Category Archives: The Internet

Scandinavian star-crossed lovers’ tale gets legs in self-published book

Who among us hasn’t thought about writing a book? OK, you in the back; you can put your hand down now.
Port Orchard writer Rosie Atkinson, author of the historical romance “Albin’s Letters,” is living proof that self-publishing has democratized the world of books.

Hilda Sjostedt, a comely Swedish girl with one blue eye and one brown eye, has fallen in love.
John, her strict and bigoted older brother (and guardian), is one of the most powerful men in Helsinki, and he heartily disapproves of Albin Putkonen, the Finn who has won Hilda’s heart.
Albin is from Saamiland in the far north of Scandinavia, or “Lapland” as John calls it.
Those people, says John, are “inferior … flower picking trash.”
Albin and Hilda share a forbidden tryst and hatch a desperate plan that starts with a long separation. Will the Scandinavian star-crossed lovers be reunited? Or will fate — and Hilda’s brother — conspire to keep them apart?
So begins “Albin’s Letters,” a novella by Rosie Atkinson and the true story of her grandparents’ journey to North America.
Albins' Letters
The book, published this year on, has racked up a number of favorable reviews.
“I found myself rooting for Albin and hoping that the truth would come to light for Hilda,” wrote Laurel Johnson of Southworth. “This was an easy read, written in a lilting style that left me very curious about Albin and Hilda’s progeny. I hope Ms. Atkinson will tell us more.”
Atkinson, 83 of Port Orchard, has had a lifelong career as a writer, starting with writing poetry as a young homemaker. She spent many years in the newspaper business, first as a columnist for the Port Orchard Independent, then as women’s editor for the Bremerton Sun (now the Kitsap Sun).
Formerly an avid boater — with her husband Charlie and their six children — Atkinson has written numerous articles for Nor’westing, Sea and other boating magazines. She also wrote a column for a weekly Kitsap County publication, Wednesday Magazine.
After Atkinson left the Sun in 1979, her focus turned to fiction writing. She joined the Peninsula Chapter of Romance Writers of America and got up to speed on the latest technology.
“One of the first things I wanted to do was get a home computer,” Atkinson wrote in her blog. “Charlie found one for sale by a fellow employee at Boeing. He brought it home, plunked it onto a table and said, ‘There, now go ahead and write your heart out.’”
Atkinson watched other writing club members clamber their way into the publishing world. Fellow member Debbie Macomber, also of Port Orchard, is now a regular on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Similar success eluded Atkinson, even though she wrote almost every day.
“I never stopped writing, but I lost the incentive to do anything about publishing my work,” Atkinson wrote in her blog. “For one thing, it seemed so daunting and I knew nothing about publishing books.”
Then in 2013, Atkinson joined the legions of writers who have found self-publishing a viable option for getting their book out in the world.
As the Internet has exploded, so have online self-publishing programs and resources. Publishers World, in a recent article, announced a service of Bloomsbury Publishing that helps writers sift through the myriad DIY options. The Writers & Artists Self Publishing Comparison requires registration and completion of a questionnaire, information from which may be shared with service providers.
Atkinson was fortunate to have her daughter, Phyllis Counts of Seattle, help her sift through the options. Counts, a graphic designer, made the cover art for “Albin’s Letters” and hooked Atkinson up with people to read and critique the manuscript. A librarian who is a friend of Count’s fact-checked the book.
“It takes a village,” said Atkinson, who advises anyone interested in self-publishing to have their book professionally edited and the cover professionally designed.
Kitsap Sun reporter Steven Gardner, who in 2012 self-published “Spill Your Guts’ Guts,” seconded the recommendation for a professional editor.
“If you are thinking of skipping the editor part, let me shake some sense into you,” Gardner said. “If you don’t have anyone to edit your book, I guarantee you will find things in your finished copy that you will regret. Your book will look self-published, which I guarantee will lose you sales.”
Gardner’s book is an adaptation of stories from his Field of Steve podcast. If I had written the book jacket blurb, I would have called “Guts” a humorous, unaffected tribute to human longings, foibles and follies.
Spill Your Guts' Guts
Gardner assembled the project with two Amazon self-publishing programs Create Space, for the print edition, and Kindle Direct Publishing for the eBook.
Gardener’s overall cost for the two programs was about $100. Self-published authors should expect to pay an editor several hundred dollars on top of that, he said.
For future projects, Gardner plans to be more aggressive about marketing, wrangling book clubs about a month before publication, scouring online for interview opportunities and working with local bookstores to do readings.
Atkinson, too has “a few more books in the mill,” including a sequel to “Albin’s Letters” in which we learn more about Hilda’s feisty spirit or “sisu,” the Finnish expression for determination, the will to finish the job at any cost.
Speaking of which, Atkinson advises anyone with the itch to write a book not to give up.
“Everybody has a book inside them, if they can just get it out and write it,” she said. “
Besides the Albin-Hilda sequel, Atkinson has in the hopper a hot romance about a newspaper reporter in Seattle and a couple of half-written “creative non-fiction” projects. Some days, she gets overwhelmed thinking of all there is to write.
“But hell, I’ll probably live ’til I’m 115, so there’s still time,” she said.

