Tags Posts tagged with "Nicole Galland"

Nicole Galland

Illustration by Kate Feiffer

Nicole-GallandBemused readers ask novelist Nicole Galland for her take on navigating the precarious social landscape that comes with living on the Vineyard. Nicole, who grew up in West Tisbury, is known locally as the co-founder of Shakespeare For The Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse. Her combined knowledge of both this island and the world’s greatest melodramas compels her to help prevent unnecessary tragedy wherever possible. Trying to untangle a messy Island ethics or etiquette question? Send it to OnIsland@mvtimes.com.

Dear Nicole:
I attended a holiday party the other night, but the good cheer quickly turned into a stomach churner for me when the newly separated husband of a good friend walked into the party with a date. And holy ginger martini — I knew the woman! What should I tell my friend?
Confidentially yours,
Shocked in my stocking

Dear Shocked:
Before getting to what-to-tell-your-friend, let’s pause a moment to look at the bigger picture here, which is: this is one of those unavoidable, inevitable, uncomfortable Vineyard Things That Happen Sometimes. Before knowing what to tell your friend, know how to handle yourself. Similar circumstances are likely to arise again, especially in the Holiday Season. Have an action plan.

I recommend taking the long view. This new coupling isn’t going away (probably not right away, at least). Your paths are likely to cross again, and the discomfort will continue unless you do something to abate it.As Iago asked Roderigo in Shakespeare’s Othello, “What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” I’ve been in all three positions you’re describing, and let me tell you — your stomach was probably not the one churning the most.

If you deliberately put forth a positive vibe toward the new couple at the party, then all the stuff that might well have been going on inside of them (defensiveness, fear-of-ostracism, etc.) would be disarmed, and the possibility of harmonious co-existence becomes possible, meaning that over time, the churning will calm. In contrast, if you give her (or him) any attitude at all, you’re setting yourself up for a churn-a-thon. So I hope you were gracious and kind; if you weren’t, I hope you will be next time.

A side comment: I notice your interjection takes the form of a cocktail. As a general rule, cocktails can be very helpful in generating a feeling of goodfellowship, but they can also be the source of more unfortunate emotional expressions. Know thyself, and moderate the eggnog intake accordingly.

Having settled all that, let’s move to the post-party: your friend. If there is some clear benefit to her in hearing about it, then tell her. Otherwise, why mention something that will upset her? That’s worse than gossip. Gossip is oblivious about its cruelty; gratuitously telling a friend something you know will upset them is simply mean.

If you are concerned that she will later hear from another source that you and Those People were at a party together, and will feel put out that you didn’t tell her, try this: find a time in the near future to say to her, “Hey, since this is a small island and all that, I want to hear from you what your preference is regarding my reporting sightings of your Ex and/or his new friend.” Believe whatever she tells you, and act accordingly.

But her feelings will change over time, so maybe in six months or so check in and ask again. By then, you’ll be running into Those People again at beach barbecue and 4th of July parties.
That’s my take.
Nicole

Dear Nicole:
What do you do when your teenager daughter, who has no visible awareness of her own Jewish heritage yet an acute awareness of her mother’s issues with some Catholic church doctrine, says says she will only go to the Chanukah party if we spend the next year going to Sunday morning mass?
Confidentially Yours,
Dreidel

Dear Dreidel:
First, congratulate yourself on having such a daughter. That is quite the comeback!
Say yes. There are several interesting reasons to say yes. (There are also a few reasons to say no, but they’re pretty boring, so they would make you boring, too.)

She is probably only suggesting this as a strategic move, so you tactically defeat her by agreeing to it. It’s like verbal aikido. Do you really think she wants to go to Catholic Mass for a year? I doubt it. Agree to her offer, enjoy the Chanukah party and then wait for her to change her mind about the Catholic Mass herself. There’s a 99 percent chance that you will not have to go to Mass more than once. She will hesitate before trying that strategy again, without your ever having to play Bad Cop. It’s a win for you with no harm or foul to her.

But let’s say she was serious, even eager, about the Catholic Mass part, and wants to stick with it, at least for a while. That’s great. Exposing ourselves to different religions, to different  ways in which humanity expresses its social rituals, beliefs and ethics — that’s all intrinsically good! Both the impulse and the experience is terrific for her, and the experience (even if no impulse) will also be enlightening for you. It will at least give you some context for those elements of Catholicism you object to. (Plus I hear they serve snacks — sometimes even wine!) If you don’t want to agree to her bargain just because you don’t feel like going to Catholic Mass, then you are basically asking for my blessing to remain tunnel-visioned and small-minded, and I’m sorry but I can’t give you that.

All that said, however: Chanukah is not actually a major Jewish holiday, so a year of Catholic Mass is actually too hefty a demand. She’s clearly in a negotiating state of mind, so negotiate: tell her that a year of Catholic Mass also guarantees at least one Passover, and maybe a Kol Nidre service (that’s the start of Yom Kippur services and should appeal to the teen mentality -— she gets to let herself off the hook for the whole past year’s transgressions). Even at a very generous exchange rate, a Chanukah party doesn’t rate more than a couple of visits to Sunday School.

If she will not budge from her (admittedly unfair) offer, then — and only then — refuse. Not because you don’t want to bother expanding your or her world-view, but because you want your daughter to learn that unfair ultimatums are no way to function in the world.
That’s my take.
Nicole

—Illustration by Kate Feiffer

Nicole-GallandBemused readers ask novelist Nicole Galland for her take on navigating the precarious social landscape that comes with living on the Vineyard. Nicole, who grew up in West Tisbury, is known locally as the co-founder of Shakespeare For The Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse. Her combined knowledge of both this island and the world’s greatest melodramas compels her to help prevent unnecessary tragedy wherever possible. Trying to untangle a messy Island ethics or etiquette question? Send it to OnIsland@mvtimes.com.

Dear Nicole:
I’m a deer hunter. Twice now in the past couple of seasons, I’ve had a youngish (yearling?) doe in my sights, and I haven’t been able to shoot because I find myself wondering if it’s wrong to shoot a deer that young. I don’t want my kids accusing me of killing Bambi. How young is too young?
Confidentially yours,
Softie

Dear Softie:
Legally speaking, the answer to your question is, “There’s no such thing as too young.” As soon as a fawn is born, it qualifies as fair game. In contrast to edible marine life, the (female) deer population has virtually no regulations protecting it — nor should it. There are too many of them. The Vineyard and Nantucket have the highest density of deer in the state. The herds need to be culled. The bag limit is (I’m citing a state website here) two antlered deer per year “and as many antlerless deer as the hunter has valid antlerless deer permits” — which on the Vineyard is four per day. In other words: MassWildlife wants you to kill does. The younger a doe is brought down, the fewer offspring she produces in her lifetime, which is a nonviolent way of helping to manage the population.

