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About Me


I have the audacity to write for children without having any of my own. What I do have is one of those dreary multicultural backgrounds--I grew up in India and recently moved back to the United States after five years in Sydney, Australia. The resulting crisis of identity infects all of my writing.


No Pets, Please!
Los Angeles Times Kids' Reading Room,
Jan. 25, 2009

Tamarind Rice
sold to Highlights for Children, March 2008

Blue Space Pajamas
Los Angeles Times Kids' Reading Room,
Nov. 11, 2007

Interview with Leonard Marcus
Kite Tales, Winter 2012

Interview with Arthur A. Levine
Kite Tales, Summer 2009

Interview with Michael Stearns
Kite Tales,Spring 2009

As of January 2009, I assumed the post of editor of Kite Tales, the newsletter for the SCBWI Tri-regions of Southern California.


Sandalwood and Stone
Contemporary YA
Winner of the 2010 SCBWI Mulitcultural WIP Award
Writing Contest, SCBWI-LA Writer's Day 2012, YA, 2nd Place

The Initiate's Daughter
Middle Grade Fantasy
Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshop for Fantasy 2010

March 29th, 2011 Deserts | Hiking | TravelRant | USA

60--Out of the Tropics, Into the Desert

Watch Out!

You are now entering the desert.
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

How to get there:
Follow the long and winding road.

Try not to blow away in windy San Gorgonio Pass.

Float by the inland Salton Sea below sea level, saltier than the ocean.


and wind some more…

and–you have arrived in ocotillo paradise and brittlebush heaven!

Reasons to visit:

Frolicking with family and friends is fun!

The log-balancing act

The bend-the-palm feat

The rock-top-pose stunt

The we-made-it-to-Maidenhair Falls smile

And there’s more!
Wildflowers that startle and delight

Vistas that dazzle and inspire

Intriguing locals

shy and

prickly and

curious and


Cavorting Cactus
making flowers while the spring sun shines

Teddy bear Cholla cuddly and soft–NOT!

Barrel Cactus barelling toward the sky

Ocotillo masquerading as cactus

Beavertail Cactus showing off with heartstopping brilliance

Memories carved in stone

There’s nothing like the present for making marvelous memories to look back on in the future. The path not taken calls. I will return.

I hope you’ll join me!

18 comments to 60–Out of the Tropics, Into the Desert

  • You’ve got a great eye, Rilla, for capturing cool pictures and unusual shots. Looks like it was a fantastic day in the desert. Those hot pink flowers look like they belong in the tropics, not the desert! What a fun posting. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, LynNerd! Those hot pink flowers…what can I say. They’re such show-offs 🙂 Gotta luv ’em.
      And loved seeing you on Saturday. I think those pink flowers would make great red herrings, don’t you?

  • Gorgeous, stunning, fantastic! Yup, you deserve all that for those photos. Then only thing better would be to go myself. Looks like you had a great time. 😀

  • Maria Toth

    We are so lucky to live near the desert, mountains, and ocean (and Disneyland). Your pics are breathtaking! Did that snake really pose for your camera? What kind of sinnnnnister snake was it? There’s also a great place to hike in Palm Springs where the palm trees are ginormous, and there are caves with cave paintings. It’s on Native American reservation. Thanks for sharing our beautiful desert! Glad you didn’t post any tarantula pics, though.

    • Yup! Very lucky.
      And yup, that snake did a whole song and dance for the camera…because of the camera. It’s a rattlesnake. It let us know that loud and clear. You can see its rattle in the right foreground. I wanted the pictures, but didn’t want to take any chances, not being a snake charmer.
      You have to tell me where the hike in Palm Springs is. I love cave paintings!
      Didn’t see any tarantulas 🙁 Will let you know when I do!

  • I love this, Rilla! Thanks for sharing. Maybe I’ll make it out there someday.

  • Ellen Reagan

    Oh, you seductress, you. Do you have any idea what these pics do to a gal from Illinois who is
    still stuck in snow showers and gray days at the end of March? 🙂
    Stunning photography, Rilla.
    Hope you had a telephoto lens for the rattler!

  • Maria Toth

    YIKES!!!! I thought it looked like a rattler. And a big one at that! How in the world did you take the pic? Were you standing on a huge boulder? I’ve never run into one in person, but we’ve heard one rattle in the brush once when we lived in the mountains. Then our chihuahua Jack came face to face with a small rattler in the riverbed behind our place. I never saw Jack run so fast. Joey couldn’t get him to stop running. The rattler was small and it was cool that day, so it didn’t react to Jack. HA! You are very brave girl!

    I’ll get the name of the hiking trails in Palm Springs for you! The Palms are actually ancient. It was during this hike that I realized how Palm Springs was named. The times I was there, artists were going up into the caves. It’s a climb.

    • Hey Maria, yes it was a big one. I’ve run into many rattlers on hikes. That’s the cool thing about them, they let you know they’re there so you can avoid them. Jolene was walking on past this one when it moved and we saw it. It was right beside the path by our feet. And it only started rattling when we whipped out our cameras and started to take pictures. Don’t know if it thought it would pose for us or if it just had a natural distaste for the paparazzi…where have I heard that before! We were careful to walk the other way when we had enough photos.

      Thanks for making me think of those two words…Palm Springs…and their connection to the area. Just like you, I’d never thought of that before, but now it’s like, Of course!

  • Annie

    Wow! What fun! Great photos, looks like the perfect time of year for the trip. I’m off to Tucson in April and hope the desert will be as beautiful as you found it!

    • How wonderful, Annie! I know you’ll have a great time. The cactus should be in full bloom, in April. Along with the yucca. And you’re such an amazing photographer. Can’t wait to see what you come back with 🙂

  • Maria Toth

    Congrats, Rilla, There’s a lovely award waiting for you on my blog. So, hop on over and claim it. 🙂

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