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Let's Talk Books with Robin Van Auken
21 minutes | Jun 21, 2020
Let's Talk Books Episode 023: Reimagining Celibacy with Tonya Anderson
Tonya Anderson is a writer, sacred therapist, and inspirational speaker. As a mental health counselor, she has vast experience working with people from all walks of life. She has a lot of wisdom to share, and her latest project is one that will make you sit up and take notice. We're talking about a new book in the works and a course that accompanies it.
27 minutes | May 13, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 022: The History of Writing with Robin Van Auken
My husband, Lance, enjoys giving gifts. He finds amazing gifts, imaginative presents with meaning and symbolism. For example, when we purchased our lovely house on the river, he knew we had traded in our dream to live on a boat and sail far away. Okay, my dream. He mounted our ship’s bell—one he ordered for us with the name “Tangent” cast on it (my dream boat’s name)—on a plaque to commemorate the “launch” of our house. On the ship’s bell pull, he sewed two pearls from my wedding dress. These pearls represent the pearls of our life: our children. Another present was a blue clock carved from fossilized coral and dyed the color of the sea. It was our 35th wedding anniversary and he wanted to mark time with the traditional wedding gift of coral. Still another present was an amazing mystery game that arrived each month in the mail, a puzzling clue sent by a stranger, and I had to solve the mystery. History of Writing - Robin Van Auken History of Writing - Robin Van AukenToday is Mother’s Day, and he’s given me yet another amazing gift. This writing set contains a leatherbound journal, a quill pen with extra nibs, a bottle of India ink, a small lamp, a box with colorful wax pellets, and a heavy brass stamp that is engraved with my logo. I can use the stamp and sealing wax to close letters and let people know they are from me. This stamp, from a company called Nostalgic Impressions, features an outline of my logo, which he copied and sent to them for engraving. My logo is an elaborate “V” and “A” from the ancient Book of Kells. It represents my married name, Van Auken, but my maiden name is Kelly. The logo is my way of honoring my Celtic Heritage. This gift for writing and the brass stamp with my seal are a forgotten, or seldom-used, system of communication and I was so touched by his thoughtfulness, I had to dedicate this episode to the history of writing.
21 minutes | Apr 22, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 021: Horse Talk with Robin Van Auken
Today, I'm talking horses. Our son invited us to visit for the weekend, and join him and his sweetheart at the Charles Town Races in West Virginia. I'm a huge fan of horses, and the racetrack is attached to a casino, of which I'm not a huge fan. I abhor casinos. It's not the gambling, which I don't partake, but the fact that these are massive, noisy, stinky buildings filled with people and are meant to do one thing - separate people from their money with deceit. I don't mind separating from my money. I'm a bit of a spendthrift. It's the people I mind - they're crammed into one big building, smoking cigarettes and cigars and playing slot machines, huddled over gaming tables, focused on something. I don't know what. I don't get it. I'm happier outside where the racetrack is next to the turf and the thoroughbreds are walked sedately to the paddocks before ambling to the post. I enjoy seeing the gorgeous animals who receive the best care from their owners, trainers, jockeys and stablehands. Horses are made to run, and those who run fast and free are my favorite.
46 minutes | Apr 12, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 020: Interview with Janice Ogurcak
Janice Ogurcak is the Director of Public Programming and Outreach at the World of Little League Museum. This museum is to Little League what the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is to Major League Baseball. Its filled with significant artifacts that range from serious to frivolous. There is a piece torn from the Berlin Wall when it fell, the badge of a fireman who perished in the World Trade Center on 9/11, a 1970s-era Troll Doll and a patch that flew in space. Each of these artifacts tell a story — one person’s story — and how they credit Little League with helping them develop the traits of character, courage and loyalty that helped them persevere when difficult times called for it. Did I mention that Jan is also the author of The World of Little League? It’s a photo book that shares some of the history of Little League Baseball, with a focus on artifacts that can be found at the youth sport’s organization’s museum. A former newspaper reporter and editor, Jan is a consummate researcher and she loves the art of the interview. She was employed by the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, joining the newspaper’s editorial staff in 1977, then accepting a promotion in 1990 as Lifestyle Editor. When she accepted the invitation to write the book, she dedicated herself to finding the people behind the artifact and, when possible, talking to them. Despite the fact that their story can’t possibly fit into the lengthy photo caption, it was important to Jan to listen to it, and to honor it. She also honors their stories when visitors come to the museum, and she’s able to tell them a bit more about that strange piece of dental work, or the bicycle, or the origami cranes and the Emmy awards. A museum is a curiosity shop when you don’t have context, and that’s what Jan does best - gives context, and meaning, and accuracy to people’s stories. I hope that Jan's interview inspires you to listen to someone’s story today. Honor the story by sharing it with others. That’s how we live forever. Jan is a lucky woman - she has seven grandchildren, who fill her days with happiness. She may not have time to write another book yet, but that time will come. For now, she’s doing the most important thing she can - being a grandparent. I'm envious! She keeps saying she's happy to share, but I haven't opened my door to find a box of kiddies yet.