But you’re a hunter so you probably knew the legal answer; you’re asking from a more subjective angle. If you — or your kids — have ever eaten lamb or veal, then it’s a romantic hypocrisy to bewail the killing of a young doe. That yearling had a much better life than almost any lamb or calf that ended up on your dinner table (yes, there is humanely raised local livestock, but the supply and price tag mean that’s not a broad-spectrum option yet). If you’re concerned about being humane (an excellent thing to be concerned about), but don’t want to give up the succulence of young mammalian flesh, stop eating lamb and veal altogether, and instead get out there and shoot more young deer.
That’s my take.
Nicole

Illustration by Kate Feiffer

Nicole-GallandBemused readers ask novelist Nicole Galland for her take on navigating the precarious social landscape that comes with living on the Vineyard. Nicole, who grew up in West Tisbury, is known locally as the co-founder of Shakespeare For The Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse. Her combined knowledge of both this island and the world’s greatest melodramas compels her to help prevent unnecessary tragedy wherever possible. Trying to untangle a messy Island ethics or etiquette question? Send it to OnIsland@mvtimes.com

Dear Nicole,
I bow hunt for deer. Last year, while I was on stand 20 feet up in a tree, a female hiker came sprinting through the woods. Before I could say anything, she ran right underneath my tree and squatted (I assume to pee). I averted my eyes. Awkward to say the least. I did not make a sound while all this was going on. Should I have said anything? I also carry toilet paper in my backpack to aid in tracking deer. Should I have offered her some?
Confidentially Yours,
Hunter

Dear Hunter:
First of all, I dearly wish you were here in person to explain the statement, “I also carry toilet paper in my backpack to aid in tracking deer.” How does that work? Do you toss a roll onto a stag’s antlers, like a carnival game, and then follow the roll in hopes it will lead to his harem of does? Do you season the roll with eau de mown grass, and leave it lying around in the woods, in the hopes it will attract a cervine herd? Having never been a hunter, I want to know. How very tantalizing.

Regarding your actual question: Generally it is considered déclassé to interrupt someone who is responding urgently to the call of nature — especially if the call is so urgent that they don’t notice a deer stand directly overhead. (Also, gender plays a role in this — the most awkward arrangement of genders in these circumstances is probably a male telling a female he can see what she’s doing.)

However, context is everything. The hiker is in the Great Outdoors and could relieve herself pretty much anywhere, while you are stuck in one particular tree. Once the hiker — however innocently — “marks” the area with human scent, that will have a negative effect on your chances of getting a deer. Not just for those few moments while she is squatting beneath your stand, but probably for the rest of your cold, lonely, uncomfortable tenure in the tree, given that a deer’s sense of smell is even more acute than a dog’s. By not asking her to relieve herself elsewhere, you probably guaranteed yourself a bootless day out with your bow, just for the sake of avoiding a potential passing embarrassment. You are certainly free to sabotage yourself that way, but this isn’t Regency England and acts of secret decency are not trending. Under the circumstances, you absolutely get a pass if you decide to call out to her and ask her to take her business elsewhere.

In fact, it could be argued that alerting her to your presence is the only truly decent course to take. There are a number of complications that could arise from your not letting her know you’re there. If she looks up and sees a hunter (even just a bow hunter who is averting his eyes), she will feel at least as awkward as you already do, if not alarmed. Even if she doesn’t realize at the time what’s going on, this is Martha’s Vineyard, so there’s a good chance that eventually she will hear that her uncle’s plumber’s apprentice’s best friend was bow-hunting last Thursday when suddenly, a female hiker…etc… and she’ll realize, after the fact, that it was probably her, and she will be overcome with a ludicrous semi-embarrassment that she’ll never be able to put to rest. For the rest of her life, she might shudder briefly whenever venison is mentioned. You can pre-empt all such misfortunes by just calling out to her (faster than she can drop trow, ideally) and politely ask her to move along.

I don’t know if you should offer her any toilet paper, though. I suppose it depends on how badly you need it for deer-tracking.
That’s my take.
Nicole

Illustration by Kate Feiffer

NickiGalland-headshotBemused readers ask novelist Nicole Galland for her take on navigating the precarious social landscape that comes with living on the Vineyard. Nicole, who grew up in West Tisbury, is known locally as the co-founder of Shakespeare For The Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse. Her combined knowledge of both this island and the world’s greatest melodramas compels her to help prevent unnecessary tragedy wherever possible. Trying to untangle a messy Island ethics or etiquette question? Send it to OnIsland@mvtimes.com

Dear Nicole:
I am a glutton for gluten and am starting to feel like an outcast here. Is this gluten-free thing a fad gone mad or do we have an island-wide epidemic of celiac disease? I have been accused of being dismissive to people who say they don’t eat wheat. In my opinion, it’s getting hard to take this whole thing seriously. Am I being insensitive?
Confidentially yours,
Gluten Glutton

Dear Glutton:
A little context goes a long way here – do you mean you’re having a hard time taking it seriously when you think idly about all the wheat-free folks you know during the course of the day, or that you have a hard time taking it seriously while you are considering what to actually feed these people?

If the former – hey, it’s your internal monologue, think whatever you like. However, if you want to share your views with others, do it knowing that it might not be GC (Gastronomically Correct) and that chocolate-lover-gallandyou could get push-back. People who feel belittled tend to push back. This has nothing to do with gluten, and everything to do with feeling mocked. (For example, I get pretty snarky when my chocolate fetish is mocked. You don’t want to know what happened after my husband teased me about this photo.)

And remember this handy rule of thumb: if you are judging others, you are likely to be judged on your judging them. As with any topic about which there are very divergent views, it’s one thing to say, “I don’t get it” and another thing to say, “That’s such nonsense.” The first invites discussion/reflection/debate/communication, the second shuts it down. Decide what kind of person you want to be and go from there.

In answer to your query about a sudden outburst of celiac disease across the Island – no, most gluten-free people will not get violently ill and require hospitalization if they encounter gluten. That said, however: Agribusiness has fidgeted with the chemical composition of many grains (and in particular, wheat) over the past 50-ish years, and it may well be that the general population finds certain foods increasingly difficult to tolerate. If you’re not one of those people, then it might be a challenge to feel sympathetic toward them. What a great opportunity for you to practice compassion!

