Sunday, December 16, 2012

SCBWI Holiday Party

On Tuesday, December 11, SCBWI authors, friends, families and librarians gathered at Alamosa Books. Here is a wonderful display of local author's books:

As promised, I sang Christmas Carol Spoofs based on young adult novels. Several local authors, as well as random people from the audience helped sing. There were also several wonderful kids who volunteered to play bells and other instruments. I'm the one in the jester's hat.

To find the last song in my three-part holiday series, head on over to Spellbinders.
It's called A VERY FROSTY KISS, MISS or Edward the Vampire.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Night Before Christmas

Take Me There is being featured over at A Book Lover's Review. There is an excerpt from the novel that occurs on Christmas Eve as well as an opportunity to win an autographed copy of the book. Head on over and check it out!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Twinkle Light Parade


This was the float Alamosa Books created for Albuquerque's Twinkle Light Parade. See the Christmas tree in the left hand corner? Now check out the close up below...
Sean and Elizabeth, the owners of Alamosa, decorated the tree with books. Forget Me Not is one of the featured titles, along with May B. by Caroline Starr  Rose and Circle of Secrets by Kimberley Griffiths Little.

The three of us, along with several other local authors, will be at Alamosa Books in Albuquerque, on December 11 from 6-8 p.m. In addition to mingling with librarians and conducting a multi-author book signing, we will be collecting books for the Albuquerque Public Schools - Title One Homeless Project. This project has already served over 400 students this year alone. A book is a gift a child may treasure forever. If you are not located in the Albuquerque area, consider donating books to your local homeless shelter, or better yet, partner with a local bookstore and start a book drive of your own.

As part of the evening's entertainment, we will be singing Christmas Carol Spoofs. I must give kudos here to the staff at Alamosa (Chris Warner, Megan Herceg, and Corey Bowen) for helping me brainstorm these wacky songs. They were the ones who suggested zombies and brought out a host of Jonathan Maberry books (see last weeks post for the Zombie song as well as for tips for creating your own holiday spoofs).

To see my second song spoof - "Hunger Games Holiday Traditions," visit the Spellbinders Blog.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Girl Bullies

When I asked the girls on my bowling team if they could give me some help on the article I was writing about Girl Bullies, at first they thought I said "Girl Bowlers." I guess that's what I get for trying to interview social workers at a bowling alley.

All joking aside, my three bowling comrades had a lot of insight about the phenomenon of Girl Bullies. To read the article I wrote for Simon and Schuster's Tips on Life and Love, visit the S and S site here.

Here is an excerpt from the article...

Girl relationships are complicated social structures often fraught with strict (but shifting) rules, mind games, and sometimes crueltythe perfect breeding ground for bullies.

I've been examining the phenomenon of girl bullies for my verse novel, Forget Me Not, where cyber-bullying drives a girl to attempt suicide.

I asked Laurie Bartlett, former teen counselor, along with Andy Cullen and Lynne Ortiz, school social workers, if they thought girl bullies were more common in the current generation. Lynne says there have always been girl bullies while Andy believes they are more prevalent today than ever.

Andy says its hard for schools (and adults in general) to always be aware when bullying is taking place because so much of it occurs over electronic media. Cyber-bullying is more accessible to kids because parents and teachers don't see it or hear it and therefore can't intervene.

A teen can be dumped by their best friend, find out a classmate has been involved in a fatal car crash, and receive three hate texts all via cell phone in the time it takes to drive home from the grocery store.

Without a word being spoken.

To read the rest of the article go to Simon and Schuster's Tips on Life and Love.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Have a Very Zombie Christmas

Author Caroline Starr Rose and I marched in the Twinkle Light Parade dressed as Candy Canes to promote our upcoming multi-author book signing at Alamosa Books. Come on over if you are in Albuquerque:

Alamosa Books
Tuesday, Dec. 11
6-8 p.m.
Local Authors, Food, Music

For entertainment we will be singing Christmas Carols based on young adult novels. If you'd like to see the spoof I wrote for Jonathan Maberry's Rot and Ruin Series, visit the Spellbinders Blog.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy ThanksHallowChrisGiving!

