Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Shroud by Steven and Michael Meleon

The Shroud: a culture war between science and religion by Sonoma residents Steven and Michael Meloan

The Shroud begins with a classic adventure story premise—a genetic research team from the NIH has been asked by the Vatican to use the latest findings of the Human Genome Project to shed new light on the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. The investigative journey has global repercussions, and takes the story from Washington D.C., to Israel, to Belize.
Within this adventure narrative, Steven and Michael Meloan have created strong and believable characters—the intrepid woman journalist, the slightly wounded brilliant doctor, the researcher with a heart, the rogue genetic scientist, and the transient college buddy who has spiritually transcended. There are also supporting gems—the good-hearted ship’s captain, and the computer hacker cousin operating at the edge of the law.
The Shroud offers explorations at the edges of current science—from reanimation imaging based on genetic sequences, to ethnogenomics and the politics of cloning and stem cell research. But beyond the specific genetic analysis of the Shroud of Turin, the book explores far bigger topics—the human spiritual impulse, the impact of organized religion in the modern era, "tribalism" and its manifestations in human behavior, and the arguable re-convergence of science and spirituality within certain scientific disciplines.

Throughout the story, as conflict with those wishing to protect their institutions and beliefs rises, a new possibility unfolds. In a synthesis of all things "spiritual but not religious", the Meloans offer a manifesto for a third millennium spirituality that is based on compassion, transcendence, and peace. In fact, they have created a website ( supporting this component of the book. Where will the novel end and the "real world" call for a new spiritual movement to begin?
Buy Local Author’s Books Here:

The Bean Affair, 1270 Healdsburg Ave, #101, Healdsburg
Geyserville Mud, 21065 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville
The Dry Creek Store, 3495 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg
The Barking Dog Roasters, 18133 Sonoma Hwy., Sonoma
The Barking Dog Roasters (II), 201 W. Napa St., Sonoma
Café de Croissants, 6580 Oakmont Dr., Oakmont
Kenwood Farmhouse Gift shop, 9255 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood
Bungalow Coffee and Tea, near Molsberry Market, Larksfield
Café Noto, 630 McClelland Dr., Windsor
Muffin Street Baking, 52 Mission Circle, Santa Rosa (McDonald/Mission shopping center)
Pearson & Co. Expresso & Take Out/McCoy's Cookware, 2759 4th St., Santa Rosa (Near Farmer's Lane, next to Safeway)
Local Folkal, 117 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale
 Aqus Coffee shop, 189 H St., Petaluma
Apple Box Coffee shop, 224 B St., Petaluma
Off the Track Café, 6544 Front Street, Forestville

Local authors who wish to place their books may contact Jeane Slone:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book Review: Accidental Cowgirl, Six Cows, No Horse and No Clue!

“In 1990 we heard the wilderness call to us, and God help us, we answered.”

So begins Accidental Cowgirl: Six Cows, No Horse and No Clue, the cautionary tale of two greenhorns who spent twelve years trying vainly to run a rustic cattle ranch on the fringes of California’s Six Rivers National Forest.

These were two city folk who had met through a newspaper ad in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat in 1984, and were looking for Shangri-La (a relaxing country retreat),
in the far northern wilds of Trinity County.

“Before we could say, ‘What were we thinking?’ we found ourselves the stewards of 120-acre, lush, Twin Creeks Ranch, which came with six cows, two cats and a flock of wild turkeys. (The former owner also tried to throw in his old dog, but they had to draw the line somewhere.)

Carl was a California transplant from New York City, whose knowledge of the ranching life was limited to pulling weeds in his mother’s rose garden. She was an interior designer raised on a rustic chicken ranch in Soquel, California, who had spent most of her life trying to forget her humble beginnings.

There was never a more unlikely pair. But they persevered, though both were over fifty when they began their rural adventure.

First, they made the mistake of naming their cows: Big Mama and Baby, Hortense and Hamburger, Pansy and Peaches and Paco and Curly and, well, you get the idea.
It was crazy. It was also funny and sad. They worked their tails off, and in return, were given one of the most uplifting experiences of their lives.

You’ll laugh out loud as Mary Lynn Archibald recounts the couple’s struggles as they tilt at their own personal windmills. When you can’t believe it really happened there’s a photograph showing it did!

Accidental Cowgirl is a hilarious backwoods romp and a wonderful, fast read. If you’ve ever had the yen to get back to nature, read this book first. If you can put it down before the end, you’re doing better than I did!

Buy local author’s books here:

The Bean Affair, 1270 Healdsburg Ave, #101, Healdsburg
Geyserville Mud, 21065 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville
The Dry Creek Store, 3495 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg
The Barking Dog Roasters, 18133 Sonoma Hwy., Sonoma
The Barking Dog Roasters (II), 201 W. Napa St., Sonoma
Café de Croissants, 6580 Oakmont Dr., Oakmont
Kenwood Farmhouse Gift shop, 9255 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood
Bungalow Coffee and Tea, near Molsberry Market, Larksfield
Café Noto, 630 McClelland Dr., Windsor
Muffin Street Baking, 52 Mission Circle, Santa Rosa (McDonald/Mission shopping center)
Pearson & Co. Expresso & Catering/McCoy's Cookware, 2759 4th St., Santa Rosa (Near Farmer's Lane, next to Safeway)
Local Folkal, 117 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale
 Aqus Coffee shop, 189 H St., Petaluma
Apple Box Coffee shop, 224 B St., Petaluma

Invite a local author to your book club email


Friday, March 25, 2011

Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing by Carolyn CJ Jones

Welcome Carolyn! It is wonderful to interview such a talented photographer as well as poet. Your book, Opening the Gates of the Heart : A Journey of Healing is a beautiful hard covered piece of artwork! Carolyn CJ Jones is - Winner, Honorable Mention, Spirituality, New York 2010 Book Festival
- Winner, Honorable Mention, Photography, San Francisco 2010 Book Festival
- Winner, Poetry, Do-It-Yourself 2010 Book Festival
How did you begin discovering all the magnificent gates that you photographed?
Thank you so much! I am so pleased you recognize the artistic work in my book. The story of how I discovered the gates is a little unusual. I discovered the ones which appear in the book quite by accident in a small hilly community in the San Francisco Bay Area.
It was February of 2001, and I was sitting in the cockpit of the boat where I had lived until seven months earlier, when I left my marriage and the boat I called home. I had decided I needed to go on a road trip to “find myself,” and I was at the boat to say goodbye to my ex-husband.
As I sat in the cockpit, I looked at the hills around me and realized there was a neighborhood I had not visited. Thinking I would never return to the area, I went to visit, just out of curiosity, as I had heard of this community for years. There I discovered the most beautiful gates - old entrances to mansions. I fell in love with the designs of the gates, the way the light reflected off of them, the puzzles of brick and stone surrounding them, and the lush foliage.
After discovering the gates, I left on my road trip, vowing to photograph them if ever I returned to the area, because I am an avid photographer. I did return in February of 2004 and went to shoot them. They are the bulk of the gate photographs in my book. Incidentally, the photos are digitized from slides and a few from film. In other words, I did not shoot the gates with a digital camera.

