Launch of my Profile Page on the SFWA Speakers Bureau website

September 16, 2016

Tags: SFWA, Sally Wiener Grotta, Speaker, Appearances, Signing, Book Club, Lectures

My profile page on the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) Speakers Bureau website is now live. You can view it at I'm honored to be in the company of such interesting and accomplished individuals.

Being Alien: An Essay in Progress

September 13, 2016

Tags: Amazon, Sally Wiener Grotta, Prejudice, Alien

Today, while doing my morning exercises, I clicked through Netflix and ended up watching “First Contact: Lost Tribe of the Amazon.” It’s a fascinating documentary about an anthropologist’s first interaction with one of the isolated tribes of the region. But my interest wasn’t only intellectual. I was curious about how the tribe Daniel and I had once met might have fared. (To read a bit about our experience in the Amazon, please go to a lighthearted piece I did for Lawrence Schoen’s Eating Authors.)

According to “First Contact,” an Amazon region of about 30,000 square miles (spread across the border between Brazil and Peru) is home to the majority of “uncontacted” people in the planet. Uncontacted means that they have had no recorded interaction with the outside modern world. However, many (if not most) have been watching us for a long time. In fact, it’s postulated that their ancestors ran into the dense jungle to escape the horrors and devastation of previous encounters. For some, it started way back in the early 19th century, when rubber plantations plowed through the area, destroying entire tribes through slavery, illness and wholesale slaughter. It’s a dark piece of history, repeated all over the world when outsiders “discovered” new lands populated by indigenous people.

Daniel’s and my encounter was much gentler and probably whitewashed by the local officials. After all, the Peruvian representatives needed to keep our small bevy of journalists in a happy state of mind. Nor did we have much time to dig deeper, since we arrived on Friday and flew home on Monday. It was classic parachute journalism, with our story intended for readers of the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer’s Travel section.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been haunted over the decades by what I saw (and what I didn’t see). No doubt this and other encounters have influenced me deeply, including having a major impact on the fiction I write. I now view my memories of that weekend in the Amazon through a much more informed filter – one that recognizes how little I know, and how much I hunger to understand.

As a result, I’m in the throes of writing an essay on the nature of alienness, which has nothing to do with bare breasts, unknown languages or strange environments. Being alien relates to the fundamentally different preconceptions and points of reference that make the borderland between people so dangerous and unpredictable. At least, that’s the thesis underlying my essay in progress. Now to see where it takes me.

Storyteller, a Self-Portrait for The Wordsmiths Project.

September 10, 2016

Tags: Sally Wiener Grotta, Photography, Storytelling, The Wordsmith Project, The Winter Boy

Sally Wiener Grotta, storyteller
(Photo by Daniel Grotta, imaging by Sally)
Recently, I needed to provide a headshot for a lecture description. While going through my various profile images, I came across this one for my previous photo project The Wordsmiths Project.. And, yes, those are the first paragraphs of my novel The Winter Boy swirling around my head.

For The Wordsmiths Project. I spent a few years creating interpretive portraits of people behind the scenes in book publishing. It was a great adventure for me, and I got to spend time with some fascinating people. I was honored thatThe Wordsmiths Project. had its debut exhibit at the entrance to the 2007 Book Expo in New York City's Javits Center. When I have time, I'll share some of the portraits I created for the project here on my blog.

A Literary Evening with Friends

August 20, 2016

Tags: KGB Reading, Randee Dawn, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, Theodora Goss

Left to Right: Randee Dawn, Sally Wiener Grotta, Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner
This past week, I went to my first KGB Bar Reading (in NYC). It was a delightful evening, sharing the warm, energetic and inspiring companionship of fellow authors, which included a luminous reading by Theodora Goss.

If you're visiting New York City (or live there), be sure to check out the KGB Readings calendar. The audience is often as celebrated as the author at the podium.

