Friday, September 23, 2016

Roundup for Literary Alaska

Have news, events, or opportunities you'd like to see listed here? Email details to info (at) 49writers.org. Spread the word. Your message must be received by close of business the Wednesday before the roundup is scheduled to run at the latest. Unless your event falls in the "Opportunities and Awards" category, it should occur no more than 30 days from when we receive your email. Thanks! 

EVENTS and ANNOUNCEMENTS

Registration is underway now for 49 Writers classes and workshops, both in Anchorage and online. Learn more and register here

Congrats to Eowyn Ivey, whose new novel, To the Bright Edge of the World, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal in fiction.  

Playwright Edward Albee died on Friday, September 16, 2016. 

Alaska Humanities Forum reminds us: take part in the Library of Congress National Book Festival from the comfort of your own home! Check out the live stream of interviews with authors and other festival sessions this Saturday, September 24 from 8AM - 2PM Alaska time. #NatBookFest | more info 

Best American Poetry 2016 features Olena Kalytiak Davis's poem "On the Certainty of Bryan", previously published in Alaska  Quarterly Review. Also, Best American Short Stories 2016 features Daniel O'Malley's story "Bridge" and Raul Palma's story "Eminent Domain" is cited as a Distinguished Story of the year. Best American Essays 2016 features an essay by Ela Helen Harrison. 

SOUTHCENTRAL
ANCHORAGE | Eowyn Ivey will be signing To the Bright Edge of the World at Costco on Dimond from noon until 2 PM. 

ANCHORAGE | Publication Consultants, in association with Alaska Book Week, is hosting the Great Alaska Book Fair sponsored in part by The Mall at Sears and Anchorage Public Library. They suggest that anyone interested in participating in The Great Alaska Book Fair respond before all tables are reserved. Concurrent event will include: a Farmer's Market, a Sidewalk Sale and the Better Business Bureau's Shred Day, and a Financial Fitness Fair; it's the same day that The Mall at Sears features an annual sidewalk sale to coincide with the release of Permanent Fund Dividends. If you're interested you can sign up for a table hereBook fair hours are 10 AM to 6 PM on Saturday, October 8, 2016. Tables will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. Authors are responsible for their own sales—and pocket all the money. There will not be a central check out register. There is a charge of $50 per table. Authors may share tables if they'd like. 


BUILDING FIRES IN THE SNOW (BFITS) SOUTHCENTRAL ALASKA BOOK TOUR
BFITS READING & BOOK SIGNING
Saturday, September 24, 2016, 6-7:30 PM
Homer Public Library, 500 Hazel Avenue, Homer, AK
Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry is a pathbreaking book, the first to anthologize stories and poems from this perspective. The collection explores the deep connection between LGBTQ Alaskans, the urban context and the wilderness that surrounds them both. Editor Martha Amore, along with contributors Teresa Sundmark, Dawnell Smith and Teeka Ballas, will give a short reading.
A Question and Answer session and book signing will follow. FREE | Presented with Friends of the Homer Library.

BFITS BOOK SIGNING
Thursday, September 29, 2016, 5-7 PM
Barnes & Noble, 200 East Northern Lights Boulevard, Anchorage, AK, 99503
Anthology contributors will sign books and answer questions about the collection.
Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry is a pathbreaking book featuring work from some of Alaska’s finest writers. While collecting for the first time Alaska-themed LGBTQ short fiction and poetry, for the most part the work relates to concerns all Alaskans share. FREE

49 Writers presents Crosscurrents 
Tales of the City: Writing from Alaska’s Urban Hubs
ANCHORAGE | October 13, 2016 
5-6:45 pm – Building Fires in the Snow celebratory meet-and-greet at MUSE
7-8:30 pm – Crosscurrents event in the Anchorage Museum auditorium



As part of an author exchange facilitated by Susan McBeth at Adventures by the Book in partnership with 49 Writers, Inc., four authors will present programs of interest to writers in Anchorage Sept. 24 - 28: 
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, 9:50 -10:50 am
Breakout Session: Alaska Writers Guild Conference
Location: BP Energy Center, 900 E. Benson Blvd., Anchorage
Event: Best Practices to Present Your Book
Presenter: Kathi Diamant
More Info and Registration:  http://alaskawritersguild.com/2016-conference
Open to: conference registrants only
Host: Alaska Writers Guild, 49 Writers, SCBWI
Contact: Brooke Hartman (AWG), Jeremy Pataky (49W)
Description: How do you present your book to an audience so that they will buy it? This workshop will offer specific techniques to craft talking points about your book, and adapt those messages to various audiences, covering the spectrum from the inhabitants of an elevator, to book club groups, classrooms, speaking engagements, and print, web, radio and television interviews. Topics covered include creating a 30-second "elevator speech" and how to prepare for a live broadcast interview or speaking engagement.   


Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, 11 am - noon
Breakout Session: Alaska Writers Guild Conference
Location: BP Energy Center, 900 E. Benson Blvd., Anchorage
Event: Strategic Event Planning – How to Market Your Book, Building an Author Foundation
Presenter: Susan McBeth
More Info and Registration:  http://alaskawritersguild.com/2016-conference
Open to: conference registrants only
Host: Alaska Writers Guild, 49 Writers, SCBWI
Contact: Brooke Hartman (AWG), Jeremy Pataky (49W)
Description: You wouldn’t dream of building your house without a foundation, yet counterintuitively, that’s precisely what most authors do. It’s not until after they create their book that they typically start to think about a marketing foundation to launch it successfully. In this session, Susan will share tips on how you can start building your foundation, no matter where you are at in the publishing process. Learn about some innovative ways to host your book events, whether you are setting up your very first book signing, or you are a seasoned author looking to inject new life into your book signings.


Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, 11 am - noon
Breakout Session: Alaska Writers Guild Conference
Location: BP Energy Center, 900 E. Benson Blvd., Anchorage
Event: Native Tongues: Blending the Other into Dialogue
Presenter: Marivi Soliven
More Info and Registration:  http://alaskawritersguild.com/2016-conference
Open to: conference registrants only
Host: Alaska Writers Guild, 49 Writers, SCBWI
Contact: Brooke Hartman, Jeremy Pataky
Description: In an increasingly diverse world community, writers face the challenge of replicating a myriad of voices into their stories. In this session, writers will learn to create memorable, authentic characters by capturing the cadence of English as it is spoken by non-English speakers and weaving other languages into their dialogues, including strategies for replicating the nuanced speech patterns of characters from varied cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Participants will examine excerpts from stories by Jhumpa Lahiri, Edwidge Danticat, and Soliven's own work. Following this discussion, writers will draft passages of dialogue inspired by writing prompts. Those comfortable with sharing their work will be encouraged to read their scenes aloud for feedback.


Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 2:10 – 3:10 pm Breakout Session: Alaska Writers Guild Conference
Location: BP Energy Center, 900 E. Benson Blvd., Anchorage
Event: Cooking Up Memoirs: How to Record History
Presenter: Kitty Morse
More Info and Registration:  http://alaskawritersguild.com/2016-conference
Open to: conference registrants only
Host: Alaska Writers Guild, 49 Writers, SCBWI
Contact: Brooke Hartman, Jeremy Pataky
Description: Have you ever daydreamed, while standing at the stove, of handing down family recipes to the next generation? Better yet, of recording your family’s history in the process? Don’t wait to tell your story. This sense of urgency motivated Kitty to write her award-winning memoir, Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories. During this hour-long seminar, find out how she gathered family recipes and stories, tested the dishes, organized text and photographs, and mastered the publishing and marketing processes.

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, 6 PM
Event: An Evening at the Kasbah
Location: Turkey Red Restaurant, 550 South Alaska St.
Presenter: Kitty Morse
Cost: $35 | tickets 
Host: Fireside Books
Contact: David Cheezem; Barbara Hecker barbara@goodbooksbadcoffee.com
Estimated attendance: venue seats 50
Book sales: by Fireside Books
Description: Savor the authentic flavors of Morocco with Casablanca-born Kitty Morse, author of Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen, now in its tenth printing from Chronicle Books. Chef Alex will prepare a menu featuring recipes from Kitty’s book using local Alaskan products. Have dinner while Kitty entertains guests with tales of Moroccan culture and cuisine from Dar Zitoun, her family home south of Casablanca. Books will be available for sale courtesy of Fireside Books.
Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, 9 – 10:15 am (40 minute talk)
Event: 9 AM service Anchorage Unitarian Universalist (AUU) Fellowship: “Uniting Writers and Readers for Social Justice”
Location: 2824 E. 18th Ave, Anchorage
Presenters: Susan McBeth, Marivi Soliven
Cost: none
Host: Anchorage Unitarian Universalist (AUU) Fellowship
Contact: Gary Holthaus
Estimated attendance: 50 - 60
Description: Susan McBeth, founder of Adventures by the Book, and Marivi Soliven, author of The Mango Bride, will discuss how they collaborated on “Saving Beverly,” a literary event that raised awareness and funds to assist immigrant victims of domestic violence, as well as the broader challenge of enabling meaningful interactions between writers and readers.
  

Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, 11:00 am – 12:15 pm (40 minute talk)
Event: 11 AM service Anchorage Unitarian Universalist (AUU) Fellowship: “Saving Beverly”
Location: 2824 E. 18th Ave., Anchorage
Presenter: Marivi Soliven
Cost: none
Host: Anchorage Unitarian Universalist (AUU) Fellowship
Contact: Gary Holthaus
Estimated attendance: 80 – 90
Book sales: following service
Description: Inspired by her work as an interpreter for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, San Diego author Marivi Soliven wrote The Mango Bride. Within the context of the novel, Beverly, an immigrant wife whose dreams of a better life vanish when her marriage turns violent, is a composite of the anonymous women for whom Soliven translates.
Domestic violence cuts through all socio-economic classes. Despite their widely differing backgrounds, immigrant wives are especially vulnerable when their legal status is controlled by an abusive spouse. During the 11 am service, Soliven will discuss the expanded protections of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Filipino diaspora, and the Saving Beverly movement, which raises funds for community organizations that support immigrant survivors of domestic violence.

Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, 5:00 - 7:00pm
Event: Salon Meet and Greet; includes informal panel (20 – 30 minutes) “Novel Ways to Get Noticed” featuring all visiting authors
Location: Home of Martha Amore, address forthcoming to RSVPers
Presenters: Susan McBeth, Kathi Diamant, Marivi Soliven, Kitty Morse
More Info: http://49writers.org/special-events-and-salons
Cost: Potluck; BYOB
Open to: 49 Writers, Alaska Writers Guild, and Alaska SCBWI current members only 
Host: 49 Writers
Contact: Jeremy Pataky
Estimated attendance: 25 - 35
Description: An informal meet-and-greet potluck event, by invitation to members of 49 Writers, Alaska SCBWI, and the Alaska Writers Guild. Visiting authors will speak as an informal panel on their success with novel ways of connecting readers with their books.


Monday, Sept. 26, 5 – 7 pm
Event: Kafka’s Last Love—Dora Diamant
Location: University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Bookstore, 2901 Spirit Way, Anchorage
Presenter: Kathi Diamant
More info: https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/bookstore/events/special-events-calendar.cfm
Cost: free
Open to: public
Host: UAA Philosophy Dept/Honors College/UAA Bookstore
Contact: John Mouracade, Rachel Epstein
Description: In her book Kafka’s Last Love: The Mystery of Dora Diamant, author Kathi Diamant explores the relationship between Franz Kafka and his companion and confidante Dora Diamant (1898-1952). It details their life in Berlin and, after his death in 1924, her passionate commitment to keep Kafka’s literary flame alive while caught in the maelstroms of fascism, communism, and the Holocaust.

Kathi Diamant is Director of the Kafka Project at San Diego State University which is an ongoing international search for Kafka's missing literary treasure: 35 letters and 20 notebooks written by Kafka in the last year of his life, and confiscated from Dora by the Gestapo in Berlin 1933. Just returning from investigations in Berlin, Kathi will also share her latest findings and her extraordinary adventures through archives and history.


Tuesday, Sept. 27, 1 – 2:30 pm
Event: “The Mango Bride: A Frank Talk about Domestic Violence in Immigrant Communities and the Filipino Diaspora”
Location: University of Alaska (UAA) Bookstore, 2901 Spirit Way, Anchorage
Presenter: Marivi Soliven
More info: https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/bookstore/events/special-events-calendar.cfm
Cost: free
Host: UAA Public Health, UAA Bookstore
Contact: Gabe Garcia, Rachel Epstein
Description: Marivi Soliven reads from her award-winning debut novel, The Mango Bride, inspired by her work as an interpreter for immigrant survivors of domestic violence.  Discussion will include the expanded protections of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Filipino diaspora, and the Saving Beverly movement, which raises funds for community organizations that support immigrant survivors of domestic violence.


