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

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

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.

Steel Lace Apples And Editing – An Interview With Holly Thomas

Pluck another apple, Eve, and finish it. Or more appropriately, “Pluck Another Apple, Eve, And Finish It”; or something like that. (What is the right way to capitalize a title?) Maybe we should ask an editor. Actually, we did. Holly Thomas, editor, poet, artist was kind enough to let us interview her. We didn’t ask about this title or her artistry (this is a podcast about writing); but we did ask about life as an editor and her work as a poet. If you haven’t noticed the graphic below in some preview pane, she published a collection of her poems titled, “Pluck Another Apple, Eve, And Finish It“.

Holly’s work is a reminder that while some of us count how many words we write per hour, poets can spend hours per word – and it shows. Easy grace can require effort and introspection. As captured in the book’s description on Amazon, the term “steel lace” comes to mind. (There may also be some poems that touch on nature, emotions, and physics – a wide range that gets tied together.)

Poets have a difficult time paying bills with poems, which is why she is also an editor, earlier with Microsoft and more recently as an editor working with individual authors. Managing the creative spirit internally, in a group, in a corporation, or with fellow creatives is a special talent, possibly a collection of talents as each environment is different. Her insights into how to work with an editor are valuable. Being able to respect another’s creativity while polishing the product is a rare and hopefully appreciated skill.

(Writer’s note: Writing about an editor’s work can make a writer incredibly self-conscious. Oh well, she’s probably edited worse.)

Listen in for a range of perspectives from corporate to consulting to publishing to working on items that are so personal they may never be shared – oh yeah, and laughter. We can all use a good laugh.

Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 19 – Holly Thomas, editor, poet, artist

Holly Thomas, main page

Her book on Amazon

Allied Arts Foundation Emerging Poet Award – Holly Thomas reading Burrs

Writing On Whidbey Island (WOWI) – First Anniversary

I didn’t expect to finish our first year of the Writing on Whidbey Island podcast by being interviewed for another site in the UK. (Tom and Don interviewed by Pen To Print) Evidently, we’re doing something right, or at least notable. The tough challenge was finding a succinct way to summarize what we’ve done so far. Don did a good job of answering that call. I was glad to mostly sit by and watch. One bit of good news, our intent that we described in one of our first posts remains. Check back for a comparison. (WOWI episode 1 – Hello and Welcome!)

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,…
The how is keeping it simple…
Why is easy; we like the community and the island…
Where is wherever we can,…

As with any first drafts, we do things a bit differently now; though many may not notice the changes. The bigger change was the one we’re all experiencing. That “Where is wherever we can…” changed from three people around one microphone in one location, to one computer per person with all the varying background sounds and technical issues that includes. Again, thanks to Don for managing that part. 

The podcast is about the writing community on Whidbey Island, which is more than writers and authors. Writers have a support group on the island that includes librarians, teachers, book sellers, book collectors, editors, workshop organizers – some of whom we’ve interviewed. We also hope to include publishers, illustrators, publicists, whoever else is considered to be part of the party.

Even within the bounds of ‘writers and authors’, we’ve listened to people talk about memoir, fantasy, poetry, reference guides, nature – and of course cookbooks and music (Don), and travel, personal finance, and photography (Tom). 

And we’ve only just begun. We’ve yet to find a complete count of how many writers on the island have books for sale. One measure is that, as a community, we’ve overwhelmed the local libraries and bookstores. They have a tough time keeping up with what has been produced. 

A common comment that arose unprompted has been that almost everyone relies on someone else somewhere along their project’s path. A writer working on their book can also be the editor for someone else’s book. Marketing benefits from shared experiences. Cross-marketing, particularly through social media, amplifies our voices. Inspiration is accelerated. 

One story in particular is the reminder that success doesn’t require decades of effort, advanced study, or dozens of drafts. Our most popular podcast so far has been Invisible Pollution, written, illustrated, and compiled by students from John Del Prete’s 4th Grade Class at Crescent Harbor Elementary School. This was a serious production associated with NOAA. Writers are not required to wear grey hair.

The podcast continues. Covid is editing our style, for a while. As we said in this, our anniversary episode, maybe next year we can meet again, first in our original formula of three people in one place, and eventually in more public places, again. Any brewpubs, libraries, wineries, or bookstores interested?

Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 18 – WOWI’s First Anniversary

Modern Writing in QuarantineLife

It seems like it was only yesterday that I posted WOWI vs COVID-19.  In it I wrote that Tom and I were pausing to figure out how-maybe to record another episode in the days of physical and social distancing …. and then today we recorded Episode 13!

How did we do it?

Easy! … We agreed on a time and started a Google Hangout session while I ran my Zoom H2n in my office.  Yes, this was our first virtual WOWI session!

Recording today was kind of like this …

We each relaxed, sitting in the comfort of our own homes, talking one-on-one about writing right now from QuarantineVille.  Many of us are home and have the opportunity to work on our books — and for some of us (introverts), this is pretty normal.  How do the adjustments we are making and disruptions we are dealing with make for opportunities, affect work and art later on, what is yet to come for the world of the day-job worker?  All I can say is to listen to this episode, hopefully it will be as thought provoking and topical for you as it was for us.

After the session Tom and I threw some ideas around online — what these amount to…

  • We are going to look into how we might hold a ‘From Inspiration To Publication‘ how to self-publishing workshop — we’ve been wanting to present another, it looks like we might do this online & soon!  This may be a single episode or a short series.  We’ll update you online as this develops.
  • We should be recording our next session … soon after we hear back from our next guest.

All and all, I think today’s session worked out well — the method could use a little refinement, which will come over time, however this online-meet could lead to more episodes…

Keep your eyes and your ears here! ~ Don

…and here it is!

Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 13 – Don and Tom Quarantine Interview

Meg and Kingfisher Bookstore Interview

fe95992103b1deb6bf2974ddfc39f165GOODNESS — Tom and I have been BUSY hombres!  Late January we interviewed PJ Beaven about her about EarthFit books — early February we met with David Gregor of Gregor Rare Books — and Tuesday this week we met with Meg Olsen, owner of Kingfisher Bookstore in Coupeville, Washington.  Looking back at the calendar, we’ve recorded three sessions in 30 days!

Tom and I have had a few dates lined up before with Meg for this interview.  Unfortunately those went through a series of reschedules because She’s A BUSY Lady!  So we were pleased to finally get a date nailed down with Meg earlier this week.  Since Kingfisher is closed until 28Feb2020 for renovations* the three of us were able to sit down and talk.  Meg shared with us how she engages Whidbey Island authors, being a bookseller in the modern market, the books she enjoys, her experiences taking ownership of the Kingfisher Bookstore, and the new layout for her shop.
(*You can hear some of the work going on in the background of the podcast … along with the creaking rocking chair Meg sat in for the session.)

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What you see here is someone’s attempt at illustrating where all of Meg’s energy comes from…

I’ve known Meg for the past year — since getting my debut book Make Your Own Darn Good Cookies placed in Kingfisher.  During our interview I got to comment on my first impression of her, and I’ve been absolutely pleased not only that she carries Whidbey Island authors’ books but how she relates to our books and us individuals.  My impression from day-one is that Meg is enthusiastic about books and high-energy — through our interview I’m updating that to being passionate about books and a DYNAMO!

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Kingfisher that was … and will be AGAIN!

Meg spoke about the history of Kingfisher along with her plans for the future — and if you’re a Whidbey Island author, I’m telling you now … you need to get ready!  Ready to meet your readers, ready to do readings, ready for EVERYTHING!  Kingfisher will be getting stairs into the basement and when it reopens around February 28th the floor space will be expanded — used books in the basement, new books on the ground floor …. and with that much more space for new books, We Are Going To Need To Write MORE BOOKS!

This is another one of those interviews where I think Tom and I could have sat with our guest and talked all day — so this session ran around 50 minutes (Good Stuff!).  Reality is that we’re all busy folks, so Tom and I got out of Meg’s hair / way / renovations.  I’m excited not only to see the new shop space in another week, I’m also EXCITED to see everything that’s to come in Meg’s future with Kingfisher Bookshop!

Enjoy! ~ Don

UPDATE 27Feb2020 — I stopped in at Kingfisher yesterday, a lot of nice work has gone on there.  I was told that there is a good bit of work yet to go, and they are predicting being back in service in time for Musselsfest March 7th/8th.  It’s going to be exciting to see the grand re-opening!

Look for Meg and Kingfisher online at …

And in real-life at 16 Front St. in Coupeville, Washington.

Kingfisher black and white
Kingfisher Bookshop ….. before the renovations.

Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 11 – Meg Olsen, Kingfisher Bookstore