Posted on January 30, 2015

Reasons Why People Move to the Last Frontier

Alaskans: Reasons Why People Move to the Last Frontier


After “When did you get here?” the next most popular question between Alaskans getting acquainted is “How did you get up here?” We’re always curious why people move up here. There are a few common answers to that question.


One is the military. Many people, including me, came up because of the military. Im my case, my father was stationed at Fort Richardson and fell in love with Alaska, so he extended tours as often as he could and I grew up here. In other families, people discovered Alaska because of the military and returned later to stay. One variation of this is civilian jobs. They came up to fish, help build the pipeline, or work for a company, etc. and decided to stay.


One reason romance fans will appreciate: “I met this guy….” or I met this girl….” I know people who came up to visit someone or follow someone to Alaska, and became enamored of the place, sometimes with an attraction that lasted longer than the original person they came up for! Either way, it’s kind of sweet when a person came to Alaska for love.


And of course the third most common reason is for the adventure. We have a lot of people who came to Alaska to challenge themselves physically or otherwise, who wanted to see the Last Frontier as a place to live their dreams of wilderness living or dog mushing or whatever their definition of adventure was. And that is one of the coolest reasons to move somewhere.


These reasons haven’t changed too much over time. We’ve had lovers and adventurers for centuries. And maybe the Gold Rush stampeders had a different job in mind than soldiers or British Petroleum employees or Home Depot managers, but basically a monetary reason is still a monetary reason.


I don’t think there is a huge difference between current Alaskans and the people who came up long ago. We’re still independent folks. But I will grant you that those of us who now come to Anchorage or other big towns do have more comforts of home than the Gold Rush folks did. I am thankful that they came here first and got things set up for the rest of us. I can’t imagine a winter in Fairbanks without central heat. :-)


Posted on January 23, 2015

National Readathon Day 2015

Happy National Readathon Day!


This Saturday, January 24, 2015 is the first National Readathon Day. Sponsored by the National Book Foundation and Penguin Random House, this is a great day to celebrate reading. They are encouraging people to read from noon to 4 pm (in their respective time zones) and make #timetoread.


Here’s a little bit from the website at


What’s National Readathon Day (NRD)?

  • NRD is a nation-wide marathon reading session on Saturday, January 24 from Noon – 4pm (in respective time zones)
  • You can share your love of books and support programs that promote reading by pledging to read and fundraising for the National Book Foundation
  • It’s like a walk-a-thon charity drive, but we’re turning pages instead of walking laps.


What does the National Book Foundation (NBF) do?

  • The NBF’s mission is to expand the audience for literature in America.
  • We’re dedicated to promoting literacy and reading through programs like the National Book Awards, BookUp, 5 Under 35, and the Innovations in Reading Prize.


You can also donate at the site, and create a fundraising team.


Since I just found out about it, I haven’t set up a fundraising team. But I will help spread the word and participate as an individual. I encourage my readers to do the same and post photos or tweets using the hashtag #timetoread.


Hope you find some #timetoread this weekend, and all through the year! Happy Readathon Day! :-)

Posted on January 16, 2015

Author Blogs and Fun Links

I don’t get writer’s block very often, but I confess I have for this blog post. Maybe I have too much going on right now, sorry. I can’t think of anything terribly original to say, so it’s a good time to put together a list of other people who have!


Two Favorite Alaskan Author Blogs:

Jennifer Bernard’s blog has fun things, especially  in her “Extras” section, often related to firefighters because of her Fireman series:


Cinthia Ritchie is always honest and thoughtful, and often funny too!




And just for fun, here are a couple links you might enjoy:

Who can resist The Muppets Website?


And for Alaskan humor, try Chad Carpenter’s Tundra comic strip:



Okay, I’ll go back to writing edits for the next Gold Rush book and re-designing my newsletter, will try to have more to say next week. In the meantime, if you want to sign up to receive my newsletter, click on this link or click on the envelope on my Facebook page.

Thanks, see you down the trail!



Posted on January 9, 2015

Russian Orthodox Christmas

Happy Russian Orthodox Christmas!


Well actually I just missed it—Russian Orthodox Christmas was on January 7th this year. Many Orthodox churches celebrate according to the older Julian calendar, so they have a different date than traditionally American churches. But there is a significant number of Russian Orthodox Alaskans, thanks to our history. Alaska was Russian before it was American, and there is a cultural legacy here.


