Book Launch @ Readers’

Passages from Behind These Doors: A Family Memoir ~

Catherine Sevenau, book launch

Catherine Sevenau, book launch

I posted on Facebook that my book launch Thursday night was a “Life Event.” It absolutely was. I felt held, seen, heard, and loved. It was joyous and my heart was filled to the brim. It could very well be the high point of all this (and you know what, it would be enough) or it will be seeds of my book going further than that room and my circle of friends.

People say their life passes before their eyes just before they think they’re going to die, but mine presented itself that night. I was touched how many from my past and present were there. Most do not get this kind of acknowledgement until they’re dead, and some don’t even get it then. Nearly a hundred people came: friends, family, community, a few I didn’t know. The crowd was out the door and I was over the moon.

10325713_10201906890234060_6384395466863344107_nI’ve lived in Sonoma since 1972 and my life has interwoven with so many through the years, crisscrossing in various ways. This town is my family, my community, and my safety net. There were friends from Moon Valley School (an alternative school my kids went to for five years when they were little), and people who knew me from Country Fresh Products, a carrot juice company I had in the late 70s and early 80s. There were friends I knew through my sons, and their school friends, kids they played ball with, and the parents of their friends that I sat with in the stands at their games. Friends and clients who bought or sold their house through me, those from the real estate community: my office, fellow brokers, agents, lenders and affiliates. Yoga friends. Neighbors. People with whom I’d sat on commissions and boards. People who were connected through all the personal growth work we’d done together. My dance community. My writing circle of friends. My Random Acts cohorts (an open mic held at the bookstore on the second Saturday of every month). Some who I simply knew from around town. The folks who worked on, advised me, and gave me feedback on Behind These Doors. My fabulous Facebook friends!

Matt & Brooke

Matt & Brooke

Jan, Carl, Julie, Marion, Jon, Catherine

Jan, Carl, Julie, Marion, Jon, Catherine

My family who came: my son Matt and daughter-in-law Brooke, their children Satchel (who read with me and stood by me throughout the night) and Temple (who wrapped stacks of books in beautiful ribbon and assisted at the signing table). My son Jon and daughter-in-law Marion who also live here in Sonoma, my brother and sister in-law Gordon and Marion from Carmel, their daughter Jan here from Alaska, my niece Julie and her husband Carl from Seattle and who were my keepers and handlers for this event, who schlepped and coordinated and took care of details and on top of that, paid for the wine! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Those not able to be here were my sister Carleen who lives in Iowa, and my sisters Liz and Claudia, who’ve passed. I told Julie how sorry I was her mother wasn’t going to be here. My niece said, “Are you kidding? If my mother were alive there would be no party. There would be no book! You are delusional!” She had a point. As some of you know, Liz (Betty in the book) was furious with me when I refused to take something out, and actually threatened to put a hex on me, but she was dying and I loved her, so I honored her wishes, sort of. I put the book away for five years, and then, well… you know the rest.

Gordon, Catherine, Marian, Jan

Gordon, Catherine, Marian, Jan

Julie and Carl

Get comfortable, what follows is my gratitude list:

Writing a book is not a solitary event, and this one would not have emerged without my friend and teacher, Stephanie Moore. Years ago she taught me to dance, then she taught me to write. I thank my Monday night writing group from that time, who gave me their attention and feedback a page and a half at a time. Thanks to my family and friends who generously read my drafts, edited my commentary, encouraged me, and nudged me to get to the point. I’m deeply indebted to my mentor, Michael Naumer, who taught me that where I am the most wounded, I am the most accomplished; that work gave me the perspective to write this book as more than just a story. When I was a kid, it didn’t matter to my mother if I was there or not (that’s how I perceived it anyway), and I’ve spent my adult life making a difference, I suppose to prove that I do matter. In a very cosmic bass-ackwards way, I have her to thank for this night.

I thank PJ Tyler, an extraordinary friend and astrologer who I’ve gone to every year since 1990, who sees me much bigger than I see myself, and who’s been uncannily accurate in what she’s had to say about my future. She saw me doing this book and said it would be big, and someday would be made into a movie. (ARRRGHHH!!) To dance friend Edna Lucero who showed interest in my writing so I sent her stories and she said, “I want to know more. What about your father? And what happened to your mother. Where’s Claudia? How did it all turn out?” It made me realize that it was time for the book to reappear, that it was an idea whose time had come.

I’m indebted to my editor Deb Carlen who put the final polish on these twenty tales, my voice over coach Madeleine Wild who helped me deliver them in my own voice, and Roy Blumenfeld who recorded and mastered the audio version. I thank Todd Towner, who did the book layout and editing design and who has the patience of a saint. Todd, who also had other things to do in his life would disappear at times, and then I’d get busy and I’d disappear. I asked him once, “just where do you go?” He responded, “to the Mothership.” Thanks to Dianna Jacobsen (local artist Ray Jacobsen’s daughter) who designed my website and book cover, and Mary Patterson who rendered a picture I drew as a child into my book cover. And to In Her Image Photography who did my PR photos.

Thanks to Cory Gilman, who suffered over the back cover with me. To Reva Metzger, in whose honor I did the audio version. Reva loved my writing, and as she was dying, her sister read her one story a night from a collection of about 60 stories that I’d written. It inspired me to put it on tape. Thank you to Heather Piazza from Napa College and Piazza Marketing Concepts, and Judy Baker of Brandvines, who both gave me important marketing advice, and thanks to Judy for introducing me to BAIPA, Bay Area Independent Publishers Association.

To Maurice Tegelaar who had flowers delivered to my doorstep that day, to Gordon and Marion for the gorgeous roses, to my friend Marilyn Kelly for the potted peppers (she warned me not to eat them), and to Temple and her family for their lovely bouquet. She and I were happy in the midst of all that beauty at the book-signing table.

Jude, Andy, and Thea of Readers' Books

Jude, Andy, and Thea of Readers’ Books

Thank you to Readers’ Books, the Sonoma Index Tribune, The Sun, and the Bohemian who promoted the event. And to those that made that night happen: Andy, Jude, Thea and the staff at Readers’, poet and minstrel friend Chris Giovacchini who played guitar and sang for everyone, fellow Leo and poetess Lin Marie de Vincent who gracefully introduced me, local wine man David Noyes and his wonderful wine, and to book maven Marguerita Castanera who kept an eye on me.

And finally to Bill Swindle, who chases us around on the dance floor with his ever-present camera and then posts everything on Facebook, from whom I duck and cover when I see his lens aimed my way, and who at my request came and took pictures at the event. My fantasy of my last night on earth would be a fabulous sushi dinner with my friends and family, a slice of chocolate decadence for dessert (though I know that clashes with sushi), and a sultry Night-Club Two-Step at Monroe Hall, dancing in the embrace of Bill. I would leave this world a happy woman.

Catherine and paparazzi Bill Swindle

Catherine and paparazzi Bill Swindle

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  1. Wow, Catherine, we are so proud of you. What a triumph! You have, indeed, come into your own.
    Cousins Terry and Peg (Chatfield) McCarty

  2. Jumping up and down, Catherine. Just returned from San Diego. Hated to miss your event and the words that came to me were something I just read from poet Mark Nepo ~ you “glow in all directions.”

  3. It takes a whole village to write and publish a book. What a great feeling of satisfaction to have it completed.

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