Announcing Open Application Period and Requesting Your Support

Desk with open notebook, laptop computer, and coffee mug

As autumn begins to feel a little more like winter, Storyknife planning for 2020 is swinging into full gear. We have so much to tell you, but we’ll break it into three bite-size chunks.

 1. Residency applications will go live on November 1. You will find the link on this page of our website. If you want to get a jump on it, you’ll need a single document of up to 10 pages of writing that you’ve produced in the last two years. You’ll also have to answer the following questions in 2000 characters or fewer:

  • How have you sought to educate yourself as a writer? (Formal education not a prerequisite, but evidence of curiosity and learning in your applicable field is.)
  • What is your experience with publishing your work? (Publishing is not a prerequisite, but is considered a goal for writers who attend Storyknife.)
  • What project will you pursue while in residency? (Please note that you will be free to work on whatever writing you wish during residency. We simply are interested in what you think you’ll be pursuing.)

2. Gift Registries for Storyknife are now live! If you want to be the person who gives a writer her fluffy towels, you can do that. We’ve registered at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and It’s quite a varied list, so please take bit to look around, and then be part of our HOUSEWARMING, or perhaps I should say Residency-Warming.

 3. We have $59,000 left to raise for our annual fundraising goal this year. Dana and I know that this is the season of charitable giving. We hope that you will consider donating to Storyknife and helping us reach our goal.

Your donation makes it possible for women to write. Plain and simple, every dollar you donate to Storyknife makes it possible for a woman to be given the gift of undisturbed time and space and an uplifting community.

For instance:

  • $1000 donation pays for one month of facilities maintenance including groundskeeping and landscaping.
  • $500 donation pays to feed one writer for a month.
  • $250 donation pays for one round of housekeeping for the cabins (done at the end of each residency period).
  • $150 donation pays for one month of phone and internet.
  • $50 donation keeps the lights on for one writer for a month.
  • $25 donation connects one writer to the internet for a month. 

Please help us reach our goal this year. You can donate online, or send a check to Storyknife at PO Box 75, Homer, AK 99603. Donations are tax-deductible.

Remember, the community of Storyknife is what makes it all possible. THANK YOU. Dana and I are beyond thrilled that April 2020 will be the first residency of what we hope is a long legacy of fostering women writers.

Erin Coughlin Hollowell
Storyknife Executive Director

The Cabin without a Name – No Longer!

If you’ve been following along, you know that five of the cabins at Storyknife are named: Carol, Betty, Diana, Evangeline, and Katie. For awhile, we’ve been waiting to announce the name of the final cabin, and now we can do so.

The final cabin will be named after Peggy Shumaker.

Peggy Shumaker
Peggy Shumaker

Peggy began her teaching career in Arizona as the writer in residence for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, working with prison inmates, honors students, gang members, deaf adults, teen parents, little kids, library patrons, and elderly folks. She served as poet-in-residence at the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University. Shumaker was chair of the English department at University of Alaska Fairbanks and director of the MFA program in creative writing from 1985-2002. She teaches in the Low-Residency Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. Each year she has been able, Peggy has taught at the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference (since 2002) and the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival (since 2003), programs that she was instrumental in founding and fostering.

Her students are myriad. In the state of Alaska, it would be difficult to find a single successful writer or poet who has not been in her classroom at some point or been her colleague. Her students have gone on to win prestigious awards, publish books, and foster writers in their own classrooms. She reaches writers of all ages and skill levels. Every student leaves Peggy’s workshops and classes infused with a love of language.

She has been more than a teacher to us, she has been a mentor and guide in the way to live a generous writer’s life. In 2014, when she won the Rasmuson Foundation’s Distinguished Artist Award, she turned around and put that money in a fund to establish the Alaska Literary Awards recognizing Alaskan writers of merit. As part of her service as the Alaska State Writer Laureate (2010-2012), Peggy began the Alaska Writers Directory, a website featuring over two-hundred pages spotlighting individual Alaskan Writers.

She is the founding editor of two imprints to help Alaska’s poets and literary nonfiction and fiction writers be published. The Alaska Literary Series is an imprint of the University of Alaska Press established in 2012. Boreal Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press, was established in 2008 to publish literature and fine art from Alaska.

Front view of Peggy's Cabin, a green cabin with white trim.
Peggy’s Cabin

The fund toward Peggy’s Cabin contains a little over 50% of the $50,000.00 specified to name it for her. If Peggy has touched your life in any way, please consider donating to close up this campaign. You can donate through Storyknife’s secure server here or send a check to Storyknife at PO Box 75, Homer, AK 99603. All donations will be tax deductible. Donors will get a tax receipt. Storyknife is a registered 501(c)3.

