Wednesday, August 24, 2016

49 Writers: Guest Blogger Lucian Childs | Literary Chardonnay: Exploring Alaska's Urban Wilds


When people Outside think of Alaska, they imagine snow, rugged mountains, sled dog races, grizzlies, homestead cabins and “The Deadliest Catch.” That people would be living up here in an urban context would probably not occur to them.

Lucian Childs
But over half of us Alaskans live in cities. What makes our experience unique is the dichotomy we often feel between our ordinary travails—taking kids to school, dashing into Carrs for groceries, or meeting friends at the PAC for a musical—and what we think of as the Great Land, that vastness teeming with wildlife. Our lives are as helter-skelter as city folks anywhere, but we live surrounded by wilderness, which exerts a mighty influence on our lives. 

This hit me last spring when I flew into Anchorage for my semi-annual sojourn. After I picked up my car, I drove to my friend’s house on Government Hill where I was to stay. It was early evening, one of those days we get in the spring: cloudless and crystalline. Near my friend’s house, I pulled off at the park that overlooks the Tank Farm. All the expectations about my upcoming stay—the dinner parties and meet-ups with friends—all that dropped away. Beyond the oil tanks and our small port, Mt. Susitna reclined and the Alaska Range disappeared down Cook Inlet, white peaks silhouetted against the approaching sunset. I’ve lived in Anchorage almost twenty-five years, but I’d forgotten the formidable beauty in which it is located. Looking down Cook Inlet took my breath away.

In an hour, though, I was showered and shaved, catching up with my friend Julie over a good Chardonnay in the bar at Kinley’s. To me, this combination of activities is as deeply Alaskan as setting a trapline or dipnetting for reds—being awed by the beauty of the Inlet, then having that glass of Chard at a fine restaurant with a friend.

To be honest, I haven’t always felt that other Alaska writers share this sentiment. As compelling as their work is, so often it concerns the natural world and our place in it. So, when Martha Amore and I started reading submissions for the anthology we were editing, Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry, I expected works relating climbing accidents, backcountry bear encounters or childhoods in remote homestead cabins. Let me say, there is nothing wrong with those stories. I love those stories. I’ve even been part of some of them. But where are our Alaska stories with that glass of literary Chardonnay?

To my great delight, we found them in the submissions we read: stories of a couple interviewing for a rental house and unexpectedly finding a new friend, roommates dealing with a hornet’s nest, a lovelorn young man pouring his heart out to a stranger over drinks at Mad Myrna’s. There were urban bonfire parties, journalists, geologists, fiddle players, bloggers and roller derby enthusiasts. There was the loving mom thinking back on her wild and crazy single life; the long-time married couple, recent transplants to Anchorage, unhappy with the choices they’d made.

Martha and I worked hard to identify writers whose work was set in rural and bush communities, but as so many of us live in Anchorage, many of the stories and poems we read were set there as well. Yet always there was wilderness lurking at the edges, glimpsed in the rearview window, appreciated on an afternoon hike. But more than that, the characters in these stories and poems looked to nature for models of how to live. A lover ponders a difficult relationship by walking the Chugach Mountains alone. Taking a wild and wooly road trip through Pipeline-era Alaska, a young girl finds herself. A man on the cusp of old age accepts his new situation, seeing the way trees cling to life at the edge of a bog. In those stories and poems, the two halves of the dichotomy were wed—the urban and the wild.

Certainly, there was work we read that took place in non-urban locales and where wildness exerted its instructing influence, such as Jerah Chadwick’s stunning poems set in the Aleutians. Here, men grappled with themselves and a life with a lover while hauling in provisions or stoking a potbellied stove.

After all the submissions had been read, we selected works for the anthology from twenty-six contributors, including Martha and myself. These writers, some established pros, others emerging artists, weave the rich tapestry of Alaska life, for the first time using stories and poems from our LGTBQ community.

As I prepare to return to Anchorage for the launch of Building Fires in the Snow, I’m excited to soon be a part of this unique place again. I look forward to dinner at a friend’s overlooking the Inlet, Redoubt letting off steam in the distance. To celebrating the end of a long day’s hike by having an honest Alaska brew at a downtown eatery. To First Friday-ing in the sharp autumn air. To being an explorer again in Alaska’s urban wilds.

There will be launch events for Building Fires in the Snow all over the state this fall. You can check out what’s happening at our website and keep up to date on our Facebook page. Martha and I hope to see you at an event and to learn how wilderness and the city come together in your life.

Lucian Childs divides his time between Anchorage, Alaska and Toronto, Ontario where he lives with his husband. In 2013, he received a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Project Grant as well as the Prism Review Short Story Prize. He has been awarded residencies at Brydcliffe Art Colony and at Artscape Gibraltar Point and was a Peter Taylor Fellow at the 2015 Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. He is a co-editor of Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry. His short stories have appeared in Grain, Sanskrit, The Puritan, Jelly Bucket, Quiddity, and Cirque, among others.

A 49 Writers Crosscurrents event featuring panelists Lucian Childs and Martha Amore with moderator Heather Brook Adams will begin at 7 pm, October 13th, in the Anchorage Museum auditorium. This event, called “Tales of the City: Writing from Alaska’s Urban Hubs”, will be preceded by an informal
Building Fires in the Snow
meet and greet at MUSE Restaurant between 5 and 6:45 pm. 