Albin’s Letters on Kindle or paperback copies may be ordered from or by calling Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 360-698-0945.

Poulsbo restaurant makes national news for well-behaved child discount

Brynn writes:

It was brought to our attention this morning that Poulsbo’s Sogno di Vino restaurant has been making national news lately. Although it largely hasn’t been named beyond being called a “small restaurant in Poulsbo, Wash.”

As the story goes a picture of a receipt from an evening out at the restaurant has made its way to the Internet and as a result national news organizations jumped at the chance to opine about the story (see Fox News, Huffington Post, Reddit, Babble, et. all.)

A local woman, who goes by the name LauraInk on the Reddit site, wrote on her “beer after tea” blog about the dinning experience where she and her husband, along with their three children (ages 2, 3 and 8), received a “well-behaved child” discount. It sounds like this is the first time the restaurant has offered the $4 discount for well-behaved “mini diners”.

Here’s excerpts from Laura’s blog post explaining what happened and her response to all the national attention about the discount:

“We were seated at one of the last available tables around 6pm and were greeted happily with menus and bread. We sat and discussed planets, racecars, zebra jokes and “Freckle Juice” until we ate our pizzas, pasta and aforementioned ragu. The food was lovely, our oldest, who is clearly in a growth spurt, ate her share and mine, and our littles munched happily while periodically stopping to notice the small fireplace in the corner and the window paintings on the wall of grapevines in Italy.

Near the end of our meal, our server visits our table to tell us how impressed the staff was with our kids’ behavior and that many of them didn’t even realize we had little ones eating with us. She then brought us a bowl of ice cream to share. When we received our tab, it had a discount listed for “Well Behaved Kids”. A pleasant surprise after a lovely meal.

We, as parents, lead by example and if we have to spell out what and how we’re doing something, we will. We don’t expect handouts for acting respectful of the folks who bring us our food. But it certainly makes you feel good when someone else notices your kids in a positive light.

It’s interesting to read some of the comments from other people who have heard this story — note the link to the Reddit and Babble sites offer more adult language than wet use here — the responses are mixed on whether a family should get a discount because their kids behave well, or as some argue “the way they should”, when they’re in public.

Regardless of where you stand on the decision to give the discount, the bottom line is a local family of five was the recipient of an unexpected act of kindness from a local business. That’s something that should make you smile.

Kitsap Computing Seniors celebrates 20 years of computer literacy

Thomas Burch, 94, pretty much blows the stereotype of the computer illiterate senior citizen out of the water.
“He does everthing on the computer,” said Larry DuSavage, Burch’s son-in-law and president of Kitsap Computing Seniors.
As far as DuSavage knows, Burch of Bremerton is the oldest member of the group, which will mark its 20th anniversary Monday. The public is welcome to a celebration and potluck at 10 a.m. at the Silverdale Community Center, 9729 Silverdale Way NW.
Kitsap Computing Seniors, with nearly 240 members, has introduced hundreds of older adults to new technology. Even in this day and age, when laptops are as common as telephones, the need is still there, DuSavage said.
“You’d be surprised. We’re getting 70-, 80-year-olds whose grandchildren want to Skype, want to email, and they’ve never touched a computer in their life,”
The group offers more than 350 hours per year of free computer classes to members and nonmembers. The beginner’s class, held monthly at the community center, often has a waiting list and is the only class that requires membership. Annual dues are $20 per year.
Other classes — such as Microsoft Word and Excel, introduction to Facebook and more — are held at Mountain View Middle School and the Sylvan Way Library both in East Bremerton.
Volunteers are needed to help teach classes and refurbish donated computer equipment, which is given to community members in need. Microsoft Vista and Windows 7 or later preferred.
For information, call (360) 792-6972, email or visit

Life in rewind, what career would you choose?

