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Local Lit

Spotlighting recent local authors' work

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Katy Byrne began writing "hairballs," her word for the dark things that we hold in until they metastasize, when she was single and lonely. Part diary entry, part philosophical musing, 'The Courage to Speak Up: Getting Your Hairballs Out' (Langmarc Publishing; $16.95) gathers Byrne's thoughts into book form. A licensed psychotherapist, radio personality and animal rights activist, the Sonoma County resident has poured onto paper her thoughts on love, anger, fear of sex, aging, overeating, the importance of neighbors, friendship, judgment, holidays, money anxiety, the difficulty of moving, family stress, living simply and losing a beloved pet (in her case, a cat named Einstein). The book is interactive by way of three reflection questions included at the end of the chapter, which allows readers to discover—and let go of—their own hairballs.—L.C.


Say you're an upright bass player. What if you were asked to perform music for one of your least favorite people? In Sebastopol author Bill Amatneek's case, that'd be a gig offer playing for president George W. Bush, as chronicled in 'Acoustic Stories: Pickin' for the Prez and Other Unamplified Tales' (Vineyard Press; $27). "This was a moral decision," Amatneek writes, "to entertain or not entertain an immoral man. I wanted to pass it up, but I also wanted to play it." In the end, Amatneek plays the gig anyway, adding another chapter to a jam-packed book of memorable bass playing jobs. Growing up in a household on Bleecker Street that hosted legends like Pete Seeger and Paul Robeson, Amatneek went on to accompany the likes of Jerry Garcia, Bill Monroe, Peter Rowan, and Peter, Paul & Mary (whom Amatneek still clearly carries a torch for). All those stories are here, as are anecdotes of helping Bob Dylan find the stage in Philadelphia, being sung "Happy Birthday" to by Dionne Warwick, interviewing Aretha Franklin in San Francisco, playing a jazz funeral in New Orleans and many others. Overall, Amatneek's tone is conversational and not boastful, and places the reader into the action of a life well lived in music.—G.M.


Michael Rinaldini's 'Daoist Practice Journal: Come Laugh with Me' (CreateSpace; $11.98) sheds a light on walking the Taoist path from the author's unique perspective. A former surfer turned Taoist, in The Daoist Practice Journal, Rinaldini, a Sebastopol resident, compiles journal entries written over the past 20 years. Each entry explains a different aspect of his spiritual journey, from surrendering to his beloved waves to the beauty in a simple cup of tea. The entries include selections from ancient writings in addition to current masters of the Way, and informs readers of the different Taoist practices available for study and practice, covering topics like meditation, qigong, the value of silence and solitude and much more.—T.K.


Ralph Milton Ingols was a guidance counselor at St. Helena High School for over 30 years, and, as you can imagine, he has many stories to tell about student and faculty life. 'St. Helena High School: The Golden Years' (Pastime Publications; $13.95), co-written with Napa Valley resident Dona Bakker, collects these tales into one volume. Told in collage fashion, the book combines recollections from students, custodians and faculty, with graduation speeches and introductory essays that give a historical context to each decade, starting in 1941 and running through 1972. Approximately 2,000 students passed through the school's doors during this time, and they're all accounted for in comprehensive class lists for each year. The result is an insightful peek into small-town life in a bygone era. With all proceeds benefiting a scholarship fund for current students, the book itself would make a great gift for just about anyone who attended St. Helena High School between 1941 and 1972.—L.C.


As 100.1-FM KZST's expert CPA, Santa Rosa's Montgomery Taylor is already known and trusted by many Sonoma County taxpayers. And maybe they want to learn how to become just as successful in life. Montgomery has compiled writings from "the world's leading experts" in 'The New Rules of Success' (Celebrity Press; $19.95) to help you do just that. Though none of the authors is quite a household name, each is successful (in this case, that also means wealthy) in life, and shares a nugget of wisdom on how to achieve your goals. It's a personal book, with each author writing specifically to you, the reader, using mostly first-person examples. Topics include motivation, customer service, relentless thinking about the customer, raising a family for success, online marketing, managing stress, commitment and more. Taylor writes a chapter himself, detailing his own rise from "farm boy" to "wealth advisor." With so many different topics and perspectives, it's a safe bet that if you're looking to achieve financial success, this book is going to be helpful.—N.G.


Every woman should have a mentor. Mentors provide the inspiration, empowerment and encouragement that we don't tend to get from greater society. Karilee Halo Shames, a holistic nurse best known for her work with husband Dr. Richard Shames around hypothyroidism, has made it easy to learn from women mentors by compiling their stories in 'Amazing Mentors: Real Hot Mama's Path to Power' (Inkwell Productions; $18). Contributors include Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin, former U.S. congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, healer and chiropractor Shalamah Yahchove, Gen. Clara Adams-Ender and others. "If no leadership exists, step up and bring others along," says Woolsey in the chapter devoted to her—that's exactly what Halo Shames has done in compiling these thoughts and interviews. —L.C.


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