The Story Of A Car-less Challenge – An Interview With Kurt Hoelting

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? (Actually, that’s finally been resolved, but that’s another story.) 

Which came first: the idea for the challenge, or the idea for the book? 

Kurt Hoelting is the author of The Circumference of Home: One Man’s Yearlong Quest for a Radically Local Life. What would it be like to stay within 100 kilometers of Whidbey and yet never get behind the wheel of a car? What would that book look like? 

The need to tackle the challenge was greater than the need to write the book. Each author works from a unique inspiration. In this podcast, Kurt was nice enough to discuss both the process of enjoying and basically living within this disc of the world, as well as the process of writing and publishing his first work. The two were intertwined.

Read the book for the details, of course, but he describes the fascinating positioning that put his house at the center of a circle that touches many of the area’s significant mountain peaks, and encompasses home for several million people. With walking, bicycling, mass transit and a bit of help from his friends he demonstrated the ease and effort required to live in modern society without a car. 

Listen to Kurt for his insights about the challenge but also about how his history and community helped him complete a book that is unique and hyper-local. Writing a book, particularly a first book, doesn’t have to be done alone. Life experiences help. So does the expertise within a person’s social network, and professional literary help too, of course.

Listen in, but also keep in mind that Kurt has other skills and stories that may be best explored by contacting him, directly.



Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 28 – Kurt Hoelting, adventurer, philosopher, author

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Links:

Kurt’s Amazon page – The Circumference of Home – www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003HO5UWO/

Thoughtful Adventure Travel – Inside Passages – www.insidepassages.com/

Big Purple Undies and Cannes – An Interview With Suzanne Kelman

Big Purple Undies. That’s a fine way to start an interview with Suzanne Kelman, a writer of books and screenplays, who walked the Red Carpet at Cannes, and who is also memorable for her laugh. 

Suzanne’s writing career entered its most recent era when she moved to the island more than a decade ago. She’s gregarious and funny, which is why folks can be distracted enough to miss her large collection of books and screenplays. 

One of her earlier works was “Big Purple Undies” a story that became a performance that she showed around the US, as well as on Whidbey. That makes her a performer, too. 

Her more recent list of historical novels describe life during World War II. Her productivity continues. As she points out in the interview, she continues to write, has recently completed another for publication, and already has the next one lined up. 

As it says on her Amazon Author Page;

“Suzanne Kelman is an Amazon international bestselling author in America, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia and her books have sold over 250,000 copies worldwide and have been translated into six languages.”

She’s been busy.

Another favorite title is “The Rejected Writers’ Book Club”, the first book in the Southlea Bay series. A great title, and proof that she can handle several genres. 

Writers might find it useful to listen to how she found training, resources, as well as her process. 

Adding to the rest, she also had a podcast, “Blondie and the Brit”. She’s the Brit. 

Listen in for stories, laughter, and a splash of reality. We’re back to remote interviews for our podcast (in-person was short lived, alas), so please pardon the inevitable connectivity issues. 


Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 27 – Suzanne Kelman, writer of novels and screenplays


Links:

Her main site – http://suzannekelmanauthor.blogspot.com/

Her blog – https://www.blondieandbrit.com/

Her Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Suzanne-Kelman/e/B00JH1V3HW

Don’s Interview On Tartan Tunes

Writing a book leads to more than the opportunity for books sales. Sales or no sales, a book can introduce an author to other endeavours, and branch out to connect with other projects. Here’s an example of co-host and co-producer Don Scoby being introduced to an international audience where he was able to talk about more than just one thing.

Tartan Tunes is the YouTube channel of Peter and Davie from Scotland. They have a regular feature called Scottish Sessions – Whats New Wednesdays which “includes interviews and musical performances from established and upcoming musicians from all over the world.”  

They found Don because he’s a piper and they were intrigued by at least one of his books that include music, recipes, and history; particularly “The Patriotic Piper“. 

  • 20 traditional Scottish American military and patriotic bagpipe compositions, arranged into 8 performance numbers
  • 15 delicious Scottish and Irish recipes
  • Numerous history and trivia writings accompanying the tunes and recipes
  • Featuring over 40 high quality images of food, SAMS insignia, and Post photos

A book does not have to stand alone. If can be a key contributor to a writer’s, an artist’s works, each supporting and amplifying the others. Their interview gave him the opportunity to talk about performing, baking, scuba work. It was an opportunity to show how an author everything can integrate (except maybe the scuba) and be introduced to an international audience.

Watch or listen in to the full video (~48:30 minutes), or use this link to skip ahead to where Don is introduced. Or, go to Don’s blog.

Many writers and authors are creative in many ways. Treating them as a whole also means an author may sell something else like music, or their music may help sell books. Whether they help a diver get underwater gigs, well, ask Don about that.