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

49 Writers: Lois Paige Simenson | Write It Funny

A while back someone told me my writing sometimes reminded her of Nora Ephron. I was shocked at hearing this, and while I took it as a tremendous compliment, I duck-paddled like a wild woman, realizing I didn’t know much about Ephron. I knew her work as a screenwriter and director from her hit movies, Silkwood, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and When Harry Met Sally, but other than that, not much else.

I was a poster child of pop culture, like other baby boomers. We were the first TV-all-the-time generation, raised on a mix of Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner, the Addams Family and I Dream of Jeannie, sprinkled with Laugh-In and serious-movies-told-funny in the 70s, like Little Big Man.

So naturally, when Nora Ephron’s films hit our screens in the 80s and 90s I knew I would absorb scenes that quipped, “I’ll have what she’s having,” after Meg Ryan’s convincing portrayal of faking in the deli of When Harry Met Sally. (I won’t say what she was faking; if you don’t know, rent the movie). How could a screenwriter write painful, personal stories about love and loss, with such honesty and unconventionality—and be funny doing it?

I set out to read all I could about Nora Ephron. What I didn’t know then, but I do now, is in addition to screenwriting, Ephron had an extensive career “…as a reporter, a profilist, a polemicist, a novelist, a screenwriter, a playwright, an essayist, a memoirist and a blogger…” as stated in the Introduction by Robert Gottlieb of The Most of Nora Ephron. During my study of her work, I paused to watch Everything is Copy, an HBO documentary made by her son, Jacob Weinstein. I was then able to match the real-person verbal narratives with Nora’s written narrative.

I wasn’t sure what my takeaway would be. I wasn’t searching for anything specific. Just—searching, curious about her evolution as a writer and what her secret was to writing funny. I’m always curious to know what lies behind what people write.

I found that Ephron’s narrative style operated on the reality principle. Her own life found its way into much of what she wrote. Women identified with her because she wrote about personal things she encountered through life’s passages—and she wrote it honest and funny in her book on aging, I Feel Bad About My Neck: “You can shoot collagen and Botox and Restylane into your wrinkles and creases, but short of surgery, there’s not a damn thing you can do about a neck. A neck is a dead giveaway. Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t have to if it had a neck.”

A good example of writing funny was in Ephron’s novel, Heartburn, which later became a movie with Streep and Nicholson. She took the traumatic circumstance of her husband’s infidelity and fictionalized it in a funny way that had readers howling (except her ex-husband). She wove into the story humorous insights into the infidelities and social life in the political arenas of Washington D.C. in the late 70s, and her dad’s escapades in and out of the “loony bin.”

Several in the HBO documentary about Ephron said she wrote about events in her life so that she would be “in control” and not the out-of-control victim. Nora herself stated, “When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you. But when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it's your laugh.”  Her sister Delia nodded at this and said, “Yup, Nora was a control freak.”

“Everything is copy,” Ephron’s mother always told her. Everything, that is, except Nora’s illness and death, which she kept private until the end. Those two things she could not control.

My takeaway from Nora Ephron’s writing is this: No matter how grim or traumatic my personal circumstance may be, once I work through it and distance myself, maybe I can write about it. And why not write it funny? It’s a way we control freaks can write our stories, whether we choose to write memoir or fiction. This approach may not work for everyone. But, writing funny is one way to write about the pain of loss or whatever else life throws at us. I’d rather tell people I slipped on the banana peel, instead of listening to them laugh when I slip on it.

Lois Paige Simenson lives in Eagle River and writes for newspapers, magazines, and blogs at loispaigesimenson.com. She is working on two novels, The Butte Girls Club and Otter Rock.

Monday, August 22, 2016

49 Writers: Matthew Komatsu | Raw or Cooked?

Peter Molin, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and professor of English at West Point, published a post this week on his outstanding Time Now blog on the difference between “cooked” and “raw” war literature. And before I forget, if you aren’t tracking Time Now, hit the link and add it to your favorites. His posts are the smartest critical thought on war literature that you can find anywhere on the Interwebz.

I’ve had the pleasure of emailing a few times with Pete, and he’s a smart guy with informed opinions about the nature of war stories. His latest post was a great look on some recent war-related stories to hit the wire. Task and Purpose ran an article on what makes service members natural storytellers, Warhorse ran an essay provocatively titled “The Redemptive Power of Lying”, and Humans of New York featured several veteran narratives. All are very different takes on veteran storytelling, but Molin does a great job of breaking down what they represent by framing them within Claude Levi-Strauss’s concept of “raw” vs. “cooked” art.

The metaphor is fairly self-explanatory, and Molin explicitly avoids placing inherent value to either. To him, they’re reference points that help us understand how to evaluate war literature. For example, American Sniper would be a “raw” piece, versus Redeployment, which is most decidedly “cooked.” The former focuses on tough aspects of combat, the familiar “war is hell” tropes; the latter is more careful, considerate, and complex.

Molin’s take is decidedly cooked (in a good way), and complicated my own opinions on war literature. I consisted for years on a steady diet of raw war writing. They are stories that captivate the imagination and have wide popular appeal, but the same simplicity that made those books great reads eventually frustrated me. Namely because I could not find a way to frame my own experiences in the same way. And if I couldn’t do that, I had to wonder if my experience was worth writing at all.

