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Presenters & Workshops

Marcie Rendon | poetry, mystery/crime, short stories, children's, theater

Marcie Rendon, White Earth Ojibwe. Girl Gone Missing, second in the Cash Blackbear series was nominated for the Sue Grafton Award, 2020. Murder on the Red River received the Pinckley Crime Novel Award 2018. Sinister Graves, book three, arrives in 2022. Rendon has children’s books, short stories and poetry published. Her script, Say Their Names, had a staged reading at Out of Hand Theater and will be a featured “Shows in Homes’ a one-person, hour-long show in living rooms and community spaces across the state of Georgia, 2022. Sweet Revenge had a staged reading at the Playwright Center in partnership with the Guthrie, 2021. Rendon was honored with the 2020 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award. More information can be found at

Marcie's Workshops

Rendon’s poem, Resilience, is published in Living Nations/Living Worlds [Norton] and the poem “what’s an indian woman to do…” is in When the Light of the World Was Subdued Our Songs Came Through [Norton]; both edited by U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo. In this poetry session, Rendon will give a series of writing prompts for the creation of new work by participants who will then read their work to each other with the opportunity for feedback if they so choose.

Rendon’s Cash Blackbear crime series features a young Anishinaabe woman who helps the local sheriff solve crimes between going to college and working as a farm laborer. This award-winning/nominated series features characters that compel you to cheer for them, characters who invite you into their often messy but nevertheless resilient, uplifting lives. As you read the series you feel the itch of wheat chaff and the soft breeze that comes up off the riverbank and cools one in the midday heat. This workshop will explore how to write memorable characters who inhabit a world you can experience with all your senses.

Authors living and writing in the Midwest come from a culture often overlooked and misunderstood. It is as if the only reality is either the East Coast, the West Coast, or some fantasy land. As I write novels and short stories set in the Midwest, I am surprised and pleased by my readership who appreciates things like ‘windblown prairies, tuna hotdish at Ladies Aid, a farmer’s wave from a pickup truck’. In our rural and small-town lives, we carry people’s secrets close to the chest because we know that in a springtime flood or a winter snowstorm the woman who cheated on her husband or the man who ‘maybe’ killed his wife might be the person we will need to rely on in the moment of crisis. All of which makes for good crime and mystery writing.

Erin Soderberg Downing | children’s, middle grade, YA, adult fiction

Erin Soderberg Downing has written more than one hundred books for kids, tweens, and young adults, including several series for young readers: The Great Peach Experiment (a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection), Puppy Pirates, The Quirks, and Disney’s Daring Dreamers Club. She has also published many other novels for middle-grade readers, including Moon Shadow and Controlled Burn (coming November 2022). Erin’s favorite hobbies are reading, swimming, baking, exploring the woods, traveling with her family, and walking around Minneapolis lakes with her fluffy and mischievous dogs, Wally and Nutmeg.

Erin loves creating stories for kids that are accessible and help create a lifelong love of reading for fun. Before becoming an author, Erin was a children’s book editor, a cookie inventor, and also worked for Nickelodeon. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota, earned her MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business, and has thrice been awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant. One of Erin’s passions as an author is inspiring kids to read and write during her frequent in-person and virtual school visits with kids across the country. More information can be found at

Erin's Workshops

Erin Soderberg Downing has created four successful children’s book series: The Great Peach Experiment, Disney’s Daring Dreamers Club, Puppy Pirates, and The Quirks (as well as several work-for-hire series about other peoples’ characters!). During this session, she will share her process, her sources of inspiration, and some stories about how she gets from raw idea to a finished novel. She’ll also share lots of tips for how to create characters that readers will want to spend more time with, ways to plan your writing if you think your book might eventually turn into a series, and how she plans future adventures and story arcs while still writing the first book in a series. There will be some time for writing/idea generation. Be sure to bring your questions!

Are you stuck or can’t get started? Don’t ever seem to find time to put words on paper? Does writing always seem to be the last thing you have time to do? In this session, author Erin Soderberg Downing (mom to three humans and two dogs, and the author of over one hundred books for kids) will share some of the tricks she uses to carve out time to write and keep herself motivated when sometimes (most of the time) she’d much rather sit in bed with a glass of wine and watch TV. Be prepared to spend some time writing out ideas that will get you excited to move forward, and brainstorming ways to carve out a little more time in your schedule. Bring lots of questions!

A former children’s book editor and marketer for Scholastic, Erin Soderberg Downing has written more than 100 books for kids, tweens, teens (and a few for adults), ranging from work-for-hire movie novelizations and Scooby-Doo mysteries to funny chapter book series and heartfelt middle-grade novels to adult romantic comedies and edgy teen romance. Erin has worked with every major children’s book publisher (except Harper Collins), she has self-published 3 novels, and has edited numerous NYT Bestselling authors. Come to this session where she will share her winding path to becoming a published author, then leave lots of time for you to ask her ANYTHING about children’s publishing, writing books kids love, agent questions, the editorial process, the truth about revision, etc. Much of this session will be structured as an open Q&A and discussion (with lots of tips, tricks, and advice) that will combine brutal honesty, helpful encouragement, and plenty of time for conversation.

