Posted on May 13, 2016
You may recall I declared this to be my year of the arts and encouraged others to do so. (See http://www.lynnlovegreen.com/2016-a-good-year-for-the-arts/.) Here is what I’ve been doing about it lately, and what these different forms of art have led me to think about.
Most of my recent art consumption has been from reading books, so I’ll start there. I read The Seawolf by Jack London. It’s the only non-Alaska book I’ve read by him (unless you count the scenes near Alaska) and the novelty of it kept me reading. Some of it felt like a cliché potboiler, so it’s not for everyone. But the psychological aspects of the villain were interesting. They say every villain is a hero in his own mind, and this character certainly was, so it made me more aware of what people like him must be thinking.
Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Estby Dagg, about the founding of Palmer, Alaska, has a broader appeal. Although it’s a middle grade chapter book, the Depression setting and the unique characters make it interesting for older readers, too. I knew a bit about the history, but enjoyed picking up details and seeing how Terpsichore created the happy home she was longing for. Her love of Laura Ingalls Wilder books reminded me of myself at that age. It’s like a first love, the way a young reader latches on to an author or book series.
I tried some nonfiction, first Deb Vanasse’s Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Klondike Race for Gold. As you can guess from the title, it was a biography of the woman involved in the big strike on the Klondike, but in Vanasse’s hands, it also analyzed the culture clash between the indigenous and white people of the period and much more. It was great food for thought. So was Caitlin Moran’s memoir How to Be a Woman, in a different way. It was funny and insightful, as Moran laid out a modern feminist’s take on our lives. I think all young people today should read this book, to understand why these issues are such a big deal to some of us. (I enjoyed it but warn my G-rated friends to be prepared for some strong language.)
I just started reading C. M. McCoy’s YA fantasy adventure Eerie. I reluctantly put it down to make dinner last night, and hope to get back to it tonight. McCoy creates a believable world, and I want to solve the mystery and see Hailey safe and sound at the end of the book!
In other arts, I also went to the Anchorage Museum last week and checked out the exhibits on the Arctic. What struck me the most was the photographs of Arctic villages and village life. It reminded me that climate change is affecting real people’s lives every day, and they have families and such just like me. It was a good wake-up call that these things matter.
The biggest thing I did since I last wrote an update: I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert. O-M-G. This is something that has been on my bucket list for a long time, and I am so glad I did it. This is the 35th (now 36th?) anniversary of his album The River, and he and the E Street Band play the whole album in the tour (then a bunch of other songs). At one point in the concert, Bruce said, “This album was my coming of age,” and I answered, “Mine too.” The sound, and the lyrics about real life decisions and family and love and what it means to be a grownup really hit me at the time, and still do. His songs showed me the joy and the sadness of life, and how they are often all mixed together. I was in tears a few times, just from hearing it live and feeling the truth of it all over again. I know you’ll never see this, but thank you Bruce. Thanks to you and the rest of the band, I see other views of life, get to know other people I couldn’t any other way. You are a great artist, because that’s what great art does. It makes us think and feel, and you do that beautifully.
May you all find a way to add or keep art in your own life. Let’s make this the year of the arts!
Posted on April 29, 2016
It’s late April, and already spring in southcentral Alaska! Some of us are shaking our heads at the early spring, but most of us are simply enjoying the season.
photos by Lynn Lovegreen
Usually, spring comes in May, but we’ve had warm temperatures (in the 40s and 50s F) for weeks. That, combined with the increasing sunshine, has brought out the buds and leaves. Things are greening up!
A few years ago, my neighbor was shoveling snow off his lawn about now. This year, folks are working on their yards and gardens. Kids, and adults, are riding their bikes. People are going for hikes or evening walks, and planning summer fishing and camping. But in the meantime, we’ll enjoy the spring.
Hope you’re having a nice season wherever you are!
Posted on April 22, 2016
It isn’t a huge deal at our house, but we do wish each other “Happy Earth Day” each year. My husband inadvertently attended the second Earth Day in Washington DC many years ago; he was going to a Navy school nearby, went into town for the weekend, and saw thousands of people gathered from the west steps of the capital to the Washington monument. A guy stood with a big flag at the reflecting pool, the American red and white stripes turned white and green and a big peace symbol where the stars would be. People were throwing frisbees, having picnics, listening to the speakers. Now, Earth Day is a cool way to remind ourselves of the importance of conservation and taking care of our planet.
