First Phase of Campaign Aims to Raise $1 Million to Develop Alaska Retreat for Women Writers

HOMER, ALASKA (April 11, 2013) – Prolific author of the Kate Shugak series of mystery novels and Homer resident Dana Stabenow announced today the launch of her campaign to raise $1 million to build Alaska’s only retreat for female writers, Storyknife Writers Retreat.  Storyknife will be only the second residency of its kind in the world.

To kick off the campaign Stabenow is launching a crowd-sourced funding round on Storyknife’s website,, and on her fan sites.   The organization is accepting donations of all denominations but a list of specific funding levels and benefits is also available on the site.

The $1 million fundraising campaign is the first phase in a much larger effort to raise a total of $21 million to cover the costs of developing the property and ensuring its continuing legacy through a $20 million endowment.

The first thing that Stabenow’s writing ever earned her was not the sale of an article or a book.  It was a residency at the Hedgebrook Farm retreat for women writers on Whidbey Island, Washington in Puget Sound.

The author calls her time at Hedgebrook the seminal moment of her writing career. “It was the first time anyone ever acted like writing was a real job,” she says. Stabenow’s vision for Storyknife is to pass that gift on to a new generation of female writers.

“So far as we can discover,” Stabenow says, “Hedgebrook Farm is the only writers retreat for women in existence.” Storyknife will double the amount of residences available for women writers worldwide, and give women writers a unique space and time to hone their craft.

The Retreat takes its name from the English translation for the Yupik word yaaruin or “storyknife.”  Traditionally, Yupik girls would use yaaruin made from wood, bone, antler or ivory, to carve stories in snow and in riverbanks to amuse and instruct their younger siblings.

Dana says, “I came across mention of storyknives in one of the early explorer diaries and I couldn’t rest until I knew more.  As a traditional Alaska Native vehicle for storytelling, it is the perfect metaphor for what we hope to accomplish at Storyknife. I’m hoping we get a lot of Alaska Native women writers applying for residencies at Storyknife, too.”

Writers will be admitted to the residency after a rigorous application process, including statements of need and samples of work.  Upon successful admission, writers will come to Storyknife for two-to-eight-week residencies to focus on their diverse projects in uninterrupted peace, an atmosphere made possible by the Storyknife endowment.  “Following in the tradition set by Hedgebrook,” Dana says, “Storyknife residents will not be allowed to wash so much as a teacup. Their job here will be to write.”

With the exception of travel to and from Anchorage, all expenses for writers in residence will be covered, including a specially curated Alaskan adventure of each writer’s choosing.  Examples of these once-in-a-lifetime experiences include halibut fishing, ocean kayaking, bear viewing, and flight-seeing.

Located just outside Homer, the Storyknife Writers Retreat will boast six private cabins and a main house dotted around a six-acre property commanding 180-degree views of lower Cook Inlet.

Sustainability and supporting local economies will be an ongoing focus for the Retreat.  Meals will feature produce from the property’s own garden, with locally supplied moose and salmon as other culinary mainstays.

Born in Anchorage, Alaska on March 27, 1952, Stabenow is one of Alaska’s most prolific living authors.  Stabenow has written 29 novels, numerous short stories, several anthologies, and contributed the Alaska Traveler column to Alaska magazine for five years.

Throughout her career she has amassed critical, public and civic acclaim, most notably the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original for A Cold Day for Murder in 1993 and being named Alaska’s Artist of the Year in the 2007 Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities. She won a 2012 Nero Award for literary excellence in the mystery genre for Though Not Dead.

About Storyknife Writers Retreat
Storyknife Writers Retreat is a non-profit organization with the mandate to build and operate a retreat and residency program in Homer, Alaska for aspiring female writers.  Its 501(c)3 application is pending.  Founded by author Dana Stabenow, Storyknife will double the residencies available exclusively to women in the literary arts, from six cabins (Hedgebrook Writers Retreat) to twelve (Storyknife).  The organization is managed by a board of directors and is funded through the support of donors.  To make donations or learn more, visit

#  #  #


Stephanie Cedenño
(949) 370-4518

Nathan Havey
(571) 521-9758

Thrive Consulting Group, Inc.

Published by Dana

Author and founder of

2 thoughts on “Launch!

  1. Dana, Hearing about your plans for a writers retreat has brought back fond memories of a trip my good friend Bonnie and I made down the West Coast. I was allowed to plan the lodging on our journey and while in Newport Beach, I choose to stay at the Sylvia Beach Hotel – specifically in the “Dr. Seuss” room. Every room is named after an author and is decorated accordingly. It is truly a wonderful place for both readers and writers. And as the website explains – “No matter how nice your room is, guests often spend much of their time up in the reading room. It has the best view in the whole building, lots of overstuffed chairs, a fireplace, plenty of books (from the library shelves in the loft), puzzles and board games, tea and coffee always available, and at 10:00 each night (if you’ve torn yourself away from the dinner table) we serve hot spiced wine.” If you have never been there, here is the link.

    “There are no tv’s, radios, or telephones in the rooms and no wi-fi. The ocean is always present. (The hotel is on a 45 foot bluff right above the surf.) You move into the rhythm of the sea. Perhaps that’s why time seems to slow way down, almost to a standstill.”

    I am guessing that your retreat will also be a very pleasant refuge away from the hustle, bustle and many distractions that one might encounter in their everyday lives.

    Best of luck to you in your endeavors! Tracie

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: