Posted on September 15, 2017

#FellowshipofWords and #WordsMatter

As my regular readers know, for my #FellowshipofWords this year, I have been highlighting ways we can connect with each other through words and books. (See more on the first #FellowshipofWords post at http://lynnlovegreen.com/2017-the-fellowship-of-words-year-fellowshipofwords/.) Joseph Janes’ column in this month’s American Libraries magazine is a good example.

American Libraries is the magazine for the ALA (American Library Association, Twitter feed  @amlibraries). Janes’ column discusses how words matter and the need for librarians to take a stand to protect our library patrons’ intellectual freedom. He says this more brilliantly than I could, so please read his entire column at https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2017/09/01/using-our-words-libraries-neutrality/. He mentions Merriam Webster’s Twitter feed (@MerriamWebster) and their use of the hashtag #WordsMatter.

I went online and read some of the tweets from Merriam Webster. They are often playful but also precise definitions that enlighten readers. Sometimes the image or timing of posts about words in the news adds commentary to what is going on in our world. Like Janes, I approve of this, and agree that sometimes it is necessary to engage with others by taking a stand in a civil, principled manner. Now I follow @MerriamWebster!

As I often say, we need to listen to each other. But we also need to speak at times, and it is essential that we use our words carefully.  Thanks to #WordsMatter, we have another way to make sure we do that.

Thank you, Mr. Janes and other librarians! And gracias, Merriam Webster!

Posted on September 8, 2017

Autumn in Denali

My husband and I had the opportunity to go to Denali National Park and Preserve during Labor Day weekend. It’s already early autumn there, and it was wonderful to see the animals in their fall coats, fresh snow on the mountains, and the colors changing in the landscape.

There’s little I can say that comes close to the beauty of the place, so I’ll just post some photos instead. Enjoy!

 

Denali 1Denali 2Denali 3Denali 4Denali 5Denali 6

Posted on September 1, 2017

Alaska State Fair

My husband and I went to the fair last weekend. The Alaska State Fair is in Palmer, in the Matanuska Valley. The Matanuska Colony was started by the federal government during the Great Depression as a way for Midwest farmers to get a new start, and the area still has some farming. A great middle grade book about the Colony is Carole Estby Dagg’s Sweet Home Alaska (http://caroleestbydagg.com/books/sweet-home-alaska/overview/).

Like many other fairs, the Alaska State Fair has the carnival rides, fun foods, and other attractions of a standard county-type fair. I always have a salmon quesadilla, and the cream puffs are to die for! But the highlight for me is seeing the animals (including a reindeer this year!) and giant vegetables. This area is known for huge veggies, especially cabbage and pumpkins. We went too early to see the big weigh-off this year, but the past records are a 138.25 pound cabbage and 1469 pound pumpkin. (See more at http://www.alaskastatefair.org/site/exhibits/giant-fruit-vegetable-records/.)  

Enjoy the fair, if you have one near you!

Reindeer at Alaska State Fair

Reindeer at Alaska State Fair

 

 

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Posted on August 25, 2017

Katey Schultz and the #FellowshipofWords

I’ve been following Katey Schultz’ writing career since she gave an invaluable workshop here with 49 Writers. That experience opened up a whole new level of writing for me. She is a novelist and freelance editor who also writes flash fiction.

I got an email from Katey last month asking for my mailing address—as in my snail mail address. “I’ll be sharing parts of my writing and creative process through a series of postcards. I’m finding that it’s refreshing to hold onto a physical reminder of the creative process, and hope these little dispatches of real mail will inspire.”

True to her word, I recently received a lovely postcard:

 

Katey Schultz postcard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was inspired by this postcard, and it brought to mind our #FellowshipofWords. Katey is using the power of words to make the world a better place, one postcard at a time. She graciously consented to an interview with me. 

 

Thanks for your time, Katey. How do we stay inspired and focused on our work with all that’s going on in our crazy world? Or is that the right goal nowadays?

