Tuesday, July 26, 2005


(Courtesy of photographer Cheri P Edwards; Indiana Black Expo, July 16, 2005) I didn't notice that my name was misspelled until later on!)


“Quietly powerful, CHOOSE ME gets under your skin and won’t let go. At first glance CHOOSE ME may seem like straightforward Christian chicklit, but the complexity of the characters takes it to a higher level. Eva is particularly refreshing as the first strong female character in recent memory whose identity is self-defined and is believably happy alone.”
—Marcela Landres
Publisher of LatinidadTM

“Narrated in the alternating voices of Adam and Eva, Ruiz's novel mixes a conversational tone with realistic, flawed characters to create a refreshing story of love and reaffirming faith.”

—Library Journal

“Praise God! You need to get yourself a little taste of CHOOSE ME. It is my favorite kind of book—the kind I can’t put down!”
— Michele A. Bowen
#1 Essence Bestselling Author

“With humor and grace, Ruiz tells a gut-wrenching story laced with sensitive treatment of issues like racial profiling and youth violence. In this top-notch debut, her characters are clear-voiced and well-defined.”

—Romantic Times BOOKclub Magazine
(****1/2 STARS – Fantastic)

“When an Afro-Latina named Eva meets African American Adam, it's far from paradise! This powerful novel addresses contemporary issues including sexuality, gun violence, and racial profiling.”


“In her FABULOUS debut novel, Xenia Ruiz introduces us to two characters that will stay with you long after you read the last word. I really loved the author's use of scripture and poetry to move to story along. But the one thing that I really loved about the novel was Adam. Adam is one of the most positive African-American male characters I have read in a long time. As the novel progressed, I fell in love with Adam right along with Eva. Xenia Ruiz is definitely an author we should keep on our radar.”

—The Good Girl Reviewers

“What a wonderfully delightful tale of two mature adults navigating a rocky romantic road. This author is a brilliant new addition to the multicultural, Christian fiction genre.”

—BK, Michigan

Wednesday, July 20, 2005



THE INDIANA BLACK Expo in Indianapolis was a success. For the first hour, Cheri & I participated in a Fiction Authors’ Panel with two other authors (it was supposed to be three but one was a no-show). It was being broadcast live remote from WTLC Jazz Station. We were in a large room which must have seated at least 100 people, but there were only about 10-15 people, which was a good thing. We authors were on the stage with microphones in front of us and each of us introduced ourselves and gave a brief synopsis of our books. I wasn’t nervous but I just couldn’t get my words together and almost immediately my throat got dry and raspy. We then went up to the podium one by one and read an excerpt. Since I was last, I had time to prepare a little introduction and redeem the previously skimpy synopsis of my book. I read the prologue which is only a page and a quarter long and quickly sat down. Afterwards, the moderator, a self-published author, asked us questions. Then the audience asked us questions, mostly about how we got published, whether we would recommend self-publishing or major publisher. I kept my answers brief & to the point; the other authors gave lengthy answers. Before I knew it, the hour was up.

FROM 2:00 – 4:00 PM, WE sat in a room called The Literary Café (though we were not provided with coffee or water) to sell our books. I believe we sold about 7-8 books a piece. We met a lot of nice people, and a couple of customers who had already read the book. I came around from my comfort zone behind my table and approached potential customers, which is something that used to be hard for me (approaching strangers); I handed them a brochure while giving them a synopsis of the book. The highlight of my day was when a reader (Lena) told me Choose Me was “awesome” and that it inspired her. When she said she came specifically to meet me, I was cheesing like the Cheshire cat. However, she forgot to bring the book but she insisted that I sign something so she could stick it in the book. This is one of those moments authors live for; not the critics, but the readers.

aunts came (she bought both our books) and blessed us with free tickets to a concert that night to hear Ashford & Simpson, Cameo, Keith Sweat, Doug E. Fresh, Whodini, and Stephanie Mills. I loved Cameo’s music the best and it was refreshing to hear Doug E. Fresh beat-boxing (when hip-hop was hip-hop). Stephanie Mills was last on the roster, which was horrible considering it was already 1:00 a.m. and we had to get up early the next morning. Man, her voice is the best. None of today’s singers got anything on her, not Alicia Keys (whose music I like), India.arie (my girl), or Beyonce. We decided to leave around 1:30 to avoid the mad exit so I didn’t get to hear Stephanie sing “Home.” It’s been a while since I went to a concert (Prince’s last year) & it brought back memories. Thanks Aunt Diane!

