Tag Archives: Debbie Macomber

The Truth About Being a Journalist

Yesterday, I spent the morning at Marcus Whitman Junior High School‘s annual career fair. The gym was full of folks representing a range of professions: machinists, attorneys, animal control workers, a member of the county coroner’s staff, restaurant owners, medical personnel. It was our job to give the students a glimpse into the future and imagine themselves in our shoes.

Seeing them streaming into the gym reminded me what it was like to be in their shoes, drifting in that limbo stage between childhood and adulthood, trying to fit in while standing out. A few had that deer-in-the-headlights stare. Like, “Oh, man, I’m actually going to have to get a job someday.” Some knew exactly what they wanted to do … to the point they’d crossed all other possibilities off the list. The vast majority of them, however, were open-minded, politely but genuinely interested in prospect of being a journalist, at least for a minute or two.

I thought, what do I tell them about our industry, which has seen thousands of journalists laid off and hundreds of publications shuttered? Should I encourage these young people to invest their money, time and energy training for a career that may not exist as we know it by the time they’re out of school? It wouldn’t quite have been in the spirit of things to say, “Run!” So I told them the truth about journalism, at least as see it from my desk at the Kitsap Sun, a daily newspaper/Web site, published in Bremerton, Wash., circa 2010.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions, and how I answered them.

Where do you get your story ideas?
We monitor state and local government Web sites and other Web sites for developments in and around Kitsap County. We stay in contact with sources with whom we’ve established relationships and use social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what’s going on. We receive e-mails and phones calls from readers and others about news or human interest stories. And sometimes, we get ideas that strike our fancy, like the story I wrote on the Mattress Ranch guy.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
Writing the first sentence of any story.

What educational classes do I need to take to become a writer?
Don’t wait to complete your degree to start writing. Sign up for the high school newspaper or year book. Take journalism, photography and videography classes (South Kitsap High School has a great video production program). Write as often as you can, and be open to constructive criticism. Pick a topic that interests you and start a blog.

How successful are students who major in journalism at getting a job?
This wasn’t a frequently asked question, but I thought it was a great question. I couldn’t speak to current statistics, but I can say that the job market for journalists remains tight. Journalists today are required to wear many hats, so successful applicants will be ready to demonstrate versatility and innovation. Here at the Kitsap Sun, we reporters now not only write stories, but shoot videos and, in a pinch, take simple photographs.

With migration to the Internet, reporting the news is shifting from a series of static episodes to a fluid, quickly shifting landscape of information. News Web sites not only report news, sports, features and opinion pieces (as in the print paper), they serve as an online community forum. Readers can comment on stories and blogs, submit their own pictures and videos, and write their own blogs. In that was were are becoming a virtual community.

The Kitsap Sun will continue to publish the print edition of the paper. At the same time, our Web site is evolving rapidly. Both serve different, valid purposes. By the time these Marcus Whitman students graduate from college, it’s likely there will be jobs that don’t even exist (at least as separate jobs) right now. The titles “data base wrangler,” and “news cartographer” come to mind, for example.

To the student in the Twilight T-shirt who said she likes to write fantasy stories I said:
Hold that thought, keep writing and send your stories out to fiction publications as often as possible. At the same time, consider how you’ll earn a paycheck while waiting to become the next Stephenie Meyer.

To guy who wants to be a sports writer but wasn’t sure how he’d do it since he plays sports year ’round:
Cover the girls’ games.
I loved his reaction, at first, stunned silence, then a little ah-ha moment, then a slow sideways grin. They can be taught.

Is your job, like boring?
Yes, sometimes. Welcome to the real world.

Is your job stressful?
Yes, often. Welcome to the world of journalism.

Have you ever interviewed a celebrity?
I tried to tell them about Loretta Swit, aka “Hot-Lips Hoolahan,” who was in town a few years ago promoting her personal cosmetic line to a group of women. She gave me a mini-makeover in front of the group, but it didn’t take. The students were clueless about the significance of this story. They got the connection to M*A*S*H* after I primed their little neuron pumps, but they were unimpressed with Swit.

Debbie Macomber? Isn’t she that author lady? I think my mom reads her books.

Delilah? The South Kitsap resident and radio personality with millions of fans on the airwaves? No, never heard of her.

Seriously, next time Death Cab comes to town I’m on it. Just maybe they’ll know who Ben Gibbard is.

