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Great River Writes announces the 5th 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 from late October into November, 2021. 

Community workshops, author talks, and expert tips support both published and yet-to-be-published writers of novels, poems, short stories, and more.


Joy Harjo, U.S. Poet Laureate - A reading, discussion and book signing

Thursday, October 21st from 7:00pm-9:00pm

UW-La Crosse - Centennial Hall Room 1400 

The first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States, Joy Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke Nation and belongs to Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground). She has published 14 books, produced seven award-winning albums, and earned countless awards and honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Ruth Lilly Prize for Lifetime Achievement from The Poetry Foundation. She will read from her award-winning works, and sign books.

This event is sponsored by the Driftless Writing Center, the UWL English Department, the College of Arts, Sciences, and Humanities and the Provost’s Office.


Hearing Voices: Character Development with Author Christina Clancy

Sunday, October 24th 2021 from 1pm-3pm

Main Hall, La Crosse Public Library

800 Main St. La Crosse, WI 54601 - Please enter though the 9th St. entrance

They say your characters won't feel real until they start talking back to you, but how does that happen? In this workshop, we'll discuss ways to find inspiration for characters, ways to animate them with life, and opportunities in fiction to make them distinct, surprising and complex. We'll explore how setting influences characters, think about ways to describe them, and explore how dialogue and interaction with others can help readers see and hear them. We'll talk about how characters change and grow, and even take over your story, telling you what's going to happen next!

This event will include a workshop, Q&A, and book signing. This event is free to attend and sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Writers Guild and La Crosse Public Library.

Christina Clancy is the author of Shoulder Season (July 2021) and The Second Home (June, 2020). Her books have been noted as "must reads" on Buzzfeed, EW, Good Morning America, PopSugar and elsewhere. The Second Home has been optioned for a limited television series starring Nicolaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, the Sun Magazine and in literary journals including Glimmer Train Stories, Hobart, Pleiades and elsewhere. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she lives in Madison with her family.

This event is sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Writers Guild and the La Crosse Public Library.

Click here to register:


Environmental Writing Workshop

Saturday, November 6th, 2021from 12:30pm-2:00pm

Holzinger Lodge - 925 W Lake Blvd, Winona, MN 55987

In this workshop, two writers—Kim Alan Chapman, conservationist and ecologist, and Jim Armstrong, professor of English and Winona’s first poet laureate—will help you sharpen your approach to nature writing by deepening your understand of the human and natural history of a place you know and love, and telling that story.

Kim Chapman has been working in conservation biology for over 30 years; he is currently a consulting e4cologist with Applied Ecological Services. He has worked on hundreds of projects in the Midwest that try to find the balance between conservation and development. He is the co-author and editor of Valley of Grass (North Star Press).

Jim Armstrong has been writing about nature and culture for 30 years. He is the author of two books of poetry, Monument in a Summer Hat (New Issues Press) and Blue Lash (Milkweed Press). He teaches poetry, film and literature of the environment in the English Department at Winona State University.

Chapman and Armstrong have collaborated on a book titled Nature, Culture and Two Friends Talking
(North Star Press).

Participants must register using the following link:, and masks are preferred.

The event is co-hosted by the Winona Public Library and the River Arts Alliance.


Hope is The Thing Panel

Monday, November 15th, 6:30pm, Western Technical College

Western Technical College, Great River Writes, and Mississippi Valley Writers Guild welcome contributors to the new anthology Hope is the Thing. Join Matt Cashion, Tracy Schuldt Helixon, Jodi Vandenberg-Daves and Amanda Zieba for a reading and conversation on the power of words in the midst of a pandemic.

About Hope is the Thing: In March of 2020, shortly after Wisconsin began receiving positive cases of Covid-19, B.J. Hollars began curating a collaborative, state-wide writing project aimed at bridging the emotional distance created by our physical distance. Drawing upon Emily Dickinson’s famous poem, “ ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers,” Hollars asked Wisconsinites to reflect on their own glimpses of hope in the time of Covid-19. The project resulted in the publication of Hope is The Thing, which captures 100 examinations of hope, many of which were discovered in the unlikeliest if places.

This event will take place at the WTC Learning Commons, 400 7th Street North in La Crosse, WI. Books will be available for purchase and signing.


Self-Publishing: A Practical Guide - Virtual

Thursday November 18th from 4:30-5:30pm – Via Zoom

Is self-publishing the right path for your work? In this zoom presentation, Terri Karsten will explain some of the different models for self-publishing and discuss the pros and cons. Using her own publishing experiences as examples, Terri will share information on how to navigate the self-publishing journey.

Registration is required for this event.

Click here to register:

This workshop is sponsored by the La Crosse Area Writers Group


Self-Publishing: A Practical Guide - In Person

Saturday November 20th at 11:30am

Winona Public Library

151 W 5th St, Winona, MN 55987

Is self-publishing the right path for your work? On Saturday, November 20th at 11:30AM in the Winona Public Library, author, Terri Karsten, will explain some of the different models for self-publishing and discuss the pros and cons using her own publishing experiences as examples. Karsten will, also, share information on how to navigate the self-publishing journey.

Click here to register:

This workshop is sponsored by the Winona Public Library and Great River Writes.