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Collaborative Reflections & Book News By and About Alaskan AuthorsAndromeda Romano-Laxhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16988887975016816552noreply@blogger.comBlogger1889125
Updated: 12 hours 25 min ago

Round Up of News and Events

14 hours 36 min ago
Ready to revise part or all of your novel or memoir? We have a good group of 6-7 people ready to start the Revision Intensive class on April 4, and there's space for a couple more. Andromeda Romano-Lax is teaching this 6-week, asynchronous class with workshopping and mini-lessons in revision specifics like openings, scene structure, dialogue, perfect paragraphs (diction, syntax) and more.

Also starting on April 4 is Larry Weiss's Historical Research Sources class in Anchorage. Get the low-down on fleshing out your stories with vivid and accurate details.
Register for classes at 49 Writers.

 Happy Writing!
Morgan

EVENTS IN ANCHORAGE49 Writers Classes. Find full information on the 49 Writers website.
  • Historical Research Sources for Writers with Lawrence Weiss, April 4, 9-12pm.Explore online and local sources for historical research of narrative material and images. The focus will be on Alaska materials, but many of the resources are national in scope. We will review national newspaper archives, UAA and State of Alaska historical holdings, federal holdings, community museums and historical societies, interview techniques, and other sources for historical material for writers. Our priority will be free and low-cost resources. 
  • How to Publish Your Book on Kindle with Lawrence Weiss, April 18, 9-12pm. A practical review of how to format a book for publishing on Kindle, how to submit the book for publication, and how to monitor the book once published. We'll start with a brief overview of the world of electronic publishing. We will also discuss how to format for Smashwords and how to submit. Smashwords is kind of a "middleman" broker that then gets your book onto itunes, Barnes and Noble, and several other sites world-wide. Finally, we will spend a little time discussing marketing your ebook. 
  • Writing in 360 Degrees with Don Rearden, April 23, 6-9pm. No one lives in a setting, a life doesn't happen in a setting. Learn how to advance your fiction andn non-fiction to the next level by giving your writing a 360 degree transformation. In this workshop you'll be guided through a series of fun writing prompts that will help you understand and see the world your characters live in a new light. Learn how to craft complex and detailed environments and watch your characters come to life within their new realm of existence.
Events at the UAA Bookstore
  • April 8, 5-7pm. Gretchen T. Bersch and Carole Lund present No Small Lives: Handbook of North American Early Women Adult Educators, 1925-1950.
  • April 14, 5-7pm. Linda Dunegan, author of The Price of Whistleblowing and one of the highest ranking female officers in the Alaska Air National Guard, presents Scandal of the Military. 
  • April 15, 5-7pm. UAA Undergraduate English Students: Reading and Writings
All UAA Campus Bookstore events are informal, free and open to the public.

49 Writers & Great Harvest Bread Co. invite you to the SAVOR THE RISING WORDS Poetry Reading in Honor of National Poetry Month. Thursday, April 16, 7-8:30pm. Great Harvest Bread Co. 570 East Benson Blvd. Poets and artists from across Alaska have submitted original works to the Savor the Rising Words Poetry Broadside Invitational Exhibit on display at Great Harvest through April. Come enjoy this unique opportunity to view the broadsides on display and hear the poets read their work. Broadsides will be available for purchase.
Author Visit at Loussac: Live via SatelliteJoin Susan Jane Gilman live via OWL! Gilman is the author of Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a Smart Mouth Goddess, Hypocrite in a White Pouffy Dress, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, and The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. She'll be speaking about her writing process, the jump from non-fiction to fiction, and more! Thursday, April 16th at 7pm in the Public Conference Room (1st floor) at Loussac. For more information contact Stacia at mcgourtysa@muni.org.

Poetry Parley: Join Dorothy Parker & Friends for "A Night at the Algonquin."
Thursday, April 16th, 6:30-9pm, at the Hugi-Lewis Studio (1800 W. Northern Lights Blvd.), Time Travel Literary Club will join forces with Poetry Parley to celebrate the iconic wits and wisecrackers associated with 1920s and the Algonquin Round Table. FREE! A red-carpet limousine arrival in a vintage Bentley will start our evening. Performance of an excerpt from "Park/Bench," a play by Jocelyn Paine, introduces Dorothy Parker and her dear friend, Robert Benchley. Appearances by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edmond Wilson, Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, Amy Lowell and others, reading selections from their works will cap the party. Dress in period costume if you wish—or not. Just share your favorite Algonquin writer and come for the fun! They are looking for a few volunteers to play these characters. Contact poetryparley@gmail.com for more info.

Beyond the Stacks fundraiser at Loussac Library
The Friends of the Library is looking for authors to be VIP waiters for our annual Beyond The Stacks fundraiser on April 17, 2015. Contact Anna Breuninger (907-301-1233).
Crosscurrents: Alaska Writer Laureate Frank Soos and panelists Eva Saulitis, Susanna Mishler, and David Stevenson. A wide ranging discussion about how writers present themselves on the page in poetry and essay, as opposed to the people they may be in the rest of their lives. Wednesday, April 29, 7pm at the Anchorage Museum.

EVENTS AROUND ALASKAONLINE CLASSESRevision Intensive with Andromeda Romano-Lax. Sunday, April 5–Saturday, May 16.Online, asynchronous. Register here.

SOUTHCENTRAL, MAT-SU, KENAI PENINSULADon't forget to register for Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, June 12-16. 2015’s keynote speaker is Andre Dubus III, and there are a host of amazing writers on the faculty this year (as there are every year). This year's post-conference workshop at Tutka Bay Lodge, Finding the Geography of Our Work, will be led by 2014 Kingsley Tufts Award winner Afaa Weaver, June 16-18,

SOUTHEASTThe UAS Alumni and Development office is bringing Denali’s Howl author Andy Hall (getting great reviews on Amazon) for a Sound and Motion presentation at the Egan Library as part of their 25th Anniversary Celebration, Friday, March 27 at 7pm.

Woosh Kinaadeiyí Open Mic and Poetry Slam to feature the Legendary Black Ice
Woosh Kinaadeiyí will host this month’s open mic and poetry slam on Friday, March 27th at 6:30pm at Suite 907, located above Donna’s Restaurant. There will be a special appearance by the Legendary Black Ice, a Tony, Peabody, and Emmy Award winning spoken word poet visiting from Atlanta, Georgia. The winner of the slam will have the honor of opening for the Legendary Black Ice’s feature performance on Saturday at 9pm, along with hip hop artist John Crown of Tacoma.
Both events are open to the public, and poets of all ages and abilities are encouraged to perform. Sign up to read at 6pm. Anyone under 21 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. There is no charge Friday night. Saturday’s entry fee is $10.00 per person to contribute to travel expenses.  Literary Happy Hour: a new monthly event in Juneau. Sunday, April 26, 4:30-6pm, Coho's, 51 Egan Drive. Free - No Host Bar. Readings by Libby Bakalar (author of the Juneau-based blog One Hot Mess) and Geoff Kirsch (Juneau Empire columnist and humorist).  These two writers (who happened to be married) are truly funny!  Check out their work by clicking on their names. See you at Coho's!  
INTERIORScholar and fiction writer Rob Davidson will visit UAF as part of the Midnight Sun Visiting Writer's Series. Davidson is the author of three books--two collections of stories and one collection of literary criticism--and has been awarded a Camber Press Fiction Award, judged by Ron Carlson; an AWP Intro Journals Project Award; and two Pushcart Prize nominations. He will be reading from his work on Friday, March 27 at 7pm in Murie Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. For more information contact emparker2@alaska.edu.


