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