A different sort of camp experience

So happy to see this article out!

I love it when I get to cover sweet things.


Just. One. Book.

IMG_8504 Many of you have written in the dog days of summer to ask me if I’ve received your book yet. I can’t believe my mind works this way, but some I know off the bat and others I have to look up. Still others have not been processed. This is an unprocessed table’s worth (and floor. and under floor).

So again! Thank you! Thank you! We love what you’ve done for us! But we’re kind of human and there are only so many of us so we aren’t that fast at processing everything yet.  Stay tuned!


Wayward Writer Retreat

I am bone tired and weary. I have biceps I haven’t had since my kids were toddlers. I am happy to say we have only 20 more boxes to open at the library–and hopefully none will come tomorrow. We are few people and we need to catch up. The generosity is overwhelming.  Thank you. Thank you cards have begun and imagine they will take the better part of the fall semester to complete. I hope a thank you here is also enough as some boxes came in damaged in parts and addresses were not always readable. Please be patient. I’ve had a few emails from people thinking perhaps that we have 200 people and a sophisticated technology set up to respond. Alas we have a couple dozen people who donate time when they can. And we have one very exhausted me who has some reinforcements coming this week thank goodness.

I also have something wonderful to look forward to. The 5th Annual Wayward Writers Retreat begins on July 29th to July 31st. Writers I know and their children hang out and share food and writing prompts and talk writing for three days. There’s no cost except to get here and share what you can. One just has to be part of the community (pitch in with food, camp stuff, booze–etc). All of us at one point or another took online classes at at Ariel Gore’s Literary Kitchen.

Ours is a different sort of retreat….so many workshops and retreats for writers are really based on the premise that writers remain childless with disposable income. There are very few conferences with options for childcare  ( I can’t think of any actually). We bring our kids. And they hang out –these children of writers (honestly, my daughter has quipped before that it’s pretty much a support group for children of writers).


This was taken at the 4th Annual Wayward Writers Retreat.

This year the lovely and wonderful Michelle Gonzales will be doing a reading and book signing at Musicland in downtown Greenville on Friday, July 30th at 6 pm. Her book The Spitboy Rule came out this Spring on PM PRESS. Musicland is located in downtown Greenville on Main Street.

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Then on Saturday, July 30th, Lasara Firefox Allen will be doing a book signing and reading at Epilog Books in Quincy, CA.


Fresh off the presses! Lasara Firefox Allen’s Jailbreaking the Goddess.

Then on Saturday night at 7 p.m. all the writers from the retreat get together for a public reading at the Main Street Lounge in downtown Quincy. It’s open to the public and free and always a treat! And afterwards a swanky mid-century loving band called The Glides all the way from Phoenix is playing in the Sports bar downstairs.13502068_1035695323185494_8744355131614990132_nIMG_7974 Doesn’t this just look divine?



And of course when we aren’t reading and writing we’ll be immersed in all things beautiful Plumas County. I’m hoping for a trip to Indian Falls and one to the hot springs in Twain if it isn’t too hot. And of course there’s promise of a ride on a private carousel.


We may be a tiny town in the mountains without many amenities–but we do know how to put on a decent little retreat for some amazing writers who really need more people reading them. If you’re in town, come to the reading on July 30th. It will be quite a treat.




Just. One. Book. One Month In.

Just. One. Book. is still here! Yes. We are still here! OMG are we still here. But I didn’t post anything this week because I kind of needed a bit of a break–to start shelving books in earnest. And then my knee gave out (long boring story of life-long knee issue) so then I’ve been sitting and directing and sending out thank yous–as many as I can muster. But I haven’t been blogging–I have been working on my book though so yay me!

Much has happened. The boxes keep coming but thankfully less than before. We can almost catch our breath. We have promises of shelving coming in. We de-commissioned much of what was left of the old library and are having a book sale of them.

We have sections now! The kids can actually visualize what’s in my head.IMG_8098Sio this happened last Friday. My friend and teacher over at Quincy Junior High School came and got a class set of books + some other materials we had duplicates of. Adrienne is fighting the good fight to get more diverse readings selections in over at QJHS.

Class sets. Because of you. Indian Valley Academy’s junior high are doing I am Malala in the fall as a class. They’re deciding a few others but they are so thankful that you helped with that! I think another class is doing The Book Thief.  My kids and their friends had fun searching for duplicates and making up sets of books for the teachers to come in and see.