I ACTUALLY SOLD two books to males, which was surprising. I approached them with the line: “Are you married? Got a girlfriend? A mom? Want to buy her a good book?” One guy was married and after I gave him a brief synopsis, he bought it for his wife. The other guy was the director of African American admissions at Wabash University in Cartersville. Cheri and I engaged him in a conversation his school. Then I told him: “My book features a director of African American admissions!” And he said: “This is your book?” I was like: “What do you think I’m doing here?” I guess he thought I was just selling the books for Walk Worthy Press. Then he bought the book!

THE IN-STORE STOCK signings were a different story. While the Barnes & Noble store in Clearwater Crossing had three copies of my book, they had none of Cheri’s. The B. Dalton store (Glendale Center) had no copies of either of our books; however, they both had a sales history which means they had sold. The B. Dalton store (Circle Center) had nine copies of my book, but had no copies of Cheri’s, even though they informed me that they were all “waiting at the front desk.” When I asked them how long it would take to request her books, he said “by the end of the week.” The manager, James Wise, had Cheri sign author cards to insert in the books once they arrived and promised to display the books prominently. (The store has an African American Interest display right behind the cash register.) He also said that if we want to come back for a “real” signing (as opposed to a phony one?) in the future, we were welcome.

WE LEFT INDIANAPOLIS around 3:00 p.m. and got so lost, we had to stop three times to ask for directions. I think it was about 4:30 p.m. when we finally got on I-74 West toward Rantoul. I was so tired from lack of sleep, and my eyes were burning from the sun’s glare, the drive was grueling. I could not get to Chicago fast enough. Even though I was driving 75-80 mph in the fast lane, cars were tailgating me trying to get around me. So I refused to move. I know you’re supposed to move to the passing lane & let the faster cars pass you up, but does that rule still apply if the cars are exceeding the speed limit more than you are? It felt so good to be back in Chicago, even though I complain about it so much, there’s just no place like home. I could not get to bed fast enough.

I WAS PERUSING the Puerto Rico Power website (http://puertoricanpower.net/index.htm), I came across an upcoming Puerto Rican cultural festival in Chicago, El Barrio Art Festival. El Barrio Art Festival is a multidisciplinary community cultural art festival showcasing Puerto Rican visual artists, craftmakers, musicians, performers, poets, video filmmakers & more in the Chicago and Midwest area.

LAST NIGHT, I sent an e-mail to the program organizer, Jorge Félix, about the possibility of my participating. It turned out there was a planning meeting today, which he invited me to attend to see if this was something that would interest me. The meeting took place at the Humboldt Horse Stables outside, because it was so hot inside, and it was really informative. I got to congregate with some very enlightening Puerto Rican artists I never knew existed in my city. There was this one guy, an actor (who reminds me of this deep-voiced Jewish actor on TV who always plays a lawyer); he spoke so eloquently and has recently performed in the play, “Short Eyes,” by Miguel Pinero. It was awesome listening to the various accents (from Chicago-ese to heavily accented English to I-don’t speak-a-lick-of-Spanish English). I just came from the meeting (he had already put my name on the draft program schedule!). I will be provided with a table where I could sell my books & later provide a 15-minute reading at the performance stage. I’m thinking of hiring a couple of amateur actors to read some excerpts as Eva & Adam so I won’t have to do it.

HERE IS THE info for the upcoming festival:
Saturday, August 20, 2005, 12:00 Noon – 6:00 pm
El Barrio Art Festival
Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (IPRAC)
Humboldt Park Stables
3015 West Division
Chicago IL 60622

FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2005
4:00 – 6:00 PM
** PLEASE RSVP VIA E-MAIL @ laequis222@yahoo.com**

at University of Chicago Bookstore
970 East 58th (at Ellis)
Chicago, IL
P: 773-702-5284

SATURDAY, July 23, 2005
3:30 – 5:30 PM
Afrocentric Bookstore II
4655 South King Drive
Chicago, IL 60653
P: 773-924-3966

SATURDAY, July 30, 2005
1:00 – 3:00 PM
Chicago Public Library-Bessie Coleman Branch
731 E 63rd StreetChicago, IL 60637
P: 312-747-7760
Appearance with Cheri Paris Edwards, Author of
Plenty Good Room