While I was cooking the turkey this beautiful Thanksgiving Day, my kids went out to walk the dog and found this pumpkin behind someone's car tire, probably poised for a messy prank. They brought it home and carved a Christmas tree on the front, combining all their favorite fall holidays and creating ThanksHallowChrisGiving! 

I'm glad they are so easily entertained. Or maybe the tryptophan is going to their brains.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!    

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cinquain Chains

The following is an excerpt from my SECRET LANGUAGE OF STORIES column over at the Spellbinders Blog.

Last month in my SECRET LANGUAGE OF STORIES column I discussed The Major Impact of Minor Characters and gave suggestions for several short forms that could be used to explore them such as the epigram and the epitaph. A fun activity making headstones was described.

Another short form I enjoy is the cinquain. Cinquains are also a great way to explore characters. They are short, just five lines long as the name illustrates, so it's important to capture the essence of a character with as few words as possible. It's also a good activity for students who struggle with written language.

Writing character cinquains can be part of a book report or a stand alone activity. They can be used to create a "cast of characters" and because so much white space is left on the page, other artwork may accompany the project.

Because it's a poem, ideas are more important than grammar and punctuation. Ironically though, students are still exploring grammar because the cinquain focuses on using parts of speech to create each line.

To read about the basic format of the cinquain and to find an example of a cinquain chain from my verse novel FORGET ME NOT, check out the rest of my article over at the Spellbinders Blog. .

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fantasy Sub-genres

This post is an excerpt from this week's Spellbinders feature article. Spellbinders is a newsletter and blog designed to help teachers and librarians build life-long readers. To read the entire article go to the Spellbinders blog.

This interview is a continuation of my discussion with bookseller Elizabeth Anker about fantasy sub-genres. She is the owner of Alamosa Books here in Albuquerque, NM. To read her thoughts on Science Fiction vs. Fantasy see the October Feature Article.

I asked Elizabeth about dystopian fantasy and said she believes dystopian looks at the future as an examination of political structures. In utopia everything is perfect. Dystopia turns everything on its head. Usually a totalitarian and authoritarian government is involved and the story is set in a future that is often post apocalyptic. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is the most popular example of dystopian fiction.

Elizabeth said she was personally tired of the genre because as it continues and people write more of it there is far less explanation of why the future described in the book is happening and how the events affect our world at large. These weaker stories tend to focus on a few teens struggling to survive and rely on super powers to explain things.

In discussing other sub genres of fantasy, Elizabeth pointed out that just about any magical creature you can think of has its own series: vampires, werewolves, and even angels.

Scott Westerfeld, author of the Leviathan series, explores zombies, vampires, and classic fantasy creatures by explaining their biology and origin in scientific terms. He tends to fall in her science fiction shelves. For an interesting discussion of the difference between fantasy and science fiction, see our October Feature Article.

To read the rest of this article go to my Spellbinders post on Fantasy Sub-genres.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I'm currently in St. Louis at the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Symposium. I'm meeting amazing librarians and conducting a panel with four fabulous New Mexico authors at 1:30 on Saturday! See the details below:


YALSA Author Panel

St. Louis, Missouri - November 3, 2012


A Matter of Facts and Fiction:

Giving Teens a Research Edge through YA Author Panels

Program Description: Five New Mexico authors will present a pilot program that brings teens and authors together to explore research strategies for writing fiction and nonfiction in a digital world.  The authors will discuss collaboration among libraries, bookstores, educators, and local authors to create dynamic interactive school events designed to excite teens about becoming research detectives, and inspire teachers to link YA fiction with curriculum goals and objectives.

