Remember how the library used to look? I thought I’d make the feature image the original photo I took. It so does not look like this now. The sports trophies from 30 years ago are going some place else. There are new shelves salvaged from a closed school in the county. In one month, students have checked out over 300 books (keep in mind there are only 175 students).  Parents are checking out books. On Friday nights families are checking out DVDs (which given our cold weather is a GREAT thing). I introduced a kid to Tom Waits because of one of you and the opera AIDA because of someone else. YOU GUYS ROCK.

In a world where facts seem not to matter, it’s refreshing to hear kids talking smack that they don’t know a thing about and just going over and putting a book in front of them.  Yesterday , for example a junior high student was coming up with generalizations about African Americans in Los Angeles.  I was able to pull books out to show him some reading suggestions that might make him think differently. That’s what I was after and I thank you.

Here’s some photos from open house.


Whew! It finally happened. Though we’ve been open to the kids since Sept. 6th we finally got around to having a celebration with our community volunteers. Thanks again to all of you who made it happened. We just finished another giant batch of thank yous so hopefully those will go out this week.

It’s not easy writing a book, doing that mom thing, working half-time at a newspaper , and freelancing AND oh yeah volunteering for the Library Project but it is so worth it.

We still have a bureaucratic dark lord threatening to not let kids have access to books (thankfully she lives 30 minutes away and makes Dolores Umbridge sound warm and fuzzy), but she doesn’t have any jurisdiction for one of the two schools so we are okay –yay!

It’s funny to watch bureaucracy try to keep ownership but because of you and national coverage they haven’t been able to do so.

But the fun stuff.

We had a party! We set up our first adult book clubs for the community, and we celebrated our volunteers.


My volunteers! (That’s me in the red boots).

On top of that the sweet superintendent from the school district showed up with sandwiches and I steamed up a plate of tamales. It was fun.



We are by no means done. But we have come so far! And that’s all because of you and what you did by sending us books, carpets, bean bag chairs, and kindles. THANK YOU! We also thank Plumas Charter School and Indian Valley Academy for being so supportive through out and all our volunteers from IVA and our community members.

Up next we’re hoping to start taking authors up on their suggestion to have them come speak.  Also I will be the poet doing Poetry Out Loud with the schools –so shout out to you all for giving us a top notch poetry section.

We will be starting our film series soon once a week with films for the kids to watch after school while awaiting rides from parents.

Words really cannot express. Thank you.



Creature from the Black Lagoon


When I first decided to go and do a second photo shoot ever with Marilee Caruso I wasn’t sure whether or not I was to be the Creature or the sexy/silly/scared kitschy model on the banks of the lagoon at night. Like most plus sized women my confidence fluctuates and there’s always a bit of angst.

I live in a mountain town where women have mastered the fine art of not giving a shit what they look like. That’s liberating of course but it’s also boring. An evening out to dinner and everyone’s wearing their either thriftstore or patagonia finest with nothing in between.

I miss the homeland at times–no matter how shallow and fake people make fun of Los Angeles for being. I miss it sometimes. Why is it….where is it written that you can’t wear make up and be a feminist at the same time?

In town I often stick out. I DO dress more than most folk. Some people look at me strangely. I try to explain. I was raised by plain clothes lesbians–one used to be a nun for godsakes–and I got to couple that with a military upbringing and Catholic school. It’s a formula. Forced severity in clothing choices means……….

well  I think often it means this…..

I’m working on a book about plus sized alternative modeling (so specific) and I’m a method writer……so um here it is….

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Vagabond, (to concentrate on pain)

Tales of a Sierra Madre

22311_10153239968474407_2041423899278877137_nI hadn’t planned on my sister.

The plan had been grandma

in the hospital

fallen again

tipsy at that intersection

of prescription and habit

I drove down

in case it was the end

she’s 96. It’s always in case of the end.

I drove down to give a few lectures

the first book ever had come out

I could say author instead of writer

I could say alive instead of dead.

I scheduled a new tattoo. A new goddess.

A friend designed. Celebrate the book.

Celebrate not giving up.

The only day I could schedule it

was the same day as leaving.

My sister was already in the car

Caged and wild and waiting to break.

She’d have time to grab food and take a walk.

She lit a joint on the street in front of a woman pushing a stroller.

I gave her money for food.

I went inside.


