A few of your favorite things

Dear lovely readers,

What makes me happy? One of you said it perfectly — reading people’s lists of things they love.

It’s been a joyful surprise for me to read about jigging for halibut, the sweet laughter from your grandkids, hiking anywhere and everywhere with your sisters, a good cup of coffee, cooking soups especially when they turn out even better than expected, brown bear tracks on the snow on a mountain in the spring, sitting with your husband on a favorite picnic rock in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, baking a pie, the smell of small wildflowers blanketing the floor of the desert in spring, the sound of the sea, drinking Earl Grey tea while watching evening snow fall, new socks, tulips emerging, and becoming obsessed with an art project.

And much to my surprise and delight, my husband Sam, who has teased me about blogging and Facebooking and twittering, came home from work yesterday with his own list. So here are some of the things that make Sam Ivey happy:

Sam Ivey on a snowy winter day here in Alaska. That's frost on his beard and along the edges of his fur hat.

  • Caribou hunting and camping with my girls — Eowyn and our two daughters.
  • Feeling connected to nature when moose hunting or when studying animal tracks/behavior on the trapline.
  • Lying in the snow on a dark night and listening to the power of the Matanuska River winds and the creaking of the trees overhead.
  • The sounds of my oldest daughter practicing her flute and singing opera pieces.
  • My 5-year-old offering to help me clean out the wood stove.
  • Late-night writing discussions with Eowyn about elements of her projects, especially plot and place. (The Snow Child was a favorite pastime.)

    Sam hunting caribou with our daughter in 2005. Notice the baby doll he's carrying on his pack.

  • The extremes of Alaska’s seasons — I love each one, but always look forward to the next.
  • Sourdough pancakes.
  • Friends and neighbors always willing to lend a helping hand, even when you need help lifting a 500-pound beam into place.
  • Singing a commonly known song with my 5-year-old daughter, using words she has invented, only to have her tell me I’m not singing it right.
  • Working on house projects.
  • Hooking a king salmon.
  • Copper river reds.
  • Cutting wood.
  • Singing in the church choir with my oldest daughter.
  • Packing moose meat out of the woods with Eowyn.



P.S. We can’t have too many happy things, so please tell me more.


Twenty things that make me happy

Dear joyful reader,

Last fall, I sent you a letter listing “hateful things” in honor of Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book.

Today, I want to write about happiness. Here are 20 things that leave me content, make me laugh, fill me with joy —

* Sledding parties on sunny March days when everyone from 5 to 50 flies down the hill and their laughter echoes through the trees.

* Coming indoors after a sledding party to a crackling wood stove and hot cocoa.

* Sunshine after 8 p.m.

* The fact that my father’s delight when I gave him a signed first edition of Bernard Cornwell’s newest novel wasn’t because it was a signed first edition, but because it was one he hadn’t read yet.

* Two hours spent utterly absorbed in a good book.

* The lines from my mother’s newest poems:

I was born in a wet month

that rains promises

of a forever spring.

* Hearing my husband Sam’s voice over our walkie-talkie as he plows the driveway in the dark. “The Northern lights are out!” Turning off all the house lights and rushing to the window to see a sheet of electric green rippling behind the mountains.

* Two hours spent cross-country skiing out of our backyard through sunlit birch trees, crossing paths with fox, ermine, grouse, and moose.

* Silence.

* Sam making moose meat burek for dinner when we learned The Snow Child will be published in Albania (recipe and publishing deal courtesy of Tracy at Little, Brown & Co.)

* News that The Snow Child’s list of foreign publishers has grown to include Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey, Brazil, Israel, Serbia, Romania, Albania, and Poland.

* Listening to my oldest daughter as she sings Italian arias.

* The knowledge that our children will have talents and do things we never would have dreamed of doing.

* The hope that we might drill a well this summer and not have to haul water anymore.

* Bookstores.

* Warm chicken eggs in the nest on a cold morning.

* A 5-year-0ld’s knock-knock jokes, that only she gets but that make us all laugh.

* Pussy willows.

* Mud puddles.

* Knowing spring will come, and then be gone again.

What makes you happy?



Where are the daffodils?

The path to our front door still looks a bit wintery today.

Dear springy reader,

According to the calendar, today is the first day of spring. You might think otherwise when you look out on our yard. One of the snowiest winters ever means that we still have a long wait for green grass and tulips.

White snow reflects sunlight today in our backyard, where spring is taking its time.

But there is one hopeful sign of the season — sunlight. And lots of it. The days are growing by nearly six minutes, and we now have more daylight than darkness, a remarkable change from the winter months. And all the white snow just makes the sunshine more beautiful and brilliant.



Thank you

Dear generous reader,

When I wrote my last letter, announcing an opportunity to win a copy of my novel, I was expecting to hear from a handful of you — curious people who hadn’t read it yet and hoped that with a little luck they might get a free book. Instead, as I sit here this St. Patrick’s Day morning, I’m feeling like the lucky one.

