Award-winning indie poet, historical novelist, and forensic historian Gini Grossenbacher is one of California’s respected and sought-after creative writing educators, and certified copyeditors. She is an experienced conference presenter and a favorite speaker at book clubs, fairs, and festivals.
In addition to fiction copyediting, Gini leads an inspiring writers group called Elk Grove Writers and Artists, providing lessons on novel writing, poetry, and flash fiction on Zoom.
When she’s not writing, Gini can be found taking long walks, working out at the gym, tending the roses in her garden, and barbecuing with her husband and beloved dog, Murphy Brown.
She was presented the 2017 Jack London Service Award from the California Writers Club. She is an active member of national and statewide writers groups, including the Historical Novel Society and The Women's National Book Association-San Francisco.
After completing a BA cum laude in English at Lewis & Clark College, Gini completed postgraduate work in European history and Italian literature in Rome and Perugia, Italy. She received her California Teaching Credential at CSU Sacramento. She has an M.S. in Education from The University of LaVerne, Los Angeles, and earned a certificate in copyediting from UC San Diego in 2021. Gini has thirty-six years of experience teaching writing and language arts to adults and adolescents.
Special Interest: Women's Heritage & International Origins
Gini is also a lifelong historian with a special hands-on interest in the recovery of women’s narratives too often neglected in the stories nations and great cities tell about their origins. She has done in-place literary and historical research across five continents and wandered back alleys and elegant high streets from Bangkok and Kyoto to Singapore, from Mexico City and Martinique to Caracas, from London and Paris to Rome and the medieval hills and historic towns where Francis and Clare of Assisi reinvented European monasticism. She speaks English, Italian and French.
Ms. Grossenbacher is represented by Cristina Deptula at Authors Large and Small. http://www.authorslargeandsmall.com/
Madam of My Heart
Baltimore, 1849. Under a shadow of scandal, the young Irish Brianna Baird flees her home at Fells Point. She has little cash, and no worthwhile occupation, for what use is a seamstress’s talents in the raucous, bawdy city of New Orleans? Without family support, her only chance of survival is offered by brothel madam Nancy DeSalle, and the dashing but questionable gambler, Edward Spina, who falls in love with her. In a desperate alliance with these two members of society’s underbelly, Brianna embarks on a journey through the French Quarter’s debauched and glittering world. With the aid of her freedwoman Emma, she learns the ways of the Voodoo Queen.
After gaining freedom for Emma’s enslaved husband and son, Brianna and Edward flee with them to San Francisco. There she becomes one of the most sought-after madams in the gold rush parlor house trade. At last, will Brianna become the mistress of her own destiny?
Multiple Award-Winning Title, Available at Amazon and Fine Bookstores everywhere.
By Merrick Hansen on November 14, 2017
Grossenbacher does an incredible job of exploring a side of history that goes largely unspoken, as the story finds its footing in the potent and magnetic atmosphere that New Orleans provides. She is an author that is excellent at portraying a time long past and giving it new life. Brianna comes from innocence and grows into power, subverting sexuality to take the power back into her own hands.
The scenery is lively and full, Grossenbacher easily carrying the reader through the 19th century underbelly of brothels, gambling, slavery - but shows that true power comes from using what has happened to us to succeed.
Madam in Silk
San Francisco, 1849. Ah Toy is twenty when she sets sail from Hong Kong for San Francisco. After her husband Tung Chee dies on the ship, she and her servant Chen find themselves alone and jobless in Gold Rush San Francisco. She is the first Chinese woman to arrive. Who will hire a woman with bound feet who cannot carry laundry or tote heavy goods? She refuses to return to China to marry her husband’s grasping brother-in-law, Tung Chao.When her small pot of money runs out, Ah Toy opens a successful Lookee Shop where she poses naked before sailors and gold miners. Her business grows into upscale brothel and she hires indentured servants as prostitutes. Meanwhile, the Vigilantes rise, threatening to cleanse the town of gambling and prostitution. The neighborhood policeman, John Clark, grows fond of her and Chen. But even her growing love for Clark cannot help her overcome the challenges of the immigrant’s America: the voiceless status of women; the lure of the opium world; and the kidnap threats from her brother-in-law in China. Henry Conrad, a wealthy importer, appears to make an offer of marriage. He promises her a cherry orchard, a large ranch, and a secure life. She must decide, torn between her love for Clark and the promise of peace with Henry. Will spiritual guidance from her dragon and the Goddess Mazu be enough to set her free? Inspired by a true story.
