Let's Talk Books With Robin Van Auken



I'm a writer, and I interview other writers. I enjoy learning new things and sharing what works, especially in the book publishing industry.


  • Lets Talk Books Episode 023: Reimagining Celibacy with Tonya Anderson

    Let's Talk Books Episode 023: Reimagining Celibacy with Tonya Anderson

    21/06/2020 Duration: 20min

    Tonya Anderson is a writer, sacred therapist, and inspirational speaker. As a mental health counselor, she has vast experience working with people from all walks of life. She has a lot of wisdom to share, and her latest project is one that will make you sit up and take notice. We're talking about a new book in the works and a course that accompanies it.

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 022: The History of Writing with Robin Van Auken

    Let's Talk Books Episode 022: The History of Writing with Robin Van Auken

    13/05/2018 Duration: 26min

    My husband, Lance, enjoys giving gifts. He finds amazing gifts, imaginative presents with meaning and symbolism. For example, when we purchased our lovely house on the river, he knew we had traded in our dream to live on a boat and sail far away. Okay, my dream. He mounted our ship’s bell—one he ordered for us with the name “Tangent” cast on it (my dream boat’s name)—on a plaque to commemorate the “launch” of our house. On the ship’s bell pull, he sewed two pearls from my wedding dress. These pearls represent the pearls of our life: our children. Another present was a blue clock carved from fossilized coral and dyed the color of the sea. It was our 35th wedding anniversary and he wanted to mark time with the traditional wedding gift of coral. Still another present was an amazing mystery game that arrived each month in the mail, a puzzling clue sent by a stranger, and I had to solve the mystery. History of Writing - Robin Van Auken History of Writing - Robin Van AukenToday is Mother’s Day, and he’s given

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 021: Horse Talk with Robin Van Auken

    Let's Talk Books Episode 021: Horse Talk with Robin Van Auken

    22/04/2018 Duration: 21min

    Today, I'm talking horses. Our son invited us to visit for the weekend, and join him and his sweetheart at the Charles Town Races in West Virginia. I'm a huge fan of horses, and the racetrack is attached to a casino, of which I'm not a huge fan. I abhor casinos. It's not the gambling, which I don't partake, but the fact that these are massive, noisy, stinky buildings filled with people and are meant to do one thing - separate people from their money with deceit. I don't mind separating from my money. I'm a bit of a spendthrift. It's the people I mind - they're crammed into one big building, smoking cigarettes and cigars and playing slot machines, huddled over gaming tables, focused on something. I don't know what. I don't get it. I'm happier outside where the racetrack is next to the turf and the thoroughbreds are walked sedately to the paddocks before ambling to the post. I enjoy seeing the gorgeous animals who receive the best care from their owners, trainers, jockeys and stablehands. Horses are made to run

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 020: Interview with Janice Ogurcak

    Let's Talk Books Episode 020: Interview with Janice Ogurcak

    12/04/2018 Duration: 45min

    Janice Ogurcak is the Director of Public Programming and Outreach at the World of Little League Museum. This museum is to Little League what the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is to Major League Baseball. Its filled with significant artifacts that range from serious to frivolous. There is a piece torn from the Berlin Wall when it fell, the badge of a fireman who perished in the World Trade Center on 9/11, a 1970s-era Troll Doll and a patch that flew in space. Each of these artifacts tell a story — one person’s story — and how they credit Little League with helping them develop the traits of character, courage and loyalty that helped them persevere when difficult times called for it. Did I mention that Jan is also the author of The World of Little League? It’s a photo book that shares some of the history of Little League Baseball, with a focus on artifacts that can be found at the youth sport’s organization’s museum. A former newspaper reporter and editor, Jan is a consummate researcher and

  • Lets Talk Books and Writers Retreats with Robin Van Auken

    Let's Talk Books and Writer's Retreats with Robin Van Auken

    08/04/2018 Duration: 25min

    Spring is supposed to be here, but I live in northcentral Pennsylvania, and it's slow coming. We've had several snow storms in the past few weeks, but the ground is too warm for it to stick around. Then we  endured rain and high winds. I believe the temperatures are rising next week to the 60s, so I'm itching for a writer's retreat. I like to go on solo writing retreats, isolating myself from the Internet and phone, and the various tasks that get heaped on my shoulders. My husband is heading out of town in a couple of days, traveling to Florida to visit with family, so I could technically set up a retreat here at the house. But that still leaves the Internet and phone and the classes I'm wrapping up at Lyco. We have three weeks left in the semester, so I can't run away. Yet.  I enjoy writing retreats. During sessions of solitude, periods of silence, or "Time Retreats," we shun life's chattering distractions and simply notice what is left: ourselves. - Helen Cordes Last year, I took a solo camping trip a

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 018: Interview with Kathy Kolb

