Friday, April 17, 2015

Round Up of News and Events

There was a good turn-out for Savor the Rising Words poetry reading at Great Harvest Bread Co. Hats off to Barb Hood, who cooked up the brilliant idea of a poetry broadside event for National Poetry Month. Toby Widdicombe, who was one of the featured poets, offered extra credit to his students who attended, and attend they did. The broadsides are on display through the end of April. If you see one you like, it can be yours for a cool $35. Proceeds help support 49 Writers free events such as Reading & Craft Talks and Crosscurrents.
Monica Devine reading at Savor the Rising Words. Photo by Barb Hood.

We've got a couple of classes coming up this month, and we are especially excited about Crosscurrents on April 29 featuring Alaska Writer Laureate Frank Soos and friends.

Happy Writing!

Morgan



EVENTS IN ANCHORAGE

We Came to Stay: Anchorage Untold Stories, a free Anchorage Centennial event. Storyshare, April 19, 3-5pm, Loussac Library Innovations Lab, 4th Floor. Bring a dish and your own story to share as we explore how you decided to set roots in Anchorage, created a sense of place, and reached beyond to become part of the larger community.

49 Writers Classes
  • How to Publish Your Book on Kindle with Lawrence Weiss, April 18, 9-12pm. 
  • Writing in 360 Degrees with Don Rearden, April 23, 6-9pm. 
Crosscurrents: Alaska Writer Laureate Frank Soos and panelists Eva Saulitis, Susanna Mishler, and David Stevenson. A wide ranging discussion about how writers present themselves on the page in poetry and essay, as opposed to the people they may be in the rest of their lives. Wednesday, April 29, 7pm at the Anchorage Museum, 7th Street entrance.

The Alaska Chapter of SCBWI is offering a workshop entitled "No Bookmarks Allowed: How to Inject Suspense into Any Novel," with Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why,  Thursday, April 23, 7:30-8:30pm. Details and registration here. Don't miss this chance to learn from a master of the craft, and support the prevention of teen suicide. Stefanie Tatalias writes: "I am sure you're aware of the devasting suicide rate in our state (four times higher than the national average) and the epidemic of teen suicide that touches every student in our high schools. I am super impressed by Jay Asher's book tour to help stop bullying, and prevent the tragic tory that unfolds in his novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, about a teen's suicide and the events that led up to it." Proceeds from this workshop will help buy books for West High School students. 
They will be using a webinar service to present this workshop to people in remote locations! All you need is an internet connection, little preparation, and you will be able to see the workshop, and communicate with them, too.
Please check out these related links: http://50statesagainstbullying.com,  http://thirteenreasonswhy.com, and brief video of Jay Asher discussing the tour, found here


EVENTS AROUND ALASKA

ONLINE CLASSES


Lynn Lovegreen will lead an online workshop on writing YA/NA historical romance sponsored by Young Adults Chapter of Romance Writers of America (YARWA). Writing YA/NA Historical Romance. Online: May 4-22, 2015. $10 for YARWA members ($20 for non-members). Register here.

SOUTHCENTRAL, MAT-SU, KENAI PENINSULA

The 2015 Mat-Su Young Writers Conference, April 25, sponsored by Publication Consultants and the Mat-Su School District, is in need of author speakers to present on a number of writerly topics. To apply as an author speaker, contact Evan Swensen at evan@Publication Consultants.com.

Meet Linda Dunegan. Friday, May 1 at 4pm at Fireside Books in Palmer. If you've been reading the news this past year, you've probably seen allegations of corruption and abuse in the Alaska National Guard. Linda Dunegan's book The Price of Whistleblowing is her own story of working in that institution. It's an unflinching narrative about standing up in a hostile environment, and it's a stark commentary on the impact of corruption on national security -- and on individual lives.

An All-Day Independent Bookstore Day Party at Fireside Books in Palmer! May 2nd. Following the runaway success of last year’s California Bookstore Day, bookstores across the nation are now preparing for Independent Bookstore Day, a country-wide celebration of books and independent bookstores on May 2nd. From Brooklyn to Palmer, book lovers should mark their calendars for this special day of literary parties. Fireside Books will be celebrating with a book-signing (and, later a special dinner) with author Heather Lende; a panel presenting tongue-in-cheek “relationship advice” with authors Deb Vanasse, Kris Farmen, Jackie Ivie, and Timothy Bateson; music by Anna Lynch and Meggie Aube; and publishing advice from author Eowyn Ivey.

Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, June 12-16. 2015’s 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,

SOUTHEAST

An Evening with Alice Rose Crow ~Maar'aq and Ruby Hansen Murray. April 22, 7pm. Local musicians and writers will join the Island Institute's April Writers In Residence, Ruby Hansen Murray and Alice Rose Crow ~ Maar’aq, for readings and performances centering around the theme of place and belonging at the Yaw Chapel on the SJ Campus. Ruby and Alice are in town through the Island Institute's Collaborative Residency.

Literary Happy Hour: a new monthly event in Juneau. Sunday, April 26, 4:30-6pm, Coho's, 51 Egan Drive. Free - No Host Bar. Readings by Libby Bakalar (author of the Juneau-based blog One Hot Mess) and Geoff Kirsch (Juneau Empire columnist and humorist). These two writers (who happened to be married) are truly funny! Check out their work by clicking on their names. See you at Coho's!


OPPORTUNITIES FOR WRITERS

PUBLICATION 

Gleanings from AWP

Blue Skirt Productions:
  • welcomes submissions of articles, essays, short stories, poems, comics, artwork, music recordings, and the like for publication on their website.
  • seeks to publish quality fiction, memoir, art, and poetry through their press. They are now open for submissions of almost anything that is entertaining, thought-provoking, original, or generally awesome in some way. They may be a small press, but Blue Skirt publishers say they "give each manuscript we acquire our full attention and expertise when it comes to editing, book and cover design, and distribution. We also work with our authors to arrange speaking/reading engagements and other publicity."
Microfiction Monday Magazine publishes exceptional microfiction (stories told in 100 words or fewer) the first Monday of each month.

The Sewanee Review accepts essays, fiction, and poetry, and awards four prizes annually to the best short fiction, poetry, essay, and book reviewing of the previous year. The Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry is presented annually to established poets. Winners of these awards are determined by the board of editors and a prize committee; one cannot apply for any of them.

Fairy Tale Review is accepting submissions for their 2016 issue. Send your best fairy-tale work along the spectrum of mainstream to experimental, fabulist to realist. The reading period will remain open until the issue is full—they predict closing in late spring or early summer.

CONTESTS & GRANTS

Gleanings from AWP

Willis Barnstone Translation Prize for unpublished translations into English. Hosted by the Evansville Review. Contest deadline: December 1.

Monstrosities of the Midway Literary Contest. March 1-May 31. Grand prize $1000. Poem, short story, or work of nonfiction. Step right up! They want to see mysteries, anomalies, and clashing energies. Bring your giant rats, conjoined twins, Fiji mermaids, bearded ladies, and civic dissidents. They invite any writing that complicates issues of performance and identity. Real and unreal. Exposed and concealed.

Fairy Tale Review Awards in Poetry and Prose: The selected winners of the prose and poetry contests will each receive $1,000, and all submissions will also be considered for publication in the Ochre Issue, which will be released in 2016. Reading fee: $10. Reading period April 1, 2015 to July 15th, 2015.

