Awarded Finalist in the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Young Adult category
Released October 6, 2020
The church doors swing wide just as the padre is giving his blessing. Analicia Rosario Menéndez is fifteen when her brother, Junior, is arrested in the middle of her quinceañera. Soon after, her Spanish teacher Ms. García disappears, leaving behind her five-year-old son. During a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Ana’s father, Dr. Menéndez, is detained.
Paralyzed against government forces as her world falls apart, Ana is tired of feeling powerless. Living in a small town along the southern border of New Mexico, someone has to know something, don’t they? Ana, desperate to find the truth, reaches out to those around her. Will her friends, Rose and Imani, help, or will they turn their backs?
This book explores the complex realities facing families and community members living under constant deportation threats. Holding on to Hope is a must-read!
Release date: October 6, 2020
Diamonds at Dusk Summary
Diamonds at Dusk is a place-based novel set in southwestern New Mexico designed to connect with rural teen readers.
It’s hard to miss Cascade Rose Jennings. She’s the one in cowgirl boots who up until this morning wasn’t interested in boys. But, on the eve of her sixteenth birthday something inside her knocks loose.
His name is Chadwick Dean Holbrook, a college prep school boy from Albuquerque and Cassie’s long-time “fair weather” friend. Every year, at summer’s end he disappears from her Grandpa Norm’s high desert ranch in southwestern New Mexico. This time, he promises to stay for Cassie’s birthday. Just when Cassie thinks she can count on him, Chad breaks his promise. He leaves behind an endearing, flirtatious treasure hunt. Cassie, filled with renewed hope, stifles a pang of jealousy when she discovers, her best friend, Ahzi Toadlena, is in on it. To make things worse, Cassie meets Maverick Britton, a charming misfit who threatens to steal her heart and the gold her Grandpa has kept quiet about all these years. Maverick has a dark secret that unwittingly draws Cassie and Ahzi into his perilous world. Chad, protective of his childhood friends, knows Maverick’s kind. He returns in time to rescue Ahzi and help Cassie win back the gold. In the end, Cassie realizes that her friendships, her family, and deep connection to the land mean more to her than any romance.
Page Count: 228
Diamonds at Dawn Summary
“Are you there, Ama?” In Diamonds at Dawn, seventeen-year old Ahzi Toadlena is adrift, and has been since she was nine. One winter morning she awoke shivering. At dawn, the fire had gone out in the hogan along with the warmth in her mother’s arms.
Page after torn notebook page chronicle Ahzi’s grief, but on the eve of her eighteenth birthday something new is stirring in her. Not one, but two crushes. Chadwick Dean Holbrook, a prep school boy and “fairweather” friend from Albuquerque and Maverick Britton, a charming misfit, have worked their way into her heart. And to make things worse her best friend, Cascade Rose Jennings, is sweet on them too. Ahzi knows what she needs to do. She has to leave her grief behind. She climbs to the highest mesa on the ranch and casts her poems to the wind. In the weeks that follow, amidst concerns over fur trappers on the southwestern New Mexico ranch, a possible murder charge, and Ahzi’s journey through grief, Cassie, Chad, and Maverick unwittingly piece the poems back together in a kind of secret map of the heart. The map shows Ahzi that falling in love doesn’t mean abandoning the memory of her Ama nor her best friend. And, the map is a key to all their healing.
Will adventure and mystery on this southwestern New Mexico ranch resolve matters of the heart? Will Ahzi and Cassie’s friendship last? Diamonds at Dawn is the promised sequel to Diamonds at Dusk and readers will not be disappointed.
Page Count: 209
Welcome to my page! I am an award-winning young adult novelist, short story writer, and poet residing among the rolling hills of southwestern New Mexico. Living here calls us into an intimate relationship with the land and each other like no other place I have experienced. And who doesn’t love a good green chile chicken enchilada?
Awarded Finalist in the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Anthology category
It’s here! Being Home has just been released with Progressive Rising Phoenix Press. The stories you have been listening to on KURU 89.1 FM the first and third Monday of each month or playing right from this website will are available in print! I will be at the Makers’ Market in the Silver City Main Street Plaza on Saturdays until October 31st. Come by and shoot the breeze. Looking forward to see you!
Being Home: A Southwestern Almanacis a laugh out loud story collection made for radio featuring a collection of quirky characters shaped by the seasons, the desert landscape, and small town living, making audiences feel right at home in the Mimbres Valley. From Brandon Johnson’s mystifying encounter with a coyote to Ernesto Puro Corazon’s 6th grade drive to school with his abuela in his Chevy Impala SS Claussen captures moments and people in astounding detail that is sure to surprise and entertain.
The collection is illustrated with a unique photographic series taken by her daughter, Ajalaa Claussen. She says, “I wanted to capture the essence of each story in the images, placing the reader in the moment. But, I also wanted to create space for the viewer to imagine themselves as one of the characters.”
Being Home Podcast
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