Our Libraries Our Librarians – An Interview With Betsy Arand

Finally, back to talking to people in person! Betsy Arand, the Managing Librarian at the Freeland Library, was nice enough to be our first interviewee as the restrictions are relaxed. It was a treat for the three of us to sit around for that hour or so – 3-D! While it is easy to make fun of something that seems so simple now, it was proof that there’s more to life than a 2-D screen. Body language conveys things that can’t be part of a podcast, but it changes the conversation. We humans respond differently when we see someone else’s response. 

We mostly talked about life as a librarian, particularly during a crisis. As Betsy said (paraphrased); “Managing a library during a pandemic was not part of the library school curriculum.” Adaptability on display, by necessity.

The good news is that almost all of the library services are available again, though with adjustments in the interim. About the only thing not available are the public presentations in the various Sno-Isle Library System meeting rooms, like the well-equipped one at Betsy’s library in Freeland. 

That’s where we met. Our live and in-person interviews are conducted in ways so the background ambiance is included. Don’t be surprised if it’s quieter than usual this time. Though there was that one visitor who picked the wrong door as an entrance; but that’s understandable.

Our conversation lasted about an hour, which is too little time to hear the stories and insights she’s accumulated from decades of service. Listen in and enjoy. And, if you have any questions, well, there’s a librarian for that.

Betsy Arand, Managing Librarian at Sno-Isle Libraries (Freeland)

Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 25 – Betsy Arand, librarian


Attached is the information for authors and the top circulating titles (provided by Betsy Arand):

Sno-Isle Resources for Authors

  • Inter-Library Loan (ILL)
    • This service was suspended during the pandemic and will start again on August 2
    • Use to request books published more than a year ago 
    • Also used to request periodical articles not available in a library database 
    • New ILL system should reduce wait times to 2-4 weeks (previous requests took up to 8 weeks)
    • A new feature: customers can create an account to receive regular notifications about the progress of their ILL request
  • Local Author collection in Sno-Isle Libraries
    • Local authors can have their books added to the Sno-Isle Libraries catalog
    • Eligibility requirements
      • An author needs to live in Island or Snohomish County <or>
      • Have ties to area that are evident in their book
    • Local authors donate one or two copies at a community library in the Sno-Isle Libraries system
    • Final decision whether an author’s work is appropriate for the Local Author collection is made by librarians in the Collection Services department
    • If an author’s book is available in eBook format in Kobo or Smashbooks, Sno-Isle Libraries is able to purchase it through our eBook vendor
  • Databases
    • Use library databases for research
    • Available under the Online Resources tab at top of library’s website
    • Databases are searchable by Age, Format or Subject
      • Some of the Subject categories: Current Events, History & Culture, Science
      • Examples of use:
        • Use the Chicago Tribune Historical database to research the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 for a novel set in that time period or location
        • Use the Birds of the World database from Cornell University to do research for a novel that includes birdwatching

Top Circulating Books and DVDs at the Freeland Library

  • What books are Freeland library customers checking out? These are the top three fiction and non-fiction books checked out during the same time period before the pandemic closure, when the library was providing contact-free holds pickup only, and after the main library building was fully re-opened.
    • Top June 2019 Fiction – before pandemic closure
      • Overstory by Richard Powers 
      • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 
      • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides 
    • Top June 2019 Non-Fiction – before pandemic closure
      • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot 
      • Unforgettable Canada by George Fischer 
      • Furious Hours: murder, fraud, and the last trial of Harper Lee by Cep Casey
  •  Top June 2020 Fiction – contact-free holds pickup
    • Olive, again by Elizabeth Strout 
    • Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler 
    • The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel 
  • Top June 2020 Non-Fiction – contact-free holds pickup
    • A Pilgrimage to Eternity by Timothy Egan 
    • Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad 
    • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Kimmerer 
  • Top June 2021 Fiction – main library building re-opened
    • The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly 
    • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett 
    • All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny 
  • Top June 2021 Non-Fiction – main library building re-opened
    • Facing the Mountain: a True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II by Daniel James Brown 
    • Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson 
    • Nomadland: Surviving American in the Twenty-first Century by Jessica Bruder 
  • What DVDs are popular with Freeland customers? These are the top five DVDs that checked out most often before the library closed due to the pandemic, when the library was providing contact-free holds pickup only, and after the main library building was fully re-opened.
    • Top June 2019 (before pandemic closure)
      • Bohemian Rhapsody 
      • Ocean’s Eight 
      • Tiny: a Story about Living Small 
      • Humor Me 
      • Take Shelter 
    • June 2020 (contact-free holds pickup)
      • Little Women 
      • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood 
      • Star Wars IX, the Rise of Skywalker 
      • Knives Out 
      • Jumanji: the Next Level
    • 2021 (main library building re-opened)
      • Minari 
      • Mulan 
      • News of the World 
      • The Father 
      • Coda 

Tom’s InSpiris Audio Magazine Interview

Okay, here’s a blog post I’ve been putting off writing — not because I’ve lacked inspiration, but because I haven’t known where to start! This past June (2021), Tom met with Spencer Webster — novelist, storyteller, retired U.S. Navy Sailor, a guy with a million zillion creative ideas, and the host of InSpiris Audio Magazine. Tom was the interview subject of Spencer’s podcast — seeking to find what creativity is to other people.

