https://www.amazon.com/PALABRITAS-Fall2018-Ruben-Reyes-Jr/dp/1790492963/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1544741026&sr=1-1&keywords=palabritas
Latino Literature, Writing

Building A Writing Portfolio One Story at a Time

https://www.amazon.com/PALABRITAS-Fall2018-Ruben-Reyes-Jr/dp/1790492963/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1544741026&sr=1-1&keywords=palabritas
An Anthology of Poetry and Prose, Harvard College Press

Once in a while, one of my mom’s stories gets a hold of me and begs to be written. A few months ago, she told me of an experience she had. She saw spirits.

I wrote a blog post about it, but her story was more than seeing ghosts.  It’s what the story meant to her which begged for a longer look.

The idea of life and death, the spirit realm, and Mexican culture inspired me to create a short story about Mom’s experience.

An example of an ofrenda for Dia De Los Muertos

A couple of months ago I read about a call for submissions for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry entries from a debuting literary magazine, Palabritas out of Harvard. There was no submission fee and the post said that an editor would assist in the rewrites. What did I have to lose, except another ‘no’ response? And from Harvard!

One of my writing goals is to submit stories for publication, once a year. My main goal is to submit my manuscripts. To date, my manuscripts have been ‘liked’ but not ‘loved’ enough for a lit agent to take a risk of offering their representation. 

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

George Orwell

So, submitting short stories are something I do to develop my writing skills and to keep up my motivation. Published short stories add to my writing portfolio and that’s a good thing. To date, I’ve had three short stories published.

Short stories are a good way to write within a framework of an established work count, learn how to trim the fat and I do love receiving free feedback from an editor.

I took a chance and rewrote the blog post about Mom seeing ghosts and developed it into a short story.  Lucky was born.

On the day I posted, on a couple of Facebook groups I belong too, about how bad I felt from rejections of my manuscript,  along came an acceptance letter for Lucky.

The letter pulled me out of the doldrums and reinvigorated me. The editor requested revisions (twice) and the story was accepted. Last week the anthology was published. 

Yes, my story published, in a book, very nicely formatted and with a cover as you can see up there at the top. 

I’m so excited to be in this anthology alongside excellent poets and writers. It is these events that keep me going-and writing- for the long haul.

One of these days, one of my novels will be published. And I’ll celebrate and take a picture of that cover too. 

Books, Calaveras, Family, Latino culture, Latino Family Traditions, Latino Literature, Mexican History, Mexican Holiday food, Mexican traditions

What’s up with Mexican Culture and Death?

                        La Catrina from the Book of Life movie poster
La Catrina from the Book of Life Movie

Yes, it’s that time again…not Halloween, but Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1 and 2nd.

I used to hear that celebrating Dia de Los Muertos (DLM)was morbid. But with some understanding of the cultural concept of Dia, it has become quite trendy–a real party.

We did not celebrate DLM in my Mexican-American home (In the 60’s we were Mexican-American, the 70’s Chicanos, the 1990’s Hispanic, 2000’s Latinos- a short history lesson).

Growing up Catholic, November 1st was celebrated as All Soul’s Day, and we attended mass (Not a party).

If you are ‘new’ to the Dia de los Muertos revelries, here’s a list I complied last year on the Icons of the Day of the Dead. 

And if you’d like to celebrate the days leading up to DLM, here’s a list of 10 Must Have Items for Dia De Los Muertos. 

Dia is trendy now but that’s okay. To me, this means DLM is not only culturally relevant to Mexicans, Mexican American, Chicano’s, but the concept also resonates with other people who agree that those who have passed should be honored, remembered, and celebrated.

Hey, even Hollywood jumped on the bandwagon. I’m so glad that the person who pitched this story idea was Jorge Gutierrez and that award winning director, Guillermo Del Toro signed onto the project.

Read this wonderful movie review of “Book of Life,”  by Melanie Mendez Gonzales.

If you’d like to become better informed or give your kids a wider multicultural view, here are some beautifully illustrated and written children’s books on the Day of the Dead.

Just a Minute by Yuyi Morales
Just a Minute by Yuyi Morales

This is a story about a young girl who helps her family prepare to honor her grandfather.

I Remember Abuelito-A Day of the Dead Story
I Remember Abuelito-A Day of the Dead Story

I like to use the remembrance cards that are given out at church funerals. I place these all over my dresser, light a candle, and re-read the cards and think about the good times I’ve shared with the person.

And now that you know a little more about Dia de los Muertos you can chose to honor your loved ones too by setting up a space on your counter or chest of drawers, with or without a candle, and place photos of the person (s) you’d like to honor.

