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March 16, 2014 Book Launch at Elliott Bay Bookstore

Ann Hedreen, Esther Altshul Helfgott, and Collin Tong will do a reading from Tong’s new book, Into the Storm: Journeys with Alzheimer’s, on Sunday, 3:00 pm, March 16, at Elliott Bay Book Company.  A book signing will follow.

This is an anthology of stories by twenty-three writers, journalists, educators, and health practitioners from across the U.S.  many of the contributing authors are from the Northwest (e.g. Rita Bresnahan, Anthony Robinson, Connie Thompson).

Other contributors include CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen (“CBS Sunday Morning”).  The book’s website is www.collintong.com.  Please join us for this special event.

Potluck Social on January 22, 2014

Launch BWC 2014 with a potluck social. Bring books to swap. Food or beverage to share. Meet new and seasoned members. Seattle Creative Arts Center. 2601 NW Market Street. 7-9 p.m.

Sheila Kelly on Collin Tong

Collin TongOne Journalist’s Journey

I walked into a Sunset Hill coffee shop in north Ballard one crisp autumn Saturday morning and went directly to the counter to order my double short latte (it was early and it was cold and I was about to interview someone I had never met but had read about).  A man from a group at a nearby table stepped forward and said, “Are you looking for Collin?  He’s over there” and pointed me to a man sitting alone with his tablet at a sunlit table in the northeast corner.  I took my latte and joined him and learned that Collin Tong visits the cafe most every morning and joins the group of friends he had been meeting with for years.  He was clearly at home in the space, this piece of the Ballard neighborhood where he has lived for twenty-six years.

Collin knows about roots in a place. He was born and raised in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  His grandfather and father, both immigrants from China, arrived there in 1920 and started a Chinese candy and grocery store, the Wing Hop Company.  Collin’s mother was a seamstress. Their family life revolved around friends in the Chinatown community, “especially our Tong Family Association and church.”

As a youth, Collin didn’t really think about being a writer, but he took note when two of his English teachers at Lowell High School “both recognized and encouraged my writing”.  At his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Redlands, still asserting that “journalism was never my chosen profession”, he wrote for the college weekly.  He admits that at some level he thought about being a journalist, but “wasn’t sure I could make a living at it.” He majored in history and then taught English as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand following graduation.

In the summer of 1976, after doctoral studies in East Asian history at University of California, Berkeley and a brief stint teaching at Lone Mountain College in San Francisco, Collin was a Michele Clark Fellow at the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.  Seattle Times columnist Jerry Large was also a graduate of the same program, which trained promising minority journalists for full-time reporting positions at daily newspapers.  But Collin says he was “not ready for journalism” at the time because he hadn’t yet developed the requisite “fire in the belly.”

In 1971, his heart found a home even more satisfying than being a college lecturer.  He met Linda Young. Three weeks after their first date, he proposed. They married Sept 19, 1971. He was 25, she 24.  They moved to Seattle in 1977 and settled in Ballard in 1987. Collin worked a variety of jobs including public affairs director for the Alliance for Education, and senior director of communications for Washington State University.

In 2005, Linda was diagnosed with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s at age 57.   Two years later Collin took early retirement to care for her.  He knew little about caretaking but he knew how to research.  He learned that few books were available at that time.  To describe his state of mind, he used the words of Dante “In the midway of my life, I woke to find myself in a wood so dark that straight and honest ways were gone, and light was lost.”  He joined a caregiver support group and kept his own journal.   After Linda died in 2011, his friend Jerry Large encouraged him to write about what it was like to be a caregiver.

Collin took on the assignment as a new kind of journalistic challenge because it touched deeply into his own life. The project resulted in a book, Into the Storm: Journeys with Alzheimer’s (January 2014), an anthology of stories told in the first person by twenty-three caregivers, Collin among them.  Finding caregivers willing to write down their experiences took almost four years.  He coached his contributors so they tell authentic stories that are not airbrushed. He believes that “stories are powerful — they help us navigate some of life’s complex problems and provide self-understanding.”

Collin chose the title Into the Storm because “it describes being swept into the maelstrom, where life is upended, and the bottom pulled out from under you.”  His hope for the book is to connect caregivers because he knows “you cannot get through the Alzheimer’s caregiving journey alone.” He is committed to doing outreach to foster greater public awareness of Alzheimer’s as a major health challenge.

After his wife’s health required him to take early retirement, Collin left behind his roles as communications director and began doing freelance writing.  As he describes it, he “drifted back into journalism.”  Glancing over his cumulative output of articles and features, he is no longer drifting but firmly anchored in journalism. He is a contributing writer for Crosscut News and University Outlook magazine.  At Crosscut, he writes prolifically on community and global health, education, environment, politics, diversity, and travel.  His writing weaves together his life and his work.  Completing his book, Into the Storm: Journeys with Alzheimer’s, honors the memory of his wife and it has helped in his own healing.

