Letting Go…Moving Forward

I took a break from blogging over the last few months for no reason other than it was time for a break. The last time I wrote I was planting seeds in my garden and musing over my next writing project. Five months later, my garden is in overdrive giving me daily baskets of tomatoes, basil, peppers, eggplant, squash, and bouquets of flowers, and I have chosen my next writing project. Life moves on….

Most recently, I’ve been practicing letting go. It seems to be the work of my mid-70s. By nature, I’m a saver – just ask my husband about my shelves of uniquely-shaped boxes, glass jars, seed packets, vases, old jewelry, and family memorabilia. Some things will be easy for my family to toss when I’m gone, but I should pass on other things now while I can do so with care.

A vase for everything, and everything in it’s vase

I recently opened my jewelry boxes and invited my teenage granddaughters to select anything they’d like (with a few exceptions). There were a few pieces I had to take a deep breath and let go of but knowing how much I love having my great-grandmother’s amethyst broach, I gave the jewelry my blessing and passed them on.

It took the threat of fire for me to let go of other things. Wildfires are an almost year-round threat here in the Northern California Sierra (and in a scary way, for more and more of the world). We have “Go-Bags” packed by the door with valuable papers, clothing, food, and water.  But my drawer of family history artifacts? No room. That’s when I decided to start giving them away for posterity’s safe keeping.

The first to go was my Great-Grandmother Emily Hoppin’s personal scrapbook from 1870s-1915. If you followed my blogs and website, you know how much I loved using it for my novel Heart Wood. Before leaving on vacation this June, I presented her fragile scrapbook to the Yolo County Historical Archives. It was a fair trade because they had digitalized the entire scrapbook for me earlier, so I have it on my computer for continued research of my next book and they have it in their database.

The personal scrapbook of Emily Anna Bacon Hoppin 1854-1915

The second album was the history of my Grandfather Charles Jensen’s Botanical Garden in Carmichael, near Sacramento, CA. After retiring in 1958, he and grandma converted three acres of blackberries into a park-like garden. After their death, the Carmichael Park District bought it in 1976 and created The Jensen Botanical Garden, lovingly tending it as a public park known as “The Jewel of Carmichael.” I recently gave them my family scrapbook of historic news clippings for their records.

My grandfather, Charles Jensen in his garden, 1974

And last, after a recent fall and broken bones in my left foot, I’ve had more than enough time to practice letting go. It’s humbling not to be able to get up and do what needs to be done, but to have to sit back and ask for help. I’m learning to let go of having a tidy house, of zipping up and down flights of stairs, of walking up the hill to my garden. In exchange, I’m learning patience and gratitude for my husband’s endless generosity (and his cooking!)

I’ll write about my next writing project in the near future. In the meantime, Heart Wood can now be purchased in Sierra County at the Sierra County Art’s Council Gallery in Downieville, the Kentucky Mine Historic Park and Museum, and the Sierra Mercantile in Sierra City, as well as ordered from your local bookstore or on Amazon.

Heart Wood Interviewed!

A friend stopped me in the fruit isle of the grocery store recently and asked what I’m doing now that my book is published. Hanging out at the river? Reading? Cooking gourmet dinners?

I chuckled and rolled my eyes.

For authors, writing a book is only the tip of the iceberg. The real work comes afterwards with promotion, interviews, public book events (pre-COVID), and for me, expanding my website to share my “behind the scenes” research and inspirations for my novel.

One of my first goals was to have my eco-novel Heart Wood listed on Dragonfly.eco

Dragonfly.eco is a place to find meaningful stories about our natural world and humanity’s connection with it. The site explores the wild, crazy, and breathtaking literary trail of eco-fiction, with a large book database, spotlights, interviews, and more. Our motto is “blowing your mind with wild words and worlds.”

Not only was I recently listed (thank you to all the readers who gave such positive reviews on Amazon/Goodreads), but I was selected for a feature interview with Mary Woodbury, Dragonfly.eco’s founder. Mary asked me some intriguing questions, which you can read here: https://dragonfly.eco/

In addition to my interview as an Indie Author, I found several other features interesting, especially the results of her Survey on the Impacts of Environmental Fiction. Mary Woodbury describes her insightful survey questions:

“I wanted to explore how readers were affected by fiction (including environmental fiction) that they had read. What were their favorite novels of all times, eco-novels, characters? What did they like and dislike in such fiction? In what ways were they inspired by this fiction, and did they move to action–or how else were they socially impacted, either negatively or positively? What genres and subgenres did they enjoy the most? Did they think eco-fiction impacted society, and how? “

You can read the summary of what she found here:  https://dragonfly.eco/impacts-of-environmental-fiction-survey-results/

Now, back to what I am doing now that I’ve finished my book. To be honest, I also spend hours in my veggie garden picking off tomato horn worms (camouflage experts), figuring out what to do with the dozen cucumbers I pick every day (please send recipes!), packing my emergency “Go-Bag” in case we’re evacuated by a wildfire (welcome to California), and best of all, river time with my husband and dog (yes, river is good medicine).

Be well, be safe, and be kind!

You can purchase Heart Wood for yourself or as a gift to others at all brick and mortar bookstores, Independent Book Stores, and online at Amazon.

Welcome to Heart Wood!

What happened to The Desk – the epic novel I’ve been working on for nearly ten years?  It has a new title – Heart Wood and it’s very close to being published!

Coming March 2020
Coming March 2020

Heart Wood – An eco-speculative-historical-magical-feminist novel

Let me fill you in. Heart Wood was actually the original title before my working title of The Desk. After several early readers spontaneously suggested that Heart Wood would be a perfect title, I agreed and returned to the original title. Heart and Wood are themes interwoven throughout the novel.

I’ve chosen to publish independently for several reasons: time and control. I hold the rights to my novel, I control the cover and content, and I can publish it now through my local writing group’s imprint: Sierra Muses Press – not years down the line with a publishing house. The trade-off is that I’m responsible for all the work that a publisher would do for me: editing, design, proofreading, printing, etc. Luckily, I’ve had the support of many local professional women. It’s been a steep learning curve, but I’m not alone. In 2018 there was a 40% increase in independently published books.

Save these Dates!

MARCH 21st, 7 pm: Soft launch at Wordsmiths & Musicmakers at the Camptonville Community Center (camptonvillecommunitycenter.org)

MAY 3rd, 3-5 pm: Sierra Muses Press Book Launch at The Open Book, Grass Valley, featuring books by Shirley DicKard, Mila Johansen, Leslie Rivers, and Jenifer Bliss.