Monday, March 2, 2015

From the Archives: Jim McLain - Confessions of an Alaska Screenwriter


I apparently am one of the first three (and hopefully not the last) Alaskan screenwriters to be asked to be a guest blogger for 49 Writers. That being the case, I thought it might be expedient to start out by explaining the differences between screenwriting and other forms of writing. I’ll try not to bore you.

Consider that you have just spent the last six months doing a dazzling essay or poem or short story or novel or stage play about say . . . Edger Allen Poe. You have edited it to a tee and it is all ready to send to a publisher. Assume also you find a publisher who loves your essay, etc. and who agrees to publish it. The publisher might request a minor league amount of further editing, but ultimately it is published and basically cast in stone. If you are a playwright, one of the strongest traditions of the stage is that there is an almost slavish adherence to “the book;” the words and actions written in the script. God help the poor actor or director who goes “off book.”

Now consider the screenwriter. He or she writes a brilliant screenplay about Mr. Poe of between 90 and 120 pages. It is a scintillating drama dealing with the alcohol abuse that led to his death at a young age. First the writer has to find a producer who is willing and able to raise somewhere between $25,000 to $100,000,000 depending on the script and the stars attached to have the film made. Given that there are thousands upon thousands of screenplays making the rounds at any given moment, the chance of successfully finding such a producer is, at best, poor.


Let’s say you amazingly actually find a producer who loves your screenplay and wants to make it into a movie. You are nowhere near done. Maybe the producer actually has access to the money needed to make the movie – in which case the producer buys the rights to the film for whatever you agree to sell it for. The selling price could be anywhere from nothing to a bazillion dollars. This doesn’t mean you will ever see a film made from your screenplay. Once you sell your rights, the script might well sit on a shelf forever gathering dust. Just because they own a script doesn’t mean they have any duty to film it.

On the other hand, maybe the producer doesn’t have the money readily available. In that case, you may sell an “option” to the producer. That gives the producer the option to buy the script for a set period of time at a set amount. An option usually lasts a year or two. The producer can use that time to raise the money to make the movie. The problem with this is that you can’t sell the script to anyone else during the time it is optioned. Let’s say you option your script for $25 on Tuesday, and on Wednesday another producer wants to pay you $1,000,000 for your script. Guess what, you’re stuck for however long the option lasts. In the mean time, the million dollar deal may well evaporate.

Just for grins, let’s say that you sold the film to a producer that can, and does, actually raise the money needed to make the film. Smooth sailing from now on, right? Wrong! Next the script goes to a series of film minions whose various jobs are to fold, spindle, and mutilate your script to fit it to the contours of their visions of what the story should be.  Maybe the producer wants to give a role to his or her third cousin on Great Aunt Sadie’s side of the family; you may have do a rewrite. The director has a different world view; you may have to do a rewrite.  Maybe a named actor wants more lines; you may have to do a rewrite.

Recently, in a film I wrote, the director called me and told me an actor was about to leave the state and would not be able to finish the film. Since the film was more than half done and she was in a significant number of scenes, reshooting the role was not an option. His directive: “You need to kill her.” I had to do a significant rewrite.


Even if you are lucky enough to sell the film, have it made, and are allowed to do the rewrites (as opposed to some script doctor who destroys your story), you still have to worry that the director and/or actors have such a different vision of the story that your carefully drafted historical drama may somehow morph into a slasher/porno/musical extravaganza. It has happened. Not to me . . . yet. But the day is young.

So if it is such a pain, why do I do it? Because to see your words turned into a moving, living, breathing tableau on the screen while you sit in a dark room watching it all unfold before your eyes is a thrill I cannot describe. God help me, I love it.

At the time this post first ran in 2010, Jim McLain was a 57 year old screenwriter who had lived in Alaska for 34 years. His first feature film, “Snow Angels," was being completed and is due out in fall of 2011. His second feature film, “The Doppelganger Principle” starring Ed Asner, was scheduled to begin shooting on October 3, 2011. Principle photography and post-production for both films was in Anchorage, Alaska. 

Hope springs eternal . . .

Friday, February 27, 2015

Round Up of News & Events

There are some exiting new opportunities in this week's Round Up! Check out the

  • Sitka Fellows Program is looking for writers under 30 for their seven week residency this summer. What a fantastic opportunity for young writers!
  • Great Harvest Bread Co. and 49 Writers are looking for beautiful words/beautiful images for Savor the Rising Words Poetry Broadside Invitational in honor of National Poetry Month. Submission deadline is March 20. 

Reminders of deadlines soon upon us:
Remember to check out Rachel Weaver -- formerly of Petersburg and the Forest Service in Alaska -- who's in Anchorage, Palmer, and Juneau this week. There's still time to register for her class in Anchorage on Saturday, or in Juneau on Monday & Tuesday. You can join her for dinner via Fireside Books in Palmer (Friday), or at the new Literary Happy Hour on Sunday in JNU.  Check out the details below.

Happy Writing!
Morgan

ONLINE CLASS SCHEDULE

REVISION INTENSIVE with Andromeda Romano-Lax
Sunday, April 5–Saturday, May 16
Online, asynchronous

Most writing is re-writing, and in this class, we will bring our novel and creative nonfiction works-in-progress to the next level, revising at both micro and macro levels for language, structure, character arc, and more. We will reverse outline, identify common errors or weaknesses, and explore the differences between polishing and radical revision. Students should have a novel or memoir that is at least half-drafted, and preferably all or mostly drafted. This will be a workshop-intensive class. Suitable for intermediate or advanced level writers, open to fiction and nonfiction.with Andromeda Romano-Lax. Registration info here.
Andromeda is the noted author of  three novels: The Detour, The Spanish Bow, and the forthcoming Behave, plus a number of nonfiction titles. She's a one of the founders of 49 Writers and on the faculty of the low residency MFA at UAA.