Review of "Jo Joe" by Sala Wyman

July 11, 2016

Tags: Jo Joe, Book review, Interview

Thank you Sala Wyman for another very nice review of my novel "Jo Joe" and a fun interview session....

"Set in a fictional village in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, Sally Wiener Grotta takes on the inner shards of racism with her novel Jo Joe, a Black Bear, Pennsylvania Story.

"There are always a couple of ways to deal with the topic of racism and its effects on the victims. One is to just document the facts about oppressors and victims. Another is to take a higher road: the healing of victims, families, and communities. Ms. Grotta beautifully and skillfully takes the high road.

"As a black American, I often read stories about people of color with a critical eye, with the unfortunate expectation that characters of color will show up in two dimensional caricatures or worse. I am delighted that Ms. Grotta, a marvelous storyteller, cleverly avoided that abyss. Once I picked the book up, I did not put it down.

"The story of Judith Ormand, a biracial woman of Jewish and Black heritage whose..." Please Click Here to read Sala Wyman's full review of "Jo Joe." Then scroll down below the review to read the interview she did with me.

Thank you, Sala.

Honoring Vets & Peaceniks Alike, Pixel Hall Press Reduces the Price of the Paperback Edition of “Honor” by Daniel Grotta for Independence Day

July 4, 2016

Tags: Daniel Grotta, Veterans, Peace movement, Fiction, Vietnam War, Hippies

Daniel Grotta often gave autographed copies of "Honor" to wounded vets, as his thank you. One of the most frequent comments -- from vets and ex-hippies alike -- is "I had to wipe the tears from my eyes." In celebration of Independence Day, and to honor the people who have made the United States of America great, Pixel Hall Press has temporarily reduced the price of print copies of "Honor" to only $5.25 until July 5th. That's an even further reduction from their Summer Reading Sale. (Please Click to Buy, or pick up the eBook (at all digital book sellers) for only 99 cents. )

About "Honor"

Set during the Vietnam War era, "Honor" is a poignant yet quick read that has captured the hearts of veterans and former hippies alike.

What is it to be honorable? In the eyes of others? In your own heart? Is it what you've done or who you are? Jeff Smith was, as his bully of a brother-in-law Gene Engelhardt was fond of retelling, "what the cat dragged in." A scruffy, bearded hippie Gene's sister Bonnie had met and fallen deeply in love with decades ago at a Washington peace rally against the Vietnam War. Even shaved and doing whatever the Engelhardts wanted, his in-laws never accepted or approved of Jeff. Now, Jeff is saddled with a family, a dead end job, and, after Bonnie died of cancer, a mountain of debt. Only Jeff has a secret and a unique possession that could possibly solve his financial problems and help his daughter realize her dream, if he can ever overcome the guilt and shame that has haunted him for over thirty years.

"Honor" is currently being developed into a theatrical play by the playwright David Zarko.

"Honor" is available as a trade paperback and an eBook in all format, from most bookstores and book websites. However, the Independence Day sale price is available only on the please Pixel Hall Press website

"The Winter Boy" Selected by Amazon Kindle & Kobo for their Independence Day Weekend Sales

July 1, 2016

Tags: Kindle, Kobo, The Winter Boy

I'm pleased to discover that the eBook of my novel "The Winter Boy" has been selected to be part of the Independence Day Weekend sales at both Amazon and Kobo. If you haven't read it yet, here's more incentive. It's only $1.99 only for this weekend.

To buy the ‪#Kindle‬ version, please click here

To buy the ‪#‎Kobo‬ version, please click here

BTW, "The Winter Boy" is also part of Pixel Hall Press's Summer Reading Sale, with discounts on paperbacks and hardbound copies. To buy an autographed print copy at a discount, please go to the Pixel Hall Press website

Let Sleeping Crocodiles Lie
Cautionary Tales from a Freelance Life

June 23, 2016

Tags: Freelancing, Writing, Journalism, Grief, Daniel Grotta

by Sally Wiener Grotta

Daniel and I enjoyed strolling. Wherever we were, whether near home or on some other continent, we’d go for rambling walks. Often with no destination in mind, turning where our feet and curiosity pulled us, stopping when something demanded our full attention, or to simply sit and absorb. It was our way of connecting. With our surroundings, whether it were nature or a cityscape. With the rhythm of life and culture. With each other. Every walk was an adventure, an exploration, a learning experience. And fun.

