The Lightning Queen Book Party Recap!


Hello everyone!

I had so much fun celebrating the release of The Lightning Queen with friends here in Fort Collins!


Lil Dude was the Master of Ceremonies, and did a great job introducing me, doing magic tricks, interviewing me, drawing names for prizes, playing his White Stripes song on his guitar, and generally ad-libbing jokes throughout.... He loves being onstage and has been looking forward to this for a long time.

Beautiful dancers were there doing beautiful dances!

(photo from Gloria)

My good friends Gloria Garcia Diaz and Julie Lee performed some gorgeous traditional Mexican dances with their troupe, Quetzalcoatl....

They were fantastic...

Gloria's rainbow dress was a thing of wonder!

And there were all ages in the troupe, which was really cool...

We're so grateful to everyone who showed up to celebrate-- what an amazing bunch of people!

There was a free-for-all dance on stage, too, and all who participated got to choose a bell as a prize.  (The bells had been in a box in our garage for thirteen years, and I figured it was time to let them go ring freely with new owners...)


And there was book-signing... (Thanks to Old Firehouse Books for doing such a great job with the book-selling!)


 photo from Gloria

Alma (right) was one of the girls who interviewed me *in Spanish* about The Queen of Water for the local Bookends TV show.  She came with her awesome friend Ivan, who's also a fan of The Queen of Water, and her sweet cousin Karen.

My heart still feels full from all the neighbors and friends-- old and new-- who came to celebrate with us!

 Dear writer friends Todd Mitchell and Teresa Funke

Longtime super-creative friend, Julie Lee 

 Fun-spirited artist neighbor Diane Findley and her wonderful husband Tommy 

Close friend, Spanish writing partner, talented writer and translator, and dancer 
Gloria Garcia Diaz with her adorable daughter

 My vivacious and big-hearted 6th-grade neighbor, who's the most avid reader I know!

 More awesome neighbors-- Beth and Dan!  (We are SO lucky to live where we do.)

 And Julie with her lovely family

Afterward, there was the clean-up, which Ian did, oh-so-graciously.  ;-) (And my generous writer group friends, Laura Pritchett and Kayre Cattrell were life-savers helping me set up, but somehow they escaped being photographed!)

Thank you to all of you who were there in body and spirit!

Lots of love,

 photo from Gloria

Book Release Events for THE LIGHTNING QUEEN!

 Hey guys,

I've finalized my schedule of events for this fall for THE LIGHTNING QUEEN.  I'd love to see you guys there!



Oct 28, 2015, Wed

THE LIGHTNING QUEEN Release Party! Everyday Joe’s Coffee House, Old Town, Fort Collins, CO. 5-7 pm. Food, music, Mexican dance, crafts, prizes, reading, signing! Books available to buy there. Come one, come all!


Nov 3, 2015, Tues

Osher Institute of CSU, Presentation on THE LIGHTNING QUEEN. 10:00 a.m. to noon. Drake Hall (CSU campus), 2545 Research Blvd., Fort Collins, CO 80526. Registration required here.


Nov 15, 2015, Sunday

Boulder Bookstore, Boulder, CO. 4:00 p.m. Reading and signing THE LIGHTNING QUEEN. A joint event with the amazing Melanie Crowder, author of A NEARER MOON. All welcome!


Nov 17, 2015, Tuesday

East Morgan County Library, Brush, CO. 6:00 p.m. Presentation on THE LIGHTNING QUEEN. Chatting and signing to follow. Everyone welcome!


Nov 21, 2015, Saturday

Denver BookBar, Denver, CO. 12:00-12:30 Signing and chatting about THE LIGHTNING QUEEN. Everyone welcome! (Also, from 10:30-12:00, I’ll be leading a discussion with the Mother-Daughter book club. If you’d like to participate in the book club discussion, call the store asap to register.)


Dec. 12, 2015, Saturday

Barnes and Noble, 2999 Pearl St., Boulder, CO. 2 pm. Signing and chatting about THE LIGHTNING QUEEN. All welcome!




Nov 6, 2015, Friday

Politics and Prose Bookstore, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, 10:30 a.m. Presentation, reading, and signing for THE LIGHTNING QUEEN. All welcome!


