Hooked the First, Laid to Rest

6 01 2013

This is it, friends.

I’ve delayed this move for over a year, but it seems time for Hooked to migrate. Please join me at Hooked the Second. (www.teleaadsen.com) I’m grateful to the Chicago Boy – he’s done a beautiful job of setting our space up. I’d never have had the courage or tech-savvy to make it happen without his help. (Thanks, sweetie.)

Some of you have asked about Hooked’s past posts. It appears that everything is in our new home, minus a handful of the most recent comments that didn’t want to move. I’m not ready to delete our beginnings, so Hooked the First will remain dormant here. I won’t be responding to comments on this site anymore, so please bring our conversation over to Hooked the Second. I’m hoping it’s a more comfortable, reader/participant-friendly space. If you don’t find it so, or have trouble with anything, please do let me know.

I’ll do my best to figure out how to seamlessly transfer those of you who’ve subscribed, but am a little anxious about that. You can also re-subscribe on the right side of the new homepage, and if you’d help spread the word of our relocation, I’d be grateful. I’m grateful, period. You’ve all been a wonderful community. This is just a blog move, I know, not like we’re actually saying goodbye, but I feel oddly choked up all the same. (As you know, I’m a little sensitive.)

So let’s lay Hooked’s WordPress home to rest with a short video that’s not meant to be morbid. This Sitka cemetery is a special place – “Sacred Grounds,” warns the sign at the entrance. Hidden in the center of town in a Tongass thicket of cedar, hemlock, and devil’s club, trails wind through the overgrowth. The gravestones are Russian Orthodox, largely consumed by the rainforest’s inevitable moss. Stone angels are mostly headless.  Only croaking ravens break the tranquility. It’s been one of my favorite places since I was a teenager; I’m glad to close this site by sharing it with you.  (And you, SethSnap.)





Bellingham Writers’ Resolutions, plus a Call for Women Writers

2 01 2013

I’m blessed that both of my home communities have amazing bookstores: Old Harbor Books in Sitka, Alaska, and Village Books in Bellingham, Washington. Independent bookstores do heroic work to foster lively literary communities – readings, events, opportunities you won’t get from Amazon. Village is hosting one of those opportunities this weekend, with their annual “Resolutions for Writers” extravaganza.

Saturday’s five mini-workshops are designed to help jump-start your writing year, by tackling clutter, getting un-stuck, loving finances, intention-setting through collage, and maintaining vision and balance. Check here for more information on teachers and workshop times.

As good as Saturday looks, I’m especially invested in Sunday’s line-up:

If you’re in the Whatcom/Skagit County area, I hope you can join us. Check here for full details.

*****

In an opportunity open to female readers wherever you are, Cami Ostman is seeking submissions for another anthology. (Her first, Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religion, co-edited with Susan Tive, will be released this spring.)

She Writes Her Life: Women Explore How Writing Has Informed Their Identity Development explores women’s relationships with writing. Why we write, how our writing influences how we think about ourselves and who we are in the world. Essays should be no longer than 3500 words, have a $25 submission fee, and are due by March 4, 2013. Visit Cami’s site for more details.

I’ve had a few friends ask about the submission fee. She Writes Press is an independent publisher that prioritizes empowerment and community. Your $25 covers evaluation and printing, but most importantly, contributes to a pool for publishing at least one pro bono project a year. (Visit She Writes Press to learn more.)

I suspect Cami’s project – and SWP’s values – will resonate with many of Hooked’s regulars. (Happy New Year, Patricia, Tina, EBW, Heather, Claire, Lisa!) Please do pass this opportunity with your own readers. A new year is a great time to start a new essay!





Hooked Ends 2012 on a Note of Change

31 12 2012

I’m a migratory creature. Twenty-five years as a fisherman will do that, successfully rewiring one’s homing instincts to change with the seasons. Too long in one place, I get twitchy. So it suddenly strikes me as funny that Hooked has held the same home – down to the same floorplan! – since its inception.

Brace yourself, sweeties. We’re ringing the New Year in on a note of change.

Hooked launched on March 18, 2011 – entirely thanks to prodding by my friend and mentor, author Cami Ostman. Upon hearing my self-conscious mumbles about wanting to write, she asked, “Are you blogging? You should be blogging!”