    Let's Talk Books Episode 018: Interview with Kathy Kolb

    30/03/2018 Duration: 01h04min

    Kathy Kolb is the publisher of NorthcentralPA.com, a news outlet that’s been online since 2009, and she’s been steadily growing since then by personally connecting with her readers. I know, this sounds impossible — how do you connect with thousands of people? She’s accomplished this by building an amazingly loyal Facebook following, which total tops out at 31 thousand people! Kathy’s been chronically ill for the past 30 years. This illness prevents her from having an active life, physically, but she’s more than made up for it with her online presence. Before she started her news site, she operated Kolb Net Works, a web design and development company, and she was helpful in creating most of the early websites of local companies, non profits and even government entities. For many years, along with the J.V. Brown Library, Kathy hosted hundreds of local non-profit websites. I built many of those sites, and I was grateful that she created this absolutely free platform. But, she always had a vision of what loc

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 017: Interview with Lance Van Auken

    Let's Talk Books Episode 017: Interview with Lance Van Auken

    25/03/2018 Duration: 51min

    Lance Van Auken is probably the world’s foremost experts on the history of Little League Baseball. There’s only a handful of people who may know more, or as much, as Lance. He earned this honor by being a Little League volunteer, and employee, for most of his life. He shares this knowledge as the co-author of “Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball®." He attended his first Little League game as a baby in his mother's arms, as his father coached his four older brothers at Cross Bayou Little League in Seminole (now Largo), Florida. His family was devoted to Little League, and the field there is still named for his father, Robert Van Auken. His mother, Ruth, helped in the concession stand, helped by designing the program covers. His brothers, Joel, Harry, Danny and Calvin, were his role models, and he learned how to pitch and catch and hit, but more importantly, he learned the rules of Little League. Knowing those rules became significant and when he became too old to play ball, he umpired the game.

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 16: Interview with Wendy Butler Dean

    Let's Talk Books Episode 16: Interview with Wendy Butler Dean

    16/03/2018 Duration: 47min

    Wendy Butler Dean is the owner of The Omnibus Publishing, a boutique publishing company that specializes in children’s books, Young Adult novels, and some non-fiction. The Omnibus is a hybrid company, combining a unique blend of older, traditional book publishing and new, digital publishing. She produces ebooks and print on demand paperbacks. Wendy’s a savvy publisher and knows how to harness the power of building a community. Many of her authors are people she has connections with, either through her academic background, or through their proximity. As a Baltimore, MD-based publisher, she’s encouraged Maryland authors to embark on publishing careers. She works with freelance illustrators from around the world, and they not only create books with The Omnibus, but they illustrate posters. Wendy’s embraced the technology of the 21st century, and uses a variety of tools in the acquisition, publication, and promotion of books. She’s active on social media, and she has flair with her striking videos and photogr

  • Lets Talk Books and Solitude with Robin Van Auken

    Let's Talk Books and Solitude with Robin Van Auken

    09/03/2018 Duration: 55min

    Today I try out a new software platform for recording podcasts, Anchor, and experiment with recording smaller audio clips, transitions, and putting together a show on the fly. I've done this to test the system and to see if I want to use it in an upcoming communications class I teach at Lycoming College. I also discuss an amazing book, "How to Be Alone," by Sara Maitland, a handbook on solitude and why it's important for people, particularly those individuals with introversion qualities. If you're an introverted person, pick up this book and learn how to accept the fact that being with people 24/7 makes you crazy. If you're an extroverted person, pick up the book so you can understand that loner in your life, and why you really need to give her or him space. Maitland writes about silence and solitude and why she lives in a small cottage on a backroad on a Scottish moor: “What changed was that I got fascinated by silence; by what happens to the human spirit, to identity and personality when the talking stop

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 014: Interview with Tank Baird

    Let's Talk Books Episode 014: Interview with Tank Baird

    02/03/2018 Duration: 47min

    Today I chatted with my good friend Tom “Tank” Baird about his passion for archaeology, and how he's become a local expert on the topic of prehistory and Native American cultures. I met Tank in 2005 when he rolled up to my dig site in Muncy on his Harley Davidson, with his beautiful, blonde wife, Anita, on the back. The two were clad in black leather, on a loud motorcycle, and just a little intimidating. I was teaching people, including children, how to excavate at a public archaeology dig in Muncy at the newly formed Heritage Park and Nature Trail. Tank had read about the public dig in the newspaper and was curious. Soon, he muscled the kids out of the way and became my best pupil. Over the next few months, Tank proved to be the best volunteer a project director could find. His wife, Anita, however, saw a snake at the site and beelined out of there. She would occasionally visit, standing along the road, but her heart wasn’t in it like Tank’s. During the next few years, I talked Tank into working at the

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 013: Interview with Steve Altier

