Wine and Words Beer and Books

Written by MVWG Member Jess Witkins

The Mississippi Valley Writers Guild is pleased to announce its 4th Annual Wine & Words, Beer & Books event. Featuring nearly all new writers this year, and lots of brand new books, our fun and informal book fair will take place on Thursday, October 17th from 5:30-8:00pm at the Pump House Regional Arts Center. 


When we first launched Wine & Words, Beer & Books, we wanted to create an environment that celebrated the written word, supported local authors, and made getting to know the writers and their books a fun event. Book fairs can be overwhelming with so many options to choose from, and going up to an author at a table can be intimidating when you’re just trying to browse. We wanted to help with that! 

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Author Branding

By MVWG Member Tracy Schuldt Helixon

When I was five years old, my parents came around the corner to find me writing all over my two-year-old brother. When they asked me why, the answer was simple: Timmy thought he was a piece of paper. Over forty years later, you’ll still find me writing. (To Timmy’s relief, I now use a computer.) Like most writers I know, I’ve had a compulsion to put words together for as long as I can remember. Ask me to promote that writing, though, and you’ll hear a different story.

I’m a writer, not a salesperson! Can’t I just write, and let the rest take care of itself? I don’t have time for marketing. I’m not any good at it. I’m an introvert. I’m not built for this stuff. Besides, it all seems kind of fake to me.

Those were the words I had repeated to myself for most of my writing life. This past spring, though, I took a leap outside my comfort zone and registered for an online author branding course. I researched a few different options and decided that the best fit for me was Authentically Awesome Branding for Writers by Andrea Guevara.

Ultimately, for two main reasons, the class surprised me:

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What Do YOU Write?

I am an educator by trade—my day job, as we call it. I teach 4th grade now, but in my more than 20 years of teaching, I’ve taught English as a second language, middle- and high-school French, and all the core subjects.

When I took a job teaching 4th grade after spending 8 years teaching middle school French, I was, quite literally, at a loss for words. I remember going into my new teammate’s room after we wrote our lesson plans for the first week, and saying, “Sarah? I know how to teach, I swear, but I’m looking at where it says, “Stop and jot” and I just … can you give me the actual words that I should use when I teach that? I know what stop means, and I know what jot means, but I’m not quite sure what this is getting at.”

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What's My Genre

Written by MVWG Member, Heidi Blanke

Submitting fiction to anywhere can be an exhaustive process, made even more so if you’re unsure of your genre. On top of that, some genres have sub-genres. Consider the definitions below when trying to pinpoint yours.  It’s not an exhaustive list, but it covers the main types.

The general genres for fiction are romance, western, thriller, young adult, women’s fiction, literary fiction, science fiction, and fantasy.  However, there is overlap and even debate as to what qualifies for each of these. For example, some say speculative fiction is a subset of fantasy and science fiction, while others classify the two as a subset of speculative. Be sure to read submission requirements carefully so that you don’t misidentify your hard work.

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Improv Tips for Finding Your Creative Zone

I’ve been writing sketch comedy for two decades now. I’m also an improv ninja. Quick thinking and adaptability is key to making this hobby into an award-winning group: the Heart of La Crosse Comedy Troupe. With the art of improvisation; listening, building on what you hear, and never closing an idea down, we can trade thoughts and go anywhere in the universe! Then we reel it back in and make it tidy and neat for real life use.

1. When you’re stuck with your writing, it really helps to have a Bouncy Buddy.

This is not one of those inflatables seen flailing in front of car dealerships – but rather a friend or family member you believe gets your style of writing (to bounce ideas off of) and can tell you when an idea is close… but not quite there. It’s important sometimes to verbalize instead of solely writing. Experimenting with a fresh viewpoint allows you to step back a tad and see the flow from another angle. It’s like when you drop your hairbrush, and while down on all fours you finally find that other sock. You win an ‘a-ha’ moment just because you changed your viewpoint.

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Blogging 101

Written by MVWG Member, Amanda Zieba

Our Mississippi Valley Writers Guild Blog may be brand new, but I’ve been writing for my author website blog for the last three and a half years. Throughout the course of my 120+ posts I’ve committed over 80,000 words (equivalent to the length of a novel!) to the screen, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Today I want to share them with you.

If you’ve been considering starting a blog, here are a few tips, tricks and techniques to keep in mind. 

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Ten Take-Aways from UntitledTown 2019

For the past two years writers, book lovers, fangirls, academics and general literature enthusiasts have gathered in Green Bay  for a wonderful event called UntitledTown. The fact that the festival name is wordplay itself (hinting to its shared roots as the home of famed hometown of the Green Bay Packers) will tell you just how much fun this event and the crowd of people it pulls really are.

This year was no exception. Below you will find a recap of ten takeaways from two author friends, and MVWG members, who hit the road with a trunk full of books and Diet Pepsi on Friday, and emerged on Sunday cheeks sore from smiling, hearts full of friendship and minds whirring with ideas and inspiration to put into practice.

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Get Writing with Great River Writes

Looking to hone your writing skills or boost your creativity? We can help with that.

The Mississippi Valley Writers Guild is a proud member of Great River Writes, a collaboration of area arts and literary organizations in La Crosse and Winona, MN. Starting in 2017, our goal has been to pool resources to provide a variety of write-ins, guest author visits, and workshops for our community of writers.

We’ve been able to host several midwest writers through this collaboration, including Michael Perry, Blair Braverman, Wang Ping, and Dean Klinkenberg. We’ve offered workshops on plotting, poetry, memoir writing, setting, editing, archive research, and how to read out loud. We’ve even performed a staged reading!

This spring, Great River Writes is hosting two more guest authors, and both events are FREE! As part of our collaboration, we work with La Crosse Public Library and Winona Public Library to make our events as accessible as possible.

So join us! We’d love to see you.

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