Welcome to Helen Bonner's Website!
Hello, Friends and Friends of Friends.
First of all, Have a great 2015!
Since First Love Last is about forgiveness, Cry Dance is about believing in an everlasting life, thus giving up fear, and Dolphin Papers is about our connection with others, (a child and a dolphin teach a guarded scientist to let feelings in) I felt my books were quite appropriate. To my surprise, it was MsDemeanors that people talked most about and bought the most copies of. (MsDemeanors is getting great reviews. Take a look at them here or on amazon.)I guess women's quest for equality could be seen as spirited, and therefore spiritual? Anyway, I met some wonderful people, including Trinity Bookstore manager Cherie Chamness, and my dear friend Lynette Monroe's bookclub members. A delight.
Here's Cherrie Chamness and Dr. Bonner
Send Me Your Poor -- Some of you are asking what I’m working on now. As usual, it’s nothing like what I’ve written before; its about what I’m obsessed with. My last novel, MsDemeanors, portrays a middle-class mother learning to redefine herself within the Women's Movement of the early 1970s. Laid Daughter is about overcoming childhood abuse. First Love Last is about forgiveness. The Dolphin Papers explores our connections to one another and our connections to a another species, dolphins. Cry Dance explores the question, what would we be like if we really believed there is no death? Well, in my files the other day, I found a 100 page manuscript , Send Me Your Poor written on a typewriter in the l970’s, when I was trying out a career in Social Work. (Two years on that heart-breaking job sent me back to school to become a college professor.) Reading something that I wrote when I was young was fascinating, as if someone other than I had written it, someone perhaps more tender and idealistic. I remembered writing it in response to the attitude of my middle-class neighbors, who passed on the myth of the woman on welfare who “picked up her check in a Cadillac”, or repeated Governor Reagan’s dismissive, “get the bums off welfare.” I wanted these good people to know my clients on AFDC, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, their often heart-tugging, tragic, and sometimes inspiring stories. Today, having just signed the international Charter for Compassion, I decided to rescue those stories from my “dead” files, and compare them with our needy families today. Where have we been? Where are we going? I will focus on the stories, not the statistics. Compassion, not political ideology. My readers can take it from there.
My recent reading with other writers at the El Dorado County Library, for an audience of readers who want to be writers, was a delight,
questions and answers flying across the room after each writer talked about why and what they write, and what the publishing world is like today. (Better for the independent small publisher, thanks to computers.)
Helen Bonner, standing, Cindy Sample up next.
I'm back from two weeks in Sweden with my son Mark and exchange student Ulf. Before I left, the local library hosted a wonderful event for my new Novel, MsDemeanors. Here we are in a picture taken by my supportive and feminist husband:
There was a guy there too, who said he learned a lot about women from my book! Even in these rural counties, Amador and El Dorado, my MsDemeanors, a historical novel, is catching on, and reviews are great. Here's what Suzy Miller of TSPN TV wrote:
In reading Helen Bonner’s book MsDemeanors I found a profound love for this era in our history all over again. She hits the bulls eye when it comes to the women of that time, they were just expected to graduate from high school and find work until they got their MRS. degrees and put their aprons on and settled into a life of being a wife and mother. Heaven forbid if you strayed out of the norms that were written in stone for women in those days. It was considered strange but also starting to be accepted to want to get an education and if you did you were rare and still looked upon as a rebel or different. Many women paved the way for young women today who not only look forward to being the lawyer , practicing as a doctor or being the head of a corporation. Ms. Bonner lets us remember of not only of the seventies but of today and what those gutsy women did for all of us. Whether we admit it or not all of us has a little of Jennifer’s character in us and admire what she had to do to fulfill her passions and dreams. She was always grasping to fulfill her dreams and didn’t allow anything or anyone to put up barriers and stop her from accomplishing her goals. It was almost impossible for us to admit we were not satisfied just being a wife and a mother that we wanted more in every aspect of our lives. Ms. Bonner has hit the nail on the head with this remarkable book and as in all of her books she has written in the past she continues to put a smile on our faces, tears in our eyes and hope where sometimes we have despair, I say “Brava” Helen and thank you for sharing your wonderful talent and gift that you have so given us and have touched all of our hearts.
