What’s a Dark Angel? Ask Richard. Despite nearly an hour of conversations about what it is like to be a paid writer, a writer paid well enough to pay the bills (hey, it happens!), we forgot to ask about the origin of the name. Richard Pelletier teaches at and helps produce an international series of writing workshops under the name, Dark Angels. He also writes regularly for corporate clients, is an excellent photographer, and is working on a novel. For Richard, writing is major part of his life.
There are overlaps in his activities. Dark Angels helps writers reveal story concisely and clearly, exceeding the standards of most businesses. Helping a business stand out from “most businesses” is valuable. (Creative Writing for Business) Fortunately, some businesses recognize the reality and hire writers like Richard. It is also why Dark Angels is active and traveling (maybe not as much this year. ) There’s a need and they go meet it, wherever it is. (And somehow those events tend to be in locations like Scotland, London, Spain, Seattle, etc. Hmm. Tempting.)
He’s also working on a novel, something that can be hard to prioritize when doing so much intense writing for others.
Writing can be a career, not just a hobby. It can be an art form. Listen as Richard talks about how he approaches writing, art, business, and a bit of balance.
Say Yay! for our local libraries and the librarians who make them much more than buildings with books. Whidbey Island is fortunate enough to have five branches of the Sno-Isle Library system: Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Freeland, Langley, and Clinton. Some day we may manage to interview someone from each, and we started with Langley Library’s Vicky Welfare.
As most writers know, librarians do more than sort books on shelves. That’s been especially apparent during the current crisis because they’ve managed to keep the system operating. An impressive accomplishment. Their current restrictions have ironically highlighted some of the things they’ve always done that don’t require visiting the buildings, like research. With a bit of creativity and adaptation, they’ve also found ways for people to access books, movies, educational content, and generally helping people however they can. (They’ve even left the wi-fi on, which is how we’ve managed to record and upload some of these podcasts. The right parking space helps. Just remember to turn off your headlights if you’re there for a while – inside joke.)
Vicky shared a bit of her story, including a good idea for a bit of musical history; something for us to look forward to. We also talked about what the library can do for writers before, during, and after the writing of a manuscript, then a book, then a product. Click on the links below. Listen in. And, if you have questions and want answers, ask a librarian; that’s something they excel at.
(By the way, Vicky was kind enough to host one of our, Don and Tom presentations about Modern Self-Publishing. This video gives a glimpse of the presentation space we talk about in the podcast.)
Hello — Don here, messaging you from QuarantineVille! Yes, we are weeks … months(?) … into this Cornonavirus thing. All of us are seeing some changes in our lives from this crazy deal. For Tom and myself one of those is we’ve had to put the brakes on WOWI for the time being. I’m here to tell you — we may be down for the moment, but we’re not out!
Tom and I are each juggling our personal lives with the adjustments; for the time being our schedules, and ‘social distancing’, have precluded us from recording the next WOWI episode. We have done some brainstorming about how we might hold an interview under the current conditions ….
One idea has been to arrange a meeting time and location with an author … each person walking into the location from separate directions (kinda like that Clint Eastwood spaghetti western …. no, the other one), do the interview while keeping our distances, and then safely back out. Dramatic and amusing!
Or, more simply a video-meeting or 3-way phone call.
None of it seems worth the bother right now, and for Tom and myself our priorities have us drawn (if not also quartered) elsewhere.
Our intention is to hold the next WOWI interview when folks can safely shake hands again, without threat of the viral-apocalypse or residential-gulag or whatever. So please enjoy our current collection of episodes, and keep an eye here for updates.
Neither of these have happened … yet. So what’s up?
A hiccup happened in our meeting with Meg (<– a little alliteration there for ya 😉 ) — something came up and the schedule didn’t work out. Now that it’s the new year, I plan to get things set back up with Meg. (Look for Meg’s Kingfisher Bookstore on Facebook and Twitter)
As for Pattie … Today is 06Jan2020 and our WOWI meeting date has been 18Jan2020 — the same day that Pattie will be presenting her new book “The Zoofit Safari” between 10 & 11AM at the Whidbey Island Langley Library — “Eat Clean, Live Green, and Train Positive” (<– click for more event information). I was concerned that I was going to need a schedule change, going out of town to do some SCUBA diving work …. yes, in winter … yes, in cold water. That’s not a sure thing yet, so we haven’t changed the date yet. I predict that interviewing Pattie will be WOWI Episode 9. (Find Pattie at her website EarthConservant.com, books on Amazon, EarthFit on Twitter)
Our next two interviews are scheduled — and I can’t tell you how EXCITED I am about these!!!
