Deb: 49 Writers weekly round-up

Much is still happening this week at 49 Writers. We’re putting the last bit of spit and polish at our Raven Place facility in preparation for the May 22 fundraiser and volunteer thank-you event with Heather Lende. Volunteers and founding member donors must RSVP to attend, as we have seating for 35 only. If you haven’t already RSVP’d, email right away. Attendees note: we’ll have a box for your Book Nook donations – autographed copies we’ll sell to Raven Place guests. Please include a note with your email address so we can properly thank you. For more on the Book Nook, contact coordinator Louise Freeman-Toole at

Our first Raven Place guests arrive Monday. We’ll run Raven Place exclusively during the summer, when our on-site writing programs are on hold for Alaska’s play time. Starting on September 2, with a reading by visiting writer David Vann, we’ll open part-time for writing programs. Guest house revenues are an important part of our initial budget, so we’re aiming for at least 20% guesthouse occupancy during this first winter. As we acquire additional funding, we hope to drop back to summer-only guesthouse functions.

Your response to our calls for volunteers and memberships continues to humble and amaze us. Thanks to donations and memberships large and small, we’ve avoided bumping bottom despite some hefty set-up expenses. We much appreciate your support for our commitment to strong service and programs to promote Alaska writers and writing – do keep it coming!

Likewise, we’re signed on 16 volunteers for ongoing positions – everything from blog interviewer to bookkeeper. But we still need more help. Of special concern are finding a back-up host and a groundskeeper for Raven Place. Both are Anchorage-based, and neither requires huge chunks of time. We have a volunteer in charge of flowers, so the groundskeeper needs only to mow the tiny lawn (we’ll supply the mower), shovel walks, and take recycles to the Dowling facility every so often. Our current guesthouse host is committed only through the summer, so we’ll need someone to pick up the slack in the fall. The position requires daytime availability (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.), but it’s far from a daily commitment – only on guest check-out days. Ideally I’d like to have three hosts to alternate responsibilities. If you can help with either of these or if you’d like to browse the full list of available volunteer positions, email me at

Do you have a new book coming out? Would you like to generate interest and sales for books previously published? 49 @ First Fridays stands ready to help. We’ve got a well-trafficked Anchorage location and a great First Friday coordinator ready to schedule your First Friday book signing. Contact Paula Bryner at prior to May 28 to reserve your spot on this year’s First Friday calendar. All we ask is that you provide your own books (or arrange for a distributor to deliver them) and that you donate 25% of your sales to 49 Writers. The gallery owner who occupied our 415 L St. facility prior to us reported around 400 First Friday browsers, so expect much higher exposure than your typical bookstore signing stints. Summer signings will be on the porch only.

On June 25th, F Magazine will celebrate its One year and One month with a very big issue, and they’re seeking more content than normal. The theme is “Anniversary – a reminiscence of dates.” Submissions by writers, photographers, and artists are encouraged. The deadline is June 10.

More good news for Juneau author Brett Dillingham: his Performance Literacy Through Storytelling is officially a recipient of the Independent Publisher Book Awards Distinguished Achievement Award; it has tied for gold in the Education/Academic/Teaching category. This is in addition to the Educational Publishers’ award the book recently earned.

Among the latest recipients of the Rasmuson Foundation’s individual artist awards are writers Karen Benning, Peter Porco, Tom Sexton, and Miranda Weiss. Karen is currently revising her first book manuscript. She will take a sabbatical and finish the manuscript’s revisions and submit it to agents for publishing. Peter’s first full-length play, titled “Wind Blown and Dripping,” was produced in the fall of 2009. Peter will travel to Adak, the play’s location to complete a revision. Poet Tom Sexton will spend time in Lowell, Massachusetts to complete a series of sonnets. Since its inception, the Rasmuson Foundation has awarded over $1.4 million in grants to nearly 191 individual Alaska artists at various stages of their careers as part of the Individual Artist Awards program to help create a dynamic and supportive environment for creative artists. Recipients are chosen based on work that reflects the diverse cultural and aesthetic communities in Alaska. Congratulations to all!

The Alaska Botanical Garden is hosting a writers’ workshop featuring Amy Stewart, a well-known garden writer, blogger, and author of four books. Amy will present the workshop at the museum auditorium on
Sunday, July 11, at 7 p.m. The cost is $12 per person; $10 for ABG members.

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