Dia de Los Muertos at the Denver Botanic Gardens

The original Day of the Dead movie poster—If you're like me you're spending this weekend watching zombie films. (Credit: United Film)

Tomorrow, Saturday, October 29, the Denver Botanic Gardens is hosting a celebration for Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. That’s the traditional Mexican celebration in honor of departed souls, not the Romero film or, for that matter, its far inferior 2008 remake.

At the Botanic Gardens Dia de Los Muertos, there will be face painting, sugar-skull and papel picado (“perforated paper”) making, as well as flamenco dancing and live music.

Details from the Denver Botanic Gardens’ website:

Date and Time:
Saturday, October 29, 5–8 p.m.

$8 Adults
$7 Member Adult/Student/Senior
$6 Child
$5 Member Child
Come in costume and painted skeleton face and receive $1 off admission (you must purchase tickets at the door the day of the event to receive this discount).
Buy tickets online. Limited tickets available—get your tickets today!

Entertainment and Activities
 (included in admission):

Mitchell Hall
5–6 p.m.: Aztec dancers
6–7 p.m.: “Dancing Across Cultures”
7–8 p.m.: “Mariachis San Juan de Colorado”
Gates Hall
5:30–6:30 p.m.: Spanish guitar and Flamenco dancer
6:45–7 p.m.: Mexican loteria “bingo” game #1
7:15–7:30 p.m.: Mexican loteria “bingo” game #2
Lobby Court (5–8 p.m.)
Face painter
Photo booth
Interpretive signage
Sugar skull display from different regions
of Mexico
Traditional altar
Gates Garden Court (5–8 p.m.)
Sugar skull workshop
Papel picado workshop
More crafts — TBA
Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory Balcony
5:30–7:30 p.m.: Storyteller provided by El Semanario
Helen Fowler Library Foyer (5–8 p.m.)
Professional pumpkin carving – Carving Día de los
Muertos images

I hope to see some of our readers there!

Banned Books Week—The Catcher in the Rye

In honor of Banned Books Week, our staff will be sharing their experiences with banned books, and at the end of the week, we’ll give away a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection to one of our randomly selected blog subscribers. To enter the giveaway, just subscribe to our blog via the e-mail subscription link. To enter additional times, you can blog, tweet, or update your status on Facebook with a link over to the giveaway (tag @FulcrumBooks on Twitter and @FulcrumPublishing on Facebook), or “like” Fulcrum Publishing on FacebookJust be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and leave the link to each one.  The contest ends on October 3.

Today’s blog post is from our designer, Jack Lenzo.

The Catcher in the Rye

There is something especially satisfying about reading a banned book. My first encounter with banned books came as a young teen. My mom ran the bookstore at Holy Cross Jr. College in South Bend, Indiana (the very same place where Rudy went to get better grades so that he could go to Notre Dame and play one down in a football game that was already over).

I was a freshman at the high school next door and had to help my mom out during registration because for one week at the start of each semester it was crazy busy. The reason I mention this is that in what seemed like a fairly conservative place, I kept handing these young impressionable students a stack of books that included The Catcher in the Rye. And every time I grabbed it off the shelf, my mom felt the need to comment on what a horrible, filthy book it was and couldn’t believe that it was being assigned in class.

Okay, let’s stop there and reflect. What would your thirteen-year-old self have done? Of course I read it. Anything that could incite such an impassioned response from my mom, time and time again, was clearly something I had to get my hands on. So there I was, reading The Catcher in the Rye with the satisfaction of the guilty. It did a couple of things for me.

First and foremost, it inspired me to start making up my own freakin’ mind. If a priest (or a brother…I can’t quite remember which vows this particular professor had taken) and my mom can have a differing opinion on the value of a book, what else was out there in the world? Books often make very different impressions on people based on when in their lives they read them. And hell, she may have never even read it herself and instead just passed along yet another person’s take whose opinion might have had some agenda that my mom failed to convey. You just never really know. Reading that book was the only morally ambiguous thing that a man of the cloth ever inspired in me. Can you imagine a world where this could be the norm? If they can read it and still be priests, I probably wouldn’t go to hell for reading it, so read it I did.

