An ode (or more accurately “a blog”) to Fireside Books

Dear bookish reader,

Northwest Book Lovers, the blog for Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, recently asked met to do a guest post. It was a wonderful chance for me to express something I’d been wanting to say for a long time.

In the fall of 2001, a sign appeared in a storefront in Palmer, Alaska. “Bookstore  . . . Coming Soon.” Whenever I drove by, I would slow down and try to peek in the windows, and over several weeks I watched boxes being stacked and unpacked and bare wooden shelves installed. I can’t remember ever being so excited about something in my hometown. But as much as I anticipated its opening, I never could have imagined how this little bookstore would change my fate.

Read the rest here …





Anchorage Reads 2013

Photo: The Alaska Humanities Forum is host a Meet The Author event for this year's Anchorage Reads selection, The Snow Child! Stop by tomorrow night for food, spirits and a chance to meet the author!Dear Alaskan reader,

I’m honored to announce that Anchorage, Alaska, has selected The Snow Child for its community read this year. Events began Friday with a lovely reception at the Alaska Humanities Forum, and during the next six weeks there will be opportunities to attend writing panels, build snow men, and learn more about the program.

Anchorage Reads is organized by Anchorage Public Library and, like similar events around the country, it aims to foster literacy and bring people of all ages and walks of life together around one book. Last year, Anchorage chose the graphic novel Persepolis, and in previous years there have been classics like Frankenstein and To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as modern books like The Trap.

Here is a schedule for Anchorage Reads 2013. All events are free and open to the public.

Feb. 2 SNOWMAN DAY:  2-4 p.m. Help decorate the Loussac Library lawn with snowmen for Anchorage Reads 2013! This all-ages kickoff event will feature a snowman-building contest, a live ice sculpture demonstration, cookies and hot cocoa. I hope to see you there!

Feb. 4 BOOK SIGNING & INTERVIEW: 5-7 p.m. I’ll be at the UAA Book Store for a reading, book signing, and an interview with UAA Creative Arts Director David Stevenson.

Feb. 6 KSKA HOMETOWN ALASKA:  2-3 pm. Tune in to 91.1 FM for Hometown Alaska, where we’ll talk about Anchorage Reads and The Snow Child and you can call in with your questions.

Feb. 9 49 WRITERS: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Loussac Library’s Wilda Marston Theatre

  • 10 a.m. – noon “Writing Your Place” Workshop with Alaska author Douglass Bourne.
  • 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. I’ll be on stage for a reading and Q&A.
  • 2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Alaska Authors Panel. I’ll join Alaska authors Seth Kantner, Don Rearden, and Sherry Simpson to discuss how we write about place.

Feb. 16 ANCHORAGE READS FINALE: 1-3 pm Loussac Library, Wilda Marston Theatre. I’ll do a reading and Q&A. There will also be a local dance performance and other fun.

Feb. 18 SNOW MAIDEN LECTURE: 5-7 pm UAA Bookstore
The Snow-Maiden Fairytale in Russian Folklore, Literature, Music and Arts, by visiting Professor Victoria Kno.

In addition to all these events, readers can particpate in an online discussion about the book on the AnchorageReads2013 Facebook page. For book clubs, Snow Child‘ book club bags are available through Anchorage Public Library. Bags contain 10 books, author biography and ten book club tips in a tote bag.

And keep your eye out for photos of Alaskans reading The Snow Child. Anchorage Public Library has printed a series of posters with hockey players, government leaders, and other local celebrities reading the book.



P.S. Thank you to all the organizers and sponsors who make these events possible.

The Snow Child comes back to me

Dear indoor reader,

It’s miserable here in Alaska — rainy, drippy, icy. But inside my home, it is still snowy and Faina is still with me.

Thanks to talented artists, both friends and strangers, I have these beautiful images — two watercolor paintings and two embroideries — inspired by The Snow Child.

It is difficult to know how to thank someone who has blessed you with so much of her time and talent, who has given something of her own creative heart to you, but this is the best way I know how.

Thank you Donna, Annie, Maureen and Yuliya. I will treasure your art always.



Annie Aube embroidery

Embroidery and beadwork by Annie Aube


Donna Braendel painting

Watercolor on canvas by Donna Braendel


Maureen Campbell web image

Watercolor by Maureen Campbell


Yuliya Klem embroidery

Embroidery and fiber art by Yuliya Klem




Happy New Year!

Dear joyful reader,

I want to share a few pieces of good news.

First, I learned that The Snow Child won the PNBA 2013 Book Award. Each year the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association recognizes as many as six books written by authors in the region. Nearly as thrilling as the award itself is the company I join in this year’s award. The other winners: Sherman Alexie (Seattle, WA) for Blasphemy; Jonathan Evison (Bainbridge Island, WA) for The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving; Lucia Perillo (Olympia, WA) for On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths; Cheryl Strayed (Portland, OR) for Wild; and G. Willow Wilson (Seattle, WA) for Alif the Unseen.

Several of these books I’ve already read and thoroughly enjoyed, and I’m looking forward to the others.

But there are other, perhaps quieter but equally joyful events in my life.  During a cross-country skiing and ice fishing adventure yesterday to a nearby lake, my 5-year-old caught a beautiful 16-inch trout. We cooked it for dinner, and I have never seen a prouder fishergirl.

And this quiet afternoon at home alone, everyone off to school and work, I sat at my computer working when the sunlight burst through a mountain valley and poured in our front windows. It has been nearly a month since the sun directly hit our house. I nearly made myself blind staring into that beautiful light. After a few short minutes, it disappeared again behind the mountain. But I know it will be back again tomorrow, and for just a little bit longer.

Wishing you sunshine, a fish on the end of your line, and a happy new year,



Here comes the sun! As seen from my living room today at 1:15 p.m.