Morning Meanderings… The Wine and Words 2016 Line Up


Wednesday and I just keep adding to my “to do’s.”  It is for that reason, I am always excited when I check a big task off and I can d that now with the 2016 Author Line Up for Wine and Words.  It is our 4th year of doing this event and I enjoy the little details of making this work SO MUCH.

When it comes to finding the author mix I use several different methods to choose who to invite:

  1.  Watch best-selling book lists
  2. Watch sites like Goodreads and Amazon for reviews
  3. Recommendations from people in our community
  4. Our local Book Store.  I speak with the employees about what people are asking for.
  5. At least 2 of the authors we try to be Minnesota authors.
  6. YOU.  My trusted book loving friends who review some pretty sweet books.

Next I am looking for a diverse genre mix.  I want the authors to appeal to different people.  For instance, perhaps the North shore mysteries that William Kent Krueger and his protagonist Cork do not speak to you, but Kathleen McCleary’s women’s literature does.  In many of the cases, at the time of lining up the Wine and Words authors, I have not read them myself.  It is always fun to introduce even myself to new authors.

So…. here they are.  2016 Wine and Words:

brian freeman, book journey, author event, wine and words, brainerd mn

Brian Freeman is an international bestselling author of psychological suspense novels. His books have been sold in 46 countries and 20 languages and have appeared as Main Selections in the Literary Guild and the Book of the Month Club. His seventh novel SPILLED BLOOD won the award for Best Hardcover Novel in the annual Thriller Awards presented by the International Thriller Writers organization, and his fifth novel THE BURYING PLACE was a finalist for the same award. His sixth novel THE BONE HOUSE was a finalist for Best Audiobook of the Year in Thriller/Suspense.

“This guy can tell a story,” says bestselling author Michael Connelly.

Helen Klein Ross, Helen, Book journey, wine and words, brainerd mn, author eventHelen Klein Ross is the author of What Was Mine, a novel published in January by Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books, a People magazine pick for “Best of 2016”. Her novel Making It: A Novel Of Madison Avenue (Gallery Books, 2013) is an e-book that experiments with digital epilogue. She is the creator and editor of The Traveler’s Vade Mecum, a crowd-sourced poetry anthology forthcoming in September from Red Hen Press. Her poetry, essays and fiction have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times and in The Iowa Review where she won the Iowa Review Award for Poetry in 2014. Helen spent decades as a writer/creative director at global ad agencies on both coasts. She graduated from Cornell University and received an MFA from The New School. She lives with her husband in Manhattan and Salisbury, CT. 


Joshilyn Jackson, book journey, brainerd mn, author event, wine and wordsNew York Times Bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson is the author of six novels: Someone Else’s Love Story , gods in Alabama, Between, Georgia, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Backseat Saints, and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages, won SIBA’s novel of the year, three times been a #1 Book Sense Pick, twice won Georgia Author of the Year, and three times been shortlisted for the Townsend prize.

A former actor, Jackson reads the audio versions of her novels; her work in this field has been nominated for the Audie Award, was selected by AudioFile Magazine for their best of the year list, has made the 2012 Audible All-Star list for highest listener ranks/reviews, and garnered three Listen Up Awards from Publisher’s Weekly. In 2012 Jackson began reading the audio versions of books written by other novelists, beginning with Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer.

Allen Eskens, wine and words, brainerd, author event, book journeyAllen Eskens is the award-winning author of The Life We Bury, published in October of 2014. It was named one of the best books of the year by Suspense Magazine and MysteryPeople and was named a finalist for six different awards including the prestigious Edgar Award. His second novel, The Guise of Another is out in October of 2015.

Allen Eskens grew up in the wooded hills of Missouri and, after high school, migrated north to pursue his education. He acquired a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Minnesota, and a Juris Doctorate from Hamline University School of Law.

Gerri, Laura Childs, Book Journey, Wine and Words

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries.  Devonshire Scream, her 17th Tea Shop Mystery, releases March 1, 2016.  Little Girl Gone, the first book in her Afton Tangler Thriller Series written under her real name of Gerry Schmitt, releases July 5, 2016.  In her previous life she was CEO of Mission Critical Marketing (with offices in Minneapolis and Austin, TX), authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show.  She is married to Dr. Bob, a U of M professor of Chinese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

There they are!  Glad to have the line up in place!  Thanks to a great team and a great venue to work with, the rest of it comes fairly easy.