Aside from opening my eyes to choices outside my mom’s iron curtain, reading The Catcher in the Rye showed me that banned books, much like the rest of life, are mostly hype. I was actually disappointed by the general lack of offensive material. And when it came down to it, I thought Salinger’s Franny and Zooey was a much better book. But I wouldn’t have been able to form that opinion if I were afraid to read it in the first place. And that’s really what banned books are about: fear. Someone is afraid you will lose all ability to be yourself (or perhaps what they want you to be) if you are allowed to read a book, which is just ridiculous.

A special thanks to that priest (or brother) who indirectly opened my eyes to the possibility of creating my own reading list and thinking for myself.

Jack is the designer at Fulcrum. He appreciates looking out his window and seeing mountains instead of cornfields, and bumper stickers that say Naive instead of Native. Some of his favorite projects have been ones that have overlapped with and informed his own experiences in the West.

Pumpkin Fest at the Denver Botanic Gardens

On Saturday, October 8, and Sunday, October 9, the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield are hosting Pumpkin Fest.

Pumpkin, I choose you!

Pumpkin. Fest. Let’s break this down, shall we?


If you’re autumn-obsessed, like me, pumpkins are kind of a big deal. They appear every fall, stuffed with beta-carotene and ripe with possibilities: pie, jack-o’-lantern, pumpkin seed depository. I love pumpkins so much, that on the first day of fall, I pay homage to their king by watching The Nightmare Before Christmas.

All hail the Pumpkin King. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers


A shindig. A hootenanny. A party. From the Latin festivus, which basically means “Party on, Romans!” (Disclaimer: this blogger was a terrible Latin student).

Pumpkin Fest clearly = pumpkin shindig.

And more. The Botanic Gardens are offering pony rides; face-painting; amusement rides; an activity tent with arts and crafts, pumpkin bowling, and monster hand building; a barrel train; and, best of all, a tour of fairyland guided by the Harvest Faerie.

There’s also a corn “maize” next door. Who doesn’t love a corn maze?

Actual photo of Fulcrum blogger lost in a corn maze. Hint: all paths lead to Pumpkin Fest.

We thought that our readers would be just as excited about this sweet opportunity as we are. So, we’re giving away a free book.

Win this book.

Tweet us @FulcrumBooks, tag Fulcrum Publishing on Facebook, or reply to this entry with photos of you, our dear readers, with pumpkins to enter for a chance to win a copy of In Search of the Perfect Pumpkin by Gloria Evangelista. Pumpkin carving, pumpkin eating, pumpkin throwing—we don’t really care as long as we see your lovely faces with a pumpkin.

Giveaway ends on October 25, so there’s plenty of time to find the perfect pumpkin!

Local Events in September: Beer, Strudel, BOOKS, and More Beer…

September is here and I am so excited. I’ve trotted out my first fall hat, my first cup of cider, and had my first rapid-fire sneezing attack from autumn leaves. There are some great fall events coming up in the Denver area, including my favorite year-round activity: beer tastings.

Watercourse Foods will be featuring an IPA tasting paired with some delicious hors d’oeuvres tomorrow, September 14, from 4–7 p.m. on their patio. All of the featured beers will be from local brewers, including Renegade, Asher, Great Divide, Ska, and Avery Brewing. The price for a heavenly evening of alfresco India pale ale and fine vegetarian foodstuffs is a mere $20 per person for unlimited beer and food.

No tickets or reservations required.


Denver Public Library‘s Fresh City Life series is offering a giveaway of a Breakfast at Tiffany’s DVD and dinner for two from Whole Foods Market this Saturday, September 17, from 1:30–3 p.m. After a viewing of scenes from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Chef Shellie Kark will demonstrate techniques for creating the perfect pastry. Samples of apple strudel will be available to taste. All that’s missing is an evening dress and an elegant cigarette holder.

Also, registration is now open for the Denver bookbinding tour and building your own book workshop. I have coveted this workshop since I discovered the Fresh City Life series, petting the registration page on my laptop screen and muttering “my preciousssss” late into the night, but as they are held in the middle of the day, I haven’t been able to attend. If any of our crafty blog readers attend, please submit a comment, review of the workshop, or a picture of their book, and we’ll give you a nice shout-out in the blog and the twitterverse.