#WeNeedDIverseBooks, Books, Diversity, Latina writer, Latino Literature, Self Identity

DiverseLit: 10 New Summer Reads 2014

beach, reading
A Nice Place to Read- flickr.com cc license

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.–Vera Nazarian

 

The weekend was beautiful, sunny but not too warm, breezy but just enough to cool the face. It’s going to be an awesome summer to go to the beach, backyard, or lay out on the couch and read.

Even if it were dreary and rainy, I’d still read.

I’ve assembled my list of ten books for twelve weeks of summertime reading pleasure. My picks are based on authors whose writing I admire and other picks are based on the story they promise to tell.

These books are my travels, where I can go back in time, or to other cultures, or to hear words in other languages.

The subjects cover relationships, romance, loss, disability, prejudice, courage, and resilience.

Genres include historical fictions, contemporary lit, memoir and Young Adult novels.

China Dolls - Lisa See
China Dolls – Lisa See

1. China Dolls by Lisa See

Three young women from different backgrounds meet in San Francisco in 1938, forming a bond that will test their friendship after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.

2.The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman

Set against the backdrop of 20th century history, a Russian immigrant girl transforms herself into an ice cream mogul — one whose past threatens to trip her up. 

Book of Unknown Americans-C. Henriquez
Book of Unknown Americans-C. Henriquez

3-The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

A budding romance between a Mexican girl and Panamanian boy offers a glimpse of the struggles, fears and misunderstandings of Latin American immigrants. 

4.Take This Man – A Memoir by Brando Skyhorse

Brando Skyhorse was brought up in Echo Park in the 1970s believing he was the son of an incarcerated American Indian activist. This memoir explores his turbulent, five-stepfathered childhood and his discovery, decades later, of his true origins. 

5.Bulletproof Vest: The Ballad of an Outlaw and His Daughter by Maria Venegas

Brought up in the U.S., Maria Venegas had a tumultuous relationship with her gun-toting father back in Mexico. This debut book explores her relationship with this man and his often violent choices. (July 3, 2014)

6. The Amado Women by Désirée Zamorano

Southern California is ground zero for upwardly mobile middle-class Latinas. Matriarchs like Mercy Amado—despite her drunken, philandering (now ex-) husband—could raise three daughters and become a teacher. Now she watches helplessly as her daughters drift apart as adults. The Latino bonds of familia don’t seem to hold in this novel about four women linked by birth, separated by secrets of sex, money and death.

Diverse Lit, YA novel
Like No Other

7. Like No Other by Una LaMarche

Trapped in an elevator during a hurricane in Brooklyn, a Hasidic Jewish girl and a book-smart African American boy make a forbidden love connection that could lead to dire consequences. (July 24, 2014-YA novel).

8. Girl in Reverse by Barbara Stuber

When Lily was three, her mother put her up for adoption, then disappeared without a trace. Or so Lily was told. Lily grew up in her new family and tried to forget her past. But with the Korean War raging and the fear of “Commies” everywhere, Lily’s Asian heritage makes her a target. She is sick of the racism she faces, a fact her adoptive parents won’t take seriously. For Lily, war is everywhere—the dinner table, the halls at school, and especially within her own skin. (YA novel).

9.  A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. (YA novel).

Pig Park -YA fiction
Pig Park -YA fiction

10. Pig Park by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez

Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga neighborhood is becoming more of a ghost town each day since the lard company moved away. Even her school closed down. Her family’s bakery and the other surviving businesses may soon follow. As a last resort, the neighborhood grown-ups enlist all the remaining able-bodied boys and girls into a scheme in hopes of luring visitors. Maybe their neighbors will come back too. But something’s not right about the entrepreneur behind it all. (July 1, 2014-YA novel-MOVED to SEPT. 14 pub date).

Ten books in twelve weeks. Now, get thee to the library or your favorite bookseller and start reading.

I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense-Harold Kushner

 

Books, Latino Literature, Parenting

10 Reasons for Kids To Read Multicultural Books

Reading the World
Reading the World

Now that Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Book Friday is over I can get back to the Multicultural Middle Grade and YA books I promised to list (just in time for Cyber Monday).

But first, let’s discuss the term Multicultural Literature.

A single book can be a mirror for some readers and a window for others”
—Rudine Sims Bishop, Ginny Moore Kruse

MC Lit is written by and about people of color. MC books are not only for “minorities” but for all people. The value you receive, or give, when buying MC books are many. 

