February 2023 NorthWords

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February NorthWords includes:

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Notes from the Board Room

Sometimes I find I need a little spark to fuel my writing ambitions.  I might dig internally and find a story that just needs to be told, or a memory that deserves sharing.  But other times an external prompt or challenge is what I need to get rolling on a new project.  Lake Superior Writers is committed to providing opportunities for you, our writers, and fostering ways to power your work.  With that in mind, today we bring you the opening of two exciting writing contests! 

First, we are announcing the theme for this year’s annual Writing Contest – you will find it in this Newsletter.  This contest is open to everyone and is free for any member to enter.  We have four categories, with cash awards for the winner and runner-up in each one.  Winners will be featured with a reading from their entries at our Annual Membership event in May.  Is that inspiration enough?  You have until April 8 to submit your piece – plenty of time to develop your best work.  Full information on the contest is available here on our website. 

Second, the Call for Nominations is now open for the 2023 NEMBA Awards, which honors books published in 2022 that substantially represent northeastern Minnesota in the areas of history, culture, heritage, or lifestyle.  If you have a qualifying book, we encourage you to enter one of the six categories.  If not, just perusing the list of past nominees and winners may be enough to get your brain working in creative ways to express yourself through writing – even if you don’t have a book in you.  NEMBA rules and background information can be found here on our website. 

If that doesn’t do it, check out the Opportunities section of this newsletter.  We do our best to publish regional writing contests and submissions that might be of interest to our members.  If you know of others, please send them to us to share in the future at calendar@lakesuperiorwriters.org.   

There is a world of options out there just waiting for you and your writing! 

Molly Hoeg 

Board Chair 

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Lake Superior Writers Events

2023 Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards – Call for Nominations

February 1 – Book Nominations Open!

Lake Superior Writers is seeking nominations for the 2023 Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards (NEMBA).

The categories are as follows: Nonfiction; Fiction; Children’s Literature; Middle Grade/Young Adult; Poetry; and Memoir. Art/Photography is now part of the Nonfiction category.

The awards recognize books that substantially represent the history, culture, heritage or lifestyle of northeastern Minnesota, which includes the following counties: Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Pine and St. Louis. Authors are not required to live in northeastern Minnesota in order to have their work considered.

For more information on requirements and deadlines, visit the NEMBA page.

Writing Historical Fiction and Dialog with Candace Simar

February 7 and 14, 2023 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm on Zoom

Registration required by Monday, February 6 at 6 pm. $10 for Lake Superior Writers members and $20 for non-members.

First Session: Writing Historical Fiction That Rings True

Award-winning author, Candace Simar, will delve into the secrets of writing historical fiction in this fun, 60-minute class. Participants will learn how to build the world, find primary and secondary sources, and learn practical ways to draw readers into the story. Be prepared to take notes.

Second Session: Dialogue-A Writer’s Friend

Many advise writers to “listen how people speak” and use it as dialogue. Is this really true? This 60-minute class delves into the ways well-written dialogue moves the story forward, reveals character, and draws readers into your pages. Dialogue can either be a writer’s greatest asset, or something that weakens her story. Learn what to put in, and what to leave out.

Author Candace Simar likes to imagine how things might have been in frontier Minnesota. She is the author of the Spur-Award-winning Abercrombie Trail Series. Her historical novels and short stories have received awards from the Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Midwest Book Awards, Will Roger Medallion Awards, and Western Fictioneers. Candace lives in Pequot Lakes and is a life-long Minnesotan. She is a grateful grant recipient of the Five Wings Arts Council Individual Artist Grant Award with funding from the McKnight Foundation. To learn more about Candace see www.candacesimar.com

Learn more and register today on the event’s page. Not a Lake Superior Writers member? Become a member and save on this and future events!

Virtual Writers’ Café

February 11, 2023 9:30 am to 11 am on Zoom

Registration required. Open to all. Free of cost.

Topic: Creative Roadblocks, Inner Critics, and Self-Sabotage

When you sit down to write, do you often end up surfing the internet or cleaning your office? As Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate writing; I love having written.” Let’s talk about common writing struggles – perfectionism, doubts about our abilities, and the nagging thought that our time could be better spent doing something more “practical.” Come and learn some tips for overcoming your personal writing bugbears. Writers Café is a supportive discussion group for all writers, from beginners to seasoned professionals. To register, contact us at writers@lakesuperiorwriters.org, and we’ll send you a Zoom link shortly before our chat.

Mark your calendar for the March and April Virtual Writers’ Cafés!

A Different Engine: Ways to Power Your Writing

Mondays, March 6, 13, 20, and 27 from 7:15pm-8:45pm on Zoom

Registration required by Sunday, March 5 at 6 pm.

A 4-week workshop with Sheila Packa

This hands-on writing workshop is designed for writers to explore different “engines” that power a piece of writing and strengthen the voice of a poem or the voice of a character. Participants will read examples in literature, do guided exercises, and use techniques (in poetry or prose) to deepen and expand the voice and powerfully connect with readers.

