Alaska life

Karrie Pavish Anderson’s Story of Surviving the Yukon River Flood

Karrie Pavish Anderson. Courtesy photo
Karrie Pavish Anderson. Courtesy photo

I started following Karrie Pavish Anderson on Twitter about a year ago. Karrie lives in Galena, Alaska and is a singer songwriter. Along with many other Alaskans and the world, I saw the devastation of the flood in Galena and other villages caused by an ice jam on the Yukon River during spring break up this year. I reached out to Karrie recently to ask her how she and her family are doing. She shared her story below.

*****

Karrie’s Story of Surviving the Yukon River Flood
My sister and I left Galena about four days before the flood. We, along with other Galena Young Life volunteers, had gone to Wasilla for the Galena Young Life fundraising banquet. Our husbands remained home, and two of my sister’s children were also still in Galena. I remember standing on the bank of Sheep Creek as it broke that weekend, wishing I could be with my husband and our dog watching the Yukon break. Break-up is one of my favorite times of year since I moved to Galena. The power of the Yukon is immense; it shakes the ground and carves land from its banks. So I called my husband, and he said it looked like things would flood, as was predicted with the late break up. At that point, there was only a couple feet of water. I saw neighbors and students posting photos on Facebook of kids in canoes at the playground.

Crow Creek trucks submerged in Galena. Photo by Jason Kopp
Crow Creek trucks submerged in Galena. Photo by Jason Kopp

But the next day, we received entirely different reports from family and friends. My sister Kim received a call from her sister-in-law who was at the Galena airport with other young mothers, children and babies. Elders had already been evacuated by the Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC), and mothers were told to boat with their children to the airport. But when they arrived, they were told there were no planes for them.  The sister-in-law, who is usually very level headed, spoke to my sister frantically, saying she could see the ice up near the dike. She was afraid the dike would break and they would all perish. She told Kim to please get pilots to fly them all out.

My sister’s phone battery was nearly dead. She had time for one phone call. She didn’t have battery to call all the missionary pilots she knew, so she called one of our Young Life volunteers and gave her instructions. When Kim got back, she and I started a mini command center from our Dad’s place just north of Willow.  YL volunteer Adrian Johnson connected with a number of pilots who immediately prepared to evacuate Galena residents when our mayor gave the word.

Kim’s daughter Kaylin, a sophomore at Alaska Christian College, had a cell that was still working in Galena. She texted us with updates, telling us how high the water was on our street and such. Then she said her Dad and neighbor Ross Tulloch were taking her and the neighborhood children via boat to be evacuated.  By then, Kaylin told us water had surged around five feet in 30 minutes. I asked Kaylin to take a few photos during their trek, as long as she had enough battery for emergencies.

Daniel Kopp looks out their living room window to see none of the ground, just the flood waters rising. Photo by Kaylin Kopp
Daniel Kopp looks out their living room window to see none of the ground, just the flood waters rising. Photo by Kaylin Kopp

I spent about 18 hours per day working on Facebook and email in the early days of the flood, and my sister was on the phone that amount of time. People asked me on FB how they could help, so I suggested to Kim that we needed to start a fund where people could give money that would be used 100% on the ground in Galena. We started Galena Rebuilders with Chris Kopp, the pastor of Galena Bible Church. We networked all day with politicians, pastors, organizations, cell providers and pilots. We had little sleep. By then, over 200 were evacuated by missionary pilots, one plane load by the Galena City School District, and twelve hours later, another 32 people by the State. Our husbands stayed in Galena, as did most of our neighbors out at Crow Creek.

Patrick Anderson (Karrie's husband) took this photo from the upstairs of his home where he stayed until flood waters receded. Boats were in flood waters outside of his home.
Patrick Anderson (Karrie’s husband) took this photo from the upstairs of his home where he stayed until flood waters receded. Boats were in flood waters outside of his home.

