Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Birthing of BronzeWord

by JoAnn Hernandez

From the time I began writing I knew what I wanted to do with all the gold bars that I would accumulate with my books. I wanted to help others. Forget being a goody two shoes (what does that phrase mean?). I wanted to put so many Latino/a writers in the book stores, avenues, and in the other side of the world that no one ever could say we don’t exist or we don’t’ read.

I had a logo ready. An Asian child in China read my book in Spanish. Can you imagine that? I could. For a long time.

Then I got ill. The obstacles became enormous. I was alone. I became tired. I couldn’t fight alone. I crashed. Exhausted. I felt that the fight was too big for me, all alone, and I gave up.

After several years, a bout with bad diabetes, I read again. Even turned on my computer. It had been turned off for four years. What was a blog?

What I discovered was that there was now a new way to meet, find, engage, and move people. Hallelujah.

When I first wrote, I did what I always do in any new venture. I clean out the library for all the books and read. I studied and copied out of all Gale directories. In San Francisco, the librarians became friends. Me, opening and closing the library doors with them. I read. I learned. I ask questions. I annoyed people asking so many question. I went to a city where I knew no one and earn a Master’s in Creative Writer. At the same moment, I obtained my first publishing contract, -- 16 pages long -- earned a 3.85 GPA, a NYC agent choose to represent me, and I became homeless. I was the best well-read wretch on the street.

After many years and traveling many places, I found a hovel in Arizona. The bugs there are plentiful and as big as I am. Then, not now. I’m fat now. Oh yeah, that’s what medication does for you.

In the new found spirit, I realized I had indeed learn plenty. Very much about promoting, marketing, and handling the publishing industry. I realized with a start, that I could help others with what I know and the Internet was the perfect tool for that.

What is it? Build a Tribe and they will come! And it worked.

Actually BronzeWord Latino Book Tours are still small potatoes. But we’re juicy ones!!!

We still do only one a month and they have been memorable. We’ve done a Romance Diva, the first Latina mystery writer, and a proflotic Children’s picture book author. We are small with a roar.

One year and I remember every person and all the adventures we’ve had. I cannot thank enough for all the people who stood behind the BronzeWord Latino Book Tours and believed in us. Especially to the dozens of kind and generous people who kept me going with their belief in me. I couldn’t have make this far without you.

So I may not be knocking on New York’s door yet. I hope they can hear our footsteps. We will make it! All of us will be acknowledged for our brilliance and remarkability.

Jo Ann Hernandez
BronzeWord Latino Authors

Latino Book Tours: Learn more at

Assistant Editor of Book Shelf
at Latina Lista

White Bread Competition
The Throwaway Piece

Read an Interview about me on

Twitter: @BronzeWord
or @LatinoBookNews

Buying a book IS buying art!

Friday, May 28, 2010


A funny thing happened on the way to this blog tour . . .

My blog host wanted to surprise me with some stamps displaying my book cover. Sadly, the postage provider denied the request based on the following criteria:

--- Design may be considered obscene, pornographic, or sexually suggestive, including most depictions of artistic nudity.
--- Design includes material that XXXXX believes would hurt its reputation.

It’s not the first time a romance cover has elicited such a response. Some romance novels have been banned by certain stores due to their covers and it’s no secret that at least one large chain has enough power to suggest changes to both book titles and covers.

So why is it that romance novels get such scrutiny? Why is it that an assortment of men’s magazines can show so much more skin and yet face no such censorship? Or for that matter, why is that romance novels have earned monikers such as “trash” or “porn? and that some men believe that romances instill unrealistic relationship ideals in woman?

Cutting to the chase – romance novels oftentimes contain sexual matter, sometimes explicit, but there are also many romances without sex or that are inspirational. Romance novels do portray relationships that are idealistic, whether the hero happens to be a vampire, Navy SEAL or pirate. In fact, all romance novels have one thing in common – they believe in a happily-ever-after. That’s the big payoff for romance readers – an emotionally fulfilling ending.

The question is: Does a woman taking control of her life to find emotional (and physical) satisfaction warrant censure?

I hope your answer to that question is a big “No.”

Why shouldn’t women read novels where they can identify with the heroine, cheer with her when she accomplishes her goals , enjoy the depiction of a relationship that is fulfilling, and along the way, be entertained? And as for those critics who say that women can’t separate fiction from real life, do we ask men who read Ian Fleming the same thing? Do we worry that men may slip into the persona of James Bond because they are not intelligent enough to understand that they are not superspies?

Of course not. To imply that women cannot make that distinction is blatant chauvinism. Now we’ve finally gotten to the crux of why romance novels get trashed – because they are totally dedicated to women and those things that women consider important.

By now you are probably wondering why I’m so passionate about the romance industry. The answer is simple: I’m passionate about the romance industry because I’m passionate about women.

I want to write books that entertain and enlighten women and by writing romance I am doing just that. Not to mention that the romance industry is mostly run by women. From publishers to editors to agents to authors to readers, women rule the roost.

Another reason why romances and the romance industry are likely subject to chauvinistic attack.

Rather silly considering that 2009 romance sales were estimated to be $1.36 billion (yes, BILLION) and that nearly 74.8 million people read at least one romance in 2008. In addition, romance was the top performing category on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists.

What’s even sadder is that romances are unfortunately often attacked by women. It’s not unusual for me to hear another female say to me at a book signing that they do not read “that trash.” I even had a recent incident where the subtle and not so subtle tones of a female interview host conveyed dismay that she had to question a paperback writer of “questionable” commercial fiction.

Bottom line: Don’t judge a book or author by a cover. Today’s romances are far different from the five and dime novels that launched the genre. Today’s romances deal with real life issues that are of interest to women. Romance novels satisfy and entertain and the romance industry economically supports a large number of women in various positions in publishing.

So do something for women’s liberation today – pick up a romance novel!

Monday, May 24, 2010

MATT DE LA PENA, author of We Were Here.

Matt de la Pena
“We Were Here”

A sweet and wonderful author with a book that will surely make you smile. Matt received a standing ovation at his presentation at a library’s convention. This author truly is a genuine heartthrob.
Matt de la Peña's debut novel, Ball Don't Lie, was published by Delacorte in September of 2005. In spring 2010 it will be released as a major motion picture starring Ludacris, Nick Cannon, Emelie de Ravin, Grayson Boucher, and Rosanna Arquette (Night and Day Pictures). In August of 2008 de la Peña's second novel, Mexican WhiteBoy, was released by Delacorte, and his short story “Last Red Light Before We’re There” appeared in the anthology Does This Book Make Me Look Fat. Mexican WhiteBoy was a YALSA Top Ten Pick. His third novel, We Were Here, was published by Delacorte on October 13, 2009. He has also published short fiction in various literary journals, including: Pacific Review, The Vincent Brothers Review, Chiricú, Two Girl’s Review, George Mason Review, and Allegheny Literary Review.

Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he teaches creative writing at NYU.


The story of one boy and his journey to find himself.

When it happened, Miguel was sent to Juvi. The judge gave him a year in a group home - said he had to write a journal so some counselor could try to figure out how he thinks. The judge had no idea that he actually did Miguel a favor. Ever since it happened, his mom can't even look him in the face. Any home besides his would be a better place to live.

But Miguel didn't bet on meeting Dondell or Mong or any of what happened after they broke out. He only thought about Mexico and and getting to the border where he could start over. Forget his mom. Forget his brother. Forget himself.

Life usually doesn't work out how you think it will, though. And most of the time, running away is the quickest path right back to what you're running from.

From the streets of Stockton to the beaches of Venice, all the way down to the Mexican border, We Were Here follows a journey of self-discovery by a boy who is trying to forgive himself in an unforgiving world.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

ARSON (excerpt) by Estevan Vega

Arson synopsis:

Arson Gable feels like a freak. He can create fire. He never asked for it. He never wanted it. But he can't shut it off.

Before now, three things were true: he both loved and despised his grandmother; his life was going nowhere; and he was alone. But when a strange girl--who feels more normal behind a mask than inside her own skin--moves in next door, Arson hopes to find something he's never had: purpose. Using what he fears most about himself, Arson must face his consuming past and confront the nightmare that is his present as he walks the fine line between boy and monster.

Chapter One

Remnants of a passing storm formed the lazy fog drifting over the lake. East Hampton, Connecticut waited in silence, but for Arson Gable, this silence was louder than a gunshot. Like it or not, this place was the only thing he could call home. Pathetic, he reasoned day in and day out. After all, the streets and corners knew his name better than even he did, and faceless as they were, they reminded him there was no going back.

Arson looked up to find a bright light high in the sky. Somewhere far enough to notice him, but close enough to burn still, fighting its way through patches of rimless clouds and wandering fog. He blinked, welcoming the dark rush of black behind his eyelids. As Arson approached the dock, his mind returned to thoughts of Danny, the only childhood friend he ever had. Dim mornings somehow made each memory more real. Hard to let go, even harder to erase. Was he always here, always watching? Odd how seven years can come and go without a warning, as if the world blinks and somehow forgets to open its eyes again.

It was never his grandparents’ intention to stay anywhere for too long, but it seemed East Hampton had a part of them now, a part of him. “One day we’ll be like the rest of them,” he recalled Grandpa saying. A man of ideals, empty dreams and hopes Arson could never freely call his own. Eventually, his grandparents grew tired of running. This dull corner of the world seemed quiet enough for them to believe starting over again as normal folks was possible. “Forget what happened all those years ago in Cambridge,” Grandma urged so many times Arson imagined her screaming it to him while he slept. But it was always there, the memory, a splinter in the back of his mind. No going back. Ever.

Arson staggered across the dock, images of child-play and stupid laughter pouring in all at once. Danny’s face stuck out the most, and behind that, he glimpsed their old home in Cambridge, and flashes of his first birthday. His mother wasn’t there, though, nor dear old dad, but that day was recounted to him only once by his grandfather and it stuck. Nevertheless, with every joyous recollection, distilled regret always followed. He sometimes imagined what it might be like to wake up and find strong hands choking the life out of him, or to get thrown in jail by an angry agent and be forgotten.

Arson was an unusual boy. He knew it. And he hated it. The ancients might have even gone so far as to call him cursed. Whatever lingered inside his bones left as quickly as it came, finding him in short moments of fear or rage. Over the years, he’d asked to be examined, to locate the source of his imperfection, and if possible, terminate it. After all, why did he sometimes wake up in the middle of the night in a fever? How come his sweat burned when it hit the ground? What was he? But Grandma argued there wasn’t much of a point in talking to no-good doctors or even finding out answers to questions he was better off not asking in the first place. Some people were just born with demons, right?

Arson swallowed hard and threw a stone into the water, watching its slow ripples spread, soon losing his own reflection. He wondered why he was the way he was, wondered why those little girl’s parent’s quit looking all of a sudden, why the investigation against two stupid boys evaporated. Perhaps they didn’t care about retribution, or maybe they were just sick of chasing shadows. Would he ever see Danny again, or was his friend resolved to visit only as a figment of his imagination?

I want to be free, Arson thought out loud, as nausea crept up his belly. While boats raced along the surface of the lake, he stared in awe. He noticed each vanishing vessel, and thought of how easily they traversed across the water and then were gone. There was a man, once, he’d heard, who walked upon water and didn’t sink. Maybe he could, too. Maybe, one day, there would be those who believed in him.

Arson’s gaze moved over the lake, across to the other side where Mandy Kimball lived, and her neighbor, his science teacher from the ninth grade. Then his eyes drew back to the ripples spread out before him, to the dying cabin behind him, as he spit into the current. Beads of sweat streamed down his bony frame, his ash-brown hair trapped inside the gritty creases of his forehead. Arson listened for the lake’s soothing melody but couldn’t hear it. He focused instead on the sound his feet made atop the floorboards of the splintering dock. Kind of like the way swings sound in cheap horror flicks—empty, rocking back and forth to no melody at all. Closer to the edge he came, lingering.

With shut eyes, he stepped out onto the water and began to sink. In seconds, peace abandoned him to the lake’s shallow world. In a blink, he was inside a memory, looking through the eyes of a ten year old boy.

“I don’t like fire,” he heard the boy say, so frightened, so naive. “It’s dangerous.”

“Don’t be such a wimp,” came his older friend’s taunts. “Just light it already.” With each shove and curse, the memory turned alive; it was as if it knew he was watching and didn’t like it. The pain stung still, images wilting and tossed against the shores of chaos. Lightless. Breathless. A thick blanket of fear and horror.

I. Hate. Fire.

Arson could feel the cold, even remember the way everything sounded, or how there was no sound at all. Until the night shattered. The weight of remembering dragged him further down, while he sucked in a filthy gulp of water, his coffined body jerking. The veins on his head began to swell. He was choking. Time to return to the real world, to release the nightmare once more into the dark of the lake. The struggle eventually pulled him to the surface. Slinging his head back and forth, Arson dragged himself against the tide, falling upon dead grass. He tasted the grit of sandy dirt in his teeth. Panting, Arson stood up slowly and staggered toward the cabin, where Grandma Kay’s shadow guided him in.

* * * *

It was her way of showing him mercy, or so she said. A dive into the lake at dawn usually resulted in a more painful punishment than fixing a leaky roof, which Arson would’ve had to eventually do anyway.

