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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Apr 11, 2024

Mark interviews Melanie Gilbert and Heather Karn about their work writing and publishing together under the Scribbling Pen Publishing brand.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a personal update, comments from recent episodes, and a word from this episode's sponsor.

Cruising Writers - 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise - Feb 22 to Mar 1, 2025

Featured Guest Speakers: Erin Wright and Mark Leslie Lefebvre

More details at: Cruising Writers


In the interview, Mark, Melanie, and Heather talk about:

  • How Heather got started in writing before Melanie, who started a year later
  • Writing independently for a while before they got into mutual support and collaboration
  • The two books they've published by doing round-robin style writing a couple of paragraphs at a time
  • The plotting VS pantsing struggle that they would sometimes find themselves in
  • The thrill of writing a book without knowing who the bad guy was the entire time until the idea of who it was struck both of them at the same time
  • The process they use when writing, editing, and re-writing
  • How the two of them think of the reader experience when the writer (as related to the Disney Customer Experience training)
  • Leveraging the cats that they made to draw people in which is a great ice-breaker getting them to the books
  • Thinking about the "writing companions" for the books
  • Leveraging crafted book bags in the same way to generate interest - ie "Where did you get that cool book bag?"
  • Determing what scented candle or wax melt varieties would go well with the different books
  • Something special they did to celebrate the "12 Days of Christmas" that they could provide to all of their fans - cover reveals, sample chapters, recipes, music, other books, etc
  • The benefit of personal touches in the newsletter including the fun that started with Griffin the furry manager
  • How their cats and dogs are the ones explaining what's going on in their writer newsletters and their website store
  • How their main goal isn't to sell books but to ensure that the people who visit their table are having a good time
  • And more . . .


After the interview, Mark reflects on the way the sisters leverage conversational items to draw people to their in person table, their focus on creating a genuinely memorable and entertaining experience (rather than focusing on selling books), and providing intriguing entertainment in their newsletter leveraging their pets' perspectives.


Links of Interest:


Melanie Gilbert and Heather Karn in their own words:

We grew up in the lovely state of Michigan. We lived in a small town in the country, one of those towns where everyone knows everyone. When we graduated from high school, we went to the same college along with our triplet sister. Our younger sister joined us a couple years later. We’re all really close and that has influenced how we write characters who are siblings.

Somehow, we both ended up in Wisconsin a few miles from each other (and even our triplet sister). We now live together and it’s a blast! Wisconsin isn’t too different from where we grew up, so it hasn’t been a big change to live here instead of in Michigan. The only down side to being here is the large lake between us and our family (and Melanie’s in-laws). Going around the lake makes traveling longer, but at least we’re not states away from family. Family is really important to us.

Scribbling Pen Publishing was originally Melanie’s idea. Like Melanie’s other idea about writing a co-written book, it took Heather some time to warm up to the idea. Heather is more of a “think it over” personality while Melanie is a “sounds good, let’s do it” personality. Together, we balance each other out.

Working together has been amazing. We each have strengths where the other has a weakness. Together we accomplish more than we did apart. Our brands are so similar, it only made sense to combine the work to share our love of books with the world.



The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0