Cozy up this fall with new reads by local authors

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Washington state is known for its wines, agricultural bounty, aerospace and tech industries and of course its picturesque scenery.

It’s also a mecca for authors.

Prolific writer Ivan Doig, for example, resides in Seattle. His latest book, The Bartender’s Tale, is getting quite the buzz.

It’s a historical western that begins in the summer of 1960 and features a character named Tom Harry, owner of a saloon called Medicine Lodge in Gros Ventre, Montana.

The story is narrated by Tom’s 12-year-old son, Rusty, who entertains himself in the back room of the saloon, where the air vent provides him with insider knowledge of the undertakings of the adults in the town.

Father and son have a close, loving relationship until outsiders stir things up.

First to show up is Proxy, a dancer Tom knew in the past, along with her hippie daughter, Francine, who she claims is Tom’s child.

Then, the local restaurant has new owners and their daughter Zoe quickly becomes Rusty’s best friend.

Next to arrive on the scene is Delano Robertson, an oral historian who wants Tom to help him gather reminiscences at the forthcoming reunion of workers from a New Deal dam project — a period of Tom’s past he does not seem anxious to recollect.

According to Woodinville Library adult services librarian Linda Safarli, The Bartender’s Tale is an “enjoyable, old-fashioned, warmhearted story about fathers and sons, growing up and big life changes.” She says it is being hailed by critics as Doig’s best work yet.

Safarli also recommends award-winning author Sherman Alexie’s most recent book, Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories.

Alexie, also based in Seattle, is famous for his straightforward portrayals of life on an Indian reservation in the Pacific Northwest.

In his latest compilation, the author has merged 15 new short stories with 15 of his classic pieces.

Safarli notes that Alexie balances the stories with humor and humanity while touching on difficult issues such as racism, addiction and infidelity.

She adds, “This highly anticipated collection is a must-read for established Alexie fans and will certainly create a new wave of Alexie fans, further confirming his mastery of modern literature.”

Another hot-off-the press novel, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, by Jonathan Evison is also on Safarli’s list of new, choice reads. This is the third book for Evison, a Bainbridge Island resident, whose prior novels, All About Lulu and West of Here, both won awards.

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving tells the story of Ben Benjamin, a man who lost everything — his wife, his family, his home and his livelihood.

In an act of desperation and with nothing else to lose, Ben registers for a night class called “The Fundamentals of Caregiving.”

Afterwards, he finds a position caring for Trev, a teenage boy with muscular dystrophy.

Trev is stubborn, frustrated and resentful of the world at large.

A close camaraderie develops between Tom and Trev and the implausible pair embarks on a cross-country road trip to take in as many bizarre highway attractions as possible en-route to visit Trev’s ailing and estranged father.

Their impulsive journey is interrupted by one birth, two arrests, a dust storm and a mysterious pursuit by a brown Buick Skylark.

Safarli notes the story’s profusion of humor and calls it a “big-hearted and inspired novel.”

For the teen set, librarian Pam Hunter at Woodinville Library is excited about several new books by Northwest authors.

The Edge of Nowhere, by Whidbey Island resident Elizabeth George, is a coming-of-age story that contains touches of the paranormal.

Becca, the 14-year-old main character, has the ability to hear snippets of the thoughts of others.

When she discovers she has been stranded on Whidbey Island, she turns to new friends, all of whom seem to be hiding their own secrets.

Known for her best-selling crime novels for adults, this is George’s first foray aimed at teen readers.

Mandy Hubbard, an established teen fiction author in Tacoma, sets her latest book in Enumclaw.

According to Hunter, it’s a Jekyll and Hyde plot with a twist. The story centers on Harper, a teenage girl who begins a relationship with a new guy at her high school named Logan.

Though she has always been skeptical about love, Harper is elated to be involved with someone so handsome and charming.

Then she meets Logan’s twin brother Caleb and begins to suspect he may be involved in some of the more disturbing things that have begun to happen in her small town.

Suspense, lies and romance are entwined in this modern-day retelling of a famous Gothic tale.

Also for teens is Terry Trueman’s latest book, Life Happens Next, a companion to the Spokane-based author’s prior works, Stuck in Neutral and Cruise Control.

