MY COLUMN: My Brother as a TV Star?

I probably should have done this a long time ago, but I just realized I should have a category for people to go to that will lead them to my column. I’ll put up brief posts that summarize what the column is about and put a link at the bottom.

What gave me the idea was my recent trip to Juneau. Everywhere I went I came across the paper that my column appears in, Capital City Weekly. It was at the hotel, the jet airlines, floatplane airlines, a sporting goods store, and on the ferry itself. At one point, I came across one issue open to my column. It was an odd experience that I’m still hashing over.

My most recent column “Casting the Panhandle” was about a major television production company that’s been working to put together a “documentary series” (as opposed to a schlock-filled, scripted reality TV show) that focuses on people living subsistence lifestyles in Southeast Alaska. My oldest brother Jamie was someone the multiple award-wining producer came out by floatplane to possibly recruit.

You can read all about it at:

(Jamie and my dad–on the right side of the dock–in their respective skiffs waiting for the propane man to show up in Thorne Bay and discussing Jamie’s possible future as a TV star.)

BOOK DEAL: Raised in Ruins

In November of last year, my friend Bjorn Dihle, author of “Never Cry Halibut” and “Haunted Inside Passage” (See Authors and Books categories), wrote: “Have you ever considered [writing] a ‘tell-some’ memoir?” He added, “You have a real good story to tell that I think would resonate.”

For as long as I’ve been a writer, which has been most of my life, people have told me I need to write my family’s story, of moving out to the burned cannery in an extremely remote area of SE Alaska where we built a home with our own hands and rarely saw other people. But I always dismissed these urgings because the idea didn’t excite me. It was normal to me, the way anyone’s childhood is normal to them. It wasn’t until I began writing this blog and people contacted me to tell me how amazed and thrilled they were by our lifestyle and history that I began to see it through their eyes.

Bjorn’s encouragement came at just the right time. He didn’t limit it to just words, though. In February of this year he generously wrote to his editor, introducing me and the story I had to tell, assuring her that I was a “thoughtful and talented writer.”

His editor responded favorably and he sent me his publisher’s proposal form. Following it’s guidelines closely, I wrote up a detailed proposal, including a chapter by chapter breakdown of a book I’d never really given any thought to until then, and sent it off that same day.

A week later Bjorn’s editor responded, telling me that they were definitely interested in my proposal and that they believed I had a great story to tell. It just had to go through an upcoming acquisitions meeting before they could tell me anything definite.

In March the editor wrote: “I’m reaching out in regards ‘Raised in Ruins,’ the book proposal you had sent last month. We just had our acquisitions meeting and were really interested in the book and the unique story you have to tell. We also think your blog is fantastic!”

I hadn’t written a single word of the actual book yet, but as soon as I received this message I began to write about our first day in our future home:

“Our uncovered skiff, about the length of a Volkswagen Beetle, was a speck.

“The world was big, I knew that from school lessons. But the wilderness was bigger. There was no end to it. We were the only humans in it as we sped across the gigantic white cloud reflections.

“…In the photos of our first visit to the cannery ruins my dad is behind us kids as we explore; he’s pushing the skiff off and anchoring it in the current of the creek so that it won’t go dry as the tide recedes. Jamie is watching over the two little ones while my sister and I, blonde hair gleaming, stand together out in front. The bay stretches out behind us kids and my dad to a shimmering, hazy horizon, as if we’ve stepped through a curtain into another dimension, into a different experience of time.” 

I’ve since written the first three chapters, but I still have a long way to go. Thankfully, I have plenty of time.

The publishing director, who has patiently and kindly helped me through the negotiation process, wrote: “We are thrilled at the prospect of publishing your remarkable story….we’re looking at publishing the book in 2020.”

That gives me plenty of time to write, revise, re-write, and polish it. I’ll continue to share this adventure with all of you. I want to thank everyone who reads my blog, and especially those people who have contacted me and changed how I see and think about my family’s Alaskan story.

And I want to give a special thank you to Bjorn, and to Mike in Mongolia who helped me understand contract negotiations, Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Agency for his time and encouragement, and everyone else who’s helped in large and small ways to get my writing career to this point.

Most of all, thanks to my family for sharing this journey and giving me so much to write about.


AngZ and Graphic Arts Bookslink( )

6/13/2018 12:22:20 pm

We’re so looking forward to your book!

Tara (ADOW)( )

6/13/2018 12:52:17 pm

Thanks! I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet. But I’m looking forward to working with everyone to make it the best book it can be.

Jolink( )

6/13/2018 12:36:25 pm

Woohoo! Congratulations on your book deal! I love the bits you shared today, and really look forward to more of your highly visual and very beautiful writing.

Tara (ADOW)( )

6/13/2018 12:53:35 pm

Thanks so much, Jo! You always encourage me–I want to live up to your view of my writing abilities. 🙂

Mark Morse( )

6/13/2018 02:26:30 pm

Karma is such a wonderful thing. Beautiful things happen to beautiful people. Congratulations Tara and watch out James Patterson, there is a new Sheriff in town!!

Tara (ADOW)( )

6/13/2018 04:35:44 pm

Thanks, Mark! I don’t think James Patterson has anything to worry about…just yet! But I appreciate the vote of confidence. 🙂

Pam Kaufman( )

6/13/2018 03:53:47 pm

Congratulations! I love your blog and look forward to reading your book!

Tara (ADOW)( )

6/13/2018 04:37:04 pm

Thank you so much, Pam. The encouragement is very much appreciated!

Jonee( )

6/14/2018 08:41:33 am

I am so excited for you, and can’t wait to buy a copy! I love your writing style, have been reading your blog for a long time (whilst mostly lurking!). Your stories are always a great read, your life experiences are so wildly different from the average person’s, they deserve to be shared. Congratulations!!

Tara (ADOW)( )

6/14/2018 08:56:12 am

How nice to hear from a longtime reader and lurker! And thank you so much for your compliments and encouragement, Jonee. I’m finding the usual summer distractions make it hard to focus on writing the book, but comments like yours keep me going.

If you can think of anything you’d like to hear more about please let me know.

Daneel Olivaw( )

6/14/2018 09:39:14 am

“If you can think of anything you’d like to hear more about please let me know.”
I hope you’ll write more–on your blog and in your fervently awaited book–about otters. Threat, menace or both?

Tara (ADOW)( )

6/14/2018 10:55:59 am

“Threat, menace, or both?”
How about friendly, cuddly neighbors? But I’ll see what I can come up with for more otter content just for you, Daneel.

Carole( )

6/15/2018 03:57:56 am

So, where do I sign up to get on the waiting list? And will you autograph my copy??? I am SOOOOO happy for you.

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