On the other hand, someone else’s food sensitivity should not create an inconvenience in your life. Nobody should assume other people will automatically accommodate their particular circumstances — that’s just plain old narcissism, and the Island isn’t big enough for such egos. Real Yankees carry our own baggage, we don’t foist it off onto other people. So if the person you’ve invited to dinner does not eat wheat, meat, shellfish, mushrooms, eggs, sugar, or foods that begin with the letter M, then they should tell you that well ahead of time, and send you an easy and delicious recipe for something that they can eat, together with some acknowledgement or appreciation that you’re accommodating their needs. Otherwise, go ahead and be insensitive to them. They’ve already been insensitive to you.
That’s my take.
Nicole

***

Dear Nicole:
My son’s teacher moonlights as a waitress at a restaurant we enjoy. I like to tip her generously, after all she’s my son’s teacher. However, a friend that I mentioned this to told me that by tipping her in excess of 20%, I was in effect bribing her. She said I shouldn’t be tipping her any higher than I would tip another waitress. What’s your take, Nicole?
Confidentially Yours,
Teacher Tipper

Dear Tipper:
Whether it’s “right” or not, it is commonplace for people to tip friends or family members who are serving them a little something extra (and this works both ways — a server is likely to do a little something extra when serving friends and family). If you’re tipping her purely because you know her and like her, then you’re simply being human. If you’re tipping her so that she will like you and therefore give your son extra attention or good grades, then you are behaving as a briber would (which doesn’t mean she knows that or will respond accordingly).

If you’re not sure what your own motivation is, try this exercise. Imagine it’s the end of the school year and your son has gotten a lousy grade on a year-end project. You go to that same restaurant and are served by that same waitress. The bill has arrived and it’s time to calculate the tip. Will you still tip her more than 20 percent? If no, then don’t tip her excessively now, because yes, some part of you is (however discreetly) probably trying to bribe her.

Instead, consider the big-picture approach: take that little-bit-extra that you’d otherwise give her, and stash it away each time you eat out. When you have amassed a decent amount, donate it to an organization that strives to achieve better pay for teachers, so that in the future, teachers will not have to moonlight as waitresses. Among other benefits, this will leave their evenings free for grading your son’s papers.
That’s my take.
Nicole

— Illustration by Kate Feiffer

NickiGalland-headshotBemused readers ask novelist Nicole Galland for her take on navigating the precarious social landscape that comes with living on the Vineyard. Nicole, who grew up in West Tisbury, is known locally as the co-founder of Shakespeare For The Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse. Her combined knowledge of both this island and the world’s greatest melodramas compels her to help prevent unnecessary tragedy wherever possible. Trying to untangle a messy Island ethics or etiquette question? Send it to OnIsland@mvtimes.com

Dear Nicole:
My wife has a significant birthday coming up, and she wishes to celebrate by spending a long weekend on a foliage tour in New Hampshire. The dates coincide with the best Derby fishing according to historical records, and I feel certain that I will miss out on a winning fish if I accompany her. Years ago I suggested that we postpone our wedding until after the Derby and she simply ignored the question. What is your advice about asking her to postpone her birthday until October 19th?
Confidentially Yours,
Derbyguy

Dear Derbyguy:
Answer quickly: what’s more important to you, winning the Derby or making your wife happy?

If you had to think about that for even for a nanosecond, then you are such a diehard fisherman that you might as well go ahead and ask her. (If you’re not one, don’t ask her. Really. Not for a “significant birthday.”)

So perhaps the question really is, how will you respond to her saying no? Trust me on this: she will say no. Her ignoring your request to postpone your marriage for Derby season implies either (a) she thought you were joking, in which case she will think you are joking again, or (b) she knew you were serious, and but had to convince herself you were joking so that she could bear to go through with marrying you.

Speaking of her marrying you: if your wedding conflicted with the Derby, then your anniversary must as well. Stop reading this right now, and go buy her a nice card. Avoid any fish imagery. Maybe get her some flowers too. I think dahlias are still in bloom.

Once you’ve done that, I guess you can go ahead and ask her about delaying her birthday. Spoiler alert: She’ll still say no. But at least you’ll have gotten it out of your system.
That’s my take.
Nicole

***

Dear Nicole:
How long should I wait between picking something up at the Dumptique and selling it at a yard sale?
Confidentially Yours,
Rags

Dear Rags:
I can only think of three reasons why you would be asking this question:

One: You are so broke that you are trying desperately, from genuine need, to literally get something for nothing.

Even if you’re that hard up, don’t rob other needy people of their chance to get decent free clothes. If you’re done with the clothes, recycle them back to the Dumptique, or donate them to one of the Thrift Shops.

Two: You’ve come up with a rather sleazy way to game the system, and get something for nothing. In which case: Boy, are you pathetic. You’re robbing needy people of their chance to get free clothes. At least confine your unethical schemes to things that don’t harm people in genuine need. Target those with disposable cash. Sell seashells to tourists or something.

Three: As a frugal Yankee, you’ve gotten due use out of an item, and want to continue to wring maximum benefit from your thrift.

In that case, wear it until it’s in tatters. And then return it to the Dumptique because really, who’s going to pay for that thing at a yard sale?
That’s my take.
Nicole

Illustration by Kate Feiffer

NickiGalland-headshotBemused readers ask novelist Nicole Galland for her take on navigating the precarious social landscape that comes with living on the Vineyard. Nicole, who grew up in West Tisbury, is known locally as the co-founder of Shakespeare For The Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse. Her combined knowledge of both this island and the world’s greatest melodramas compels her to help prevent unnecessary tragedy wherever possible. Interested in Nicole’s take on your messy Vineyard-centric ethics or etiquette question? Confidentiality ensured. Send your question to OnIsland@mvtimes.com

Dear Nicole:
I’m a recent transplant and I am fishing in the Derby for the first time. Let’s say I land a huge bass. Then let’s say someone, maybe even a good friend, asks me where I caught it. Am I ethically obligated to be truthful?
Confidentially Yours,
Hooked

Dear Hooked:
First of all, you’re not a transplant, you’re a wash–ashore.

The one inviolable Derby rule is not to elbow your way into anyone else’s turf, on the beach or in the water. That’s why people never leave their primo fishing spot for years at a time, not even to eat or sleep: as long as you are where you are, nobody else can get too close, but as soon as you leave, somebody else moves in, and then you’re the one who can’t be too close.

Anyhow, keep in mind: fish do this thing called “swimming.” They’re biting off Noman’s … until they’re not. They’re practically offering themselves up on the North Shore… until the tide changes.  Your honesty wouldn’t help your friend, or anyone else, find where the fish are – only where they were. In fact, if you send someone to a bogus spot, it could turn out to be a bonanza for him or her.

