2020 SoCo Writers in Print

Sonoma County Writers Published in 2020

Ransom Stephens—The Book of Bastards

The Book of Bastards“Rich fantasy worldbuilding … the kind of thoughtful, character-driven story that makes your brain whirl, your imagination dance, and your heart surge.”
– J.M. Frey, bestselling author of The Accidental Turn Series.

In a world of whimsical faeries, bigoted elves, affectionate mermaids (and merbutlers!), a tyrant incites a violent rebellion that destroys a delightful kingdom. Only a cursed innkeeper, a powerless queen, a handful of pirates, and a dozen bastards stand in the way of total devastation. The Book of Bastards is a rollicking, bawdy tale. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll sing! You’ll also need a drink.

“Riveting, intense plot of righteous vengeance with tongue-in-cheek banter.”
– Brian D Anderson, bestselling author of The Bard and the Blade.

Available in ebook and print on January 14, 2021. Preorder the ebook now at a very special price, choose your retailer: https://theintoxicatingpage.com/buy-books.htm#BoB-main!

More information at www.ransomstephens.com

Jonah Raskin—Dark Past Dark Future

Dark Past Dark FutureInto the Dark Heart of Sonoma Noir with recently published Dark Past Dark Future. Jonah Raskin is the author of a series of detective novels that take readers on wild rides into a clandestine world rarely glimpsed.

Sonoma detective Tioga Vignetta finds herself caught up in intrigue that threatens to blow the lid off the city where she lives and works. There’s hidden loot, a band of pornographers who exploit young women and a cast of eccentric characters, who include a Mexican farmworker turned investigator, Jack London fans and members of an old farming family.

Jonah Raskin has lived in Sonoma County since 1976. He taught literature and media at Sonoma State University for 30 years, and he’s the author of 16 books, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry which he performs locally with musicians. A columnist for The Bohemian and The Pacific Sun, he has been a film critic, a restaurant reviewer and an investigative journalist.

Available on Amazon

Alla Crone—Nemesis

Nemesis, a Novel by Alla CroneWhat attracts most people to read a newly published book? They browse along the colorful bindings in a bookstore, pull out the titles that interest them, and read the summary. Is it a mystery, a historical, a contemporary? Is the setting of interest? Nemesis? Without giving away the secret that is at the heart of the story, you should know that for a long time it casts a dark shadow over the heroine’s ability to live a full life after she makes a senseless mistake.This is a story of unforgiving guilt, until an unexpected redemption is offered this Russian woman who lives in Harbin, China, between 1909 and 1939, during the turbulent years of WWI, the fall of Imperial Russia, and emergence of Communist Revolution.

Alla Crone is an award-winning author of eleven historical novels, several of which were translated and published in Russian and Italian. Critics compared Alla’s writing to Ayn Rand and called her first novel, East Lies the Sun, a Zhivagian epic. She has articles published in the Christian Science Monitor, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and other periodicals. 

Wordrunner Press
ISBN: 978-1941066461
146 pages, perfect bound, 6.0 x 9.0 inches
$15.00, paperback, $2.99 kindle 

To purchase this book:

Insistent Grace by Elizabeth HerronElizabeth Herron—Insistent Grace

Like deep breaths drawn effortlessly in, the poems and images of Insistent Grace are satisfying to the core. Filled with the aromas of salt fog, summer grass, redwood creeks, eucalyptus, and bay, they weave together the human and the more-than-human worlds. In the time of global pandemic and climate crisis, Elizabeth Herron evokes Mother Nature’s insistent grace — a power that compels respect and can help us heal ourselves and our planet — if we are resolute.

$17. Available from Fernwood Press or Amazon.

Marylu DowningDesire, Secrets, Bones

Desire, Secrets, BonesHaunts and memories, tender love and treachery, visits to shores, to other times; these poems will pierce your heart. Marylu Downing combines poetry and painted imagery in a substantial collection that tethers the reader to the page. 

Vivid imagery, humor in the ordinary, and the complexities of intimate relationship are what propel Marylu Downing’s writing. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in anthologies, on-line, in newspapers and magazines. When she is not writing, or in the garden, she may be found in her art studio. Contact her through her website www.studioml.com

$10.00. Available from Staring Problem Press: www.staringproblempress.com/shop/desire-secrets-bones-by-marylu-downing

Steve Trennan—An Affront to Gravity: Poems and Salutations

An Affront to Gravity: Poems and Salutations“In this remarkable collection, Trenam is able to transform empty and blank spaces into places of worship that entice the reader to leave “the dark corners of our rooms” to experience not only the world that he creates through these poems, but also the ways in which art, music, dance, and poetry are rooted ‘at the heart of things.’” —Megan Merchant

An Affront to Gravity, is available October, 2020 from Blue Light Press. Purchase on Amazon: www.amazon.com/Affront-Gravity-Steve-Trenam/dp/1421836750.