Saturday Snapshot: Wine and Words 2015

Wine and Words, Minnesota, Brainerd, Grand View Lodge, Sheila DeChantal, Peter Geye, Lorna Landvik, William Kent Krueger, rica Spindler, Nadia Hashimi, Kathleen McCleary, Book Journey
Left: Gail (Co-Chair), Me (Co-Chair), Jill (Team Member), Lorna Landvik (Author/MC), Peter Geye (Author), Kathleen McCleary (Author), William Kent Krueger (Author), Nadia Hashimi (Author), Erica Spindler (Author), Sue (Team Member), Doreen (Team Member), Brenda (Team Member)


This weeks Saturday Snapshot is going to be about Wine and Words, the literacy event that our Friends of the Brainerd Public Library sponsor each year.  This is year three and we had 320 guests at our sold out event.

As you can imagine, this was not the easiest of years for me to push through this event.  I thankfully had secured our authors in February of this year and Nadia Hashimi joined us in late March (only a week before my life fell apart).  The website and the ticket sales were already in place by then so the team was able to move on with the planning without me until I was able to assist again in June.

We were at a larger venue (Grand View Lodge) that allowed us to accommodate 120 more guests than last year.  It has been so exciting to watch this event grow from a “do you think this will work in Brainerd?” to a “holy smokes we need a larger venue!

We had a great team of people willing to work on the silent auction, ticket sales, handing out brochures, and this year we even worked on sponsorship’s!  As you can see in the above picture, we had an excellent author line up – a good mix of genres and the authors were so well spoken – talking about their writing, their books, and their relationship to libraries.  Seriously.. I was a bit giddy.

Here are a few of the many many pictures taken of our event this year:

Check in and the social hour
Check in and the social hour
Social hour
Social hour


One of our Team Members, Sherri talking with William Kent Krueger about his book
One of our Team Members, Sherri talking with William Kent Krueger about his book


Part of the book sale team... Friends Members:  Rhonda and Amy
Part of the book sale team… Friends Members: Rhonda and Amy


The guy who puts the "wine" in Wine and Words - our local Liquor man, Mark from Cash Wise Liquor
The guy who puts the “wine” in Wine and Words – our local Liquor man, Mark from Cash Wise Liquor


Its always fun to see people get excited about books!
Its always fun to see people get excited about books!


Ahhh… what the heck, here is what the event really looked like:

PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage2 PicMonkey Collage3 PicMonkey Collage4 PicMonkey Collage5 PicMonkey Collage6

We gave away gift cards and a Kindle Fire.  Justin’s friends also purchased a table in his name and attended, just as he would have – and just as he had, the last two years.  ♥  There are no words for what that means to me…

Justin 2015

As far as how we did… I am finishing up the last bit of calculating today so I can give our team an accurate look at the total win for Friends of the Brainerd Public Library… and trust me on this…

it was a win. 🙂

Check out other Saturday Snapshots here and see what awesome people are taking pictures of around the world.

Morning Meanderings… Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates


Friday!  OOMP – there it is!!!  I feel like I want to run to the end of the living room and do some sort of touch down dance.

It has been a GOOD week.  I have been back from our trip for a little over a month now and have gone from feeling exhausted and lazy, to “what am I going to do with my life?”, to cautiously putting myself out there, to picking up a few freelance jobs, to slowly developing a name, to a possible local commitment that is flexible and can work around my other projects.  I will know more after today.

EEP. (in a good way)


It has been scary cool putting together my own work commitments and wondering if it would work.  I had fears that working from home would be too hard to stay focused but that has not been true.  And honestly I really really like it and feel I am getting a nice rhythm.



Camp Benedict Cyclist, Camp Benedict, Book JOurney, Minnesota Bike RidesOk, apparently I have the dork meter set on HIGH today. I am having breakfast with a friend and partner in crime all things bike ride related this morning for putting together a charity bike ride for camp this summer.  I am really excited how that has come together this week.  I built this super cool website:  Camp Benedict Cyclists



logo Wine and Words, Minnesota Events, 2015, Fall Events, Book Journey

I also think I have landed the final author I need for Wine and Words this year. Just waiting on final confirmation and then I can start making announcements and update that website as well.