Nov 8, 2015, Sunday

Browseabouts Bookstore, Rehoboth, Delaware. 11:00 a.m. Informal signing and chatting about THE LIGHTNING QUEEN. All welcome!


Nov 9, 2015, Monday

The Children’s Bookstore, Baltimore, MD. 4:00 p.m.  Reading, chatting, and signing THE LIGHTNING QUEEN. Everyone welcome!




Nov 22, 2015, Sunday

NCTE Conference, Minneapolis. Scholastic Authors’ Breakfast and Readers’ Theatre. Registration required.

Hope you can make it to one of these events!!!


Early Kid Reviews of THE LIGHTNING QUEEN!

with awesome teacher Mrs. McMahon of El Granada Elementary School

Hey guys,

One of my favorite places in the world to visit is Half Moon Bay, California, partly because of the glorious beach....

... but mostly because of the wonderful people there-- teachers, librarians, and kids!

I'm so honored that Mrs. McMahon and her students at El Granada have read most of my books together.  They were excited about my next one, THE LIGHTNING QUEEN, so I sent them a review copy.  I felt thrilled that they managed to squeeze it in as a read-aloud before their school year ended!  The kids were kind enough to jot down their impressions of the book afterward... and here are their blurbs:

Naomi Naito: 
I love that the hope in Esma's soul is contagious! The spunk and life in Esma is inspirational.  It is amazing how one girl singing can bring back the dead.

Natalie Sencion (whose family is from Oaxaca, and she loves going for visits with them!):
The Lightning Queen reminded me of being in Oaxaca: the metate, and hot chocolate, and my favorite, mangoes.

Noely Lopez:
The Lightning Queen is a great book for kids. It's hilarious, sad and it makes you have so many more feelings. It makes you wonder and think. It's amazing.

     With cool HMB librarian, Karen

Sinead McVey:
It's electrifying... makes me feel like I'm in the story. Really makes me feel for the Gypsies and Mixteco people.

Abby Kennedy: 
I love how Esma is so fierce, and it's really inspiring.

Jazmin Sofia Zilla:
A story of amazing friendship.

Mason McCallister:
The Lightning Queen is a fun book that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

     succulents on the beach cliffs

Leia Kenton: 
I liked that you made Teo a doctor and how you made him help animals.

Mikaela Sendino:
The Lightning Queen is very intriguing for all ages and you won't regret reading it.

       with amazing HMB librarian, Armando, outside El Granada Elementary

Viridiana Herrera-Salgado:
Laura, I'm glad you became an author because if you didn't, we wouldn't be able to read your wonderful books.

Jake Hessen:
I was on the edge of my seat for the whole time.

Victoria Preciado:
Great symbolism with the animals and people. Also, great spirit animals.


Diego Acosta:
Flash [the three-legged skunk] was really like Esma- they both are bright and have problems with legs. And, they cheer me up!

Ethan Gustin:
In The Lightning Queen, my favorite part was when Esma dropped the mango on her stepmother's head.

Thank you so much for these magnificent early reviews, kids of Half Moon Bay!  I'm grateful!  I love you guys!  Abrazos to you all!

(And if these reviews have piqued your curiosity about the book, you can read more about it here, and get links to a Book Club Party Guide, a Readers' Guide, and more.)


Gypsy foals frolicking...


Hey guys,

Since there's a Romani (Gypsy) girl in my upcoming book THE LIGHTING QUEEN, I had an excuse to do fascinating research on this culture.... including my trip to the Irish Rose Farm on the outskirts of my hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado two summers ago.  Charlie Cox showed me his gorgeous authentic vintage Romani vardos (wagons), which I wrote about in another post.

Over the past couple years, my Lil Dude and I have become friends with Charlie and Jan, who we see at the Farmer's Market every Saturday.  (They are such energetic people!  Jan sells fantastical succulents planted in creative upcycled containers like Minions, old baby doll's heads, vintage Star Wars fighter jets, Lego Darth Vader action figures, 1950s Nancy Drew books....)

