Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Beetlebung & the April IWSG

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Beetlebung Corner is the heart of the town of Chilmark, which is located on the southwestern part of Martha's Vineyard. The town hall, Community church, library, and community center are all located at this corner.

For most of my life I thought beetlebung was merely a type of tree. It is, but it is called Nyssa sylvatica or tupelo everywhere in the world except on Martha's Vineyard. 

The term beetlebung comes from the island's whaling history. Whaling was a booming industry on the Vineyard for much of the 19th century, as whale oil was in high demand throughout the world. The Vineyarders stored the oil in large wooden casks for exporting, and the tools they used to make the casks were harvested from the local tupelo trees. They made wooden mallets called "beetles" and wooden stoppers called "bungs" for use with the casks, and thus the trees became beetlebung trees. 

The whaling industry is long gone, but the beetlebung name remains. 

The picture below was taken at Beetlebung Corner and is a good example of the town signs that are commonplace on the island. I've always liked this corner because when we come to it from our cottage in West Tisbury it means we are close to two of my favorite places, Menemsha and Aquinnah.

Today is not just "B" day for those of us participating in the A to Z Challenge, it's also the day for the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

This month I'm insecure about the same thing I was last month - public speaking and the author events I have coming up in May and June. But as I posted on Friday, I participated in a small event for local authors last week and had such a good time that I feel much better about the other events now. I've also been practicing and following the great advice I received from others last month, so I feel more secure about the whole thing. Fingers crossed that continues! :)

My A-Z of Martha's Vineyard theme is inspired by my book, The Ghosts of Aquinnah, which is set on the island. Click here for all the info on the book.


  1. Cool name!
    You've had some experience now and the more you do those appearances, the less worried you'll be.

  2. "Beetlebung" sounds like a Harry Potter word. :)

    And I've got a whaling type theme - a twisted one, of course - in my W post. (Boy, W seems far away….)

  3. @Alex, I hope so, thanks!

    @Madeline, oh, it does! I hadn't thought of that but it would fit in perfectly with Harry's world LOL.

    @SA, thanks!

  4. You will feel better and better about speaking in public with practice. When I first began teaching chemistry classes as a graduate student, I was petrified. After a while, it became second nature. I still tense up a bit, even now, but that's a good thing. As soon as you start taking speaking events for granted, the quality of your presentation will go down.

  5. Glad you're feeling more secure about your upcoming events. Good luck!

  6. That is great you enjoyed your first local author event! You're probably on your way to becoming more and more comfortable at them. Beetlebung Corner is such a colorful town name. Who knew? I used to entertain my son with whaling stories after our visit to Mystic Seaport in CT. He became obsessed with them :-)

  7. Oh I'm so pleased the first appearance went well. It bodes well for the others don't you think? Interesting to read where the name in your book title comes from, too. :)

  8. And the chocolate store - don't forget Chilmark Chocolates! YUM. And I'm so glad you're feeling even a tiny bit better about public speaking. You're going to be great - I know it :)

  9. I enjoyed learning about the beetlebung trees-very interesting. I know you'll do a great job with those speaking engagements-way to put yourself out there.

  10. Practicing what you want to say and taking a deep breath are very useful when speaking in public.

    That's really cool about how that tree got its name.

  11. Beetlebung - love it! Thanks for the history lesson.

    I really want to visit Martha's Vineyard already, and I've only seen 2 of your posts so far.

  12. Beettlebung...interesting. You'd think it would a beetle basher for beetles not whales...oh well.

    As for the public, teach them what you know. See them as friends.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  13. Interestng, I haven't heard of any of this before.

  14. I've done a lot of public speaking lately, mainly introducing movies at film festivals. The stress and insecurity gets better over time but it never goes away completely. At least not in my case.

  15. Beetlebung is so much fun to say! :) I'm happy that you're feeling better about public speaking. My fingers are crossed for you!

  16. Very interesting about where the term beetlebung came from! I'm also a writer and also very insecure about public appearances. I, too, am scheduled to do one in May where I have to speak to 150 women and I'm sooo nervous. I'm trying to force myself to stick with it. Good luck!
    ~Visiting from A to Z

  17. Julie, it should get easier as time goes on.

  18. Hi, Julie,

    Such fun... SO glad your theme is about the island....

    I must admit my heart skips a beat every time I see the GHOSTS cover.... It's one of my absolute FAVORITES...

    Fun nickname...

    Hope all is well!

  19. Fascinating.

    Hey, I hear public speaking is the #1 fear, so you're in good company. I wonder how many in your writing group feel the exact same way.

  20. @Ken, that's a good point about taking the events for granted. I doubt I'll ever get to that point but it's good to remember!

    @Sarah, thanks!

    @Kim, oh, I think I visited Mystic when I was a kid but the memory is fuzzy. There are so many cool places in New England.

    @Shah, I hope so, thanks!

    @Liz, YES, that is the best chocolate I've ever had. :D

    @Tim, I hope so, thanks so much.

    @Cherie, yeah, I know I need to do tons of practicing or I'll just draw a blank LOL.

    @Trisha, isn't it a cool name? I love it.

    @Shelly, you would think so but Vineyarders have their own ways of doing things LOL.

    @Inger, glad you liked it. :)

    @Vanessa, I don't think it will for me either but it's great to know it's gotten better for you.

    @Christine, I know, I love the word LOL. Thanks!

    @Paige, oh, good luck with your event! I will keep my fingers crossed for you. Great to meet you!

    @Karen, I hope so, fingers crossed. :)

    @Michael, I've had so many nice comments on that cover, I adore it!

  21. Interesting about the whaling industry.

    You'll do great with the speaking because you are so knowledgeable! Good luck.

