Thursday, July 28, 2016

Spotlight on Alaska Books | Trucker Dude by John Foley

"We were hiking down this trail outside of Anchorage, and we see a moose blocking the trail… Big animal, so we stopped and were thinking about cutting through the woods to get around… Then this guy walked right by and sort of sneered, as if to say, 'Real men don't fear moose.' I was tempted to show him the damage an over-the-hill lineman can still inflict on the average human being… So I turn to Marie and say, 'You know, honey, I'll bet than animal weighs a thousand pounds. If you saw a thousand-pound guy eating at Starbucks, would you get in his face?' 'The answer is no,' Marie yelled from the kitchen. 'Not even if he stole my breve latte!'" (from Trucker Dude by John Foley)

TD is an artist and former football player who has a sore ass from long-haul trucking. He's thinking about taking a year off just to paint and hang out with his girlfriend, Linda Sue, when his trucker friend Flynn proposes an armored car heist. TD—short for Tommy Dennison as well as Trucker Dude—agrees to go along with the elaborate plan, despite serious misgivings.

He quits his trucking job, but not before a final run from Seattle to Miami. On the road he meets Jason, a hitchhiking singer-songwriter with hippie and religious tendencies. Jason was studying for the priesthood, but his sideline as a chick magnet derailed that career course. As they gradually become friends, TD confides his qualms about the heist. He also has qualms about marriage, but Linda Sue is getting tired of her girlfriend status, giving TD a lot to think about out there on the highway of life.

"Foley writes with a flow and clarity that carry the reader along, effortless and entertaining."—Shana Loshbaugh, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


John Foley is a writer, teacher, and artist living in Prescott Valley, Arizona. John has written several young adult novels, including Hoops of Steel, which was named a Book for the Teen-Age in 2008. In addition, he has been an artist-in-residence at several national parks, and his paintings have been juried into many shows. You can see his work at HikerDudeArt.com. John lived in Alaska for most of the 1990s, working as a reporter for The Anchorage Times and teaching in Anchorage, Tetlin and Gambell. He has returned for extended visits to the Brooks Range and elsewhere in the state. Trucker Dude is available in both hardcover and paperback at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com and Anaphoraliterary.com.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

49 Writers: Eowyn Ivey | A Window Into My Favorite Bookstore


An author’s dream: You have a new novel coming out and when you drive by your favorite bookstore in the world, they’ve devoted their entire front window to your book. And they’ve also planned a huge book release party.
Sometimes dreams do come true. This morning as I drove through downtown Palmer, Alaska, I saw that the front windows of Fireside Books had been painted with the cover of my new book, To the Bright Edge of the World. (The owner’s niece, Tiffany Cheezem, did the beautiful painting.) The sight of it set off a wave of emotion in me – thrilling excitement, love and gratitude, and also a sense of nostalgia. Fifteen years ago, I used to walk by that window with anticipation and read the sign, “Bookstore Coming Soon.” A few years later, I was hired as a bookseller at Fireside, and the owners, David Cheezem and Melissa Behnke, quickly became dear friends.
David, Melissa and all the staff at Fireside Book were instrumental in welcoming my debut novel, The Snow Child, into the world, and I’m so grateful to once again have their support.
The Bright Edge book release party is at 6:30 p.m. on August 2 at the train depot in downtown Palmer, Alaska, just across the street from Fireside Books. Everyone is welcome! Copies can be reserved by contacting Fireside Books at (907) 745-2665 or www.goodbooksbadcoffee.com.

Eowyn Ivey grew up in the Matanuska Valley and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. Her novel The Snow Child was a finalist for the Pulitzer and a New York Times bestseller, published in more than 25 languages and 30 countries. Her second novel, To the Bright Edge of the World, will be released August 2, 2016. 
This post originally appeared on Eowyn's blog and appears here with her permission.

Friday, July 22, 2016

49 Writers | Roundup for Literary Alaska


EVENTS and ANNOUNCEMENTS



SOUTHCENTRAL
Eowyn Ivy: To the Bright Edge of the World book launch party
PALMER | Tuesday, August 2nd, 6:30 pm at the Palmer Depot (610 S Valley Way)Open to the public. One can reserve a copy through Fireside Books at www.goodbooksbadcoffee.com or by calling (907) 745-2665. 

