Hello old friend

Dear long lost reader,

I just looked out the window of my office (yes, I have upgraded from my bare-lightbulb, closet-sized “cloffice” to a room with a view), and saw our little skating rink. It made me think of you, dear reader. I don’t know if you recall years ago I wrote to you about trying to build a skating rink in our yard. We did not have a well at the time, and so we were hauling our water — one of several impediments.  Well this year, at last, success! It’s not official NHL dimensions, but it’s big enough to do a few twirls and play miniature hockey with our youngest daughter. Here’s a photo  …

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I’m also sending you a photo of my new office. Thanks to my husband, Sam, for all his hard work. He literally built it, walls, wiring, sheet-rock, pine trim, and even helped me reconnect my computer when I moved in. On the corkboard above my computer you can catch a glimpse of where my head has been these past months — a fantastical, wild 1885 Alaska.

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I wanted you to know that although I have been mostly absent from Twitter and Facebook, and remiss in my letter writing, you have never been far from my thoughts as I work on my new novel. I have a complete manuscript and am now shaping it and polishing it. It is a story told in journals, letters and documents about a military expedition into the heart of Alaska in 1885. Along the way, my Colonel and his men are encountering a mythological world they did not expect. I can’t wait to share it with you!

Cheers!

Eowyn

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Postcard from Rochester, NY

Writers & Books

Rochester, New York — Home to the incomparable Writers & Books program. What a whirlwind adventure I’ve had! Over three days, I spoke at universities, a school of the arts, a retirement community and numerous libraries — everywhere I turned, so many insightful, literary readers! And the staff of Writers & Books? Incredibly welcoming, fun, creative, and passionate about books. They set the bar high for what a community can do to support the arts and literacy. You can visit their website here to be inspired and learn more about their programs.

My only regret? I should have brought my mittens — it’s kind of chilly in Rochester this time of year.

Cheers!

Eowyn

Where I’ve been, and where I’m going

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Floating the Copper River the summer of 2011 as I began research for my next novel, Shadows on the Wolverine.

Dear kind reader,

I’m afraid it’s been too long since I last wrote. Thanks to all of you who continue to follow my blog and check in regularly. I have stepped back from some of my online presence because I am deep into writing my next novel, Shadows on the Wolverine.

Some of you have asked about my new story: it is set on the same Wolverine River I invented for The Snow Child, but it takes place 35 years earlier, in 1885. It is inspired in part by a true-life military expedition that many have called the Lewis and Clark of Alaska. Along the way, however, my fictional characters encounter fantastical, mythological surprises. Part of the fun for me as a writer is that I’ve chosen to tell the story through diaries, reports, letters and other documents.

For those of you who have kindly asked when Shadows on the Wolverine will be available, I’m hoping to get it to my agent and editor this summer, and we will proceed from there. As soon as I have any firm dates, I will let you all know.

Even as I work on this new novel, however, The Snow Child is never far away. In fact, it is taking me from Alaska to Rochester, NY, later this month! The wonderful people at Writers & Books have chosen The Snow Child for this year’s “If All of Rochester Read the Same Book.”

March 19-21 I will be doing a series of events, including book signings and talks, around the Rochester area. You can view my schedule here at the Writers & Books website. Their website also includes an interview with me and other information. I hope to see some of you there.

In the meantime, I will continue my adventure along the Wolverine River.

Cheers!

Eowyn

P.S. I’ll be doing an online chat tomorrow at 8 p.m. ET on the HerRochester Facebook page. Feel free to join the discussion!

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Postcard from Ninilchik & Homer

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Dear fair-weather reader,

Over the weekend, we headed south to the Alaska seaside in a blustery rainstorm, and at the end of the road found sunshine and the warmest of welcomes from fellow Alaskans.

Immense gratitude to Argent Kvasnikoff, the Ninilchik Traditional Council, and Ninilchik Community library — they set the plans in motion by inviting me to come speak in their community. My family and I were so touched by their hospitality and kindness. We felt instantly as if we were among friends.

We also made our way to Homer, with much thanks to poet Erin Hollowell, the Homer Public Library and Homer Bookstore. Again we were welcomed with such warmth and graciousness. It was an honor to get to visit with so many fellow Alaskan writers at the event:

  • Erin Hollowell has recently published a beautiful book of poetry, Pause, Traveler.
  • Ann Dixon, who has a wonderful collection of Alaska children’s books. Our family favorite is Blueberry Shoe.
  • Eva Saulitis, author most recently of the critically acclaimed Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss Among Vanishing Orcas.
  • Nancy Lord, former Alaska State Writer Laureate, a writer who does it all — fiction & essays, including Rock, Water, Wild: An Alaskan Life.
  • Tom Kizzia, author of the bestselling Pilgrim’s Wilderness. I recently read this nonfiction book and found it incredibly compelling, heartbreaking, and haunting.

