5 books set in Sonoma County

Crissi vineyard
Me, standing in a Kenwood vineyard near Jack London’s ranch.

As a Sonoma County resident, I love reading books that are based around here. Some of the world’s best authors have called Sonoma County their home, including Jack London and Jack Kerouac, who have both written about Sonoma County in their novels.

That one time my kid thought I was one of the most famous *people* in the world. I’m writing about families again for the Press Democrat! Tune into my stories and other topics at the family blog, The Village. 

Road2HopeFontFinalWith its gorgeous landscape, towering redwoods, and close proximity to the ocean, Sonoma County serves as a wonderful backdrop for any story, including several of mine that I’ve written. The town of Petaluma plays a large part in the Hope series. Locals will recognize a few landmark restaurants mentioned in all three of the novels. Bodega Bay is the backdrop to my magical realism romance, Come Here, Cupcake (a book that will one day have a sequel!). And the book I’m the dystopian romance I’m currently working on, Numbered, mentions several Sonoma County and Northern California locations, though it’s set in the future.

Here are a few other books worth checking out that are set in Sonoma County.
Note:  I use affiliate links at no cost to you, but that offer me a small kickback with every purchase to help fund my book projects.

undersideofjoyThe Underside of Joy, Sere Prince Halverson
Halverson’s debut novel takes place in the fictional town of Elbow, but with familiar landmarks anyone in Sonoma County would recognize. The story is about Ella Beene, a widow caught in a custody battle for her stepdaughter with the girl’s natural mother, despite the fact that Ella has been the a steady mother figure in the young girl’s life. Following her husband’s drowning death, Ella is not only facing this battle, but also fighting her own internal battle as her husband’s financial secrets come to light. Halverson’s writing is exquisite, detailing the gorgeous landscape in delicate prose and telling a heartbreaking story with tenderness and heart.

afirestoryA Fire Story, Brian Fies
Anyone who lives in Sonoma County has their own personal story of what happened to them in October 2017 when Santa Rosa and surrounding areas burned in a devastating firestorm. Graphic novelist Brian Fies had his own story to tell, sharing the horrible details of fleeing his home in the dead of night, and coming back to a pile of ash where his house once stood. Through illustrations and intimate details, Fies not only shares what it was like to lose his home, but also the stories of other people who lost their homes, along with what the recovery process has been like. I’ve met Fies on several occasions, and he is just the nicest, most humble man in person. But you should also know that his story won a Grammy when it was retold as a video on PBS. Fies gave a voice to many of us who will never forget October, 2017.

The following books I have not read, but they are on my To Be Read list. The descriptions are from Amazon.

intotheforestInto the Forest, Jean Hegland
Now a major motion picture. Set in the near-future, Into the Forest is a powerfully imagined novel that focuses on the relationship between two teenage sisters living alone in their Northern California forest home. Over 30 miles from the nearest town, and several miles away from their nearest neighbor, Nell and Eva struggle to survive as society begins to decay and collapse around them. No single event precedes society’s fall. There is talk of a war overseas and upheaval in Congress, but it still comes as a shock when the electricity runs out and gas is nowhere to be found. The sisters consume the resources left in the house, waiting for the power to return. Their arrival into adulthood, however, forces them to reexamine their place in the world and their relationship to the land and each other.
P.S. I feel privileged to be in the same writing club as Jean Hegland, who is truly a gifted author.

divisaderoDivisadero, Michael Ondaatje
From the celebrated author of The English Patient and Anil’s Ghost comes a remarkable, intimate novel of intersecting lives that ranges across continents and time. In the 1970s in Northern California a father and his teenage daughters, Anna and Claire, work their farm with the help of Coop, an enigmatic young man who makes his home with them. Theirs is a makeshift family, until it is shattered by an incident of violence that sets fire to the rest of their lives. Divisadero takes us from San Francisco to the raucous backrooms of Nevada’s casinos and eventually to the landscape of southern France. As the narrative moves back and forth through time and place, we find each of the characters trying to find some foothold in a present shadowed by the past.

the life she wantsThe Life She Wants, Robyn Carr
In the aftermath of her financier husband’s suicide, Emma Shay Compton’s dream life is shattered. Richard Compton stole his clients’ life savings to fund a lavish life in New York City and, although she was never involved in the business, Emma bears the burden of her husband’s crimes. She is left with nothing. Only one friend stands by her, a friend she’s known since high school, who encourages her to come home to Sonoma County. But starting over isn’t easy, and Sonoma is full of unhappy memories, too. And people she’d rather not face, especially Riley Kerrigan.
Riley and Emma were like sisters—until Riley betrayed Emma, ending their friendship. Emma left town, planning to never look back. Now, trying to stand on her own two feet, Emma can’t escape her husband’s reputation and is forced to turn to the last person she thought she’d ever ask for help—her former best friend. It’s an uneasy reunion as both women face the mistakes they’ve made over the years. Only if they find a way to forgive each other—and themselves—can each of them find the life she wants.
P.S. Carr also wrote A Summer in Sonoma, a sweet romance story.

