Camaraderie found in words

I though that fellow writers might be interested in this story that was published today by a regional newspaper. I can remember how scared I was the first time I went to a writers group meeting with St. Croix Writers in Solon Springs, WI. I felt shy and that perhaps my work might not be as polished as fellow writers, many of whom were published.

It turned out that the group was compassionate and encouraged me to write and share my work with them. Thus I took my place and began to feel comfortable with myself and them. I was no longer fearful of sharing myself and my writing. I write creative nonfiction in the areas of plant and butterfly science. St. Croix Writers Group is superb.

I had also tried another writers group back in those early days. One of the members started shouting at me after I read my piece. I though, what is this all about? There was no comparison between St. Croix Writers and the unmentionable writers group. One more word about writer’s groups. Find one where you feel comfortable and where you can open your heart and let others feel your depth of soul.

Now on to the story.

Source: Superior Telegram by Maria Lockwood, January 27, 2012 

St. Croix Writers are a Midwest version of Las Vegas. What goes on during a meeting stays at the meeting — at least until it’s published. The close-knit group swaps more than words during their weekly Tuesday gatherings. They share laughs, honest emotion and lives.

“I think that the biggest reason we’ve stuck together so long is that we’re like a family,” said Anna Martineau Merritt. They don’t just care about one another during the Tuesday meetings, she said, “We care about each other on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday, you know.”

Newcomers are always welcome.

“We are friends,” said Christine Hensolt. “And everybody who comes through is an addition and just makes us more whole.”

Jason Rizzo sat in on his first writers’ session in December as an observer. The next week, the Gordon man brought a piece of his own.

“The first reading I did was kind of a short story that was emotional,” Rizzo said. It was a big step to read it, he said, but he appreciated the feedback from people outside his immediate circle of family and friends.

Charles Shingledecker, new to the writing craft, credited the constructive criticism he got from the group for getting his book, “The Crazy Side of Orthodoxy,” published. The fellow writers helped him approach the complicated issue from an outsider’s perspective, he said, and gave direction in refining the manuscript.

“They critique, they don’t judge,” said fellow writer Judith Liebaert. “And everyone feels accepted.”

There is a sense of trust and honesty within the group, members said, and it can become addicting.

“You don’t miss it,” said Agnes Kennard of Wascott. “It’s not required, but you’re always there.”

Anyone can join the sessions, which run 9:30-11:30 a.m. every Tuesday at the Solon Springs Community Center.

“The door’s always open,” Kennard said.

The writers have been meeting since 1989 in Solon Springs. Their work encompasses every genre you can imagine, according to one of the founding members, Jo Stewart. And it is not censored. Nature poems, murder plots, songs and even sex scenes can turn up at any given session. The ranks swell to more than 30 during the summer, with a smaller gathering during the winter. And the group is not just a bunch of amateurs.

“We’re good enough to be published,” Kennard said.

Shelves full of published works by St. Croix Writers — everything from chapbooks to children’s books — are showcased in the entryway of the Solon Springs Community Center as part of the Rural Arts Voice North (RAV’N) display case.

“And this isn’t even a complete showing,” Liebaert said. “(I) didn’t know we were such a prolific group.”

“This area has a lot of talent,” Merritt said.

RAV’N, a non-profit group that promotes and supports the arts, maintains the Solon Springs display as well as cases at Wascott Town Hall, the Minong Clinic and a site in Barnes.

“RAV’N wants to show the arts in all their forms,” said Hensolt, group president. RAV’N hosts a spring student art show, art and craft fairs in the spring and fall and musical events over the fall and winter. A traveling art exhibit sponsored by RAV’N last year was so successful that the group plans to hold a juried art show, the Upper St. Croix Art Exhibition, from July 13-22 in the Solon Springs Village Hall. Artists from Douglas, Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer, Ashland and Bayfield counties can submit two pieces of original artwork in any media created within the last year. The theme of the show is “Happiness, within, without, and all around.” For more information or entry forms, contact Mary Lu at (715) 378-2728 or

Art group honors published authors in northwest WI

Rav'n exhibit of published authors copyright Anna Martineau Merritt

Rav'n exhibit of published authors copyright Anna Martineau Merritt

The St. Croix Writers Group of Solon Springs, WI, is being honored by Rav’n, Rural Arts Voice North, with an exhibit of published authors. The Exhibit is on display at Solon Springs Community Center.

I feel honored that as a member of St. Croix Writrs Group that my book My Name is Butterflyis on display in the Exhibit.

My Name is Butterfly copyright Salt of the Earth Press

My Name is Butterfly copyright Salt of the Earth Press


Photo is of exhibit copyright Anna Martineau Merritt, Misty Pine Photography, Gordon, WI.

Sunday with Hearts of Space and books about writing

Sunday morning I look forward to Hearts of Space’s new music program for the week. This week’s program is called Crystal Cosmos. I love this music and I subscribe to the radio station broadcast on a yearly basis. You can hear the music for free on Sundays if you wish at

This morning I read a post on Facebook asking what books I liked about writing? My answer was The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. For some reason, I couldn’t recall another book that I love, Eat, Shoots and Leaves. I have the book somewhere but couldn’t find it this morning. Therefore I ordered it on Amazon.

My publisher Lindy Casey, Salt of the Earth Press, mentioned that she loved Stephen King’s book: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I have not read it even though it was published in 2000. Gees am I ever behind the times. I ordered the book on Amazon and expect I will be reading it within two weeks.

Right now my house is undergoing a restoration. All the windows and doors are being replaced with heat saving forest green windows and doors. It looks so Up North with its chocolate painted redwood house. I love it. I need to replace 11 trees that were blown down on July 1, 100 mph winds. I can see the property with more evergreen spruce trees. Even though I am dedicated to creating a native edible landscape. I can visually see the green landscape that I wish to create.

My writing comes from imagination and creativity. I envision the landscape and what I want to do. Then I co-create it. Somehow this is easier writing for me at the moment than sitting down to do a writing project, Field Guide for the Monarch Butterfly Habitat.



With my house full of contractors, I can’t work in my office right now, outside of sneaking into the office at night to type a little and answer emails. Soon the job will be completed and I can put my house back in order. Do you know how difficult it is to write when the house is all tore up? My brain just doesn’t function well under these circumstances. It will take me a few days to put all the furniture back in place, paintings up and restore the books to book shelves. Right now they are sitting in the middle of the living room in boxes.

Well writing friends, that’s it for today. Happy Sunday from a far away place in Northwest Wisconsin.

Earth Day event 2011 video announces published authors

Recently, I received this YouTube video that Jennifer Barton took at the last Earth Day Event in Shell Lake, WI in April 2011. We thought you might like to meet the author Mary Ellen Ryall and mother and daughter team (Tanya and Cassandra Thompson) who were the models for the book My Name is Butterfly.

Other authors speaking that day were Ken Parejko, Monarch of the Butterfly and Jeff Lewis with his book Treasures from the Beginning of the World. YouTube video is the following link at


Cindy Dyer wins another award year on WordPress

Some of you are learning about my friend and business collaborator Cindy Dyer, owner of Dyer Design. She is absolutely the most energetic Blogger I know. WordPress thinks highly of her too.

Check out her applause from WordPress at