Blue Skirt Announces a Novella Contest! There simply isn’t enough love given to the novella, and the folks at Blue Skirt Productions believe this form deserves more recognition. They’re offering $500 for the best novella published in 2014 or 2015. Submissions must be between 15,000 and 40,000 words in length. Self-published and e-books are more than welcome, but the work must have an ISBN number. The winner will be announced in spring of 2016, and in addition to the cash prize, will be interviewed for a feature on their website. Contest ends December 31, 2015.

CONFERENCES, RETREATS & RESIDENCIES

Registration is open for the Tutka Bay Writers Retreat featuring two outstanding guest instructors, Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes! September 11-13 at the fabulous Tutka Bay Lodge.

National Arts Strategies: Call for Creative Community Fellows. Application deadline for the second cohort: April 26. Around the world there are artists, activists, community organizers, administrators and entrepreneurs working as change-makers in their communities - using arts and culture as vehicles to drive physical and social transformations. During the nine-month fellowship, fellows are given tools, training and access to a community of support in order to fuel their visions for community change, spark new ideas and help propel them into action.

The Wrangell Mountains Center residency program aims to support artists of all genres, writers, and inquiring minds in the creation of their work. Their organization and community will provide unrestricted work time and space to focused individuals. They invite applicants with creative and inquisitive minds who will both add to and benefit from the interdisciplinary efforts at their campus in McCarthy, Alaska and the surrounding Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

North Words Writers Symposium, May 27-30, Skagway. Keynote speaker is Mary Roach, plus a bevvy of Alaska's best authors.

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).

Last Frontier Theatre Conference, June 14-20, in Valdez, features new work by playwrights from around the country. There are evening performances, 10-minute play slams, even a fringe festival. The deadline is past for play submissions, but they may still need actors.

Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop presents RiverSong with Frank Soos, Michelle McAfee, Robin Child, and Nancy Cook, July 22-27, McCarthy to Chitina. The Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop is pleased to partner with McCarthy River Tours & Outfitters to host a six-day, five-night adventure in the fabulous Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. This year’s workshop will feature poet and essayist, Frank Soos, who is currently serving as Alaska’s Writer Laureate, joined by accomplished singer-songwriter Michelle McAfee, backcountry banjo-diva Robin Child, and workshop director Nancy Cook. Together they will explore the ways wilderness can help inspire songs, stories, poems, and essays. Activities include an opening reading/performance and craft sessions in the comfort of the Wrangell Mountains Center’s facility in McCarthy, followed by three nights and four days of creative inquiry along the Kennicott, Nizina, Chitina, and Copper Rivers. Space is limited to eight student writers/ songwriters.

Julia O'Malley is hosting a two-day storytelling retreat this summer in Homer on beautiful Yukon Island, July 24 -26. This retreat is an intimate, no-homework, no-pressure opportunity to generate material and improve storytelling and listening skills in a positive environment. The workshop, especially suited for people who write for their jobs, will center on personal storytelling while relying on techniques that have broad applications in writing and reporting work. You will leave with tools that help you write more fluidly, listen more effectively and tap into your innate ability to organize and tell interesting stories that connect with readers. Click here for details. Contact Julia by May 15 if you're interested.

Alaska Writers Guild & SCBWI Annual Writer’s Conference, September 19-20, Anchorage. Early registration starts May 2015. www.AlaskaWritersGuild.com

Gleanings from AWP


Poetry and Yoga Retreat in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, August 3-7. On their own, poetry and yoga are radiant. When you combine them, magic happens!

Poetry by the Sea Conference, Madison CT., May 26-29.

Sewanee Young Writers' Conference, June 28-July 11, in Sewanee, TN. Workshops in playwriting, fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction for students currently enrolled in 9th through 11th grades. Are you a high school student already bitten by the writing bug? Do you write poems or stories, in class or out, but wonder how good they are, and how you could make them better? Your parents admire them and your friends are impressed; your teachers help as much as they can. But what would a professional writer, doing the same sort of work and publishing it, make of your stuff? If you’ve asked yourself these sorts of questions, check out the Sewanee Young Writers' Conference. They are not accepting new applications for 2015, but keep them in mind for next year.






Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ben: Writing in a Cafe

You walk into the Kaladi Brother’s Cafe on Northern Lights Boulevard and order a 16 ounce latte.  Yum.  It costs four dollars and a fifth goes in the tip jar.  It’s snowing hard outside.  Everyone in here is wearing a hat.  Those who speak are close in and quiet with their companions.  The steam machine and the music build a hum around you—the kind of white noise that matches the snow outside.

You sit at the curved bar with one other guy.  He looks at his phone.  He’s reading.  People watching movies don’t have that bright-eyed intensity readers have.  It’s time to write.

Your hands have been suffering from poor typing practice.  You pull a brace on your right hand just before the barista brings over your drink.  Thanks.

Now you have to earn five dollars.  What are they worth, the words you write?  Can you put a value on them.  Sure.  A dollar a page.  Write a page for every dollar you spend on coffee.  You may never earn it back, but you get to enjoy the nutty drink.  Man, they make a good coffee here.  This is no longer just about writing.  This is about living a life you have chosen instead of one thrust on you.

But you have about three quarters of an hour before they expect you home.  The snow is blowing across the road outside.  It’s freezing to the windshields out there and slicking the roads.  Better put those aching fingers on the keyboard and bang out some pages.  You’re buying them.

Then there is the tuition.  You pay to learn about writing in your MFA program.  You pay for your computer.  Your wife agreed to the program and the computer because you were going crazy before you had time to write.  That snow out there would kill you if you didn’t write.  So you drink the coffee and you try to write four pages.  The tip is a gift to the world.  Any tip is a gift to the world.  But mostly, you don’t spend money writing.  You spend time writing.  You write to stay alive in the crazy, white world you live in.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Matthew Komatsu: Reading War



“Only the dead have seen the end of war” – Plato

History agrees with Plato’s pragmatic suggestion that war is engrained in the human condition. As such, it is as fair game as anything else within the human experience for artistic rendition.

Look, you can scratch the surface of war with ease. Kill memoirs do it on a regular basis, and even journalism rarely gets much past war’s fundamental values: kill or be killed. But this is not what draws my interest. Don’t get me wrong – the documentation of the experience is important. I am not arguing these things shouldn’t be written. But if, like me, you want something more, something that gets after those common threads of the human experience; then you want something you can claw. Something that peels back the layers of the onion and gets beyond the scene and into the underlying story.

Hemingway knew this, applied it in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Think of the mustard gas poetry of Sassoon and Graves, Wilfred Owen, All Quiet on the Western Front. Slaughterhouse Five. The Red Badge of Courage. War and Peace. The Iliad. Gilgamesh.

My MFA reading list skipped the glancing blows and went for the gut shots. Books that unsettled me, made me angry, lumped my throat, and inhabited my dreams. I found a wealth of nonfiction that deserves our attention, but here are my top memoir picks.

On Vietnam: 
- Dispatches, Michael Herr. Herr spent a year (1968ish) in Vietnam on a nebulous Esquire assignment. But unlike his journalistic peers, he worked without deadlines or assignments. He chose his narrative. And boy, is it a hell of a ride. Fragmented, challenging, soaked in LSD and hazy with weed smoke, cynical yet sentimental. If you read one nonfiction book on Vietnam, this is it.

