Linda: 49 Writers Weekly Roundup

Dana Stabenow & Deb Vanasse

It was great to see a classroom full of writers at the Anchorage Museum on Wednesday night, all eager to learn more about Independent Publishing Options for Writers with Dana Stabenow and Deb Vanasse. Dana shared the wisdom she’s gleaned from more than 20 years of traditional and now epublishing; the world is certainly changing and changing fast but, as we know, change brings opportunity! Learning from the experiences of two authors who are at the leading edge of these changes certainly helps us to make informed choices. Thank you, Dana and Deb, for your enlightening session. The class continues on Saturday.

Our last class of the spring season! If you’re in Juneau, don’t miss the creative writing workshop with 49 Writers co-founder Deb Vanasse, who will be teaching about “Perspectives and Viewpoints: Exploring Point of View,” Monday, June 2, 6-9pm, Juneau Arts & Humanities Council. Click here to register.

Earlier this week the Rasmuson Foundation awarded its 11th round of Individual Artist Awards – always a much-anticipated event in the Alaskan arts community. These awards are part of an initiative to support Alaska’s culture, vibrant communities, and art itself. Alaska is so fortunate to have a foundation like Rasmuson that believes the best way to stimulate and support the creation of art is to give direct funding to the artists themselves. This year they awarded 25 Project Grants (worth up to $7.500 each) and ten Fellowships (worth up to $18,000 each). These artists were chosen from a total of 274 applicants judged by an esteemed national panel of artists and art leaders. Click here for a complete list of award recipients or watch the artist awards live. Portraits of award recipients are viewable here.

This year’s project awards for the literary arts went to the following writers: Shehla Anjum, an Anchorage-based writer who will be completing a series of essays that reflect on the challenges arising from life in two very different cultures, the Islamic culture of Pakistan and the Western culture of the U.S.; Teeka Ballas of Anchorage, who plans to discover and tell the story of her father through a multidisciplinary cross genre composition of literary memoir, audio slide show and ethnographic research art documentary; Amanda Compton of Juneau, whose chosen medium is radio storytelling and who will produce an hour-long radio show featuring the untold stories of unique individuals in the Alaska fishing industry; Jill Osier, a self-described “vigilant poet” based in Fairbanks, who will be completing her first full book of poems; Don Rearden of Anchorage, a novelist and screenwriter who will be adapting his award-winning novel, The Raven’s Gift, for the screen; and Caroline Van Hemert, from Anchorage, who will complete a book-length non-fiction narrative detailing the landscape, wildlife and relationships she encountered during a 4,000-mile human-powered trek from Puget Sound to the Chukchi Sea.

Peggy Shumaker was announced as this year’s Distinguished Artist Award recipient and we cannot think of anyone more deserving of this honor. The $40,000 award recognizes an artist with stature and a history of creative excellence. Shumaker is the eleventh Alaskan artist to receive the award, and she joins a prestigious list of previous winners including Teri Rofkar (2013), Kes Woodward (2012), Ray Troll (2011), John Luther Adams (2010), Nathan Jackson (2009), Ronald Senungetuk (2008), Rie Munoz (2007), Delores Churchill (2006), John Haines (2005) and Sylvester Ayek (2004). “Peggy Shumaker’s works are vivid, visual and, at times, visceral,” said Jayson Smart, Rasmuson Foundation program officer. “Her medium of choice isn’t oil, acrylic or watercolor. She paints with words. Poetic words. The kind that create indelible images in our minds.” In this post, you can enjoy a film about Peggy, her inspiration, and her work.
No only does Peggy make a meaningful contribution to the literature of Alaska, she is also a past State Writer Laureate who has also mentored and encouraged many Alaskan writers and is the champion and series editor of the Alaska Literary Series at the University of Alaska Press. Over the years Peggy and her husband, Joe Usibelli, have supported many literary and community organizations through their philanthropy, and 49 Writers is particularly appreciative of their generosity.

Opportunities for Writers

The Anchorage Press, under the new leadership of editor Susy Buchanan, is looking for freelance reporters. If you’re interested, email

The Achievement and Assessment Institute, based at The University of Kansas, was recently awarded a contract to develop assessments for the state of Alaska. In order to create texts that will resonate with Alaska students, they are looking for writers to develop Alaska-related test passages. They are therefore recruiting participants for two paid summer passage writing workshops—one in Juneau in June and another in Fairbanks in July. Writers can apply by filling out a brief survey found here: . They will be selecting applicants based on the strength of their writing samples and background. If you have questions, you can contact Becky Mandelbaum, Passage Writing Coordinator, at or call (785) 864-1594.