The reader once again enters the world of Shawn McDaniel, a young man who suffers from severe cerebral palsy.

Unable to speak and with a body that he cannot control, Shawn’s life takes on a new dimension when he falls in love for the first time and subsequently develops a new understanding for what the relationships in his life can offer him.

Youngsters will enjoy a new memoir by Peg Kehret, a well-known local author who lives on an animal sanctuary near Mt. Rainier. Animals Welcome: A Life of Reading, Writing and Rescue, describes Kehret’s life, the incredible animals she has known and the love she had for her late husband.

Hunter also recommends 3Below, by Patrick Carman.

This delightful story for children brings back 11-year-old Leo, who readers first met in Carman’s Floors.

Leo, the new owner of New York City’s Whippet Hotel, a most eccentric establishment, has a predicament on his hands.

He must solve the mystery of the former owner’s directions or he won’t be able to pay the back taxes, which means his beloved hotel might slip through his fingers.

Adventures ensue in this fun and wacky tale.

Look for more new reads by local authors in the months to come, especially as it gets closer to the holidays.

Local photographer’s book debuts on best seller list

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Karyn King
Karyn King. Courtesy photo.
Photography comes so naturally to Karyn King that she often takes her skills for granted. She believes her abilities are innate and strives to keep the art of taking pictures as simple and intuitive as possible.

The Woodinville woman began dabbling in photography when she was in her 20s and living in California. She knew she’d found an avenue that she wanted to pursue more seriously, but she opted to focus on her education at the time.

After receiving her master’s degree in oceanography, she worked in flight projects and defense programs for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Eventually, she went out on her own. Six years ago, King sold her business and promptly picked up her camera.

“I fell in love with photography all over again,” she says. “I became enamored, in particular, with aerial photography. Seeing the terrain from the air is a special feeling and experience.”

King, who is a professional photographer, considers aerial photography her forte, in addition to landscape and “critter” photography.

She adds, “On the ground and in the water, I truly love taking photos of wildlife in this area. I feel so blessed to be in the presence of the magnificent creatures such as the Orca whales, the bald eagles, sea otters, great blue herons and foxes.”

Recently, the local woman published her first book, San Juan Islands … and Beyond, a compilation of some of her favorite photographs of Orcas and other wildlife, island sunsets, marina and bay views, aerial island images and other points of interest in the region.

From start to finish, the process of bringing the project to fruition took four years, though the actual making of the book took about nine months.

“Like a baby, but not as painful,” comments King.

In four years, she took more than 45,000 images and then spent hours upon hours choosing the 100-plus pictures to be included in the book.

She emphasizes that she doesn’t use Photoshop in any of her images, adding, “I’d rather be behind my camera than on the computer, but I also understand the necessity of distilling down just the right images I need to express the feeling of the special moment.”

King explains that the book’s journey actually began when she and her husband David first flew into SeaTac airport in 1989. As the plane headed over Puget Sound, King knew this was home before she even landed. She was in awe of the beauty of the area.

“When things really ‘clicked’ for me was when I visited the Japanese Gardens for the first time in 2008,” she says. “It was a perfect day, the water was like glass, the fall colors were vivid and I thought I was in heaven. I went to the gift shop and asked if they had a calendar. They didn’t, so I made one of just those spectacular fall images. They bought it and I donated the money back to their foundation. I knew then that I was destined to make a calendar for the San Juan Islands, where my heart and soul live.”

King explains that when the calendars consistently sold out three years in a row, the book requests started coming in.

At the start, she had a publisher who urged her to produce a book of her photos. However, when she was finally ready to embark upon the project, he was unavailable. She decided to self-publish, choosing Her Majesty Press (a play-off of her last name, King), as the moniker of her publishing company.

In addition to sumptuous, eye-popping photos, the book has some narrative, but King kept it simple, as she wanted the reader to “fall into the image” instead of getting bogged down by words.

Currently, San Juan Islands … and Beyond is on the Seattle Times Best Seller List for local books, an accomplishment that King acknowledges wasn’t ever on her radar.