Jeffrey S. Bartfeld—A Poet’s Portrait of Point Reyes

A Poet’s Portrait of Point Reyes“As these visionary poems and breathtaking photographs speak to one another, we recognize the world they open as the sacred dimension of prayer—an interior region vast enough to contain not only our joy, but also our sorrows, nostalgia, longing, wonder, and most especially, the mystery of being alive. Take the renewing pilgrimage this book offers often—whenever you long to remember the light.” —Prartho Sereno, Poet-Laureate Emerita of Marin County

Available October 31, 2020. Price: $20. Order from: Jeffrey S Bartfeld / PO Box 1681, / Sonoma, CA 95476
Contact Jeffrey: words.images@bartfeld.com

Joan Frank—The Outlook for Earthlings

The Outlook for Earthlings. Joan FrankThe Outlook for Earthlings considers the limits of friendship—and of witnessing. It asks how we may finally measure a life—and who should do the measuring.

The novel has been warmly praised by significant voices: Peter Orner, Julie Buntin, Joan London, and Elizabeth Rosner among them. ForeWord Reviews summarizes: “With technicolor period details, intense reflections, and devastating acuity about women’s compromises in love, The Outlook for Earthlings is an elegant elegy.”

Read a review at Coffee Spew: https://coffeespew.org/2020/09/07/the-outlook-for-earthlings/

Regal House Publishing. To be released October 2. The book may be pre-ordered at: www.regalhousepublishing.com/product/the-outlook-for-earthlings

Joan Frank is the author of ten books of literary fiction and nonfiction. Information at: www.joanfrank.org

Margo Perin—Plexiglass

Plexiglass, Margo PerinPlexiglass is an interwoven collection of poetry on the story within the story within the story of the prison industrial complex, with a focus on how black and brown communities are particularly targeted for incarceration. With a foreword by Mexican poet Valerie Mejer Caso, Plexiglass includes the voices of incarcerated men and women with whom Margo worked in jails and prisons.
Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwgezEcHTUI

Plexiglass is a beautiful dispatch from the sea line of human oblivion; where teacher and student find insights like a graveyard shift for a church pianist. A smile inching through the corridors of a prison industrial complex; our humanity is repressed, but still lightning. Here is revealed the physics of a trench where poems become veins turning empty space into flesh.”
— TONGO EISEN-MARTIN winner of the American Book Award for Heaven Is All Goodbyes

Whoa Nelly Press, $14.99 print, $9.99 e-book. Available from Ingram, Amazon, local bookstores, and wherever books are sold.

Redwood Writers—Sunset Sunrise: A Collection of Endings & Beginnings

Sunset SunriseAnthology edited by Crissi Langwell. From the beginning of a love affair to the end of a marriage, from the start of a journey to the end of the road, from the first signs of life to the very last breath, this anthology of stories by members of Redwood Writers shares tales of endings and beginnings, shining a light on the sunset or sunrise of a moment in fiction or memoir form. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn.” In this collection of short stories, discover the promises in each ending, and the hope in each beginning. Established in 1975, Redwood Writers is the largest of 23 branches of the California Writers Club, a nonprofit association founded in 1909. 

Available on Amazon, 386 pages, $15.00

Iris Jamahl Dunkle—Charmian Kittredge London: Trailblazer, Author, Adventurer

Charmain Kittredge LondonCharmian Kittredge London (1871–1955) was the epitome of a modern woman. Free-spirited and adventurous, she defied modern expectations of femininity. Today she is best known as the wife of the famous American author Jack London, yet she was a literary trailblazer in her own right. This biography is the first book to tell the complete story of Charmian’s life—freed from the shadow cast by her famous husband.

University of Oklahoma Press, publication on September 17, 2020.
Copies are available for pre-order from the University of Oklahoma Press.
Or, you can order copies directly through your local bookstores.

