Melanie Bacon From National Lampoon To Sherlock’s Sister

Let’s see, topics included: National Lampoon (with a connection to Garrison Keillor), a dragon, the sister of Sherlock Holmes, a relative of Jack the Ripper, Sarah Susanka, Mary (yes, that one), casino mysteries, and a book temporarily titled Adultery And Other Alternatives To Suicide. One hour wasn’t enough for our interview with Melanie Bacon, but the company offering the free online conference call was heartless and cut us off at an hour. (But, hey, it was free.)

Interviews are easy when the interviewee is a comedian, as well as a story teller. Melanie has also had a fascinating journey in her career and in finding a place on Whidbey. From one of her bios; 

A few of the many trades she worked at but failed to master were cage cashier, employee relations manager, and legal affairs investigator at a large Minnesota Indian gaming casino. She has also been a farmwife, a signmaker, owned a bookstore and second-hand shop, chaired a city planning commission, and was once the international compensation manager for a Fortune 500 corporation.

She has written several novels. Her current series is called The Detectorist. Book 1 is titled Dragon Ripper, which is an intriguing title. Book 2 in the series is done, but not published, yet. Considering her low-key, minimalist, surprisingly successful market approach to the first book (aka not over-working it), she may not need to do much this time, either. Of course, we fellow writers could help spread the word; which is the case for all of us.

The interview lasted an hour, but went by quickly. Laughter helps make that happen.

Listen in and enjoy, and stay tuned for when her next book gets published. There might be a line at the store when that happens.

Oh yeah, and if you can handle flashbacks, check out the links below. One is a hand-built web site from 1999 that we jokingly called, The Last of the HTMLs.


Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 36 – Melanie Bacon – author, bookstore owner, graduate of National Lampoon, and more


links

Joe Menth Does More Than Hit Print

Don’t judge a book by its cover, except people do. Joe Menth has helped many of Whidbey’s writers by helping them fix their covers, polish the graphics inside, produce posters and cards and plenty of other marketing materials. Joe’s shop, Feather and Fox which is owned and operated by him and his wife, is in Langley, but if you follow local writers or local artists you’ve probably seen his work.

Writing On Whidbey Island is about the writing community, which previous episodes have shown to be about the support network that wraps around the writers. Librarians, booksellers, editors, publishers, etc. add to the unofficial community that already includes hundreds of writers, poets, and screenwriters. Some writers can do it all, but many of us call for help because we don’t have those skills, or are already so busy that hiring a professional for an hour can save a day’s (or a week’s) effort.

Joe talked with the two of us in a conversation that had to wander around what he does and what he’s asked to do because his skills are so varied. His skills are so varied that sometimes he has to be reminded of them. (Personal note: He’s helped me with at least ten books, so far. Insides, outsides, and marketing besides are demonstrations of more than hitting print.)

Welcome back to a virtual call because, as the pandemic has proved, sometimes the only way to get three busy schedules to align is by having everyone phone it in. Hopefully, you find the episode more engaging than that.


Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 35 – Joe Menth of Feather and Fox – fine art printer, graphics expert, creativity enabler


Link: Feather and Fox Print, Co. FeatherAndFoxPrintCo.com

Victoria Ventris Shea and Shagoon!

You know how sometimes you can be completely wrapped up in your own little world, busy having an ‘off day’, when something grabs you and turns everything around?  Some amazing thing pops into your gnarled perspective that makes you do a one-eighty and say, “WOW!”?  Recently, I had one of these turn-around-WOW experiences with Victoria Ventris Shea and her debut book “Shagoon”.

This past Wednesday* Tom and I had the absolute pleasure of meeting with Whidbey author “Vickie” Shea.  She kindly invited us in to here delightful home for our April WOWI recording session. 
(*National Tartan Day)

^ ^ ^ Hey, HOLLYWOOD! ^ ^ ^

Vickie shared with us how the idea for her historical fiction book “Shagoon” came to life.  Taking place during the 18th century, her story travels between Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and Hawaii.  Its focal point is Ana, a young (Native American) Tlingit girl, who crosses paths with Captain Vancouver aboard the Discovery, a Hawaiian queen and even a Russian leader as she searches for her Tlingit family.  Not only is this a book I’m looking forward to reading soon, it’s also a movie I’d like to see.

After this, Vickie went on to tell us about her next book,Brick, Lime and Moonshine”.  Taking place during Prohibition in The Inland Northwest, “Brick, Lime and Moonshine” looks at life from the ground level – focusing on the rural people of the period as they worked just to continue on.  Of course that’s not all – her book also recalls “…flapper fun, dance halls, drinking houses and serenades on Loon Lake.”