But that’s not really the heart of your question, which is: Is it okay to lie? Even to a friend? Isn’t that awful? Well, yes, generally… but as you said, it’s the Derby, so anything goes. Even St. Peter would probably obfuscate to throw other fishermen off the scent during the Derby. And as Nelson Siegelman (revered author of the Gone Fishin’ column) assures me, “During the Derby, a fisherman asked where he or she caught a fish is likely to answer with one of four locations:  up-Island, down-Island, the north shore and south shore. (Furthermore…) fishing may be one of the only sports where it may be expected that participants will lie. But just as skillful casting is a talent, lying well requires a certain style so that the person you are lying to does not walk away insulted.”  I know a man who knows a man who caught a 40-pound striper on Chappy… and immediately drove to the Squibnocket parking lot for everyone to see it. By the standards of Derby Shenanigans, that’s wicked awesome. If you’re going to BS somebody, try to top that. Worse case scenario: your friend still manages to hook a bigger fish than you, and buys you a beer.
That’s my take.
Nicole

Dear Nicole:
This is one of those Vineyard Shuffle questions. My summer landlady asked me to leave a day early because her cleaning lady is fishing in the Derby and needs to do the “moving-out clean” the day before I’m scheduled to actually move out. But I can’t get into my winter rental a day early because those summer renters will still be there. Is it ungracious or un-Vineyardy of me to refuse to leave? I want to support anything Derby-related but I have nowhere to go.
Confidentially Yours,
Stranded in Oak Bluffs

Dear Stranded:
Legally, of course, you have a right to stay till the end of your lease. And while it would not be ungracious of you to refuse to leave, it would be very gracious of you to agree to the arrangement. If you want to “do the right thing” by old-school, Vineyard Shoulder-Season standards, consider this:

Anything involving the Derby gets instant street cred. That’s how the Island is wired. If your only hesitation is that you need a place to stay, consider the ultimate form of Vineyard Shuffle: staying on a friend’s couch for one night. Looking unkempt because you’ve been fishing gets the highest marks, but looking unkempt because you’re facilitating someone else to fish is also pretty good.

I don’t know why the cleaning lady had to change her schedule for the Derby, but given that she did, it was pretty cool that your landlady said yes and it would be pretty cool if you said yes, and so by extension, if you need to crash on someone’s couch or guest room and they say yes, that makes them cool too – because it’s the Derby. The more people are involved in the great Derby Chain of Roughing It, the greater the collective Insider Cool factor is.
That’s my take.
Nicole

Illustration by Kate Feiffer

NickiGalland-headshotBemused readers ask novelist Nicole Galland for her take on navigating the precarious social landscape that comes with living on the Vineyard. Nicole, who grew up in West Tisbury, is known locally as the co-founder of Shakespeare For The Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse. Her combined knowledge of both this island and the world’s greatest melodramas compels her to help prevent unnecessary tragedy wherever possible. Interested in Nicole’s take on your messy Vineyard-centric ethics or etiquette question? Confidentiality ensured. Send your question to OnIsland@mvtimes.com

Dear Nicole,
My only daughter has left the Island for college and I’m having a hard time letting go. (I suspect I shouldn’t be driving by her elementary school every day and repeatedly downloading the ferry schedule.)  I am trying not to text and call her too often. It’s a struggle and my waistline is expanding because of it.  But what makes it even worse is all my so–called friends who keep saying their kids call and text and, isn’t it so great they’ve  even skyped with their child’s roommate. How can I get them to stop talking?
Confidentially yours,
Empty-nester

Dear Empty–nester,
You can’t get them to stop talking. Even if there was some way to get them to stop talking to YOU about it, they’d all be talking amongst themselves, without you, and you’d know it (it’s a small Island), and then you’d feel like a pariah.

So the real problem to tackle here is either your own rate of texting/angsting, and/or your expanding waistline.

I haven’t seen your waistline so I don’t feel qualified to comment on it, but maybe it’s a good time to mention that many Island yoga, dance and Pilates studios and gyms are moving into their autumn schedule — as are you — and it might not be a bad time to sign on. Or at the very least, when you drive obsessively in front of your child’s school, do it on a bicycle to burn some extra calories. Or better yet, whenever you feel the urge to drive by her school or call her, divert that energy into something you can now do that you could not before you were an empty-nester. Go skinny-dipping in the afternoon. Take a nap. Watch Jerry Springer. Throw a gourmet potluck.  Get overly–invested in town politics. Go out dancing. Fall in love (all over again with your spouse, if you have one). If none of these appeal to you, look to your childless friends or friends with long–grown kids for inspiration.

You’re preoccupied with your absent child mostly because you love her very much, but maybe also just a little because you’re the Helicopter Parent Generation, and you’ve probably invested more energy and self–identity into your kid than your parents’ generation did, so you don’t have that generation as a model for how to cope. How to cope is: see above.

And keep the long view in mind: Congratulations if your kid isn’t constantly checking in with you! Let your friends gush over how effectively they are prolonging their children’s dependency on them. Proudly let them know you have a child who is self–sufficient enough that she doesn’t need to check in with her parents on an hourly basis. Some day soon, when your friends’ kids have also attained that level of independence that yours has already achieved (I’m guessing second semester freshman year), all your friends will look to you as a model, and that will feel awesome. It’s a win all the way around.

That’s my take.
Nicole

***

Dear Nicole,
It’s picking season and I found the beach plums. Must I ask the property owner on whose land I found them for permission to pick?
Confidentially yours,
Oak Bluffs

Dear Oak Bluffs,
There are two schools of thought on this topic, neither of which I agree with.
One of them says: Of course you have to ask! Otherwise it’s stealing! And also trespassing, which is always illegal and immoral!

The other one says: Of course you don’t have to ask! It is set down in the Constitution of the Republic of Martha’s Vineyard that we’re all allowed to forage for beach plums!

If we were anywhere but Martha’s Vineyard and it were (almost) anything but beach plums, I’d easily side with the first position. Actually, I do side with the first one — but because it is Martha’s Vineyard, and beach plums — a certain karmic grandfather clause applies.

If you have discovered (either from trespassing or use of easements) beach plum bushes on the property of someone (a) unfriendly (b) with an enormous bounty of beach plums, who (c) has never shown any interest in harvesting said beach plums, it really doesn’t matter what anyone says about it, we both know you’re going to go get those beach plums, so why are you even asking me?

If you choose to tread that path, however, maybe offer beach plum jelly to the property-owners, with a note saying, “If you like this, I’d be honored to keep you in a steady supply in future years, and here’s how you can help me do that…”

That’s my take.
Nicole

— Illustration by Kate Feiffer

NickiGalland-headshotBemused readers ask novelist Nicole Galland for her take on navigating the precarious social landscape that comes with living on the Vineyard. Nicole, who grew up in West Tisbury, is known locally as the co-founder of Shakespeare For The Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse. Her combined knowledge of both this island and the world’s greatest melodramas compels her to help prevent unnecessary tragedy wherever possible. Interested in Nicole’s take on your messy Vineyard-centric ethics or etiquette question? Confidentiality ensured. Send your question to OnIsland@mvtimes.com

Dear Nicole:
What do you do when you mistakenly break into the middle of the Presidential motorcade? Should you stay with it or try to veer off?
Confidentially yours,
Clutching the Wheel in Chilmark

Dear Clutch:
First, the official response: I have no idea. I’m sure there is some official caveat but nobody bothered to inform me. Second, the practical response: It’s true that you won’t get held up in traffic, but tourists will gawk and locals will roll their eyes, which — if you’re a real islander — are two of the few things worse than getting stuck in summer traffic. So there is no net benefit to staying with the motorcade. If you can get to your destination some other way, divert.