We’ve also received a grant from the local rotary to order carousel computer desks for the computer area so that they feel more like individual work spaces.

Right now the library kind of looks like semi-ordered chaos. Thankfully our staff of volunteers has many an admitted organizational freak (self-included). I will post photos as soon as it looks like something other than chaos.

If you haven’t sent a book, please don’t! But alas where should you send them?

In honor of us? Please send them to rural America. Every state has their rural America. It’s fully of half empty towns whose kids are languishing.

I went to the neighboring town of Quincy last week and found out that 19 students in the 4 high schools run by Plumas Unified School district are pregnant as we speak. Given that our graduating classes combined of the four traditional public schools are only about 100 students that’s  A LOT.

I’m hoping too that the diverse books you sent will help our students grasp both their own place in the world and instill a sense of empathy in what they don’t know and what they don’t see.

You have helped with all this wonder. Thank you again, you’re amazing.






Just. One. Book. Thoughts and thanks.

IMG_8095 This is the very sweet Natasha Griffin. She came out to Greenville from Portola to pick up some books for Portola High School. Many of our duplicates went home with her. Portola is the only incorporated city in our county and is home to a more diverse (in terms of Latinx) population of students. I hand picked some books that my daughter and I thought the kids would love over there from our overflow.

So I’ve been reading about banned books because you know there are always a few people in every community who start running around like Chicken Little and think the world is going to end because a student read……well anything really.

I’m trying to wrap my head around the violence from the news, and the TV, and the video games where the point is always to shoot something. I’m trying to wrap my head around teen and tween conversations which seem to always conclude with talk about farts and other bodily functions. What I’m trying to say I guess is do people who want things banned—have they ever even talked to their own kids? Been around kids? Listened to pop music? Geez.

So THANK YOU all again because you know what you guys did? You’ve sent me every book that was on the challenged or banned book lists of the last few years. We have every book that’s been challenged some place in the USA. I LOVE THAT.

I mean we all have our thresholds with out kids. My kids haven’t seen some films because I deemed the screenwriting shitty and as a writer I WANT GOOD SCRIPTS AND THE WRITERS PAID. My son sometimes tries to explain that when other kids ask, have you seen that? And my son groans, “No, can’t watch that with my mom around. It has a bad script…”

I remember being a kid and sneaking around “bad” books too. It’s what kids do. Do censors realize that some things just go over kids’ heads and that also it’s a thrill to see a ‘bad’ word on a page?

So, no banning on my part.  Parents get to sign a form at the beginning of the school year stating whether or not their kids can check out books and how far up the ladder of maturity they can go. But we only have 200 kids in about 120 families. It’s not that hard to keep track of stuff.

Meanwhile my 13 year old and my 11 year old are still reading whatever they can get their hands on.

I’m betting if I ban something though, I could probably ensure that every child reads it. Because that’s how bans work.

I used to work in a record store in college. Moms were always coming in FREAKED out that we’d just sold some rap or heavy metal tape to their precious angel.  The parents who went apeshit wound up with kids who listened to that stuff even MORE because it bothered the parents.  The parents who  were okay with it saw their kids move on to other stuff. It’s a time honored tradition really—kids only want what their parents don’t want them to have.

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind Senator Amanda Chase that her hatred of the Eleanor & Park book just helped clinch the deal that every kid in her district will now read it.

Have a good day. Go read something banned.


Poetry Saves Us

I am a romantic at heart.

In that twisted way where you read a great book and you enjoy crying at the end because everything went to hell and the lovers don’t wind up together because one of them is dead, or married to someone else, or a war has broken out.

My students used to say, Ms. Garcia are you aware all of your books you assign have tragic endings?

Do they? Oh shit. I guess they do.

I think I got that way through poetry. It was the first thing I ever read and the first thing I ever wrote.

So as I’m starting to organize the school library and finding all the poetry books that have been checked in I’m just amazed. There is so much here. So many voices. So many observations. So many perspectives. So many sorrows. So many joys.

I want to crawl into this shelf–disappear into the shelf. Disappear into your gifts.

And I’m doing that now.