When I read the final evacuation list and saw our husbands’ names were missing, I was in shock. It seemed like something they would do, but I had hoped they would come out away from the danger. Then I was angry. What did my husband expect to do against over six feet of water that was on our property? Then fear gripped me, until I remembered that our husbands were resourceful and handy – they would be fine as long as they kept their heads. Kim and I are gifted in networking, so it was providential that we were out before the flood. It would have been impossible for us to do all we did to get the pilots rolling and funds started if we’d been in Galena. So the thought that we were all where our gifts served best gave me some peace.

When Kaylin and her little brother got to Willow, we hugged. We were so relieved they were safe and with us! I asked her brother Daniel to tell us his evacuation story. He spent about 45 seconds telling about the actual evacuation, but then he told us about when they landed in Fairbanks. Fairbanks Pastor J.R. Stepp picked them up and took them to shelter. Daniel said he fell asleep, but when he awoke, there was orange juice. He kept telling us about the orange juice and how much there was… about how much he drank… about how good it tasted….he just kept on drinking! I had to laugh that most of his story was consumed with his orange juice consumption. But then Kaylin remarked that they didn’t even realize how thirsty they were – it had been over 15 hours since they had any fluids.

Then Kaylin took out her phone to show us photos of her evacuation. She told us that it took hours to get from Crow Creek to the airport because it was difficult to find safe passage in their boat. Some areas had full river current where they had to dodge ice bergs with their boat. Other snow machine paths still had some shallow areas that prevented the boat from continuing. She showed us photos of the water being up to the bottom of a stop sign. My sister and I were glad we didn’t know the harrowing dangers the kids faced as they were evacuated. All we knew is that they got out!

[Here is a video Kaylin made about her flood experience. It’s the video Kim showed at the churches when she was spreading awareness & doing fund raising at the churches.  We also showed it to the volunteers who came to Galena during my dinner mini-concerts so they could see what it was like.]

My husband, though without power like the rest of Galena, was able to rig a generator and used it for a few minutes each night to send me an email update since his phone service didn’t work. Kim’s husband would boat next to the lower level of our house, tie his boat there and sit in the boat to use our internet during those minutes at night. That was our life line to them. Evacuated neighbors would Facebook me to have me ask the husbands to check on chickens or belongings, or to use up frozen food that would soon be rotten if not eaten.

It was a blessing that our neighbors all stuck together. They checked up on each other as the waters subsided. Our neighborhood was cut off from the rest of Galena, so it made me feel good to know they had each other.

Kim and I continued working to get needed supplies to Galena via missionary pilots. It was exhausting. We would forget to eat, we were so busy at our little command center. I created promotional material to get the word out about the flood and how people could help. These were web-based and on cardstock. I booked some benefit concerts and raised thousands of dollars for Galena Rebuilders through those. Kim already planned to speak at churches about Galena Young Life, so she spoke about the flood at those places and handed out the postcards we made.

We started organizing volunteers. Within 10 days of the flood surge, the first volunteer from Galena Rebuilders flew from Anchorage to help. That volunteer, Scott Smith, mobilized more volunteers from Anchorage, and started “Pallets with a Purpose” so that people in southcentral Alaska could donate supplies specifically needed by our volunteer crews in Galena. A volunteer group from Pineville, Louisiana was the first work crew that came through Galena Rebuilders. By the time I returned, volunteers were flooding Galena. Through Galena Rebuilders, we brought nearly 300 volunteers to Galena to partner with us in clean-up and rebuilding. At Galena Bible Church, we fed and housed volunteers for much of the time, until there was room at other locations. When I wasn’t cleaning up at my place, I gave mini concerts for the volunteers at least once per week during their dinner time to keep morale high.

[Check out more photos and updates on Galena Rebuilders Facebook page.]

