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

Don And Tom Reconnect WOWI

On a typical marvelous day in Coupeville, Don and I found an opportunity to set these podcasts back on their original track. At the start, we crafted these episodes based on our resources, i.e. two guys, a microphone, an interest in highlighting the writing community of Whidbey Island, and a willingness to adapt and learn. Writers are creative people. We did what we could with what we had. The pandemic changed things (understatement.) And now, thanks to responsible folks wearing masks and getting vaccinated, enough progress has been made that we could return to something like our original concept. Uh. How did we do this a little more than a year ago? We begin again. 

We started with live, largely uncut interviews and discussions with various members of the expansive yet unofficial Whidbey Island writing community. Guests included writers, of course, but also editors, publishers, poets, librarians, book sellers, book collectors, etc. Our community is varied. Whidbey Island is varied, too. So, we recorded at a variety of locations. The background became part of the show. Listen for ambience that includes jets, turkeys, dogs, businesses, pedestrians, etc. The island provides a long list to include.

Then, the pandemic hit. Zoom this. Google Meet that. Everyone was remote. Everyone was required to have a bit of technological skill. And of course that thing we all needed, a sense of humor, somehow.

Now, we’re back – or at least we hope we are – sort of. For the first time in over a year, Don and I recorded a live, masked-face-to-masked-face episode. The bonus was a setting that included the sounds of eagles, people, and maybe a ferry. Our personal bonus was a view of the Sound, Port Townsend, the Olympics, and the usual extraordinary panoramas from near the Admiralty Head Lighthouse. Why not include someone as a guest? Well, partly, we had to see if we remembered all of the gadgets and setup considerations. (Good thing Don remembered the extra batteries.)

It was good to reconnect and remember those other bits of communication that are harder to convey online. Body language, hand signals, stifled laughs – as well as a reminder to not bump the microphone.

And there was a lot to talk about. Those months weren’t wasted. Turning binge watching into a way to research writers’s styles. A surplus of uninterrupted time to write. Dealing with a support network, or at least fellow writers, that are necessarily more remote. Marketing campaigns that can’t rely on readings, signings, panels, or talks. 

Listen for our personal adaptations and approaches, as well as progress in our individual projects – including opening hints about a possible group project for sci-fi writers. 

If you have a story to tell about your recently released book, how you managed your marketing campaign, how your business survived, how your organization adapted, whatever, send us a note about possibly being one of our guests. (If we get too many we might have to put all the names in a basket and see what luck provides.)

Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 23 – Don and Tom Reconnect


Childrens Books, Creative Cards, And Coaching – An Interview With Deb Lund

At least on Whidbey Island, creative people tend to create more than one way to express themselves and help others. Yet another reason the island’s writing community has multiple layers that support each other. Deb Lund is probably best known for her children’s books, but she’s also taught writing and coached writers, which inspired her card deck designed to inspire them. But, really, it is hard to ignore and easy to remember someone whose books include dinosaurs that “take to the skies, the rails, and the high seas” as well as monsters on machines (wearing hardhats, of course.)

The conversation started with the dinosaurs because, why not. They may be children’s books, which can be much more complicated to write, produce, and publish than conventional novels. With a conventional novel there may be effectively no limit to the word count, except the thickness of the binding. Deb pointed out that children’s book are much more constrained (imagine editing a story of a few thousand words down to a few hundred), and require the writer to relinquish much of the control to the illustrator. Instead of only one graphic which is limited to the cover, every page can be a graphic from edge to edge. A children’s book is more of a duet, but with the two artists working separately much of the time, and yet the two efforts become one creation. 

Deb also has teacher cred, a natural background for someone writing children’s books, as well as a natural lead to teaching and coaching writers. Along the way, she created a series of inspirational playing cards to give writers fresh perspectives on their works in progress. They became popular enough that her students encouraged her to create and sell the decks. Welcome to yet another publishing accomplishment that was much more than lots of words on blank pages. Concise messages on colorful cards required multiple art forms, again. 

Her accomplishments are impressive, but are better heard about from her. Listen in on the podcast for the stories in her own words, and maybe contact her if you want to benefit from an experienced artist – who also can tell stories about gargantuan dinosailor goofballs.

Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 21 – Deb Lund, Childrens’ book author, card creator, and coach

She can also be found on:

Her web site: deblund.com

Facebook: (pages for 
Deb Lund, author
The Creativity Cafe
Writing With Kids

Twitter: @deblund

Instagram: deblundauthor

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.

Surfing Writing And Staying Stoked – An Interview with Drew Kampion

“Life is a wave. Your attitude is your surfboard.
Stay stoked & aim for the light!”

Subscribers to drewslist, a much friendlier and more neighborly (and very Whidbey) version of craigslist, can recognize that as the signature at the end of each email from the service that Drew Kampion started years ago. (As Drew put it, “It is like craigslist, but exactly opposite.” paraphrased)

That attitude and philosophy was handy during this wintry recording of the podcast that involved internet glitches and dropped signals. Drew rode those waves with a laugh and a smile. Whew. (And thanks to co-host and audio techie, Don, for stitching it back together.)

For this podcast about writing on Whidbey Island, we talked less about For Sale ads and more about the books he has written, his time as a journalist, the early era of the now-famous Patagonia company, surfing (the subject of much of his work), how he got to Whidbey, and what he did when he got here. Fake spoiler alert: that signature philosophy isn’t theoretical, it’s practical, and has been steering him through an interesting story.

I’ll leave the storytelling to him, but will mention that it is fun to hear about someone who loves something like surfing can take a talent like writing and create a career in a way that wouldn’t make any textbook. Find what you enjoy. Find what you can do well. And if the two can work together, then celebrate that. Listen in for his story of the ride.

Writing on Whidbey Island (WOWI) episode 20 – Drew Kampion, writer, author, editor, journalist, surfer, and founder of drewslist

DrewKampion.com

Drew Kampion on Amazon

drewslist

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