Please share this information with everyone you know who might want to take part. And thank the folks listed below who have already contributed to make Peggy’s Cabin a reality.

Adrian Elizabeth Koesters
Alberto & Lupita Rios
Angela Allen
Ann E Beman
Anne McDuffie
Anne Thomas Donaghy
Barbara Baugh
Bill Capossere
Brenda Miller
Camille Dungy
Carol Kaynor
Carol Swartz
Cottonwood Fund
Cynthia Hogue
Debbie clarke Moderow
Dinah Lenney
Emily Wall
Fleda S Brown
Francesca Bell
Heather Lende
Holly Hughes
Jeanne E Clark
Jennie Goode
Jenny Apostol
Jeremy Pataky
Jill M. Johnson
Jo and Peter Michalski
Kate Carroll De Gutes
Katharine Coles
Kathleen Flenniken
Katrina M Hays
Kelli Russell Agodon
Kes Woodward
Linda and Larry Martin
Lisa Morin Carcia
Lita Kurth
Margaret Ann Flaherty
Margo Klass and Frank Soos
Mari L’Esperance
Mark Rozema
Nancy Lord
Nicole Stellon O’Donnell
Northwoods Book Arts Guild
Pamela M Uschuk
Paula J.S. Martin
Rebecca McClanahan
Rick Barot
Robert Davidson
Ron Koertge
Ronald Smith
Sara Loewen
Susan Campbell
Susan Sugai
Susan Walker
Susanna Mishler
Tina Schumann
Tobi Harper, Kate Gale, and Mark Cull of Red Hen Press
Tom Kizzia
Wendy R Willis

Won’t you join us in honor Peggy Shumaker, to thank her for all she has done for writers?

The End of Summer

There’s a new movie adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women coming out in December. (I’ll wait here if you want to go watch the trailer.) Little Women is one of the first books that I read that was written by a woman about women and girls. I loved the book. I took it out of the library in fifth grade so often that the librarian bought me my own copy so that the book could be on the shelf for other starry-eyed, would-be writer girls.

Even in the 70s when I read it for the first time, there were parts of the book that maybe hadn’t aged as well as others, but who wouldn’t fall in love with all those girls and their dreams. And if Jo wanted to be a writer, wanted to be independent, wanted to live a life where her dream mattered, well, I understood that. In the novel, Jo says, “I’d have a stable full of Arabian steeds, rooms piled with books, and I’d write out of a magic inkstand, so that my works should be as famous as Laurie’s music. I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle—something heroic, or wonderful—that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all, some day. I think I shall write books, and get rich and famous; that would suit me, so that is my favorite dream.”

Who doesn’t want a magic inkstand? If not for fame or riches, but to have their stories written and read. I like to imagine that Storyknife will be the magic inkstand for the women who come for residencies. For those weeks, the words will flow from them. In the evenings, they’ll gather around the dinner table like the March sisters to talk about the creativity of the day. 

Oh I know, it seems like a dream. But Storyknife is becoming a reality. As of yesterday, the cabin interiors were being painted and the flooring laid. In Eva’s House, the drywall is going up and the solar panels were installed. And now we turn to how the residencies will be managed and how the funds will be raised to run the place.

Residencies will start in April 2020 and run from the 1st to the 28th of each month until October (or 1st to the 14th for those staying only two weeks). The application period will open on November 1st and close on December 31st. In January of 2020, we’ll begin the in-depth process of adjudicating applications and when that is complete, we will schedule the women writers in residence for the 2020 season. 

Between the moment that those first women arrive for their residency, we’ll need to hire a chef/manager; purchase furniture, soft-goods, and equip the kitchen; decorate; and raise money. Phew, that sounds like a lot of work. Good thing we’re excited to do it!

Here’s how YOU make a difference in the lives of women writers:

  • If you are a woman writer, get ready to apply and change the world with your words.
  • If you can help support Storyknife with a donation, please consider doing so. You can learn all about the ways to support at our website

Give the magic inkwell! And stay tuned for more information on applications, gift registry, and more!Thank you for being part of Storyknife. For #LiftingWomensVoices.

Erin Hollowell
Executive Director of Storyknife

Breaking Ground and Groundbreaking!

Dana Stabenow wields the shovel!
Scott Bauer laying a cabin foundation.