OPPORTUNITIES FOR WRITERSPUBLICATION & PRODUCTION
Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize Accepting Submissions: We think of creative nonfiction as flexible, fluid, and expansive, and so we’re looking for essays—lyrical, graphic, familiar, humorous, personal, environmental, travel—that are exploratory, innovative, self-interrogative, meditative, whimsical...in short, work that knocks our socks off. The 2015 judge is Kate Carroll de Gutes, whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review, Pank, Gertrude, Fourth Genre, and other publications. The winning author receives: $1,000 and publication in an upcoming issue. $20 per entry, up to 6,000 words. Reading period has been extended to March 31; entries must be postmarked by March 31. Send submissions to: Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize, 434 Farm Lane, Rm. 235, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1033. Detailed submission guidelines available at www.msupress.org/journals/fg

2015 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) Artist Fellowship. Deadline: April 6, 2015, 5pm PST. The coveted NACF national award includes support ranging up to $20,000 per artist. Awards will be made in six artistic disciplines, including: performing arts, filmmaking, literature, music, traditional arts and visual arts. To apply, artists who are members of federally and state-recognized U.S. tribes, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities can review criteria and complete an application at http://your.culturegrants.org. The foundation will announce award recipients in August 2015. For questions and technical support, contact Program Officer Andre Bouchardat andre@nativeartsandcultures.org or (360) 314-2421.

Call for Submissions: Brandish, a collection of essential writing about life and work in rural Alaska. Projected publication, Summer 2016.Submit your writing of Rural Alaska: memoir, poetry, essay, social commentary, bright ideas, and system critique, (and if you can't say it straight), try fiction, to: wild.blue.darling@gmail.com

CONTESTS & GRANTSNarrative MagazineWinter 2015 Story Contest is open to all fiction and nonfiction writers. We’re looking for short shorts, short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary nonfiction, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction. Entries must be previously unpublished, no longer than 15,000 words, and must not have been previously chosen as a winner, finalist, or honorable mention in another contest. Deadline: Tuesday, March 31, at midnight, PST. The Winter 2015 Story Contest is open to all writers, and all entries will be considered for publication. $2,500 First Prize; $1,000 Second Prize; $500 Third Prize; Ten finalists receive $100 each. See the Guidelines. Read prior winners, and view recent awards won by Narrative authors.
2015 Public Invitation for a Poem in Place: For the third and final project year, Poems in Place 2015 seeks one poem to place in Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park in Kodiak, and one poem forCaines Head State Recreation Area in SewardSubmission deadline: April 1.

Win $500 to Attend a Writer's Conference, Festival, Center, Retreat, or Residency. AWP offers three scholarships of $500 each to emerging writers who wish to attend a writers' conference, center, retreat, festival, or residency. Enter via Submittable by March 30, 2015 deadline.

2015 AWG & SCBWI Annual Writer’s Conference, September 19-20, Anchorage. Two solid days of breakout sessions, keynotes, and panels, plus optional manuscript critiques and workshops. Early registration starts May 2015. www.AlaskaWritersGuild.com
CONFERENCES, RETREATS & RESIDENCIESKachemak Bay Writers' Conference, Homer, AK, June 12-16, 2015: keynote speaker is Andre Dubus III, and there are a host of amazing writers on the faculty this year (as there are every year). This year's post-conference workshop at Tutka Bay Lodge, Finding the Geography of Our Work, will be led by 2014 Kingsley Tufts Award winner Afaa Weaver, June 16-18.
The Sitka Fellows Program, which awards six residency fellowships to the most promising national and international applicants under the age of 30. Did you know that an Alaskan has never participated in this terrific program? Applications are strongly encouraged from Alaskans, so if you or someone you know is a visionary thinker under 30, please apply! The deadline is March 29th. As posted on their web site: The Sitka Fellows Program brings together some of the most exciting, promising talent across all fields and disciplines to spend a summer residency at the Sheldon Jackson Campus in Sitka, Alaska. We look for visionaries of all stripes: frame-busting, independent thinkers who wish to immerse themselves in their work alongside smart, enthusiastic young people from radically different backgrounds. Residents will live for seven weeks on Sitka's 137-year old Sheldon Jackson Campus, a National Historic Landmark. Residents receive studio and research space, food, and a community environment in which they can interact with each other as well as with Sitkans. In sum, residents will be free to dedicate themselves to their work and their ideas. This year's residency will run from July 15-August 30. To learn more and apply, go to:http://www.iialaska.org/programs/sitkafellows

Going to AWP in Minneapolis? Please make room in your schedule for an exciting reading. On Thursday, April 9 at 5pm, The Great Land: Alaskan Writers & Presses, offsite reading, featuring Linda Martin, Jeremy Pataky, Adam Tavel, Sherry Simpson, Eva Saulitis, David Stevenson, and Deb Vanasse. At the Minneapolis Community & Technical College on 1501 Hennepin Avenue, Room L3000. Free and open to the public. What a great way to start your AWP off with a flourish. Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference: Minneapolis, April 8-11. Imagine 12,000 writers in one place!

North Words Writers Symposium, May 27-30, Skagway. Keynote speaker is Mary Roach, plus a bevvy of Alaska's best authors. North Words Symposium offers a unique opportunity for writers to nurture interrelationships with other writers and thinkers in a spectacular place. They aspire to build upon a tradition of literature that reflects language and life on the frontier.

Categories: Arts & Culture

From the Archives: Deb Vanasse on Rhythm and Solitude

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 7:14am
Rhythm and SolitudeTo me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make.  ~Truman Capote, McCall's, November 1967
Christmas Eve, one hundred miles from Anchorage, silent and still, a crisp, clear night pillowed with two feet of fresh snow, lit by a small string of lights hung on a small spruce tree.  Blissful, radiant quiet broken only by hooting of horned owls, calling one to the other.  We are the only ones here.  The only people around for miles.
Out of the darkness my friend hears a human voice, sharp and close and clear.  A little girl, calling “Mommy.”  Later we’re told an unmarked grave lies on a neighboring lot.  A little girl, five years old.
I don’t know about ghosts.  But I know about solitude.  A spirit, a child, alone on a wintery holiday eve, calling for her mother - this doesn’t seem so far-fetched, knowing we’re hard-wired for companionship, perhaps even from beyond the grave.
In her essay “Telling is Listening,” Ursula LeGuin points out that in preliterate societies, stories are communal, a way of connecting.  Audience is central.  Rhythm, in particular, is relied on not only to help the tellers recount long narratives, but also to bind the audience with the storyteller.  She applies a concept of physics, entrainment, which she calls a “beautiful, economical laziness” to explain how things that are physically close tend to lock in and pulse at the same intervals, as the audience and the teller will do through a story.
Perhaps that explains our ghost, pulsing on a crisp, cold evening.  It also explains how writers connect with their readers, through beats of language, through rhythm and repetition and silence.
I am not a café writer.  I do my best work in solitude.  I expect those who write best in cafes and other lively places enjoy a strong ability to resist entrainment, or perhaps even better, the ability to riff off it.  I cannot, I confess, even write with classical music in the background, despite research that points to the Mozart effect , the idea that certain classical beats stimulate activity in the creative parts of the brain.  The rhythms in the music butt up against the rhythms in my head, and I get nowhere.
Other research suggests that rhythmic activities like walking and ironing have a similar positive effect on creativity, which is why on a long walk, a fresh approach to a scene or a character will often reveal itself even when I’m not consciously puzzling over my work.  The reason, scientists say, is that repetitive motion occupies a dominant left brain so the more creative right half can push insights forward.   I like this, since walking and ironing can be done alone.  
No matter how you work best, it’s useful to consider how rhythm connects us with readers.  As scenes find their place on the page, I become a slave to sound, arranging and rearranging for maximum effect.  I used to believe this was a problem, slowing me down and turning my focus from larger, more important considerations like character and plot.  But I can’t help it.  For me, rhythm is the pulse of the story.  LeGuin would say it’s how I connect to an audience I can’t see.
Here’s how Virginia Woolf explains it in a letter to Vita Sackville-West (1926):
“As for the mot juste, you are quite wrong.  Style is a very simple matter: it is all rhythm.  Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words.  But on the other hand here am I sitting after half the morning, crammed with ideas, and visions, and so on, and can’t dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm.  Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words.  A sigh, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it; and in writing (such is my present belief) one has to recapture this, and set this working (which has nothing apparently to do with words) and then, as it breaks and tumbles in the mind, it makes words to fit it.”
What could be more personal, more mysterious, more profound than this wave in the mind?  No wonder some of us require solitude to recapture it.  
Though if that all seems too weighty, you should know Woolf also added, “No doubt I shall think differently next year.”  
Mysterious, indeed.
Try This:  Settle into your favorite setting, communal or solitary.  Starting with either a scene in rough form or a promising piece from your journal, play with the same material by writing first in staccato rhythm (sentence fragments work well) and then in a long, complex sentence that undulates with its own rhythm.  Don’t be rigid; if the rhythm leads you in another direction, go with it.  Let it be a door to discovery.  
Check This Out:  Ursula LeGuin,  The Wave in the Mind,  titled from Woolf’s lines quoted in the epigraph.  A prolific and versatile writer, LeGuin is smart and savvy without pretension.  In this eclectic collection of talks and essays on writing, reading, and the imagination, LeGuin also touches on issues of gender, beauty, and anthropology.  A joy to read and contemplate.
Deb's "Self-Made Writer" posts are also archived at www.selfmadewriter.blogspot.com.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Kaylene Johnson: Writing Through Writer’s Block

