You’re Invited: Alaska Book Week 2012

10 10 2012

It’s Day Five of Alaska Book Week, buddies! I’m quite late in giving you the heads-up (apologies), but you can still join this annual celebration of Alaskan authors and books: ABW 2012 is October 6 -13.

In its second year, ABW is hosted by the good folks at 49 Writers/49 Alaska Writing Center. Thanks to generous donations by Epicenter Press and individual authors, they’re giving away two books each day – just leave your answer to the daily question on the ABW website or Facebook page, and you’ll be eligible to win.

(I was delighted to win a copy of Fishes & Dishes last year. Not only is this a fantastic cookbook with great sea stories, a few months earlier a nasty wave had thrown a poorly closed bottle of mouthwash all over the Nerka’s galley – and all over my copy of the Marsh sisters’ beautiful work. Just as the song goes, sometimes you do get what you need!)

It’s not too late to join the virtual festivities! Thanks for helping to spread the word, and best of luck to you in the giveaways. Much gratitude to the literature-loving volunteers who make this event an October tradition.

My bedside reading material isn’t towering quite perilously enough yet… Which Alaskan authors/books would you put on a “must-read” list?

“Ode to Dead Salmon” Writing Contest!

15 07 2012

Calling all of Hooked’s fishy writer friends: it’s time for 49 Writers’ third annual “Ode to a Dead Salmon” writers contest! As are so many things Alaskan, this contest is a bit… different. They’re seeking your best WORST writing. Here are the details, re-printed from their site:

“Summer’s in full swing, the fish are running, and you know what that means: our hugely popular “Ode to a Dead Salmon” bad writing contest is back. Take a look at last year’s finalists, sharpen your pencils and follow that smell. We want your best worst writing, submitted to by  July 31, 2012. This year sees the return of loyal judges Nancy Lord, Bill Sherwonit, and Ray Troll, so give ‘em your best.
The idea for the contest came originally from our 2008 interview with Nancy Lord. When Andromeda asked why she didn’t write immediately about her Alaskan experiences, Nancy said, “I think I was scared off, years ago, by something John Haines wrote in “The Writer as Alaskan”: a kind of condemnation that new-comers to Alaska always mined the same myths, ‘odes to dead salmon,’ and that it would take generations to develop a worthy Alaskan literature. I’d written a few odes to dead salmon and knew that I needed to get beyond the obvious.”
Since the contest was first launched, bad writing has streamed in from all over the world. We posted it all and let our readers vote. Past winners have garnered some great press, including a write-up in Alaska Magazine.
We want your best tongue-in-cheek “Ode to a Dead Salmon” bad Alaskan writing, poetry or prose, fiction or non. We’ll publish all entries at our Ode to a Dead Salmon webpage so the world can read them, and we’ll post the finalists here at 49 Writers. And yes, famed and fishy Alaskan artist Ray Troll has once again offered an autographed T-shirt of choice to our winner. But the main goal, of course, is to have fun.
The rules:
1.      Entries must conform to our editorial policy.
2.      We need your real name and real email address. If you want your entry to be posted under a pseudonym or left anonymous, make that clear in your email.
3.      No more than three entries per person.
4.      No more than 800 words per entry (shorter is just fine with us: limerick, haiku, opening lines).
5.      Entries must be your own original work.
6.      You keep the copyright but by entering you’re giving us permission to post.
7.      This is our contest. We make the rules (that’s the beauty of blogging, folks), and the rules may change as we see fit. We’ll let you know if they do.
8.      Entries must be emailed to by midnight on July 31.”

Apologies for the bad form and consequent eye strain here, friends… We’re rushing to cut the lines and head out, and I can’t figure out why the paragraph breaks aren’t showing up. Thanks for forwarding this one on to anyone who might be interested; I hope to see some familiar names among this year’s submissions. Happy writing!

North Words Writers Symposium? Yes, Please!

30 05 2012

Greetings from the Juneau Airport!

Remember that last halibut trip we made? Turns out we nailed our poundage, got everything we needed. We spent the next few days cleaning up – scrubbing every last drop of halibut slime and blood, taking the longline gear off the boat and getting it set up to be ready to go trolling for salmon on July 1. Joel and I moved ourselves back onto the Nerka, ready to think about our own boat projects.

This weekend, I finally waded through 10 days’ of email. Cruising through with one finger hovering over the delete button, I stopped short at a post from 49 Writers.

“North Words Writers Symposium,” read the headline by Alaskan author Heather Lende. What’s that? Three days with my favorite Alaskan authors? The same writers whose books fill my memoir proposal’s “Comparative Titles” section, whose words I study devoutly, awed by their evocation of landscape, communities and experiences I recognize as my own? Registration limited to 50 – a 1 to 3 faculty/participant ratio – with lit stars dancing in my eyes? Scheduled perfectly between my boat and fishing responsibilities, only five days away?

My gods.

Once in a special while, opportunity appears spread-eagled before you, stunning with its blatant invitation. That’s what I saw in that post. And with a fresh longline check burning in my wallet and a partner who said, “Of course you should go,” I was in.

That’s not to say the trip planning was easy. Hopscotching between remote communities in Southeast Alaska takes effort. I spent the next two days figuring out how to get from Baranof Island to Skagway, one of only three communities in Southeast Alaska that’s accessible by road. Thanks to one Boeing 737-400, two Cessna bush planes, and one high-speed ferry, everything seems to have lined up just right.