Third, my actual response: To quote a professional wise–guy friend: “The value of any life experience can be determined by how good an anecdote it makes.” So, in the interest of having a good story, stick with the motorcade as long as you possibly can. Forget about your actual destination; just go with the flow. Eventually, some member of the Secret Service or the police escort will question you. Depending upon whom the President is hanging out with, this is the perfect opportunity to pitch your television series, request a puppy playdate (“Hey, I also have a Portuguese Water Dog!”), or offer your helpful and well–informed views on the situation in Iraq.  I have no idea what will happen, but I bet it will make a better anecdote than simply driving away.
That’s my take.
Nicole

Dear Nicole:
Some people seem to manage the whole Presidential Visit thing just fine without any headaches or inconveniences. What is their secret?
Confidentially Yours,
Stuck in traffic

Dear Stuck:
They vacation on Nantucket.
That’s my take.
Nicole

Dear Nicole:
I think it’s rather nice that President Obama and his family vacation here, however I am sick and tired of hearing about all the Obama sightings. I really don’t care that my friend’s friend’s houseguest saw the President golfing. How can we put a stop to the incessant chatter about Obama sightings?
Confidentially yours,
Edgartown

Dear Edgartown,
There are a number of ways to stop “the incessant chatter about Obama sightings.” One option is simple honesty. Say, for example, “You know, I must admit I’m tired of hearing about all the Obama sightings.” But that seems rude, and we all know nobody is going to do it, so let’s move on to other options.

The tried and true Vineyard MO is (as I have perhaps suggested in earlier columns) passive aggressiveness. If you want to be passive aggressive as a form of politeness, you could simply pretend not to have heard or understood the statement, and respond with a pensive silence or perhaps a bland comment such as, “Hm, hasn’t the weather been lovely lately.” If you want to be passive-aggressive as a form of contempt, the best approach is, “I bet people who talk about Obama sightings have really boring lives,” (or some other demeaning remark). But I won’t like you very much if you go that route.

Or you could be more pro-active in your refusal to engage in such banter. Distraction is a good way to do this. If, for instance, somebody says, “My mother’s best friend’s dog-groomer saw Obama at the package store,” a recommended response might be: “Look! A raccoon!” This should be followed by a lively narrative about a raccoon cub you took into your house as a child, who ate through both the linoleum and the insulation in the kitchen. It’s almost certain that somebody else at the gathering will have a story about raccoons, insulation, linoleum or kitchens, and so you will have successfully diverted conversation, at least for the nonce.
That’s my take.
Nicole

And they answered

On Monday, August 11, more than twenty writers with ties to the Vineyard will gather at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury to discuss the art, craft and business of writing. This day-long event is open to the public and free of charge.

In anticipation of the event on Monday, The Times asked some of the day’s participants a few probing questions. More information, and detailed schedule, here.

Nancy Aronie

Where did you take your first swim this summer?
Ice house. I froze;  that’s why they call it ice house, silly.

Describe the book you would write if you offered a lucrative contract to write about the heath hen?
I would have to say no to the big money contract. I can’t write about what I don’t know and I’m not good at research, which is why I’m so in love with Geraldine Brooks’s every book.

What is your most effective method of procrastination?
I am a phone person. If I’m not working because I’m procrastinating, like I am right this minute, I’m talking to my sister or a girlfriend (funny word) or my husband and eating at the same time.

What do you think is the best summer job on the Island?
Air conditioned Chilmark Library or… truth? Running the Chilmark Writing Workshop. (Can’t really call this a job.)

What was the last book you read?
The Girls from Corona del Mar
 by Rufi Thorpe. Loved it. Actually the last book and I loved it more was We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler).

Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks gardening
Geraldine Brooks gardening

Do you tend to stay in your car on the ferry?
Never.  It’s one of the most beautiful crossings in the world.  What churl would miss it?

Where did you take your first swim this summer?
Late, for me. Lambert’s Cove in July.

Describe the book you would write if you offered a lucrative contract to write about the heath hen?
A tragic love story, with Booming Ben as the bereft lover.

What is your most effective method of procrastination?
Noticing that there’s just that one bush that needs deadheading. Six hours later…

What do you think is the best summer job on the Island?
One that you don’t have to show up for on a perfect day.

What was the last book you read?
Ward Just’s brilliant American Romantic.

Kate Feiffer

Do you tend to stay in your car on the ferry?
I usually can’t wait to get out of the car by the time I get on the ferry.

Where did you take your first swim this summer?
Lambert’s Cove

Describe the book you would write if you offered a lucrative contract to write about the heath hen?
A picture book. I’d title it, Heath Hen Comes Back to Roost If I were a cookbook author, I’d title my book, Heath Hen Comes Back to Roast.

What is your most effective method of procrastination?
It used to be doodling, but now that I’m selling my drawings, I can no longer call doodling procrastination, so now I dawdle instead of doodle.

What do you think is the best summer job on the Island?
Lifeguard at Lambert’s Cove beach

What was the last book you read?
I am currently reading Joshua Horwitz’s War of the Whales.

Nicole Galland

Katharine Pilcher, Chrysal Parrot and  Nicole Galland dressed up for the skillet throw at the fair
Katharine Pilcher, Chrysal Parrot and Nicole Galland dressed up for the skillet throw at the fair

Do you tend to stay in your car on the ferry?
I let my dog decide that.

Where did you take your first swim this summer?
Have yet to take it. Isn’t that pathetic? Hopefully will have taken one at Lambert’s Cove Beach by the 11th.

Describe the book you would write if you offered a lucrative contract to write about the heath hen?
I would write a time-traveling bodice-ripper about the torrid affair between the man who witnessed the death of the last heath hen and the brilliant female geneticist who, generations later, was able to reconstitute the heath hen from DNA samples. Spoiler alert: she is his great-granddaughter. Other spoiler alert: heath hens are delicious.

What is your most effective method of procrastination?
There are so many to choose from. This time of year? Picking blueberries.

What do you think is the best summer job on the Island?
Gay Head lighthouse keeper.

What was the last book you read?
Besides the manuscript of my own work-in-progress? I have to admit that I read Gift From The Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh while trying to sleep, but I’d like to add that just before that I read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler.

Meryl Gordon

Do you tend to stay in your car on the ferry?
I always go on the top deck so I can see the Island coming and going.