SOUTH KITSAP — Gotta love those junior high kids, so fluid, like mercury, they could flow any which way.

I was once in junior high, hated it. High school was much better. In the midst of boomer-dom, nearly 57, I’m quite content.

Four years ago, I was invited to the annual Marcus Whitman Junior High School Career Fair to be a “presenter” on the joys and demands of journalism. They’ve asked me back each year, and I say, “yes,” because I really do love junior high kids. Blank slates, with baggage. Spontaneous, self-conscious, wise beyond their years. Funny. Endearing.

The fair was Tuesday. I distributed advice — this is one thing I love about being old — and 30 or 40 Kitsap Sun pencils. We used to hand out refrigerator magnets, but times being what they are … The pencils were a hit. I noticed, however, that the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s table had candy scattered all over it. Drew quite a crowd. Next year, Butterfingers, for sure.

The students were asked to fill out a card with stickers showing the different tables they had visited. There were many representatives of potential career paths to choose from: veterinarians, beauticians, an airplane mechanic (also a popular stop), restaurateurs, a dance instructor who is now teaching the children of children she had when she started her independent business at 15. That would be Tanya Bleil-Johnson of Just for Kicks School of Dance in Port Orchard (in photo).

A cartoonist lamented the slow demise of print media and stressed the need to “reinvent” himself. Welcome to my world, except the Kitsap Sun, while expanding its web product, continues to print the daily edition. I get to listen to the comforting sound of the presses cranking to life each afternoon. The earthquake-like thunk of rolls of newsprint on the loading dock. One student told me that while her peers get most of their news — if they bother to look at the news — online, she still loves the feel, sound and smell of the newspaper. Gotta love that.

I also got a kick out of another student, a guy, who is set on becoming a Navy SEAL. The elite commandos have been getting a lot of press, what with the killing of Osama bin Laden and the recent rescue of aid workers in Somalia. But this young man had held his goal since since he was a child. I have no doubt he’ll measure up and serve his country proud. He may have to ditch the ear plugs somewhere along the line, however.

Cruising around in between groups of students, I spoke with Sue Kunkel, a CAT scan technologist representing St. Francis Hospital (in photo). Radiology is so much more than X-rays, Kunkel said. There are sonograms, utrasound, nuclear medicine. This reminded me that, had I not become a journalist, I might have gone into the medical field. You see the connection, right?

I once thought of going into nursing. For a time, during and shortly after college, I worked in long-term care, with the elderly. Later, when the terms “journalism” and “pessimism” seemed to go hand in hand, I seriously considered retraining as an X-ray tech or other imaging specialist. If I had it to do all over, I’d probably gravitate to the field of public utilities and water quality.

Which brings me to the question ‘o the day: What career paths did you consider but not take? What about your career path do you wish you had known when you were in junior high school? What advice would you give yourself as a junior high student about career choices?

Thanks. Look forward to hearing your responses.

Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun reporter

Oh, THAT big ship …

Observant bunch, those folks in Manchester.

I got an email earlier in the week from Manchester resident Dave Pabst inquiring about a large — make that humongous — cargo ship anchored off Blake Island. Pabst, armed with binoculars and the magic of the Internet, already knew the ship was the Fortune Daisy, 738-foot bulk cargo ship based in Hong Kong.

You may have noticed the ship in photos from today’s Manchester dock replacement story. It’s hard to miss it there in the right of the photo.

Pabst wondered, “With charter rates in excess of $27,000 per day, someone is spending/losing a lot of money keeping this relatively new (built 2011), 738 foot long ship out of service.”

I poked into the ship’s story, using a handy site that Pabst already discovered called, a public site that shows the location of major ships around the world, with links to their specifications. The only thing I have to add to Pabst’s description is that the ship’s most recent port of call was Lianyungang, a major port in China.

