Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wisconsin Writers Association

Last evening I had the privilege of being the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Writers Association Conference held in Neenah. The title of my talk was, “A few things I learned from 50 years of writing.” 

I mentioned to the group that I first received payment for my writing when I began writing weekly columns for several central Wisconsin weekly newspapers in 1966. (I joined the Wisconsin Writers Association in 1967, when it was known as the Wisconsin Rural Writers Association).  Go to for more about the organization.

Here is a little of what I shared with the group—what I learned after a half-century of putting words to paper.

--Deadlines are important, keep them. 

--Tell a story.  People like stories, like to read them, like to hear them told. (See my new book, TELLING YOUR STORY—go to my website, for more information.)

--Use all your senses when writing, not just what you see and hear.

--Rewriting and revision of what you write is essential.  I said that I spend more time rewriting and revising than I go creating first drafts.

--The importance of writing within a niche.  I write within the rural history, small town and rural community niche.

--Write what you know, but also write what you don’t know.  I knew little about the details for several of my books, especially RINGLINGVILE USA, the story of the Ringling Brothers Circus, and BREWERIES OF WISCONSIN, the history of the brewing industry in Wisconsin before I began researching and writing about them.

--Keep a journal.  I’ve kept one since the early 1960s.  In addition to keeping a more general journal, I keep a journal for each book I write, including ideas,  notes, progress made, sources of research and other such. (See my new book, ROSHARA JOURNAL as an example of what I write in my journal.—see more about the book on my website,

--The importance of a good editor. Every writer needs an editor. I’ve been blessed with having several  really good ones over the years. 

--As a book writer, I have responsibility for sharing the marketing and promotion of my books.  I do this through personal appearances, this blog, Facebook, my website (, teaching creative writing workshops, television documentaries I do with Public Television, radio programs, and twice monthly columns I write for the weekly newspaper, THE COUNTRY TODAY.

I concluded my talk with these words:

Writing is something I have to do.  Writing :

--Helped me to come out from behind myself, a shy farm kid recovering from Polio.

--Gave me an added purpose to my life

--Caused me to learn things I never thought I would learn, travel to places I never thought I would visit, meet people I never thought I would meet, and pushed me to doing things I thought I would never do.

--Taught me to listen to the whispers and look in the shadows.  Listen to the quiet sounds amidst a world of shouting, look in the shadows where the bright light doesn’t shine.

-- Helped me learn how to accept rejection and move on

-- Taught me that there will always be writers that are better writers than I am.  I I try to follow my father’s advice: Do the best you can with what you’ve got.

Why do I continue to write full-time
--Because of the many comments I get from my readers

--Because I still can.

--Because I’m trying to learn how to do it.  When I do I’ll probably quit.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Have you written your story? Time to get started.

Workshop: Writing From Your Life:  Offered at The Clearing, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on October 28.  Call 920-854-4088 to learn more and to register. A few openings remain. TELLING YOUR STORY book used as a textbook in the workshop.

Upcoming Events:

October 18, Tuesday, 5:30 p.m. Friends of Community Library Fundraiser Dinner.  Twin Oaks Country Inn, 30807 114 Street, Wilmot, WI. Whispers and Shadows and Roshara Journal.

October 26, Wednesday, 6:00 p.m, Carroll University, Community Conversation about Frac Sand Mining in Wisconsin. Shattuck Music Center, 100 N. E. Avenue, Waukesha, WI.  Readings from THE GREAT SAND FRACAS OF AMES COUNTRY. Open to the Public.

October 28, 9-4.  Writing from your life—writing workshop at the Clearing in Door County (see above for details)

November 3, 6:30.  Rock Springs Public Library, 6:30.

November 5, 11:00 a.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, Roshara Journal

November 10, 7:00 p.m. Menomonie Falls Public Library. One-Room Schools

Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them): 

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:

 Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
 Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
 The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)

Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. and Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Jerry’s newest books, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their stories—are also available.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984

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