  1. MC Lit reflects the diversity that already exists in society and your community.
  2. Presents people of different ethnicities which provides a more realistic picture to a child or teen.
  3. Readers gain an understanding of other cultures which enhance our interactions with others and can help kids develop empathy towards their peers.
  4. MC Lit opens the world to others by stimulating conversations about traditions, heritage, food and language. One of my favorites in this area is Gary Soto’s holiday classic :

    Too Many Tamales
    Too Many Tamales.
  5. Stories with a cultural backdrop (especially Picture Books) often use words in other languages with an English equivalent
  6. MC Lit can heighten a child’s global awareness especially when the books include historical or geographic details. 
  7. When kids grow up exposed to diverse cultures, people, and places they become more open to exploring.
  8. MC Lit can take us on global trips which enrich our experiences and understanding.
  9. Educator  Jaclyn DeForge, M.S states:
  • Students should have the opportunity to be exposed to both classic and contemporary literature as well as  nonfiction texts.
  • All students should have the opportunity to see themselves reflected back, as well as to be exposed to cultures and experiences that may differ from their own, in the literature and nonfiction texts we study.
  1. 10. For children from mainstream culture, multicultural books assist in teaching understanding which leads to cultural sensitivity. For children who are culturally diverse, the use of multicultural books assists in building a positive self-concept.

MC Books Every Teen Should Know” comes from the School of Education-University of Wisconsin.

Lee and Low (formerly Children’s Book Press) is dedicated to multicultural literature for kids and teens.

For award winning books on African American, American Indian, Middle Eastern literature please see this list.

Happy shopping.

 

A book is a gift you can open again and again-Garrison Keillor

 

Author Sonia Sotomayor, Authors, Books, Latina writer, Latino family tradition, Latino Literature

Books for Christmas ?!

I’m that tia (aunt) who often gives books for Christmas and birthdays.  My nieces and nephews have lots of toys, too many clothes, and not enough trips to the library.My mom also gives books in addition to clothes and/or a toy.

I must say though that my nieces and nephews reactions haven’t been as forceful as the kid in the YouTube above, ‘pooh-poohing’ his way across the Christmas tree and the Wii set.

The kids might ‘pooh-pooh’ me in their mind, but my family wouldn’t dare giggle or they’d hear a few choice words in Spanish fly out of my mom’s mouth (the equivalent of ‘unappreciative brat’).

This year the tradition continues. Before Black Friday and Cyber Monday arrives think about giving some books to your family and friends, whether a child or an adult.

Today’s list is from a site that encourages reading about the Latino culture. The Best 2014 New Latino Authors was compiled by Jose B. Gonzalez, Ph.D., writer, poet, editor and John S. Christie, Ph.D., the author of Latino Fiction and the Modernist Imagination. Their website has tons of recommendations for adults and children, from  2006-2013.  (I apologize that the photos may not appear, however the links to the books are fine).

 The first list is for adults or older teenagers. The list below this one is from Flavorwire and are books for children. 

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My Beloved World

Sonia Sotomayor

1) This author needs no introduction. In her memoir, My Beloved World, the ever-inspirational Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor provides readers with powerful insight on the role that hard work and determination played in the early parts of her life as she forged a path to law school from housing projects in the Bronx to Princeton University, Yale Law School, and to the highest court in the nation.
pastedGraphic_1.pdf

Reboot

Amy Tintera

2) If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, there is no doubt that you will absolutely love Amy Tintera’s Reboot. Not surprisingly, the film rights to this thrilling sci-fi novel have already been sold.  This is an author who knows how to push the limits of imagination and write young adult works that will leave everyone begging for sequels.
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Flowers In The Dust

Myriam Alvarez

3) In Flowers in the Dust, Miriam Alvarez tells an intriguing tale based on her grandmother’s life. This work of historical fiction paints a poignant picture of South America around the mid-1900s, and is a touching portrait of a woman whose devotion to family is inspirational. 
pastedGraphic_3.pdfLoteria

Mario Alberto Zambrano

4) Mario Alberto Zambrano brilliantly weaves together a plot that that flows smoothly as it unravels like the popular game and novel’s namesake, Loteria. And just like the game, the story is unpredictable and full of twists. 
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The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

Sonia Manzano

5) Sonia Manzano, author of The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, has shown us that she has acting talent, having played Maria on Sesame Street since 1971.  And now through this novel, she shows off her writing skills.  Set in the 1960s East Harlem, this story is both gritty and witty as it revisits a time of the Young Lords, rebellion, and youth.
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Speaking Wiri Wiri