25 minutes | Apr 8, 2018
Let's Talk Books and Writer's Retreats with Robin Van Auken
Spring is supposed to be here, but I live in northcentral Pennsylvania, and it's slow coming. We've had several snow storms in the past few weeks, but the ground is too warm for it to stick around. Then we endured rain and high winds. I believe the temperatures are rising next week to the 60s, so I'm itching for a writer's retreat. I like to go on solo writing retreats, isolating myself from the Internet and phone, and the various tasks that get heaped on my shoulders. My husband is heading out of town in a couple of days, traveling to Florida to visit with family, so I could technically set up a retreat here at the house. But that still leaves the Internet and phone and the classes I'm wrapping up at Lyco. We have three weeks left in the semester, so I can't run away. Yet. I enjoy writing retreats. During sessions of solitude, periods of silence, or "Time Retreats," we shun life's chattering distractions and simply notice what is left: ourselves. - Helen Cordes Last year, I took a solo camping trip and had a great time. I mentioned this on a previous podcast, but it bears repeating. I took my camper and my dog to Bald Eagle State Park, about an hour's drive west of here. No Internet except for the data on my phone. X Writers don’t always feel inspired to be creative. It’s happened to me. I’d been on a hiatus from my fiction writing career for too long. It wasn’t intentional. I let other tasks and chores get in the way. I wanted to wrap up a book series and move onto the next one, but I needed to get back into the groove. I wrote quite a bit on a novel I'm working on, and I read several books. It was a week of peace, hiking the trails with my dog, taking photographs, relaxing around the campfire, cooking whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to, going to bed late and sleeping in. It's not the first writing retreat I've taken. I journeyed to Virginia with my friend Janice Ogurcak one year, when she had a timeshare vacation to use and her husband wasn't available. We drove to a cabin in the woods in January, and spent sleepless nights listening to the constant honking of migrating Canada geese. We also drove into D.C. to have lunch with her son and my daughter, at Old Ebbit's Grille. Then we toured the National Archives. I wrapped up my first novel on that retreat, wrapped in blankets and downing kegs of coffee. Come to think of it, that's probably why I could sleep. Not the geese. Jan slept fine. Writing retreats are great outlets for creativity, and they inspire me to kickstart new writing routines. What helps even more than retreats are writing sprints. I look at these as mini retreats. My infatuation with writing sprints blossomed after I attended a workshop taught by Dr. Rachael Hungerford, on “Journal to the Self.” At the short workshop, she armed attendees with tools to journal efficiently. I used her 5-minute and 10-minute writing sprints to break through a stubborn mindset, and was delighted with the feedback. This is the kind of positive reinforcement you can only get with a challenge. Challenges force us to prioritize, and I needed a reason to quit shuffling between email and social media and my manuscript. I was able to combat this by accepting a simple, short challenge. It had a beginning and an end, and positive results. It's a win-win situation. So how about you? Can you take a writing retreat? If not, consider writing sprints. Better yet, create a mini writing retreat wherever you are. Aren't writing retreats a time of solitude and quiet, when you go away to a secluded location to focus on your writing project? Yes, but also no. According to Judy Reeves, author of "The Writer's Retreat Kit: A Guide for Creative Exploration and Personal Expression," a writing retreat is time you take out of your ordinary day-in and day-out routine, when you set aside everything else and give yourself over to your writing.
64 minutes | Mar 30, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 018: Interview with Kathy Kolb
Kathy Kolb is the publisher of NorthcentralPA.com, a news outlet that’s been online since 2009, and she’s been steadily growing since then by personally connecting with her readers. I know, this sounds impossible — how do you connect with thousands of people? She’s accomplished this by building an amazingly loyal Facebook following, which total tops out at 31 thousand people! Kathy’s been chronically ill for the past 30 years. This illness prevents her from having an active life, physically, but she’s more than made up for it with her online presence. Before she started her news site, she operated Kolb Net Works, a web design and development company, and she was helpful in creating most of the early websites of local companies, non profits and even government entities. For many years, along with the J.V. Brown Library, Kathy hosted hundreds of local non-profit websites. I built many of those sites, and I was grateful that she created this absolutely free platform. But, she always had a vision of what local news should look like online, and when this wasn’t accomplished by other local news organizations, Kathy decided to make this vision a reality. She imagined a community of citizen journalists, people who take ownership of the news and events that affect them, and that’s exactly what she’s created, along with her husband, Lou Kolb. Kathy wants to make sure that community news is easy to access, but also that it will always be preserved. As traditional newspapers struggle to create new identities and to survive in the Internet age, they can learn much from a web guru like Kathy. She studies the analytics behind the curtain, so she knows what drives people to read and share and respond to online news content. None of this mattered, though, when she shared her first scanner report. That, she did out of common courtesy to her readers. People were in the dark, literarily because the power was out, and frightened about a high-speed chase between a police officer and a criminal. The tragedy that ensued that night is not easily forgotten, and it shouldn’t be. A person died as a result. That Kathy was able to share news in real-time was an amazing hat trick, but it was also a gesture of generosity. She takes her role as a news publisher seriously, and loves her hometown. Despite illness and fatigue that comes with it, she devotes herself — and her personal income — to making sure that people can have local news. By being present, and being consistent, Kathy was able to build her followers. But more importantly, she didn’t just post on Facebook and sign off. She stayed online and updated people when she had updates. She participated in the conversation and she kept the conversation civil, also, which is difficult to do with a social media platform like Facebook. I’m a huge fan of Kathy Kolb. She’s a technophile, like me,and we enjoy learning new things and sharing with other what works. She’s a kindred spirit who has helped enlarge my world, and I’m grateful to her.