So if life really is really like a box of chocolates… my week has been all milk chocolate caramels (MY FAV!) and not one single coconut filled one.  HAZAH again.


Urban Dictionary:

A word used to emphasize ones pleasure and/or approval at something. Often accompanied by spasticated clapping.

For real authority, one should pronounce it as if saying ‘I SAY! (old chap)’.

Bloke in movie: “The Wooden Horse will destroy the city of Troy”.

Loyal fans: “Hazah! Hazah!” *clap clap clap*


Morning Meanderings…. Feeling Pretty Darn Good


Good morning Muggles and Magical folk!  Happy Tuesday to you all!  I feel really good.  The pain in my back is gone, I don’t feel sick any more and I have a BIG agenda today filled with good things!

This morning I have an exciting meeting for a possible (more than likely) venue change for Wine and Words 2015.  This is a big stinkin’ deal as it will take our event from a Brainerd Minnesota event to a Lakes Area event.  (If you are unfamiliar with Wine and Words this is the project our Friends Of The Library started 2 years ago and it has been very successful even winning best new Friends Project in Minnesota this year!)  If we successfully make this connection it will be huge for us – more room to grow!

Then I am preparing a meal this afternoon for a family that has a loved one in the hospital.

Then…. *drum roll*…

Bookies Book Club has their Christmas Party tonight at 6:00 pm!  We will be discussing Big Little Lies, eating goodies that we all bring, doing our annual gift exchange, and deciding what book to purchase for our library’s book in the bag program.  It is going to be so much fun!!!

I think… this calls for a little Black Eyed Pea’s combined with a Flash Mob (Flash Mob – on the bucket list… we really should plan one for BEA this coming year!)


Unveiling The Wine and Words 2014 Line Up


Ok this is probably stretching Saturday Snapshot a bit… but I am excited so PLEASE allow me this stretch just this one – puh-lease?  *batting my eyes*

Wine and Words is the literary event myself, my co-chair Gail and an amazing team from the Friends Of The Brainerd Public Library debuted last year.  We created an event around free wine and amazing authors just to see what would happen and it was amazing.  (Wow!  Can I say the word amazing any more times)?  😛

My concern this year was could we do it again?  We have no budget so we ask our authors to come out of the love for libraries, a chance to talk to a group of book lovers, and an opportunity to sign books.  I value people’s time, so we worked hard making sure it was a great experience for them as well, putting welcome baskets in their beautiful hotel rooms with fresh flowers, a Minnesota magazine, chocolates and a thank you card.

After plugging away on the author line for about 5 weeks, we have our authors!  I am super excited to show you who they are:


Benjamin Percy is a Minnesota author who’s book Red Moon is now being filmed to become a TV series! 


Minnesota Author, Nicole Lee Helget’s new book Stillwater is creating quite a stir!  I can not wait to read it.

3Catherine McKenzie is from Canada. Her first three books have won many awards and her new one, Hidden, will be coming out yet this spring.


Randy Susan Meyers lives in Boston Massachusetts.  Her first two books have created quite the buzz (both are on my shelves!) and her third book, Accidents Of Marriage (due out in September) , will make an early debut at Wine and Words!


Barbara Claypole White lives and gardens in North Carolina.  Her books also grace my shelves.  The In-Between Hour is newly released and won a 2014 Okra award.

and back by popular demand…. our emcee, Lorna Landvik:


Lorna Landvik is a known comedian and author.  Her books include Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons. 

There it is!  That’s our group!  I am so excited.  Tickets will go on sale in the next couple of weeks.  We had some pretty amazing authors say they could not do this year but to give them a try for next year.  Authors that excite me so much I will not even share who they are because I may jinx (does that still happen???) it. 😀  Now I switch into silent auction mode, looking for items for the auction.

If you have some time, check out the Wine and Words website, freshly updated.  There are pictures from last years event as well as our authors and team.  Also, be sure and check out other Saturday Snapshot posts!  They are a fun way to see what is happening around our world 😀

Morning Meanderings… Time to Start Looking For My Authors!