 I especially enjoy the profound and heartfelt prose poetry that you join so perfectly with a photo of each gate on every page. Did the process of the photography and prose poetry take quite a while?

Yes, it did. Once I returned to the Bay Area in 2004 and photographed the gates, it was nine months later that the realization came to me that I was creating a book. It then took six more years off and on for me to develop the book, and to get up the nerve to present it to the world.
The process of the prose poetry took much longer. I started journaling in 1999, in response to my confusion, while still married, about feelings I had developed for another man. That journaling became my touch with reality, with my sanity, both of which were shaky at the time.
I continued my journaling even after I injured my dominant wrist in July, 2002, while I was working at a boating store. As I could not stop journaling, and as it hurt too much to write with my right hand, I taught myself to write with my left hand. It was in November of 2004 that I discovered prose in my journals that described about one-half of the gates I had titled and was preparing to frame.

 Tell us about your journaling and how it led to prose poetry and your photographs.

When I began journaling, it was in response to my feelings for a man, as I said above. I was only able to write about incidents, experiences, and events that occurred between this man and I, and my husband and I, as I attempted to figure out what was happening in my heart.
However, it was not until I started writing left-handed that my feelings began to surface in any type of manner, and surface they did! Deep thoughts kept coming up and frequently, I stopped after writing something profound and said out loud, “Where in the world did THAT come from?”
So, “over here,” I was journaling and “over there,” I had photographed these lovely gates that I began to title and frame, in anticipation of showing them in art galleries. These were two separate and distinct processes that were occurring at the same time.
One morning in late November, 2004, I wrote in my journal, words which described an image I had just named Webs of Fear.  What I wrote was, “I have spent a lifetime of terror and shame spinning webs between the spires that stand as sentinels to my heart.”  Bear in mind that I did not write these words for that, or any, gate.
I was flabbergasted because these words described my image, giving it voice far beyond the visual element. Once this happened, I searched all of my journals, looking for phrases and paragraphs that talked about my feelings, from despair to joy. I looked for anything that referenced ways to treat others and myself better, such as kindness and compassion, as well as good principles of living, such as tolerance, patience, and acceptance.
What I found was prose that gave voice to one-half of the titled photos I had, so about 22 of them out of 40 images. I was amazed, to say the least! It was at that point that I realized I was creating a book. In fact, just over one-half of the gates in the book have verses which came directly from my journals without any changes. Another quarter of my titled images matched with prose when I added a line or stanza to the writing. Over the next six years, I wrote verse specifically for the remaining one quarter of my titled images. These verses and the prose were placed in a poetry format for style in the book.
This is how the prose poetry and photographs came together in a book.
Wow Carolyn, that is an interesting story unto itself!
Tell us about your own personal journey of healing.

Having been through an unexpected divorce several years ago, I did find the book very to be perfect for anyone that needed healing.

An unexpected divorce is very difficult, regardless of which end you are on. It touches my heart that my book was useful to you.
My personal journey includes a history of trauma and abuse, which led to a very poor self-esteem and confidence level, much shame, fear of everyone, feelings of worthlessness, and often, deep despair. I choose not to talk more about this, because I have forgiven and enjoy a relationship with the perpetrators.
At any rate, I discovered alcohol and drugs as a way to numb my feelings of disappointment, hurt, discouragement, and so-forth, and I developed a 26 year career of drinking. I was quite serious about it and frequently drank and drugged myself into oblivion.
Finding myself in an unsatisfying, and often, verbally abusive marriage, I used my tried-and-true methods of numbing myself out. This added to a shaky marriage in a negative way, as you can well imagine.
My husband of 20 years and I spent a fair amount of time searching “out there” for happiness, not understanding that it comes from within. As a result, we decided to move from Colorado to California to live aboard a sailboat and one day go cruising. THAT would make us happy, we were sure.
Hence, the move to a sailboat in the Bay Area. Initially, it was pleasant, as we got involved in major renovation of the boat, a pastime which we both enjoyed, each with our own area of expertise. The newness wore off, however, and the unhappy marriage and arguments resumed.
Another boater suffered a tragedy on his boat, and, in an effort to be supportive, I started hanging around with this man. He was respectful, encouraging, and did not engage in verbal abuse of any kind. I began to develop love for this man. Thinking he reciprocated, I left my marriage, which is a whole other messy story, in order to make myself available to him.
I found out in a most humiliating manner that he, in fact, did not have romantic feelings for me. My response was devastation, as I thought I was reading him so well. I lost touch with reality, and spent the next two months drinking and crying. I could barely function; I couldn’t feed myself, for example. Heck of a weight-loss program…
Toward the end of that two months, I decided I needed a road trip. My plan was to go to San Diego and stay with an old friend whom I discovered was trying to quit drinking. So, I headed south to spend a couple of weeks with her and to “get a handle on my drinking.” One and one-quarter years later, I resumed my road trip, having spent my time in San Diego beginning to learn how to live as a sober person.
While there, I bought and renovated an old full-sized Dodge van, complete with refrig and oven/stove. This lovely place became my home off-and-on for the next three years. As I indicated above, I returned to the Bay Area to say hi and bye and hurt my wrist. Several months after the accident, it was determined I needed major reconstructive surgery.
My next two years were spent trying to locate affordable and appropriate (something other than the van) housing in which to live while I recouped from the surgery. Surgery did not happen in Washington because worker's comp required my return to the Bay Area.
Unable to find affordable housing in the Bay Area, I went to Washington State to housesit the home of one of my friends who lived in Colorado.  While in Washington I discovered my book-in-the-making, as I described above.
After much frenzy and frantic searching for appropriate housing, I moved into an apartment in Marin County and had surgery, from which I spent the next year recovering. I was retrained as a photographer by the work comp system, and made valiant, yet, minimally successful, attempts to sell my framed gate images. These attempts continued for a couple of years, give or take.
During this time, I sought counseling for my continued depression, despair, and hopelessness. The biggest healing has occurred through my work in sobriety, and the major work in sobriety has been my book, my journals. Today, I am a happy and joyful person who delights in the world around her.

What is the most important thing you have learned in the process of creating your book?