One fun aspect of the holiday is starring, still common in some Alaskan towns and villages. To represent the star that led the wise men to the Chris child, they decorate a huge star and carry it from house to house and sing, much like Christmas carolers. The photo is from the Alaska Dispatch News, via John Hanscom’s My Alaska board on Pinterest, caption: “rmogen Merculief spins the star as Father Pete Chris, of St. Innocent Russian Orthodox Church, leads the church choir in hymns at the Alaska Native Medical Center on Tuesday. Starring or “Slaaviq” is a traditional part of the Russian Orthodox Christmas celebration.”


History author Laurel Bill has a great blog post on the holiday here:



And there is a scene about starring in Alaskan Don Rearden’s book The Raven’s Gift. Learn more about the book at (Note: be aware that much of the book is a thriller, not to be read at bedtime unless you like scaring yourself! But it is brilliantly written!)


Does your community have interesting traditions this time of year?


Posted on January 2, 2015

Alaska Statehood, 1959

On January 3rd, 1959, President Eisenhower pronounced Alaska the 49th state in the Union. It was a proud day for most Alaskans, who had sought statehood over a period of years. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of why it was so important to people.


Alaska became a territory when the U S. bought it from Russia in 1867. It was largely neglected until the Klondike Gold Rush brought thousands of people here around the turn of the century. Suddenly, a sizable number joined the indigenous population, and they wanted the comforts and privileges of the rest of the country. As time went on, the territorial government grew, and the U. S. started noticing Alaska’s natural resources. World War II, and the Japanese invasion, led to a military buildup and even more people moving here. By the 1950s, outside companies were making fortunes from the Alaskan canning and fishing industries, and people wanted more local control of our resources. Statehood was a way to achieve that.

Some of the most vocal statehood proponents were Bob Bartlett, Ernest Gruening, and Bob Atwood. They, with others, lobbied Congress and the White House, created compromises to balance party concerns, and persevered for many years, Atwood was the publisher of the Anchorage Daily Times, and promoted statehood heavily in his newspaper and in other activities. The photo is from the Jan. 3, 1959 paper, showing the official proclamation and a 49-star flag.


For more details, see the longer article by the Alaska Humanities Forum at

Posted on December 26, 2014

By the Numbers: My Writing Life in 2014

By the Numbers: My Writing Life in 2014

10: the minimum number of people I’ve met and become friends with through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest this year—probably more than that but it’s hard to count everybody all over the internet. Shoutouts to all of you!


9 library groups/pages I like on Facebook now. So many great librarians out there, and please support your local library.


8 days a week: what it feels like sometimes to write full-time. I spend several hours writing each week, but there’s also time spent writing emails, blogs, arranging promo opportunities, keeping up with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, going to critique meetings—you get the point. There are days it does feel like work, but it’s still the best job I can imagine having right now.


7 days in writing conferences this summer—fun but educational too.


6 Interviews of me featured on other blogs this year—thanks for hosting me!


5 Gold Rush-era clothing items I received from friends this year. Thank you, Sondra and Cindy!


4 editors I worked with at Prism Book Group in 2014—I appreciate your helping me create the best books I could at this point in my journey.


3 books released this year: Worth Her Weight in Gold, Quicksilver to Gold, and Golden Days. Wow, no wonder I was busy! (But I couldn’t have done it without the 4 above, thanks!)


2 interviews by I. B. Nosey, the “official unofficial reporter.” I love your wacky blog, gracias!


1 event that summed it up for me: the “Fools Gold with Lynn Lovegreen” event at UAA Bookstore. We listened to old-time music with Garren Volper and Anna Lynch, talked about Fools Gold, Alaska history, reading and writing, and so many of the people I love were there to be a part of it.


Thank you all for sharing this journey with me. May 2015 be everything you hope for!

Posted on December 19, 2014

Winter Solstice

Note: I’m running an encore blog post while I catch up with family and friends over the holidays. An earlier version of this post appeared in the AWRWA blog last winter.


To Alaskans, solstice is a big day. Our lives revolve around the environment, including the changes in weather and daylight. We notice how much sunlight we gain or lose each day. We celebrate the longest day of the year. My daughter had her wedding on summer solstice.  On the shortest day of the year, we pause, then look forward to the return of sunlight.