In a relaxed atmosphere, we’ll do fun exercises that will help develop the participants’ own material (whether they are writing fiction or poetry). The primary focus over the 4 weeks will be on Image (including objects or what playwrights call a McGuffin), Voice (including dialogue), Character (including Narrator), Setting (Mood). 

For more information and to register, visit the events page.

Sheila Packa is an experienced teacher who has taught writing at Lake Superior College and in community settings. She was a former Duluth Poet Laureate. Her newest book, Surface Displacements, is just out from Wildwood River Press (2022). She has five books of poems, edited the anthology, Migrations: Poetry and Prose for Life’s Transitions, and she is at work on a book of short stories set in Duluth and the Iron Range in Minnesota. Her website is www.sheilapacka.com.

2023 Annual Writing Contest

Submissions are accepted from March 1 to April 8, 2023

Lake Superior Writers is excited to announce the theme of our 2023 Writing Contest:


We are seeking submissions that explore connections – the ones we make and the ones we don’t. You can write about connections lost and found, accidental or calculated, internal or driven by the outside world. We’re looking for great writing that brings this concept to life. Writers can interpret this theme as broadly as they wish.

Full information on the contest is available on our website.

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Literary Events

Author Visit with Kathleen Waldvogel

February 18, 2023 at 10am at the Shell Lake Public Library, 501 1st St., Shell Lake, WI

Kathleen Waldvogel is a children’s book author who will discuss her books as well as her writing journey. She will read excerpts from her books and then explain how she researches her topics. In particular, she will discuss her research for her middle-grade book, Spies, Soldiers, Couriers, and Saboteurs: Women of the American Revolution. There will be time for questions at the end and Waldvogel’s books will be available.

International Mother Language Day Reading Presented by Write On, Door County

February 21, 2023 7:00-8:30pm over Zoom

Join Wisconsinites and other Northlanders for a reading of poetry in their native languages to celebrate International Mother Language Day. In collaboration with Chippewa Valley Writers GuildDriftless Writing CenterWisconsin Fellowship of PoetsWisconsin Poet Laureate Commission, and Woodland Pattern, we present an evening of poems read in multiple languages. Join us to celebrate the linguistic diversity of our state and to discover a deeper appreciation for poetry by relying on the rhythm and music to move you, rather than the actual words themselves.

This reading is presented free via Zoom. Click here to join the event; listeners will be welcomed in beginning at 6:55 pm.

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Submission for the 2023 edition of Spring Thaw is open!

Deadline: February 15, 2023

The submission period for the 2023 edition of Spring Thaw is now open! The submission period runs from Dec. 1st to Feb. 15th. This year, one submission for each category (prose, poetry, and art/photography) will be awarded a $100 prize. Please see the submissions page for more information on submitting work for consideration! www.springthawmagazine.com

25th Annual International Writing Contest​ 

Submission Deadline: February 28, 2023

The Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW) 25th Annual International Writing Contest will begin taking submissions on January 1. In recognition of their landmark anniversary, they have increased prize amounts and added a sixth category.

For more information on the contest including submission guidelines, visit https://www.nowwwriters.ca/25th-writing-contest-2023.html

An Invitation to Write

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3FmS84N

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KUDOS – News about our members

Julie Gard‘s prose poetry collection I Think I Know You was released in January by FutureCycle Press. The poems include dialogue overheard in northern Minnesota coffee shops and at the Jersey shore, personal crashes and landings in the aftermath of the Soviet Union, and queer identity in middle age. Find the book at Zenith Bookstore or on Amazon

Kathy Groth‘s book, The Shell Box, was published on Jan 18, 2023. “Tyra loves the ocean but her best friend, Emily, has never been. Gramma has a great idea: she and Tyra will bring the ocean to Emily! Thus begins Tyra and Gramma’s adventure to make the Shell Box, a special gift decorated with beautiful seashells right from the sandy shores of the ocean. With a kid-friendly, cutaway seashell guide and beautiful photographs, this charming book is the perfect companion for any shell-collecting explorer.” Go to: https://kathygroth.com/the-shell-box/

Cathy LaForge Tonkin finished her third book, Upside Down and Backwards. It’s the story of her life growing up on two lakes. She was born breech, Upside Down and Backwards. That tells you the story of her life from the get-go.

Christy Rounds published her first book, a personal travel memoire called, Escape BoundEscape Bound is the story of an 18,000 mile road trip that she took in the wake of an unexpected divorce. Her teenage daughter’s desire to become an Instagram travel influencer inspired seventy-two spectacular destinations on their route. You can find more information at escapebound.com

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Lake Superior Writers Blog

Lake Superior Writers invites members to submit guest posts for possible inclusion on our blog. Please visit our blog information page for more details: https://lakesuperiorwriters.org/blog/blog-submission-guidelines/

Our blog currently features Free Association by Doug Lewandowski