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?

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Sneak peek at Hope for the Broken Girl, releasing Feb. 5

DEMO underwater girl.jpg5 more days! Hope for the Broken Girl releases Feb. 5, and completes the Hope series trilogy with the rest of Maddie and Hope’s story. Are you as excited as I am???

Just a warning, this series deals with some heavy topics, including domestic violence. This is not a G-rated book. Read more about the book here.

Also, here’s a super secret hint: The Road to Hope will be FREE for Kindle on Feb. 5. This is a gift from me to you to celebrate the series’ completion! If you haven’t read The Road to Hope yet, wait until Monday, and then download it at this link.

Here’s another exciting tidbit: the paperback version of Hope for the Broken Girl is already available on Amazon! If you like paperback books, purchase it today here. Not only that, if you buy a paperback book, the Kindle version is FREE!

That’s a lot of freebies. Want one more? Below is a free sneak peek at the opening pages of Hope for the Broken Girl. Enjoy!

Chapters1Chapter 1: Broken

The engine whines as I turn the key, but refuses to turn over. I pull the keys out and throw them across the dash in frustration. The noise is louder than I expect and I glance in the back seat to see if Hope is still sleeping. She is.

With my phone in hand, I get out of the car, walking over to the passenger side so that I’m not next to the busy highway. The ocean spreads out in front of me in both directions, seeming to take up my whole world. I look down at the phone screen. My sleeves have hiked up my arms, and I pull them down out of habit to hide the bruises.

I don’t know if he’ll answer. He has no reason to answer. I’m afraid he’ll ignore my call. Worse, I’m afraid he’ll answer and give me hell for the way I disappeared. But I had no choice, just like I have no choice now.

His name isn’t on my phone. I’m not that dumb. But I know his number by heart. I touch each digit, pausing with a deep breath before I hit the final one. Then I hold the phone to my ear and wait. He might not answer. He might not pick up the phone because he doesn’t recognize this number. He might…

“Hello?”

I say nothing for a moment, closing my eyes at the sound of his voice. I hadn’t realized how much it would affect me.

“Hello? Anyone there?”

“Jace.” I keep my eyes closed, listening to him breathe in my ear as the coastal wind whips my hair around my face.

“Maddie?”

“Yes, it’s me. I’m sorry it’s so early.”

“Oh my God, how are you? Where are you? Is everything okay?”

“No,” I whisper.

“I can’t hear you. There’s a lot of noise on your end. Are you all right?”

I open my eyes and look out at the ocean. It’s funny how something so large and dangerous can look beautiful and inviting from far away. Right now, it appears like glass under the first rays of the morning sun, despite the wind. It’s deceptive—how could something so monstrous appear this peaceful?

“I need you to find me. I need you to bring me home,” I tell him. He says nothing for a moment, and my doubts flare up, once again. Please don’t let me down.

“Where are you?” he asks.

“I’m not sure. Hold on.” I pull up a map on the phone. “I’ve just passed Crescent City.” I glance down the highway. Cars whip by on the narrow road, and there doesn’t seem to be anything close. “I’m out of gas and can’t go any further.”

He’s quiet, and I know he’s looking up my location.

“Crescent City is more than five hours north from here,” he says.

“I know.” I clench my hand against my jeans, praying he’ll come get me. If he refuses, I don’t know what I’ll do.

“Are you on Highway 101?” he asks.

“Yes,” I say, sighing. It’s way out of the way. I should have driven down I-5, but a detour at Grants Pass got me confused. I know I’d be closer to home if I hadn’t gotten turned around. Now, I’m still too close to the Oregon border…too close to danger.

“Okay. There’s a motel called Seaport Inn along the highway. Can you find it and tell me how far you are from it?”

I pull the phone from my ear and punch the name in.

“About three miles,” I tell him.