EVENTS IN ANCHORAGE


49 Writers Spring Classes: Anchorage. You can still register for classes starting this week! Find full information on the 49 Writers website.
  • Writing the Three Dimensional Novel or Memoir with Rachel Weaver. Saturday, February 28, 9am-4pm at 161 E. 1st Ave., Door 15. $95 member/$115 nonmember.

Be a part of Anchorage Reads 2015! Kicking off February 20th and running through March 20th, Anchorage Reads is a one-book/one community reading program promoting literacy, love of reading and facilitating community discussions. The Raven's Gift by local author Don Rearden is this year’s selection. Events include
  • The Raven's Gift Reader's Theatre, Loussac Library-Wilda Marston, March 12, 7pm
  • Book & Brew Rondy, Anchorage Community Works, March 13, 8pm
  • Author Talk, Loussac Library-Wilda Marston, Thursday, March 19, 7pm

March 13th - Jeremy Pataky presents his new book. Hugi-Lewis Studio, 1008 W Northern Lights Blvd. Live poetry from Overwinter, music by Molly McDermott, and book signing. Hors d'ouevres and cash beer + wine bar. Live music and poetry start at 7 pm, doors open at 6:30.

UAA Bookstore events in March. All events at the UAA Campus Bookstore. There are many more events on a wide variety of topics at the bookstore: Click here for details.
  • March 2, 5-7pm: Argumentation: How People Comprehend & Evaluate Argument with Yasuhiro Ozuru
  • March 16, 5-7pm: Logistics in the Falklands War by Kenneth L. Privratsky
  • March 20, 4-6pm: Local Writers Discuss their Works in Progress with Lizzie Newell, Mel Green, Jessica Ramsey Golden, Sheila Sine, Deb Ginsburg
  • March 23, 5-7 Alyse Knorr and Kate Partridge present Time Travel Poetry


EVENTS AROUND ALASKA

Southcentral, Mat-Su - Kenai Peninsula

Fireside Books invites you to Dinner with Rachel Weaver at the Turkey Red Restaurant, February 27, 2015, 6:30 PM. Meet Rachel Weaver, the author of Point of Direction, a pulse-pounding story set in Southeast Alaska. Point of Direction earned an "Indies Introduce" designation by independent booksellers from around the country. It was also featured in Oprah magazine. We find it beautifully written as well as gripping! You can hear Rachel Weaver talk about her novel while enjoying a fine dinner at Turkey Red! We'll also enjoy live music with the Feral Cats!
Get your tickets here for $25.00 -- or at Fireside Books. If you are a member of the new "Read Alaska Rewards Club" you can buy a ticket with your voucher -- on a first-come/first-serve basis of course.

Juneau & Southeast

49 Writers Events
  • Literary Happy Hour with Rachel Weaver. March 1, 4:30-6pm at Coho's 51 Egan Drive, Juneau. Reading, craft talk, and libations. Rachel discuss "Revising Efficiently: Some Techniques to Save Time." 
  • Writing the Three Dimensional Novel or Memoir: Essential ingredients to Capture Your Reader and Engage an Audience: A 49 Writers Class with Rachel Weaver. March 2-3, 6-9pm at UAS Egan Classroom 221. Free to current UAS students; $95 members of 49 Writers/$115 nonmembers. Registration and Full info on the 49 Writers website.

Woosh Kinaadeiyí Open Mic and Poetry Slam: Friday, February 27th at 6:30pm at Centennial Hall, Juneau. The event, co-sponsored by Woosh Kinaadeiyí and the Alaska Library Association 2015 Conference, will be hosted by Christy NaMee Eriksen, Conor Lendrum, and Jonas Lamb, with DJ Manu. This month's theme is "Volumes." It is open to the public, and poets of all ages and abilities are encouraged to perform. Sign up to read at 6 pm.
Woosh Kinaadeiyí is a local nonprofit committed to diversity, inclusive community, and empowering voice. The organization hosts monthly poetry slams and open mics throughout the community. Learn more at www.facebook.com/wooshpoetry.
More information about the Alaska Library Association 2015 Conference can be found here:http://akla.org/juneau2015/
Contact: Christy NaMee Eriksen, Woosh Kinaadeiyí President, christynamee (at) gmail.com

BookTalk/Reading: Join author Dave Atcheson as he discusses his latest book: Dead Reckoning, Navigating a Life on the Last Frontier, Courting Tragedy on its High Seas
  • Ketchikan AK, at Parnassus Books, Sun. March 8 4pm
  • Sitka, AK, at Old Harbor Books Mon. March 9, 6pm

Jeremy Pataky Book Tour to celebrate publication of his poetry book Overwinter.
  • Haines Borough Public Library, March 20: Reception followed by Reading in the Round and Book Signing. Free.
  • Skagway Public Library, March 22, 3 pm: Craft Talk and Book Signing. Free.
  • Juneau, Heritage Coffee Roasting Co., March 19, 6 pm: Reading and Signing with Emily Wall. Free.
  • Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, March 24, 6-8pm, Workshop: A Reader's Approach to Poetry. $30 for 49 Writers members/ $35 nonmembers. Register online. “Reading poetry is an adventure in renewal, a creative act, a perpetual beginning, a rebirth of wonder,” says the poet Edward Hirsch. Poems require different reading strategies than other kinds of writing. In this short course, we’ll ask not what poems mean, but how they mean, as that common dictum prescribes. We’ll explore the concept of “slow reading” and consider its power in an increasingly fast-paced world. This reading course is suited for non-writers and writers alike. Anyone with a genuine interest in poetry is encouraged to participate.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR WRITERS

PUBLICATION & PRODUCTION OPPORTUNITIES

Writers' Showcase at 360 North, KTOO, Juneau is accepting submissions for their March show. The theme is Journeys. Deadline is February 27.

