This is the first of what will be a regular monthly column on the writing process. Topics will range from books and authors to writing conferences and workshops to the writing process itself.
June 15-16 I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on dialogue at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival with Jim Heynen, author of The One-Room Schoolhouse: Stories About the Boys. The dozen workshop participants included writers from Australia, Chile, Argentina and from throughout the US. Their occupations ranged from IT manger to minister, active writer to retired book publisher. However, all participants had one goal in mind - how to make their dialogue more vivid and to make it drive the story, whether it was short fiction, the novel or memoir.
Brilliant ideas flashed around the room like an Iowa summer electrical storm, both from Heynen and the participants. While there was some natural hesitancy among strangers to express themselves at the start of the workshop, by the end everyone had made new friends, drawn new inspiration and found new ideas for their fiction or memoir.
The Iowa Summer Writing Festival offers both weeklong and weekend workshops in a variety of genres, with the weeklong workshops costing about what you would expect to pay for a college course. No credit is given for the workshops; however, you will probably learn at least as much about writing from any given session as you would from a regular course.
For more information, see: www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/iswfest/html/welcome/
Jurrens signing July 13
Speaking of writers, former Emmet County sheriff's deputy Joel Jurrens will sign his novel, In The Sticks, 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 13 at Simply Unique at 610 Central Ave. in Estherville.
In The Sticks is a crime novel that tells how Lyle Hoffman, a small-town sheriff's deputy, solves the murder of a beautiful woman.
The novel is filled with twists and turns and a number of surprises, all set against the very realistic backdrop of a small-town law enforcement department.
The reviews have been excellent and for good reason. Jurrens' experience as a law enforcement officer gives the novel an air of realism you'll find in few other works in the genre.
The signing is sponsored by the Excel! Estherville Arts & Culture Committee.
Look for Rev. Vance Toivonen of Nazareth Lutheran Church of Armstrong who will sign his book, Reading Jesus, 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 10.