“Can you walk that far?” he asks. I look in the back seat. Hope’s still asleep in her car seat. I’ll have to leave it behind, along with anything else that’s too heavy to carry with Hope on my hip.

“I’m going to have to,” I tell him. “But bring Kayci’s car seat.”

He tells me he’ll call the motel and reserve a room with two beds, and to just show up and give them my name.

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” he assures me. He’s quiet for a moment, but I hear him breathing. “Will you be okay?” he finally asks. “Are you in any kind of trouble? Is there anything I should know to prepare myself?”

I don’t know how to answer. I look up to the sky. The cloudless blue is deceiving. The wind stills for a moment, and my breath comes out in small clouds. I pull my jacket closer to my body.

“No,” I lie. “Just hurry.”

___

Hope for the Broken Girl releases Feb. 5, available in both print and eBook. This is the 3rd book of the Hope series. To see all books, visit bit.ly/HopeSeriesKindle.

Just published! Hope at the Crossroads, Book 2 of the Hope series

Hope at the Crossroads is available now! 

Take a journey with Maddie, a teen mom figuring out life while raising her daughter Hope in the heart of Wine Country. Hope at the Crossroads is now available in print and Kindle on Amazon.

bit.ly/hopecrossroadskindle

This is Book 2 of the Hope series, a trilogy that began with The Road to Hope, and will finish with the release of Book 3, Hope for the Broken Girl, on Feb. 5.

Happy reading!

My oops is your good news

hope trio_edited-1.jpg

I’ve made a publishing goof, and it might be in your favor. Here’s the details.

As a self-published author, every aspect of the publishing process is under my control. I format my own books. I hire my editor. I design my covers, or hire a designer to help me. I do my own marketing. I also say when and how the book will be published.

Earlier this month, I set up the pre-sale for Hope at the Crossroads, Book 2 of the Hope series. This book publishes this coming Tuesday, but it’s available for pre-sale now. Because I’ve already written the 3rd book in the series, Hope for the Broken Girl, I set that up for pre-sale now, too. The book is done, but it still needs to go through another editing session with me before I send it to my editor.

Here’s how the pre-sale button works for self-published authors. We can only set a pre-sale up three months in advance. So I set it for early January, and figured I’d change the date again every month or so.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. When I went in to change the date, I was told I could only move the publishing date out by 30 days, and then I was barred from using the pre-sale feature for one year.

Um, what?

After mulling this over, I’ve decided to take the hit. This means that when you finish reading Hope at the Crossroads, you only have to wait until FEBRUARY 5 to read Book 3 of the series.

This also means I’ll be going full speed ahead as I finalize the edits on this book and get it ready to release, not an easy task since NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I’ll be whipping out another book next month. No worries, though, because I know I can do it.

So, long story long, Hope at the Crossroads publishes this coming Tuesday, and Hope for the Broken Girl is coming February 5!

Pre-order both at bit.ly/HopeSeriesKindle.

The bad news. And then the good news.

Dear Friends,

I hate doing this. It’s something I’ve been mulling over for the past week, trying to figure out if there’s another way. There isn’t…at least if I want to do this right.

I need to postpone the publish date for Hope at the Crossroads, the 2nd book of the Hope series.

I know a lot of you were looking forward to reading more of Maddie’s story, and this is probably a disappointment. This is a disappointment to me, too. I was really excited to release this book, and even more excited to know how this story affects you.

I just want to get this right.

There are still some areas of this book that need some smoothing, and I don’t want to rush this. This series is way too important to me, and your reading experience is even more important. And so I am moving the publish date to a new day.

Mark your calendars for OCTOBER 24.

In the meantime, you can still read the book that started it all, The Road to Hope, Book 1 in the Hope series. At this time, it’s still only available on Kindle and at Amazon, but will soon be available in print or as an eBook at any of your favorite online retailers, and for any digital device. See where to find it here.

Thank you, as always, for your support, and for reading!

Love,
Crissi Langwell

hope pub tease