HELP! San Diego Lifeguards to the Rescue

New Book Authored by Former Lifeguard Chronicles the History of San Diego’s Lifeguard Service

San Diego, CA—San Diego is well known for its beaches, protected by the watchful eyes of highly trained lifeguards.  It is hard to imagine that this wasn’t always the case.  Michael T. Martino’s new book, HELP! San Diego Lifeguards to the Rescue: A History of Their Service Volume 1 • 1868-1941, follows the evolution of the lifeguard services in San Diego, starting with the early pre-lifeguard years where citizens provided the aquatic rescues in bay and ocean. This year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most significant events in the history of San Diego’s lifesaving service.

HELP! San Diego Lifeguards to the Rescue: A History of Their Service • Volume 1: 1868-1941 | $19.95 | 9781941384398

The tragic event that spurred the growth of the lifeguard service happened on May 5, 1918. A rip tide resulted in the drowning deaths of 13 people, most of whom were soldiers stationed at Camp Kearny. An event commemorating the 13 victims will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at the Ocean Beach Lifeguard Station at the foot of Santa Monica at Abbott Street. The full details of this tragedy are fully documented in Martino’s book. Martino will be presenting the first copy of his book to Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who will be attending the commemorative service. The May 23 event is also the official launch of Help!, which was 10-years in the making.

Serge Dedina, the Mayor of Imperial Beach, had this to say about the book: “Mike Martino has written a riveting and compelling history of ocean lifeguarding in San Diego that is an important look at the evolution of beach and civic culture in Southern California. Help! is a must-read for anyone who loves these beaches and the vital role of their ocean lifeguards in protecting visitors to California’s ultimate recreational destination.”

This very readable history of lifeguards along the San Diego Coast, is the most comprehensive ever written.  So comprehensive, in fact, that a second volume covering from WWII to present is scheduled for 2020.  Martino is uniquely suited to author these books as a former lifeguard who finished his career as an Aquatic Specialist, which is the Chief Lifeguard for the California State Parks system.

Commemorating the terrible event of 100 years ago reminds every one of the dangers of rip currents and large surf that continue to affect us today. As the beach season begins, what better time to review the ever important lifeguard message of beach safety that is so integral to the history of the profession. And, what a great read to take to the beach for summer reading. Martino will be signing books at a reception immediately following the ceremony on May 23.

Kumeyaay Knowledge and Use of Native Plants Still Vibrant in Remote Baja California

In his new book, Kumeyaay Ethnobotany, anthropologist Michael Wilken-Robertson explores the ancient and ongoing story of Native Baja Californians and the plants they use to make food, medicine, and traditional arts

Traditional Kumeyaay food processing

San Diego, CA—Divided now by a political border that separates north from south, the indigenous Kumeyaay people of San Diego County and northern Baja California have long made their homes in the diverse landscapes of the region, interacting with native plants and continuously refining their botanical knowledge over thousands of years. Anthropologist Michael Wilken-Robertson has spent decades developing friendships and learning from the elders that carry on these traditions in the far-flung ranches of Baja California, working closely with the Kumeyaay in the revitalization of their cultural heritage. The October 2017 release of Kumeyaay Ethnobotany: Shared Heritage of the Californias, which brings together many generations of Kumeyaay traditional wisdom and decades of research by Wilken, begins with a kickoff at the San Diego Natural History Museum on October 17.

Called, “a work of surpassing beauty that meets the highest standards of research scholarship,” by Chumash Ethnobotany author Jan Timbrook, Kumeyaay Ethnobotany provides in-depth descriptions of forty-seven California native plants and their uses. It also includes lively narratives and hundreds of vivid photographs from artist and professor, Deborah Small. The book connects the archaeological and historical record with living cultures and native plant specialists who share their ever-relevant wisdom for future generations.