Despite the protestations and disclaimers of his early years, the reluctant journalist revels in his work.  As we say goodbye in the still sunlit cafe, Collin underlines that truth, “I am now living my dream.”

Check out our Facebook Page for Upcoming Events

Visit the Ballard Writers Collective Facebook Page for information on our many upcoming events. Click on Like if you would like our posts about upcoming events to appear in your Facebook newsfeed.

Ingrid Ricks: “Hippie Boy” Re-Launch Reading

Thursday, January 9, 2014 , Third Place Books (Lake Forest Park, Seattle), 7 p.m., 17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park

Friday, January 10, 2014, Secret Garden Books (Seattle), 7 p.m., 2214 NW Market St

Monday, January 13, 2014, University Bookstore (Seattle), 7 p.m., 4326 University Way NE

November 2012 Events

Saturday, 11/24/12, 1:00-10:00 p.m.

Ballard Writers Collective presents The Big Event

An opportunity to shop local and meet local writers and vendors. Book & Craft sales throughout. Afternoon presentation by authors, readings, panels and demonstrations. 
7 p.m. Live event featuring new works from 20 local writers, written especially for the Big Event 
 
Book sale by Secret Garden’s and launch of their giving tree for teachers and librarians  
Preview of forthcoming book by Q13 personality M.J. McDermott
Waffles with Joshua McNichols from Urban Farm Handbook
Special events for every hour 
Wine and beer available by suggested donation for evening event 
 
Sunset Hill Community Association 
3003 NW 66th Street
 
Sponsored by Sunset Hill Community Association with special sponsors
 
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SATURDAY, 11/17/12,11:00AM AT UNIVERSITY BOOKSTORE, MILL CREEK:
 
“Teen Author Brunch” featuring Helen Landalf, author of “Flyaway,” and other NW Young Adult authors.
 
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Thursday 11/8/12 at 6:00pm “It’s About Time” Writers Reading Series:

Readers: Rita Weinstein, Jonathon Moore, Katy E. Ellis & Sharon Cumberland on the Writer’s Craft. This event, now in its 22nd year in Seattle, is held the Second Thursday of every month at the Ballard Branch Library (5614 NW 22nd Street). Each event  begins with a Writer’s Craft presentation and also features three readers. Three minute open mic opportunities. More information on past and upcoming readings is available at www.itsaboutimewriters.homestead.com or on Facebook. Time: 6 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. Upcoming 2012 Dates: December 13

 

October 2012 Events

SUNDAY, 10/28/12 at 12 Noon, Wendy Hinman at EAGLE HARBOR BOOK COMPANY:

Tightwads on the Loose: A Seven Year Pacific Odyssey” Come hear about Wendy Hinman’s zany adventures aboard a 31-foot sailboat at Eagle Harbor Book Company. 
 

Friday, 10/26/12 at 6:30pm, Queen Anne Books
Thursday, 10/11/12, 7:00pm, University Bookstore
Friday, 10/5/12, 7:00pm, Secret Garden Books
Jennifer Worick’sThings I Want to Punch in the Face book signing and punch parties:

Worick and local writers rock the figurative open mic as they share our own Things I Want to Punch in the Face. Bring your own gripes to read; the more malcontents, the merrier. They’ll have punch (duh!) and a fun interactive contest.

 

Thursday 10/11/12 at 6:00pm “It’s About Time” Writers Reading Series:

Readers: African American Writer’s Alliance & Pamela Hobart Carter on the Writer’s Craft. This event, now in its 22nd year in Seattle, is held the Second Thursday of every month at the Ballard Branch Library (5614 NW 22nd Street). Each event  begins with a Writer’s Craft presentation and also features three readers. Three minute open mic opportunities. More information on past and upcoming readings is available at www.itsaboutimewriters.homestead.com or on Facebook. Time: 6 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. Upcoming 2012 Dates: November 8, December 13
 
 

TUESDAY, 10/16/12 AT 3:30PM, AT BURIEN LIBRARY
FRIDAY, 10/19/12 AT 4:00PM, AT SILVERDALE BARNES AND NOBLE:

Helen Landalf, author of “Flyaway,” and other NW Young Adult authors.
 

THURSDAY, 10/18/12 AT 6:30PM, OLYMPIA BARNES AND NOBLE:

Helen Landalf, author of “Flyaway,” as part of an educator reception.

September 2012 Events

SATURDAY, 9/29/12 at 5:55 PM, SHIN YU PAI at HUGO HOUSE:

“100 Thousand Poets For Change” -  Richard Hugo House and SPLAB team up to present the Seattle micro-event from 2-7 p.m. of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, a global event with nearly 700 events planned in 115 countries bringing poets together to call for environmental, social and political change. The reading is free, and Hugo House’s bar will be open serving beer, wine and spirits throughout the day. Following the readings, an after party will be held at  Vermillion, an art gallery/wine bar.
 