It was difficult to go through all our belongings ruined by the flood. But we were so thankful to get our house ready for winter. We just got our Toyostove in October, and thankfully, we had warm temperatures for that time of year. During the summer, my husband labored so many hours to get the siding and insulation taken care of. During the winter, he will finish up the last indoor insulation and drywall. We don’t have a couch anymore, but volunteers already put our flooring in for us. I don’t have my music scores or some of my Once Blind inventory, but we do have working appliances now. Our vehicles were completely submerged, so though I don’t have my little truck anymore, I do have a Buick LaSabre that was *given* to me. I picked it up in Fairbanks and paid for it to be barged here. It’s in great shape, and, importantly, the heater works! My husband, neighbor and I worked to get our fuel tank up on its new stand, and we now have heating fuel running.

Since I needed to be home to help with clean-up, I couldn’t tour, which is my sole income for the summer. So Inland Barge hired me to be their Galena agent. That way I could work on the house but still get a little income. The barge always came in so full of rebuilding supplies for the city and for residents. The barge arrival was even more of a highlight than usual, because it meant that we were that much closer to getting more people in their homes for the winter.

Now that the insane pace has slowed due to the onset of winter, I’m feeling more of the grief of loss, not just of belongings, but of time. Very few Galena residents can say they were able to keep their summer plans. Very few of us got to pick berries, fish and hunt as much as usual. I didn’t get to continue touring, so that meant loss of income, loss of experience and loss of building my music business. I didn’t get to spend much time with my husband and our puppy, or sit in the sun on the riverbank. I feel robbed. And I’m among the luckier in Galena. All of our neighbors at Crow Creek are in their homes, ready enough for winter. But other community members will be wintering in Fairbanks, some separated from their families. It’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster – feelings of immense gratitude and feelings of loss. I’m still amazed that not one resident perished in this massive diversion of the Yukon into our town. We have so much to be thankful for.

I was so blessed to see first-hand how people band together for a common goal. Many people from all over the state and all over the country volunteered to help us rebuild. Fairbanks and Anchorage residents and churches were superstars for us. They had many raffles, they housed displaced families and fed them, they sent volunteers. There are so many beautiful stories that have come from this awful disaster. We are blessed.

I’m proud of the people of Galena – we are a hearty folk and we are doing our best to move forward.

-Karrie Pavish Anderson

*****

Thank you to Karrie and her sister for working so hard in Galena. I have some relatives who are stuck in Fairbanks and other places for the winter. I hope they are able to rebuild during the upcoming summer construction season. Thank you to the 1,000s of Alaskans, state, federal and tribal organizations who have stepped up to help Galena and other communities.

Learn more about Karrie below. I’ll be doing a follow-up post on Karrie and her current music projects.

Karrie Pavish Anderson is drumming at Car Wash Lake. Courtesy photo
Karrie Pavish Anderson is drumming at Car Wash Lake. Courtesy photo

ABOUT KARRIE PAVISH ANDERSON
Karrie Pavish Anderson was born and raised in Anchorage, AK. Her parents are Steve and Star Pavish, and her grandparents are Stan and LaVerne Pavish of Walla Walla, WA and Lonnie Blevins of Vashon, WA. Karrie has one older sister who lives with her family in Galena, and a younger brother who lives in California.

Karrie’s parents worked hard to give their children a good life. Karrie says, “They taught us about respect, serving others, and about the importance of faith, good work ethic. They also connected us with multiple caring adults who invested in our lives.” Karrie grew up eating moose, caribou, rabbit and ptarmigan, and vegetables and berries from the garden.

Karrie used to sit and wait with Mom while her sister had her piano lessons. The more she listened, the more she wanted lessons. She began lessons when she was five years old and continued them throughout college. When she can, Karrie still takes in a piano lesson or two with composer pianist Vardan Ovsepian in Los Angeles. In high school, she started accompanying church singers on the piano, and led church music. She still does this today.

According to Karrie’s mother, when she was a baby, she started singing after her mother clicked her into the car seat. Since then, her parents got her involved in singing at church, in the Anchorage Girls’ Choir (now the Alaska Children’s Choir), school choirs and playing in the Arctic Spirit Handbell Choir.  Some of those were audition-based, others were open to everyone.