Savor the Rising Words:  Poetry Broadside Invitational in honor of National Poetry Month, April 2015. Submit poetry broadsides for display at Great Harvest Bread Co. throughout the month of April 2015 in honor of National Poetry Month. Featured poets will be encouraged to read their works during a public event at the bakery at a date and time to be determined. Broadsides in the exhibit will be available for sale and proceeds will be donated to 49 Writers; those not sold will be retained by 49 Writers for future displays or events. Submission deadline: March 20. Click here for full details.

Cirque was founded to give writers (and artists) of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest more places to publish their work – and as a vehicle to bring the best writing of the region to the world. The next Cirque deadline is March 21st (the equinox). The submission address is cirque.submits at gmail.com.

Fairbanks Drama Association and The Looking Glass Group Theatre invite Alaskan residents to send their best 10-minute plays to be considered for the 15th Annual 8X10 Festival of New Alaskan Plays. Eight ten-minute plays will be given rehearsed staged readings at the Festival, which will be held April 24 & 25, 2015, at FDA's Hap Ryder Riverfront Theater in Fairbanks. Submission deadline: March 15.

CONTESTS & GRANTS

2015 Public Invitation for a Poem in Place: For the third and final project year, Poems in Place 2015 seeks one poem to place in Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park in Kodiak, and one poem forCaines Head State Recreation Area in Seward. Submissions accepted Feb. 1 - April 1.
It’s Always Something Teen Writing Contest deadline is March 20, 2015. More information on the contest and the submission form at www.gildasclubseattle.org.


CONFERENCES, RETREATS & RESIDENCIES

Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, Homer, AK, June 12-16, 2015: keynote speaker is Andre Dubus III, and there are a host of amazing writers on the faculty this year (as there are every year). This year's post-conference workshop at Tutka Bay Lodge, Finding the Geography of Our Work, will be led by 2014 Kingsley Tufts Award winner Afaa Weaver, June 16-18.

Wrangell Mountain Meg Hunt Residency Program Application Deadline: March 5, 2015
Artists and writers of all genres and at all stages in their career are encouraged to apply for one of several two-week residencies. Selections will be made through a competitive admissions process. They encourage emerging and mid-level career voices as well as mature professionals. Selected artists will receive room and board for their entire stay in exchange for community outreach or the donation of artwork as a result of the residency. During the residency, the artist will be asked to share their experience with the public by demonstration, talk, or other means.

Summer Residency 0pportunity for young writers in Sitka – application deadline March 29, 2015  The Sitka Fellows Program, now in its fourth year provides a fully-funded, seven-week residency at the Sheldon Jackson campus for anyone under the age of 30. Past participants have included social entrepreneurs, theoretical physicists, as well as musicians, poets, cartographers, and cartoonists. The residency includes six fellows and a facilitator. The program wants visionaries of all stripes: frame-busting, independent thinkers who wish to immerse themselves in their work alongside smart, enthusiastic young people from radically different backgrounds. It's seven weeks of time and space, in Sitka, Alaska of all beautiful places, to dedicate yourself to a project — any project — that will change the world in ways big, small, or subtle.

North Words Writers Symposium, May 27-30, Skagway. Keynote speaker is Mary Roach, plus a bevvy of Alaska's best authors. North Words Symposium offers a unique opportunity for writers to nurture interrelationships with other writers and thinkers in a spectacular place. They aspire to build upon a tradition of literature that reflects language and life on the frontier.

Ketchikan Teaching Artist Academy:The Ketchikan Area Arts & Humanities Council is offering a Teaching Artist Academy via the OWL Network. Sessions will be held on Saturday, March 7th from 10am to 6pm at OWL sites in Ketchikan, Craig, Thorne Bay, Petersburg, Wrangell, Cordova, Metlakatla and Hollis. This workshop is meant to support the professional development of currently working teaching artists, and professional artists exploring the addition of teaching artist work to their art practices. For complete information, and registration, visit the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council website athttp://ketchikanarts.org/events-programs/arts-education. If you have any questions about the Teaching Artist Academy or the Artist in the Schools program, contact Christa Bruce, Education Director atchristab (at) ketchikanarts.org or 907.225.2211.

Win $500 to Attend a Writer's Conference, Festival, Center, Retreat, or Residency
AWP offers three scholarships of $500 each to emerging writers who wish to attend a writers' conference, center, retreat, festival, or residency. Enter via Submittable by March 30, 2015 deadline.

Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference: Minneapolis, April 8-11. Imagine 12,000 writers in one place!

The Muse & the Marketplace 2015 May 1st - 3rd, 2015, sponsored by Grubstreet in Boston.

Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference, June 20-26, 2015. Scholarship deadline: March 15. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Free Books: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A scam: don't fall for it!


Let’s keep this simple.

Everyone likes to get things for free. (Whether they value them is another matter; mostly, they don’t.)

Say you want free books. There are good ways to get them. Libraries, for certain. If they don’t have the book you’re looking for, ask them to order it.

If you like e-books, there are thousands and thousands of free ones available through legitimate online vendors (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.). True, a lot of them aren’t that great, but if you search, you’ll find some gems, one being the Alaska Sampler that David Marusek and I put out each year. There are also legitimate e-newsletters like BookBub that will match your reading interests with time-sensitive offers for free and discounted books.

If you’re a book blogger and/or reviewer, you can be swimming in free books, via NetGalley and/or having a following that will attract the attention of authors and publicists.

Another great way to get free books is to follow an author via her website or on Goodreads. Authors and publishers often arrange giveaways—drawings for free books. And authors sometimes seek out beta readers and early reviewers, with whom they share e-books for free. Authors who have control of their book pricing will generally be happy to let you know about sales and such—a newsletter or email alert function on the author’s website will keep you in the know.

The bad way to get free books is piracy. It used to be that authors worried (if they worried at all) about plagiarism. Now, pirates steal whole books, making money either directly or indirectly off the backs of authors who work hard and earn little, statistically speaking.

Piracy of intellectual property, like everything else in the economic realm, is fundamentally about value.