52 minutes | Mar 25, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 017: Interview with Lance Van Auken
Lance Van Auken is probably the world’s foremost experts on the history of Little League Baseball. There’s only a handful of people who may know more, or as much, as Lance. He earned this honor by being a Little League volunteer, and employee, for most of his life. He shares this knowledge as the co-author of “Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball®." He attended his first Little League game as a baby in his mother's arms, as his father coached his four older brothers at Cross Bayou Little League in Seminole (now Largo), Florida. His family was devoted to Little League, and the field there is still named for his father, Robert Van Auken. His mother, Ruth, helped in the concession stand, helped by designing the program covers. His brothers, Joel, Harry, Danny and Calvin, were his role models, and he learned how to pitch and catch and hit, but more importantly, he learned the rules of Little League. Knowing those rules became significant and when he became too old to play ball, he umpired the game. On July 22, 1981, he became a father and his dream of becoming a manager of his son's team became a possibility. He managed or coached or supported his son, Lance II, through all levels of Little League, from Tee Ball to Big League, sharing his love of the game. His daughter, Sarah, attended games and helped her family as a volunteer, but playing baseball wasn't her hobby. A reader, an artist and a musician, she did perform with her school band at a Little League World Series. He had a chance to visit he Little League Baseball World Series in 1991, as a journalist, covering a Florida baseball team who made it through the Southern Region to the championship game. In 1992, he returned as an umpire, selected to participate in the series representing the Southern Region as a volunteer. He was smitten. The next year, he became an employee of Little League Baseball, working as an assistant director of the Southern Region, before joining the headquarters staff in Pennsylvania in 1996. He worked in the communications department for two decades, and had many adventures, including developing Tee Ball on the South Lawn, a program that placed Little Leaguers and their families at the White House, playing 28 games for President George W. Bush. Today, Lance is a vice president of Little League Baseball® and the executive director of the World of Little League Museum in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He, and his co-author (Robin Van Auken), are republishing their book “Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball®” with Wendy Dean Butler of The Omnibus Publishing, with a new chapter and an updated appendix. Fans of Little League Baseball can look for “Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball®” in the spring of 2018.
48 minutes | Mar 16, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 16: Interview with Wendy Butler Dean
Wendy Butler Dean is the owner of The Omnibus Publishing, a boutique publishing company that specializes in children’s books, Young Adult novels, and some non-fiction. The Omnibus is a hybrid company, combining a unique blend of older, traditional book publishing and new, digital publishing. She produces ebooks and print on demand paperbacks. Wendy’s a savvy publisher and knows how to harness the power of building a community. Many of her authors are people she has connections with, either through her academic background, or through their proximity. As a Baltimore, MD-based publisher, she’s encouraged Maryland authors to embark on publishing careers. She works with freelance illustrators from around the world, and they not only create books with The Omnibus, but they illustrate posters. Wendy’s embraced the technology of the 21st century, and uses a variety of tools in the acquisition, publication, and promotion of books. She’s active on social media, and she has flair with her striking videos and photographs. These are skills she’s taught herself, as well as the techniques of traditional marketing. The result is fresh and friendly and fun. As a result, she’s also got a few Amazon bestsellers under her belt now, as a publisher. Wendy and her biggest fan -- her father, Jimmy Butler She works with authors and illustrators with a team mentality. This may harken back to her background is sports. She earned an M.Ed. in Exercise physiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and spent her undergraduate years at VCU in her hometown of Richmond, Va. She also worked as an assistant athletic trainer at Mississippi State University, and as an instructor at Towson University in Maryland. She’s the mother of three energetic and creative, children, and it was her desire to find, and read, quality books to her children that led her to become a publisher. According to Wendy, you can only read “Goodnight Moon” so many times before you need a new book. This made me laugh because “Goodnight Moon” was my daughter’s favorite book as a child, and the one she learned how to read by herself. I wondered how many times I had read that book aloud before my daughter, Sarah, was able to read it herself. Wendy’s mission is to create timeless books, like “Goodnight Moon,” books that people want to read over, and over, and over again. Many timeless books, so children (and parents who read to them) will have more and better choices. We can learn a lot about creating works for those we love from Wendy. She developed her business because she wanted to be a part of her children’s literary world, and she’s accomplished that many times over. Not only that, but her children now help with the business, as beta readers and helping with sales at book festivals. You can learn more about Wendy and The Omnibus Publishing company on her website. Check out her social media accounts, as well.