For our author readers who are hoping to get published (and who have already read our post on “How to Be an Author Publishers Want to Work With,”) on Saturday, September 17, at 2 p.m., Boulder Book Store is offering a writing workshop on “Writing a Winning Book Proposal,” taught by founder and executive director of The Boulder Writers’ Workshop, Lori DeBoer. This workshop is for nonfiction writers, including memoirists and authors of how-to books. Attendees will explore the elements of a book proposal, including the hook, cover letter, and synopsis. Attendees will leave with lots of handouts. Tickets are $30 and space is limited.

And on September 28 at 7:30 p.m., Boulder Book Store is hosting a speaking, signing, and beer tasting for Garrett Oliver’s The Oxford Companion to Beer. Attendees must buy a voucher to attend. Vouchers are $5 and get you $5 off the author’s featured book or $5 off a purchase on the day of the event. Plus there’s all that free beer.

One of my all-time favorite authors is visiting Tattered Cover this month. On September 30 at 7:30 p.m., Neal Stephenson will be signing copies of his new book, Reamde, at the historic LoDo Tattered Cover. Free numbered tickets for a place in the signing line will be handed out beginning at 6:30 p.m. on September 30. Seating for the presentation prior to the booksigning is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis to ticketed customers only.

Stephenson holds a special place in the jumble of gears and glitter that I have instead of a human heart. I read his book Snow Crash as an adolescent, and it quickly infiltrated and informed my malleable teenage identity and world view. I read it over and over the summer I was 14, so that when I entered high school, only 10 percent of my brain was original thought. The other 90 percent was all lines from Snow Crash and Fugazi lyrics.

A Fulcrum Field Guide to Birds and Other Publishing Creatures

Last week, a few of us at Fulcrum stopped by the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art to catch their Thinking About Flying exhibit.  For our readers not in the know, the exhibit consists of homing pigeons that patrons can take home and release.

The marketing team unilaterally decided that we were responsible enough to keep a homing pigeon alive for a couple hours.

Our marketing manager and a certain brave blogger pose with their newly acquired homing pigeon, Smoky.

When it was time to say good-bye, our ornithophobic marketing assistant and our bird-happy blogger had mixed reactions.

Smoky didn't really know what to make of freedom when the time came. Not to worry, moments later he figured it out.

There’s still time to visit the exhibit, and I can think of few things more enjoyable than taking in the sights of downtown Denver while carrying a homing pigeon in a cardboard box.

In fact, we were so stoked from our homing pigeon adventures that it was only a matter of time before we latched onto a new Internet trend: owling.

Hooooo hooooo! They say the Internet is slowly killing the book industry. We say O RLY?

Even our authors got into it. Here, Matt Dembicki, editor of Trickster: Native American Tales, a Graphic Collection, does his best owl…or maybe he's just being the hero that Gotham deserves…a silent guardian, a watchful protector, or as some might say, a dark knight.

We hope this was as much of a hoot* for our readers as it was for us!

*I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Viva Las Interns!

A few times a year, we’re able to have interns in the office. Unlike some companies, we take our internship program very seriously. We never take on interns unless we have real projects to set them loose on and time to provide real instruction.

This summer, we were lucky enough to have three stellar interns.

In Editorial, we had Lucy, a graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute. (If you want to start a career in publishing but don’t know where to begin, DPI is a fantastic place to learn all about the industry. Many of us at Fulcrum are institute grads.) She shows great promise as a developmental/substantive editor, and she even helped us out with a number of catchy titles for our forthcoming books. (Lucy also has a connection to Cake Crumbs and The Denver Cupcake Truck, so we scored some great treats over the summer—their lemon cupcake is to die for!.)

Cake Crumbs/The Cupcake Truck

Mmmm, cupcakes.

Our other editorial intern, Moon, came all the way from the West Coast to join our team for the summer. Moon really took advantage of her time with us, taking home many projects and immersing herself in the experience. She’s well on her way to being a great copy editor!