So we were excited to hear about their two newborn Gypsy foals, and even more excited when they invited us out to see these impossibly adorable creatures.


Charlie and Jan actually breed this kind of horse (Irish Cobs), whose ancestors were used in Ireland to pull Gypsy vardos, and who were also well-loved, gentle members of the caravan. Jan and Charlie are an incredible wealth of information about Romani and Traveler culture in Ireland, and true experts on the Gypsy horses and vardos and dog that they treasure.

These horses are gorgeous and sweet, with distinct black and white patterning and elegant tufts of hair around their ankles. I love their luxurious manes and tails so much!

They lead extremely happy lives on the farm, staying for many months with their mothers, wandering the huge fields with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, getting lots of love from Jan and Charlie and their Gypsy dog, Finn.  In Ireland, caravans often included this breed of dog who, like the horses, also were a useful, gentle, and well-loved part of the family.  They are expert hunters, and will go off on their own to fetch rabbits or other small animals to have for dinner. (Finn has proudly brought home rabbits and squirrels.)

So, more about these beautiful foals: The older of the two-- about three weeks old in these photos-- is named Skellig Michael (Skeilig Mhichil in Irish), which is also a rocky island in Ireland.  The 2-week-old girl is named Saoirse (pronounced Searrrsha), which means "freedom" in the Irish language, and has cool political/historical significance in Ireland.


Once the babies warmed up to Lil Dude, they enjoyed having him scratch their rump.

I honestly knew very little about horses before our trip to the farm.  The extent of my knowledge was what I'd gleaned from Lil Dude's easy reader books on the topic. ;-)

It's incredible to me that within a few hours of birth, the foals are already walking around... and within a few weeks they're already munching on grasses to supplement their mother's milk.  Supposedly Gypsy mare's milk is incredibly nutrient-rich and makes these foals grow heartier and faster than other horse breeds.

The mothers were so sweet with their babies, but generously let us close enough to touch them. We felt so fortunate!

Before I sign off, I'll give you a quick update on THE LIGHTNING QUEEN.  It's available for preorder now, and will be released on Oct. 27, 2015 in hardcover, ebook... *and audiobook*! So happy about this!

You can read more about the book here and get links to book club and educators' guides.

And if you're on Goodreads, you can add it to your "want-to-read" list here.  Review copies are out in the world now, and I've gotten a bunch of awesome early reviews from a group of elementary school kids in Half Moon Bay, CA! I'll share those blurbs with you in a post soon....

Hope you're having an enchanting summer! 



Hello, dear readers,

I'm so happy to show you the cover of my next novel, coming on October 27, 2015!

The exquisite cover illustration is by Greg Ruth. Gorgeous jacket design by Elizabeth B. Parisi of Scholastic.

I love the swirling movement in the art-- there's a lot of swirling imagery in the book, and Greg captured it so beautifully.  I also love the ethereal quality, so airy and infused with light.  And I love how the colors near the girl's head are warm and golden, and then the palette moves down to cooler, moodier grays and greens, and then, once again, is grounded in golden light.

The girl pictured is Esma, who calls herself The Queen of Lightning, and the boy in the field of on her skirt is Teo, who narrates most of the book (the parts set in the mid-20th century).  The contemporary parts of the book are narrated by his grandson, Mateo.  Like my book What the Moon Saw, this one also spans generations.

(In case you're wondering whatever happened to The Impossible Caravan, this is that book!  The title changed to The Lightning Queen, but the name of the caravan in the story continues to be The Impossible Caravan.)

Here's a summary of the book:

     Nothing exciting happens on the Hill of Dust, in the remote mountains of Mexico. There’s no electricity, no plumbing, no cars, just day after day of pasturing goats. And now, without his sister and mother, eleven-year-old Teo’s life feels even more barren. Then one day, the mysterious young Esma, who calls herself the Gypsy Queen of Lightning, rolls into town like a rush of color. Against all odds, her caravan’s Mistress of Destiny predicts that Teo and Esma will be longtime friends.
     Suddenly, life brims with possibility.
     And magic.
     And danger.
     With the help of a rescued duck, a three-legged skunk, a blind goat, and other unexpected friends, Teo and Esma must overcome obstacles—even death—to make their impossible fortune come true. Their destiny will span generations and ultimately depend on Teo’s American grandson, Mateo, to be fulfilled.
     Inspired by true stories from rural Mexico, this astonishing novel illuminates two fascinating but marginalized cultures―the Rom and the Mixteco Indians. Award-winning author Laura Resau tells the exhilarating story of an unlikely friendship that begins in the 1950s and reaches into today.