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Carmel Dreaming on such an Autumn Day

So way back in May I wrote about my trip to Carmel Valley—which was amazing for so many reasons. Good food. Good scenery. Much needed relaxation….but the day before that trip to Carmel Valley I was in Carmel-by-the-Sea –which immediately makes me feel like I was in some sort of fairy tale because  BY THE SEA.

The first blank book I ever bought was at a stationary and paper shop here.  I hadn’t been back to the area since my mom moved away from Salinas back in 2002–so a good long time. Now that it’s windy here in the mountains and leaves are dropping and I’m thinking uh-oh do I have enough wood for winter? I’m thinking back to the last cool fun trip I had before I had the crazy idea to build a library.  Because LIBRARY BUILDING TAKES A LOT OF TIME. Here you can read the article that came out yesterday in Yes! Magazine about it.

I used to want to live in Carmel-by-the-Sea when I was a teen. Even though I’m neither rich nor famous nor the owner of a Saab. So when I got to go on a trip there in May I was so happy and promptly realized that I barely knew it anymore! It had been so long. Too long.

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I stayed at Hofsas House  which was  comfy and cozy and with the nicest staff ever.  It felt like being in a little (but really big) gingerbread house. Must be the pink. My friends and I got to enjoy a great wine and cheese pairing with local wines and cheese supplied  by The Cheese Shop. Without every leaving the hotel we were in complete heaven–because honestly if someone sets out wine and cheese in front of you in a comfortable suite of a room with plenty of girlfriends to dish with–do you even want to leave your room?


I was so blissed out I thought I could shut the door and write the great American novel in there. Only first I needed like five naps.

But eventually it was time to go on a wine tasting. Because more wine. Carmel has this Wine Walk by-the-sea  which is a self-guided tour to local tasting rooms all in a few blocks of each other where you can sample local wines by purchasing a ‘passport.’ There’s 14 wineries in total that participate and fortunately you can stretch the passport out over several days and stagger–I mean walk–back and forth to your hotel at your leisure. I had no idea that many wineries existed in Carmel! Pleasant surprise for the wine drinker.


I took off after drinking a gallon of water off to the beach for awhile. As a mountain person who was born on the coast, I can’t be that close to the water and not stick my feet in the sand. Monterrey County has such a beautiful coast line. You can really see conservation and preservation efforts at work. No one really swims here though except tourists unaware of the dangerous undertow. When my mother lived out here it seemed that they lost a tourist every year. Still it’s good to get your feet wet.

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After that we headed back to Hofsas House and rested up for dinner. I got to walk —have I even mentioned yet how wonderful it is to just park your car once and walk all over the place?!  Anyhow–I got to go to The Grill and little did I know it is my best pal’s favorite restaurants. I wished she was there with me but even though she wasn’t my companion and I had a lovely dinner. I totally need to comeback and take the husband.


I’m already planning a return trip. This time WITH the husband. Although Carmel totally can be a family trip (my mind is scheming to leave kids with cousin in Monterrey. Hmmm…). I think the only thing that I was luke warm on was the art work. Art is of course, subjective. I’m just never one for things that match the couch or are just cute. I want art that changes the universe. I’m a hard woman to please, I suppose. But you know I’m with Orson Welles on that one.

So you know …we woke up to snow. Have to build fires now. Eat soup. Prepare for winter in the mountains. All this to say…Carmel by the sea dreaming on such an almost winter’s day.

Vagabond ….a new zine

Tales of a Sierra Madre


I was driving down Whittier Blvd last month in Whittier and passed the Vagabond Inn. It’s nothing to write home about. Just a motel on a Blvd that used to be more important than it is. A street that was once a destination for cruising that’s now just any other street anywhere.

But I shudder when I pass the Vagabond these days.

It was the site of an ill-fated decision. One that I have come to regret even though I know that given the chance to do things differently I’d have to make the same choice twice.

That’s how choices are sometimes.

VAGABOND, part 1:

Vagabond, my sister.

She was in a second floor non smoking room smoking non stop.

There was a cloud of it when I opened the door.

Like stop drop and roll here comes fire thick.

She lunged forward to hug me and I felt myself…

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Just. One. Book. Live with Students!


And of course we aren’t quite done with what we set out to do–bureaucracy and the craziness of school starting impeded some progress. Not to mention having to butt heads with less than enthusiastic maintenance dudes and non-visionaries. BUT THIS IS NOT A GRIPE! This is a celebration.