More than 130 of you asked to be entered in the drawing. As if this weren’t enough of a wonderful surprise, as I read through your comments I discovered that the vast majority of you had already read the book. You told me how it moved you, why you loved it, who you had shared it with.

I heard from Paris, Texas, London, Italy, Scotland, New York, Arizona, Chicago, Australia, Ohio, Ireland, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas,  Norway, and just down the street. I heard from booksellers and librarians, readers and book club members and writers. I heard from Alaskans, those of you who miss Alaska, and those who dream of visiting here someday.

Some of you asked for it to be inscribed to a friend, mother, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, or newborn child. Others confessed you wanted it entirely for yourself, and that made me smile.

One man wrote that he and his wife had read the novel and shared the original fairy tale with their young daughter, who now likes to pretend she sleeps in a bed of snow. Another wanted it inscribed in memory of his dear wife.

One of you described reading it on a beach in the Middle East. Another said she had wished for a longer train ride home from Glasgow, so she wouldn’t have to put it down.

You made me happy. You brought tears come to my eyes. You made me wish I could send each and every one of you an inscribed copy.

Choosing only two winners wasn’t easy. But I decided to enlist the assistance of my daughters. I asked each of them to pick a number between 1 and 136. My youngest, who just turned 5, chose her new favorite number: 5. My oldest, who at nearly 13 prides herself on being logical, randomly chose the number 90.

So, without further ado, the winners are the 5th and 90th entrants.

Drew, who wrote:

“I’d love a signed UK copy. Hope you enjoyed your time over here.”

And Amy, who wrote :

“Dear Mrs. Ivey,

I have just purchased a digital copy of your book and decided to investigate the web link. What a pleasant surprise I found. I have a friend who is intrigued by Alaska. If I were to be lucky, I would be very honored to receive a copy of your US edition and have it addressed to “Sharon”. Congratulations on the success of your first book. Kind Regards, Amy”

If each of you would please email me at eowyn@eowynivey.com with your mailing address, I’ll get your copies in the mail right away.

And to every one of you, thank you. May all your dreams come true.



Get out your four-leaf clovers

Dear lucky-charm reader,

I’ve had some exciting news these past few weeks. Here in the United States, The Snow Child has stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for four weeks running — it’s currently #24. And in the UK, it is consistently making the top 10 on the Sunday Times bestseller list.

Some other exciting news: my personal copies of the US and UK editions recently arrived. To celebrate and thank all of you for coming along on the adventure with me, I’ve decided to have a contest.

Next Saturday, on lucky St. Patrick’s Day, I will give away one copy each of the US and UK editions. To enter the random drawing, leave a comment on this blog post (not any other post) between now and Friday, March 16, and tell me: which edition are you hoping to win? Also tell me if you would like me to sign it, and if you want it inscribed, to whom. These will be first edition, first printings.

On St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll randomly select the two winners.



The Snow Child as published in the US by Reagan Arthur Books/ Little, Brown and Company.

The Snow Child as published in the UK by Headline Review.

Looking for something to read?

Dear book-seeking reader,

I have discovered an unexpected joy in being a published author — I get to meet other authors and find out about their books! During these past few months, this has led me to some wonderful novels I want to share with you.

The Detour is the newest novel by Alaskan novelist Andromeda Romano-Lax. I first saw Andromeda at a public reading years ago in Anchorage where she was sharing a passage from her debut novel, The Spanish Bow. I was mesmerized by her description of the cello and music in general. Interestingly, Andromeda’s first two novels are not set in her home state of Alaska, but instead in historical Europe. During an on-stage talk between the two of us a few weeks ago, she says she might still have an Alaskan novel up her sleeve. In the meantime, read The Detour. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the relationship between Hitler and art, individuals and the social forces that shape history. But it is told through the intimate, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, perspective of one man — Ernst Vogler.

When two authors have novels released around the same time, they begin to bump into each other on the book trail. Fortunate for me, this has happened to me with Julianna Baggott. Her most recent novel Pure was released in February around the same time as The Snow Child. I first met her in Oregon at a bookselling conference, and then again in New Orleans for a similar event where we signed books next to each other. Between the two events, I devoured her novel. Pure is the first in a post-apocolyptic trilogy. It tells the story of Pressia, a young girl who is surviving in a strange, twisted, destroyed future Earth. The story is page-turning and surprising; the images haunting.

I don’t know if I would have picked up J. Courtney Sullivan’s newest novel Maine on my own. The cover looks like a beach read, which isn’t my usual choice. But then at Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver, we were a part of the same author event. When Courtney stood at the microphone and read a few pages from the book, I was stirred to laughter, shock, and recognition. I decided right then to read the novel, and I’m glad I did. Maine tells of three generations of Kellehers women tied to a cottage in Maine. It is about the love and strife that comes between mothers and daughters, and the urge to shape ourselves even as we cannot deny the influence of our families.

Happy reading!