How to Write a Book from a Thousand Sticky Notes

Photo of sticky note boardImage by Min An on Pexels

by Melissa L. Cook

November 2021 – Piles of sticky notes of all shapes and sizes appeared here, there, and everywhere stacked one on top of another ten to twenty deep. And it wasn’t just sticky notes – newsletters, printed emails, journals loaded with handwritten short stories, and jotted notes. This collection of memories, saved for a future book, covered my desk in November 2016. It took me twenty years to collect a thousand or more sticky notes. Now I wondered, how do I write a book from a thousand sticky notes?

Ron Wallace reads The Call of the Last Frontier on the plane
Ron Wallace Takes The Call of the Last Frontier on Vacation

Words come easy for this chatty one, meaning writer’s block is not part of my vocabulary. However, I suffered from an organizational block on that day and for the weeks to come. First, I typed up all of the notes one-by-one. Then, I divided the notes by topic and began sorting the endless supply of stories. Soon the topics became chapters, and before I knew it, I was on my way… to nowhere. My collection of short stories on Alaska spiraled out of control with too many tales per chapter. No, that wasn’t going to work. The road to nowhere had landed at a dead end.

I know there is a book in my thousand sticky notes, I reminded myself two years later. Being no quitter, I returned to my computer. This time, I organized those notes chronologically, nurturing the seed of The Call of the Last Frontier: The True Story of a Woman’s Twenty-Year Alaska Adventure

The Call of the Last Frontier is my bush Alaska memoir. This was my life for twenty years. Those thousand little stories weaved together like thread creating fabric. Some fell on the cutting room floor, others found themselves in folders for future newsletters and posts, but the best of the stories, well I’ll let Larry Kaniut (best-selling author of the Alaska Bear Tales series) tell you his summary of them: “It’s all here—living in bush Alaska, fighting off men, packing a pistol for bear protection, suffering the ravages of weather, flying with white-knuckled fear, facing down hundred-mile an hour winds as well as fearing erupting volcanoes. And that’s only part of their journey. You had to be there. Oh, wait. Melissa’s book takes you there.”

I pressed the submit button online to release my memoir a few days ago (October 2021). The thousand sticky notes are gone and in their place sits a proof copy of my book with a picture of me standing on a beach wearing the same red coat I wore when I first walked the Bering Sea shoreline in Alaska in 1995. It seems like just yesterday.

The Call of the Last Frontier book image
Melissa Cook‘s Alaska & Multiple Sclerosis Memoir
Rankings show The Call of the Last Frontier as #1
February 2022 Amazon Bestseller Rankings


Min, An. Sticky Note Image. (accessed 1/2/23)

The Call of the Last Frontier held up in front of Alaska Airlines jet
Melissa Billups of Alaska Adventure Photography Takes The Call of the Last Frontier on Vacation