Kumeyaay Ethnobotany: Shared Heritage of the Americas
Kumeyaay Ethnobotany: Shared Heritage of the Americas (978-1-941384-30-5, $29.95)

Kumeyaay Ethnobotany provides an enduring work that is a gift of history,” says Former Chairman of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, Anthony Pico. “Future Kumeyaay generations will look back and know this scientific contribution was very instrumental on our journey toward cultural revitalization. We Kumeyaay are most grateful to Michael Wilken-Robertson’s lifetime work.”

A series of lectures on the work begin with the October 17 “NATtalk” at the San Diego Natural History Museum, which will be followed by a book signing in the museum store. Other public lectures are scheduled at:

  • California State University, San Marcos, Tuesday, November 14, 2017
  • Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, Friday, November 24, 2017
  • Autry Museum of the American West, Saturday, December 9, 2017

Capital-Dwellers to Delight in the “Arrested Decay” of California’s Most Famous Ghost Town

Photographer Will Furman presents his unique “Inside-Out” photography from the new book Bodie: Good Times and Bad by Nicholas Clapp

Bodie: Good Times and Bad (Sunbelt Publications, 2017)

San Diego, CA— Fine Art Photographer Will Furman presents a photo-illustrated discussion on the newly published book, Bodie: Good Times and Bad on Wednesday, September 13 at 6:00 PM in the California State Library’s Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building. During the Night at the State Library event, Furman will discuss the unique history of what has become America’s most popular ghost town, as well as how he used a technique he’s dubbed “Inside-Out” photography to capture the haunted feeling of the town.


Bodie: Good Times and Bad (2017, Sunbelt Publications) by Nicholas Clapp with photography by Will Furman examines Bodie’s dual nature. The mining town of Bodie was called both a “fearfully and wonderfully bad place” in the 1870’s—a town of hard-working pioneers. Mark Twain remarked of the town that vice versus virtue made for exciting times.


To capture that Bodie of yesterday in the ghostly remains of today, Furman developed the technique he describes as “Inside-Out.” This entails a single image technique that utilizes both the reflectivity and translucency of windows to create a single image with multiple planes. The result conjures a Bodie that is haunting and evocative. Furman developed his photographic finesse during his career as a commercial photographer, during which he produced scores of marketing and educational films for Apple, Black & Decker, and many other companies. Now a fine art photographer, his work can be viewed at


A Night at the State Library is a free program made possible by a generous donation from the California State Library Foundation. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP at Eventbrite.


California State Library

For more information:

Celebrate the One-Year Anniversary of the Coast To Cactus Guidebook with San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers

Museum store celebrates first year in print with book signing September 9, 2017

San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers

San Diego, CA—This September marks two big events for the Canyoneer trails guides at the San Diego Natural History Museum. First, their hiking season picks up again after a summer hiatus, making available to the public free tours of San Diego’s hiking trails with these highly trained citizen science naturalists. Second, they’ll celebrate the one-year anniversary of the publication of their wildly popular book, Coast to Cactus, which puts all their collective knowledge about San Diego County outdoors into a single 636-page guide. The date will be marked with a celebration at the San Diego Natural History Museum Store on Saturday, September 9th from 1-4 pm, where Canyoneers, including the book’s three editors, will be on hand to answer questions about hiking and sign books.

Canyoneers are citizen scientists and volunteers who have had comprehensive training by Museum scientists and local experts on the natural history of the region. Founded in 1973 by Helen Chamlee Witham, Canyoneers lead weekend hikes at 70 locations from September through late June. Friday Guides also lead elementary school groups on shorter hikes in local canyons during the school year.

When you hike with a Canyoneer you are encouraged to stop, look, listen, touch, smell, and examine—to understand that everything is linked together. Canyoneers provide a unique opportunity to explore the wild places of San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties, highlighting the rich biodiversity of the region.

Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors (2016) 9781941384206, $29.95

Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors was released in September of 2016 with much ado, including a launch party at the corresponding “Coast to Cactus in Southern California” exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum. The book was initially conceived by Canyoneer leadership in 2002, though it wouldn’t be until 2012 that the writing would begin hike-by-hike, as Canyoneers resumed the late Jerry Schad’s popular “Roam-O-Rama” column in the San Diego Reader. Like the Canyoneer program, the book introduces readers to San Diego County’s unique natural wonders, providing readers with a “virtual Canyoneer,” that allows them to enjoy an experience akin to a Canyoneer-led foray into nature. The Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) awarded Coast to Cactus the honor of “Best Outdoor Guidebook” in their 2017 Craft Awards.