Do you like your job?
Yes, unequivocally. Stress turned inside out is excitement, and this job is frequently exciting. I’m not just talking about breaking news here, but also about how much fun it is not to know exactly what I’ll be doing each day when I walk in the door. Oh, sure, I have a plan, but often circumstances shift me to another track. We’re a small staff so I get to write news, features, Code 911 items and pretty much whatever comes along. I enjoy the variety, and I’m always amazed at how people allow me into their lives, often at deeply painful moments.

I also like the folks I work with, and I’m not just sucking up because I’m stuck with them. Over the past three years, it has sometimes seemed as if we were bailing out a leaky dingy while building the Titanic. We got this far though teamwork (and sometimes wacky outbursts of humor). Call me a terminal optimist, but I believe I’m not alone in saying things are looking up for the Kitsap Sun. It’s a work in progress. I can’t wait to see how it turns out, and I sure hope there will be someone to pick up where we leave off.

Friday Afternoon Club: Catch Debbie Macomber’s “Miracle”

By Chris Henry
“Mrs. Miracle,” a heartwarming holiday movie based on the book by South Kitsap author Debbie Macomber, will premiere Saturday at the Historic Orchard Theatre, 822 Bay St.
The event, followed by a black-tie reception at Kitsap Bank, is a fundraiser for the South Kitsap High School Band, which will play in the 2010 Tournament of Roses Parade, and for Kitsap Regional Library.
Macomber will appear at the premiere, along with the two young Canadian actors, Valin Shinyei and Michael Strusievici, who star in the film.
In the movie, James Van Der Beek, formerly of “Dawson’s Creek,” plays a widower and father to six-year-old twins (Shinyei and Strusievici). Their new housekeeper, Mrs. Emily Merkle ( Doris Roberts) works her magical touch on their home and lives.
The film will be shown Dec. 5 on the Hallmark Channel.
Shannon Childs, a member of the Cedar Cove Association, approached Macomber’s publicist during Cedar Cove Days, Port Orchard’s celebration of Macomber’s work, about the possibility of showing “Mrs. Miracle” in the author’s hometown. Hallmark was open to the idea, but no profit could be derived from the showing, hence the fundraiser.
Tickets for the premiere and reception, at a cost of $50 per person, are available at Kitsap Bank, 619 Bay St. A limited number of tickets may be available at the door, said Childs.
Doors open at 4:30 p.m. The movie starts at 5 p.m.
The event is hosted by the Cedar Cove Association and Kitsap Bank. For tickets, contact marketing@kitsapbank.com or (360) 876-7883.

Debbie Macomber’s Message to Fans and My Advice to “Cedar Cove”

Will Port Orchard live up to its image as the town that inspired Debbie Macomber’s feel-good Cedar Cove series?

On Wednesday, throngs of Macomber’s fans will arrive — a good percentage from outside the region — eager to see the real life places and people behind the fictional town of Cedar Cove. Here’s what Debbie had to say about the event.

Macomber, 60, sold her first book in 1982. Since then she’s hit The New York Times best-seller list multiple times, and more than 100 million copies of her women’s fiction books, also in other languages, have sold worldwide.

It’s safe to say this is a really big deal for little old PO.

Macomber once said she wants fans to see Port Orchard/Cedar Cove “warts and all.” She may get her wish. Word is, her sons, who will be bus tour guides, will tell stories on “mom.”

And as visitors roam the town, chances are they’ll encounter the dumpsters on the back side of Bay Street and bail bond businesses aplenty — serving Kitsap County’s courthouse up the hill.

Macomber, born with a “happy gene,” is not the least bit worried.
“If you come to my house, there’s a tricky little toilet. You have to jiggle the handle. … Whenever anyone comes to my house, I bet they don’t remember my toilet,” Macomber said. “Everyone wishes they were perfect. It’s a real town with real people. When company comes, they look for the real people, not the flaws.”

So Port Orchard, during this, your big chance to make a good impression on the millions of Macomber fans worldwide who, though they can’t all be here, will surely be watching us with avid interest, my advice to you is, “Be real, be yourself … just be subtle about it.”

While most of the by-reservation events have sold out (check the Cedar Cove Web site for availability), there are a number of freebies (see schedule below).