As you will recall from WOWI Episode 7, Tom and I recorded in the future basement floor space of Kingfisher Bookstore in Coupeville, WA. Next week Tom and I will be interviewing Meg — the owner of this cozy book-nook! The first time I met Meg I was impressed to no end — she is a bundle of good energy and has a wealth of all-things-book knowledge. Tom and I are looking forward to talking with her about … well, everything … how she curates her store, her plans to expand, how she engages local authors and readers, and how it is that she makes going into her store Absolutely FUN! Kingfisher on Facebook and Twitter
Mid-January Tom and I look to spend some WOWI time with Pattie Beaven. With more than 20 years experience as a zookeeper, she brings an interesting approach to fitness. This has lead her to write “Zoo Fit” and a collection of other impressive books. I have had the pleasure of meeting her only a handful of times myself and I can say — when it comes to Pattie be prepared for a unique individual! We will be catching Pattie in conjunction with presenting her new book “The Zoofit Safari” between 10 & 11AM at the Whidbey Island Langley Library — “Eat Clean, Live Green, and Train Positive” (<– click for more event information). Pattie’s website EarthConservant.com, books on Amazon, EarthFit on Twitter
Do you know Dan Pedersen from his Saturday morning blog, his extensive library of recently written books, or as the guy who goes for walks with Duncan (his dog who is also the cover model for one of the books)? Dan was nice enough to invite us to his house for his interview. Duncan was there, too. You can hear his toenails clicking around the room at the start – before he wondered off to some favorite spot to sleep until we were done.
Dan is the author of several books, and their arc is a study in the progression of a career from professional journalist, to blogger, to writer-for-hire of a non-fiction nature book, to traditional self-publishing in non-fiction, and now to modern self-publishing a somewhat accidental mystery series based on Whidbey Island. His list of productions is enough to cover a table, and represents several perspectives on how, why, and what to write. He also discusses what not to write, which can counter the conventional wisdom of everything being material.
It isn’t always about the money. Blogging is gratifying. Novel writing is fun and an escape. Yet, the mechanics and economics matter there, too, because time is precious and irreplaceable. He describes how he writes, how he advertises, and how he sells – with a bit of a commentary on dealing with publishers, printers, and whatever Amazon has become. Self-publishing provides control, which also requires working every aspect from cover design, page numbering, and how to store a few thousand copies – or paying nothing and only buying what is immediately needed.
Listen in as a gracious man displays a sense of humor as we tried to capture as much of his insights as we could in less than an hour.
I called this post “Seeing Into The Past” because it’s an addendum to my previous post, “Seeing Into The Future …“. Something I meant to include in that last post is what happened on the way to the session.
Often enough, parking can be a pest in Coupeville. The historic area — where Tom and I were — is not all that large, so the trick for many of us is to use the library parking lot. I hopped out of my truck and started walking across the parking lot. Under my arm I had some DVDs to drop off at the library, one of my mic stands, and a lunch-box sized utility case I use for my portable recording gear.
Not but a moment later a fellow called across the parking lot to me. “Did-ya catch anything?” I quickly cycled through the list of things I might have caught but couldn’t come up with anything. I gave back a confused “… What?”, hoping to find out his intention. “Did-ya catch any FISH?” Then my mind went to “… When and where would I have caught any fish?!?” — quickly followed by “When was the last time I went fishing???” And then it occurred to me what was going on. I held up my tripod boom-mic horizontally and clarified to the man, “Microphone stand.”
Now that all was right in the world, I moved on to the library doors where I ran into Tom. Later that day he was scheduled to present one of his various engaging topics, speaking on how Whidbey Island is changing from a financial perspective — he had just loaded in.
We said our hellos and started walking toward Meg’s Kingerfisher Bookstore to record the podcast. Along the way I began telling him about the fishing-pole / mic-stand confusion that had just taken place in the parking long. We shared a chuckle around this and then I told Tom some of my mic-stand-confusion history.