56 minutes | Mar 9, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 15: Solitude with Robin Van Auken
Today I try out a new software platform for recording podcasts, Anchor, and experiment with recording smaller audio clips, transitions, and putting together a show on the fly. I've done this to test the system and to see if I want to use it in an upcoming communications class I teach at Lycoming College. I also discuss an amazing book, "How to Be Alone," by Sara Maitland, a handbook on solitude and why it's important for people, particularly those individuals with introversion qualities. If you're an introverted person, pick up this book and learn how to accept the fact that being with people 24/7 makes you crazy. If you're an extroverted person, pick up the book so you can understand that loner in your life, and why you really need to give her or him space. Maitland writes about silence and solitude and why she lives in a small cottage on a backroad on a Scottish moor: “What changed was that I got fascinated by silence; by what happens to the human spirit, to identity and personality when the talking stops, when you press the off button, when you venture out into that enormous emptiness. I was interested in silence as a lost cultural phenomenon, as a thing of beauty and as a space that had been explored and used over and over again by different individuals, for different reasons and with wildly differing results.”
47 minutes | Mar 2, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 014: Interview with Tank Baird
Today I chatted with my good friend Tom “Tank” Baird about his passion for archaeology, and how he's become a local expert on the topic of prehistory and Native American cultures. I met Tank in 2005 when he rolled up to my dig site in Muncy on his Harley Davidson, with his beautiful, blonde wife, Anita, on the back. The two were clad in black leather, on a loud motorcycle, and just a little intimidating. I was teaching people, including children, how to excavate at a public archaeology dig in Muncy at the newly formed Heritage Park and Nature Trail. Tank had read about the public dig in the newspaper and was curious. Soon, he muscled the kids out of the way and became my best pupil. Over the next few months, Tank proved to be the best volunteer a project director could find. His wife, Anita, however, saw a snake at the site and beelined out of there. She would occasionally visit, standing along the road, but her heart wasn’t in it like Tank’s. During the next few years, I talked Tank into working at the Muncy historic dig, and a few other prehistoric dig sites. He joined Northcentral Chapter 8 of the Society for PA Archaeology at my invitation, and his presence helped our little archaeology chapter come back to life. He became the NCC8 president, and served for several years in that role, before accepting the vice president title when his tenure ended. He’s introduced a lot of people to archaeology during the past ten years, as he became an avocational archaeologist, himself. He’s self-taught and spends much of his free time reading about prehistoric cultures in the Northeast, visiting museums and archaeology sites, and absorbing everything. He’s been to places I’ve dreamed of going, but never got around to doing it. That’s the difference between passion and interest. Tank doesn’t wait for an invitation. He seizes opportunities to learn with both hands and relishes everything. He’s become a local expert in just a few years, because his passion is genuine. He’s made many new friends because of it, including his great pal Joel Buck, another avocational archaeologist. Tank and Joel do a lot of exploring, heading off to Indian Mounds and museums in other states, reading the same books, even kayaking and fishing together. I know what he’s going to do when he finally retires: Even more archaeology, more presentations, and maybe write a book about local prehistory. The topic is sparse and we could use a new comprehensive explanation about Indians along the West Branch of the Susquehanna. Tank stays busy: He gives Scouts and college groups tours at the local dig site, he goes to public schools to talk to classes, and he is a frequent guests on the rubber-chicken circuit, chatting at the VFWs, the Rotary Clubs, the Masons, the Moose, and more, telling anyone who will listen about local prehistory. He's also a frequent guest on Ted Saul’s “Sunday Morning Magazine” talk show on iHeartRadio, speaking about Indians and significant local historic events. Tank has many legacies but he’s most proud of the fact that he’s been a part of several PBS documentaries, sharing his stories about Indians in the West Branch Valley. He’s also proud of the rare, priceless human face effigy he and Anita was able to purchase from a collector, placing it in the local museum, and ensuring it will remain protected and a part of NCC8’s public educational outreach for a long time. You can learn more about this effigy and other projects that keep Tank busy on NCC8's website: www.PennArchaeology.com. While you're on the website site, consider becoming a member and supporting local archaeology. It's only $20 a year, and who knows, you might become the next Tank Baird.