A Starbucks latte has value.

A McDonald’s Big Mac meal has value.

A novel into which I poured my soul—not to mention three years of my life—has value.

I know, we all make our choices. All I’m saying is that when you consider all the legitimate ways to get a book for free, there’s no reason to pirate it, and there are ample reasons not to.

Which brings me to the ugly. A lot of those free book download sites are straight-up scams, using books as bait to lure in the unsuspecting. They post fake conversations about the books, including review language they lift from legitimate sites and even­—get this—fake “good cop” admonitions against pirating, along with “bad cops” who offer links to the pirating sites.

When you click through to the “free download” button, you’ll be asked to input your credit card information, so the scammers will have it “on file,” in case you want to buy a book later.

Guess what’s next? Fraudulent credit card charges. Nasty malware installed from what you thought was a legitimate website. (The malware is as clever as the fake discussion boards about the book: it tries the password out on your email account and uses it to send emails to your contacts, ostensibly from you, encouraging your friend to click on the link that will load malware onto his or her device.)

Don’t risk it. Get your books the way everyone else does. Authors rarely get rich. But your small contribution to our efforts is much appreciated!


Mark your calendars: Deb has a legitimate free book offer coming up. On Feb. 26 and 27, the e-book version of What Every Author Should Know will be available for free through Amazon. Thanks to author David Marusek for research and links for this post. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Teresa Sundmark: Mushrooms, Mycelium and Writing

 

Something about this winter, with its warmer than average temperatures and its lack of snow, has me thinking about gardening earlier than usual. Maybe it’s because the raised garden beds in my back yard are not hidden from sight, which typically allows me to stop thinking about them for several months at a time. In any case, while I’m waiting for the ground to thaw, I’m perusing seed catalogs and planning more projects than I’ll ever realistically have time for—that, and I’m educating myself about different aspects of gardening and composting and soil maintenance.  Recently in my reading I came across an article by Kenneth Miller from the July/August 2013 issue of Discover magazine called, “How Mushrooms Can Save the World.” 

I’ve spent a lifetime enjoying mushrooms—looking at them, eating them, searching for them—without knowing much about them. To me, it always seemed as if they just appeared out of nowhere. Needless to say, the article was enlightening and made me aware of my ignorance on the subject of mushrooms, and like most everything I come across, reading the article got me thinking about writing.  

Writing for me has always been about connecting. I don’t write in order to publish, I write in order to connect with other people. This isn’t to say that I don’t want to publish, it’s just that it isn’t the thing that motivates me. If publishing can be a byproduct of me writing something that means something to another person, then that’s just an added bonus. 

According to the article, “when you look at a mushroom, what you’re seeing is a fungus’s fruit. It emerges from a mass of fibrous tissue known as mycelium, which penetrates whatever material the mushroom is growing on. To the naked eye, mycelium resembles cottony fluff or cobwebs. Viewed through an electron microscope, however, it’s an intricate weave of branching, threadlike membranes whose structure resembles a network of brain cells.”  

In other words, those mushrooms don’t just appear out of nowhere. They are the result of a larger network of mycelium that mostly goes unnoticed.  

And I started to wonder, how much of a writing life is the stuff other than the fruit that becomes a published work? Most of it, actually.  Here’s just a sampling of the things we do that encourage the finished poems, stories, or books to emerge:  

·         We come here, to the 49 Writers blog for a bit of inspiration or to see what literary or book-related events are happening in our community.
·         We read articles having to do with books, authors, or subjects we’ve been thinking of writing about.
·         We meet with writer friends to offer support, to discuss projects, or to vent our frustrations.
·         We think non-stop about connecting ideas, and how those connections could be relevant to the writing project that we are either a) currently working on, b) setting aside for a while, or c) just thinking of for the first time.
·         We read actual novels, stories, essays, memoirs, poems or plays.
·         We reread the work we find meaningful.
·         We write critical essays that make us unfold and examine different aspects of writing.
·         Through social media we see what our writer acquaintances are up to. We celebrate their successes, (maybe even envy them a little) and we feel their pain if they’ve been dealt a literary blow.
·         We submit that short story, essay or poem that we think is ready.
·         We rewrite that short story, essay or poem that just isn’t getting published.
·         We post something online that has to do with writing.
·         We brainstorm.
·         We imagine winning a Pulitzer Prize.
·         We fantasize about our favorite author telling us that they love our work.
·         We pause and reflect on some beautiful thing we’ve read or seen or experienced.
·         We let ourselves know darkness and sorrow.
·         We attend workshops, classes, readings, and conferences.
·         We buy books to support writers we admire, even when we can’t afford them.
·         We see metaphors and similes in nearly everything. (writing = fungus)
·         We go back to school.
·         We teach.
·         We create space for ourselves, both physically and psychologically.
·         We participate in writers’ groups.
·         We ask questions—maybe out loud, or maybe to ourselves—in order to better understand a situation or a person.
·         On a good day, we may actually write something.  

Essentially, writing, when taken seriously, becomes a part of who we are, and with a few changes in the quotation about mushrooms and mycelium from above, we can see that published work—the product of our labor—comes into being as a result of connections. 

“When you look at a beautiful piece of writing, what you’re seeing is the fruit of a deliberate life. It emerges from an interconnected mass of previously written works, friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, discipline, education, critical thinking, generosity, imagination, experience and desire.  These things penetrate every aspect of the writer’s life. To the naked eye, much of what a writer does resembles cottony fluff or cobwebs. Viewed more closely, however, it’s an intricate weave of a branching, threadlike web whose structure gives the writer the support needed in order to thrive.” 

Writing means different things to different people. For some, it’s about the process. For others, it’s about the final product. Either way though, I’d argue that those delectable morsels of writing that emerge from time to time are the product of something much larger and more complicated than we realize. Powerful writing—writing that connects—doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. 

