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(Last archived 10/2008)

Marybeth Holleman and Anne Coray Announce Public Reading
Marybeth Holleman and Anne Coray host a public reading of the anthology, Crosscurrents North: ALASKANS ON THE ENVIRONMENT, which they edited. The reading is Friday, September 12, 7 PM, at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art. Contributors to this anthology span the state and include familiar names: John Haines, Nick Jans, Peggy Shumaker, Nancy Lord, and Richard Nelson. There are also new voices like Mike Burwell and Amy Crawford, and Alaska Native writers, including Joan Kane and Howard Luke.

Bill Sherwonit pens book of essays,
Living With Wildness
: An Alaskan Odyssey
Bill Sherwonit announces the release of his book, Living with Wildness: An Alaskan Odyssey. Bill says: “The book is a collection of essays that explore and reflect upon my own, and our culture’s, relationship with wild nature, from urban centers to remote wilderness, while also considering the wildness we carry within us.” Bill lives in Anchorage and is an AlaskaWriters member. Visit his website for details and updates.
Release dates: Alaska mid-June, nationally in mid-July.

Andromeda Romano-Lax blogs about Alaska writers
Anchorage writer (and charter AlaskaWriters member) Andromeda Romano-Lax has a new blog featuring Alaska writers. It’s a great concept: She’s featuring 49 writers from the 49th state. Check it out at

Book on Alaska Natives & Schools Released
Clif Bates wrote AlaskaWriters recently to let us know of a book he has co-authored with Father Michael Oleksa called Conflicting Landscapes, American Schooling/Alaska Natives, published by the Kuskokwim Corporation. Clif bates writes: “Native corporations rarely, if ever, step into this arena of publishing. …But [Kuskokwim] looked at it as an investment in their future: the well-being of Native children.”

[Corrected link follows:] See more from the publisher’s announcement at

A word from Marty Beckerman...
Remember him? Once upon a time, he was a wet-behind-the-ears "Perfect World-er," at the Anchorage Daily News. Now he’s a publishing pro, and not at all shy about tooting his own marketing horn: “After years of waiting, and just in time for political season,
I am pleased to announce: DUMBOCRACY is shipping from… This is the best piece of writing I've ever had published. It has the zero-b.s. tone and scathing humor of my very early work, but with a clarity, moderation and mass appeal that I've lacked in the past.…If you're sick of the dangerously simpleminded political "dialogue" in our country, you will love this book. If you are capable of laughing or thinking -- or both at the same time -- you will love this book.”

Seward Playhouse (still?) seeking writers
Rebecca Goodrich writes: “Found this notice in Homer this summer: Seeking artists, poets, storytellers. Contact e-mail is, or call 907.224-ARTS. Please pass on to writers, storytellers, and artists.”

Whither Sandi Sumner?
When last I heard from Sandi, she reported finiishing a humorous satire mystery "No Tell Motel.” A great accomplishment, especially for those of us who have a hard time finishing an e-mail sometimes. We await word on that and perhaps another project on women and climbing.... Sandi?

(Last archived 9/2008)

Bell Speaks to Alaska Writers Guild Sept. 16
The Alaska Writers Guild (a member site, but otherwise not affiliated with announces its Tuesday, Sept. 16 (7 p.m.) guest speaker will be Bob Bell, founder of F. Robert Bell and Associates, one of Alaska's largest engineering firms, and author of "Oh No! We're Gonna Die" a compilation of short stories about close calls in Alaska. For more information, see the Alaska Writers Guild site, at the link, below right.

Sonya Senkowsky, Amanda Coyne author book on Alaska’s urban past and present
A book co-authored by AlaskaWriters editor Sonya Senkowsky and Amanda Coyne is on shelves now. Alaska Then & Now: Anchorage, Juneau & Fairbanks , released in April 2008 by Thunder Bay Press, is a photographic journey through the past and present of Alaska’s most populous cities.

KTOO Radio Seeks Writers
Creative nonfiction writer Ginny Mahar, of Juneau, invites writers, storytellers and poets to contribute to her spoken-word show “Letters from the North.” View guidelines and archives at the Letters from the North blog.

Best Women’s Travel Writing ’07 to include story by Barbara Brown
In 2003, AlaskaWriters member Barbara Brown toured waterparks across the country with her daughter. Now, one of a collection of stories she wrote from that experience has been selected to appear in the Best Women’s Travel Writing 2007. Congratulations, Barbara! Visit her site to read an excerpt, or read below to see how to be part of this busy writer’s next project.