I’ve listened to this episode twice and I have been impressed — possibly to the point of being overwhelmed (hence writing this post in July, not June). Let me take a crack at explaining why, along with telling you about their session …

I’ve known Tom for … well, I guess it’s been about seven years now. The first I made his company, he was presenting the topic of how to self-publish your book at the library in Langley, WA. He was knowledgeable, affable, and well humored. We continued to talk beyond this workshop, and eventually he guided me through publishing my first book. Together, we have had numerous conversations on an array of topics and laughed ourselves fairly well silly …. not so unlike we now do here on WOWI.

All that said, I think I know Tom pretty well. And yet … you know those times where you see a friend in a different environment, and you experience a whole new dimension … then afterward all you can say is “… Wow!”? Yeah, that’s this interview!

During the interview Tom talks about not only where inspiration comes from but also what inspiration is to him. He also speaks to where he applies creativity, often in places where others might not think creativity applies. Tom ranges from his former work as an engineer to personal experiences that lead to writing books; he richly quotes people and references books that I had no idea about, much less guessed Tom might have covered.

So … listen to this interview, which Spencer Webster of InSpiris Audio Magazine kindly allowed to be reposted here on WOWI … prepare to be blown away … and have your creative live better for it!

Best ~ Don

Don And Tom Reconnect WOWI

On a typical marvelous day in Coupeville, Don and I found an opportunity to set these podcasts back on their original track. At the start, we crafted these episodes based on our resources, i.e. two guys, a microphone, an interest in highlighting the writing community of Whidbey Island, and a willingness to adapt and learn. Writers are creative people. We did what we could with what we had. The pandemic changed things (understatement.) And now, thanks to responsible folks wearing masks and getting vaccinated, enough progress has been made that we could return to something like our original concept. Uh. How did we do this a little more than a year ago? We begin again. 

We started with live, largely uncut interviews and discussions with various members of the expansive yet unofficial Whidbey Island writing community. Guests included writers, of course, but also editors, publishers, poets, librarians, book sellers, book collectors, etc. Our community is varied. Whidbey Island is varied, too. So, we recorded at a variety of locations. The background became part of the show. Listen for ambience that includes jets, turkeys, dogs, businesses, pedestrians, etc. The island provides a long list to include.

Then, the pandemic hit. Zoom this. Google Meet that. Everyone was remote. Everyone was required to have a bit of technological skill. And of course that thing we all needed, a sense of humor, somehow.

Now, we’re back – or at least we hope we are – sort of. For the first time in over a year, Don and I recorded a live, masked-face-to-masked-face episode. The bonus was a setting that included the sounds of eagles, people, and maybe a ferry. Our personal bonus was a view of the Sound, Port Townsend, the Olympics, and the usual extraordinary panoramas from near the Admiralty Head Lighthouse. Why not include someone as a guest? Well, partly, we had to see if we remembered all of the gadgets and setup considerations. (Good thing Don remembered the extra batteries.)

It was good to reconnect and remember those other bits of communication that are harder to convey online. Body language, hand signals, stifled laughs – as well as a reminder to not bump the microphone.

And there was a lot to talk about. Those months weren’t wasted. Turning binge watching into a way to research writers’s styles. A surplus of uninterrupted time to write. Dealing with a support network, or at least fellow writers, that are necessarily more remote. Marketing campaigns that can’t rely on readings, signings, panels, or talks. 

Listen for our personal adaptations and approaches, as well as progress in our individual projects – including opening hints about a possible group project for sci-fi writers. 

If you have a story to tell about your recently released book, how you managed your marketing campaign, how your business survived, how your organization adapted, whatever, send us a note about possibly being one of our guests. (If we get too many we might have to put all the names in a basket and see what luck provides.)

Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 23 – Don and Tom Reconnect


Pavel Soukenik – Tulip & Hound publishing

Have you hear of Tulip & Hound?  It’s a new and exciting publishing company here on Whidbey Island!  This past Tuesday afternoon Tom and I had the absolute pleasure of spending time (via e-meeting, because Corona) with owner and visionary Pavel Soukenik.

Pavel and his wife, Angela, have joined us here on Whidbey for a number of years — and Pavel himself has joined us here in The United States originally from the Czech Republic.  Given his background, Pavel supports translation from English into Czech — but what makes Tulip & Hound unique doesn’t stop there!