One way to do that is through the Authors for Earth Day program (http://www.authorsforearthday.org). As the website puts it, “Authors for Earth Day (A4ED) is a grassroots coalition of award-winning children’s authors and illustrators who directly mentor young readers by giving them ‘an authentic research project with real-world impact.’
NOW A YEAR-ROUND PROGRAM. Each participant does one school visit a year with a unique twist: the author donates at least 30% of that day’s speaking fee to a non-profit conservation organization as directed by a student vote. Students research a list of five conservations nominees selected by their author and then vote for their favorite—the author writes a check to the winning organization. Our mission? To empower young readers to shape the world around them!” Isn’t that cool? I don’t have an author gig on Earth Day this year, but I am one of their authors. Drop me a line if you’re interested in having me speak at your school, and we’ll talk! 😉
I was interested in the A4ED program because my last Gold Rush novel, Gold Nuggets, is about the creation of Mt. McKinley (now Denali) National Park. Thanks to Charles Sheldon and other early conservationists who wanted to save Denali’s wild Dall sheep from extermination, we have a national park and preserve, and this beautiful part of nature will always be there to see and enjoy. It’s definitely something to celebrate.
And since it’s also Shakespeare’s 400th birthday on April 23rd this year, I’ll throw in a quote from Troilus and Cressida: “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
Happy Earth Day!
Posted on April 15, 2016
My daughter recently went to Nome, Alaska and sent me this photo of her by the sign for The Dexter, the saloon that the Earps co-owned. The sign is a replica of Wyatt Earp’s business card. I saw the real one in the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum there—a heady experience for me! The following is based on the original post I wrote about this topic, posted on Aug, 15, 2014.
You may wonder if the Earps really were in Nome in 1900, as my book Quicksilver to Gold suggests. They were.
Wyatt Earp was most famous for his participation in the O. K . Corral gunfight in Tombstone. His vivacious wife Josephine came to Tombstone as a member of a Gilbert and Sullivan traveling troupe, and one person called her “long on daring but short on decorum.” (I call her Josie in the book, since Josephine seemed too formal for the kind of woman she was, by the time we meet her in 1900.) Wyatt and Josephine led a long life together after that event. They split their time between California and gold rushes around the West, Wyatt sometimes making their living in gambling saloons. They followed the Klondike Gold Rush, spending time in Rampart and St. Michael. Then they built the Dexter Saloon in Nome, Alaska in 1899, with Charlie Hoxie. Josie’s brother Nathan joined them at one point.
As I describe in my novel, The Dexter was one of the nicer establishments in Nome, with mirrors and draperies from San Francisco, and polished wood panels and wallpaper on the walls. The Earps met many famous people in Nome including Jack London, Rex Beach, and a young Herbert Hoover. Wyatt was arrested for participating in a fight, but released. Josie helped with relief work after a storm destroyed much of the town. I enjoyed weaving these facts into the plot of Quicksilver to Gold.
The Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum in Nome (http://www.nomealaska.org/department/index.php?structureid=12) has great articles from the time period and cool artifacts from the Dexter Saloon. There are many nonfiction books about the Earps. My favorite is Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend by Casey Tefertiller (http://www.amazon.com/Wyatt-Earp-Life-Behind-Legend/dp/0471283622). My favorite novels about the Earps are Doc and Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell (http://marydoriarussell.net). I highly recommend them if you’d like to learn more about Wyatt and Josie and the adventurous life they led.
And, of course, if you’re interested in my YA/NA historical romance Quicksilver to Gold, you can see it on my Library page or go to http://www.prismbookgroup.com/QuicksilvertoGold.html.
Posted on April 9, 2016
People sometimes ask me how hard it is to work history into my young adult/new adult historical romances. It’s actually the opposite—it’s hard to stop!
I do a lot of research about my setting before I start the first draft. I use real events in history for major plot points and an idea of what my characters would be doing in that place and time. For example, the creation of McKinley National Park is a big part of my novel Gold Nuggets.
Later, I go back and add research once I know which questions I need answers to. In a Gold Rush book, that might involve learning more details about sluiceboxes. In my current work-in-progress, I found ways to describe common men’s haircuts in 1942.
Serendipity plays a role in writing, also. I pick up things along the way that I didn’t intend to. Case in point: I’m watching Ken Burns’ JAZZ series on PBS right now, and last night I found the perfect song for the scene when my hero’s sure he’ll never see his love again. (Hint: Charlie is listening to a Bessie Smith record.)