Focus, space, and passion are intimately linked. It’s hard to focus if our world feels loud or discursive. It’s difficult to believe in and deepen our passions without the physical and/or mental and spiritual space to do so. For me, so much of this is solved by limiting my access to social media and the Internet, listening to my body, and making sure I feel connected to the earth. From there, I have plenty of inspiration and I feel strong and clear in my passions and in my ability to focus.

 

This means I can write stories from a centered and inspired heart-space, but it also means that I can take action against injustices when I feel called to do so, as well. And thriving as an artist, by the way, is a radical act that defies the “crazy world” you are referencing. So much of our culture says this kind of ease and success and joy should not be possible (cue “starving artist” stereotype). And yet, if we show up to the page and to our imaginations, we’re headed toward empathy and peace, one word at a time.  

 

How did you get the idea for your postcard campaign? What do you hope to achieve with it?

I’m a writer who identifies first and foremost with the imagination as a tool for not only the survival of the creative spirit, but of our species. While the Internet has certainly helped me in countless ways, I recognize that it will always be there. But each moment in the quiet morning, each sentence I may write before letting too much else in, may not always be there. In this way, postcards with provocative questions and a genuine note of connection felt more immediate and useful to me than, say, a mass email.

 

Can you give us a few ideas of how we can all build community through our writing?

The best advice I can offer is to find or create community that meets your needs, rather than saps your energy. What do you most wish someone would provide for you in your writing life? Chances are, you’re not the only one. Create that, and bring others into your circle as the synergy builds. As an example, I’m trying an experiment this fall based on my desire to stay connected with serious writers, curate meaningful conversation, and generate income for my business. Here’s the result, and it’s 2/3 full as of today!

 

What are you offering for writers, either right now or coming up this fall?

Thanks for asking. As described above, I’m experimenting with an online community for writers that is priced reasonably, offers accountability, and provides prompts and meaningful connection. That’s called Airstream Dispatches and it launches the very last week of September. The group that’s registered so far is stellar—from published to aspiring, from painters to professors. I’m so excited about this. There are six spaces left.

 

Where can people learn more about you?

My website is full of resources, including a pop-up to join my newsletter and get a free PDF about the Top 5 Things I Learned as a Self-Employed Author. Here’s the site: www.kateyschultz.com. And here’s the PDF access: https://app.feedblitz.com/f/?sub=21824.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

Yes, I just want to say THANK YOU. We met years ago in Alaska and have maintained a light dialogue, writer-to-writer ever since. And yes, the Internet has been a big part of making that possible! But it just goes to show you that when you stay open to what other people are making, and how you might make something others care about in the world, you never know what will emerge!

 

Yes, and you’re welcome! 

Katey Schultz, photo by Nancy W. Smith

Katey Schultz, photo by Nancy W. Smith

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Posted on August 18, 2017

Raspberry Time!

The end of summer is berry time in Alaska. I’ve written before about berries and berry picking (see http://lynnlovegreen.com/berry-picking-time/). But this year is extra special, because our new house has raspberries—both red and golden ones!

 

red raspberries

golden raspberries

 

 

I love all berries, but raspberries have a bolder taste than some I usually pick. They’re great for certain recipes, and can be combined to enhance other fruits and berries. This is the first year I’ve had so many raspberries to play with in the kitchen.

I’ve made raspberry and rhubarb pie, and raspberry and strawberry crisp. But my favorite so far is the raspberry sauce I made to go on a flourless chocolate cake. Who knows what other treats I’ll come up with as I collect more raspberries over the years? I’m excited to find out.

Wishing you all a great berry season, whatever you pick in your part of the world!

 

red and golden raspberries

Posted on August 11, 2017

Back to School Days

This was originally posted at my regular gig for Romancing the Genres. Check out their blog at https://romancingthegenres.blogspot.com. 

I loved school as a kid—I started telling people I was going to be a teacher in first or second grade. And I did become a teacher, so I continued going to school most of my life. August was always an exciting time, as I thought about going back to school and what great things might be in store.