Available at Amazon.
Book Review of Madam in Silk:
August 9, 2019
Not only did Ah Toy endure much, she persevered. Ah's character along with Chen and John Clark are that of loyalty, honor, compassion, and kindness, making you instantly connect with them. I couldn't put this book down, one of my favorite reads of 2019.
- Amazon customerEditor's Review
This year's exciting addition to historical fiction
"Readers were effusive in their praise of Gini Grossenbacher's dynamic debut novel Madam of My Heart, based on the life of the infamous brothel owner Belle Cora. This, the prequel to her American Madams Series, is inspired by the life of a beautiful young Chinese woman of high birth brought to California against her will. She was able--and willing--to do whatever it took to find security and fortune in Gold Rush San Francisco. Madam in Silk is this year's exciting addition to historical fiction.
--Cheryl Anne Stapp, Author of Disaster & Triumph: Sacramento Women, Gold Rush Through the Civil War
Madam in Lace
In 1857, San Francisco prostitute Celeste Manon journeys from Paris to Normandy, seeking the whereabouts of her long-lost mother, a madam whose abandoned brothel lies empty in Montmartre. Meanwhile, she befriends a band of Italian revolutionaries set on a shadowy plot to overthrow Emperor Napoleon III. Despite her resistance, she falls in love with the serious Carlo de Rudio, who convinces her to become a courier for their cause. Accompanied by the revolutionary Odeon de la Mare, she follows clues pointing to her mother’s whereabouts, trailing her parent west to an orphanage in Compiègne, a majestic Norman chateau, and finally Mont-Saint-Michel. At each point, Celeste deciphers elusive details, not only to aid her revolutionary friends but to lead her closer to her beloved mother, who may have kept more secrets and told more lies than Celeste ever imagined.
Multiple Award-Winning Title, Available at Amazon and Fine Bookstores everywhere.
2022 Reader's Favorite Five-Star Review, IPPY Silver Medalist for Regional Fiction
2022 Book Reviews:
K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite:
Madam in Lace is a work of fiction in the historical, interpersonal drama, and suspense subgenres. It was penned by author Gini Grossenbacher and serves as the third installment in The American Madams series. It is best suited to the mature adult reading audience owing to some graphic content including sexual situations and some instances of explicit violence. Combining the real historical facts of the political unrest of France in the mid-nineteenth century with a scintillating romantic drama, we meet our protagonist Celeste Bazin when she travels from San Francisco to Paris to locate her missing mother. Landing right in the middle of a revolutionary plot to overthrow Emperor Napoleon, Celeste discovers that she may have to risk it all to discover who her mother really was.
One of the most entertaining features of historical novels, for me at least, is when the dry pages of history and fact can be brought to life with vivid action, charged with emotional energy, and given a new mysterious spin, and that is what author Gini Grossenbacher achieves over and over again with The American Madams series. Celeste is a woman on a mission, powerfully independent and a little ahead of her time, but also able to operate seamlessly and convincingly within the wild society of Revolutionary Paris. The sparks flying as Celeste discovers her rugged revolutionary love were palpable, charming, and exciting, with dialogue that tantalizes in terms of the mystery plot just as much as the romantic drama unfolding. Overall, I would highly recommend Madam in Lace for fans of historical drama, intrigue, and romance. An unmissable and exciting read indeed.
2022 Kirkus Reviews:
A gripping trip through Napoleonic France.
A woman becomes entangled in 19th-century French politics during a search for her mother in this historical novel.
Celeste Bazin was born in a Paris brothel. After her mother sent her to America at age 14, Celeste landed in New Orleans and then San Francisco, where she got rich from the California Gold Rush. In 1857, Celeste, now a young woman, is back in Paris to see her mother, but she hasn’t been able to find her. While hunting for her, Celeste meets an Italian man named Carlo. She needs a place to crash in Montmartre, so Carlo invites her to stay at his boardinghouse. His sister is also living there, helping Celeste feel safer, although Carlo is suspiciously secretive. Odéon, another boarder, helps Celeste track down her notorious Aunt Faucon, her mother’s sister. With only the knowledge of her mother’s last-known whereabouts, Celeste sets off on a journey around France accompanied by Odéon, who has political business in Normandy and agrees to take the protagonist in that direction.
