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

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/

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

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