Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Writer Gives Thanks

Quyana --- the Yup'ik word for "Thank you"
A Writer Gives Thanks

Often at this time of year we get too wrapped up in the trappings of the holidays to actually remember the point of the actual holiday. Turkey. Or is it football? No wait. Black Friday holiday shopping! Right? 

What happened to just being thankful?

For myself I wanted to take a few moments to actually give thanks as a writer. Writing is often a said to be a solitary and lonely occupation. I’m not sure who said that, and I’m not sure I agree. As I began thinking about composing a little note of thanks, I realized, maybe it isn’t so lonely.
 This has been an amazing year thus far for me in terms of my writing career, and I am simply beyond grateful and I owe so many people an Alaskan sized debt of gratitude for helping make my writing dreams a reality. I owe thanks to various countries, agents, publishers, critics, newspapers, reporters, bloggers, booksellers, book clubs, readers, writers, professors, secondary teachers, students, friends, family, and fans. 

Those acquainted with the long and convoluted route taken by my novel on the road to getting published in the United States, know I have much to be thankful for. Thanks to Adam Chromy, my agent here in the US for fighting for The Raven’s Gift every step of the way. Thanks to my foreign agents for getting my novel published in France this year, and thanks to that publisher Fleuve Noir and my French editor Ben
edicte Lombardo.

Thanks to Penguin Canada for continuing to believe in The Raven’s Gift and for getting the book into the United States with Pintail Book and Penguin USA. I am grateful to my Adrienne Kerr and Nicole Winstanley at Penguin for continuing to have faith in the novel. Thanks to Elena Hershey and the Pintail folks working tirelessly to help get the book into bookstores all over America.

I have worked tirelessly to share my novel with the world and at times it has felt an impossible task to get the book into the hands of readers or to get the attention of reviewers and critics, but the support of some awesome booksellers across Alaska and across the country continues to inspire me. I owe thanks to dedicated booksellers like Fireside Book’s David Cheezem and his staff, Nathan Dunbar in Chicago, Deb Bonito at Mosquito Books, and so many others. 

There are those who I also can’t begin to even express my thanks to --- critic Michael Dirda and The Washington Post. When other newspapers and critics refused to give a book like mine the time of day, a Pulitzer Prize winning critic steps up and writes the most powerful and beautiful review of the book I’ve had to date. His review in the Washington Post was do damn good I almost ran out and bought a copy of the book myself! In addition to Dirda’s killer review, countless amazing bloggers have blogged and promoted the book --- far too many to name here, but you know who you are, and now you know I am giving you thanks, too! 

I can’t thank The Washington Post without also thanking The Anchorage Daily News for their coverage of my book, so quyana to Mike Dunham and David Hulen, at ADN, and to the Alaska Dispatch and Megan Edge and others there. And while I’m thanking news folks, I would be totally remiss if I didn’t thank Steve Heimel at Alaska Public Media for inviting me on Talk of Alaska. That was definitely one of the highlights of the year, and quite an honor. When you’ve grown up in the bush, public radio is just a life essential and to get to chat with the actual voice of Alaska, well that was something I’ll never forget. So thanks to Steve and Lori Townsend, and everyone who made that incredibly fun hour possible. 

Now on to thanking the readers and writers in my life. You have made this year absolutely magical. Those readers who have invited me to into their homes to meet with bookclubs? Those were some discussions I’ll forever cherish. I had never thought about visiting bookclubs as an author, and this turns out to be one of my favorite kind of author event. What more can you ask for than to sit down with a group of dedicated readers, perhaps with good wine and even better food, and talk about your novel? The answer is nothing. That is as good as it gets. So thanks to all those bookclubs, including those I haven’t attended yet!

I also never expected my book to be required reading! So I owe special thanks to those professors and highschool teachers using my book in their courses and the students writing about the book and contacting me with their thoughts and questions. I can really think of no higher honor than to know that The Raven’s Gift is being used in English courses, and even graduate level Psychology courses --- unless I suppose the book gets banned! Perhaps that can be something I am grateful for next year?!  (Come on people! The book has sex, violence, cannibalism, and even bad words! It needs to be banned! Okay, I admit, I just want to be on the banned book list!)

Finally, I want to thank the readers and authors for all the support. Alaskans have been so amazing and helpful in spreading the word about my The Raven’s Gift. I couldn’t even begin to list off all of you. The support I have received here at home is overwhelming and completely awe inspiring. I am so lucky to call this place my home, so incredibly lucky. Authors have been overly generous through mentoring me, giving advice, and spreading the word about my book. Again the list is just too long, but I’d be remiss to not thank all the members of the 49 Writers, my buddies Seth Kantner and Kris Farmen, my coach Daniel and his wife Rennie, and my friend and go to warm heart and brilliant writing life advisor Jodi Picoult.  I’m so fortunate to have such talented and giving souls in my life, and I’m thankful to each and every one of you!

 And to those readers who continue to share the book, who email me with their kind words of appreciation, who post their reviews on Amazon and elsewhere --- I cannot thank you enough, but please know that I am endlessly grateful for your support, your encouragement, and the time and energy you’ve spent reading my work, sharing it, and thinking about the underlying messages contained within the story.

We could simply all be thankful the world hasn’t quite ended just yet, or we could pause for a moment in our busy lives, watch a raven or two, and take stock of what we have, where we’ve been, and those we love. And ---- if you’ve read this far, and weren’t mentioned yet, then for me, you must be one of those I love.

Thank you. Quyana.

Bear Valley, Anchorage Alaska

Friday, November 15, 2013

A New Book Trailer for The Raven's Gift

The New Book Trailer for The Raven's Gift. Enjoy and share with friends!