I'm also happy with the US Review of Books, who recommend it highly, and reviews on Amazon are already coming in, as well as requests for readings and discussions at book clubs.MsDemeanors, a Novel of the Seventies, is now on Amazon, and should now be in local bookstores. Gloria Steinem’s picture is on the back cover with me. She and I met back in our Feminista days, and I still admire her ability to “find language that does not divide.” Ms magazine had a major effect on my life, as it does on Jenn, the narrator of my book.
Antoinette May, noted author of Pilate’s Wife and founder of Goldrush Writers, praises MsDemeanors. “If you lived it, you’ll love it. If it’s new to you, be prepared for a walk on yesterday’s wild side.” Kevin Arnold, a Palo Alto writer, told me, “I learned a lot about women from that book.” Some, he’d rather not know, I bet.
Although MsDemeanors is historical fiction, it’s the story of many women of that time, including my friends and myself. We were young, chomping at the bit, and the women’s movement turned us loose. This book would be great for Women’s History classes or Women’s Studies. The Amador County Library in Jackson, California, has scheduled an Author’s event for Saturday afternoon, July 13th, when I will talk more about “herstory.”
Every hard working writer is thrilled when one of his/her books is singled out as a winner or even finalist for an award, so I'll use my bragging rights: In February came my second award. Cry Dance won the Sharp Writ award. This award is sponsored by the Smart Booklovers, originally Mensa. The award brings with it lots of publicity, which also makes me happy. To learn more about the award and what their judges said about Cry Dance, see www.Book-Awards.org.
Other great news: The Dolphin Papers was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer First Horizons Book Award! The Eric Hoffer award was established in 2000 "as a means of opening a door to writing of significant merit, honoring the memory of the great American philosopher Eric Hoffer by highlighting salient writing, as well as the independent spirit of small publishers." I am thrilled to be pasting gold award stickers onto every copy of the Dolphin Papers, which I believe will expand readers' understanding of dolphins, especially important now that Lyndia Storey's petition is going around to "Stop the killing of 1,800 whales and dolphins and the deafening of 15,900 more by ceasing the operation of the Navy's underwater sound system in the Hawaiian Islands, the California and Atlantic Coasts, and the Gulf of Mexico."
The 8th Annual Gold Rush Writers Retreat was held on May 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 2013, in nearby Mokelumne Hill. You can see the array of first rate writers on Gold Rush Writers.com, and also my workshops. Those are always rewarding to me, sharing knowledge with other writers at all levels.
Word is getting around on my books. I had two big readings recently, Authors Day at the Shakespeare Club in Placerville. (I love it that the once rough gold mining town has kept a Shakespeare Club going for over one hundred years! My recent reading with the AAUW was a delight -- women who, like me, think about possibilities for a better world, and are willing to work toward their ideals.
Speaking of ideals, have you seen Gloria Steinem’s video? (YouTube Video here) I first met Gloria in the l970’s when she spoke at the campus where I was teaching. We got to talk before her lecture, she signed my copy of her book and took a signed copy of Cry Dance home with her. This dynamic woman definitely not "stuck in the past" -- her lecture was all about where we need to go from here to continue the work begun back then. I was lucky enough to get a picture of the two of us, which is on the back cover of MSdemeanors.
(see events, below)
A nice surprise. A recent call from the Mountain Democrat, California's oldest newspaper. My book, First Love Last, finally made it's way to the hands of one of their reporters, Wendy Schultz. I came from Placerville and was once a reporter for that same newspaper, so I was delighted to get a request for an interview, and afterward Wendy Schultz wrote a fine insightful review for their book column. The review begins: What if you could go back in time and heal old wounds -- eliminate pain from the past from limiting your life in the present? Helen Bonner had that opportunity when her ex-husband showed up at their 57th El Dorado High School reunion, an almost miraculous appearance from a man how had never attended any previous reunion.... You can see the whole thing on Mountain Democrat/Prospecting.