Ashley Sweeney Book Signings
ANCHORAGE | 1) Monday, Aug. 15, 1-3 pm at the Anchorage Museum and 2) Aug. 18, 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.
INTERIOR
The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival 
FAIRBANKS | July 17-31, 2016. See below or here for info on the creative writing programing. The Festival offers more than 200 workshops and 100 performances in music, dance, visual arts, literary arts, theatre, culinary arts, and healing arts for people who are enthusiastic about the fine arts. 

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: 
July 21: Fairbanks Summer Arts Fest Creative Writing Faculty, featuring Jeanne E. Clark, Daryl Farmer, Don Rearden, and Sarah Pape.
August 6Paul Greci
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 
Woosh Kinaadeiyi's Summer Showcase Redux 
JUNEAU | Tuesday, July 29th at 7pm, at KTOO / 360 Egan Drive, Alaska. KTOO Alaska Originals series presents Woosh Kinaadeiyí has has been given the opportunity to take part in KTOO’s “Alaska Originals” series. “Alaska Originals” is KTOO’s statewide TV (360 North Television) and radio program that features Alaskan musicians and artists sharing original work. The performance will be recorded for broadcast throughout Alaska. All are invited to be a part of the studio audience. Woosh Kinaadeiyí will offer spoken word performances from ZIggy Unzicker, Ryan Carrillo, Mike Christenson, and Christy NaMee Eriksen! All poetry will be accompanied by Jacob Pickard, with host Conor Lendrum. Doors will open at 6:30 and the show will start at 7 sharp. Admission will be pay as you can, and seating is limited. Learn more about 360 North, KTOO or the “Alaska Originals” series, here.

SOUTHWEST 
NA

ARCTIC 
NA

CONFERENCES, RETREATS, and RESIDENCIES

Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Creative Writing Class
July 18-29th, 2016,  M-F 9:00-4:20  
FAIRBANKS | This class is open to people with all levels of writing skills. The focus is on generating new work. Students will write every day under the guidance of the Festival staff. Each day will offer directed writing activities and close readings of literature from a writer's perspective. We will discuss poetry and prose, and students may write either or both. The class will focus on generating new writing. Students will practice several stages of the writing process: beginning, drafting and revising. 1 week  $210, two weeks $395 | University credit is available, with separate registration.
  

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. Registration is $600 for members and $650 for nonmembers. Learn more and register.



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

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. 

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.

Thank You for Your Support!
The blog is made possible by 49 Writers members, alongside all of the workshops, author tours, Crosscurrents events, readings, and craft talks we offer. Not a member yet? Join Us 

Have news or events 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" category, it should occur no more than 30 days from when we receive your email.




Thursday, July 21, 2016

49 Writers: Spotlight on Alaska Books | The Giant's Hand by Nick Jans


Like many others before me, I came to Alaska hoping to learn to live with and from the land, though I hardly knew all that it would mean. Over the course of years, I’ve felt my spirit flex as I gutted and skinned, or plucked or scaled, and ate more once-living things than I can count. But no less telling have been the quiet hours alone with the land, watching lives rise and fade as seasons pass. The wild, strange thrill of taking life has long since dimmed, along with any sense of superiority. Every death that passes before my eyes reminds me that I want no more or less than any living being. A human, a crippled moose, or a raven circling overhead, we all strive for the same thing: to breathe another day. Together and alone, we wait beneath the sky, the threads of our lives shifting in the wind. (From The Giant’s Hand by Nick Jans)

Follow award-winning Alaska writer and photographer Nick Jans to northwest arctic Alaska—a vast wilderness where caribou roam, the northern lights blaze, and Inupiaq Eskimo hunters cling to vanishing traditions. Weaving tales of life-or-death adventure, everyday life, and personal experiences gleaned from over three decades of arctic experience, Jans creates vivid, poignant images of a land and its people on the cusp of change. The Giant’s Hand is at the same time a memoir of his own personal journey, brimming with moments of profound, often poetic insight.  