I have no doubt there were other writers there that day, published or soon-to-be, and I’m grateful for the supportive atmosphere that is helping Alaska literature to thrive.

Cheers from the coast,

Eowyn

Headed south to the seaside

Dear long-lost reader,

Where has the time gone? Someone recently pointed out that it has been more than two months since I last wrote.

Gardening, fishing, picking berries, visiting with friends and family, working on house projects — like most Alaskans, we find there isn’t enough time in the summer. Strange, when you consider the sun stays in the sky nearly 20 hours each day. We often find ourselves out in the yard, filleting salmon or watering the tomato plants in the greenhouse, at 10 at night. We have to force ourselves to come inside and slow down.

In the middle of this Alaskan summer mania, I am also hard at work on my new novel, Shadows on the Wolverine. It is a thrilling process, as I gather stories, ideas and images and let them roll around in my imagination.

And although I am doing fewer than last year, I am also squeezing in a few Snow Child events.

This weekend, I head south to the Alaska seaside communities of Ninilchik and Homer .

Saturday at noon I’ll be at the Homer Public Library to read from The Snow Child. Books will be available at the library, and I’ll be happy to sign copies after the reading.

Homer is on the shore of Kachemak Bay on the southwest side of the Kenai Peninsula, about 200 road miles southwest of Anchorage. It is known for its halibut fishing and its diverse, artistic community of about 5,000 people.

Then, at 3 p.m. on Saturday, I’ll be in Ninilchik for a question-and-answer session and book signing at the Ninilchik Community Library. The event is sponsored by the Ninilchik Traditional Council. A limited number of copies of the book will be available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting the Ninilchik Community Library.

Ninilchik is also located on the Kenai Peninsula, just north of Homer, and has about 1,000 residents. The village was originally a Dena’ina Athabaskan lodging area used for hunting and fishing. Russian colonists moved there from Kodiak Island in 1847 before the Alaska Purchase.

I’m so looking forward to this roadtrip to the sea. In the meantime, I’ll be soaking up every last little bit of summer in Alaska.

Wishing you long, happy days,

Eowyn

Postcard from Juneau, Alaska

Juneau downtown

Hello from Alaska’s state capital – Juneau! I so enjoyed my short stay here, seeing old friends, making new ones, visiting with fellow authors, and soaking up some of the amazing history and culture here. A highlight of the trip was a whale watch cruise, organized by the delightful owners of Hearthside Books. As several of us Alaska writers shared our current projects and books, we sipped wine and watched as humpback whales rolled and leapt beside us.

I also had a morning on my own, so I explored the marble halls of the capitol building, strolled past the governor’s mansion, and walked around historic downtown with its totem poles and Gold Rush buildings. And then I rode the tram up the mountain. It was foggy and rainy, but beautiful all the same.

One of my favorite things about these Southeastern Alaskans is the way they embrace their weather. It’s one way you can separate the tourists from the locals – you might catch a visitor grumbling about the cool, rainy days. But locals respond: “Rainy? It’s just the way we like it!” You don’t see them huddling under umbrellas, and half the time they don’t even wear rain coats. It’s as if rain is as natural to them as air.

So I head back north with a newfound affection for this place and its artistic, hardy, welcoming people. I got some photos and, of course, a suitcase full of books that I picked up along the way.  And most unexpectedly, I’ve gathered some fantastic material here, from the habits of rufous hummingbirds to the mapping of Alaska, as I continue work on my next novel, Shadows on the Wolverine. Thank you to naturalist Bob Armstrong ( www.naturebob.com) and Dee Longenbaugh of The Observatory.)

Most of all, thanks to Deb and Susan at Hearthside Books, everyone at Juneau Public Library, Maggie, Frank & Liz, MJ & Mike, and all the wonderful writers and readers I met on this visit. It was wonderful fun!

Cheers!

Eowyn

Postcard from Ketchikan, Alaska

 

Ketchikan

Greetings from lovely Ketchikan! The sun is out, the water is shining, the eagles are calling, and the wild strawberries and salmonberries are in bloom. Here you can see where I stayed in one of NY Hotel & Cafe’s creekside cabins. I’ve had a lovely time with Maggie, Charlotte and all the welcoming people at Parnassus Books and the Ketchikan Public Library these past two days. Thank you all for the hospitality and sharing your beautiful scenery.