On George Bush’s Iraq:
- Jarhead, Anthony Swofford. I’m re-reading this Marine’s tale right now. Political, angry, hilarious and stinging. Swofford’s narrator has some things to say.

On Afghanistan:
- War, Sebastian Junger. The literary partner to the acclaimed documentary Restrepo, this book documents a year in the most dangerous area in Afghanistan. Essentially an examination of why young men are drawn to war, Junger’s answer is surprising: love.

On George W. Bush’s Iraq:
Dust to Dust, Benjamin Busch. This book transcends war with a poetry unlike anything I’ve encountered. Sure, Iraq figures heavily, but as I would expect from the son of Frederick Busch, it’s just one experience that informs the story of a life. The narrative is fragmented but chaptered by elemental themes like fire, water, dust. I highly recommend you become familiar with Benjamin Busch.

Of course, this is just a beginning, a sample of men who’ve participated in war. But what about the other side, the voices who’ve not been heard? The stories exist, but I’ve had to work harder to find them. Amalie Flynn recently blogged for me here about her experiences as a war spouse, and you can out Michiko Kakutani’s New York Times article, which is damn near all-inclusive. On a budget? Read these for free: Brandon Lingle’s outstanding “Keeping Pace”, “I Said Infantry” by Brian Turner, and JA Moad’s meta discussion on the modern veteran writer.

Reading these authors will teach you that war is like any other life experience; it’s just that the volume is cranked up and the consequences are higher. Against its backdrop, the real stories emerge: culture, love, tedium, mental health, pain, healing, death and survival. It’s these stories that illuminate the true experience of war.


Matthew Komatsu is an author and currently serving veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2014, he enrolled in the University of Alaska-Anchorage's MFA in Creative Writing program as a Nonfiction candidate. He has published essays in The New York Times; War, Literature and the Arts; and on stage at Anchorage, AK's Arctic Entries. War, Literature, and the Arts nominated his memoir-essay, "31 North 64 East" for a Pushcart Prize. He also has a flash essay upcoming in the September 2015 issue of Brevity. You can follow him on Twitter @matthew_komatsu.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ben: Writing Letters to Grandma

Dear Grandma
I write letters to my grandmother.  I feel pressure to keep something in the mail.  She is my only regular reader.

On my grandmother’s 92nd birthday, she told my aunt that her second daughter’s family, my mother’s family, wrote to her more than anyone else called her on the telephone.  That may not have been true; a letter has more impact than a telephone call and persists in memory.

It is easy to forget the power of writing for a single person.  I hope this post is read by many people.  When a book comes out, everyone involved hopes that a hoard of readers will grab it and dig in.  Even with a hoard, the book must still be read by each individual.  Experiencing a piece of writing as a cultural phenomenon can have value, but the books that move us personally feel as if they are written for us; the writer crafted those words for our eyes.

With a book, that may not be true.  With a letter, it is.  When I write a letter, it is for my grandmother or for my sister or for my friend.  If someone else reads it, that may be fine (depending on the content of the letter), but that does not mean the letter is for them.  I do not address the recipient of my letter to a “gentle reader” the way Isaac Asimov sometimes did in his books.

The post From the Archives: Deb Vanasse on Push-ups and Poses from a few days ago talks about the power of being constrained by a form.  A writing exercise is one way to force that constraint.  Writing a letter is another.  When I write to someone specific in a letter, my writing becomes focussed and constrained in the same way it does when I work on a writing exercise.

In Brian Kiteley’s book The 3 A.M. Epiphany, he marries the idea of an exercise with a letter.  For the exercise, “Letters From Inside the Story,” the writer is instructed to “Have one character in a story you’re working on write a story to another character in the same story.”  Ariel Gore, in her book How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead, suggests letter writing as the first stepping stone to sending your writing out into the world.

A letter doesn’t cary much glory with it.  It is a humble form of writing.  We sometimes read the letters of famous people, but no one grows famous for their letters beyond the small circle of friends and family they write to.

In the end, the best reason to write a letter may be in the impact it has on the relationship between you and whoever you send it to.  My grandmother lives two thousand miles from here, but I am always in her apartment when one of my letters is on her table and that keeps both of us closer to each other.  Isn’t that the reason we write anything at all: to be closer to other human beings?  It's time to finish that letter and get it in the mail.


Monday, April 13, 2015

From the Archives: Deb: Start and Stuck

“We think before the writing, and afterward. But during the writing, we listen.”
Madeleine L’Engle

Lynn Freed had a problem most writers would die for: upon publication of her second book, her editor and agent were clamoring for the next one.  Not a sequel, her agent insisted, but something new, something fresh.

Freed had nothing.  Well, not exactly nothing.  She had a place, a bungalow she had visited as a schoolgirl in South Africa, overlooking the Indian Ocean.  The place still felt real to her, after all the years that had passed, real in the magical way that writers love.  And she had an idea, that in this bungalow a character would find herself truly at home.

So she began, as she describes in her essay “False Starts” (Writers Workshop in a Book: Squaw Valley Community of Writers on the Art of Fiction) . She set a woman named Anita on the bungalow’s veranda and wrote a few lovely paragraphs describing how she looked out at the sky and the ocean.  Then she came to a dead stop.  She began again, this time after imagining Anita’s mad sister had been banished to the bungalow.  The mad woman proved a distraction - this Freed discovered when her project again stalled.

As Freed aptly puts it, “Fiction has an odd way of both failing the tentative and resisting hot pursuit.” But she had begun, so she pushed on. She ditched the mad woman and returned to Anita on the veranda, wrote a couple of chapters, grew bold enough even to read them at author events. “Dying to know what happens,” kind readers would say to her afterwards.  “So was I,” Freed admits.

No matter how she began, the story stalled. Two years, and she’d written forty pages.  Four years, and the agent and editor stopped asking.  

Forced to write, students spend a lot of time staring at a blank screen or page, complaining they don’t know how to begin.  But real writers know how to begin.  We set out eagerly, finger to keyboard, pen to page. Then all too often, like Freed, we stall.

We stare at the place we got stuck.  What next? What next? What next? We tweak what we’ve written, twist options around in our brains, and still we get nowhere.  Frustration mounts, circling vulture-like with the pressure to produce something, anything, to get past the stuck point.  The project gets canned, shelved, stuck in a drawer unless like Freed we’re too compulsive or stubborn to let go.

But here’s the thing about stuck points: they’re invariably useful when we work through them, or more precisely, when they force us back to the beginning, not to tweak it but to pull up and out of the stall by forcing the issue of why we started the blasted thing in the first place, because what prompts us to start a story or poem can with irksome fickleness lead us astray. Yet if we dig through and under and around our starting point, be it a place or a voice or a character or an idea, if we allow for the messy mushing together of experience and imagination – composting, Ursula LeGuin calls its – we will find our way through, sometimes at the place we got stuck but more often back at the beginning.

Freed eventually landed at the Bellagio Study Centre in Italy.  Five weeks to write, to work on “a book of fiction,” which was all she could at that point say confidently about her project.  A little mix-up: her computer wouldn’t be available for two weeks.  So she started all over. Completely. She got out her notebook and wrote “Untitled” at the top of the page.  Then, she says, “I had to lie down and sleep for the rest of the day.” 

Whether it was the paper and pen or the time that had passed or the easing of external pressure to produce this particular book, the story broke loose.  It turned out to be a sequel after all, Ruth Frank from Freed’s previous book, with a lost cause of a lover and a father she thought had died but hadn’t, a story about place and displacement. The Bungalow ended up a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, beginning not with a woman or a verandah but a victim of murder.

