Romance novelist Jennifer Skully and Pretty Good Advice Chef Matt McNamara featured in Spring 2020 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

While you’re sheltering in place (if you’re able to, you are…right?), you may need something to read. The new Santa Cruz Style features “Romance in the Redwoods,” my profile of Ben Lomond romance novelist Jennifer Skully (who also writes under the pen name Jasmine Haynes). Turn to page 10 (page 12 of the online edition) to learn about her longtime love of the San Lorenzo Valley, as well as her experiences in the ever-shifting world of romance publishing. Then, go to page 46 (page 48 online) to meet Matt McNamara, chef of Soquel’s Pretty Good Advice. In “Enticingly Free” McNamara dishes about what inspired him to leave San Francisco’s fine dining scene, and his switch to an entirely vegetarian (mostly vegan) menu. (By the way, if you feel hungry after reading, never fear! For the duration of the shelter-in-place order, Pretty Good Advice is offering takeout Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) Read the online version here. In Santa Cruz County, free print copies will be available here.

Miranda Popkey and Duarte’s Tavern featured in Winter 2019 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

iWhile Miranda Popkey’s debut novel Topics of Conversation won’t be published until January, it’s garnering plenty of buzz already! Meet the Santa Cruz-born author in my profile “Publishing Beckoned,” featured on page 10 of the Winter 2019 Santa Cruz Style. You’ll learn about the author’s uneasy path to the writing life, her switch of genres for her first book, and how #MeToo anchored the story. Then, turn to page 40 for “A Cherished Tradition For More Than A Century,” where I interview Tim Duarte, Duarte’s Tavern general manager and fourth-generation family member. Located in tiny Pescadero, the restaurant boasts devoted fans up and down the coast (not to mention a 2013 award from the James Beard Foundation). In Santa Cruz County, find free print copies here. The online version appears here.

GoFundMe fundraiser to save Kelly’s Books in Watsonville

I first saw the news in yesterday’s Shelf Awareness issue, and then in the Register-Pajaronian:

Hoping to avoid final chapter, Kelly’s Books looks for help

Owner Kelly Pleskunas has done a lot to support Central Coast authors (myself included) over the years, going back to her original Crossroads Books location (which was one of the businesses evicted to make way for Watsonville’s Kaiser Permanente complex in 2016). As those who still feel the loss of Logos Books and Records know, Santa Cruz County needs all its indie bookstores to thrive! Since the Kelly’s Books GoFundMe page is 81% of the way toward fulfilling its goal as of this posting, you could very well be the one to put the fundraiser over the top. Or, support Kelly’s Books the old-fashioned way by buying some books. The store is open daily at 1838 Main Street in Watsonville, or you can phone (831)728-4139 to place an order. (Kelly’s special orders are legendarily quick, you’ll see!)

Saturn Cafe’s Ernesto Quintero and arts administrator Linda Levy featured in Winter 2019 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

As Santa Cruz’s premier destination for vegetarian and vegan diners for nearly forty years, Saturn Cafe has intrigued hungry tourists and loyal locals alike. In my article “Dine Among The Stars,” owner Ernesto Quintero discusses the restaurant’s controversial change in decor, the French fries that inspired an uproar, and plans for the future. Check it out on page 40 of the Winter 2019 issue of Santa Cruz Style. On page 54, you’ll find my interview with Santa Cruz’s Linda Levy, a true Renaissance woman. The former Lockheed Martin research scientist is renowned for her art, but her greatest achievement may be her volunteer work for various local arts organizations. I guarantee you’ll come away inspired once you read “The Art and Science of Giving.” In Santa Cruz County, find free print copies at these locations. The online edition appears here.

Congratulations To Cheryl Anderson, Santa Cruz County Artist of the Year

Not only was I touched by Cheryl Anderson’s warm demeanor when I first interviewed her in 2005, I was amazed by her stamina. She was working as the choral director for four of Cabrillo College’s six chorus groups on campus, and had recently led the Cabrillo Youth Chorus through a concert tour of eastern Europe. (You can read that interview in the “Cabrillo’s Harmonic Convergence” chapter of Going Coastal.) Since then, she’s served a two-year term as the Western Division President of the American Choral Directors Association and become the music director at the Peace United Church of Santa Cruz, while entering her 28th year as Cabrillo’s Director of Choral and Vocal Studies. On June 1st, the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission will name her as Santa Cruz County’s Artist of the Year for 2018. In celebration, a free gala performance will take place at Cabrillo’s Crocker Theater from 7 to 9 p.m. The retrospective of Anderson’s favorite music will include performances from six of her choral groups. Tickets are free, but available only from the box office on the night of the show; visit the Artist of the Year website for information.