Now that I’m retired, the heady anticipation of this time of year is gone. But I still love back to school sales. As a writer, I’m still attracted to all those notebooks and pens and such. 

I don’t need to buy much for myself. So I donate to a school supply drive. It’s a win-win situation, where I can give in to retail temptation and a student or two gets fun school supplies to start the year.

I encourage you to do the same. Check your local school or community group to find a school supply drive, and donate a little or a lot. Happy back to school days, whether you’re going back to school yourself, sending a child to school, or it’s a just fond memory!

back to school sale by Lynn Lovegreen

 

Posted on August 4, 2017

Togo, a Canine Hero

I recently attended the Polar Bear Garden exhibit at the Anchorage Museum. It was full of interesting things that connect Alaska and Russia. As I entered the section about dogs, I had the pleasant sensation of meeting an old friend in person for the first time: Togo was there.

I first heard of Togo thanks to the Girl Scouts. Our closest overnight camp was called Togowoods, and it was my happy home away from home every summer for many years. We learned about Togo and how he saved little children, just like we learned boating and outdoor cooking and lashing. It was a big part of my life when I was growing up. I still recall the black and white photo of Togo that is displayed in the main lodge. 

In case you didn’t camp at Togowoods, here’s a little bio for you: Togo was the lead dog of famed musher Leonhard Seppala. Togo was small, mischievous, and sickly as a puppy, so Seppala gave the dog away, but Togo jumped through a window and ran several miles home to him. That impressed Seppala, so he kept him, and Togo began sled dog training. Togo became his lead dog and took his team on what is sometimes called the Great Race of Mercy. In January of 1925, the town of Nome was in the midst of a diphtheria epidemic. People were dying, and the closest antitoxin serum was in Anchorage. While they were able to take it by train to Nenana, it had to go by dog sled on the mail route from Nenana to Nome, about 670 miles in the middle of winter. Hardy mushers and teams took the serum in relays, doing their best to keep the serum warm enough to stay usable. In the longest leg of the journey, Seppala, Togo and their team ran 170 miles, at temperatures down to minus 30 degrees F, with wind chills down to -81. The serum arrived in time to save many lives.

 

 

Togo by Lynn Lovegreen 1

 

 

As the Togowoods song says,

Togo helped to save the town of Nome

Long ago one winter cold,

Led his team across the frozen day

One small dog so brave and bold.

 

 

Flash forward forty-something years from my introduction to him, I got to see the real Togo (thanks to a taxidermist). He may be small and unimposing to look at, but there’s something about him—he was all heart.

 

 

Togo by Lynn Lovegreen 2

 

 

 

Thank goodness Togo and his canine and human colleagues were, so they could end the diphtheria epidemic and land in the annals of Alaska history.

Posted on July 27, 2017

Gardening in Alaska

I have a new vegetable garden this year. It’s bigger than I need, so I am only using part of it as a test case this year to see what grows and what doesn’t like the new spot. So far, the lettuce, broccoli, and collards seem to quite happy. 

garden 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

garden 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cole crops often do well in Alaska due to the cool temperatures, but many vegetables and flowers like the long summer days. My herbs and rhubarb look happy, too! Next year, I will branch out of my comfort zone and plant more varieties.

garden 3

 

 

 

 

 

garden 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While some other gardeners have to deal with deer, here we hope the moose don’t eat everything. Knock on wood, the tall enclosure seems to be working so far. Or maybe we just haven’t had any moose come through lately–time will tell.

I have donated one batch of veggies, and plan to take more down to the local soup kitchen soon. I encourage all you gardeners out there to do the same. Check out Plant a Row for the Hungry for more ideas at http://www.gardenwriters.org/Par/index.html.

 

Posted on July 14, 2017

Midnight Sun Cover Contest 2017

The Alaska chapter of the Romance Writers of America (AKRWA) is hosting a contest!

 

Do you have a stellar cover that catches the eye and draws the reader in? 