More often than not, I'd have a camera in hand. When we were away from home, Daniel usually carried my camera bag, which would be packed with lenses, various camera bodies, model releases and the other paraphernalia that fill such bags, including dozens of rolls of film. (Yes, this was in the pre-digital era.)

On this particular walk, the sun slanted on the arid sub-Sahara of Kenya's Samburu National Park. Golden light and long shadows mottled the parched landscape, creating unexpected shapes where I had seen only a flat and near featureless expanse in the midday overhead sun. Dotting the far flung vista were occasional groves of trees, indicating probable water sources.

Our only companion was our guide. Unlike the lanky statuesque men of the local Samburu tribe who moved through their domain with the graceful lope of a gazelle, our guide was compact, with a center of gravity that seemed to keep him in constant contact with the earth under his feet. The air was alive with almost subliminal sounds that I couldn't really identify — probably bird calls, perhaps insects and far off animal calls. The sky above was as wide as any I've ever seen, stretching from horizon to far horizon, devoid of any sign of mankind's imprint on nature. No wires, no buildings, no vehicles or sounds of traffic. Not even the contrail of a high altitude plane.

As we rounded the edge of a comparatively large grove of trees, we saw a small river which had carved a crevasse in the dry soil so that the embankment seemed to tower over the waterway like a tiny cliff. At the bottom of the near embankment slept an enormous crocodile. He was motionless, a stunning sculptural figure composed of dense shadows and pools of light. (more…)

Trees for Daniel & Dad

June 18, 2016

Tags: Daniel Grotta, Noel Wiener

Next weekend is Daniel's and my wedding anniversary, so I've decided to mark it by
placing Daniel's and Dad's ashes.

We'll be placing Dad's ashes with Mother's in the garden we had created for her, under a Japanese maple. Dad liked to sit on the porch to be with her, and I know that's what he would want.

We'll be creating another garden for Daniel, and next Saturday will be only the beginning. Daniel always wanted to do something about the erosion of our stream bank on our field. So over the next few years, I will be creating a mostly native plant garden along the bank. The one non-native plant I'll be using is a weeping willow which was one of his favorite trees, and that's what we'll be planting next week with his ashes.

I'm hoping this will help me deal with our first anniversary alone, by honoring my two men with beauty and sharing it with my friends and family.

They Called Us Team Grotta

May 19, 2016

Tags: Collaboration, Writing, Marriage, Daniel Grotta

They called us Team Grotta.

I’m not sure which editor first gave Daniel and me that nickname. When we were long-time Contributing Editors at PC Magazine, I remember being pleasantly surprised when various people started referring to us as Team Grotta. It came so naturally to their lips that we felt that they had been using the term for a while. Perhaps it had developed organically, put forward in staff meetings and in office discussions. “Why don’t we put Team Grotta on that project?” or “Ask Team Grotta, they’ll figure it out.”

Not that it was exclusively a PC Magazine thing. Other editors and clients took it up, as did conference and workshop organizers and, eventually, readers.

When I look back, I sometimes feel that Daniel and I were the last to hear the sobriquet. But we were delighted when we realized what a nice compliment it was to who we were professionally and personally, how well we worked together and how others had learned to depend on us.

Team Grotta. I’ll never know if it spread out virally from one person’s dubbing of the two of us as a single well-tuned entity. Or was it an outgrowth of the nature of our relationship which was evident to anyone who saw us together? Heck, a number of years ago, a young couple with whom we used to square dance told us that their toddler son thought that “DanielSally” was one name. (more…)