Grandma’s reasons for why she did things, why she treated him a certain way, seemed to get worse with time. It was no secret that she loathed the idea of him diving into the lake, especially if fully clothed. She even claimed there were toxins in the water from pollution that supposedly killed a bunch of fish years back. But maybe it was a fair trade. He’d returned to the lake all the toxins he’d soaked up with every vile thought. And when he contemplated a bit, Grandma’s logic didn’t seem all that twisted. She probably just didn’t want him bringing any of that evil back with him, infected or not. Arson made a promise he knew he couldn’t keep, said it wouldn’t happen again. She replied by handing him a hammer and a bucket of tools.

The muggy June morning caused his palms to sweat. Arson almost lost his grip on the bucket during the climb to the top, but regained his balance before losing any supplies. Spiderman would have been proud. Reading comic books all his life came in handy now and then.

Being a good man of limited means, Arson’s grandfather took care of the cabin to the best of his ability, even showed Arson how to repair the roof years back. “If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself,” he recalled. But in spite of his grandfather’s hard work, it was clear that time eventually wears away all things, even hope.

Arson worked for about an hour, when carelessness got the best of him. A loose, jagged shingle sliced through the palm of his hand. Blood gushed from the wound onto his leg. He swore, as the sting began to overwhelm him, tossing the hammer and trying to keep pressure on the cut.

“What happened?” Grandma’s voice echoed from below. “I heard you cussin’ all the way in the kitchen. You know how I feel about that.”

“Sorry, Grandma.” Arson was glad she left it at that. Sitting on the roof, he turned slightly toward the sun. It’s a gusher, he thought to himself. But then, as he stared in amazement, he watched the wound cauterize itself in seconds. It burned.

“Arson, are you all right up there?”

He looked down at the remaining scar, struggling to make sense of it, neglecting the mess on his clothes. “Just fine, Grandma,” he called down.

“That roof isn’t going to fix itself. If I have to spend another night with drops of water hitting my face, I promise you’ll regret it.”

“All right,” Arson said. “I’ll get back to work.”

By evening, the task was complete. He braced himself and watched the sunset from the rooftop, as it melted against a fluorescent sky. Arson listened, as Grandma concluded her tea conversation with the man she loved. Moments later, their time together ended with laughter, and he knew it was safe to come down. Arson caught her while she was clearing away the silverware and china.

“Did you finish the roof, love?” she asked in a pleasant voice.

“Yes, Grandma, it’s healed…I mean, fixed.”

“Marvelous. Say, whatcha mean healed?”

Arson grabbed the ladder, “I’m really tired. I’m not thinking straight right now. Maybe I just need some rest.”

“I think you’re right. You’re not making any sense at all. Say, do you want a piece of cake before I put it away? Grandpa didn’t eat much tonight. He’s never been much for carrot cake.”

“No thanks. Not hungry,” he said.

“Suit yourself. Put your tools away and get on up to bed then. A growing boy like you needs his rest. I hope you learned your lesson, though. I don’t like you spending so much time in that miserable lake. The whole notion just doesn’t sit well with my soul.”

Arson nodded with reluctant eyes and put away the ladder and the tools. Then he rushed inside the cabin and up to his room to read a comic book before dozing off. Maybe tonight, his dreams would be different.

Vega was born in 1989 in Connecticut, where he currently resides. Growing up, he fell in love with sketching comic book superheroes, watching movies, and listening to rock music. While his passion for art still remains, he now focuses his time on creating rather than copying someone else’s work through a picture. 

  • Perfect Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tate Publishing (May 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615666036
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615666034

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Deadly Attitudes That Kill Writers’ Chances

by Katherine Swarts

Everyone has the perfect story idea at one time or another. And everyone who writes down that story expects publishers and the public to snap it up.

That expectation is regularly disappointed. Whether you’re selling your work to an agent or publisher, or directly to the public, it can take years to get noticed among the mountains of competition. And blaming “the system” won’t help.

Besides, it’s often misplaced blame. Many writers set themselves up for failure. If you are guilty of any of the following “Deadly Attitudes,” you may be your own worst enemy.

1. Deadly Careless Research. Fiction readers want temporary escape from the real world—but not to cut all ties with it. An obvious factual error can knock the reader back to reality with an abruptness that ruins the story experience. If the population of Tokyo or some detail of a typical police investigation is important to your plot, don’t rely on your memory of something you saw on television; look it up. And look it up in an authoritative source (preferably two or three); never be satisfied with a random Internet search.

2. Deadly Dullness. Even if your facts are accurate, overdoses of straight information put readers to sleep. People want to read about people, not about facts and figures. Remove any technical explanation or historical exposition that isn’t essential to plot clarity. Include plenty of action and dialogue (and remember that a two-page speech by one character is not dialogue).

3. Deadly Stereotyping. Most writers have the sense to avoid blatant bigotry, but “stock character types” are almost as bad. If a dumb jock or popular snob seems essential to your plot, sidestep the “met this person in a hundred pulp novels” trap by adding an atypical personality trait—give your “jock” a taste for Renaissance poetry!

4. Deadly Sloppiness. No busy editor will correct a typo-laden manuscript for a writer who is too lazy to proofread personally. Even with self-published books, mistakes on every page annoy readers and make them suspect you are equally careless with facts. Don’t expect your word processor to do the proofing, either; few spell checkers know the difference between “its” and “it’s.” Word processing and e-mail software can even create errors; so check visually to make sure automatic formatting hasn’t put any tabs where they shouldn’t be!

5. Deadly Thoughtless Marketing. Never just open a market database and start querying publishers in alphabetical order. Read the entries in full; publishers are disgusted with fiction writers’ ignoring clear statements that “we publish only nonfiction.” Read your chosen publisher’s full official guidelines (market guides explain how to locate these). And even if you’re self-publishing, have a clear demographic vision of your expected readers and where to find them; writers who aim at “everyone” never hit anyone.

Probably the number-one reason writers fail is that they expect their talent to absolve them of any real need to work. Writers who succeed know better. No author ever outgrows the imperfect first draft!

Katherine Swarts is a professional writer specializing in corporate blogs/newsletters and other articles. Her Web address is

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Fessing Up Time

Thanks to everyone who joined in and tried to determine which was true in my Lies and Creative Writers post.

1. While I'm sure Helen Reddy is a super person, being subjected to I am Woman continually during the 70s was just too much. Lie. Sorry, Helen. 
 2.Not sure what I was thinking when I stated Mr. Willis was my favourite male singer. I like Bruce enough, but he will never top Freddy Mercury, John Fogerty, Ray Charles or Frank Sinatra. Definite Lie. Sorry, Bruce.
3. I probably do favour the weather in Kandahar, but since I've never been there...Lie.
4. During the RCMP's Musical Ride I was visiting my brother who was attending to his horse when suddenly Tom Jones strolled by. That's as close to a dance as I got. Little Lie.
5. Thanks to my girlfriend who was dating Roy Orbison's stage manager at the time, we were offered front row seats during not one concert but two in the same evening. It was AWESOME. True!

