By Keri Luise
Bay Weekly founder Sandra Olivetti Martin can’t keep her pen down, it seems. After retiring as editor and publisher, the writer has turned her eye to publishing books, staying true to her passion for connecting readers with good stories.
Martin was the co-founder, editor and publisher of New Bay Times and stuck with it as it evolved into Bay Weekly. After 27 years, Bay Weekly was picked up by Chesapeake Bay Media and Martin stepped down. But according to Martin, she quickly missed parts of the experience.
“I missed the community, the literary community, the sense of being around people who were using their words to create stories that delighted us,” Martin says.
New Bay Books is an independent publishing house established by Martin and her recently retired journalist husband Bill Lambrecht. The idea, developed in March amid the pandemic, was for a publishing company created for all writers, even writers of New Bay Times and Bay Weekly, who simply wanted a book of their own. But the written works still have to make it through Martin and her edits to be published.
“[The books] have to be a good story, they have to speak to me in particular, they have to be well crafted, and they have to be almost there by the time that we take them,” she says. “I’m also always looking for the good stories and there are good stories everyplace and I don’t want to be left out of the finding of them.”
According to Martin, the books published by New Bay Books are mostly going to be about or by people with related history to Chesapeake Country.
“There’s a universe out there, isn’t there? You have to start somewhere,” Martin says. “And every writer’s advice is to write what you know. Well I think that’s the same advice to every publisher.”
The first title published and now on the market is a posthumous collection of prize-winning nature essays by author Audrey Scharmen, Arpeggio of Redwings –Chesapeake Seasons: A Guide to Joy.
Martin enlisted Scharmen’s family to help gather the stories. Scharmen’s daughter, Peg Scharmen Lynch says that when her mother passed away in 2017, the family “immediately turned to her stories for comfort and became committed to the idea of creating a book.”
“To have a published version of our mother’s work is a miracle of a vision formed in my mother’s mind since she was a child, met with the collective effort of those who loved and admired her work,” Lynch says. “It has brought tears of joy to a lot of hearts.”
Scharmen and Martin worked together at New Bay Times from 1993 to 2006. According to Martin, Scharmen wrote of nature “with such power and poignancy that I never could get her essays out of my mind or heart.”
“She’s the kind of nature writer who makes you open your eyes to the wonder of the world around you,” Martin says. “So [the book] is really a companion to take you through the year, Chesapeake seasons, and we call it a ‘guide to joy’ because you wind up feeling that kind of harmony which expresses itself in joy when you read her work.”
Lynch says the stories are “timely and timeless” as they weave nature and Scharmen’s experiences together.
“We want new readers to reflect with her through the seasons and share her sense of wonder,” Lynch says. “And besides providing simple joy, we hope the book inspires more love, attention and respect for nature and our connection to it.”
The next title to be released by New Bay Books is by Calvert County author Elisavietta Ritchie, called Issues of Immortality, a short book of poems reflecting the mood of the pandemic. Learn more at www.newbaybooks.com.