Where did you take your first swim this summer?
I took my first swim at the Makonikey beach this summer. It was rocky, but two days later the sand was back.

What is your most effective method of procrastination?
I procrastinate by seeing how many different places I can to go on the island to pick up food for one meal. Should I drive to Larsen’s in Menemsha or go to Net Result in Vineyard Haven? Norton Farm or the farmstand at Beetlebung? Fiddlehead Farm for cheese, Eden’s for fresh blueberries, Scottish Bakehouse or Sweet E’s for dessert? You can take all day shopping here for what I could do in 10 blocks in Manhattan, but it’s more fun.

Describe the book you would write if you offered a lucrative contract to write about the heath hen?
I wish I were a naturalist but I fear I could not do the Heath Hen justice.

Best summer job?
I was a waitress on Nantucket right after I graduated from high school — it was pretty great to have days on the beach and nights at work.

What was the last book you read?
I loved Ward Just’s American Romantic.

Jessica Harris
Jessica Harris

Jessica Harris

Do you tend to stay in your car on the ferry?
I get out of the car and do two things on the ferry after the trip from New York. I have a beer and a bowl of kale soup of chile. It’s a part of my sacrament to signal my return once again to the Vineyard.

Where did you take your first swim this summer?
I am a non-swimmer and have not been in the water in years. Bathing suits are no longer a part of my life.

Describe the book you would write if you offered a lucrative contract to write about the heath hen?
I would write a children’s book about the last heath hen (and maybe a dodo as well) hiding out with Nancy Luce and her chickens.

What is your most effective method of procrastination?
Reading.

What do you think is the best summer job on the Island?
Probably taking tickets at the Flying Horses… so much JOY!

What was the last book you read?
For a project I’m working on, the libretto for Porgy and Bess. For pleasure, The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker – one of the mysteries of the French countryside featuring Bruno Courreges..

Tony Horwitz

Do you tend to stay in your car on the ferry?
I never stay in my car on the ferry unless I’m comatose from driving. Instead, I go on the deck to enjoy the view of my laptop screen—a sure sign I’ve lived on the Vineyard too long.

Where did you take your first swim this summer?
I haven’t taken a beach swim yet this summer, how sad is that? High hopes for August and warmer water.

Describe the book you would write if you offered a lucrative contract to write about the heath hen?
I’m a history nerd, so if asked to write about the heath hen I’d go through old recipes. A controversial cookbook about eating a species back into extinction — bestseller!

What is your most effective method of procrastination?
For authors, checking email is the best procrastination ever invented. It feels like work and writing but isn’t, and generates more email to procrastinate over later.

What do you think is the best summer job on the Island?
The best summer job is being a writer, because all you do is talk about it at book festivals or while drinking cocktails on beautiful lawns. Then you go home and check your email again.

What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War (Michael C. C. Adams). As the title suggests, it’s the reading equivalent of water-boarding. But I’m supposed to be writing about PTSD in the Civil War, so I needed to know more about amputations, mass graves, imprisonment, disease, and torture.

Ward Just
Ward Just

Ward Just

Do you tend to stay in your car on the ferry?
Yes

Where did you take your first swim this summer?
No swimming this summer.

Describe the book you would write if you offered a lucrative contract to write about the heath hen?
What is a heath hen?

What is your most effective method of procrastination?
Golf on television.

What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was Geraldine Brooks’s plague book.  A wonderful novel.

Richard Michelson

Do you tend to stay in your car on the ferry?
Only until the end of the chapter of whatever book on tape I am listening to, then I walk Mollie upstairs so she can allow everyone to pet and admire her (yes, she is my dog).  On my last trip, however,  Geraldine Brooks was personally reading Year of Wonders to me over the car speakers and I almost stayed on the ferry a couple of extra trips back and forth till I found out if she was really going to kill off those poor children.

Where did you take your first swim this summer?
Inkwell of course, as is fitting for all writers.

Describe the book you would write if you offered a lucrative contract to write about the heath hen?
I am already writing the book (sans the “lucrative” and “contract”). Why would I give my ideas away?

What is your most effective method of procrastination?
Answering silly questionnaires that have nothing to do with writing.

What do you think is the best summer job on the Island?
Leading the Oak Bluffs dog parade (memo to self: check with Kate Feiffer if this is so).

What was the last book you read?
Americannah
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Tina Miller

Do you tend to stay in your car on the ferry?
I go up in the lunch area with my computer to catch up on stuff

Where did you take your first swim this summer?
First and only so far at the opening at Quansoo

Describe the book you would write if you offered a lucrative contract to write about the heath hen?
A mystery.

What do you think is the best summer job on the Island?
I do it, I am okay with it, I own it!

Joan Nathan

Do you tend to stay in your car on the ferry?
No, I never stay in the car on the ferry. I either have my standard meal of chili (one of the only times I eat chili) or I catch up on answering emails.

Where did you take your first swim this summer?
Ice House Pond.

Describe the book you would write if you were offered a lucrative contract to write about the heath hen?
I would write something brilliant to answer that eternal question: What came first – the hen or the egg.

What is your most effective method of procrastination?
Cleaning my house and weeding in my garden, or folding laundry, or anything but getting to my work!

What do you think is the best summer job on the Island?
The job that my daughter Daniela had – she was a kayaking instructor for the Vineyard Preservation Trust.

What was the last book you read?
Sacred Trash – The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza
 by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole.

Alexandra Styron.
Alexandra Styron

Alexandra Styron

Do you tend to stay in your car on the ferry?
Never. I like to take the dog up to sniff the sea air.

Where did you take your first swim this summer?
Off our dock in Vineyard Haven. Late June. It was very quick and very bracing!

Describe the book you would write if you offered a lucrative contract to write about the heath hen?
It would be a novel, in which the heath hens return as zombies. Obviously.

What is your most effective method of procrastination?
Looking at real estate porn online and answering questionnaires.

What do you think is the best summer job on the Island?
Lighthouse keeper.

What was the last book you read?
Life After Life
 by Kate Atkinson. It’s superb!

Join us for panel discussions, book signings, workshops and other literary delights. First come, first seated.