Ages 8 & up * Scholastic Press * 
available as hard cover, e-book, and audiobook* October 27, 2015 release

You can pre-order it now!

I encourage you to check in with your local indie bookseller about pre-ordering, too!

My brilliant editor with a big heart, Andrea Davis Pinkney of Scholastic

Here's a bit of background on the book, excerpted from my Author's Note in the back:

     I felt fortunate to form meaningful friendships with Mixteco people when I took a teaching position in the remote mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. For two years, I was welcomed into Mixteco communities, first as a teacher and later as an anthropologist studying their culture. During this time, I heard stories about the beloved gitanos, whose caravans had shown movies in this region years earlier. I knew that gitanos (also known as Rom or Gypsies) have been misunderstood throughout the world, so I was intrigued by how fondly local people spoke of them. Like the Rom, the Mixteco have also faced prejudice and racist treatment for centuries. I felt drawn to explore the fascinating relationship between these two cultures.
     As I developed this story, I wove in realistic and mystical elements of oral histories I heard in Mixteco villages. The initial spark for this book came from the experiences of a ninety-six-year-old healer named María López Martinez (lovingly nicknamed María Chiquita—María the Little One). When she was a young girl, a gitana fortune-teller told her she would live a very long life. Shortly after her fortune, she grew ill and appeared to die. Inside their hut, her family held a candlelit vigil over her apparently dead body. At one point during the mourning, a drop of candle wax fell onto María Chiquita’s body. Somehow, it woke her from death!
     She told me that her time in the other realm gave her powers to become a healer. She lived to age ninety-seven, and near the end of her life, she proudly pointed out that the gitanos’ prediction had come true. I returned to María Chiquita’s village for her cabo de año—the candlelit one-year anniversary of her death. I’m grateful to continue a friendship with her daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter.

You can read more background on The Lightning Queen in another blog post I did here.

Thanks so much for swinging by!


Announcing my next book... THE IMPOSSIBLE CARAVAN!!!

 photo credit: Charlie Cox of Irish Rose Farm



Hello, dear readers!

I can finally announce the news I've been hinting at for a while now (and which some of you already know via Facebook and Twitter)! Here's the official announcement of my new book deal!!!

Children's: Middle grade
Americas Award-winning author Laura Resau's THE IMPOSSIBLE CARAVAN, in which an indigenous boy and a Romani (Gypsy) girl form a friendship in rural Mexico that spans the rest of their lives and embraces magic, music, and predictions of impossible destinies, to Andrea Davis Pinkney of Scholastic, in a good deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Erin Murphyof Erin Murphy Literary Agency (world).

(Expected Publication Date: Fall 2015.  And note that the title might change!)

You guys, I'm so excited!  This is a new publisher and editor for me, and I've heard incredible things about them both.  I've been working with Andrea on revisions this summer, and I keep pinching myself because she is a dream to work with... this whole experience, in fact, has felt like an abracadabrant dream.

I got the idea for this book about 15 years ago, when I was living in an indigenous region of Oaxaca, Mexico, teaching and doing anthropology research.  I met a 96-year-old healer named Maria Lopez Martinez, lovingly nicknamed "Maria Chiquita," and her daughter, Fidelina.  We immediately hit it off, and after Maria Chiquita gave me a limpia (spiritual cleaning involving chanting, praying, and beating me with bundles of herbs and spitting on me with alcohol), she and her daughter told me I reminded them of the gitana (Gypsy/Romani)  women who used to visit their Mixtec village in the mid-20th century. They launched into enchanting stories about the caravans that would show outdoor movies and tell fortunes and bring joy and excitement to their community.