Just. One. Friday with the Family

On Fridays in summer, my husband has a day off after working four 10 hour days. He works for the school district but hadn’t had the chance to spend some concentrated time in the library. After I’d fed the family +two friends of my daughter’s a German Apple Kuchen I made for breakfast,  We made a clown car out of the Toyota and headed into town toward the library.

Summer really is a peculiar time.  I feel like I’m always feeding people. And as a Latina mom I cannot NOT feed people. It goes against my very DNA. So in the last few days my kids have had sleep overs and I’ve fed well, everyone.

We had the most volunteers ever this morning and we worked a solid four hours before the heat got the better of us. The co-director of IVA and his family came down to help out.  HIs preschool and elementary school kids were adorable. I have surly tween and teen. I MISS THE SWEET SOUND OF NON SARCASTIC BEINGS. We had four people doing data entry. A bunch of kids breaking down boxes and hauling them to recycling. Some wee ones gathered together trash. For a room with lots of books and boxes it was surprisingly orderly.


My aunt came along with my youngest cousin—I’m the oldest cousin and there’s 30 years between us so he’s pretty much a nephew. She’s the librarian assistant at both Loyalton Elementary School Library AND their high school library.  I encouraged her to take duplicates to share with the students in Loyalton–about an hour away from us in Sierra County.

IMG_7971IMG_7973 There’s aunt Dorothy picking out some titles.  And then one of the elementary school teachers from next door showed up. We got a cart and gave her a bunch of elementary school titles that you all gave us. She was so excited she came back for more. We were happy to share the gifts—especially given that she’s right next door with the 4th and 5th graders.  Thank you , Karen for giving your students the opportunity to read more books!


So we aren’t total book nerds. It got super hot by about 2 pm so we headed to the watering hole with our kids and their friends –all of whom helped out in the library this morning.

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As I’m planning and sorting I realize we DO need bookcases and there are a few books I’m hearing about that I would like to see in the library. So I updated the Amazon Wish List  . I also inquired as to a local source for bookshelves. Not surprisingly I couldn’t find one. I’m leaning towards some low IKEA ones–three shelves high so we can see over them easily (I want to avoid a love in the stacks situation). We have one other that might come in for donation.

That’s about all I have to report. Happy 4th weekend. I’m going to try to get some non library writing done and maybe take another dip in the creek.


Just. One. Big Thank you!

So I know I promised an announcement and here it is.

I decided that this campaign can’t just end because our shelves are full.  Boxes keep coming.

So we are reaching out to other schools in the area and seeing what their needs are–and sharing. We did get a few duplicates of a few popular titles that we think other Plumas Unified School District high schools and Sierra County’s Loyalton High School could also use.

In general, our whole county is underserved. The art teacher for PUSD was just let go. No more art in school. Chester lost its band teacher. Only if you live in Quincy are you lucky enough to have dance. The arts in schools are woefully under represented.  Another place we fall short is technology. I think I mentioned before we often graduate students who don’t know how to send an email and don’t know there’s something else you can do on a phone besides text and play games. Reading levels across the district need to expand. Just from talking to other teachers across the district I can tell that much of their material is outdated and lots of their requests the district cannot fill due to budget restraints.

So with this in mind– we are distributing books to schools in need in our district that have open libraries but those libraries do not have enough newer books and media.

We will be giving to

Portola High School

Plumas Charter School in Quincy

Loyalton High School

One teacher at Quincy High School has been trying to get diverse books in her classroom for two years. She’s coming over next Wednesday to check out the duplicates we have that I think are on her lists.

If you want to keep us in your thoughts and hearts and want to send books over the months as they come out that would be amazing. If you’d like to help us with more bookshelves and purchasing computers that work for the library (we are thinking 5–one for the front desk and 2 Mac and 2 PC for students all together rather than the 14 half working sort of stations we have now) that would be grand too.


I have a bit more faith in people now. My last year of teaching (2015) was a difficult year. I had to face some harsh realities that no matter how great a teacher I was (and I’ll boast here because at least my students have always come back and said I was great), the administration passed me up time and again for not having a PhD and for teaching while Latina. A student on drugs became violently angry in class and threatened me. The administration did nothing. A favorite student committed suicide.  I was devastated. He was brilliant. I wrote about him here:

Eulogy for a Student of Light

It was a hard 11 years there but the last year just wore down both my confidence and my esteem. I quit last August for good, vowing never to let a job or a department chair treat me like garbage again.