45 minutes | Feb 23, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 013: Interview with Steve Altier
Steve Altier is the author of the books for young people, and is best known for his children’s books, the Gabby and Maddox adventure series. Not content with lessons for little ones, he’s written a Young Adult novel, “Lizardville, the Ghost Story,” and he’ll soon release a sequel. Steve grew up in Mill Hall, a small town in central Pennsylvania, on Lizardville Road, so yes, it’s a real place. He’s given up the snow for life in sunny Florida, and he lives in the Tampa Bay Metro area with his wife, and a herd of cats. The couple reared four daughters and are now grandparents. When he’s not working his day job, or at his desk writing stories, his days are filled with reading, bowling, and spending time at amusement parks. He loves to travel, take trips to the beach, or just laying around the pool, spending time with family and friends. Steve said he’s had aspirations of being a writer since he was young, and he took a journalism course in high school. After graduation, however, he joined the Air Force, and spent four years serving and protecting his country. He has a rule he tries to live by, “Always’s follow your dreams.” Right now, his dream includes being an author and promoting his independently published books. He keeps busy with book promotion, also, participating in book signings at local Barnes & Noble, attending elementary library events, signing up for guest spots on radio and podcast shows, and he’s active on social media. He also spends a bit of time blogging, sharing photos of his Lizardville Bowling Team and their awards. Steve says that writing is his hobby, but the truth is, it’s a bit more than that. Although it’s not his career, he’s on his way to a new profession. One that he’s joyful about. Steve has a couple of suggestions for writers: Find a social media platform the you can enjoy using, and share news about your books. If you have a website, start blogging. Let people know what’s new books you’re working on. Don’t lose your enthusiasm. Stay happy and positive and invite people to learn more about your stories. Steve has great advice, but the most important is to put your book into people’s hands and encourage them to read.
46 minutes | Feb 17, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 012: Interview with Marjorie Maddox
I tried to imagine an early morning drive with poet Marjorie Maddox, whose creative suitcase is crammed with metaphors. I was enveloped in fog, which occluded my vision, on this particular day. My surroundings became the murky sea, and my auto a submarine. The tall, stark silver maples along the roadway became the kelp forests off the coast of California, and the 18-wheeler entering the road from the left became a large, gray whale, which I followed into a labyrinth of coral reefs (the city) teeming with colorful fish (cars) darting back and forth. The entire morning after our chat was spent in a dreamy, soft-focused world of poetry, and it felt good. I felt like I had a special pair of glasses that transformed the world around me, and I couldn't stop jotting down ideas. Last night, I browsed the stacks at a bookstore in Virginia while visiting family, and immediately was drawn to the poetry section. I looked at names on spines and wondered, "Who are these people? How do I know if I'll enjoy them?" I chickened out and picked up an anthology of the best 100 poems in the world, tucking it into my suitcase for later. This is why I enjoy speaking with other writers, especially writers who are comfortable with their craft. Their love for their work inspires me to explore and stretch and be brave. I'll most likely never do much with my foggy morning/under the sea poem, but it was such fun to look around as I drove the same lonely stretch of road into town and to see something different. Something I hadn't seen in the hundreds of other drives. Marjorie has published 11 poetry collections, and a book of literary fiction, and she's edited a lovely book about Keystone poets for Penn State University Press. She’s a professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, where she leads students into the world of literature, often "through the back door," encouraging them to view their world with new eyes. She’s gracious and funny and inspiring, and not just with her students, but with her readers. I curled up on my window seat, snow piling up outside, and read through her poetry collection, "Local News from Someplace Else," and at times, I laughed aloud. Other times, I wiped a tear. I could relate to almost every poem she wrote, either as a parent, a teacher, a stranger in Pennsylvania, as a world citizen. Next, I moved on to "True, False, None of the Above," and was enchanted by the word play as her poems danced the tango with Robert Frost and others. I laughed again as the English teacher struggled with suicide notes, tossing one illegible farewell into the wastebasket after the other, only to get back to work grading papers. Who hasn't felt the drudgery of work, and felt the task at hand was terminal? I had a great time chatting with Marjorie, as I’m sure you’ll hear. So, accept my half-hearted apologies for interrupting the flow of this show with my giggles, because I'm not sorry I enjoyed myself. Like many people, I am a stranger in a strange land when it comes to poetry, but Marjorie opened the door and welcomed me. Her poetry is accessible, understandable, relatable and sometimes downright fun to read. She's brave, also, tackling heart-breaking events, like the Amish school shooting, or the crash of Flight TWA 800. Author Ray Bradbury says, reading poetry is like flexing a muscle. Reading Marjorie's poems are a workout, swinging the reader from laughter to tears with the turn of a page. All writers yearn for that power. My wish is that Marjorie can inspire you to think creatively about the world around you, as she has inspired me. Start reading poetry. Find poets whom you enjoy and learn more about what inspires them. Hopefully, it will awaken a song in your heart. If it does, capture the ideas as soon as you can, on a piece of paper, or as a voice recording on your mobile phone. Let your poems gestate, like Marjorie does, then work on them, revise them, and then share them.