Love, Peace & Soul
Amor, Paz y Alma


Thursday, July 14, 2005



I DID MY final 3 Chicago Drop-bys today at 2 Barnes & Noble's & one Border's. I had called Border's last week to tell them I was coming & they told me they didn't have any copies, after I had seen them displayed in “New Fiction” two weeks ago. So I'm thinking, I guess they sold. But I decided to stop in the store anyway since I was in the neighborhood just to make sure & sure enough, there were two copies of my book on the shelf. I asked the guy to check the computer & he found 2 more. I told him how I had called last week & someone told me that there were no copies but I couldn't remember his name. I asked his name & when he said "Andy," it dawned on me that he was the same person I spoke to (!) I almost forgot I was a Christian. I then went to a far North Side Border’s (which wasn’t on my daysheet) to edit my 2nd book (in Lincolnwood) & there, in African American literature, was Choose Me on the shelf. That was a pleasant surprise, though it was shelved improperly under the “S’s” so I moved it to a more prominent display on the side (next to Connie Briscoe & Eric Jerome Dickey).

JUST GOT THE updated daysheets regarding the Indianapolis trip to the Black Expo where I will be participating on a Fiction Authors’ Panel with four other Christian fiction authors (including Cheri Paris Edwards). I went on-line to check out their websites, read their bios/ excerpts. Only two had websites, none of them had excerpts, so I couldn't get a sense of their writing style. They're all self-published so it should be interesting. I'm looking forward to Indianapolis, but I'll be glad when it's over.

LAST NITE I saw Terry McMillan on Tavis Smiley--whoo, the girl was mad hot! She was just going on & on about how her ex risked her life, how she could be HIV positive, how she's more insulted than anything. She went on & on about how he is not going to get any of her money, how he's stupid & slick but prison is full of slick people. Every time Tavis Smiley tried to change the subject away from her ex, she would come right back around to it. She finally got around to talking about her new book The Interruption of Everything (they've run 1/2 million copies!). The only good thing she said was how women think being 50 is the beginning of the end when in actuality, it's like replaying your twenties, only you're in your 50s. Also, she said she doesn't like the label, "Black Chick-lit" because she doesn't like people to define her work (I don't either) & that she prefers to call it "dramedy," it's tragic, but there's humor in it.

I FEEL TM’s pain, as an author, and as an older woman. When I first heard about her younger man, I knew it wouldn't last, not only because of the age factor, but because of the circumstances surrounding their courtship. While the DL issue never entered my mind, I have always believed you just don't bring men you meet on vacation back home & marry them (especially from other countries; "What happens in Jamaica, stays in Jamaica--including the man"), just like you don't take men home from bars. Had she kept quiet, no one but her immediate friends/family would have been none the wiser. So yes, I feel sorry for her, too. Very sorry.

JUST RECENTLY AT my book signing in Detroit, I was inevitably asked the question, "How much of Eva (the female protag) is you?" I knew the gentleman who asked this question asked because I had read an excerpt of Eva's (who is Latina) stating that she had always been attracted to Black men. Also, Eva is a celibate woman who eventually becomes attracted to an African American man who makes her question her vow of celibacy. Since I had anticipated this question, I was ready with my answer. I replied that other than the fact that I had been married at age 19 and had two college-aged children before I was 40 (like Eva), the book was fiction. Whether that is true or not, HE will never know. He will never know whether I am or ever have been celibate, nor will he ever know if I truly am attracted to Black men. No one, not even my own family knows my inner thoughts or desires, even if they have witnessed SOME of my experiences. And that's the bottom line: you just got to know when to DENY, DENY, DENY. Writing, like life, without a little mystery, becomes mundane.

GREAT NEWS! NIGEL from Barbara's Bookstore at my old job called today. When he tried to order more copies from his distributor (Ingram), he was told they had no more copies, so he said he has to order them directly from Warner & would call me once they come in. WOO-HOO!! (I wonder how many copies were in stock at Ingram & what does this mean exactly?)