6. Lie. I thrive on ice-cream. Sadly.
7. Big Lie. Bathing my cat Buster is akin to wrestling a Siberian tiger in the middle of the Congo. Did I mention I'm allergic to creepy crawling things?

Thanks, A.F.Stewart. It was fun.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Interview with Rene Colato Lainez, author of Rene Has Two Names

My guest today, author René Colato Laínez is the award winning author of WAITING FOR PAPA, PLAYING LOTERIA, and I AM RENE, THE BOY.

Colato Laínez is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. He has been a bilingual elementary teacher at Fernangeles Elementary School, where he is known by the students as "the teacher full of stories." His forthcoming books are RENE HAS TWO LAST NAMES (Piñata Books, Fall 2009) and THE TOOTH FAIRY MEETS EL RATON PEREZ (Tricycle Press, Spring 2010), and MY SHOES AND I (Boyds Mills Press, Spring 2010)

1. The cover of your book Rene Has Two Last Names is awesome; where did you find the illustrator Fabiola Graullera Ramirez? Bet she had stories to tell you about her two names.

Thanks, I worked with Fabiola on my first René’s book I Am René, the Boy. René Has Two Last Names is the second book of the series. My publisher Piñata Books,, contacted Fabiola to illustrate the first book. She is a great artist and I am blessed to work with her. Fabiola lives in Mexico City and she uses her two last names everyday.

2. How important are the illustrations to your story?

Writers create images in their minds while they are writing their manuscripts. In is a wonderful experience to see how an illustrator had transferred your words into beautiful colorful illustrations. Illustrations are so important in picture books. Children need to see the story while they read it. For me it was awesome to see my two last names incorporated into the illustrations.

3. Lucky for you children aren't near as dense as most adults. What do you hope they'll come away with after reading your book? What about those ones with only one last name? Is there hope for them?

I want the reader to feel proud of both sides of his/her families. We have received many gifts, stories and traditions from them and we are who we are thanks the love and effort of our familia, family. Children in the USA and in other parts of the world may use only one last name at school and legal papers but in their hearts will always be the other half of the family, that one that does not appear in the school’s id or in the doctor’s file but it is always present at family reunions and holidays. To kids with one and two last names, I say, “love and enjoy your families.”

4. Rene, those of us who write adult fiction are terrified about writing for children. How is writing for young adults and children different than for adults?

In children’s literature, children are the heroes and heroines. They run the story. Everything is about them, a little problem like not having his/her favorite cookie or discovers the first pimple can be the end of the world. To write for children you need to think (and act) like children. The text in a children’s book is limited. Every word counts and needs to be essential for the story. Writing for adults is another arena that I will like to experience soon.

5. Do you follow the 3 Act Play format? Or do you prefer to write from start to finish, then worry about structure later?

I always write the first and last scene of my picture books. I am intrigued to see how my story will start and how it will end. Then I write from start to finish. My books are about the immigrant experience and living in two cultures. I preferred to follow my heart and then work in the structure.

6. I noticed you still use both your last names? By now, do you have a favorite? Or is that rather like asking Julian Lennon which Beatle he preferred?

Both of my last names are equally important. Here in the USA my official name is René Colato. I use my father’s last name more often. As an author I am René Colato Laínez because I want to honor both sides of my families. It is always a pleasure to listen people pronouncing my two last names everywhere I present.

I love both last names.

7. How did you get starting writing books?

I always loved books. My great granduncle Jorge B. Laínez was a famous writer and poet in El Salvador. His house was full with books. I was an excellent student in El Salvador and my mother always said, “You are very smart just like my uncle Jorge.” My aunt, uncles and grandmothers repeated the same sentence many times. At seventeen, I decided to write my first novel and for the seven following summers, I wrote seven novels. All these manuscripts are in their first drafts. I write them for fun. When I became a teacher, I discovered wonderful picture books in my classroom. I just felt in love with them and decided to write my own.

8. Do you have an agent, and if so, do you think an agent is essential to a writer's career?

I have an agent now, Stefanie Von Borstel from Full Circle Literary, Stefanie is essential in my writer’s career. She helps me with ideas for future manuscripts. Then she edits my work until it is ready for submission. She works with my editors during production. Finally she is a great advocate in promoting my work. She is the best.

9. So many writers have horror stories about life in pursuit of a publisher. Was it a long haul for you?

I started to submit my work in March, 2000 and received my first contract in October 2002. I waited one year and half to hear the great news. Since I submitted my first manuscript, I was determined that I would be an author. Rejections letters came my way but I read and followed their positive feedback. I never gave up and always believed in my manuscripts. I sold my first three picture books by myself.

10. Thanks for the interview, Rene. What's life got in store for you next?

I have two new children’s books coming out next year. The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez (Tricycle Press) introduces the Latino tooth hero, El Ratón Pérez. How would the Tooth Fairy react? Read the book and find out. My other title is My Shoes and I (Boyds Mills Press). This is my true story crossing three countries to arrive to the United States.

Book Description:

Young René is from El Salvador, and he doesn't understand why his name has to be different in the United States. When he writes Colato, he sees his paternal grandparents, René and Amelia. When he writes Laínez, he sees his maternal grandparents, Angela and Julio. Without his second last name, René feels incomplete, "like a hamburger without the meat or a pizza without cheese or a hot dog without a wiener."

His new classmates giggle when René tells them his name. "That's a long dinosaur name," one says. "Your name is longer than an anaconda," another laughs. But René doesn't want to lose the part of him that comes from his mother's family. So when the students are given a project to create a family tree, René is determined to explain the importance of using both of his last names.

On the day of his presentation, René explains that he is as hard working as Abuelo René, who is a farmer, and as creative as his Abuela Amelia, who is a potter. He can tell stories like his Abuelo Julio and enjoys music like his Abuela Angela.

This charming bilingual picture book for children ages 4 - 8 combines the winning team of author René Colato Laínez and illustrator Fabiola Graullera Ramírez, and follows their award-winning collaboration, I Am René, the Boy / Soy René, el niño.

With whimsical illustrations and entertaining text, this sequel is sure to please fans and gain many new ones while explaining an important Hispanic cultural tradition.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


The other day someone called me an expert. They were referring to my writing, and though I can freely and easily acknowledge that I am a writer today -- an expert I am not. But why? I'm published. I have a publisher and an editor for my second novel Broken But Not Dead, due to be released next year. (I never get tired of saying that)

Honoured though I was by her comment, I'm not even close to being an expert. There is too much left to learn. And honestly, I don't think I want to be an expert at this stage in my life. Maybe at the end, but not now when the thought of learning more still sets my stomach to fluttering. As my career moves forward, I'm going to get better and better and better. It's exciting knowing that.

So, my question is: are you a writing expert? Does an expert have to be published? My high school English teacher wasn't, but I still think of him as one of the most knowledgeable writers I know.

And if you are an expert, how do you know you are?

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I'm very pleased to announce that A. F. Stewart has nominated me for Creative Writer Blogger Award. Thank you, Anita!

Now the fun begins.  As a recipient of this award I must tell lies and one truth, and you have to guess which statement is the true one.  Then, I get to hand the creative torch along to seven other bloggers, so they too might think up a few whoppers and pass the fun forward.


1.  Thank the person who gave you the award and link to them.
2.  Add the award to your blog
3.  Tell six outrageous lies about yourself and One Truth.
4.  Nominate seven creative liars -- I mean writers and post links to them.
5.  Let your nominees know that they have been nominated.

  1. My favourite female singer is Helen Reddy.
  2. My favourite male singer is Bruce Willis.
  3. I prefer the climate in Kandahar verses the climate in Skagway.
  4. I once danced with Tom Jones at the PNE in Vancouver.
  5. I attended Roy Orbison's appearance at the Cave twice in one night.
  6. My least favourite dessert is ice-cream.
  7. I like bathing my cat Buster.
Some of My Favourite Creative Writers: in no particular order:
  1.  Carole Anne Carr:
  2.  Dave Ebright:
  3.  Kathryn Neff Perry:
  4.  Keith Pyeatt:
  5.  Carol J. Garvin:
  6.  Karen Lange:
  7.  Cherley Grogg:
I wanted to mention more, but they said NO. So, give it your best guess and I'll fess up before month's end.

Happy writing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


More from my guest Al Carlos Hernandez.

A dog day afternoon … at the DMV.
By Al Carlos Hernandez

SAN FRANCISCO (Herald de Paris) - I spent the longest seventy-five minutes of my life at the Department of Motor Vehicles the other day. I viewed it as penance for not using new media and/or paying attention to snail mail directives. One would think that I had learned my lesson by now after the trauma I suffered that time I had to come back six times in one day to register a late model Fleetwood during my Superfly days.

The DMV is a place where everybody on both sides of the counter is angry, off the rack, unkempt and ready to rumble. They construct a DMV like a Russian union hall - stark, officious, and brooding in such a way as to punish working people for having used cars and lacking the ability to negotiate a Kafkaesque phone appointment system.

Thankfully most of our DMV business is handled on-line. I can now renew a car registration during an NBA time out. This time, however, it was different. I had to pick up license plates for my wife’s new car because they never sent them. She was right. You can only have those paper plates on the car so long before the neighbors think you stole it.

I knew there was going to be a problem when the DMV parking lot was filled with cars sporting homemade tinted windows looking like they needed salvage titles.

Once inside I was immediately sentenced to a snaking conga line of broke folks babbling in sixteen dialects, several of which I discerned where English. I waited to be issued a number and my fearful religious assumption was the number was going to be 666.

The procedure is simple: everyone lines up and goes to the information booth. You explain to them how stupid you are. They tell you where to go and wait. Make no mistake, everyone in the house has a problem, some of which include personal hygiene.

They issue you a number which determines the clerk who specializes in your particular problem. The bigger your problem, the meaner the dateless clerk to which they assign you.

I felt sorry for the holistic woman clerk, who’d given up on makeup, and whose AA degree had failed her, working the window. Distressed, hating her career counselors, and filled with angst, she curtly got on the phone and reported to someone that there were sixty-five people in our twenty-three person line. Somehow, up through a trap door or something, there appeared this rude woman who looked like the heifer that shot Selena. She was busting the line, slinging orders, handing out forms, and growling that the wait would be at least one solid hour.

The only people in the building happy to be there where the teenagers, who practiced their smiles for their first time driver’s license photo. I wanted desperately to inform them that they should not smile for the picture. It should be the intention of a driver’s license picture to convey to a potential arresting officer that you always look shot to the curb and somewhat faded. If your bright eyed, bushy tailed driver’s license picture looks dramatically different from your everyday mug, they are going to ask you to step out of the car. Believe that.

Bought the ticket, took the ride. My number: C81. I looked at the TV monitor. They were on C48. Could have been Si 48 for all I knew. Keeping my posture on the down low, I was standing next to a wall in the back since all the chairs were taken. Behind me was a house shoe wearing, gum cracking woman, babbling to someone on a cell phone and peppering her conversation with inane profanity. It occurred to me that mathematically there is a gum cracking equation. The louder you crack your gum, the greater the popping intervals, the lower the IQ. Based on her proficiency I was amazed she could walk up right. She didn’t consider her cracking an annoyance but rather as an attribute. Like working five hula hoops at once.

As a man of action, I decided to apply my knowledge of upper division math. I knew I had plenty of time to leave and go to the post office, the house, get something to eat and check email. I returned to the DMV thinking I beat the system and . . . they were on C53.

This time I stood on the other side of the room away from “Gumbalina” and listened to a cross section of tri-lingual conversations while gazing over a bouquet of faces colored with a general malaise. Slowly, one by one, numbers where called and people scurried to the counters to plead their cases Others quickly filled the booty-warmed plastic chairs. Time dragged on.

Then it was my turn. C81 at window 10. Now. Naturally, like a dork, I was standing next to window 23, so I had to walk as fast as I could - without running - across the facility before another number was called. If you start running, everyone else will run with you. Don’t ask me how I know that.

At window 10 was an auto registration veteran, who was clearly detached from the sullen madness all around her. She simply worked one procedure at a time and fixed my problem.

We all could learn a lesson from her.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dancing with a Dweeb: A Love Story

Congratulations to Charmaine Gordon and Lillie Ammann for being the winners of an autographed copy of Dead Witness. Ladies, please contact me privately and I'll send you your copy. Thanks again to everyone who stopped by and left a comment during Blog Jog Day. Thank you Carol Denbow for organizing such an exciting event.

Now back to work...

I'm pleased to introduced Al Carlos Hernandez. If you can read this love story and not laugh out loud, well...

Dancing with a Dweeb: A Love Story
My body simply does not multi-task when it comes to physically expressing myself to music

By Al Carlos Hernandez, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: April 10, 2009

Embarrassingly, I am so inspired by the TV show Dancing with the Stars that I have to tell my own story about tripping the light fantastic.

I am one of the few full-blooded Latino males who cannot dance. It's not for lack of trying or the lack of resources to hire professional trainers. My problem isn't genetic and has nothing to do with race. My parents, especially Mom, were great dancers.