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 5:44am

As a cub reporter right out of high school, my first newspaper editor threatened to tear up my notebook if I did not compose directly from my scribbled notes to the computer. No second drafts. Just get the story done by deadline. I soon came to love that fast-paced, adrenaline rush of getting a breaking story on the front page by the next morning’s paper. Twenty-something years later when I finished my undergraduate degree at Vermont College, it was hard to break the habit of racing to the finish line. However, my first faculty mentor, Matthew Goodman, was as exacting as that newspaper editor. Except for one thing. He absolutely insisted that his students take the time to write about the process of writing itself.  At first I resisted - it seemed like a waste of time. Here’s how it worked:  As I sat with a blank page (screen) in front of me, struggling to carefully craft that perfect first sentence to convey a thought in the most elegant language possible, I had another page (computer document) nearby. On this second page, I wrote to Matthew what it was that I intended to write or what I struggled with as I wrote it. Let’s say the essay was about carrying a gun in Alaska. I wrote to Matthew that I wanted to write about my ambivalence of carrying a firearm and how it changed over time. I wrote about how it bothered me that bears had teeth and claws and how moose had hooves to protect their young but I pretty much had nothing. So when my sons were little, I took a gun along on our adventures in Alaska’s backcountry, even though the weight of it felt ominous in my pack. The next thing I knew, I had written entire passages in my letter to Matthew – passages that I could lift, place and revise on the blank pages that still awaited that elusive, perfect first sentence.It is like writing a letter to your best reader. “Let me tell you about …”  In that letter you  get all the literary throat clearing out of the way and then somewhere around paragraph three or maybe page four, you find the beginning of the piece. Writing about the writing can be a way to break up a mental log-jam, beginning with describing “Here’s the problem …” or “I’m just not understanding …” It can also be a reflection on not knowing what to write next. “Just what am I supposed to do with these unruly characters anyway?”The exercise is not the place for literary prowess – just a place to get the fingers moving and the mind in gear. Pour out the work’s frustrations and fears and challenges. This process led me to some unexpected surprises in my writing. Most of all it slowed me down to really think and dig deep.Writing about writing was so fascinating that I continued on to Spalding University’s MFA in Writing program where this process was examined and refined even further. Several outstanding faculty mentors offered that same experience of having a “best reader” to be supportive while still demanding that I slow down and go deeper. To this day, my former mentors are the readers I imagine as I attempt to get unstuck in some writing challenge. I hardly need to send the email or letter – just the writing helps clear the way. He doesn’t know it, but Matthew is often still my best audience when I write. He’s completely unlike me – male, Jewish, a city-dweller from New York – but he is curious and sympathetic and interested in my world. And he is exacting in a good way. He refuses sloppy story telling. He wants DETAILS. So I tell him about it and just by “listening,” he helps me find connections and complexities.  And he helps me to lighten up. Have some fun. [Along with Matthew and other fine mentors at Spalding, I’d like to thank Luke Wallin who recently worked, not as an imaginary reader, but as a real and fine editor while I worked on Our Perfect Wild: Ray and Barbara Bane’s Journeys in the Fate of the Wild North (University of Alaska Press, Spring 2016). This faculty mentor from Spalding offered exceptional support as we exchanged emails over the project. Many thanks Luke!]

Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan is the author of Canyons and Ice: The Wilderness Travels of Dick Griffith, the memoir A Tender Distance, and other books about Alaska and the people who live here. Her award-winning essays and articles have appeared in The Louisville Review, the Los Angeles Times, Alaska magazine and other publications. She and her husband, dogs, and horses live in Eagle River, Alaska. 
Categories: Arts & Culture

From the Archives: Your Book Marketing Plan

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 5:00am

For artists, the great problem to solve is how to get oneself noticed.~Balzac
Once upon a time there was an easy order to the business of writing: create, pitch, publish, promote. A writer’s creative energy went mostly into her work, and the rest followed from there.
That everything’s different is old news. Your work no longer stands only on its own two feet. It requires a platform, or so goes the twenty-first century wisdom. Agents and editors urge writers to promote early and often, even if they’re still working on their first viable project.
To get your work noticed in the topsy-turvy world of modern publishing requires fortitude, courage, and a broad-minded approach. “Schmoozing, pitching, that’s your job,” says screenwriter Scott Silver. Though he admits some people are good only at schmoozing, he also points out that it’s juvenile to think that if your work is good enough, you’ll never have to promote.  Nevertheless, he reiterates, the work matters most.  
“I’ve been a Luddite most of my life,” says author Lynn Schooler. “Then they overthrew the government in Twitter, and I realized I’d better start paying attention.” These days, Schooler notes, writers have to schmooze the world, not just a person.
Though he self-describes as a bit of a recluse and until recently had only dial-up internet service, Schooler has managed to amass over 3000 Facebook friends in less than two years by applying an old principle of marketing – offering a value-added service by regularly posting scenic Alaska photos from his professional portfolio.
Author Heather Lende contends that self-promotion boils down to doing the work and showing genuine interest in the people around you. In the beginning, you might find yourself working for free, the way Lende did. Though she initially volunteered to do radio shows in Haines, she looked up a few people at NPR and mailed tapes of her shows to them.
She got her first paying gig as a writer on Monitor Radio, thanks to her husband’s Aunt Dottie, who passed on a tape of one of her radio pieces to the executive producer of Monitor Radio, who went to her church. Once she started writing a column for the Anchorage Daily News, NPR picked up Lende’s work. Whenever she called back East, Lende says, “I always asked who I was speaking to.” Editors come and go, but receptionists stay.
Author Kim Heacox echoes Lende’s advice, recalling an early meeting with an editor at Discover magazine. When he asked how she’d gotten her job, he said, “she was like a flower I’d just watered.” The interview turned into a conversation. A few months later, assignments started flowing in. In the world of what Heacox calls “You Twit Face,” he reminds writers to promote the work of others in the writing community. His cautionary note: “Be careful you don’t turn into a cardboard version of your original self.”
Should you blog? Post about your project on Facebook? Make book trailers? Schedule tours? Talk up yourself and your project every chance you get? The answers boil down to time, energy, and balance in your writing life. You need a viable project, finely crafted, though as Andromeda Romano-Lax demonstrates, it can be promoted in its development stage. Pay attention to opportunities to connect, in person and electronically, with people who might have an interest in your work. Be genuine and sincere in working your connections. Be courteous but not shy. Avoid arrogance. Get used to rejection. Support and promote the work of others, not just your own.
Thanks to North WordsWriters Symposium for providing a forum for discussion of this topic, from which many of the quotes here were drawn.
Try This: Writing’s an art, but it’s also a business. Do you have a business plan? Think in one, three, and five year increments. Jot down where you hope to be as a writer: what you hope to create and sell. Which smaller markets, even non-paying, are accessible to you? Which communities will help you grow as a writer? Which conferences, symposiums, and other writing events will help you build a network of professional connections? Who among you existing friends, colleagues, and family could be your Aunt Dottie, sharing your well-crafted work with the right people?
Check This Out: For the basics of promotion in the traditional, pre-electronic marketplace, check out Mark Ortman’s A Simple Guide to Marketing Your Book, where you’ll learn to develop a marketing plan with attention to budget, product, audience, distribution, promotion, and timing. But don’t stop there. Your writing community (online, face to face) can help you stay up-to-date on electronic promotion.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Ben Armentrout: New 49 Writers Blog Coordinator