Teresa Sundmark lives in Homer, Alaska. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from UAA. Her work has been featured in Cirque: A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim and is forthcoming in Stoneboat Journal. She blogs intermittently at loftyminded.com.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sean Hill: Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference

The Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference[1] at Bemidji State University is back for its third year after a four-year hiatus. On the BSU campus on the shores of Lake Bemidji—a small university on a big lake in a small town in northern Minnesota—the perfect place to write and be in the company of others committed to learning and teaching the craft of writing and where you’re likely to be awakened by the haunting call of a loon or inspired by the grace of a bald eagle as well as by our great faculty.

This summer the conference will be held from June 20th to June 26th. This week-long writers’ conference offers participants intimate writing workshops and an evening reading series[2]. Established in 2003, the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference provides a high quality literary experience for the local and state communities and attracts participants from around the nation. The conference has always brought in well-published writers who are also excellent teachers to lead the intensive workshops, which are limited to 13 participants in order to create intimate learning communities for the writers.

The faculty is there to share their knowledge and experience of the writing life with their workshops and with the whole conference in our craft talk series. We also invite a Distinguished Visiting Writer to speak on the art and craft of writing and share what he or she has learned over the years. They have included the major American poet Sharon Olds, the acclaimed fiction writer, Pam Houston, and the recent U.S. Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey, during the year in which she won the Pulitzer Prize. Our teaching faculty has included NEA fellows and winners of major awards including the National Book Award.  

For those who want the conference experience but don’t want to take part in a workshop, we are offering an auditor’s track that includes access to the daily craft talks, afternoon events, evening readings, and the conference meals. This option is for writers at any stage of development who work hard at their writing and want to better understand the creative act. Auditors will be exposed to and benefit from the knowledge and experience our teaching artists share in their morning craft talks and be moved by their work at the evening readings. At $125 plus $28 per night for convenient newly-remodeled campus housing, the auditor’s track provides an incredibly affordable writer’s retreat. 

Following in our tradition of literary excellence, our Distinguished Visiting Writer is acclaimed poet, memoirist, and teacher Mark Doty. Doty has published over a dozen books of poetry and nonfiction. Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems won the National Book Award. His memoir Dog Years became a New York Times bestseller. Doty’s poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The London Review of Books, Ploughshares, Poetry, The New Yorker, and The Norton Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry. His honors include the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, two Lambda Literary Awards, and he is the only American poet to receive the T.S. Eliot Prize in the U.K. Doty lives in New York and is Professor/Writer in Residence at Rutgers University. 

And our teaching-writers are equally impressive. The poet, Aimee Nezhukumatathil will return this summer to lead our poetry workshop. Aimee is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Lucky Fish, winner of the gold medal in Poetry from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize for Independent Books. Her recent honors include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Pushcart Prize.  

The novelist Tayari Jones will lead the fiction workshop. Jones is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and a winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. She has written for McSweeney’s, The New York Times, and the Believer. Her previous novels include Leaving Atlanta and The Untelling, winner of the Lillian C. Smith award. Her third novel, Silver Sparrow, was included in O Magazine’s Favorite Things for 2011 and on several prestigious Best Books of 2011 lists including Slate’s and Salon’s. Jones holds degrees from Spelman College, Arizona State University, and the University of Iowa.   

This year we are offering a Young Adult fiction workshop led by Matt de la Peña. He’s the author of five critically-acclaimed young adult novels—Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here, I Will Save You and The Living—as well as the award-winning picture book A Nation’s Hope: The story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis. de la Peña’s second picture book, Last Stop on Market Street, was recently released by Penguin, and his sixth YA novel, The Hunted (a sequel to The Living), will be released by Delacorte. He received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. de la Peña teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country. 

One of our two creative nonfiction workshops will be led by David Gessner, author of nine books, including the forthcoming All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West, and The Tarball Chronicles, which won the 2012 Reed Award for Best Book on the Southern Environment. He has published essays in many magazines, including Outside magazine and the New York Times Magazine, and has won the John Burroughs Award for Best Nature Essay. Gessner taught Environmental Writing as a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard, and founded the award-winning literary journal of place, Ecotone. 

The other creative nonfiction workshop will be led by our other returning faculty, Joni Tevis. A former Edelstein-Keller Discovery Fellow at the University of Minnesota, Tevis teaches literature and creative writing at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Tevis is the well-published author of a wonder-filled book of essays, The Wet Collection. She also has a second collection of nonfiction about ghost towns, tourist traps, and atomic dread, The World is on Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse, due out this spring. Both are from Milkweed Editions.  

The Conference Fee for workshop participants is $545 before April 15, 2015 and $595 after, and that includes a daily workshop limited to 13 writers, daily craft talks, publishing and editor Q&As, afternoon events, and five conference meals. And, as mentioned above, there is an Auditor Option available for $125 that includes all conference amenities and access to events offered during the week, but does not include participation in a workshop. $300 scholarships will be awarded toward the conference fee. Scholarship awards in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction are based on need and literary merit and intended to lower financial barriers for writers. There is also a scholarship for Minnesota residents. Apply at http://northwoodswriters.org/apply-online/ by March 15, 2015. For workshop descriptions, a schedule, online application, and more information please visit www.northwoodswriters.org. The deadline for applying for the conference is May 1.  

Here’s a video clip of the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference from LakelandPTV’s Common Ground.

Check out Mark Doty reading “A Display of Mackerels” for the PBS NewsHour! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83slEB_k_O4 

Listen to Aimee Nezhukumatathil's poems "Penguin Valentine"!

Check out this excerpt from Silver Sparrow the latest book by Tayari Jones!

Listen to this interview Matt de la Peña with on NPR!

Check out David Gessner talking about his book My Green Manifesto!

Listen to this interview of Joni Tevis up at Orion!

 

 



[1] Sponsored by the English Department at Bemidji State University in collaboration with BSU’s Center for Extended Learning and a grant from the Region 2 Arts Council and generous donors.
 