A Cedar Cove Sob Story

Disclaimer: I absolutely cannot vouch for the authenticity of the request below or the character of those who made it. Anyone jumping forward to play Good Samaritan does so at his or her own risk. CTH

I spoke with Cindy Lucarelli, executive director of the Cedar Cove Association, about how things are shaping up for Cedar Cove Days, a celebration of the work of local author Debbie Macomber, who based her Cedar Cove series on Port Orchard. The four-day event, starting Aug. 26, will feature bus tours of the real-life locations mentioned in the books, teas with and without Debbie, a gala cruise to Kiana Lodge and more. I’ll be writing about what it took for Port Orchard to “become” Cedar Cove for a story to run Sunday in the Kitsap Sun. I also had a nice chat with Debbie Macomber herself today.

Cindy tells me there will be visitors from 37 states and a couple of foreign countries (if you count Canada as foreign), as well as an expected 9,000 or so regional visitors over the four days. Many of the notes accompanying requests for tickets to reserved events are touching tributes to the loyalty of Debbie Macombers fans, which brings me to the topic of this blog post.

Cindy & Co. on Aug. 18 received an e-mail from one Adam B. Martin, who says he’s a 22-year-old Chicago resident whose mother is an avid fan. The family wasn’t well off when he was growing up, and Mom is now living on disability due to having been diagnosed with cancer. Her birthday is Aug. 25, and so young Adam had reserved and paid for (Cindy verified this) his mother to attend several reserved events during Cedar Cove Days. He also bought her an airline ticket. Alas, he said, he has not been able to find any place for her to stay.

“Everywhere that I have tried is booked up solid,” Adam wrote. “And since my mom is having a great deal of trouble walking these days, I really wanted her to be close to the event. Is there anything you can suggest to help me with this surprise for her? … I haven’t told my Mom about this trip yet. I wanted everything to be very special for her, because she is very special to me.”

Disclaimer Part II: You know, folks, we could be totally getting played here.

Anyway, I have the guy’s e-mail. If you want to look into his request, e-mail me at chenry@kitsapsun.com.

Here’s another Cedar Cove request, this one from Debbie herself. Seems there are a few more characters needed to fill out the cast of Cedar Cove folks who will be appearing at events throughout the festival. Debbie was off to scope our South Kitsap Fire & Rescue for a firefighter to play the part of Mack. I suspect she’ll have no trouble there. But she’s having trouble finding a couple of 20-somethings to portray Ian and Cecelia, the Navy couple who lost a baby. And the are a few other parts to be filled, mostly by people in their 20s or 30s. There is a considerable time commitment Aug. 20 through 30. If you think you can help, sing out, and I’ll forward your contact information to Debbie. She’d need to hear from you no later that tomorrow afternoon.

E-mail me at chenry@kitsapsun.com. And remember, “Wherever you are, Debbie takes you home.”

BTW, a number of activities during Cedar Cove Days are free — a character parade, a sock hop, waterfront church service, to name a few — but if you haven’t yet signed up for the bus tours, teas or the cruise, know that most everything is already sold out.

In PO, More Paint Drama and Cedar Cove Jitters

With Cedar Cove Days less than two weeks away, organizers of the festival that will transform Port Orchard into its fictional counterpart are sweating the small stuff. Does Port Orchard need a bigger flag for its pole, and what to do with “that” malodorous downtown restroom.

And while “Paint the Town” has come and gone, prickly feelings linger over design choices, flames fanned by a new effort to repaint the poles under the marquee.

At last night’s city council meeting, Heather Cole, a local business owner and design consultant for the Aug. 2 “Paint the Town” gave an update on Port Orchard’s extreme makeover in advance of Cedar Cove Days, Aug. 26 through 30. The painting party was hosted by South Kitsap’s radio superstar, Delilah Rene.

A total of eight buildings were painted in the volunteer blitz, with supplies and labor donated by local businesses, Cole said. The “Paint the Town” committee is working on “stragglers,” including the Dance Gallery, the “black and white building” next to MoonDogs, Too, and Olympic Bike & Skate, at the corner of Bay and Sidney. Cole noted that MoonDogs is seeing to the restoration of the mural on the black and white building adjacent to its outdoor patio. The bike shop is being painted in various shades of green, with accents in recessed areas, an effect Councilman Fred Chang pronounced “interesting.” “I wasn’t sure if it was finished or not,” he said. The All About Floors building also will be repainted by Cedar Cove Days, Cole promised.