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 5:23am



Today is my first official day as blog coordinator for 49 Writers.  It strikes me, reading the pages of this blog, that writing is a vulnerable activity.  In a time when perfection is so easy through the use of the technology, writing is a voice that maintains its human frailty.  If it did not, it would not be art.  I am honored and excited to join you who have been sharing your writing here.
This blog is a connection between writers.  Writing between artists of the written word is special, just as music played by one musician for another is special, or a painting rendered for painters’ eyes is special.  You who have written and read these posts have been sharing your art in its uninhibited medium.  It fills me with joy to join you.

I am a student in the MFA program at UAA.  I teach science.  I am married and I have two little boys.  I’ve lived in Alaska for twelve years.  I have a writing desk surrounded by bookshelves I built with my father.  I never write at my desk because it is in my bedroom and I write in the morning while my family sleeps.  I go up and sit on the couch in a dark living room to write.  I don’t know if those things are important in a blog coordinator.  That’s me.

This blog scares me a little because Deb has built it into such a fine community and I want to work up to the expectation of this community.  I looked back to the first post of this blog.  Deb started that post, “Amazing writers live in Alaska.”  The blog goes on to show that through the work posted by those amazing writers.  I look forward to corresponding with you, amazing writers of Alaska.  Thank you all for bearing with me while I make mistakes and please, please submit posts to me.  I have a big schedule to fill and I am filled with human frailty.

Thanks for reading.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Round Up of News & Events

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 7:00am
Last chance! Submission deadline for Savor the Rising Words Poetry Broadside Invitational in honor of National Poetry Month is today, March 20.

We've got two workshops in Juneau next week. On Tuesday, Jeremy Pataky will lead a Reader's Approach to Poetry. Thursday, Andy Hall will share insights from his long career as a writer and editor in Writing for the Nonfiction Market. 
In Anchorage, check out local writers discussing their works in progress at the UAA Bookstore this afternoon at 4pm. 
And Alyse Knorr will read love poetry and discuss the impact of place in the lyric love poem at Great Harvest Bread on Thursday, March 26.

Happy Writing!
Morgan

EVENTS IN ANCHORAGEAlyse Knorr Reading and Craft Talk: Locating Loving: the Impact of Place on the Lyric Love Poem. Great Harvest Bread Co., Thursday, March 26, 7-8:30pm. Free event.
UAA Bookstore events in March. All events at the UAA Campus Bookstore. There are many more events on a wide variety of topics at the bookstore: Click here for details.
  • March 20, 4-6pm: Local Writers Discuss their Works in Progress with Lizzie Newell, Mel Green, Jessica Ramsey Golden, Sheila Sine, Deb Ginsburg 
  • March 23, 5-7 Alyse Knorr and Kate Partridge present Time Travel Poetry 
49 Writers Classes. Find full information on the 49 Writers website.
  • Historical Research Sources for Writers with Lawrence Weiss, April 4, 9-12pm.Explore online and local sources for historical research of narrative material and images. The focus will be on Alaska materials, but many of the resources are national in scope. We will review national newspaper archives, UAA and State of Alaska historical holdings, federal holdings, community museums and historical societies, interview techniques, and other sources for historical material for writers. Our priority will be free and low-cost resources. 
  • How to Publish Your Book on Kindle with Lawrence Weiss, April 18, 9-12pm. A practical review of how to format a book for publishing on Kindle, how to submit the book for publication, and how to monitor the book once published. We'll start with a brief overview of the world of electronic publishing. We will also discuss how to format for Smashwords and how to submit. Smashwords is kind of a "middleman" broker that then gets your book onto itunes, Barnes and Noble, and several other sites world-wide. Finally, we will spend a little time discussing marketing your ebook. 
  • Writing in 360 Degrees with Don Rearden, April 23, 6-9pm. No one lives in a setting, a life doesn't happen in a setting. Learn how to advance your fiction andn non-fiction to the next level by giving your writing a 360 degree transformation. In this workshop you'll be guided through a series of fun writing prompts that will help you understand and see the world your characters live in a new light. Learn how to craft complex and detailed environments and watch your characters come to life within their new realm of existence.

EVENTS AROUND ALASKAONLINE CLASSESRevision Intensive with Andromeda Romano-Lax. Sunday, April 5–Saturday, May 16.Online, asynchronous. Register here.

SOUTHCENTRAL, MAT-SU, KENAI PENINSULADon't forget to register for Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, June 12-16. 2015’s keynote speaker is Andre Dubus III, and there are a host of amazing writers on the faculty this year (as there are every year). This year's post-conference workshop at Tutka Bay Lodge, Finding the Geography of Our Work, will be led by 2014 Kingsley Tufts Award winner Afaa Weaver, June 16-18
SOUTHEASTJeremy Pataky Book Tour to celebrate publication of his poetry book Overwinter. 
  • Haines Borough Public Library, March 20, 6:30pm. Reception followed by Reading in the Round and Book Signing. Free. 
  • Skagway Public Library, March 22, 3pm: Craft Talk and Book Signing. Free. 
  • Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, March 24, 6-8pm, Workshop: A Reader's Approach to Poetry. $30 for 49 Writers members/ $35 nonmembers. Register online. “Reading poetry is an adventure in renewal, a creative act, a perpetual beginning, a rebirth of wonder,” says the poet Edward Hirsch. Poems require different reading strategies than other kinds of writing. In this short course, we’ll ask not what poems mean, but how they mean, as that common dictum prescribes. We’ll explore the concept of “slow reading” and consider its power in an increasingly fast-paced world. This reading course is suited for non-writers and writers alike. Anyone with a genuine interest in poetry is encouraged to participate.
Andy Hall will talk about Writing for the Nonfiction Market, including finding a good story topic, identifying a market for your work, and working with editors (who are your friend, even if it doesn't feel that way). Andy was editor of Alaska Magazine for 16 years and is the author of Denali's Howl. Thursday, March 26, 6-9pm. $50 49 Writers members/$60 nonmembers. Register online.
It's a big weekend for the Island Institute! Friday night is our annual spring auction, and on Saturday we'll be celebrating the first 30 years of the Island Institute and the work of Carolyn Servid and Dorik Mechau.
  • Auction & Pizza Party, Friday, March 20th, Centennial Hall, 7-9pm. $15 (or free if you've purchased a ticket to the Saturday night celebration). Featuring live music by Owen and Connor Fulton, lively auctioneers Stefanie Ask and Cassidy Patnoe, and delicious pizza by the Fly In Fish Inn, this event will be a blast. We have loads of amazing items once again this year, and you can see the list of items and donors on the auction page of our website. 
  • Saturday Night Celebration and Retrospective, Saturday, March 21st, Del Shirley Room (Second floor of Allen Hall on SJ Campus), 6-9pm, $40 **MUST RSVP BY FRIDAY!** This Saturday, March 21st, you’re invited to our Retrospective Dinner to honor and congratulate Carolyn Servid and Dorik Mechau on their retirement as directors of the Island Institute. The evening, catered by Ludvigs, will include a look back at 30 years of Island Institute history with talks from speakers Vernita Herdman, Gary Holthaus, David Chrislip, and Don Snow. The evening starts at 6pm on Sheldon Jackson Campus in the Del Shirley Room. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at Old Harbor books or online: http://iialaska.org/retrospective. You can also read some touching letters that past Island Institute program participants have sent in for the occasion at that page. Please note that we only have a few spots remaining, and that we need RSVPs by Friday at 7pm. A ticket to the Saturday event will also gain you free entry to the auction. 