Erik’s DeliCafe and Dick Peixoto stories in Spring 2018 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

I would never compile a “Most Entertaining Interview Subjects” list, but if I did, I suspect that Erik Johnson would land near the top of it. When I met the Erik’s DeliCafé founder, I expected a workmanlike story of how he established his wildly successful restaurant chain, which is celebrating its 45th year of business. While I did learn that, Johnson regaled me with offbeat insights into the restaurant industry, why Santa Cruz County is a perfect fit for him and his company, and hilarious tales behind the more memorable names for his sandwiches. (I was very sorry to have to keep a word count in mind.) You’ll find all that and more in “Four Decades on Rye,” found on page 46 of the Spring 2018 issue of Santa Cruz Style.

On page 54 of the same issue, you’ll meet Watsonville farmer Dick Peixoto, founder of Lakeside Organic Gardens, the largest family-owned organic grower-shipper in the U.S. He also co-owns Watsonville’s popular California Grill of the Pajaro Valley restaurant, where the “farm-to-table” concept is taken very literally. In the midst of such a grueling schedule, Peixoto has found the time and resources to become one of the county’s most generous philanthropists. In the “In His Fields Dreams Grow Among The Vegetables” feature, Peixoto explains his inspiration, while shedding light on some of his favorite beneficiaries. The online edition appears here.

Coffee Chat interview on author D L Richardson’s blog!

Awe-inspiring literary dynamo D L Richardson graciously hosted me on her author blog this week for a fun and freewheeling Coffee Chat. We discussed many topics close to my heart, including coffee, cookies, baking secrets, and the inspiration behind Going Coastal. We even found time to dish about the music scenes in Santa Cruz County and Richardson’s home of Australia. (I’m downright touched that she provided a definitive answer to the burning AC/DC question posed here.) Check it out and enjoy!

Guest post and GOING COASTAL playlist at Dawn’s Reading Nook!

Today marks my first-ever guest post at Dawn’s Reading Nook, hosted by book lover/blogger/webmaster extraordinaire Dawn Roberto. There, I talk  about five of the local musicians who are interviewed in Going Coastal, and present a video by each one. There is even an exclusive excerpt of the book! Please stop by and say hello:

Article on photographer Terri Garland in Winter 2015 SANTA CRUZ STYLE issue

My interview with acclaimed photographer Terri Garland, “Southern Exposures,” appears in the new issue of Santa Cruz Style. While she is a Santa Cruz County native, Garland is best known for her work documenting the American South. (This includes The Good Books, which depicts Bibles and other prayer books removed from churches in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.) Garland was exceptionally open and honest about her inspirations, and it was a privilege to get insight into her artistic processes. The online edition appears here.

SCULPTURE IS 2015 at Sierra Azul Nursery

The ninth Sculpture IS exhibition is on display now through October 31st at Sierra Azul Nursery & Gardens in Watsonville. Eighty sculptures (by 33 artists) are nestled among a diverse array of native and drought-resistant plants. I’ve always considered this event (presented in partnership with the Pajaro Valley Arts Council) to be the crowning achievement of my hometown’s quietly vibrant art scene. (In November 2011, The Atlantic ranked the Santa Cruz-Watsonville area as the fifth most artistic in the United States. A lot of people don’t mention that Watsonville received equal billing with Santa Cruz in that article, but I will!) At any rate, I can’t resist the synergy of sculpture and setting. Witness The Wave, by Stephanie Schriver:


Here is Mooring Buoy #30 by Kirk McNeill:

I love Sculpture IS enough to have included it twice in Going Coastal. It’s first praised in my directory of county arts venues, “Your Endless Summer of Art.” The exhibition gets a chapter of its own later in the book, where co-creator Judy Stabile and artist Susana Arias explain the show’s history and evolution over the years. (Arias and Sierra Azul owner Jeff Rosendale are the jurors of this year’s exhibition.) You can see the newest edition daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Sierra Azul Nursery & Gardens, 2660 East Lake Avenue in Watsonville (across from the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, off Highway 152). Phone (831) 728-2532 or visit for more information.