Next up — the state capital of Juneau.

Cheer!

Eowyn

Seeing more of Alaska

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My family and I live northeast of Anchorage, and I’m headed south to Juneau and Ketchikan — it’s nearly 1,000 miles by road, if you could drive, but Southeast Alaska is accessible only by boat or plane. (Map via www.worldatlas.com.)

Dear Alaska-bound reader,

One of the most amazing things about Alaska is its sheer size. I grew up here, and I have traveled around it quite a bit — from Anchorage to the North Slope, Chicken to Chickaloon, Cordova to Fairbanks, yet there are huge areas I have never seen. Southeast Alaska is one of those regions. For many visitors on cruise ships, this is the gateway to Alaska. But for those of us who live in Southcentral, it can seem very far away.

I’m thrilled to finally have a chance to see this part of the state. Tomorrow I fly to Ketchikan for an event  at 6:30 pm at the Ketchikan Public Library in conjunction with Parnassus Books. (More information is available by calling 907-228-2307.)

Then I go on to our state capital Juneau where Thursday 7-8:30 pm I’ll be at the Juneau Public Library, Friday 1-2 pm I’ll sign books at Hearthside Books in downtown and then that evening I’ll participate in Hearthside’s Authors at Sea Cruise, which sounds like wonderful fun. For more information and tickets, you can visit Hearthside here.

This has been one of the unexpected blessings of the publication of The Snow Child — it has given me the chance to meet booksellers, librarians and readers and to see new parts of the world, even those unexplored lands close to home.

Cheers!

Eowyn

 

Postcard from Bend, Oregon

Bend Oregon

Dear Oregon reader,

You know how you sometimes beat your own postcards home? Well, that is what has happened to me. I’m already back in Alaska, but today is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write a postcard to you.

First let me say that the rumors are true — Deschutes County truly has the most fantastic one community, one read program. For the past 10 years, “A Novel Idea” has featured a book each year that thousands of people read together and then celebrate with programs over the course of several weeks. Past selections include The Kite Runner, The Help, and Rules of Civility. This year they chose The Snow Child, and it was an incredible privilege.

novel ideaThis is the only place in the world I’ve been where the community makes a debut novelist feel like a rock star. For the first (and probably only) time in my life I got to see my name on a marquee. I spoke in front of a sold-out house at the Tower Theatre — 500 people. For a book event! Then another several hundred people came to a nearby high school for another event the next day. And the library gets this kind of turnout every year.

This is a community that knows how to celebrate books. They sew quilts inspired by the book, they paint paintings, sketch pictures, write lovely bluegrass music — all based on the book of the year. It was a moving experience as a writer to see how others had retold the story through fabric, colored pencils, and vocal harmonies.

And most of all I enjoyed getting to know the library staff. In ways, being a writer is a lonely endeavor. There are times that I miss the office banter, the collegial joking that goes on between co-workers. The Deschutes Public Library has the kind of staff anyone would envy, and you can tell they have a lot of fun together even as they work hard. But what was most remarkable was the way they included me, even welcomed me, into their friendship and laughter. For that I will forever be grateful.

So to the quilters, artists, musicians, book clubs, readers and librarians of Deschutes County — Cheers! And thank you!

Eowyn

P.S. For those of you who know my troubles with homophones, I thought I’d confess that this postcard initially read “my name on a marquis” instead of “marquee.” I guess my name tattooed on a nobleman would be interesting, but I prefer the marquee.

 

Snow Child events north and south

Dear fun-seeking reader,

I want to let you know about some events I have coming up.

This Friday I’ll be in Anchorage at Cyrano’s Theatre Company with Leigh Newman. She recently published her memoir Still Points North about growing up in Alaska, seeing the world, and then coming home again.

The event is 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, April 26. Expect a reading from each of us as well as “snacks, fizzy beverages and merriment!” It should be lots of fun.

Then next week I head south to Bend, Oregon for Deschutes Public Library’s  “A Novel Idea…Read Together.” It has been an delightful honor to have The Snow Child chosen for their annual program.

Everyone in the publishing world keeps telling me this is one of the best community reads programs in the country. It kicked off  with three weeks of free cultural programs, book discussions, films, food tastings, lectures and art openings.

The program culminates with two presentations in Bend. On Friday May 3, I’ll be reading at the Tower Theatre, but I understand these tickets are sold out. However, I’ll also be at a non-ticketed event on May 4th at 11:00 a.m. at Ridgeview High School in Redmond.

So whether you’re in Anchorage, Alaska, or Bend, Oregon, I hope you’ll stop by and say hello.

Cheers!

Eowyn

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