Linda: 49 Writers Weekly Roundup

49 Writers members get creative at Tutka Bay Lodge
Coming down from last weekend’s Tutka Bay Writers Retreat (for it really is a literary high), we are grateful to all the writers who participated, experimented, shared their work, and connected with new friends in Alaska’s writing community. Retreat leader Ron Carlson provided so many ways to think about and buckle down to writing; to start and explore a story; and–most importantly–to keep going, drawing on our own lives. Providing many examples of how he uses moments from his own life to spark or enrich a story, he encouraged us to open up our minds to the possibilities, noting that “I write from my personal experiences, whether I’ve had them or not.” Try this for starters: Begin a story with a sentence that starts with the letter “A.” Write the next sentence, starting with a “B” word. Keep going until you’ve worked your way through the alphabet. Include one sentence fragment and one sentence at least 25 words long. There. You have a new story in draft. As always, the range of approaches and the variety of topics that participants chose surprised and delighted everyone. There’s no doubt that our unique life experiences shape our world view and material as writers.

We are especially grateful to our hosts at Tutka Bay Lodge, Kirsten and Carl Dixon, who, during the final week of their season each year, welcome 49 Writers to their beautiful wilderness setting off Kachemak Bay and provide the ideal environment to step out of our daily lives and focus only on our writing for an intensive weekend of learning, reflection, discussion, and creativity. What better way to rev up for the long winter ahead than amass a store of information, prompts, and exercises to draw on as the light wanes. Their wonderful staff take very good care of our writers, serving delectable food, stoking up the sauna at the end of a hard day’s work, and taking us on guided hikes and kayaking trips. Most of all, we want to thank Ron Carlson for engaging us in writing, teaching us with wit and wisdom, and for being available throughout to answer questions and advise. Now, make an appointment with yourself for today or tomorrow to sit down at your desk and write for at least 45 minutes, and don’t leave the room. Keep that appointment with yourself daily. Get writing.

Don’t miss “No Higher Ground,” the first Reading & Craft Talk of our regular season on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 7pm, at Great Harvest Bread Company. Veteran Alaskan mountaineer and author Jim Sweeney (Alaska Expedition Marine Life Solidarity, The List) will talk about how he drew on his experiences in the Alaskan wilderness to create his compelling stories and the memoir of his near-fatal expedition in the Alaska Range in the spring of 1989.

Friday, Sept. 13, 7:30pm at the
Museum of the North, UAF Campus, the latest Midnight Sun Visiting Writers
Series opens with Fairbanks writer
Peggy Shumaker, who will read
from her new collection of poems,
Nest: Poems of Costa Rica
, and show slides from Costa Rica. Peggy has
published seven books of poems and two chapbooks, as well as a lyrical memoir,
Just Breathe Normally. UAF professor
emerita and former Alaska State Writer Laureate, Peggy teaches in the Rainier
Writing Workshop low-residency MFA program.

Saturday, Sept. 14, 1-3:30pm and Sunday,
Sept. 15, 9:30-11am
, Peggy Shumaker and Frank Soos will teach a free
workshop, “Writing Our Places” at Twin Bear Camp, Mile 30 Chena River
State Recreation Area. The dedication and unveiling of the two poems in Chena
River SRA will take place Sunday,
Sept. 15, 1-3pm
. Meet at Rosehip Campground Mile 27 at 1pm. To register or
for more information about either event, please email

Elise Patkotak is back! On Saturday, Sept. 14, 4pm, at Fireside Books in Palmer, she will be signing Coming Into the City, her follow-up to the ever-popular memoir Parallel Logic. After spending 28 years living in the Inupiat Eskimo community of Barrow, Elise Sereni Patkotak–a New York City native–decided it was time to return to the big city. She chose to move to Anchorage and gently get back into life amidst coffee stands, malls, fresh produce and highways.The transition was not always easy.

Want to sell your book and meet new readers? Calling all
Alaska-based authors! Registration for the Great Alaska Book Fair at APU
closes Sept. 15 – click here for more information
and to register. The Book Fair takes place Saturday, Oct. 12, 10am-5pm,
and is brought to you by the Alaska Writers Guild and Alaska Pacific University
as part of Alaska Book Week.
Alaska Artists: the deadline to apply for the Rasmuson
Residency Program
is Sept. 15. These eight-week residencies are a great way to enhance
your artistic development and expand your learning network. To find out more,
read Jeremy Pataky’s blogpost from last week.

Alex Hills, the local author responsible for the invention of Wi-Fi, will be at Fireside Books on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 4pm signing his newest book, Geeks on a Mission: In Their Own Words, the stories of five young tech-savvy folks who donated their time to being professional consultants for organizations in developing countries. They traveled to Peru, Ghana, Rwanda, and Palau, having left home for wild and new experiences and to try to change the world in their own way – and change it they did!

Sept. 18, 7pm, Poetry Parley kicks off the new season in a new location, Hugi-Lewis Studio, 1008 W. Northern Lights Boulevard, Anchorage. Ten local poets will read in a departure for the usual third Wednesday format: Emily Kurn, Karen Lauer, Jacob Holley-Kline, Gabrielle Barnett, Sherry Eckrich, Jerry McDonnell, Ethan Korpi Love, Judith Stoll, Leslie Fried, and Marcie Winters. Poetry Parley is facilitated by Sandra Kleven, Peter Porco, and D.C. McKenzie. You can email them at

Cirque is accepting submissions for the 2013 Winter Solstice
issue, deadline Sept. 21. They are
considering writing in all genres, and also photos and art. Please send
inquiries and submissions to, and visit their website
more information.

Wednesday, Sept.
25, 7-9:30pm
Sierra Club, 750 W. 2
nd Ave. #100, Anchorage essayist and author Bill Sherwonit will begin teaching
a 12-week nature and travel writing class. Participants in this workshop-style
class will explore and refine their own writing styles, with an emphasis on the
personal essay form. The class will also read and discuss works by some of
America’s finest nature and travel writers, past and present. The cost is $240.
To sign up or for more information, contact Sherwonit at or 245-0283. 

Sherman Alexie has a new project called “Indies First.” His goal is to encourage local authors and local bookstores to work together more close. Gulliver’s Books in Fairbanks loves their local authors and loves this idea! They are looking for a local author (or two or three) willing to participate in this program. If you’r interested, you can contact If you’re an independent bookstore yourself, visit the Indies First website for more information.

We are happy to report that Kathleen Tarr has an essay published in the current issue (summer 2013) of the Sewanee Review, America’s oldest continuously-published literary quarterly (since 1872). Her piece, “The Trappist Monk and Pasternak’s Tree,” is from her memoir-in-progress.

Arctic Cliffhangers/Alaska Sisters in Crime have their annual Forensic Foray event coming up, October 19, featuring mystery author Jan Burke. Save the date now!

There any many happenings around the state every month and we can’t possibly hope to capture them all in this weekly roundup of news. For more immediate and up-to-the-minute information, be sure to “like” our Facebook page and stay current on the literary scene. 
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