The Shawano Area Writers had an extremely busy meeting on Dec. 21 as plans moved forward on reviving the group’s annual writing contest and a number of holiday stories and other writing was shared.
Dennis Vickers joined the group and said he writes as a hobby. Vickers currently teaches creative writing and philosophy at the College of Menominee Nation.
Two members brought Christmas goodies for the group to enjoy. Lois Smith brought cookies from a cookie walk, while Barb King made some bars for the group.
The members discussed a number of self-publishing venues — including Bookwhirl, Createspace and Lulu—and how they make it easier for aspiring writers to get published. Vickers pointed out that Feather Chronicles, a literary journal done by CMN, was published through Createspace.
Then the writers turned their attention to reviving the dormant writing contest. Previously, the Shawano Area Writers had sponsored a contest for seven years, with 2008 being the last year. John Mutter explained that the contest got to be monster after a while, with 50 winners chosen in a variety of categories and more than 300 people attending the last award ceremonies. A committee was formed to look at planning a new writers’ contest, with Mutter, Vickers, Lee Pulaski and Terry Misfeldt volunteering to work on the issue.
Joel Devcich from Thrivent Financial made an appearance and gave some recommendations regarding the sizable amount of money received from a family trust. He urged the group to formally pursue a 501C3 non-profit status.
Mutter showed the anthology where he had a short story published, “A Wisconsin Harvest Vol. II” published through Wisconsin Writers Association Press.
Barb King read Chapter 7 of Tug Lake Tales titled “Ron.” The story took place around Christmastime and it was starting to snow at the school. The school’s teacher, Mrs. Craig, offered an extra long recess if the children stuck to their tasks in class.
Carol Schlehlein told the group that, before she moved back to Shawano, she lived on a homestead in Crivitz, and the two poems she brought were both related to her time there. She read a poem where she says goodbye to someone named John, noting that the lovemaking was too tumultuous to her aging heart, only to reveal “John” was a tractor. Her second poem, called “Ode to Mama Deer” told about the view from the woods of a mother deer and her young. Schlehlein also read an essay titled “Once Upon a Christmas” providing a deeper look into the town of Bethlehem and how the birth of Christ looks in this day and age.
Irma Timmons-Arndt read “A Little More Love,” a Christmas story. It recalled an aging cat and how she was cared for by the family.
Lois Smith noted her piece, “Let Me Off at the Windsock,” wasn’t related to Christmas at all, as previous stories were. Smith’s story talked about her dream of flying and how she had always wanted to learn, but a car crash that injured her husband inspired her to finally pursue her dream.
Bailey Hansen shared an excerpt from a longer story she is working on, where her protagonist, Daniel, had dreams of going to college despite dealing with a debilitating injury. The excerpt looked at how Daniel and his brother Mark tried to tackle a complicated pie recipe during Christmas vacation.
Wendy Goerl read a piece she wrote that looks at drawing and painting and their differences. She noted it was half-memoir, half-instructional.
Vickers read a folk tale based in Mexico where a man named Miguel made a deal with the devil, who was named Angel, for a new life. He noted that he has traveled to Mexico during spring semester the last couple of years and was inspired by an author who wrote folk tales.
Misfeldt read a short story that’s a work in progress. The story looked at a father’s chair and how you never challenged Dad when he wanted to sit in it.
Pulaski read the first page and a half from a new novel he is working on, currently titled “Death by Order of the Queen,” His protagonist, Zachary, must calm down the local tourism director when she learns about an unorthodox fundraiser under way to help restore a historic community dance hall.
Todd Shewchuk finished up the readings with the third chapter of the novel he is working on, “A Family Divided.” His protagonist, T.J., is dealing with aftermath of being rejected by family and breaking up with his boyfriend as he travels to New York City.
The Shawano Area Writers’ next meeting will be at 10 a.m. Jan. 16 in the Elsie Engel Reading Room of the Shawano City-County Library.