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Writer's effort highlighted in contest

Local writer Joan Kremer, 120 Sylla St., received an honorable mention for her short story "Burying Grandma," in a contest sponsored by Wisconsin People & Ideas.

The magazine, published by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, gave prizes for first second and third place winners of its 2011 Short Story Contest, and honorable mention to four more stories.

"Burying Grandma" is about a young woman on the way to her grandmother's funeral who comes to some resolutions in her relationship with her mother.

The woman starts the story off being judgmental and then develops some greater understanding of her mother and her grandmother.

Kremer writes training and technical books for a living, and novels and short stories for enjoyment.

She said she entered the contest on a whim, after seeing a notification in an e-mail from the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.

"It's a nice validation for me that working on my creative writing is the way to go, is the path to follow," said Kremer.

Kremer said it is this type of validation that helps her keep going when writing fiction becomes difficult.

Kremer said the inspiration for "Burying Grandma" came from a memory of her grandparents' farm in South Dakota, as well as their death when she was in her 20s.

While none of her stories are biographical, Kremer said, life experiences often inspire her.

"You take these little pieces of your life and kind of spring off of them," she said.

Kremer's father was George Kremer, publisher and editor of the River Falls Journal from 1957 to 1984.

Joan worked for the paper under her father from 1974 to 1977. Then she joined the news staff of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.

She has had several short stories published in literary magazines, and is working on publishing her novel, "Saving Rainbows."

Her website is

Excerpt from "Burying Grandma"

I'd always loved the west-bound road to my grandparents' farm. It rolled out like a silver ribbon, up and down the prairie's swells and dips, promising magic at the end. The magic, of course, was their farm, a place of enchantment and mystery where, in the same day I could see new-born chicks peeping in the chicken coop and dead hens hanging headless from the clothesline, blood draining from their necks before being plucked and baked. A place where the people were as gently round as the land, and the sky was bigger than all the world.

As we drove to Grandma's funeral on that highway, made even more silvery by the road salt left from the previous week's snowfall, I assessed the weather inside the car. Mom sat as stiff and angled as a folding chair, her graying-brown hair sprayed into place, not a single hair astray. She looked calm, except for her white-knuckled hold on the Lincoln's steering wheel. Occasional whiffs of her Chanel No. 5 made it through the frozen atmosphere to my side of the car.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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