Saturday, May 27, 2006


THE CHICA AUTHORS & GUESTS, MIAMI, 2006 (Getting ready to go to Bongo's, Gloria Estefan's restaurant; I'm at the lower left-hand corner in the turquoise top)

OK, so I'm probably the last chica to blog about the Chica Lit Club Fiesta. You all know me by now so this should not come as a big surprise -- I'm a procrastinator! And that's what us procrastinators do.

I got to Miami just around 12:50 a.m., checked into my hotel room around 1:30 a.m. to find I was sharing a room with another guest (author Berta Platas, I learned the next morning). Even though the hotel was elegant and the bed comfy, I couldn't sleep because I don't sleep very well in my own bed as it is.

Next morning as we got ready, Berta & I talked (she's funny), then we headed down to the sunny garden breakfast room for a continental breakfast, and keynote welcome talk by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, followed by readings by several authors. I met many of the Latina authors I've only seen on the Internet (Mary Castillo with a new haircut), Reyna Grande (who's a tiny thing & billed as the new Sandra Cisneros for her new novel, Across a Hundred Mountains), and Sofia Quintero a.k.a. Black Artemis (who is fierce in her writing, beliefs and in person. As my sister would say, "I want to be just like her when I grow up").

During her talk, Alisa Valdes Rodriguez talked about her experiences in Boston, Miami, L.A. and how her Latin-ness (or lack of) was perceived in each city. She has a great sense of humor and wonderful presence. At 12:00, there was the “Emerging Chica Lit Stars Panel” with Sophia Quintero, Reyna Grande, Caridad Pinero, and Berta Platas. I especially enjoyed listening to Sophia, who is a passionate speaker and dedicated activist. There was such a diversity in their writing journeys and genres, from hip-hop to literary to paranormal to romance. This is what I was talking about! The greatest thing was when I went up to have the authors sign my copies of their books, two women came up to me with copies of my book: Christina (former Chi-Town girl) and Tennille (yes, she was named after Tennille of infamous ‘70s duo, The Captain and ...). I felt so special.

Then at 2:00 p.m., I participated on the panel of “The Importance of Telling Our Own Stories” with Reyna Grande, Barbara Ferrer, and Raquel Ortiz. Although I had jotted down some notes and most of the questions had been asked of me before, I was nervous and my answers sounded inadequate and rushed. Also, I was sitting next to the moderator, Kathy Cano Murillo so I had no time to prepare my answers. Meanwhile, my cohorts were jotting down answers so by the time they got to them, they sounded so much more intellectual. Even Reyna, whose English is her second language, sounded more seasoned than I did. I beat myself up all night for it. I know I shouldn’t but I did. (Note to self: NEVER sit next to the moderator.) My reading went well, though. I read the part about Eva dancing on the lakefront and her encounter with the married congero. Everyone laughed at the right parts and even during some of parts, I didn’t really think were all that humorous. I hoped I was able to convince some readers to buy the book. But since I had to leave before the Book Fair on Sunday, I don’t know how many of my books sold.

At 4:00 p.m. there was another panel discussion: “Chica Lit in Hollywood.” My girl, Marcela Landres, was on the panel, along with a couple of NY editors.

The weekend ended much too soon because I had to be back for a Sunday obligation and then work on Monday. I really wished I could have stayed through Sunday, especially for Kathy Cano Murillo's workshop; it really looked like a fun and creative activity.


So yesterday, I'm sitting at my desk at work, trying to get myself organized, trying to multi-task like I'm supposed to when I get a call from the 212 area code. Right away, I know it's New York. I got people in NY but not in this particular area code so I know it's got to be business: either the agent I submitted ITPIHOY or the publisher who sent me the e-mail. Sure enough, it was the editor at the publishing company who sent the e-mail with the subject line "NY PUBLISHER SEEKS LATIN WRITERS." We talked for a little bit and I told her about the submission to the literary agency, my journey into self-publishing, and my recent trip to Miami (more on that later). Turns out the agent is a friend of hers -- small world. She's Latina and she's so cool, she feels like family, or a long-lost amiga.

