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Joann Mazzio

Last updated on Monday, December 23, 2002

Joann Mazzio
Award-winning writer Joann Mazzio has made her mark in children's literature, but she also produces a steady mixture of fiction and nonfiction for mainstream magazines.

Her two young-adult novels, published by Houghton Mifflin, are used extensively in English classes across the United States. The One Who Came Back was nominated for an Edgar by the Mystery Writers of America. Leaving El Dorado was named Best Western Juvenile by the Western Writers of America. It has been optioned for a movie. Both books have been recommended by the American Library Association and included on many state reading lists, and both have been published in Europe and selected for European book clubs.

Mazzio's numerous stories in children's magazines such as Cricket have been reprinted in textbooks and anthologies in this country and abroad. Her writing is frequently used in reading comprehension test materials.

On the subject matter in her writing, Mazzio says, "I'm interested in a wide range of subjects. A degree in aeronautical engineering and years of work in that field have sustained my interest in science. My fifteen years as a high school math teacher taught me a lot about young people."

Mazzio lives in the old gold-mining town of Pinos Altos, NM, and divides her time between full-time writing and travel.

Visit Joann's web site at

Articles by Joann Mazzio

Birding in Southern New Mexico
Southern New Mexico elevations range from under 3000 feet to mountains higher than 10,000 feet and cover five life zones from the Upper Sonoran through the Hudsonian.  This variety of topography affords homes to birds as dissimilar as sandhill cranes wintering in the Bosque del Apache  National Wildlife Refuge and the year-round water ouzel dipping and scratching its underwater way along the bottom of Whitewater Canyon in the Gila National Forest.  In the summer, the air around feeders flashes with iridescent purples, greens, blues, and reds as incoming hummingbirds congregate.  Some tropical birds such as the elegant trogon breed in a remote canyon of Southern New Mexico, one of the few places they can be seen in the United States.

Glenwood — for outdoor lovers
From 1747 when Spanish explorers discovered Indians farming in the verdant valley until today, visitors have enjoyed the quiet beauty of the San Francisco River country. Glenwood with its quaint shops, motels, and restaurants, is the center of this valley in West Central New Mexico.

Mescalaro Labor Day
For most of us, Labor Day fills a primitive need for a special day to mark the change of seasons, the end of summer and the beginning of fall. In New Mexico's Sacramento Mountains on Labor Day, summer still held the land in her dark green grip. Only the sunflowers and asters crowding the highway hinted that fall was squeezing in.

Mogollon — a seven mile-high ghost town
From the fertile San Francisco Valley, the rugged Mogollon Mountains look unattainable.  However, the lure of riches made them attainable to the prospectors and miners who discovered silver there in 1870.  The range of mountains was named either for a parasitic mistletoe called mogollon or for an early Spanish governor named Juan Ignacio Flores Mogollon.  In either case, the locals pronounce the name muggy-yone.

On the Trail of Billy the Kid
In 1878, Billy the Kid was capturing headlines across the American West. Three years later he was dead, shot down by lawman Pat Garrett. Even before his brief life played out, the Kid had become legendary, as either brutish murderer or daring avenger. To this day, the controversy continues. Was Billy the Kid simply living up to the code of the frontier? Or was he a lethal hot-head embellishing his own legend?

Pinos Altos — like walking into a western movie
"Pinos Altos? It's six miles north of Silver City on NM 15."

Most of the 300 residents of this mountain hamlet will say that far from being an appendage to Silver City, Pinos Altos is a distinctive community in its own right. Looking down on the larger city from an altitude of 7,040 feet, it is ten degrees cooler in the summer and ten degrees brisker in the winter.

Reserve - almost the frontier
Reserve, with 400 citizens, is the largest town in and county seat of Catron County, which is the largest county, by area, in New Mexico. At more than 7,000 square miles, Catron County is larger than a few Eastern states. With a population of only 2,900 people, the county is as sparsely populated as many an old West frontier area.

The Butterfield Overland Mail — stitching the country together
On a time line, the two and one-half year operation (1857-1861) of the Butterfield Overland Mail was but a  flash in the history of transportation in the United States.  But this short-lived operation captured and held the imagination of Americans because it stitched together the growing country from sea to sea.

The Central Mining District  — Bayard, Fierro, Hanover, Hurley, Santa Clara
If Grant County is the heart of New Mexico's metal mining industry, then the Central Mining District is the soul. Bayard, Hurley, and Santa Clara, with a total population of 6300, are the population centers in the District.

Santa Clara, formerly called Central, is nine miles east of Silver City on US 180. The oldest village in the District, its history is closely tied to Fort Bayard. Soldiers from the fort found their recreation in Santa Clara. At one time, some forty working mines in the area produced gold and silver.

The Pickup Pup

Becoming a New Mexican has not been easy. But, I'd finally got to where I could wear my Tony Lama's two hours at a time without wincing. I'd traded my car on a used compact truck, which I sort of regarded as training wheels until I got enough confidence to move up to a big job, the kind that makes you think of mud bogs. Even with a small truck, details are important. I had a Lota Burger wrapper lying in the cab and a flattened Tecate can in the truck bed. (You are what you drive around with.)

For the next, and also mandatory, accessory to the truck, I had to have a dog, one that would stand in the truck bed and stretch its neck full length to snap at the ears of elderly shoppers loading groceries into their cars in Albertson's parking lot; a dog that would pace the bed stiff-legged at 65 MPH ready to repel all invaders, that would interact loudly and aggressively with other dogs riding in the backs of other pickups.

White Sands National Monument

Over half-a-million visitors a year enjoy the world's largest gypsum dune field at White Sands National Monument in Southern New Mexico. The sparkling white dunes are ever-changing, ever-moving and ever-growing

Where does the gypsum originate? It is constantly added to the dunes from its source in Lake Lucero. Comparatively few visitors see the ten-square-mile lake bed, even though it is part of the monument, and, with a little planning, is accessible to everyone.

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