Renée Owen—This One Life

Renée Owen - This One LifeBackbone Press announces the 2nd Place Winner of its Haiku Chapbook Contest, This One Life, a collection of haiku from poet Renée Owen. Praise for This One Life includes Cherie Hunter Day, Assoc. Editor of The Heron’s Nest, who writes: “This One Life continues the conversation in haiku…started in Alone on a Wild Coast (Snapshot Press). Renée…remains open to nature’s seemingly endless capacity for renewal. Hope comes unbidden in the face of doubt, frailty, and discouragement. This is her love letter to all of us as she hikes the wilds near her home in northern California.” And Chuck Brickley, Assoc. Editor Emeritus of Modern Haiku writes: “…A haiku is a place where the world outside and within become, momentarily, felt as one and the same. In…This One Life, such moments abound…” All of the haiku in this chapbook have previously been published in journals internationally, and awards for individual haiku include the Haiku Foundation’s Touchstone Award, the Haiku Society of America’s contests, Modern Haiku’s Favorite Poem of Issue award, the Haiku Calendar Competition from Snapshot Press and San Francisco International Haiku Contests. The book’s cover features artwork by talented local artist and arts educator Betsy Kellas, whose work explores the visual and psychological impact of highly abstract images.

Now available from Backbone Press at https://backbonepress.org/category/titles/

Gail Newman—Blood Memory

Gail Newman BLOOD MEMORYBlood Memory traces the path of Holocaust survivors from Poland to America during and after World War II. The poems encompass the themes of memory, immigration, assimilation and the legacy and impact of genocide on the second generation. The book was honored with a Marsh Hawk Press First Place Award, chosen by Marge Piercy. 

“There isn’t a weak poem in the book. Writing about the Holocaust can be difficult now, not that it was ever easy. …Those who deny what happened multiply. To make fresh powerful poems rooted in Shoah is amazing. She does it by specifics. There are no faceless men in dirty ragged striped uniforms. The people are individualized.” —Marge Piercy

Marsh Hawk Press, $15. Available from Small Press Distribution, Amazon or local bookstores.

Marlene Cullen, editor — The Write Spot: Writing as a Path to Healing

The Write Spot: Writing as a Path to HealingThe Write Spot: Writing as a Path to Healing, the sixth book in The Write Spot series, is a collection of short pieces illustrating the healing power of writing. The contributing writers delve into the pain of their past, reveal their vulnerabilities, and share the lessons they’ve learned. Their courage is written on every page of this collection.

The resources section contains information about freewriting, tips for self-care when writing about difficult topics, how to manage stress, calming techniques, ideas for recharging, and recommended books.

Contributing writers: Bella Mahaya Carter, Carol Hoorn, Christine Falcon-Daigle, Constance Hale, Dave Seter, Diane Dupuis, Diane McKay, DS Briggs, Hannah Jern-Miller, Helen Pitt, Jennifer Parsons-Pritchard, Jordan Rosenfeld, Karen Handyside Ely, Kathy Guthormsen, Marjorie Richardson, Marlene Cullen, Nancy Julien Kopp, Shawn Langwell, Susan Bono, Susan Hagen, Susie Moses, Suzanne Murray, Ted A. Moreno, Teri Sloat 

Available on Amazon in print and ebook format: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1941066445

Ida Rae Egli — Krisanthi’s War: in Hitler’s Greece

Krisanthi’s War: in Hitler’s GreeceMcCaa Books proudly announces its latest title: Krisanthi’s War: in Hitler’s Greece, by Ida Rae Egli, a novel inspired by real events and years of interviewing Greek World War II survivors. It chronicles the life of three women who must join together in order to survive Hitler’s occupation of Athens and island Rhodes. The war takes them to near starvation and to a violence they could not have imagined, but also to romantic love, to the birthing of babies, to village humor, and the bravery of local resistance fighters. By working together the women have a chance of surviving the war, though the costs to themselves, to family, and to Greece are high. Krisanthi’s War: in Hitler’s Greece is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.com, at McCaaBooks.com, and at local bookstores.

Kathleen Winter—Transformer

Transformer by Kathleen WinterKathleen Winter’s third collection of poems, Transformer, was published in March 2020 by The Word Works. It was the 2019 selection for The Hilary Tham Collection imprint, chosen by judge Maggie Smith. The book contains free verse lyric poems gathered in four sections focused on themes of violence against women, ekphrasis, marriage, and elegy. The work includes a wide range of tone and structure. Poems in the book originally were published by The New Republic, Poetry Society of America Web, Tin House, Agni, 32 Poems, New American Writing and many other journals. Praised by Maggie Smith, Dean Rader, and Kathryn Nuernberger, the book is available from the publisher’s website as well as Small Press Distribution. 

The 99% Solution. Ransom Stephens

Ransom Stephens—The 99% Solution

On May 15, 2020, the audio version of Ransom Stephens’ The 99% Solutionintense, funny, timely political fictionwill be available everywhere audiobooks are sold! Check out the trailer/excerpt herehttps://youtu.be/M7eq022RUYg

If you’re among the 99% and need a free copy, ask ransom@ransomstephens.com, he probably owes you a favor anyway!