During her quest, Celeste stops at an imperial palace, an orphanage, a palatial chateau (where she runs into Carlo again), and a notoriously well-guarded prison. She learns along the way that her mother may have been an operative in the same revolutionary group that Carlo and Odéon belong to and that they are involved in a plot to take down the emperor. Can she find and rescue her mother without putting her own life in danger? Grossenbacher’s descriptive prose helps paint a vivid picture of what France was like in this period under the rule of Emperor Napoleon III. Celeste is a compelling character, one who chafes against restrictions put on women, especially now that she has enough money to live independently. But she can be selfish, pursuing her mother even when nearly everyone she encounters tells her it would be dangerous for both herself and her parent if she persists. Celeste is worldly in some ways but completely naïve in others. Details about the revolutionary plot are revealed in tiny parcels, creating a strong sense of suspense that will keep readers turning pages.
Gini writes careful, engaging, detailed stories/novels of people in historically-accurate fiction. Whether in the 1850s California, WWII Europe, or an American boarding house in the hard-scrabble Great Plains, her characters are engaging, spirited, and a bit saucy in their ways. If intrigue, deception, some amorous glances, a sharp mind and adventurous spirit, are your stuff, go find her books, and enjoy!
President, Action-Adventure Press, Sacramento, California
October 10, 2015
Writing Instructor, Gini's AWA Workshops & Manuscript Review Groups
About a poetry class:
What was strong was the concentration on imagery. The book we used in class was so helpful in understanding how poetry developed. What stays with me is how we all ended the class with three or four poems.
--Kathleen Torian Taylor, August 2019
Gini's classes have taught me so much about writing. The Wired for Story class helped me learn how to put my characters through the wringer and how to set up plot points. Gini is an excellent teacher and the classes are great fun.
--Emily Boyd, July 2019, Elk Grove, CA
Lots of practice writing and sharing what we've written. The writing info is very helpful and will go a long way towards making any future books better.
--Barbara Barrett, July 2019, Elk Grove, CA
I liked reading and learning together, with robust discussions about the book's content. The examples reviewed together and the handouts which capture the main points of each chapter Wired for Story were strong. What stayed with me was "the story is not in what happens; it's in how the characters react to what happens."
--Evangeline Freathy, July 2019, Elk Grove, CA
Thought-provoking. From "Hook the Reader" to "Setup and Payoff," excellent, clear and cognitive secrets to writing success.
--Loy Holder, July 2019, Elk Grove, CA
I liked the book by Lisa Cron, Wired for Story. The handout summaries and the shared readings were strong. I found the following memorable: the (instructor's) efforts to make those handy notes; the fellowship of serious writers; the "Aha" moments--I had one today in class during the free write. and that's how AWA writing is for me.
--Judith Vaughan, July 2019, Elk Grove, CA
I loved Lisa Cron's book. The Introduction and Chapter One were life-changing for me. My writing is transforming as a result of this book; Gini's weekly notes emphasized the key points. What stayed with me was the recognition that tapping into human needs is key to hooking readers.
--Liz Abess, July 2019, Elk Grove, CA
Fascinating introduction to flash fiction--a gentle lead-in to our writing of very different stories which we got to hear and feel...I feel very blessed by the whole day--.
Brady Rubin, September 2018, Ashland Writers Retreat
What I really liked was how quickly our group writing became so intimate. We have opened our hearts and our writing with trust. What was strong was your (Gini's) set-up for the poetry writing. Listening to the music, talking to one another, thinking about the subject matter. Opening into deep conversations and deep writing. The amazing companionship!
Bethany King, September 2018, Ashland Writers Retreat
I love the way you draw me in, step by step, to producing a piece that I did not know was there. Thank you, Gini. I can't wait until you return next year!
Janet Boggia, September 2018, Ashland Writers Retreat
What I liked--writing poetry...the positive feedback encouraged me to move forward to publishing some of my poems. Learning about twists and turns in poetry helped me...finding a twist and emerging into a realization, sometimes about myself.