As a second grader, Karrie wanted to grow up to be a teacher, a missionary or a performer. She has done all three.

Find out more about Karrie online:
Website  |  Musician bio  |   More of her story
Facebook Page  |  YouTube  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest
Twice as Nice album online and on iTunes

Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Marlene Watson – A Navajo in Alaska

Marlene Watson at 2012 AISES conference in Anchorage. Courtesy photo
Marlene Watson at 2012 AISES conference in Anchorage. Courtesy photo

I met Marlene Watson about a year ago. A friend introduced us in hopes that I could help Marlene as she was moving up to Alaska. She is Navajo and hails from Oakland, California. Marlene moved to Anchorage at the end of 2012 to participate in the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program at Providence Alaska Medical Center as chaplain resident. I love hearing about people who want to live and experience Alaska. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Marlene throughout the year. There are some cultural similarities with Navajo and Athabascan people, like slight similarities with the languages.

Marlene Watson with a cow and calf moose. Courtesy photo
Marlene Watson with a cow and calf moose. Courtesy photo

I asked Marlene about some of the highlights of her year so far. She claims to have seen the world’s largest moose! Marlene knew she would eventually see a moose during her time in Alaska. Marlene was walking in Anchorage one evening, and came upon what looked like a statue or yard decoration of a moose in a yard. As she neared, she noticed its jaw moving and bobbing as it ate from top of a tree. “Ahhh, it’s alive!” she said to herself. Marlene says it was a black bull moose with legs taller than her. She kept walking and finally felt safe when she walked on the other side of a dumpster. That’s a big moose!

Marlene went on two cruises in Seward, Alaska this summer, a full-day and a half-day one. She saw porpoises, orcas, puffins, eagles, mountain goat, sea otters, stellar sea lions and a bear. I need to go on a cruise in Southcentral Alaska one of these days. I’ve lived down here for over 15 years. It is great to see someone enjoying Alaska. I think Alaskans need to do so more often.

Marlene Watson met an elder couple, Sam and Carrie Herman, from the Bering Straits region at the Alaska Native Medical Center. Courtesy photo
Marlene Watson met an elder couple, Sam and Carrie Herman, from the Bering Straits region at the Alaska Native Medical Center. Courtesy photo

Marlene appreciates the connections she has made through the First Covenant Church in downtown Anchorage. She has met some Alaska Native people and even another Navajo that lived in Oakland. What are the odds? Marlene has been invited to a few feasts of Alaska Native food, and is open to trying new foods. So far, she has eaten herring eggs, frozen white fish, dried caribou meat, seal oil, hooligan dried fish, Eskimo ice cream and smoked dried salmon. That made my mouth water when she was telling me about it.

Marlene is enjoying her time in Alaska and plans to stay here as long as she has a job. She loves chaplaincy work, architecture and engineering. Marlene has work experience on tribal projects as well as public and private design projects, she expects to continue to do these types of work, as well as chaplaincy work. She enjoyed Anchorage record high temperatures over the summer. She travelled all over Southcentral Alaska. Marlene first got the bite to go to Alaska after she applied to be on the design team of the ANMC, but was not selected. Later Marlene had the opportunity to go on a cruise to Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Glacier Bay in 2007 with AISES members and she was hooked.

Marlene serves on the board for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). It is her third term serving on the board. The mission of AISES is to substantially increase the representation of American Indians and Alaskan Natives in engineering, science, and other related technology disciplines. Marlene serves on the board with Twyla Baker-Demaray, Ph.D, whom I know from Twitter. Twyla wasn’t surprised that Marlene was brave enough to move all the way to Alaska.