With that she launched into the committee’s next endeavor: repainting the poles holding up the marquee. Cole noted that the current color on the poles was chosen as part of the Bay Street Association’s paint plan of several years ago. She said the committee understands that the paint was specially chosen to withstand marine weather and grit from passing traffic, and that the city spent significantly more than it would have for regular paint. That being said, the committee would like to replace the forest green on the poles with a cream color, using the same high quality, durable paint. That would give the sidewalk under the now-minimized marquee — its pickets removed more than a year ago after much fevered debate — a brighter appearance, Cole said. The paint would be supplied by donors, she said, so the city wouldn’t be out any money.

Cole said she had heard from merchants on both sides of the issue, but that her perception is most favor the change. Chang and other council members said they would like written documentation to that effect, and Cole said she’d produce same by the council’s next work study meeting, Aug. 18, when the matter of the pole paint will be taken up.

Commenting on Cole’s proposal, was Tim Waibel of Sugardaddy’s Salon, who said he’d like to know the process for how the council would take public comment on the proposal. The public is welcome to attend work study meetings, but the council does not have to take comment, as at a regular meeting, he said. The 18th would be the last meeting before Cedar Cove Days for such comment to be lodged, if the poles are to be painted in time.

Mallory Jackson, owner of Custom Picture Framing, was clearly unhappy with Cole’s idea. The council, should it embrace the pole painting proposal, would seem to be dismissing the work of the Bay Street Association to come up with a coordinated palette of Northwest colors.
“Your hardworking merchants downtown do have something to say in this,” Jackson said. “To the best of my knowledge, the association has not changed its mind (about the palette).”

After the meeting, Cole and Jackson had a polite but terse exchange over the paint issue.
“I understand you have a very strong opinion one way, but some people don’t,” Cole said, suggesting that there were a number of new merchants in the association since the original palette was chosen.
Jackson reiterated her contention that the merchants association should have a voice in the matter.

My thoughts: Maybe Port Orchard should offer itself up as fodder for the HGTV show “Paint Over,” in which Jennifer Bertrand orchestrates painting make-overs for those “going through a personal life transition.”

In other Cedar Cove news, Councilman Jerry Childs, a key player on the Cedar Cove Committee, raise the issue of the city-owned restroom in the Port Orchard marina parking lot. With bus tours of the town, made famous in local Author Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series, taking off from the parking lot, it’s likely that restroom will see heavy use, said Childs. The concrete structure includes a small stairway to an observation tower that is also likely to be a popular spot during the festival.

The problem is, the restroom smells.

The cause, explained Councilman John Clauson of the public facilities committee, is something no amount of cleaning will help. Underneath the structure is a “wet well,” a chamber where raw sewage from the city is collected and sent on its way to the Westsound Utility District’s sewer treatment plant, jointly owned by the city and the district.

Childs pointed out that Cedar Cove Days will draw visitors from 37 states, with 28 bus loads of Macomber fans embarking from the lot over the four days of the festival that could — organizers hope — put Port Orchard in the national spotlight. With tours lasting two hours and the predominant demographic being “women over the age of 45,” Childs said, it would seem incumbent on the city to provide a proper pit stop.

“That is the last rest room they’re going to have (before the tour),” Childs said. “I’m kind of worried about it meeting the standard of cleanliness.”

The council discussed the relative wisdom of locking the restroom, thereby minimizing the city’s potential embarrassment, with no conclusions arrived at. Meantime Public Works Director Mark Dorsey will check with the Port Orchard Marina to see if they might make their restrooms available to Cedar Cove visitors.

Childs was also concerned over the flagpole at the entrance to the city. Although the old tattered flag has been replaced with a new one for the festival, the size of Port Orchard’s pole calls for a larger tribute, said Childs.

“We want to say, ‘Hey look us over.'” he said.

The Port Orchard branch of the VFW will help accommodate Child’s request.

Paint the Town: The Day After

7 p.m. Monday: I added the video. CTH

The morning after the marathon “Paint the Town” event in downtown Port Orchard, most people had kind words for the extreme makeover visited on Bay Street by resident radio personality Delilah Rene Luke and a small army of volunteers.

Delilah, footing the bill for most of the supplies, played Fairy Godmother to Port Orchard’s Cinderella. “Paint the Town” anticipates Cedar Cove Days, Aug. 26 through 30, to celebrate Port Orchard’s other celebrity, best-selling author Debbie Macomber. Port Orchard is the real-life town on which her fictional Cedar Cove series is based.