K.T. Torian, February 2018, Poetry Series
I like that you (Gini) are a professional writer and experienced writing teacher. What stays with me is the continuity of the class and the development of a "library of pieces." I love the mutual friendships and caring, and knowing the others' voices.
Amanda Williams, May 2016
About the Manuscript Critique Class:
I have belonged to various critique groups over sixteen years of writing fiction, but Gini Grossenbacher's "Writers of Elk Grove," an Amherst Writers and Artists Affiliate, has been the most beneficial due to her professionalism and leadership. Each month, my gratitude increases for the honest feedback and guidance I receive from members of this group. Using Gini's own words, "I consider our AWA manuscript review to be the garden where our new plants are tended as they flower."
Margaret Duarte, Independent Writing and Editing Professional,
Elk Grove, California, April 2016
I've been a member of Gini's writing group for three years. She has been extremely helpful and encouraging in memoir, prose and poetry, and currently working on flash fiction. I am now a member of her advanced manuscript group. Before meeting Gini, I did most of my writing alone in my office. I have found that writing with the group gives me instant feedback. Gini has inspired me to move forward toward getting my writing published.
K.T. Torian, Writer, Elk Grove, California, April 2016
I consider Gini to be a master of creative writing and recommend her to anyone. She is a natural leader in our manuscript critique group with remarkable resiliency. She hasproven she can communicate smoothly with people from different backgrounds and cultures. She's been a wonderful encouragement to to me as a new writer. Her overall advice has helped to develop my writing craft toward a whole new level. I'm very impressed with her knowledge in writing structure, dialogue exchange and how available she is for writers to network with her online.
Lorna Norisse, Webpage Writing Consultant, 2016
We meet at Peet’s Coffee.
Will Gini think I haven’t listened to her advice? She gives me a four-page critique, and then orally reviews the progress made in the current draft. We discuss character, touching on gestures and how to include backstory. We refine methods to reveal the relationship of the protagonist to others.
Gini ends the meeting with more encouragement; she praises my work to move towards a professional standard of writing.
I leave ready to write more, write better. Gini’s developmental edit is more than a professional service; it’s gift of her care for my work and for me.
Judy Vaughan, June 2015
Gini is a longtime reviewer for the Historical Novels Review, having contributed many beautifully written reviews since 2008. Not only do her reviews clearly express her thoughts on the strengths and/or weaknesses of each book (in 300 words or fewer!), but they’re also engaging to read. Gini has a wide range of historical knowledge and reading interests, and her enthusiasm for history is evident throughout her work.
Sarah Johnson, Professor of Library Services, Eastern Illinois University,
Book Review Editor, Historical Novels Review
And here’s your reviewer link if you need it: https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviewer/gini-grossenbacher/
Writing Organizational Leadership
As John F Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” When I joined the California Writers Club – Sacramento Branch, my first contact was with the VP of Membership— none other than Gini Grossenbacher. Immediately I noticed that Gini was highly motivated, ethical and possessed a strong passion about writing and her willingness to help others become successful. Her effervescent smile and easy going personality was catching while setting a great example for the organization. Leadership is unlocking people’s potential and Gini does this on a daily basis with fellow writers and friends. It is a pleasure to know and work with Gini.
Michael Brandt, Writer, Speaker, Global Adventurer 2016
About Elk Grove Writers & Artists
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for course schedule and fees.
This Amherst (AWA) Creative Writing Workshop Series helps writers expand their craft through developing a unique voice. In an AWA workshop, writers gain confidence in a supportive, small community of peers. Groups generate first draft writing, then choose excerpts to review in our once a month manuscript group.
Our writers improve as they practice techniques of creative writing, applied across genre to creative non-fiction, autobiography, journals, fiction or poetry. Many work on their own writing projects during the scope of the course. The group meets once a week on Thursday mornings.
In addition to small classes, one-on-one creative writing coaching is also available.
We also have Creative Writing Retreats in Ashland, Oregon in the fall and at Fern Cottages on the Russian River in the spring every year.
About the AWA Method
Five essential affirmations of Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA), according to Pat Schneider, AWA founder and author of Writing Alone and With Others:
Everyone has a strong, unique voice.
Everyone is born with creative genius.
Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level.
The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer’s original voice or artistic self-esteem.
A writer is someone who writes.