Thursday, October 20, 2005


[My niece and nephew doing a dramatic reading as Eva & Adam at El Barrio Art Fest 2005 this past summer]

I SURVIVED MY first week of work. WOO-HOO! Actually, I’m into my second week, this being Wednesday and all. Last week went by excruciatingly slow; this week much faster. I can’t believe tomorrow is Thursday.

I’M STILL TREADING unfamiliar waters, but I’m slowly learning my way around the office. I’m meeting with my boss almost daily, working on a new program from scratch, a program which he wants to launch by January 9, 2006 – right! I actually feel like I’m making a contribution to the organization. The other ladies (the boss calls them “girls” -- what is this, the ‘60s?) in the office are friendly and polite. Though, I brought a container of non-dairy creamer on Monday & it’s mysteriously disappeared. And there are only seven of us in the department…hmmm. Not that I’m accusing anyone; it’s just strange.

TODAY, I ATE in the cafeteria for the first time. They had rice and beans (which tasted like Ma’s & made me homesick; I actually called Mami in Puerto Rico, but the phone was busy) and fried chicken legs (which I’m not too fond of). Everything at this new job (a predominantly Latino organization) is such a “culture shock” after working at a major hospital/corporation, my former job, such as:

1) There are only two (slow) elevators as opposed to over 20 elevators (which talked) at my old job.

2) We can’t use the stairwells because of the child and older adult day care centers.

3) When employees speak Spanish (or Spanglish) on the elevator or in the halls, no one looks at them weird.

4) White folks are a minority and the department heads are Latino (including the President, who is also female); the opposite was the case at my old job.

I THINK I’M going to like it here. OK, enough about work . . .

CREATIVELY, I HAVEN’T done much writing, except e-mailing, which doesn’t really count, and blogging. I have been reading more though (see my reading list/mini-reviews at the end). I find that sometimes, it stimulates my writing. Sometimes.

I RECEIVED MY first statement and royalty check from my publisher, which was nice. It showed how many books were “out there,” how much of my advance has been paid out, and how much I have left. I thought I would be receiving the last installment of my advance after turning in the second manuscript, but apparently, I won’t receive it until after the final editing is done (Fudgesicle!). And me, a week-and-a-half away from my first paycheck. Now I know how people who depend on the government feel waiting on the first of the month -- well, not really.

THIS SATURDAY I’LL be attending the Blackboard Book & Music Festival, part of the 6th Chicago Book Festival which happens every October. It will take place at the Harold Washington Cultural Arts Center, 4701 South King Drive, Chicago. There will be many authors there: Victoria Christopher Murray, one of the first Walk Worthy Press authors (Joy, Temptation) and most recently, Grown Folks Business (Touchstone); Kimberla Lawson Roby & Carl Weber (whose books I’ve never read); Kuwana Hausley, whose first book I loved (The Red Moon) and recently re-read; and Sharon Flake, author of the award-winning young adult novel, The Skin I’m In. My sister is reading the latter with her fifth-grade class so she’s invited the class to meet her there; mind you, she’s not TAKING them as an extracurricular field trip. She’s a dedicated teacher, but she’s having a rough year with this class.

ALSO APPEARING AT the Blackboard Book & Music Festival is Spike Lee, on Sunday. Apparently, he has a biography out, which he didn’t even write and he’s charging a $5 entry fee at the signing-! (I hope it’s going to charity); I believe his wife wrote a book also (a novel, I think, with another author). Carlos Santana’s wife is also scheduled for a book signing to promoting her memoir. What is it with celebrities writing books? Okay, I know they lead interesting lives, maybe a little more interesting than us regular folk, but they just make it harder for us regular-folk authors to sell our books since we live in such a celebrity-obsessed society. I’ve just never been interested in reading rags-to-riches tales full of name-dropping and self-aggrandizement (with the exception of Celia Cruz, who is a legend). Needless to say, I won’t be attending either of their events. If I sound like I’m hatin’, I’m not. I just prefer to support struggling authors like myself.


Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman
by Nuala O’Faolain ("Humbling & thought-provoking")

Celia: My Life by Celia Cruz with Ana Cristina Reymundo ("Powerful in its simplicity)

Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa by Veronica Chambers, illustrated by Julie Moran ("Lyrically delightful")

From Bomba to Hip-Hop by Juan Flores ("A little too academic for my taste")

Having it All? Black Women and Success by Veronica Chambers ("Honest & true to life")

The Amen Sisters
by Angela Benson ("Spiritually scandalous")

Buena' Noche',

La 'X'


At October 27, 2005 11:06 AM, Blogger Stormy Steele said...

Hey Xenia! Hope you enjoyed the Blackboard Festival. I participated on the author's panel last year when it was in Columbus OH. Sold out of books too which was nice! So, Spike was charging huh? Wow! I guess he was making up for BEA. Well, looks like Faye had a good line up.

Glad to see you're back to work and everything is going well.


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