Delilah, who had earlier pronounced the town “butt ugly,” pulled the painting party together with help and significant donations of time and materials from local contractors and other businesses. Also helping coordinate the event was the City of Port Orchard, which helped with publicity, handled the street closure and orchestrated the placement of dumpsters and portable toilets before the event.

Many, including Mayor Lary Coppola, said it was high time Port Orchard got a face lift, considering the last coordinated effort to paint the downtown area took place about 20 years ago.

Paint the Town 1
Paint the Town 1

Prep work (and much of the painting) began early Saturday morning (with some contractors jumping the gun as early as 4:30 a.m. Thursday. Delilah was downtown Saturday, painting a mural, making last minute adjustments for the big day and popping ibuprofen. It was the first time I’ve ever seen her look tired.

Paint the Town 2
Paint the Town 2

Sunday, according to weekend reporter Brynn Grimley, volunteers were whipped into a painting frenzy despite the 90+ degree heat. About 90 percent of the work was completed by late Sunday evening.
This morning, the streets were quiet, the weather had cooled and the buildings were sporting new coats of celery green, sunshine yellow, morning mist (a mix of gray and blue) and butternut.
“This is just charming,” said Marcia Coyne, a longtime South Kitsap resident checking out the new paint job on the 800 block of Bay Street. “There was controversy about the colors, but it’s coming together really nicely.”
Ah, yes, the controversy.
Delilah, working with design consultant and local business owner Heather Cole, had the challenge of blending the bright colors Delilah favors — colors meant to reflect a beach or bay theme — with the previously existing color palette of Northwest greens, golds and reds chosen by the Bay Street Association of merchants a few years.
Some had serious doubts it could work. A flyer in the window of Custom Picture Framing, on the corner of Bay and Harrison, showed City Hall garishly painted in carnival colors. It read, “This is what City Hall would look like if Delilah was mayor.”
The business is closed Monday, so I didn’t have the chance to ask owner Mallory Jackson what she thought of the final effect.
One man walking around Bay Street Monday, who declined to give me his name or final appraisal until all the work is complete, said it looks “like an ice cream shop.”
But if there were outright nay sayers, they weren’t to be found. Everyone I talked to — and granted many shops are closed on Mondays so it’s pretty quiet downtown — said the paint job was a plus.
“I think it just looks clean,” said downtown resident Jessi Foster. “It looks as though Port Orchard has a facelift. It really needs it. And I thought it was nice to see the community come and put in their time for free.”

I’m interested to hear from the rest of you. What do you think of PO’s new look?

Delilah’s Paint the Town: A Reality Check

As a journalist, it’s my job to ask questions, to look at both sides of an issue. Take for example the upcoming “Paint the Town” event planned for Aug. 2 by dynamic radio personality Delilah Rene Luke and a cadre of enthusiastic volunteers.

What but good could possibly come out of a day-long painting party aimed at giving Port Orchard an extreme makeover? The idea is to spiffy up the town’s image before Cedar Cove Days (Aug. 26-30), a long-planned tribute to best-selling author Debbie Macomber, Delilah’s South Kitsap neighbor and good friend. How could anyone question such a prospect, especially considering Delilah is footing the bill for much of the paint and other materials?

How indeed? Yet I know I’m not the first person to ask, “They’re going to do what, by when?”

This week, I spoke to Delilah and co-organizer/ design coordinator Heather Cole, a local business owner, about details like liability, quality control and environmental concerns, issues raised last week at a meeting of the Port Orchard Bay Street Merchant’s Association. I guess you could say I was playing the role of Devil’s advocate (it’s on my job description), because, as they say, the Devil’s in the details. Here’s what I found out:

Liability: As part of her donation to the town, Delilah is purchasing short-term liability insurance to cover painting sub-contractors, also donating their services, and volunteers, should someone, God forbid, fall off a ladder or the like. During the event, children will not be allowed to wander around work areas. There will by children’s activities — including a mural painting party hosted by Delilah in a vacant lot — in designated areas of the town.

Quality Control: The two blocks of Bay Street targeted for beautification will be divided into sections, each overseen by a team of professional painting contractors. Any work that is deemed substandard will be repainted by the pros, Cole said.