Cooked war writing taught me there was a lot of room for narratives not dominated by battle and carnage. But in doing so, I may have shortchanged the value of the raw stuff. Looking back on a lifetime of war literature, it’s hard to imagine being able to capture the full range of the wartime experience without having consumed both. Benjamin Busch’s Dust to Dust will never be as widely read as the shoot-em-up stuff. But I don’t think I could write about war without both.

Molin’s metaphorical take is valuable, if only for its obvious truth: a well-rounded diet includes both raw and cooked foods. It’s a valuable lesson for any writer: don’t limit what you read (or write for that matter.)

49 Writers board member Matthew Komatsu is just trying to find a balance. You can watch him flail on Twitter (@matthew_komatsu) if you like.

Friday, August 19, 2016

49 Writers | Roundup for Literary Alaska


EVENTS and ANNOUNCEMENTS

- We are in the midst of planning our fall line up of classes and events and will announce options and open registration in the coming weeks.  

- We (still) want your best 49 Writers photographs! We're sprucing up; if you have quality, print-ready photos (or video, audio, courtroom-sketch-style workshop doodles, etc) from any point in our 6+ years history that 1) you'd like to donate and 2) you suspect we don't already have, we'd love them! Email small doses to 49Writers@gmail.com, or get in touch about transferring large amounts. Thanks! 

SOUTHCENTRAL
Alaskan Author and Historian Dan O’Neill
PALMER | Saturday, August 20 at Fireside Books and Turkey Red. Reading at the bookstore at 4 PM, and dinner with the author at Turkey Red at 6 PM. Tickets for dinner are $30 and can be purchased at Fireside Books or here.
ANCHORAGE | Sunday, August 21 from 1-3 pm at UAA/APU Consortium Library room 307

Dan O’Neill has written three books of literary non-fiction. A Land Gone Lonesome is literary travel writing centered on a canoe trip along the Yukon River. The Alaska Library Association selected it as 2006’s best book on Alaska, published anywhere, and The New York Times Book Review awarded it an “Editor’s Choice.” His first book, a political history called The Firecracker Boys, also won the Library Association’s best book award, and for it Dan was named Alaska Historian of the Year by the Alaska Historical Society. In between, he wrote The Last Giant of Beringia, which blends the biography of a unique scholar with an explication of his scientific work on the Bering Land Bridge. The Times (London) called it “a beautiful and engrossing book…a wonderful integration of science and history.” The University of Alaska Press has just released his first children’s book: Stubborn Gal: The True Story of an Undefeated Sled Dog RacerDan was born in San Francisco, educated at U.C. Berkeley, and moved to Alaska 40 years ago. There, he studied creative writing, worked construction jobs, built log cabins, hunted, fished, trapped, and ran dogs. He and his wife once ran their teams 800 miles to Nome. As research associate at the University of Alaska’s Oral History Program, he produced radio and television documentaries for public broadcasting. For several years he wrote a column of political opinion for the Fairbanks daily newspaper.

The “Female” in Indigenous and Pre Socratic Cultures
ANCHORAGE | Wednesday, August 24 from 4-6 pm at the UAA Campus Bookstore
Guest speakers include Dr. Jacqueline Rahm (UAF Dept. of Indigenous Studies), Dr. Rachel Mason, (UAA Anthropology Dept., NPS), Dr. Kirsten Helweg Hanson (UAA Philosophy Dept.), and Wolfgang Olsson (UAA Honor’s College graduate). This multi-disciplinary event will contrast theories that focus on the “female” and why the “female” has been suppressed and/or discarded over the years. Topics will include wisdom teachings, the Goddess, the importance of Aspasia, and the fate of Feminist Anthropology. Free parking for this event in the South Lot, Sports Complex NW Lot, West Campus Central Lot, and Sports Campus West Lot.

Book launch and celebration: Blue Ticket by Kris Farmen 
ANCHORAGE | Friday, August 26 from 7-10 pm at the Writer's Block Bookstore and Cafe (3956 Spenard Road). Farmen will read from and sign his new novel. Refreshments and additional entertainment as well. 

John Luther Adams 
ANCHORAGE | The Alaska Humanities Forum will welcome John Luther Adams for a series of events as part of the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Initiative to celebrate excellence in journalism and the arts. 

John Luther Adams is a composer and author whose life and work is deeply rooted in the natural world—especially in Alaska, where he lived for forty years before moving to New York City in 2015. Adams was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for music for his symphonic work Become Ocean, and a 2015 Grammy Award for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition.” He has taught widely, including at Harvard University and the Oberlin Conservatory, and served as composer in residence with the Anchorage Symphony, Anchorage Opera, Fairbanks Symphony, Arctic Chamber Orchestra, and APRN.  
The public is invited to a series of three free events during John Luther Adams' visit to Anchorage; you can also tune in to 106.1 FM KONR to listen to selected works from september 1-7.

READING AND BOOK SIGNING | Thursday, September 1, 6-8 pm at Cyrano's Playhouse. Adams will read from his upcoming memoir, Silences So Deep: A Memoir of Music and AlaskaPassages reflecting on his friendships with poet John Haines and composer Gordon Wright have been excerpted in the New Yorker and Alaska Quarterly Review.

