The 4th Annual Writer Next Door event set to inspire local writers


By Peggy Sturdivant

Tonight is The 4th Annual Writer Next Door. The free event includes readings, a panel discussion on paths to writing/publishing success, book-themed raffle baskets and a first ever Three Books for $15 Pass (participating authors). Doors open at Sunset Hill Community Association at 6 p.m. Program starts at 7 p.m.

And what a program. Just since the flyers were printed last week three of the participants have had major breakthroughs. Award-winning children’s book author/illustrator Nina Laden’s forthcoming Once Upon A Memory (December 3rd) has been selected for the Winter 2013-2014 Kids’ Indie Next List: Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers. She was also at Nordstrom last week with the plush toy Owl from her best-selling Peek-a-Who book.

Meanwhile Theo Pauline Nestor, who will be part of the “Ask the Writer” panel was able to announce a January workshop with Bird by Bird author Anne Lamott. When all 30 participating writers replied to what book they would most likely recommend to a potential writer over half cited Bird by Bird. This is in addition to the release next week of the memoir writer and teacher’s new book, Writing is My Drink. Secret Garden has managed to secure copies to be available for sale on Friday.

Then there’s local writer Ingrid Ricks whose successful path from self-published to mainstream was chronicled in Publisher’s Weekly. On October 30th she learned that her memoir Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Memoir (January 7 launch) got a very favourable review in Kirkus Reviews. In book speak that’s huge. She has donated an original edition copy of Hippie Boy to the raffle baskets in addition to participating in the three-book with copies of her book Focus.

All of the participants have provided information about their paths to writing. Attendees can submit questions during the panel discussion to any and all writers.

Also participating is local artist Courtney Putnam with Rising Bird Art Store’s Sale for Breast Cancer (40% of sales of over $20 go to Breast Cancer Research Foundation and to support Ballard Writer Corbin Lewars during her breast cancer treatment).

Books in addition to those donated by the writers for the sampler will be available through Secret Garden Books, along with this year’s Ballard Historical Society calendar “Ballard Beauties,” the Voices of Ballard book and literary/seasonal note cards by Ballard writer and artist Laura Cooper.

Ballard Writers Collective has over 100 members with the goal of connecting writers with writers, and writers with the community. It should be a great event and a possible love match between Laden’s Peek-a-Who owl and Jay Craig’s Huggy Jesus.

Reminder from SFD: Change your smoke alarm batteries when clocks are set back this Sunday

As the end of Daylight Saving Time approaches this Sunday, November 3, the Seattle Fire Department wants to remind local residents to change the 9V batteries in their smoke alarms when they set their clocks back. Lithium long-life smoke alarm batteries do not need to be changed yearly.

“Changing smoke alarm batteries at least once a year is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce home fire deaths. In fact, working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in a home fire nearly in half by providing an early warning and critical extra seconds to escape,” writes the SFD.

SFD wants to emphasize the importance of having functioning smoke alarms in every home in Seattle. The SFD can install smoke alarms and batteries free of charge in homes where the homeowner is either a senior citizen, living on a low income, or has a disability. Click here to find out more.

If you are renting a property your landlord is responsible for providing you with a smoke alarm.

Auditions for Northwest Boychoir to be held tomorrow

Auditions will be held for the Northwest Boychoir tomorrow Saturday, November 2 at University Heights Center (5031 University Way NE #NB2) from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The auditions will be held for local boys ages 6-9 years for January enrolment. Members of the Performing Choir get to sing with the Seattle Symphony, travel on tours, sing in major concert halls, sing in professional recording studios and make new friends. Auditions for new members are held twice a year in June and November.

Auditions for the Prep choirs are straightforward and fun and no prior musical training is required. Musical aptitude and an enjoyment of music is all that is needed. To learn more about the audition process click here.

Call (206) 524-3234 or email to schedule an audition appointment.

Ballard lost and found: A cat, a chicken and some keys

We received some emails from three My Ballard readers over the past few days about some local lost and found. Check out the information below and shoot us an email at with any information.

photoDarci emailed in to let us know that she found a chicken (pictured) in her neighbors yard at 77th and 31st NW late on Thursday night. The chicken is currently being kept in Darci’s coop. If you are missing a chicken email Darci at or call her at (206) 200-4008.

Anne emailed in to report that she found some keys at 7:45 a.m. this morning on the ground at the westbound bus stop at NW 85th St and 22nd Ave NW. There are 4 keys on the set. Two look like typical house keys, and two look like keys for storage lockers, file cabinets, or similar. If you lost some keys email Anne at

cleoSheryl emailed in to report hat her cat Cleo (pictured) is missing. Cleo is an older black short-haired cat with a white patch on her chin. She is medium-small and quite thin. Cleo is an indoor-only cat but got out of the house (at Earl Ave NW between NW 73rd and NW 75th Streets) last Sunday, October 27 . “If you see her, please be very cautious in approaching; she’s skittish and frightened, may try to run away,” writes Sheryl.  If you have seen Cleo call Sheryl any time at (206) 781-8697 or (206) 596-6314.

