Hi everyone. I was on a COVID hiatus during the spring and summer, but I am back to posting.
I hope you were all well and managed to avoid the virus as it has wreaked havoc with so many people, including my son, who lives in New York City. Thankfully, he successfully battled the virus and is doing so much better.
The cute graphic up top is an illustration of the varied shades of Latino’s or Latinx children. More so than in my generation, children are multi-ethnic, bi-racial, or multi-racial as my children are and several in our extended families.
Stories by Latinx are not only about one or two subjects, just like Latinx people are not one ‘type,’ but this rich heritage is often not reflected in the written language of children’s books or adult books for that matter.
There is a concept in education called “Windows and Mirrors.” A mirror is a story that reflects your own culture and helps you build your identity. A window is a resource that offers you a view of someone else’s experience.
When students read books where they see characters like themselves who are valued in the world, they feel a sense of belonging. Rudine Sims Bishop
This fact motivated several writers, authors, editors, illustrators, and others in the publishing arena to increase and publicize the stories they have to tell.
I belong to one such group, LatinxPitch, modeled after the Twitter groups, PitchMad and DVPit. I’m a co-founder of LatinxPitch, along with eleven other authors.
There are so many good things happening in the world of increasing representation in children’s literature. I hope you check out the article and descriptions of picture books, middle grade, and Young Adult literature that is highlighted.
In early December, there will be an online Latinx Kidlit Book Festival.
Keep the list of children’s books handy for the holidays or to request from your local library.
I’m a reader of all genres of books and post reviews at Goodreads.com, however, I wanted to try an author interview for a book I recently read. (Something new for the new year).
As a long time reader of the blog Eat Less Water and a believer in water scarcity and our impact on the environment, I asked Ms. Ramirez for an interview. She graciously accepted the request.
EAT LESS WATER: The solution to worldwide water shortages is in our kitchens.
1. How did you come up with the title of your book?
Before I began writing Eat Less Water, I had a small distribution business of water conservation products for the shower. As I got deeper into the world of water conservation, I sought more information and research on the topic of water scarcity. One of those books was When the Rivers Run Dry. The book introduced me the concept of water footprint and virtual water.
Once I learned food was the most significant user of freshwater in the world, I instantaneously knew if I was to impact greater change, I needed to change my focus from the bathroom to the kitchen.
The idea for the book came in the form of the title. I remember the moment distinctly. My husband was sitting next to me at the time. I said to him, “I am going to write a book about water and food, and it will be called Eat Less Water.” When I said the title out loud, I knew it was to be. Seven years later, I held the completed book in my hands.
2. What, if any, literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
One year into writing Eat Less Water, I came across, A Room of Her Own (AROHO), week-long writers retreat for women at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. I immediately completed the application and sent it in before the idea was forgotten. A month later, I learned I was accepted to participate.
The retreat was a turning point. It was not until that literary pilgrimage in the shadow of the Pedernal mountain that I embodied my identity as a writer. During the retreat, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Marilynne Robinson spoke of the role of writers. She said,
writers must tell the truth as we see it.
She continued that it is the truth that pushes back against fascism. Her words bore deep. I responded with tears. I knew at that moment with absolute certainty that I am a writer. Writing for change is what I was designed to do. I returned on this pilgrimage two more times, to re-inspire and re-charge amongst other creative women.
3. What do your plans for future projects include?
My next book project is called, “In Search of Real Food in American Public Schools.” I found my first public school while on my book tour in NYC. This book, like Eat Less Water, will require, travel, interviews and lots of research.
My hope is to create a blueprint for parents, educators, and students to improve our current food programs within the current school funding and regulations.
And to reimagine a food system that supports small-scale farmers working to grow clean, nutritious food that’s good for our children and the planet. In many ways, it is a continuation of what I started in Eat Less Water.
I’m also working on a smaller project; an “Eating Less Water” coloring book for young children. Each chapter of the “Eat Less Water” book begins with beautiful drawings of the plants and animals featured in the book. The coloring book will contain these drawings accompanied by a short introduction to water footprints, water conservation of the connection between our food and water.
4. What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
The process of writing a book is a private act. I form sentences and construct ideas in my mind. During the writing process, I was selective about who I invited in to critique and discuss my pages. The moment the book was published, the ideas no longer belonged to me alone, they now exist in the public realm, that is expanding on a daily basis. This expansion is both exhilarating and uncomfortable.
The book has stretched me to unknown territories, has put me in contact with new people, and tests my willingness to say “yes” to new opportunities. The experience can be uncomfortable at times because it is outside the safety of my solitary writing cocoon. And it requires me to surrender myself to the expansion of my world experience.
What has helped me to embrace this natural transition from writer to author, is the sage advice from a mentor.
“The work is not complete until it is received,”
she told me. I say this in my mind before I set out into a new situation to expand the reach of Eat Less Water.
5. What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?
I want readers to feel empowered, and to realize the solution to water shortages is in each of our kitchens. Our food pantries represent rivers, aquifers, lakes from every part of the planet. In my pantry, I have rice from Vietnam, chocolate from Ghana, coffee from Guatemala, flour from Kansas, eggs from Ojai, California and lettuce from Oxnard. Each country, state, region deals with water scarcity issues ranging from not having enough-supply, or not having enough “clean” water quality.
Food is the most significant user and polluter of water.
If we are to be part of the solution of global water solutions, we must begin with our food choices, supporting farming methods that save water. We are connected to the world’s water with each meal.
I hope Eat Less Water to be like a pebble tossed into the stillness of water that grows ever-widening circles. More specifically my vision for the book is the following:
to reveal the connection between what we eat and the impact on rivers and lakes,
to generate more business for farmers dedicated to growing food using farming methods that save our water resources,
to inspire policy change at the individual, farm, corporate, and government policy level.
When the well is dry, we know the value of water- Benjamin Franklin
For thousands of people in Flint, Michigan and East Porterville, California, the well dried up. For 800 million people around the world, the well is dry.
There’s a new book arriving on November 1st, 2017 titled “Eat Less Water.” The author and researcher, Florencia Ramirez, state experts predict two-thirds of people living on this planet in 2030 will experience water scarcity, a situation expected to result in the deaths of millions and an unprecedented rise in military conflicts.
Can we as individuals hope to have any effect on the global scale of water misuse?
The answer is “Yes,” if we change some of our lifestyle habits. The author states, “THE MOST FAR-REACHING, effective strategy to save water is to eat less of it.”
This book gives the reader an eye-opening education on how much water is used in food production:
1 pound of beef has a “virtual water footprint” of 1,851 gallons.
1 pound of pork = 631 gallons of water
1 pound of lamb = 398.8 gallons of water
This is not a book against meat, it’s a book describing the benefits of organically raised water sustainable livestock.
“Food grown without chemicals saves fresh water more than any other water-saving strategy.”
There are sixteen chapters ranging from Wheat and Water to Eggs and Water; Beer and Water; Coffee and Water, and other major food groups. Each chapter ends with a recipe for an organic, water sustainable dish or beverage.
The author traveled over 16,000 miles across the USA and took seven years to research and interview farmers and food producers who illustrated the very best in food cultivation. The food is grown with farming systems in sync with their surrounding environment, “working to replenish rivers, not pollute them,” and methods used to regenerate the soil, “keeping more water in the ground…”
Written in an engaging narrative, the book is non-fiction and several footnotes cite studies which back up the research. The book encourages families and the household shopper to be selective in what they buy and consume. The recipes encourage you to shop for locally grown organic products.
“What we choose to put on our dinner tables can rewrite the story of water scarcity touching people around the world.
Be part of a change that will make a difference in creeks, rivers, groundwater, and oceans across the planet. Start tonight at your kitchen table.”
Note: Florencia Ramirez is a personal and professional friend. She co-founded the writing group: WOmen Who Write (WoWW) in Ventura County. I am a member of this small group and this in no way detracts from an honest review. I’m delighted to participate in Florencia’s writing journey and see the fruition of all of her very hard work.
I’m feeling optimistic for a better month on this first day of August. Maybe by day 31 it will be a different story, but for today I’ll take optimism.
July was a rough month for a lot of people and for the nation. Some people unplugged, some dug in, some lamented and others did all three. I’m somewhere in between, with a sprinkling of ‘counting my blessings’.
During the last two weeks, I’ve read numerous blogs and I’m surprised how some writers can put out daily posts. Most of my writing has been confined to revising a work in progress, completing a short story for submission to an anthology, and reworking my query for Brenda Drake’s next #PitchWars2016.* And in between that, organizing our writer’s group retreat for October. I’m exhausted.
My work in progress is about a young woman who works at a botanica, or herb remedy shop, and concocts a ‘love potion’ that goes awry. Parts of the novel take place in Oaxaca, Mexico. I haven’t been there but I’m seriously considering taking a trip, especially after researching the pyramids and the city itself. I’ve added several pins to my Pinterest storyboard.
I’m working feverishly to get through another round of revisions so I can relax on a trip to Cozumel, an island off the Yucatan peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. I love that name, Quintana Roo. I understand that Joan Didion gave her daughter that name.
The sea beckons, although I can’t swim. Maybe they have adult floaties so I can pretend to snorkel at the reefs and see the giant turtles. Or I can sit on the beach with a fish taco and a drink.
I plan to climb the pyramids of Tulum and explore the San Gervasio Mayan Archaeological site, although this particular pyramid looks eerie.
For sure, I’ll take the two books I’m reading, “Pierced By The Sun,” by Laura Esquivel. It’s very different than “Like Water For Chocolate.” The other novel is by Helena Maria Viramontes, “Moths and Other Stories.” I’ve read two of the author’s other books and find her writing visceral and engaging. Not anything I’d expect from a Cornell University professor.
And in the evening, I’ll put on my dressy sandals and dance to the light of the moon (or the overhead lights, whichever comes first).
So after this short post, I’m back to re-writing so that in a couple of weeks I can enjoy this view:
*If you’re a writer of Middle Grade to Adult fiction, this pitch opportunity may be for you.