Thursday, August 26, 2010

Editors of Sierra Nevada anthology to make Chico appearance


In 1912 John Muir wrote that "the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after ten years of wandering and wondering in the heart of it, rejoicing in its glorious floods of light . . . it still seems above all others the Range of Light."

Now, the light shed on Muir's beloved mountains by the work of some 75 writers has been collected in "The Illuminated Landscape: A Sierra Nevada Anthology" ($19.95 in paperback from Heyday Books,, edited by Gary Noy and Rick Heide. Co-published by Sierra College Press and Santa Clara University, the book features voices as different as Mark Twain and Gary Snyder. It is essential reading.

The two editors will talk about and read from their anthology at Lyon Books in Chico on Tuesday, August 31 at 7:00 p.m.

Noy is the director of the Center for Sierra Nevada Studies at Sierra College in Rocklin and is in the midst of team-teaching "The Sierra Nevada," an interdisciplinary course. Heide has a journalism background and won a 2003 American Book Award for an anthology of Latino literature.

The editors structure their book historically, from "the golden misty dawn" (1840 and before) to the "quiet-colored end of evening" (1991 to the present). Genres range from the "Old Gambler's Song" of the Maidu to an excerpt from Tom Knudson's "The Sierra in Peril" series for the Sacramento Bee, which won a Pulitzer Prize.

Jack London is here, carefully introduced, as is Henry David Thoreau (who, though never visiting the Sierra Nevada, was a critic of the California Gold Rush: "a touchstone which has betrayed the rottenness, the baseness, of mankind").

Several pieces were specially commissioned. Nevada City author Jordan Fisher Smith tells what happened when he arrested a woman high on drugs in the American River Canyon. Poet Maria Melendez recounts her first camping trip in the Sierra Nevada. Biologist Joe Medeiros writes of "The Power of Trees," and asks a series of haunting questions that end the book: "Will our grandchildren be able to hike along a high ridge in the Sierra and lean against an old juniper? Feel its energy?"

Readers will appreciate the many perspectives--and the illumination they bring.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chico counselor on promoting emotional health and good vibrations

The cover of "The Couples Thrival Guide" ($16.99 in paperback, self-published, available from by Shannon Sheridan features a striking image from Chico ceramics instructor Janice Hofmann. Depicting an erotic embrace, the illustration is intended to suggest one of many enjoyable relationships. The book offers what Sheridan calls a "non-pathological" approach to couple's therapy based on self-appreciation and the "Law of Attraction."

The author is scheduled to be interviewed tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. on Nancy's Bookshelf (KCHO, Northstate Public Radio, 91.7 FM). A book release party, featuring music from "Spark-n-Cinder," is set for Saturday, from 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. at All Fired Up, 830 Broadway in Chico. Tickets are $20 and include desserts, dancing, and a copy of the book. For reservations, go to

Sheridan writes that "the most important thing is that I feel good" (the title of one of her chapters). "When we feel good and are really plugged in," she says, "we are connected with ourselves and with others around us. It does not feel good to hurt, demean, or disempower others when we come from a place of connection."

This "connection" has to do with the "Law of Attraction": "We are all atoms moving around at different frequencies. As we experience emotions, vibrations change frequencies. Meanwhile, vibrations are attracted to other vibrations of the same frequency." She tells of falling down a flight of stairs. "I had attracted this incident as a result of my vibration, by allowing what my friend was thinking about me to be more important than what I thought about myself." Here Sheridan draws on the work of Abraham Hicks (

She is also counts Virginia Satir ( as a teacher, modifying Satir's "ingredients of an interaction" for the book. The ingredients are "vibration, sensory information, perceptual filter, meanings, feelings, and response/outcome." Faulty meanings--that the person is worthless or unlovable--can undermine relationships. The reality is "we are pure positive love energy connected to source."

In working with the depressed, Sheridan would "invite them to be angry. It introduces power and self-worth, and it works far better than any medication." From there the person may move to "hopefulness and appreciation." It's vital, she writes, to "appreciate yourself." It's the stuff of good vibrations.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mount Shasta guide writes guide to Mount Shasta


Chico State University graduate Robin Kohn now lives in the city of Mount Shasta. She's worked for the California State Park System, is a certified wilderness guide, and knows what to do to avoid avalanches. She conducts guided tours on and around the 14,162-foot mountain, "the second tallest volcanic mountain in the Cascade Range." She's an advocate of "Leave No Trace Principles": "Take only pictures, steal only time, leave only footprints."

And she knows how to have fun. Lots of it. Her "Mount Shasta Guide to Fun" ($15.95 spiral bound, self-published, available at Lyon Books in Chico and online at embodies not only wise advice but sheer enjoyment--especially of sheer cliffs.

