Latino Literature, Writing

Building A Writing Portfolio One Story at a Time
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. 


Reasons to visit the NYC Library

Patience the Lion, brother of Fortitude, greets visitors

I’m here in NYC visiting my son for an early Christmas.

While he takes off to work, I go sight seeing. Today I visited the New York Public Library, the Schwarzman Building.

Now, visiting the library might seem boring but for book and architect fans this is the place to put on the itinerary.

First stop is outside the building. Fortitude and Patience are the impressive marble lions who’ve guarded the library since 1911. This month they’ve donned pine wreaths.

Second stop is the foyer.

Look closer and see how many birds you can identify

Take the stairway up to the second floor. The area is a gorgeous example of Beaux Arts style with elegant chandeliers and marble walls.

Third stop: Walk through the arch way and 🤫 shhh

A good book is the precious life blood …

you’re in the reading room. Wall to ceiling books in an area that is almost the length of a football field. I wanted to stretch out on the benches and gaze into the library sky.

I did sit and gaze.

Pause for a few minutes

Fourth stop is only for researchers with appointments. They are the lucky ones who get to enter the special rooms which contain valuable manuscripts and Charles Dickens writing desk.

There are also rooms to do genealogy research.

Fifth stop is on the ground floor where you’ll find the gift store. Walk around the corner to the children’s section and check out the two LEGO lion replicas of Patience and Fortitude.

The kids area is small but very cute with a good array of multicultural picture books, tiny kid chairs and larger adult seats.

The highlight in the room is the display of the real Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animals.

Piglet is tiny but mighty

My last stop-which should have been my first-was the free film exploring NYPL’s history and collections. I suggest you watch the film first.

If my stomach wasn’t rumbling with hunger I would have stayed longer than two hours but hunger won out.

I jumped on the subway and headed to Little Italy for pasta carbonara.


A Week of Turmoil In Southern California

I Love You California by 3 Fish Studios. Fundraising bundle.

The week of November 7 to the 14th is one few people in the state of California and in Ventura County will ever forget.

It’s been an unnerving week where our sense of safety has been shaken.

Like many, I woke to the news of a mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, CA. This time the tragedy was eighteen miles away. Twelve young people killed. The 307th mass shooting in 2018. (I will spare you the photos).

Another blow descended on Ventura County less than 24 hours after the shooting: the Woolsey and Hill Fires.

A tornado of turmoil has hit this county.

Much of the week I kept busy with the Red Cross and checking in with my sister and brother-in-law whose home was in the line of the wildfires.

Luckily her home was saved, but not her neighbors.

A casualty of Woolsey Fire, Thousand Oaks, CA

Last night, the shock and stress of the past week hit me. I couldn’t stop thinking of the people at Borderline and those directly affected by the fires.

I journaled because the feelings had to go somewhere:

“You were full of hope and laughter, music blared a great dance tune, lights flashed, new faces appeared, familiar ones were greeted. A chorus of friendly voices, the scent of perfume mingled with leather and draft beer. This was a place to relax, have fun, make plans.

The booming crack of gunshots, bullets, stopped the laughter. Some ears recognized the deadly sound. Each bullet shattered a life, safety, hope. Each shot created chaos and turmoil in the state’s safest city. 

Minutes later you, a sergeant, sacrificed your life. Cops run into emergency’s, even in the presence of an active shooter. Twenty-nine years on the force, one year to retirement; to future plans.

The dawn rose over groups of traumatized parents and the loved ones of the men and women inside of Borderline. Later, a couple of miles away from the scene, many of you waited to hear of your children, hoping against hope you’d wouldn’t hear the worse news of your life until you did. 

Stoic police officers gathered in the same area, keeping frantic media away from the families. Soon you wiped away tears as you glimpsed the police motorcade, on the lobby TV, take your fellow officer from the hospital to the coroner’s office.

You couldn’t be with the hundreds of people lining the streets and highways who came to pay their respects because you had a job to carry out.

Meanwhile, your spouses and loved ones stuffed the crushing dread of ‘it could have been my husband, my wife, my son, my daughter,’ down into their ribcage.”

In the midst of this turmoil, the Santa Ana’s, the devil winds, we call them in Southern California blew through our mountains and valleys. Firestorms blew in the south, east, and west of our cities. The winds had no pity as they sucked up brush, trees, cars, animals, homes, and people in their fiery path.

Hundreds of evacuees waited in their cars in supermarket parking lots watching a surge of red-orange flames crest over ridges; slide down hills, wondering if their home was gone and praying it wasn’t.

We choked on smoke as highways closed, flames on both sides. Evacuation shelters opened up in several cities, staffed with Red Cross and other volunteers, taking in the elderly, families, and homeless.

On the sixth day of fires, we still had the smoke.

Smoke filled sky six days after Woolsey Fire began. The palm trees blowing with Santa Ana winds.

Cell towers burned, cable lines melted, the internet went out and some people actually complained.

Today, the seventh day, the Camp Fire still rages. It’s devasted a town, killing 48 people, with 103 still missing.

We all need a good cry.

And now I can’t write anymore.




This Will Be The Year of the Vote

Go Vote!


For the last three months, you’ve read numerous articles, watched campaign ads, listened to your favorite cable news (mine is MSNBC)debate issues and swiped through social media.

This is the year of the vote.

Today is the day of reckoning.

Voting is important for my mom and my daughter. They realize what’s at stake for women in this country.

Last week I sat with my mother reviewing her mail-in ballot. She’s legally blind so I read every candidate statement and pro/con of all the propositions in a voice that’s twice as loud as I normally use because she’s also hard of hearing.

I repeated myself, often.

But that’s okay, Mom takes care with who and what she votes for every time. She draws the line on the ballot herself although she has to put the paper four inches from her eyes.

The process takes a little over two hours.

The next day, my daughter came to me with her mail-in ballot. This is her first time voting. After reading the candidate statements she declared,

“Some of them say a whole lot of nothing. I don’t want them to tell me what they’re going to do but what have they done.”

The procedure took her one hour. That’s a huge amount of time for a Millennial.  “Can’t they streamline this process?” she says.

One hour, two hours, that’s okay for the privilege to vote.

People of color and their allies fought hard for my right to vote.

I’m super-proud of Mom and my daughter for voting. That’s three generations of women voting in this family.

Many people today will stand in two, three hour lines before or after work in states where November weather is cold or rainy.

line of people who want to vote

Many of those people are parents who will juggle work time and child care to go vote. People who use canes, wheelchairs, and have mobility issues will find a way to go vote.

That takes a lot of conviction and dedication.

Thank you for using the power of your vote today.