    Let's Talk Books Episode 013: Interview with Steve Altier

    23/02/2018 Duration: 44min

    Steve Altier is the author of the books for young people, and is best known for his children’s books, the Gabby and Maddox adventure series. Not content with lessons for little ones, he’s written a Young Adult novel, “Lizardville, the Ghost Story,” and he’ll soon release a sequel. Steve grew up in Mill Hall, a small town in central Pennsylvania, on Lizardville Road, so yes, it’s a real place.  He’s given up the snow for life in sunny Florida, and he lives in the Tampa Bay Metro area with his wife, and a herd of cats. The couple reared four daughters and are now grandparents. When he’s not working his day job, or at his desk writing stories, his days are filled with reading, bowling, and spending time at amusement parks. He loves to travel, take trips to the beach, or just laying around the pool, spending time with family and friends. Steve said he’s had aspirations of being a writer since he was young, and he took a journalism course in high school. After graduation, however, he joined the Air Force, and spen

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 012: Interview with Marjorie Maddox

    Let's Talk Books Episode 012: Interview with Marjorie Maddox

    17/02/2018 Duration: 46min

    I tried to imagine an early morning drive with poet Marjorie Maddox, whose creative suitcase is crammed with metaphors. I was enveloped in fog, which occluded my vision, on this particular day. My surroundings became the murky sea, and my auto a submarine. The tall, stark silver maples along the roadway became the kelp forests off the coast of California, and the 18-wheeler entering the road from the left became a large, gray whale, which I followed into a labyrinth of coral reefs (the city) teeming with colorful fish (cars) darting back and forth. The entire morning after our chat was spent in a dreamy, soft-focused world of poetry, and it felt good. I felt like I had a special pair of glasses that transformed the world around me, and I couldn't stop jotting down ideas. Last night, I browsed the stacks at a bookstore in Virginia while visiting family, and immediately was drawn to the poetry section. I looked at names on spines and wondered, "Who are these people? How do I know if I'll enjoy them?" I chic

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 011: Interview with Melody Johnson

    Let's Talk Books Episode 011: Interview with Melody Johnson

    05/02/2018 Duration: 44min

    Melody Johnson writes paranormal romance. She’s the author of gritty, urban fantasy stories about vampires, and other unnatural creatures. Melody graduated magna cum laude from Lycoming College with her BA in creative writing and psychology. She credits her time at Lyco, and her writing classes for much of her success. Sage advice from her college mentor encouraged her to look at writing as a long-distance marathon, not a sprint. By writing one page each day, at the end of the year, she has an entire manuscript. With that mentality, she’s written nearly half a dozen novels, and she has more on the horizon. And she’s only 29. Melody is a great example of how anyone - regardless of their age - can develop the traits of dedication and persistence. You can learn more about Melody and her books in the show notes at RobinVanAuken.com.

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 010: Interview with Mary Woods

    Let's Talk Books Episode 010: Interview with Mary Woods

    31/01/2018 Duration: 49min

    Mary Woods is an artist, a poet, and the author of "The Heart of the Matter,” which guides the reader to becoming wholeheartedly happy. I know Mary through her service work with Beloved Community Council and Heart of Williamsport. We've worked on the HoW project for three years, and it's amazing to see the change of heart she's experienced as the project assistant. HoW's mission is to collect stories from our diverse community, identify what people value, and share this information to guide Williamsport’s future. Developed by the Orton Family Foundation, the Heart & Soul Community program empowers people to shape the future of their communities by improving local decision-making, creating a shared sense of belonging, and ultimately strengthening the social, cultural, and economic vibrancy of each place. It's a fuzzy concept, but after a few years of working together, we think we have it down pat. Mary does, at least. She's been talking to hundreds of people, one-on-one, with interviews and then follow-up co

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 009: Interview with Dave Bellomo

    Let's Talk Books Episode 009: Interview with Dave Bellomo

    19/01/2018 Duration: 55min

    Dave Bellomo is a fitness expert, personal trainer, and author. I met Dave about 18 years ago, when he worked as a personal trainer. I continued to work with Dave after he opened his own gym. We had a lot of fun brainstorming and creating fitness books and digital workout manuals. You’ll learn about Dave’s passion for Kettlebells, a unique, simple, yet highly effective piece of exercise equipment. Dave is an expert and has authored two books on the topic. He’s worked with high-level athletes such as martial artists, strongman competitors, and law enforcement professionals, and elite military including members of Homeland Security and U.S. Special Operations. My own son, a former Green Beret, still uses one of Dave’s kettlebells, and considers it one of the best tools to use for tactical training. I’m happy to reconnect with Dave not only because he’s got a lot of wisdom to share, but because I need a jolt of his optimism and encouragement. I’ve been injured for the past year, suffering from a torn achi

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 008: Interview with Nancy Panko