My students hear this often: Writing is a recursive process of discovery.  Stuck points shove us back to where we began. They force us outside the circle to consider how we got there and why. They push us up and out, to try something new.  Posing as failure, stuck points offer hope.

And may we all be as candid as Lynn Freed in sharing our failures, which when we’re writing invariably accumulate faster than our successes.

Try This:  Stuck or not, return to your beginning.  Rewrite it completely, with a place or a scene or a character you hadn’t envisioned.  The idea isn’t to make use of this reworked start (though you might), but rather to see how it illuminates your project.

Check This Out: Writers Workshop in a Book: Squaw ValleyCommunity of Writers on the Art of Fiction, edited by Alan Cheuse and Lisa Alvarez .  This collection of faculty essays convinced me to apply for Squaw Valley, one of the most helpful and delightful weeks I’ve ever spent as a writer.  As Richard Ford says in his introduction to the book, at Squaw they put wonder on display. What better way to teach writing?

Deb cross-posts at www.selfmadewriter.blogspot.com.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Round Up of News & Events

Congratulations to Sherry Simpson, who won the 2015 John Burroughs Medal for nature writing for her book Dominion of Bears: Living with Wildlife in Alaska. She's the author of two previous books, The Way Winter Comes: Alaska Stories, winner of the 1997 Chinook Literary Prize, and The Accidental Explorer: Wayfinding in Alaska. She's an associate professor in the UAA Creative Writing & Literary Arts program.

Registration is open for the Tutka Bay Writers' Retreat with Gary Geddes and Ann Eriksson. Details and register online at the website.

I having a great time at the AWP conference in Minneapolis. The Book Fair alone could take days to explore. Exhibitors include journals and publishers offering contests and open for submissions, plus retreats and conferences. In the coming weeks, I'll include these opportunities gleaned from the AWP Book Fair. 

Happy Writing!
Morgan

EVENTS IN ANCHORAGE

We Came to Stay: Anchorage Untold Stories, two free Anchorage Centennial events. 
Performance, April 11, 7:30pm, UAA Wendy Williamson Auditorium. An evening of dynamic storytelling: our cultures, our dances, our music, our languages, Anchorage our home.  This multimedia performance explores a deeper understanding of what it means to create a sense of place.
Storyshare, April 19, 3-5pm, Loussac Library Innovations Lab, 4th Floor. Bring a dish and your own story to share as we explore how you decided to set roots in Anchorage, created a sense of place, and reached beyond to become part of the larger community. 

Savor the Rising Words: 49 Writers and Great Harvest Bread Co. invite you to a Poetry Reading in Honor of National Poetry Month. Thursday, April 16, 7-8:30pm. Great Harvest Bread Co. 570 East Benson Blvd. Poets and artists from across Alaska have submitted original works to the Savor the Rising Words Poetry Broadside Invitational Exhibit on display at Great Harvest through April. Come enjoy this unique opportunity to view the broadsides on display and hear the poets read their work. Broadsides will be available for purchase. Stop by during regular business hours to check out the cool exhibit.

Alaska One-Minute Play Festival: 60 New Plays by Alaskan Writers, April 12-14, 8pm at the Sydney Laurence Theatre. The One-Minute Play Festival (#1MPF), a NYC-based theatre company,  is America's largest and longest running short form theatre company. They have partnered with Perseverance Theatre to bring this amazing festival to Alaksa. #1MPF is a baromoter project, which investigates the zeitgeist of different communities through dialogue and consensus building sessions and a performance of many moments. #1MPF creates locally sourced playwright-focused community events, with the goal of promoting the spirit of radical inclusion by representing local cultures of playwrights of different age, gender, race, cultures and points of career. The work attempts to reflect the theatrical landscape of local artistic communities by creating a dialogue between the collective conscious and the individual voice. Tickets at CenterTix.

Events at the UAA Bookstore: all events are informal, free and open to the public.
  • April 14, 5-7pm. Linda Dunegan, author of The Price of Whistleblowing and one of the highest ranking female officers in the Alaska Air National Guard, presents Scandal of the Military. 
  • April 15, 5-7pm. UAA Undergraduate English Students: Reading and Writings
  • April 28, 5-7pm. Andrea Gregovich, translator of USSR: Diary of a Perestroika Kid, presents Readings and Craft Talk. She'll  discuss her work with Russian author Vladimir Kozlov, the creative process for literary translations, and her work with contemporary Russian writers.
Alaska Writers Guild, April 15, 7pm, Loussac Public Conference Room. Kathleen Tarr will speak  on "What a Dead Trappist Monk Taught Me About Writing: My Journey Through Spiritual Memoir with Thomas Merton."

Author Visit at Loussac: Live via Satellite Join Susan Jane Gilman live via OWL! Gilman is the author of Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a Smart Mouth Goddess, Hypocrite in a White Pouffy Dress, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, and The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. She'll be speaking about her writing process, the jump from non-fiction to fiction, and more! Thursday, April 16th at 7pm in the Public Conference Room (1st floor) at Loussac. For more information contact Stacia at mcgourtysa@muni.org.

Poetry Parley: Join Dorothy Parker & Friends for "A Night at the Algonquin."
Thursday, April 16th, 6:30-9pm, at the Hugi-Lewis Studio (1800 W. Northern Lights Blvd.).Contact poetryparley@gmail.com for more info.

49 Writers Classes. Find full information on the 49 Writers website.
  • How to Publish Your Book on Kindle with Lawrence Weiss, April 18, 9-12pm
  • Writing in 360 Degrees with Don Rearden, April 23, 6-9pm
Crosscurrents: Alaska Writer Laureate Frank Soos and panelists Eva Saulitis, Susanna Mishler, and David Stevenson. A wide ranging discussion about how writers present themselves on the page in poetry and essay, as opposed to the people they may be in the rest of their lives. Wednesday, April 29, 7pm at the Anchorage Museum.

EVENTS AROUND ALASKA

ONLINE CLASSES

Lynn Lovegreen will lead an online workshop on writing YA/NA historical romance sponsored by Young Adults Chapter of Romance Writers of America (YARWA). Writing YA/NA Historical Romance. Online: May 4-22, 2015. $10 for YARWA members ($20 for non-members). Register: http://yarwa.com/programs/

SOUTHCENTRAL, MAT-SU, KENAI PENINSULA

The Living Room: Stories for Grownups, Friday, April 10, 7pm in the back room at Jitters, in Eagle River.  Hear stories and poems from people in our community who love all things literary. Free, with refreshments served afterwards. Come mingle with other writers and readers. Sign up to read or just come and listen. 

Side Burns: Homer writers' social. April 10, 7pm. Upstairs at Alice's.

Fireside Books, Palmer, April 11, 11am. Meet Kaylene Johnson and Dick Griffith. Dick Griffith is the quintessential Alaskan outdoorsman, and Kaylene Johnson has written the definitive biography of him. Here's your chance to meet them both. Kaylene was last month's featured writer for this blog.

Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, June 12-16. 2015’s 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,

SOUTHEAST

In honor of Poetry Month (APRIL!), please join the Burn Thompson Writing Group for a Poetry Reading. Sunday April 19, 2-4:30pm, downtown library conference room. They have space for a few more readers. Contact Sarah if you're interested at isto@acsalaska.net. Refreshments will be served.