Environmental Concerns: Buildings will be pretested for lead-based paint. Any that do have lead will simply be painted over rather than pressure-washed in advance.

Effect on Businesses: The event, which will require closing two blocks of Bay Street, was originally set for a Saturday, but a hue and cry from merchants prompted organizers to switch to Sunday. For some, including Morningside Bread Co., however, Sunday is one of the busiest days of the week. Owner Amanda Rudd said the enthusiasm being generated by the event is “wonderful of course,” but she’s worried about the impact on her bottom line. Even a large pre-order of baked goods Delilah will distribute to volunteers is unlikely to offset the loss of regular business, Rudd said. Rudd also worries that the job will actually take longer than one day.

Cole said the Paint the Town committee is sensitive to the merchants’ concerns, hence the switch to Sunday, which affects fewer businesses. With an expected 300 to 500 volunteers (about 200 are currently signed up, according to volunteer coordinator Leah Wattree), prep work done the day before and the leadership of people who paint for a living (as well as use of their equipment), the time line will be met, Cole said.

Color Scheme: Port Orchard has historically had trouble effecting consensus on a decor for downtown. Remember the debate over the marquee? Several years ago, a committee of the merchants association researched colors that would wear well in this damp climate and not show dust from the exhaust of the hundreds of cars that travel Bay Street, a state highway, each day. They came up with a palette of Northwest shades of green, red and gold.

Delilah, when she first mentioned painting the town, suggested lighter colors with a maritime feel. But some landlords had already painted their buildings in the Northwest theme. Cole’s job has been to choose colors for buildings to be painted that are complimentary to those already in place yet acceptable to Deliah, who after all is springing for the paint. Cole has had to do some damage control surrounding rumors that the sprucing up was being forced upon building owners. Ultimately, she said, landlords and tenants must be on board with the proposed paint job.

“We’re here to help and give a free service to the community, not only for Cedar Cove Days, but for the entire future,” said Cole. “They had the impression they would be forced. We’ve straightened that out.”

Six of the buildings to be painted belong to Seattle biologist Mansour Samadpour, from whom Delilah plans to rent a building. Samadpour has previously held back on renovating the buildings. Because of the number and size of Samadpour’s buildings, the colors chosen for them will help tie the town’s decor together, Cole said.

The committee has gotten the go-ahead from the Mentor Company, which owns part of the block in which Delilah has her restaurant, Delilah’s Cozy Kitchin, and from Bob Geiger who owns the movie theater. The owner of three homes, quite ready for some new paint, has given permission, and the committee is finalizing negotiations with the owners of five other properties, Cole said. Some building owners, including the Olde Central Antique Mall, will do their own work.

“Butt Ugly” Port Orchard?: As plans began to unfold, Delilah, not known for repressing her opinions, described Port Orchard as “butt ugly” … on more than one occasion.

Some people, including barber Ernie Moreno, took offense.

“I don’t like it when people come in and say our town is ‘butt ugly,'” said Moreno, who characterized Delilah as a “queen bee” bent on pressing her own agenda.

Delilah, speaking by phone from a radio engagement in New York City Friday, admitted that her enthusiasm for the project may have come off the wrong way. Like Cole, she reference dthe damage control that was required to convince merchants that they would not be forced to partake in the project … and that the colors would indeed be tasteful.

“The response at first was pretty bad,” said Delilah. “We did a horrible job of communicating. I take all responsibility for that. Now they’re all excited and helping us.”

Delilah was hurt by the comments on media articles and the rumors that swirled around the town.

“Somebody started really ugly rumors we wanted to do it in Pepto Bismol pink,” she said. “People personally attacked me for no reason. I came in wanting to help Debbie and bless the community and help make the town beautiful and somehow it got turned into I wanted to turn it into pink trailer trash.”

Cole, who has a background in home design, said the public can rest assured.

“She has really good taste,” said Cole. “I have not had to say, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s horrible. She’s a very classy lady, and she has very classy taste.”

Delilah will not say how much she is donating for the event. Other merchants and corporate sponsors are also kicking in, she said.

“It’s a lot, but it will be worth it,” she said. “We’re excited. We’re hoping for a great turn-out.”

Volunteers, especially those with painting or construction skills, are still needed for the event and for Saturday’s prep work. To volunteer, call Cole at (253) 225-1096, e-mail paintthetown@ymail.com or visit www.portorchardpaintthetown.com.