Events in and around Anchorage

Tonight, Friday, May 16, 7-8:30pm, Jitters Coffee House, Eagle River: Celebrate Third Friday with Alaska Quarterly Review. This month’s program is a Songwriters Showcase featuring musicians Melanie Trost and Jonathan Bower. The Third Friday Series brings together creative voices in visual, performing, and literary arts.

Monday, May 19, 4pm, UAA Campus Bookstore: Michelle Theall presents Teaching the Cat to Sit, a memoir about growing up gay and Catholic in the Texas Bible Belt. In it she courageously comes to terms with the role of religion, motherhood and family in living a full, loving life. Theall has received numerous awards for her health, travel, sports and fitness articles and work with in Women’s Adventure magazine. Currently she is editor of Alaska Magazine.

May 20-July 29, Tuesdays, 5:30-8:15pm: Join the UAA creative writing community this summer by taking a multi-genre Creative Writing class (CRN 50367). Th is weekly course will introduce you to the works of renowned writers from Alaska and Outside who will be on campus in July. You will read their texts and practice writing techniques in each of the major genres. In July, we will attend a series of literary readings, meeting up close the writers we have been studying all semester. Students and local writers are encouraged to register for this course. Contact Prof. Aisha Barnes at or 786-4363 for more information.

Wednesday, May 21, 7-8:30pm, Loussac Library Innovation Lab: the monthly meeting of the Alaska Writers Guild features David Brown, author of Deacon’s Crossbow, in “Battle of the Book Tour.” David will share the ins and out, ups and downs of preparing and setting out on a book tour. Join the discussion with other members, which will include such topics as independent book publication, book tours, and marketing/platforming strategies.

Wednesday, May 21, 7pm, Hugi-Lewis Studio: Poetry Parley will feature Susanna Mishler, reading from her newly-released collection, Termination Dust. Save the date now! Marquee poet will be Larry Levis. Readers are needed! If interested, contact

Tuesday, May 27, 4-6pm, UAA Campus Bookstore: 49 Writers member Donna Mack presents a discussion of her recently published novel Whispered Secrets Whispered Prayers. The story is based in North Dakota in 1947 and is about a German family who immigrated from the Ukraine. Mack is a NEA award winner with a MFA in creative writing from UAA. For many in Alaska, she is known as the owner of One People, an iconic Anchorage shop that featured arts and crafts from around the globe.

There are several opportunities coming up in Anchorage to meet Mike Holloway, author of the newly released Dreaming Bears: A Gwich’in Indian Storyteller, a Southern Doctor, a Wild Corner of Alaska. To see a book trailer and more information visit:

  • Sunday, May 18, 1-2:30pm, Anchorage Museum at Ramuson Center – with a perforimance by Samuel Johns’ Athabaskan dance group! 
  • Sunday, June 6, 1-2:30pm, DeBarr Costco 
  • Wednesday, Jun. 11, 4-6pm, UAA Campus Bookstore

Around the State

Friday, May 16, 6:30pm, KTOO @360 Studio, Juneau: Woosh Kinaadeiyí presents an open mic and poetry slam hosted by Bill Merk and Nathan Block with DJ Manu. The event is open to poets and performers of all ages and abilities. Sign up to perform opens at 6pm, show starts at 6:30 pm. Event is pay-as-you-can. Woosh Kinaadeiyí is a local nonprofit committed to diversity, inclusive community, and empowering voice. Learn more at Contact: Christy NaMee Eriksen, Woosh Kinaadeiyí President,

Saturday, May 24, 11:30am, Fireside Books, Palmer: Book signing by Glen Klinkhart, author of Finding Bethany: a Memoir. Glen Klinkhart started his path towards investigating homicides when his sister was brutally murdered. Bethany Correira’s murder was just the kind of case that brought Klinkhart into the police force and he was determined to solve the case and bring her justice.
Juneau author Annie Boochever (Bristol Bay Summer) will be making this following appearances:

  • Saturday, May 24: Hearthside Books’ Author Whale Watching 
  • Friday, June 6, 5-7pm, book signing at Hearthside Books Downtown
  • June 16, 6:30pm, Annie will present at the Valley Library.

Mike Holloway, author of Dreaming Bears: A Gwich’in Indian Storyteller, a Southern Doctor, a Wild Corner of Alaska, has appearance coming up in Fairbanks too:

  • Thursday, May 29, 4-6pm, to benefit the Gwich’in Steering Committee at the Alaska Geographic Bookstore in the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor’s Bureau, 101 Dunkel Street, Fairbanks
  • Friday, May 30, 12-1:30pm, Barnes and Noble, 421 Merhar Avenue, Fairbanks
  • Friday, May 30, 5:30-6:30 pm, to benefit the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, 830 College Road, Fairbanks
Upcoming deadlines
If you are interested in teaching for 49 Writers and meet the instructor criteria, we’d love to see a course proposal from you – deadline is June 15.