45 minutes | Feb 5, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 011: Interview with Melody Johnson
Melody Johnson writes paranormal romance. She’s the author of gritty, urban fantasy stories about vampires, and other unnatural creatures. Melody graduated magna cum laude from Lycoming College with her BA in creative writing and psychology. She credits her time at Lyco, and her writing classes for much of her success. Sage advice from her college mentor encouraged her to look at writing as a long-distance marathon, not a sprint. By writing one page each day, at the end of the year, she has an entire manuscript. With that mentality, she’s written nearly half a dozen novels, and she has more on the horizon. And she’s only 29. Melody is a great example of how anyone - regardless of their age - can develop the traits of dedication and persistence. You can learn more about Melody and her books in the show notes at RobinVanAuken.com.
49 minutes | Jan 31, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 010: Interview with Mary Woods
Mary Woods is an artist, a poet, and the author of "The Heart of the Matter,” which guides the reader to becoming wholeheartedly happy. I know Mary through her service work with Beloved Community Council and Heart of Williamsport. We've worked on the HoW project for three years, and it's amazing to see the change of heart she's experienced as the project assistant. HoW's mission is to collect stories from our diverse community, identify what people value, and share this information to guide Williamsport’s future. Developed by the Orton Family Foundation, the Heart & Soul Community program empowers people to shape the future of their communities by improving local decision-making, creating a shared sense of belonging, and ultimately strengthening the social, cultural, and economic vibrancy of each place. It's a fuzzy concept, but after a few years of working together, we think we have it down pat. Mary does, at least. She's been talking to hundreds of people, one-on-one, with interviews and then follow-up conversations to develop clarity on what the people of Williamsport value. The amazing thing is, the program mirrors her book, which she authored years before HoW took over her life. She describes the book as, the result of a willingness to listen to and follow her heart. Mary is married to David DeFebo. And you know I can relate to that. It is a spiritual message that transcends different beliefs and divisions, so that we can remember the love that unites us all. I enjoy working with Mary on local projects because she’s an optimist and is always kind. She’s obviously taking her own advice. Learn more about Mary's book on Amazon: "The Heart of the Matter" is an idea whose time has come. It is a simple, yet profound message that will hit a chord and resonate in your heart because it rings true. Like a children's book for adults, it is a fast and easy read, reminding grown ups of the innate wisdom that their inner child never forgot. This is a book about the whole heart that guides the reader to an experience of being wholeheartedly happy. It is a spiritual message that transcends different beliefs and divisions, so we can remember the love that unites us all at heart. Highlighted with original poems, as well as quotes from A Course In Miracles to Swami Beyondananda, it is an inspirational and heartfelt look at life that takes us to the very heart of the matter.
56 minutes | Jan 19, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 009: Interview with Dave Bellomo
Dave Bellomo is a fitness expert, personal trainer, and author. I met Dave about 18 years ago, when he worked as a personal trainer. I continued to work with Dave after he opened his own gym. We had a lot of fun brainstorming and creating fitness books and digital workout manuals. You’ll learn about Dave’s passion for Kettlebells, a unique, simple, yet highly effective piece of exercise equipment. Dave is an expert and has authored two books on the topic. He’s worked with high-level athletes such as martial artists, strongman competitors, and law enforcement professionals, and elite military including members of Homeland Security and U.S. Special Operations. My own son, a former Green Beret, still uses one of Dave’s kettlebells, and considers it one of the best tools to use for tactical training. I’m happy to reconnect with Dave not only because he’s got a lot of wisdom to share, but because I need a jolt of his optimism and encouragement. I’ve been injured for the past year, suffering from a torn achilles tendon, and I need to get healthy. Dave can help me do that. He can help you do that, too, through his company, Bellomo Online Training.
