Friday, July 29, 2011

What Writing and Pageants Have in Common

AKRWA Blog by Lynn Lovegreen:

As some of you know, my daughter Katy Lovegreen is Miss Alaska 2011. As I’ve been enjoying watching her wave in parades and getting ready for the Miss America competition, I’ve noticed that there are some things that writing and pageants have in common:

1. You’re judged by experts as you compete for a spot. In writing, you’re trying to get an agent or editor to choose you for their client or author list. In pageants, you're trying to impress the judges so they choose you for the title.

2. There’s a lot of prep behind the scenes. In writing, there are hours of writing, editing, working on your website or blog or other marketing. In pageants, there are hours writing your essay and other entry paperwork, practicing for your talent and interview, working out at the gym, and fundraising for the pageant’s national community service partner, the Children’s Miracle Network.

3. You meet lots of great people. In writing, I am always impressed with how generous writers are with advice and encouragement. In pageants, most of the girls and volunteers are very helpful, whether it’s loaning you a pair of high heels or teaching you how to walk in them.

4. People have stereotypes. For writers, people think we’re all Barbara Cartland (or pick your “typical” contemporary author). For pageant participants, people think they’re all Barbie dolls or bubble heads. Actually we’re all individuals with our own personalities and motivations. (Did you know that most of the Miss America participants are interested primarily in the scholarships?)

5. It’s satisfying when you win. It’s heartwarming when readers tell you that your book is important to them. It’s rewarding when you see the kids at the children’s hospital and know that you made their day.

If you’d like to learn more about my Katy and the Miss Alaska Scholarship Foundation, go to or to see how to donate to the Children's Miracle Network, check out

Friday, July 22, 2011

Switching Gears

Not all of us are just writers. We wear many hats. Besides being a mother of four and a wife, I’m a commercial fisherman. Just this week I finished fishing the Sockeye salmon season in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

I’ve exchanged my fishing hat, raingear, boots, and bibs, for a laptop and a much needed green tea frappuccino.

Problem is my writer’s hat doesn’t fit. Something is wrong this year. I usually dive back into writing—into that magically world where I pull all the strings—with barely a splash. My characters welcome me back with a barrage of dialogue spewing so fast it’s all I can do to make sense of it all.

This year there is only silence.

The logical part of me says not to worry. Fishing was really hard this summer. Give yourself a freaking break. Remember those gale force winds, ten foot seas, and cutthroat fishermen. The parade of bears to where you were no longer saw them as a threat but more of a nuisance. Come on. Mosquitoes are a nuisance!

The creative side of me is frantic, mentally searching for anything worth writing about and coming up blank. It’s amazing how scary blank is. I’d rather deal with bears.
I know I need to “chillax” as my teenage daughter is fond of saying. I definitely need a few fraps. Reading a good book is also sound advice. Rereading my own material and maybe editing is a stellar idea too. But no. I don’t want to do any of it.

I’m just exhausted. Right? My creative well hasn’t dried up. Surely not. I could write about my recent summer experiences, but who wants to relive all that hard work and frustration? Not me. I want to fall into a coma.

So please, share how you refill your creative well when it appears to be all dried up?

This writer/fisherman needs to be tossed a line.

Tiffinie Helmer

Friday, July 8, 2011


Alaska is hard on writers.
You may be thinking about winter. It is cold and dark from October until March. When the sun comes out it is blinding and brilliant and the only colors are black and white and that amazing blue sky. The snow is tedious, the ice is treacherous and the wind is brutal. It is a major production to go anywhere because of the layers and layers of clothing you have to put on. Moose the size of a quarter-horse are hiding behind the bushes waiting for you to drive by so they can commit suicide. The cost of fuel is frightening and the cost of groceries horrific.
Uhh, no, winter is the easy part. Writers are happy. They're cozy by a fire, wrapped in an afghan with fuzzy socks and a cup of something warm. Not necessarily caffeine. They are writing like crazy because they know--Oh my Gosh! They've only got six months.
In Alaska the hard part is SUMMER.
There is so much to take you away from writing. Lush is the first word that comes to mind. Lush green chickweed growing inches overnight to envelope any little beet foolish enough to sprout. Fish to catch and process for next winter, a garden to work in. Festivals to celebrate all the foolish things we miss for the other six months. We get up in the light and go to bed in the light--oh, the glorious light. We look up from what we are doing and realize it's eleven p.m. and the reason we're hungry is we didn't stop to eat at six. The frantic pace we keep in summer is hard to explain to people from Outside. But, there is so much to do. Four-wheeler trips with family and friends-plane rides to scout for a new hunting area-new puppies and new chicks and new friends or old ones that you only see in the summer when they stumble out of the brush to go to the hardware store.

We collect ideas in the summer and write in the winter-I guess it isn't all bad.
DeNise Woods