Two years ago, Jeane Slone of Healdsburg started looking for new venues to sell her own books, starting with her favorite local cafe, Bean Affair.
When her colleagues in the Redwood Writers club asked her to place their books as well, she took up the challenge. Now, Slone oversees a growing stable of local scribes, distributing nearly 90 different titles to cafes, health clubs and wineries all across Sonoma County.
"It's all local shops and local authors," she said. "I will not put the books in any chains."
Both the venues and the books rotate, but currently, you can find a selection of local books in 17 locations, from The Apple Box in Petaluma to Hart's Desire and Pedroncelli wineries in Healdsburg.
"I thought that authors and wineries would go well together," she said. "All the books are signed, and I rotate the books every month."
Before long, Slone also got a request from the owners of Gaia's Garden restaurant in Santa Rosa to hold a dinner showcasing the writers and their books.
"Dine with Local Authors," held on the second Monday of each month, launched last year, drawing up to 35 people for an evening of noshing and chatter, book readings and Q&As.
"It starts at 6 p.m., and you can make reservations to sit with a particular author," Slone said. "It's very fast-paced. The authors read from their book for 5 minutes, and then there's a 5-minute Q&A."
Margo van Veen of Santa Rosa, who dabbles in poetry, said she enjoys getting to chat with the authors at the monthly dinners.
"It's neat to be able to sit at a table and pick the writer's brain," she said. "When people are eating, it's a good atmosphere, and it breaks the ice."