The Midnight Sun Cover Contest 2017 is a chance for published authors to win some great prizes! 

Every entry will be on printed, visual display to over 150 voracious readers at the 2017 AWG Writer’s Conference who will vote for the top entries!

(And perhaps buy your books!)

 

WHO CAN ENTER: Any published author can enter their book cover for a romance novel, novella, or short story published prior to August 30, 2017, either electronically or in print, in the United States for the first time.

WHEN IS THE DEADLINE? The deadline for submissions is midnight (Alaska Standard Time) on September 1, 2017.

JUDGING: All entries will be placed on prominent display in printed format at the Alaska Writer’s Guild (AWG) 2017 Conference, co-sponsored by AKRWA. Conference attendees and presenters (approximately 150) will select first-round entries via ballot box. Then trained judges will select the winners from the top ten entries selected at the Alaska Writer’s Guild Conference. Final judging will occur at the annual AKRWA Writing Retreat at the end of September. The winner will be announced in early October.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER:  This contest seeks a single, most compelling cover. In addition, Honorable Mentions will be awarded at the final judges’ discretion in the following categories: Sweetest Romance, Best Male, Best Female, Sexiest Couple, Best Historical, Most Whimsical, Best Paranormal/Sci-fi/Fantasy, Best Romantic Suspense, Best Young Adult, and Best Contemporary.

PRIZES: The Finalists and Honorable Mention covers will be published on the AKRWA website with the Grand Prize winning cover receiving prime location. The Grand Prize winner will also be announced on the Alaska Writer’s Guild website. In addition, the Grand Prize winner will receive a 3-week NetGalley subscription (date to be determined by availability at time of announcement), a gorgeous aluminum print of their winning cover, and an electronic badge that can be placed on book covers, websites, or anywhere the winner deems appropriate.

For more details, see the contest page on AKRWA’s website at http://www.akrwa.com/contest.html.

 

Good luck! 😉

Posted on July 7, 2017

#FellowshipofWords: Listening and the World Café

If you’re not familiar with my #FellowshipofWords idea, you may want to read my original blog post at http://tinyurl.com/jtjpamr.

I was reading a recent YALSA blog post, “Creating Tomorrow’s Civic Leaders by Learning  to be Civically Engaged Today” (http://yalsa.ala.org/blog/2017/07/03/yals-summer-2017-resources-creating-tomorrows-civic-leaders-by-learning-to-be-civically-engaged-today/) and it had a reference to the World Café (http://www.theworldcafe.com). Intrigued, I clicked on their website and found a whole international community I didn’t know about. Like my original concept of the #FellowshipofWords, the World Café uses words, in this case dialogue, to build community. In the History tab, they describe the first series of small group conversations that allowed people to share ideas and deepen connections and ideas (http://www.theworldcafe.com/about-us/history/). They went on to create an approach that others can use for the same effect. Their 7 Key Concepts and Design Principles are too complex for me to sum up quickly, so I encourage you to read them on your own. But I’ll quote one here:

Key Concept 6) Listen together for Patterns and Insights

Listening is a gift we give to one another. The quality of our listening is perhaps the most important factor determining the success of a Café. Through practicing shared listening and paying attention to themes, patterns and insights, we begin to sense a connection to the larger whole. Encourage people to listen for what is not being spoken along with what is being shared.

(from http://www.theworldcafe.com/key-concepts-resources/design-principles/)

This is an important concept, and what I think is missing from much of our communication nowadays. We need to listen to each other in order to make connections, in ideas and with people. It’s a simple yet difficult thing to do. We are all human, and many of us are more interested in vocalizing our ideas than we are in learning about others’. But we can only learn and think deeply if we really listen to people.

My resolution for the rest of this year is to try to speak less and listen more. Maybe then I can pick up on patterns and insights and really contribute to the conversations I have with others. It’s one way I can add to the #FellowshipofWords.

How are things going with you in your own search for fellowship this year? Please feel free to comment on this post.