I finally got around to cutting a new trailer for my novel. This one includes a few of the blurbs from The Raven's Gift and footage from where I grew up. Be sure to have your volume turned up!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cold is Kin

Cold Is Kin
cold is relative
like kin you know
too well 
fingertips burn
air stings nostrils
tears freeze and feeling
in the toes fails
and the cold
you love 
and the cold
you love
to hate
is relative

1/17/11 by Don Rearden

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Ghosts in Our Old School House

This is where I want you to be afraid.  Stop for a second and feel the air around you. Is it suddenly a little cooler? Can you feel the cliché, the hair standing on your neck? Is there someone reading this over your shoulder, perhaps a shadow standing in the doorway?
I'm twelve. It's Halloween.  I live in a small apartment inside an old school building on the bumpy Alaskan tundra in a Yup'ik village. The building has something of a history. My friends tell me this. The villagers who teach in the school with my mom won't stay in a classroom alone.  The school cook takes students with her to retrieve supplies down the long corridors that connect the school to the boilerroom, storage, and abandoned teacher's quarters. In a village with each house cramped, every inch of floor covered with a body and a blanket at night, there are three vacant buildings.
Each one, connected to my house by a long narrow hallway that leads to darkness.
A teacher wrapped a rope around his throat and swung from a rafter in the abandoned teachers quarters. Another died of a heart attack during a school Halloween haunted house. This is the school building I called home for a year of my life.  I would be lying if I told you I wasn't slightly terrified of that place then, or even today after they razed it - a new school built over the top. 
It wasn't so much the lights going on and off, or the windows and doors opening and closing. Or hearing the balls bouncing, and thinking the janitor might want to shoot hoops - only to look down the long dark hallway to an even darker gym.
Even that Halloween night, when I sat there - lights off - in the school office chatting on the phone, when one of the gray filing cabinet doors slowly rolled open with a metallic groan - even then I wasn't as scared as I am now.
--------------------Because now I know something I didn't know then. ---------------------
See, my mom could explain things.  She could explain the lights turning on and off. She could explain the footsteps in the hallway. She could even explain the cabinet I watched open from some invisible bony hand. The lights, she said, were part of the generator problem, and the doors and windows opened from the strong arctic drafts rushing through the building. The footsteps? Those were the building shifting from the permafrost, or a janitor working late.  The cabinet? It always opened like that -  why else would she tape it shut? The tape must have come loose.
This was how I became a skeptic.  This was how I stopped believing. Things can be explained. Everything had a logical explanation. There was nothing to be afraid of.
Then one cold dark Alaskan night ----- make it stormy, too ---and don't forget that figure standing in the doorway ----- mom explained something else.  She explained away her explanations.  Those were the worst nights of my life, she said. With your dad working in Bethel.  Just your sisters and you, and me.
------------------And the ghosts.
It was all a lie ========
- like Santa and that damn chocolate egg laying bunny ……….
She lied about the lights,  she lied about the footsteps, and she lied about the voices - yes I forgot to mention the voices because it's 2 am and as I write this I'm scared, again.
 She lied because she, "didn't want us afraid in our own home."
 She didn't want us to fear the place like she did.
 She even spoke to the air and said, "Look, I live here now too.  Don't you bother my babies."    
But they did.   
One night my sister Beth, Shirley Temple curls, four or five at the time, stood at Mom's bedside and whispered, "There's someone standing there."
Mom let Beth crawl in with her, but she could feel it too. Whatever it was, whomever it was, standing there beside them at the edge of the bed. 
She covered their heads with the blanket and prayed for sleep.
Thanks. Thanks a lot, Mom.
Now I live in my own home, and I'm scared. Not because of the ghosts in our old school house, but because now I have to confront these ghosts. I have to believe.  I can't just want to believe.  I have to somehow, believe the events I witnessed, the events we all witnessed were real. The events we experienced during that year were real. And now they are some sort of evidence.  But evidence of what?  Of life after death?   
To believe in ghosts, is to believe in spirits.   
Then too, spirits must leave a body at some time, and where do they go? Old school buildings on the tundra?
Is it too much to believe? And, why all the fuss about believing in the unbelievable anyway?  What propels this desire to need something other than the ordinary life to believe in?
 Why look to the heavens, the mountains, the undiscovered country, the darkness -  for answers to questions we won't listen to? 
- - -  is there no one right question to ask????????
Not one, particular piece of pie to solve the equation, or prove beyond all doubt and reason,  there is anything left in which we should (not) believe?
And those GHOSTS… those footsteps in the hall? Those basketballs bouncing in the darkness? The voices?  Am I supposed to believe they are the proof I need?
The proof we all long for but refuse to  accept?

[This is an excerpt from an old essay I wrote a while back, thought you might enjoy it for Halloween! If you're looking for a scary read check out my novel The Raven's Gift.]

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Alaskan Book Week and You...(Alaskans and all!)

Alaskan Book Week is in full swing, my friends. Crazy bookish events are happening all across our state. This is a beautiful and important new event. As a someone who teaches preparatory writing at the college, I see more than my fair share of students who are under-prepared for college level work. They nearly all share the same sad history of one key element lacking in their lives. They don't read. Most, probably 95% of them haven't ever read a single novel. This isn't a failure on their part, it's a failure on our part. Of our schools, our families, and our communities. We can combat this lack of a love for literature. That's something I plan to talk about this week at two separate events.

In my mind, Alaska Book Week is as much about getting more Alaskans reading and inspiring young future writers as it is about raising the profile of all the amazing writing being done by Alaskans.  I'm doing my part by participating as much as humanly possible this week. I even accidentally found myself over booked and will sadly miss an event at my own community council meeting tonight, but that small local meeting has to give way for a much larger event, a talk and reading in Girdwood that will be broadcast at libraries around the entire state of Alaska at 6:30.  Some participating libraries are: Girdwood, Glennallen, Craig, Kenai, Cordova, Seward, Bethel, and Valdez.

I'm also the keynote speaker for the Great Alaskan Book Fair, this Friday night! More info at

Have a great Alaska Book Week, and if you can get out and support your local authors, and make time to read to the kids (or if you're without kids of your own, go volunteer to read at a local school!).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Deliquescence: A Meditation in Seven Parts

Liz Bradfield, and amazing poet friend of mine from grad school at UAA is doing some cool new work. Here is a piece that just appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, and also has been featured as a trippy new video on AQR's new YouTube Channel. Check it out, and listen to someone who will be recognized as one of America's great new poets. (Mark my words!) And give the video some love with a thumbs up and share it with your friends!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hottest Book Giveaway Ever is OVER!

