Meet the Author: Sarah Winchester: Beyond the Mystery by Bennett Jacobstein – at the Redwood City Public Library – March 11, 2020 from 7:00 – 8:30PM

In honor of Women’s History Month, Bennett Jacobstein will be at the Redwood City Public Library on March 11, 2020 from 7:00 – 8:30PM to discuss his new book about the Winchester Mystery House and Sarah Winchester’s true story.
Sarah Winchester: Beyond the Mystery
PUBLISHER: Independently published
PUBLICATION DATE: September 2019
ISBN: 978-1794616608
DESCRIPTION: 110 pages, paperbound
DISTRIBUTION: Amazon / Ingram / Baker & Taylor
PRICE: $8.95
“Sarah Winchester was a wonderful person who devoted a good part of her life to funding a hospital for tuberculosis patients.  It has become a personal crusade for me to tell her true story.  My goal with the book is to restore Sarah’s reputation,” says Bennett Jacobstein.
Sarah Winchester was a brilliant, creative and generous woman. She lost her only child, Annie, at six weeks old. Her beloved husband William, heir to the Winchester Rifle fortune, died at a young age from tuberculosis. Sarah never recovered from her two heartbreaking losses. Yet through all her pain she was focused on helping those in need.
Sarah spent major parts of her adult life on two building projects. Both of them live on today, 97 years after her death.
In San Jose, California, Sarah built an architectural marvel, a mansion in the American Queen Anne revival style reflecting great beauty and great innovation. The mansion has operated since 1923 as a tourist attraction known as the Winchester Mystery House. The house is a California Historical Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Throughout the years rumors have been associated with Sarah and her house. The rumors suggest that the grief-stricken widow sought comfort from a medium in Boston who told her that (as the heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company fortune) she was being cursed by the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle. She should move west, the medium said, and build a house and never stop building. As long as construction continued, she was told, she would not die. The rooms would shelter the good spirits and the sound of hammers would drive away the bad spirits. These rumors led to Sarah being portrayed as eccentric and crazy. However, research has shown that there is a different version of the story. Not only were there rational reasons for everything in the house, but Sarah was not at all crazy and spent a good part of her life in a philanthropic effort.
In West Haven, Connecticut, Sarah funded the building and operation of a hospital for patients with tuberculosis. The hospital, honoring her husband, was named the William Wirt Winchester Annex for Tuberculosis. Sarah was especially concerned with helping those of limited economic means. Over the years thousands of lives have been saved through the work of this hospital. Although the hospital no longer exists, the fund Sarah created continues to support the Winchester Chest Clinic, now part of the Yale New Haven Hospital.
Sarah’s hospital remains virtually unknown, whereas Sarah’s mansion is toured by a steady stream of visitors from around the world. The mansion was the setting for the 2018 film Winchester, a paranormal thriller starring Academy-Award-winning actress Helen Mirren. The movie was advertised as “inspired by true events.” It is true that Sarah and the house both existed, but that is where the “true” events end.
The rumors surrounding the house continue to be told, but in Bennett’s book ‘Sarah Winchester: Beyond the Mystery’ historical research including newspaper and magazine articles, personal correspondence, and interviews with Sarah’s contemporaries reveals an alternative explanation of Sarah Winchester and her mansion.
About the Author: 
Bennett Jacobstein lives in San Jose, CA. He is a retired librarian and founder of Toucan Valley Publications, publisher of demographic materials and children’s social studies titles. He is the author of The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cuisine, a culinary tour of the food offering of each of the major league baseball stadiums. 
Bennett became intrigued by the story of Sarah Winchester and her house.  Once his research revealed that Sarah Winchester was not crazed and was a wonderful person who devoted a good part of her life to helping those in need, it became a personal crusade for him to tell her true story.
Bennett Jacobstein will be at the Redwood City Public Library on March 11, 2020 from 7:00 – 8:30PM to discuss his book Sarah Winchester: Beyond the Mystery.
To learn more, go to http://beyondthemystery.com/

Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree: Poems, Rants, and Short Stories

Poems are fragments of life.
Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree by Simi K. Rao is a collection of blissful moments; deep, invisible wounds; cries for help; declarations of defiance and philosophical observations. These poems and prose are fragments of life elucidating the different phases of the human condition. Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree will leave readers wanting for more and have a deep impact on women of all ages.
Life is not about achieving perfection, it’s about reconciling with your imperfections.

Praise for Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree:
“Rao amazes yet again with a true sense of what the modern woman goes through every day. We must battle cultural norms yet rebel in a way to gain our wings to do what we yearn to accomplish. She describes the dual roles of women, no matter where one comes from.” —Sonali Dhir, Advance Practice Nurse, Family Nurse Practitioner
“Simi K. Rao’s Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree is a compelling collection of poems and short stories. Dr. Rao writes with keen insight about life, love, illness, war, loss, revenge and joy. Her spare and deceptively simple poetry leaves the reader with a new appreciation of our universal humanity, and her short stories will leave you wanting more.” —Marianne Novelli, M.D.
“I read Simi K Rao’s Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree in two sittings. I simply couldn’t put it down. The short stories were penned with an appreciation for the important placement of imagery, detail, and dialogue. This skill combined with likeable and formidable characters makes for an impressive read. But it is the poetry that grabbed me. Her innate propensity for unearthing our shared humanness, no matter our differences, strikes an emotional tone that allows her reader to not only relate, but to empathize. The poetry is straight up and to the point. It does not have to be interpreted or dissected to be understood. Simi is a straight shooter and certainly had an impact on this reader.” —Dallas H, Author of Shaking the Family Tree

Excerpt:

__

Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree

__

Gods recline and meditate
Yogis attain nirvana
Banias conduct business
Councils assemble and confer

__

I stand firm, yet I walk
My arms stretch across the universe,
forever seeking and growing
I am exceptional

__

Creatures frisk on my limbs
The weary traveler finds repose
I am a temple of benevolence
An infinite ocean of knowledge

__

I was there before you were born
I shall remain after you are gone
I have weathered a million storms
I am the eternal tree

__

About the poem: The term ‘Banyan’ was coined by the British after the word ‘bania’ who are people belonging to the trading community. Found in nearly every Indian village, the tree is the center of activity. People gather, traveling merchants of all kinds set up shop under its vast canopy, and village councils hold hearings. It is also called Kalpavriksha, the tree that fulfills wishes and material desires and is greatly revered. Its ability to survive and grow for centuries is akin to God providing shelter to his devotees. Its ability to send down aerial roots which grow down into the soil and form additional trunks makes it a symbol of immortality. The leaves, bark and seeds are used for various medicinal purposes. The tree is truly extraordinary.

About the Author:
Simi K. Rao was born and grew up in India before relocating to the U.S., where she has lived for several years. The inspiration for her books, and other projects, comes from her work and experience with cross-cultural traditions, lifestyles and familial relationships. Rao enjoys exploring the dynamics of contemporary American culture blended with Indian customs and heritage to reflect the challenges and opportunities many Indian-American women face in real life. She is a practicing physician, and much of Rao’s down time is devoted to creative pursuits, including writing fiction and poetry, and photography. She is also an avid reader and traveler and has visited many locations around the world. She has written four novels. Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree is her first collection of poems and short stories. It is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She is currently working on a new novel. She lives in Denver with her family. To learn more about Simi or her books, visit SimiKRao.com or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.