Literary Happy Hour: a new monthly event in Juneau. Sunday, April 26, 4:30-6pm, Coho's, 51 Egan Drive. Free - No Host Bar. Readings by Libby Bakalar (author of the Juneau-based blog One Hot Mess) and Geoff Kirsch (Juneau Empire columnist and humorist).  These two writers (who happened to be married) are truly funny!  Check out their work by clicking on their names. See you at Coho's!  

INTERIOR

Statewide Poetry Contest Literary Reading, April 11, 7pm. Admission free. Bear Gallery, 3rd Floor, Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts, Pioneer Park, 2300 Airport Rd., Fairbanks, Alaska. Please join Fairbanks Arts Association in celebrating the winners with a literary reading and reception to celebrate poetry. Everyone is invited. The winners will read their poems. All poets are invited to attend and read their poems if time allows. Please RSVP to carey@fairbanksarts.org to read. If you are not able to be in Fairbanks, you can call in. The winners are listed on their website.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR WRITERS

PUBLICATION & PRODUCTION

Cirque is looking for a poetry editor. If you are interested please send a brief bio siting your poetic and editing experience. If interested, contact Sandy Kleven at cirquejournal@yahoo.com.  These are the incentives:  1) You can add this role to your bio.  2) You will be listed on the masthead. 3) We try to give a gift always - generally an art print from a Cirque contributor. 4) We introduce you at the launch and other readings. 

Call for Submissions: Brandish, a collection of essential writing about life and work in rural Alaska. Projected publication, Summer 2016. Submit your writing of Rural Alaska: memoir, poetry, essay, social commentary, bright ideas, and system critique, (and if you can't say it straight), try fiction, to: wild.blue.darling@gmail.com.

Cyclamens and Swords is accepting poetry submissions on relationships for their August edition; also short stories on any subject. Click here for submission guidelines. 
WritingRaw.com is looking for submissions for the May issue – fiction of all styles, poetry, essays and other assorted writings, and book promotions. 

Gleanings from AWP

Rock & Sling seeks the highest quality work, work which embraces, wrestles with, argues with, celebrates and brushes up against our ideas of faith, whether it be on the cultural or personal level. In the words of the journal’s founders, “an accepted Rock & Sling submission may not even make explicit reference to Christianity, but it will maintain a universal spiritual curiosity.” Above all, they desire work which seeks beauty and excellence, in form and in meaning, and explores the boundaries of what we know to be true. Seeking poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, graphic art and comics, art and photography, reviews, how to pack for church camp.

Oversound considers submissions between September 1 and April 30. Send three to five poems (of any length) as a single .doc or .pdf attachment to oversoundpoetry at gmail dot com along with a cover letter and short bio. Be sure to include your name and email address in the header of your submission. Simultaneous submissions are ok as long as we are notified as soon as a poem is accepted elsewhere. We do not accept previously published work.

Bodega Magazine is always looking for new fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Send up to 3000 words of prose or up to 5 poems at a time. They read submissions all year.

Trio House Press is an independent literary press publishing three or more collections of poems annually. Submit full-length poetry manuscripts between July 1 and July 31. $20 submission fee per manuscript.

CONTESTS & GRANTS

Gleanings from AWP

Essay Press
is launching its first open book contest, with Kristin Prevallet as guest judge. The reading period opens January 16th, 2015 and closes at 9 p.m. on May 1st, 2015. For more information, please go to the link.

Trio House Press is an independent literary press publishing three or more collections of poems annually. They are accepting submissions for the 2015 Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence and the Trio Award through April 30.  


CONFERENCES, RETREATS & RESIDENCIES

Registration is open for the Tutka Bay Writers Retreat featuring two outstanding guest instructors, Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes! Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 13, 2015 at the fabulous Tutka Bay Lodge.

National Arts Strategies: Call for Creative Community Fellows. Application deadline for the second cohort: April 26. Around the world there are artists, activists, community organizers, administrators and entrepreneurs working as change-makers in their communities - using arts and culture as vehicles to drive physical and social transformations. During the nine-month fellowship, fellows are given tools, training and access to a community of support in order to fuel their visions for community change, spark new ideas and help propel them into action. Click here for more information.

The Wrangell Mountains Center residency program aims to support artists of all genres, writers, and inquiring minds in the creation of their work. Our organization and community will provide unrestricted work time and space to focused individuals. We invite applicants with creative and inquisitive minds who will both add to and benefit from the interdisciplinary efforts at our campus in McCarthy, Alaska and the surrounding Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Visit the website for details.

North Words Writers Symposium, May 27-30, Skagway. Keynote speaker is Mary Roach, plus a bevvy of Alaska's best authors.

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).

Last Frontier Theatre Conference, June 14-20, in Valdez, features new work by playwrights from around the country. There are evening performances, 10-minute play slams, even a fringe festival. The deadline is past for play submissions, but they may still need actors.

Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop presents RiverSong with Frank Soos, Michelle McAfee, Robin Child, and Nancy Cook, July 22-27, 2015 - McCarthy to Chitina. The Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop is pleased to partner with McCarthy River Tours & Outfitters to host a six-day, five-night adventure in the fabulous Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. This year’s workshop will feature poet and essayist, Frank Soos, who is currently serving as Alaska’s writer laureate, joined by accomplished singer-songwriter Michelle McAfee, backcountry banjo-diva Robin Child, and workshop director Nancy Cook. Together we will explore the ways wilderness can help inspire songs, stories, poems, and essays. Activities include an opening reading/performance and craft sessions in the comfort of the Wrangell Mountains Center’s facility in McCarthy, followed by three nights and four days of creative inquiry along the Kennicott, Nizina, Chitina, and Copper Rivers. Space is limited to eight student writers/ songwriters.

2015 AWG & SCBWI Annual Writer’s Conference, September 19-20, Anchorage. Early registration starts May 2015. www.AlaskaWritersGuild.com

Gleanings from AWP

Writing Workshops in Greece: Participants can opt for a two-week or month-long combination of workshops and residency. June 9-24 two week workshop; June 9-July 7 month-long workshop. With Christopher Bakken (food and travel writing), Carolyn  Forché (poetry), Natalie Bakopoulos (prose), Joanna Eleftheriou (Greek language and culture).

The Millay Colony for the Arts offers two-week or one-month residencies to visual artists, composers, and wrtiers between the months of April and November. Resident artists get private rooms, studios, and all meals during their stay at the pastoral campus. Application deadlines: October 1, 2015 for April-July, 2016; March 1, 216 for August-November, 2016.

Split this Rock 2016 Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation and Witness, April 14-17, 2016. Call for Proposals: workshops, panel or roundtable discussions, and themed group readings.  Deadline: June 30, 2015.  For guidelines and to submit, visit splitthisrock.submittable.com.

Writers Week at Idyllwild Arts (poetry, fiction, nonfiction), July 6-10. Emerging Writer Fellowships include tuition, housing, meals and fees. Fellowship application deadline: April 15.





Thursday, April 9, 2015

Deb: Ten Truths about Publishing



I want to speak a moment to those of you who aren’t “making it” in publishing the way you’d hoped. J.A. Jance, Dan Brown, James Patterson, J.D. Robb: you can quit reading now.