Tuesday, Sept. 27, 5:30 – 7 pm
Event: Ten Things You Should Know about Kafka (Before You Waste the Rest of Your Life) 
Mountain View Branch Library, 120 Bragaw, Anchorage
Presenter: Kathi Diamant
Cost: free
Open to: public
Host: Mountain View Library
Contact: Virginia McLure
Estimated attendance: unknown
Book sales: by author
Description: Who was Franz Kafka? Why is he so important? And what does Kafkaesque really mean, anyway?

One of the most influential and misunderstood writers of our age, Franz Kafka was a lawyer who wrote in his spare time as "a form of prayer." After his death at the age of forty in 1924, his three unfinished novels were published, and barely sold a few copies. Yet, 100 years after the publication of his most famous short story, The Metamorphosis, he has become an icon of modern literature. His name is invoked more than 75 times a day on the internet, and a new book has been published on Kafka somewhere in the world every 10 days for the past 15 years. Yet, many people have never heard of him.

In this fun and informative talk, Kathi Diamant, author of Kafka's Last Love, and director of the SDSU Kafka Project, outlines ten things you should know to help you understand and appreciate Franz Kafka, one of the early players in defining--and shaping--our modern world view. You will discover surprising facts to impress your friends and family, and learn how reading Kafka actually can make you smarter.  


Tuesday, Sept. 27, 7 – 8:30 pm
Event: “Saving Beverly” Fundraiser for Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis (AWAIC)
Location: Anchorage Unitarian Universalist (AUU) Fellowship, 2824 E. 18th Ave., Anchorage
Presenter: Marivi Soliven
Cost: $10 suggested donation
Host: Anchorage Unitarian Universalist (AUU) Fellowship; fundraiser for AWAIC
Contact: Gary Holthaus
Estimated attendance: unknown
Book sales: following program
Description: Inspired by her work as an interpreter for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, San Diego author Marivi Soliven wrote The Mango Bride. Within the context of the novel, Beverly, an immigrant wife whose dreams of a better life vanish when her marriage turns violent, is a composite of the anonymous women for whom Soliven translates.

Domestic violence cuts through all socio-economic classes. Despite their widely differing backgrounds, immigrant wives are especially vulnerable when their legal status is controlled by an abusive spouse. After several women shared their own stories of domestic violence, Soliven realized that more could be done –should be done – to spare others from suffering Beverly’s fate.

At the Saving Beverly event in Anchorage, Soliven will discuss the expanded protections of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Filipino diaspora, and the Saving Beverly movement, which raises funds for community organizations that support immigrant survivors of domestic violence. $10 suggested donation to support Abused Women Aid in Crisis (AWAIC).


Wednesday, Sept. 28, 6:30 – 8 pm
Event: “Sprinkle Flowers on Your Plate” for the Alaska Botanical Garden Lecture Series
Location: BP Energy Center Birch Room, 900 E. Benson, Anchorage
Presenter: Kitty Morse
Cost: $30 ABG members; $35 non-members
Host: Alaska Botanical Garden (ABG) with 49 Writers
Contact: Stacey Shriner
Description: Let award-winning cookbook author Kitty Morse take you on a fragrant excursion through the world of edible flowers. During her presentation, Kitty will share her knowledge of growing, gathering and cooking with these delectable edibles. A sampling of flowers and treats containing them, recipe handouts, and a signing of Kitty’s latest book, Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion with Recipes round out the presentation.