On May 4, a bright and windy day, Storyknife progressed into a new phase – the Building Phase!

Among a crowd of supporters, Dana Stabenow, Storyknife founder, put her decorated shovel into the dirt and broke ground for Storyknife. There was champagne and cupcakes. The first Storyknife fellow, Kim Steutermann Rogers, spoke about the meaning of a writer’s residency in her life and in the lives of all women writers. We were honored to hear also from Nancy Nordhoff, founder of Hedgebrook, the seminal women’s writing residency in the United States. Dana spoke about Storyknife being a dream come true, now fourteen years in the making. 

And what a wonderful dream it is, a place where women have the opportunity to write without distraction, form a supportive community, and are told at every possible opportunity that their writing is important. 

Women writers still struggle for the same representation as male writers. For example, in the last twenty years, Pulitzer Prizes in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have only been awarded to women 28% of the time. If the Pulitzer is the considered the top of the prestige ladder, it’s distressing that women are so poorly represented. 

I hope that you are as committed to elevating women’s voices as we are here at Storyknife. As we build, there will be a great number of opportunities for you to be involved. It is my hope that you will reach out to others that you know would be interested in supporting Storyknife as well as attending a residency here. As Storyknife grows, you can help us grow our community. Feel free to forward this newsletter, or share our website ( or Facebook page.

Shovels in, walls up, women writing!

Erin Coughlin Hollowell
Executive Director of Storyknife

Storyknife Groundbreaking – May 4, 2019

from Storyknife founder, Dana Stabenow

groundbreakingThank you all for coming today to help me celebrate as my dream comes true. I could say that this dream dates back 14 years, to 2005, when I bought this land and moved back to Homer. But in reality it goes back a full 30 years, to 1989, when the Anchorage Daily News ran a story about Hedgebrook, a retreat for women writers on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, and my best friend bullied me into applying. I was accepted as a resident in the fall of that year.

For two glorious weeks I spent every day in Waterfall Cabin, writing, and each evening I gathered with my fellow residents at the farmhouse to have dinner, talk writer shop, tell publishing war stories, and as I later discovered, make friends for life.

Writers are odd people, no doubt about it. We sit alone everyday in a room with a laptop, painfully extruding one word at a time and like as not deleting it five minutes later. We are almost all of us introverts and hermits, and nobody really knows how we do what we do, least of all us. Hedgebrook? Was the first place where I met people who acted like writing is a real job. “Sit down,” Nancy said when I got up to help clear the table at my first dinner there. “You’ve already done your work for the day.”

It is not hyperbole to say that Hedgebrook’s radical hospitality changed my life. I might not have been truly a professional writer when I arrived there but I was when I left. My stay at Hedgebrook gave me identity, agency, confidence. It also gave me a sense of obligation, and the determination to find a way to give back.

So, this time next year, there will be a house here at Storyknife, Eva’s House, and six cabins, Carol, Betty, Diana, Evangeline, Katie, and a sixth cabin still to be named. Inside each of those cabins will be a writer. She will spend all day working at her novel, her short story, her play, her poem. At the end of every day, she will join her fellow residents at Eva’s House for dinner, to talk writer shop, to tell publishing war stories, and to make friends for life. When she leaves, she will have learned beyond any question that her voice has value and that her work is worthy of respect and support.

You will make this possible, you Friends of Storyknife, those of you here today as well as all of you who couldn’t attend in person. I thought Storyknife would be a much harder sell, but you all got it, instantly, that an experience like this one can be a life-changing event for women authors, who are, sadly, still underpublished, underprinted, underreviewed, and undersold compared with their male contemporaries. Your generosity, your support for Storyknife flies in the face of all of that.

You Friends of Storyknife will provide a second space where women’s voices will be nourished and validated, and where they will build a community of other writers so they don’t feel quite so isolated and alone. When they leave, they will carry with them identity, agency, and the confidence they need to raise their voices in print and to succeed at this most improbable of professions.