We grew up raised on radio, nurtured in a music filled environment as my dad was a weekend musician. My sisters dance. I'm not sure how well, since I've never danced with them. Maybe if I had, they would have told me, in no uncertain terms, how much I sucked. This could have saved me years of humiliation.

My brothers, one a Harley biker, the other a successful Porsche-driving attorney, are somehow socially bound not to express themselves in a festive and physical manner in public. That leaves me to distinguish myself as the Dork of the Dance.

In the early years I was successful in doing the slow strut vato loco two-step. It didn't matter what song was being played. The girls thought I was a brooding, troubled romantic. However when disco came along I had no shame in my game and took to virtually running in place while snapping my fingers in the air. I've been told I looked like a commercial for the Cholo Special Olympics.

Then there was the time I was strutting my raggedy stuff down a Soul Train line at a house party in Oakland and almost took a beat down because my moves were so stiff and lame. Luckily, I faked a platform shoe ankle injury and escaped with my permed Afro intact.

When salsa music hit hard, I was a program director for a Spanish radio station in San Francisco. We would co-sponsor the biggest and baddest salsa concerts the West Coast had ever seen. Women would drag me to the dance floor only to try to lose me during the timbale solo because my moves were so spastic and whack. After a lady would dance with me, her girl friends would hit her with their purses after she got back to the table.

Believe it or not I thought I had it going on. I thought that by amending my aerobic disco-jog by kicking my feet off to the side, then flapping my elbows like a rooster getting ready to jump over a barn, it was salsa. It wasn't salsa. It was sorry. Friends and family, through an intervention, convinced me to limit my club participation to buying people drinks and court-supervised slow dancing.

Ironically, I met my wife, a great dancer, at a salsa club. It was during a radio station sponsored Halloween party. I spent the whole night trying to convince this gorgeous conservative Latina business executive that I was not the convict-looking, pinto vato loco my costume made me out to be. But my headband kept slipping down and blinding me to the point where I felt like smashing a piñata.

I growled at dudes who asked her to dance, scaring them away. I then took courage and asked her to dance myself. The room got quiet as I limited my movements to very subtle rhythmic steps while keeping my arms near my waist, avoiding flight. As confidence grew I began walking around in circles while moving my shoulders to the music. The radio staff was no help. Soon everyone in the club knew that I was trying to dance again. All eyes were on me, waiting to bust a gut at my murdering of this traditional art form.

Mi vida quickly read the situation, discerning the glee that my free-loading entourage was getting at my painful attempt to salsa dance. She took pity on me and led me back to our table. This gorgeous, intelligent woman realized that I endured public scorn by trying to make her happy. We have been together ever since. 25 years married in May.

Enamored, I confessed to her that I was not a dancer and, although I can play some conga and bass guitar, rhythm somehow has no way of getting to my feet. My body simply does not multi-task when it comes to physically expressing myself to music.

We agreed to do all of the slow dances together. Then it would be my job to commandeer the best and usually most effeminate male staff members to dance with her during the up tempo tunes.

It has been years since we have danced in public. The whole experience falls under the "been there, done that" category. If we got to a club nowadays we'd see that what passes for dancing used to be considered a misdemeanor fondling morals charge.

I have learned through trial and error how to accept my social limitations. I am happy to have had such good friends who cared enough to tell me how much I blew at dancing. My inability to dance never cost me any money. It did teach me a certain humility and probably qualified me to run for public office

About Al Carlos Hernandez, Contributing Editor :
Al Carlos is somehow now really famous in Paris, France
Edited By Susan Aceves
Email the author –

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Thank you for stopping by my blog! Please explore all this Blog has to offer, then jog on over to If you would like to visit a different Blog in the jog, go to

Leave a comment and be eligible to win one of two signed copies of my suspense thriller Dead Witness Winners will be announced May 11th. Good luck!


Do you want to know the secret to writing a best seller? It's reading books like Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel. It's also dissecting your favourite novels and analyzing the story structures of exceptionally good movies.

If you've been following my blog, then you know I share excerpts from Don Maass' workbook  to help you keep your manuscript out of the slush pile. I do his exercises myself to ensure that my second novel Broken But Not Dead (due for release in 2011) is the best possible book it can be. Riches and fame may not be what drives me, but the quest to becoming the best writer I can possibly be is never far from my thoughts.

Adding plot layers, (one bad thing after another happening to your protagonist) not to be confused with adding subplots, is an important part of creating a complex story.

Ever have "one of those days" when one thing after another goes wrong? Life is complicated and readers want a story that reflects life. It doesn't have to be a life they've led, but it should be a life they can relate to.

You're late for an important meeting with your boss. It could mean your job because you've heard through the grapevine that he needs to cut back by letting one of his employees go. It's vital that it not be you. However -- you drip toothpaste on your best shirt. You lock your keys in the car. A panel truck sideswipes your vehicle a block from work. You reach the elevator doors only to learn that the elevator is out of order and you have to take the stairs three flights up. Somebody comments that you've got a drop of blood on your tie. You arrive at your boss' office to be told the appointment is postponed until 5 o'clock when you're due to pick your wife for an appointment with your family doctor.

Get the idea? Plot layers complicate the story and make solving the protagonist's problems near to impossible.

Turns out your son needs braces, your daughter needs to attend a special learning institute and your wife has just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

In Broken But Not Dead, my protagonist Métis/Cree Brendell Kisêpîsim Meshango has just retired her post as head of the English Department at UNBC, and is on her way to her cabin at Cluculz Lake to re-evaluate her life. During some soul searching, Brendell realized that she spent the last 25 years teaching English because her mother refused to speak the language. Foolish or not, it was a decision that shaped her life. In fact, her relationship with her mother has been the catalyst for every decision she's ever made or didn't make.

When the story opens, I use Brendell's own prejudices against her. She's stalked by the son of the most powerful politician in town and has no one to turn to for help because of her innate distrust of white people, those in authority, and the police. And because of her stubborn determination to stop her stalker by her own means, things continually get out of control, making the danger she faces that much greater.

In other words, I use plot layers to pile on one bad thing after another to complicate Brendell's life and move the story toward its climax. In Writing the Breakout Novel workbook, Donald Maass uses the plot layers from Dennis Lehane's mystery novel Mystic River as examples of plot layering and advises that Good things come in threes.

In the following exercise, delete my answers and fill in your own.

1. Write down who your protagonist is.
- Brendell.

2. What problem must your protagonist solve?
- Brendell must ensure that she send her daughter Zoe away before the stalker can harm her.

3. What happens to stop your protagonist's from solving the problem?
- Zoe won't leave, and because of Brendell's innate distrust of police and because she doesn't know the identity of her stalker, she hesitates going to the police.

4. What else happens to complicate things?
- The stalker takes pictures of Brendell with Zoe and plants the photos on her pillow.

