Camping in My Sweet Lil Fifties Rig! (Part 1)


Hello, everyone!

We took my sweet lil rig on her maiden voyage (for us at least)...  Ian and Lil Dude and Wilma and I went to the gorgeous Beaver Meadows in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado for the weekend-- about an hour from home.  We loved it!  Here are some glimpses of our trip:


And on a different note, here's a piece of nice news I recently received-- The Lightning Queen got a beautiful, starred review from School Library Journal this month.  (This is its 2nd starred review!):

★ Gr 3–6—If books were written in black and white, The Lightning Queen would be written in color. Esma, a young Romani girl, meets Teo, a young Mixteco living on the Hill of Dust in the mountains of Mexico, when her traveling caravan makes a stop in Teo's small village. The Romani bring with them the magic of cinema films, and after the loss of Teo's father and sister, Esma gives him a reason to feel alive again. When Esma's grandmother, the Mistress of Destiny, reveals Teo's true fortune—that he and Esma will be lifelong friends and will save each other—Esma and Teo work hard to make sure their fortune comes true. Esma gives Teo the courage to save others and ultimately helps him to save himself. In return, Teo lifts Esma up just when she believes that her own dream is an impossibility. Esma and Teo go their separate ways; she becomes a shining star admired by the world, while he becomes a healer like his grandfather—and it is not until they are both in old age that they meet again. With the help of Teo's grandson Mateo and Esma's granddaughter Ruby, Teo and Esma rekindle their lifelong friendship. Like surviving a lightning strike, this book is rare and incredible.  
VERDICT The diverse characters, heartbreaking events, and historical and present-day backdrops are excellently executed. Highly recommended.—Selenia Paz, Helen Hall Library, League City, TX

So grateful for this heartfelt and poetic review!  The book comes out on Oct. 27, and I'll be posting my tour schedule soon.... I'll be doing events in Colorado, D.C, Maryland, and Minneapolis. :-)

Thanks for swinging by, my friends!


South Carolina Interlude...

Note the *alligators* on the banks...

Hello, dear readers!

I will briefly interrupt my series of Amazon posts to give you a little update on the trip to South Carolina that I took with my co-author, Maria Virginia Farinango, to talk about our book, The Queen of Water, with middle and high schools.  This was our first time in SC, and we loved it!


 We scheduled the visits for Friday and Monday so that we could get to know Charleston over the weekend. Gorgeous city!

A friend of Mrs. Crawford's gave us a fascinating walking tour... did you know there were *pirates* in Charleston?  I had no idea.... and I do watch lots of pirate-related movies thanks to Lil Dude.

We had the most amazing weather-- 60s and 70s and sunny much of the time.

I wish there were more pink houses in the US.

Prettiness everywhere...

These gas lights were so atmospheric at twilight...

I love water, and there was water *everywhere*! Charleston is on a narrow peninsula, with islands around it, and we visited a couple of them.

I've done a number of school visits around the country for The Queen of Water.... but these were the first schools that invited Maria along, too.(Lugoff-Elgin High and nearby Middle School, Charleston School of the Arts, and Charleston Academic Magnet School.)  Maria came all the way from Ecuador!  It was really special for both of us... and this was a great way for her to learn more of U.S. history.  The Charleston area was a big Revolutionary War and Civil War site.

Ancient graves.  Apparently, these winged skulls were precursors to cherubs.

Mrs. Crawford took us to the Middleton Plantation in Charleston, and it was stunning.

Camellias and Spanish moss everywhere.

I love trees-- these old live oaks and magnolias made me very happy.

Maria was enchanted by all the animals we saw on this plantation-- goats, hens, roosters, peacocks, cows, egrets, swans, horses.... we took a carriage ride, pulled by these enormous horses. It was interesting, but sad and disturbing, for her to learn about the history of slavery in the U.S. (She herself was a child slave from ages 7-15 in Ecuador.)

Our trip was organized by the incredible twin teacher sisters, Mrs. Howard and Mrs. Crawford.  They were loads of fun to spend time with!  We were completely immersed in sweet, warm Southern hospitality.


Here we are on Sullivan's Island. I had major cravings to rent a beach house here and lounge around reading novels and drinking sweet tea.

On Friday, we were at Lugoff-Elgin High School, and the nearby middle school came to join us, too.

Awesome bunch of students...

Maria performed a beautiful dance to the music of her husband, Tino Picuasi, an Andean flute musician and singer-songwriter.

These were the lovely girls at my lunch table-- I could've talked to them for hours-- three super-creative writers and readers. Our lunch, by the way, was shrimp and grits and fried chicken and sweet tea and all kinds of Southern yumminess!  We were very well-fed on this trip...

Here we are with our host, Mrs. Howard, Spanish teacher extraordinaire, and Anne Lemieux, extremely wonderful, imaginative, and energetic librarian.

Mrs. Howard and Mrs. Crawford made us feel like family.... and we did get to know their entire extended family-- *four* generations, from their dear mother to charming grandson.

As I said, we ate very well.... plenty of items from the bacon and butter and grits and biscuit food groups. Yummmm.

Here we are at Old McCaskill's Farm-- a welcoming bed and breakfast in Camden, SC, run by friendly owners Kathy and Lee.

