Meet Cheryl Romo, Author of Ruby Hands, Our Latest Sowilo Press Novel

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Ruby Hands by Cheryl Romo is the latest title to be published by Sowilo Press, an imprint of Hidden River Publishing. A contemporary mystery/thriller, it is set in the Mohave in Arizona, and steeped in the tension and mysticism of the Mohave people and the outsiders, those non-indigenous people who interact with the reservation.

The story begins when Daisy Sandoval, a young mother who teaches school on the Native American reservation, is found near death in a ravine. Tribal members suspect foul play, understandably. They all know how dangerous Harlan Sandoval, her ex-husband is. A defrocked Pentecostal preacher, Harlan now heads a family-run criminal gang on the reservation. It seems his reach knows no boundaries.

Daisy’s aunt, Kate Thorsen, a freelance writer in the midst of her own mid-life crisis, flies to Arizona when she learns that Daisy is barely clinging to life. After Daisy dies, Kate moves to the reservation determined to solve the riddle of her niece’s death. Daisy’s two children are missing. Their home has been trashed. Mysterious goings on become more and more frightening. In a place where cultures clash and people distrust outsiders, few are willing to talk. But Kate eventually finds her life radically changed by a Mohave shaman, who dares her to stand up to Harlan and his thugs.

Cheryl is our fourth Eludia Award winner. She is from Roseville, California.
In her career as a professional journalist, Cheryl has received numerous awards for both her writing and investigative reporting. She is the former editor of Common Cause Magazine, Sacramento Magazine and Public Utilities Fortnightly. As a freelance writer, her award-winning stories and personal essays have appeared in publications such as American West Magazine, In These Times, Catholic Digest, The Cornish Pagan Wheel, Orange Coast Magazine, Sacramento Magazine, the San Francisco Examiner Magazine, Quill, Daily News of Los Angeles, In Los Angeles Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, and The Daily Breeze.

Prior to becoming a full-time freelance writer, Cheryl was an editor and legal affairs reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal where her ground-breaking reporting launched federal investigations and changed state law regarding the treatment of children living in government-controlled institutions (chiefly foster care and juvenile justice).

She tells us that when she is not writing and researching, she volunteers with victims of domestic violence and tends to her garden.

Cheryl’s novel, Ruby Hands, reflects her many years of investigative training. Her sharp observational eye, and her understanding of the complexities of character shine throughout the manuscript.

We are very proud that this beautiful novel which has been published on our Sowilo Press imprint, as the fourth in our Eludia series.

Our fifth Eludia Award winner is Catharine Leggett, of Ontario, Canada, whose short story collection, In Progress, will be published by Sowilo Press in 2018.

The Eludia Award is an first-book award, for a work of fiction – either a novel or a collection of short stories – given to women writers age forty and above. The award
was established to bring attention to the many important voices of mature women writers, a demographic too often overlooked in our youth-obsessed culture. The winning manuscript receives a $1,000 prize and publication (with standard contract and royalties) on the Sowilo Press imprint of Hidden River Publishing.   The submission deadline for the fifth Eludia Award is extended to March 15, 2018. For further information about The Eludia Award, please see our guidelines.

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Hidden River Arts 20th Anniversary Celebration and First-Ever Fundraiser!

Please join us at our biggest-ever celebration at Hidden River Arts’ 20th anniversary. Tickets are available here.

Twenty years ago, I used a portion of a writing award I won for my own fiction and established an arts organization dedicated helping other writers. The mission, from the very first day, is summed up in our motto: “Dedicated to Serving the Unserved Artist”. We’re committed to finding, supporting and celebrating those outsider artists because there are so many creative people deserving of more recognition and help.

I named the organization Hidden River, after the Schuylkill River, which flows through the Philadelphia region of Pennsylvania, which is my home. “Schuylkill” is Dutch for “Hidden River”. It seemed to perfectly describe our mission, which is to search out and support the hidden creative talent all around us – to celebrate that living, vital, powerful creative force that is the river of talent flowing among us. To support the artists.