Do you have any favorite books that are set in your hometown?

Advertisements

‘Come Here, Cupcake’ only 99 cents for a limited time 

Did you get a Kindle for Christmas? Come Here, Cupcake is only 99-cents for a limited time, and free to borrow for Amazon Prime members. bit.ly/CupcakeKindle

  
Morgan Truly moves back to the coastal town she grew up in to take care of her mother, leaving her job at the newspaper to work in a bakery. But it isn’t until she starts baking when it becomes apparent there’s an extra magical ingredient in her desserts. Every emotion Morgan feels as she bakes is infused into her baking, and passed on to whoever eats it. Sadness, happiness, embarrassment… And when a rugged sailor walks into the bakery and sweeps her off her feet… Let’s just say that her desserts make quite the impression. ❤️

Read more about this book at crissilangwell.com/come-here-cupcake

What is Crissi up to?

lovecupcakesIt’s been a busy couple of weeks, that’s for sure! My new book, Come Here, Cupcake, was officially released on October 5! I celebrated the occasion with cupcakes and perks galore for all of you readers. I have loved all of the feedback I’ve been receiving on this book!

My next big news is that I’ve finished writing a book on how to increase the creative part of your life. The title is, Reclaiming Your Creative Soul: The secrets to organizing your full-time life to make room for your craft.

The book is expected to release in early 2016. Here are a few things this book will address:

  • Finding inspiration around you
  • Making the best use of your time
  • Maintaining a creative lifestyle even with a full-time job
  • How to take a soul retreat
  • Several life hacks: organization skills, meal planning, financial budgeting, etc.
  • Growing your creativity
  • And more!

I even include resources like a 30-day meal plan (complete with shopping lists!), and a budget sheet to organize your finances!

Does this sound like something you might be interested in? To continue the discussion that starts in Reclaiming Your Creative Soul, I’ve organized a Facebook Group for other artists and creatives to come together and learn from each other. Join the discussion at bit.ly/CreativeFacebookGroup.

Finally, I’m gearing up for NaNoWriMo! And for the first time in all the years I’ve participated, I have no idea what I’m writing! Originally I was going to work on the sequel for Come Here, Cupcake. However, it feels like too much pressure to work on that book. So I’m tabling the sequel writing until January, and planning to work on something totally new.

I just need to figure out what that is…

How about you? Anything new? And who’s starting NaNo on Nov. 1?

New book release! Come Here, Cupcake is now available!

Who’s ready for some cupcakes? 🙂

I am so excited to announce the release of my latest novel, Come Here, Cupcake. This book has been years in the making, and has been a true labor of love in its creation. I am so proud of this story and hope to share it with as many readers as possible.

This is why I am offering the eBook version of Come Here, Cupcake at 99 cents – TODAY ONLY.

Cupcake Release Tease

There are a couple of advantages to buying the eBook version of Come Here, Cupcake. First, it’s less expensive than the print version. Second, only the eBook version has a recipe to Limoncello Cupcakes inside (one of the desserts made by main character, Morgan Truly). And third, you can start reading the story immediately!

Here is where you can purchase this book:

CHC ebook teaseeBook – ONLY 99 CENTS ON OCT. 5!

Print

Oct. 5 only: Win a dozen cupcakes delivered right to your door. See my Facebook page for more details.

Add Come Here, Cupcake to your To-Read list on Goodreads

Find out more details about Come Here, Cupcake at bit.ly/ComeHereCupcake.

Behind the cover of Come Here, Cupcake

My cover designer shared the inside scoop on how her art for Come Here, Cupcake came to be. This is a total must-read for a behind-the-scenes look at the book’s gorgeous cover!

Here’s an excerpt:

My very first glimpse of what CHC's cover was going to look like. I may have squealed when I saw it for the first time...
My very first glimpse of what CHC’s cover was going to look like. I may have squealed when I saw it for the first time…

My marvelous and amazing friend Crissi Langwell is an author, with a few books under her belt already, and for her latest, she decided that what she really wanted was for me to do the cover art. She hooked me up with the manuscript so I could get the feel for the story and i was immersed in a lovely tale of a young woman living in the fog-shrouded town of Bodega Bay, and her adventures with baking, and love, and magic and…well, I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but the story is as sweet as the title would lead you to expect, spiced with mystery and garnished with passion. I loved it and *I* got to do the cover illustration for it! 