For the rest of you—those who’ve been struggling to place your book with an agent, those who’ve placed a book but suffered disappointments when it comes to sales and readership, those who’ve published on your own but aren’t finding readers—these ten truths are for you:

No one way of publishing is better than the rest. Each route—Big Five, small press, self-publishing, hybrid blends—has its own advantages and disadvantages. Inform yourself of the options and choose the path that’s best for you and your book.

Finding readers isn’t easy. To upload an e-book or a print-on-demand file to a vendor and hit “publish” is simple. But if you want readers, you’re going to have to do a lot more, which is why authors continue to publish through traditional channels.

There’s a content flood, and it’s not going to recede anytime soon. As reported by author William Dietrich in a piece published by the Huffington Post, an estimated 130 million books have been published throughout human history. That number is growing by the minute—and with e-books, titles stay in print forever. Bottom line: the supply of books far exceeds the demand.

Statistically speaking, your chances of “making it” as an author are small. Dietrich cites a 2004 Nielson Bookscan report which found that of 1.2 million books tracked by Bookscan, only 2 percent sold more than 5,000 copies. And that was before the digital publishing revolution set off the real content flood.

Trying to second-guess the market can be frustrating—and unproductive. It’s great to know your brand and your niche, but don’t try to remake who you are to fit someone’s ideas about what’s selling and not.

Real advertising takes money—lots of it—and the returns may be slim. Publishers spend big money advertising books by celebrity authors, and not so much on the rest. The small budget they have for your book—or the little you can afford, if you self-publish—will do little to generate sales if the book isn’t one that captivates readers.

There’s no gaming the system. Yes, it helps to have connections if you’re trying to publish through traditional channels. Yes, getting in on the ground floor of the self-publishing revolution was wonderful timing. But as far as what you can do right here and now to get noticed, there are no “tricks.” Learn what you can, but don’t believe anyone who claims to know the secret to becoming a bestselling author.

Wonderful books are overlooked, and some that aren’t so wonderful sell more than anyone could have predicted. As they say, there’s no accounting for taste. But if sales are steady, and if a title stays in print long enough and is popular within a niche market, it may in the end outsell certain flash-and-burn bestsellers.

We all measure success a little differently, and that’s how it should be. Don’t appropriate someone else’s idea of what makes you successful. If your primary aim is to make money, there are better ways to do it.

Write what you love and make each book the best it can be. That’s the one aspect of publishing over which you have complete control.

The author of sixteen books with six different presses, Deb Vanasse is co-founder of the 49 Alaska Writing Center and founder of Running Fox Books, an independent press and author collective. Her most recent books are What Every Author Should Know, a 5-star Readers' Favorite, and Write Your Best Book. While Deb is a regular contributor to the IBPA Independent, the opinions expressed here are solely her own. A sought-after teacher and editor, she enjoys writing at her mountain home in Alaska. This post also ran at www.selfmadewriter.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Matthew Komatsu: War


Earlier this year, a friend who participates in a local book club handed me a collection of short stories called Redeployment by Phil Klay, a Marine veteran of Iraq. It was a nice copy, hardbound. I’m more of a paperback guy – they’re lighter, more transportable (say, in a pack headed up Denali), so I inquired about what seemed a luxury gift in my hands. How did she end up with this nice hardcover to give away? Her answer: someone in her book club, which had selected it as a read, gave it to her with this comment: “I don’t read war books.”

It gave me pause, still does, and as I considered what to write about after 49 Writers sent me a nice invite to be the April guest blogger, I figured this was a great place to start. See, I’m a war writer and I probably always will be, in some form or fashion. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life coming from and going to war. War has informed nearly every aspect of my professional, personal, mental, and spiritual life. How could I not write about it? And how could the statement above not give me pause?

I can think of some reasons not to read about war. For one, nonfiction books that solely focus on the “war is hell” theme are tiresome. We call them “kill memoirs,” and they do little to further dialogue that isn’t polarizing. I can get behind that – even Homer knew to go beyond simple acts of glory in one of the original war stories, The Iliad. And let’s face it: a book like American Sniper gets far more play than a National Book Award-winner like Redeployment. But another reason is that war is uncomfortable: literary treatments must deal with a tricky side of the human psyche that treads morally ambiguous ground.  Maybe there are things we don’t want – don’t need – to know about war now that we have an all-volunteer force. 

But here’s the thing: They are Us; I am Them. And at the end of the day, when I pick up my son and kiss his fat cheeks; when I unlace my boots and recline; when I rest and gather my thoughts, I am no different from you. We all have different stories to tell, of life and love and heartbreak; of pain and hope and death. As writers, we’re all just lighthouses in search of a ship. As readers we’re, well, I think you get it. 

So, for the next few weeks I’m going to lift the fog on war literature and share some thoughts on reading and writing war literature. For brevity’s sake, I’ll focus on contemporary war lit – mostly Iraq and Afghanistan. Please feel free to drop a comment below with recommendations or thoughts. I’d love to know what questions you have or areas you’d like me to cover. 

Matthew Komatsu is an author and currently serving veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2014, he enrolled in the University of Alaska-Anchorage's MFA in Creative Writing program as a Nonfiction candidate. He has published essays in The New York Times; War, Literature and the Arts; and on stage at Anchorage, AK's Arctic Entries. War, Literature, and the Arts nominated his memoir-essay, "31 North 64 East" for a Pushcart Prize. He also has a flash essay upcoming in the September 2015 issue of Brevity. You can follow him on Twitter @matthew_komatsu.




Tuesday, April 7, 2015

From the Archives: Andromeda: Why Do You Write What You Write?

Here is why Peter Selgin, author of By Cunning and Craft: Sound Advice and Practical Wisdom for Fiction Writers, writes:

"I write fiction for the same reason some people believe in God, to give meaning and order to life, or at least to give it some shape here and there. I'm uncomfortable with chaos and disorder. ... Lives are messy things, events loosely (if at all) related, some momentous, most trivial, strung along the thread of time. We dig through the pile of events, hoping to unearth a solid premise or theme or any hint of meaning, and end up with a handful of irrelevant details and long digressions. ... To the shapeless chaos of life the fiction writer brings order."

Selgin also quotes Samuel Beckett: "To find the form that accomodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now."

Finding patterns. Creating meaning. Distilling the mess of existence and the information overload of our present cultural moment into something that can be examined, questioned, and perhaps better understood. Those are the main reasons I write, too.

To those I'd add: To learn more about human nature. To practice empathy (easier on the page, sometimes, than in life) and to have a chance to live multiple lives. And to remind myself to keep trying to participate more in life, to be an observer of detail; to notice, marvel, appreciate (these were the things that drew me into writing -- especially nonfiction writing -- in the first place.)

That's my very short, uncrafted, bloggy version. In response to MFA assignments, I've written personal "Why I Write" manifestos twice this year, and I raise the topic here not to tell you what my full answers were, but to share the observation that just putting it down on paper was an enriching exercise worth doing.

Also helpful to me was writing specifically, "Why Do I Write What I Write." In my case, I became an accidental historical fiction writer nearly a decade ago, and up until last year, I still thought it was something I was trying to move away from. (Why historical fiction? Why any subgenre at all?) But reading a spate of literary historical novels this year, and writing responses to them, and writing down my own thoughts about how I fell into this genre, have solidified things for me. I am fascinated with the past. I believe that stories set in the past, especially stories with difficult political, philosophical, or moral themes and questions are better-suited to guiding both writer and reader past what we think we know (we are skilled at defending our presumptions when a story is set in a familiar place and contemporary time) and toward the uncomfortable and challenging unknown. So, although I will continue with other genres, I can finally drop the "accidental" part in my own self-identification. I often choose to write historical fiction, and I understand now why I do it.