All things happen for a reason.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I decided not to send the manuscript for ITPIHOY directly to the NY publisher who was actively seeking Latin writers. Instead I made the decision to give the agent-route another chance and submitted a query on-line to the Levine-Greenberg Literary Agency. That was May 13.

On May 22, I got an e-mail reply from an agent stating that she liked the tone, language and structure of the story (first 40 pages) and would like to see the rest. This agent is also a novelist with two books under her belt, one of which I read when it was first published. She also represents a debut author whom they are calling the “new Sandra Cisneros” (a great honor in my book). Some people say I shouldn’t post my “good news” yet, that it’s too soon and I may be jinxing myself. Well, I don’t believe in jinxes, I believe in God (sorry if that makes some of you uncomfortable). I have to trust that He has my back, and my manuscript’s back.

Things are moving along with my “third” book, Boricua Morena: Memoirs of a Humboldt Park Girl, I’ve already received my ISBN and Library of Congress control number. I just have to get a UPC code (which is so expensive), edit the manuscript one last time (because I’m not going to delay it any further by sending it to an editor), and send a copy of it to the Copyright Office. Then it’s off to the printer, Morris Publishing, which has been in business for years. Turnaround time is 30-40 days so I should have copies of the book in time for the 2006 El Barrio Art Fest.

On a sadder note, school has started again. While I enjoy the camaraderie of my fellow Latino cohort members, I couldn’t help thinking, “why, oh why did I sign up for this program?” I could’ve devoted this time to writing. I’m going to try to manage my time a little better this semester, especially since we have two holidays which fall on Mondays (my school nite). I can’t promise anything, but I’m going to try.

Friday, May 05, 2006


During my first and very, very hectic first semester of school, I got good news and bad news—well, maybe it’s more like not-so-good news, as opposed to bad. First, the not-so-good news ‘cause I’d rather end things on a positive note: Warner/Walk Worthy will not be publishing my second novel (In The Picture I Have of You ) this Fall as predicted. The good news is that Choose Me will be out in paperback, which is really great because more people will buy a paperback than a hardcover.

How do I feel? It’s hard to say. I have mixed feelings. I guess because deep down I’ve always been the kind of person that sets herself up to expect the worst, I’m not that disappointed, or sad, or angry. Not that I’m a pessimist; I’m a realist. I had prepared myself for whatever happened. Even if I had only positive thoughts, whatever was going to happen, was going to happen. It was the book’s destiny. It’s just one of those things that happens in publishing, blah-blah-blah. I think that because I’ve kept in contact with other authors, and I felt that I’m pretty informed about the publishing world, that it didn’t really come as a shock.

As some of you know, In The Picture I Have of You is my first book, and thus, my first baby. And if you’re a mother, you know how it is with your first baby (speaking of which, those are my human "babies" above). It is the book that I received several rejections for; Choose Me was accepted the first time I submitted it. So part of me is wondering why this book just doesn’t want to get published. Maybe the story is too sad (although I don’t think so). Maybe it will hurt certain people instead of heal them.

Then again, maybe I’ll have a great story to tell when it finally does get published. Because one thing I do know, it WILL be published.

I have no hard feelings toward my publisher or imprint. It is, after all, business, not personal. I will always be indebted to Ms. Denise Stinson for taking a chance on an unknown writer and for having faith in me. Thank you, Denise, for everything. I wish you all the best and I know our paths will cross once again in the future.

The GREAT news is that not soon after I received the above news, I got an e-mail with the following subject line: “NEW YORK PUBLISHER SEEKS LATIN WRITERS.”

All I can say is: God is Good. All the time.

p.s. I’ve made a decision to self-publish my third book, Boricua Morena: Memoirs of a Humboldt Park Girl, a collection of essays, poems and short stories.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


My first semester of school is OVER and all I can say is: A-MEN!