FFP Crew with Lois

Haven’t blogged in a long time. I’m working like a dog to get a novel on the page, through editing, and out into the world.

The first two novels were practice. I won’t give up on them, but they can be better. This third one is my passion because it is so real to me.  That’s what’s fun about it.

I chose to take a short story I wrote about wildland firefighting for The Anchorage Press and turn it into a novel. How to make it different from the gazillions of firefighting novels out there? My story. My experiences. My angle. I used to be intimidated by famous authors who’ve written popular novels on the same subjects I have. All 3 novels I’ve written, someone already beat me to it. I’ve learned to say, ‘so what.’

What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter. Still write it. Write with passion. Write it the way you see it. Write it so readers will want to turn the first page. And the second. And the third.

I’m giving this novel everything I’ve learned about writing up to this point.  I’ve tossed in a little romance–after all, a little more love in the world couldn’t hurt.

Another unexpected benefit is researching the wildland fire world. Some things have changed since 1992, when I worked in it with the BLM Alaska Fire Service. But not a lot. Aircraft and safety standards have improved, fire shelters and retardant chemicals have changed.

As for fires? Recent fires are burning hotter and faster. I could go into the fire science aspect of this, which I’m researching for the book, but not here (yawn). We know from recent patterns in the western states, fire will continue to be with those of us who live near fire-prone regions.

Saw the movie, “Only The Brave.” So glad I went alone, it ripped my heart out: 19 hotshots, most in their early 20s, died fighting the Yarnell fire in Arizona. I saw this movie to remind myself how we talked, how we bonded, how we put our trust in each other as a fire crew. I came away with much more, and for that, I highly recommend watching this movie. People outside of wildland firefighting don’t realize the blood, sweat, and tears that go with the job.

Hastings-fire_5-31-11_Mike-McMillan And so I’m writing every ache. Every pain. Every injury. Every near- death experience.

While my thermometer reads zero, I  write about fire and the amazing people who live and work in wildland firefighting. As I write, I remember things I hadn’t thought of in years. I wonder what happened to my crew mates. For now, they are alive for me on the page.

And this is what keeps me warm this winter.

© Lois Paige Simenson and The Alaska Philosophaster, 2017, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Alaska Philosophaster with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.     Lois Irene Paige Simenson   LIPS  Lips


Written by Lois Paige Simenson


  1. Deborah December 1, 2017 at 4:14 pm Reply

    Thank you for writing/blogging about your experiences. I look forward to reading your book.
    Shared to the Alaska Women’s Network.

    • Lois Paige Simenson December 5, 2017 at 10:53 pm Reply

      Thank you for reading, Deborah! I will share when Alaskan Spark is released. So excited about it. Thank you for commenting!

  2. Kelly L McKenzie December 5, 2017 at 2:13 pm Reply

    Yowzers – I think you’ve hit on a hot topic for a memoir! (See what I did there?) Toddling over from the Erma FB page. Nice to meet you! I’m doing a memoir also and found myself grinning over what you’re learning in the process. It’s quite something, isn’t it. May the words flow and the thoughts continue!

    • Lois Paige Simenson December 5, 2017 at 10:49 pm Reply

      Ha, Kelly! Wasn’t today wild, registering for the Erma workshop? This novel is based on a memoir published in The Anchorage Press in July, 2015. I wrote about a close call our wildland fire crew had with a fire in the Interior of Alaska. It was the first story I’d published, and won an award from the Alaska Press Club, for their best history-all media category! Talk about shocked! A writer friend at the Novel Writer’s Conference in Pasadena suggested I write a novel based on this story. It’s three-quarters written. SO fun! Can’t wait to meet you in April! WooHoo! Thank you for commenting! Best, Lois

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