The celebration at the museum store will allow Canyoneers to answer questions about hikes featured in the book and to explain the book’s many features including a list of habitats encountered in each hike and 525 different species of plant and animal described in full detail. Additionally, the 2017-2018 Canyoneer hike schedule will be available.


San Diego’s Own Indie Press Signs On For Inaugural Book Festival

El Cajon-based independent publisher to showcase more than 30 years’ worth of regional titles at the San Diego Festival of Books on the 26th

San Diego, CA—In a warehouse east of San Diego, scorched in valley sunshine and amid the dissonant soundtrack of El Cajon’s industrial district, resides an unlikely enterprise. Sunbelt Publications has been producing regional works of (mostly) non-fiction in San Diego’s East County since the mid-eighties, and continues to release exciting and elaborate new books each year, including outdoor guides, natural and cultural histories, and books that celebrate the land and its people in California, Baja California, and the southwest deserts. Now, the publisher sighs with relief as “book fever” piques in the sun-kissed region with an inaugural festival books hosted by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Sunbelt Publications in El Cajon, CA

“I was so pleased when a U-T rep stopped by our warehouse and asked us to be part of the festival,” says Sunbelt’s President, Diana Lindsay. “People are always thrilled when they discover who we are and what we do. It’s going to be great to experience that on a huge scale with local and visiting book lovers.”

Sunbelt Publications provides a variety of services to readers, writers, and intellectually curious members of the community. In addition to publishing niche regional books, the company offers custom publishing services for self-publishers and corporations, discounted shopping for local readers, specially-catered wholesale fulfillment for a variety of specialty retailers throughout the region, and distribution services for other small publishers. They also arrange speaking engagements for the authors of the books they publish, providing informative talks at museums, retail stores, and various community service and political organizations.

“I feel like San Diego’s Kevin Bacon sometimes,” says Lindsay. “No matter where I go I seem to meet the author of a book, an organization we book speakers for, a retailer, an advertising or news liaison, or someone who’s involved with a community group whose cause we’ve furthered through a publication. It’s great. It makes me realize how immersed we are in the community and how we provide an important service that helps to enhance its culture and history.”

Diana Lindsay, President of Sunbelt Publications

Just this year, Sunbelt Publications has published five tiles, including Bodie: Good Times and Bad by Nicholas Clapp, Color Me Fit by Nick North, Who-o-o’s Awake in the Desert by Jenny Holt, Baja’s Wild Side by Daniel Cartamil, and Nature Adventures by Linda Gallo Hawley.  In October, the publisher looks forward to its next big release, Kumeyaay Ethnobotany by Michael Wilken-Robertson, and of course, they’re still riding the huge success of their 2016 release, Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors.

The publisher will participate in the festival as a vendor, with authors scheduled to sign books at their booth every hour. Two authors of their published children’s books are scheduled to read in the reading area: Linda Gallo Hawley at 11:30 am and Nick North at 12:15 pm.  Company staff look forward to meeting San Diego’s most bookish folk.

For festival information, visit


San Diego County’s beloved teacher from the “Nature Adventures!” program at Mission Trails Regional Park brings her songs and extensive knowledge to young readers countywide.

Linda Gallo HawleySan Diego, CA–She’s not originally from around here, but New York transplant and lifelong educator, Linda Gallo Hawley, can school most San Diegans on the region’s native flora, fauna and even cultural history. In fact, she’s made her own mark on the culture of the region through her monthly “Nature Adventures!” programs at Mission Trails Regional Park, where she guides primary school children through the park’s many trails, pointing out unique and interesting plants and signs of wildlife along the way, all while singing catchy tunes like “The Ecosystem Song” and the “Big Brown Bats Song” (with lyrics self-written and set to popular tunes like “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush” and “This Old Man.”)