I quietly shelve and organize. We have two students doing a library elective who are doing the same.  I hear amazing things in the library when I go there now. And sad things when you stop to think.

Like a student who said, “Are we allowed to touch them this year?”

and the one who said, “but, I don’t have any money. What’s the cheapest one you have?”

and the one who said, “Wow. It’s the same old room but now it looks amazing.”

That’s what I’m talking about.

img_8779So here’s our front desk at the moment…no designated computer yet but we’re being old school until we can afford what we need.

img_8780Here’s something that’s not happened very often in our school district. A display coinciding with Hispanic Heritage month…..

img_8782We’re waiting on a thorough cleaning here before we put down the nice rug we were given and the bean bag chairs back. This is the junior high lounge.You folks who sent manga and comics—it’s been THE BIGGEST HIT.

I promise photos of students. Each time I go to snap a pic I get a don’t take my photo! Ah…teens.

IMG_7448Take a moment to look at what it looked like before you all decided to help us. Yeah. You guys did an amazing thing. I for one will never forget the generosity of this summer. Nor will these students. I’ve started doing a thing where if I hear students talking in the library I place a book with an interesting premise in front of them and see how long it takes before the book gets picked up. Seconds. It takes seconds.

Since Sept 6 when we opened we’ve checked out about 65 books, dvds, and cds  to students and faculty.  Considering the two schools have only 200 students combined that’s some great reach.


Oh and on a side note. Whoever sent the soundtrack to Hamilton? I LOVE YOU. That’s the first thing that I checked out.


Feeling No Burn: San Francisco

Last week was Burning Man in the Nevada high desert. And though I live in the mountains near by I hate camping out. On top of that I have a hard time doing anything where I have to force myself to be festive. And given that I wear any number of strange retro vintage outfits, I don’t have a problem ‘being me’ in public. So, every year I don’t put out money for a ticket to go play in the desert. Instead I go back to San Francisco–where I lived in my late 20s early 30s. And relish in a couple of days in something that’s nearly completely gone. The old San Francisco.

Of course you can’t go home again, I KNOW. But you can visit. I’m a creature of habit in The City by the Bay. I have no need to try new restaurants and new fangled things. I just want the old. The steady. The constant. That San Francisco that is a whisper now. The one that was almost affordable. The one that rolled in with the fog and made me feel like I had done the right thing to leave Los Angeles for the North–before I knew what living in Northern California really was.

Our story begins here:

14202625_10154509633784407_8753268914024601102_nBecause we live in Plumas County there isn’t an In n Out for miles around. So thank you, Yuba City for being our road trip food. In n Out is the source for my grilled cheese animal style sandwiches. My beast of a husband still orders 4×4’s protein style as if he’s a teenage athlete with energy to burn.

Burn. Burning Man. There’s just something magical about driving into The City on a Friday night without having to constantly use ones break, to go faster than 20 miles an hour on the 80 West to the Bay Bridge. Thank you, Burning Man enthusiasts for leaving town and making The City manageable.

We get in late. We’re old. We don’t go out on Friday night. We just sit up all night talking over white wine. The husband and I stayed with a good friend of mine who lives in an apartment building that one would think Doris Day might live in the 60s.

In the morning we take off for North Beach on foot.

img_8825There’s no way to walk down Macondray Lane to North Beach without thinking of Tales of the City and Amistead Maupin–and a San Francisco which once welcomed idiosyncratic behaviors a little more.

img_8826 It’s still a magical walk that all at once feels like SF and doesn’t at the same time.

14233196_10154511352954696_1921069193934735943_n(photo by Julian Wells)

People often want to give me recommendations on where to go for coffee. A new place. A hip place. I appreciate that but my love affair with San Francisco goes way back to before I lived there. I was a college student in Orange County in the 90s. A land of pink cotton sweaters and identical housing. I went on a trip to SF with other students for a march in favor of reproductive rights. We got 10 of us in a Travel Lodge. We went to North Beach where I saw people dressed in berets without irony. Dark colors. Italian and other languages rushing passed me.

I happened on Caffe Greco — a cash only cafe with to die for paninis of fresh mozzarella and tomato sandwiches. Not to mention the cookies and coffees. The two guys running it are always slightly but not obnoxiously flirty and no one makes the fat girl feel bad for ordering AND eating dessert first thing in the morning.

