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.
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.
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…
Now that the introductions are done (see episode 1), time to get into some details. Co-host Don Scoby recently self-published his inaugural cookbook, “Make Your Own Darn Good Cookies”. That’s a story and worth a celebration as authors know; but his experience was particularly educational because it happened as CreateSpace and Kindle became one. Yet again, the self-publishing industry changes.
Thanks to Don’s experience as a musician and an entrepreneurial baker he understands the practical aspects of production, presentation, sales, and basically running a business based on a creative product. The transition from writer to author is also the transition from introvert to extrovert, which he describes and balances well. Within the publishing world, he also describes why and how not to rely solely on Amazon, and the value of making personal contacts. “You’re an artist” also becomes “You’re a small business.” (And remember to keep that day job.)
Amidst the rest, we also talked about coffee rings, jets again, writers groups gathering around intersections, and if you closely you’ll hear sea gulls making dinner by dropping clams onto rocks. It’s Whidbey!
Clack two rocks together. We didn’t have one of those boards they use for movies, but so it begins, and began. Welcome and hello to the first podcast episode of WritingOnWhidbeyIsland (WOWI), a show put together by Don Scoby and Tom Trimbath (me). Origin stories are in style, and this first episode recorded Don and I as we talked about who, how, why, where, and what inspired us to begin this series.
The who is easy: the rest of the writing community of Whidbey Island, and group that includes hundreds of writers, editors, producers, publishers, librarians, and bookstore owners. The how is keeping it simple. Thanks to Don’s equipment and skills we intend to record from a variety of locations up and down the island including the background ambiance (which in this case includes seagulls and F-18s.) Each episode will focus on one writer or aspect of writing, and don’t be surprised if the creative process leads somewhere else. The first two episodes are the two of us, so you know who’s doing the talking. Why is easy; we like the community and the island and think it all deserves yet another avenue and venue for continuing and advancing the conversation. Where is wherever we can, which for this episode was sitting on the low-tide rocky beach of Penn Cove and Coupeville. What inspired us was much of the above, but also some talks, classes, and presentations we’re conducted about modern self-publishing: print-on-demand and ebooks. (Click on the link to the captured livestream of one of the events – Self-Publishing from Inspiration to Publication.)
If you want to learn more about us, check out this blog’s About page.
Listen in if you want to hear more about writing, the process, the failures that aren’t failures, the balancing of extrovert and introvert, and some of our background stories. Besides, listening in leads to hearing about robot unicorns, I-beams on kayaks, and an ambiance punctuated by a low-flying F-18.
Okay, we’ve been keeping this kind of quiet, but here it is … PODCAST
Tom Trimbath and I have started a PODCAST!
It’s TRUE — Tom and I have started a PODCAST. Take 1-part portable recording gear and add 2 guys energetic about writing, and mix with a look at all-things-writing as it pertains to Whidbey … and you get “Writing On Whidbey Island“* — or WOWI!
(*Present web location, subject to change)
Our show is new — presently we have about half-a-dozen recordings, each around 40 minutes long. Three of these have been interviews with Whidbey Island authors. Our show is not a hard Q&A, it’s a conversation about the topic we pick — a guest talking about their book, a bookstore owner discussing their approach to the book business, online marketing, you name it! This month Tom and I have 2 recordings tentatively scheduled — here’s what’s coming up!PODCAST
October 12th — Maribeth Crandell’s Latest Book
The 14Sep2019 copy of the Whidbey News-Times presented an article on Maribeth Crandell and her second book “Hiking Close to Home“. In her latest book, Maribeth presents all the hikes here on Whidbey Island. Her approach has included not only features of the hikes, which ones are wheelchair accessible, and also which ones you get reach using the local bus service — which is free by the way! That Saturday she was presenting her book at the Coupeville library — she and her book sounded interesting so I attended! Maribeth was passionate about her topic and full of character — and at the end of the presentation I invited her on WOWI. She will be holding another release party a few weeks following in Anacortes — if you’re local, don’t miss it! PODCAST
October 28th — 1st Year Publishing Lessons Learned
Our guest for our October 28th recording will be ….. ME! A week ago Tom pointed out that my first book “Make Your Own Darn Good Cookies” was published one year ago on Amazon. Since then I’ve presented my book, published the Amazon and Smashwords e-book versions, started my next book projects, and learned more than a few things I didn’t know before. Tom suggested that we discuss the experiences, lessons, and tips of a writer (me) the first year into being a self-published author. *Stammer*Stammer* … uh … now that I think about it, YEAH, there are things that I can share. I’m looking forward to talking with Tom about it and sharing with our listeners! PODCAST
Now, a few more things about WOWI
Tom and I live on opposite ends of Whidbey Island. For our WOWI podcast this is a blessing and a curse. The ‘curse‘ is that it is inconvenient to get together, so our recordings don’t take place on a regular schedule. The ‘blessing‘ is that we have to coordinate our schedules when we are going to be at the same end of the island. This helps us to meet with myriad authors, writers groups, bookstore owners, ETC here on Whidbey Island. We’ve worked this into the character of the show — recording in different places, featuring some of the audioscape of our beloved island in the background. So far we have recorded outdoors, and the weather is beginning to turn on us. We will soon be looking for indoor locations that will host us. If you are a business this may work to your favour because we always say where we are recording from — for the use of a warm room, a little bit of electricity, and perhaps a few other comforts, we will GLADLY plug your Whidbey Island business! PODCAST