The guide encompasses "hiking, backpacking, bicycling, cross-country and back country skiing, rock climbing, driving tours and scenic waterfall walks" and includes many black and white photographs and almost two dozens helpful maps. After the introduction and a chapter on Mount Shasta itself, the book moves out to McCloud, the Dunsmuir and Castella areas, Weed, the Lower Klamath Basin, Yreka, and Scott Valley.

For those who want a scenic drive, Kohn recommends a loop around the mountain which is about "80 miles in circumference. You will see the ancient volcanic flows of Mt. Shasta, pass the historic Emigrant Trail now know as Military Pass Road, and observe geological and glacial wonders."

For those on two wheels, Kohn describes a 20-mile round trip bicycle tour of the McCloud area. "Beginning at the McCloud Ranger Station right off highway 89 . . . head south to Squaw Valley Road. . . . Along the way you will see the McCloud Golf Course, a 9-hole course which is the oldest in Northern California. One and a half miles on your right is the former site of the Warmcastle Resort and soda springs, now known as Beaver Ponds." The springs were thought to cure most any ailment (except rotten puns--see next paragraph).

The "Guide to Fun" is less formal than commercial travel books, yet each paragraph packs plenty of information, such as contact numbers. Kohn is writing about what she loves and is careful to offer suitable cautions (especially to those who travel in avalanche areas). There's something here for everyone. And that's no snow job.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Former Chicoan delivers steamy history, returns for book signing


Spring 1548, Scotland. "Florie Gilder, respected apprentice of the goldsmith to the Princess Mary herself, with one reckless act of passion, had become a common outlaw!" Running into Ettrick Forest, she is mistaken as game and felled by archer Rane MacAllister, huntsman of Lord Gilbert Fraser, sheriff of Selkirk. The shaft penetrates Florie's thigh, and she will bleed to death if help is not found. But Rane cannot call for assistance; he had been poaching in the very woods he was hired to guard. He must care for Florie himself.

Florie is beyond beautiful. "In the candlelight her skin had an ethereal sheen, almost as if she weren't human, but some fey creature." Rane is smitten. His Viking blood powers the instincts of a seducer, yet he must also become protector. Can he be trusted? His "eyes were the complex shade of chrysolite, as lustrous as a polished gem, rich, intense, compelling . . . "

Glynnis Talken Campbell writes me that "I'm a Chicoan--born, raised, and CSUC'd--currently living in L.A." Among her many talents (see the Wikipedia entry under Glynnis_Talken_Campbell) she is a prolific writer. Her latest is "Captured by Desire" ($6.99 in paperback, Kindle and Barnes & Noble NOOK formats, from Grand Central Publishing), written under the pen name of Kira Morgan (

The author will be signing copies at the Chico Barnes & Noble store this Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Fans of historical romance are most especially invited.

"Captured by Desire" takes it time in building sexual tension. Rane brings Florie to an old abandoned church where she can claim sanctuary from prosecution for forty days. The strong-willed Florie is both repelled by Rane's invasion of her modesty and attracted--intensely attracted--to the muscular man who poaches only in order to "feed the starving crofters," the Scots who eked out a living tilling small farms, plagued by English incursions.

Florie, raised by her besotted foster father, is in search of her real kin. But Lady Mavis, the sheriff's wife, stands in her way. She accuses Florie of stealing a gold pomander that was Florie's in the first place, and will stop at nothing to destroy it--and her.

Readers will not be disappointed. The archer hits his mark.



Chico writer-photographer Doug Keister is haunting cemeteries these days, and what he's dug up is on display in "Forever L.A.: A Field Guide to Los Angeles Area Cemeteries & Their Residents" ($19.99 in paperback, $7.99 Kindle edition, from Gibbs Smith). Delightfully, Keister's text and color photographs are instructive both for the armchair traveler and the on-scene trekker--who will "be rewarded with a whole new perspective on art, architecture, symbolism, and stargazing. Indeed, where else can you easily get within six feet of your favorite celebrity?" From Forest Lawn ("the Disneyland of cemeteries") to Pet Memorial Park--each page surprises.


Oroville resident Vernon Carter's book is "primarily for my family" but has a wider appeal as the "rags to riches . . . story of achieving goals, one step at a time." "One Man's Journey" ($20 in paperback from Memoir Books) tells about life growing up in the Depression (Carter was born in 1923) and the effect of his parents' divorce when he was five. Along the way he had a teaching career, married Bev in 1947, traveled the world, formed the Oroville Optimist Club in 1997. An active volunteer, he's been doing "nothing" since his retirement three decades ago.


Portland-based Pam Glenn "grew up in Chico (1953-62) and attended" Chico High School; her father taught at what is now Chico State University. Her new work, "Barter World" ($12.95 in paperback from Class Action Ink, available at Lyon Books in Chico), is a fanciful collection of intersecting tales about the fate of a red bead necklace, a wedding present to Scheherazade from the King. As the beads are traded, Hans Holbein enters the story, and still later one of the beads becomes a marble, traded for tutoring, in "a story so old, or so new, nobody knows where it begins."