Good morning!  Wednesday!  This is exciting and anxiety causing all at the same time.  The slow part of my week is over.  Now every evening through Sunday I have something going on.  Good stuff – a couple of dinners with friends and a concert… but when I look at it as a whole – it’s a lot.  I am now in one day at a time mode 😀

For those of you who have been with me for a long time here, you are probably well aware of our Literary event we had here in Brainerd last fall called Wine and Words.  It was an amazing fundraiser for our local Friends group of the library and it was a huge success.  For our first year out of the gate we had hoped to have 100 people attend and we had close to 180.  We had 5 amazing authors:  Sarah Pekkanen, Sandra Brannan,William Kent Krueger, Wendy Webb and Lorna Landvik.  It was incredible and we raised more money than we had intended.

So that is good. 🙂


We are set to do this again on August 22nd, 2014.  I have already confirmed my wine guy “yeah Mark!!!” to donate all the wine, and I just dropped off the contract with the Arrowwood Lodge yesterday afternoon…. now… I need authors.

I have put a few feelers out, one that reads this blog often (you know who you are!) I would LOVE to have.  I am looking for two out-of-state authors who have a few books under their belt and may be a recognizable name – as well as a couple Minnesota authors. We offer our authors an amazing room at the Lodge (seriously talk to any of them from last year – the rooms are incredible!) as well as their dinner.  Myself and my co-chair of the event stay over night at the Lodge as well so we can spend as much time as we can with the authors.  I am saying this out loud here hoping that if anyone has a connection, idea, or suggestion – either put it in the comments here or email me at

We are going to have 200 people this year.  I know this because we feel we will sell out and that is about all that room can hold comfortably with the silent auction and the wine guy (*waves to Mark again!*)

You can check us out at the website for the Brainerd Friends here.

I think it would be amazing if I could find amazing authors through the help of my readership here.  Feel free to pass the word on. 🙂  I would love to have the authors planned and in place by March.

Wine and Words 2013 (The recap)


Over the past 6 months you may have heard off and on this blog about Wine and Words.  This was a small idea as a fundraiser for our Friends Of The Brainerd Public Library that went from a “maybe” to a full-blown event, largely part of my absence from the blogesphere. 

We held the event on Friday August 23rd with 5 wonderful authors gracing us with witty conversation and peaks into their mind about their latest book, writing, and life as an author.


William Kent Krueger and his wife joined us and wow…. what a down to earth fun guy.  I have never spent time with him before and found him to be humble and delightful. He wowed the crowd.  He spoke about his newest books, Ordinary Grace and Tamarack County (which just released a week ago today).



Lorna Landvik emceed our evening and we could not have picked a better person to wrap our event with humor and great intros of our authors.  She was a gift as once she started the program – I was free to do whatever was needed as she totally had this. 


Sarah Pekkanen (SSSQQQUUUEEEEE!) and Wendy Webb were awesome!  Sarah’s newest book, The Best Of Us came out in April and Wendy Webb’s The Fate Of Mercy Alban (centered around the Glensheen mansion in Duluth MN) was an author you wanted to hear more about. 


Sandra Brannan always sweet always so down to earth you cant help but love her was a fun addition to the group.  She talked books and bloggers (YAY!) and she had the Bookies stand up (they adore her!)

Our goal for this evening out at the Beautiful Arrowwood Lodge was 100 people.  That night we had 177 excited women and men join us for our debut event.  The room was filled with book lovers. 






We had so much fun!  We had dinner, listened to the authors, a silent auction, and we sold ducks for $5 for people to see who was the “lucky duck” and won a Kindle Fire. Free wine was offered during the social hour.





One of my favorite moments of the evening was when we were done with the event and Gail (my right hand in this venture) and I made our way to the bar area to check on our authors and we found them all together in a booth chatting away like old friends.  I nudged Gail and said “Oh look!  They are bonding!!!”


The numbers are still coming in, we did receive 20% of the book sales that night.  And I think we are safe to say we cleared over $5000.  😀

I have been tired all weekend – but good tired.  Cant wait to see what is going to happen next year!