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I of course wear the WRONG shoes for walking. Because vanity. So I don’t even Uber. I taxi back up to Russian Hill to meet with a client while my husband goes exploring record stores and antique stores. I meet with a client on the 12th floor of a high rise –and then my girl friend and I Uber Eat in while we watch the sailboats out her window. To have a view of both bridges–that’s something else indeed.

The husband comes back all smiles and purchases –a few old records that he totally did not need but had to have on the cheap. We get ready for the night and come up with like 10 plans knowing full well that if we make it to 3 of them we’ll feel accomplished.

First we head to Mission Comics and Art on Mission Street. There’s an event there that’s a pre party and talk for the San Francisco Zine Fest we’re planning to go to the next day. Mission Comics gave the Library Project a few really cool boxes of books! I wanted to say thank you in person.  THANK YOU MISSION COMICS. I got to shake the owners hand. It was standing room only. We got a comic for the son at home with grandma.

We actually first went to Community Thrift on Valencia because like all San Franciscans , if you get a killer parking space you just kinda have to go with it. We were right there! 4 new vintage skirts in my collection and for cheap. My husband bought books. BOOKS. OMG. Cannot get away from books.

Next we headed to Tonga Room! Because I havent’ been since my 30th birthday and the husband had never been. Mai Tais and Singapore Slings (which I ordered in my best Tom Waits growl voice but it went unappreciated). I remember coming here and the room was almost empty. Now it’s hip again. Even with Burning Man happening. GRRR… But it was fun. Even the house band floating on the pool was cool. I wish however that Disneyland’s Tiki Room theme song wouldn’t play in my head so much.

14238303_10154514293404407_3912201755033846331_nBut I did get to wear my new pin up girly black dress so that was fun. It’s kinda a chi chi dress no doubt about that.

And the husband got all artsy in front of Grace Cathedral where we parked.  (Good free parking).


And we totally meant to go dancing after the drinks but forgot to eat. But we found good eats on Union street which had plenty of empty parking spaces (Burning Man). So many in fact that I was looking to see what was wrong with the spaces. We did Japanese.

Tamashi Sushi Bar was yummy. It was my one venture into something entirely new —I think I ate at the ghost of the sushi place that was there before. We didn’t make the dance club as we’re middle aged but we were there in spirit! In the mountains we can kinda get sushi but it seems way too far from the ocean to eat sushi and I get nervous. This was solidly good sushi.

I gave the doorman the key to my car and reflected upon the idea that that’s definitely a mark of…..many things. .. I love the doormen at my friend’s apartment.

In the morning we got ready to head out. I know. Short trip. But first a trip to the old neighborhood. I used to live in the Inner Richmond on 6th Avenue and California.

img_8836 Again. Easy parking. Bless you, Burning Man enthusiasts!  I took the husband to my favorite brunch spot in my old neighborhood. Because crab cakes benedict is just something that should always happen on a Sunday morning. And of course, a Bloody Mary.



img_8837This is the Clement Street Bar and Grill. So happy it is still alive and running.

It all made me realize that I’ve spent far too much time in a library this summer. So happy to relax –if even for 48 hours. Not thinking of schools, not thinking of books, not thinking of bureaucracy. Just me and the man. Hanging out. Over crab cakes and bloody marys.

That’s also the trick to San Francisco. There are many San Franciscos. I chose the old school one–far away from downtown or the wharf. Far away from the hipness that’s taken down so much of The City. I hope I’m back for more before the end of the year. I need more time away.  Is there another festival half the city could go to so I get great parking and service again?

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Mary of the Chance Encounters out now on Audio CD

It’s out now! Download it or get an old fashioned hard copy!

Tales of a Sierra Madre

I’m happy to announce my CD release of Mary of the Chance Encounters which features me reading eight short stories on an hour length CD. The CD was produced by Wretched Productions and written by me.

Here’s the synopsis:

Mary of the Chance Encounters is a collection of stories set in southeastern Los Angeles, chronicling the Mexican-American and Anglo population stucco’d there between family, ghosts, strip malls and too wide boulevards. But their hopes and desires run magical, and sometimes weirdly perverse and erotic. The encounters break open the flat-lining air of consumer life.

You could classify this as paranormal literary. Someone called it dark fiction. It has ghosts. Aztec goddesses. People behaving badly. A talking praying mantis. 

It’s available through audiobooks here: Or in hard copy through my etsy site: Mary of the Chance Encounters on CD. Thanks for listening!