Cap’n J borrowed a friend’s van to drop me off at the Sitka Airport at 5:30 this morning. By 6:30, I’d landed here in Juneau. In a few minutes I’ll be boarding a Cessna Caravan to Skagway – at nine seats, it’s one of the “big” planes.

My chariot to Skagway.

Some deckhands blow their hard-earned crewshare in the bar; I run off to a writer’s conference. Excited? Oh, yes. Anxious? That, too. Stand by for a delirious report, buddies. Meanwhile, do check out the North Words Writers Symposium details here.

For my writer friends – any special requests? Questions you’d like to ask if you were here? What discussions would you attend?

The Liebster Meets Alaska Book Week

12 10 2011

Early September, I hit land and jumped online. Waded through weeks of spam, mass mailings, and impersonal updates. Just when I felt like I might as well have stayed at sea, a message from Annie Boreson leapt out:

I just wanted to tell you that I love your writing. You live a fascinating life and you write beautifully about it. I just gave you the Liebster Blog Award. Hope that is okay!

Okay? An award for Hooked? Reeling from delight rather than landsickness, I was a giddy, blushing mess of awe and wonder.

Writing is such an isolated activity, it’s easy to feel alone with your words. I spent years stifling the urge to write and disparaging the pieces that forced their way to paper, certain that any complimentary responses were merely friends being kind. People who “had” to like my work. Surely no one else would care about my bleeding heart reflections.

But the Liebster suggested otherwise!

From the German verb lieber – to love – the Liebster Blog Award recognizes worthy blogs with less than 200 followers, thereby raising their visibility. The “rules” are simple: thank your awarder and link back to them, select 5 blogs as your own nominees, and let them know by leaving a comment on their site.

My gratitude to Annie Boreson, author of Atoll Annie & the Non-Specific Rim, for awarding Hooked the Liebster. From the comic perils of giving birth in Norway in July, to a heart-wrenching tale of an abusive grandmother’s secret love, Annie is a superb storyteller. Introspective and audacious, reflective and funny, she got my laughter and subscription with her goal, “To go viral before  the Mayan Calendar stops me.”

Every adult grown of an outcast kid carries the searing recollection that selecting some means excluding others. I agonized over the nominations. Beyond inherent reluctance to name “favorites,” how would I choose? Hooked’s readership represents my ideal neighborhood: delightfully diverse, our residents range from conservative Alaskan fishermen, leprechaun-green environmentalists, contemplative memoirists, even a self-described “ex-party girl turned Midwestern wifey-poo.” With such differing life languages amongst you all, what 5 blogs could speak to everyone?

To the rescue: Alaska Book Week! Coinciding perfectly with this post, my Liebster picks are dedicated to some of my favorite Alaskan blogs. If you don’t have time for a new book this week, please take a moment to visit one of these Alaskan writers online.

Nagoonberry reminds me to stop and breathe. My first visit was to this post about my favorite flower, and I’ve been a subscriber ever since. This is a blog of journeys. Humans learning to live together in community. Personal and communal introspection. Thoughts on spirituality and sustainability. I suspect those of you drawn to Hooked’s more reflective moments will connect with Nagoonberry, too.

A Fairbanks English teacher, Paul Greci describes Northwriter as “a blog about writing, running, kayaking, and life in Alaska.” His posts include lovely photos and reflections on his environment. Ever imagined a lynx strolling across your porch? He’s got a great story about that very experience here. And don’t miss the photo of his treadmill laptop – talk about productivity!

If you’re looking for pure, unadulterated fish talk, PickFish Tales is for you. Reading this blog is like being in a BS circle on the dock, with one star storyteller, Jen Pickett. Jen’s been fishing for 20 years, is a fellow contributor to Alaska Waypoints, and has an awesome ability to honor deadlines in the midst of the season. And she’s funny! In addition to following her blog, you can often find her performing with the Fisher Poets (where her work was recently included on the gorgeous site In The Tote – congratulations, Jen!)

Whether writing verse or prose, Alaskan writer Vivian Faith Prescott is a true poet. You’ll find breath-stopping, heart-singing imagery and Tlingit honorifics on Planet Alaska, in stunning pieces like “The Language of the Landscape.” During these off-season months, when I’m struggling with the miles separating me from Southeast Alaska, I read Vivian’s work and she carries me home.

49Writers is such a fabulous resource that I have to close with some love for them. A non-profit supporting Alaska writers and their work, they host an impressive caliber of events. (More than once, I’ve wished I was in Anchorage to attend.) Literary folks – whether in Alaska or Alabama, an active writer or an avid reader – should consider subscribing. Here’s a post for writers who dream of crafting their work during a summer in Denali.

A note to these gifted awardees: I generally shy away from “Pass It Along” virtual movements. But it is lovely to learn that your voice touched someone, and I do recommend favorite books to friends… Is this really so different? If participating in the Liebster isn’t your kind of party, no worries. Please enjoy the public recognition of your work, knowing that your words have mattered to me, and spread a bit of liebe in your own private way.

(This is a particularly good time for Hooked to share the love, having received another bit of sweetness this week. Thank you, Cami Ostman, of Seven Marathons on Seven Continents, for naming Hooked one of your favorite blogs! Feeling honored, indeed.)

Got a favorite Alaskan blog of your own, sweet reader? Please share! 

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