In the Marketing Department, Sosi did a super job contributing to our social media presence, helping at a trade show, completing database projects, and finishing up mailouts, among other things. She had a positive attitude about being an intern and used this summer to find out as much as she could about all the roles and departments in a publishing company—if you want to be a great intern, be curious like Sosi. We hope to see her in the future, if she’s not coaching swim team!

Yesterday was the interns’ last day, and the office already feels empty without them.

Good luck, guys! We’re so excited to see where the future takes you.

Denver Publishing Institute in the House

TricksterLast Friday, Fulcrum opened its doors to one hundred publishing students from the University of Denver Publishing Institute, who were here to learn about the publishing industry from the point of view of a small, western/midwestern indie. We discussed the process behind publishing books like Eisner Award–nominated Trickster, and the (debatably) trickier process of landing a job in the publishing biz during a time of declining book sales, mass bookstore layoffs, and the omnipresent competition of a little thing known as the Internet. Our advice (for both making good books and nabbing a publishing job): a copy of Advanced Potion-Making by Libatius Borage, eye of skink, and the long-lost half of an ancient and mysterious golden amulet.

In other Fulcrum news, with summer winding down, we’re looking forward to the arrival of our fall list. Next month we have two great books coming out:

The Legal Universe by David Wilkins and Vine Deloria Jr. is a comprehensive examination of the historical evolution of the legal rights of various minority groups and the relationship between these rights and the philosophical intent of the American founders.

The Hank Adams Reader is a collection of Hank Adams's previously unpublished letters and essays.

Mile High Summer

If you’re like me and aren’t taking a vacation this summer, there’s plenty of fun to be had right here in Denver.

This weekend, I had a blast meeting George R. R. Martin at the Tattered Cover, along with 600 other fans. In his remarks before the signing, he admitted that Tyrion was his favorite character and that Bran was the hardest to write because of the difficulty of writing from the point of view of a young child. No word on whether he’s heard my secret prayers to kill off Sansa Stark. The good people at Tattered Cover were great at keeping the lines moving while smiling and chatting with fans. There are some more great events planned this month at Tattered Cover, so be sure to check them out.

Photo by sjogrens via Flickr.

I also hung out at the Denver Zoo for their “Colorado Proud” Date Night event. I dined on local foodstuffs, including wine pairings by Monkey Theorum wines. I was also accosted by one of the zoo’s wandering peacocks, who walked around our table several times before settling down to the side of my chair to watch me eat. Perhaps he thought my purple hair was a sign that we are distantly related. I highly recommend the zoo’s date night series. The food is delicious, and hitting the zoo during the evening is a great way to beat the heat and the crowds.

This week, I’m planning on attending the “Mucho Mojo” event put on by the Denver Public Library’s Fresh City Life. If you’ve ever wanted to create your own mojo bag to ward off creatures of the night, then you should stop by the event on Thursday.

Rock Out Your summer with Local Events

The end of summer is rapidly approaching, but we still have time to wring out all the merry fun we can from the warmest days of the year. As the Starks say, “Winter is coming,” so you’d do best to take advantage of our precious warm season while you can.

Tonight, Film on the Rocks at Red Rocks is showing Twilight. If any of our dear readers haven’t heard of it, it’s a small indie film, a love story between two teenagers: one pale and one sparkly, starring two talented unknowns: Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattison. It’s a lovely, quaint film set in a small logging town in Washington. It’s like Romeo and Juliet meets Twin Peaks meets Dawson’s Creek. My sister-in-law will be attending in full sparkle mode. I’ll be at home, on my porch, quietly melting.

Be sure to stop by your local farmers’ market this weekend. Last week, I bought some saucer peaches, which I’ve been eating nonstop. They’re pretty much the best thing ever, all fuzzy and sweet and saucer shaped.

Next week, the Denver Botanic Gardens are doing a great event with Ryan Rice, the artist and chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Native American Arts in Santa Fe, NM, as well as the cofounder and chair of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective. The basic event details are below, but visit the Botanic Gardens site for more info:
July 27 —“Site Seen: Native Art in Public Spaces”

Walk:  5:30–6:30 p.m.