“Jans is an exceptional storyteller—no nature writer can top him in terms of sheer emotional force.” --The New York Times

Nick Jans is a longtime contributing editor to Alaska Magazine and a member of USA Today’s board of editorial contributors. He’s written twelve books and hundreds of magazine articles and columns, and has contributed to many anthologies and other books. Jans is also a professional nature photographer, specializing in Alaska wildlife, landscapes, and Native cultures in remote locations. He has been the recipient of numerous writing awards over the years. Jans lived for 20 years in northwest arctic Alaska, and currently resides out the Haines Highway with his wife, Sherrie, and their dogs, and travels widely in Alaska. He returns each year to the arctic Inupiaq village of Ambler, and the surrounding country he calls home. He is currently working on several book projects, including a long-simmering literary novel set in the Arctic. The Giant’s Hand is available in first edition hardcover from nickjans.com.




Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Jeremy Pataky | Apply for a Funded Residency in 2017

We’re fortunate to live in a place so rich with story and art, where culture and economies relate in healthful—or at least richly complex—ways. Alaska individuals, businesses, and philanthropists value and invest in local artists and we harvest the resulting fruits. Busts, booms, and all, Alaska life is good, and often sweetened—like highbush cranberries after first frost—by all the challenges inherent here.    

Among our many superlative Biggests, Bests, and Mosts that Alaska writers and artists can claim is the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program (ARP). Homegrown, fully-funded, and built to suit, it affords generous helpings of time, space, and money for artists and writers to create.

The program sends four Alaska artists and writers Outside each year and likewise brings four from the Lower 48 up here for two month residencies. It’s a privilege each summer to invite Alaskans to apply. Having helped manage the program for the Foundation for over three years, I’ve seen firsthand how it benefits artists, residency host organizations, and communities. The award includes a $4,000 stipend plus additional funds that cover travel, housing, and a great deal more, making it one of the best shots Alaska writers and artists have at achieving a long stint of time and support to create.

ARP alum Ernestine Hayes at work on The Tao of Raven at Djerassi
We offered an optional info session at the new Alaska State Museum in Juneau earlier this month with information about applying to the program (you can listen to a recording here). Ernestine Hayes, an ARP alum and current Alaska Reads author, joined us to share some insights about her experience at Djerassi Resident Artists Program in California. She raved about the residency and described how it enabled the completion of her next book, The Tao of Raven, forthcoming in October.

It can be tough to leave home for two months. The choice to remove oneself from the familiar can be incredibly generative, though, and transformative. I heartily echo the advice of Ernestine and others to do whatever it takes to arrange to go somewhere with the express purposing of creating.

The online application is open until August 15th. Alaska writers and artists can choose to apply to one of four sites, each with different parameters and eligible disciplines. The application asks one to choose dates from a list of options in 2017, and those dates are variable from site to site and listed in the online application. For Djerassi, the venue open to writers, the choices are April 5-June 7, August 2-October 4, or September 6-November 15. Each ARP date option at Djerassi spans two of their regular one month sessions, which are separated by a few days. This opportunity even includes a short, expenses-paid stay off-site in nearby San Francisco (or elsewhere) between the two residency blocks.

Join me in bidding Rosemary McGuire good luck; she was selected last year for a 2016 ARP residency and she’ll head down to write at Djerassi this September. In addition to Rosemary and Ernestine, playwright Arlitia Jones and writer Christine Byl have also participated in the program.   

Alaska has enjoyed an escalation in the diversity, recognition, quality, and quantity of homegrown writing in the last decade, and our readership has grown immensely. Opportunities for education, financial support, publication, networking, and camaraderie for writers has also grown, and this one is significant. I hope to see record numbers of applications this year, and I imagine the good folks at Djerassi—and those in Charlotte, Cleveland, and Santa Fe—will have some tough decisions to make in selecting an awardee.

Learn more about the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program on the website, contact me anytime with questions, and apply online by August 15th.