The UAS Alumni and Development office is bringing Denali’s Howl author Andy Hall (getting great reviews on Amazon) for a Sound and Motion presentation at the Egan Library as part of their 25th Anniversary Celebration, Friday, March 27 at 7 PM.
Literary Happy Hour: a new monthly event in Juneau. Sunday, April 5, 4:30-6pm, Coho's, 51 Egan Drive. Free - No Host Bar. Readings by Libby Bakalar (author of the Juneau-based blog One Hot Mess) and Geoff Kirsch (Juneau Empire columnist and humorist).  These two writers (who happened to be married) are truly funny!  Check out their work by clicking on their names. See you at Coho's!  
OPPORTUNITIES FOR WRITERSPUBLICATION & PRODUCTIONSavor the Rising Words: Poetry Broadside Invitational in honor of National Poetry Month, April 2015. Submit poetry broadsides for display at Great Harvest Bread Co. throughout the month of April 2015 in honor of National Poetry Month. Featured poets will be encouraged to read their works during a public event at the bakery at a date and time to be determined. Broadsides in the exhibit will be available for sale and proceeds will be donated to 49 Writers; those not sold will be retained by 49 Writers for future displays or events. Submission deadline: March 20. Click here for full details.
Cirque was founded to give writers (and artists) of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest more places to publish their work – and as a vehicle to bring the best writing of the region to the world. The next Cirque deadline: March 21st (the equinox). The submission address is cirque.submits@gmail.com.

Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize Accepting Submissions: We think of creative nonfiction as flexible, fluid, and expansive, and so we’re looking for essays—lyrical, graphic, familiar, humorous, personal, environmental, travel—that are exploratory, innovative, self-interrogative, meditative, whimsical...in short, work that knocks our socks off. The 2015 judge is Kate Carroll de Gutes, whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review, Pank, Gertrude, Fourth Genre, and other publications. The winning author receives: $1,000 and publication in an upcoming issue. $20 per entry, up to 6,000 words. Reading period has been extended to March 31; entries must be postmarked by March 31. Send submissions to: Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize, 434 Farm Lane, Rm. 235, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1033. Detailed submission guidelines available at www.msupress.org/journals/fg

2015 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) Artist Fellowship. Deadline: April 6, 2015, 5 pm PST. The coveted NACF national award includes support ranging up to $20,000 per artist. Awards will be made in six artistic disciplines, including: performing arts, filmmaking, literature, music, traditional arts and visual arts. To apply, artists who are members of federally and state-recognized U.S. tribes, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities can review criteria and complete an application at http://your.culturegrants.org. The foundation will announce award recipients in August 2015. For questions and technical support, contact Program Officer Andre Bouchardat andre@nativeartsandcultures.org or (360) 314-2421.

Call for Submissions: Brandish, a collection of essential writing about life and work in rural Alaska. Projected publication, Summer 2016.Submit your writing of Rural Alaska: memoir, poetry, essay, social commentary, bright ideas, and system critique, (and if you can't say it straight), try fiction, to: wild.blue.darling@gmail.com

CONTESTS & GRANTSNarrative Magazine: Winter 2015 Story Contest is open to all fiction and nonfiction writers. We’re looking for short shorts, short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary nonfiction, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction. Entries must be previously unpublished, no longer than 15,000 words, and must not have been previously chosen as a winner, finalist, or honorable mention in another contest. FINAL TWO WEEKS. Deadline: Tuesday, March 31, at midnight, PST. The Winter 2015 Story Contest is open to all writers, and all entries will be considered for publication. $2,500 First Prize; $1,000 Second Prize; $500 Third Prize; Ten finalists receive $100 each. See the Guidelines. Read prior winners, and view recent awards won by Narrative authors.
2015 Public Invitation for a Poem in Place: For the third and final project year, Poems in Place 2015 seeks one poem to place in Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park in Kodiak, and one poem forCaines Head State Recreation Area in Seward. Submission deadline: April 1.

Win $500 to Attend a Writer's Conference, Festival, Center, Retreat, or Residency. AWP offers three scholarships of $500 each to emerging writers who wish to attend a writers' conference, center, retreat, festival, or residency. Enter via Submittable by March 30, 2015 deadline.

CONFERENCES, RETREATS & RESIDENCIESKachemak Bay Writers' Conference, Homer, AK, June 12-16, 2015: keynote speaker is Andre Dubus III, and there are a host of amazing writers on the faculty this year (as there are every year). This year's post-conference workshop at Tutka Bay Lodge, Finding the Geography of Our Work, will be led by 2014 Kingsley Tufts Award winner Afaa Weaver, June 16-18.
The Sitka Fellows Program, which awards six residency fellowships to the most promising national and international applicants under the age of 30. Did you know that an Alaskan has never participated in this terrific program? Applications are strongly encouraged from Alaskans, so if you or someone you know is a visionary thinker under 30, please apply! The deadline is March 29th. As posted on their web site: The Sitka Fellows Program brings together some of the most exciting, promising talent across all fields and disciplines to spend a summer residency at the Sheldon Jackson Campus in Sitka, Alaska. We look for visionaries of all stripes: frame-busting, independent thinkers who wish to immerse themselves in their work alongside smart, enthusiastic young people from radically different backgrounds. Residents will live for seven weeks on Sitka's 137-year old Sheldon Jackson Campus, a National Historic Landmark. Residents receive studio and research space, food, and a community environment in which they can interact with each other as well as with Sitkans. In sum, residents will be free to dedicate themselves to their work and their ideas. This year's residency will run from July 15-August 30. To learn more and apply, go to:http://www.iialaska.org/programs/sitkafellows

Going to AWP in Minneapolis? Please make room in your schedule for an exciting reading. On Thursday, April 9 at 5pm, The Great Land: Alaskan Writers & Presses, offsite reading, featuring Linda Martin, Jeremy Pataky, Adam Tavel, Sherry Simpson, Eva Saulitis, David Stevenson, and Deb Vanasse. At the Minneapolis Community & Technical College on 1501 Hennepin Avenue, Room L3000. Free and open to the public. What a great way to start your AWP off with a flourish. Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference: Minneapolis, April 8-11. Imagine 12,000 writers in one place!

North Words Writers Symposium, May 27-30, Skagway. Keynote speaker is Mary Roach, plus a bevvy of Alaska's best authors. North Words Symposium offers a unique opportunity for writers to nurture interrelationships with other writers and thinkers in a spectacular place. They aspire to build upon a tradition of literature that reflects language and life on the frontier.