I called Lt. Cmdr. Heather St. Pierre of the U.S. Coast Guard, who said the ship was more or less assigned anchorage in Yukon Harbor, as it arrive in the Seattle area earlier in the week, right after a weather pattern that caused large swells in South Puget Sound. St. Pierre did not know if the ship’s miscellaneous cargo was eventually bound for Seattle or Tacoma. She said having ships moored in protected pockets like Yukon Harbor, which is sheltered by Blake Island, is a common practice.

Not only is the surface water off Manchester relatively well protected from wind and waves, but the sea floor composition is such that it offers better “holding ground” or bite for anchors than in other areas, St. Pierre said.

St. Pierre had no other information on the ship, which according to was still there Saturday morning, but she said there’s no cause for alarm.

“There’s definitely nothing nefarious going on with this vessel,” St. Pierre said. “It’s just looking for a safe place to be.”

Well, aren’t we all?

Accident Victim’s Grandmother Writes of Grief, Tragedy and Compassionate Neighbors

Note: The following letter was sent to us late Thursday night by Terri Babcock. I spoke with her shortly before 2 p.m. and the sentiment at the end of the sentence was apparently still true. We will have a story on the main site later today about Enzo Williams and his family.

I am the mother of Kaitlin Williams, the grandmother of Enzo Williams who is fighting for his life at this moment, and apart from a miraculous healing from God, is going to die.

Harsh? Yes it is. Let me tell you what my last 24 hours has been like, and I am the grandmother. I can’t even begin to describe to you the horror and the despair of my daughter and my son in law as they watch helplessly, holding onto dashed hopes, leaning over that little tiny baby’s bed talking to a baby that can no longer hear or see them.

It started at 8 p.m. last night when I received a frantic call from my son in law. All I could hear was “Ma, Zozo, he’s not breathing!” I heard nothing else after finding out where they were. My husband and I barreled down Wheaton Way, flashers on, screaming at people to get out of the way. From McDonalds, it looked ominous, from KMart, it was horendous. The sheriff’s deputy told us to go through the side parking lot of Fred Meyer. I don’t remember much except screaming my daughter’s name, running through the intersection. I vaguely remember hearing people say, “the glass, the glass!” I was caught by one of the uniformed, wonderful men and women who were there who told me in no unfailing terms that I had to be strong. I wanted to see Enzo. I was told I couldn’t. I found the rest of the family in the back of the second ambulence. Safe, crying, but relatively unharmed. A miracle.

It is amazing in times of great stress and horrific happenings, the little tiny acts of kindness remain vivid. A family saw that I had no shoes, and went into Fred Meyer and bought me flipflops. I cannot tell you what that meant. A friend who just happened to be going home from her job at Harrison stopping. My friends showing up, one by one, as word spread. Seeing familiar faces, being able to cry. A friend putting her own shoes on my daughters’ feet. Giving her a fleece vest. Wrapping a scarf around my neck. Kindness and goodness and love in the face of horror.

But that baby, oh Lord, our baby. We drove to Mary Bridge, afraid more than we’d ever been in our lives. I cannot begin to even describe what seeing that little boy who is our ninth grandchild, with tubes and machines and beeping noises did to our hearts. Listening to our little Ulysses, the three year old, describe in exact detail about the big truck that smashed his car.

The doctor of the PICU at Mary Bridge was very straight. It’s bad. It’s more than bad. We heard words like CT scans, and swelling of the brain, and skull fractures, and after a while, you just stop, you can’t take any more. The tears just come and you don’t feel like there could possibly be any left, but there are.

Leaving my youngest daughter and the nightmare we have all been thrust in, driving home at 1 a.m., heavy silence. Putting the middle child to bed, the heavy sleep of a two-year old. Tossing and turning until finally getting up about 7, turning on the news, and seeing the mangled wreck of my daughter’s car in the headlines. Oh Lord.

Then, getting to the hospital. Getting a phone call from family, the forces are mounting. Family and friends coming from New York, Colorado, Idaho, California. 2600 hits on the blog. There is an overwhelming feeling in the background of the ugliness of support, of love, of caring.

Hearing the doctor’s bleak news at noon, witnessing more tests throughout the day. Finally, seeing the sensor that monitor’s our baby’s brain swelling removed, which was like a final verdict.

