Saturday, January 11, 2014

Book Spotlight and a Giveaway! The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry

The Earthquake Machine

The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry
Paperback, 326 pages
Published September 2011
Kindle Edition, 328 pages
Published January 22nd 2012 

The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14 year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda's world but at home Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda's life is her family's Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation. 

Determined to find her friend Jesús, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Boquillas, Mexico. There a peyote-addled bartender convinces her she won't be safe traveling alone into the country's interior. So with the bartender's help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús. 

Thus begins a wild adventure that explores the borders between the United States and Mexico, adolescence and adulthood, male and female, English and Spanish, and adult coming-of-age and Young Adult novels.

Okay, I have to admit here that I have the paperback edition of The Earthquake Machine to giveaway. This is what the cover looks like and I have to admit that I like the newer cover better. But hey, the words inside are the same! And that's what matters, right? 

About the author

Mary Pauline Lowry joined a Hotshot Crew of forest firefighters, traveling the American west with a band of 20 men, digging fireline alongside raging forest fires during the day, sleeping in the ash at night.

Working a night shift on the 20,000 acre Laid Low fire in the mountains of the Angeles National Forest, Mary looked at the fire moving over the mountains like lava, at the city of Los Angeles far below illuminated with the light of a million streetlamps. She looked around her at the strong, sweaty, beautiful, ash-covered men working beside her. And she decided then that she would write a book about these Gods of Fire.

Laid off with the rest of her crew after the end of her first fire season, she went to Costa Rica, river rafting through the rainforest outside of La Fortuna, sea kayaking in the Pacific Ocean outside of Montezuma, and diving off of waterfalls until the money ran out and she returned home to Austin to work at her local indie bookstore.

After her second fire season, she finished her first novel, The Gods of Fire. Mary threw her tent in her car and headed for southwest Colorado. She rented a basement room at the Desert Rose Horse Ranch. Before dawn she wrote her second novel, The Earthquake Machine. During the day she did trim carpentry, framed houses, and built fences with a giant, bearded Viking of a man named David who taught her to be a carpenter.

Next Mary found work at a domestic violence shelter, helping the women and children she came to think of as “the forgotten ones.” Fleeing violent men had left these women homeless and there were rarely enough resources to get them truly back on their feet.  Mary did what she could for the women and children, cried every time she finished a shift, and spent her days off work polishing The Earthquake Machine, sending The Gods of Fire to agents and editors in faraway New York City, and running on mountain trails.

When she moved back to Austin, she wrote during the day and worked the night shift on the National Domestic Violence Hotline where she helped over 25,000 survivors of domestic violence seek safe shelter and a better life.

The Gods of Fire didn't sell. So Mary walked onto a plane and flew back to Los Angeles for the first time since that Laid Low Fire. But this time she went straight to Hollywood where she convinced Bill Mechanic (producer of films such as Fight Club, Braveheart, The Titanic, and Coraline) to option The Gods of Fire for film.

Mary then wrote the screenplay, which is currently out with directors.

Mary’s agent didn't want to send out The Earthquake Machine to editors. The book was perhaps too edgy. Editors would be afraid to take a chance on such a wild ride. And so Mary decided to give readers a chance to find her.

Connect with Mary 

Giveaway Time!!

Be sure to check the sidebar for my current giveaways!


  1. I love the adventurous premise to the book. And I am highly impressed by Mary's personal stories. She could likely write a memoir.

  2. A most fascinating giveaway and a wonderful post. Thanks for this chance. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. I like the new cover better too but who cares if the words are the same. Thanks for the chance to win a great book.

  4. It sounds like an amazing and exciting read. I find it very interesting that she poses as a boy, and would love to read the book. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  5. So glad "Mary decided to give readers a chance to find her." I would love to read this!!!!

  6. I look forward to reading the book and thanks for the opportunity to do so.


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