Categories: Arts & Culture

Jeremy Pataky: 30 Years Later—An Island Institute Retrospective

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 5:00am
I watched the ferry chug off toward Alaska every week from Bellingham, Washington while I was in college. I loved northwestern Washington, and the proximity of the Canadian border twenty miles up the road. Every time I watched that blue ferry leave, though, magnetic bits inside me pulled for points north. 
I’d studied the maps, and read, and plotted that course north since I was a kid—I even got a little taste of it a month after I graduated from high school when my girlfriend’s mom surprised me with a last minute offer to take me with them on an Alaska cruise. The context was all wrong to encounter that stretch of coast that I’d wanted to see my whole short life, but I am grateful for the trove of moments that stuck, like watching tidewater glaciers calve in epic fashion, sending surge waves crawling out to rock the ship, or seeing my first breaching humpback. One afternoon while we were surprisingly close to shore in a deep fjord, someone spotted a brown bear on the beach through the window of the piano lounge. The pianist quit playing, jumped up, pulled a pair of binoculars out of his bench, and ran outside to watch the animal, all of us close behind. A funny spectacle, especially for a 17 year old kid from Idaho fresh out of high school who didn’t imagine that he’d be back there five years later on his own little boat, gathering the beginnings of an indelible, transfixing sense of place.     
The cruise piqued—but certainly didn’t satisfy—my interest in Alaska. Two years later and a quarter mile from the ferry terminal in Bellingham, a particular volume in Village Books surfaced like a clue indicating much that I would come to care about in due time. It was From the Island's Edge: A Sitka Reader, edited by Carolyn Servid and published by Graywolf Press (1995).  
Carolyn ServidThe anthology collects work from the first decade of Sitka Symposium faculty members—poets, philosophers, novelists, naturalists, anthropologists, linguists, and others who “juxtapose aspects of the human experience that are seldom considered in relationship: the poetic imagination and the reasoned argument, and ultimately, the public shape of our private lives.” I would spend years reading the books of writers I found there: John Haines, Robert Hass, William Kittredge, Barry Lopez, Richard Nelson, Paul Shepard, Terry Tempest Williams, and others, including John Luther Adams. 
Eventually, Alaska became my home, though I landed further north—and further from the sea—than I once imagined. It’s been story, though—from books, sure, but also from friends, coupled with my own story, or experience—that has made place of this most spacious of states. 
Like me and so many of us here in Alaska, Servid came from afar and found home. In her book Of Landscape and Longing, she recounts growing up in a village in India as the child of American medics. Later, America felt ill-fitting and foreign. She writes about wanting and making home, and about displacement from the places that shape us. The book records something of the early intoxications that can come with the kind of subtle and grandiose encounters with wild nature that Alaska dishes up to most everyone who looks and stays.  
Servid’s greatest contribution to literature, though, was founding the Sitka Symposium in 1984 and sustaining it for 25 years. Along with three other Sitkans, she “wanted to explore writing in the context of ideas,” not purely from a craft or technical viewpoint. Servid, along with her partner, Dorik Mechau, developed the program into an expanded, robust organization—the Island Institute. 
Ted Chamberlin, Mike Mechau and Carolyn Servid in 1998
After 30 years at the helm of The Island Institute, founders Servid and Mechau retired recently. The second generation of staff, headed by Executive Director Peter Bradley, a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, is organizing a 30th Anniversary Retrospective event in Sitka on Saturday, March 21st. They will honor the organization’s storied history while reconnecting people across the country who have been involved as participants and faculty over the decades. Featured speakers include David Chrislip, Vernita Herdman, Gary Holthaus, and Don Snow—all addressing different facets of the Institute’s past. 
The program that launched the organization—the Sitka Symposium—was built on the power of language and story as tools that help us understand and discuss the world. Servid identifies threads of relationship between story, place, and community as constants in Symposium discussions over the years. For most of its history, they focused on the long term sustainability of communities, with all the environmental, economic, and political valences inherent in “the work of nurturing sustainable human cultures.” 
When they started, the only other literary efforts in the state were in Fairbanks—they were running Midnight Sun Writers Series, and Servid says there was almost an atmosphere of competition, since they both happened in summer. UAA’s writing program hadn’t started yet, nor Kachemak Bay Writers Conference, 49 Writers or the Tutka Bay Writers Retreat, or NorthWords, or Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop. Many esteemed Alaska writers presently involved across the state were early Symposium participants. Over the years, the Island Institute has also partnered with other organizations and schools throughout the state to pull off major literary initiatives, including the establishment of LitSite Alaska
As communities in Alaska face complex challenges that echo and amplify something of Sitka’s strife in the early 90s when the local mill closed, the Island Institute has deliberately shifted away from a focus on sustainability to resilience. Servid said “sustainability has to do with maintaining a status quo, as opposed to being alive and adaptive to change, thriving in a fluctuating environment, and taking on the challenges that we’re going to be faced with given what climate change is going to throw at us.”  
Though Servid’s achievements over 30 active years warrant more praise than they have received in Alaska, the Symposium has achieved national distinction. More than ninety guest faculty members have included some of the country's finest writers on environmental and community issues as well as important emerging, Native American, and international voices. Poets, fiction and nonfiction writers, folklorists, anthropologists, scientists, teachers, and politicians have all been part of the mix—a deliberate variety to approach each year’s theme from diverse perspectives. Symposium participants—people of varied ages, experiences, and backgrounds—have come from over thirty states and as many Alaska communities. Robert Hass, a two-term U.S. Poet Laureate and faculty member, said the Symposium “is that ideal thing: home grown, community-based, sustained for years now by mostly voluntary and always inspired work, national in reputation, global in its concerns."
The last full-fledged Sitka Symposium was held in June 2009, though a one-off reprise occurred with considerable modifications in 2014 after a five year hiatus. That gathering explored how dominant cultural narratives relate to contemporary challenges. It featured Winona LaDuke, Luis Alberto Urrea, Alan Weisman, and others. 
Even in the wake of its founder’s departure, the Island Institute continues to pursue its mission through diverse programing, including an evolving residency program for writers. Housed for the last few years on the Sheldon Jackson campus, now owned by Alaska Arts Southeast, the organization itself is adapting to a changing economy, a changing literary tableau, and changes in leadership. 
I’ll be back on Southeast water again during the Retrospective event, though I won’t reach Sitka, unfortunately. Still, it will feel fitting to think my way there from the decks of the M/V Aurora and M/V Matanuska ferries traveling between Juneau, Haines, and Skagway. It’s been almost twenty years since the first time I saw that stretch of water, and nearly that long since I discovered Servid’s first anthology in a bookstore in Bellingham. Part of my own work in the meantime of figuring out what home is, and how to live in a place and in communities in the context of great change, resonates deeply with the Institute’s core principles. I have seen the Island Institute’s mark—conspicuous and otherwise—throughout Alaska’s literary landscape, and am certain that landscape is stronger for it. I also believe that the Institute’s own resiliency will not only model that ideal but serve as testimony to Servid and Mechau’s vision and efficacy.     


Jeremy Pataky is the author of Overwinter (University of Alaska Press, 2015) and a founding board member of 49 Writers. He earned a BA at Western Washington University and an MFA in poetry at the University of Montana. He divides his time between Anchorage and McCarthy, Alaska, and works as a consultant with an emphasis on arts and culture.   
Categories: Arts & Culture

Kaylene Johnson: A Perfect Title

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 5:00am
Finding the best title for a book has always been a bit of a puzzle and most book authors I know have stories to tell about how their books were ultimately christened. So how do you come up with three or four words that somehow encapsulate what took some 70,000 to expound in the first place?

One of the first surprises I learned is that the title you begin with is often not the title that that winds up being published. There is the “working title” and then the final title that appears on the book cover. For example, the working title of A Tender Distance was originally This Caribou Season. I chose it because that Alaska fall hunt was an important ritual of my sons’ growing-up years. This was a memoir about their childhood and their “migration” from boyhood to men. To me it seemed perfect. But the editor, Sarah Juday at Alaska Northwest Books, suggested that I reconsider. The book wasn’t really about hunting and the title didn’t convey anything about my sons or our relationships. 

It took months of scribbling on the backs of napkins, dozens of conversations with writer friends, and finally, a mentor friend, Richard Goodman, from Spalding University’s MFA in Writing read the book and said, “This is not a book about your sons. It is a book about you.” 

My Lutheran, Lake Wobegon sensibilities chafed a little at any notion that I was trying to call attention to myself.  This was about my children, not me … but deep down I knew Richard was right.  The book was a memoir about motherhood. And then one evening, in that luminal space between sleep and wakefulness, the words “tender distance” perched in my thoughts. There it was. Those were the words that best conveyed that tension between a mother and her sons as they left their childhoods behind.  

Sarah subsequently helped write a subtitle with “searchable” words for readers looking for a particular kind of book. Adventure. Sons. Alaska. The full title of the book grew into:

A Tender Distance: Adventures Raising My Sons in Alaska.