I hadn’t considered that. All I knew at the time was that I had a desperate hunger to find a writing community, similarly driven people who would inspire and hold me accountable, and no idea of how to find them. Despite self-doubt and an embarrassingly high level of technological incompetence, Cami’s suggestion seemed a good place to start. Maybe an online community would help get me out of my own way.

That, certainly – and so much more. I couldn’t have imagined the diverse collection of people who’d converge here, or what powerful, generous allies you’d be. Just as you deserved honoring (and cake!) on Hooked’s first birthday, I want to close 2012 with appreciation. As often as I try to express this, words fail to capture  how grateful I am for your reading, your writing, your presence here.

WordPress has been a good home for us – particularly for tech-challenged me. But our community has grown. I’d like to bring out a few more chairs, offer a comfortable space with new rooms to explore. Thanks to my longtime friend the Chicago Boy, that space is almost ready. Generously trading his web-savvy for fish, he’s been putting together an author’s site that includes this blog’s new home.

Every migration reminds us that, no matter how many times we’ve pointed the bow north or south, there are always surprises. Unforeseen bumps, essentials we’ve forgotten. In the case of Hooked’s migration, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all of you subscribers will be successfully transferred to the new site. Feeling anxious about that – I’d hate to lose any of you – but hoping for a smooth transition.

Stand by, sweeties. As soon as the site is live, I’ll post one final message here, inviting you to join me at our new home. (I hope you will.) Whether you’ve been following Hooked from the beginning or are a recent friend, thank you for being here. My best wishes to you and yours for a safe, happy New Year.

 

Joel's Starrigaven Sunset

Also, thanks to everyone who submitted quotes. If you’d like your name to go into the boot for tomorrow’s drawing (gifts! for 2 of you!), you’ve still got time. I’d love to hear your favorite words.





Hooked Trolls for Help (& Offers a Gift)

28 12 2012

A funny thing happened on the Facebooks today.

When I opened my email this morning, a whole string of notifications greeted me. A long list of folks responding to one of my photos. That’s weird, I thought. I haven’t posted anything new.

Even odder: the image inspiring so much response was from last December – ancient by social media standards.

Tele's Proposal, Submission #1 2011

December 5, 2011: My first attempt at shopping my book proposal.

Turned out a new friend had given that old photo a second life. With her enthusiastic comment, it began appearing on other friends’ walls. One after another, folks chimed in with their support. “Can’t wait for you to sign my first edition at Old Harbor Books,” one wrote. Said another, “I’m not at all concerned over the fate of this book. I’m more worried about the effects of wealth and fame on your life.”

With every new congratulatory response, I felt a bit more embarrassed. More like a fraud.

Then Marlin called. “Hey, Sis! Congratulations on getting your proposal out. That’s really exciting!”

I interrupted his praise. “That’s an old picture of the proposal I submitted last winter. It totally got rejected – that’s okay, it deserved to be rejected because I submitted it before it – or I – was ready – but nobody commenting now knows that and I feel silly.”

Marlin’s laughter swept me up in his good humor. I chuckled with him, then considered, “The timing’s funny, though. I got good feedback from an agent and have been revising so it’s in better shape. I think it’s almost there. My goal is to submit it to her the first week of January.”

“Sounds like all of those sudden comments are the universe’s way of giving you that final push, telling you not to give up,” Marlin observed. “Maybe this was the best time for you to hear all of that encouragement.”

Ah. How can I be so lucky, that one of my oldest friends is also one of the wisest people I know? And how good Sitka’s docks have been to me: both my “brother” and my sweetheart, two of my life’s greatest gifts, are fellow boat kids I met on the breakwater over 25 years ago.

*****

If you’ve wondered why Hooked’s been such a quiet little place lately, that’s why. You’ve been on my mind, but everything (and everyone) has taken a back seat to having this second attempt ready to submit next week. After way too many slow, discouraging days, today feels better. The 25 pages of book overview, bio, chapter summaries, marketing strategies, and comparative titles seem like they’re in good shape. The sample chapters still need work – not so much that they’re overwritten, like dough that’s been kneaded too long, but just enough that they sing in the right places and murmur pleasantly in the rest. Though I may feel differently tomorrow, today this feels do-able.