“Marlene’s a trailblazer though, I could very much so see that in her, and I couldn’t think of anyone else better suited to go. I know it’s been an adjustment for her, but I’m confident she’s going to do amazing things.”
-Twyla Baker-Demaray, Ph.D (@Indigenia on Twitter)

Marlene Watson (second from left) with others at the Alaska Women’s Ministries 16th Annual Statewide Retreat. Courtesy photo
Marlene Watson (second from left) with others at the Alaska Women’s Ministries 16th Annual Statewide Retreat. Courtesy photo

Marlene was recently a featured speaker at the 2013 Alaska Women’s Ministries 16th Annual Statewide Retreat at the North Star Bible Camp in Willow, Alaska. Women from Fairbanks, Wasilla, Kenai, Soldotna, Unalakleet, Mekoryuk and other communities attended the retreat. Marlene volunteers at the Alaska Native Medical Center ANMC as a chaplain. She says, “I’m glad I can be with patients and sit with them and listen in their time of need.” She prays and provides spiritual and pastoral care with patients at ANMC and at Providence. The hardships Marlene experienced while growing up helps her to help others. She says, “It’s not in vain that you go through all this suffering and hardship.”

I’m not the most religious person, but I appreciate people, like Marlene, who help others in need. I admire her strength of endurance while she helps people. It has been fun watching Marlene enjoy Alaska, and makes me grateful I live in this great state. It’s fun to learn about other indigenous cultures. There are so many unique tribes across the United States. I hope to learn more about this Navajo in Alaska!

Marlene Watson visited the Anchorage Museum and many other local attractions. Courtesy photo
Marlene Watson visited the Anchorage Museum and many other local attractions. Courtesy photo

ABOUT MARLENE WATSON

Marlene Watson poses at her 2012 graduation from the Fuller Theological Seminary with the then president, Richard J. Mouw, and his wife, Phyllis. Courtesy photo
Marlene Watson poses at her 2012 graduation from the Fuller Theological Seminary with the then president, Richard J. Mouw, and his wife, Phyllis. Courtesy photo

Marlene Watson is Navajo from Tohlakai, NM and Wide Ruins, AZ. She grew up in Oakland, CA. Marlene holds three (Yes, three!) masters degrees: Masters of Arts in Architecture, Masters of Science in Civil Engineering and Masters of Divinity. She received her Masters of Divinity from the Fuller Theological Seminary. Marlene is currently a chaplain resident in the Clinical Pastoral Education program at Providence Alaska Medical Center. She is working toward to becoming a board certified chaplain and needs to apply and meet work criteria for board certification. She hopes to teach Christian education classes in the future. Marlene volunteers at the Alaska Native Medical Center as a chaplain. Marlene attends the First Covenant Church in Anchorage and leads a covenant group. Marlene can be contacted on Facebook or at mdwatson19@gmail.com.

Alaska life

Fall 2013 Trip to Huslia, Alaska

I recently visited my hometown of Huslia, Alaska. It was great to be home and visit with family and to be out in the wilderness!

Here is a slideshow of my trip:

Here are some more photos from my trip. Enjoy!

Huslia is northwest of Fairbanks in interior Alaska. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Huslia is northwest of Fairbanks in interior Alaska. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
A cache located in downtown Huslia. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
A cache located in downtown Huslia. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
There were lots of cranberries ready to be picked! Photo by Angela Gonzalez
There were lots of cranberries ready to be picked! Photo by Angela Gonzalez
There were lots of fall colors, like yellow and red, in Huslia. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
There were lots of fall colors, like yellow and red, in Huslia. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

We helped to build a smokehouse for my parents, Al and Eleanor Yatlin, while we were there. They had the same smokehouse for about 20+ years. They like that larger size and the extra height.

I look forward to visiting home each year. I love interior Alaska!

Alaska life

Fighting Bugs in Alaska – Gnat Hats, Punk and Summer Parka

Cutter insect repellent - aka Alaskan perfume. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Cutter insect repellent – aka Alaskan perfume. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

Mosquitos and gnats are really bad in the northern interior, and really all over. They constantly pester and bite you. Gnats get stuck in ears, eyes and nostrils. People in the interior burn mosquito coils and use mosquito repellent daily. Mosquito repellent becomes your summer Alaskan perfume.

Alex DeMarban of recently wrote an article about the topic for the Alaska Dispatch, called Bloodletting worsens during Alaska’s legendary mosquito infestation.