5. What else complicates things?
- Zoe finally leaves, but returns. At the airport, she accepts a ride from an acquaintance not realizing he's the stalker.

6. What altogether different problem exists for your protagonist?
- Brendell is attracted to RCMP Sergeant Gabriel Lacroix and is haunted by her mother's influences.

Happy writing. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

CONFETTI GIRL by Diana Lopez - a review by Jo Ann Hernandez

Confetti Girl

By Diana López
Little, Brown and Company, Books for Young Readers NY 2009
ISBN 978-0-316-02955-1

Apolonia Flores is the hero of this book. Her father says about her first name, “It’s the girl form of Apollo. He was the god of the sun. Get it? It’s my way of calling you a sunflower.” Parents! What can a teen do with them? Gratefully, everyone calls her Lina. Vanessa is her best friend, who lives across the street.

Thankfully this book is not about gangs, migrant farm workers, or crossing the border. It’s a regular book about a regular family in a regular neighborhood where the girls go to a regular school with regular problems. Do I seem a bit obsessed with regular? This is a beautiful story of a girl who has lost her mother and needs her father. Her father in his grief has immersed himself into books. How does she go about reaching through those books to her father, who holds them up in front of him? She thinks: “I see a body, a neck, and a book where his face should be.”

I enjoyed this book so much because the writing was good and the story was so real. Lina struggles with Vanessa’s breaking away from their best friend status to date a boy. The girls plot to help Vanessa’s mom. Lina grapples with how to approach a boy she likes and isn’t sure whether he likes her. The whole issue of losing a parent is dealt with in two ways: lost by death and lost by divorce. The plot of this story is the generational age dilemma of any teen and their parents: how do you reach each other to an understanding of what each needs. The ending is hilarious and would make any therapist proud.

I had read The secret blog of Raisin Rodriguez : a novel / by Judy Goldschmidt and was so disappointed. Because the books attempts to make Raisin, just like any other girl. Seems the author created a character with no ethnic roots. I’m not talking about being a Pocho or not knowing or hiding that she is Latina. I mean the things that she worries about are just too white. With Lina, the author, Diana López, did a sensational job of presenting Lina in her environment with everyday teen problems and yet embracing her culture background. Nothing in the story was too heavy or pushed on you about culture. Even the whole discussion about cascarones was more about the girls’ story than about the history of cascarones.

I believe that the community, any and all of us, are in dire need of more books like Confetti Girl by Diana López. Stories that portray us as people with hurts, joys and loves, just like everyone else in the world in any skin color. I encourage you to rush out and buy this book. Because buying this book would show the world how proud we are of being Latino/a, of how much we support our Latino/a authors, and of how much we need and want “real” stories about ourselves doing life. Read and enjoy!

Jo Ann Hernández
BronzeWord Latino Authors

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller) has an M.B.A from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing. Get her FREE report “How to Monetize Your Site/Blog Without Ads” at
Q: Is it a good idea to provide book club discussion questions?
Absolutely. You should provide the questions on your book’s website to encourage people to consider your book for their book clubs.

Make sure the questions aren’t answered by a simple yes or no but instead require thoughtful consideration.

You can also create a video to explain to book clubs why they should consider your book. (Watch my book club video and read my book club questions for my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant” at )

Q: Is it necessary to have a book trailer?

I’m not convinced that this is necessary although I did pay to have one produced for “Mrs. Lieutenant.” After I had done this, I took a two-day marketing workshop with John Kremer ( ) and his ideas on book trailers are much different than most people’s ideas.

If you look at the standard book trailer – and mine at is such – it is similar to a movie trailer. John Kremer, on the other hand, recommends creating a video that can go viral because of its originality separate from the book (and this often requires humor in the video).

Bottom line? If I had it to do over again, I might forego a book trailer for now. You can always add this element later into your marketing mix.

Q: Is it a good idea to leave comments on posts on book blogs?

It is a good idea if you leave thoughtful ones – “Great post!” does not count – and you include your Twitter username or book author website URL so that people can find out who you are. (Some blog sites provide these comment links automatically.)

The more you interact on social media sites with others the more likely others will be interested in you and what you write.

Update on Facebook: Last month I wrote about Facebook fan pages. Guess what? Facebook is busy making major changes – again. These pages are no longer fan pages – for now they appear to be just pages. And you no longer “fan” a page to join that page. Now you “like” a page.

You can check out my Queens of Book Marketing page at -- and I hope you’ll “like” the page.

© 2010 Miller Mosaic, LLC

If you have a question for Phyllis, please send it to cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca and I'm make sure she gets it in time for her June column.
* * * *
Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel

By Phyllis Zimbler Miller 

They had their whole lives to look forward to – if only their husbands could survive Vietnam.


In the spring of 1970 – right after the Kent State National Guard shootings and President Nixon’s two-month incursion into Cambodia – four newly married young women come together at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, when their husbands go on active duty as officers in the U.S. Army.

Different as these four women are, they have one thing in common: Their overwhelming fear that, right after these nine weeks of training, their husbands could be shipped out to Vietnam – and they could become war widows.

Sharon is a Northern Jewish anti-war protester who fell in love with an ROTC cadet; Kim is a Southern Baptist whose husband is intensely jealous; Donna is a Puerto Rican who grew up in an enlisted man’s family; and Wendy is a Southern black whose parents have sheltered her from the brutal reality of racism in America.

Read MRS. LIEUTENANT to discover what happens as these women overcome their prejudices, reveal their darkest secrets, and are initiated into their new lives as army officers’ wives during the turbulent Vietnam War period.

“Mrs. Lieutenant was a wonderful way for me to connect with what my daughter’s going through – congratulations on capturing the intensity of that experience with such great characters!”
— Bob Niemack, father of a daughter married to a brigade surgeon serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, April 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My Road to Illustration by Sandra Lopez

After obtaining an AA degree from community college, I transferred to Cal State Fullerton to further pursue a career in the Entertainment Art field. But then something happened: my road to illustration was intercepted by the publication of my first novel. While I was taking 5 six hour classes a week, all of which required a minimum of 9 hours of lab work outside of class, I was also busy revising the manuscript for Esperanza: A Latina Story with my editor. For two years, that manuscript was sent back in forth via email. Back and forth, back and forth, I stopped counting after about dozen times. Then the last six months was focused on finalizing the art for the cover. I’m happy to say that I had some input in that. I heard that many authors don’t get to toss their two cents in that matter. But I did.

After telling everybody I knew about the publication of my first novel, I went back to being an art student. It was then that I realized that Esperanza’s story wasn’t finished. In the first book, the story ended with her getting on a bus and leaving for art school. Her ending was more of a beginning it seemed. It wasn’t over. Her life was just starting. She wasn’t through yet. There was still college. Well, at the time, I was just finishing up college. Why not write the sequel to Esperanza? I asked myself.