So, after chatting with Crissi about what she had in mind,  I went out to Bodega Bay to take some location shots for reference. Even though I’ve been there 100 times or more, and I could find photos online, this way I could find the view I was imagining and get the feel down, and it’s only a short drive away so it seemed silly not to. Plus, an excuse to go out to the ocean, am I right?

Read the rest at persephoneraven.com.

P.S. Come Here, Cupcake is publishing on Monday, Oct. 5. That’s this upcoming Monday! And ebook readers won’t want to wait. Monday will feature special one-day pricing to celebrate release day! Want a reminder? Sign up for my newsletter.

Cover reveal! And publish date for Come Here, Cupcake!

After months and months of blood, sweat and tears, working with an awesome story team, lots and lots of revisions, being talked off the ledge, more tears and a few cupcakes, I can finally announce the date you can expect to have Come Here, Cupcake in your hot little hands!

Drum roll please…..

OCTOBER 5TH!

You guys, that’s less than a month away! But wait! There’s more!

Are you ready for the cover?

….

..

.

Is that not the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen? The cover art of Come Here, Cupcake was created by talented artist and my dear friend, Rachel Corn-Hicks.

Here’s the story about Rachel. For years, Rachel has delighted all of her friends, myself included, with gifts of calendars featuring all of her art. Every month, I couldn’t wait to turn the page to see what the next month would bring. So when the story of Come Here, Cupcake came about, I couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect it would be for Rachel’s art to be on the cover.

What I love about this book the most is that it’s been a labor of love. I worked very closely with my good friends, Alberto Melendez and Katie Talbot (aka Studio Rawr – check out their podcast, Random Survivors Club, a gab fest that starts out on Walking Dead, but always evolves into fun  tangents), who both helped to guide the story as my developmental editors (zombie lovers? On a book about cupcakes and magic??? You guys, it totally works. And no, there are no zombies in this book. Sorry.)…

And now the cover holds the gorgeous art of my friend, Rachel.

Next up, the back cover:

Here’s what it says:

There are four things to know about Morgan Truly.

  1. She is not thrilled to have moved back to her seaside town of Bodega Bay.
  2. She’s falling for a handsome rugged seafarer.
  3. She’s discovering that she loves baking.
  4. But with that discovery of baking comes a dark secret.

Set in the sleepy coastal town of Bodega Bay in California, Crissi Langwell blends the ingredients of family bonds, good friends, first kisses and accidental enchantments to create a delicious story that is meant to be devoured.

So now the question is…. Who’s ready for Cupcakes? 🙂

The ABCs of ‘Come Here, Cupcake’


The countdown is on for the release of Come Here, Cupcake! I still don’t have an exact release date, but I’m still aiming for some time in August. And yes, I am totally chomping at the bit—especially since I got to see a sketch of what the cover is going to look like!!! I won’t reveal all of it yet, but I can give you a tease…

cupcaketease

Just wait till you see the rest of it! To give you a better idea of how talented my cover artist is, here’s a link to her cool swag website.

At any rate, today I was working on the back cover copy for the book (which is harder than writing a whole entire book), and was hitting a wall. So I started brainstorming keywords that make up the basis of the novel, and came up with this list.

Here’s a taste of what Come Here, Cupcake is about:

A – Attitude
B – Bodega Bay
C – Cupcakes!!!
D – Dreams
E – Emotions
F – Fire!
G – Good friends
H – Happiness
I – Icing
J – Journey
K – Kisses
L – Lemon tartlets
M – Magic
N – Nautical
O – Obligations
P – Palm reading
Q – Questions
R – Romance
S – Sailor
T – Thor
U – Unsuspecting party guests
V – Visions
W – Whimsy
X – eXpasperation
Y – Yearning
Z – Zest

The cutest cupcake chapter headers ever!

Today I’m working on the last bit of cleanup for Come Here, Cupcake before I send it off to my editor. And while all formatting work will have to wait until it’s done being edited, I couldn’t help but start working on the chapter headers. You guys, these are so adorable, I just want to eat them off the page! 😀 Here it is, with a tiny, tiny teaser of Chapter 1:

chapter teaser
I mean, seriously, how cute are those cupcake headers?