    Mary Montague Sikes

  22. @Crystal, I do think there are a lot of us!

    @Mary, aww, thanks!

  23. I also think that Beetlebung Corner sounds like a name right out of a storybook. Glad your last book signing event turned out so well, and it's a sign of many good things to come!


  24. Hi Julie .. love Beetlebung and then finding out its origins .. what a lovely tree to have around.

    I like those signs too .. I'm sure you'll become more comfortable as you do more public meetings, author signings etc ..

    Cheers and Beetlebung is wonderful!! Hilary

  25. I will always be insecure about public speaking so consider me in your club. Yes, I just invited myself lol.

    Beetlebung-I like how it sounds! Glad to learn its origin too, so fascinating to learn all these fun facts ;)

  26. Beetlebung . . . what a name! It sounds like a root that Hermione Granger would use in a potion. lol

  27. @Julie, I hope it's a good sign, thanks!

    @Hilary, aren't the signs charming? I just love them. Thanks!

    @SK, I am happy to have you in my club LOL.

    @Chrys, LOL it's amazing how well this fits in with Harry Potter. :)

  28. "Beetlebung" is such a funny name! If I were to guess what it meant, it would have nothing to do with casks. lol

    You're getting so many author signings and speaking engagements, you'll be an expert at it soon, and we'll be asking you for advice! :)

  29. I loved the Beetlebung story!

    Good for you that you're feeling better about public appearances. Those strike fear in my heart, too.

    IWSG #243, until Alex culls the list again.

  30. Public speaking is probably one of those things you will have to conquer each time you have to do it.

  31. @Lexa, yeah, I would never have guessed the meaning. I can't imagine ever getting that much experience but it would be nice! :D

    @Melissa, glad you liked it. :)

    @Nana, yeah, I think so, it just doesn't come naturally to me at all.

  32. You've done it once successfully, I'm sure the upcoming events will be just as good. Hopefully it should get a little easier each time. Best of luck :)

  33. Such an odd but interesting name.

    Each signing will get easier and soon you'll be a pro!

  34. "Beetlebung", that is a funny one. It's an interesting piece of information :)

  35. @Suzanne, I hope so, fingers crossed.

    @Yolanda, that would be nice, thanks!

    @Laura, isn't it? LOL.

  36. I knew about bungs, but I'd never heard of beetlebung trees!

    As to the public speaking, it always seems so hard until it's done, then your think, "That was fun!"

  37. Beetlebung, how interesting! All that whaling history just begs writing about...which you do well here :)

  38. You have a locals knowledge of the Vineyard, which is fun to learn about.

    I'm glad you enjoyed your event. From the pics, it looked like you did.

  39. wonderful post!
    so happy for your signing!
    and how was the mad anthony conference? did you go?
    it only gets easier!
    and next month we get to go to columbus! yay, julie!

  40. I lived in Massachusetts for over 60 years and visited the Vineyard several times. How, oh how did I never hear of beetlebung? I love the word.

  41. I love hearing random, local names for things, and beetlebung is fantastic!

    Once you take part in one event, the insecurity tends to dissipate. Glad you had fun last week :-)

  42. I read the name beetlebung and started giggling. It made me think of a little bug shaking it's tush dancing. :)

  43. I love the name beetlebung! I'm sure you'll do fine with your appearances. Good luck!

  44. I am reading without my reading glasses and thought your topic was Beetlejuice on first glance!

    I like your actual A-Z theme quite a lot.

    As for the public speaking, I'm with you. Just keep doing it, and if possible stand behind something. If there's anything local, let me know and I'll try to stop by to cheer you on.

  45. I'm not sure if I've seen Beetlebung before.

    I'm glad you're feeling better about making appearances.

  46. I was nervous too, but in reality...readers aren't like regular people. They are awesome. Just tell them you are nervous and they will be so nice, pretty soon you're like old friends.

  47. Good to hear you are becoming comfortable with public speaking. I need to start addressing that in my monthly posts. I can talk to a group of people, but if it requires getting up in front and giving a speech, I forget what I'm supposed to say.
    Gail visiting for AtoZ and IWSG

  48. interesting place.. When i read the name Beetlebung i thought u were talking about some kind of Beetls :oops:

    Thanks for sharing Julie :)

  49. Whaling history, beetle bung trees...I'm learning all sorts of things today. You will do fine with publicity Julie, just keep moving forward.

  50. @Lee, you know that's a great point and what happened with the small event I was part of last week. I hope it will be true for the rest as well.

    @Sharon, thank you! I love writing about the island.

    @Mary, I really did, it was fun.

    @Tara, I decided not to go to Mad Anthony,I'll get there next year. Can't wait for C-bus!

    @Bob, if you make another trip to the island you should go to Beetlebung Corner. :)

    @Annalisa, I hope so, thank you.

    @Loni, LOL LOL. Now I'll think of that too. :D

    @Km, thanks!

    @Tonja, yeah, it reminds me of Beetlejuice too LOL. I'll definitely let you know, I really appreciate that!

    @Medeia, thanks, I hope it continues. :)

    @Elizabeth, LOL I guess it's no surprise readers are awesome. :D

    @Gail, that's just how I am, I forget what I planned to say. Fingers crossed I can overcome that.

    @meg, thanks for reading! :)

    @Sheena, I will try, thanks for the encouragement!

  51. Love this random factoid!

    And HUGE congrats on making progress in overcoming some of your fears- that's fantastic!

  52. Author appearances and events always fray my nerves, but like you, I attended a few smaller events and I feel much better these days. I'll always get nervous, but at least now I know what to expect.

    Best of luck!

  53. @Bev, thanks so much, I appreciate that!

    @Georgina, I do think the small events help. Thanks and best of luck to you too!


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