The most important thing I have learned is how to become responsible for myself. This starts with keeping a running self-appraisal or assessment going, meaning, I constantly keep track of my actions, words, and thoughts. I consider my part in each and every encounter or experience I have.
Adopting this practice of self-inventory has led to much peace, both within and with those around me. It also has led to forgiveness for people who have hurt me. This has occurred because I realized I did the very thing to another that they did to me. Again, compassion came into play. From compassion I was able to forgive. That does not mean I condone the acts against me, only that I forgive the person.
I have learned to practice self-assessment  through the creation of my book and during the course of learning to live as a sober person. Practicing self-assessment has brought me not only peace, but joy, as well, because I have learned to see life with joy. And this comes from one who spent a lifetime hurt or angry at others. What a blessing to have been able to grow and heal. It only gets better with time.

Tell us about your publishing adventure, how you went about publishing your wonderful book.

Ah, the publishing adventure! Yes, it has truly been an adventure and I have been loving it. I embrace the new challenges that surface, although I must admit they overwhelm me, especially when internet-related. I seem to go on overload.
My publishing career began because the traditional publisher, Chronicle Books, to whom I submitted my book and a proposal, turned me down. I was disappointed. The whole process to submit the proposal to them took me about a year or more because I had such a hard time preparing it; I was frightened to be candid about myself and to show myself and my words to the world, so I hired a coach for assistance. All the while I was preparing the proposal, I was getting a spiral-bound book made. This included getting it designed, photos digitized, and getting it printed at FedEx/Kinko’s. I even approached several famous people for endorsement of the book, including, and receiving one from actor, activist, and author Mike Farrell, and visionary author, Oriah Mountain Dreamer.
 It took a long time to prepare the submission for Chronicle Books and then several months to get the rejection. I felt the book’s message was too ur-gent and that I could not let that potentially lengthy process occur again. Having been a member of the Bay Area Independent Publisher’s Association (BAIPA) for a couple of years, I had gleamed much of their  generously given information. I made the decision to publish the book myself. You know the feeling, perhaps; when you want something done, sometimes you just have to do it yourself.
I officially became Gate Lady Publishing on January 1, 2011. I brought on board a book designer, a copy editor, and a publicist. In early March, I presented the book and dust cover files to a local print broker who dealt with Asian printers. I was told the book would be back in 2 months, so I planned a book launch/publication date, for May 1. I used a print-on-demand printer to have advance copies of the book made, both in hard and soft cover.
The hard covered book was sent to reviewers such as the Washington Post, New York Times, and Publishers Weekly. The soft covered was sent to 14 people to act as advance readers/editors. These people were phenomenal and their input hugely added to the quality and caliber of the book.
Difficulties with setting the launch date began to emerge. For example, all of those reviewers required, and still do, receipt of a book at least four month in advance of publication. I was only giving them two months. Meanwhile, problems with getting a high quality book from the Asian printer surfaced. I proceeded to delay the launch to June 1st and how appropriate that I was giving birth to my book on my own birthday?
The quality issues did not resolve with time and, finally, in August, the contract with the print broker was rescinded. I was free to go to another printer. Yet, the damage as far as requesting a review had been done. Now, I was looking at October to launch. As it turns out, that would have given the reviewers their required time, because the launch did happen October 8th. This has been a disappointment of mine, because I learned how crucial it is  in the success of a book to have a review by a major reviewer.
Life always moves on, and there are always more experiences in which we find ourselves. This, then, was the case for me, as I proceeded to select another printer. This time, I searched for one in the US and found Josten’s Commercial Printers, who did a superb job on the book. I am so proud to be able to claim “made in the USA.”
My biggest challenge as a publisher is  the marketing and distribution of my book. I am better at writing!

 What marketing plans have you devised?  I know you live in Marin but I saw your book on display at Copperfield’s in Healdsburg and I was quite impressed!

Why, thank you very much, Jeane! Yes, the book is in Healdsburg. I was excited when they accepted it; it is a very nice bookstore. Actually, all of the Copperfield’s Books are really nice, from their available selections to the ambiance.. As part of my marketing plan, which includes giving more author events and appearances, I will be doing a meeting and greeting of customers at the Petaluma Copperfield’s on April 2, from 1:30 - 3:30 pm.
Thus far, here are my internet related activities:
- developed ebook , initiated website with blog; blog 2-3 times a week
- involved in social media networking - Twitter, FaceBook, and LinkedIn
- numerous videos on YouTube includes 42 videos of seniors talking about each topic in the book
- approached online by two book reviewers - offered reviews - received
My traditional media marketing has included and will include:
- appeared on Jill Lublin’s TV show, “Messages of Hope”
- Interviewed on 3 radio shows
- Interviewed on KUSP’s “Talk of the Bay” with Rick Kleffel in Santa Cruz, CA
- obtained list of 876 radio stations across US, including all contact info
and will continue to  contact these stations requesting interviews
- approaches to local newspapers for interview - none granted
- will again request interview if award received or contest won
- article in - about book’s origin, my sobriety
Several other marketing strategies reached and planned are:
- collaborate with wrought-iron gate makers, blacksmiths,
- endorsements from authors Mike Farrell and Oriah Mountain Dreamer
- pursue endorsement from other authors and inspirational speakers
- hold author event in Marin libraries
- Civic Center and Belvedere-Tiburon libraries are scheduled
- continue to plan author speaking/signing events, locally and out-of-state
- presented author event at Boulder Bookstore, Boulder, CO - March 13th
- will present book/author talk at Allen Public Library, Allen, TX - April 28th
- plan event at Chester County Books and Music - West Chester, PA - June
- possible regional book tour in summer - SW
I have entered the book in the following contests and shows:
- 2010 San Francisco Book Festival - Honorable Mention for photography
- 2010 New York Book Festival - Honorable Mention for spirituality
- 2010 Do-It-Yourself Book Festival - Winner for poetry
- shown/show at Book Expo America, Frankfurt, London - 2010, 2011
- shown at regional bookseller shows in Denver, St. Paul, Oakland - 2010
- shown at Professional and American Library Association seminars - 2010
- submittal for Pulitzer Prize - “Words” category - 2010
The book has been marketed and sold to:
- hospital gift shops, drug and alcohol treatment programs, 12 Step Book-stores, libraries in Marin County, CA, as well as in Allen, TX
There is more. I only scratched the surface about my speaking events. I suspect you are beginning to see how involved the marketing is for a publisher.

I am totally amazed at your marketing skills and have left most of your list because I know writers can benefit from all this information! 
This is your first book, have you been working on another?

Yes, I have been working on Gates of Grace. It just flows naturally that once someone has walked through the gates in their heart, that they live in grace. I plan for it to have images of graceful gates, titled with words describing grace, or reflecting grace.

 Do you have a web site and where can your book be bought?