Laurel Andrews of the Alaska Dispatch did a the crazy swarms on Alaska’s North Slope.

The summer parkas are a great way to combat mosquitoes and gnats when you are picking berries or doing anything outside. I recently contributed to the Athabascan Word of the Week in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. The Koyukon Athabascan translation for summer parka is bets’egh hoolaanee.

Punk is a common tree fungus in Alaska. Many rural Alaskans slowly burn punk. The smoke keeps the mosquitoes, gnats, no-see-ums and other bugs away. Koyukon Athabascans call the smoky fire a smutch (sp?). Smutch is a Koyukon Athabascan word. Berry pickers sometimes carry a smutch with them when they are out.

Mosquito head nets and jackets are also a great way to keep the bugs away. The only downside is that it can sometimes be difficult to see when the sun is shining on it. I’ve improvised with this method before by sewing mosquito netting onto a cap.

Sewing mosquito net material on a cap is a great way to keep the bugs out of your face and neck. Here is one I made a few years ago.
Sewing mosquito net material on a cap is a great way to keep the bugs out of your face and neck. Here is one I made a few years ago.
Tanya's daughter, Lydia, models a new bonnet to keep the gnats away. Photo by Tanya Yatlin
Tanya’s daughter, Lydia, models a new bonnet to keep the gnats away. Photo by Tanya Yatlin

Another great way to keep mosquitoes off of young children is to have a bonnet. It’s not a new idea, but one that is effective in Alaska. My sister, Tanya, makes them and takes orders for them in the summer time. The gnats are out in full-force in August. She gets requests from parents for their young children. She uses calico fabric. Girls get ruffles and floral fabrics. The boys usually get solid colors without ruffles.

Many people sleep under mosquito nets, and make their own with pretty fabrics and mosquito netting. For the past couple of years, my parents have been using a bug repellent dispenser that sprays a mist about every 30 minutes in their home. It seems to be pretty effective for them.

Each year, I hear about different techniques to combat the bugs, including many natural and organic options. Tanya uses lavender or sometimes vanilla instead of using so much bug spray. When I’m home, I always look forward to being in the boat when the wind blows all the bugs away. Some people find themselves staying inside a lot more than they hoped for. After all, summer is our shortest season, and Alaskans should get out and enjoy to the fullest.

What are your tried and true techniques for combating mosquitoes and gnats during the summer?

My daughter enjoys a boat ride along the Koyukuk River. The mosquitoes blow away in the wind. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
My daughter enjoys a boat ride along the Koyukuk River. The mosquitoes blow away in the wind. Photo by Angela Gonzalez
Alaska Native/Indigenous People, Athabascan in the Spotlight

Shirley Sam – Author of Deadly Summers in Alaskan

Shirley Sam in a snowshoe race in Allakaket. Courtesy photo Shirley Sam in a snowshoe race in Allakaket. Courtesy photo

Shirley Sam is one of Alaska’s most recent authors. She wrote Deadly Summers in Alaska. The paperback and Kindle edition are available for purchase at Amazon.com. Read the description below for more information about the book.

Shirley is Koyukon Athabascan and grew up in interior Alaska. Her father is the late Ernie Esmailka Sr. and her mother is Ethel Esmailka who lives in Koyukuk. Shirley grew up in Koyukuk and graduated high school as a boarding student in Tanana. She earned college credits from the University of Alaska Fairbanks via distance learning. Shirley is working toward a certificate in Tribal Management. She and her husband Darrell have been together for 20 years, and were married for the past 13 years. They have six children and four grandchildren. Shirley and Darrell adopted one of their grandchildren. Shirley and Darrel live a very active lifestyle in Huslia. They enter many snowshoe races and footraces in the interior, and often are the top placers. Shirley is currently the Transportation Planner for the Huslia Tribal Council.