 I could only find this small-resolution image of the three of us

I ended up becoming good friends with these women, and although Maria Chiquita passed away a year later, I went to her cabo de anno (that double nn is supposed to be an n with a squiggle above it but I can't figure out how to do that in blogger!)  This was a beautiful candlelit gathering a year after her death in which we honored her spirit.

 "Drops of Wax" illustration by Emma Shaw Smith

Maria Chiquita had a big effect on my life, and I ended up weaving her stories about the gitanas into a short story called "Drops of Wax" for Cricket Magazine-- my first big publication.  Fast forward about ten years, after I'd published seven books and was struggling with what I thought would be my next book-- a YA fantasy that my writing friends and I referred to as THE CHOCOLATE BOOK  (or, THAT  #$&*! CHOCOLATE BOOK).  This was the spring of 2013, and man oh man, was this book giving me trouble!  It was super-intricate, jumping around in time and space, leaping from one character's point of view to another... and then there was crazy-complicated fantastical world-building I was getting lost in...

Around that time, I took a trip to Half Moon Bay, California for an author visit and walked along the succulent-covered ocean cliffs.  It had an almost magical effect on me... I started getting vivid glimpses of a new story.... a story that was for younger readers, and involved the Romani (Gypsies) and a Mixtec village... and it felt graceful and fun and soul-soaring to me.  I decided I needed to give my poor brain a break from THE %*&!@ CHOCOLATE BOOK, and this new story was the perfect project.  I jotted down bits of dialogue and scenes and imagery in the little notebook I carry around with me, and started getting really excited about it.  It felt deeply special to me--  after all, the novel had been brewing in my unconscious mind for the past fifteen years.  I'd written that short story, but I'd always had the sense that I wanted to weave some of its basic elements into a full-length novel someday... and the day had finally come!

The book was a pure joy to write... I ended up finishing a solid draft by the fall-- in less than six months, which is really fast for me.  Then, for a few months, I asked some smart and generous writing friends to critique it, and I did a few revisions.  By the winter, my agent was reading it, and then, in the springtime of 2014, Andrea Davis Pinkney made the offer. Then I had to sit on the news all summer long until the contract was signed and the deal officially announced. So... it's been a fruitful and exciting year!

SO many people have helped me with this manuscript... the acknowledgments will be looooong! My friends in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca were enormously helpful, and I feel bowled over with gratitude.  And my writer friend, Ron Cree, contributed awesome real-life stories about some unusual pets he had as a kid-- this helped me with "character development" of the rescued skunk and duck in the book.  (You can read his hilarious stories here and here.)

The abandoned, injured gosling my family and I rescued back in May 2013 was also a big inspiration for the duckling character in the story.  Here you can see photos of Baby Goose Grape (and also read another true, funny waterfowl story.)

My friend Charlie Cox helped with some of the Romani (Gypsy) elements in the story-- he lives on a farm on the outskirts of town, and has Romani vardos (caravans) and Gypsy horses!  Here's a post I did after he invited me out to his farm and graciously showed me his vardos.

 Photo credit: Charlie Cox of the Irish Rose Farm

I've been interested in Romani cultures around the world ever since reading anthropologist Isabel Fonseca's ethnographic book BURY ME STANDING in the mid 1990's.  It made me aware of the misconceptions about the Romani as free-spirited wanderers, and gave me a better understanding of the societal challenges they've faced, historically and current-day. And then, as I did research for my novel, I was fascinated to learn more about the Romani through books, oral histories, and documentaries (the recent movie Papusza was wonderful and moving.)

Researching this book was the first time I used a Pinterest board to collect images, and it was really helpful.  Here are a couple images from the board that helped me visualize the Romani girl in my novel.

(Unfortunately, a problem with Pinterest is that it can be hard to find photo credits for images-- I don't know who took these pics, but if you do, let me know, and I'll give credit.)

 I imagine the girl in front resembles my main character-- I love her confident, almost sassy expression!

Okay, I think this post is long enough for now! I have more inspiration/research background to share with you later, though...  some of it involves my vintage Viewmaster and slide collection, actually. ;-)

On that note, I will bid you farewell!  Thank you for coming by and sharing in my happiness... and I hope you're enjoying these first bits of fall.