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New Delano group welcomes area writers and authors

October 6, 2008

By Jen Bakken
Staff Writer

DELANO, MN – There’s a new group in town, but its members aren’t exactly new to Delano.

You may spot them huddled together while sipping coffee at Three Crows on River Street, and discussing one of their favorite topics – writing.

Renata Ritter founded the group, which began in April, and admits its purpose is still unfolding before them. New and established local writers are welcome to join the Delano Writers Group at any time.

“I felt it would be good for local writers and authors to cooperately get together and share their thoughts, ideas, knowledge, and writing experiences with one another,” Ritter said. “I wanted them to be able to be in a neutral environment where they could share their writing, knowing their work would be appreciated.”

The Delano Writers Group hosted a book signing event Sept. 27 at Three Crows on River Street. Authors of two books were present to talk about their publications and sign copies of their books.

Rachel Rustad and Birdie Johnson, local authors of “The Storybook – Collecting Your Family’s Stories,” were present to discuss their book.

Rustad and Johnson have been friends for many years. They came up with the idea to write a storybook that was about a child’s own family.

It seemed to them that, as long as parents and grandparents were reading to children, they might as well read to them about their own heritage and background, along with all the other storybooks they read.

This was the beginning of “The Storybook – Collecting Your Family’s Stories.”

As they began writing story-starters and an introduction to the book, they realized that this wasn’t really a children’s book after all, but a book for families whose members might be of any age.

They are now retired and feel more strongly than ever that families need to share their histories with younger generations.

As technology increases and story-telling decreases, they feel that gradually people are losing sight of their heritage, who their ancestors were, and what they may have to teach about ourselves.

Many people have lists of names and dates filled out on a family tree, but most don’t have any idea about what these relatives were really like.

Rustad and Johnson hope that they bring families closer together, and spark conversations and stories that might otherwise be lost forever.

They believe the next generations will treasure them and find them such a source of joy that they will be inclined to keep the stories going for the generations to follow.

“The Storybook – Collecting Your Family’s Stories” was published by Beaver’s Pond Press.

Another author visited also with the Delano Writers Group on this day at Three Crows – Margaret Hasse of Saint Paul.

Hasse has had three books of poems published, and she shared some from her most recent book, “Milk and Tides.”

“I commend you for starting this group,” said Margaret Hasse.

Hasse also gave the group some helpful hints on starting a writers’ group, and wished the group success with its future writing.

Current members of the Delano Writers Group include: Renata Ritter, Jeff Morlock, Kay Linafelter, Birdie Johnson, Mary Reynolds and Pat Van Der Merwe.

A good writers group can improve writing and writing habits, as well as provide a supportive environment for everyone in the group.

“It can be a springboard for long-lasting friendships and possible collaborations,” said Ritter. “It can be a great resource for brainstorming when you’re stuck on a particular problem with a story or book. Most of all, many writers have seen their writing improve as a result of their involvement in a group.”

If one is interested in more information, or would like to join the Delano Writers Group, visit one of its meetings on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, beginning at 5:30 p.m., at The Three Crows on River Street.

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