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Archived Stories & Briefs

Archived Sept. 8, 2008

Heather Lende in Anchorage July 15
Haines writer Heather Lende, columnist for the Anchorage Daily News and Chilkat Valley News and author of If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name, is the featured speaker at the Alaska Writers Guild meeting at 6:30 pm, Tuesday July 15, at Barnes & Noble Bookstore in midtown, Anchorage ~ fireside.

Guild cancels conference;
Contest deadline extended again
The Alaska Writers Guild canceled its October Speculative Fiction Conference, according to the group's website. However, the Ralph Williams Speculative Fiction Writing Contest will continue under separate leadership, with an Aug. 30, 2008 deadline. For information, contact (Note: The Guild is a member of, but is otherwise not affiliated with AlaskaWriter LLC.)


• Don't call AlaskaWriters member Sandi Sumner a snowbird. Now living in Colorado, Sandi informs us she'll be coming back to visit as one of 35 Alaska authors reading and signing books at Loussac Library in Anchorage on Sunday, December 3rd, 2006, from 1 to 5 p.m. The library is holding the event as part of its 20-year-anniversary – a unique opportunity to find many Alaska authors together under one roof.

• AlaskaWriters member Alaska Press Women recently changed its name to Alaska Professional Communicators to better reflect its mission. The name change comes with a new opportunity: This year, for the first time, the Communications Contest is open to all Alaska residents, not just members. The contest includes 78 categories, and a separate competition for college students. Deadlines are in February 2007. Complete information is available

AlaskaWriters Recommend:

Kachemak Bay Writers Conference, June 8-12, 2007 - Homer, AK
Hobnob, learn, write -- and schedule in some time for tidepooling. AlaskaWriters members on the faculty this year include: Nancy Lord, moderating several sessions and leading a workshop on writing super-short pieces, or "skinny fiction"; and Lesley Thomas, who will present on "Consulting Your Unconscious for Inspiration and Outreach." Also, AlaskaWriters editor Sonya Senkowsky will lead a mini-session on writers' websites. Keynote speaker this year is Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club. For more information, see the conference site at

Sitka Symposium, June 21-26, 2007 - Sitka, AK
AlaskaWriters member Bill Sherwonit encourages other writers to consider attending this year's Sitka Symposium, an (almost) annual gathering that "aims to put both written and oral [story-telling] traditions to the service of ideas." Bill says: "the symposium 'community' always includes a number of writers, as well as scientists, philosopher types, conservationists and others concerned about our place in the world." A Solstice Dinner Cruise, featuring Alaska Writer Laureate John Straley, will be open to the public. For more information, visit The Island Institute site at

• Welcome to new member Jim Misko, author of “how to” nonfiction as well as two novels set in Alaska. It was real estate that brought Misko to Alaska in 1974. He says it was here he honed his skills in hunting, canoeing, backpacking, — and writing. Jim is also planning a summer workshop (Aug. 10-12) for Alaska writers; see for details!

• 12/20/05- What do the following have in common: news of an Alaskan blogging from Iraq; a January nature writing class; and the chance to ask any question of an Anchorage author who recently made a six-figure book deal? All are awaiting you in the new AlaskaWriters forum.

12/13/05- Notice anything different? There have been a few changes at You can now add your own announcements and tips, or start a conversation in the new discussion forum. Previously posted news and tips items may still be accessed using the links in the left column of this page.

Novelist and AlaskaWriter member Andromeda Romano-Lax is helping inaugurate our new discussion and news area. Give it a look!

Send your support to Heather Lende
April 14 2005 — When last we spoke with her, Haines columnist (and Alaska-Writers member) Heather Lende was gearing up for a June book release and editing 50 short stories in honor of the Rasmuson Foundation’s 50th anniversary. But a serious bicycle accident April 7 now finds her taking a forced rest in a Seattle hospital. According to the Anchorage Daily News, Lende was riding her bicycle in Haines when she was hit by a truck. She is recuperating, thankfully — and already making deadline-dodgers look bad with her pledge to get back to her column ASAP. To show support, read about and pre-order her book, “If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name.”

