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Archive for the ‘Latino/Hispanic’ Category

LuckcoverthumbBased on a true story, Celeste Leon’s beautifully written debut novel is the story of a young man in 1940s Puerto Rico who wins the lottery, only to realize that, as the title states, luck is just the beginning.

Young Ramon is able to see visions, a gift he inherited from his mother. When he sees a number flash across the sky, he decides to buy a complete lottery ticket. At first, he’s thrilled to have won a fortune, for his plan is to go to college, become a dentist, and make the world a better place by helping the people of his village. But, as it turns out, money changes a lot of things—people’s intentions, expectations, desires—even one self’s, and not always for the better. Now, people approach Ramon because they want something from him, and he starts to doubt everyone, even the girl who claims to love him. Likewise, he starts doing things he later regrets.

This is the era of WWII, and in the midst of it all Ramon tries to face the challenges that threaten to destroy his life, especially a man whose envy has made Ramon his target for revenge. Overnight, all facets of Ramon’s life turn upside down—his dwindling family business, his relationship with Elsie, his dream to go to college in the States. At some point, even the police are after him.

The novel is rich with Puerto Rican flavor and historical details, and Leon writes with simplicity yet profound perception about human nature. Ramon is an endearing, utterly likable character—an honest, good-hearted man who makes mistakes yet rises above them.

Luck is Just the Beginning was honored with a Mariposa award for Best First Book in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards, and was also a finalist in the “Fiction: Multicultural” category of the 2016 International Book Awards.

Read my Blogcritics interview with the author.

Find out more about the book on Amazon or from the author’s website.

This review was originally published in Blogcritics Magazine.

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As the Hispanic American population of the U.S. increases, with influences ranging from Mexico to Central America and the Caribbean, so does interest in literature inspired by those cultures.

Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has now edited a collection of interviews with 40 Latina authors living in the U.S. and writing in English. Latina Authors and Their Muses is an inspirational and informative book focusing on the craft of writing and the business of publishing, one that provides aspiring writers with the nuts and bolts of the business.

Purchase the ebook NOW on Amazon or B&N

Pre-order the paperback NOW on Amazon or B&N

Official paperback release date: December 15, 2015

ramses and I

About the Editor

Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned more than ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she now resides in Brussels, Belgium.

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arnaldoArnaldo Lopez Jr. has been employed by New York City Transit  for twenty-eight years and was formerly employed as a dispatcher with the NYPD.  Mr. Lopez is also a speaker and trainer, speaking on subjects as diverse as terrorism and customer service.  He created the civilian counter-terrorism training program currently in use by New York City Transit and many other major public transportation agencies around the country.

As well as writing, Mr. Lopez is an artist and photographer, having sold several of his works over the years.  As a writer he’s sold articles to Railway Age magazine, The Daily News magazine, Homeland Defense Journal, and Reptile & Amphibian magazine; scripts to Little Archie and Personality Comics; and short stories to Neo-Opsis magazine, Lost Souls e-zine, Nth Online magazine, Blood Moon magazine, and various other Sci-Fi and/or horror newsletters and fanzines.  He was also editor of Offworld, a small science fiction magazine that was once chosen as a “Best Bet” by Sci-Fi television.  Chickenhawk is his first novel. 

Connect with Arnaldo Lopez Jr. on Facebook and Twitter.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Chickenhawk. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: Chickenhawk is an urban crime fiction novel that showcases New York City’s diversity, as well as the dark side of race relations, politics, sexuality, illness, madness, and infidelity.

Two NYC homicide cops are after a serial killer that manages to stay below their radar while murdering young, male prostitutes in a city that’s turning into a powder keg.