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Mary of the Good Week

There are those weeks that just feel like they might do you in and then nice stuff happens and you feel like a jerk for not having any faith in the universe. Which is to say—I need to not WATCH ANY NEWS RELATED TO THE ELECTION. omg. Also you know–REJECTIONS at the same time.

Ladies and Gentlemen I am behind. Library wise? Going as fast as humanly possible. Still hoping to open on September 6.  There’s some bureaucratic snags. The curriculum director finally came down to look at the site (honestly we are a brisk 22 minutes from Capital City–it wasn’t that hard) and we hope she went away knowing that the books aren’t hers that they are indeed the communities and the kids.

Found out on Thursday that the corporation Dollar General bought up three pieces of property in downtown Greenville and plans to demolish them and build a box store to sell us merchandise from China–never once looking into whether an area that has less than 1000 people could possibly sustain that kind of store–especially when a good half of us plan to never step in there. One of the buildings going is kinda meh ugly. The other one that will be torn down has a brand new kitchen and was a popular restaurant till the chef got sick and died. We don’t need this store. They’ll make a giant parking lot , a box store, and shut down in a year when they realize they aren’t making any money. We’ll be left with an eyesore and they will get a tax right off.

But breathing because there are good things.

We had a great moment last week when a kid who was on track to drop out and have no use for the world walked into the library almost on a dare and realized that every graphic novel and Japanese manga he ever wanted to read was in there. (He was too cool for school and then left like a kid coming out of a candy store). We let him borrow the Death Note series.

The Roundhouse Council director and I talked about checking out a hundred books to let her rotate at the afterschool program the American Indian Education Center runs. My son goes to that program.  And then she told me they were headed to North Dakota which just made me beam proud and happy.

On the way home from Los Angeles on Wednesday, I picked up the YA novel I started last year and edited the first 50 pages. So as long as I stay away from school bureaucracy and the election I’m okay.

And then this happened:

Mary of the Chance Encounters is OUT! My audiobook! Yay. I will have hard copies delivered to the house sometime soon but at the moment one can download and listen there. Yay!ross dead photoMy family hates this photo for the book. That’s me face down in the ashes around Whittier Narrows after a fire. Photograph by


So … I hear the audiobook CD of Mary of the Chance Encounters will be out this coming week! YAY! I’m sure all of you authors out there can relate to  the frustration/joy of a new release–I become like a kid before Christmas. It’s coming! But WHEN?!



Just. One. Book. Class Set Needed

So it’s probably a good time for an update. I’m in Southern California visiting my 95 year old grandmother, going to appointments with her etc., but my mind is never far from our project.

Our Amazon Wish List is now empty. Wow. You all just completely blew my mind this summer. I have volunteers sorting on site and trying to get things ready for school to start next week.

Did I tell you because of you I was able to make class sets for the two schools plus others in the area?

I made two class sets of Book Thief.

I made three class sets of I am Malala.

I made two class sets of Persepolis and one of Maus 1 & 2.

I made two class sets of Diary of a Part-Time Indian

And about 10 different sets of classics as well.

We have a teacher who wants to do March by John Lewis. We only received a couple of copies of that.

I told him I would throw it out here and see if anyone would be able to help build 30 class sets of the wonderful series.

Here’s our list if you are still interested in helping us.

Also your comments helped, btw. I think bureaucracies have no idea how inhuman they sound until faced with criticism from outside their sphere of power. Keep up the good work.

Also. I had a great conversation with my cousin who lives in La Habra, CA. Her daughter said she was a little jealous because last year her school put books from the library in dumpsters in favor of the One-to-One program ipads with ebooks. That’s fine she said, but when 1/2 of the kids don’t have the Internet at home , it’s hardly fair for the schools to be assigning internet based homework and readings. Our school district Plumas Unified, also is aiming to do that on each campus despite the fact that the Internet goes down without warning even for the households that have it several times a day –at least once a day. And despite the fact that not everyone has it here either.

Sometimes I wonder if school administrators ever met a poor child? Or a family? And why create an uneven playing field and why take books out of the hands of children?

Okay. Grandma and I are on to appointment number 2 today. Then tonight I get to interview someone really fascinating for my book. Tomorrow I will be back on a train headed north. Talk to you soon.

Also. If you’re in LA soon? Do take in the Guillermo del Toro exhibit at LACMA. Definitely worth it.