There is nothing to describe the feeling we had this afternoon, being allowed to hold our baby. Our minds telling us that he can’t hear or see us, but just knowing deep in our souls that somehow, some way, our Enzo knows that we are there, and even though we are facing the very real possibility that he will be taken from us, we are cherishing these moments. Lights and noise and chatter fade away as I hold him, his little body as comfortable to me as it was when I held him last week. It seems like an eternity ago.

At home, tonight, I write this because our family needs our community of Kitsap County to know that we are extremely overwhelmed and grateful to you. Tomorrow, we will make the drive again, and tomorrow is going to be probably the worst day of any of our lives.

I write this also because the next time you overhear someone say “hey babe, I was in a f*^*%ing accident!” you will be as sickened as I was when I read that comment posted by someone who heard this at the scene of the accident. My daughter screaming “my baby, my baby” and perfect strangers helping to save a baby’s life, to comfort the baby’s family, and then, you have that.

I want to express the admiration we have for the wonderful people of our Highway State Patrol, the paramedics and rescue squads that were calm, collected, and helped me to see that I had a responsibility to be the best mom I ever was, despite my broken, terrified heart. The ER staff at Harrison that I heard was beyond the best. And last, but not least, the dedicated professionals at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital who could comfort, instruct and just calm jangled nerves and emotions torn to shreds.

We are proud and honored to live here in Kitsap County, amongst the finest people in the world.

I want to close with something that came to me today in one of the hundreds of emails and facebook posts: “Sometimes He holds us close~lets the wind and waves grow wild. Sometimes He calms the storm…at other times He calms His child.”

Made a Good Back-to-School Shopping “Haul?”

I’m guessing junior high students are not following this blog with ‘bated breath, so this post is directed at their parents.

Kitsap kids prove me wrong, and send me a link to your back-to-school shopping “haul” videos.

Yes, that time-honored tradition, comparing what-cha-got for that all important first day of school has migrated to the Internet, where youngsters — predominantly girls in late elementary to early high school — show off their purchases (aka purchases made with their parents’ money, typically).

Here’s an example:

I remember twirling the telephone chord, while chatting with my best friend Susan Grieco about the cute mini-skirt I talked my mother into buying for me in eighth grade. This is kind of the same idea, only in this case, ifshionista101 has an audience of 3,587 to-date.

Here’s a another girl who assured herself of extra attention by throwing Hollister, Abercrombie and American Eagle into her video title. She has more than 19,000 video views so far.

These girls are not alone. More than 150,000 such user-generated videos have been posted to YouTube, and retailers have taken note, integrating the concept into their marketing strategies. According to an article in USA Today, JC Penney, for example, offered gift cards worth $250 to $1,000 to six girls whose haul videos have gotten a high number of hits for mention of merchandise from the store. Some were given free transportation and lodging to shop near J.C. Penney’s home in Plano, Texas, the article says.

“It’s one of the most innovative things we’re doing this fall,” says Mike Boylson, JC Penney’s chief marketing officer. “All of these haulers have followers and friends. That’s how you start the ball rolling.”

The company has created a website for haul videos,

Federal Trade Commissioner regulations require the makers of the videos to disclose if they’ve received compensation from the stores, but store officials have encouraged them to be honest on their opinions of the clothes. And generally, they are.

Forever 21 and American Eagle also are among stores tapping into the haul phenomenon, another online article says.

As a parent, I have mixed feelings about the videos. On one level, the girls themselves are endearing for their directness and lack of Madison Avenue effects. They remind me of myself and Susan Grieco, except with trendier clothes.

On another level it seems a little crass and commercial. I don’t know what is more disturbing, the fact that tens of thousands of girls have seen fit to dedicate their video production skills to clothing, or the fact that manufacturers are capitalizing on it.

Then again, obsessing about fashion is what young girls do (the great majority go on to have productive, substantive lives), and capitalizing on that obsession is what manufacturers do. Only in this case the consumer is the messenger. Maybe that’s a good thing.

I’d really like to hear from anyone on the Kitsap Peninsula who’s made a haul video. What response have you gotten. If you made it some time ago, do you look back at what you bought and say, “That was so yesterday!”?

Oh, and let me know when I can “haul” my mini-skirt out of the closet again.