Now with the publication of Nature Adventures! children of all ages can enjoy her extensive knowledge of San Diego’s biodiverse region. The book includes facts about the habitats and wildlife of this region—featuring animals big and small from spiders to shrews, flying bats to big cats, and even smelly skunks. What do they eat? Where do they live? Who are their predators? And what do their tracks and scat look like? Hawley explains it all in this fun text complete with delightful illustrations from artist and former fellow trail guide, Linda Gilbreath.

Originally called “Ant-Sized Adventures” for the preschoolers she initially taught (hence the “marching ants” illustration on the cover and throughout), Hawley decided to make the book appealing to nature lovers of all ages, by adding information pertinent to more advanced learners, including scientific terms, their meanings, and track-size measurements. Hawley is confident that children young and old, as well as parents and teachers, will have fun singing her songs about local wildlife.

Nature Adventures!“My granddaughter and I attended Linda Hawley’s “Nature Adventures!” program at Mission Trails Regional Park,” says former San Diego Mayor and current Mission Trails Regional Park board member, Dick Murphy. “Her classes and trail walks were a perfect introduction to the flora, fauna, and habitats in this park. Those lessons are now in her book for all.”

In addition to her already packed schedule of imparting a love for nature at the park and neighborhood libraries, Hawley now plans to make appearances throughout San Diego County to help promote her new book. If kids and parents react to the new release the same way they do her nature programs, it’s safe to say the book will be irresistible.




Most Californians are unaware of the natural beauty that exists just south of the Mexican border. Just how remote, untouched, and wild is Baja California? 

Baja's Wild Side

San Diego, CA—Shark biologist Daniel Cartamil, PhD, of Scripps Institute of Oceanography, hopes to take some of the bite out of encroaching human threats to the untamed Pacific Coast region of Baja California by showcasing the region’s beauty in a stunning new work of photography called Baja’s Wild Side.  The book, published by Sunbelt Publications, releases this summer in conjunction with an exhibit by the same name featuring Cartamil’s photography at the San Diego Natural History Museum.


Dan Cartamil Cartamil began visiting and working in many of the small coastal fishing villages that still exist in this area while researching ways to protect sharks that migrate through the waters of the Pacific Ocean off Mexico’s Baja California coast. The raw landscapes and untouched beauty of the region inspired the avid photographer to document the wild and vulnerable peninsula. His relationships with academics, locals, and artisanal fisherman resulted in unparalleled access to remote and spectacular areas. For more than a decade, he ventured off the beaten path and captured what he saw for others, from ancient rock art and mystical boojum trees to the endangered condors of the high sierra.


Now Cartamil continues his conservation work professionally, as well as through lectures, photography, and guided tours of Baja California, Mexico.  For more information visit






San Diego, CA—In the world of independent publishing, spring is the start of award season as finalists are announced in anticipation of summer book fairs. Two of the most reputable independent publishing award programs announced finalists this week and, once again, works by Sunbelt Publications feature prominently, with Coast to Cactus, Gulf of California Coastal Ecology, and Virginia City collectively advancing in five categories.


The Independent Book Publisher Association’s (IPBA’s) Benjamin Franklin Book Awards have been administered since 1985 and are some of the most well respected awards in the industry.  Only 3-4 books make the finalist round in any given category in this nation-wide competition, and while only one book ultimately takes the gold, all finalists are awarded silver medals.  This year’s finalist is the best-selling Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors written by San Diego’s own Canyoneer trail guides from the San Diego Natural History Museum.  The book is being recognized for its outstanding interior design with the final verdict announced on April 7, 2017, in Portland, OR, as part of IBPA’s Publishing University conference.