I do have a website, which is also my blog site, at
The book is available in many bookstores in California and out-of-state. Please see my website for further locations and you may call me at:

Thank you Carolyn for an extremely insightful interview. I hope our readers and writers learned as much as I did! 
The winner of Frank Baumgardener's Yanks in the Redwoods is: Jeanne J. Congratulations!

Please post a comment by April 8 to win a copy of this beautiful book!
How to Post a Comment:
At the bottom of the interview, press blue comment button. Go to the end of everyone's comments. Under Post a Comment, write a comment, scroll under select until Name/url, type in your name and email on ONE line, no url necessary! Then don't forget to press Post Comment! Press preview to make sure it posted. If it didn't then do silly computer scramble then post comment!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Yanks in the Redwoods Carving Out a Life in Northern California

Hi Frank! Since I write historical fiction, I love interviewing an author about a non-fiction history book.
Your book, Yanks in the Redwoods Carving Out a Life in Northern California is about Humboldt and Mendocino County. Did you ever live in those counties?

No, I haven't lived in either Humboldt or Mendocino counties, although I've driven up to Mendocino County so often, during the past ten years I feel like a native sometimes.
The real reason I chose to write about Mendocino County was that that is where Round Valley Indian Reservation (or Nome Cult Indian Farm, as it was originally called) is. I retired from teaching in 1999. While I spent a number of years in graduate school studying US and British history during the 70s, I never had the time to do the kind of in depth research necessary to write a book. When I was a kid, I read in the 4th grade US history text about settlers moving across the plains in wagon trains. I've never stopped wondering about why they did it. What made them pull up stakes to take on such a difficult, sometimes dangerous journey to settle in a wilderness territory? What was their real story as opposed to the Hollywood 1950s and 60s version? In the same text I'd read that the Indians were placed on reservations. My mind conceived that once they were on reservations, somehow they were safe.

 What was the most unusual fact that you uncovered in your research?  

 I was taught in elementary and secondary school that the pioneers were hard, tough, brave, entirely on their own and self-reliant. Most were all of that. However, what really surprised me the most was finding out they worked so much together. Whether they were settlers who started the lumber mills or farmers, ranchers, reservation employees, home makers, or miners, much of their real daily work involved cooperating with others.

 What was the funniest part of your book Yanks in the Redwoods that you wrote about? 

 To me the funniest story was when Tom, a leading Ft. Bragg figure about 1900, brought one of the ladies of the night to ride around the track at the annual fair near the Noyo River in his horse and buggy. Many of the single men and others in the crowd recognized and must have been surprised to see both Tom and this blonde "bombshell" riding around in the buggy. The crowd went wild; like when a team scores on a "Hail Mary" pass to win a football game. But no one heard the small voice of a young boy who tugged at his mother's sleeve to say, "Mommy, Mommy, who is that lady riding with out Daddy!?"
 I know that the subject of red light districts is a controversial subject for historians, even today. However, it must be remembered that many of the loggers were single men. They either chose to be single or perhaps were single simply because the old West had few eligible-for-marriage women during most of the nineteenth century. Historians must be fair and open-minded. It is hoped that readers will be the same. Not a good idea to put today's moral standards on the pioneers and settlers.

 I think controversy makes for great interest! Tell us, what is the saddest fact that you uncovered?

  For me the saddest fact was that Etta Stevens Pullen and Wilder Pullen were unable to produce a child. Etta's diary (she started it in 1864 while just sixteen in Hallowell, Maine) tells how sad she felt about having to leave her friends in Maine to travel over three thousand miles to Little River, California, a tiny hamlet perched on the rugged northern California coast. She made entries about her daily toils in her diary for almost thirty years, until 1890. She had a stillborn child and sadly also suffered skin and foot problems but her spirit and love of life comes across with the excitement of being a member of a community that was building a great state. We are blessed with Etta's diary because her family placed it in the hands of a good local historical museum, Kelley House.

 What was it like to read other people’s diaries?

 A good diary is a wonderful chance to see how a real person felt about their life and times. While each of us is different in many ways, there are many things most of us want in life: the chance to contribute something to the world, to become a success, even to make a difference. Diaries are irrefutable evidence in some cases. We have some ideas about early California from men like Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. Very different ideas about the same things may come from an Indian woman, Lucy Young, and the white settler, Etta Stevens Pullen. Comparing them was fun and exciting.

 Did you actually go the Smithsonian to do your research? What was that like?

 Yes, I did go to the Archives in Washington, DC. Just as I went to the National Archives when I was doing research on Fort Wright for my first book. I had this opportunity to visit there because I was staying with my brother-in-law's family for a short time during a family visit in 2007. There was a bright young man who greeted me who I'd emailed about my area of research. After I produced my CA driver's license and signed in, he led me to a room where there was an electrical outlet, white gloves, and plenty of room to sit down. It was completely QUIET!
I spent about two and a half days reading and taking some photos (they're in my book) of George Gibbs' "Journal."  He kept it after he arrived in California in 1849 and contains notes taken mostly from 1850 to 1852. I was interested mostly in what he wrote about the settlement of the Humboldt Bay area and the Indians. Gibbs was one of our first ethnologists and was a librarian. During and after the Civil War he worked at the Smithsonian as a linguist and interpreter of the tribes of the West. I felt like a king while I was looking at his journal and my hands literally shook with excitement that I was reading someone's own handwriting after so many years.

I love your description of hands shaking and feeling like a King. I did some research at UC Berkeley and had a similar experience holding a real letter sent from a Japanese American girl interned at the Tanforan Horse stables to her aunt! 

Tell us about the books you have written.

 My first book,  Killing for Land in Early California Indian Blood at Round Valley, 1856-1863, came out in 2005 (actually republished in 2006 with the illustration section). The second one, Yanks in the Redwoods Carving Out a Life in Northern California was copyrighted in September, 2010. It actually was also republished in early November, 2010 with the maps and photos. That's the way Algora Publishing works; always publishes the text first as a kind of "pre-publication" version; then the final work.

 Tell us what it was like to publish.

  I thought Killing for Land would be published by Creative Arts Books, a Berkeley company during 2003. Josh Vallee, the copyeditor and I met numerous times during the summer and early fall of that year. Then with only a couple of weeks to go, just before Thanksgiving, I was supposed to see the publisher. When I walked up the building there was a sign saying, "Out of business!" I did meet with a young woman who told me they would put the entire book on a CD or zip drive, which they did. I was very upset but just revived my efforts to send out queries and proposals to various publishers. In January 2004 after sending out many letters and emails, I got a reply from Algora Publishing. They are a small independent, mostly scholarly press in Manhattan. Robert Reich first published with them.
 If you go to you'll see their home page. They are a really small but are very good in my opinion. You have to be patient and do everything - every part of your work - yourself. Do not expect a whole lot of assistance because they are just too busy. What I don't like about this company is that sometimes I feel they don't do enough to promote a book once it's published. It's just not feasible, however, for them to extend money for book tours or much advertising. You have to pay for that and plan all that yourself. I value the independence a lot! No one tells how to do your work or what to study and write about. You have almost complete freedom. Algora provides authors with an instructions list, a faq list, and  frequently asked questions along with the contract. They don't answer all
the questions you will need to ask. It's a trial and error process to some extent.