To find out more about the authors on the panel and to explore the handouts for this presentation, go to the tab on this blog under YALSA Author Research Panel

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Book Launch Success

Thanks to everyone who gathered at Alamosa Books on Saturday night to make the Book Launch for FORGET ME NOT such a success. Since it was so close to Halloween we had a costume contest along with all the other festivities. Here I am above in the mask I bought in New Orleans two years ago. It's been hanging on my wall just waiting for an occasion to be worn.

We watched the book trailer and then I read poems from the book. Music was provided by Kyle Ruggles dressed as Schroeder. His girlfriend came as Lucy. Kyle was the one who created the music for the book trailer. In this photo he was joined by Josh to sing the theme song from "The Addams Family." Josh is the talented young man who produced the book trailer. He's dressed as Calvin above. His girlfriend came as Hobbes.

There was also a Raven Trivia Challenge. People searched the bookstore looking for the eight ravens hidden among the shelves. Each raven had a yellow card that displayed a bit of raven trivia. They answered the questions and then turned in their answers to be part of a drawing.

Sherri Erler, Debi Hennigan, and Shauna Mellady displayed their fabulous jewelry. Many of the pieces were created specifically for the book launch. Winners of the costume contest and Raven Trivia Challenge each got to pick a piece of jewelry to take home. Check out the photos on the GHOST TOUR page to see closeups of their handiwork. If you see anything you'd like to buy you can contact Sherri here. 

And finally, no book launch would be complete without a cake. Thanks again to everyone who came out for the event. For those of you who weren't able to make it, there are autographed copies of FORGET ME NOT at Alamosa Books.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Inhabitants of the Hallway

Find out who haunts the hallway where Ally is trapped between worlds in Forget Me Not in the 9th and final stop on the Ghost Tour. Join me and Kari Olsen over at her blog, A Good Addiction. Then come back over to the Ghost Tour and scroll to the bottom of the page to find the Rafflecopter.

You could win a free copy of Forget Me Not and this raven feather bookmark designed especially for the Ghost Tour.

The contest will go on until October 31!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Friday, October 5th, my husband and I met friends at the Aux Dog Theater. It's a small theater on Monte Vista just off of Central down by UNM. I'd never been to the Aux Dog before and was delighted to find a cozy lobby with live music both before the production and during intermission performed on bass flute by a man in a tuxedo and wig.

A friend of ours was in the play, The Haunting of Hill House. It was based on the novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson. She is probably best known for her short story, "The Lottery" first published in 1948 in The New Yorker magazine, which was subsequently inundated with mail in response to the story. I still remember reading "The Lottery" in my high school English class.

The actors did a wonderful job. My favorite character was the snarky housekeeper, Mrs. Dudley, who kept reminding everyone that she would be leaving "before dark" and that if they screamed, the house was so remote that no one would hear them.

"The Haunting of Hill House" is going on now through October 28. Get details at the theater's website.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Haunted by a Dead Girl

It's time for Stop #8 of the Ghost Tour with Lisa Reeves over at A Life Bound by Books. For the month of October she's asking authors to share their real life scary stories. My post is entitled "Haunted by a Dead Girl" where I reveal where I got my middle name (hint: Think Poe and "The Raven.") I also discuss the real life ravens that live at the school where I work that inspired the birds of Raven Valley High School in FORGET ME NOT.

So head on over to A Life Bound by Books

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Raven Mania

Join me today over at the Open Book Society with Heidi Holzinger for the Raven Trivia Challenge and Stop #7 of the FORGET ME NOT Ghost Tour.
Discover the names of the ravens that belonged to Odin, the Norse god of death and poetry and find out why they were referred to as Observation and Memory.

Then head over to Ghost Tour Central and scroll to the bottom of the page to the Rafflecopter to find out how you can win the Observation and Memory glass bead necklaces above that were designed especially for the tour.

The Raven Trivia Challenge is also going on LIVE over at Alamosa Books until the book launch on October 27 where there will be music, food, and more prizes.

If you live in Albuquerque, NM, head on over to the bookstore at 8810 Holly Ave. NE where you will find ravens lurking all around the bookstore.

