Authors to share their stories

By From page B2 | April 23, 2014

What: Authors Day

Who: Placerville Shakespeare Club

Where: Shakespeare Clubhouse, 2940 Bedford Ave. in Placerville

When: Sunday, April 27, noon

Cost: $10

Information: Rose at 530-626-5103, Nora at 916-941-7156 or e-mail at [email protected]


Any one of the authors scheduled Sunday, April 27 to talk about their works would be enough to fascinate a crowd but those attending the Authors Day at the Placerville Shakespeare Club are in for a real treat when four accomplished writers share their stories.

One is a Vietnam veteran who served in the thick of the war in 1966-67, another is a veteran public defender who writes of teen prostitutes and other situations that vary from very funny to brutally sad, yet another is the author of 10 books dealing with the underworld and the fourth writer focuses on history, having grown up in the captivating town of Coloma where gold was discovered in 1848.

Sit back and enjoy the experience as the doors at the Shakespeare Club, 2940 Bedford Ave. in Placerville, open at noon with the presentations beginning at 1 p.m. Book sales and signings will be featured, along with door prizes and light refreshments.


Bill McDonald

Bill McDonald’s “Spiritual Warrior’s Journey” took him six months to write and he said it is not the typical wartime tale at all.

“In fact, I have more female readers than men,” said the Elk Grove resident.

McDonald was a crew chief/gunner on a Huey helicopter with the 128th Assault Helicopter Company, the “Tomahawks.” He was shot down five times and crashed eight times in a helicopter.

The first time he was wounded was on April 14, 1967 when his aircraft was shot down and he had to hide from the Viet Cong for most of a day before being rescued.

McDonald has been awarded numerous medals and honors, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, 14 Air Medals, the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and more.

The author’s works includes many short stories and poems, in addition to “Spiritual Warrior’s Journey.” He said almost all his writing is non-fiction.

“I write about spiritual and mystical things and try to open up readers to the possibility of divine intervention in their lives,” he said. “My message is simple — love is the only thing that is real in the universe and the only thing that is worthy of our life work.”

McDonald earned his bachelor of arts degree from the University of San Francisco. He also has an associate of arts from San Jose City College.

He decided to return to Vietnam in 2002 with a small group known as the “Peace Patrol,” and was gratified to receive a warm welcome from his former enemies. That is the subject matter of “A Spiritual Warrior’s Journey,” which describes his spiritual experiences and what he calls the supernatural events that surround his life.

He is currently working on a new non-fiction book that continues his life story from 2003, including his travels to India in search of enlightenment and his near-death experiences.

McDonald also may speak of the time he spends each year in India at an ashram in the jungles outside of the city of Pune.

Back in the United States, he spends several months of the year on the road helping non-profit organizations and promoting events.

He lives with his wife of 40 years and enjoys two children and three grandchildren.


David Brooks

David Brooks, who has served as a deputy public defender in El Dorado and Placer counties, describes himself as an “accidental author” whose “bedtime stories for bikers” told over several years became a book set in the real-life town of Foresthill.

Brooks was a member of an eclectic group of riders enamored of the little known Buell motorcycle, an offbeat bike that saw life for 26 years beginning in 1983, the brainchild of a former Harley-Davidson engineer.

Brooks and his Buell buddies rode together, and at night, naturally, they needed to hear bedtime stories, like all bikers. Brooks said the collection eventually found its way to a pal whose wife took it to her book club, where a publisher read the book, then passed it on to another publisher … and the rest is history.

Brooks, who was a deputy public defender from 1985 to 2013 in the two foothill counties, now has a private office in El Dorado Hills. But his time defending the indigent and interesting still captivates his mind, with the task of compiling the stories into a book taking a dozen years.

“It is my first book and it might be my last,” said Brooks, who described the editing and production of the project as “tedious.”

“After a while the joy began to run out of the stories,” he recounted.

Nonetheless, the author is understandably proud of the book and he teases local bookworms with the fact that one short story, “The Prophet,” happened “right here in Placerville.”

“Teen Prostitute” was based on a case in Roseville and other characters “may or may not” have originated in Somerset, Georgetown, Volcanoville, Chiquitaville, Newtown and Pollock Pines.