 I interviewed an author whose publishing company went out of business and she ended up buying 1,000 copies of her hard covered art book, storing and selling them herself!
How long did it take you to write your books?

 It took me at least eight years to write the first book. I did research at Held-Poage Library in Ukiah, at Bancroft, at the California History Room at the State Library in Sacramento, at the State Archives and the California Military Museum, and CSU-Sacramento: all in Sacramento. I also did research at the Schultz Library at Sonoma State and at the Annex at the Sonoma County Public Library. I am in the debt of many librarians.
It took me almost six years to write the second. I found the second book easier to write because the subjects just came together faster. Also, I had the diaries that I did not have for the first one. It is easier to write the second book because you can avoid some mistakes, but it may be that my first book will be more important in the long run. An author is unable to judge that kind of thing.

Yanks in the Redwoods came about at first because I already had the Superintendent Henley investigation depositions from the National Archives on a microfilm roll. It fascinated me to read about how these eyewitnesses viewed their work on the Mendocino Reservation. Sadly, there are very, very few records about what the Indians thought and felt. I found the Applegate diary and Stanley Taylor's story on line.  In 2008 I found Etta's diary and Lucy Young's story at Kelley House in Mendocino. They are public record-which means there is no copyright on them. I had some problems with getting permission from some authors who refused to give me permission to quote directly from his works even though I will ALWAYS credit authors and historians. I expect the same from others.

 Do you have a system of research? 

 Don't know that I have a system. I try to go to the sources that I think might hold the facts.
You might use newspapers- they are on microfilm mostly. You have to physically go to a library and spend the time reading first. You probably have some secondary sources also- books or historical articles in journals- they are also mostly in libraries. Sometimes it is very frustrating to find blind alleys since some books in libraries are SUPPOSED to be there, but aren't really. Sometimes, if its personal papers you think that a library has an extensive file, it turns out to just be a few pages of letters on something unrelated to your subject. Then you just spin your wheels. But I've found some authors like David Donald, for example, who was one of the leading experts on Lincoln, to be very encouraging and cooperative. Professor James J. Rawls, who lives in Sonoma, was also very encouraging.
I also have tried to interview some but haven't had too much luck so far with this method. I bought a tape recorde, but it turned off during an important interview I did with a prominent Indian whose name is Robert Renick. He lives in Willits. I will try again. Many Indians are understandably reserved. Some are still hurt by the fact they were the subjects of genocide by the whites and the fact the whites were so prejudiced against them they were excluded from really being members of California society. I mean they could not even vote! Indians got the vote by the early 1920s in America but none of them really were considered American citizens. Many of us don't realize that there are wounds- very deep wounds- in the psyches of so many Indians.
But I try to always ask non-Native Americans, "How would YOU feel if you were used for target practice?"
"How would you feel if your ancestor's grave sites were destroyed and actual bones removed, labeled, and placed in boxes in places like U.C. Berkeley, a long way away from where they lived?" "How would you feel about having to always deal with diseases like Diabetes?" "How would you feel.....?" The list of questions goes on and on.
My aim is to tell the story, whenever possible, of the regular people, Not so much, leaders or politicians. Their stories are out there, but it takes time, energy, luck, and hard work to find them.

 What are you working on now Frank? 

 I've been reading and doing a little "spade work" type research about Jean Lefitte. Was he just a pirate or a hero? Also, about some of the southern cruisers- the Alabama, the Florida and the Shenandoah. As yet, I haven't decided on a definite subject. I'm too busy trying to promote Yanks in the Redwoods.

 Thanks Frank for the inside look into writing, researching and publishing history books!
To buy Yanks in the Redwoods locally it is available at SOCO Coffee in Santa Rosa, Bean Affair in Healdsburg, Barking Dog Coffee in Sonoma.  Outside of sonoma county go to Amazon. 

This week’s winner of Otherworld Tales by Charles Markee was Laura! Congratulations!
Post a comment to be eligible to win Yanks in the Redwoods.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Otherworld Tales Irish the Demon Slayer by C.T. Markee

Hi Charles: This is my first middle grade children's book and it is an exciting read! I see you have written a book that includes Ireland. What are your connections to that country?

My whole life has been embedded in Irish culture. The central character in Otherworld Tales: Irish the Demon Slayer, Peter (Irish) Kehoe, is named after my maternal great-grandfather, Peter Kehoe, who was born in Ireland and immigrated to this country in the midst of the great potato famine, circa 1850. When I was growing up in San Francisco, we lived in an Irish neighborhood. Kehoe relatives, Irish nuns, priests and brothers surrounded me. Our high school motto was and still is “The Fightin’ Irish.” The fascinating Irish poet and IRA rebel, Ella Young, who conversed with animals, trees and even rocks, inspired the talking trees in my story. And finally, in the midst of writing the book, I toured Ireland to see the landscape where the famous Celtic warrior, Cuchulain, fought his battles and I visited Tara, where I placed the castle of Aine, queen of the fairies.

What inspired you to write a middle grade fiction book?

My characters. I wanted to capture the summers I spent in San Geronimo, Marin County, wandering the hills, forests and creeks with my two best friends. They ended up in the story as Streak and Huff. That time is still vivid in my memory. Back then, the area was open countryside We were 12-years-old, so middle-grade was a natural target audience for the story. Some part of me still exists back then.

What was your favorite book when you were that age and how is this one different?

I loved the collies in Albert Payson Terhune’s dog books and London’s “Call of the Wild” thrilled me, but my earliest obsession as soon as I learned to read was L. Frank Baum’s stories set in the fabulous Land of Oz. I read and reread all 14 books and I remember my feeling of disappointment reading the subsequent three books by Ruth Plumly Thompson written after Baum’s death.
There are more similarities than differences between Irish the Demon Slayer and Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. Both protagonists visit a fantastical place, get help from friends, overcome obstacles, defeat a super-evil adversary and return home victorious, although unclear about what happened to them.

I love the epilogue at the end, which tells us what happened to the characters in the book like they are real people. Any comments on this?

When the editor and I finished the book, I suffered post performance withdrawal anxiety. I had lived with the book for five years and I couldn’t let go of the characters. I also identified with my experience as a child finishing a book and wondering what happened next, so I couldn’t disappoint my young readers. I had some pressure from my writing groups to eliminate it because it might obviate a sequel, but I liked it, so it stayed.