People have been observing winter solstice since Neolithic times. You’ve probably read about the history, so I’ll be brief here. The Saami, the Romans, and the Celts had midwinter festivals that led to many of our winter solstice and Christmas traditions. There are also traditional celebrations on or near winter solstice in Pakistan, East Asia, and Mali, just to name a few. Many of us recognize it as a time of rebirth and renewal, or welcome good luck into our houses at this time.


The short days give Alaskans an excuse to stay inside and cuddle up in front of the fire. Some of us do extra reading or other indoor activities. Winter solstice is a good time to reflect, think about the past year and make plans about the future. While I’m not thrilled with cold weather, I do like the opportunity to wrap up the year and acknowledge my loved ones.


We often attend or host winter solstice parties on December 21st. We’ll celebrate with family, friends, good food and drink. To all of you, good wishes, wassail, and hoping you have a great winter solstice, however you celebrate this time of year!


Best wishes,


Posted on December 12, 2014

Remarkable Ravens

I’ve always loved ravens. They are smart, funny, graceful, and curious. Over the years I’ve seen them tease dogs, break into garbage cans, fly through forests, commute to and from work every day, and have elaborate conversations. They have such personality, and I find them fascinating. We see them all year round, but especially in the winter when they stay in town for the easy pickings. They may not look majestic sitting on top of light posts, but they are scrappy survivors.


Ravens are in all parts of Alaska, and in many other places too. They can adapt to different climates and food sources. And their social lives are similar to ours. They live in groups, with hierarchies and specialized roles. They mourn for their dead and communicate with various sounds and calls.


When I was growing up, I learned many of the legends about Raven, like how he stole the sun and moon, and how he made the Milky Way. They all made sense to me. I still talk to ravens when I see them—just in case one of them is Raven.


Recently, I was sent a link on Facebook that explains how ravens learn dynamics of groups other than their own. As the title says, “Ravens have social abilities previously only seen in humans.”


Do you have ravens where you are? If not, is there another bird or animal you enjoy there?

Posted on December 5, 2014

Victoria Pitts-Caine and I. B. Nosey and Renee Blare—Great Blogs!

I usually plan out my blogs at least a few days in advance. This week, I was going to write about ravens. (Stay tuned for that in a future post!) But two writing friends wrote great posts about Golden Days yesterday, and one will soon. Of course I’d like you to go see them. But I also want to encourage your to follow them because they are great people who deserve your support. Here goes:


First, Victoria Pitts-Caine is a fellow Prism author who always supports our group and writes interesting reviews. Her blog is a great way to learn about new releases. To see the post about Golden Days and learn more about Victoria, check out


Second, I. B. Nosey is an “official unofficial reporter” who writes wacky interviews of authors. You may recall he has interviewed me in the past. I always get a chuckle from his posts. The Golden Days one is a doozy, involving Iced moose spit and a grumpy polar bear. See it and learn more about Nosey at


Also, Prism author Renee Blare will feature Golden Days along with other books in her Global Blog Hop on December 7th. Learn about new books and authors on her blog at


These bloggers are just the tip of the iceberg. I am often humbled and buoyed by support from the book community. Thanks to all of you, for all you do for writers and readers.

Posted on November 28, 2014

So Thankful!

I always have a lot to be thankful for, but this year I feel especially thankful.

I am thankful for the editors of Prism Book Group for their help with my Gold Rush books. They helped me make them the best books they could be, and put them out for the world to share. I am also thankful for my fellow Prism authors. Their generosity in sharing their knowledge and in reviewing, blog hosting and many other kindnesses have made this a great year to become an author.


I am also thankful for my other writing friends. Members of the Alaska chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America), the Alaska chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, 49 Writers, and the YA chapter of RWA have also been helpful and loyal friends. Individual authors have taken me under their wing virtually or in person. I am grateful for their company.


Of course I am thankful to my readers and fans. My motivation in writing is to share stories and show you are not alone, and I am touched by your positive responses. You encourage me to keep at it, and improve my writing to be worthy of your attention.


And of course, I am thankful for my family. They provide the foundation of my life. Every year, my Alaskan family gathers at our house. And I insist at the beginning of the meal that each person shares one thing they are thankful for. They can be funny or heartwarming, sometimes both at the same time. In my case, my one thing is usually a heartfelt sentence about family. This year, I am thankful to my father and his brother for writing and publishing a book about their lives and our family history. I cherish that book, and find comfort in knowing future generations can read about their roots.


Wishing you time with your loved ones,