She says, “My goal was to share my view of the world, the extraordinary world of the San Juan Islands and the spectacular Northwest images. To be recognized in this way brings a deep sense of gratitude for that recognition. I am also proud to say that my book is in 52 bookstores, galleries and shops throughout the Seattle area, Puget Sound and the Eastside.”

The local photographer’s immediate plan is to do a second printing of her book, as she is almost sold out of the initial copies. She explains that the second printing will involve changing a few images that she acquired since the first go-around.

As for future books, she is mulling an idea, but isn’t ready to share her thoughts yet.

“All I can say is that it will involve my photographs in a very unique format and will have a broad appeal,” she adds.

King notes that most of the proceeds from her books, calendars, notecards and prints are donated to the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, as well as to local animal rescue organizations.

She comments, “This has been my purpose — to give back to the community and to those in need.”

Although her work is a solo endeavor, King wants it known that she isn’t able to take the type of pictures she does without the support of her rocket scientist husband, Dr. David King, who has been her “cheerleader, boat captain and lovely assistant.”

Props also go to another rocket man, Dr. Dieter Zube, her pilot, whose skills helped her get those special aerial shots.

In the case of ‘hot sauce versus law school,’ hot sauce wins

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Rooster Sauce Owners
John de Mars, the founder and CEO of de Mars’s Rooster Sauce, is flanked by his partners Cully Wakelin and Mike Boroughs (WHS class of 2004). Courtesy photo.
Most fulltime students in their first year of law school are constantly under a time crunch.

They rarely have extra hours in their day to do anything else besides hit the books and cram for one exam after another.

Not so for John de Mars. In between studying for his classes, the WHS alum (2005) began doing research aimed at one of his personal interests —  entrepreneurship.

He eventually found himself deep into market data and immersed into the world of spices.

“I enjoyed law school,” says de Mars, “but the thought of starting my own business seemed far more rewarding at the time, not to mention that I have always had a lot of energy towards the entrepreneurial side of life.”

He adds, “When I conducted the market research, I found the spice market to be one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. and the world. I saw a low barrier to entry, little overhead required and a market growing at 5-8 percent a year.”

The local man, who admits he loves to cook almost as much as he loves to eat, began tinkering with hot sauce recipes to see if he could come up with something more novel and unique than the ubiquitous Tabasco he was accustomed to using on much of his food.

“I wanted something different,” he explains, “something that I could eat a lot of and feel okay about eating a lot of, and there just wasn’t too much variety out there when it came to hot sauces.”

With the help of other like-minded spice devotees, de Mars developed what is now de Mars’s Rooster Sauce.

It’s an all-natural, vegan, gluten-free, locally sourced, gourmet hot sauce made from fresh habaneros, jalapenos, garlic, organic curry, cider vinegar, black pepper, tomato paste, cayenne powder and a touch of organic cane sugar.

An olive oil base gives the sauce a creamy consistency. “We got lucky with the flavor,” comments de Mars, “and sales started to take off. I found a solid team of bright people (Mike Boroughs, a 2004 WHS grad,  and Cully Wakelin, a current student at Evergreen State College) to take on as partners and bid adieu to the law school grind.”

The local man emphasizes that Rooster Sauce is a “good product,” one that is delicious and packs a “worldly flavor of heat,” as well as promotes a healthy lifestyle.

The company, which was formed last summer, is located in Olympia, but its production factory is in Gold Bar.

As de Mars explains: Rooster Sauce is primarily a web-based company, however the product can now be found in about three dozen grocery stores and restaurants between Olympia and Seattle.

In discussing the company’s current and future goals, the local entrepreneur says, “First and foremost, we want to keep our fantastic customers in awe by our quality of product and customer service. As for growth, we want to grow to 50 clients in the greater Seattle/Eastside area by the end of this year and continue to expand our online sales and in-store/restaurant sales on an international level. In the future, our aim is to get Rooster Sauce in every military MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) and on the first manned mission to Mars. We’ve already sent samples to NASA. We also want to make de Mars’s Rooster Sauce a household name in China.”

According to de Mars, the response to the product has been overwhelmingly positive.