Well folks, the hottest eBook giveaway ever is over. I seriously thought that such a crazy and simple contest would draw more participants. I mean who gives away a new Kindle Fire loaded with FIVE kindles from some of the greatest writers in America?

I did. And with only a few dozen entrants the odds were pretty amazing.  Half the participants were from rural Alaska, where my novel The Raven's Gift was set, and the grand prize winner, Debbie Hagedorn, a teacher at the Kuskokwim Learning Academy in Bethel won the Kindle Fire! While Bethel is my hometown, I haven't lived there in about ten years, which is when Debbie moved to this little oasis on the tundra. I was pleasantly surprised to find the winner happened to be living there where I once lived and where a portion of the novel takes place. The winner of print copy of the novel was Kent Johnson from Arizona, and The Raven's Gift Kindle winner was Cindy Bell (who doesn't have a Kindle, so we might be having another giveaway!).

True to my promise, Debbie scored a Kindle Fire AND five Kindles from authors who blurbed my novel! This was no easy selection, as she had way too many great authors to choose from. Who would you pick from in this list of amazing authors?

Seth Kantner, Jodi Picoult, Daniel Quinn, Craig Johnson, Pete Fromm, Kris Farmen, Eowyn Ivey, Bill Streever, Lesley Thomas, David Vann, Jo-Ann Mapson, and Ron Carlson.

A tough list to choose from, no doubt. Yet Debbie is bush teacher, she's tough, and was up to the challenge. Her selections, close to home and all West of the Missouri. Three Alaskans, one Montana, and one Wyoming cowboy.  Debbie will now have a Kindle Fire loaded with some great reading: Seth Kantner's Ordinary Wolves, Kris Farmen's Turnagain, Eowyn Ivey's Snow Child, Pete Fromm Indian Creek Chronicles, and Craig Johnson's Messenger

Thursday, August 22, 2013

10 Rules of Writing, Please Do Not Share When I Die

Rejection: Embrace it Like a Wet Dog

Elmore Leonard's list of 10 Rules of Writing went viral the day he left us for the great typewriter in the sky. And while that is an awesome list, probably the best ten rules ever written (sorry creator of great typewriter in the sky), I'm sure all the other great writers still living sat down at their Apple IIe's and pounded out their own ten, perhaps even eleven, rules.

Should I find myself headed towards the great typewriter in the sky (which really sounds more like hell now that I think about it), I can only hope that no one ever shares this list of my own ten rules of writing.  The last thing I want is all my work ( a few blog posts, a raunchy comedy, a bathroom stall poem, a maybe a dusty novel or two) distilled down into a list of ten rules about writing.

So please, don't share this after I die. Deal?

Don Rearden's 10 Rules of Writing*

1. Don't try to find an agent before you've written your novel.
"Wait! These are supposed to be ten rules about writing!" you say. Correct. If you're trying to find an agent or asking about how to find an agent and you haven't written anything, then you aren't writing. So really, rule #1 should just say, if you're going to write, do that first. But first read the other rules, so as to not break any more rules. Really you shouldn't even be reading any of this rule business, you should be writing, but since you're obviously not doing that, keep looking for rules that might somehow make you a better writer.

2. Quit trying to find rules that will make you a better writer.
Our society is obsessed with a short cuts. Rules a writer make something something, not doesn't sense. Quit being lazy and just go write (following the rules, naturally).

3. Struggle
Your aren't going to become a writer if you don't first struggle. I don't mean at writing. I mean life. No one wants to read a book written by a guy who learned all the rules of writing as a toddler, had a full ride at Stanford by junior high, a Pulitzer his freshman year of college, and then married the heiress to the Twinkie Corporation. Even if that guy writes a mean sentence, no one wants to hear about how agents and editors mob him every time he opens up a Word Doc. You need to struggle. Work a crappy job. Be poor. Go to jail. Drink. Go to war. Have ten kids. Drink. You know struggle. This won't make your writing any richer, but you'll have more street cred when you actually produce something.

4. Produce Something
People talk a mean game. They have an idea for a story. They had a dream that would make a cool movie. They really want to write ________. But they don't. They talk about it while the real writers are at home struggling. Again, not on their writing, but on their lives. Keep that straight.

5. Revise What You Produce
If you haven't followed rule #4, then go back and first produce something, and you'd better damn well be struggling at life while you do it. Then read over your work out loud, preferably to your cat or dog (if you don't have a cat or dog skip to Rule #6). Then read it again, and again. Then give it to a friend or reader who won't blow smoke up your ass. If you don't have any friends, congratulations! You have at least accomplished Rule #3! Pat yourself on the back. Fortunate for you, if you have a friend who will blow actual smoke up your ass, you might also ask them for a great deal of money so that you don't have to struggle in your writing career. Don't worry, this is okay, because if you can talk the friend into the smoke or money thing, then you're already on your way.

6. Own a Cat or Dog
Don't question this. Just do it. Famous writers have pets. No pets, no publishing deal. Plus, you'll need someone who will listen to the shit you wrote before Rule #5 and you'll need someone there when you hit Rule #3. Trust me. Cat. Dog. Or both, to cover your bases.

7. Rewrite 
Take your first major piece of writing, say your first novel. Close that file. Open a new one. And rewrite the entire thing without looking at the old one. Why? Because I had to do that in grad school and it really sucked, nearly broke me (I struggled), but that struggle is what got me here today. So you should have to do this as well. Especially if you're the kind of person who reads long lists of rules about writing when you should actually be writing.

8. Revise what you Rewrote
See Rule #5 if you don't get this point. Better yet just go sit with Rule #6 on your lap and stare out your window.

9. Rewrite
Rewrite what you wrote. Again. Except this time I'm talking about that query to an agent. It's not agent time, yet, relax, You're a long way from that. Instead, find more readers. Seek out writers who are better than you. Make sure they are struggling. Then add to their burden. Ask them to read your manuscript. Correct it. Critique it. And maybe forward to their agent (after they have edited fixed the plot holes and grammatical atrocities).

