Left to right: Gena Pontow, Debbie Sutton-Johnson, Dawn DeBraal and Julie Eger performing “Housewife Blues” in 1987.
A Her-story of Success
March 27, 1987 marked the first creative success for two Wautoma women who went on to be included in “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020.” Housewives at the time. And moms. Who formed a band, well maybe more of a singing group than a band because none of them were professional musicians, but no matter, it was fun. “The Reflections,” (Gena Pontow, Debbie Sutton-Johnson, Dawn DeBraal and Julie Eger) entered a talent contest and performed “Housewife Blues” written by Dawn DeBraal. The group took first place. They ended up becoming a favorite at local venues. Debbie eventually left the group but the others went on to perform for over two years, after adding percussionist Pam Schmude.
Dawn: “I started writing songs at the age of thirteen. Later, people paid me to do “Song-o-Gram’s” for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Julie and I are distantly related through marriage. My second cousins are her nephew and niece. When I moved to the area our friendship was instant. She was a singer, wrote songs and played guitar, our children were close in age. Julie was winning competitions for her writing in the Jade Ring contest for the State of Wisconsin. I loved how she could put words to pages. We would go on weekend retreats and write stories. I still laugh at our fun times. I was able to place as a finalist in the Great America Song Writing Contest, and my song, Make this House a Home, was accepted into the Habitat Humanity International Song Book. When the band folded, we both turned to other things like jobs. I did not find my true writing voice until I retired. I was wintering in Florida with my husband and I knew I needed to do something or one of us was not going to make it through the winter. November of 2018, I submitted a short story and got it published. I have been addicted ever since. To date I have over two hundred published stories in online magazines and nearly fifty anthologies. I was nominated for the 2019 Pushcart Prize, a prestigious writing award, but didn’t win. Julie and I have written a book together, we hope to get someone to see it as the child we produced together!”
Julie: “I went on to create “The Original Voice,” a local venue for all types of artists but it ended up becoming more of an open mic for poets in Wisconsin. The venue ran from 2007 until 2018. During the end of The Original Voice I began to submit stories and poems to online journals, garnering acceptances of my work I never dreamed possible. I won reader’s favorite in the Cadence poetry anthology with my poem “Free Falling Eagles,” and a chance to have a collection published by Clarendon House Publications. I was one of three finalists in The Great Clarendon House Writing Challenge in 2019. Since the beginning of 2018 I have almost 150 published stories to my credit. Then I had an opportunity to co-write a novella with Dawn. It was the most fun, fast and exciting writing I’ve ever done! We are currently considering doing reviews of short stories written by aspiring writers. The writing life is never dull!”
Both Dawn and Julie submitted biographies to “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020” and their bios were accepted to be published by Sweetycat Press. Another success they could add to their resumes’.
Ironically, Dawn and Julie still live within five miles of each other. They keep writing, sometimes together, most times apart, always striving for new successes. The Covid-19 Virus slightly dampened Julie’s writing spirit, but she’s hoping that soon there will be a spark back in the tip of her pen. On the other hand, Dawn’s pen is on fire as words continue to fly onto her pages.
You can connect with Julie at these links:
You can connect with Dawn at these links:
Last Reflection Gig: (Standing) Pam Schumde. From left to right: Gena Pontow, Dawn DeBraal, and Julie Eger