Love, Peace & Soul
Amor, Paz y Alma

Sunday, July 10, 2005



JUST GOT BACK from my tour to the Milwaukee area with Cheri Paris Edwards and although I didn’t sleep well, it was a productive experience. The best part was we didn’t get lost, and we found everything quickly with the help of Mapquest. Milwaukee reminded me a lot of Chicago, though not many skyscrapers, and the downtown area was deserted compared to Chicago’s. The people were friendly for the most part.

the Cultural Connection in Glendale, which is right outside of Milwaukee. It was a small independent African American bookstore on the 2nd floor, over a barber shop. We found out later that the bookstore owner, Frances Utsey, is married to the barber shop owner (cute). We were scheduled from 5:00 – 7: 00 p.m., I thought, for the usual formal reading, Q&A, etc. but Frances informed us that she does things differently. She just has her authors and customers intermingle informally and just talk—which was fine. Over the course of the two hours, the bookstore had several visitors (10), mostly customers who knew what they wanted (paperbacks) or were picking up books which they had previously requested. The two customers who purchased our books were regular Christian fiction readers and knew we were coming & specifically asked for our books; one was a member of the GloryGirls Book Club so I hope they like our books. Frances had about 8-10 copies of our books (I didn’t count them), but she had us sign about 7-8. We talked and joked around, took pictures and eventually wrapped things up at about 7:15 p.m. All in all, it was less pressure. At the end of the evening, Frances was like an older cousin, a friend of the family. She then invited us to come to her booth at the NAACP convention the next day where the exhibits were free.

THE DROP-BYS WERE diverse in their reception, but overall positive. We were welcomed with celebrity treatment at the Barnes & Noble in Wauwatosa. They had two tables with chairs set up, our books (4 copies), and a nice announcement of our appearance (I took pictures). Although I spoke with the manager (Paula Jones) that morning, who was very nice, she had gone to the bank when we arrived. We were greeted by Leslie who used to live in Chicago and although she got paged several times and had to leave us, we didn’t feel abandoned. Even though people paused to glance in our direction, no one inquired about our books, maybe because we were there. Perhaps they wandered back over after we left.

THE RECEPTION AT the B & N store in Greenfield was good (but no comparison to the first); they had our books (3 each) ready at the Information Desk, and “Heather” treated us politely, like we were somebody. The one sad note was the B & N store in Brookfield, which could only locate one copy of each of our books even though the computer stated there were more (probably 3, but she couldn’t tell me because it was store policy).

BEFORE WE LEFT Milwaukee, we stopped at the NAACP Convention to see Frances. They had the usual artwork, clothing, etc. for sale, but we were there to buy (plus we didn’t have that kind of money; after all, we’re both temporarily unemployed). There were two local authors there, grandmothers who had written a humorous “whodunit” called Grandmothers Incorporated. They handed us a bookmark and told us about their book, stating “we’re grandmothers,” as if there was any doubt of their age. I told them I saw their book in the bookstore yesterday but I didn’t tell them I was also an author (and Cheri didn’t think we should have; she didn’t want to steal their thunder). While Frances didn’t have our books on display, she had our bookmarks and excerpts. She did have one copy of each in a bag, which she wanted us to personalize for another customer who arrived after we had left; so it was a good thing we showed up.

I DISCOVERED A Latino bookstore in Milwaukee, however, Peggy wasn’t able to schedule me until August, for a “Meet & Greet.” I wish I could’ve hit it while I was there, but I guess they have their reasons.

I WAS GLAD to return to Chicago (why I miss it, I do not know—and it’s not just because my kids are here). Perhaps because I can sleep.

Love, Peace & Soul
Amor, Paz y Alma


Tuesday, July 05, 2005


SO I WAS on my way to my old job which has a Barbara’s Bookstore on the first floor; I called the store manager to let him know I would be in there in an hour. He stated that he was glad I called because apparently when he was out last week, the copies of Choose Me were inadvertently placed on the open shelf instead of in the overstock area—AND THEY SOLD OUT! Although I was disappointed that I didn’t get to sign them & meet the buyers, I was glad they had sold out. None of the ex-co-workers I emailed admitted to purchasing a copy so I was curious as to who had purchased them. A couple of them were disappointed that the drop-by was rescheduled for next week; another co-worker was on vacation but was specifically coming in to see me/buy a copy.

THE STORE MANAGER was very apologetic and he is a nice guy so I forgave him. So now, the drop-by has been rescheduled for:

MONDAY, JULY 11, 2005
1:00 – 2:00 PM
Barbara’s Bookstore
201 East Huron – Galter Pavilion
Chicago, IL 60611