10. Never Give Up
You've written your opus, and perhaps your wife, the Twinkie heiress, has lost her fortune and left you for someone who knows how to struggle and liked dogs. You can't find an agent. You can't find a publisher. All hope appears lost. You've followed all the rules. You're looking for more rules. Rules to write by. Rules to live by. Keep looking, friend, and keep writing. Never give up on the dream that some day you could die and a list you wrote might be shared around the world.

*Don't actually follow these rules. Except for maybe #1, 6, and 10.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Booklist Review --- Unstarred, but what's a Star?

A Booklist review suddenly appeared on the Amazon Page of The Raven's Gift, and it's a good one. I thought I'd share it all for you. I appreciate what the reviewer, Connie Fletcher had to say, and I really loved the imagery of the last line:

This is part dystopian survival tale, part Jack London wilderness saga, and part Stephen King/Michael Crichton–style suspense story. Holding it all together, and making this much more than a what happens when people can’t defend against a massive threat exercise, is Alaska native Rearden’s deep knowledge of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and the culture of the Yupik Eskimos living there. Rearden takes an adventurous, idealistic young couple (John and Anna), gives them jobs as first-year teachers, and plunks them in a tiny village in a tiny home free of all amenities. From the start, though, readers will know something is off: Why, in the scene before the couple’s job interview, are an unidentified man and woman crawling through the snow, looking for signs of life? The narrative consists of three separate time lines—what happened before almost everyone in the village disappeared; John and Anna’s first efforts to teach and adjust; and John’s desperate efforts to survive and return to Anna. This narrative mix is deliberately confusing, like following tracks in the snow, and just as engrossing. --Booklist, Connie Fletcher

 I'll that that review with a grin, and of course have no problems with the Jack London/Stephen King/Michael Crichton comparison! So who needs a "starred review" with those stars involved, right?

(Don't forget to sign up for the Kindle Fire Giveaway! Only a few days left! See the other posts for details!)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Poem: in the presence of a God, dead

Tundra Raven, photo by Julien Jacobs

In the Presence of a God, dead
A raven
rumpled black
in the snow
this vision
haunts me still

a people's creator
his power lost
long before a wing
clipped the wires
--the new power--
hanging over the land
Sometimes I still stand
over the ruffled raven corpse
the cold burns my cheeks
I blink ice
and wonder what one
should do
in the presence of a god,
dead and
I cannot bury him
in the crusty white
covering the tundra

(April 3/2009)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Turn Again --- and a Kindle Fire!

An Alaskan "Must Read" Novel

All the excitement of the Washington Post review nearly had me forgetting that I was running the hottest book giveaway ever! Now we only have two weeks left, so I'd better get to sharing with you some of the cool possibilities!

Today I want to highlight my buddy Kris Farmen's novel Turn Again. This is an incredible Alaskan novel, and the first novel I had the honor to provide a blurb for:

“Kris Farmen’s Turn Again is a spellbinding masterpiece. A powerful epic with unforgettable characters, rich Alaskan history and culture, and an authentic glimpse at a time when humanity was forsaken in the name of progress. Farmen has crafted a haunting tale of mythical transformation and lost love. There is much to be learned from this modern parable.”
            —Don Rearden, author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Raven’s Gift
And while I might be a creative writer and story teller, the above is simply fact. Farmen writes one hell of a story, and an important one at that. He's such a gifted writer that I often wonder how much fiction he put into his own blurb for my novel, which has found its way in the new Canadian Pintail edition of The Raven's Gift:

"Don Rearden is a masterful storyteller, and an artist of extraordinary talent and vision. Like all great books, The Raven’s Gift transcends geography and culture; it provides a window into what it means to be human in an age when humanity is all too often pushed aside and those who live at the margins forsaken in the name of political expedience."
–Kris Farmen, author of Turn Again and The Devil's Share

What is definitely not in question is that Kris Farmen can flat out write a great story. You'll have the chance to agree with me if you win the Kindle Fire in my giveaway and choose to have Kris's book as one of the books the Kindle will come with!

Here is how to enter:

There are THREE ways to win! You can do ONE or all THREE!

1. Read the first chapter of the book for free on my website.
Then answer the following question:  The main characters nearly 1000 mile trek will begin on what river? Send your answer to

2. Post a photo of yourself with your copy of The Raven's Gift on the Facebook page here.

3. Order your Kindle, iBook, or Nook copy of The Raven's Gift and tell your friends and family on your Facebook page, Twitter, or wherever and email a link to your posting at

But wait!!! There will be more ways to win will coming over the coming weeks. I'll draw a winner of the grand prize for the Kindle Fire on August 30th. Books and ebooks will be given away from now until then!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Today: A rare glimpse at an old poem of mine.

Now With Regret

from my first footsteps on the tundra
Kindergarten & 8th Grade Graduation. I'm the under-dressed kid.
I wanted to learn from the people
Raven made from a ball of clay
I wanted to speak with them
their language came from the earth
mine, a theft of all those before it

I tried at first,
but couldn’t escape the mirror of
that pale faced boy, who came before me
too much to bear
or perhaps
I used Adam as an excuse
my cowardice
not to learn

When their words kissed my ears
I would answer back
quietly in Kassatuun

in Kass'aq

White man.

so secretly longing to share
but not brave enough to choke on my pride
ignorance burning in my cheeks

Now with regret
I pour over books
and try to make my old brain
absorb and remember
everything I didn’t allow myself to become


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Authors and Bloggers! Join my Kindle Fire Giveaway!

Authors and Book Bloggers have the opportunity to join in the hottest book and Kindle giveaway ever! Read more to find out how to participate!

Sorry, this Give Away is too Hot for Polar Bears!
First, let me get you up to speed. On August 30th, I'll be drawing to see who wins a Kindle Fire loaded with great authors who have blurbed my novel The Raven's Gift. If you're an author you could join the likes of Jodi Picoult, Daniel Quinn, Eowyn Ivey, Craig Johnson, David Vann, Pete Fromm, Seth Kantner, Bill Streever, Kris Farmen, Jo Ann Mapson, Lesley Thomas, and Alaska Quarterly Review Editor Ronald Spatz!  All you need to do is get your hands on a copy of the novel and read it and post on via your own social media and tag me or send me your blurb for the novel before August 30th and I'll include your novel in the list of authors that the winner of the Kindle Fire can choose from!