In addition to serving as Interim Executive Director of 49 Writers, Jeremy Pataky works on contract as coordinator of the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program. 


Friday, July 15, 2016

Weekly Roundup for Literary Alaska | Friday, July 15, 2016


EVENTS and ANNOUNCEMENTS

SOUTHCENTRAL

Northern Renaissance Arts & Sciences Readings Schedule, in conjunction with the UAA MFA Summer Residency
ANCHORAGE | July 10-19 nightly, 8 pm, UAA ARTS Building Room 150

Release celebration for Ilarion Merculieff’s memoir, Wisdom Keeper, One Man's Journey to Honor the Untold History of the Unangan People
ANCHORAGE | Friday, July 15, 2016, 4-6pm 
Ilarion Merculieff is an Unangan, Aleut, raised in a traditional way on St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea.  His memoir brings Unangan traditional knowledge, Aleut history, and sacred teachings to light in order to address critical changes throughout the world today. Ilarion Merculieff is co-founder of the Indigenous Peoples’ Council for Marine Mammals, the Alaska Forum on the Environment, the International Bering Sea Forum, and the Alaska Oceans Network. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Buffet Finalist Award for Indigenous Leadership, the Environmental Excellence Award for lifetime achievement from the Alaska Forum on the Environment, Rasmuson Foundation award for Creative Non-Fiction, and the Alaska Native Writers on the Environment Award. In addition, he is co-author of Stop Talking: Indigenous Ways of Teaching and Learning, published by UAA and APU in 2008. Wisdom Keeper is published by Penguin/Random House. Free parking at UAA on Fridays.

Jim Misko Book Signing: author of All My Fathers Were and other novels
TALKEETNA | Sunday, July 17, 5-7pm, Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge 

Launch of Cirque, 7.2 
ANCHORAGE | July 21st, 7 pm at Great Harvest Bread, located in the Metro Mall. The 14th issue launch includes Cirque readers David McElroy, the Andy Hope Award winner, Tom Begich, Barbara Hood, Cynthia Sims and others. Music by drummer Patrick Minock and guitarist Rick Brooks. The event is also a reception for Minock's art on display.

Eowyn Ivy: To the Bright Edge of the World book launch party
PALMER | Tuesday, August 2nd, 6:30 pm at the Palmer Depot (610 S Valley Way)Open to the public. One can reserve a copy through Fireside Books at www.goodbooksbadcoffee.com or by calling (907) 745-2665. 

Workshop: Writing about Restaurants in Alaska with Julia O’Malley
ANCHORAGE | Interested in writing about food and restaurants in Alaska? This mini-workshop will take participants through the process of writing smart, constructive food criticism that understands Alaska’s dining culture, our cuisines and influences, our unique food supply issues and the expectations of the local reading audience, all while applying the standards of the wider food world. Participants will read and discuss food criticism, eat together, write and give feedback. This mini-workshop is designed for anyone with an interest in dining culture, people working in food and wine, as well as journalists who write about food. Thursday nights, August 11 and August 18, 6 to 8 pm, at Fire Island Bakery, 1343 G St. Cost is $90 + the cost of one meal. Space is limited to 8. Learn more and reserve a spot while they last.

Ashley Sweeney Book Signing
ANCHORAGE | Monday, Aug. 15, 1-3 pm at the Anchorage Museum. 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.

INTERIOR
The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival 
FAIRBANKS | July 17-31, 2016. See below or here for info on the creative writing programing. The Festival offers more than 200 workshops and 100 performances in music, dance, visual arts, literary arts, theatre, culinary arts, and healing arts for people who are enthusiastic about the fine arts. 

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: 
July 21: Fairbanks Summer Arts Fest Creative Writing Faculty, featuring Jeanne E. Clark, Daryl Farmer, Don Rearden, and Sarah Pape.
August 6Paul Greci
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 
Woosh Kinaadeiyi Poetry Slam
JUNEAU | Friday, July 15th at 6:30pm, Perseverance Theatre in Douglas, Alaska. Hosted by Showcase performers Ryan Carillo and Dee Jay DeRego. Sign up starts at 6:30, show starts at 7, and as usual, it is all ages and free. 