ARTIST'S TALK & RECEPTION | 
Friday, September 2, Talk: 7 P.M | Reception 8 P.M. at  
Anchorage Museum. A growing number of geologists believe we have entered a new period - the Anthropocene - in which the dominant geologic force is humanity itself. What does this mean for a composer, or for any creative artist working in any medium today?

VEILS AND VESPER INSTALLATION | 
Friday & Saturday, September 2 & 3 | 6 P.M. - midnight. 
Veils and Vesper is a series of distinct but related electronic pieces written
by Adams in 2005. When the pieces are installed together, listeners are able to create their own ‘mix’ and experience the music by moving through an immersive environment.

INTERIOR 
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: 
SeptemberUAF Faculty Reading
OctoberTBA
NovemberTBA
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). 

SOUTHEAST 
JUNEAU | Introducing Juneau’s anonymous poetry publication, MYTH Zine, currently available at The Rookery Café, Kindred Post, Alaska Robotics, The JACC, Rainy Retreat Books, The Goldtown Nickelodeon, and High Tide Tattoo. Send your poetry, prose, philosophical wonderings, or love letters to myythzine@gmail.com

DYEA | Reading and Printmaking Demo at Alderworks, Sunday, August 21, 2 PM: 



SITKA | Sitka Rumi Fest: 


                                                                   SOUTHWEST 
NA

ARCTIC 
NA

OUT OF STATE
EAST COAST and UK | After launching her new book, To the Bright Edge of the World in Palmer, Eowyn Ivey headed to the west coast to promote her book. She's made it to the east coast, now, and soon heads to the UK on a whirlwind book tour. Full schedule here

BOTHELL, WASHINGTON | A Cirque reading will be held on August 19, 5:30 pm, at Tsuga Gallery on Main Street. more info  

BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON | A Cirque reading will be held at the Mount Baker Theater, Encore Room, August 28, at 3 pm. more info   


CONFERENCES, RETREATS, and RESIDENCIES

Woosh Kinaadeiyi's Summer Writer's Retreat 
JUNEAU | Woosh Kinaadeiyí presents a SUMMER WRITER'S RETREAT, a unique opportunity for those who yearn for an immersive and inclusive experience. Build community and delve deeper into your own writing through guided activities and time away from your busy lives. Set in a waterfront house off the beaten path from 3 pm on August 20th until 11am on August 21st, space is limited. $45.00. Click here for the application

2016 Tutka Bay Writers Retreat
September 9-11th, 2016 
TUTKA BAY LODGE | This 49 Writers program takes place at the fantastic Tutka Bay Lodge. Faculty instructor award-winning writer Debra Magpie Earling will lead fiction writers in an in-depth writing workshop. Emphasizing in-class writing supportiveness, collegiality, and a constructive atmosphere, the engaged student will emerge with improved techniques for further work. Sold out and waitlisting. 


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.  

The North Words Writers Symposium has announced their 2017 dates: May 31-June 3rd, which should better accommodate educators. More details to come. 


OPPORTUNITIES and AWARDS for WRITERS

The Alaska Literary Awards are open to poets, playwrights, screenwriters, writers of fiction and literary nonfiction, writers of multi-genre, cross-genre, or genre-defying work. Any Alaska writer over 18 who is not a full-time student is eligible to apply. Quality of the work is the primary consideration in determining who receives the awards. $5,000 awards will be given, all from privately donated funds. Apply at www.callforentry.org by Sept. 1, 2016 at 9:59 AKDT. 


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. The deadline for nominations for Governor's Awards for the Arts is September 15, 2016 and nominations for State Writer Laureate will be accepted through October 3, 2016This 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.

Ghostwriting opportunity | A search is underway to find an experienced ghostwriter to write a series of twelve non-fiction articles for publication. These articles will be about the history of an immigrant family arriving in Alaska in the late '40s. The selected ghostwriter will be expected to agree on the proposed content and timeline for a series of articles and then interview the client and develop the articles from the interviews. Interested writers are invited to provide a CV, recent examples of work as a ghostwriter, demonstration of the ability to write in the client’s voice, examples/references which show an ability to meet deadlines and communicate effectively and efficiently, references which show an ability to work well with a client to enable a sharing of ideas, fact checking and research skills, pay rate, ability to discuss ideas and research with the client in a non-judgmental way; description of process to give the client the opportunity to approve, ask questions and give feedback on the material, and agreement to sign a nondisclosure a
greement. If interested, please send questions, documents, and/or your rates to 13gwriter13@gmail.com by Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Thank You for Your Support!
49 Writers members and donors make this blog possible, along with our workshops, Crosscurrents events, readings and craft talks, and other programs. Not a member yet? Join Us 

Have news, events, or opportunities you'd like to see listed here? Email details to 49roundup (at) gmail.com. Your message must be received by noon on the Thursday before the roundup is scheduled to run. Unless your event falls in the "Opportunities and Awards" category, it should occur no more than 30 days from when we receive your email.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Spotlight on Alaska Books | Bonnye Matthews, 'The SealEaters, 20,000 BC'

