Brenda Novak's birthday is Tuesday, so we checked in to see what's new. She's an award-winning, best-selling romantic-suspense novelist who lives in Carmichael.
First up is her eighth annual online auction benefiting diabetes research, inspired when her youngest son was diagnosed with the disease at age 5.
It runs through May at www.brendanovak.com.
"We raised $77,000 the first two days, our biggest start ever," she said. Auction items include a meet-and-greet with Celine Dion, tickets to a Cee Lo Green concert, and many opportunities for aspiring writers.
Writing-wise, she has a short story in the "Love Is Murder" anthology (May 29) and two new series. Book one of the "Whisky Creek" romance series, "When Lightning Strikes," is due Aug. 28.
"It's set in a small town much like Sutter Creek, in the heart of Gold Country," she said.
"I'm also writing another series, 'Hanover House,' due in 2013. It will be hard suspense. The heroine is a psychiatrist trying to unlock the riddle of the antisocial mind, working with patients in a mental hospital for psychopaths."
Reading for Mom
Where does one turn for advice on compelling books for Mother's Day? Why, to Oprah Winfrey, of course (www.oprah.com).
We like several of her choices, especially:
"The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain (Ballantine, $25, 336 pages): Life with expatriate novelist Ernest Hemingway in 1920s Paris is imagined through the perspective of Hadley Richardson Hemingway, wife No. 1 of four.
"Between a Rock and a Hot Place: Why Fifty Is Not the New Thirty" by Tracey Jackson (Harper, 304 pages): A very funny but squirmingly honest appraisal of the sixth decade.
"The Widows of Eastwick" by John Updike (Knopf, $24.95, 320 pages): The sequel to the best-selling "The Witches of Eastwick" finds the three friends older and charmingly wiser.
'Bullitt' night at library
The 1968 film "Bullitt" was a classic in so many ways. Such as the 10-minute, 53- second car-chase scene in which star Steve McQueen drives a Ford Mustang through the streets of San Francisco, in pursuit of the bad guys in a Dodge Charger.
Relive the thrills at "A Night at the California State Library," featuring a "Bullitt" screening, post-movie discussion led by Tom Sawyer, retired sheriff and former public safety liaison for the Governor's Office, and displays of historic photos of the Golden Gate Bridge in celebration of its 75th anniversary.
Doors will open at 5 p.m. Wednesday, at 900 N St., Sacramento, with showtime at 6 p.m. The evening is free with a reservation to (916) 653-9942 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. "Bullitt" was adapted from the novel "Mute Witness" by Robert L. Fish, a pseudonym for Robert L. Pike.
Down on the farm
Kathy Freston is a guru of health, wellness and self-help, a darling of TV talk shows (Oprah and Dr. Oz are fans), best- selling author and contributor to the online newspaper Huffington Post.
Her mantra: "Progress, not perfection." Her latest self-help book is "The Lean: A Revolutionary (and Simple!) 30-Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss" (Weinstein, $25, 352 pages).
Catch up with her at the Farm Sanctuary's annual Country Hoe Down at 7:15 p.m. Saturday. The fundraiser for the farm- animal shelter will include other guest speakers, food, barn-dancing and entertainment.
Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, at 19080 Newville Road, Orland. To register and buy tickets ($75): (607) 583-2225, www.farmsanctuary.org.
One Book at CSUS
For its annual One Book program, California State University, Sacramento, has chosen "One Amazing Thing" by award- winning Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (Voice, $13.99, 240 pages).
When an earthquake traps nine people of diverse backgrounds in the basement of an Indian consulate, they fight their fears by sharing their life stories.
The One Book program invites CSUS students and faculty members, and the community, to read the book and participate in events to be held on the campus (film series, outdoor readings). During the author's visit on Oct. 25, the public will be invited to a free campus lecture at 7 p.m., followed by a book signing.