-book-fair/


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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: https://brainerdwriters.com/2018-writing-contest/ This year entries can be paid for online and submissions directed to brainerdwriters.contest@gmail.com  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 brainerdwriters@gmail.com 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: https://www.gyst-ink.com/artist-statement-guidelines/

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. https://www.gyst-ink.com/artist-statement-guidelines/

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April Meeting AGENDA

Visitors are encouraged to attend. We’ll meet in the large meeting room at the Brainerd Public Library. Bring paper and pen/pencil. This will be a working meeting.

  • 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 p.m. Work on artist statements  (Meeting will adjourn at 12:30 this month.)

We’re switching things up for this meeting to focus on the artist statement. Please read the guidelines below and come prepared. We will pair off, interview our partner, then write our partner’s artist statement. We hope this will give us either a starting point to write our own, or at least a different perspective on who are as artists.

Artist Statement Guidelines


Artists can send their artist statement for professional review. GYST submission policies, examples of artist statements, and writing tips are found below:

What Is an Artist’s Statement?

  1. A general introduction to your work, a body of work, or a specific project.
  2. It should open with the work’s basic ideas in an overview of two or three sentences or a short paragraph.
  3. The second paragraph should go into detail about how these issues or ideas are presented in the work.
  4. If writing a full-page statement, you can include some of the following points:
    • Why you have created the work and its history.
    • Your overall vision.
    • What you expect from your audience and how they will react.
    • How your current work relates to your previous work.
    • Where your work fits in with current contemporary art.
    • How your work fits in with the history of art practice.
    • How your work fits into a group exhibition or a series of projects you have done.
    • Sources and inspiration for your images.
    • Artists you have been influenced by or how your work relates to other artists’ work. Other influences.
    • How this work fits into a series or longer body of work.
    • How a certain technique is important to the work.
    • Your philosophy of art making or of the work’s origin.
  5. The final paragraph should recapitulate the most important points in the statement.

What an Artist’s Statement is NOT:

  1. Pomposity, writing a statement about your role in the world.
  2. Grandiose and empty expressions and clichés about your work and views.
  3. Technical and full of jargon.
  4. Long dissertations or explanations.
  5. Discourses on the materials and techniques you have employed.
  6. Poems or prosy writing.
  7. Folksy anecdotes about some important event in your life.
  8. Nothing about your childhood or family unless it is very relevant to your work.
  9. Not a brag fest or a press release.

Why Write an Artist’s Statement?

  1. Writing an artist’s statement can be a good way to clarify your own ideas about your work.
  2. A gallery dealer, curator, docent, or the public can have access to your description of your work, in your own words. This can be good for a reviewer as well.
  3. Useful in writing a proposal for an exhibition or project.
  4. It is often required when applying for funding.
  5. It is often required when applying to graduate school.
  6. It can be a good idea to include an artist’s statement when your slides are requested for review or your work is included in the slide library of a college or university.
  7. Good to refer to when you are preparing a visiting artist lecture, or someone else is lecturing or writing about your work.
  8. Useful when you are applying for a teaching position.
  9. Good idea when a press release is being written.
  10. Useful when someone is writing about your work in a catalog or magazine.
  11. Useful when someone else is writing a bio for a program brochure.
  12. It is a good way to introduce your work to a buying public. Often the more a buyer knows about your work the more they become interested in what you do, and in purchasing a work.

Types of Artist’s Statements You Might Need.

  1. Full-Page Statement: This statement you will use most often; it speaks generally about your work, the methods you may have used, the history of your work, etc. It may also include specific examples of your current work or project.
  2. Short Statement: A shorter statement that includes the above in an abbreviated way, or is specific to the project at hand.
  3. Short Project Statement: A very short statement about the specific project you are presenting.
  4. Bio: Often a short description of your career as an artist and your major accomplishments.

How Should I Write It?