SATURDAY, 9/22/12 at 12 Noon, Wendy Hinman at the EDMONDS BOOKSHOP:

Come hear “Tightwads on the Loose: A Seven Year Pacific Odyssey” author Wendy Hinman talk about her zany adventures aboard a 31-foot sailboat at Edmonds Bookshop (111 5th Ave South, Edmonds, WA 98020).

 

**TO BE RESCHEDULED** Tuesday 9/25/12 at 7:00pm, Ballard Writers Jam: Words that Stick:

 

at Egan’s Ballard Jam House, 1707 NW Market Street, 98107. Join us for our fourth installment of live storytelling (no notes, unpublished works). Storytellers to be announced. Check out podcasts of our past storytellers here.

 

Thursday 9/13/12 at 6:00pm “It’s About Time” Writers Reading Series:

Readers: Bethany Reid, Iraj Mohebalian, Leigh Clifton Goodwin, and Jack Remick on the Writer’s Craft. This event, now in its 22nd year in Seattle, is held the Second Thursday of every month at the Ballard Branch Library (5614 NW 22nd Street). Each event  begins with a Writer’s Craft presentation and also features three readers. Three minute open mic opportunities. More information on past and upcoming readings is available at www.itsaboutimewriters.homestead.com or on Facebook. Time: 6 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. Upcoming 2012 Dates: October 11, November 8

August 2012 Events

THURSDAY, 8/30/12 at 7:00PM, ZINE RELEASE PARTY, COUTH BUZZARD BOOKS:

“You Have Been Eaten By A Hamburger”! Please join Bria Sullivan, Jon Hendrich, Luke Anderson, Nicole Scott (a Ballard Writers Collective member), Regan Luke & Yasmin ElBaradie to celebrate their recently self published work of art, fiction and poetry. Pick up a copy of the 44-page zine & listen to them read their writings on antisocial love, family, and the church. At Couth Buzzard Books (8310 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle). 

 

SUNDAY, 8/26/12 10AM-3PM, “THE PROPHETIC JOURNEY” Book Launch at the Ballard Sunday Market on Ballard Ave NW:

Ballard Author Marjorie Young celebrates the book launch for the second installment of her award-winning fantasy/adventure series, The Boy with Golden Eyes, which appeals to readers of all ages. Joining her will be her thirteen-year-old great nephew Sam, the inspiration for the hero ‘Rupert,’ as well as the ‘cover-boy.’ They’ll be signing/selling the new book as well as first book. You can find them located right next to the Pizza sellers.

 

Tuesday, 8/21/12 at 8:00pm, A Guide To Visitors: Stories on Stage Presents “DO-GOODERS” with Alison Krupnick:

Theatre Off Jackson, 409 7th Ave S, Seattle, 98104. Doors open at 7:00pm, 21+, Tickets $9 advance, $10 at the door. There’s a stunning lineup of true stories for the show, including Alison Krupnick, author of the blog Slice of Mid-Life and the forthcoming book Ruminations from the Minivan: Musings from a World Grown Large, then Small. Alison will tell the  tale of trying to save a life in India.
 

Monday, 8/13/12 at 7:00PM, YA Author Panel, Everett:

Downtown Everett Public Library, 2702 Hoyt Avenue  Everett, WA 98201. Several YA authors, including Ballard Writer Helen Landalf, will discuss their latest books for teens.
 

Thursday 8/9/12 at 6:00pm “It’s About Time” Writers Reading Series:

Readers: Steve Hersch, Mitsu Beni Akiyama Sundvall, Helen Landalf, and Donna Miscolta on the Writer’s Craft. This event, now in its 22nd year in Seattle, is held the Second Thursday of every month at the Ballard Branch Library (5614 NW 22nd Street). Each event  begins with a Writer’s Craft presentation and also features three readers. Three minute open mic opportunities. More information on past and upcoming readings is available at www.itsaboutimewriters.homestead.com or on Facebook. Time: 6 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. Upcoming 2012 Dates: September 13, October 11

July 2012 Events

Saturday 7/28/12 at 6:30 pm, Wendy Hinman Reading in Poulsbo:

Wendy Hinman reads from Tightwads on the Loose, about a seven-year sailboat voyage, Liberty Bay Books, 18881 D Front Street, The Loft, upstairs in the back room.

 

Friday 7/27/12 at 6:30 pm, Teen Author Panel with Helen Landalf:

at Barnes and Noble, Northgate. Nine Young Adult authors, including Ballard Writer Helen Landalf, discuss their latest titles. For more information: Barnes & Noble.com

 

Thursday 7/12/12 at 6:00pm “It’s About Time” Writers Reading Series at Ballard Library:

This event, now in its 22nd year in Seattle, is held the Second Thursday of every month at the Ballard Branch Library (5614 NW 22nd Street). Each event  begins with a Writer’s Craft presentation and also features three readers. Three minute open mic opportunities. More information on past and upcoming readings is available at www.itsaboutimewriters.homestead.com or on Facebook. Time: 6 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. Upcoming 2012 Dates:  August 9, September 13