I’m a huge fan of Ken Burns and recommend all his work, but JAZZ is definitely worth watching, whether you’re a history buff, music fan, or just curious. See more at http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/jazz/home/.
Posted on March 29, 2016
I am STILL working on the Alcan book, the one that I started about two and a quarter years ago. Part of me keeps thinking, Aren’t you done with that book yet? This is taking forever! But the other part of me keeps at it because I want to make this the best novel I can write, no matter how long it takes. And that takes several cycles of response-revise-repeat.
In the writing process, response is when someone reads the book (or whatever kind of draft) and gives a response or feedback. I have shown chapters to my critique partners all along the way, and they have been really helpful as I shaped the novel. After each round, I revise, or make changes in the draft. I have made several revisions in that part of the process.
I’m now in the process of showing the whole book to a few beta readers. They have given me great ideas about certain aspects of the novel, like the multicultural angle, and have a different perspective when reading the whole book at a time instead of in pieces like my critique partners do. And one beta reader caught all the formatting issues—thanks to her for plowing through all of that!
I’m using this feedback to revise again. I can usually handle only one or two concepts in my head at a time, so I will need more than one run-through to get all the revisions done. Then, I’ll show the book to a few more beta readers to give feedback on other angles. It’s a tedious process this way, but the best I can do on this leg of my writing journey. I want to take the time to get it right.
And as a side benefit, it’s kept me in writing mode for a greater period of time. That helps me think about the process more than the product at the end. Rather than rushing through to get to a deadline, I’m taking my time and focusing on the craft. That’s pretty cool.
I’m not naming names in this post, because I don’t want these people to be mistakenly hounded by other writers to read and respond for them. (They need to find readers that will work best for their specific drafts.) But I do thank my critique partners and beta readers from the bottom of my heart. You are making this book better than it would be otherwise, and helping me grow as a writer. Gracias.
Posted on March 11, 2016
You may recall I declared this to be my year of the arts and encouraged others to do so. (See 2016: A Good Year for the Arts.) Here is what I’ve been doing about it in the last few weeks, and what these different forms of art have led me to think about lately.
I finished reading Emma by Jane Austen, again. I think I’ve read it four or five times now. I love Jane Austen’s characters, and the way she gives us a glimpse into women’s lives back then. Through Emma’s eyes, we have a good idea of the delights and the limitations of a young lady’s life in a small town in England. I was also struck by the things we have in common. While we have more freedom than they did, we still feature relationships and style in our conversations. And I have to add that Mr. Knightly is still one of my all-time favorite heroes. He’s still pretty close to perfect in my book. 😉
Last week, I participated in a panel discussion of Alaskan Anthologies at the UAA Bookstore. (You can find the podcast on iTunes University at https://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/alaska-authors-and-themes/id737535014?mt=10.) Much of the event concerned the mechanics of putting together an anthology, which was interesting. But what I found compelling was the questions about how one chooses stories (or poems or pictures, etc.) and what we’d like to see in future anthologies. There is a hunger for diverse literature, which is something I’ve been wanting more of, and that complemented another event I went to this week, which was a discussion of diversity in publishing hosted by author Jolene Perry at Alaska Pacific University. They addressed reasons why we don’t see more diverse writers, and how we could help develop more through mentoring new writers, and increase demand by asking for more diverse books from our local bookstores. I’m going to make a list of books to bring to my local store.
And I just had to watch the last episode of Downton Abbey! I won’t say too much here so I don’t give any spoilers to people who haven’t seen it yet. But I was pleased at the way Julian Fellowes tied up so many loose ends. And I enjoyed the happy (or happy-for-now) endings. The characters showed acceptance of the changes in their lives and in the world. That is something we could all strive for in our current time. Some things can’t go back to the way they were ten or twenty years ago, so we need to start where we are and figure out how to move forward.
Last but not least in my recent arts consumption, I bought Bruce Springsteen’s box set The Ties That Bind, celebrating his album The River. Some of the songs, especially “Independence Day,” echo that same idea about accepting changes and moving on. Listening to the music and watching the video, I was struck by Bruce’s and the E Street Band’s youth, enthusiasm, and what great musicians they were. Another part that attracted me, then and now, was their passion for justice. Springsteen doesn’t shy away from pointing out the injustices in the world and encourages us to keep fighting the good fight. We need that from art, too.
May you find a way to add or keep art in your own life. Let’s make this the year of the arts!