It’d feel even better with your participation, sweeties.

I’m a fan of epigraphs – relevant quotes providing a touchstone for each chapter’s takeaway message – and need your suggestions. What’s relevant? Hooked: a memoir of love, sex and salmon is a story of fidelity, as I struggle to define what it means to be true to a partner… a place… a life… and myself, over the course of a season aboard the Nerka. The voices I’ve gathered so far include Barbara Kingsolver on forgiveness, Cheryl Strayed on fear, Dan Savage on the myths of monogamy and “The One,” James Baldwin and Lynn Schooler on home, and Rumi on human imperfection.

I’d love to hear your favorite reflections on home, the sea, love, trust, forgiveness, belonging. Actually, I’d love to hear your favorite reflections on anything. A beloved quotation, poem, or song lyric – who knows what might strike just the right chord? Whose words have spoken so deeply to you?

Because you’re all wonderful and I’m grateful for your support, everyone who comments with a suggestion over the next three days gets their name in the hat. (Boot, actually – an old Xtra Tuf.) I’ll draw two names at the end of New Year’s Day, two lucky participants who’ll receive care packages of local-made Sitka goodies and Cap’n J’s newly printed photo cards. Random gift-giving aside, my big appreciation and love to all for your contributions.

 

Update: Congratulations, Scott and EBW! Thanks to all for playing.

Hooked's Quote Giveaway Winners





Teenagers and the Sea: Fisher Poet Tales (with Video!)

7 12 2012

National Fisherman did a nice write-up on last week’s Fisher Poets “On the Road” performance at Fish Expo, where Dano Quinn, Patrick Dixon, Abigail Culkin and I each had 20 minutes to perform. For the second post in a row: thanks, NF!

I swear Pat and I didn’t plan this, but with back-to-back readings, you couldn’t miss our shared theme: adolescence. Rough for any parent/spawn relationship, this is a particularly rocky period for those trapped together aboard a small fishing boat. Forced not only to co-exist, but to cooperate – the family’s livelihood depends on it. So does physical safety. As their parents’ crew, boat kids develop a ferocious work ethic, endurance, and responsibility. Transferable skills, whether they continue fishing or not. And it seems to be about a fifty-fifty split: of the boat kids I grew up with, maybe half are like Joel and me – salt-stained lifers who aren’t fully themselves away from the sea. The other half couldn’t jump ship fast enough.

Photo thanks to F/V Kathleen Jo

Photo thanks to F/V Kathleen Jo

The story Pat read, “The Connection,” is one of my favorites. It’s how I met Pat, and first learned about Fisher Poets, at Fish Expo four or five years ago. The audience packed the room – it was right next the beer garden – and I wedged into the back. When this tall gillnetter took the stage, I didn’t know what to expect – but it surely wasn’t this tear-jerking story of a reluctant killer, reflecting on what it meant to build one’s life by taking life. I’d never heard another fisherman so perfectly express my own inner conflict. Watch “The Connection” here.

And the story I read? Years ago, one of our fleet elders said something that stuck with me. He said, “Everybody has a rock up here with their name on it. If you fish long enough, you’ll find it.” As it happened, six years was all it took for this sleepy mariner. A story of drama, danger, romance, and triumph, watch “The Rock With My Name ” here.

This is a great warm-up, friends… Mark your calendars: the 16th annual Fisher Poets Gathering is less than three months away! This year’s dates are February 22-24, hosted in Astoria, Oregon. Check out their brand-new website – which includes a sneak peek at the performers signing up! (Between the veteran and first-time names, it’s already a great line-up, with many more yet to come.) I’d love to see you there.

Thanks again to National Fisherman for supporting this Fisher Poets “On the Road” performance, and to Pat Dixon for making it happen. Also, thanks to the delightful Betsy Delph, whose video may not have turned out as well, but her efforts were much appreciated. 





Hooked on National Fisherman

6 12 2012

I’ve been mostly on an internet hiatus this week, friends, working on a deadline, but want to quickly share a bit of news. Some of you have asked about the piece that I read at Sitka’s maritime-themed Monthly Grind. I didn’t post it here because I submitted it to a magazine. Happy news: National Fisherman bought that essay, “After the Man in the Tote.” Thanks, NF!

