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HANDS-ON Workshops 

Sponsored by The John Ruan Foundation

From learning about how to become a novelist to book marketing, get your creativity flowing in our hands-on workshops.  

Each session is FREE to participants and registration is not necessary unless otherwise noted.

Workshop Schedule

Workshop Room 1 (Room #119)

9 – 10 a.m. | Books and Beans: Spring Book and Coffee Pairings with Storyhouse Bookpub and Daisy Chain Coffee 

Book and coffee nerds, unite! Stop in to taste a variety of coffee roasts paired with some of the best spring books out this season to add to your TBR pile or book club line-up. This is an hour designed for book people to geek out about choosing your next great read with your new favorite coffee led by East Village indies, the Storyhouse Bookpub team with local author Denise Williams and Daniel Bosman of Daisy Chain Coffee. Leave with book & coffee recommendations plus resources and inspiration for finding what to read next. 

10:30  – 11:30 a.m. | Baking Blue Ribbons  

Writers Kay Fenton-Smith and Carol McGarvey take a deliciously deep dive into the baking and history at the Iowa State Fair, a pinnacle of perfection for bakers and other food preparers across Iowa. Their new book, Baking Blue Ribbons highlights the history, stories, and recipes from the very first Fair in 1854 through 2021. This book showcases what it means to be a part of the Midwest culinary experience and these stories have helped shape the Food Department at the Fair throughout the years.  The authors will be joined by several blue ribbon winners and Fair judges.  There will be samples! 

Noon – 1 p.m. |  Building a Better Cheese and Charcuterie Board with Django Restaurant

Join Django's raw bar chef Gina Brown as she walks guests through a simple home-made cracker recipe, will share her favorite cheese and fruit pairings (as well as a savory component and charcuterie pairing) and teach an easy quick pickle method. Gina will be providing constructed bites of these pairings for the guests to sample. 

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. |  Exploring Levi’s Dream with Linda Killinger

Linda Killinger shares how when they first began working on the book “Levi’s Dream”, the authors thought they would write a simple story of Linda Killinger’s grandparents who, with seven of their thirteen kids, took a fifteen-month trip across the country visiting relatives and the national parks, in their brand new 1930 Model A Ford. However, they soon realized this was not just a simple story about the trip, but a reveal of how the 1920s and 30s not only impacted the family at the time, but how that impact was carried to future generations.

3 – 4 p.m. |  A Taste of the Dark: Writing True Crime and Tasting Wine 

Join true crime author and podcast host John Brassard Jr as he gives you tips on writing the dark stories of human history for almost any medium. With John, will be Madison County Winery, from the area that is known for the famous Bridges of Madison County, offering samples and bottles to purchase of their wines. 

Come, listen, and have a taste of the dark. 

*This workshop is 21 and older and may contain gruesome language.  

4:30 – 5:30 p.m. |  Building Community with Poetry and Pints 

Sample a pint of Exile while experiencing poetry through the eyes of three professional Iowa poets.  Join Kelsey Bigelow, Miguel Ramierz, and Leah Waughtal-Magiera as they create a community poem in an impromptu celebration proving that we all have a poem inside of us.  

Kelsey Bigelow is a spoken word and page poet.  She has a B.A. in professional and creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and is earning her M.A. in strategic communications from the University of Iowa. She is a lifelong learner taking many poetry master classes and workshops each year.  She serves as a board member and co-chair for the Iowa Poetry Association, is a member of Poetry&, and a member of the Academy of American Poets. She has participated on many panels, judged contests and slams, and has performed at many poetry events. She has led the Des Moines Poetry Workshop since February 2018 and hosted multiple workshops in person and virtually. 

Miguel Ramirez has been a staple of the Des Moines Poetry scene since 2008. He has been featured in a number of shows as a member of "The Next Poets" and presented along with national and regional touring artists. As creator and host of Poetry UnPlugged since 2013, Miguel has created a community of poets, authors, and musicians which enables a safe place to share your rants and rave, and say whatever you want to say.

Leah Waughtal-Magiera is a Movement 515 Coordinator at Des Moines Public Schools based in Des Moines, Iowa. Previously, Leah was a Communications Intern at Summer of the Arts and also held positions at The Iowa Youth Writing Project, Earthwords. Leah received a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Iowa. 

*This workshop is 21 and older. 

Workshop 2 (Room #155)

9:30 – 10:30 a.m. DSM Podcasts: Wrighting, Talking, Pressing Play

Panelists: Sarah Davis, Aaron Gernes, Emily McLain, Rob Newton

Moderator: Jjuan Hadnot  

In this panel we will be opening the floor to four talented Iowa based podcasters. What is a podcast? How do you draw an audience? What kind of equipment should be used? This workshop will cover all your questions and so many more! Join our panel discussion with a Q&A to learn about all things podcasts.

11 a.m. – Noon Traveling Literally with John Shors 

Best-selling author John Shors will discuss the evolution of his writing career, focusing on the origins of his breakthrough novel, Beneath a Marble Sky, and how its success led him to create a one-of-a-kind international touring company.  He will share stories and photos of the many exotic locations he and his fellow travelers have visited.   

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Local Iowa Publisher Panel  

Representatives of Iowa publishers will discuss their work, the authors they have worked with and the many books they have published.   

Panelists: Kyle McCord – Atmosphere Press, Allison Means – University of Iowa Press, Steve Semken – Ice Cube Press

Moderator: Carol Spaulding – Kruse, Drake Community Press 

2 – 3 p.m. 101 Basic ASL and Deaf Culture with Dr. Polly Brekke 

This interactive workshop is a free, one hour course designed to provide basic signs, knowledge, and tools to communicate effectively with d/Deaf individuals, applicable for any setting. Participants will learn how to sign several basic ASL communications, be able to describe different groups the term “deaf” and will learn how to avoid common misconceptions about deaf people. 

3:30 – 4:30 p.m. There’s a Book Club for That with Raccoon River Press  

Welcome to the wonderful world of book clubs! We've got answers to all your modern book club questions - existing clubs to join, how to lead, and how to choose what to read! This workshop will include both a short presentation and a Q&A session so that you can get all your questions answered! 

2 p.m. DSM Architecture Walking Tour with the Iowa Architecture Foundation  

Tour will start at the Big Books in Capital Square Atrium. 

This tour showcases some of Des Moines’ older, stately buildings such as the Temple for the Performing Arts and Clemens Building and Hotel Fort Des Moines, some of our most significant skyscrapers and new developments including EMC Highrise, Wells Fargo Financial, Nationwide and the Des Moines Central Library.  

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