Q: What do you think makes a good thriller? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: Yes, I believe that for brevity’s sake we can narrow it down to its three most important elements. 1. Have a good antagonist. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) most people find the antagonist the most interesting character in a book. 2. Have a good protagonist. Even though the antagonist can often wind up stealing the show, he or she still needs a good protagonist to use as a foil. 3. Build a believeable, well-researched story in which your reader can become fully engaged.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: Once I had a general idea of what I wanted my story to say and who the main characters were, I did character outlines of most of the characters and a general outline of the story itself. As I worked on the book, the characters often drove the story on and pretty much filled the blanks.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Yes, my main protagonist is actually a combination of my brother, father, and a former boss of mine. Since I know all of these men intimately, I just needed to observe and interview a couple of older police officers to completely flesh the character out.

arnaldo 2Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: My antagonist is also a composite of several people that I’ve known over the years. I tell people that among other things a writer is a collector. He or she should be a collector of people – mannerisms, quirks, names, habits, dress – basically any and everything needed to create realistic and compelling characters.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: Keep the prose and your characters moving – keep things lively by having the dialogue and interaction of your characters drive most of the story. Also try to end your chapters in such a way that the reader will want to know what happens next.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: My setting is New York City and that setting in itself is so dynamic that little is needed to bring it to life. Still, I do describe lighting and weather conditions in spare detail to add to the atmosphere. I try not to be overly descriptive when it comes to describing the setting.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: Oh yes, I was well aware of my novel’s theme(s) from the start – infidelity, madness, guilt, and police work being just a few. These and/or similar themes will find their way in subsequent works that will feature the same characters.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: I believe that the initial draft of any writing is closer to art than craft. At this point you are writing from the gut, with craft coming into play during the editing process. Overzealous editing can, of course, damage an author’s creative vision, but all in all, proper editing can enhance that author’s vision.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: 1. Finish what you start. 2. Research. 3. Editing.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: It certainly can feel that way at times, but the exception is that this is homework you assigned to yourself and so ultimately there are no right or wrong answers.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: Yes, the Writer’s Market, the Writer’s Market Guide to Literary Agents, the Writer’s Guide series of reference books, and Roget’s Thesaurus.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: Yes. Tell your story first and foremost. Forget about dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s, you can always get to that later. Don’t get so bogged down with the writing that you forget to tell your story.

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Title: Chickenhawk

Genre: Thriller

Author: Arnaldo Lopez Jr.

Publisher: Koehler Books/Café Con Leche books

Purchase on Amazon

About the Book:

Chickenhawk is an urban crime fiction novel that showcases New York City’s diversity, as well as the dark side of race relations, politics, sexuality, illness, madness, and infidelity. Eddie Ramos and Tommy Cucitti are Manhattan North Homicide detectives after a serial killer that manages to stay below their radar while the body count keeps climbing in a city that’s turning into a powder keg.

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silvio03cSilvio Sirias is the author of Bernardo and the Virgin (2005) and Meet Me under the Ceiba (2009), winner of the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize for Best Novel, and most recently The Saint of Santa Fe.  A native of Los Angeles, he spent his adolescence in Nicaragua and currently lives in Panama.  In 2010, Silvio was named one of the “Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch (and Read).”  He has a doctorate in Spanish from the University of Arizona.  He has also published academic books on Julia Alvarez, Rudolfo Anaya, and the poet Salomon de la Selva.  In addition, he has a collection of essays titled Love Made Visible: Reflections on Writing, Teaching, and Other Distractions.  The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature lists him among the handful of authors who are introducing Central American themes into the U.S. literary landscape. For more information, visit his website at www.silviosirias.com.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Saint of Santa Fe. What was your inspiration for it? 

A: Thank you for the congratulations! I read about the tragic, yet heroic, story of Father Hector Gallego’s in a local newspaper shortly after my wife and I moved to Panama. Something about his sacrifice, as well as the photograph they published, started to haunt me. Even though his disappearance and death occur nearly forty-three years ago, Panamanians still remember him and the work he did. In fact, they continue to clamor for justice in his case.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist. 

A: The story is about a young, Colombian priest who left his homeland to start a parish in a remote area of Panama. He soon discovered that his parishioners had been living as indentured servants for generations. He helped to free them. In the process, however, he offended a wealthy landowner and he was kidnapped by military operatives never to be heard from again. Also, in researching the novel I met his sister, Edilma, who moved here from Colombia fifteen years ago to discover the truth about her brother’s death. The novel tells her story as well.

Q: How was your creative process during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way? 