Posted on March 4, 2016
This is an encore of a favorite post from 2013. This year, over 80 mushers will compete!
This weekend, Alaska is in the midst of the Last Great Race on Earth, the Iditarod. Sixty-six mushers and their teams left the start last weekend to reach the burled arch finish line in Nome.
As you may know, the Iditarod got its start from an episode of Alaska history. In 1925, a diptheria epidemic swept across the territory of Alaska. Dr. Curtis Welch diagnosed the outbreak in Nome and asked for serum from the Alaska Railroad Hospital in Anchorage. The fastest way to get the vital package to Nome was by train to Nenana, then by dog sled to Nome. It took 20 mushers to relay it 674 miles in 127 1/2 hours; all the mushers defied harsh conditions to save the diptheria victims. The largest segment was run by Leonard Seppala and his lead dogs Balto and Togo.
Later, Dorothy G. Page, Joe Redington Sr., and others wanted a long-distance sled dog race to encourage the tradition of dog mushing, and this historic feat became the inspiration for the Iditarod. Since 1973, the Last Great Race has been a part of Alaskan life. Hundreds of people volunteer or donate support. Thousands of people watch the start, end, or catch a glimpse as the teams go by. Rural Alaskans host the race while it runs through their towns. We all follow it online or through the news. Classrooms get involved. Dog mushers are celebrities. The Iditarod is a big deal in Alaska. May it continue to bring together our past and present.
To learn more, check out the Iditarod site at http://iditarod.com/. The education portal is http://iditarod.com/teachers/.
For a fun read on the Iditarod experience, try Gary Paulsen’s Winterdance. You can also see Gary Paulsen’s page at http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/23384/gary-paulsen.
Posted on February 26, 2016
It’s the 81st year of Fur Rondy! Fur Rendezvous, Rondy for short, is Anchorage’s winter festival, the time of year when we do fun and silly things to blow off cabin fever. (I wrote about the origins of Fur Rondy before, so you can check out that post at http://www.lynnlovegreen.com/fur-rendezvous-2014/.) From the the Miners and Trappers Ball to the snow sculptures, the melodrama to the parade, the carnival to the snowshoe softball games, there’s a lot of fun stuff to do. But for many of us, dog mushing is at the core of the festivities.
The Fur Rondy World Championship Sled Dog Races have been running since 1946. When I was growing up in the Anchorage area, I thought everyone got a day off to go watch the dog sled races. (Later, I learned the holiday was actually in honor of presidential birthdays.) Bundling up to go downtown to see the teams start, hearing names of mushing greats like Doc Lombard and George Attla over the speakers, seeing dogs barking and pulling their sleds, cheering them on as the teams sprinted down the snow-covered street, was a highlight of my winters for a long time. I still have a soft spot in my heart for this race.
Now there’s a new generation of sprint dog mushers competing for the title. Last year, the race was cancelled due to lack of snow. This year, we have enough to run a shortened version of the race. At least we can still gather on 4th Avenue to see the teams and keep the tradition going. Learn more about this race at http://asdra.org.
I wrote about George Attla, the Huslia Hustler, last year, so you can go to http://www.lynnlovegreen.com/george-attla-a-mushing-legend/ to learn more about this mushing hero. There’s also a new film about him, called In Attla’s Tracks, that will premiere during Rondy: http://nativenewsonline.net/currents/new-short-film-about-george-attla-to-get-alaska-premiere-during-2016-fur-rendezvous/.
Hope to see you there! Let’s Rondy!
Posted on February 19, 2016
Gold Nuggets has been out since July, which makes this week its seven-month birthday! This is probably my favorite book in my Gold Rush series, and it’s on sale for 99 cents, so that gives me an excuse to celebrate.
by Lynn Lovegreen via Canva
What’s the book about?
It’s about Charlotte, who has grown up in Kantishna near Denali, and Henry, a wealthy tourist who comes to see the mountain and its wildlife.
It’s about the creation of Mt. McKinley (Denali) National Park.
It’s about the end of the Gold Rush era and the beginning of the conservation movement.
It’s about listening to your heart and finding your place in the world.
Gold Nuggets ebooks are on sale at Amazon for 99 cents at
But wait, there’s more! On Sunday, Feb. 21st, the book will be featured in an Ereaders News Today ad, and on author Lisa Lickel’s blog. Please stop by and check out the blog at
It’s been rewarding to share this book with you–thank you!