Self-publishing tips — and breakfast too?
AlaskaWriters member Sherry Tomlinson signs books and presents a seminar on self-publishing at Title Wave on Tuesday, June 21, 2005. For those who haven’t yet read it, her own self-published book, “You Wouldn't Do It For the Money,” is a gem of a read — combining tales of B&B visitors with her favorite recipes. It goes on my just-inaugurated list of “great little gifts to give to Outsiders.” Bonus: If the book actually convinces your distant cousin twice-removed to visit, she’ll come craving Sherry’s breakfasts rather than beating a path to your guestroom. To get a preview of Sherry’s seminar, read Publish it Yourself: Down-home advice from Sherry Tomlinson. (Next time, let’s see if we can’t get her to include a cooking demo.)
>> Visit Sherry Tomlinson’s site

With wisdom, comes joy, declares Wasilla author
Author Charles Hayes believes there can be joy in old age. That’s the foundation of his newest release, The Rapture of Maturity, which exhorts readers to grow wiser, not just older. But promoting the book has not always been so rapturous. >>Story


Nature writer Sherwonit launches site
Nature writer Bill Sherwonit has called Alaska home since 1982. Now the fulltime freelancer also has an Alaska home on the Web where he can share news of his writing — including 10 books about Alaska.
>> Visit Bill Sherwonit’s site

Heart of the Sound recalls oil spill
Anchorage author (and AlaskaWriters Homesteader) Marybeth Holleman has announced the release of her book, The Heart of the Sound: An Alaskan Paradise Found and Nearly Lost.
>>Visit Marybeth Holleman’s site

Anchorage writer wins Water~Stone
alaska writer wins award
Anchorage freelancer Cinthia Ritchie, who writes poetry and fiction (including erotica) has won the Brenda Ueland Prose Prize, a contest judged by nationally known writers and editors and sponsored by the annual Water~Stone Review, based out of Hamline University, in St. Paul, Minn. No word yet on what piece of writing took the prize …

Mushroom essay nets $20,000
A tongue-in-cheek interview with a tiny, dung-dwelling mushroom helped an Anchorage accountant with some of her own accounting this fall — to the tune of $20,000. >>Story
>> Link to winning article

Keillor has ‘Cake’ — reads it, too
Fairbanks-area writer Doreen Fitzgerald got the Garrison Keillor treatment this summer. On June 26, The Writer’s Almanac host read her poem, “Dog Days” June 26 on his nationally broadcast public radio program. The poem is from her recently published book, Cake. If you missed the reading, a transcript and a RealAudio recording remain available online at The Writer’s Almanac Web site. “Fitzgerald writes disciplined poems, tight in rhythm and sound, often in formal modes,” according to the site posted by publisher, The Ester Republic Press.

Blues historian, author recognized
Years ago, when Amy Van Singel cofounded a magazine to celebrate her favorite music, she never envisioned the venture would bring her to the stage at New York City’s Lincoln Center. >>Story

Once fired from ADN, teen columnist grows up, gets book deal
In a (mostly PG-rated) interview, Alaska expat Marty Beckerman tells about his transformation from the “annoying little brat” fired from the Anchorage Daily News’ teen section, to decidedly non-PC spokesman on teen sex and published author with a contract from MTV Books. >>Story

Fungus essayist wins another $10,000
Sept. 29, 2004 — For those who think that literary and monetary rewards can’t coexist, pay attention to the tale of now two-time high-stakes essay contest winner Diane Brooks Pleninger. She won $20,000 for an essay last year, and another $10,000 this year.>>Story

Beirne tells tale of the trip that spawned a murder mystery
Lots of Outside writers claim to be inspired by Alaska. But not so may of them write murder mysteries as a result. Irish author Gerard Beirne recounts the trip that inspired The Eskimo in the Net. >>Story

Author seeks Alaska women to share northern tales

Her self-publishing is about passion, not making money, says Canadian self-publisher Toni Graeme. >>Story

• Among winners in the 2005 Alaska Press Club’s journalism contest the Homestead took note of Kodiak writer-photographer, radio producer and marketing maven Marion Owen, who not only won a second place award for a funny dog photo, but who was gutsy enough to enter her (one person!) Web site into the “media Web site” category. She took 3rd, after KTOO and KTVF. It was no fluke; the radio program housed at the site also received two Bronze awards of achievement from the Garden Writers Association.

• Former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins will keynote the 2005 Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference June 10-14, 2005, at Land’s End Resort in Homer. >>Story

• Deadline for the Northwest Playwright Competition is Wednesday, June 15, 2005, reports Lauri Watkins, Managing Director of the Seattle-based Theater Schmeater. Four finalists will have their works showcased during a Theater Schmeater reading series in the fall. The overall winner will have his or her play produced during the company’s 2006 mainstage season. For details, visit Theater Schmeater online.

