A river, a tent and a family.

In this view of Tower Bridge and the Sacramento River, you can see where the first chapter of Copy Boy begins, with my protagonist Jane walking along the levee, heading home to her family’s tent on a hot Sacramento night. Setting matters. Artifacts matter. They form character.

The arc of the first chapter began for me with a memory of my father, Kelly Blanton, telling stories about his experience as a boy, living in a Hooverville like Jane’s before she escapes to San Francisco. You can read more about the true story here. At least it’s as true as it can be, coming from my memory of my father’s memory in a particular retelling. The difficulty of telling the truth is a source of trouble in Copy Boy.

This river location is also one mile from the spot where I’ll be sitting in the pandemic-empty Capital Books on June 24 for my virtual book launch–where Copy Boy will begin its life on the shelf.

Register here. [The event is passed but you can watch it here.]

Celebrating anyway.

The news is terrible, devastating. Half the time, I wonder if it’s right to focus on a thing like a book at a moment like this. But I have these friends, with gifts to offer, something to lift our hearts, even if only for an hour. So I’m inviting you to join us online.

Capital Books and Stories on Stage Sacramento are co-sponsoring Copy Boy’s virtual launch, at 5 p.m., Wednesday, June 24. Author Dorothy Rice will ask me questions. Actor/authors Amanda McTigue, Jessica Laskey and Ian C. Hopps will each perform one page from the book. Capital Books will choose a drawing winner for a gift. And I’ll get the chance to thank you for all the support you’ve offered a 58-year-old emerging author.

I hope you’ll register to save a spot. Though you can pre-order Copy Boy anywhere you shop for books, if you pre-order from Capital Books now or on that evening, it will arrive signed and with a few extra gifts.

Why we love indie bookstores.

Watch the news clip above to see the role a local bookstore can play in civic life. As protesters massed on Sacramento’s downtown streets to march against centuries-long tragedy perpetrated on Black America, our downtown bookstore, Capital Books, kept their doors open through the night. They filled their front window with books by Black authors. They sheltered protestors suffering from tear gas exposure. As Mr. Rogers says, Look for the helpers.

Another local launch.

I love Bakersfield Boys Club, by Sacramento author Anne Da Vigo. Not only is its subject matter taken from an unforgettable series of crimes that took place during my adolescence in Bakersfield, but it’s also researched very carefully, written sensitively. I highly recommend it.

You can learn more about the book at Stories on Stage Sacramento. Even see a short interview with Da Vigo, who was a journalist at the Bakersfield Californian reporting on this case.

Children need to write.

Thank you to 916 Ink’s Allison Stelly for guiding me to the right research for a piece on creative writing for children and adolescents. I cannot say enough about the work 916 Ink does, first in our community, and now all over the country, to help kids learn to believe in the power of their own voice, the importance of their voice. Here’s the piece in Women Writers, Women’s Books.

Remember to look for the helpers. Remember to be a helper, in whatever way you can.



Order Copy Boy at Capital Books