Look at the fun basket that the students of the School of the Arts in Charleston put together for us... so thoughtful. Chock full of treats.  Monday with these students was wonderful, too, but such a whirlwind, I didn't get a chance to take many photos there.

Incredible trips like this are unexpected author perks that I never even dreamed of when I started writing my first book.  And another wondrous part of being an author: meeting readers like Katie, who came all the way from Decatur, Georgia to chat with me and Maria at our Books on Broad event in Camden, SC.  What a HUGE honor for us!  (Thank you, Katie-- our hearts are full!)

Thanks for coming by! (Y'all come back soon now... ;-)



Delights of New Mexico...

Hello dear readers!

All summer, I've been meaning to give you a glimpse of my outings... but then I just kept getting busy with more outings.  So here's the first installment-- a smattering of pictures from my road trip with Ian to Taos while my parents stayed back in Fort Collins with Lil Dude and his cousin.

Here we are on the Rio Grande, at Manby (aka Stagecoach) hot springs.  We drove on some bumpy, dusty roads past funky earth-ship houses, parked the car, then hiked to the bottom of the canyon, where we were greeted by several natural pools of steamy water.  Ahhh....

Can you make out the ancient rock art with my name on it?

Interestingly, this wall was supposedly built as a set for the movie Easy Rider.  Now I want to go back and see that movie again...

Guess who took this picture?  Reefka Schneider-- part of a husband-wife poet-illustrator team whose books deal with Mexico border issues!  We randomly encountered Reefka and Steven in the hot springs, and found we had lots in common.  Serendipitous, no?

Desert flowers are so stunning... and then there's that refreshing scent of sage brush...

The area was actually relatively lush-- rain has been generous in the Southwest this year.

Next, we went to Ojo Caliente, more developed hot springs near Taos, but apparently we were sooooo relaxed we forgot to take pictures.

The next day we went to the Ghost Ranch, where artist Georgia O'Keefe sought creative refuge for many years.

Selfie with Ian...

We went on a Ghost Ranch history tour and heard weird stories of betrayal and buried treasure and a murdered brother and large flying babies covered in red hair that haunted the ranch...

Did a wee bit of labyrinth-walking, but dang, it was HOT!

My friend Helena saw this photo and wrote "TOTORO!"  (A wonderful Miyazaki film, Lil Dude's favorite, in which the giant magical-forest-creature flies with an umbrella.)

Here is one of my favorite quotes, which I discovered in a tiny, musty, mustard-colored book when I was a teen.  It's from Henry David Thoreau's journal:

"See what a life the gods have given us, set round with pain and pleasure. It is too strange for sorrow; it is too strange for joy.  One while it looks as shallow, though as intricate, as a Cretan labyrinth, and again it is a pathless depth."

My whole life, I've felt this way-- that life alternates between feeling like a labyrinth and a pathless depth.

On that note, I will bid you farewell, dear readers, so that I can go pick up Lil Dude from school.  Oh, and I can finally tell you my exciting new book news within the next few days! Hooray!


P.S.  And I have to tell you about this amazing restaurant Ian and I ate at twice for dinner in Taos!  It's called Loveapple, and is a sweet old adobe chapel converted into a farm-to-table restaurant.  Every entree is insanely delicious and garnished with edible flowers!

Chocolate cake...

Such a treat to have a luxuriously long, kid-less dinner... twice in one weekend!

And here's a random photo of Ian and me at our friend Les Sunde's magical art-place in Bellvue....  (and here's the article I wrote about his wonder-filled place a couple years ago, if you're curious.)

Thanks for swinging by!


Vermont Retreat with EMLA!


Hi guys!

So, I am a very lucky lady to be part of Erin Murphy Literary Agency.  We do an annual authors' retreat, and oh, what a retreat it was this year in Brandon, Vermont!

Here I'm hanging outside Cafe Provence with old friends Cynthia Levinson, Liz Garton Scanlon, Carrie Gordon Watson, Tamara Ellis Smith, and Jeannie Mobley...

Making new friends-- Kevan Atteberry and Laurie Thompson... (Ruth Barshaw's an old friend!)

Dressing up for the Time Snap party... here I am with other steampunk ladies...


Okay, I'm apparently too lazy to label everyone by name, but you can go to EMLA's client list and play your own match-the-author-to-the-time-traveler-game (note that some come from other dimensions entirely.)

And the illustrious, time-traveling, mad-scientist agent herself... Erin Murphy!

 A taste of the party decor...

The band Erin Murphy's Dog jammin' while a rapt audience listens and laughs hysterically at the funny songs.


Love attacks on Liz Garton Scanlon by Katniss (Phil and Kevin's dog)


There were games and raffles... here's a Bobble Ami-Joan Paquette doll that Anna won!

 Bobble Erin Murphy doll prize!


Pretty stuff encountered on walks around Brandon...

A taste of the decor of my room at the Brandon Inn... made me smile!

Robert Frost Hike!


A little-known Robert Frost poem that charmed us all...


Thanks for swinging by! (For you curious readers, I *do* still have secret, happy news that I can't share with you yet... just know that the Secret is sitting in the middle and knowing while you dance around in a ring, supposing... ;-)