Torq remembered the whale killers hunting the seals. The time they were on the ice with the seals and the whales came by was terrifying to him. Worse was the time the whale killers swam past their little boats chasing a seal. They caught it and tossed it in the air near them. Torq was terrified that they might toss it into the boat and then crash the boat to retrieve it. The whale killer that swam right by the edge of his boat looking him in the eyes was the most terrifying of all. It was as if the enormous animal could look right down to the secret part of his spirit where his fear lay, pull it up, examine it, and toss it away as not being worth the while. He had felt dismissed. (Bonnye Matthews, The SealEaters, 20,000 BC)

 The SealEaters, 20,000 BC is the final novel in the Winds of Change series on the peopling of the Americas before 11,700 years ago. The series, informed by five years of research, is based on the find of a spearpoint that originated in France and dated to 22,760 years ago. A scallop boat net retrieved the spearpoint and associated mammoth jaw off the coast of Virginia in 1971 under 240 feet of water. The concept of Solutrean migration was born, espoused by Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian and Bruce Bradley of the University of Exeter. The origin of the Clovis point remains unknown. Much similarity between the Solutrean and Clovis technology exists.

The SealEaters, 20,000 BC follows a handful of desperate men who traveled the Atlantic along the ice sheets to the Americas seeking a new land. At home they were caught between mountains with war on the east and south side, encroaching ice sheets from the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Their main food source dwindled. The story tells of their exploration and migration as a possible means of the eventual creation and distribution of what became known as the Clovis Point.

“America’s preeminent writer of prehistoric history. . . . a book of hearts and minds.” –Grace Cavalieri, award-winning author, host “The Poet and the Poem” Library of Congress

“Opponents of . . . Solutrean Hypothesis base . . . criticism on . . . lack of genetic evidence. Matthews . . . transports only a handful, whose genes will inevitably dilute to invisibility.” –Attila Torkos, MD, UAE

“This outstanding "Winds of Change" series is very highly and enthusiastically recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library Historical Fiction collections.” –Midwest Book Review, April 2016

Bonnye Matthews is a made writer, not one who dreamed of becoming an author. She considers herself occupationally a problem solver, having a multivariate occupational history. She retired to Alaska in 2005 and, since the Bering Land Bridge is the story of the peopling of the Americas, she researched to find who the first Alaskans were, seeking the first Americans. One day of research showed that what’s being taught is fantasy, not fact. With little tolerance for that practice she researched for years and then began to distill what she learned into the Winds of Change novel series. She now is creating a series of novellas, each of which will focus on a pre-Ice Age archaeological site across the Americas. There are over 400 of these. Her books, published by Publication Consultants, are available in paperback and e-book. http://booksbybonnye.com.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Alaska Shorts: An Excerpt from Wealth Woman by Deb Vanasse


The excerpt that follows tells of events leading up to the marriage of Shaaw Tlaa (Kate) to prospector George Carmack, who took credit for the discovery of gold in the Klondike.

…both [Shaaw Tláa’s husband] Kult’ús and her daughter fell sick, most likely in the late summer or early fall of 1886. As with each wave of disease that passed through coastal villages—smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, influenza—the long-haired “Indian doctors” proved mostly helpless, no matter how many blankets were offered in exchange for their assistance.

As a traditional remedy, there was Skookum Root, coming from a plant that grew high in the mountains, with a sturdy stalk and glossy, long leaves. When digging the root, Shaaw Tláa knew to speak to it with respect: “Grandmother, I want you to do your best for my husband and daughter. Do your best. I’m picking you for medicine.” When the Skookum Root failed to cure Kult’ús and their daughter, Shaaw Tláa likely called on the missionaries, despite conflicting ideas about whether they cured or caused such sickness.

But nothing could save her husband and daughter. Statistically, their deaths were part of a mortality rate that, according the governor of Alaska, indicated “the gradual extinction of the native people.” In grief, Shaaw Tláa blackened her face with charcoal and joined in the mourning songs which, with their slow, sad tempo, made a trail for the dead to find their way to the afterworld. Of the food shared by her coastal relatives, she threw some in the fire, feeding it to the spirits of her departed husband and child. Following cremation, their ashes were stored in a wooden chest inside a spirit house, surrounded by a fence to keep their restless spirits contained.

Despite her loss, Shaaw Tláa bore her grief stoically, knowing that if she cried too much, the souls of her husband and child would lose their way to the other world. On the fourth day after her husband’s death, she hung his moose hide belt in a spruce tree to ensure that her next husband would live long. After a Crow woman combed and washed her hair, she was free from a widow’s restrictions, though for a full year neither she nor anyone else was to mention the name of her husband or child.

By tradition, the elders of the Wolf moiety—or Eagles, as they are called on the coast—would have decided whom Shaaw Tláa should next marry; in all likelihood, her new husband would be a relative of Kult’ús. But Shaaw Tláa’s mother had already lost too many children. She sent for her daughter to come home. It was there, on the inland side of the mountains, that George Carmack would become part of Shaaw Tláa’s life—but not before he first married someone else.

