You are here

Great River Writes announces the 3rd annual writing series to inspire writers of all levels. In conjunction with National Novel Writing Month, public libraries and literary organizations in La Crosse and Winona will host writing workshops and author chats every weekend, October 26 through December 6. 


Community write-ins, craft talks, and expert tips support both published and yet-to-be-published writers of novels, poems, short stories, and more. Guest authors visiting this year include R.R. Campbell, Frank Bures Jr, and Chris Norbury. 


Great River Writes Kickoff with Author R.R. Campbell 

Saturday, October 26th, 2-4pm at La Crosse Public Library, Main Hall (former Museum Space) 


  • "I don't know what to do with my hands." - Touching Up Scene for Characterization, Theme, and Backstory

As writers, sometimes it feels like we can do everything “right” and still be left with scenes that don’t quite click. Why is that, and what can we do to make those scenes pop while also enriching characterization, backstory, and theme? In this seminar, attendees will explore how the use of the five senses—in a direct, intrusive way—can be used to flesh out a scene while enhancing character and theme.

  • Let's (Not) Do Lunch: Pushing Our Settings Past Restaurants, Bars, and Cafés

We as writers already have enough on our plates; do we really have to worry about setting, too? We do, yes, lest we wind up overfeeding our readers on humdrum scenes that take place in the most typical of places—namely bars, restaurants, and cafés. Why do we so often fall back on invoking these locales? What might we stand to gain by swapping in more unique settings? And are there times when wining and dining our characters is, in fact, in the best interest of our story? In this seminar, we’ll examine how we can keep our readers from saying check, please! by properly catering to our manuscript’s settings.


Come Write In

Saturday, November 2nd, 9am-12pm at Perkins (Onalaska) 


November is National Novel Writing Month! Join fellow writers for a community write-in hosted by our local NaNoWriMo liaison, Amy Jo Van Arsdall. Bring your manuscripts, order some breakfast, and start your wordcount out strong with some caffeinated camaraderie. Not sure what to write? Amy Jo will be on hand to show you the new NaNoWriMo website, which is full of writing resources, plot tools, and pep talks from famous authors. 


NaNoWriMo Creative Writing & Local Author Fair 

Saturday, November 9th, 10am-12pm at Winona Public Library 


November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  To celebrate, Great River Writes is hosting area authors and the art of creative writing. Authors from La Crosse to Rochester will be at the fair. Stop by their booths, visit with them, and maybe pick up a copy of their book(s).


Mark My Words Reception 

Friday, November 15th, 5pm-7pm at the Pump House


The Pump House Regional Arts Center, Great River Writes, and La Crosse Public Library are hosting a reception for Mark My Words 2019. The exhibit will showcase artwork and the short poetry it inspires. Fifteen artists and poets were selected by a group of art and poetry jurors for exhibition wherein the poets responded to the selected artworks. During the exhibition, the art and poetry created in response to it will be displayed side by side. At this event, poets will read their work in front of the projected images of the connected art, and $600 in cash prizes will be awarded.


  • 2 "First Place" prizes of $125 each ($125 to artist and $125 to poet)
  • 2 "Second Place" prizes of $100 each ($100 to artist and $100 to poet)
  • 2 "Third Place" prizes of $75 each ($75 to artist and $75 to poet)


How to Write About Weird Stuff and Make a Living at It

Saturday, November 16th, 11am-1pm @ Winona Public Library 


Mr. Bures is a contributing editor of Poets & Writers Magazine, a columnist at The Rotarian Magazine, and his work has appeared in Harper’s, Outside, Men’s Health, Bicycling, Esquire, Audubon, Scientific American Mind, Wired, The Washington Post Magazine and other publications. His stories have also been included in the Best American Travel Writing, selected as “Notable” in the Best American Essays and Best American Sports Writing, and won several Lowell Thomas Awards. His recent book is titled The Geography of Madness: Penis Thieves, Voodoo Death, and The Search for the World’s Strangest Syndromes.


Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Writing a Novel . . . but Were Afraid to Ask

Saturday, November 23rd, 10am @ Winona Public Library 


Author Chris Norbury will share his overall writing experience and answer questions that readers may hesitate to ask an author: 

Earnings, Costs of Producing and Selling a Book, The Hidden Costs of Producing and Selling a Book, Entering Contests and Winning Awards, Achieving Bestseller Status, The Dark Side of Novelists


He’ll answer "personal questions" like these with his own statistics: the amount he earns for each book sale, what an average author earns per year, the effect winning a few awards (including being a finalist in the 2018 MN Writes, MN Reads contest) had on his career and book sales, understanding what it means to be a bestselling author these days (which he says he is certainly NOT). Chris hopes to stimulate and encourage the audience to ask any question they want. The session is geared toward people who are considering writing a book and want to know more of the nitty-gritty aspects, not just the romanticized image of an author's life. Chris will dispel the myths by sharing what's really involved with regards to time and money. Those who are simply curious about the business side of writing and how that's often at odds with the creative side of writing may be interested as well.


Great River Writes Closing Reception 

Friday, December 6th, 5-7pm at the Pump House


You’ve worked hard on your writing, you’ve practiced new skills, you’ve added to that word count goal, now it’s time to celebrate. Come hang out with and cheer on your fellow writing community at this open mic and social! Bring your friends and loved ones and meet area writers. Food is provided, and drinks are available for purchase. Open mic readings will start at 5:30pm, and all are welcome to share a 5-10 minute portion of their work.