Allow me please to call out just a few of you by name. Nancy Nordhoff, for building Hedgebrook, for showing me why, and how. Katherine Gottlieb, for making me apply. Attorney Dee Ford, for writing our bylaws and getting us incorporated pro bono. Charlaine Harris and Sandy Nolfi and so many others for supporting Storyknife financially even before we had nonprofit status. Pati Crofut, for getting us our 501c3 status. My amazing board, Pati Crofut, Nora Elliott, Rhonda Sleighter, Jeannie Penney, Paula Martin, Katherine Gottlieb, and Pearl Brower, for cheerfully volunteering their skills and experience in support of what was once only a crazy idea. Scott Bauer, our builder, who while he was finishing my house in August 2005 was the first person I told about Storyknife, and he didn’t laugh. Erin Hollowell, the Wonder Woman of executive directors, who built our first capital campaign and is in large part responsible for why we’re standing here today. The foundations who believed enough to write the necessary infrastructure checks, Rasmuson, Atwood, Southcentral Foundation, Old Harbor Native Corporation, and one we hope to be named later this month. The individual donors who gave large and small, Patrice Krant, Peggy Shumaker and Joe Usibelli, Rika and John Mouw, Katherine and Kevin Gottlieb, Carl Marrs, Tony Kinderknecht, Jenny and Sue and Lee at the Homer Bookstore, Nancy Nordhoff, again, still, always. As of this morning, there are 237 of you, and over half of you have given more than once and many of you more than twice.

On behalf of the hundreds of women writers who will reside and work and flourish here at Storyknife, thank you for helping make their dreams come true.

Several ways to support Storyknife going onward. Your donations of any kind will go directly to support writing residencies for women writers. 

Donate via AmazonSmile

Sign up for our newsletter

Follow us on Facebook



We’d like you to join us in celebrating YOUR GENEROSITY! Yes, all of you, who have been so bountiful with your attention and your donations. $94,276.00 was donated to Storyknife’s year-end fundraising campaign between Halloween and midnight on New Year’s Eve!

Our hearts are overflowing. Your support is greater than financial; it’s positively fundamental. It means that you believe that women writers are worthy of the space and time to devote to their craft. It means that women’s voices, women’s poems, novels, short stories, essays, plays, memoirs, and more, are crucial and significant.

Thank you for being part of Storyknife. We hope that 2019 will be filled with inspiration and joy!

Storyknife Awarded Tier II Grant by the Rasmuson Foundation


We are pleased to announce that Storyknife Writers Retreat has been awarded a $400,000.00 Tier II Grant by the Rasmuson Foundation. Storyknife has been fundraising for the past two years to build a women writers’ retreat in Homer, Alaska, and the generosity of the Rasmuson Foundation will allow us to go forward with construction in the spring of 2019. The entire facility will consist of six cabins and a main house that is slated to open for residencies in April of 2020.

Storyknife seeks to create an environment of caring and hospitality that will provide the bedrock upon which women writers can feel secure in exploring difficult, experimental, and engaging work. By providing women writers with a place that is beautiful, thoughtfully constructed, and nurturing, Storyknife fosters a level or respect (cultural and personal) for each woman and her creative process. When completed, Storyknife will host six women each month for seven months each year, expanding to year-around operation by the year 2028.

The vision of author Dana Stabenow, Storyknife seeks to support women writers by providing uninterrupted time for development of their craft. In 1989, Stabenow received a residency at Hedgebrook, a retreat for women writers on Whidbey Island in Washington. The profound impact of that residency, and the fact that Hedgebrook receives many more applications than they have spots to host writers, inspired her to develop a similar opportunity for women writers.

The Rasmuson Foundation was created in May 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband “E.A.” Rasmuson. Through grantmaking and initiatives, the Foundation aims to promote a better life for all Alaskans. At its biannual meeting this November, the Rasmuson Foundation board of directors approved more than $6.5 million in awards. The investments are aimed at communities from Unalakleet to Sitka.

Please join us in expressing our gratitude to the Rasmuson Foundation for their support of women’s stories and women writers.

Announcing Katie’s cabin

Katie with her great-great grandson Scotty

Storyknife is delighted to announce that thanks to a successful fund-raising campaign by Katherine Gottlieb, Southcentral Foundation, Carl Marrs, and the Old Harbor Native Corporation, Storyknife’s fifth cabin will be named for Katherine “Katie” Fox Vinberg Kashevarof, late of Seldovia, Alaska.

Katie was born in 1906 and raised in Unga and Unalaska, the eldest of five siblings. She survived the 1920 influenza pandemic which wiped out entire villages in Alaska, the 1942 bombing of Unalaska by the Japanese which destroyed her family home, and the resettlement of the Aluutiq peoples during and following the war, going on to become the mother of ten by birth and double that number by marriage. Her family estimates that “At last count, the descendants including grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren totaled more than seventy-four.”

During 1948 through 1950, Katie owned and operated a restaurant and bakery at Unalaska called “Kate’s Kozy Kitchen.” She had some great recipes for bakery goods. Her grandaughter Crystal writes, “I put her doughnut recipe in the Chamberʼs Seldovia cookbook – try it sometime. It makes ninety doughnuts, and is delicious.”