Find raven trivia posted next to the birds and discover other ghostly books nearby written by Albuquerque authors like Ghosts of Old Town by Cody Polston above. He's president of the Southwest Ghost Hunters Association and he's talking about his experiences with ghosts on October 27 at Alamosa books from 4-5 right before my book launch from 6-7.

Several SCBWI friends are featured. Check out Haunted by Chris Eboch, The Secret of Laurel Oaks by Lois Ruby, and Circle of Secrets by Kimberley Griffiths Little.

And while you're there, check out the display for Forget Me Not. Wow! That's a lot of books. Don't forget the book launch on October 27.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Halloween Character Booktacular


Stop #6 of the FORGET ME NOT Ghost Tour is also part of the Halloween Character Booktacular put on by Damaris Cardinali and Trini Contreras. Visit Good Choice Reading to read the Poe-Pac Mash Up - a poem based on Poe's "Raven" featuring 2Pac as a substitute teacher and to find out how you can win this cool poster. Then come back to the Ghost Tour to join the Rafflecopter for a chance to win other cool prizes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lois Lowry at UNM in Albuquerque

It was a Friday afternoon. It was rush hour. It was raining. I had just gotten a hot crystal massage and had oil in my hair. I spent the day sitting through inservice presentations at school and hadn't been home since 7:00a.m. I was supposed to meet my husband at 7:00p.m. for dinner at a restaurant near the Aux Dog Theater on Central where we were joining friends to see "The Haunting of Hill House" and I was thinking it might be a good idea to go home first and take a hot shower.

But Lois Lowry was speaking about her new book, Son, at the UNM continuing education building at 6:00 p.m. at an event sponsored by Bookworks, one of our local independents. I'd been talking about The Giver with some of my students earlier that week who were reading it in class and had encouraged them to attend the event.

It was 5:15p.m. I stood in front of the mirror at the massage place, assessing the state of my hair and figured, what the heck, this is one of the reasons why I cut it all off (note: current blog photo is a little old. My current hair style requires no brushing, spraying, or blow drying). So I wet it down and off I went.

As soon as I arrived I found my friend, Rio Rancho city librarian Rebecca Donnelly, and sat next to her, apologizing profusely ahead of time that I was going to have to leave early to make my 7:00p.m. dinner date with my husband.

Lois Lowry is one of very few authors to win the Newbery twice for The Giver and Number the Stars. Son is the fourth and final book in The Giver Quartet and just received a fabulous NYTimes review.

She shared her inspirations for her books. Number the Stars was based upon the stories told to her by a friend who had grown up in Denmark.

The Giver was strongly influenced by the importance of memories. Lowry said she thought a lot about human memory as she saw her father's memory slipping away. She told the audience that memories are very personal. We all have our own memories. Even people experiencing the same event remember the details of that event differently. These ideas are what inspired her to create a Community that could manipulate memory. Building upon that concept, she then created the main character, Jonas. Lowry likes characters ages 12-13 because they are still children but entering adulthood and trying to figure out their identity.

Son, the fourth book in The Giver Quartet, continues the story of Gabe, the child Jonas saves at the end of The Giver. Here is the description from amazon:

They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

I get chills just reading the description.

And now I'm off to rearrange the stack of books on my bedside table. So many fabulous books came out this October, and Son is right on top!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Amazing Authors and Mental Illness Awareness Week

Author Robison Wells was at Alamosa Books last week. I don't usually attend author signings on Tuesdays because it's my late day (after working at my regular high school I drive across town to see kids at a Charter School). But it was right before our monthly SCBWI meeting so I decided to skip dinner and go to the bookstore.

I'm so glad I did.
Not only did Robison Wells have a fascinating story to tell, I also discovered that he has the same agent that I do - the amazing Sara Crowe. She has a blog featuring posts from her authors. Check it out at the Crowe's Nest.

