Bits 'n' Pieces: Children inspire author to write, her characters

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While Piper Cameron doesn’t always hang upside down from trees like Tina Marie, one could say that, at age 3, she was the inspiration for Kristy Cameron’s latest book, “Tina Marie’s Amazing World.”

Piper, Cameron’s daughter, is now 5, and it is her personality that gives life to the book’s main character. A lot of times Cameron, a 45-year-old stay-at-home mom and self-published author from Ridgefield, gets her ideas from her children, Piper and son Charlie, age 8.

“When I sat down with the illustrator, I showed him a picture of Piper. That’s where (Tina Marie’s) blonde pigtails come from.”

The children’s rhyming picture book was written for ages birth through 8 years. It is also available as an e-book. Cameron also is working with developers to create an interactive app for children.

The book is a far cry from her first book, “Mitchell’s Gift,” which was born out of the grieving process of having, then losing, a premature baby boy shortly after birth.

“I’ve always wanted to be an author,” Cameron said, and writing that first book made it clear that she could. It was like a gift from Mitchell, she said.

Cameron has two more children’s books in the works.

“I have crazy ideas that turn into things that make kids laugh,” she said.

Her experiences with the publishing process have influenced her goals. She says she meets a lot of people who have written books but don’t know how to get them published or where to find an illustrator. She said she wants to guide them through the process.

“My future plans are to help other people who are in a similar situation,” she said.

The 26-page paperback is sold for $8.63 at http://www.amazon.com and http://www.barnesandnoble.com. Autographed copies are available on Cameron’s own website, http://lppublishing.net.

— Ruth Zschomler

Downtown shop toasts fourth straight best beer store award

Winning Northwest Brewing News magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Beer Store in Washington is an accomplishment for any bottle shop. Winning the award four years in a row is a testament to the passion and loyalty owner Arlene Nunez and her local shop, By the Bottle, inspire in the beer community.

A bit of confidence doesn’t hurt either.

“The first time we were at the award presentation was to accept an award for another brewer in Seattle. When I met the editor of the magazine, I told him, ‘You don’t know me right now, but you will. Because I will win best beer store next year.’ We laughed, but I put the idea out there, and I worked very hard for that vote,” Nunez said.

And the readers responded by consistently voting for the little shop in downtown Vancouver.

By the Bottle arrived on the scene five years ago, offering fans a variety of brews from down the street and around the world. The store draws customers from all over the metro area.

“Southwest Washington was starving for a beer store for years, and that’s what gave us the courage and the drive to give what the area was lacking,” said Nunez.

The staff isn’t sitting on its laurels. A year-and-half ago, the shop opened a tap room, and formed a recent partnership with Clark College Community Education. On Jan. 15, Nunez will teach Beer 101, a tasting and appreciation class. She already has a spring class in the works, and is hoping to team with Clark College’s culinary department to offer information on beer and food pairings. The classes are just another aspect of Nunez and By the Bottle’s core ideal: “Every day we come to work, we try to offer the best of the best, whether it’s our beers or our service.”

By the Bottle, at 104 W. Evergreen Blvd. in Vancouver, is open from noon to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, noon to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Call 360-696-0012 or visit http://bottledbrews.com.

— Ashley Swanson

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Ruth Zschomler, 360-735-4530, or email ruth.zschomler@columbian.com.