Annual Author’s Day to feature local writers, poets and historians


An Author’s Day featuring more than 25 historians, memoirists, novelists and children’s book writers with ties to Valencia County will be held from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 10, at the Los Lunas Transportation Center. The event is sponsored by the Valencia County Historical Society.

Books will be sold and autographed by the authors during the open house-style event.

Among the authors expected to attend are Francelle Alexander, Andres Armijo, Shirley Balance Blackwell, Don Bullis, Baldwin G. Burr, Reynold Conger, Ray John de Aragon, Mary Fogarty, Debbi Miller Gutierrez, B. Barrow Hamby, Shalen Holt, Noé Lara, Kimberley Griffiths Little, Richard Melzer, R.J. Mirabal, Bill and Annmarie Pearson, Helen Pilz, Lucinda Lucero Sachs, Alex and Laura Sanchez, Charlie Sanchez Jr., Irene B. Sanchez, Georgia Santa Maria, Sandy Schauer, Robert J. Torrez, Janet S. Williams and W.E. (Bill) Wood. Also attending will be representatives of Rio Grande Books.

Here are some mini-biographies about the authors:

Francelle Alexander is a native New Mexican, having grown up in Albuquerque’s South and North Valleys. She attended UNM where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Her book is “Among the Cottonwoods: The Enduring Rio Abajo Villages of Peralta and Los Pinos before 1940.”

Andres Armijo, a Valencia native who graduated from Los Lunas High School in 1988, earned a master’s degree in Spanish-Southwestern Hispanic Studies from the University of New Mexico. He is the author of “Becoming a Part of My History Through Images & Stories of My Ancestors.”

Los Lunas author Shirley Balance Blackwell’s debut book, a poetry collection titled “Already There,” was a finalist in the 2012 NM-AZ Book Awards. Her just-published second book, “Ditchbank Diaries,” about the history and culture of New Mexico’s acequia systems, is a finalist in three categories in this year’s Awards.

Don Bullis, who earned a degree in American History and American Literature from Eastern New Mexico University, has been a columnist for the New Mexico Independent newspapers and editor of the Sandoval County Times-Independent. He wrote a Rio Rancho Observer column, “Ellos Pasaron Por Aqui.” His books include “The Old West Trivia Book” “New Mexico’s Finest: Peace Officers Killed in the Line of Duty, 1847-1991,” “Bull’s Eye” “New Mexico & Politicians of the Past,” “Duels, Gunfights & Shoot-Outs: Wild Tales from the Land of Enchantment” and “Unsolved: New Mexico’s American Valley Murders and Other Mysteries.”

Baldwin G. Burr is a historian specializing in the history of New Mexico and the Southwest.  He is currently the president of the Valencia County Historical Society, sheriff (president) of the Central New Mexico Corral of Westerners International, and Secretary of the Historical Society of New Mexico. Among the books he’ll be offering are “Images of America: Los Lunas” and “Images of America: Belen.”

Reynold Conger is a retired scientist, engineer and high school teacher who now lives in Rio Communities. He’ll be offering his books, “Chased Across Australia” and “My Knight in Shining Armor.”

Ray John de Aragon is an internationally recognized author with several best-selling books to his credit. Books available at the event will be his recently released “LINCOLN,” a photo documentary about the town of Lincoln, New Mexico, Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War, his continuously popular “Legend of La Llorona,” and “The Penitentes of New Mexico.”

Growing up during the social upheavals of the 1960s Mary Fogarty says she learned to live big in the world without apology in five countries: Brazil, Poland, Finland, Australia and New Zealand. Books she’ll sell include “Never Turn Back When Bound to a Star,” “A Crone’s Crossing,” “Passions” and “Vintage Woman: A Memoir.”

Debbi Miller Gutierrez is a singer-songwriter, children’s author, and prize-winning poet living in Los Chavez. Among the books she’ll sell are “The Pinecone Problem,” “Why Baby Sister Woke Up From Her Nap,” “Cactus Factory” and “Horse’s Horrible Halloween” along with a CD, “Anywhere But Where I Am,” featuring original songs about trains and the people whose lives are affected by them.

B. Barrow Hamby’s book, “The Door Back In,” is a collection of essays originally published as a newspaper column — brief thoughts and heart calls noted down from home life, nature, and various life experiences.

Shalen Holt completed his first children’s book, “Colors of Zaki,” at the age of 18. He wrote this story to inspire children to believe in themselves.

Noé Lara was one of 13 children born to Mexican immigrant parents David and Aurora Lara. He was born on a ranch near Austin, Texas, the state capitol. After working for 34 years, in 2005 he retired as a social worker manager from the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department. He has worked as an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus for the last 16 years. On sale will be his book “¿Cuantas Piscas? (How Much Cotton Can You Pick?): A Latino’s Lonely Journey to Success.”