Robison said he didn't plan on being a writer. His older brother is a writer (Dan Wells is also represented by Sara Crowe). Robison told him he had a great idea for a story and that Dan should write it. Dan told him to write it himself. He also told Robison a piece of advice that has stuck with his younger brother for years. "The difference between writers and everyone else is that writers actually write." I have found this to be very true. A lot of people want the experience of "being" a writer but very few are willing to put forth the effort.

Fortunately for all of us, Robison was willing to make the effort or else the world wouldn't have Variant and the sequel, Feedback. Variant is the story of a young man, Benson Fisher, who receives a scholarship to Maxfield Academy, only to discover, soon after his arrival, that he has become a prisoner of the school.

The most interesting part of Robison's talk was his discussion of what happened between writing the two books. He began to suffer severe anxiety attacks and became unable to leave his house. His work suffered and his family became very worried. I'm not going to go into details here because it is Robison's story to tell and he has been brave enough to share his experiences on his blog.

One of the reason's I connected so strongly with his story is because I suffered almost daily panic attacks from the ages of 13-22. I never knew why they started or why they stopped, though I have some theories, and I never told anyone about them until many years later. I'm always impressed by people who are not only brave enough to seek help but who are also willing to share their experiences with others who might benefit from their perspective.

Interestingly, Ethan Roskos, another Crowe's Nester and author of Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets, wrote a post this past Thursday for the Crowe's Nest about his experiences with depression and social anxiety disorder. The article was written in honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct 7-13 2012).

He discussed how helpful stories can be in helping people know they are not alone. Here is my favorite quote from his article.

"It’s not about seeing a character that’s just like me -- instead, it’s seeing a character that suffers like me. The difference is key and profound. If a character had to be just like me to inspire me to talk about my depression, I’d read for a thousand years and never speak. In truth, we only need to see familiar suffering, familiar worry, familiar fears, familiar manias in order to build strength. Or to just find the words." To read the rest of his article go to the Crowe's Nest.

I feel very honored to be a fellow Nester with such brave men!

Friday, October 12, 2012


Check out Stop #5 on the FORGET ME NOT GHOST TOUR. Join me today over at Lisa Schroeder's Blog for another poem excerpt from my paranormal verse novel and an interview with Ernest Hemingway. Ally, the main character, writes letters to Ernest because he's the only
one she can confide in.

Lisa Schroeder is a fabulous verse novelist. I had the honor of speaking with her on a verse novel panel at the International Reading Association last spring in Chicago along with April Halprin Wayland and Caroline Starr Rose. While you're enjoying the interview with Ernest, check out Lisa's site and her newest novel in verse - THE DAY BEFORE.  Lisa Schroeder's Blog.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Lucky me! I got to spend the day with four delightful authors at two high schools. From right to left: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson (recent winner of the Horn Book Award for No Crystal Stair, Kersten Hamilton (author of the Tyger, Tyger series), Besty James (author/illustrator and mastermind behind The Seeker Chronicles), Carolyn Meyer, (author of the Young Royals Series/expert on dysfunctional royal families), and me, Carolee Dean.

We held an author panel at Rio Rancho High School in the morning and Cleveland High School in the afternoon. The topic was "How Authors and Students Conduct Research" and we discussed everything from using Facebook to "research" prospective prom dates to learning how to build a computer by watching YouTube. There was also mention of the difference between .com, .org, and .edu sights as well as how to effectively use Wikipedia as a starting place for more in depth research. We all shared stories about interesting people we have interviewed and places we have visited.

The five of us are in the process of preparing for our YALSA panel in St. Louis in three weeks. If you are going to be attending YALSA, please stop by our session, or if you know any librarians making the trek to St. Louis, tell them to stop by and say hello.