Redwood Writers2020 Poetry Anthology: And Yet

Redwood Writers 2020 Poetry Anthology: And YetRedwood Writers Poetry Anthology depicts the rich and varied aspects of life in Sonoma County. In this volume, enhanced by our cover artists Linda Loveland Reid and Rebecca Smith, you will find poems that express the heart and talent of our community. True to the process of constantly trying to improve our work, we are proud to present these poems, saying as Issa did in his haiku that opens the introduction to this book: “and yet.”

Les Bernstein and Fran Claggett-Holland, editors; Linda Loveland Reid, front cover art; Rebecca Smith, back cover art

ISBN: 978-0-9977544-7-6
266 pages, perfect bound, 6 x 9 inches

This book may be purchased at: amazon.com and other book sellers

Brenda Bellinger—Taking Root

Taking RootTaking Root, a coming-of-age novel, is a story of betrayal and courage. Seventeen-year-old Delaney Moran is trying to make it on her own, but panic attacks threaten her independence. Luella, a determined social worker, and Murray, the owner of a music store, want to help her, but in doing so they uncover a secret from her past.

Wordrunner Press
ISBN: 978-1941066393
248 pages, perfect bound, 5.25 x 8.0 inches
$14.99, paperback
$2.99, e-book

More information on Brenda and her writing is found at: https://brendabellinger.com
This book may be purchased on

Ulalume González de Leόn—Plagios/Plagarisms

A bilingual edition, translated by Terry Ehret, John Johnson, and Nancy J. Morales

Plagios/PlagarismsPoet, essayist, and translator Ulalume González de Leόn believed that “Everything has already been said,” and thus each act of creation is a rewriting, reshuffling, and reconstructing of one great work. For this reason, she chose the title Plagios (Plagiarisms) for her book of collected poems. Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz called González de León “the best Mexicana poet since Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,” recognizing the visionary quality of her work. This first of three bilingual volumes presents several short collections of poems González de Leόn produced from 1968 to 1971, each of which explores the ephemeral nature of identity and its dependence on the ever-shifting ground of language and memory.

Publication date: April 2, 2020
Paperback / 168 pages
ISBN: 978-1-939639-20-2
Price: $20

Dani Burlison—Some Places Worth Leaving

Some Places Worth Leaving. Dani BurlisonSome Places Worth Leaving is a collection of short stories about women and girls and their attempts at escaping various emotional, physical, and spiritual predicaments. From creative and sometimes disturbing coping mechanisms to revenge fantasies, bad habits and magic spells, the characters in these stories provide an invitation into the dark side of what it is like to be female and the lengths women will go to survive in the world.

Published by Tolsun Books, February 2020. Also available in bookstores and on Amazon.

Joan Frank—Try to Get Lost

Try to Get Lost, Joan FrankThrough the author’s travels in Europe and the United States, Try to Get Lost explores the quest for place that compels and defines us: the things we carry, how politics infuse geography, media’s depictions of an idea of home, the ancient and modern reverberations of the word “hotel,” and the ceaseless discovery generated by encounters with self and others on familiar and foreign ground. Frank posits that in fact time itself may be our ultimate, inhabited place—the “vastest real estate we know,” with a “stunningly short” lease.

“Frank affirms that [travel] provides the most passionate, permanent, and life-changing education available. Along with revealing the workings of a curious writer’s mind, the book highlights the deeper questions: “Where should we be? Why?” Whether sparkling or curmudgeonly…Try to Get Lost records the ups and downs of travel with wit, insight, and unfailing honesty.” — FOREWORD REVIEWS

$19.95 University of New Mexico Press, February 15, 2020

Joan FrankWhere You’re All Going: Four Novellas

Where You're All Going, Joan FrankIn her quartet of novellas, Joan Frank invites readers into the inner lives of characters bewildered by love, grief, and inexplicable affinities. A young couple navigates a strange friendship and unexpected pregnancy; a woman recalls the bizarre fallout of her former lover’s fame; a lonely widow is drawn to an arrogant young man; a wealthy spiritual seeker grapples with what wealth cannot affect. Witty and humane, Frank taps the riches of the novella form as she writes of loneliness, friendship, loss, and the filaments of intimacy that connect us through time.