Kimberley Griffiths Little is a critically acclaimed middle-grade novelist who has won the Southwest Book Award, the Whitney Award, is a Crystal Kite Finalist, New Mexico Book Award Finalist, and listed in the Bank Street College Best Books of the Year for 2011. She is also the author of an upcoming Young Adult trilogy with HarperCollins in 2014. Her books include “The Healing Spell,” “Circle of Secrets,” and “When the Butterflies Came,” all with Scholastic.

Richard Melzer is a past president of the Valencia County Historical Society and the Historical Society of New Mexico. The author of 17 books, he has taught at the UNM-Valencia Campus for more than 30 years. He is the editor of and the primary author of La Historia del Rio Abajo, the Valencia County Historical Society’s popular column in the Valencia County News-Bulletin. He’ll autograph and sell his books “Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem in the Rio Abajo,” “New Mexico: Celebrating the Land of Enchantment,” “Fred Harvey in the American Southwest,” “When We Were Young in the West,” and “Buried Treasures.”

R.J. Mirabal grew up in Peralta, attended school in the Los Lunas School system, graduated from UNM and taught at Los Lunas High for more than 30 years. His novel, “The Tower of Il Serrohe,” will be autographed and sold. It was named as one of five finalists in the Fantasy and Science Fiction category of the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. It was one of 200 total books selected as finalists out of more than 1,800 entries.

Bill and Annmarie Pearson collaborated on Nature Rhymes with Natural Impressions and she is the author of the mystery “The Fetish Ruby.”

After living in many U.S. states and foreign countries, Helen Pilz moved to New Mexico in 1991 and has lived in Los Lunas since 2000. She has a degree in biology and a minor in history, and writes award-winning historical time travels. She will be signing her novel “With Love, King Henry VIII.”

Lucinda Lucero Sachs is the author of “Clyde Tingley’s New Deal for New Mexico, 1935-1938.” Holt, Winston and Reinhart selected her as a Review Editor for the 2000″ The American Nation” and “The American Nation: Civil War to the Present.” Recently published, her novel, “Believe in the Wind,” is a story of love, hope, and redemption set across the backdrop of New Mexico in the 1920s and the Great Depression.

Charlie Sanchez Jr., is a santero artist which is also involved in wildlife conservation initiatives in Valencia County. He will sign his “Yerbas Y Remedios — A Booklet of Herbs and Spices of the Southwest,” which will be available for sale.

Irene B. Sanchez of Tomé is the author of “Comida Sabrosa, Home-style Southwestern Cooking,” and numerous short stories and poems of the Southwest. Her book, “Comida Sabrosa,” is one of the foremost cookbooks exploring the tastes and flavors of the Southwest and will be available for sale.

After years spent designing energy efficient houses, Laura Sanchez began writing, guided by the notion that any subject — housing, politics, computer graphics, environmental issues — can be both understandable and enjoyable. With “Freaking Green,” she’s transformed teen angst and climate science into a downright guilty pleasure. She has also written a book with her husband, Alex. “Adobe Houses for Today.”

Sandy Schauer is the author of “The Silk Scarf” and “The Jewelry Box” as well as co-author of “The History of New Mexico Press Women 1949-2009.” She is the co-editor of “I Never Worked In Pocatello: The Life and Times of Santa Fe Railroad’s Paul T. Collins.” A graduate of the University of New Mexico, Schauer worked for the Valencia County News-Bulletin for many years and is currently the owner of Montanita Publishing in Los Lunas.

Robert J. Tórrez served as the New Mexico State Historian from 1987 to 2000.  Over the past four decades, he has published numerous articles, published five books and contributed to more than a dozen books, including a recent New Mexico history textbook. His books include ”UFOs Over Galisteo and Other Stories of New Mexico’s History,” “New Mexico in 1876-1877: A Newspaperman’s View,” “Myth of the Hanging Tree” and ”Rio Arriba: A New Mexico County.”

Janet S. Williams is an accomplished Christian poet, and songwriter. Janet and her husband, Al, recently founded Little Orange Shoes Ministry, and are both actively involved in their passion for prison ministry.

W.E. (Bill) Wood will present his book, “The Railroad Dictionary.” The paperback of more than two thousand terms was published after 40 years of railroading as switchman, switch foreman, road brakeman and road conductor. He has been retired for more than 20 years.

Also appearing with a display will be Rio Grande Books, the largest independent publisher in New Mexico. The company specializes in New Mexico’s history and culture, and will be featuring about 20 of its newest books.