Co-founder of 49 Writers and founder of the independent authors cooperative Running Fox Books, Deb Vanasse has authored seventeen books. Among the most recent are Write Your Best Book, a practical guide to writing books that rise above the rest; Cold Spell, a novel that “captures the harsh beauty of the terrain as well as the strain of self-doubt and complicated family bonds; and the “deeply researched and richly imagined” biography  Wealth Woman. After thirty-six years in Alaska, she now lives on the north coast of Oregon, between Astoria and Seaside.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Guest Blogger Lucian Childs | Reading My Way to a Gay Life


Tomorrow is the culmination of almost three years of work on the part of myself and my co-editor, Martha Amore. Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry has just been published by the University of Alaska Press. To commemorate the day, I’d like to take a sentimental journey through some of the works of gay literature that have helped to shape me.

Being a gay boy in Texas in the 1960s was pretty bleak. I survived by reading. I poured through books in my room: Dickens for fun, the classics for prep school. There were no gay role models in those books. Still, entering the private lives of their characters, I felt less alone.

I came out in Austin, Texas at the age of twenty-six. It was 1975 and people had only just begun to use the gay bar’s front door instead of secreting in the back and disco hadn’t yet been invented. Neither I, or anybody else it seemed, had a clue how to be gay. We tried on new roles, using old ideas of masculinity: lumberjacks and cowboys. I wore a lot of flannel shirts in those days, but I also fell back on my old habit—reading. At last, I saw myself reflected in the gay books I read.

I was drawn to the sentimental romances popular at the time. After surviving the wasteland of my childhood, I yearned for the love described in melodramas such as The Frontrunner and the glitzy novels of Gordon Merrick.

Romantic yearning lead me to Mary Renault’s historical novels, The Charioteer and The Persian Boy. I inhaled them both, practically at a single sitting, imaging a dreamy Alexander the Great to be my lover.

I won’t be disingenuous. Though I was pining for love in Central Texas, I was also hounded by its doppelganger: sex. I greedily read John Rechy’s City of Night and Numbers, tales of hustlers and sexual athletes, not only for their prurient interest, but as a window into a world outside the comfortable one I’d always known in Texas.

In 1981, I made the journey to that world, one that many gay men had made before me. I filled a U-Haul and drove to San Francisco. The City was at the height of the party, when men reveled in the freedom so long denied them. It was not a time conducive to clarity. That yearning for true love was often waylaid by baser instincts and the literature we read reflected that.

Larry Kramer’s Faggots was a searing satire of the shallowness of the new gay culture with its worship of beauty, social status and money. The writers that followed marked a Golden Age of gay literature: Andrew Holleran, Edmund White, David Leavitt, Alan Hollinghurst and others.

Holleran’s The Dancer from the Dance devastated me with its poetic language and vivid celebration of New York and Fire Island gay life. This was the life I was, with some difficulty, attempting to navigate and to see it so artfully rendered was at once to ramp up the alienation I felt from it and to give me hope.

The prose in Edmund White’s earlier books thrilled me, but his 1982 release, A Boy’s Own Story, read as if it were my own biography: that of an alienated young man taking refuge in literature. It was a painful, but necessary read with its powerful depiction of shame and yearning, the primary feelings of my boyhood.

Other classics followed at a quick pace. The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt. The Beautiful Room is Empty by Edmund White. The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst. These coming-of-age stories paralleled my life in San Francisco with its challenge to create an authentic life while subject to the tidal forces of sex and the social mores of the new gay culture. My life was a string of words on each page: the varieties of sex one had at one’s disposal, the entanglements they brought, the joy and the confusion.

As my time in San Francisco came to an end, this deluge of classic gay fiction seem to ebb. At least for me. Holleran, White, Leavitt, and Hollinghurst continued to chronicle gay life in New York, Paris and London. But in 1992, as I packed my Honda and prepared to drive up the ALCAN to a new beginning with my partner in Alaska, that life had lost its relevance.

My reading of fiction slowed to a trickle with infrequent dips into work by Michael Cunningham, Colm Tóibín and others. It wasn’t until 2005 that I began to read in earnest again. That year, The New Yorker published a story that changed my life. It didn’t describe fabulous nightlife, beautiful men, drugs, or the pursuit of gay sex and bold experience. It was a cramped tale, of longing and denial. Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain woke in me the need to read deeply again, and to write.

Now, eleven years later, I and my co-editor, Martha Amore, have brought all this reading to bear in crafting the anthology, Building Fires in the Snow. It collects the stories and poems of twenty-six contributors to open a window for the first time onto the lives of LGBTQ Alaskans.

But enough of that for now. Let’s save something for next week’s post. Until then everybody, let’s keep reading!


Lucian Childs divides his time between Anchorage, Alaska and Toronto, Ontario where he lives with his husband. In 2013, he received a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Project Grant as well as the Prism Review Short Story Prize. He has been awarded residencies at Brydcliffe Art Colony and at Artscape Gibraltar Point and was a Peter Taylor Fellow at the 2015 Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. He is a co-editor of Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry. His short stories have appeared in Grain, Sanskrit, The Puritan, Jelly Bucket, Quiddity, and Cirque, among others.

Friday, August 12, 2016

49 Writers | Roundup for Literary Alaska


EVENTS and ANNOUNCEMENTS

- We are in the midst of planning our fall line up of classes and events and will announce options and open registration in the coming weeks.  

- We want your best 49 Writers photographs! We're sprucing up; if you have quality, print-ready photos (or video, audio, courtroom-sketch-style workshop doodles, etc) from any point in our 6+ years history that 1) you'd like to donate and 2) you suspect we don't already have, we'd love them! Email small doses to 49Writers@gmail.com, or get in touch about transferring large amounts. Thanks! 