Spare thoughts to share?
“Imagine a thought -- a little, daily, one-minute thought with the power to change the world.” So begins the latest Barbara Brown writing/thought experiment. She is asking for contributors to submit thoughts for public radio broadcast, for daily podcasts, and for a national website. If you are a connoisseur of quotes and can provide them in increments of no more than 1 minute-15-seconds, check out Barbara Brown’s Web site for more.

New member: Nancy Owens Barnes
Welcome to Nancy Owens Barnes, author of South to Alaska, the tale of her father Melvin’s perilous solo 10,000-mile journey from Arkansas to Alaska in a boat he built in his backyard. “Barnes washes the grit of Depression-era farm life into a gentle current of beauty and inspiration for anyone who has ever had a dream.” Check out Nancy Owens Barnes' South to Alaska site.

Meet with AKRWA for critiques: weekly meetings open to members
Would you like to warm up your romance writing skills? Consider the Alaska Romance Writers of America. In addition to regular monthly meetings, the Eagle River-based group offers weekly critique meetings on Tuesdays for current members. For more information, visit the AKRWA site.

$2,000 Awaits Winners of Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition
Entries are now being accepted for the 28th annual Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, created to recognize and encourage the efforts of writers who have not yet achieved major-market success. Writers will compete for a $1,000 first prize, $500 second prize, and $500 third prize in this internationally acclaimed competition. Several honorable mentions are also awarded each year. Stories in all genres of fiction are welcome. Maximum length is 3,000 words, and writers retain all rights to their work. The final deadline is May 15, 2008; winners will be announced at the end of July.
For complete guidelines, please visit, e-mail, or send an SASE to the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, P.O. Box 993, Key West, FL 33041.

Call out to Alaskan communicators: Show us your best from 2007
Enter the Alaska Professional Communicators 2008 contest to see how your work (from 2007) stacks up against the best in Alaska and the U.S. Winners will go on to compete nationally. Open to all Alaska resident communicators across 78 categories, including print journalism, books, broadcasting, the Web, and more. Visit, and click on "Contests" for full details. Deadlines are Jan. 31, 2008, for books and related entries, Feb. 8, 2008, for all other materials.

NFPW Job Bank Now Open
NFPW, parent organization of Alaska Professional Communicators (members of, just launched its new job bank. This is a new Web-based service for NPFW members only that lists a wide variety of jobs in journalism and public relations located throughout the nation, along with contact information for each. Go to the NFPW home page and check it out!

• Welcome to new member, Rupert Pratt, author of Touching the Ancient One: A True Story of Tragedy and Reunion, which tells of the deadly crash of an Air Force C-47 north of Talkeetna, Alaska, in 1954. Pratt was one of six survivors of the crash, which killed 10. His account won the Military Writers Society of America 2006 Silver Medal Award for Biographies. Rupert, who now lives in New York State, plans a July 2007 Alaska book tour, including signings in Anchorage, Palmer and at Veterans Memorial Park at mile 147.1 on the George Parks Highway. Check out Rupert Pratt’s Website for more information.

•The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society, announces the 2007 AAAS Science Journalism Awards. The deadline for submissions is 1 August 2007. The contest year is July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007. Each category winner will receive $3,000. For information, visit the AAAS site. Writing contest deadlines
Don’t be caught unaware when writing contest time comes around. Many entry deadlines fall around the beginning or end of the year, but the organizations often don’t give the early warning we’d like. Here are a few contests Alaska writers may want to keep on their calendars, along with when their deadlines fell last year.
>>Northwest Excellence in Journalism Awards (SPJ): Not yet announced, but was early/mid-February in 2006.
>>Society of Professional Journalists SDX Awards: Early February.
>>UAA/ADN Creative Writing Contest, 20+ categories (including new blogs category), cash prizes; winning pieces published in a special insert. Entries must be received by April 13, 2007.
>> Alaska Professional Communicators 2007 communications contest (formerly Alaska Press Women): February 1/February 12, with earlier deadline applying to book entries. Now open to all Alaskans.
>>Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards, mid-December.
>>Alaska Press Club, mid-January.
>>LitSite Alaska Postcard Contest, mid-August
>>Other Alaska writing-related links

Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition Call for Entries
Missed the local fast fiction contest by the Anchorage Press? The 7th Annual Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition is accepting entries for the best fiction you can write in 1,500 words or less. The deadline is December 1, 2006. Grand prize: $3,000. Find guidelines online.