Many Hooked readers are familiar with September 11’s post, “Lost at Sea: The Man in the Tote.” Minutes after watching the Coast Guard’s amazing rescue, I scribbled madly, convinced that this miraculous survival story needed to be shared. But at the same time, a second story tapped my shoulder. “There’s a different way to look at this,” it urged. “Even with the unexpected happy ending, what did this scare bring up for other fishermen?”

It certainly triggered some long-buried trauma for Joel and me.

Tele Having a Bad Time

You can read an excerpt of “After the Man in the Tote” in National Fisherman’s January print issue, available now, or read the whole thing on their website, where it’ll be posted for the rest of December. I’m grateful for their support.

Gratitude is a fast-growing creature. Since Hooked launched in March 2011, I’ve been fortunate to receive so much support from commercial fishermen and our industry advocates. Pacific Fishing linked to Hooked almost from the beginning, publishing a generous introduction article in their June 2011 issue. Alaska Waypoints offered a column upon their own web-launch, and has been a vocal promoter and good friend since. So I’m further honored that National Fisherman has added Hooked to their blogroll, a sweet spot between iconic photographer/fisherman Corey Arnold and gillnetter/direct marketer Matt’s Fresh Fish.

Over the 28 years that I’ve been fishing, there have definitely been times I didn’t feel like I “fit.” Times when my gender or left-listing values seemed to set me firmly apart from my shipmates. As I’ve observed more young people and more women enter our fleet, more fishermen identifying environmental advocacy as a necessary extension of our profession, and heard from folks who’ve found their own life experiences reflected on Hooked, that sense of other-ness has lessened. The publications listed above have helped me see our vast oceans as small, interdependent communities. They provide valuable information and advocacy, reminding us that we’re in this together – dependent on each other, regardless of our various regions or fisheries – and that there’s room at this table for all.

I’m thankful to be offered a chair.

 

(January is also National Fisherman’s popular “Crew Shots” issue, and you can look forward to seeing some familiar faces. Fellow fishing blogger Jen Karuza Schile’s husband is pictured with his longtime crew, proudly representing the F/V Vis. The Tammy Lin and Lady Linda honor multiple generations of Sitka trollers. You’ll see Cap’n J and me soaking up the rays as we cut halibut cheeks on a sunny June day. I’m delighted that we’re sharing the back page with Jen Pickett, Cordova gillnetter, blogger, Fisher Poet and friend.)





Fisher-Readers, Please Meet Fisher-Writer Rich Bard

17 11 2012

The Fisher Poets have been on my mind lately. Less than two weeks until a performance at Seattle’s Fish Expo (Thursday the 29th, 11:30 – 1:00), and organizing’s already underway for the main event festivities in Astoria, Oregon. (Mark your calendars: Feb 22 – 24, 2013!) A phone conversation with fisherman writer/photographer Pat Dixon got me all sentimental for the men and women who’ve turned our profession into art. So many of us have picked up pens, guitars, paintbrushes, anything to externalize our conflicted love/hate/fear/craving for boats and the sea. More of us than you’d think: there’s a tremendous wealth of artistic talent in the fleet, of every fishery and region. During night wheel watches, while the halibut sets soak, when the fish aren’t biting… We have some excellent opportunities for venturing into our creative selves, and are surrounded by a treasure trove of characters.

With all this on my mind, last week was the perfect time to receive an unexpected email from Rich Bard. A Southeast Alaskan troller in the 1980’s and 90’s, Rich stands out in my childhood memories as a kind man who exuded thoughtful confidence, a comfort with himself, others, and going his own path. Rich was also one of my earliest role models of a fisherman who sought the grace of written words. When carbon monoxide killed one of our fleet’s most beloved members, Rich memorialized him with a poem that turned our collective grief into something heartbreakingly beautiful. (My friend Marlin and I, teenagers at the time, carefully cut the poem from the pages of the Alaska Fisherman’s Journal. Years later, we could still recite it.)