Shirley Sam with her newly written book, Deadly Summers in Alaska. Courtesy photo Shirley Sam with her newly written book, Deadly Summers in Alaska. Courtesy photo

Shirley began writing Deadly Summers in Alaska in late 2011, and completed this April. It was published in June 2013. I loved the way she weaved a lot of local knowledge and traditions into the book. I found myself highlighting those areas on my Kindle edition.

“I used the local knowledge as I was taught in Koyukuk. I tried not to be specific about what we do, just that we do it. I didn’t want to offend anyone by telling people how we do things specifically.” – Shirley Sam

The book delves into the inner workings of law enforcement and crime. Shirley gained insight into the language of law enforcement and crime through reading books, watching television and by listening to people. She researched information on missing persons, procedures, the national missing persons clearinghouse, law enforcement and rosehips. Shirley relied on Trooper Jeannine Santora in Galena for the general information about Alaska State Troopers. Shirley also relied on Darrell to give her advice on motors and firefighting information.

Shirley grew up hearing about how search and rescue operations and firefighting happens. She says, “I did have a lot of déjà vu over the years that made me want to put in the experiences with dreams and how some elders just know things.”

Shirley has dreamed of writing a book since she first started reading. At first, she wanted to write a self-help book based on her childhood abuse. However, she didn’t want to anyone to feel put on the spot or pointed out. Shirley says, “So then I started thinking about all the silly stuff that happens day to day and how much I love mystery and thriller books so that’s where it came from.” Shirley is an avid reader. Some of her favorite authors include Dean Koontz, Mary Higgins Clark, Lisa Jackson and Stephen King.

I personally enjoyed the book. I did notice that it does need some minor editing. However, that didn’t turn me off because it was very suspenseful, interesting, and a page turner. I was impressed with the local knowledge peppered throughout the book. For now, Shirley doesn’t plan on having a second edition printed.

Shirley’s basic advice to people who want to write a book:

  • Just write
  • Don’t stop
  • Write your ideas down
  • Keep all your notes
Shirley loves spending time with her grandchildren. Here she is with Cherish, Blake, and Isaiah. Courtesy photo Shirley loves spending time with her grandchildren. Here she is with Cherish, Blake, and Isaiah. Courtesy photo

Shirley dedicated her book to Darrell, her children (Alexandria, Kate, Tyson, Patricia, Starlene and D2), and her grandchildren (Isaiah, Cherish, Blake and Riley). She thanks them for encouraging her and believing in her as she was writing the book.

Have you read the book yet? If so, please leave a review for it on the Amazon site. What was your favorite part of the book? Leave a comment below.

I’m proud of Shirley and the fact that she wrote and had a book published and she lives in a little town in interior Alaska! I admire her will and tenacity for checking something off her bucket list. It is encouraging to see an Alaska Native author be published. The book ends on a cliffhanger and the fans will be happy to know that Shirley does plan on doing a follow-up to the book. It may be set in different parts of Alaska. I’m looking forward to hearing more from this author!

About Deadly Summers in Alaska by S. A. E. Sam via Amazon.com
A serial killer is on the loose in Alaska, killing women who all look alike. Each woman is found abandoned in the uninhabited wilderness, and the only commonality among them is that they all physically resemble Denise “Birdie” Beardtom, an Alaska State Trooper. It would appear that someone wants Birdie dead, and it could be her abusive ex-husband. Her partner, Miles, is concerned for Birdie’s safety. He enlists local friends Myrna Elam and John Lebowan to keep an eye on her. But Myrna has problems of her own, as she faces nightly dreams that seem strangely similar to the recent murder spree. Is it safe for Myrna to stay near Birdie, or could Myrna need protection as well? As more bodies pile up, the crew calls for backup from the Fairbanks State Troopers Office. Due to the lack of evidence, however, they too are perplexed by the case. Running out of options, Birdie realizes she may be the only key to catching a killer-even if she has to act as bait. Can Birdie stop a madman before he kills again, or will she become his next and final victim?

Update: Read the next book in the series: Deadly Summers in Alaska II: Birdie by Shirley Sam