Tulip & Hound is a small and promising publishing company potentially filling a niche here on the island — there are no publishing company (or distributors for that matter).  Pavel’s books are traditionally printed here in the United States using print runs instead of print-on-demand. Books printed in volume through Tulip & Hound can then be offered at lower prices with better terms for both bookstores and authors.  Pavel also believes in giving back and is donating 10% of profits from all book sales to preservation of the environment.

The debut book being offered by Tulip & Hound is titled “Siren and the Serenade” by Angela Cummings.  She’s a Pacific Northwest author located right here on Whidbey — so local she’s Pavel’s wife.  This is convenient for Pavel because he never has a problem reaching his client.

I found our time with Pavel interesting and thought provoking — and I believe you will too when you listen to the podcast.  He is pleasant, has a great sense of humor, and all around … he’s just a neat guy!  It will be exciting to watch what happens for Tulip & Hound and his company continues to develop.  With any luck, it is my hope Tom and I can visit again with Pavel in a year or so to learn about everything that has transpired with Tulip & Hound!

Tulip & Hound’s website

Tulip & Hound on Twitter

His Mother Really Is Crazier Than Yours – In Interview With Cam Castle

Where would writers be without their families? Sure, they’re a source of support, but they’re also a source of stories. Cam Castle was born into a wealth of stories, which is one reason he wrote a book about it. “My Mother is Crazier than Your Mother”

Cam’s Mom created a creative childhood environment, not necessarily on purpose. Retelling those tales here would be redundant. Besides, Cam’s better at telling them. He’s a writer of many talents, including writing for the Seattle Times; but as a few fortunate fellow writers know, having him in a writing group makes sure the day won’t be dull. He’s a humorist with the ability to make dull text entertaining. (I know. His reading of some of my personal finance pieces made them funny enough to wake everyone up.)

Cam was also brave enough to be one of our first interviewees, back when we were still learning what this podcast would truly be about, and how we needed to approach it. Just like in the writing groups, his candor was appreciated and constructive. Subsequent interviewees can thank him, even though it may not be apparent how he made their experience much smoother. (That’s also why he pointed out that, while we posted the podcast, we forgot to post the attendant blog post. Oops. Pardon us as we play catch-up.)

Writing On Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 3 – Cam Castle, My Mother is Crazier than Your Mother

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Childrens Books, Creative Cards, And Coaching – An Interview With Deb Lund

At least on Whidbey Island, creative people tend to create more than one way to express themselves and help others. Yet another reason the island’s writing community has multiple layers that support each other. Deb Lund is probably best known for her children’s books, but she’s also taught writing and coached writers, which inspired her card deck designed to inspire them. But, really, it is hard to ignore and easy to remember someone whose books include dinosaurs that “take to the skies, the rails, and the high seas” as well as monsters on machines (wearing hardhats, of course.)

The conversation started with the dinosaurs because, why not. They may be children’s books, which can be much more complicated to write, produce, and publish than conventional novels. With a conventional novel there may be effectively no limit to the word count, except the thickness of the binding. Deb pointed out that children’s book are much more constrained (imagine editing a story of a few thousand words down to a few hundred), and require the writer to relinquish much of the control to the illustrator. Instead of only one graphic which is limited to the cover, every page can be a graphic from edge to edge. A children’s book is more of a duet, but with the two artists working separately much of the time, and yet the two efforts become one creation. 

Deb also has teacher cred, a natural background for someone writing children’s books, as well as a natural lead to teaching and coaching writers. Along the way, she created a series of inspirational playing cards to give writers fresh perspectives on their works in progress. They became popular enough that her students encouraged her to create and sell the decks. Welcome to yet another publishing accomplishment that was much more than lots of words on blank pages. Concise messages on colorful cards required multiple art forms, again. 

Her accomplishments are impressive, but are better heard about from her. Listen in on the podcast for the stories in her own words, and maybe contact her if you want to benefit from an experienced artist – who also can tell stories about gargantuan dinosailor goofballs.

Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 21 – Deb Lund, Childrens’ book author, card creator, and coach

She can also be found on:

Her web site: deblund.com

Facebook: (pages for 
Deb Lund, author
The Creativity Cafe
Writing With Kids

Twitter: @deblund

Instagram: deblundauthor

Popular Posts 2020

Welcome to the ten most popular posts, the posts that received the most traffic in 2020.

That’s a nice mix. Authors, librarians, booksellers, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, editing, and rare books. That diversity is one of the reasons the Whidbey Island writing community is broad and deep, able to support the members of the informal, unofficial, highly creative community. Personally, it is nice to see people returning to episode 1, to better understand our intent. And remember, a grade school class got the most traffic by a large margin. Forget the MBA. Maybe tune into 5th graders, instead.