Rich’s boat stood out, too. The Anna was a lovely forest green sailboat, a sleek aft-house ketch rigged as a salmon troller. Though the Anna is still trolling out of Sitka, Rich is not. He sold her about ten years ago, leaving the troll fishery to deliver boats throughout the Pacific and Caribbean instead. The troll fleet has something of a revolving door (says she who had her own walk-away period) and I’m always fascinated to see how folks who’ve left will deal with their new, non-fishing life. Apparently Hooked has provided Rich both vicarious thrills and mixed feelings. In his email, he wrote, “The trolling addiction remains strong, and your engaging view of the all-encompassing joys and frustrations of a lifestyle that’s very hard to replicate in any other profession also dangerously reinforce the ever present urge that I should get back in.”

(You’d be welcome back on the drag, Rich. Many thanks for the kind words.)

Though we were both at last year’s Fisher Poets Gathering, I didn’t get a chance to thank Rich for his great reading – an excerpt from a novel he was working on. I’m thrilled to share that he’s finished that novel, West of Spencer, and has published it as an e-book, available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Here’s the overview:

Bo, a salmon troller in Sitka, has been drinking steadily through the long dark Alaska winter trying to get over a broken heart. The tactic’s not working out too well. Spring and the need to get his boat ready for a new season offer some distraction, and Bo’s love for women keeps him above the poverty level on that front, but he just can’t put the past behind him. The only time Bo feels really free of regret is when he’s out on the water, wholly involved in his work, trolling for salmon. After some radical swings of fortune during the short spring openings, the main king salmon season starts out west, and a weird chain of events puts Bo in jeopardy of losing everything.

West of Spencer nails the hard-working, hard-playing lives of fishermen who ply the Gulf of Alaska waters. The novel doesn’t shrink from the grit of the fishing life: in the stinging spray and the blood on the deck, we get the true feel of life onboard, from a wild ride in a near-gale to the pensive calm of the quiet coves. The nature of a tight-knit community comes through on the boat radios, on the docks, and at the Quixote Club, a favorite watering hole. Throughout, Bo and his friends look, however erratically, for a deeper understanding: who is God, really…what are we supposed to be doing here…why is love so elusive…and, where the hell have the fish gotten off to now?

Trollers happily spend every spare moment talking about gear – what we’re running, what we’re catching on, what worked last season but isn’t doing shit this year. That’s the fun part of our obsession, but the bottom line remains: you can’t catch fish if your hooks aren’t in the water. There’s a similar hunger among writers to fill up on workshops, retreats, exercises, groups, any opportunity to compare literary practices. As trollers talk hoochies, writers tirelessly discuss our latest work in progress, how it’s going, what’s working, what’s not. And just like keeping one’s hooks in the water, in the end the only thing that will result in a finished book is the sheer discipline of keeping your butt in the chair. I get that, but still couldn’t resist asking Rich how West of Spencer came to fruition.

“I’d had a rather vague idea of a novel I could write about Sitka for some time, but like many (most?) writers, motivation’s the big issue,” he explained. “Journalism, with its deadlines, can be relatively easy, but a long speculative work needs its own motivation. I finally got started through a desperate urge to produce something (anything!) out of a particularly gloomy Northwest mid-winter. Continuing it provided an outlet when I was hired as captain to help an owner who didn’t handle the tropic heat very well get his boat from Florida through the Canal and north (as one of my crew remarked after a temper flare-up, “Yep, every day the boat gets a foot shorter.”) By the time I finished that trip, the book had gathered its own momentum and it was a comparative coast to the finish. Not sure if the urge to get outside oneself during time of frustration is the best source of motivation, but it’s worked for me.”

As delighted as I am by my fellow troller’s accomplishment, I’m less delighted to admit that I haven’t yet ventured into e-reader territory. (E-reader? Please. I’m still clinging to my dumb flip phone, no matter how overtly the Verizon staff sneer.) So I’m turning to you, sweet Hooked friends. Those more technologically advanced among you who crave a well crafted, utterly authentic nautical tale, please do check out West of Spencer. Thanks for showing your support for a fellow fisher-writer, friends, and many congratulations on your work, Rich!

Longtime Hooked readers may remember last year’s poetry competition, challenging Fisher Poets to use the line “work is our joy.” Rich’s piece, shared in the video below, was one of my favorite entries for sheer cleverness. 








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