Hear Delilah interview her South Kitsap neighbor and friend Debbie Macomber in April, 2008.

Confessions of a Cedar Cove Virgin

I have a confession to make. Although, as the South Kitsap reporter, I’ve been reporting on the upcoming Cedar Cove Days (Aug. 26 -30), South Kitsap’s tribute to author Debbie Macomber, I have not read any of her Cedar Cove books. The fictional series is based on the real-life town of  Port Orchard and vicinity. So compelling are the Cedar Cove books to Macomber’s legions of fans, that the Port Orchard library often sees tourists who are looking for landmarks from the town.

According to Branch Manager Kathleen Wilson, her staff can hardly keep Macomber’s books – Cedar Cove and others – on the shelves, even though they’ve added significantly to their collection, anticipating the event.

The Cedar Cove library, and its head librarian Grace Sherman, figure prominently in the second book in the series, 204 Rosewood Lane, I am told by Wilson. When I asked for a recommendation about where I should start in the series, this was the book Wilson suggested. Surprise, surprise.

I’m looking for your advice. What Debbie Macomber book should I start with to a get a true feel for the series?

What draws you to the books, if you’re a fan?

If you’re a Port Orchard/South Kitsap resident, do you relate to the settings of the books?

What character do you relate most closely to, and why?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Debbie Macomber (and Delilah) to Team Up at Chamber Meeting

South Kitsap’s resident bestselling author Debbie Macomber will speak at the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce meeting, 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Clubhouse at McCormick Woods. Macomber will whip up brewing enthusiasm for the upcoming Cedar Cove Days, Aug. 26 through 30. The event celebrates Macomber’s work and Port Orchard, which is the real-life inspiration for her popular Cedar Cove series.

Delilah Rene, South Kitsap’s radio personality in residence, will join Macomber to drum up support for a Paint the Town event Aug. 2. Delilah is spearheading the effort to put a fresh face on downtown Port Orchard for Cedar Cove Days. She and others are recruiting professional contractors and individual volunteers to help paint buildings in need of some love, with owners’ permission of course. Delilah will soon post a Web site to illustrate the current state of affairs, portorchardpaintthetown.org. The painting party will be an excuse for a block party, with music, face painting and other activities, Delilah said. Individuals and groups can sign up at paintthetown@ymail.com.

Here’s the press release from the chamber on Thursday’s meeting:

Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce July Membership Meeting on Thurs. July 9th at 11:30am at McCormick Woods Golf Course Banquet Room will feature bestselling novelist Debbie Macomber. Join us for a short, humorous, condensed version of beloved Port Orchard author Debbie Macomber’s thirty-year career in the publishing business. From her start as a young mother of four, writing out her stories on a rented manual typewriter (because they couldn’t afford the rent on an electric model!) to her current status as a #1 New York Times bestselling author, Debbie’s speech will keep everyone entertained and inspired. Port Orchard’s most famous hometown author will also describe some of the fun activities scheduled during the Cedar Cove Days festival in August.
Reservations are necessary and can be made online at www.portorchard.com or by calling 360-876-3505 by noon July 6th. Membership Luncheons are open to non-members, cost is $22 and must be paid in advance. Chamber members are $20 if prepaid and $22 at the door.

See Yourself in Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove

Fans of Debbie Macomber, now is your chance to indulge your fantasies, Organizers of Cedar Cove Days, a tribute to the best-selling author who lives in Port Orchard, are looking for people to play characters from her Cedar Cove series, based more than loosely on Port Orchard and its people. Word is Port Orchard’s Mayor Lary Coppola will play a role in the opening ceremonies.

So who do you see yourself as: the heroine, family court judge Olivia Lockhart? Her sometimes squeeze, newspaper editor Jack Griffin? Librarian Grace Sherman or any of the cast of many whose quirks and characteristics Macomber drew from local residents?

A number of organizations have already jumped on board to help with the festival, which features many events, teas, tours, a sock hop, cruises and more. People from all over the country have been buying tickets, despite the poor economy. If this trend continues, Cedar Cove Days could be the biggest thing that’s happened in little old PO since sliced bread.

There’s always room for more volunteers, according to Cedar Cove Days co-chairwoman Cindy Lucarelli. For more information, tickets and to volunteer, visit the Cedar Cove Days Web site.