I commonly say that I half-grew-up on Whidbey Island. This is the truncated way of expressing that I grew up in what used to be part of north Seattle; my family frequently visited my grandparents, and I was here so often I understood this as my other home*. My last four abodes before moving full-time to Whidbey were apartments in Shoreline. I play Highland bagpipes, and practicing my instrument in apartments in America tends to be IMPOSSIBLE! My strategy was to check with local churches to see if I might use their space when it was otherwise unoccupied — in exchange I offered to perform for certain church services. Two churches took me up on this and the relationship proved to be mutually beneficial. In other words, I got practice space and they got a guy who called the cops on a few thieves. Lovely, huh? It’s one of myriad things I do not miss about living in Seattle.
(*Beyond that I’m not getting into the proprietary thing that exists here on the island about whos-who and whats-what with how long you have/n’t lived on the island and blah-blah-blah — I could be from far worse places, and let’s leave it at that.)
The recording equipment I use for making WOWI is gear I gathered for my existence as a musician. One day, as I was walking to a church I used right on the Seattle / Shoreline city lines, I was stopped by a cop. I was en route to the church with my pipe case and recording gear when he parked in their driveway and came toward me. The long & short of it is that apparently some concerned citizen called the police about someone fitting my description walking around with a rifle. Suffice to say, I think my mic stand is pretty decent quality but I am yet to learn what caliber it is.
Listen to songbirds, turkeys, a few cars, and a babbling stream as the background to our interview with Maribeth Crandell, author of Hiking Close to Home, a hiking guide for dozens of trails on Whidbey Island. Our setting was the Outdoor Classroom in the Maxwelton Valley, a facility provided by the Whidbey Watershed Stewards, as well as one of the trails mentioned in her book.
Maribeth’s hiking and writing history includes Flip Flop, her story of traveling the Appalachian Trail. Such epic hikes are engaging, but she also recognized the benefit of hiking closer to home, especially when the mountains are inhospitable. She noticed the simple fact that no one had written a book that covered dozens of trails on Whidbey Island, including the ones that accommodate (or at least attempt to accommodate) wheelchairs and such. Over 120 pages and six months later, she and Jack Hartt completed the book, ordered up a few hundred copies, began the rounds of presentations and signings, and now have to order more books.
As with most authors, she also has a day job, working for Island Transit, a free bus service that deserves a book, too. Rather than separate the hiking and the day job, she’s found ways to incorporate the two, including bus-related hikes, and conducting bus tours to various trails. Her experience is a good one for writers and authors to witness how book projects can be inspired, and can inspire other projects. Just don’t be surprised if we’re distracted by sounds from the woods, or digressions about whales and squirrels. Bring your binoculars – to the hikes, not the podcast.
Ament, like in Dam(n) It. Allan Ament (attorney, writer, and person instrumental in the official – though no longer existing – writers association and language arts institute) was kind enough to spend some time talking about writing his book, Learning to Float – Memoir of a Caregiver-Husband. Another key talent, a sense of humor.
As Allan mentions, life is a writing prompt. Even if you don’t intend to write a book, life can put a person through an experience that others ask to hear or read. His story is based on caring for his wife, Deloris Ament, who is also a writer and editor with her own book, Iridescent Light – The Emergence of Northwest Art. Caregiver is a job frequently engaged by necessity as much as choice, which is where Allan found himself. Requests from friends about medical progress turned into an email list, which turned into a blog, which turned into a book. The path to publication does not always follow a plan.
He gives credit to the various writing groups on the island (a place that is “amazingly supportive of creativity.”), and notes their differences in style; the role of the various types of editors, something he’s familiar with because Deloris is one of the best; and how attempts at perfection can intrude on creativity. As he advised one of his perfectionist students, “Get a life.” Considering the topic of his book, and the life he’s led, that’s far more pragmatic than academic.
Say hello to Susan Jensen, author of three books (Cold Snap, Island Solstice, My Dad Smells Funny), artist, AirBnB Superhost, and the star of the viral #DankSusan meme. We met in her home, the site of her AirBnB studio apartment (The Oar House, and yes, she knows what that can sound like because she has a sense of humor.)
Hear about her debates with editors and agents about issue books, including a quick vocabulary expanding opportunity with the phrase “roman à clef.” Her experiences with writers groups becomes a quick survey of which ones work and which ones don’t work, at least for her. To join, or not to join – the choice is always personal. Especially for the topics her books cover, it’s important to find writers who can critique with compassion.
With decades of experience marketing the works of others, and a teacher’s perspective for developing talent, she provides insight and support to writers – and also self-critiques her marketing. Whether about writing or not, she’s engaging in a broad range of conversations. Now, about those pet portraits…