  1. This most often depends on the context where it will appear. Who is your reader? What assumptions can you make about their knowledge?
    • Emotional tone
    • Theoretical (but not over-the-top)
    • Academic (but not dry)
    • Analytic
    • Humorous
    • Antagonistic
    • Political
    • Professional
  2. Ask yourself “What are you trying to say in the work?” “What influences my work?” “How do my methods of working (techniques, style, formal decisions) support the content of my work?” “What are specific examples of this in my work” “Does this statement conjure up any images?”
  3. Use a word processor so that you can make changes and update it often. You should keep older copies so that you can refer to them if you should need to write or talk about your older work or if you have a retrospective.
  4. Refer to yourself in the first person, not as “the artist”.  Make it come from you. Make it singular, not general, and reflective of yourself and your work.
  5. Make it clear and direct, concise and to the point.
  6. It should not be longer than one page.
  7. Use no smaller than 10 – 12 point type. Some people have trouble reading very small type.
  8. Artist’s statements are usually single-spaced.
  9. Do not use fancy fonts or tricky formatting. The information should wow them, not the graphic design.


  1. Who is your audience? What level are you writing for?
  2. What will your statement be used for?
  3. What does your statement say about you as an artist and a professional?


  1. Be honest.
  2. Try to capture your own speaking voice.
  3. Avoid repetition of phrases and words. Look for sentences that say the same thing you said before, but in a different way. Choose the better of the two.
  4. Vary sentence structure and length. The length of a sentence should relate to the complexity of the idea.
  5. Organization of detail is important. Significant ideas should be at the end of each sentence for emphasis.

Where Should It Go?

  1. In a binder at the front of the gallery with your résumé, list of artworks, and past reviews or articles about your work.
  2. You may want to hang it on the wall, regular size, or enlarged as a didactic statement.
  3. Include it in a program for performance, screening, or panel.
  4. In the application package of the grant you are applying for.
  5. Give to anyone who you feel would benefit from the information.

Review samples here: https://www.gyst-ink.com/sample-artist-statements

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March 2018 Newsletter

THAT WAS FUN! Our first Brainerd Writers Presents author talk with Diane Schlagel at Sage on Laurel filled the small room with 16 in attendance. Diane’s presentation was engaging. Her memoir, The Price of New Shoes: An Older Sister’s Journey, is beautifully descriptive even though her story of family abuse is a challenging topic for any writer to tackle. We’re proud of you, Diane!

Brainerd Writers Alliance bannerWe’ll change the venue for March-May to Prairie Bay Grill. New time: 11:00-12:30. Watch for our new banner, too!

The Prairie Bay space will hold 20 to 30. If we outgrow that, they have a larger space as well. In June we’ll return to Sage on Laurel. We’ve been offered the main dining space and use of their stage.

Spread the word about our authors. Let’s grow this event so our area writers can receive the exposure they deserve! Also, please visit the website to RSVP so we have a good head count before the events. brainerdwriters.com

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

 Upcoming authors:

Apr. 28 – Barb Schlichting – “Making Historical Figures Modern,” Location: Prairie Bay Grill, 15115 Edgewood Dr. N, Brainerd

May 26 – Bob Peterson, details to come. Location: Prairie Bay Grill, 15115 Edgewood Dr. N, Brainerd

June 23 – Susan Smith-Grier, details to come. Location: Sage on Laurel, 606 Laurel, Brainerd

Please 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.

March 10, 2018 Brainerd Writers Alliance Meeting Agenda
Please sign up to moderate:
brainerdwriters@gmail.com If you have an idea for a teaching moment, please sign up. We will do “Situation Starters” in lieu of other teaching options.

Moderator: Maggie (or ? Please email brainerdwriters@gmail.com to sign up)
Teaching Moment or Writing Exercise. We’ll decide on the fly!
Snacks: Everybody!
Location: Small meeting room, Brainerd Public Library
Time: 10 a.m. to 1 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 Discuss writing challenges – everyone!
  • 11:15 Teaching moment or Writing exercise
  • 12:00 Workshopping. (Members only.) Sign up to have work critiqued. Bring 5 t0 10 copies for readers.


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Diane Shlagel talks about her book, The Price of New Shoes


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Another great meeting and what’s coming up.

