Currently writing historical fiction in the Sierra foothills of California. I'm a seasoned journalist, writing for my living since 1982. I have a BA in journalism and MA in Early 20th C British Lit. I was the founding editor of a weekly city newspaper and have edited several city and alt-news magazines. I was Poet Laureate emerita of Alameda, CA (2014-17).
My essays have appeared most recently in Huffington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle; also in Salon, Narratively, Thrillist, Medium, Disney/Babble, Woman’s Day, House Beautiful, Country Living, Redbook, Sweatpants & Coffee, and The Sun magazine. I am also frequently published in poetry journals.
The Bereaved comes out in August, and the launch party is days away. I wanted to share some fun stuff with you. For one, there’s a Goodreads Giveaway going now through the end of the month. (Click the link there to enter.) No charge to enter, of course. Don’t be silly. Of course I want you to win a copy!
Then there’s The Bereaved book trailer. I’m working on posting it to the site here; it goes live on Friday on social media. Which, by the way, for me now is mostly Facebook, Instagram, and Threads, although I am definitely on TikTok, and I have a toe in the water at Spoutible and Post, and my old account still lingering on Twitter, aka X. Follow the links on the main page to find me!
The Bereaved book trailer:
And then there’s just the joy of holding the book and seeing friends reading or receiving their books. This makes me so very happy.
Thanks, Simi, Ann, Laura, Lisa, Dad and Glenn!
Not to go bonkers here, but it’s all part of the book release, marketing and all that. More to come! Stay tuned.
Countdown is on for my book launch — August 8, in Grass Valley, 6-8 pm, at the UUCM: Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains. I’m ordering cake! I’m placing ads!
You like cake, don’t you?
We’ve been collecting reviews, including this starred review:
Planning the book tour, writing essays and blog posts, and the like–it’s the kind of zany fun part of getting published. It’s midsummer, and ideally I’d be sitting out in the hammock with a book or a notepad. But not this year. Why, you ask? A couple of reasons.
Weird weather– it was chilly for most of June for some reason (cough–climate change–cough!)
I’m doing some research that involves reading old family letters and they would blow around outside.
We have a ton of ants and mosquitos this year, probably because of high rain and snowpacks over the winter. Too many bugs– on and near the hammock.
I must admit it — I have a small case of breast cancer. I was diagnosed in March after a wonky mammogram, had lumpectomy surgery in May, and have been undergoing radiation treatment over the past few weeks. Two more weeks to go, and I will be super radiated and ready to launch. My diagnosis was early, and it’s a Stage 1A, one breast, and they have high hopes for 100% cure. So my fingers are crossed as much as anyone can cross them. I haven’t posted about this on social media but it’s true. I was planning to post *after* I finish radiation. As in, fait accompli. So far, so good.
So bear with me as I go squiggly with book release excitement. Know that I am finishing up revisions on my historical novel slated for next fall release through Sibylline, and the letters? Research for the next novel, also historical fiction based on my an-sisters, as I like to call them. Won’t this look good on a cake?
It has been a long winter and spring, and we are finally in the home stretch before The Bereaved arrives at bookstores and Kindles everywhere.
Nervous? Not really.
Big plans? Yes!
I loved this “Eye” artwork and was so happy when Sibylline’s art director chose to use it on the cover. I’m leaving the cover image large so you can see the details, and I’ll tell you more about it. Take a look at how it turned out:
The theme is Victorian mourning, and the Eye artwork centers the book cover. The background is a flocked Victorian wallpaper. It was more golden in an earlier version, but the red really pumped up the energy. The Orphan Train is the bottom photo, an old photo from as late as 1900, or as early as 1870. Hard to tell from the kids’ clothes. This is kind of the quintessential Orphan Train photo that shows up when you Google the term. On the right is a portion of the New York Home for the Friendless, which was an orphan “asylum,” or orphanage, where children who had lost their parents, or whose parents couldn’t keep them fed and housed, landed, if they didn’t make it another way. And on the left? That’s little Willie Gaston, about 8-10 years old. Hard to tell, because children dressed like undertakers in the 1860s.
William L. Gaston was my great-great grandfather, and I have several photos of him throughout his life. He married Winifred McDonald, and had two daughters, then one of them (Laura) had two daughters. Little Winifred (named for her grandma) was my Meemaw, but I never knew her; she died when I was less than a year old. The stories die out over time and no one remembers who came from where — until Ancestry came along and helped me find all the footprints and arrows and signposts.