If you're a book blogger, all you need to do is feature this contest on your blog and promote it to your readership, or better yet write a short review of the book! Either way will get you entered to win yourself (just be sure to let me know!).

And what about the author/bloggers? You over achievers...pick which one works for you! The blurb option gives you a chance to have your ebook promoted in the contest, so you decide! Or do both?

Here is a recap of the contest:

The Kindle Fire that I give away will also come with a copy of The Raven's Gift AND the winner's choice of FIVE --- you read that correctly FIVE ebooks from the authors who have blurbed the novel.

I'll also be giving away e-editions of my novel and some actual old fashion and totally burnable editions of The Raven's Gift!

So you've read this far --- thanks --- now how do you win? It's simple!!! There are THREE ways to win! You can do ONE or all THREE!

1. Read the first chapter of the book for free on my website.
Then answer the following question:  The main characters nearly 1000 mile trek will begin on what river? Send your answer to

2. Post a photo of yourself with your copy of The Raven's Gift on the Facebook page here.

3. Order your Kindle, iBook, or Nook copy of The Raven's Gift and tell your friends and family on your Facebook page, Twitter, or wherever and email a link to your posting at

But wait!!! There will be more ways to win will coming over the coming weeks. I'll draw a winner of the grand prize for the Kindle Fire on August 30th. Books and ebooks will be given away from now until then!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cool book for a Hot Giveaway!

The concept for the giveaway is simple. One lucky reader will play along and get a Kindle Fire and his or her choice of five of the dozen or so amazing authors who have written blurbs for The Raven's Gift.

Are you a fan of non-fiction? How about some totally cool science writing from my friend, best selling writer, Bill Streever --- author of Cold: Adventures in the World's Coldest Places and Heat: Adventures in the World's Fiery Places, both are great reads with the perfect mix of science and story and will leave you either chilled or sweating but definitely jealous of Bill's incredible adventures around the world.

Here is what Bill had to say about The Raven's Gift:

"The Raven's Gift is a page turner with a message: We Alaskans are lost if we cannot find our own way." Bill Streever, author of Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places

Streever is just one of the authors the winner could choose to have put on the new Kindle Fire. 

There are THREE ways to win! You can try ONE or all THREE!

1. Read the first chapter of the book for free on my website.
Then answer the following question:  The main characters nearly 1000 mile trek will begin on what river? Send your answer to

2. Post a photo of yourself with your copy of The Raven's Gift on the Facebook page here.

3. Order your Kindle, iBook, or Nook copy of The Raven's Gift and tell your friends and family on your Facebook page, Twitter, or wherever and email a link to your posting at

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Win some Alaskan Summer Beach Reading and a Kindle Fire!

Beach life in Alaska --- a rock bar in Prince William Sound.
Our Alaskan summer has been insanely nice. Sure the occaisional mosquito flies off with some poor old lady's dog, but that is just par for the course with endless summer sunshine.
And with summer sun comes the need to read a few good books. So what is better than a good book? Easy. A FREE book!
With this latest giveaway you'll have the opportunity to win a copy of my novel, which should make for some great summer reading --- and if you don't believe me you can see what other authors have to say about the book AND you could win one of their books. How cool is that? Here's the deal.You'll have the chance to win a Kindle Fire and pick five of the authors who have written blurbs for the novel!

Are you a fan of the Walt Longmire Mysteries? Here is what Craig Johnson had to say about The Raven's Gift:

"At first glance, The Raven's Gift might appear to be an epic thriller set in the ancient land of the Yup'ik tundra, but it goes much farther than that into the delicate frontiers of the human heart--the best book I've read this year."
-Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries

You can read more of the blurbs here and think about who you'd pick!

There are THREE ways to win! You can try ONE or all THREE!

1. Read the first chapter of the book for free on my website.
Then answer the following question:  The main characters nearly 1000 mile trek will begin on what river? Send your answer to

2. Post a photo of yourself with your copy of The Raven's Gift on the Facebook page here.

3. Order your Kindle, iBook, or Nook copy of The Raven's Gift and tell your friends and family on your Facebook page, Twitter, or wherever and email a link to your posting at

But wait!!! There will be more ways to win will coming over the coming weeks. I'll draw a winner of the grand prize for the Kindle Fire on August 30th. Books and ebooks will be given away from now until then!

*Water-logged books that have been submerged in floods, boating disasters, or toilets void this warranty.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Win a Kindle Fire! Here is how you do it!

The Raven's Gift comes out on Kindle today! 

Help me send The Raven's Gift to the kindle best seller list. Order yours today then enter yourself into my Kindle Fire giveaway! You could become the proud new owner of this hot device, loaded with  your choice of the authors who blurbed the novel! There is more than one chance to win, too.

There are THREE ways to win! You can do ONE or all THREE!

1. Read the first chapter of the book for free on my website.
Then answer the following question:  The main characters nearly 1000 mile trek will begin on what river? Send your answer to

2. Post a photo of yourself with your copy of The Raven's Gift on the Facebook page here.

3. Order your Kindle, iBook, or Nook copy of The Raven's Gift and tell your friends and family on your Facebook page, Twitter, or wherever and email a link to your posting at

But wait!!! There will be more ways to win will coming over the coming weeks. I'll draw a winner of the grand prize for the Kindle Fire on August 30th. Books and ebooks will be given away from now until then!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Hottest Book Giveaway. Ever.

Feel lucky? You could win a Kindle Fire!
To celebrate the digital release of The Raven's Gift, I've decided to do the unthinkable. This crazy giveaway all stems from my initial complaint about eBooks. Should disaster strike, perhaps like one of those that ensues in my novel, eBooks will provide comfort and entertainment for sure, but when it comes to essentials like starting an emergency fire for cooking or warmth, well eBooks won't be so helpful. Right?