Wow Charles, I can almost relate to that. There is a sense of sadness authors feel when the story is finished.  You get up in the morning and there is a loss of rhythm.
It always amazes me how much research a good author does even if they are writing pure fiction. Tell us about your research.

As soon as Peter Kehoe became “Irish,” I started looking for information and accumulating books on Irish lore. I quickly discovered that a culture of oral history depicts the same event a zillion different ways. I spent about two years concurrent with my writing, digging through books that were mostly about fairies and leprechauns. I wanted the most authentic characters I could find and I hit pay dirt when I discovered a treatise titled “Cuchulain of Muirthemne” by Lady Augusta Gregory, a peer and colleague of Yeats. Her renditions were somewhat convoluted, but I outlined the stories and charted the characters in detail and used this to create my own versions of the Celtic episodes. I was able to verify my work later when Marie Heaney (wife of Seanus Heaney of Beowulf translation fame) published her book of Irish legends.
Irish had to undergo some testing to qualify for his journey to the Otherworld. The answer came from another discovery, Blamires’ book on Celtic tree mysteries. Later, traveling in Ireland to get the feel of the land, I purchased detailed contour maps of Ireland and a wonderful book about Tara by Michael Slavin. I wanted to meet Michael, but unfortunately, he was gone the day we were at Tara.

What was it like to make maps of the Otherworld and Queen's Castle. Is this something you did early on?

The maps were always in my mind, but I didn’t sketch them out until I had reached the battle scenes between Irish and his friends and the three armies. As soon as I did, I realized they needed to be in the book, but I didn’t have the tools to make a professional PDF version of the maps. One of the other students in my XHTML class at SRJC was a graphic artist, so I hired her and presto, I had a map for the book. Later, Jo-Anne Rosen had to make modifications in the map for legibility within the trim size I chose for the book.

It is incredible so many people helped you with this adventure! Have you presented your books in any schools?

I’d love to do this, but I’m significantly hearing impaired. I struggle listening to adults. Children with their small voices and quickness are impossible for me. There may be some way for me to do this, but I haven’t come up with an idea.

Maybe our audience will come up with something. Your web site is excellent and you have done a thorough job of getting your book on every electronic device. Can you share how you did this?

Three semesters of XHTML & CSS at SRJC gave me enough tools to craft a reasonable website. As a young engineer, I wrote microcode, so the concept of coding wasn’t new to me, but I had to turn some very rusty gears. You can check it out at:
The Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform, as well as B&N’s Nook translation tool and Smashword all accept either MS Word or PDF versions of a manuscript with a separate .jpg cover image. For iPhone & iPad I used Unlimited Publishing, a service contracted by CWC that uses an Indian company to do the translation. They preferred MS Word. In some cases, to avoid the complication of converting the maps and the glossary, I stripped them out, added a link in my manuscript text and made them available on my website as a PDF download. I integrated the back cover info into the manuscript front matter. The translation tools are pretty sophisticated and do most of the work. Smashwords calls theirs “The Meat Grinder.”  You just have to follow the guidelines and fill out the forms correctly.

What type of PR have you done to promote your book?

I placed three endorsements by local author/teachers as the first page of the book and I included three endorsements by teens on the back cover. I made the book available from Amazon and Ingram via CreateSpace. I sent email announcements to all my group lists. Then I began a process I call shameless marketing: Showed it to everyone: family, friends, neighbors, other writers – workout club members, doctors, dentists, any workman who provided a service at my house. I sell it at RW meetings, North Bay SCBWI meetings, BAIPA meetings, presented it at the BAIPA bay area booksellers convention, submitted it to contests, to Midwest Book Review, to Publishers Weekly PW Select quarterly guide. On consignment in three Copperfields stores, SOCO and several coffee shops through Jeane Slone. I even sold a copy to our visiting literary agent last October.
This Saturday, I have my first Meet & Greet at the Copperfields in Healdsburg on Feb. 26 from 1:30-3:30 pm. I invite everyone to come and support me!  I have yet to do an official launch party or submit it to a blogger for review.

Charles I wouldn’t call it shameless marketing! When we put years of our life into ONE book it is a sense of pride to want to share it with everyone and you do that very, very well. 
Tell us about the publishing aspect of your book. Would you do it again the same way?

After working every chapter through my writer’s groups and then working it through Jackie Baldwin, a professional children’s book editor, I decided to use Jo-Anne Rosen’s book design service and I was glad I did. I will query out my next book since preliminary feedback from an agent was very positive. But I’m ready to self-publish again if it doesn’t work or takes too long. I would use the same technique.
I also chose to create a fictitious entity, Moonview Press, to market my book without the stigma of self-publishing, call myself a “small press” and establish a separate bank account to track expenses and provide direct routing for royalties.

Who did you self-publish through and what did you like and not like about them?

CreateSpace was incredibly easy to use as a POD publisher, primarily because I did all the prep work with Jo-Anne Rosen in advance and the submitted manuscript was squeaky clean. I am very pleased with the quality of the book. I would definitely recommend them over a subsidy publisher (Lulu, iUniverse, xlibris, etc.). However, my next self-publishing will be with Lightning Source, Inc. (LSI) because of some of the problems listed below and because of flexibility with the discount rate.
CreateSpace provides extended distribution via Ingram, but blocks distribution via Baker & Taylor (libraries buy from them) unless you use their ISBN. I bought my own ISBNs to ensure ownership of the book, so I was locked out of B&T unless I resubmitted the manuscript, selected only B&T and used a CreateSpace ISBN. That’s not an issue with LSI.
CreateSpace provides you with eStore capability, i.e. they give you a link to a web page with the ability to add a cover image and text so it looks like a page on your site. Then, from your website, a buyer can purchase the book from Amazon at list price with a better royalty for you . . . until Amazon slashes their price and undercuts your eStore list price. Amazon does continue to pay you the same royalty amount. They can afford the loss.

What are you cooking up now for a second book?

María's Beads is the story of a Hispanic girl who learns her best friend has a potentially fatal kidney disease and her parents refuse medical intervention for religious reasons. Based on true events, this story, set in Salinas, Calfornia, follows María's dramatic and courageous efforts to save her friend's life while discovering her Huichol Indian roots and a hidden secret of her family's past. The manuscript should be finished by June.

Charles this sounds like a very original story and I'm sure it will be another winner!
The best place to buy Otherworld Tales is from Charles' website:
or support the local coffee shops carrying his book, The Bean Affair, Healdsburg, Geyserville Mud, Barking Dog, Sonoma or Copperfield's.

The winner of by Margaret Murray is Sandy! Congratulations!