Brooks said that while the stories are based on factual experiences he promises that no attorney-client communications are compromised in the book.

“The book is a collection of short stories; most are funny but in a way that can be a bit sad,” he said. “A few of the stories are brutally sad and they tend to be about the collateral damage to children. Those are the stories that mean the most to me.

“If you read a few of the stories you will find a kind of rhythm and each concludes with a moral to the story. I tried to write in a somewhat minimalistic way that engages the reader’s imagination to fill in some of the details.

“Reading is most entertaining when it is an interactive experience.”


Eileen Rendahl

Avid readers of Eileen Rendahl’s “Messenger” series that follows the adventures of Melina Markowitz, messenger of the underworld, won’t want to miss Sunday’s lineup at the Shakespeare Club. The Davis novelist will be speaking about her most recent published work, the third in the series, called “Dead Letter Day.”

Or, she said, she just may be tempted to discuss her upcoming book, not scheduled for release until January.

“I can’t decide whether to talk about the most recent book to be published or the one coming up, so I’ll tell you a little about both,” said Rendahl.

“In ‘Dead Letter Day,’ Melina searches for her missing werewolf friend Paul, when no one else seems to be worried about his absence. Melina keeps trying to do her job and keep her nose out of other people’s business but instead continues to get thrust into situations where she has no choice but to take a stand,” said Rendahl.

And the January jewel-in-the-making?

“The book that comes out in January is a big departure for me,” said Rendahl. “‘Veiled Intentions’ is a more issue-oriented book than I’ve attempted before. When a Muslin teenager is accused of knocking down a veteran in a hit-and-run, a town’s deep-seated prejudices are exposed. A counselor at the high school attended by the teenager tries to get at the truth behind the accusations to protect the girl and the school.”

The situation grabs national headlines and differing factions seek to fill their own agendas without a care for the cost to others, Rendahl summarized about her work-in-progress.

Rendahl said she became a writer in order to “make sense of my world and to give what I see and feel context, and through context, meaning.

“I realize that sounds like a lot to layer onto books about vampires living in Sacramento or sisters doing each other’s hair or psychologists searching for serial killers — but that’s honestly what I’m striving for,” she said.

The author of 10 published books, Rendahl advises other aspiring novelists that, “the way to become a published author is to sit down in a chair and write.

“Write, write, write,” she said. “Edit, edit, edit. Then start submitting. That is the magic formula.

“I wrote a lot of what my Yiddish-speaking grandmother would have called ‘dreck’ before I started coming up with stuff that was worth other people’s time to read.”


Betty Sederquist

Local readers long have enjoyed the historical knowledge shared in the writings of Betty Sederquist, who was raised in the town where gold was discovered. She will be speaking about her book, “Images of America: Coloma.”

Sederquist published her first article in 1972 and her first book two years later. Even though much has been penned about James Marshall’s incredible discovery in 1848, sparking the world-changing Gold Rush, Sederquist said she felt there was more to be told.

“For this particular book, I felt that there was nothing professionally published that specifically focused on Coloma and that this gap needed to be filled, given the remarkable history of the valley.

“I found the job much more difficult than I originally thought, given the paucity of available photos,” she added. “I relied primarily on the archives at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park and found other material in the archives of the California State Library in Sacramento.”

In addition to speaking about her work, Sederquist plans to present a 15-minute slide show to illustrate the topic she cherishes, including many images that didn’t make it into the book.

The ambitious author is in the midst of writing yet another book, a revision of one she wrote in 2003, “A Handbook for Global Careers.”

“I expect completion of that book sometime this summer,” she said. “Underwritten by the Sacramento Regional Center for International Trade Development, it is geared primarily toward students in Northern California as well as anyone who wants to study or work overseas.”

Sederquist doesn’t limit her talents to writing, however. She also is an accomplished photographer whose work has taken her on worldwide adventures.

“I just got back from leading a small group to Africa and have also led photo adventures to Southeast Alaska since 1999. In January I will be co-leading a trip to Ecuador, Galapagos, Amazon and more. Many El Dorado County residents have gone on these trips.”

Readers who love a good story, whether in print or straight from the source, would do well to attend the annual Authors Day. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or by calling Rose at 530-626-5103, Nora at 916-941-7156 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Pat Lakey

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