SOUTHWEST 
NA

ARCTIC 
NA

CONFERENCES, RETREATS, and RESIDENCIES

Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Creative Writing Class
July 18-29th, 2016,  M-F 9:00-4:20  
FAIRBANKS | This class is open to people with all levels of writing skills. The focus is on generating new work. Students will write every day under the guidance of the Festival staff. Each day will offer directed writing activities and close readings of literature from a writer's perspective. We will discuss poetry and prose, and students may write either or both. The class will focus on generating new writing. Students will practice several stages of the writing process: beginning, drafting and revising. 1 week  $210, two weeks $395 | University credit is available, with separate registration.
  

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. Registration is $600 for members and $650 for nonmembers. Learn more and register.



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 is available until July 15th at only $95 for AWG/49 Writers/SCBWI members or $145 for non-members. More info and registration here.  




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.   

Alaska Women Speaka journal devoted to the expression of ideas, literature and art of Alaska’s women, is releasing its summer issue, themed Things Lost (and Found)The Summer Issue features a diverse selection of poetry and prose from Alaskan women, along with book reviews of Jewel Kilcher’s Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story and Deb Vanasse’s Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Klondike Race for Gold. To become involved with Alaska Women Speak:
•   Subscribe at www.alaskawomenspeak.org
•   Submit work by following submission guidelines posted on the journal’s website
•   Volunteer by contacting alaskawomenspeak@yahoo.com

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. 

Thank You for Your Support!
The blog is made possible by 49 Writers members, alongside all of the workshops, author tours, Crosscurrents events, readings, and craft talks we offer. Not a member yet? Join Us 

Have news or events 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" category, it should occur no more than 30 days from when we receive your email.





Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Deals: What Authors Don’t Ask Their Publishers



I’ve been at this publishing game for a while now—twenty years, seventeen books, six different publishers. From a writer’s perspective, it’s a complicated business. You may think your contract spells out everything related to your book deal, when in fact many details that can make or break your publishing experience won’t be covered in your contract at all.

That means you need to ask questions—lots of them, through your agent, if you have one, or directly if you don’t. Among the most crucial:

As an author, do you have to pay for anything? With the advent of digital publishing and print-on-demand (POD) technologies, publishers are springing up everywhere. They may vet submissions, but if they charge authors any fees at all, they are “author services” publishers who have little more clout in the marketplace than you would have on your own if you self-published. Weigh all factors carefully, especially your budget, before signing on with an author services publisher. Don’t overestimate sales—competition in the book market is fierce.

What will the cover price be? If your book is overpriced for the competition, it won’t sell as it should. A publisher can’t nail down an exact price until the details of the book are firm, but you should at least be able to agree on a range.

What services (editorial, design, publicity) are outsourced vs. provided in-house? There’s nothing inherently wrong with outsourcing, but you’re more likely to get an inferior editor, proofreader, designer, or indexer if the work is outsourced.

What’s the anticipated market for this book—and how does the publisher intend to reach it? You may assume your book will be sold in bookstores and purchased by libraries when in fact the publisher has no means of procuring shelf space or library sales. “Available” in bookstores only means that it will be in a digital catalog from which bookstores may or may not choose to order it.

Will the book be printed and warehoused, or will it be printed as copies are ordered, using print-on-demand (POD) technology? If a book is published using print-on-demand (POD) technology, Barnes and Noble won’t order for store pick-up—the title has to be shipped directly to the consumer. On the other hand, a POD book can be printed and delivered in minutes at Powell’s and other bookseller who’ve invested in the proper equipment.

What sort of marketing budget can I expect? As with the cover price, these details won’t be firmed up until the book goes into production, and they’ll shift as the market responds favorably (additional marketing money will appear in the budget) or with less enthusiasm (marketing will slow or cease). But based on your advance, the publisher has a rough idea of how much will be allocated to marketing—in general, the more that’s invested up front (your advance), the more the publisher is likely to invest in making sure it succeeds.