Post a comment and be in the drawing to win an autographed copy of Otherworld Tales by C.T. Markee

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Thank You!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hi Margaret, I am very happy to interview you on my author’s blog. Please tell us how your mystery novel, is unique? By the way I love the title!

In, the mystery exists in another dimension. I started out with the idea that sometimes it takes more than one lifetime. It’s sort of like reincarnation without the usual definition of karma.
Tragic events in one family from the past have a chance to be redeemed in the present In
The old story takes place in the 12th century when the pre-puebloan people populated the Four Corners area (The Navajo named these natives “Anasazi” or “enemy ancestors”). The new story takes place in Silicon Valley, post 9/11.
The title obviously refers to an internet address but also to an actual event that takes place in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. At solstices and equinoxes, sunlight in the shape of a dagger pierces a spiral petroglyph carved at the top of a butte. This phenomena shows how connected the Anasazi were to the sun and the heavens. Likewise, we in hi-tech California have our own sun daggers, connecting via the internet and other electronic networks.

 I see you have a fantastic YouTube video.

Yes,  my video Stones of Chaco Canyon can be viewed at:

The cover design is beautiful, how did that come about?

 I knew I had to have an image of Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon where the sun dagger was first observed and I tried to get permission to use several photos from the internet. When that didn’t work out, I had different friends who were visiting Chaco Canyon take photos. Amy Kuettner took the photo I used. My cover designer, Forge Toro, took Amy’s photo and digitally merged it with other story images, using a layout that had elements of Tony Hillerman’s mysteries. So you see, the process took a few years!

I know you self-published Sundagger. Who did you use and what did you like and not like about them?

I began my own small publishing press, WriteWords Press, mostly with the help of BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Association), or by talking to other writers. First I had to decide to actually self-publish, rather than hoping to go the traditional publishing route. I’d been submitting my novels for decades to publishers and agents and I had a New York agent in the ‘70s who became famous. But nothing happened. There’s lots not to like in that scenario! What I learned at BAIPA was to take responsibility for my book, rather than hope (or despair as the case might be) that someone else will.
I stayed away from book publishing services, because I wanted to keep all the rights. I didn’t want them to hold the ISBN number or have control. Plus I didn’t really see that they were publishing superior books. I wanted my book to be beautiful, inside and out.
I found that most book professionals in the Bay Area show up at a BAIPA meeting sooner or later. For example, my book designer for Sundagger. net was Desta Garrett, who I found through BAIPA.  My cover designer, Forge Toro, I also recruited through BAIPA.
It turned out that all my years as a tech writer helped me in the long run. My advice is to take your time and ask questions till you are satisfied.

Great advice! Do you have plans for another novel?

In 2011, WriteWords Press is going to bring out two more books, one of which is mine, a very different type of novel from, called Dreamers.

What is this novel about?

Dreamers is an interracial-romance of the ‘60s, set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and New York. With Dreamers, I am doing my own interior book design. The cover design is being done by Charr Crail.

This sounds like a very interesting read!
Tell us about your teaching experience and receiving an arts scholarship and National Endowment grant.

I’ve been teaching for ages—I had an idea at 21, right out of college, that I could support myself as a writer by teaching, something many writers do. But that didn’t really work out too well and I went into tech writing to make a living. However I did continue to teach—most recently, I taught English Composition at Carrington College, Antioch, Ca.   I love to teach writing and English literature.
The writing grants were gifts from the universe that I carelessly made use of! Seriously, I applied and received them when I was much younger and expected instant success as a novelist because I could imagine it in my mind. At the time I thought they fell from heaven as easily as rain. Now I know better.

Yes, our youth is fascinating to look back on that’s for sure! You sell your book packaged with a CD your son produced. That is a great idea. Tell us about this.

 I feel like the luckiest mom in the world to have the opportunity to sell my novel with my oldest son’s CD of original piano music. Chris is the one who came up with the book-CD bundle idea. He is a trained classical pianist who became a rap artist and popular piano composer.
 I used Chris’  “Winter Glass" from Waterfall, original piano music by Chris Goslow, in Stones of Chaco Canyon.  It’s amazing how magical the combination of the book and music can be. After all, is a story of magic realism. People fly. Coyotes lead. Visions erupt.
Even as a small boy, Chris always supported me as a novelist, urging me to publish by insisting, “I don’t want to have a mother who is a failed novelist!”

As a mother, I love hearing that your son said this to you!

And now I feel like I've got to mention my younger son, Jonas Goslow's, great effort on my behalf too--he designed my entire website.
                                       Margaret Murray and Chris Goslow at California State Fair
I love your website! Everyone can see it here
 Many authors read this blog. Please give us the details about all the writer's organizations you belong to.

I’ve mentioned BAIPA.  I also belong to a writing group, the Rich & Famous Writers, that has sustained me over many years. In fact, I dedicated to the group. I belonged to the National Writers Union for a decade and now am a board member of BAIPA. Then there’s all the burgeoning online writers groups! If I had more time, I’d belong to more writers’ groups.
Over the years I’ve showed up at various different writers’ groups. I spent a winter on Cape Cod at the Provincetown Fine Arts writers’ colony and a summer at the Squaw Valley Screenwriters Conference. I always enjoy talking about writing and books at all the events I have. A few weeks ago I had a “Meet and Greet” event at Copperfield’s Books in Sebastopol and really felt inspired by the fascinating people I spoke with. I love hanging out with book lovers and writers; I feel as if together we celebrate the power of words and their caretakers, we authors of stories. It’s like we’re tapping into an open, yet secret, sacred treasure. Book lovers rock!

Thank you Margaret Murray for your inspiring interview!

Please post a comment and you will be eligible to win a free autographed copy of
Last weeks winner of She Built Ships During WWII is: Colleen! Congratulations.
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

She Built Ships During WWII!

Your new book, She Built Ships During WWII is about women welders. It sounds like it could be boring!

My novel doesn’t really have that much welding in it at all.
It is really about three diverse women on the home front during the forties.
The main character, Lolly experiences what it is like to work  and place her children in the first day care center in Richmond California.
The second woman, Sumi a Japanese American storekeeper, gets taken away to the Tanforan horse stable in San Bruno.
 Hattie, the third woman, is a Negro welder whose brother is in the Port Chicago explosion (Contra Costa county) and her husband joins the Tuskegee Airmen.

Well now, your novel is beginning to sound interesting!
I see this is your second historical fiction. Why do you write historical fiction?

I like to write about little known parts of history.
  The beginning of my novel says, “let us not forget the good parts of history in order to enjoy them. Let us not forget the bad parts of history in order to not repeat them.”
Finding little known pieces of the past and blending them together with factious characters is challenging for me as well as gratifying. It is like putting a puzzle together.