Our second BWA meeting of the year is behind us. Our new meeting agenda is working well. We’re having fun, lots of discussions, and we’re writing together. We hope you can join us next month.

BWA member, Carissa Andrews, is featured on the Self Publishing Journey podcast.  Great job, Carissa!

We’re moving along on planning for our fall writer and book event. Our speaker this year will be Erin Hart. A brainstorming session is coming up so check in often for updates or request to be added to our mailing list. The dates for our writing contest submissions and contest guidelines will be posted soon.

Please mark your calendars for our
2018 Brainerd Writers Alliance Presents
author talk series

Brainerd Writers Alliance presents – 10:30 a.m. to Noon, 4th Saturdays, at Sage on Laurel. Plan on having brunch or lunch with us at Sage!

Feb. 24 -Diane Schlagel, The Price of New Shoes – an Older Sister’s Journey

Mar. 24 – Carissa Andrews,  Author Impostor:
Getting Over Impostor Syndrome So You Can Reclaim Your Power and Start Writing

Apr. 28 – Barb Schlichting, “Making Historical Figures Modern”

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We want feedback and we hate feedback. One of the toughest parts of the  writing process can be hearing the reader’s and the editor’s perspective. We all want to improve our writing and if we want readers, then it’s critical that we allow critique.

Below is the Minnesota Nice way to critique. I tend to take my critiques New York style. Know your writer!

Giving Critiques

Critique the writing, not the writer.

Always start with the strengths. My favorite part was… What worked for me was… What didn’t work for me was…

Be clear about your reasons for the suggestions you make. Maybe you could try… rather than saying I don’t like that.

Receiving Critiques

Wait to respond until after everyone has weighed in.

Take notes and review them at a later time, when you’re not feeling defensive (it’s what we do!) to see if they help/fit/work.

You don’t need to use the critique suggestions. You know your own writing. But be careful to hear what the reader is saying about how they experience your work. That’s the space you need to work from – if you want readers to read what you write.

Technical writers know that user feedback is essential. What they write must be understood by readers. Creative writers, keep that in mind as you process reader comments.


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New for 2018, Brainerd Writers Alliance Presents…

We seem to be on the right side of bitter cold in our region for now. I know that makes me feel more like getting out and about. Yesterday I stopped in at Sage on Laurel to say, “Hi,” to owner Sarah Shaw and give her flyers promoting two of our upcoming author talks.

Sage on Laurel is hosting Brainerd Writers Alliance Presents on the 4th Saturday of each month from 10:30 to Noon, through 2018 and perhaps beyond. We hope you’ll join us to meet and learn from some of our region’s exciting authors!

Brainerd Writers Alliance presents
10:30 a.m. to Noon, 4th Saturdays
Sage on Laurel, 606 Laurel Street, Brainerd, MN
Plan on having brunch or lunch at Sage on Laurel.

These events are free and open to the public.

Feb. 24 -Diane Schlagel, The Price of New Shoes – an Older Sister’s Journey. 

Schlagel will speak about her writing process and read excerpts from her memoir The Price of New Shoes, An Oldest Sister’s Journey. Books will be available for purchase.

The Price of New Shoes, An Oldest Sister’s Journey tells the author’s story of survival and resilience in the face of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her father. She also shares the story of the love she found with Byron, her soul mate and husband of over fifty years.

Mar. 24 – Carissa Andrews,  Author Impostor: Getting Over Impostor Syndrome So You Can Reclaim Your Power and Start Writing. 

Carissa is a self-published author, award-winning graphic designer, and freelance writer who strongly believes it’s time to take back our own power as authors. With the rise and ease of self-publishing to platforms like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and more, the boom of authors publishing books has certainly taken the world by storm.

It’s not uncommon for writers to feel like they aren’t truly authors unless they’ve been published and represented by the big names. This mentality will not yield the publishing results you you’re looking for and could be costing you time and earnings.

Carissa will also have copies of her Pendomus Chronicles trilogy available to be signed or purchased after the event.


Apr. 28 – Barb Schlichting – details to come.

May 26 – Bob Peterson – details to come.

June 23 – Susan Smith-Grier – details to come.


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