Updated

When: Monday, August 11, 2014
Where: Grange Hall in West Tisbury

Panel discussions upstairs at the Grange
Schedule:
8:00-8:45

Morning Edition: Writing for Radio
They say radio is the most visual medium. Find out how it’s done.
Sean Corcoran, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Rob Rosenthal and Mindy Todd

9:00-9:45
Writing Children’s Books
Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice, children’s book authors and illustrators often wonder, What’s the use of a book without pictures or conversations?
Richard Michelson, Florence Friedman Minor, Wendell Minor and Kate Feiffer

10:00-10:45
Writing in a New Media World
Have digital books, video gaming and self-publishing helped or hurt writers?
Susan Branch, Tony Horwitz, Nicole Galland and Jan Pogue

11:00-11:45
Narrative Non-fiction
When truth is stranger than fiction, write the truth and let it read like fiction.
Meryl Gordon, Joshua Horwitz, Alexandra Styron and Tony Horwitz

1:00-1:45
The Recipe for Cookbook Writing
It takes more than adding a pinch of salt.
Jessica Harris, Susie Middleton, Joan Nathan, Catherine Walthers and Tina Miller

2:00-2:45
Writing Workshops
Tough love or loving support. What works?
John Hough, Jr., Nancy Slonim Aronie and Lara O’Brien

3:00-3:45
From Journalism to Fiction
When journalists turn into novelists
Geraldine Brooks and Ward Just

4:00
Closing Thoughts
Peter Oberfest
David McCullough

Downstairs at the Grange
Author signings with the Bunch of Grapes and Edgartown Books, informational booths, The Journal Project with Barbara Parker’s journals, writing workshops sponsored by Noepe Center for Literary Arts and more.

Free Writing Workshops at 10 am, 1 pm and 3 pm
The Noepe Center for the Literary Arts will feature writing workshops. Taught by poets and writers Justen Ahren and Michael G. West, the sessions are free to anyone with any level of writing experience. The workshops are designed to foster and encourage people to write and explore “the images imprisoned within them (Rilke).” noepecenter.org

IW-Justen-Ahren-credit-Rob-Berkley-web Justen Ahren is the author of A Strange Catechism, his acclaimed new collection of poems, the West Tisbury Poet Laureate, and founder and director of the Noepe Center for Literary
Arts in Edgartown and the Martha’s Vineyard Writers Residency.

IW-Michael-WestMichael G. West is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks and several new ones scheduled to appear next month from Sepiessa Press. He has published recently in Samizdat Literary Journal and Chrysanthemum and has also published three novels, Dutch Reckoning, XOC – The White Shark Murders and BUZZD – The Bee Kill Conspiracy.

Outside
The Flatbread Mobile Pizza Oven and the self-published authors tent.

Indy Authors Book Tent
Amelia Smith, Jib Ellis, Tom Dresser and more will sell their books and dispense advice on how to self-publish.

Panelist bios:

Nancy Slonim Aronie is the author of Writing From the Heart: Finding your Inner Voice (Hyperion/Little Brown) and the founder of the Chilmark Writing Workshop. She was the recipient of the Eye of the Beholder award at The Isabella Stewart Gardener museum and she received The Teacher of the Year Award at Harvard University the three years she taught there. She is a commentator for NPR ‘s All Things Considered. chilmarkwritingworkshop.com.

Susan Branch is the author of twelve  Heart of the Home lifestyle books published by Little Brown and Company since 1986.  Her thirteenth book, A Fine Romance, Falling in Love with the English Countryside, was published last year by Vineyard Stories.  It has been a best-seller in English Travel books on Amazon.  She and her partner Joe Hall recently launched Spring Street Publishing, dedicated to the publication of Susan’s future books. Susan sends her popular Newsletter, WILLARD to over 52,000 subscribers a month; approximately 400,000 people from all over the world follow her blog at susanbranch.com  and is active on Facebook and Twitter.

Geraldine Brooks is The New York Times bestselling author of Caleb’s Crossing, People of the Book, March (winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction), and Year of Wonders, and the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Born and raised in Australia, she lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, the author Tony Horwitz, and their two sons. geraldinebrooks.com.

Sean Corcoran is the managing editor for news at WCAI and WGBH Radio. He is a graduate of The George Washington University and the Columbia University School of Journalism. After nine years of newspaper and magazine reporting, Corcoran moved to public radio in 2005. The following year he received the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award — the highest award in broadcast journalism — for a 20-part series about hidden poverty. Since then, Corcoran has received a Gabriel Award, and numerous other national awards for his investigative series. Corcoran’s radio stories have appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and BBC iAmerica. capeandislands.org.

Nicole Galland, who hails from West Tisbury, is an award-winning performer and screenwriter who swore off the performing arts* to write historical fiction. (*Despite this oath, she co-founded the Vineyard Playhouse’s Shakespeare for the Masses.) Her novels include The Fool’s Tale; Revenge of the Rose; Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade; I, Iago; and Godiva. With six collaborators, she co-created the Mongoliad, originally a serialized, interactive narrative project (and now a popular print-book trilogy). She is currently working with people geekier and smarter than herself to create ungodly chimerical hybrids of literature (yes, actual literature) and online games. nicolegalland.com

Kate Feiffer is the author of eleven books for children, including Double Pink, Henry The Dog with No Tail and The Problem with The Puddles. Kate is collaborating with MJ Bruder Munafo and the composer/lyricist team of Paul Jacobs and Sarah Durkee to turn her book My Mom is Trying To Ruin My Life into a staged musical, which is scheduled to have its world premiere on the Vineyard in 2015. An editor of MV Arts & Ideas magazine, Kate is one of the organizers of this event, so if you have nice things to say about it, tell her. katefeiffer.com.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault is an award-winning journalist with more than 40 years in the industry extending her work  to  all media at various times. Hunter-Gault joined NPR in 1997 after 20 years with PBS, where she worked as a national correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.  She began her journalism career as a reporter for The New Yorker, then worked as a local news anchor for WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., and as the Harlem bureau chief for The New York Times. In 2005, she returned to NPR as a Special Correspondent after six years as CNN’s Johannesburg bureau chief and correspondent. Her numerous honors include two Emmy awards and two Peabody awards. Her most recent book is To The Mountaintop: My Journey Through the  Civil rights Movement  for young readers.

Meryl Gordon is the author of “The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark,” and “Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach.” She is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in Vanity Fair, the New York Times and New York Magazine. She is the director of magazine writing at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. A native of Rochester, N.Y., and a graduate of the University of Michigan, she lives in Manhattan but has been spending summers on Martha’s Vineyard since 1994. She is married to the political journalist Walter Shapiro. merylgordon.com.

Jessica B. Harris is the author or editor of seventeen books, including twelve cookbooks documenting the foods and foodways of the African Diaspora. She has lectured widely in the United States and abroad and has written extensively for scholarly and popular publications. Harris consults internationally, most recently for the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture on their new cafeteria. Dr. Harris holds degrees from Bryn Mawr College, Queens College, The Université de Nancy, France, and New York University. Dr. Harris is a professor at Queens College/C.U.N.Y. in New York and at work on several new projects. Africooks.com.

Joshua Horwitz is the founder and publisher of Living Planet Books, which specializes in works by thought leaders in science, medicine and psychology. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and three daughters. warofthewhales.com.