Monique Duray | yoga, educator, actor

Monique Duray has been practicing and teaching yoga for 22 years. She uses the movement and breath of a yoga practice to settle the mind and body into creative readiness. She dabbles in a variety of arts, including photography, theater, and fibers. She served on the board of Warroad Summer Theater for several years, serving as vice president and grant writer. Her onstage acting credits include Grace Farrell (Annie), Rosie Alvarez (Bye Bye Birdie), Mavis Gilmerson (Church Basement Ladies), and Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins) and behind the scenes as a set designer, costume manager, and director. Monique currently spends the majority of her creative time on writing projects, the most recent of which is a cozy mystery set in a small Minnesota town featuring a yoga-teaching heroine.

Monique's Workshops

Friday’s session will be an energizing practice, to set a positive tone for the day.

Saturday’s session will focus on preparing for and then recovering from the hard work of writing.

With over twenty years of experience in education and social work, in this workshop, Monique offers an energetic and clear-eyed look at mental health in the arts and offers tools to protect and honor the mental health of writers.

Elisa Korenne | memoir, singer/songwriter

Elisa Korenne is an award-winning songwriter, writer, and performer. Elisa left New York City in 2006 to be an artist-in-residence in rural west-central Minnesota and stayed. She found her groove creating original songs and thematic live shows about oddballs in history. Since turning Minnesotan, Korenne has become known as a pioneering rural artist. Gull Lake TEDx chose Korenne to be a featured speaker. Prairie Public Television in Fargo, North Dakota commissioned her to create songs and appear in a series of ten mini-music documentaries of unusual people and events in the Upper Midwest. Subjects include controversial politico A.C. Townley, health-insurance saleswoman Sister “Lumberjack” Amata Mackett, and Mail Order Bride Rachel Calof.

She began her music career in 2001 after leaving the international development nonprofit she cofounded, Geekcorps–an alternate Peace Corps for technology professionals building businesses in developing countries. Elisa wrote a memoir, Hundred Miles to Nowhere: An Unlikely Love Story, about her move from New York City to rural Minnesota. More information can be found at

Elisa's Workshops

It is one thing to write down your memories. It is another to craft your memories into a compelling story.
Did your great uncle collect matchbooks? Was your cousin’s brother a lumberjack-turned-Vaudeville star? Is your mother “unusual?” Create better characters in your writing by using elements of the most engaging people you know. Bring your pen and notebook and join writer, songwriter, and storyteller, Elisa Korenne, in transforming your anecdotes into engaging stories.

Kim Hruba | fiction, nonfiction, writing coach, retreat director

Kim Hruba is the author of the romantic comedy Elevator Girl, a writer, editor, and writing coach. She is editor and contributor to the Cornerstones & Keystones: Solid Foundations for Success in Business and Life anthology. She blogs weekly (Saturdays) for the folksy, regional Wannaskan Almanac blog.

Hruba graduated from the University of Minnesota, earned a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from Hamline University, and taught at a Berlitz Language School in the Czech Republic. She is a member of Star of the North Toastmasters Club and Keystone Speakers, an advanced club based in Winnipeg. Kim was the 2017 Toastmasters International District 64 Tall Tales champion. She has a Poynter ACES Certificate in Editing and is completing book coaching certification through Author Accelerator.

In 2010, Hruba established Red Shoes Writing Solutions, LLC. Her writing has appeared in the Roseau-Warroad Visitor Guides, the former Warroad Pioneer newspaper, The Growler magazine, and Let’s Play Hockey. Kim is a three-time arts grant recipient and on the teaching artist residency roster for northwestern Minnesota.

Kim's Workshops

Have you ever written an entire novel only to discover that your characters are flat, your plot lags, and – worst of all – you have no story? I have! Whether you’ve got a draft on your desk or you’re only thinking about writing a novel, this workshop will help you nail down the fundamentals of your story so you can resume writing (or start!) with confidence and direction.

Editor, proofreader, publisher, publicist, literary agent, book coach!?! Who are they and what do they do? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all of these people who would be happy to offer you their services. In this workshop, you’ll come away with a better understanding of today’s publishing landscape, who does what, for how much, and when it’s time to call the professionals!

Because readers read the written word, it’s only natural for writers to train to write for the eye. But with audiobooks on the rise, there’s no time like the present to learn about writing for the ear. In this workshop, learn to write for the ear by borrowing techniques from the professional speaking world. This workshop also includes prep and practice time for the Saturday night storytelling event.

Nonfiction writing is a vast arena encompassing all kinds of writing such as essays, articles, blogging, and books. In this workshop, we’ll explore what it is you want to write about (your message), identify your audience, and cover the basic elements of a book proposal. This workshop will be especially helpful for participants who want to incorporate their writing into their professional work or business.