• Writer Karla Fetrow announces her Web site, Chugiak Ungagged, an online magazine she describes as “the ungagged expression of rural Alaska,” with a focus on politics, art, customs and culture. The next issue, scheduled for late June 2005, will focus on the topic of mind control — with guest writer Nick Begich. She is interested in hearing from other writers who may wish to contribute. Visit

• Expat Alaskan Marty Beckerman, whose career began as a rabble-rousing teen writer with the ADN’s Perfect World section, sounded like a statesman as he weighed in on his Web site after gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s death: “He was one of the American greats,” wrote Beckerman, “…an inspiration to millions, and a true friend of freedom. The world is poorer today.” In February 2003, Marty interviewed the gonzo journalist. Beckerman’s own gonzo star appears to be on the rise, with a book and movie in progress.

• The Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College/UAA will present the state-wide Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference in Homer June 18-22, 2004. It will feature award-winning author Maxine Hong Kingston as the keynote presenter as well as 20 other faculty including noted authors, editors and publishers from throughout the United States. For specific program and registration information:

• Anchorage writer Melissa (Mel) Green announces the “restart” of the Poietes Poetry Workshop, a free community workshop for poets of any experience level. For more information, see

• creator Sonya Senkowsky presented a Web/freelance workshop at Writing Rendezvous 2004.

• Seen on p. 113 of the May 2004 issue of The Atlantic: University of Alaska Fairbanks student Rosemary McGuire received Honorable Mention in The Atlantic’s national student writing contest.

When the Society of Professional Journalists announced its 2003 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for Excellence in Journalism, there was one Alaska name on the list: recently named Anchorage Press editor Tony Hopfinger.

• Jennifer Niven, who has recently released her second book on Arctic explorers unlike herself, admits to a warm life in the sunny South in a Jan. 19, 2004 interview with the online literary journal Identity Theory. Niven writes about her most recent release, Ada Blackjack for the Jan. 15 edition of National Geographic News. >>UPDATE: Shana Loshbaugh favorably reviews Ada Blackjack in a story posted March 25, 2004 in the Kenai Peninsula Online. Author Jennifer Niven became intrigued by the tale of the shy, young Inuit woman, sole survivor of a treacherous expedition north of Siberia.

• Texas’ Southwestern University is has invited Alaska writers Barry Lopez (essayist/nature writer and author of Arctic Dreams) and cultural anthropologist/nature writer Richard Nelson (Hunters of the Northern Ice) to speak at a symposium on Life in the Arctic February 12-13, 2004.

• On Sunday, Jan. 11, 2004, in the Juneau Empire, Ann Chandonnet reviews British author Isabel Colegate’s The Call of the Solitary Life: A Look at the Lives of Hermits. Of special note, she says, is : the unexpected inclusion of the tale of ill-fated Alaska traveler Chris McCandless.

• Longtime Anchorage Daily News columnist Mike Doogan announced his departure Tuesday, Jan. 20 ,2004, in a farewell headlined “After more than 2,000 columns it’s time to go do something else.” Nevertheless, he steeled himself to write two more, ending his tenure Tuesday, Jan. 27.

• Sunday, Dec. 28, 2004, in the features section of the Anchorage Daily News, George Bryson writes about Nancy Lord and the years she spent devoted to research in preparation for Beluga Days.

• Seen in the Philadelphia Inquirer Saturday, Dec. 27, in the San Jose Mercury News Wednesday, Dec. 24, and surely elsewhere, former Anchorage Daily News sportswriter Lew Freedman writes for the Knight-Ridder newswire about the late outdoorsman Russell Annabel, a Tacoma native who made a career of Alaska adventuring (and writing about it). Lew puts a recently released five-volume collection of Annabel’s writings at the top of his list of 2003’s best adventure books. He also notes Four Against the Arctic, by David Roberts.

• ADN reporter Melissa DeVaughn conducted an interview, published Sunday, Dec. 21, with Outside writer Dan Kennedy, author of Little People: Learning to See the World Through My Daughter’s Eyes. The interview with Kennedy, whose book chronicles his daughter’s dwarfism, added to a feature article on an Alaska family raising a child with the same condition.

• Again from the ADN, theater reviewer Catherine Stadem writes in the Wednesday, Dec. 24 issue about the phenomenon of 24-hour plays in Anchorage.

• For a good example of how to subtly and politely plug one’s book, see the tagline at the end of Judith Kleinfeld’s Friday, Dec. 26 comment piece in the ADN, which — as an aside to an article that is interesting in itself — identifies her as author of the book Finding Your Own Frontier.

