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Archive for January, 2011

Who I Am

 Okay, I stole this idea from ali cross. She did this super-cool post for the benefit of her new followers. So, here are a few snippets—in no particular order—about who I am.

I’ve got a B.A. in English and Psychology from Indiana University and a K-8 Teaching Credential from the University of Alaska Southeast.

I was the Lead Teacher in a Therapeutic Day Treatment School in Fairbanks, Alaska. I worked there for fifteen years teaching and counseling junior high and high school students who’d been removed from the mainstream for various reasons: violence, drug use, defiance, depression…the list goes on.

I’ve been happily married for 14 years. Yes, I sometimes talk about my wife on this blog. She’s a teacher and a writer too. We exchange manuscripts and we still like each other. She’s my best friend.

A few other jobs I have held: salmon cannery fish-slimer, wilderness guide for teens, field biology technician, naturalist/outdoor educator.

I participated in a ten-day deep-ecology meditation retreat on an uninhabited island in Southeast Alaska. It was a mind blowing experience—that topic deserves a post of its own.

Places I lived before settling in Alaska: Pennsylvania, Indiana, Massachusetts, Idaho, California.

I write young adult and middle grade fiction. I hope my stories will speak to people across ages and gender; however, I often write with the struggling and reluctant reader population in mind. As a teacher I love opening the world of reading to non-readers by connecting them with books that speak to them. My personal sun shines a little brighter whenever this happens because that means they’ve just found a way to get to know themselves and the world in a new way.

A few more things: I love sea kayaking, and all kinds of wilderness travel, running, movies, good books, walking in big cities, and cooking for friends.

So, yeah, that’s a little of who I am. Thanks for stopping by today.

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We started our fourteen mile hike on this trail above Wet Beaver Creek.

After four miles the trail dropped down to the creek and we had to wade across if we wanted to keep going. Yeah, that’s Dana getting a little help from a stick she found.

It was a steep climb from there and we got a cool view of the creek below.

We climbed up higher and the red rock trail turned to snow.

We kept on going until we caught some air. Yep, didn’t go any further for obvious reasons. 

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 The sky explodes as the sun rises.

At the same time on the opposite horizon the moon is about to set.

Life happens between ever-changing horizons.

And beyond.

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Part of the Porcupine Caribou Herd on the Arctic Coastal Plain: Photo Credit: Alaska in Pictures



Twenty two years ago I worked in the arctic doing stream and lake surveys. For many weeks the sun didn’t set and didn’t rise, but just made a sweeping circle in the sky.

Sometime in mid-July, the sun started touching the horizon.

The first time it disappeared completely it rose eighteen minutes later. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.

I’m still not sure how a guy with an English Degree landed a paying job doing field biology on the Arctic Coastal Plain—also known as America’s last great wilderness. I had no connections and didn’t think I had much of a chance when I applied, but at that time in my life I was seeking out wild places in every way I could, sort of taking a leave-no-stone-unturned approach.

The amount of wildlife I saw was staggering: 120,000 Caribou gathering to give birth to their calves. Wolves, Muskoxen, Polar and Grizzly bears. Snowy Owls.

I think there’s a certain amount of luck involved in just about everything, but I also believe that the harder you work at anything, the more chance you have of getting lucky.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to click open my WIP and get to work.

The time to go for your dreams is now. Are you with me?

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I haven't taken the time to look this puppy up, but he's pretty buff, I think.

1. I came home from a long run and found the guy in the above photo in the kitchen. I persuaded him to get into a plastic container, then set him on the back patio.

2. Scorpion Sting Update: One month later and the very tip of my pinky finger is still a bit numb.

3. I haven’t told you my number one sting story yet, but I probably will soon.

4. Thanks to some great critique notes from Terry, ali, Natalie, and Robert I’m plowing through a rewrite of one of my WIPs.

5. When my internet connection was on the blink last week I got a lot of writing done. Still, I’m glad to be reconnected.

6. This last thing sounds deceptively simple: The best way to plan for the future is to live in the present.

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Terry Lynn Johnson in one of her many elements.

A big congrats to my critique partner Terry Lynn Johnson.

Terry’s debut MG novel Dogsled Dreams came out over the holidays!!

I know from first-hand experience that this is an exciting read that will get under your skin in a good way if you like experiencing adventure through a twelve year-old’s eyes.

A little bit about Dogsled Dreams: Twelve-year-old Rebecca dreams of becoming a famous sled dog racer. She’s an inventive but self-doubting musher who tackles blinding blizzards, wild animal attacks, puppy training, and flying poo missiles. All of her challenges though, seem easier than living up to the dogs’ trust in her abilities. Rebecca runs her huskies along the crisp trails near Thunder Bay, Ontario, where northern lights flare and dangerous beavers lurk. Through the bond she shares with the dogs, Rebecca learns that hard work, dedication and living in the moment bring their own rewards. 

Diane Johnson, the Iditarod Education Director said this about Dogsled Dreams: “Any teacher using Gary Paulsen’s Woodsong would want Terry Johnson’s Dogsled Dreams as a part of their classroom library…Dogsled Dreams is an inspirational read that encourages the reader to set goals and take steps to meet the goals, no matter what the goals may be.”

Visit Terry’s blog or website to read the first chapter of Dogsled Dreams. Or, just purchase the book from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

And, stay tuned. I’ve seen what Terry’s working on next. And it’s all kinds of  awesome, too!!

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