I went through a similar exercise recently with my forthcoming book (Spring 2016) from the University of Alaska Press. This is a biography of Ray and Barbara Bane whose conservation work in Alaska helped draw the lines on the map of Alaska’s treasured public lands. The working title of the book was Gathering Echoes: The Life and Times of Ray and Barbara Bane. Ray and I talked at length about this title.  It embraced his desire to collect the stories and preserve the old ways of the Native elders whose relationship with the land was reverent and resourceful. 

Again the editor, James Engelhardt at University of Alaska Press, asked us to reconsider. While the working title honored Native elders, it drew no attention to the stories of Ray and Barbara as a team or the formidable fight they undertook to save wild places in Alaska. 

This time I was stumped. Ray and I came up with dozens of possibilities, narrowed them down to two or three and submitted them—only to hear that they still weren’t quite right.  James suggested an exercise: Take some phrases in the book that reflect some of the book’s themes and see if they work; if not, mix them up and see what happens. Here was the list James offered to play with: 
A Boy’s Dream, A Man’s Soul  A World Apart From West Virginia to Arctic Plain  And A Heated Debate Ensued  The Fate of the Wild North  Furthest/Farthest North Park Ranger  A Place Remote and Sacred  Just Add Another Million Acres  I Hate Your Guts  The Feds Can Go To HellTo Save the FrontierLast Chance To Do Things Right the First TimeCaretakerIt Had Been PerfectRay, You Got ProblemsCitizens of the Natural WorldTo Thank the Land
At first glance these phrases by themselves seemed strange. However, by playing with the words, much like playing with the letter tiles in a game of Scrabble, we came up with:

Our Perfect Wild: Ray and Barbara Bane’s Journeys in the Fate of the Far North
The word “Our” holds the concept of Ray and Barbara as a couple; “Perfect” conveys an Eden quality (with the potential of a fall); and “Wild” reflects all that they cherished and tried to preserve.


It was an interesting exercise and I will use it again when the time comes to name a book. As in all revision, the exercise begins with a certain level of letting go—especially when the working title seemed ideal. But as often happens, writing will take on a life of its own and surprise you. 

Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan is the author of Canyons and Ice: The Wilderness Travels of Dick Griffith, the memoir A Tender Distance, and other books about Alaska and the people who live here. Her award-winning essays and articles have appeared in The Louisville Review, the Los Angeles Times, Alaska magazine and other publications. She and her husband, dogs, and horses live in Eagle River, Alaska. 
  
Categories: Arts & Culture

Keylene Johnson: A Perfect Title

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 5:00am
Finding the best title for a book has always been a bit of a puzzle and most book authors I know have stories to tell about how their books were ultimately christened. So how do you come up with three or four words that somehow encapsulate what took some 70,000 to expound in the first place?

One of the first surprises I learned is that the title you begin with is often not the title that that winds up being published. There is the “working title” and then the final title that appears on the book cover. For example, the working title of A Tender Distance was originally This Caribou Season. I chose it because that Alaska fall hunt was an important ritual of my sons’ growing-up years. This was a memoir about their childhood and their “migration” from boyhood to men. To me it seemed perfect. But the editor, Sarah Juday at Alaska Northwest Books, suggested that I reconsider. The book wasn’t really about hunting and the title didn’t convey anything about my sons or our relationships. 

It took months of scribbling on the backs of napkins, dozens of conversations with writer friends, and finally, a mentor friend, Richard Goodman, from Spalding University’s MFA in Writing read the book and said, “This is not a book about your sons. It is a book about you.” 

My Lutheran, Lake Wobegon sensibilities chafed a little at any notion that I was trying to call attention to myself.  This was about my children, not me … but deep down I knew Richard was right.  The book was a memoir about motherhood. And then one evening, in that luminal space between sleep and wakefulness, the words “tender distance” perched in my thoughts. There it was. Those were the words that best conveyed that tension between a mother and her sons as they left their childhoods behind.  

Sarah subsequently helped write a subtitle with “searchable” words for readers looking for a particular kind of book. Adventure. Sons. Alaska. The full title of the book grew into:

A Tender Distance: Adventures Raising My Sons in Alaska. I went through a similar exercise recently with my forthcoming book (Spring 2016) from the University of Alaska Press. This is a biography of Ray and Barbara Bane whose conservation work in Alaska helped draw the lines on the map of Alaska’s treasured public lands. The working title of the book was Gathering Echoes: The Life and Times of Ray and Barbara Bane. Ray and I talked at length about this title.  It embraced his desire to collect the stories and preserve the old ways of the Native elders whose relationship with the land was reverent and resourceful. 

Again the editor, James Englehardt at University of Alaska Press, asked us to reconsider. While the working title honored Native elders, it drew no attention to the stories of Ray and Barbara as a team or the formidable fight they undertook to save wild places in Alaska. 

This time I was stumped. Ray and I came up with dozens of possibilities, narrowed them down to two or three and submitted them—only to hear that they still weren’t quite right.  James suggested an exercise: Take some phrases in the book that reflect some of the book’s themes and see if they work; if not, mix them up and see what happens. Here was the list James offered to play with: 
A Boy’s Dream, A Man’s Soul  A World Apart From West Virginia to Arctic Plain  And A Heated Debate Ensued  The Fate of the Wild North  Furthest/Farthest North Park Ranger  A Place Remote and Sacred  Just Add Another Million Acres  I Hate Your Guts  The Feds Can Go To HellTo Save the FrontierLast Chance To Do Things Right the First TimeCaretakerIt Had Been PerfectRay, You Got ProblemsCitizens of the Natural WorldTo Thank the Land
At first glance these phrases by themselves seemed strange. However, by playing with the words, much like playing with the letter tiles in a game of Scrabble, we came up with:

Our Perfect Wild: Ray and Barbara Bane’s Journeys in the Fate of the Far North
The word “Our” holds the concept of Ray and Barbara as a couple; “Perfect” conveys an Eden quality (with the potential of a fall); and “Wild” reflects all that they cherished and tried to preserve.


It was an interesting exercise and I will use it again when the time comes to name a book. As in all revision, the exercise begins with a certain level of letting go—especially when the working title seemed ideal. But as often happens, writing will take on a life of its own and surprise you. 

Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan is the author of Canyons and Ice: The Wilderness Travels of Dick Griffith, the memoir A Tender Distance, and other books about Alaska and the people who live here. Her award-winning essays and articles have appeared in The Louisville Review, the Los Angeles Times, Alaska magazine and other publications. She and her husband, dogs, and horses live in Eagle River, Alaska. 
  
Categories: Arts & Culture

Lawrence David Weiss: Should I Publish on Kindle or Smashwords?

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 5:00am

If you want to self-publish an ebook, the question, “Should I publish on Kindle or Smashwords?” is an important question. I’ll get to that in a moment, but there is a preceding question of perhaps equal if not more importance, and that is, “Would it be more fun to sit in a bar and toss back a few beers with Jeff Bezos -- founder and CEO of Amazon.com, whose personal wealth is about $35 billion -- or Smashwords Founder Mark Coker, whose entire company is worth a piddly $20 million?”