What types of contacts will the publicist/marketing specialist have? Publishing is a relationship business, and if your prospective publisher doesn’t employ a publicist with a broad reach, your book may be all but invisible in the marketplace. Believe it or not, I’ve run into marketing personnel who admitted to having no relationships with bookstore owners in a major market.

Who will distribute the book? How many sales reps? Publishers who aren’t signed on with major distributors will have a hard time getting your book into bookstores. Even if there is a distributor, you need to know how many sales reps will be out there promoting your book to retailers in the markets where it’s most likely to sell.

In what formats will the book be available—and when? Your contract will cover all rights—print, digital, audio, foreign—as well as rights to formats that have yet to be invented. But that doesn’t mean the publisher is going to make use of those rights. Ask about their plans for digital, audio, and foreign. If they’re sketchy, you might want to keep those rights for yourself, provided you know what to do with them.

For which awards will the book be submitted? The publisher will hedge on this question, deferring the answer to post-publication, when it’s clear how the book is being received. Nonetheless, you should have some assurance that award submissions will happen.

How financially stable is the company? Authors who published with the now-defunct Alaska Northwest Publishing know the importance of assessing a publisher’s financial stability before signing on.

How long is the book likely to stay in print with active distribution? Larger publishers will say this depends on how the book sells. Smaller presses keep their backlist in print for a long time, and they’ll often continue to distribute actively, which means you get more royalties—and more readers—over the long haul.

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 and writes on the north coast of Oregon, between Astoria and Seaside.




Wednesday, July 13, 2016

49 Writers: Frank Soos | Inhabiting the Form

 One of the things I often tell writers regardless of whether they are poets, fiction or nonfiction writers is that we must inhabit our form, live within it to understand what we can and can’t do.

Here’s a little example: When I was in graduate school, one of my professors (my favorite professor, Ben Kimpel, a wonderful teacher they named a building after when he died) walked into our classroom and looked at the quotation on the blackboard, “The proper study of man is man.” He shook his head and said, “That’s why nobody writes fixed form poetry anymore.” The line is from Alexander Pope’s “Essay on Man” written in heroic couplets in the eighteenth century. The poem is a bit of a slog, I have to admit, but you’re encouraged to take a look. More importantly, you might wonder, what’s wrong with that line anyway?

Do you see the problem? It’s missing a syllable. It should scan in iambic pentameter as, “The proper study of mankind is man.” The guy who’d made that mistake was our department’s eighteenth century specialist. And it’s not that he should have known the quote from memory so much as his ear should have told him he’d dropped a beat.

That’s what inhabiting a form can mean. You are attuned to your form (in this case a very specific form with very specific requirements) so that a mistake like this would be glaring.

Here are a couple of variations on the same lines of a poem by Sir Thomas Wyatt, courtier and clever politician. He helped Henry VIII wiggle out of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he might marry Anne Boleyn. He also was tossed in the Tower of London for a while because Henry suspected him of having an affair with Anne, and maybe he did.


We have these different versions because when Wyatt’s poems were including in a sixteenth century anthology, Tottel’s Miscellany. Tottel took the poems of Wyatt and others and regularized the lines into iambic pentameter. 


Wyatt’s version: “It was no dream: I lay brode waking.” 
Tottel’s version: “It was no dream: for I lay brode waking.”

Wyatt’s version: “Into a strange fashion of forsaking.” 
Tottel’s version: “Into a bitter fashion of forsaking.”

You may be wondering at this point, how much can this matter? Well, it can matter as much as a form allows meaning to matter through its thoughtful use. At the time Wyatt wrote, the iambic line was being popularized (or you might say invented) as the go-to line in English poetry. Marlowe and Shakespeare would follow bringing iambic pentameter

into full bloom. (You can google an article on line by Peter Groves that chronicles the long march of poetic form from Chaucer to Shakespeare if you really want to full skinny on this question). Once you hear the line, you can hear the difference in Wyatt’s imperfect lines and the more sing-songy lines Tottel gets by purifying the iambic pentameter. And you can see that Tottel plows over some of Wyatt’s nuance in the process.