Recently the Mountain Ranch Book club chose Cry Dance as its Book of the Month, and this month’s hostess, Sheri Boesch, invited me to their annual dinner. I love hearing readers talk about my work. What I’ve noticed over time is their responses are a weaving together of who they are and what I have written. Young women, for example, will focus in on Lorinda’s love life, young men are sometimes angry for how Richard behaved. Older women might be concerned about what happened in L.A. “How could she do that?” One Native American felt the whole book ended when Bonnie, a Paiute, died. Almost no one pays much attention to the sub title - What if there was no death? One woman’s comment was “I don’t like books that make me think.” I noticed she thought about it anyway. These book clubs are great feedback for me. Thanks to all of you.
Both my novel, Cry Dance, and my memoir, First Love Last, competed with thousands for the Writer’s Digest International Small Publisher Book Awards and received “close but no cigar” certificates. Judge 48 wrote of Cry Dance: “Intriguing plot. Helen Bonner has woven an interesting premise with a fascinating plot. The concept is compelling and includes enough suspense to keep the reader turning pages. The situation has a unique twist that sets the story apart. The author’s voice rings through without being intrusive. Bonner’s superior writing skills are showcased in Cry Dance. The cover, however, does not do it justice.” I’m happy with that. A cover can be changed.
For First Love Last Judge 37 wrote: “Beautiful writing, a story well told. I was impressed by the love affair AND by her husband’s comments near the end. I was especially moved by the pillow talk; that part of their relationship was perhaps more intimate than sex. And the sex was delightful. I wonder how much effort it cost introvert Tom to open up with someone? His slip of the tongue about Betty revealed a good deal. Other than two mistakes regarding names, the book is WONDERFUL.” Happy with that too! ...but not happy with the errors. I fixed them and had it republished.
I'm excited and delighted to report that my breakthrough Novel, Cry Dance, is getting great reviews.
Reviewed by Jenny Luper, The US Review of Books
And another review: Just finished Cry Dance last evening. I was so captivated that I stayed up til midnight just to finish it.
It's a great read. It really captures the ambiance of the Bishop area, and LA, and the difficulties of growing up between cultures,
Native American vs. Anglo and rural vs. city. I'll look forward to reading your other books.
On my recent visit to El Paso Community College, (where the book was taught along with Barbara Kingsolver and Orson Scott Card!) Professor David Henry said, "the novel is deep, profound, and spiritual." His students clearly like the book, like Richard and Lorinda, and find the issues pertinent, since some have served in the Middle East or have relatives there, and others are bi-cultural.
Professor David Henry wrote:
Bonner's Cry Dance is a very good book. Her central character is a young woman who is blessed with advanced intuitive abilities and an understanding of
human-ness that can only be inborn, not learned. The young woman has the inate ability to caste light on any person or any environment she touches.
Geri Cartier reports of her book club, Mountain Ranch Booklovers, "We fell in love with Cry Dance. It is exciting as well as informative. A page-turner."
And LLee of Mountain Ranch wrote:
My recent Memoir, First Love Last, continues to do well. When I do book groups, some take home Cry Dance and some take home the memoir. Here's what I wrote aboutFirst Love Last when it first came out: If you believe, as I do, there are far too few books that portray the retired as intelligent, dynamic, loving and even sexual, you should check out my short memoir, First Love Last, which just came out and is now available on Amazon.com, Lulu.com, or your book store can order it for you. When my estranged husband of fifty years showed up at a class reunion, I did not know him or want to know him. He had nothing to do with our two sons for years, and my memories of our early marriage were not pleasant. Yet, when I looked into his eyes, my arms went around him. “Tommy!” I did not understand my spontaneous reaction, nor the chaotic relationship that followed, but I felt then, and still feel that our story was somehow miraculous, and should be shared with others of my generation, especially those bitterly divorced when a divorce required that someone be bad or wrong. I wanted to tell it as honestly as I could, even when the truth didn’t make me look all that good, often quoting e-mails and journal entries exactly as they were written. As a student of A Course in Miracles, I felt guided all the way. I included wisdom quotes from sages reminding me that whether we know it or not, “we are all connected.”
Here's all, or most, of the women who meet on TSPN TV's Just Between Us show on Wednesday and Friday mornings. The station thanked us with a big luncheon at Jose's this week. A wonderful bunch of women, representing everything from a Boston Marathon runner to business owner, writer, artist, actress, master gardener, spiritual adviser - we have it all.
This site was last updated 01/27/15