So long, and thanks for all the lutefisk

If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t eat the lutefisk. But, I did drink the metaphoric Kool-Aid. I fell in love with Ballard almost immediately when I moved here just under six years ago, and it is with a heavy heart that I pack up my laptop and bid this fare neighborhood adieu. I’m moving to Kenya to pursue community journalism in a completely different setting, working to launch Habari Kilifi, a publication that will serve the city of Kilifi on the Kenyan coast.

I’ve been editor of My Ballard just shy of two years; I took over for Kate Bergman (of the Geeky Swedes) in March 2012. It was one of my first major forays into the reporting world, having graduated from the University of Washington journalism school the year prior. Taking the reigns of My Ballard was intimidating at first. My instructions were fairly straightforward: write a handful of stories each day, focusing on stories that are hyper-local. The beauty of neighborhood blogs is in their ability to cover stories that reflect communities on a scale not easily accomplished by larger media companies. From lost pets to sports rundowns and enough development news to make your ears bleed, My Ballard serves this neighborhood in a way that is focused, reflective, and supportive.

Anyone who’s been in Ballard for more than a few years can attest to the massive changes and growth in our neighborhood. When I first moved here, I used to walk to Sunset Bowl for Sunday morning bowling. I, along with most Ballardites, lamented the loss, but now struggle to remember what the corner of 15th and Market looked like when I moved here in 2008. Our neighborhood is changing rapidly, with a shifting demographic and apartment buildings springing up like meerkats while the old haunts are closing their doors.

In the midst of the massive influx of new bars, restaurants, businesses and apartment buildings, Ballard is still the greatest neighborhood in the world. From its salty fishermen getting beers at the Smoke Shop to its young families perusing the Sunday Farmers Market and hip 20-somethings that fill Ballard Ave on any given night, Ballard steals the hearts of people from several walks of life. I’ve had my finger on the pulse of this neighborhood for quite some time, and have covered stories that are heartwarming, hilarious, and haunting.

19 months, 76 weeks, and roughly 1,500 posts: I’m going to hone in on a few stories and themes – issues that have garnered the most attention, and have helped shape the identity of our ‘hood.

The Legend of Edith Macefield

Edith Macefield is arguably one of the most praised and celebrated residents ever to have set foot in this salty town. She’s known for being the woman who refused to sell her house on NW 46th St. when developers offered her $1 million. Edith died in 2008, but her little home still sits among the buildings, as a daily reminder of her stand against development. Having lived there for 56 years, Edith made herself famous by remaining steadfast in her refusal to sell, even as the Ballard Blocks sprung up around her. “I went through World War II, the noise doesn’t bother me,” Macefield told the Seattle PI. “I liked the old Ballard. The new one — you can have it.” Edith’s legend inspired the “Steadfast” movement, in which several staunch supporters had her little home tattooed as a reminder of her strength. Her story moves beyond Ballard; in 2009, her story was the inspiration for Disney’s “Up,” and her home is on an international list of “nail houses.” Edith has been elevated to legend-status is Ballard, and it’s been a pleasure to help tell her story and see how she’s inspired a new generation of Ballard residents.

(Speaking of development news…)

Old Ballard, New Ballard, Red Ballard, Blue Ballard…

If anyone asks me what I typically write about in Ballard, I can’t avoid talking about development. It’s without a doubt that every time I post about a new condo or apartment building, a heated conversation follows in the comment section in which readers talk about Old Ballard’s numbered days. Some would say the nail in the coffin came with The Viking closing. Others would say that ship sailed long ago, and that Ballard is just a shadow of its former self. If the changing skyline of Ballard is any indication, the population of the neighborhood will jump significantly over the next several years. With that, the growing forest of apartment buildings and revolving door of restaurants and bars opening and closing will be ongoing, providing plenty of fodder for the Old/New Ballard debate for years to come.

That time those three guys stopped a man from burgling Tall Grass Bakery

It was a quiet night in July 2012, and a couple guys were having a drink on their deck in an apartment building on 24th Ave NW when they saw a man throw a rock through the window of Tall Grass Bakery. After calling the police, the two men raced downstairs and hid in the doorway of Cafe Besalu until the assailant made his exit. The neighbors then pounced on the robber, pinning him on the sidewalk with help from a passerby until police arrived. The three brave men were Nate, Johnson and Villici, and will be always be remembered as the neighbors who took it upon themselves to protect a local business (and some fine baked goods, I might add).

On that note, Ballard is truly one of the best places in the world to live. We have more restaurants and bar options than we know what to do with, more breweries than our guts can handle, and one of the best beaches in the city at our doorstep. I’ll miss this neighborhood that has become my home, and am grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know this community through My Ballard.

Landscaping work to close one lane of Holman Road tomorrow

Seattle Department of Transportation Urban Forestry crews will be cutting back ivy and pruning trees tomorrow on Holman Road from N 105th St to 3rd Ave NW from 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. During the scheduled work the southbound, outside lane of Holman Rd will be closed.

Work will be continued next Saturday, Nov 9, where Urban Forestry crews will support local volunteers from the neighbourhood to continue removal and cutback of ivy. Next Saturday, the southbound, curb lane of Holman Road will be closed from approximately 11th Ave NW to NW 87th St.

“Removal of invasive vines is important to the health of trees. Ivy will quickly grow up the trunk of a tree, smothering the tree’s branches, and eventually killing the tree,” writes Marybeth Turner from SDOT.

Drivers should expect delays when driving in this area tomorrow.