SOUTHCENTRAL
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Celebration
ANCHORAGE | Friday, August 12 from 10 am through 5 pm at the UAA Campus Bookstore
Activities include:  Meet the Snowy Owl (noon-1 pm), Dramatic Readings with Toby WiddicombeSharon EmmerichsJennifer Stone—faculty from the UAA English Dept. and others (1:15-3:30 pm), Costume Contest, Sorting Hat Station, Trivia Contests, Cooking Demonstrations (10:30am-11:30am and 4-5 pm), Drowsy Wolf Specials, and more. Free parking at UAA on Fridays.

Ashley Sweeney Book Signings
ANCHORAGE | 1) Monday, August 15, 1-3 pm at the Anchorage Museum and 2) August 18th, 6-8 pm at Barnes & Noble. Author Ashley Sweeney will sign copies of her new novel, Eliza Waite. The book is part diary, part recipe file, and part Gold Rush. Sweeney did extensive research for this book at the Anchorage Museum. A native New Yorker, Ashley E. Sweeney lives and writes in La Conner, Washington. She is a graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, MA and is an award-winning journalist in Washington State. Included with Museum admission.


Alaska Writers Guild August Event 
ANCHORAGE | AWG will offer a sneak-peek into this year's Conference for Writers & Illustrators. Wednesday, August 177-8:30 PM, Barnes & Noble. Free. 

Alaskan Author and Historian Dan O’Neill
PALMER | Saturday, August 20 at Fireside Books and Turkey Red. Reading at the bookstore at 4 PM, and dinner with the author at Turkey Red at 6 PM. 

ANCHORAGE | Sunday, August 21 from 1-3 pm at UAA/APU Consortium Library room 307

Dan O’Neill has written three books of literary non-fiction. A Land Gone Lonesome is literary travel writing centered on a canoe trip along the Yukon River. The Alaska Library Association selected it as 2006’s best book on Alaska, published anywhere, and The New York Times Book Review awarded it an “Editor’s Choice.” His first book, a political history called The Firecracker Boys, also won the Library Association’s best book award, and for it Dan was named Alaska Historian of the Year by the Alaska Historical Society. In between, he wrote The Last Giant of Beringia, which blends the biography of a unique scholar with an explication of his scientific work on the Bering Land Bridge. The Times (London) called it “a beautiful and engrossing book…a wonderful integration of science and history.” The University of Alaska Press has just released his first children’s book: Stubborn Gal: The True Story of an Undefeated Sled Dog RacerDan was born in San Francisco, educated at U.C. Berkeley, and moved to Alaska 40 years ago. There, he studied creative writing, worked construction jobs, built log cabins, hunted, fished, trapped, and ran dogs. He and his wife once ran their teams 800 miles to Nome. As research associate at the University of Alaska’s Oral History Program, he produced radio and television documentaries for public broadcasting. For several years he wrote a column of political opinion for the Fairbanks daily newspaper.

The “Female” in Indigenous and Pre Socratic Cultures
ANCHORAGE | Wednesday, August 24 from 4-6 pm at the UAA Campus Bookstore
Guest speakers include Dr. Jacqueline Rahm (UAF Dept. of Indigenous Studies), Dr. Rachel Mason, (UAA Anthropology Dept., NPS), Dr. Kirsten Helweg Hanson (UAA Philosophy Dept.), and Wolfgang Olsson (UAA Honor’s College graduate). This multi-disciplinary event will contrast theories that focus on the “female” and why the “female” has been suppressed and/or discarded over the years. Topics will include wisdom teachings, the Goddess, the importance of Aspasia, and the fate of Feminist Anthropology. Free parking for this event in the South Lot, Sports Complex NW Lot, West Campus Central Lot, and Sports Campus West Lot.

John Luther Adams 
ANCHORAGE | The Alaska Humanities Forum will welcome John Luther Adams for a series of events as part of the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Initiative to celebrate excellence in journalism and the arts. 

John Luther Adams is a composer and author whose life and work is deeply rooted in the natural world—especially in Alaska, where he lived for forty years before moving to New York City in 2015. Adams was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for music for his symphonic work Become Ocean, and a 2015 Grammy Award for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition.” He has taught widely, including at Harvard University and the Oberlin Conservatory, and served as composer in residence with the Anchorage Symphony, Anchorage Opera, Fairbanks Symphony, Arctic Chamber Orchestra, and APRN.  
The public is invited to a series of three free events during John Luther Adams' visit to Anchorage; you can also tune in to 106.1 FM KONR to listen to selected works from september 1-7.

READING AND BOOK SIGNING | Thursday, September 1, 6-8 pm at Cyrano's Playhouse. Adams will read from his upcoming memoir, Silences So Deep: A Memoir of Music and AlaskaPassages reflecting on his friendships with poet John Haines and composer Gordon Wright have been excerpted in the New Yorker and Alaska Quarterly Review.

ARTIST'S TALK & RECEPTION | 
Friday, September 2, Talk: 7 P.M | Reception 8 P.M. at  
Anchorage Museum. A growing number of geologists believe we have entered a new period - the Anthropocene - in which the dominant geologic force is humanity itself. What does this mean for a composer, or for any creative artist working in any medium today?