Guided walk by Ryan Rice acts as prelude to the lecture. Space is limited.

Lecture:  7–8 p.m.

Then, on August 4, Denver Public Library is hosting a night of urban fantasy on the eve of RomCon. As I love book readings, cocktails, and magic of the urban fantasy variety, I’ll be attending in full sparkle mode.

From the Fresh City Life website:

Fresh City Life is pitching in to celebrate one of the most amusing and entertaining booklover’s conventions—RomCon 2011 (August 5–7). Dedicated to all the subgenres within Romance novels, this convention will draw an international audience. On the eve of RomCon, three exciting urban fantasy authors will join us for an evening of magic, mojo and readings from their most popular titles. You’ll also have an opportunity to create a Mojo Bag—a good-luck filled bag that will hold talismans contributed by each writer.

Mucho Mojo will feature the following fantasy authors: Nicole Peeler (Jane True series, including Tempest Rising), Kimberly Frost (national bestselling Southern Witch series, which includes Would-Be Witch, Barely Bewitched, and Halfway Hexed), and Jeanne Stein (national bestselling series The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles).

Join your friends at Mad Wine Bar (13th and Acoma Plaza) and enjoy some fantastic potions and brews concocted specially for this event. It’s a magical chance to meet three incredible writers and make a retro-hip mojo bag to lift your spirits—all for free! (One drink minimum please.)

Get out there readers, and seize the summer. Anyone have great plans worth sharing?

Blood, Sweat, and Derby

Derby season is on!

I fell head over heels in love with roller derby when I saw a Gotham Girls bout back in my college days. I loved the DIY aesthetic, the riot grrrl spirit, and, as a college cross-country runner (the most passive and boring-to-watch of college sports—consisting of running into the woods, and then later running out of the woods), I was immediately attracted to the aggression and showmanship of the sport. I instantly became a lifelong fan, but it wasn’t until recently that I started on the road to achieving my dream of becoming an actual derby dame. I bought a pair of used skates from a flea market and signed up for beginner skate lessons from Skate City.

I spend my evenings skating around my neighborhood, pinwheeling my arms and falling a lot. Fear of skating into a busy intersection is a great motivator for learning those hockey stops. And on Saturdays, I hop into the Skate City rink with the rest of my beginner class (all children) and learn skating techniques under a disco ball, to the dulcet croons of the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus. Making a dream come true is hard and humbling work. It’s like what Miley says in her song “Party in the USA”:

“I hopped off the plane at LAX
with a dream and my cardigan.
Welcome to the land of fame excess.
Am I gonna fit in?
My tummy’s turnin’ and I’m feelin’ kinda homesick
Too much pressure and I’m nervous,

That’s when the taxi man turned on the radio
and a Jay Z song was on.
So I put my hands up
They’re playing my song,
And the butterflies fly away
Noddin’ my head like yeah
Moving my hips like yeah,
And I got my hands up,
They’re playin my song
I know I’m gonna be ok.”
See? My path to becoming a roller girl is exactly like Miley’s path to becoming a famous chanteuse! My ten-year-old skating partner tells me that I’m a lot like Miley. Not to brag, but I can totally see it.

For more information on the amazing sport of roller derby, Catherine Mabe’s Roller Derby: The History and All-Girl Revival of the Greatest Sport on Wheels is a great start. Not only does Mabe explain the rules and lingo of the sport, she also details derby’s history, from its beginnings in the the Great Depression to campy Roller Jam bouts, to the more recent riot grrrl revival. And there are interviews and lots of gorgeous photos of skaters past and present.

I would also recommend the documentary Hell on Wheels, about the roller derby revival in Austin, Texas. The recent derby movie and Ellen Page vehicle, Whipped, took a lot of its source material from Hell on Wheels, and the documentary is grittier, bloodier, and funnier than its fictional counterpart (and I say this as a person who has a special place in her heart reserved for Ellen Page should the day arise when Ellen wakes up and realizes that she should be bffs with me immediately).
For now, I’ll leave you with some sweet derby action: