Official Website of Author,

Dani Camarena

Writing unlocks the characters and the whimsical thoughts they hold captive within our imagination.

-Dani Camarena


Dani Camarena Book 1 Casey Buckles Series

Summer camp in the mountains of Idaho could be the rock adventure of a lifetime for twelve-year-old geology buff Casey Buckles. With ice caves and lava tubes, the location offers rare stones galore. But when Casey discovers a cryptic note, threatening death to his family at the very place he’s headed, he must discover the dangers and protect their lives.

Arriving at camp, Casey learns about local folklore of ancient people hidden within the ice caves. Struggling against self-doubt and disbelief, he keeps the warning of danger a secret when convincing best friend Felix, an engineering enthusiast, and new friend Ellie, an aspiring legend hunter, to help find the caves.

But locating the entrance presents more problems than they bargained for and Casey’s impatient decisions trigger the first of many booby-traps, forcing the trio deep into a secret world. There they discover migrant clans who’ve kept their existence veiled for centuries and must now depend on three kids to save them from evil rule. To make it out, Casey risks it all in a fight-or-death quest of lava tube mazes, dangerous logic puzzles, and deadly creatures. Difficult relationships amongst the friends and impossible odds push Casey to the limits, where he must keep his cool to survive or become a part of the legend.

Currently Revising:


Coming Winter 2020 :


an Isadora "Issy" adventure

Thirteen-year-old writing and gadget-making enthusiast, Issy Garcia, dreams of bringing her inventions to life. Her latest creation, a novel she wrote filled with contraptions she can only hope to make, at least until she convinces her scientist parents to share some space in their backyard barn-lab. But they disagree with Issy's type of science and won't let her near their precious experiments.


When a mysterious storm hovers over her family's new home in Cornville, Arizona, and rogue lightning streaks through the house, Issy's parents go missing. In the hunt to find answers, she discovers Mom and Dad stuck inside her story's world, and the truth of their experiments—tachyons and time study. Clues and ingenuity lead Issy to follow her parents' trail, landing her in an alternate 1886 New York City full of bizarre costumes, steam-powered machines, and automatons.


Convinced her writing created this mess, Issy is determined to rescue her parents and shut down the hole. Not an easy task when Time Pirates are on her tail. Issy must navigate the streets of New York with clever street orphan, Mekasha, and calculate a way to get everyone back home before they're trapped in a world of steam and odd tech forever.



4 stars

This book [Casey Buckles] hooked me in from the start with its perfect insight of a young boy’s troubles. The characters were flawed but lovable. The story was at times funny and suspenseful. This is a wonderful story for young readers with some life lessons on the importance of family and friends.

Marie, Beta Reader, Quiet House Editing



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A little about me...

I grew up reading Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon (remember her), and the Hardy Boys. Reading allowed me to enter new worlds and go on adventures. My mom had so many classics on the book shelves: Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Swiss Family Robinson, Charlotte’s Web, Pippi Longstocking, Watership Down. I devoured them all, many times over. Fun and imaginative stories always abounded in my head. It made me a popular babysitter.

However, my stories never made it to paper. I dreamed of being a veterinarian (typical school girl dream job) and then dreamed of being a marine biologist (another typical school girl dream job). Neither of those panned out, so I entered the world of programming (coding, variables, functions, case statements, blah, blah, blah), and my nerd-brain loves it all.

Life took its course: marriage, babies, working on a career. Then came Harry Potter. Ah yes, the book series that took my heart (Accio, blood pumping organ). I couldn’t wait to read the next book, and the next book, and the next. Those fun stories in my head from all those years ago--they started popping. Could I write my stories on paper? Sure, how hard would it be? Eh! Enter reality. I enrolled in the advanced writing course at the Institute of Children’s Literature (awesome course by the way). In the beginning it took me 5 hours to write one page. Woh! Crazy, but I was hooked. I graduated in January 2015 with a completed draft of my first novel.


Avid camper and snowboarder with my two boys.


#WriteMentor 2018: selected as a mentee.

#FicFest 2016: chosen as part of the top 5 picks of one of the incredible judges.

#70Pit16: made the MG top playlist (code song: You Rock My World).


Critique Group...

My critique group came together in March 2015 and we are still together and meeting monthly. We found each other through SCBWI and it's wonderful to see how our diverse personalities and age ranges did not deter us from forming unique relationships. I adore my critique partners and value their clever insights and refreshing input.

My middle grade novel, CASEY BUCKLES AND THE KEEPER OF THE ICE CAVES, was inspired during a visit to Idaho's Shoshone Ice Caves. When the tour guide pointed out what looked like a face in the rock entrance of the caves, I was all like, "Yeah, I see him," while most others were like, "Huh?" Ideas started to spark. What's this rock face doing here? What's he guarding inside the caves? Does he need help? Yes, he does! In the form of a twelve-year-old impatient, loyal, family-loving, nerdy rock collector--Casey Buckles. 

Click here for more about Casey Buckles and his adventure.

Favorite Reads...

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

The Mysterious Benedict Society (series) by Trenton Lee Stewart

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Book of Lies by James Moloney

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen

Keeper of the Lost Cities (series) by Shannon Messenger

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Dani Camarena ICL Graduate


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