Journalling about these thoughts in a private way is probably the most helpful form of this exercise. Sharing can be helpful, too. Last year, I attended a workshop where, on the very last day following the workshopping process, we all free-wrote the "Why I Write" exercise and shared it. The results were enlightening and inspiring. I assumed we'd all have the same things to say. Not at all. Furthermore, what each writer said about their motivations shed new light on the fiction pieces that we'd already workshopped. The experimental writer whose work was, in at least a few places, just one hair away from being indecipherable wanted to write to change and disrupt the world, to force people to see things in new ways, to create chaos rather than tame it, or something along those lines. And I realized: yes, her piece did achieve that. It rattled and challenged all of us, and we were the better for it. Her writing and her reasons were very different from my own, and that's all right. I was glad I didn't read her "reasons" first. A story or essay should stand on its own. But I was also glad to know more about her process, and to feel greater confidence that she had achieved what she meant to achieve.

What are your reasons for writing in general? For writing the particular kind of pieces you write? Of course, you know we'd love a few sentences here, just to get a sample of the diverse reasons out there. But personally, I also hope you'll consider writing some longer notes for your eyes only, to track your evolving path as a writer.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Deb: It's Back! The Alaska Sampler 2015



As cuts to the state’s film subsidy program threaten the booming reality TV industry, what will be the next big draw to Alaska?

Books, of course. At least that’s what the editors at the Running Fox authors’ co-op are counting on.

Following the success of last year’s Alaska Sampler, a free e-book anthology, Running Fox is at it again, with a new volume of the Sampler plus a brand new website that aims to change the way readers connect with Alaska-inspired authors and books.

“In their reviews, readers of last year’s Sampler spoke of how they read specifically to prepare for their Alaska vacations, and they urged us to issue a fresh volume each year. How could we refuse?” says Deb Vanasse, co-editor of the Sampler and founder of Running Fox Books. 

Alaskans, too, praised the collection. "Laughter and tears brought to you by my most beloved state," wrote one reviewer. "Thanks to the multitalented for sharing. A real treat."

In what lead editor David Marusek deems a “literary labor of love,” the Alaska Sampler 2015 features fiction, memoir, crime writing, and humor.  Among the dozen featured authors are new favorites alongside the well-recognized, including Heather Lende (If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name), C.B. Bernard (Chasing Alaska), Rich Chiappone (Opening Days), and Gerri Brightwell (Cold Country).

Aiming to move beyond the either-or thinking about e-books and print books, the Sampler relies on a unique partnership with brick-and-mortar bookshops in Homer, Palmer, Skagway, and Ketchikan.

Readers can download the Alaska Sampler 2015 for free at www.runningfoxbooks.com, Alaska’s only author-curated online bookshop, enticing readers with features such as the Passage Picker, Book Your Trip (Literally), and Author Confessions. 


In a few months, Running Fox will be looking to add a few new authors to the co-op, designed to aggregate marketing efforts by promoting uniquely Alaskan ways for readers to connect with our books. Stay tuned for details!

Co-founder of 49 Writers and founder of the independent authors cooperative Running Fox Books, Deb Vanasse has authored sixteen books. Her most recent are Write Your Best Book, a practical guide to writing books that rise above the rest; What Every Author Should Know, a comprehensive guide to book publishing and promotion; and Cold Spell, a novel that “captures the harsh beauty of the terrain as well as the strain of self-doubt and complicated family bonds,” according to Booklist. Deb lives and works on Hiland Mountain outside of Anchorage, Alaska, and at a cabin near the Matanuska Glacier. A regular contributor to the IBPA Independent, the views expressed here are her own.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Round Up of News & Events

The independent bookstore lives.

A couple of years ago, The Atlantic Magazine published an article about Parnassus Books, an independent--and successful--independent bookstore started by author Ann Patchett and two veteran booksellers.

Now Vered Mares is planning a bookstore with a cafe and music stage in Spenard. She envisions a place to enjoy a late night cup of joe, find some reading material (with a focus on Alaskan authors), and meet friends. Something to look forward to! Check out the story on KTVA.

Summer will soon be here, and with it comes the season of writers conferences, retreats, and residencies. Alaska hosts some wonderful opportunities with the Northwords Symposium, Kachemak Bay Writers Conference, the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, the Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop and residencies, Alaska Writers Guild Conference, and the Tutka Bay Retreat. I wish I could attend them all! Details and links below.

Happy Writing!
Morgan

EVENTS IN ANCHORAGE

  • Historical Research Sources for Writers with Lawrence Weiss, April 4, 9-12pm. Explore online and local sources for historical research of narrative material and images. The focus will be on Alaska materials, but many of the resources are national in scope. We will review national newspaper archives, UAA and State of Alaska historical holdings, federal holdings, community museums and historical societies, interview techniques, and other sources for historical material for writers. Our priority will be free and low-cost resources. 
  • How to Publish Your Book on Kindle with Lawrence Weiss, April 18, 9-12pm. A practical review of how to format a book for publishing on Kindle, how to submit the book for publication, and how to monitor the book once published. We'll start with a brief overview of the world of electronic publishing. We will also discuss how to format for Smashwords and how to submit. Smashwords is kind of a "middleman" broker that then gets your book onto itunes, Barnes and Noble, and several other sites world-wide. Finally, we will spend a little time discussing marketing your ebook. 
  • Writing in 360 Degrees with Don Rearden, April 23, 6-9pm. No one lives in a setting, a life doesn't happen in a setting. Learn how to advance your fiction andn non-fiction to the next level by giving your writing a 360 degree transformation. In this workshop you'll be guided through a series of fun writing prompts that will help you understand and see the world your characters live in a new light. Learn how to craft complex and detailed environments and watch your characters come to life within their new realm of existence.
Savor the Rising Words: 49 Writers and Great Harvest Bread Co. invite you to a Poetry Reading in Honor of National Poetry Month. Thursday, April 16, 7-8:30pm. Great Harvest Bread Co. 570 East Benson Blvd. Poets and artists from across Alaska have submitted original works to the Savor the Rising Words Poetry Broadside Invitational Exhibit on display at Great Harvest through April. Come enjoy this unique opportunity to view the broadsides on display and hear the poets read their work. Broadsides will be available for purchase. Stop by during regular business hours to check out the cool exhibit.

Events at the UAA Bookstore: all events are informal, free and open to the public.
  • April 8, 5-7pm. Gretchen T. Bersch and Carole Lund present No Small Lives: Handbook of North American Early Women Adult Educators, 1925-1950.
  • April 14, 5-7pm. Linda Dunegan, author of The Price of Whistleblowing and one of the highest ranking female officers in the Alaska Air National Guard, presents Scandal of the Military. 
  • April 15, 5-7pm. UAA Undergraduate English Students: Reading and Writings
Author Visit at Loussac: Live via Satellite Join Susan Jane Gilman live via OWL! Gilman is the author of Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a Smart Mouth Goddess, Hypocrite in a White Pouffy Dress, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, and The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. She'll be speaking about her writing process, the jump from non-fiction to fiction, and more! Thursday, April 16th at 7pm in the Public Conference Room (1st floor) at Loussac. For more information contact Stacia at mcgourtysa@muni.org.