Tony Horwitz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who has worked for the Wall Street Journal and the New Yorker. His books include the New York Times bestsellers Confederates in the Attic, Blue Latitudes, and A Voyage Long and Strange. His latest work is Boom: Oil, Money, Cowboys, Strippers, and the Energy Rush that Could Change America Forever. Tony is a native of Washington D.C. and a graduate of Brown University. He has also been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Tony lives year-round in West Tisbury with his wife, novelist Geraldine Brooks, and their sons Nathaniel and Bizu. tonyhorwitz.com.

John Hough, Jr. grew up in Falmouth and now lives on Martha’s Vineyard. He is a graduate of Haverford College, a former VISTA volunteer and speech writer. He is the author of six novels, including Seen the Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Gettysburg. His most recent book is Little Bighorn. He teaches creative writing in his living room in West Tisbury. johnhoughjr.com.

David McCullough has been widely acclaimed as a “master of the art of narrative history,” “a matchless writer.”  He is twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize, twice winner of the National Book Award, and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. His books include: The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, John Adams, 1776, and Truman. Mr. McCullough is presently working on a biography of the Wright brothers.

Richard Michelson’s many books for children, teens, and adults have been listed among the Ten Best of the Year by The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and The New Yorker. He has been a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award (2X), the National Jewish Book Award (3X) and is the only author ever awarded both the Sydney Taylor Gold and Silver Medals from the Association of Jewish Librarians. His most recent book for children, S is for Sea Glass, was written on the porch of his Oak Bluffs gingerbread cottage, and his next adult collection, More Money than God is forthcoming in the Pitt Poetry Series. Michelson is the current Poet Laureate of Northampton, MA. RichardMichelson.com.

Chef/writer/farmer Susie Middleton is the author of Fresh From the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories (The Taunton Press, 2014), as well as the best-selling Fast, Fresh & Green (Chronicle Books 2010) and The Fresh & Green Table (Chronicle Books 2012). The former editor and current editor-at-large for Fine Cooking magazine, Susie writes for many national and regional magazines and blogs regularly about cooking and growing vegetables — as well as life on the farm — at sixburnersue.com. Susie and her partner, Roy Riley, founded Green Island Farm in West Tisbury in 2010.

Tina Miller was born on the Vineyard, studied cooking in France and opened her first restaurant at age 24 in the location where State Road is today. She is also a cookbook author of Vineyard Harvest and has written for Bon Appetit, Edible Vineyard, MV Magazine and Vineyard Style. She lives with her two sons and husband in West Tisbury.

Florence Friedman Minor is former film editor for ABC News. Florence works with her husband, Wendell Minor, creating books that entertain, teach and inspire children. She manages the business aspects of their studio and also  writes books that Wendell illustrates. If You Were a Penguin, her second collaboration with Wendell, was chosen by the state of Pennsylvania for their “One Book” Literacy Program, and If You Were a Panda Bear, celebrating the eight species of bears, was a Summer 2013 Kids’ Indies Next List selection. Florence currently has a book about rabbits under contract, and is working on several other book concepts; minorart.com.

Wendell Minor is nationally known for the cover artwork he has created for books by Pat Conroy, Fannie Flagg and David McCullough, among others. He has illustrated 54 children’s books, collaborating with Jean Craighead George, Charlotte Zolotow, Robert Burleigh, Mary Higgins Clark and astronaut Buzz Aldrin.  He has authored six books of his own. Reviewers are raving over Wendell’s brand new book, Edward Hopper Paints His World,  which is being sold for the first time at this event; minorart.com.

Joan Nathan considers food through the lenses of history, culture, and tradition. She regularly contributes to The New York Times, Food Arts Magazine, and Tablet Magazine and is the author of ten award-winning cookbooks; six focus on Jewish cooking, two highlight Israeli cuisine, and two focus on American cooking. Her most recent book is Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, which made both the New York Times’ and NPR’s lists of the best cookbooks of 2010; joannathan.com.

Peter Oberfest and his wife Barbara became partners in owning and publishing the Martha’s Vineyard Times in 1995. In a remarkable example of magical thinking, they became sole owners of The Times and its web and print publications this past May. Peter also maintained a strategy and organization consulting practice for more than 40 years. Peter was educated in the New York City public school system, the University of Pennsylvania and the Graduate Faculty of The New School for Social Research; mvtimes.com.

Lara O’Brien Lara O’Brien was born in Dublin and raised on the wild and wondrous hill of Howth. She now lives on the sister Island of Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, four children and writing companion Tukka Rex, a great golden, and talking dog. Lara published her first book, a novel for middle grade readers,  Chesca and The Spirit of Grace last  fall; laraobrien.com.

Jan Pogue is the founder and owner of Vineyard Stories, which has published more than 40 Island books since 2005. She has a long history in publishing, writing, and editing. She authored twelve corporate histories, including the story of the founding of the American Cancer Society. Previous to becoming a publisher, she was a journalist at several newspapers, among them USA Today and the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she covered topics as disparate as hunting alligators in Louisiana and the real story behind the founding of Atlantic City as a gambling center. She has lived on the Vineyard since 2003 and is proud of the fact that although she lives in Edgartown, she has friends all over the Island; vineyardstories.com.

Mindy Todd is the host and executive producer of The Point on WCAI which examines critical issues for the Cape, Islands and Southcoast. She brings more than 30 years of experience in radio and television to the job. Her career has covered nearly all aspects of broadcasting.  She has been a radio disc jockey, a traffic reporter, a television news anchor and reporter, a program director, talk show host, and even a ski reporter.She has received numerous awards, most recently another National PRNDI (Public Radio News Directors Incorporated) and an Associated Press award. In February 2012 Mindy was named Managing Director of Editorial; capeandislands.org.

Rob Rosenthal is the lead instructor at the Transom Story Workshop, an eight-week intensive for new radio producers in Woods Hole. He’s taught documentary radio for 14 years. Rob’s also a producer of documentaries, features, audio tours, and multi-media. For several years he’s produced a podcast on audio storytelling called HowSound; capeandislands.org.

Alexandra Styron is the author of the 2011 best-selling memoir Reading My Father and All The Finest Girls, a novel. Her work has appeared in several anthologies as well as The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Vanity Fair. A graduate of the MFA program at Columbia University, Alexandra currently teaches memoir writing in the MFA program at Hunter College. She lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn, New York, and has spent every summer of her life on Martha’s Vineyard; alexandrastyron.com.

Catherine Walthers is a food writer and author of four cookbooks, including Raising the Salad Bar, Soups + Sides and her newest, Kale, Glorious Kale, being released this August. She also works as a private chef and offers cooking classes for groups in her West Tisbury “Kitchen Lab.”

Islanders Write is sponsored by The MV Times and MV Arts & Ideas Magazine and co-sponsored by WCAI, The Bunch of Grapes and Edgartown Books.