[2]The readings are free and open to the public.
 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Rachel Weaver: Am I Ever Going to Finish Writing This Book?


When I first started writing a novel, I was living year round in Petersburg, AK. I was a scientist who had read a lot of books and had always, secretly wanted to write one. I did not think of myself as a writer, but had a lot of time on my hands in the winter (this was pre-husband and pre-twin boys) and thought I’d give it a whirl. I got addicted, fast. It was so fun to make stuff up. I loved creating characters, putting them in all sorts of situations and imagining what would happen. I loved watching the landscape of Alaska come alive on the page. I wrote all the time. With every fifty pages completed on my computer, I would start the generator to print them out, add them to the pile and stare at how big the stack of papers was getting to be. One afternoon, at the Harbor Bar, I sat across from my friend and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with all these people who take ten years to finish a book, I’m going to be done in six months.”
Wrong! Turns out, what I finished in six months was a really really rough first draft. But I didn’t know that then. I had an impressive stack of papers, with a good looking cover page and lots of things happened between page 1 and page 342. So, imagining I had finished one book, I naturally started another.
At some point the following fall after the busy summer season, it dawned on me that maybe the book I had busted out in six months needed a second go-through, maybe the plot wasn’t quite as tight as it had seemed. As I read through, lots of things nagged at me as a reader. I could identify what wasn’t quite lining up right, but I didn’t know how to dissect those things to the point of figuring out how to fix them. This is actually the point at which I started to become a writer. Once I slowed down, once I was willing to pull apart what I had and try to puzzle my way more toward the truth of the action, the subtle intricacies of the plot; that’s when I started to learn. This is also when I started to wonder about the whole book writing thing. Was I going to drive myself crazy? If it took me a whole week to figure out the first five pages, was I going to lose my mind by page 200?
What I have come to realize is that it’s actually the process of rewriting that makes you a writer.  There is a certain level of tenacity, a dedication to the long process of improving your craft that gets you across the finish line. Almost ten years to the day I made that statement in the Harbor Bar, that novel was published. I wrote it somewhere between twenty and twenty-five times. For me, this was the process of learning how to write a book, how to watch the world as a writer, and ultimately how to trust myself despite lots of rejection, lots of disappointing realizations along the way that I still had a long ways to go and lots of moments of pure elation when all the pieces of a scene or chapter fell into place. I was still addicted, I still loved it, even though in those ten years, I swung violently between feeling 100% committed to the writing path and thinking I should burn the book in the backyard, become a banker and wear nice shoes.
I don’t have nice shoes, I have practical shoes and a book that to me represents the fact that I didn’t give up despite a fair amount of evidence that I probably should have. So, the answer is yes, you are going to finish that book. As long as you keep your head down and continually rededicate yourself to improving your craft. I believe that you do not just write a book. You work at a book, you let it change you as you change it, you both grow together and in the end you hold that bound copy in your hands and you realize that it represents so much more of you than you could ever explain.
Rachel Weaver is the author of the novel Point of Direction, named to Oprah Magazine’s May 2014 Top Ten Titles to Pick Up Now and described by NPR’s All Things Considered as the type of book that “pulls you in”. Rachel is on the fiction faculty at Regis University’s low residency MFA program. She will be teaching a workshop entitled “Writing the Three Dimensional Novel or Memoir” for 49 Writers in Anchorage on February 28th and in Juneau on March 2nd and 3rd. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Round Up of News & Events

Rachel Weaver  is coming to Alaska for readings and workshops. She used to work for the Forest Service in Alaska studying bears, raptors, and songbirds. Now she's the author of Point of Direction, a highly-praised novel set on Eldred Rock in Juneau. She'll be in Anchorage and Palmer this coming week, followed by a few days in Juneau. Check out the details below.

The Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference with keynote speaker Andre Dubus III is coming up June 12-16. Now that may seem like a ways off, but this nationally recognized conference sells out every year. Once it's full, registration will close. So register early!


Happy Writing!
Morgan


Online Class Schedule

Distance learning with Andromeda Romano-Lax

A co-founder of 49 Writers, Andromeda Romano-Lax worked as a freelance journalist and travel writer before turning to fiction. Her first novel, The Spanish Bow, was a New York Times Editor's Choice and was translated into 11 languages. Along with teaching for 49 Writers, Andromeda is a faculty member of the UAA low-residency MFA program. She is the recipient of grants from the Alaska Council on the Arts and the Rasmuson Foundation, which named her a 2009 Artist Fellow. She received her MFA and post-MFA in creative writing pedagogy from Antioch University Los Angeles.
  • Anatomy of Scene: Sunday, March 8-Saturday, April 4, online, asynchronous. $195 members/$250 non-members.
  • Revision Intensive: Sunday, April 5-Saturday, May 16, online, asynchronous. $295 members/$350 non-members.
Find out more and register here.

EVENTS IN ANCHORAGE

49 Writers Spring Classes: Anchorage. You can still register for classes starting this week! Find full information on the 49 Writers website.
  • Writing the Three Dimensional Novel or Memoir with Rachel Weaver. Saturday, February 28, 9am-4pm at 161 E. 1st Ave., Door 15. $95 member/$115 nonmember.
  • Joining the Conversation: Engaging with Poets Past with Sandra Kleven. Thursdays, March 5, 12 & 19 and April 2, 9 & 16, 6-8pm at 161 E. 1st Ave., Door 15. $190 member/$230 nonmember
Reading and Craft Talk with Rachel Weaver: Revising Efficiently: Some Techniques to Save Time. February 26, 7-8:30pm at Great Harvest Bread Company, 570 E. Benson Blvd. Rachel writes, "You’ve been writing furiously for months (or years) and that glorious day comes when you write the last sentence. You’ve finished your first draft, you go out to celebrate, the next day comes and you begin to wonder, now what? Often for writers, what follows is a lot of years of inefficient cutting and pasting and rewriting and moving around and moving back. It’s easy to get caught in addressing surface problems rather than evaluating the backbone of the story from a crafting point of view. In this craft talk, we will discuss some solid techniques to make your revisions as efficient and effective as possible to get your book ready to go out the door in fewer drafts."