• Mentioned in the Juneau Empire Friday, Dec. 26, 2004, a recently formed writers group will meet in that city January 3, with the focus being to listen to and share readings, as well as tips. Previous participants include Ann Chandonnet, Dr. Wally Olson and Nancy Ferrell. For more information, call 790-3038.

• Alaska state writer Anne Hanley highlights the work of Linda McCarriston in the Sunday, Dec. 28, 2004 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

• Randy Zarnke’s series on hockey in Fairbanks continues in the Sunday, Dec. 28, 2004, Daily News-Miner. Zarnke is author of the book, Fairbanks Hockey Pioneers.

• Also in the Sunday, Dec. 28 Daily News-Miner’s Heartland magazine, Fairbanks writer Shana Loshbaugh reviews Waking Samuel (Bloomsbury USA), the first novel by Homer writer Daniel Coyle, formerly of Chicago and a contributing editor at Outside magazine. The mostly glowing review concludes: “Coyle has the right stuff, and we Alaskans are privileged that an author of his caliber has chosen to live among us.” (Unfortunately, the first line of the review posted online is somewhat garbled; just ignore and plow ahead.)

• In the category Why Didn’t We Think of That? is Jake Halpern’s book Braving Home, a series of essays about people who live in seemingly unliveable places, like at the foot of a volcano, on a hurricane-beset island — and in Whittier. A recent interview with Halpern on NPR’s Living on Earth (Friday, Dec. 19) is fun on many levels. One nugget: To get to “remote” Whittier, Halpern takes a taxi from Anchorage.

• One must at least acknowledge the many mentions of the novel Drop City, ( T.C. Boyles; Farrar, Straus, Giroux), which, led by the recommendation of the New York Times Book Review, has found its way to many Best of 2003 lists. Though not written by an Alaska author, an Alaska setting is central.

• Featured in columnist Mike Doogan’s column Sunday Dec. 14, in the Anchorage Daily News: Homer author Nancy Lord, discussing her recently released book, Beluga Days.

•Writing in the Fairbanks News-Miner Tuesday, Dec. 16, Randy Zarnke, author of the book, Fairbanks Hockey Pioneers, recounts Mark Ringstad’s hockey memories from the 1930s. The article is one in a series.

• Also in the News-Miner, columnist Dermot Cole tells a charming story Tuesday, Dec. 2 (the link may die quickly) of a nine-year correspondence between Fairbanks librarian Greg Hill and Patrick O’Brian, author of the Aubrey-Maturin series on which the movie Master and Commander is based. O’Brian died in 2000.

• In the Juneau Empire Sunday, Dec. 14, 2003, Ann Chandonnet reviews the children’s novel Minuk (Pleasant Co.) , the fictional story of a 12-year-old Yup’ik girl set in the 1890s, written by Alaska author Kirkpatrick Hill. Chandonnet commends the book as an “excellent portrait of life in Alaska.” According to the review, author Hill now splits her time between Fairbanks and Ruby.

• In the Peninsula Clarion Thursday, Dec.4, 2003, Shana Loshbaugh reviews Go For It! Finding Your Own Frontier, the latest book by UAF professor and psychologist Judith Kleinfeld (Epicenter Press).

•The Los Angeles Times magazine cover story Sunday, Dec.14, 2003, was an in-depth look at the life and grisly death of “bear whisperer” Timothy Treadwell by ADN Outdoors editor Craig Medred. Treadwell was killed in October along with his girlfriend by a Katmai bear.

• In the National Review Online Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2003, writer Michelle Malkin comments on a correction prompted by the writing of New York Times reporter Charlie LeDuff, which she speculates amounts to a “Jayson Blair-like scandal.” The Alaska connection? According to the story, LeDuff’s only newspaper job before the Times was his (1990s?) internship for the Alaska Fisherman’s Journal.

Editor’s note: These are ‘leftover’ posts that I could not bear to delete when I went through an extensive site redesign December 13, 2005. I have removed outdated links, but retained content that I think might still be of interest. Soon, I plan to replace the news page with a blog, which will make archiving and viewing easier. I also invite site guests and members to add their news, announcements and tips automatically to our AlaskaWriters Forum, an online discussion area that will serve as our primary source of news about Alaska writers.

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>> Anne Hanley
>> Linda Herr - The Mess Arrester-SM
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>> Heather Lende
>> Nancy Lord
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>> Andromeda Romano-Lax
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