What Have We Here

For writer and small press publisher Susan Bono, the last thirty years have mostly been about trying to stay ahead of a husband, growing kids, aging parents, and an eccentric old house, in spite of detours, deadlines, unexpected changes, and inevitable losses. But through it all, she’s been taking notes. In her collection of short essays, What Have We Here: Essays about Keeping House and Finding Home, Bono is drawn to the mystery, tenderness, and humor at the core of everyday experience and the ever-shifting nature of the place she calls home.

WHWH Main Title

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2016 Classes and Events

4th Annual Autumn Arts Stays
Emandal Farm
On the Eel River near Willets, CA

Instructor: Susan Bono
It’s one of those simple truths that a change of scene can help you get in touch with your creativity. Whether you’re writing family stories, memoir, poetry, or fiction, time spent absorbing the delights of Emandal will help you access your memory and imagination more completely. Whatever your skill level, you’ll experience the inspiration, community, and nurturing feedback you’ll need to keep writing once you return home.
Session II: September 28–October 2, 2016.

Jumpstart Writing Workshops

Place: Petaluma Copperfield’s
140 Kentucky St., Petaluma
Time: Mondays from 6:30–8:30 p.m.
$15 drop-in fee
Workshops facilitated by Susan Bono and Marlene Cullen, alternating months.
A weekly writing workshop where inspirational prompts encourage experimentation and generate authentic writing. Beginners as well as experienced writers welcome. Bring a notebook and a fast-moving pen for this journey into deep writing and listening.
Details at www.TheWriteSpot.us.

Off the Page Readers Theater presents “Turning Points.” 10 local writers’ works: short plays, stories and poems that connect to the theme. Featuring: Sandra Anfang, Sheila Bender, Susan Bono, Sher Christian,Robert Feuer, Craig Harris, Lynn Millar, Susanna Solomon, Susan Starbird, Michelle Wing

Fridays, Jan 22 and 29, 2016 @ Mockingbird Books,  Sebastopol
Saturdays, Jan 23 and 30, 2016 @ Church of the Oaks, Cotati

7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Doors open at 7:00. $10 at the door.
For more info, See Facebook: Off the Page Readers Theater

Your Life and Times: Tips for Writing Personal Stories

Thursday, January 28, 2016
Instructor: Susan Bono
Location: the Vista Del Lago Club House, 3150 Lakeview Dr., Santa Rosa
This 90 minute workshop includes wine and lunch and benefits Santa Rosa Symphony’s music education program. ($15 is tax deductible)

You’ve been around the block. You’ve learned a thing or two. You’ve experienced joys, losses, and many, many surprises. You’ve become the keeper of traditions, heirlooms, memories, and secrets, but what are you supposed to do with them? What might your stories and insights mean to others? What do they mean to you? It’s actually must easier and less time-consuming than you think and even more satisfying than you can imagine to write about your life and times. Come hear how!
For Information and to register, contact Liz Martin at liz@lizmartin.com.

January 2015 brought me the wonderful opportunity to talk with Sheila Bender of Writing it Real about writing, editing, and publishing. Read the interview here:
Sheila also published the title essay to my collection, “What Have We Here.” http://writingitreal.com/special-editions/special-bono-essay

We continued our conversation in June:
Sheila Bender In Conversation w/ Susan Bono

In November 2015, I talked with Gil Mansergh, host of KRCB radio’s “Word by Word.” http://media.krcb.org/podcasts/word_by_word/Word_by_Word_20141109.mp3


“A 21st century mix of E. B. White and Erma Bombeck, Susan Bono’s essays are warm, funny, wise, and shapely. Reading them, I am reminded of the mystery at the core of domesticity, and the quiet surprises, deep delights, and profound significance that reside—for people astute enough to notice them—in such seemingly simple things as boxes, teacups, and trips to the circus. Like potato chips, you won’t be able to stop consuming these little goodies; like seeds, each will blossom beyond itself, and like perfectly faceted gemstones, you will find fire in the heart of every one.
Jean Hegland, author of Into the Forest and Windfalls

“Susan Bono learned early that family road trips were “a series of mysteries, challenges, and traps to be navigated as carefully as any highway along the route.” In her collection of beautifully crafted essays on home, family, and friends, she explores love, marriage, parenthood, strife, writing, loss, and the passage of time with an honest, tender voice. Sitting alongside her on life’s journey, readers benefit greatly as they find the most trusted of life companions, one’s own inner strength and courage.”
Sheila Bender, Founder, Writing It Real

“Susan Bono’s reflections on domestic life are sensitive without becoming precious, droll without becoming silly: she observes, for instance, that living with her disheveled lawn “was like trying to stay serious about a man with a bad comb-over,” or that she has endured a “flood of other endings—the deaths of my sibling, pets, parents, and reproductive system.” By examining closely the often minute details of her own unpretentious life, she reveals truths about ours that we might miss. When she suggests, “Home is a mystery, like dawn, or twilight, or a landscape wrapped in fog,” Bono captures the enduring mystery of existence, focusing attention more fully on the wonder of being.” Gerald Haslam, author of Leon Patterson: A California Story, with Janice Haslam

“Those of us who first met Susan Bono as the devoted publisher of Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative are familiar not only with her superb editorial presence but also her skill in writing small but mighty Editor’s Notes. She never failed to move us, and she does it again with her debut collection, What Have We Here: Essays about Keeping House and Finding Home. My wish is that everyone reads these pieces and takes in their brilliance. They shine, as Susan hints in her preface, with moonlight and life.”
Rebecca Lawton, author of Steelies and Other Endangered Species: Stories on Water (Little Curlew)

When asked about what she does, Susan Bono has learned not to mention all the time she spends trying to get comfortable with who she is, how she feels, and where all of this seems to be going. She tends to skip over her earlier careers as a high school English teacher or stay-at-home mom and say she’s is a writing teacher and freelance editor who edited and published Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative in print and online from 1995—2014. Sometimes she brags that what began as a five-page newsletter mailed to a few dozen friends and family grew to twenty pages of personal essay and art with hundreds of loyal readers. She occasionally reveals that she created the online version of Tiny Lights to capture what couldn’t be contained in the twice-a-year newsstand editions, such as a quarterly posting of mini-flash essays (500 words or fewer), and a monthly forum dedicated to craft and process.

Over the years, Susan has published hundreds of writers in print and online. She directs interested parties to the showcase of archived talent at http://www.tiny-lights.com. If pressed, Susan will confess that from 2000—2005 she helped coordinate and host the Writer’s Sampler series for the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, and helped found and co-host the Speakeasy Literary Saloon at Petaluma’s Aqus Café from 2010-2012. She has also been a contributing editor for the Pushcart prizes, Word by Word on KRCB radio, and for the second edition of Sheila Bender’s Writing Personal Essays: How to Shape Your Life Experiences for the Page. She currently serves on the boards of the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference and Petaluma Readers Theatre and edits the Noyo River Review. Her work has appeared in anthologies, magazines, and newspapers, as well as on stage and the radio. She’s promoted the craft of personal narrative as far north as Crescent City, as far south as Mexico City, as far east as Istanbul, and as far west as Point Reyes National Seashore. She is proud and relieved to have produced enough material for her collection, What Have We Here: Essays about Keeping House and Finding Home.