What are you doing now?

Not a bad day job

I get that question often.

Usually I can answer it with a quick, “Oh, I’ve got a couple of irons in the fire.” Sometimes authors aren’t free to talk about what’s coming up with a specific publisher, even if it looks like a contract is forthcoming. But if it’s not signed, it’s not real. I have one like that percolating right now. It’s a middle-grade nonfiction children’s book that’s currently under review. And I have a chapter book that’s under consideration by a respected agent. Fingers crossed. I kinda like that book.

Sometimes we can blab our news all over. So, allow me to blab. In the coming months, I’ll be appearing at several events, and I hope to meet you at one of them. Here’s a quick rundown:

OCTOBER:
Wed., Oct. 9: Photographer Roy Corral and I will give a talk titled “Bookends: Twenty Years of Collaboration in Children’s Books.” We’re the keynotes for the Anchorage Friends of the Library annual meeting, open to the public and scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. The gathering is in the Ann Stevens Room of the Loussac Public Library. Roy and I begin our multi-media presentation at 7 p.m., and a book-signing will follow.
Sat., Oct. 12: In honor of Alaska Book Week, Barnes & Noble in midtown Anchorage is hosting Roy and me again during the Book Fair Day to benefit Bartlett High School. We’ll give an author/photographer talk at noon in the Fireplace area, and we’ll sign your favorite titles from 1-4 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 27: I’ve been invited to participate in an Author Brunch at Anchorage’s Crowne Plaza Hotel as part of the annual Alaska Cross Content Conference. So I’ll get to share a meal with teachers and librarians who influence literacy across the state. I love them already. A book-signing is part of our morning, too.

NOVEMBER:
Sat., Nov. 9: from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you’ll find me at the Mat-Su Marketplace held inside the Menard Sports Center in Wasilla, selling my books as well as helping my boothmate with her sales of glassware decorated with Alaskan wildflowers. I’m only there on Saturday of the weekend event.
Sat-Sun, Nov. 23-24: I’ll be back at booth 853 Holly Hollow inside the Dena’ina Center in downtown Anchorage. The Arts & Crafts Emporium draws hundreds of shoppers. This will be my third year, and I can’t wait.
Fri-Sat., Nov. 29-30: I’m a veteran of the ReadAlaska Book Fair that’s held annually in the days after Thanksgiving. We’re on the second level of the atrium in the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. Downstairs is the Polar Bazaar, where exquisite art and crafts are on sale. We book people, you’ll find upstairs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. No Sunday times this year, by the way. Look for me, please!

When I’m not manning a booth or meeting folks at a book-signing, trust me, I’m working on books. And loving it.

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We made the list!

Are you tapping into this resource?

We’re so pleased that Scholastic Teacher magazine included Children of the First People in its featured books for the Summer of 2019. Teacher friends, please check it out!

Here’s what Chris Borris and Pari Deshpande Cohen had to say: “We’ve chosen a variety of great books to help your students while away the summer days.

“Let’s get lost in a book. Summer is a time to slow down, to sink into the rhythms of a sun-soaked day. And a book is a perfect thing to have by your side. “It makes me feel like I’m in my own little fairytale,” said one 8-year-old girl, when asked why she loves to read. In the books we chose for this year’s 50 best—with the help of our wonderful teacher, librarian, and author reviewers—kids will find many differ­ent ways to immerse themselves in a story, whether through fiction or nonfiction. Maybe it will be an adventure involving Alastair and Aggie, two parrots trying to figure out what home is. Or a serious but very funny story about an immi­grant boy who bakes cakes to get over his father’s death. Or a riveting retelling of the rescue of a soccer team from a cave in Thailand. Help your young readers find a book and get lost!”

Click here to see the complete list! Or, if you like to download a pdf of all fifty books broken down by grade level, click here.

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One great idea; two unforgettable books

Meet the terrific Alaska Native kids from Children of the Midnight Sun and its recently released sequel, Children of the First People. Click HERE to launch the full story from KTVA-TV’s Sunday magazine, “Frontiers with Rhonda McBride.” (Photo © Roy Corral)

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It’s official! A new book is born.

Photographer Roy Corral and I are celebrating the long-awaited release of our new book, Children of the First People, and the launch party is going to be a sensation. Please join us on Saturday, April 20, beginning at 11 a.m. at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street. We’re signing books beginning at noon. That Saturday is KidsDay at the museum–so admission for those twelve and under is free!

