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Hot off the presses for Nevada County publisher

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

KNOW & GO

What: Sierra Muses Press Book Launch Party.

Where: The Open Book, 671 Maltman Dr., Grass Valley.

When: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., May 19

Admission: Free

Writing a novel is difficult, but getting published is another issue altogether.

After starting a writers group about six years ago, four locals — Jenifer Bliss, Leslie Rivers, Mila Johansen and Shirley DicKard ­— birthed Sierra Muses Press, a publishing organization for Northern California novelists.

“There are basically no Northern California presses interested in fiction,” said Rivers, so the Nevada County women started their own.

Sierra Muses Press is a collective publisher, meaning novelists pay their own way to print, distribute and advertise their work, but socially and emotionally aid one another in the process. In other words, they work with one another from cradle to grave, but privately spend on, and collect the proceeds of, their own books.

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In May, the publisher will have a book launch party to discuss two books, “Grandma Bunny: The Forest Herbalist,” and “Fiery Star: The Journals of Emma Rose Lightfoot” by Jenifer Bliss and Leslie Rivers, respectively.

“We all have some very powerful strengths and things that we’re good at,” said Bliss, who runs the Felix Gillet Institute. “When I have a weak area, someone pulls me forward.”

DicKard, editor of the Camptonville Courier, agreed.

“We’re a very supportive group, and each one has different strengths in getting through the process of writing and publishing,” she said.

Sierra Muses Press takes advantage of Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle Press in order to physically print and distribute their work, said Rivers.

The group meets once each month, and while everyone is a writer, they don’t write exclusively. Rivers is a former university professor at California State University, Pomona is a local theater director, producer and playwright.

“Everyone has more than one thing that we do, but we’re all dedicated to the writing,” said Rivers.

Rivers’ book — with an opening scene in an 1856 Placerville newsroom — was published in October of 2018. But the author has yet to promote it.

DicKard and Johnson both have books they’re working on but are not ready for publishing.

The working title of DicKard’s book, “The Desk,” is about three generations of California women, living a century a part, who come to realize the devastation of the natural world around them. The novel leverages magical realism, allowing each woman to connect across time through a desk. The trio try to forewarn people through stories before it’s too late.

DicKard likens it to her own publishing group.

“It’s sort of like what the Sierra Muses Press is doing,” she said.

Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at scorey@theunion.com.


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