Little Laurels and No Resting: USA Today Bestselling Author


Facing Oak Harbor near Cranberry Lake.


Maybe someone at Deception Pass was reading it. I’ll never know. Ever.

While I was camping at Deception Pass, one of the most beautiful places in the Pacific Northwest, I got a FB message (Yes, I know I shouldn’t have been checking my phone) from Leslie Langtry, the author who first recommended my current publisher. We’d both contributed to Killer Beach Reads, which was interesting since I don’t normally write short stories. My story, Mr. Montana, about a would-be actress bent on revenge and a dude ranch cowboy called upon my experience as a screenwriter in Hollywood.

Last week our publisher and subsequently all contributing authors decided to go big promoting the collection. I tried my best to contribute while writing Chasing Nirvana and dealing with the typical summer madness in my household. I made several graphics, helped shape a Facebook author hop (Dane McCaslin took over like a champ, organizing the event,) I  did something I wasn’t very good at before: I stayed in the background without risking sleep and sanity.


Cranberry Lake. I swam one morning. A local told me about blue algae. No more swims.

Amazingly, the book hit the USA Today Bestseller list. It’s not that it isn’t an excellent collection or that the writing isn’t entertaining and fun, as billed. I’m surprised because ever since graduate school I’ve noticed that the best writers don’t always win. The best writer in my class at the American Film Institute (Although, I did win the prize, I wasn’t the best) was a chubby Asian kid who didn’t have a clue how to edit his screenplay. That bad boy clocked in at nearly double the alloted pages for a screenplay:  120. It might have even been 500. Nobody was willing to wade into the pages and help him edit. The story was about a minority baseball league in the deep South struggling to make it in the racist South. Tucked inside the story was a kid whose struggles and sense of humor were touching, funny and heart-breaking. Obviously it was a story about a fat Asian kid growing up in America. Twenty five years later it’s one of the few screenplays I remember reading in graduate school.


View of Rosario Straights. San Juan Islands in background.

Did I help that guy? No. I was writing the screenplay that would launch my own career. I needed every brain cell focused on writing an award winner that would grab an agent’s eye before I ran out of rent money. I doubt that kid ever made it in Hollywood. Hopefully he’s out there writing novels because he’s a heck of a writer. My fear is that his parents guilted him into becoming a dentist.

Luckily my parents didn’t guilt me into becoming a teacher or a dentist. You’re welcome children of America and the dentist thing; that’s just a joke. My teenagers passed me in math ability when they were 12.


Sunset from our campground. We could ride bikes to the beach in 1 minute. Great rock collecting and swimming for people like me who love the cold.

The nice thing about hearing the happy news about Killer Beach Reads while camping is that I had a moment to savor it. I walked on the beach. I called my husband, who said congratulations, I’m very happy for you and by the way, the water pipe is leaking.

Now it’s back to writing Chasing Nirvana. That’s where my heart lies these days. Looks like it’ll be done by September. If no more water pipes burst.

Ellyn Oaksmith is the USA Today bestselling author of 50 Acts of Kindness and other books. She’s an eternal optimist, dog small_author_photolover and always plotting something.  Visit her at and join her newsletter for free books, new releases and great reading suggestions.

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  • Jennifer Craig

    Love the pictures! Having grown up on Whidbey Island, they are very familiar.

    • admin

      Thanks so much. Glad you like the pictures. I want to go back to Deception Pass next summer. Maybe September because boy was it crowded. Love Whidbey. What a great place to grow up.

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