He believes it’s due to the sauce’s flavor, heat and versatility, making it ideal for a wide range of food, from eggs and potatoes to pizza, sandwiches and steamed veggies.

It can also be used as a rub on chicken, fish or various types of meat.

“Basically, you can put it on anything you want for a boost of flavor and heat,” he adds. Several Seattle restaurants such as Local 360 and Portage Bay have begun featuring the sauce tableside and de Mars is seeing online orders come in daily from all over the country. “It’s rewarding to look at how we have grown in one year and very exciting to think about where we will be as a company one year from now,” he comments. “Also, it’s satisfying to know that we are directly contributing to people’s healthy eating choices by offering an all-natural, locally-sourced product.”

For more information about de Mars’s Rooster Sauce:

Local competitive bodybuilders win big

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Bodybuilders are a dime a dozen in many communities.

Seriously competitive bodybuilders, however, are few and far between.

In Woodinville, for example, there are perhaps just a handful of individuals who opt to put their hard work and efforts to the true test.

They seek the limelight for the opportunity to be judged and evaluated, assessed by others who will examine their bodies’ symmetry, shape, size and overall aesthetic appearance.

Competitive bodybuilding is not a pursuit for the fainthearted.

It takes immense commitment, discipline and focus, as well as the ability to make difficult sacrifices.


Bodybuilder Michaelson
Julie Michaelson. Courtesy photo.
“You have to be extremely perseverant,” says Julie Michaelson, “and you have to be very strong-willed.”

The local woman should know.

She’s competed in 12 shows over the past several years.

Recently, at the Washington State Fitness and Figure Bodybuilding competition in Auburn, Michaelson won her class, “Open Figure Tall,” and came in fifth overall.

She also entered the Women’s Bikini Masters competition and took fourth out of 13 participants.

“I’ve placed in the top five, all but a few times,” adds Michaelson, “in shows like the Washington Ironman, Empire Classic, Emerald Cup and the Northern Classic.”

The Woodinville woman’s passion for bodybuilding began back in 2008, when as a stay at home with two-year-old twins, she started spending more time in the gym due to its affordable daycare rates.

“I basically fell in love with the sport,” she says, “but it was more about the journey than the actual competition. For me, it’s all about personal growth and self-improvement through the dedication and the drive. I am competitive, but when I compete, I compete against myself. It gives me a great outlet and satisfies this need.”

Michaelson owns Julie Michaelson Training in Woodinville, where she specializes in small group training, boot camp classes and nutritional coaching.

“I see myself more as a coach than a trainer,” she comments. “My goal is to get inside my client’s head and motivate them beyond simply counting reps. I take a holistic approach to helping others change their lives that takes into account not only the physical, but the mental and emotional aspects of the process.”

Michaelson emphasizes that nutrition and ideas about food are at the core of her program.

She adds, “Nutrition is 80 percent responsible for getting the results you want. I get people to eat right and to get away from the concept of dieting — to view food as fuel. And it gives me great satisfaction to see my clients have that ‘aha’ moment.”

When training for a competition, the local woman follows a strict regimen for the 16 weeks leading up to the show.

Her day starts at 4 a.m. when she gets up to do her first round of cardio.

After getting her four kids ready for school, she heads to work to train her clients.

In the evening, she lifts weights and does more cardio.

“The challenge in doing this is time management and finding the right life balance,” comments Michaelson. “I’m a single mom and a business owner. I don’t have a social life. The gym is my haven. The gym is for me. It makes me feel good.”

By the end of this year, Michaelson will have done seven shows.

She is currently qualified at the national level and her goal for 2013 is to compete in a national event.

“All I want to do each time I compete is to get on that stage knowing that I have prepared well,” she says. “If I have done that, then I have already won.”


Bodybuilder Semenza
Dominic Semenza. Courtesy photo.
Dominic Semenza is another Woodinville resident who takes bodybuilding very seriously.

To date, he has competed in five shows.

At the recent Washington State Fitness and Figure Bodybuilding competition in Auburn, he, like Michaelson, took first in his class (“Light Heavy”) and was runner-up for the overall award.