Dan Vera

6) In Speaking Wiri Wiri, winner of the inaugural edition of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, Dan Vera shows us why he is earning a reputation as a talented, sophisticated poet who is a master at playing with words. This collection, his second book of poetry, is a dazzling display of language and emotion.
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The Bolero of Andi Rowe

Toni Margarita Plummer

7) In the short story collection, The Bolero of Andi Rowe, Toni Margarita Plummer reminds us that this genre is alive and well.  She is a master of subtle suspense—the kind that creates tension waiting to explode until the final twist.
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The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old …

Sandra Ramos O’Brien

8)  Sandra Ramos O’Briant’s The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood is a page-turning work of historical fiction with drama that multiplies over and over, in a style that will make it difficult to put this novel down.
pastedGraphic_8.pdfA Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying

Laurie Ann Guerrero

9) Winner of the prestigious Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, Laurie Ann Guerrero’s A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying is a poetry collection with images that are both haunting and fascinating.  Guerrero illustrates that she is part poet and part storyteller.
pastedGraphic_9.pdf

The Mares of Lenin Park

Agustin D. Martinez

10)  Agustin D. Martinez, author of The Mares of Lenin Park, created quite the buzz in 2013.  His debut novel is part of an impressive line of works that tell the sometimes complex but compelling stories of Cubans during the revolution.

Flavorwire compiled a list of a few great children’s books with diverse characters and stories. These are classics, beautifully written and artistically pleasing.

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Tar Beach, Faith Ringgold

In this gorgeous book — a work of quilted art with story woven in — a little girl dream-soars above 1939 Harlem, looking down at the eponymous tar beach of her family’s roof. Evidence that imagination can overcome most anything.

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Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things, Lenore Look and LeUyen Pham

Second-grader Alvin Ho is scared of everything — especially school, which frightens him so much he can’t say a word. Adorable and immensely relatable, everyone will fall in love with Alvin as he worries over his descent from “farmer-warriors who haven’t had a scaredy bone in their bodies since 714 AD” and takes pride in his “gentleman in training” status.

TheGirlWhoLovedWildHorses

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, Paul Goble

Goble’s Caldecott-winning 1978 story of a Native American girl swept up in a stampede is a masterpiece, surely one of the most beautiful children’s books of all time. For every little girl who has ever felt a deep connection to horses. You probably know some little girls like that.

thanhha_lai_inside_out_and_back_again1

Inside Out and Back Again, Thanhha Lai

The Vietnamese-American writer Thanha Lai’s debut novel, which won the National Book Award in 2011, tells the tale of Hà, a ten-year-old girl who flees to Alabama with her family during the fall of Saigon. The language is beautiful and the story, based on the author’s own experiences, is quite touching.

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Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan

This chapter book follows 13-year-old Esperanza as her wealthy family loses everything during the Great Depression. She and her mother are forced to flee their fancy ranch in Mexico to California to work on a farm. Esperanza must remake herself in this new, physically and mentally demanding world — but after all, “esperanza” means “hope.”

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Bud, Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis

“It’s funny how ideas are, in a lot of ways they’re just like seeds,” muses ten-year-old Bud-not-Buddy, on the lam from a foster home to find his father in 1930s Michigan. “Both of them start real, real small and then… woop, zoop, sloop… before you can say Jack Robinson, they’ve gone and grown a lot bigger than you ever thought they could.” A delightful modern classic and the winner of the 2000 Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award.

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Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China, Ed Young

Some stories, like the Red Riding Hood tale, strike so close to the human heart that they re-pattern themselves across cultures and countries — if perhaps wearing different cloaks. This beautifully illustrated, immensely powerful book — dedicated “To all the wolves of the world for lending their good name as a tangible symbol for our darkness” — is the version your literary editor grew up with.

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My Name is Maria Isabel, Alma Flor Ada

María Isabel Salazar López is the new girl in school, and her teacher insists on calling her Mary. How can María make her see that her name — her proper name — means everything to her? A sweet story about heritage and standing up for yourself.

thecomposition

The Composition, Antonio Skarmeta and Alfonso Ruano

The winner of the Americas Award for Children’s Literature and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, this picture book follows two young boys in a village in Chile after one of their fathers is arrested and the agents of the dictatorship try to turn children against parents. Serious, edgy, and brilliant.

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The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats

But of course. Keats’s beloved Caldecott Medal-winning book, published in 1962, made history for being the first full-color picture book to feature an African-American protagonist. Add to that the beautiful collage-style illustrations and Peter’s charming, understated adventure, and you have an all-time classic that never seems to age.

Next post will be a list for Middle Grade and YA. Happy reading and have fun choosing some memorable books.