• We're proud to welcome the Alaska chapter of Romance Writers of America, which is hosting a Halloween writing contest for members, deadline October 31, 2006. Visit their site at for more about the contest or how to join.

• Closed for repairs: The AlaskaWriters Forum was attracting too much spam, so we have closed it while researching other solutions.

3/3/06 - Welcome to new member Lesley Thomas, author of the novel “Flight of the Goose: A Story of the Far North.” Lesley now lives in Seattle, but grew up in the Arctic. She returns to Alaska “to visit family, go to fishcamp, pick berries and climb hills.” She’ll soon add “sell books” to that list. She visits Anchorage and Fairbanks April 5-8 for a book tour.

• 2/10/06 - Congratulations to Elise Patkotak, our newest AlaskaWriters member, and the first to take the plunge into blogging. Elise is an Anchorage columnist and author of “Parallel Logic,” the tale of her 30 years living in Barrow. Her new AlaskaWriters site is located at

• Welcome to AlaskaWriters member Marguerite Reiss-Kern, a chronicler of life’s journeys and adventures, both physical and spiritual. She is co-author of Bear Attacks of the Century (2005) as well as Holy Nudges, published following a 17,000-mile “faith pilgrimage — destination unknown” with her youngest son, aged 10.

• Welcome to AlaskaWriters member Barbara Brown, who created a spectacular site where you can both read—and listen to—her writing!

Romano-Lax: Success in six figures!
Charter AlaskaWriters member (and longtime nonfiction writer) Andromeda Romano-Lax can stop biting her nails over how her first novel will sell. The Spanish Bow has been greeted with six-figure enthusiasm in the publishing marketplace. Oct. 27 on (subscription required), Nicholas Clee called Andromeda's book "The Continental novel in most demand," and reported a six- figure deal with Harcourt Brace, with multiple foreign rights also being sold or being negotiated. The book is a fictionalized account of the life of the Spanish-born cellist Pablo Casals. (Check out also how the column by Anchorage Daily News reporter Mark Baechtel made use of Andromeda's Web site.)

Andromeda has also agreed to be the first guest-host in the AlaskaWriters new bulletin board/discussion area. Look for a special message and invitation to take part after Nov. 20 2005, or you can sign up early and leave your own message or writing question now.
>>See Andromeda's site
>> Visit discussion area

USA Today boosts Lende’s new book
Ever since a spring run-in between her bicycle and a truck, Haines writer Heather Lende has been focusing more on recuperation than book promotion. But, despite her canceled book tour, Lende’s new release popped up on a recent USA Today list of five summer sleepers. In the words of reviewer Bob Minzesheimer, Lende’s book, If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name (Algonquin, June 3) has “a shot at joining the big-time this season.” He also said: “Who knew a writer could find so much human drama, simple pleasure and thorny issues in such a remote place? If you like the stories on Prairie Home Companion or Northern Exposure, you’ll love some real news from small-town Alaska.”
>>Visit Heather Lende’s site
>>Read the review

Armchair Daredevil’ Sandi Sumner celebrates Alaska’s women pilotsAlaska Writer starts Web site at Alaskawriters.comSpring 2005 —Though not a pilot herself, Sandi Sumner believes she was destined to tell the tale of Alaska’s women pilots. “I'm never going to climb in the cockpit of an aerobatic plane ... or skydive out of a perfectly good airplane,” she’s said, “but it was great fun to meet women who live to do this very thing!” Her book, Women Pilots of Alaska, was released January 2005 by McFarland Publishing. She’s using her new AlaskaWriters Web site to announce her appearances as well as feature a different Alaska pilot each month.
>>Visit Sandi Sumner’s site

Archived Stories & Briefs

AlaskaWriters Tips & Resources
Getting your book reviewed

Alaska book reviewer Shana Loshbaugh offers 5 tips for doing it right (and some examples of how to do it oh-so-wrong).

Organizing tips for writers
Alaska “Mess Arrester” Linda Herr, author of “Organizing the Disorganized,” offers 5 simple steps for writers and other creative types.