Be a part of Anchorage Reads 2015! Kicking off February 20th and running through March 20th, Anchorage Reads is a one-book/one community reading program promoting literacy, love of reading and facilitating community discussions. The Raven's Gift by local author Don Rearden is this year’s selection. Events include
  • Book Discussion with Don Readen, Loussac Library, February 21, 3pm and Muldoon Branch Library, March 7, 3 pm.
  • The Raven's Gift Reader's Theatre, Loussac Library-Wilda Marston, March 12, 7pm
  • Book & Brew Rondy, Anchorage Community Works, March 13, 8pm
  • Author Talk, Loussac Library-Wilda Marston, Thursday, March 19, 7pm

March 13th - Jeremy Pataky presents his new book. Hugi-Lewis Studio, 1008 W Northern Lights Blvd. Live poetry from Overwinter, music by Molly McDermott, and book signing. Hors d'ouevres and cash beer + wine bar. Live music and poetry start at 7 pm, doors open at 6:30.

"What Do We Do When the Lifeboats are Burning?" Songs and Stories about Climate, Community and Courage. Libby Roderick and Kathleen Dean Moore in concert and conversation. February 22, 2 pm, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2824 E. 18th (18th & Sunrise, Airport Heights). $20 suggested donation. 50% of proceeds go to Alaskan climate organizations. Co-sponsored by UU Fellowship, 49 Writers, and UAA Office of Sustainability.

UAA Bookstore events in February & March. All events at the UAA Campus Bookstore. There are many more events on a wide variety of topics at the bookstore: Click here for details.
  • February 23, 5-7pm: Writing About Climate Change
  • March 16, 5-7pm: Logistics in the Falklands War by Kenneth L. Privratsky
  • March 20, 4-6pm: Local Writers Discuss their Works in Progress with Lizzie Newell, Mel Green, Jessica Ramsey Golden, Sheila Sine, Deb Ginsburg
  • March 23, 5-7 Alyse Knorr and Kate Partridge present Time Travel Poetry

EVENTS AROUND ALASKA

Southcentral, Mat-Su - Kenai Peninsula
BookTalk/Reading: Join author Dave Atcheson as he discusses his latest book: Dead Reckoning, Navigating a Life on the Last Frontier, Courting Tragedy on its High Seas, much of which takes place in Homer: Friday, February 20, 6:30 PM, Kenai Peninsula College, Kachemak Bay Branch, Homer, AK.

Fireside Books invites you to Dinner with Rachel Weaver at the Turkey Red Restaurant, February 27, 2015, 6:30 PM. Meet Rachel Weaver, the author of Point of Direction, a pulse-pounding story set in Southeast Alaska. Point of Direction earned an "Indies Introduce" designation by independent booksellers from around the country. It was also featured in Oprah magazine. We find it beautifully written as well as gripping! You can hear Rachel Weaver talk about her novel while enjoying a fine dinner at Turkey Red! We'll also enjoy live music with the Feral Cats!
Get your tickets here for $25.00 -- or at Fireside Books. If you are a member of the new "Read Alaska Rewards Club" you can buy a ticket with your voucher -- on a first-come/first-serve basis of course.


Juneau & Southeast

49 Writers Events
Literary Happy Hour with Rachel Weaver. March 1, 4:30-6pm at Coho's 51 Egan Drive, Juneau. Reading, craft talk, and libations. Rachel discuss "Revising Efficiently: Some Techniques to Save Time." 
Writing the Three Dimensional Novel or Memoir: Essential ingredients to Capture Your Reader and Engage an Audience: A 49 Writers Class with Rachel Weaver. March 2-3, 6-9pm at UAS Egan Classroom 221. Free to current UAS students; $95 members of 49 Writers/$115 nonmembers. Registration and Full info on the 49 Writers website.

Island Institute, Sitka, February 23, 7 pm, Kettleson Memorial Library: A Reading and Celebration with Jesse Blackadder and Carol Birrell. They’ll share work from their previous books and articles, and their current work in progress. All are welcome. Jesse’s adult and children’s books will be for sale and Story Lab Coordinator Sally Helm will provide information on after school activities. Carol Birell is an academic, writer, teacher, and environmental artist from the University of Western Sydney. Jesse Blackadder is a previous Island Institute Fellow (2007). She is the author of award-winning adult and children’s novels with environmental themes, and an environmental journalist.

Jeremy Pataky Book Tour to celebrate publication of his book of poetry Overwinter. 
  • Haines Borough Public Library, March 20: Reception followed by Reading in the Round and Book Signing. Free.
  • Skagway Public Library, March 22, 3 pm: Craft Talk and Book Signing. Free.
  • Juneau, Heritage Coffee Roasting Co., March 19, 6 pm: Reading and Signing with Emily Wall. Free.
  • Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, March 24, 6-8pm, Workshop: A Reader's Approach to Poetry. $30 for 49 Writers members/ $35 nonmembers. Register online.   “Reading poetry is an adventure in renewal, a creative act, a perpetual beginning, a rebirth of wonder,” says the poet Edward Hirsch. Poems require different reading strategies than other kinds of writing. In this short course, we’ll ask not what poems mean, but how they mean, as that common dictum prescribes. We’ll explore the concept of “slow reading” and consider its power in an increasingly fast-paced world. This reading course is suited for non-writers and writers alike. Anyone with a genuine interest in poetry is encouraged to participate.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR WRITERS

Volunteer Blog Coordinator needed at 49 Writers, training provided: This is a great opportunity to have contact with with a wide range of writers. The volunteer blog coordinator makes sure a post runs each weekday on the 49 Writers blog, along with updating the featured author sidebar and promoting the blog on the 49 Writers Facebook page. There’s a nice system in place, with some regular items like the Friday round-up and the monthly featured author. On average, it takes ten hours a month to keep the blog up to date, a little more if you end up writing an original post here or there to fill in. If you’re reliable, responsible, pay attention to detail, know (or can readily learn) the Blogger platform, and communicate well, 49 Writers needs you! Before Deb Vanasse, our longtime Blog-ess, moves on to new projects. she will train you! What more could a fledgling (or experienced) blogger want? So come have a turn at keeping us connected via the 49 Writers blog. Fill out a volunteer form today, and in the “tell us about you” spot, mention your interest in the blog coordinator position.