Now … here’s the “WOW”

In talking with Vickie, clearly she is humble about her writing.  Like most of us, she doesn’t like to brag when talking about her literary work.  However, both Tom and I noticed that when she discussed her stories that she holds a unique passion.  When we asked her directly about this, we could see the smile in her eyes! Meeting someone like Vickie can turn around your day, and surely her stories will take you away.  She loves writing, and I have no doubt that I will enjoy making the personal discovery of her work.

Enjoy! ~ Don


Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 34 – Victoria Ventris Shea – historical fiction author, teacher


LINKS

Stephanie Barbé Hammer, Magical Realism and More

Magical Realism. That’s a genre that shows some style even in its name. Nonfiction titles wish they could have such a label. Magical Realism (as well as the terms Urban Fantasy and Fabulism) is one way to get to know Stephanie Barbé Hammer. She writes in the genre as well as teaches and coaches interested writers. That is not the only reason to listen to her interview. She has skills and insights, of course; but she is entertaining with an obvious skill at telling stories, and laughing. Just check out her bio photos online; not exactly a dour demeanor, eh? 

Have you noticed that writers have stories to tell? Writers are interesting people. Writers with experience, like Stephanie Barbé Hammer, are also frequently people with stories and careers and accomplishments. She’s a familiar name to many of those who remember the Whidbey Island Writers Association and the MFA program. As it says in her bio, “has published short fiction, nonfiction and poetry” with the added touch of being a 6-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Add in several gigs as an instructor at the university level. Is that enough? Nah.

Her work goes back a couple of decades and includes a start at blogging that is a good example of perseverance and a way for new readers to meet her, and existing fans to keep in touch with her works and her progress. And in May 2022 she’ll add another novel to her list of accomplishments. 

Listen in for hear her approach to publishing with small presses that enable creativity make for a pairing worth paying attention to. 

Oh yeah, and it was a fun interview to be a part of.


Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 33 – Stephanie Barbé Hammer, novelist, poet, teacher, speaker


Links:

Web site – https://stephaniebarbehammer.net
Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Barb%25C3%25A9-Hammer/e/B001KHYHWE?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1645491324&sr=1-1
Twitter – @stephaniebarbeh

Amanda (Mandy) Goodwin and I Played the Smart Pig

Welcome to another multi-talented member of the Whidbey Island writing community. Amanda Goodwin is the author of the recently published book, “I Played the SMART PIG: A half-true made up novel”, written as Mandy Goodwin. While that’s enough of an accomplishment, it is simply the latest in a career of acting, directing, producing, editing, and writing. As if that wasn’t enough, add in publicist and it’s hard to imagine what else to include.

She was nice enough to find the time to talk about her present and her past, and even a bit about her future. “I Played the Smart Pig” may be the story inspired by her childhood in the late 60s, but it is not a children’s book. It is for readers who’ve lived and matured and can sympathize with how childhood affects the rest of life.

We talked about her wide range of experiences prior to starting her novel. Her stories from years of film-making illustrated that it is more elaborate than writing a book, but there are plenty of similar steps in the process. A lot of it comes down to having the right resources, and then getting the word out via a good network and connections. People knowing people is still a powerful tool, regardless of social media.

If you haven’t seen her around the island much, that may be because she moved to the island just before the pandemic. That’s one way for her to find enough time to concentrate on setting up a new household. One way to see some of her film work is to follow the YouTube links below.

As for the future, another book is in work, which is also a common and positive condition for authors, one book leading to another.

In the meantime, her books are available throughout the island’s bookstores, and online, too, of course.

Listen in for a conversation that traveled through a wealth of topics, and even some physical traveling, too.

Thanks to Meg from Kingfisher for the introduction, too.


Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 32 – Amanda (Mandy) Goodwin, author, actress, director, producer, publicist, and more


Links:

I Played the Smart Pig (her web site) – https://www.smartpignovel.com/
I Played the Smart Pig (amazon) – https://www.amazon.com/Played-Smart-Pig-half-true-novel/dp/1838075984
Amanda Goodwin (film) – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0329426/
Telling of the Shoes (YouTube) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83EJgmGlAak
Living ’til the End (YouTube) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCGqoZgbbNo

Dallas Janice Dianne and Faith are Out of the Blue

You know it is a good and engaging conversation when Google kicks you off the system because you’ve been on too long. Dianne Shiner and Janice O’Mahony were nice enough to also speak for Dallas Hunt and Faith Wilder, too, as they told us about a book they recently published, “Out of the Blue”. Each of the four have impressive resumes in and beyond the writing world. Several years ago, they began meeting because of a mutual interest: poetry. They effectively became a writers group of four, just enough for diverse feedback, not too many to be overwhelming, and close enough that they developed friendships. They also created that rare gift, a writer’s appreciation for another writer’s style and voice. In retrospect it seems natural that a book would be the result. And now it is done and available on the island and online. 