ANCHORAGE | Panel discussion about Censorship, Diversity, and YA Literature at Mountain View Library. October 4, 2016. 7 pm. Each year the American Library Association release’s a list of the most challenged books of the year. Young adult books are more likely to be challenged than any other and, according to Diversity in YA, 20% of the authors that make the list are non-white. About half of the books that make that list include content about non-whites, non-heterosexuals, or disabled people. Panel will discuss exactly why diversity in young adult literature is needed and how we can ensure that diverse literature is available in our community. Panel discussion depend on audience participation – come prepared to ask questions and share your opinion!
Panelists will include:

Jon Ebron – Anchorage Public Library, Teen Librarian

Suzanne Metcalfe – School Librarian, Anchorage School District

Sharon Pinkney – Language Arts Teacher, Anchorage School District

Michael Robinson – UAA/APU Consortium Library and Chair of the Alaska State Library Association’s Committee on Intellectual Freedom

Dr. Jervette R. Ward – Assistant professor at UAA and author of, “In Search of Diversity: Dick and Jane and Their Black Playmates”, as well as the editor of, “Real Sister: Stereotypes, Respectability, and Black Women in Reality TV”.

Suzanne Metcalfe – School Librarian, Anchorage School District

Sharon Pinkney – Language Arts Teacher, Anchorage School District

Michael Robinson – UAA/APU Consortium Library and Chair of the Alaska State 
Library Association’s Committee on Intellectual Freedom

Dr. Jervette R. Ward – Assistant professor at UAA and author of, “In Search of Diversity: Dick and Jane and Their Black Playmates”, as well as the editor of, “Real Sister: Stereotypes, Respectability, and Black Women in Reality TV”.

ANCHORAGE | October 19, 2016, 7 pm at 49th State Brewpub. Find Your Park. Share Your Story. Storytelling Event in the style of Arctic Entries. Tickets are $12 at the door or in advance at the Alaska Geographic Store at 241 North C Street. Facebook event

INTERIOR 
FAIRBANKS | Building Fires in the Snow: Presentation, Reading
Friday, October 7, 2016, 5:30--7:30pm, Gulliver’s Books, 3525 College Rd.

Tales of the City: Writing from Alaska’s Urban Hubs | Modern Alaska life exists in the dichotomy between what some call the Great Land—majestic lands teeming with wildlife—and the goings-on of our mostly urban people. How does this dichotomy affect urban Alaskans and the stories they tell? Join Martha Amore and Lucian Childs, editors of Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry, along with featured anthology contributors, as they explore these topics and read from work in the anthology. Building Fires in the Snow is a path breaking anthology that opens a window onto the diverse lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Alaskans. A Question and Answer session and book signing will follow. FREE

FAIRBANKS | Fairbanks author and wilderness guide Michael Engelhard will sign copies of his new book American Wild: Explorations from the Grand Canyon to the Arctic Ocean and also introduce Ice Bear, his cultural history of the polar bear, on Friday, October 7th from 5-7 pm at the Fairbanks Art Association’s Bear Gallery. This First Friday event will be part of the opening of the 64th Parallel exhibit, and a watercolor artist will be present as well.

FAIRBANKS | Fairbanks Arts Association hosts the oldest literary reading series in the state. Every month, writers reading their own work publicly at a community meet-up where people can connect with other lovers of literature. Readings are held on the day after First Friday, usually the first Saturday of the month at 7 pm. Most reading are held in the Bear Gallery in Pioneer Park, although occasionally in the summer (June, July, and August) the weather is beautiful reading are held outside to another spot in Pioneer Park. Upcoming: 
October: Susheila Khera 
NovemberNicole Stellon O'Donnell
DecemberRosemary McGuire
Additional readings and events may be held, but the First Saturday Literary Reading Series is monthly at 7 pm the day after First Friday (except February). 

ANCHORAGE | Alaska Quarterly Review presents A VOICE AGAINST THE CULTURE OF RAPE on Friday, October 7 at 7 PM in the Anchorage Museum auditorium. The evening features Anchorage-based actress Sarah Baird reading Eliese Goldbach's courageous personal essay, "White Horse," about campus rape and its aftermath (read the essay here). A distinguished panel of experts provides insights from scholarly, legal, advocacy, and artistic perspectives following the reading. Free.  

SOUTHEAST 
NA

                                                                   SOUTHWEST 
NA

ARCTIC 
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CONFERENCES, RETREATS, and RESIDENCIES

2016 Alaska Writers Guild Annual Conference for Writers & Illustrators
September 24th plus optional intensives and roundtables on Sept. 23rd.
SCBWIAlaska Writers Guild
ANCHORAGE | This year's conference is a partnership between Alaska Writers Guild, 49 Writers, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. This all-day event takes place at the BP Energy + Conference Center and includes keynotes and panels, as well as writing craft, marketing, traditional publishing, self publishing, children's literature, illustration tracks. Sign up for optional Intensives or Roundtable Critiques, or take advantage of One-on-One Manuscript Excerpt Reviews. Early bird discount extended until July 31st at only $95 for AWG/49 Writers/SCBWI members or $145 for non-members. More info and registration here.  