Here is the information:

Saturday, November 3, 2012 - 1:30 - YALSA Symposium - St. Louis 
A Matter of Facts and Fiction: Giving Teens a Research Edge through YA Author Panels
Five New Mexico authors will present a pilot program that brings teens and authors together to explore research strategies for writing fiction and nonfiction in a digital world.  The authors will discuss collaborations among libraries, bookstores, educators, and local authors to create dynamic interactive school events designed to excite teens about becoming research detectives, and inspire teachers to link YA fiction with curriculum goals and objectives. Presenters:Carolee Dean, Kersten Hamilton, Betsy James, Carolyn Meyer, and Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
See You There!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Stop #4 of the Ghost Tour

Join me today over at Elana Johnson's Blog for Stop #4 of the Ghost Tour where Elana Johnson interviews one of the main character's from Forget Me Not - Elijah McCall. Find out why he spent a month speaking in iambic pentameter. While you are there, check out Elana's books. She is the young adult author of Possession, Regret, Surrender, Abandon, and Resist.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Major Impact of Minor Characters

Some of the most memorable characters in literature and film are the minor characters. Minor characters serve many roles. They often provide comic relief, give us a contrast to the hero, provide a slightly different point of view, demonstrate a rivalry, share insights into different cultures, and show us the motivations of antagonists. They might be a friend, sidekick, evil minion of the villain, or a "threshold guardian" momentarily preventing the hero from leaving the Old World to enter the New World. They often act as mentors, sometimes just for a scene or two, passing along vital information or giving aid to the other characters in the story...

Read the rest of the article at Spellbinders to find out why so many minor characters die at the midpoint or the climax of the story. There is also a ghostly writing activity for the month of October.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Stop #3 of the FORGET ME NOT Ghost Tour

Join me today over at Brenda Drake's Blog to learn about the dark history of Raven Valley High School. Then stop over at Ghost Tour Central to find out what you missed and what's coming next on the tour. There is a rafflecopter contest at the bottom of the page and lots of free giveaways.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Autumn in the Land of Enchantment: The International Balloon Fiesta

It's International Balloon Fiesta time in Albuquerque. The sky explodes with color. Motorists stop at random places along the road to watch hot air balloons descend, chase crews can be seen racing all over town, the population expands by 90,000 tourists and over 500 hot air balloons, and a general aura of magic takes over the city. 

Locals like me usually avoid Balloon Fiesta Park, the take-off field built especially for this once a year event, unless we have out of town visitors we want to impress.

Everyone has to try it at least once. It's hard to describe the experience of watching hundreds of balloons inflating all around you as they slowly lift toward the sky. The traffic is a nightmare and you must get out there at 5:00 a.m. to find a decent parking place, but there's nothing like it.

There's plenty of action going on around town too, though. Locals and tourists alike gather at viewing hot spots. Depending on the direction of the wind, you might wake up to find balloons flying right over your house, and if they get low enough, you can hear the swoosh of the butane coming up from the basket as it inflates the balloon.

You never know where a balloon might land. This one came down in a vacant lot in the Trader Joe's near our house and further down the street another one landed at the middle School. A few years ago a balloon landed on the field right in the middle of my daughter's marching band practice. Sometimes they end up in parking lots, or even in the middle of the river, which is less hazardous than it sounds thanks to the drought. The photo below shows balloons landing on the Sandia Indian Reservation just north of town, and just a little further beyond that, the parking lot of the Sandia Casino is filled with people watching the event from the comfort of RVs, pickup trucks, and car hoods.

Balloons are finicky. They require certain weather conditions to be able to take off. Yesterday thousands of tourists left the field in disappointment because the wind prevented the balloons from going up at all. It wasn't a total disappointment. There is a fair-like atmosphere at Balloon Fiesta Park and the chance that the event you came thousands of miles to view may not happen at all, actually adds to the excitement when all goes well. Cheers go up from the crowd as balloons take off and there is a camaraderie of those who are brave enough to face the traffic and the chilly autumn morning.

The balloons remind me that things like rivers and air currents and life's events all flow in uncertain and fascinating ways. They make us all stop, sometimes in the middle of traffic, to watch in wonder and discover how enchanting it can be to embrace the unpredictable.