Newsletter 2023-06

For ASJA members in
Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington
June 2023

In This Issue

From the Prez, Staying the Course, M. Carolyn Miller, ASJA PNW President
Joanna’s Washington DC Trip, Joanna Nesbit
Mini PCs, Bruce Miller
Member News and Announcements

Join Us At Our June Meeting!

M Carolyn Miller is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.


Time: June 21, 2023 01:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 815 3315 9297
Passcode: 809320

From the President

by M. Carolyn Miller

ASJA PNW Chapter President

Staying the Course

I have a long-time friend who is a book agent. She became one later in life, when the business model for agents was beginning to crack. At the time, I wondered why she didn’t reinvent the model but she had no interest in that.

She was determined to stay the course. She loved what she did, and so she persisted—through a divorce, the unexpected death of her son, the caregiving of her mother—all the while, scraping by financially.

She is in her sixties now, and all her hard work is beginning to pay off. One of her fiction author’s books sold well and there are plans for international rights. Commissions are coming in and she is able, finally, to relax. I am thrilled for her. She also inspires me.

We chatted after I had just completed a client article on the metaverse. It was a challenge to research and write since there are so many views about its definition. I persisted, had a few sleepless nights, and finally, broke through the noise and produced an article whose shape, storyline, words and conclusion I was proud of.

Thanks to “staying the course” through the intellectual and creative challenges, I had produced my own brand of a work of art, just as my agent friend does with her clients. That’s what we do, as writers, book agents, and all who are part of a creative process.

That’s also why we do it.


M. Carolyn Miller, MA, spent her career designing narrative- and game-based learning. Today, she consults and writes about narrative in our lives and world, the inextricable link between the two, and the critical role of self-awareness in transforming both.

Correction: In the April 2023 Prez Note, the quote, “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how,” was misattributed to Victor Frankl. The correct author is German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

by Joanna Nesbit

Joanna’s Washington DC Trip

All photos courtesy Joanna Nesbit

In April, my husband and I took a first-time trip to Washington DC to visit our son and tour the city. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend adding it to your list. Late April is a stunning time of year. We missed the cherry blossoms—and those crowds—but spring had sprung and we arrived into an explosion of greenery and flowers.

We stayed in an Airbnb in the northern part of DC, the Brightwood neighborhood adjacent to Takoma, to be situated close to our son, and we used the very easy Metro to get around, which takes about five minutes to master.

We divided our time between several museums, the Capitol, walking tours of neighborhoods and a couple of out-of-town jaunts. Immediately, we noticed the difference in architecture from the Northwest—the ubiquitous red or painted brick houses with shutters—and the plant life, which feels more subtropical. The houses reminded me a bit of England, but unlike in England, you’ll stumble on placards in random places detailing what went down during the Civil War. We found them in Rock Creek Park and also on street corners of the neighborhood we stayed in.

There’s so much to do, and we were busy. Here are our highlights.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Our first day, we spent six hours here and weren’t tired when we finally exited at closing time! Truly a must-visit. The museum offers a lens through which I couldn’t help but view the rest of the city for the rest of the week. Start in the building’s basement with the history of slavery and progress upward through the eras of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, Civil Rights era, and more to finish on the top floors by celebrating African American achievements in theater, television, music, and sports. Time entry is required.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. We rented bikes in Alexandria (accessible by Metro) to ride the 10-mile bike path to the estate. It was a fun way to tour. Comprised of Washington’s mansion (we didn’t tour because the lines were so long), slave quarters, wash house, barn, stables, and gardens, you can’t help but reflect on the conflicted founding principles of this country.

Joanna and her son at Mount Vernon

Capitol campus. I booked a free U.S. Capitol tour online a few months before our visit. The 35-minute tour takes you through the Crypt, Rotunda, and Statuary Hall. Not a word about Jan. 6, but it was impossible not to think about the video footage of that day—and reflect further on our country’s conflicted founding principles. From there we headed to the Library of Congress, which for any writer is a must. I felt like I’d been transported to Europe in this airy and ornate building. We also strolled up the Supreme Court steps and toured the Botanic Garden, which we didn’t realize existed until we were standing next to it.

