News on writing, books + the world of publishing

While “April showers bring May flowers” should be backed up a month in the San Joaquin (although it throws the rhythm off), the rains of March this year can get us thinking of places where downpours such as we have had might be considered a light shower.

Not a soaking that anyone would wish for, the deluge that Hurricane Katrina dropped on New Orleans is the basis for “The Floating World” (Algonquin Books, 2017) by C. Morgan Babst. In the chaotic aftermath of Katrina, the Boisdoré family members try to put their shattered lives together physically, emotionally and mentally in a broken, muddy, moldy world. Babst illuminates how the people of the city lost far more than it is easy for an outsider to comprehend.

Averting disaster is the goal in “Save the Planet: An Amazonian Tribal Leader Fights for His People, the Rainforest and the Earth” (Schaffner Press, July 2018) by Almir Sarayomaga Surui, Corine Sombrun and Julia Grawemeyer. Surui was the first of his tribe to graduate from college and the youngest to become chief when he was 17. He has traveled the world in his quest to save the rainforests, not only for his people but because the health of the Earth depends on their survival.

Also publishing in July (by Pegasus) is “Monsoon: How the Future of Catastrophic Rains Imperils Billions” by Sarah Casson. Casson postulates that the biggest threat of climate change is from catastrophic rains. Through her research, she points to flooding, food crises and mass migrations as risks that current policies will not ameliorate. Casson holds a master’s in environmental sciences from Yale University.


Marisol Baca’s debut collection of poetry was released on Feb. 15 by Three Mile Harbor Press. “Tremor” is described by Juan Felipe Herrera (a former U.S. poet laureate from the San Joaquin) as a “serrated, soul-piercing Geiger counter.” Her poems challenge what is real and deal with life and death, her Mexican-American heritage and her grandmother’s legacy.

She had a launch of the book in March at Toca Madera Winery and will have the East Coast launch on May 11 at The Poets House in New York City. Since the beginning of March, she has also been presenting her work at Fresno City College Women’s Reading, Full Circle Brewery in Fresno and the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.

She was also a part of “Hitched” in Los Angeles, “Respite by the River” in Fresno, the Writer’s Studio in Modesto and a panelist in a celebration of Andrès Montoya this month. She will be in the LitHop in Fresno on April 21 and the Mission Reading Series in Antioch on April 28.

Baca says she enjoys performing her poetry because she can experience her audience experiencing her poems. It also causes her to be more critical of her work when she thinks of presenting it live.

Among the numerous publications that have featured her poems are Narrative Northeast, Riverlit and the Accentos Review.
Baca won the Andrès Montoya award while a student at Fresno State University.

She was an English teacher at College of the Sequoias in Visalia and currently teaches at Fresno City College.


Harper Voyager is the science fiction and fantasy imprint for Harper Collins. It is seeking new writers, but most of the time can only accept agented submissions. On occasion, Harper Voyager will send out a call for submissions so those hoping to be published may watch for those announcements at

To find an agent, the Harper editors suggest searching for “literary agent query.” They also recommend checking on websites “Writer Beware,” “Manuscript Wish List” and “Terrible Minds.”

Their other advice is to be patient, keep writing – begin a new project while waiting for results on the completed one, and be polite.


Google Glimmer Train contests for details on the Short Story Award for New Writers. Deadline June 30.


“Trees bear fruits only to be eaten by others; the fields grow grains, but they are consumed by the world. Cows give milk, but she doesn’t drink it herself – that is left to others. Clouds send rain only to quench the parched earth. In such giving, there is little space for selfishness.”
(Munshi Premchand 1880-1936)