In 2008, he won as a middle weight and qualified for nationals for the first time.

Semenza entered the national competition in Fort Lauderdale in 2010 and placed 16th out of a field of 34 participants.

He took some time off in the interim, but with his recent win, he is back in business.

“I’m going to nationals in Atlanta in November,” he says, “and my goal is to try and get my pro card. That’s what I’m after.”

Semenza has been a personal trainer since 2002, but has spent most of his life involved in fitness and sports.

He finds great satisfaction in applying hard work and the principles of proper nutrition to his body.

“I have a visualization of the physique I want,” he explains, “and I plan how I will progress towards that ideal.”

The local man notes he competes to win, but that continual improvement is the driving force.

The sport of competitive bodybuilding encompasses qualities he esteems, including discipline and determination.

“You have to have a strong mindset,” he adds. “You need to push yourself, physically and mentally, if you want to experience success. It’s a battle against yourself. And staying focused is so important because there are so many ways to get distracted and it’s so easy to self-sabotage.”

Semenza views his recent win as impetus to continue competing.

He says the award justifies all of his effort and sacrifice and he is very proud of his accomplishment. Likewise, when he sees his clients make significant changes, he is equally proud.

“It’s very rewarding for me to help my clients achieve their own personal goals and change the way they view their bodies,” he adds. “To see that mindset change makes it all worthwhile.”

Quick fixes for a swift home sale

  • Written by ARA

16254287_webFirst impressions are everything when it comes to selling a home, and peeling paint, stained carpets and unpleasant odors can be an instant turn-off for buyers. Fortunately, you can take simple and inexpensive steps to prep your home for a quick, top-dollar sale.

Freshen up:

Paint is an easy, cost-effective way to improve any interior, and a new coat can make all the difference in selling your home. Cracked or peeling paint will repel potential buyers, and faded or boring walls can create a lackluster overall appearance.

Make your home stand out with a fresh coat in a vibrant color, such as those found in Dutch Boy’s Crayola palette. Perfect for showcasing a finished basement, kids’ room or accent wall anywhere in the home, these bright shades will make any space “pop.” With 96 colors to choose from – from Marshmallow and Ice Pop, to Wild Strawberry and Inch Worm – you’re sure to find a shade to help make your home memorable. And as you are updating walls with new color, use a paint that not only adds beauty but also reduces odors. Along with the exceptional coverage Dutch Boy is known for, Refresh features Arm & Hammer Odor Eliminating Technology to rid your home of unwanted odors, leaving your home smelling clean and inviting. Available for walls, trim and ceilings, use Refresh throughout the home to create a pleasant walk-through experience. Add a few scented candles or potpourri to make the home even more appealing to buyers’ noses.

Little fixes:

The little things can make a big difference when it comes to the appearance of your home. Many buyers are looking to make as few improvements as possible, and even tiny cosmetic repairs can seem like a huge project. The more move-in-ready your house appears, the faster it will sell, and more likely buyers will be willing to pay the asking price. Some easy fixes include replacing broken counter and floor tiles, patching holes in any surfaces, making sure all lights work properly and doors open and close smoothly.

Organize and de-personalize:

To give your home a spacious showroom feel, take time to remove any superfluous “stuff.” Show off your kitchen countertops by storing unnecessary appliances, clear the sink and dishwashing machine, and organize refrigerator contents. Keep the bathroom vanity clear of personal items, neatly fold or hang clean towels, and clear or cover clothing hampers. Organize your cupboards, closets and drawers to maximize the appearance of your home’s storage capabilities.

Clearing your home of visible clutter will not only make it seem more spacious but also make it easier for potential buyers to picture it as their own. Minimize family photos and personal items to help visitors more easily see themselves – and their things – in your home.

Curb appeal:

First impressions can make a world of difference, so don’t neglect your home’s exterior as you prepare to sell. The mailbox should be in good condition and the house number easily visible from the street. Keep exterior doors, including garage doors, free of flaking or fading paint and freshen the trim around windows and shutters. A fresh coat of paint on the front door can add to your home’s curb appeal and affixing a seasonal display of flowers or a festive wreath on the front door also makes a warm, welcoming statement.