    Let's Talk Books Episode 008: Interview with Nancy Panko

    15/01/2018 Duration: 50min

    Nancy Panko has achieved amazing success with her book, “Guiding Missal,” an unusual story about a prayer book that is carried in the pocket of three generations of men as they navigate war. As she held the Military Missal in her hands, Nancy thought, “If only this little book could talk.” Her novel gives the prayer book a voice. Based on actual events, Nancy’s award winning novel is partially narrated by the small Catholic prayer book that George Panko received as he prepared to deploy to the European theater during World War II. A baker turned infantry man/forward scout, Panko left behind his wife, Gladys, and small son, Butch, for several years as he navigated France and Germany, helping the United States and its Allies win significant skirmishes, including the Battle of the Bulge. Throughout his enlistment, George carried the small book in his pocket and read from it, memorizing passages and whispering prayers. Once safely home, George packed the military missal into a trunk and together he and his wif

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 007: Interview with Louis E. Hunsinger, Jr.

    Let's Talk Books Episode 007: Interview with Louis E. Hunsinger, Jr.

    14/01/2018 Duration: 54min

    Louis E. Hunsinger, Jr. labors for posterity. He does this as a historian, preserving Lycoming County's heritage as a writer for newspapers, magazines, programs, and books. He's the co-author of eight books. His publishing career began with his good friend,  Dr. James P. Quigel, and in 1999, the duo published the paperback, "Williamsport's Baseball Heritage," a photographic narrative about professional baseball, through Arcadia. This book was soon followed up by, "Gateway to the Majors: Williamsport and Minor League Baseball," published by Penn State University Press. For the past 15 years, Lou has been a reporter with Webb Weekly, a free tabloid delivered to more than 58,000 households in Lycoming County. He's earned quite a reputation while with the publication, writing feature articles about people and events. He also has a series, "Through the Years," that reprints historic news from papers of record. Locals also know Lou for his popular "History Shapers" series that ran in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, n

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 006: Interview with Joseph W. Smith III

    Let's Talk Books Episode 006: Interview with Joseph W. Smith III

    05/01/2018 Duration: 52min

    Joseph Smith III is a writer and a high school English teacher. He's also author of three nonfiction books that focus on his two favorite topics: The Church and Film. His first book, "The Psycho File," is a comprehensive guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Classic Shock film. His second book, "Sex and Violence in the Bible," surveys Explicit Content in the Holy Book. It’s a squeamish topic a lot of Christians shy away from. In the book, Joe champions a frank and forthright approach. He’s shopping his new book, "Transparency: A Cure for Hypocrisy in the Modern Church," to a new publisher, and he’s finding that process to be a bit daunting. We talk about the changes in the publishing industry, and how difficult it is to place books with publishers today. We also discuss living in a small town, and the the importance of hometown newspaper, and its role in nurturing writers. We chat about the writing legacy, passed down from father to son, and how his own son has inherited the “writing gene.”

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 005: Interview with Lorena Beniquez

    Let's Talk Books Episode 005: Interview with Lorena Beniquez

    15/12/2017 Duration: 45min

    Lorena Beniquez, a writer, photographer and a filmmaker, and the author of a new book, Lost Coal Country of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Published by Arcadia, the book is part of the Images of Modern America series, so it’s part history, part photographic art, and part travel guide. Lorena visits many places in her book, including the site of the last coal breaker in America, scheduled for demolition soon. She also visits the spooky village of Centralia, abandoned 50 years ago when the the coal beneath caught fire. The fire continues and will burn for hundreds of years. Lorena writes about John Stella, an unsung hero who saved dozens of miners during the Knox Mine Disaster. Through shared stories , interviews and research, Lorena captures history of the anthracite region. She’s the great granddaughter of a coal miner, she’s discovered her own family’s story. Perhaps it will inspire you to learn your own family’s story and how it IS America’s history. From Lorena's AMAZON page: "Lost Coal Country of Northeast

  • Lets Talk Books Episode 004: Interview with Mike Reuther

    Let's Talk Books Episode 004: Interview with Mike Reuther

    03/12/2017 Duration: 45min

    Mike Reuther is a journalist by profession, but he never stops writing. Most mornings, before he heads to work at the daily newspaper, where he reports on government, politics, health care, crime, sports and general news, Mike works on his novels and self-help books. A non-nonsense and prolific writer, he has 18 books he’s self-published since 2011. Mike ReutherHis fictional characters are complex characters who find themselves in difficult situations, often with the odds stacked against them. One of his most memorable characters is Homer Newbody, in the novel “Nothing Down: The Short Baseball Life of Homer Newbody.” A young man with amazing talent, Homer loves baseball. He tells a sportswriter he’d play for nothing, an off-hand comment that polarizes the people in his life. His fan base loves him for his honesty and down-home values; his teammates resent him for casting a negative light on their own salaries and motivations for playing. Toss in romance, a near-career-ending injury and a plot climax that fin

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