So, once again, I was sidetracked to writing another novel: Untitled (this was the title at the time. I came up with many lame titles before coming up with Beyond the Gardens.) In the sequel, Esperanza is a college student living on an L.A. campus while studying to become an Animator—her ambitious dream in the first book. Many of the same old characters returned in the second novel. For instance: Carla, the amiga she’s known since Jr. High; Carlos, the best friend that has suddenly decided to be more than a friend; and, of course, the mom, who still worries incessantly over her daughter and still treats her like a kid. Esperanza will experience life and love for the first time in this hilarious and heart-warming sequel.

Now, was it hard for me to write about a young artist? God, no! Because I was still going through it. I just followed the old golden rule in writing: “Write what you know.”

Like clay, I grouped all the art classes I’ve ever taken (even those I took at community college), rolled them into a giant ball of dough, cut out all the pieces I didn’t need, and began sculpting them into a masterpiece. In order to retrieve that authenticity of college life, I went back to some of my old lecture notes and refreshed my memory of learning all about the caves of Lascaux, Stonehenge, David, and Starry Night; I was able to revive the classic works of Degas, Goya, Caravaggio, and DaVinci; also included were some of the illustrations of Norman Rockwell, one of my favorite artists of the Golden Age. I included everything I could think of in this story from the computer animation classes to the first time I had to draw a naked man in Life Drawing class.

My goal in the research was not only to help me tell a great story but to show the reader the true side to being an art student. Many have told me over the years that art classes are nothing more than Mickey Mouse courses—easy A’s, they all said. So not true! A lot of my fellow artists will agree that art is not time-consuming, it is life-consuming. If you want to be an art student, then be ready to eat, drink, and poop it because, like the blob movie, it will take over your entire life.
With Beyond the Gardens, I was able to combine my writing skills (a skill I already developed from writing all those essays in English classes) with my artistic talents; then I just threw in my natural story-telling ability. When somebody tells you that your writing is never boring, consider it the highest compliment you can get.

Even though my studies in school were slightly interrupted by my two YA novels, I still held on to the dream of being an Illustrator. My goal was to, one day, write and illustrate my own children’s book; and that goal still stands to this very day. My road to illustration may have had some highway blocks along with the way, and, yes, I had to take alternate routes because of them; but it is still there. My GPS is still showing me the way, and I know I’ll get there in due time.

Right now, in addition to promoting my books and working a full-time sales position, I am in the mist of revising a story I used to work on in school called, “The Three Little Pups”—a modified version of “The Three Little Pigs.” As soon as I’m done, I will upload those illustrations onto my website  HYPERLINK "" So stay tuned!
Dulce Bread & Book Shop
Beyond the Gardens
By Sandra C. Lopez
Price: $19.50
ISBN-13: 9781432746988
Published: Outskirts Press

At the age of 18, Esperanza Ignacio begins her college years at an upscale Los Angeles art school, where she studies to fulfill her long-term dream in Animation. But she soon learns the truth to the old folktale: “you can take the girl out of the barrio, but you can’t take the barrio out of the girl.” Even though she’s getting financial aid, Esperanza works a part-time job during her break from classes just to make ends meet. Her roommate, Anna, is what she calls a “chicana from Beverly Hills” because of the rich daddy and the new car she got for her quinceañera.

Things get a little confusing for Esperanza when an old friend comes looking for her, hoping to start a meaningful relationship. But is Carlos the right guy for her? She never even considered him to be anything more than a friend since high school. Then comes Jake, a gorgeous mechanic, who shares her passion for books and loves her for who she is.

What’s a girl to do? 

Strength and determination help pave the way for the future. And, as she approaches her graduation, she is faced with a difficult decision: should she leave Los Angeles and leave behind her family, her home, and everything she’s known? Ever since she was born in the California barrio of Hawaiian Gardens, she’s always had to look over the fence, wondering what she’s been missing. Now she’s taking a flying leap over to see what’s beyond the little barrio. What’s beyond her family, her friends, and her past? What’s beyond the little nothing town, where dreams don’t exist? What’s beyond The Gardens? Is it life, love, a future? The story of Esperanza is finally concluded in this wildly entertaining and heart-warming sequel.

Praise for Beyond the Gardens
“Sandra Lopez’s sequel to Esperanza—Beyond the Gardens—
reacquaints the reader with a compelling character,
Esperanza, her barrio past and her college present, as
she struggles to get an education and find her identity. A
heartwarming story that young, female teens will enjoy!”
—Donna Del Oro – Author of Operation Familia and

Hasta La Vista, Baby
“Readers can’t help but cheer Esperanza on as she
finds out what life is like Beyond the Gardens. Funny, smart,
and heartfelt—all that you want in an inspiring story.”
—Margo Candela – Author of Underneath it all and
More than this

“It’s not easy to figure out who you want to be, especially
if you’re a chica from the barrio. With a crazy family
and un amigo, who has suddenly decided he wants her,
brainy college student, Esperanza, finds herself having to
make some tough decisions. In this humorous and sweet
novel, Lopez brings us lovable characters we want to root
for from page one. Don’t miss it!”
—Lara Rios – Author of Becoming Latina in 10 Easy

“An emerging Latina voice, Sandra Lopez continues
to inspire with her latest work, Beyond the Gardens. Her
words are soulful and her images resonate with passion
and humor.”
—Ray Michael Baca – Author of Brotherhood of the

“In Beyond the Gardens, Esperanza Ignacio confronts a
new world with humor and humility. With peppy dialogue
and energetic prose, Sandra C. Lopez brings us a story of
a young girl’s strength and determination. As candid as it
is entertaining, Beyond the Gardens leaves us all with a sense
of hope.”
—T. M. Spooner – Author of The Salvation of La
Purísima and Notes from Exile

Sandra C. López was born and raised in Hawaiian Gardens, California. She learned to read at the young age of two and strived to achieve the best grades in school. Her free time was spent reading, writing, and drawing. Sandra managed to be the first in her family to graduate from high school and enter college. Her first novel, "Esperanza: A Latina Story," was published in March 2008 while she was still in college. Now, this young writer is a full graduate of Cal State University Fullerton with a BFA in Animation and Illustration, and she is anticipating a promising career as a writer and an artist. "Beyond the Gardens" is the follow up sequel to "Esperanza."

Monday April 26 Bonnie S. Mata

Tuesday April 27 Mayra Calvani

Wednesday April 28 Christina Rodriguez

Thursday April 29 Lori Calabrese

Friday April 30 Mary Jo

Monday May 3 Erin O'Riordan

Tuesday May 4 Joylene Nowell Butler

Wednesday May 5 Terri Lee-Johnson

Thursday May 6 Romina Tybitt

Friday May 7 Leslie Toledo