51 minutes | Jan 15, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 008: Interview with Nancy Panko
Nancy Panko has achieved amazing success with her book, “Guiding Missal,” an unusual story about a prayer book that is carried in the pocket of three generations of men as they navigate war. As she held the Military Missal in her hands, Nancy thought, “If only this little book could talk.” Her novel gives the prayer book a voice. Based on actual events, Nancy’s award winning novel is partially narrated by the small Catholic prayer book that George Panko received as he prepared to deploy to the European theater during World War II. A baker turned infantry man/forward scout, Panko left behind his wife, Gladys, and small son, Butch, for several years as he navigated France and Germany, helping the United States and its Allies win significant skirmishes, including the Battle of the Bulge. Throughout his enlistment, George carried the small book in his pocket and read from it, memorizing passages and whispering prayers. Once safely home, George packed the military missal into a trunk and together he and his wife rear their family. Fifteen years later, his son Butch is ready to graduate from high school and wants to enter the Air Force. George hands him the military missal with a request that he bring it back home, safe and sound. Butch’s experiences while stationed in Germany aren’t always as harrowing as George’s, thanks to George’s efforts as a U.S. Soldier. Still, Butch does live through the Cold War and high-alert situations where ballistic missile launches were potentially moments away, from the Berlin Crisis of 1961 to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Along the way, Butch travels to Italy and gains an audience with St John XXIII, who lifts the prayer book out of Butch's hand and blesses it. At the end of his enlistment, Butch comes home and returns the missal to George. Back into the trunk the book goes. Butch marries Nancy, the love of his life, and they have two children. The couple move to Clinton County, where George enjoys a long career with Woolrich. Nancy began taking general education classes at Lock Haven University, transferring to Lycoming College to begin her nursing education at Williamsport Hospital. She graduated and began her career at Jersey Shore Hospital as a pediatric nurse for one year before working for Geisinger Medical Group in Lock Haven also in pediatrics. She was employed at Glennon Health Services of Lock Haven University for thirteen years before her retirement. Two decades pass and their daughter, Margie, meets and marries T.O., a U.S. Soldier deploying to Africa to combat Al Qaeda in Mogadishu, Somalia. Once again, the military missal’s amazing powers of protection are required. Butch searches for the missal in his late father’s belongings and loans it to his new son-in-law, T.O., with the same request his own father had: Come home safe and return the book. T.O. returns the book, convinced of its power after a U.S. Blackhawk helicopter goes down in 1993, and the resultant battle between forces of the United States and Somali militia fighters. “Guiding Missal” is a heartfelt, homespun tale that has moved people to leave more than two dozen five-star reviews on Amazon. Nancy’s simple, sweet story has touched so many people it’s become a successful book in both print and digital platforms. Published by Torchflame Books, a hybrid publisher, “Guiding Missal” received the 2017 Silver Award-Medal for Historical Fiction from the Military Writers’ Society of America. Nancy is a ten-time contributor to “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and “Guideposts” magazines. She is a member of the Cary Senior Writing Circle, The Light of Carolina Christian Writers’ Group, and The Military Writers’ Society of America. She and her husband moved from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania to North Carolina in 2009. They have two children and four grandchildren. They love being in, on, or near the water with their family.
54 minutes | Jan 14, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 007: Interview with Louis E. Hunsinger, Jr.
Louis E. Hunsinger, Jr. labors for posterity. He does this as a historian, preserving Lycoming County's heritage as a writer for newspapers, magazines, programs, and books. He's the co-author of eight books. His publishing career began with his good friend, Dr. James P. Quigel, and in 1999, the duo published the paperback, "Williamsport's Baseball Heritage," a photographic narrative about professional baseball, through Arcadia. This book was soon followed up by, "Gateway to the Majors: Williamsport and Minor League Baseball," published by Penn State University Press. For the past 15 years, Lou has been a reporter with Webb Weekly, a free tabloid delivered to more than 58,000 households in Lycoming County. He's earned quite a reputation while with the publication, writing feature articles about people and events. He also has a series, "Through the Years," that reprints historic news from papers of record. Locals also know Lou for his popular "History Shapers" series that ran in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, nearly 18 years ago. It's not often someone can remain popular for an activity nearly two decades in the past, but Lou's writings have remained prominent in the community, regardless of where he works. Lou also is a staple of local baseball fields, from the venerable Bowman Field, where he attends nearly every home game of the Crosscutters minor league team, or at the Little League Baseball World Series field, where he announces in the press box. Lou's amazing recall of historic facts, dates, and statistics has prompted his friends to rely upon him for answering general questions, setting disputes, bets and queries, resulting in the nickname "Loogle," a play on the famous search engine, Google. His friends now say, "Let's Loogle It" when they have a question instead of reaching for their mobile phones. What makes Lou's work even more noteworthy is that he accomplishes this despite a visual disability. A failed cornea transplant left him blind in his right eye, and with failing vision in his left. This left him unable to drive, yet the indomitable historian continues to make his rounds around town, catching a city bus to the local library, or to meet with a source for an upcoming article. He also praises the technology that makes his work possible, as a sight-impaired person. Without the use of a special computer and screen, he may not have been able to continue to labor for posterity. Williamsport’s Baseball Heritage, Arcadia, Gateway to the Majors, Penn State Press, Williamsport: Boomtown on the Susquehanna, Arcadia Williamsport: Grit Photograph Collection, Arcadia Lycoming County’s Industrial Heritage, Arcadia Williamsport Sun-Gazette: A Pictorial History, Vol. 1-3
53 minutes | Jan 5, 2018
Let's Talk Books Episode 006: Interview with Joseph W. Smith III
Joseph Smith III is a writer and a high school English teacher. He's also author of three nonfiction books that focus on his two favorite topics: The Church and Film. His first book, "The Psycho File," is a comprehensive guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Shock film. His second book, "Sex and Violence in the Bible," surveys Explicit Content in the Holy Book. It’s a squeamish topic a lot of Christians shy away from. In the book, Joe champions a frank and forthright approach. He’s shopping his new book, "Transparency: A Cure for Hypocrisy in the Modern Church," to a new publisher, and he’s finding that process to be a bit daunting. We talk about the changes in the publishing industry, and how difficult it is to place books with publishers today. We also discuss living in a small town, and the the importance of hometown newspaper, and its role in nurturing writers. We chat about the writing legacy, passed down from father to son, and how his own son has inherited the “writing gene.”