June 30: 49 Writers is accepting submissions for Anchorage Remembers, an Anchorage Centennial anthology to be published later this year. We are looking for personal stories written by Municipality of Anchorage residents, 50 years and older, who have memories of Anchorage and Chugiak-Eagle River over the years to share with the community.  This project is supported by a Centennial Community grant awarded by the Alaska Humanities Forum and Anchorage Centennial Committee. Click here for more information and to submit.

June 30: Early registration deadline for the 2014 Alaska Writers Guild Conference (Sept. 13 & 14, Crowne Plaza Hotel) featuring  nationally acclaimed agents, publishers, and authors. Once again, the conference includes a children’s literature track in conjunction with the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. The conference brings writing industry professionals straight to you, ready to share their knowledge of how to write well, get published, and market your books. Click here for a full list of speakers. Visit the AWG website for more information and to register. Early registration (deadline June 30) is $90 for AWG/SCBWI members, $120 for non-members.

Author News

Rosalie Loewen of Haines is pleased to announce that one of her stories was selected to be included in the anthology, Among Animals, published by Ashland Creek Press earlier this year.

Literary happenings in Alaska this summer

May 28-31: This year’s North Words Writers Symposium in beautiful Skagway, Southeast Alaska, features popular British-American writer Simon Winchester as keynote author, joined by an Alaska-Yukon faculty that includes Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Richard Dauenhauer, Nick Jans, Marcel Jolley, Heather Lende, Lael Morgan, John Straley, and Deb Vanasse. For full information, visit the conference website.

June 6-8, Tonglen Lake Lodge, Denali: Writing workshop with Sherry Simpson, Tiny Masters: Turning Personal Experience Into Personal Essays. Click here for details.

June 8-14: Prince William Sound Community College hosts the 2014 Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez. The invited 68 plays include writers from across the United States and internationally from the United Kingdom. There are 8 Alaskans invited to present their work, including 3 from Anchorage, 2 from Juneau, and 1 apiece from Fairbanks, Ketchikan, and Valdez. Alaskan playwrights include Jill Bess (Anchorage, AK), Simple Melody, Linda Billington (Anchorage, AK), A Duct Tale, Clint Jefferson Farr (Juneau, AK), The Kindness of Strangers, P. Shane Mitchell (Anchorage AK), Veritas, Tom Moran (Fairbanks AK), God On Our Side, Mollie Ramos (Valdez, AK), Snowmageddon, Barbara Shepherd (Juneau, AK), Ghost Stories, Norma Thompson (Ketchikan, AK), Missing Something?, and alternate Mark Muro (Anchorage, AK), Nocturne on 166th Street.

June 13-17Kachemak Bay Writers Conference takes place in Homer, with keynote speaker Alice Sebold (The Lovely Bones). This year’s post-conference workshop at Tutka Bay Lodge, Personal Stories and Great Realities, will be led by Scott Russell Sanders, June 17-19.

June 26-29: Stillpoint Lodge in Halibut Cove hosts a writers retreat, The Pen & The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World, with Holly Hughes. How do we create space for writing in a world crowded with so many distractions? Learn mindfulness practices to provide support for writing and other forms of creativity. Holly co-authored the book The Pen and The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World. Her collection of poems. Sailing by Ravens, is part of the University of Alaska Press’s 2014 Alaska Literary Series.

July 20-26The Island Institute hosts the Sitka Symposium at Sheldon Jackson Campus in Sitka. This year’s theme, “Radical Imagining: Changing the Story With Stories of Change” will explore dominant narratives of our culture in relation to the challenges of our time, and consider empowering stories of transformative change initiated by people in communities large and small. Leading the Symposium will be Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabekwe author, activist, mother, and Green Party vice-presidential running mate to Ralph Nader; Luis Alberto Urrea, critically acclaimed author of thirteen books of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, American Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist; Alan Weisman, best-selling author of The World Without Us and winner of the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Award for his latest book, Countdown; and Molly Sturges, co-founder and Artistic Director of Santa Fe’s renowned Littleglobe, an artist/activist collective, and founder of the national project COAL, a musical fable and catalyst for climate engagement.

July 22-28: The Wrangell Mountain Writing Workshop in McCarthy presents: True Story, with Tom Kizzia, Frank Soos, and Nancy Cook. During this five-day workshop, writers will explore the craft of creative nonfiction: drafting compelling narratives that tell true stories. How can writers craft a meaningful, readable page-turner while working in the confines of the frequently controversial truth of “what actually happened.” Click here for more information.

Scroll to Top