Plus, the eBook dilemma has forced my hand on the 100% guarantee* that I've been giving readers of The Raven's Gift. So far, I've made the wild promise readers will like the book, or I guarantee their money back if it doesn't make good fire-starter! Apparently an iBook or a Kindle doesn't work with the guarantee and my crack shot legal team at Angstman Law and Old Friendly Dog farm, assure me that imaginary fires for digital books won't make for a very successful legal defense.

Enter the Kindle Fire! No need to worry about legal issues about burning books and the need for emergency heat or cooking! The fine folks at Amazon (and their own crackshot legal team) have provided the solution to my worries! eBooks now come with their own fire! (Or at least Kindles have that ability --- perhaps Apple is already working on some version? Perhaps the iFire?)
Actual burnable copies of The Raven's Gift

Starting tomorrow --- when The Raven's Gift is released on Kindle and Nook (already available on iBook) I'll be hosting the hottest author giveaway EVER. You'll have your very own chance to win a Kindle Fire and other great prizes!!

But wait!!! There is more!

The Kindle Fire that I give away will also come with a copy of The Raven's Gift AND the winner's choice of FIVE --- you read that correctly FIVE ebooks from the authors who have blurbed the novel. That means you could have a Kindle with your choice of books from great authors like Jodi Picoult, Craig Johnson, Daniel Quinn, Ron Carlson, Jo-Ann Mapson, David Vann, Seth Kantner, Pete Fromm, Bill Streever, Kris Farmen, Leslie Fields, and more!!! (More authors might also add their name to the hat as the giveaway continues!)

But wait!!! There is more!

I'll also be giving away e-editions of my novel and some actual old fashion and totally burnable editions of The Raven's Gift!

So you've read this far --- thanks --- now how do you win? It's simple!!! There are THREE ways to win! You can do ONE or all THREE!

1. Read the first chapter of the book for free on my website.
Then answer the following question:  The main characters nearly 1000 mile trek will begin on what river? Send your answer to

2. Post a photo of yourself with your copy of The Raven's Gift on the Facebook page here.

3. Order your Kindle, iBook, or Nook copy of The Raven's Gift and tell your friends and family on your Facebook page, Twitter, or wherever and email a link to your posting at

But wait!!! There will be more ways to win will coming over the coming weeks. I'll draw a winner of the grand prize for the Kindle Fire on August 30th. Books and ebooks will be given away from now until then!

*Water-logged books that have been submerged in floods, boating disasters, or toilets void this warranty.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Born On June 25th, 2013 --- Finally!

After nearly about 30 year of dreaming and writing and more dreaming, and five years of hard work and high hopes with a few doubts and frustrations and heart-break thrown in for good measure, The Raven's Gift is legitimately home. Today is PUB day for the novel here in the US with Penguin and Pintail Books.

And I have so many people to thank for this amazing honor, and --- quite honestly --- absolute dream come true. I really would like to list off all those folks I owe such a huge debt of gratitude too, but for fear of leaving just one fine soul out, I'll just slather a huge blanket of thanks to all those involved in helping me get the book home and to all those who believed in the story. From the folks who paid such crazy prices for the bootlegged copies from Canada to the people who signed petitions and mailed them to American publishers and everyone in between. There has literally been a village of people involved in helping me make this dream a reality. You all know who you are and you all better damned well know that I love you and won't ever forget all you've done for me.

This is but a brief post, but today is a special moment
for me, not to mention a gorgeous Alaskan summer day, so I'm getting outside to enjoy the sunshine. Thanks again for all your support!


Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Magic of an Anonymous Donor

This week marks a pretty important milestone for me, publication of my novel here in my own country on the 25th and an awesome combo book launch and fundraiser for the Alaska Red Cross's Disaster Relief fund for this spring's devastating floods in rural Alaska. I didn't really anticipate the possibility of anything more amazing happening this week --- why should I? --- and then I awake today to an email in my inbox notifying me of that an anonymous donor gave a $1000 to the campaign for Galena on CrowdRise!

Until today, I'd never really given too much thought about the magic of an anonymous donor and a donation. I often give this way myself, usually playing with the moniker, "Anony-moose," but never with that many zeroes! What strikes me about such a generous anonymous donation is that it leaves folks wondering just who did it. Who was so kind and caring they could give so much? And better yet is that once that name, "Anonymous" is placed the donor could be anyone and everyone. Such acts of are beyond heart-warming, they force us to reconsider what we do and why we do it. They make us look into the faces of complete strangers and ask ourselves, "Could it be her?" These acts also force  us to look in the mirror and wonder how we might be able to have such an impact as well.

I did not expect to wake up this morning with a totally different outlook on the week, moreover on the world. I want to thank Anonymous personally. I want hug him or her. Share my thoughts on such kindness. Say how grateful I am. Assure that the donation will help folks who are desperately in need in Galena and surrounding villages. So if you're reading this Anonymous --- quyana-cakneq, to you, Yup'ik for "Many thanks." Your generosity will be spread throughout this week and beyond by myself and others --- as I discover once again how The Raven's Gift gives not just to my readers, but also to myself as I learn more about the lengths real human beings will go to help one another.



Friday, June 21, 2013

Flying High with Raven's Brew & Raven's Gift

Raven's Brew Logo of a Raven flying up out of a cup with a grizzly bear and another raven

I'm excited to announce a cool partnership with Raven's Brew Coffee! The kind folks there loved The Raven's Gift and will be providing some great door prizes at the book's launch on June 27th at Tap Root, in Anchorage.

Today we've got a giveaway on their Face Book page! Click your way there, like their page, and comment on the section where you see the cover of my novel and you'll have a chance to win a signed copy of The Raven's Gift! And while you're at it, try some of their delicious coffee!

Four more days until The Raven's Gift comes out in the US, and while I wait for that high, I'll be enjoying a cup of Raven's Brew!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Good News about the June 27th Launch!

The news just keeps getting better, friends!

