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Bear-ing it

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 05/13/2015 - 7:09am
My buddy Zack looks tired.

Fish Factor: First PSP case of season

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 05/13/2015 - 7:09am
How much are fishermen affected by long-term health problems like hearing loss, lack of sleep and high blood pressure? A pilot study aims to find out and researchers are using the 500-plus members of the Copper River salmon driftnet fleet as test subjects.

Movie guide

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 05/13/2015 - 7:09am

Lizzie Newell: Buy Fresh. Buy Local.

49 Writers - Wed, 05/13/2015 - 7:00am
Recently I attended a writers’ conference in the Lower 48. Nearly every writer I encountered pitched their books the same way, following a script recommended in a workshop. I‘d hear “paranormal” and then my mind would drift. I like paranormal fiction, but the books all seemed the same. If I asked questions, I often found out that these seemingly dull books had brilliant ideas hidden behind the expert-recommended sameness.
The advice given in presentations compounded the stultifying monotony. Writers asked questions such as, “Is it okay to use first person in paranormal romance?” Entire presentations were devoted to standardized plots. Advice on marketing included shoving book brochures at every person encountered. I also heard advice on how to monetize podcasts by selling advertising. This seems to be a sideline and a distraction. For a writer, a podcast should be driving customers to the books, not to other businesses. Such a writer would expend time and effort as a podcaster, not as an author.
Traditional publishers can be wonderful for some authors because publishers have resources necessary for marketing and distribution. They may know what sort of cover will work best. They have contacts and so can get endorsement blurbs and reviews. Most importantly, they have the money necessary to get quantities of book copies into stores. I’ve been told that a reader who picks up a book in a store is more likely to buy it than is a reader who encounters a book online.
However, publishers try to reduce risk by selecting manuscripts which they know will sell. They make such determinations based on books which previously sold well. It’s likely that this risk-aversion drives books to be increasingly similar to books already on the market. Agents feed the pipeline with books which are similar, and experts give advice to meet the requirement of sameness put in place by the publishers. The selection of manuscripts becomes increasingly restrictive, until an author breaks out with a new idea which then sets a new standard which is then followed to the point of monotonous sameness.
Buying books is often like shopping for hair care products. In the grocery store, I face fifty different types of shampoo differentiated only by scent and packaging. This is an illusion of diversity. I observe a similar phenomenon in book marketing. In some genres, nearly identical plots and characters are differentiated only by superficial changes in setting. It’s as if the publisher has bottles of artificial flavoring which are added to the same low-cost ingredients. The best cooks use fresh, natural ingredients and enhance the flavor without the addition of artificial flavors and colors. Lemon- meringue-pie-flavored jelly beans are worlds away from lemon meringue pie made with actual lemons and eggs.
To avoid numbing sameness, I believe writers should ignore common advice. Commonality of advice is a good indicator of the direction of the herd. As writers we’re better off leaving the herd to focus on whatever it is which makes our writing different. This distinctiveness is a writer’s pearl of great price. The presentation of a gem should enhance rather than detract from its beauty. Advice designed for other people gems becomes a distraction and, if taken too far, destroys the gem itself.
I sell books without the support of a publisher by carrying a shoulder bag with copies of my book. I sell more copies out of my shoulder bag than I do through Amazon. Fortunately, we also have independent book stores who are willing to host events and to sell books on consignment. Fireside Books in Palmer is wonderful, so is UAA Bookstore. They both sell my book. There’s also River City Books in Soldotna. Soon a new independent bookstore will be opening in Spenard. Writer’s Block, scheduled to open in 2016, will have a full service restaurant and will sell new books, some of them on consignment. I’m ecstatic. It’s important to support these businesses so that writers have a venue for sharing their new ideas. Independent bookstores may be the best means we have for busting out of sameness to reach a diverse audience.

Lizzie Newell is an author, illustrator, book designer, and artist living in Anchorage, Alaska. She has written six books and twelve short stories set on the planet Fenria, a world which greatly resembles Alaska. She crafts related jewelry, costumes, and sculpture and received both a BA in arts and humanities from CSU in Colorado and a BFA in fine art from UAA. Newell’s first book, Sappho’s Agency, is available at UAA Bookstore and at Fireside Books in Palmer and as an e-book.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Bringing history to life

Capital City Weekly - Wed, 05/13/2015 - 12:00am
Juneau residents gathered to share their memories and impressions of Tlingit civil rights activist and lawyer William Paul Sr. last week on what would have been Paul's 130th birthday, May 7, one week before the May 15 dedication of the Walter Soboleff Building's archives facility in his name. The meeting, organized by local lawyer and researcher Kathy Ruddy for the second year in a row, welcomed input from about a dozen participants, some of whom knew Paul personally, with a larger goal of bringing recognition to Paul's contributions to Alaska history.

2 starts

What Turtle Blood Tastes Like - Fri, 05/08/2015 - 12:37pm

2 starts, both fall into the item cat <far from profound>

</end speculation>

order of operations

i’m perpetually taking things apart
that I put together prematurely
always skipping what seem like
poorly written instructions
that turn out to be essential

maybe i should look at this deck
like a math problem
maybe this life too
I should be working backwards
reverse engineering a solution
based on the idealized finished product
rather than working fast forwards
then four steps backwards when
it becomes clear
i cannot drill pilot holes
for lag screws
for rail posts
once the deck boards are in place

in place(s) though
frequently out of place

i’m the guy in the fuzzy GIF
never quite dropping my hammer
on the head of a hard to reach


mirror mirror

am I seeing?
is that me or the idea of me?
is that reflection, misshapen by cheap laminated plastic
a document?
a curated [framed] representation {abstract}
of what I think I am?
certainly easier to put that on display
hang that idea of me on a white gallery wall
than to take the actual me (whoever/whatever/wherever)
that is
and place me out of place in that place
where people seek to see art representing place


Filed under: absurdity, experiments, glimpses
Categories: Arts & Culture

Superintendent speaks out about student privacy rights

Juneau School District Announcements - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 2:40pm

Supe's On  - Welcome to the Superintendent's Blog

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Categories: Arts & Culture

School District Report on Investigation into Hazing

Juneau School District Announcements - Wed, 08/27/2014 - 4:35pm

The Juneau School District has concluded our investigation into allegations that on or about May 30-31 of this year a group of incoming senior boys hazed/initiated a group of incoming freshmen boys by paddling them multiple times.

These events were first brought to our attention in early June. At that time the district began an initial investigation, which, due to an active police investigation and summer vacation, was put on hold. When we were informed that the police had concluded their investigation we resumed our efforts.

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Categories: Arts & Culture


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