Publication & Production Opportunities

Writers' Showcase at 360 North, KTOO, Juneau is accepting submissions for their March show. The theme is Journeys. Deadline is February 27. 

Cirque was founded to give writers (and artists) of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest more places to publish their work – and as a vehicle to bring the best writing of the region to the world. The next Cirque deadline is March 21st (the equinox). The submission address is cirque.submits at gmail.com.

Fairbanks Drama Association and The Looking Glass Group Theatre invite Alaskan residents to send their best 10-minute plays to be considered for the 15th Annual 8X10 Festival of New Alaskan Plays. Eight ten-minute plays will be given rehearsed staged readings at the Festival, which will be held April 24 & 25, 2015, at FDA's Hap Ryder Riverfront Theater in Fairbanks. Submission deadline: March 15.

Whitefish Review Mythic Beasts and Monsters: Submissions for Whitefish Review's summer 2015 issue are accepted in art, photography, fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Editors want you to dig into supernatural history. Nessie, Sasquatch, and cousin Yeti-the Brontosaurus still rumbling somewhere deep in the Congo's swamps. Fairies, Trolls, Dragons, Gods 'n' Demons. Montana's own Flathead Lake Monster. What natural models are these beasts based on? What human hopes and fears? Why do we seem to wish that those creatures are really out there? Dig deep. What monsters lurk inside us? Submission deadline March 15, 2015.

Soap Stone Creek Literary Journal: a Bi-monthly Print Journal for Children of all Ages debuts May 2015. They are looking for fiction, essays, poetry, artwork, and photos. No deadlines given; check the website for details.

The April issue of Cyclamens and Swords Publishing will be a general issue for poetry and short stories on any subject. Humorous and controversial submissions are welcomed. Submission deadline March 15.

Contests & Grants

Rasmuson Foundation: The 2015 Individual Artist Award application deadline is March 1.

Statewide Poetry Contest 2015: Deadline is March 2, 2015 at 6 pm.

2015 Public Invitation for a Poem in Place: For the third and final project year, Poems in Place 2015 seeks one poem to place in Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park in Kodiak, and one poem forCaines Head State Recreation Area in Seward. Submissions accepted Feb. 1 - April 1.

It’s Always Something Teen Writing Contest deadline is March 20, 2015. More information on the contest and the submission form at www.gildasclubseattle.org.

Cahaba River Literary Journal Home for the Holidays Poetry Competition: Call for submissions from new and seasoned writers: stories, poems, essays, and color and black and white photography on all subjects, in any form. Submission deadline October 31, 2015.

Conferences, Retreats & Residencies

Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, Homer, AK, June 12-16, 2015: keynote speaker is Andre Dubus III, and there are a host of amazing writers on the faculty this year (as there are every year). This year's post-conference workshop at Tutka Bay Lodge, Finding the Geography of Our Work, will be led by 2014 Kingsley Tufts Award winner Afaa Weaver, June 16-18.

Wrangell Mountain Meg Hunt Residency Program Application Deadline: March 5, 2015
Artists and writers of all genres and at all stages in their career are encouraged to apply for one of several two-week residencies. Selections will be made through a competitive admissions process. They encourage emerging and mid-level career voices as well as mature professionals. Selected artists will receive room and board for their entire stay in exchange for community outreach or the donation of artwork as a result of the residency. During the residency, the artist will be asked to share their experience with the public by demonstration, talk, or other means.

North Words Writers Symposium, May 27-30, Skagway. Keynote speaker is Mary Roach, plus a bevvy of Alaska's best authors. North Words Symposium offers a unique opportunity for writers to nurture interrelationships with other writers and thinkers in a spectacular place. They aspire to build upon a tradition of literature that reflects language and life on the frontier.

Ketchikan Teaching Artist Academy:The Ketchikan Area Arts & Humanities Council is offering a Teaching Artist Academy via the OWL Network. Sessions will be held on Saturday, March 7th from 10am to 6pm at OWL sites in Ketchikan, Craig, Thorne Bay, Petersburg, Wrangell, Cordova, Metlakatla and Hollis. This workshop is meant to support the professional development of currently working teaching artists, and professional artists exploring the addition of teaching artist work to their art practices. For complete information, and registration, visit the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council website athttp://ketchikanarts.org/events-programs/arts-education. If you have any questions about the Teaching Artist Academy or the Artist in the Schools program, contact Christa Bruce, Education Director atchristab@ketchikanarts.org or 907.225.2211.

Mineral School Summer 2015 artist residency application deadline is February 25, 2015 (Midnight, EST) for the 2015 summer residencies.

Win $500 to Attend a Writer's Conference, Festival, Center, Retreat, or Residency
AWP offers three scholarships of $500 each to emerging writers who wish to attend a writers' conference, center, retreat, festival, or residency. Enter via Submittable by March 30, 2015 deadline.

Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference: Minneapolis, April 8-11. Imagine 12,000 writers in one place!

The Muse & the Marketplace 2015 May 1st - 3rd, 2015, sponsored by Grubstreet in Boston.

Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference, June 20-26, 2015. Scholarship deadline: March 15. 49 Writers just received a bunch of brochures for this conference.