How long have you been writing?

I have only been writing for about six years.
Unlike most authors I never wrote when I was younger.
 In my previous life,  (before retirement), I bought a Mac laptop for my business. I owned a large daycare center.
I didn’t have much time to write a novel  between working fulltime and raising a family, but I enjoyed the magic of my Mac after only having a typewriter.
 I was so amazed at the “delete” button and the “cut and paste.”
I started fooling around with it and thought I would write about my mother.

Is She Flew Bombers about your mother?

No, my mother was in the Army during World War II but all she did was type for the Colonel. This was a  necessary job but boring to write about!
How I discovered information about the Women Airforce Service Pilots was after reading a huge scrapbook my mother had left me, which even included ration coupons!
I read a two-inch column in one of her Army base newsletters titled, WASPS Fly into WAAC’s barracks. 
 I was quite surprised to read there were women pilots during WWII.
 Asking everyone I knew, I found very few people heard about the adventures of the women pilots during WWII.
This tiny article began my three-year research.

Why do you always write about war?

Many people would be surprised to hear that I actually was a peace activist and marched against the Vietnam War in 1970 in Washington, D.C. (I almost got tear gassed!)
I have a wonderful chapter in  She Built Ships where the heroine says, “How could so much death and destruction motivate people to accomplish such feats of cooperation and productivity? I was able to help build an entire ship in four days. Why can’t peace become the motivating force to bring this country together instead of war?”
 The last chapter tells the true story of  Sadako Sasaki, who was hospitalized with leukemia after the bombing of Hisroshima.
She died at age 12 and  followed a Japanese legend trying to fold 1,000 paper cranes so she could be granted one wish.
After folding 644 paper cranes she passed away. There is a statue of her in Japan. Engraved upon the stone it says:
This is our cry
This is our prayer
Peace on earth

Then why do you write about war?

I am totally fascinated by the forties era.
My parents brought me up with forties values; waste not want not, a stitch in time saves nine, etc.!
  I enjoy writing and researching about a very short period of time when women were allowed to become strong individuals, because most of the men left and went to war.
Women became pilots, riveters, welders, policewomen, bus drivers, etc . Then the men came home and the women were told to go back into the kitchen, enjoy their modern appliances and MULTIPLY!
Even the women pilots were turned down for commercial pilot jobs and were offered to become stewardesses.

Will men like your new book, She Built Ships During WWII?

I was pleasantly surprised how much men enjoyed She Flew Bombers, but then there are a lot of pilots today!
 I’m sure men will like my new book, She Built Ships because of the mutiny  after the Port Chicago explosion and Freeman Field Mutiny of the Tuskeege Airmen.

I see you have two blogs.

Yes, the first blog is: It has been very rewarding to interview other author's. I love helping authors succeed in selling their book after so much hard work! Any author can email me if they wish to be interviewed on my blog.
My second blog is: it is about females during WWII.

Why did you self-publish this book, I thought you were going to get an agent this time?

 As VP of Redwood Writers Club, I   attended Agent’s day.
 I thought I would  traditionally publish She Built Ships, even though it was completely finished and I had already paid for the cover design.
I promised myself that I would send out 100 query letters.
  At agent’s day, I discovered that agent’s would not look at the already self-published, She Flew Bomber’s. 
Self-published books are not picked up by agents unless they have sold thousands. I have sold 650 so far.
I had my editor’s: Stefanie Freele, (content editor)  and Karen Batchelor, (grammar editor) help me make  my query letter  top notch.
At a Redwood Writer's  meeting Donna Levin, X-agent turned editor, read many query letters from the members and said mine was the best!
After over 100 query letters to many types of agents and categories, I self-published, She Built Ships.

What type of rejection letters did you get?

Typical answers from my queries were:

  • While your project sounds interesting, I don’t think it is right fit for our agency.
  • Promises to be thoughtful and compelling BUT…..I’m not the right agent for your work, see what others think
  • The story concept may not be of interest to the publishers
  • Due to volumes of submissions we received from unpublished authors this past year, we regret to inform you that we are NOT currently accepting ANY first time fiction authors at this time
  • Our agency receives 300 queries a day and are not able to read yours at this time, good luck
  • We are currently looking only for historical fiction set in the 16th century, in Europe with Royalty ties

I saw on your web site that you speak to many clubs about your book.

Yes, that is how I sell most of the copies of my novel, by being a guest presenter.
 For my new book I have developed a beautiful power point presentation with super photographs from the forties. Readers may email me to arranged guest presentations or book clubs.

Where can I buy She Built Ships During WWII?

You can buy an autographed copy of my book on my website: through pay pal or email me at  and I will mail it to you.
I love selling my books at the three local coffee shops: The Bean Affair and Geyserville Mud and SOCO Coffee because they take a low percentage.
Limited copies of my book are available at Copperfield’s in California

Why are there limited copies in Copperfield’s.?

 I only receive $2.00 a copy after a long period of time when sold at all bookstores.

Can I buy it on line on Amazon?

Yes, it is available on Amazon but again I only receive $1-2 after many months.


It is available on all electronic devices but again I get very little money for all the work I have done. There are also 25 historical photographs in it and they don’t always come out well electronically. Also you cannot autograph electronic books!

Do you have any advice for writers?

Writing is all about Rewriting!
Writing is fun, rewriting can be tedious. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline.
It is best to pick the time of day or night that you have the most mental energy and write everyday.
When I am done with my first draft, I start reading it aloud. I find more mistakes this way.
Another piece of advice is to pay for an editor or editors. I really liked having a content editor and a grammar editor this time.
Editors who write get an editor for their books because you become critically blind to their own work.
All editors are not good. Take the time and look at all previous books they have edited.
I think it is worth it to pay for a cover designer. A good cover is everything and even the spine is important. I have tiny ships on my spine! I have a great, well qualified cover designer:

What books do you read?

I mostly read books from author’s I have met and have a huge shelf of autographed books. That’s one disadvantage of electronic books, you can’t get them autographed. Autographed books make very special copies. When I read them I like to picture and think about the author.

Are you writing a third historical fiction?

Yes, I am researching women spy's during WWII. It is intriguing but also hard to find information.

That book sound like it will be quite a winner! Good luck and thank you for the interview! Everyone please post a comment to be in the drawing to win a copy of Jeane Slone's new historical fiction, She Built Ships During WWII.

Last time winners of Carolyn Jewel's My Immortal Assassin are Sharon, Lisa and Arletta, congratulations!
To Post a Comment: Go to bottom of interview, press blue comment button. Go to the end of everyone's comments, under post a comment, write a comment, select Name/Url, type your name and email address on ONE line, NO url necessary, the press POST comment.
Thank you.