“Four lustrous, moving, and life-affirming novellas—the heartaching, worth-the-pain-of-living beauty of the world…a holy undertone…is a channel to grasp meaning. Frank’s wisdom has lessons for us all.” — BOOKLIST

$16.95, Sarabande Books, February 18, 2020

Susan M. Gaines—Accidentals

AccidentalsWhen Gabriel’s immigrant mother returns to her native Uruguay after thirty years in California, he takes a break from his uninspiring desk job to accompany her. A birdwatcher since childhood, Gabe is as intrigued by the unfamiliar species in the wetlands on his squabbling family’s ranch, as he is by crumbling, politics-obsessed Montevideo. But when he falls in love with a local microbiologist, he is transformed from observer to main character in his family’s transnational saga. As Gabe and Alejandra venture more deeply into the marshes, the election ramps up, and the family feuds escalate, they are forced to contend with the environmental cataclysm of their turn-of-millennium present—even as they confront the Cold War era ideologies and political violence that have shaped their families’ past.

“Gorgeous, smart, and surprising, this family saga takes us into the large world of nations and politics, but also the microscopic world of mud and microbes. Tender and powerful. Also with birds!”
– Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and The Jane Austen Book Club

Available from the publisher, Torrey House Press, at Copperfields and on Amazon.

Susan M. Gaines is the author of the novels Accidentals and Carbon Dreams, as well as the non-fiction science narrative Echoes of Life. You can learn more about her work at: http://susanmgaines.com

Barbara L. Baer—The Ice Palace Waltz

baer-ice-palace-waltzOn New Year’s Eve in 1895 in Leadville Colorado, Max Selig and the Grensky brothers, enemies and rivals, watch the youngest members of their families, June Selig and Nathan Grensky, dance and fall in love…

Across the country in New York City, the waning years of the Gilded Age and a failed stock market gamble crushes the dreams of the Greenbaums. Only vivacious, copper-haired Tillie can save her family from ruin by entering into a marriage of convenience.

In The Ice Palace Waltz, two Jewish immigrant families—the rough and ready Western pioneers and the smooth, “our crowd” New Yorkers—come together in a riveting family saga amid the financial and social tumult of early twentieth century America. Baer’s moving multigenerational novel traces the American Jewish experience and the enduring power of family and love.

SBN-13: 978-1948598286
SRP (Paperback) $19.95 / SRP (eBook) $9.99
Available from Open Books

Out of the Ashes, poetry by Jodi HottelJodi Hottel—Out of the Ashes

Jodi Hottel’s poetry chapbook, Out of the Ashes, reflects her personal experience during the 2017 Tubbs fire and its aftermath and the journey to healing and renewal.

20 pages, $5.00

The chapbook may be ordered directly from Jodi Hottel, hottel@sonic.net

Brian R. Martens—Three Raven Gate

Three Raven GateThree Raven Gate is the first book of poetry by Brian R. Martens. It encapsulates his years of study about the mystery of life. While offering no magic solutions to life, many of the well-tuned haiku and poems challenge us to pause and think.

“Brian Martens is a master of the traditional Japanese art form known as the haiku, which is short and compact. He also writes longer poems, which give him the opportunity to explore big topics like time and space, mystery and what he calls ‘Vision Wind’…. Three Raven Gate is a feast for the eye and the ear.”
—Jonah Raskin. Author of Natives, Newcomers, Exiles

Three Raven Gate is available at Copperfields in Sebastopol, Petaluma, and Montgomery Village, and soon to be in Novato. The book is also on Amazon and is in kindle form and paperback. www.brianrmartens.com

Joan Broughton—The Knot

The Knot - Joan BroughtonLove was never easy for Genie Maguire. Her high school boyfriend Victor nearly broke her spirit, then reappeared years later, determined to finish the job. Genie moves to Sonoma County to escape the pain and finds the life she always dreamed of—a successful career, great friends, and Charlie, the good man she marries. When they exchange vows, Genie gives him a Celtic knot symbolizing eternal love, and Charlie promises to wear it forever.

Everything changes when Charlie is shot and killed in a random street crime. Genie must return to Boston to honor a promise Charlie made, but she doesn’t want to make the trip. She’s sure that the police have it wrong about Charlie’s murder. And Boston is where she fled from Victor.

The Knot is a novel about family, love, and resiliency, and how one woman overcomes loss to live a beautiful life.

The Knot is available in print and ebook on Amazon.

Susan Swartz—Laughing in the Dark

Laughing in the DarkSusan Swartz’s first novel, Laughing in the Dark, revolves around three old friends who together tackle infidelity, the latest in California dying styles and the inevitable absurdities of aging. As the book’s subtitle says: Girlfriends are the Best Medicine.

A resident of Sebastopol and long-time columnist for the Press Democrat and other newspapers, Susan’s nonfiction includes Juicy Tomatoes: Plain Truths, Dumb Lies and Sisterly Advice After 50 and The Juicy Tomatoes Guide to Ripe Living After 50. 

ISBN 978-1948598187, 195 pages, $17.95
Order from Amazon.

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