Amazon.com is the largest internet retailer in the United States. It is a massive conglomerate of companies including shoe and clothing distributors, book imprints and ebooks, newspapers, branded electronics, groceries, warehouses, R&D centers, and much more. The Kindle ebook marketplace is reported to sell two-thirds of all the ebooks sold in the United States (with Apple and Barnes and Noble selling most of the rest.) At the same time Amazon corporate visionaries derogatorily refer to original writing by their authors as “verbiage,” and Amazon seems to be pursuing various strategies to reduce control by authors over their own writing, and to reduce the revenue of authors who publish with Kindle.  In my opinion a couple of beers with Bezos would be a head-exploding experience, but hardly fun, especially for an independent and serious writer.Now, consider emptying a couple of pints with Mark Coker, founder and owner of Smashwords who bills his company as “the world's largest distributor of indie ebooks.” He got into the electronic publishing business because in the early 2000s he could not find a traditional publisher for a book he co-authored with his journalist wife, “Boob Tube, a roman a clef set within the daytime television soap opera industry.” He sounds like fun. In a Q&A piece on his website the question was posed, “Will I sell a lot of books on Smashwords?” His answer, “Probably not. How's that for an honest answer? Some Smashwords authors don't sell a single book.” Of course he followed up with “Some authors sell thousands of dollars worth of books each week,” but still, Coker writes like he respects authors and is a regular working guy who pops in every now and then at the neighborhood pub. I am sure it would be a lot of fun to drink beer; eat salty, fatty snacks; and swap stories with him. 
Ok, now that we have settled the urgent dilemma about which ebook publisher would be more convivial, let’s move on to the question about which should an independent writer publish with. 

In terms of overall market share, Kindle seems to have the advantage in the United States. Additionally, Kindle has separate national or regional ebook marketplaces that target international readers all over the world. Smashwords also has has its own marketplace where it lists hundreds of thousands of ebooks. However, and this is an extremely important distinction, Smashwords also acts as an ebook broker. if an author qualifies for the Smashwords Premium Catalogue (largely a question of how carefully the book is formatted), then Smashwords will distribute the work to a number of other ebook marketplaces to be sold directly by Apple (the second biggest retailer of ebooks in the US), Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, and others. The beauty of this arrangement is that (for a small percentage of sales revenue) formatting, distribution, and tracking of sales are all managed centrally via Smashwords, leaving the author to spend more time writing. 

The determination of royalties paid to authors is somewhat convoluted for both companies, but the range tends to be narrower under Smashwords terms, falling roughly in the 60% to 80% range. The royalty structure for Kindle used to range from 30% to 70%, but now may be less than that for authors who agree to participate in Kindle Unlimited, a subscription book access plan analogous to Netflix for movies. Another critical issue for authors who want to publish with Kindle is that there is significant pressure on authors to agree to the terms of KDP Select, which prohibit the author from selling their ebooks in any other venue in exchange for certain additional benefits -- a highly restrictive arrangement which is not even an option under a Smashwords publishing agreement. 

In this blog post we can consider only a couple of the many issues facing authors about how they want to publish their ebooks. However, I would advise a relatively new author to consider publishing with both Kindle (while avoiding KDP Select) and the Smashwords Premium Catalogue so that your work will be available in the widest possible array of markets. Implement your marketing plan and track sales. After a time you may find that your work sells in certain markets over others, and you can focus your efforts there. 

Meanwhile, you may also want to develop a strategy to regularly inform yourself about this rapidly evolving and changing industry so your work will be produced, placed, and marketed in the most effective way. While there are numerous online resources, one way to accomplish this is to periodically invite Bezos and Coker to lunch or for an after-work drink. If they are unavailable, perhaps I could fill in. Might be fun.

I invite you to take my class: HOW TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK ON KINDLE 

This class is a practical review of how to format and submit a book for publication on Kindle, and how to monitor the book once published. We'll start with a brief overview of the world of electronic publishing. We will also discuss how to format for Smashwords and how to submit. Smashwords is kind of a "middleman" broker that then gets your book onto iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and several other sites worldwide. Finally, we will spend a little time discussing how to market your ebook. 

New Date: Saturday, April 18, 9am-12pm (3 hours)
Location: 161 E. 1st Ave., Door 15 (Alaska Humanities Forum)
$50 member; $60 non-member

Register Here: http://www.49writingcenter.org/Instruction/classes.php

Categories: Arts & Culture

Jeremy Pataky: Heading to Southeast Alaska with Overwinter

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 5:00am

Jeremy Pataky
Southeast Alaska is rainforest country, where water substantiates the world—even trees, there, are shown to contain molecules from out at sea delivered inland in salmon. Its lush fecundity translates into a literary watershed, too—many great writers and scholars hail from Gustavus, Haines, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and points between. Lately, the roster of 49 Writers members, not to mention board members, who hail from Southeast Alaska has boomed. Fitting, then, that my excuse to go see many of them—familiar ones and strange alike—comes in the shape of my debut book.  
Poetry books weigh less than prose ones, usually – mine, called Overwinter, certainly does. You note that kind of detail while stuffing raingear and extra socks around stacks of them in a carry-on destined for the overhead bin. I’ll head to Juneau shortly after launching the book in Anchorage (unless I oversleep). From there, I’ll spend some quality time with the M/V Aurora and the M/V Matanuska heading up to Haines, Skagway, and back. 
I’m a sucker for good pairings of place and people, and I’m excited to enjoy both in Southeast Alaska while I shed some Overwinter pounds. I’ve already placed a request for a birds-eye, window-seat peek up Lynn Canal on the descent into Juneau, a little overview of the ferry route I’ll begin the next day. Hopefully the weather won’t be too overcast. 
The first stop on the tour will be a joint reading in Juneau on March 19 with poet Emily Wall, professor and chair of the Alaska Literary Series (ALS) advisory board. Edited by Peggy Shumaker, ALS is a University of Alaska Press series, which I’m overjoyed to say is responsible for publishing Overwinter
In Haines, I’ll give a reading at the library followed by a reading-in-the-round event that welcomes anyone to share a poem or short piece of prose if they’re so moved – so bring your words, people, or just come to listen. The good library folks in Skagway will also host a reading and book signing (and with luck, I just might finally make it out to Dyea). I’ll return to Juneau to teach a two hour 49 Writers class on reading poetry (unless the ferry captain overshoots the dock… or I fall overboard). 
This class will be a bit different from our usual writing classes, though, geared as it is toward readers of poetry, which includes, of course, both those who write it and those who don’t. Don’t overthink it – if you’re in Juneau and feel overwhelmed by poetry, or overcome with love for poetry, or maybe you find it overwrought, overblown, or maybe overdue in your life, come on out. Learn more (do your research and don’t just rely on what you overhear) and register in advance. Details about all these events, and others coming up out of state, can be found over here.
Heading down to Southeast to share my first book will feel a bit like coming full circle. My first, and some of the most formative, experiences in Alaska occurred down south. The Tongass was the country of my imagination and dreams. Eventually, I sailed from Bellingham to Alaska on a little 24 foot sailboat. For a long time I imagined ending up down there, and a large part of me still responds to the wild combination of salt water and mountains, evergreens and intertidal zones, and increasingly to the Southeasterners I’ve come to know.
I suspect my younger self would have been surprised to know that I would fall hard for the Wrangell Mountains, so far inland. My cabin near McCarthy in Eastern Alaska, in the scheme of things, isn’t too far from the wild rock-and-ice knuckle attaching the panhandle to the rest of the state. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park even abuts Glacier Bay National Park (not to mention Canada’s Kluane and Tatshenshini-Alsek). Still, it is a world away. 
In a sense, reading Overwinter feels like time traveling, written, as it was, over the course of several years. The views on the flight from Anchorage to Juneau can often give the sense of time travel, too, with its jets-eye Pleistocene flyby of the Bagley Icefield, the tall peaks of the Wrangells and St. Elias, and the Malaspina Glacier, and more. Heading up to Haines, Skagway, and back on the ferry will also feel, I think, a bit like traveling back in time in my own short life. It’s been almost twenty years since the first time I was on that stretch of water.  
Maybe I’ll spend some hours on the ferry writing from within that sense of parallax, the slippage between thens and nows. Or maybe I’ll just look at the deep water meeting tall mountains, and at the weather and birds, hopefully hard enough to remember it well. In any case, see you soon, Southeast!   

Jeremy Pataky is the author of Overwinter (University of Alaska Press, 2015) and a founding board member of 49 Writers. He earned a BA at Western Washington University and an MFA in poetry at the University of Montana. He divides his time between Anchorage and McCarthy, Alaska.  
Categories: Arts & Culture

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