I'm extremely excited to announce that we've not only got Fireside Books lined up to sell books and donate some of the proceeds to the Red Cross Alaska fund for the flood victims at the launch next week, but we'll also have a Red Cross representative on hand to speak briefly about the on-going efforts to help those impacted by the historic spring flooding on the Yukon and surrounding tributaries.

If you haven't read Kyle Hopkins incredible reporting for Anchorage Daily News on the flooding, please check out his stories here.

For those who can't attend the launch, but would still like to help the flood victims, I've joined a local team for some on-line fund-raising and will have some prizes announced soon for those who can donate!  You can check that out here! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Party, Booklaunch, & Now a Fundraiser for Galena!

John "Hannibal" Smith from the A-Team pretty much said it best with, "I love it when a plan comes together."  And the plan, my friends is shaping up nicely. Good fun will be had at Anchorage's Tap Root the June 27th launch of The Raven's Gift, but more importantly good will also be accomplished that evening.

As many of you know, this novel is about a horrific catastrophe striking rural Alaska --- and no one from the outside comes to help. Well --- we can't let that be the case in the real life tragedy that has struck the village of Galena, recently destroyed by an unprecedented flood.  The state and federal government's response has been slow, but outside organizations and surrounding villages are doing all they can to help. And now we can offer our help as well and have a good time for a good cause.

More info will be coming shortly about the fund-raising efforts, and the fun is already in place with great music acts by Bethel's Kevin Morgan, Homer's blue grass trio Burnt Down House, Steve Blanchett from Pamyua, and Anchorage's Jonathan Bower. Our MC for the evening will be the one and only Eskimo Bob.

The overly generous David Cheezem, owner of Fireside Books, will be donating a percent of the book sales from the launch to the fund for the people of Galena! So when you buy a copy at the launch you'll be helping Alaskans in need! 

This is a family event, so bring the kids and the grand parents. There will be plenty of door prizes, including some sweet swag from Raven's Brew Coffee!

Mark your calender -- June 27th, 6-9pm. Tap Root. Anchorage. If you can't make it, or live out of town, stay tuned. You may be able to join us streaming and/or help the folks in Galena with one of my giveaways and win some cool stuff online!

More info or RSVP here!  And if you're into it "Like" The Raven's Gift FB page while you're at it!



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Book Launch 101 --- A Kick Ass Planning Guide

I'm about to launch my debut novel The Raven's Gift in the US. It's a long story, that I'll tell somewhere else, but this will be my second time throwing a book party for the novel here in Alaska. Let's just say I was so happy when the novel came out in Canada a few years back that I threw a giant party to celebrate publication.  What I'm going to share with you here is what I did then, and what I am planning to do now, so that if you are so fortunate as to have a party of your own, you can hopefully get a few ideas and learn a little about what I did.

First let me tell you that the first party was successful.  What I mean by successful is this: when the party was over I'd sold all the books (over 100), people thanked me for the good time, and I had several press write-ups about the party within the week. I can't guarantee the same results for you if you follow the steps below, nor can I guarantee the same steps will work for me in a few weeks, but a little event planning and forethought will go a long ways; however, I can guarantee you one thing in today's publishing paradigm, the party is on you. Don't expect your publisher to foot the bill or plan your launch. Sure, if you name is Dan Brown or Grisham --- then maybe someone will do the work for you, but don't count on it.

Here's the plan:

  1. Write out what your idea scenario for the launch will be. What are you expecting or hoping for? What will be a successful event? What do you think a launch will do for your book sales? 
  2. Find a venue. Choose a place that fits your vision for a launch. Are you looking for a casual setting or something more raucous. Think outside the box. I held my first launch in a brewery pub that had a large theater. This killed two birds with one stone --- good beer and a performance area. This suited my vision for the launch. I was hoping for an eclectic mix of music and literary performances from my gifted Alaskan friends. (More on having gifted friends below.) Don't break the bank. Find a place that will benefit from your patronage. See if they'll donate space or give you a break on the usual rate. It doesn't hurt to ask. I didn't and later felt stupid for not doing so because I know the venue made a great deal of money from the bar, not to mention the appetizers I'd purchased for those in attendance. 
  3. Set a Date. This seems obvious, but also should be something you've thought out. The date needs to fit with your book's publication date, but should also work for your venue and your friends, family, and fans. Check local event calenders so that you're not competing with other cool events. Think about work schedules and holidays. Then set the date and get the date posted on those same local calendars. Most of those are free and often lead to publication in local papers.
  4. Talent. What is this? Talent? Yes. Ideally you are signing books. People want to see you and hear you, but they also want some face time with you. The best way to cover this is to have cool artists, remember those gifted friends I mentioned earlier? This is the time to call them and invite them to your event and ask if they'd sing a song or two, tell a joke, read a poem, or ride a unicycle around the stage. Seriously. The best thing I ever did for my launch was to make it enjoyable for the audience and for myself. I'm lucky that I do have talented friends. I had amazing poets read, like Joan Kane and Jeremy Pataky. I had a crazy gifted musicians play, guitarist and singer song-writer Kevin Morgan. I had the Blanchet brothers sing, both members of the world famous indigenous group Pamyua. And to tie it all together I had "Eskimo Bob" from Eskimo Bob Lives as the funny and at times painful roast-master MC the whole thing. While you don't need such a smorgasbord of talent, you should think of someone to at least MC besides yourself. The more time you can have others on stage, entertaining the more time you get to spend enjoying yourself, celebrating your special occasion really, and more importantly conversing with the people who will become a part of your marketing and publicity machine --- those friends, family, fans, journalists, and dignitaries you've invited. 
  5. Invite list and press release. Make your party public and free. Use social media to invite everyone you can. Send a press release to local media outlets. Invite politicians and anyone related thematically to your book. You've written a book about zombies? Make a special effort to invite zombies and those who hunt them. 
  6. Tie in or theme? Is there something clever and inexpensive you can do to make the party more memorable? For my first launch I purchased giant cans of fruit and a few cases of Spam as centerpieces on the tables. This fit with the survivalist theme of the novel and those cans served as hilarious and cheap door prizes. And let me tell you, people were damn excited to win a gallon can of pears! For my book launch in a few weeks I've managed to get some cool companies to sponsor the giveaways --- more on that in the coming days, but the tie-ins fit thematically with the novel and are killer.  Remember, people like free stuff and if you can do a few door prizes and offer some actual quality prizes to go with the fun or funny stuff more folks will leave happy and talking about your book. 
  7. Leave them wanting more. Plan for a fun event. Research what others have done and what has worked and have fun. If you have fun, the people who attend probably will to. Oddly this party really isn't about you or for you, or at least it shouldn't be. This isn't really even about you selling all the books you bring. The book launch is to do just that --- launch your book into the world. No single person ever launched a rocket-ship successfully, right? It takes a team. So too does launching a book. You need the help of friends and family. You need your community. Celebrate those people you love and who love you and let them share in your publication. If you have a good party you'll leave them wanting more, and perhaps, if you're lucky, you'll be planning a second launch like I am!
[More to come on Launch planning, including what I have in store for the US debut of The Raven's Gift and what not to do and/or lessons learned.]