National Mall. Another must-see for me, we walked the entire mall and visited every memorial. Highlights: Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Roosevelt Memorials. The carved words at each felt particularly relevant to today.

Hillwood Museum and Estate. A friend who grew up in DC recommended this small museum, the former mansion and gardens of Marjorie Post.

She was the 27-year-old heir of Postum Cereal, which later became General Foods, and went on to become the wealthiest businesswoman in America. The estate and gardens are a beautiful step out of the modern world and worth your time.   

Mansion at the Hillwood Museum and Estate

Hillwood Museum Estate Gardens

Other sights we toured: Harpers Ferry, National Art Gallery, American History Museum, Rock Creek Park, Washington Cathedral, Georgetown, and Dupont Circle. DC is an accessible city steeped in history and anything associated with the Smithsonian is free. I can’t wait to go back.

Joanna Nesbit is a Bellingham-based content marketer and journalist specializing in personal finance, higher education and family. More recent work is available on her Contently profile.

by Bruce Miller

Mini PCs

Need a new or additional desktop computer but are cramped for space? Think mini PC.

Mini PCs are fully functional computers, just smaller in physical size, which in turn restricts the amount of hardware that can be included.

These small computers can be adequate for basic computing needs such as email, writing, streaming and photo editing. I have several of them. Some I use remotely, so once I have them set up and configured, I remove the mouse, keyboard, and monitor.

Here are the advantages of a mini PC:

Takes up less space.

Power consumption is lower.

Less heat production.

Frequently quieter.

Easy portability (more on this below).

Range of prices.

Many come with an operating system installed.

Nearly all come with a smaller M.2 solid-state drive.

Many can support two monitors via HDMI ports.

Here’s a picture of one of mine. Under the mini PC is a regular-sized postcard. You can see that it’s not really big.

Disadvantages of a mini PC are:

No CD/DVD drive (but an external CD/DVD drive with USB connector can be used).

Typically, there are no expansion slots.

Typically, there is not a huge amount of native storage space (but I’ve expanded some of mine). Many mini PCs come with 128 or 256 gigabytes of storage, some of which is taken up by the operating system. Most of this storage space is on an M.2 type storage card.

I’ve cloned from the native to a larger M.2 storage card.

However, original M.2 storage cards can be copied (cloned) to a larger M.2 storage card. I’ve also added an internal 2.5-inch solid state drive for more storage.

There are many mini PC brands out there. I find them on Amazon. I started with the Beelink® brand and have stuck with that brand because they do what I want and I know how to add an extra 2.5-inch SSD for more storage. The only oddity I’ve run across in the Beelink computers is that adding a 2.5-inch solid state drive requires the Kingston brand.

I have several criteria for any computer I know I will be running Windows: a minimum of 8 gigabytes of RAM and at least an i5 Intel® processor. Only once have I deviated from this because I knew the demand for needed computing power would be less.

Here are some sites that discuss or review mini PCs:

Seattle resident Bruce Miller uses mini PCs for an email program that will customize emails to each legislative representative, zoom meetings, streaming Eurovision on a VPN, and running “sdrtrunk” software with a software-defined radio to listen to police and fire calls.

Native Bicolor Lupine (Lupinus latifolia) in a Mixed Conifer Forest, Late May, Gold Hill, Oregon, © Fred Gebhart

Member News

and Announcements

Sharon Elaine Thompson, writing as Liz Hartley, has independently published her third novel, The Illinois Caper, the first in her new The Route 66 Steal series.

She’s released it digitally, through the most popular e-reader platforms (Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks). It is also available in paperback not only through Amazon, but through (supporting independent bookstores) and, by special order, through local independent booksellers. The second book, The Missouri Run, is in process.

L.M. Archer wrote “Growing Biodynamically in Washington State” for Washington Tasting Room Magazine. Also in May, The Drinks Business published “How Art Labels cut through the clutter.”

Bruce Miller’s photos of news and events in the Seattle area appear occasionally in Shoreline Area News, which covers Shoreline and Lake Forest Park.


EDITOR: Maxine Cass
ASJA PNW monthly meeting coverage: Darlene West

*All stories are copyright by their respective writers.
*All photographs and illustrations are copyright by their creative makers.
*All rights are reserved to each of them for their own material.