The INDIES Book of thINDIES BotYAe Year Awards proctored by Foreword Reviews, the go-to resource for librarians, booksellers, industry professionals, and book lovers, is similarly competitive.  In a deeply appreciated gesture of recognition, the reviewers at Foreword advanced Sunbelt Publications’ entries to the finals for all four categories submitted.  Coast to Cactus reigns again as a finalist in both the “Nature” and “Regional” categories, while Gulf of California Coastal Ecology: Insights from the Present and Patterns from the Past and Virginia City: To Dance with the Devil made the final round in the categories of “Science” and “Regional” respectively (that’s right—two Sunbelt titles vying for the gold in regional!).


In a press release from Foreword Reviews, publisher Victoria Sutherland commented, “Choosing finalists for the INDIES is always the highlight of our year, but the choice was more difficult this time around due to the high quality of submissions.”


The INDIES Book of the Year winners will be announced in Chicago during the 2017 American Library Association Annual Conference on June 24, 2017.


A stunning new work revives the history America’s favorite ghost town: Bodie, California

Bodie: Good Times and Bad

San Diego, CA – Called “A fearfully and wonderfully bad place,” by Bodie Daily Free Press on January 7, 1880, the Bodie of yesteryear had as notorious a reputation then as its remnant ghost town does today, drawing in roughly 200,000 visitors annually as a California State Historic Park.  A stunning new publication entitled Bodie: Good Times and Bad rekindles the life into the historic settlement through the masterful storytelling of writer Nicholas Clapp with plentiful reproductions of historic documents, images, and accounts. The text combined with the powerful images of present-day Bodie from photographer Will Furman has resulted in a work that is sure to please.

Many of Furman’s photos might be mistaken for double exposures.  That’s because he uses a technique he’s dubbed “inside-out” photography, in which he captures scenes at just the right angle, and in just the right lighting, so that the scene inside a window blends perfectly with the scene outside.  The result is a hauntingly beautiful composite that speaks to past and present.

Clapp’s storytelling lends its own special magic.

“Bodie State Historic Park is a very special place and this is a very special book,” says Brian Cahill, Acting Chief of the Interpretation and Education Division for California State Parks. “Will Furman’s captivating photos tell a powerful story on their own, but accompanied by Nick Clapp’s compelling narrative, the place truly comes alive.”

The pair plan to promote the book through a series of signings and presentations throughout California—Clapp handling the southern half of the state, and Furman the north.  Readership, on the other hand, is expected to expand far beyond state lines, with Clapp already giving consideration to October’s annual Frankfurt Book Fair, noting that “Both Germans and the French love the American West, and its frontier lore.”

Visit Bodie: Good Times and Bad on our product page.



San Diego, CA

Who-o-o's Awake in the DesertThe desert animals scurry about to get everything done,

Trying to beat the desert sun.

Owl prepares to go out into the night,

To ensure all the animals are tucked in tight.

So begins the charming new illustrated bedtime story, Who-o-o’s Awake in the Desert, the debut work of Tucson-based writer Jenny Holt. Featuring a beautifully illustrated cast of Sonoran desert animals, the story includes the coyote, Gila monster, hummingbird, javelina, and of course, the infamous Western Diamondback to name a few.  The book takes early readers on an aerial journey with owl as the warm sun of a desert afternoon melts into cool darkness.

Illustrations from H.M. are colorful and charming, sure to induce the same awe and appreciation for southwest wildlife conveyed in the author’s rhymes. Holt, a Tucson native, spent much of her childhood hiking and exploring the lush Sonoran desert surrounding her hometown and has long loved the desert landscape and its unique wildlife. She obtained her pharmacy doctorate from the University of Arizona and still lives in the desert with her husband, three children, dog, bearded dragon, and a small herd of desert tortoises. She wrote this book both as bedtime story and as a way to share her passion for the desert with children everywhere.

Holt will sign copies of the book on April first at Mildred and Dildred in La Encantada shopping center in Tucson from 9:30-10:30 am.

Author Jenny Holt
Author Jenny Holt

Book Details

Author Jenny Holt with Illustrations by H.M.
ISBN: 978-1-941384-31-2
Publication: Feb 2017
Format: 8.5 x 11 in.
Retail price: $12.95
Page count: 32
Press materials: