My niece, Kendall Rock, made this film for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. It's all about the water! Lovely visuals of life in Southeast Alaska and what it means to rely on healthy fish and ecosystems. (The boat my kids fish on makes an appearance around the 14:37 mark)

Our Voices Will Be Heard

ERIN TRIPP. Alaskans are going to be hearing this name a lot. This Tlingit actress from Juneau is currently starring in the lead role as Kutaan in Our Voices Will be Heard A brave, important play by talented Alaska Native playwright Vera Starbard. The play premiered in January at Perseverance Theater in Juneau and will be at the Sydney Laurence Auditorium in Anchorage through February 28. 

Erin Tripp is also the voice of Dora in the audio version of  THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES.  Here she is in the spacious production studio in Juneau, getting ready to record: 

Erin Tripp at Studio A in Juneau, AK   (Photo credit: Bostin Christopher)

Erin Tripp at Studio A in Juneau, AK   (Photo credit: Bostin Christopher)

Erin is the first Alaska Native actress that Listening Library and Penguin Random House audio have cast. It was an unbelievable collaboration from the word go.

Normally audiobooks are read by professional actors and actresses in LA or NYC. I knew the voice of Dora had to reflect her character--a young Inupiaq girl. I sent the New York producer some news stories featuring teenage voices that I had produced in Alaska and she agreed with me that Dora's character absolutely needed authentic representation. We sent out queries and within hours found Erin. Long story short, she auditioned and was amazing. We found a studio in Juneau where she could record while skyping with the producers in LA.

Nellie Moore with Grandkids Dylan and Blair (Photo Credit: David Moore)

Nellie Moore with Grandkids Dylan and Blair (Photo Credit: David Moore)

We also pulled in my mentor from Independent Native News days, Nellie Moore, who voiced up all the Inupiaq pronunciations for Erin and for the producers in LA and New York. (I believe someone's twelve year old in LA knows how to pronounce akutuq accurately now). It was truly a first of its kind collaboration and I am thrilled that so many dedicated people were willing to make it happen.

Side note: Nellie was also the consultant for Sesame Street when they did an AK segment. She's kind of a one woman show and I could talk about her all day long, but I'll refrain.

So, if you like audiobooks, give this one a listen. In addition to Erin (as Dora), it's read by Jorjeana Marie (Ruth), Karissa Vacker (Alyce), and Robbie Daymond (Hank). 

And if you're in Anchorage, please go see Erin Tripp and the rest of the cast in "Our Voices Will be Heard." 

ALA Midwinter

A quick post to say that seeing your book twice the size of yourself at a conference is incredibly shocking and humbling. But even better are the stories people tell you about where they were when they read your book and how it made them feel.

My agent Molly Ker Hawn, Me (with horrible posture), and my editor, Wendy Lamb. Photo Credit: Aimee Freedman

My agent Molly Ker Hawn, Me (with horrible posture), and my editor, Wendy Lamb. Photo Credit: Aimee Freedman

I am always terrified that I'll have to make small talk at a conference and I'm SO BAD AT THAT. So imagine my surprise when the first person I met pulled me aside to tell me that she'd been reading my book on a train just after her grandmother died and she got to the part where...." Or the woman who tugged on my elbow before boarding a bus and whispered, "I haven't spoken to my father in a very long time but after reading..."And then the librarian who whispered to me during dinner, "Your book...my mother..."
These are small things, human things. But these are the things that matter, that feel bigger than a huge banner. These are the ways that books connect us. It's how we save each other, over and over again. 

And obviously, my agent and my editor in this photo had to believe in this story in order for it to ever become a book. I'm so glad they're standing here with me. 

Hidden perks about writing a book that nobody tells you. #1 Other Authors

Disclaimer: This post is about the ALA conference from last June. Slightly dated, but still hopefully enjoyable. 

I get to meet authors. Some of them are incredibly famous and if one is not very careful, it's possible to act a bit like a stalker fan. I'm not saying that my sister did that at the American Library Association conference in San Francisco last June when she saw Sharon Draper signing copies of her most recent book STELLA BY STARLIGHT. 

But just look how happy Debbie Jo is! She was so excited she dove over a metal garbage can full of posters with a cast on her foot and Sharon Draper caught her. (I think this must happen to Sharon Draper all the time) 

So we get to meet famous authors and others that will be famous in the near future, like Nicola Yoon, author of the New York Times bestseller EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING. Here she is with me and David Hoffmeyr, who wrote STONE RIDER, before our Random House panel and dinner at the Waterbar. Both of their books are out now so stop reading this and go buy them! 

Photo credit: Judith Haut

Photo credit: Judith Haut

Our panel was moderated by the amazing David Levithan, who has written many, many, many books for teens, including most recently EVERYDAY, and ANOTHER DAY. I only had to ask for an easier question once and looked like a deer in the headlights a couple times, so yay me!
The dinner was incredible. Each course was designed around a theme from one of our novels. (Mine was salmon!) Did I mention there was wine? 

This was my first book conference and I was a bit nervous so most of the photos I took are fuzzy and unrecognizable, but I will get better because meeting authors who write books for teens is now my favorite part of this new, crazy wonderful world. Stay tuned.