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Fifteen local authors particapated in the showcase on Thursday evening at Calvary Chapel Fellowship Hall. Shown left, Betty Hanson Lehmann and Anthony Swann look at books written by Gail Rixen.

Local authors showcase works at Bemidji Library Book Festival

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BEMIDJI — Four years ago Jeanette Lukowski, a Bemidji local, couldn’t find her teenage daughter. Because the family had a fairly consistent routine, when Lukowski wasn’t able to reach the adolescent after nearly four hours, she knew something was wrong and called the police. After locating her missing teen in Chicago, Ill., Lukowski needed to find something to channel her anger and grief, which turned out to be writing.

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Lukowski was among nearly 15 other local authors during Thursday night’s Area Author Showcase to share their books and stories with the public.

"It was emotionally hard to write the book," said Lukowski, who had her book, "Heart Scars: A Memoir of Parenting a Teen Runaway," published earlier this month. "I thought about the other single moms and how some of them are going through similar things, and found writing this was extremely therapeutic."

According to Lukowski, her daughter was 15 years old when she ran away from home to meet a 26 year old man in the eastern part of the nation she had met online.

While stopping for a bus transfer in Chicago, the teen was apprehended and safely returned to her home.

"I wanted to share my experience and tell other parents to be aware of the technology we give our kids," the mother of two said. "They know how to work it (technology), we don’t always know everything about it."

Originally writing essays about this incident to complete her Master of Fine Arts, Lukowski eventually compiled and edited her works together to create what would become her first book.

A four year process, Lukowski is doing what she can to get her book into the hands of parents.

"I hope to have Internet laws addressed and changed," she said. "Stranger danger is very different today than what it was in the past."

After the runaway had occurred, various news outlets picked up the story, creating some stir in the Internet world. Lukowski said she can remember receiving a lot of public abuse about her parenting skills, particularly a post that said something about how she was to blame for the incident.

In an emotional state thereafter, Lukowski said writing this book saved her from a lot of turmoil.

"I think about how I might be living at the end of an alcoholic bottle if I hadn’t done this," Lukowski said, motioning to her book.

Making her a stronger person, Lukowski said no one should be ashamed of what they’ve through, and even if one’s actions might receive judgment, to always tell.

"Even if someone says ‘it’ll be our little secret,’ you’ve got to tell someone," she said. "It’s important to tell."

An English professor at Bemidji State University, Lukowski hopes to continue her book writing endeavors, but with a lighter story approach — a more leisurely approach like the one local author Deborah Jensen took in publishing her first book.

Jensen said she dreamed of being a published author since she was in the third grade, and the minute she held "Beyond Escape" in her hands, it finally dawned on her that her dream had become a reality.

"I was inspired to write the book by a dream," Jensen said. "It was one of those dreams you just couldn’t let go."

Jensen said her murder mystery novel has many personal experiences intertwined within its pages, and attending various writing groups in the area helped her to continue writing.

"The author is the hardest critique on their writing, and they (writer’s groups) were a tremendous help," she said. "So many writers get halfway through their book and stop because they didn’t have any support."

With hopes to publish a sequel to her first book, Jensen is optimistic she will find continued support from her three writing groups.

"I was so impressed with the writing groups here," she said. "I used to live in St. Cloud and couldn’t find any groups there."

The two-hour showcase was followed by a presentation by adult mystery authors William Kent Krueger and Brian Freeman.

Bemidji Library Book Festival 2013

Today 10:30 a.m. Patrick Mader, Children’s Author at Bemidji Public Library.

2 p.m. "Contracts & Copyright: Traditional, Self and E-Publishing & Publishing Services" with Susan Carol Hauser.

4:30 p.m. Spoken Word Soiree with the Minnesota Poet Laureate at the Bemidji Community Art Center with Joyce Sutphen.

7 p.m. Anton Treuer, Adult Author at American Indian Resource Center-BSU.

Saturday

10:30 a.m. Poetry Workshop at Bemidji Public Library "In the Mouth of Language" in collaboration with Bemidji Community Art Center with Joyce Sutphen.

5:30 p.m. Poetry Reading with the Minnesota Poet Laureate at Headwaters School of Music and the Arts in collaboration with Bemidji Community Art Center with Joyce Sutphen.

Pre-registration is required for the 2 p.m. weekdays and 10:30 Saturdays workshops. Space is limited. Contact the Bemidji Public Library at 751-3963 to register.

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