Authors have their say at Authors’ Day

By From page B2 | April 02, 2012

Author James L. Hendricks

JAMES L. HENDRICKS is the author of "The 440th Signal Battalion."

What: Authors’ Day

Who: Placerville Shakespeare Club

Where: Placerville Shakespeare Club, 2940 Bedford Ave. in Placerville

When: Sunday, April 22, doors open at noon, program at 1 p.m.

Cost: $10

Information: Betty at 530-642-9609 or Mary Jane at 530-676-8923

Humor, romance and mystery, history, conflict and friendship — this year’s Authors’ Day at the Placerville Shakespeare Club has a smorgasbord of wonderful books and the authors who created them.


One of the four featured authors, Renée Thompson, brings her knowledge of history and love of wildlife to her presentation.

The Placer County resident is the author of  “The Bridge at Valentine,” August 2010, and “The Plume Hunter,” December 2011.

“The Bridge at Valentine” follows the Idaho range wars between sheep and cattle ranchers through two families.

At the core of ” The Plume Hunter” is the friendship between two men, one of whom hunts birds for plumes for ladies hats; the other is committed to saving birds through the formation of the Audubon Society.

“People gave no thought to where those feathers for their hats came from,” said Thompson. “I wanted to give readers an eye into an industry that most people have never thought about.”

Thompson, 58, has been writing full-time for the past 10 years and comes by her interest in wildlife and the American West naturally.

“My husband and I grew up in California and he was a wildlife biologist. We moved every year, usually to rural areas that were isolated. There wasn’t much money for entertainment so I picked up knowledge about birds from my husband and we learned together,” Thompson said.

Thompson plans to give a 20-minute presentation based on the research she did for  “The Plume Hunter,” including historical photos.

She’s currently taking a break from novel writing to write a collection of short stories.

“I need some time to regroup after two novels back-to-back,” she said.


Jim Hendricks of Placerville is another of the featured speakers for Authors’ Day.

Hendricks’ book “The 440th Signal Battalion: an oral history ” was five years in the making as Hendricks collected seven decades of  stories of the men and women who served in the now deactivated battalion.

Hendricks, 81, served in the 440th from 1953 to 1954 during the Korean War. At the battalion reunions, Hendricks began collecting stories in a three-ringed binder to share at later reunions.

“Originally I wasn’t thinking of a book; just that these stories needed to be told before members of the battalion died off. It was the right time to do it,” he said.

Hendricks said he almost gave up on the project as he spent a lot of time begging or arm-twisting to get stories. The 440th was constituted in 1942 and served in Australia and the Pacific during World War II. It served in the Korean War before being deactivated in 1956.

In 1961, it was reactivated and saw duty in Germany, the Bosnian War and the war in Iraq before being deactivated once more in 2007.

“I’m still collecting stories,” said Hendricks. “But I don’t plan to do a second book.”

Hendrick’s presentation will touch on how he was able to get people to tell their stories and readings of some of the more colorful stories from his book.


Helen Bonner, retired college professor from Jackson, grew up in El Dorado County and is another featured author.

She has written a wide variety of short stories and four novels that run the gamut of history, literary, science fiction fantasy and memoir.

“I’m a rule breaker by nature, I think,” said Bonner of her multiple genres.

After attending her 57th high school reunion at El Dorado High School, Bonner met up with her long estranged first husband and the father of her sons. The resulting relationship that unfolded over the next few months changed both their lives and perceptions of their marriage.

Bonner’s memoir, “First Love Last,” is the story of that unfolding.

“I like to write about what keeps people together,” said Bonner. “I’m tired of seeing what keeps us apart.”

She is currently at work on a historical fiction novel about the feminist movement.

“I will be talking about how and why I choose my topics, marketing and publishing,” she said.

Her books, “Cry Dance,” “The Laid Daughter, ” “The Dolphin Papers” and “First Love Last” will be available for purchase and signing at the Shakespeare Club.


The fourth featured author, Cindy Sample, wanted to be Nancy Drew when she was 8 and a mystery writer at 16.

A few decades later she was a CEO and a divorced soccer mom from El Dorado Hills.

Now she is the celebrated author of “Dying for a Date” and “Dying for a Dance.” The two humorous mysteries follow the antics of klutsy, divorced soccer mother Laurel McKay as she solves murder mysteries set in El Dorado County.

“Dying for a Dance” was nominated for the Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of 2011 and Sample is working on a third novel, “Dying for a Daiquiri,” which takes Laurel to Hawaii.

“So many places for her to get into trouble,” said Sample.

Her presentation will focus on her decision to give up a corporate career to follow her dream to become a mystery writer, local scenes used in her books and the world of competition ballroom dancing — a world that Sample herself has explored with comedic results.

Authors’ Day  takes place Sunday, April 22 at the Placerville Shakespeare Club, 2940 Bedford Ave. in Placerville.  Author books will be available for purchase and signing.

The doors open at noon and the program begins at 1 p.m. Light refreshments will be served and there will be door prizes and drawings.

Tickets are $10 and are available from Betty at 530-642-9609 or Mary Jane at 530-676-8923.

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.

Wendy Schultz

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