46 minutes | Dec 15, 2017
Let's Talk Books Episode 005: Interview with Lorena Beniquez
Lorena Beniquez, a writer, photographer and a filmmaker, and the author of a new book, Lost Coal Country of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Published by Arcadia, the book is part of the Images of Modern America series, so it’s part history, part photographic art, and part travel guide. Lorena visits many places in her book, including the site of the last coal breaker in America, scheduled for demolition soon. She also visits the spooky village of Centralia, abandoned 50 years ago when the the coal beneath caught fire. The fire continues and will burn for hundreds of years. Lorena writes about John Stella, an unsung hero who saved dozens of miners during the Knox Mine Disaster. Through shared stories , interviews and research, Lorena captures history of the anthracite region. She’s the great granddaughter of a coal miner, she’s discovered her own family’s story. Perhaps it will inspire you to learn your own family’s story and how it IS America’s history. From Lorena's AMAZON page: "Lost Coal Country of Northeastern Pennsylvania by Lorena Beniquez documents the region's disappearing anthracite history, which shaped the legacy of the United States of America and the industrial revolution. The coal mines, breakers, coal miners' homes, and railroads have all steadily disappeared. With only one coal breaker left in the entire state, it was time to record what would soon be lost. Unfortunately, one piece of history that persists is underground fires that ravage communities like Centralia. Blazing for over 50 years, the flames of Centralia will not be doused anytime soon. Images featured in the book include the St. Nicholas coal breaker, Huber coal breaker, Steamtown National Historic Site, Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, Eckley Miners' Village, Centralia, and the Knox Mine disaster. A hybrid history book and travel guide, Lost Coal Country of Northeastern Pennsylvania is one final recounting of what is gone and what still remains."
46 minutes | Dec 3, 2017
Let's Talk Books Episode 004: Interview with Mike Reuther
Mike Reuther is a journalist by profession, but he never stops writing. Most mornings, before he heads to work at the daily newspaper, where he reports on government, politics, health care, crime, sports and general news, Mike works on his novels and self-help books. A non-nonsense and prolific writer, he has 18 books he’s self-published since 2011. Mike ReutherHis fictional characters are complex characters who find themselves in difficult situations, often with the odds stacked against them. One of his most memorable characters is Homer Newbody, in the novel “Nothing Down: The Short Baseball Life of Homer Newbody.” A young man with amazing talent, Homer loves baseball. He tells a sportswriter he’d play for nothing, an off-hand comment that polarizes the people in his life. His fan base loves him for his honesty and down-home values; his teammates resent him for casting a negative light on their own salaries and motivations for playing. Toss in romance, a near-career-ending injury and a plot climax that finds Homer facing his own mortality, and you’ll soon learn why this novel became an Amazon bestseller. Mike’s book is “Pitching for Sanity” a book about (you guessed it) man who seeks redemption through his love for baseball. Bill Barrister, who retired from a stressful career in the military, is riddled with anxiety, which prevents him from living a normal, happy life. He harkens to the zen of his teenage days as a baseball pitcher, and finds that it brings him peace. A free-spirited boyhood friend lures Bill on a cross-country road trip, and Bill embarks on a reluctant journey of self-discovery, and his past, pitching baseballs along the way. Mike new book, “Fishing for Sanity,” finds another character who is experiencing a mid-life crisis, but this time he’s finding solace in fishing. Jack McAllister feels he has close to the perfect life in the mountains of Pennsylvania. This unconventional existence he’s carved out for himself amounts to fishing his beloved trout streams near his home with longtime pal Soothsayer, the wizened sage of the Green Spring Valley, and guiding angling clients. But his life is soon to change with the sudden appearance of a mayfly hatch and the unwanted change it brings. Soon, the Shad River and the whole remote Green Valley become a destination spot for too many fly-fishers and commercial interests. By the time, an intrepid reporter, a slick and fast-talking attorney, and a lovely magazine editor enter Jack’s life, things have become more than complicated. You’ll also learn about Mike’s passion for writing, which stems from his love of books. He’s got a no-nonsense approach to writing and tries to fit writing into his daily routine. He counsels other writers to do the same in his fiction books, “Write the Darn Book,” How to Write a Book Without Going Crazy,” Writing Resumes, Making Money” “Fast Writing, Self-Publishing” “Freelance Writing for Beginners” and “Writing Fiction, Telling Tales” and more.
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