Poetry Parley: Join Dorothy Parker & Friends for "A Night at the Algonquin."
Thursday, April 16th, 6:30-9pm, at the Hugi-Lewis Studio (1800 W. Northern Lights Blvd.), Time Travel Literary Club will join forces with Poetry Parley to celebrate the iconic wits and wisecrackers associated with 1920s and the Algonquin Round Table. FREE! Performance of an excerpt from "Park/Bench," a play by Jocelyn Paine, introduces Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley, with Appearances by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edmond Wilson, Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, Amy Lowell and others, They are looking for a few volunteers to play these characters. Contact poetryparley@gmail.com for more info.

Beyond the Stacks fundraiser at Loussac Library: The Friends of the Library is looking for authors to be VIP waiters for our annual Beyond The Stacks fundraiser on April 17, 2015. Contact Anna Breuninger (907-301-1233).

Crosscurrents: Alaska Writer Laureate Frank Soos and panelists Eva Saulitis, Susanna Mishler, and David Stevenson. A wide ranging discussion about how writers present themselves on the page in poetry and essay, as opposed to the people they may be in the rest of their lives. Wednesday, April 29, 7pm at the Anchorage Museum.

EVENTS AROUND ALASKA

ONLINE CLASSES

Revision Intensive with Andromeda Romano-Lax. Sunday, April 5–Saturday, May 16.Online, asynchronous. Register here.

Lynn Lovegreen will lead an online workshop on writing YA/NA historical romance sponsored by Young Adults Chapter of Romance Writers of America (YARWA). Writing YA/NA Historical Romance. Online: May 4-22, 2015. $10 for YARWA members ($20 for non-members). Register: http://yarwa.com/programs/

SOUTHCENTRAL, MAT-SU, KENAI PENINSULA

Side Burns: Homer writers' social. April 10, 7pm. Upstairs at Alice's.

Don't forget to register for Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, June 12-16. 2015’s 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,

SOUTHEAST

Literary Happy Hour: a new monthly event in Juneau. Sunday, April 26, 4:30-6pm, Coho's, 51 Egan Drive. Free - No Host Bar. Readings by Libby Bakalar (author of the Juneau-based blog One Hot Mess) and Geoff Kirsch (Juneau Empire columnist and humorist).  These two writers (who happened to be married) are truly funny!  Check out their work by clicking on their names. See you at Coho's!  

INTERIOR

Fairbanks Arts Association Literary Reading Series: UAF Creative Writing granduate student will read from their latest work. April 4, 7pm. Bear Gallery, 3rd floor Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts, Pioneer Park, 2300 Airport Way.


OPPORTUNITIES FOR WRITERS

PUBLICATION & PRODUCTION

2015 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) Artist Fellowship. Deadline: April 6, 2015, 5pm PST. For more informaiton: http://your.culturegrants.org

Call for Submissions: Brandish, a collection of essential writing about life and work in rural Alaska. Projected publication, Summer 2016. Submit your writing of Rural Alaska: memoir, poetry, essay, social commentary, bright ideas, and system critique, (and if you can't say it straight), try fiction, to: wild.blue.darling@gmail.com.

Call for articles: The next issue of Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 31:1) will focus on Murder on the Menu: Food Mysteries. Looking for reviews, articles and Author! Author! essays. Reviews: 50-250 words; Articles: 250-1000 words; Author! Author essays: 500-1500 words. Author essays should be first person, about yourself, your books, and the 'food connection'. Think of it as chatting with friends and other writers in the bar or cafe about your work--and food. Add a 2-3 sentence bio/tagline. Deadline: April 10. Send to: Janet Rudolph, Editor. janet@mysteryreaders.org

Kimberlie Grady is a University of Colorado Denver Senior who publishes three online magazines: Kids' Stories Worth Publishing, Rejected: Stories Worth Publishing, and Denver Stories Worth Publishing. Kids' Stories Worth Publishing is an online magazine where the stories are written by kids ages 5-17. Submission guidelines here​. Any submissions received before April 10th will be included in the April 17th University of Colorado Denver Research and Creativity Symposium exhibit. She is also accepting submissions for Rejected: Stories Worth Publishing. Contact at Kimberlie.grady@ucdenver.edu if you have further questions.


CONTESTS & GRANTS

A Taste of Theatre Festival exposes, educates and entertains a divers audience of professional, intermediate and novice playwrights, thespians and staff members. Playwrights compete by showcasing once scene of their play. October 9-11, Chicago.


CONFERENCES, RETREATS & RESIDENCIES

Tutka Bay Writers Retreat features two outstanding guest instructors, Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes! Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 13, 2015 at the fabulous Tutka Bay Lodge. General registration opens on April 6.

Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference: Minneapolis, April 8-11.  On Thursday, April 9 at 5pm, The Great Land: Alaskan Writers & Presses, offsite reading, featuring Linda Martin, Jeremy Pataky, Adam Tavel, Sherry Simpson, Eva Saulitis, David Stevenson, and Deb Vanasse. At the Minneapolis Community & Technical College on 1501 Hennepin Avenue, Room L3000. Free and open to the public.

The Wrangell Mountains Center residency program aims to support artists of all genres, writers, and inquiring minds in the creation of their work. Our organization and community will provide unrestricted work time and space to focused individuals. We invite applicants with creative and inquisitive minds who will both add to and benefit from the interdisciplinary efforts at our campus in McCarthy, Alaska and the surrounding Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Visit the website for details.

North Words Writers Symposium, May 27-30, Skagway. Keynote speaker is Mary Roach, plus a bevvy of Alaska's best authors.

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).

Last Frontier Theatre Conference, June 14-20, in Valdez, features new work by playwrights from around the country. There are evening performances, 10-minute play slams, even a fringe festival. The deadline is past for play submissions, but they may still need actors.

Alaskan teachers, authors, and creative writing students are invited to participate in Summer Passage Writing Workshops: Writing for Alaska's Assessments. Learn from experienced writing instructors and gain valuable writing experience, while creating passages with authentic Alaskan voices and topics for the assessments in grades 3-10, the Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP). Workshops are free but limited to 30 participants each. Click here to apply for either workshop, please visit   Participants will be selected based on strength of writing samples and experience. Two separate workshops: June 15-19 at University of Alaska Anchorage and July 13-17 at University of Alaska Fairbanks. Achievement and Assessment Institute, 785.864.1594, cetesubmissions@ku.edu.

Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop presents RiverSong with Frank Soos, Michelle McAfee, Robin Child, and Nancy Cook, July 22-27, 2015 - McCarthy to Chitina. The Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop is pleased to partner with McCarthy River Tours & Outfitters to host a six-day, five-night adventure in the fabulous Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. This year’s workshop will feature poet and essayist, Frank Soos, who is currently serving as Alaska’s writer laureate, joined by accomplished singer-songwriter Michelle McAfee, backcountry banjo-diva Robin Child, and workshop director Nancy Cook. Together we will explore the ways wilderness can help inspire songs, stories, poems, and essays. Activities include an opening reading/performance and craft sessions in the comfort of the Wrangell Mountains Center’s facility in McCarthy, followed by three nights and four days of creative inquiry along the Kennicott, Nizina, Chitina, and Copper Rivers. Space is limited to eight student writers/ songwriters.

2015 AWG & SCBWI Annual Writer’s Conference, September 19-20, Anchorage. Early registration starts May 2015. www.AlaskaWritersGuild.com