By the way, I’ve recently started a new business that’s so new, I’m still trying to figure out its permanent name. I’m offering my services for super cheap on things like book formatting, editing, website creation, social media setup, and more. You could be one of my first clients and take advantage of super low pricing! For more information, CLICK HERE.

Come Here Cupcake, FINISHED!

I finished my novel.

As in, I FINISHED MY NOVEL!!!!

After 4 and a half months of writing, rewriting, adding words in, taking words out, crying, whining, complaining, throwing in the towel, picking the towel back up, and….writing, I can finally say that Come Here, Cupcake is “finished!”

But what does that mean exactly? Will it be available to be read any time soon?

Short answer, no.

There’s still plenty of work that needs to be done on this novel. While the story part is finished, there’s still a massive amount of editing to be done by me and my editing team to ensure that all details add up and that my grammar doesn’t suck. Plus, the cover still needs to be finalized.

So I can’t give you a date just yet for when you can expect to be able to read this book. I can’t even give you a sneak peek….yet. But I will tell you that we’re close. We’re really, really close. And you guys, I am not exaggerating—this is the best book I have ever written in my life.

So stick around for more updates on the book, and expect me to be a little more available here.

Oh, before I forget. My main character, Morgan Truly, insisted on setting up her own Instagram account. She’s still kind of a newbie to the whole thing, so I pop in from time to time. But you can follow the both of us at @truly_cupcake and at @crissilangwell.

Editing, scrapping, rewriting the novel.

I’m staring at a blank computer screen right now. Well, not entirely blank. Each word I type is taking up a bit of the white space, filling it with the words that are echoing in my mind and being transposed onto the screen. But the words I want to write, NEED to write, are standing at the bottom of the hill, looking up at the mountain, trying to decide whether to climb or not…

I have a lot of SHOULDS on my plate right now, SHOULDS that I’ve placed there, SHOULDS that stand in my way of WANTS I’m too scared to bring to fruition. I should write a newsletter to my 78 fans. I should do the social media work for my writing club. I should do all the mundane things and get them out of the way so I can do what I WANT to be doing.

Which is revising my novel.

But if I do all the mundane stuff first to get it out of the way, I won’t have time for the WANTS. I know this. But because I’m scared to start the revision process, I am tempted to do all my SHOULDS, thus taking away the time for my WANTS.

Why am I scared?

I just got out of a story meeting with two dear friends I am entrusting as guides in my next novel. Months ago, I gave them the rough draft version of Come Here, Cupcake, believing it was in the most final stage I could get it. To me, it was near perfection. I knew there were a few spots that needed touching up. But for the most part, the story was exactly as I wanted it. So I handed it off to them, setting it free, and told them we would go over it in a few months.

Today was that day. January 1, the start of a brand new year and of new possibilities. This is the year I am dedicated to this new series, starting with the first book. I believe in this series so much, and am excited to make it happen. In our story meeting, however, holes in the storyline were revealed, and new ideas were brainstormed. While the story and the characters, as written, serve as a great starting point, it became painfully obvious that there is a lot more work to be done. A lot. As in, the book is about to be rewritten completely.

Oy.

This, to me, is what is scary. I’m excited about a few new dimensions and layers that will be added to the story. But I’m scared about taking away from parts that are already written, possibly stripping out some of the original magic. I’m also scared that the story will deviate from MY story, and turn into someone else’s story. I’m scared that I’ve put all this work into the book already, and now I’m setting myself up to put even MORE work into it. And I’m scared that I won’t even be able to do the book justice, thus wasting my time completely. Honestly, I go through this every time I get close to finishing my novel. But I am scared that I’ve used up all my creativity, and this is the time it will be revealed that I’m just some HACK who’s already peaked with a few books that only reached a couple dozen people. I’m afraid that I’m a has been who never was, and will just be pouring my soul into a book that will go nowhere.

Okay, I know this is all pretty depressing stuff to read. It’s pretty depressing to write. But here’s where I stand – January 1, at the bottom of the hill, looking up at this gigantic mountain of work I’m setting myself up for, trying to muster up the courage to climb. But knowing that I will. Today. As soon as I hit publish on this blog entry.

So, on to my next blank screen, the one that seems so scary right now, but may seem completely beautiful in another month or two. The one that holds possibilities I’m not even certain of in this very moment. But that’s the beauty of a blank screen. It isn’t filled with SHOULDS. It isn’t even filled with WANTS. It’s just empty, waiting to become whatever it is I want it to become. Kind of like this New Year.

Hm.

I think I’m ready. Here goes nothing.