2016 has been strange and beautiful year of returns. Post graduate school, I hadn’t meant to teach. I’d meant to write. But a divorce and the need for work meant I needed a steady paycheck. Okay and also traveling around Asia. I’d worked at the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle and meant to go into journalism but wound up teaching instead. I still believe I had a calling to do that. In 2016 I saw a book deal fall through (it would have been my second short story collection) but I also manage to have my first credit on a documentary film.

But now the LIbrary Project and my Throwing the Curve project (I’m writing a book on plus size modeling and the body positive movement) have both given me a new lease on life.  I can do things! I can combine interests! I can write and instill a love of books. YAY! So thank you very personally for making me feel worthy and needed.

We’ve been hearing from authors, readers, writers, publishers from all over the English speaking world. THANK YOU for your notes and your books and other media.

I want to today give a special shout out to the people who’ve camped here at Lake Almanor or been through here visiting on the way to Mt. Lassen National Volcanic Park or those who sent their kids to our own Copper Creek Camp. Your letters have a particular sweetness. You’ve seen us. You”ve said you didn’t know how bad it was here. And you want to give back to the community that you say brought you so much joy and wonderful memories of being in the great outdoors.  THANK YOU for your love and your visiting of our area. Many of us wound up here because of the great beauty of it–we fell in love. We sometimes pay a cost for that in amenities that aren’t here. But you all know more than anyone why we are here and continue to stay here and hopefully that we make your journey here a sweet one.  THANK YOU for recognizing us.



Just. One. Book. CRAZY HAPPY JOY!

So we are pretty much AT CAPACITY.  I think we need more bookcases than books now. What a great problem to have! You guys rock. I got some wonderful personal cards and messages that I opened today. Including a friend of mine, Jenny who sent me chocolate to eat while we open packages. Because BOOKS AND CHOCOLATE are an awesome combination.


I want you to know so many people in our community are revitalized by this effort. We have people volunteering an hour or two a day. A steady stream of kids. But then we also have the postal people cheering us on! The Evergreen Market is helping us by taking the cardboard to recycle. People are figuring out what they can donate when. Perhaps bookshelves. Time. Ideas for programming. It’s like a thousand ideas at once.

You know what was cute today? My kids are back from Wisconsin and are working the library with three of their friends today. They were opening boxes and stacking things so the adults could record what came in and from who where we could see it. The kids would stop every once in awhile , squeal out the name of a book and thumb through and another of them would remind them that we were here to work not read yet, and the kid would say “but I’m dying to read this one!” or “I didn’t even know this was a book!” Stuff like that. So adorable.

Of course they’re all tweens and they drove me nuts too.

So remember those shelves with only encyclopedias and biographies from the 50s?



You can’t tell from the photo but some of these are double rowed. So now begins our process of finding duplicates, of seeing if there was something teachers wanted that we overlooked. If you haven’t sent a box yet but were thinking of it, please hold off for now. We will have a great announcement in a few days for next steps.

THANK YOU  THANK YOU THANK YOU. This was successful beyond any of our imaginations.

This has been such a positive experience for all of us. In the midsts of so much divisiveness politically, in the midst of so much aggression and violence in our world–here is kindness. Here is generosity. Here is life anew. THANK YOU.


Just. One. Nation.

Have you read this yet? Teachers in North Carolina arrested for protesting. What were they protesting?

The lack of books. The lack of a school nurse. The lack of basics.

I’ve been telling you the story of Greenville, CA but it’s also the story of North Carolina. It’s the story everywhere in the United States where we allow basic education to wither.  You can read more about the North Carolina school struggle

I’m sure you remember North Carolina from earlier this spring when their legislators seemed to have time and energy to fixated on restrooms in public schools. Maybe we can get them to fixated on other issues instead.

As of right now–we’ve logged in 4000 books. We have enough to start our library a new. Our Amazon wish list has been depleted and we are going to put in a chunk of time next week with 10 volunteers to unload boxes, catalog, see what more we need, etc. I won’t be putting up a new Amazon list right now.

I think North Carolina’s teachers and students might need us too. I have a hunch it’s an issue everywhere.  But anyhow. I ask for nothing for us today. I thank you for your generosity. I will be posting updates as soon as I get back to Northern California. But I think now might be time to think of the other NC.

Peace to you and happy reading.