This year, Hidden River Arts is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Over those years, we’ve grown steadily. We’ve expanded to become an inter-disciplinary arts organization. What began with one yearly fiction competition, grew to include a yearly full-length playwrighting competition, residency programs, educational outreach, live arts events, gallery events, performances, a first-book competition for women over the age of 40, even production activities. We’ve run a robust internship program, and have watched many of our wonderful interns go on to jobs in publishing, theatre, performance. They’ve established their own literary journals, run their own arts companies, written their own books, taught their own workshops. We now have an independent small press, with several imprints, so that we can offer the possibility of publication to deserving writers struggling for recognition and support. There are other goals and hopes for even more growth as Hidden River moves into its next phase.

In marveling at just how long we’ve been here and at how much we’ve grown, it occurred to me: In all these twenty years, we’ve never once held a fundraiser. Hard to believe, right?

So this year, as we acknowledge this happy anniversary, we’ll be reaching out to the arts community to whom we have been so dedicated, and scheduling some celebrations as well as some fundraisers. We’ll have a local fundraiser in Philadelphia and an online crowd-sourcing fundraiser. We’ve decided to do this because, what also occurred to me is that, with just a bit of help, we could grow our programs bigger and faster, we could bring our workshops, classes and performances to more people, reduce our already-low fees even more. We could travel our programs, build a greater platform for online workshops and classes. The growth that took twenty years could now continue; in fact, we could expand in less time and reach out to support more people. A yearly words and music festival is one of our dreams. A re-established and expanded residency program. More theatrical and film production. More publishing. And always, the core of our mission remains to support the unserved artists among us whose talent and vision make the world a much better place. They are the primordial wellspring from which all of this flows.

So, those who will be in Philadelphia this summer, please join us for our 20th Anniversary celebration and first-ever fundraiser on Sunday, June 7 at 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. It’s going to be a wonderful event. We are gathering at L’Etage, the nightclub above Le Beau Monde, at 624 S. 6th Street, Philadelphia. The evening will include a cabaret performance with (in alphabetical order) Jean Brooks, Leon Carelli, Debra Leigh Scott and Denise Shubin. We’ll also be doing some readings of our award-winners’ work, and perhaps even a bit of reading from some of our many beloved interns! But most of all, it will be a time to gather together with people who love art, music, language and creativity to meet, mingle and celebrate.

To read more about Hidden River programs, please visit our website. To buy tickets for our 20th anniversary event, please click here.

Christine Whittemore wins The Eludia Award

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It is with great pleasure that we at Hidden River Arts announce Christine Whittemore’s novel, Inscription, the winner of our 2013 Eludia Award. This is the second year of the Eludia Award, and the submissions for the competition were numerous, and of very high quality. We want to congratulate not only our winner, but our finalists and semi-finalists. A sincere thank you is extended to all the wonderful women writers who shared their work with us.

A bit about our winner

Christine Whittemore was born on October 6, 1956 in England where she was brought up and educated. After college in England, she lived in Italy for five years where she taught English and did some translation. Then followed five years in New York City, twenty-two in Pennsylvania, and three in Lyon, France. Now she and her husband divide their time between Gloucestershire, England, and Pennsylvania. They have three adult children.

Christine’s poems have appeared in various American and British journals including The American Scholar, Plains Poetry Journal, Hunger Mountain, Piedmont Literary Review, The Lyric, Orbis (UK), and The Christian Century, as well as in anthologies. Her work has won several awards in the US and the UK, including a Fellowship in Literature (Poetry) in 1998 from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Her essays have appeared in several publications including Parabola, Islands, Weekly Telegraph (UK), Christian Science Monitor, and New York Newsday. Journalism has included feature articles in various publications on the arts and local history, and a monthly essay column for the regional newspaper.

As well as having written the novel, Inscription, she has co-authored a memoir about a hidden child of the Holocaust.

Christine will receive $1000 prize money and publication of Inscription on Hidden River Publishing’s Sowilo Press imprint, which is dedicated to publishing literary fiction and non-fiction by and about women.

The Eludia Award

Our current round of the Eludia competition is still open. We will be accepting manuscripts for the 3rd annual prize. The deadline for submissions is March 30, 2014. See the guidelines for all details.