Katie moved to Seldovia in 1951, where the children grew up and attended school. She worked for many years for Mr. Morris and then Dick Inglima in Morris General Store. She worked also for the Sutterlin & Wendt shrimp plant, the salmon cannery, and Wakefield Seafoods crab processor in Seldovia. She enjoyed cooking, knitting and crocheting, and caring for family and grand children.

In 1975, local fishermen Jack Parks and Bob Ringstad named a 108-foot crab vessel for Katie, the Katie K, and Katie went to Seattle to christen it. The boatʼs owners said they hoped the “boat will be as prolific in producing crab as its namesake has been in producing children and grandchildren.”

Her family writes, “Family was very important to her, and she loved to visit and be visited by family and grandchildren. Her mind ever sharp, she could remember events from the past with ease, and loved to pass on the tales of days gone by. She is remembered with love, and will be missed.”

Storyknife’s founder, Dana Stabenow, says, “I speak for the board when I say we are beyond thrilled and honored to have our fifth cabin named for Katie. With her as one of our guiding spirits, we can’t go wrong.”

What Will You Give? #GivingTuesday

dinner table
From the dinner table…

Oh this time of year with its Black Friday, its Cyber Monday. All the ways that holidays have been co-opted to be about consumption, buying and buying more. And yet, sometimes it feels as if even when we’re surrounded by stuff, we’re empty.

And now Giving Tuesday. About five years ago, my family decided that our holiday tradition of gift-giving wasn’t very satisfying. Instead, we decided we’d donate in each other’s names to charities that mean something to each of us. For my sister who volunteers in a soup kitchen, a donation to the organization that runs it. For my brother, a donation to Michael J. Fox’s Foundation. And for me, a donation to Storyknife.

I’ve noticed that Storyknife isn’t the only nonprofit vying for your #GivingTuesday dollars. In fact, when I opened my email this Monday, there were no fewer than a dozen other good causes asking for my support.

Here’s the deal – I hope you’ll donate to Storyknife, either on Giving Tuesday or any other day until the end of this year. Our incredible matching donor, Nancy Nordhoff, founder and benefactor of Hedgebrook, isn’t limiting her largesse to one day.

I hope that you’ll give, not because we pestered you into it, but because you really believe in the vision that women writers deserve to have their work fostered, respected, elevated. And believe that Storyknife intends to do just that – has already done so with the eight amazing fellows we’ve hosted already. I think of the writing by women that has lifted me up when I felt like no one understood, Virgina Woolf, Annie Dillard, Toni Morrison, Jane Hirshfield, Barbara Kingsolver, Octavia Butler, Alice Hoffman, Ursula Le Guin, Mary Oliver, Terry Tempest Williams… I could keep listing for a long time.

So if a woman writer ever lifted you up, if your mother or auntie gave you a little faith in your story, if you are one of those women writers who cram your writing in between small children, errands, laundry, and sleep, consider donating to Storyknife as an investment.

I sometimes stand on the Storyknife property and look out at the mountains, imagining lighting the candles at dinner for six women writers who will change the world, month after month after month. Your donation is the match that lights that fire.

Take a look around

Let me take you on a little tour of Storyknife.
On the right hand side of the above photo, you can see the road leading to Storyknife. On the left hand side, you can see where the road will end and Eva’s House, the main house of Storyknife, will be built. And yeah, in the background, some seriously charismatic mountains just over Cook Inlet. That’s what the women writers at Storyknife will be looking at from their cabins, from the dinner table, from their desks.


This will be the view from the three cabins on the left side of the main house as you face the inlet. Nice, huh? It’ll be a little greener in the spring and summer.


This will be the view from the cabins on the right-hand side of Eva’s House. It wasn’t even a perfectly clear day, but I want you to envision it.

If you follow us on Facebook, you might have seen posts about all the people for whom we are grateful – supporters, fellows, our founder Dana Stabenow, and now, the land itself that will provide a place for women writers to pursue their craft and build a community that will continue to branch outward. We’d like to take this moment to thank you, individuals who are interested in Storyknife, who are interested in writing, in supporting women’s voices. We’re grateful to be building Storyknife with you.

Remember, donations until the end of the year are being matched by Nancy Nordhoff, founder and benefactor of Hedgebrook. Every donation puts us that much closer to providing a place to honor and nurture women writers. We really want to break ground in April 2019, and with your help, we can.