Tricia and Roy – NOW

Children of the First People profiles ten boys and girls, each one representing a unique culture that has thrived in the Far North for centuries: Iñupiat, Eyak, Yup’ik, Haida, Athabascan, Unangaxˆ (Aleut), Tlingit, Alutiiq, Tsimshian, and Siberian Yupik. The kids open up like Alaskan pen pals, sharing how they hunt and fish for healthy Native food, celebrate with traditional dancing and drumming, and compete in Native Youth Olympics. Still, like kids all over, they also watch their favorite NBA teams, shop for clothes online, and listen to new music.

10 Terrific Kids

At 11 a.m. on April 20, Roy and I will present a short film in the auditorium and we’ll introduce the great kids and parents who are represented in the book. We had traveled all over the state, in and out of Anchorage over a two-year period to meet these families. At the presentation, we will answer questions that we often hear, like “How did you pick the children?” “How long did it take?” “How did you get around Alaska?” “What happened to the kids from the first book–are you still in touch?” We get that question a lot. And we plan to bring everyone up to date in our presentation.

In fact, I’m happy to report that some of the “grown-up kids” from Children of the Midnight Sun will join us at the museum, too. Like the honored kids from the new book, they will participate in a mass book-signing that begins at noon, so you and your kids can come and chat with them yourself. Also, the Anchorage Museum is planning to feature Roy’s incredible photos in twenty enlargements from the first and second books. They’ll be exhibited around the main atrium on easels for the special event.

Won’t you come and join us for this exceptional book launch?

Tricia and Roy – THEN!

!

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Supporting your local library

I’m really glad to be invited to events like our local “Beyond the Stacks,” organized by the Anchorage group called Friends of the Library. I’m betting there’s an FOL in your neck of the woods, too. If you’re in Southcentral Alaska on Saturday, April 6, would you buy a ticket and attend this outstanding event? I’ll be one of about thirty authors hosting tables, and dinner will be excellent. It’s from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Anchorage Marriott, 820 W. 7th Ave.

I’m a huge fan of Alaskan artist Ray Troll (I have Troll T-shirts that are older that most high school graduates), so I’m excited that he’s the keynote speaker this year. We’ll have giveaways, a silent auction, book-signings, and, again, RAY TROLL. Even if you can’t make it, please think about giving to your local library. These folks need all the help they can get.

Click here to see more on the amazing line-up of authors who will be attending. I hope to see you there!

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Thank you, Children’s Book Council!

THE CHILDREN’S BOOK COUNCIL

Our warm thanks to the Children’s Book Council for recognizing our book in its list of showcased books … the theme this winter is “Helping Hands.” Look for Charlie and other honored books at their showcase website by clicking here.

A “Helping Hands” Story
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That was a 7.0 M earthquake!

As I write, several schools in Southcentral Alaska are closed for the year and administrators and educators have worked hard to rearrange students populations at other schools. The major earthquake that shook Anchorage on November 30 happened while I was 400 miles away, visiting schools in Fairbanks. While I was calmly setting up for a day of speaking to kids at Weller Elementary, back at home, the entire region was shaking. After all, we do sit on the northernmost edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Suddenly, I got a text from my husband saying his building had been evacuated and he was hurrying home to our granddaughter. The power was out (so our well doesn’t work either) and officials were urging people to turn off their natural gas. My family gathered at my brother’s place, where there was a generator. All day long, my phone was dinging with friends and family checking in. The report on damage at our house was minimal–just a whole lot of pick-up, clean-up waiting for me, as everything on top shelves made a jump.

I was scheduled to fly home that evening, but a temporary airport closure and further flight delays changed that plan. When I was leaving Fairbanks the next day, the airport gift shop clerk seemed surprised that I didn’t feel the earthquake. The antique airplane that hangs above travelers at one end of a concourse had been swaying in the air during the quake, she said. She had been at her barrista job at the time, and was trying to keep everything from falling off the shelves. More than 400 miles away from the epicenter.

Strong aftershocks arrived regularly that night and for days afterward, and everybody has been edgy for the last couple of weeks. Even something as simple as the dog shifting her spot in the car’s back seat can make my heart leap. But likewise we are feeling thankful. No one died, and most of what was broken can be fixed…except perhaps for ragged nerves.

Thank you all for thinking of Alaska, and for your prayers.

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Season of Cheer

A visit to North Pole, Alaska

I know, I know, it’s not even Halloween yet! We’re talking back to the early Christmas ads at my house, too. But I’ve already been invited to Holiday Bazaars and craft shows that start in late October. And besides, I’m friends with Santa all year long.

So, just a heads up–if you want a signed copy of one of my Christmas books, or any other books of mine, check my web calendar. I’ll be making appearances at special events and schools around Anchorage and Fairbanks from now through the end of the year. For me, the Christmas season begins this Saturday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an invitation from the Alaska Woman’s Club. Their annual Bazaar is held at Anchorage’s Pioneer Schoolhouse, so come down to 437 E. Third for this popular event. I hope to see you there!

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Something Old, Something New

Tricia Brown – 1995

Remember the mid-1990s? Cell phones really were the size of bricks, and selfies required a tripod and a timer. My first personal email address was newly minted, and I was trying to conceive just how the Worldwide Web might be useful to me. But travel in Alaska was essentially the same: by air, ferry, or a handful of highways.

From early 1995 to May 1996, photographer Roy Corral and I crisscrossed Alaska for thousands of miles to interview and photograph eight kids for our book titled Children of the Midnight Sun. It was the first and only overview of Alaska’s diverse Native peoples, written just for kids. In 1998, the 48-page book introduced young readers to eight remarkable boys and girls, all between eight and twelve years old, each representing a unique Alaska Native heritage.

Roy Corral – 1996

For ages 8 and up

To choose the kids, we relied on the help of culture camp leaders, village mayors, principals, and parents. Our subjects had to be bold enough to speak freely with a stranger and discerning enough to share cultural knowledge. We wanted a mix of genders, seasons, and traditions. What had they learned from their elders? Their favorite time of year and why? Their favorite foods and places? What did they want to be someday? The result was an intimate portrait of each child against the larger backdrop of ancient culture and place. It beautifully captured Alaska of the times.

As the book’s twentieth anniversary approached, we began work on a second edition of Children of the Midnight Sun with a new generation, choosing ten kids who face entirely different challenges while staying grounded by the best of their traditions. We’ve added in three smaller, often overlooked Alaska Native groups this time.

Twenty years ago, Roy and I used our Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends to buy MarkAir coupons (remember them?!), enabling us to fly into remote villages. We were both employed full-time, and we spread out the trips over two years, investing our dollars and vacation time to get around. Today, the air and ferry expenses were ours to figure out—while we’re both freelancers, and the PFD has become a pale version of its old self. But the hospitality we experienced has not changed.

Remains of a WWII gun turret on Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands

Since January 2017, we’ve interviewed and photographed children in Chenega Bay, Hydaburg, Metlakatla, Kotzebue, Bethel, Hoonah, Fort Yukon, and Unalaska. There’s still one last trip to go: We’ll meet a child from the Siberian Yupik culture, either on St. Lawrence Island or in Nome.

I’ve written nine of the ten profiles and the Graphic Arts Books editor is already at work on my manuscript. Roy’s sneak peek photos are sensational (I do take a few snapshots for my own memories, as I did twenty-three years ago). We’ll be sharing more soon, including answers to questions about the kids in the first edition–where are they now? Watch for the new edition in early 2019!

Roy sets up a photograph of our Eyak girl from Cordova

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Writing Time

That’s me, a Word Worker. This shot of my favorite T-shirt reminds me why I’d best stick to non-fiction…and makes me want to enter a deliciously bad writing competition.

I’ve tried writing a long work of fiction. I wasn’t as bad as this guy, but I was no good at it. Generating ideas, creating vivid characters, and sustaining a story arc for a 32-page children’s book, that I can do. My young readers have connected at the heart level with an itchy little musk ox, a kitty named Groucho, and an Inupiaq boy named Charlie. However, most of my writing is non-fiction. While non-academic, my true stories for children incorporate fiction storyteller techniques to write non-fiction. Bobbie the Wonder Dog, Patsy Ann of Alaska, and Zig the Warrior Princess are examples of that melding in creative non-fiction.

(A quick aside: Anchorage-area parents, you’re invited to bring your school-aged children to the Loussac Library at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 17, for my presentation titled “Amazing Dogs,” followed by a craft project.)

Right now, I’m deep into writing an all-new edition of Children of the Midnight Sun, a non-fiction, photo-illustrated children’s book that sheds light on the unique qualities of Alaska’s Native populations as told by the children. My creative partner, Roy Corral, and I compiled a list of ten villages (or towns) to visit. To date, we’ve nearly completed our travels all over the state to interview and photograph one child from each of Alaska’s Native groups. The kids are all between 8 and 12 years old, and each is a beautiful reflection of his or her ancient Alaskan ancestry–they’re young, but believe me, they have been listening to their elders and other teachers.

I can’t wait to introduce this new book in early 2019. In the meantime, back to my word-working!

 

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