OPPORTUNITIES and AWARDS for WRITERS
360 North Writer's Showcase is accepting short stories and creative non-fiction for their November 17th episode of Writers’ Showcase—the 360 North statewide public television program that highlights work by Alaskan writers. Pieces should be between 5- and 15-minutes long when read aloud. Unfortunately, they don’t have a budget to pay, but your work will be read by a professional actor (think PRI’s Selected Shorts) and distributed on statewide public TV for eternity! Please send questions or submissions to arts [at] ktoo [dot] org by October 17. 


In early August, the Alaska State Council on the Arts will seek nominations for the 2017 Governor's Awards for the Arts, as well as the next Alaska State Writer Laureate. This year, the categories for the Governor's Awards for the Arts are: Arts Education, Individual Artist, Arts Organization and Alaska Native Arts. The Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities ceremony will be held in Juneau on Thursday, January 26, 2017Visit ASCA's website here for information about last year's Governor's Awardees, and here for the Alaska State Writer Laureate program.

Thank You for Your Support!
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Spotlight on Alaska Books | Lizbeth Meredith: Pieces of Me


Prologue:


AFTERMATH

2016
Sometimes I’m asked if I feel lucky. Usually, it’s after I’ve given a presentation about domestic violence or the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, and in the context of “Aren’t you glad all the bad stuff happened when your kids were little?” As though prebirth and early childhood experiences are any less impactful.

The truth is, I do feel lucky, but not because my kids were little when their father tried to kill me. I feel lucky because I survived, and so did they. I feel lucky because when he stole them years later and took them to Greece, I was still a young adult, with all the energy and optimism I needed to risk bringing them home. (Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters by Lizbeth Meredith)


In 1994, Lizbeth Meredith said goodbye to her four and six year-old daughters for a visit with their non-custodial father, only to learn days later that they had been kidnapped and taken to their father’s home country of Greece.

Twenty-nine and just off food stamps, Lizbeth now faced a $100,000 problem on a $10 an hour budget. For the next two years—fueled by the memories of her own childhood kidnapping—Lizbeth traded in her small life for a life more public to garner interest in her efforts, travelling to the White House and to Greece. The generous community of Anchorage became Lizbeth’s makeshift family—one that was replicated by a growing number of Greeks and expats overseas who helped Lizbeth navigate the turbulent path leading back to her daughters.


“Lizbeth Meredith writes hauntingly about an all-too-common experience—domestic violence, and it’s ultimate aftermath: kidnapping. In the face of a mother’s nightmare, she summons all her resources to recover her daughters. Pieces of Me is a powerful testimony to one woman’s courage and resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, and to the unbreakable bounds between a mother and her daughters.”
--Eleanor Vincent, author of Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story

“Pieces of Me  is an important, honest, and heartrending story of a brave young mother’s struggle to save her precious daughters—no matter the toll it takes on her—as she through it all carries the double-burden of reliving her own childhood trauma.”
--Lene Fogelberg, author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Beautiful Affliction.

Lizbeth Meredith is an Anchorage-based writer and 49 Writers member and volunteer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in psychology. She has worked as a domestic violence advocate and a child abuse investigator, and with at-risk teens as a juvenile probation supervisor. A contributor to A Girl’s Guide to Travelling Alone by Gemma Thompson and author of When Push Comes to Shove: How to Help When Someone You Love is Being Abused, Lizbeth blogs at www.lameredith.com.

Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters will be available in digital and hard copy




Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Guest Blogger Mary Catharine Martin | What Makes a Fascinating — or Endearing — Character?