VEILS AND VESPER INSTALLATION | 
Friday & Saturday, September 2 & 3 | 6 P.M. - midnight. 
Veils and Vesper is a series of distinct but related electronic pieces written
by Adams in 2005. When the pieces are installed together, listeners are able to create their own ‘mix’ and experience the music by moving through an immersive environment.

INTERIOR 
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: 
SeptemberUAF Faculty Reading
OctoberTBA
NovemberTBA
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). 

SOUTHEAST 
JUNEAU | Introducing Juneau’s anonymous poetry publication, MYTH Zine, currently available at The Rookery Café, Kindred Post, Alaska Robotics, The JACC, Rainy Retreat Books, The Goldtown Nickelodeon, and High Tide Tattoo. Send your poetry, prose, philosophical wonderings, or love letters to myythzine@gmail.com

                                                                   SOUTHWEST 
NA

ARCTIC 
NA

OUT OF STATE
EAST COAST and UK | After launching her new book, To the Bright Edge of the World in Palmer, Eowyn Ivey headed to the west coast to promote her book. She's made it to the east coast, now, and soon heads to the UK on a whirlwind book tour. Full schedule here

BOTHELL, WASHINGTON | A Cirque reading will be held on August 19, 5:30 pm, at Tsuga Gallery on Main Street. more info  

BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON | A Cirque reading will be held at the Mount Baker Theater, Encore Room, August 28, at 3 pm. more info   


CONFERENCES, RETREATS, and RESIDENCIES

Woosh Kinaadeiyi's Summer Writer's Retreat 
JUNEAU | Woosh Kinaadeiyí presents a SUMMER WRITER'S RETREAT, a unique opportunity for those who yearn for an immersive and inclusive experience. Build community and delve deeper into your own writing through guided activities and time away from your busy lives. Set in a waterfront house off the beaten path from 3 pm on August 20th until 11am on August 21st, space is limited. $45.00. Click here for the application

2016 Tutka Bay Writers Retreat
September 9-11th, 2016 
TUTKA BAY LODGE | This 49 Writers program takes place at the fantastic Tutka Bay Lodge. Faculty instructor award-winning writer Debra Magpie Earling will lead fiction writers in an in-depth writing workshop. Emphasizing in-class writing supportiveness, collegiality, and a constructive atmosphere, the engaged student will emerge with improved techniques for further work. Sold out and waitlisting. 


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.  

The North Words Writers Symposium has announced their 2017 dates: May 31-June 3rd, which should better accommodate educators. More details to come. 


OPPORTUNITIES and AWARDS for WRITERS

Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program application period is open until August 15, 2016. Eligible creative writers or media artists are invited to apply for fully-funded, two-month-long writing residencies in 2017 at Djerassi Resident Artists Program in the Santa Cruz Mountains near San Francisco. Alaska writers who have received the award in prior years include Arlitia Jones, Christine Byl, Ernestine Saankalaxt' Hayes, and Rosemary McGuire. Artists of other disciplines are eligible to apply for residencies elsewhere, too. Learn more and apply.   

The Alaska Literary Awards are open to poets, playwrights, screenwriters, writers of fiction and literary nonfiction, writers of multi-genre, cross-genre, or genre-defying work. Any Alaska writer over 18 who is not a full-time student is eligible to apply. Quality of the work is the primary consideration in determining who receives the awards. $5,000 awards will be given, all from privately donated funds. Apply at www.callforentry.org by Sept. 1, 2016 at 9:59 AKDT. 


The Anchorage International Film Festival Screenplay Competition | AIFF is making a second Call for Entries for independent Features, Documentaries, Shorts, Animation and our "Made in Alaska" categories. Their first annual Screenplay competition is also open. Regular deadline to submit is August 12, with final deadline on September 5, 2016. More information: www.anchoragefilmfestival.org

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.
 The deadline for nominations for Governor's Awards for the Arts is September 15, 2016 and nominations for State Writer Laureate will be accepted through October 3, 2016This 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.

Ghostwriting opportunity | A search is underway to find an experienced ghostwriter to write a series of twelve non-fiction articles for publication. These articles will be about the history of an immigrant family arriving in Alaska in the late '40s. The selected ghostwriter will be expected to agree on the proposed content and timeline for a series of articles and then interview the client and develop the articles from the interviews. Interested writers are invited to provide a CV, recent examples of work as a ghostwriter, demonstration of the ability to write in the client’s voice, examples/references which show an ability to meet deadlines and communicate effectively and efficiently, references which show an ability to work well with a client to enable a sharing of ideas, fact checking and research skills, pay rate, ability to discuss ideas and research with the client in a non-judgmental way; description of process to give the client the opportunity to approve, ask questions and give feedback on the material, and agreement to sign a nondisclosure a
greement. If interested, please send questions, documents, and/or your rates to 13gwriter13@gmail.com by Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Thank You for Your Support!
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Have news, events, or opportunities you'd like to see listed here? Email details to 49roundup (at) gmail.com. Your message must be received by noon on the Thursday before the roundup is scheduled to run. Unless your event falls in the "Opportunities and Awards" category, it should occur no more than 30 days from when we receive your email.