Each produced 25 poems. Actually, each produced many more than that, which isn’t a surprise for anyone familiar with their varied accomplishments. Editing and sorting down to a final 25 for each was necessary.

Readers might appreciate four perspectives on, as their Overview points out, “…deep sadness, sardonic wit, prophetic wisdom, and occasional laugh-out-loud twists.”

Writers might appreciate the reality that; “One of us gets help eliminating superfluous first stanzas. Another sometimes puts her strongest stanza in the middle when it might be incandescent at the end. One has an ambivalent relationship with punctuation. A fourth could sometimes be less blunt.”

For WritingOnWhidbeyIsland it was nice to see a mutual appreciation that they are, “…grateful for the beautiful community we share and for our growth as artists.”

(And on a personal level, I enjoyed the fact that; “The clarity of each voice is enhanced by the companionship of one another’s poems and countless cups of tea.” Tea!)

As a co-host of this podcast, it was also nice to read such a well-written Overview that was engaging and well-written, something easily overlooked in the publishing process.

Listen in to the conversation with Dianne and Janice.

And, of course, visit Whidbey Island’s bookstore to buy a copy, or go to https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Out-of-the-Blue1 to buy online. 


Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 31 – Dianne Shiner , Dallas Huth, Faith Wilder and Janice O’Mahony

Popular Posts 2021

Welcome to the ten most popular posts, the posts that received the most traffic in 2021.

Let’s see, those ten represent: kids writing books, kids reading books, surfing and more, new books, rare books, libraries, poets, family stories, and the first post that introduced this site. Any trend? Yes. The Whidbey Island writing community is varied in age, from writing to reading to selling to collecting, from short to long forms, in fiction and non-fiction. Hard to get bored and easy to get inspired when part of such a community. Thanks for doing what you do, even if it is simply listening in.

WOWI 2021 Year End and Forward!

Tom and I recently decided to wrap up 2021 the same way we started WOWI — meeting together and talking about what’s up in writing as we know it! This may be our longest recording session yet — jam-packed with reflection and looking forward into 2022 and beyond.

Among other things, in this session we find out that Tom is working on a sci-fi novel with potential for being a series with sequels and spin-offs. He’s also bringing his book on tea to fruition — sure to be filled with local flavour!

As for me … I have 3 new recipe books nearly complete, publishing sometime in (Fall?) 2022. Just as soon as those are done, I already have 3 half-complete projects to move up from the back burner. Depending on how those go … I might publish 4 new titles in 2022. I’m also taking steps to become a professional audiobook narrator.

Enjoy! ~ Don

Honorable Mentions & Handy Weblinks From This Episode of WOWI


Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 30 – WOWI 2021 Year End and Forward!

A Life In Sports, Broadcasting, and Writing – An Interview With Mike Gastineau

How to summarize a life that has passed through so much of the sports world, particularly Seattle’s? A post can’t contain it. Our podcast pulls in more. It would take a book, no, several books to begin – and he isn’t done, yet. Mike Gastineau was kind enough to talk to us about how he got started in broadcast sports radio, expanded into books, and even is an advisor on a screenplay.

Mike lives on Whidbey, and for many years he was the sports reporter for KJR. Reporting something new and interesting several times a day is an amazing accomplishment, and also great training for becoming a productive writer. So much for sitting and waiting for a muse to drop by. His deadlines had second hands sweeping past.

He has stories about the Huskies, the Sonics, and the Sounders, and he was willing to tell the stories behind those stories. Listen to his energy as he talks about things that enthuse him. Listen also to the difference between writing for broadcasts, which are ephemeral; and non-fiction books, which have more permanence. 

His work is also a good example of being an expert, of not trying to know everything about everything, but knowing more than almost everyone about topics that have intense followings, fans. And he knows how to make it sound easy, engaging, and educational.

Links:

His web site: “The Gasman

His Amazon Author page


Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 29 – Mike Gastineau, sports broadcaster and author and more

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/