I recently finished Tales of Burning Love, by Louise Erdrich. The book centers around a man named Jack Mauser, the women who love or have loved him, and their families. Jack is a womanizer—a woman-lover, one might say, as he approaches all his encounters with as pure a heart as a womanizer could. One of his (successive) wives is an academic who follows her desires both to seduce an underage student and live in a convent. Another is a precise, controlling dentist who loves dogs. One of them is an accountant who, when she married Jack, was already married to a man in prison for life. Another met Jack when an electric shock deflated her lungs, he gave her imperfect but life-saving mouth to mouth, and she sued him. Two of them become each other’s lovers. All of them are fascinating.

Interesting characters are what drive interesting fiction. They are the still or whirling center of a storm frequently of their own creation. It’s a testament to Louise Erdrich’s skill that while these characters do things that may seem cruel or petty, we can’t help but love them.

I’m teaching a creative writing class on character at the University of Alaska Southeast next spring, and character is something I’ve been thinking a lot about. What is it that makes a character interesting? And, as a separate question, what is it that makes us care about them? Does one result from another?

A few years ago, I found myself following a discussion about the novel The Woman Upstairs. An interviewer had asked author Claire Messud about the protagonist of the book, Nora. “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? “ the interviewer asked, adding “Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.”  

Messud answered “For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with Mickey Sabbath? Saleem Sinai? Hamlet? Krapp? Oedipus? Oscar Wao?…. If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble. We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t ‘is this a potential friend for me?’ but ‘is this character alive?’” 

I was then writing The One that Ran Away, the novel I’m currently sending out to agents, and I was struggling with the character of Willow, a narcissistic, self-destructive artist. Willow was selfish and cruel. To me, she was also fascinating—but at least one reader told me she had difficulty even getting through Willow’s sections, she disliked her so much. For a while, I felt justified by Messud’s answer. Willow wasn’t meant to be anyone’s friend.

Then I started thinking about characters I like, some of whom Messud lists. Not all of them are “unlikable” or “unsympathetic;” I feel sympathy for Hamlet. I like Oscar Wao.

The characters I find the most interesting have conflicting traits, and they are conflicted, themselves. They want something, even if what they really want is different from what they think they want. They feel. They act. Many of the characters in Messud’s list feel love. They struggle with that love and how it manifests in the real world. In Messud’s novel Nora loves a man and a woman, a couple, who end up betraying her. Love makes people vulnerable; both vulnerability and love make them more human, even if their love is a monstrous, manipulative thing.

The Willow of my earlier drafts felt. She acted. I didn’t, however, make clear her love for her daughter and how that love conflicted with her more selfish desires. I don’t think it’s a requirement that readers like characters as they like their friends, or that characters be endearing, but I do think love, even love of oneself, makes for a more fully rounded character—and provides for a wealth of potential internal conflict, which makes a character more interesting.

Mary Catharine Martin is a Juneau writer currently sending out her book, The One that Ran Away. It interweaves the stories of three generations of runaways and spans rural Louisiana in the 1930s to modern-day Las Vegas and Southeast Alaska. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Kathi Diamant | Dispatch from Berlin: You’ve Got To Be There

Kathia Diamant is visiting Anchorage Sept. 24 - 28, 2016 through an author exchange program sponsored by Adventures by the Book. In partnership with the Alaska Writers Guild, 49 Writers is featuring these visiting authors in workshops at the AWG conference on Saturday, Sept. 24 and also at a members-only salon event on Sunday, Sept. 25 (details here).  

Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, 20 September 2016  

As long as you keep climbing, there will be steps, they will magically appear under your climbing feet.“  Franz Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks

I hoped to write this blog post from Berlin in advance my upcoming Alaska visit to announce the mystical, magical new developments in my search for a missing literary treasure. And something truly amazing did happen today. It’s the best possible news, outside of finding it.

For almost twenty years, I’ve led the search to recover the lost, last writings of literary giant Franz Kafka. My search actually began two decades earlier, in 1971, in a German language literature class, when my teacher interrupted our translation of “The Metamorphosis” to ask if I were related to Dora Diamant. He told me that Dora and Kafka were very much in love, that Kafka died in her arms, and that she burned his work. A fellow student behind me echoed what I’d been thinking. He whispered: “Not enough of it."