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

T-Minus 14 Days...The Raven's Gift is coming...

The French Edition --- comes out June 13
In fourteen days my novel The Raven's Gift will finally be available in the United States. After a slight detour through Canada in 20122 with Penguin Canada, then a brief jaunt Down Under in Australia and then New Zealand with Text Publishing, and one final little touch down June 13th for some great dining and wine in France with Fleuve Noir --- then this little award-winning, world traveling suspense thriller will be available in the actual country the book and story originated.

Sure there were bootlegged copies, smuggled across international bordered by mules. Sure folks were sneaking over to Canada for hockey and poutine and uploading the book on their Kindles ---but finally, the fine citizenry of this great country will be able to enjoy the story legally and without fear of the library police!

Stay tuned for the next couple weeks as I roll out some incredible giveaways and fun. And be sure to join us for the celebration on June 27th in Anchorage if you're in town at the Tap Root for the launch. More on that later, too!

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Poem-A-Day Challenge for April (and Beyond)

[This blogpost first appeared on the 49 Writers Blog on May 2, 2013]

When the cruelest month rolls around each year I step out from my office at UAA and throw the poetic gauntlet down the hall to my buddy and colleague, Professor Shannon Gramse.  Shannon is a cross-country skier extraordinaire, gifted teacher, and Co-Editor of the journal Ice-Floe. He is also a poet. My bold challenge to him has always been for each of us to write a poem a day for April, National Poetry month. At the end of the challenge the loser --- yours truly ---buys lunch and we go over the best poems of the batch and discuss them.

Here's where I admit to you my darkest secret. Please don't tell him. I'm actually the winner. Not only do I get the practice of penning several dozen poems, but I get to an inside glimpse at some real poetry. The work of someone who studies poetry, thinks poetry, and is both a student and master of the craft. Me? I'm actually not a poet. I'm also not a novelist. Or a memoirist. Or screenwriter. Or short story-ist. Growing up where I did in southwestern Alaska, no one told me I needed to pick one mode and master it. So I didn't. I went with a duct tape approach to writing and found myself and my writing adhering to a little of this and that. For me the character, stories, or ideas find the form themselves. Still, each April slips like melting dogshit beneath the Xtratuf and I am drawn to poetry, and secretly hope I can talk Shannon into sharing a month's worth of work with me. 
This year something struck me, perhaps the fall and subsequent head trauma after slipping on said dog-doo, and I decided I would not only write a poem every day for the entire month, but I would share them. Not just share them with my pal Shannon or maybe my mom, but the world (or at least the on-line world, the rather small world who frequents blogs and/or actually reads web published poetry.).  At best, a few people would read the poems, right? At worst, I'd only write a couple and fail publicly, or worse yet people would actually read the poems and then know that stuff I say about me not being a poet is true.

Do I dare? Do I dare? I asked myself, throwing Prufrock out with the tea and coffeespoons. 
I dared.
The results were not at all what I expected, nor would I anticipate the responses from readers around the world.

Each day I wrote a poem and posted it to my blog, usually accompanying the poem with some sort of photo. The poems were inspired by my day to day life. Thoughts during the day. Experiences with my son. Breaking news. Concerns about humanity. The brilliance happening in Juneau during the legislative session. You know. What ever struck me. What ever form found its way on the page. There was simply no method to my madness. I often wrote them on my iPhone while putting my son down for a nap, singing ABC's at the same time.  Later I might read the poem aloud to my dogs/son/moose in window, edit on the fly, and share via social media. Facebook. Twitter. Google Plus. (I know, I know, that's ridiculous, but as an author with my first novel finally being published in the US this June, after a few years and few countries preceding the US pub date, I leave no social media form un-liked.)
Naturally friends and family were supportive. Some laughed. Some cried. Many many Facebook likes were liked. Some begin to share the poems with their friends. Those responses fueled me. People began to expect a poem by mid-morning. I'd get requests or funny comments saying, "You're late! Where is my poem?" Things like that. 
Then a few teachers asked if they could reprint the poems and share them with their class. KYUK, the public radio station in Bethel where I grew up, took my poem "Seal Oil Salesman" and read it to goofy circus music. [Click to listen here.] News outlets shared several of the poems. People sent countless private messages of thanks. In one month's time I had over ten thousand hits to my little infrequent and poorly designed blog.
I share all of this not to bolster my already fragile ego. No. I'm sure that will be shattered when I sit down again with the real poet, Shannon Gramse, and read his beautiful poems. I share this with you to toss the poetic gauntlet your direction, and perhaps I won't even limit it to poetry. Let's open the challenge to all forms. Write I say. Write and share some of your work with your friends and the world. You don't have to hoard all your words for some future publication (or in my case save them to submit to journals for rejection). Instead hit "share" and people will "like" them.
Don Rearden is not a poet, or a novelist; in fact, he didn't even write this. He's testing out a new APP that picks up his brain waves, sorts all three of them, and publishes blog posts while writing poems, novels, screenplays, and book publicity. His debut novel comes out again, the forth time, this June with Penguin US.