It’s hard to guess how much Wyatt cared about meter of a specific line, but if we look at the two versions of the poem, we can see that the looser version is more subtle. The poet complains in more baffled terms in Wyatt’s version rather than the sour terms of the Tottel version. Smart reader, sound out the words of this pre-Elizabethan English as you go. Or if you want to wimp out, you can find a modern language version in just about any anthology of English poetry.

Wyatt’s version:
They fle from me / that sometyme did me seke with naked fote stalking in my chambre.
I have sene theim gentill tame and meke that nowe are wyld and do not remember  that sometyme they put theimself in daunger to take bred at my hand & nowe they raunge besely seking with a continuell change Thancked be fortune it hath ben otherwise twenty tymes better but ons in speciall
in thyn arraye after a pleasaunt gyse
when her lose gowne from her shoulders did fall and she me caught in her armes long & small therewithall swetely did me kysse
and softely said dere hert how like you this It was no dreme I lay brode waking.
but all is torned thorough my gentilnes into a straunge fasshion of forsaking and I have leve to goo of her goodenes and she also to vse new fangilnes.
but syns that I so kyndely ame serued,
I would fain knowe what she hath deserued.

Tottels Version:
They flee from me, that somtime did me seke With naked fote stalkyng within my chamber.

Once haue I seen them gentle, tame, and meke, That now are wild, and do not once remember
That sometyme they haue put them selues in danger, To take bread at my hand, and now they range, Busily sekyng in continuall change.
Thanked be fortune, it hath bene otherwise Twenty tymes better: but once especiall, In thinne aray, after a pleasant gyse,
When her loose gowne did from her shoulders fall, And she me caught in her armes long and small, And therwithall, so swetely did me kysse,
And softly sayd: deare hart, how like you this? It was no dreame: for I lay broade awakyng.
But all is turnde now through my gentlenesse. Into a bitter fashion of forsakyng:
And I haue leaue to go of her goodnesse, And she also to vse newfanglenesse.
But, sins that I vnkyndly so am serued:
How like you this, what hath she now deserued?

Isn’t Wyatt’s version the sexiest poem about getting dumped you’ve ever read?

By the time we get to Shakespeare and the sonnet writers who followed, the form has been set. The game is on, fourteen lines, ten syllables per line, iamb the dominant foot—but not offered in lock step, marching lines of iambs. Writers would write with that syllable count in their heads almost subconsciously.

Maybe more importantly, their audience would be on that same wavelength, too. If you were and they were, then writing an iambic line complete with the possible substitutions (mostly spondees and trochees—there are also some more subtle substitutions, too), your reader would be right with you. And if you intentionally were to add a syllable or drop one, your readers’ or listeners’ ears would go up—they would hear it. And that alteration would have the kind of power a line break, whether enjambed or punctuated, would have on a listener’s ear.

But as Dr. Kimpel pointed out years ago, that’s not the world we live in. There are good sonnet writers out there right now, Marilyn Hacker and Mark Jarman come to mind. But whether the subtlety of the form works for us readers is another question. If we can’t hear the line, we can’t hear the richness of the variations.

All forms, even that messy form I like so much, the essay, require just what a sonnet does, that the writer inhabit the form, that the writer allow himself to grow and wander within the limits of the form. The sonnet is a tightly constructed form and maybe too constrictive for most but it’s worth considering what hitting the walls of a form can do for a writer’s thinking. Condense it? Focus it? Give it something to keep the subject in bounds? All useful things for a writer to consider regardless of what his or her chosen genre may be

~
Frank Soos taught English and creative writing at UAF from 1986-2004 and is serving as the 2014-2016 Alaska State Writer Laureate. His most recent title is Unpleasantries: Considerations of Difficult Questions (University of Washington Press, 2016). Other publications include Double Moon: Constructions and Conversations with Margo Klass (Boreal Books, 2009) and Under Northern Lights: Writers and Artists on the Alaskan Landscape, co-edited with Kes Woodward (University of Washington Press, 2000), among others.  

This post was originally published online by the Fairbanks Arts Association (FAA) and appears here with permission from FAA and the author.