Throughout my lifelong search to solve the mysteries surrounding the remarkable young Polish Jewish woman who gave Kafka the happiest year of his life, I have traveled in her footsteps, becoming her biographer and rewriting her into history. Along the way, I learned to love Kafka. Dora Diamant, with whom I share the coincidence of a last name, was a mysterious and dark figure when I took my first research trip to find her. She haunted me, and finally, I had to know what happened to her after Kafka’s death (of tuberculosis, at age 40 in 1924). On my first mission to find Dora in 1985, I went to Prague where Kafka lived and is buried, then to the small sanatorium outside Vienna where he died, and on to Israel to check out the Diamant genealogy at Hebrew University. Since then, I have travelled to these and many other places in the world, from Poland to Germany, to the Soviet Union, to Israel, France, and England, where she died in 1952, three weeks to the day after I was born.

In the three decades since then, I found the traces of Dora’s remarkable life through the people who knew her, and through the discoveries of her lost letters, diaries, photographs and Gestapo and Comintern files. I was able to find her lost family members and reunite them when we placed a stone on Dora’s unmarked grave. One of the most important discoveries about Dora was that she didn’t burn Kafka’s work, as my teacher said. Instead, Dora kept a secret collection of Kafka’s writings, 35 letters he had written to her and 20 notebooks he kept in the last year of his life. These papers were confiscated from Dora by the Gestapo in 1933. But scholars always hoped they would be found. And indeed, they might.

In 1996, I started the Kafka Project at San Diego State University to conduct and record the official international search to recover this missing literary treasure. In 1998, I spent four months in Berlin, scouring the Nazi and Gestapo archives until I found the proof of the confiscation and the office responsible for receiving it. Since then, incrementally, we’ve made progress, tracing the papers through Germany to Poland to Russia, and then back again to Germany. In 2013, we learned of an uncatalogued archive dating back to the Third Reich, which could contain this material. After a series of meetings with local scholars and experts, we made a plan. In 2014, nothing had moved forward, so I returned to Berlin to continue the search. Two years passed, and nothing happened, and no progress was made.

So I returned this month to Berlin. After two years of writing to him, without an answer, yesterday I received a telephone call from our “deep throat” archivist in the German Federal Archives, who agreed to meet with me and Dr. Hans Koch, the leading Kafka scholar in Germany on Kafka’s letters, with new information. We met today, renewed the approach to the archive, and are moving forward with the help of two German universities who have signed on to take over the research. Now two major academic institutions are taking over the work. They believe it is possible we will find this missing chapter to literary history. If I had stayed home, nothing would still be happening.

All writers are also researchers. Even if you aren’t looking to find the traces of someone who once lived, as a writer, if at all possible, you should go to the place you are writing about. Even if you think you know the place, if it’s burned into your memory, you still have to go back. If you have never been there, and you can physically make the trip, you must go. This is especially true if place is an important part of your story. It’s not just to fully describe it using all of your senses, but to allow magic and coincidences to take place. To let the story, true or fiction, unfold in the place it happened, or is happening, or will happen.

Of course this isn’t always possible. There are many excellent excuses. The place may not exist anymore. Or for myriad reasons travel is impossible. Many say they cannot afford it, which is the poorest excuse of all. But if you can’t go, I hope you’ll find other ways to replicate the experience. Read fully, watch films and videos, listen to the music, do what you can. But for those are able to travel, go. Now. Charge it, do what you must do. But go.

By being in the place where one’s story takes place, miraculous events occur, which wouldn’t happen, sitting comfortably at your desk. I’m living proof. I’m leaving Berlin tomorrow, and will be in Anchorage on Friday. I’ll be presenting on Saturday, Sept 24, at the Alaska Writers Guild Conference, and will be giving two additional talks, on Tuesday Sept 27 at Mountain View Library and on Monday, Sept 26 at the UAA Bookstore, about why you should read Kafka, and the story of my search for his last love. I hope to see you there!


Kathi Diamant is an award-winning author, broadcaster and adjunct professor at San Diego State University, where she teaches writing and critique. Since 1998, Kathi has led the SDSU Kafka Project, the official international search to recover the missing writings of Franz Kafka. Kathi’s literary detective work resulted in Kafka’s Last Love: The Mystery of Dora Diamant, which won the San Diego Book Awards’ “Best Biography” and the Geisel Award for “Best of the Best” in 2003. Much of her life now revolves around books, research travel, writing and teaching. She continues her on-air presence as a fundraising host and interview for PBS pledge programs.