Get thee to a writers colony, advises Nancy Lord
So, no one shares your peculiar obsession for losing yourself in voices and under scraps of paper? You need to run away to a writers colony! Check out this fun tip submitted by the author of Beluga Days.

sonya senkowsky headshot Showing your stuff — when it’s no longer yours
Do you have the right to post your own stories on the Web? Maybe not.

• Don’t let sleeping sites lie!
Once you put a site up on the Web, you need to let editors, readers, reviewers and others know it’s there

• One interview, many stories?
The interview process changes when you’re planning to produce multiple stories. Some tips for how to conduct an interview worth recycling.

• Contest comments are your friend
Contests aren’t all about prizes. Their real benefit is the feedback you get from qualified judges. Sonya Senkowsky explains why sometimes, even bad comments can be good. And, on a related note: How to “win” every time, even when you don’t!

• Digital images 101
Your editor wants you to ask your interview subjects for a snapshot. Your subjects want to know if you want that as a J-peg or gif, 200 dpi or 72? Huh?

Don’t wanna write ‘Alaskan’?
“The drive to dig for the facts and write nonfiction that involves people, places, and things outside Alaska shouldn’t stop us,” writes Anchorage writer Justin Oldham. More along that line in What if I don’t Want to Write About Alaska?

Homegrown publicity
Charles Hayes went from retiree to self-education expert with coverage by USA Today and NPR — mostly without leaving his Wasilla home. Learn how in “Book Promotion for Introverts.”

Freelance staff meeting
Never mind that attendance would be limited. One week into fulltime freelancing, I decided to hold a staff meeting.


Practical Poetry: An ode to getting published
Try Paula Sanders McCarron’s no-nonsense, four-step plan to get your poems in print.

Book author’s to-do list
The world may seem to spin more slowly while you’re waiting for your manuscript to be published, says Andromeda Romano-Lax. But it speeds up soon enough.

Web mistakes writers make
Your Web site is often the first impression that your potential customer gets of you. But Sharon Romine says many writers still make these five mistakes.

Commonly confused words
Insure yourself against word confusion; this list by grammar guru John Edmonds ensures you get it right.

Newsletter led to book ideas, says self-publisher Hayes
Wasilla author and self-learning advocate Charles Hayes talks about how he turned his personal passion for “self-education” into an enterprise that includes a 1,000-plus-subscriber newsletter and a self-publishing company. >>Story

Graphics resources
Alaska sunsets, for free!
Need an Alaska photo for your Web site or print project? Check out the US Fish & Wildlife Service Alaska Image Library, source of this beautiful Kanuti Refuge sunset photo. All images are public domain; just credit the source. Hint: One of these would make a great home page photo on your AlaskaWriters Web site.

Free Alaska clip art
Write a Book That SellsThe flag used here came from the Alaska Native Knowledge Network, at, which provides royalty-free art for free (Reduce the image size if using on the Web, and be sure to credit the source!)

Do you present talks or writing workshops? Want to share your wisdom (and get publicity)? Submit a brief item (250-450 words) for the AlaskaWriters tips page, and get a link to your Web site, photo and bio listing:

Editor’s note: If you have been here before, you may be wondering what happened to the old News & Tips page formats. I plan to replace the news/tips pages with a blog, which will make archiving and viewing easier. In the meantime, I did not want to take down any content that has proven useful to others, so it is here in a new format.

Unfortunately, our AlaskaWriters Forum had to close due to too much spam.

Go Home

AlaskaWriter member sites:
>> Alaska Press Club
>> Alaska Professional Communicators (formerly Alaska Press Women)
>> Alaska Romance Writers of America
>> Alaska Writers Workshop
>> Barbara Brown
>> Melissa DeVaughn
>> Kathy Day Public Relations
>> Sandi Gerjevic
>> Anne Hanley
>> Linda Herr - The Mess Arrester-SM
>> Marybeth Holleman
>> Heather Lende
>> Nancy Lord
>> Rose Marie Mayer
>> Jim Misko
>> Elise Sereni Patkotak - Precious Cargo Ltd.
>> Rupert Pratt
>> Marguerite Reiss (Kern)
>> Andromeda Romano-Lax
>> Sonya Senkowsky - AlaskaWriter LLC
>> Bill Sherwonit
>> Sandi Sumner
>> Lesley Thomas
>> Sherry Tomlinson

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Photos of Sonya Senkowsky © 2004 David Jensen / David Jensen Photography.

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