Author Chuck Woodbury in his RV.
Author, editor and publisher Chuck Woodbury of Edmonds will speak May 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Plaza Room of the Edmonds Library. In his program "A Writing Life on the Road," Woodbury will tell how he went from a struggling freelance writer to a national celebrity nearly overnight after embarking on a career as a roving travel writer.

In 1985, Woodbury set off in an 18-foot motorhome to explore America and write magazine articles about who he met and what he found. His RV, he notes today, "broke down nearly every trip and leaked when it rained." Still, he was able to earn enough to pay for repairs, buy gas and keep going.

In 1988, on a whim, he published a 24-page tabloid newspaper he called Out West, which he billed as "American's on-the-road newspaper." The media got wind of the folksy periodical and soon Woodbury found himself in its spotlight. In the next few years he appeared on ABC World News Tonight, the Today Show, CNN and in hundreds of periodicals including USA Today, the Washington Post and People Magazine. "Hardly a day passed that I didn't do a phone interview with a radio talk show," he said. One appearance on National Public Radio brought in $50,000 in subscriptions.

After his appearance on ABC-TV, he landed a book deal with William Morrow that resulted in the "Best from Out West" and he was signed by the New York Times Syndicate, which distributed his stories to newspapers around the world.

Out West continued for 10 years until, said Woodbury, "it ran its course." About the same time, the World Wide Web was catching on. "I knew it was going to be big," he said, "so I bought a bunch of domains related to RVing." Today, more than 200,000 RVers a month read his websites and daily newsletters. Woodbury continues to travel by RV, logging about 12,000 miles a year gathering stories and, nowadays, making videos for his YouTube channel. He occasionally wanders aboard, most recently touring Iceland in a small camper van.

"My dream beginning in college was to combine travel and writing," he said. "I loved the idea of travel with a motorhome, which to me was simply a small home and office that moved. When I look back now, after 30 years on the road and millions of words written, I realize I carved out a wonderful life for myself. I could have never imagined how everything would play out when I began with a manual typewriter, a portable darkroom and tiny, mechanically-challenged motorhome, hoping only to somehow pay my bills."

Woodbury's hour-long talk will chronicle his three decades of "on-the-road" journalism through words and photos beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Plaza Room of the Edmonds Library. The 90-minute event is part of the Edmonds Literary Series. Admission is free.



From : EPIC Group welcomes Wendy Becker, Manager of the for Snohomish County, on Monday, 10 a.m. in the Edmonds Library. The public is invited to this free event, although seating is limited.

Becker oversees Snohomish County’s business recruitment and retention objectives through public policy, education and advocacy through the arts, heritage preservation, agriculture and tourism. She initiated and executed programs, including implementation of the new Tourism Promotion Area that brought an additional million dollars annual revenue to Snohomish County and the Community Heritage Program. For more information on this EPIC event, see the website.

Update: Wendy Becker provided these links for writers seeking grants.

Artist Trust

Poets and Writers
Reading & workshops – writer’s fees only. Will not cover administration costs, publicity, transportation or school events.

Deming Fund
Grants for individuals, money for women up to $1,500 for poets, writers, non-fiction, fiction deadline June 30.

NLAPW Biennial Grants for Mature Women up to $1,000; write to request guidelines.

Warhol Foundation Creative Capital deadline is April. .



Eric Livingston
SME, or subject matter expert, Eric Livingston spoke at EPIC today on technical writing, which shows up in IKEA instructions, software manuals, and recipes. One of Livingston's examples, a recipe for Adolphus Hotel Corn Chowder, had no measurements for cream and other ingredients, but came from a chef with instruction to cook "till it looks, feels and tastes right." That was an example of "knowing your audience" - a newbie line cook might need additional technical instructions filled in.

is known locally for his architectural critiques in My Edmonds News, which have generated numerous comments, including one from a London architect. Today Livingston touched on the motto that "good design is good business," and compared Ventura and Santa Barbara design in California. His point was the city with the highest design demands is more valued.

Writers can apply the same concept to their work. Those writers who have high standards often have work of greater value - although Livingston warns of John Fowles syndrome of crafting "perfect sentences," but failing to "tell a story."

Publisher Teresa Wippel with EPIC President Janette Turner. (Photo by Larry Vogel, courtesy My Edmonds News).
From , by Janette Turner: “I went into journalism to save the world,” said award-winning publisher Teresa Wippel, today’s speaker at EPIC Group in the Edmonds Library. “I wanted to be (Bob) Woodward and (Carl) Bernstein.”

While Wippel hasn’t yet uncovered new Pentagon Papers as publisher of three local news sites, she has presided over several investigation stories, including one on resulting from Seattle City Light aging equipment. Larry Vogel, the My Edmonds News reporter for that story, was in today’s audience, along with columnist Dave Gross.

Investigations are costly, said Wippel, who noted the traditional advertising model for newspapers was no longer effective. “We know the old model of journalism isn’t working, but people are still looking for information.” Citing a forthcoming book, “,” by Nicco Mele, Wippel predicts news sites will have to take on multiple revenue streams, such as NPR-like pledge drives, while cultivating columnists who develop their own followings. With pared-down news rooms, even fact checking is changing. “The readers and commentators are your fact checkers,” said Wippel, who welcomes “the feedback, the comments, and the corrections” that improve stories on her sites.

“My motto is an online gathering place for neighbors and friends,” said Wippel, who encouraged the writers at today’s meeting to pitch column ideas to her. One idea, “A Dachschund A Day,” by Kizzie Jones, received endorsement from the group. Perhaps Wippel will expand her gathering place to include “dachshunds.”

From My Edmonds News: EPIC Group Writers welcomes award-winning publisher Teresa Wippel to the Edmonds Library for a talk Monday, 11 a.m., on the changing landscape of news reporting and publishing. Wippel was recently honored as y for her high ethical standards, and she received a Paul Harris Fellowship for her work as publisher of , and

The public is invited to this free event, although seating is limited. More information on EPIC Group’s  speakers series, writing contests and writing groups can be found on the EPIC website.

Authors Robbie Holz and Kim Votry passed along a tip for writers: Make sure to enter book awards within one year of publishing your book. "Having an award changed everything," said Holz at EPIC's Monday morning writing group. Holz's self-published book, “,” has won three awards and is soon to be traditionally published, and Votry's NaNo-inspired book, "," earned an Indie Brag Medallion. Votry recently sent info on how authors can be in the running for awards:

"Most of (the awards organizations) require the book be entered in the year it was published, and many of them have deadlines which have passed for books published in 2012. There are, however a couple that have a wider publishing window -- for example, one of them, Moonbeam, I think, allowed books published in 2010, 2011, and 2012 to be entered in the 2012 awards. 

"There are also substantial fees involved, so you must decide which contests to enter based on your own marketing budget. Some offer reviews, some announce winners at the Book Expo America in either New York or Chicago, and some offer marketing opportunities whether your book is a winner or not. Lots to consider!

"So here's my list: ForeWord Award, Shelf Unbound, International Book Awards, Newberry Medal (this one is actually free), Nautilus Award, Reader Views, Writers Digest, IBPA Award, Indie Book Awards, The IndieReader Discovery Awards, Moonbeam Children's Book Awards, NIEA Award.

"And here's the link to a blog post about . This list includes contests that are closed to self-published books, but there's a lot of information here, and a publicist's opinion about why you should enter."