The Bereaved is the story of how my 2x great-grandpa went from New York to Ohio as an orphan–but it’s told from his mother’s point of view. Who was Martha Seybolt Lozier? My third-great-grandmother, whose DNA runs in all my cells and mitochondria–who was this, and how did she lose her child? Read the novel and find out.
I will be posting more about my upcoming book launch, book tour, and some side quests along the way, to illuminate Martha’s story, and Will’s, and my own. It’s always more complex than you think. But get this: As I learned about Martha, I also found her parents, and their parents, and so on, back to Puritan times, where another long-forgotten grandmother appeared, just in time to become my next historical novel. That woman’s name was Silence Greenleaf, and I went on a trek last fall to find her.
I’d like you to meet here here, first, and next fall (September 2024), in the pages of my next novel, Silence.
That’s the topic for another day, so I’ll leave you wondering about that, and anticipating the release of The Bereaved, my eight-years-in-progress baby. Links for preorder below. Thanks for checking in!
Four women with extensive book world experience have launched Sibylline Press, which will focus on publishing “the brilliant works of women authors over the age of 50,” including memoirs, narrative nonfiction and fiction. Sibylline Press will release six books in fall 2023 and six in spring 2024 and will be distributed to the trade by Publishers Group West. The company also has an unusual publishing model, which involves Sibylline authors being deeply involved in the promotion of their books and other Sibylline titles.
The Sibylline founders are:
Publisher Vicki DeArmon, who has a publishing, bookselling and entrepreneurial background that includes founding Foghorn Press at age 25. (Foghorn was distributed by PGW.) After 13 years, she sold Foghorn to Avalon Books, now part of Hachette Book Group. She was also marketing and events director of Copperfield’s Books in Northern California for eight years, and has consulted to California independent bookstores, creating the “Everyone Gets a Book” holiday program that is still used by the California Independent Booksellers Alliance (CALIBA).
Rights and special sales director Anna Termine, who has worked in both trade and academic publishing for more than 30 years, specializing in rights and licensing. Termine and DeArmon established the Independent Travel Publishers Association together 35 years ago.
Design director Alicia Feltman, who is a web designer for the American Booksellers Association’s IndieCommerce platform and CALIBA as well as for Copperfield’s, where she worked with DeArmon on various projects.
Under the Sibylline publishing model, authors of all of a season’s titles will participate in shared tours, advertising and a promotional strategy that “celebrates the brilliance of women over 50.” Authors will contribute to the marketing budget and receive a generous royalty until their contribution is paid back at which time the royalty returns to a traditional one.
DeArmon commented: “We are a traditional publisher. But even as a traditional publisher, we’re pushing against some long-held lines, giving our authors unheard of support and access. We believe that the better an author understands the industry, the better she can work within it and with us to achieve success for her book.”
Sibylline Press’s Fall list includes three memoirs and two works of historical fiction and one mystery series:
These Broken Roads: Scammed and Vindicated: One Woman’s Story by Donna Hayes, the memoir of a Jamaican immigrant who gets scammed and robbed of her life’s savings by the “love of her life” met on an online dating site, but overcomes hardships to find success.
Becoming Maeve: Coming Out in Corporate America by Maeve DuVally, the memoir of coming out transgender in one of the most high-profile financial institutions in the U.S.
Reading Jane by Susannah Kennedy. After the suicide of her domineering mother, the author discovers diaries spanning 45 years that challenge and upend long-held truths in this memoir.
The Bereaved by Julia Park Tracey. In 1859, after her husband’s death, a grieving mother tries to support her children in New York City, losing them to the Home of the Friendless and the Orphan Train, then sets out to reclaim them. Based on the author’s family experience.
The Pocket Book by Patricia Reis. In this work of historical fiction, upon the death of her cold father, a suppressed 50-year-old woman begins an ancestral quest in Ohio in the 1800s, awakening secrets and herself.
The Rotting Whale: A Hugo Sandoval Eco Mystery, the first in a new mystery series by Jann Eyrich. Steeped in the noir of The City, the old-school inspector with his trademark Borsalino fedora, is a media darling, reluctant bachelor, and people’s hero fighting the good fight in a modern era that attempts to eclipse the old San Francisco Sandoval loves. In his first case in the series, he must find his sea legs before he can solve the mystery of how a 90-ton blue whale became stranded twice in a remote inlet off the North Coast.
Excited to announce that I have signed a contract and my historical novel, The Bereaved, will be in bookstores in fall 2023. Prepare yourself for nattering and humblebrags with a side of shameless self promotion.