A: This has been the most difficult of the three novels I’ve published. At first it was because I knew little about Panama’s culture and history, so I had a lot to learn. It took me about three years to become comfortable enough to write about my new, adoptive homeland with confidence. Then, because of this insecurity I included too many historical details in the narrative, weighing the pace down. It took me quite a while to decide what to jettison, but once I did the pace improved significantly.  Finally, General Omar Torrijos, a figure many revere in Panama, is the villain in this tale. It was a tremendous challenge to flesh him out. He became clear after I took a trip to Coclesito—a town he adored and used as an experimental Sirias - Cover - 9781937536565.inddstation to improve rural conditions in the country. In fact, he died in a plane crash while flying there. During my visit I felt his spirit and I came to understand his legacy with absolute clarity. But it all took quite a while, nearly ten years from the moment I decided this would be my next novel. Of course, I took long hiatuses, but getting this story right required of all my faith and patience. In the end, though, I am thrilled with the results.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it? 

A: I am also a teacher, and even though I have been teaching for many, many years, I still get a bit nervous before starting every class. I take it as a sign that I care about what I’m doing. It’s the same with writing. But as with teaching, after a few minutes into it the anxiety disappears.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: When I write full-time, I work from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. five days a week.  My wife and I have chosen to lead a simple life. We own little and are almost debt-free. Because of this, I can take long stretches off from my teaching job, usually two years at a time.  It is then that I can devote myself entirely to my next novel. I am hopeless at multitasking.  When I write, that is all I do. I just can’t balance it all, I’m afraid. But because of this, I am much more of a homebody when I am a writer than when I’m a teacher.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author? 

A: Such an honest question deserves an honest answer. And although my answer may seem brutal, any writer facing such a situation has a difficult choice to make. I couldn’t be an author if my wife wasn’t 100% supportive. Every writer needs a spouse who helps to nurture the muse, otherwise it would be akin to sabotaging one’s work. As heartless as this may sound, I’d say either give up on writing or get out of what appears to be a bad relationship. To become a writer one has to make countless sacrifices, and a spouse needs to be on board for all of them.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree? 

A: I wrote an essay titled “The Kindly Demon that Fuels Me.” I wrote it precisely in response to Orwell’s essay “On Why I Write,” where the quote you mention can be found. I agree that most writers have demons. Mario Vargas Llosa added to this thought by saying that novelists write to exorcise demons. Yet the one that drives me is a benevolent one, taking the form of my desire to be remembered after I’m gone. When I look at it this way, I am don’t find my demon terrifying in the least.

 

 

 

 

 

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EllenCastro_color_2509My guest is best-selling author, inspirational speaker, coach and global consultant Ellen Castro. Ellen’s clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies to non-profits to schools and individuals. She has touched millions via keynotes and media appearances. She earned her MEd from Harvard and MBA from Southern Methodist University where she served on the faculty of the Edwin L. Cox Business Leadership Center for more than 15 years. Her first corporate experience was leading a $90 million profit center of 500 employees for Exxon in the 1970s, where she was the highest-ranking female in Marketing, with five promotions in just 11 years. Today she’s spreading the word about her latest nonfiction work, Spirited Leadership…52 Ways to Build Trust.

Welcome, Ellen! Tell us what got you into coaching.

Thank you! ! Delighted for the opportunity. I started coaching officially in the 1980s when I worked for this amazing start-up after earning my MEd from Harvard. As director of organizational and management development, I traveled throughout the US coaching the leaders of 30+ HMOs to create cultures of trust, teamwork and excellence in an industry that was facing many challenges.

Unofficially, I’ve been a coach since college. I was a sophomore advisor and resident assistant as well as actively involved in many leadership/mentoring organizations. Then at Exxon, as a leader of a $90 million profit center with 500 employees, I coached my team to greatness and success. In fact, we won several awards!

I love helping and encouraging others and giving feedback in a way that it can be heard – without crushing the human spirit.

What compelled you to write Spirited Leadership… 52 Ways to Build Trust?

I was compelled based on my experience at Exxon. I battered my head on the glass ceiling at Exxon in the mid-1980s while scrambling up the corporate ladder. One fateful, dreary day in Houston, my boss, Ray, called me into his corner office. As Ray doodled, he informed me he was blocking my sixth promotion in 11 years. Stunned and dumbfounded, I asked why. He simply stated he did not like me or my jewelry. The world I knew imploded. I quit during a massive reorganization a few months later. Within a year — call it luck, synchronicity or grace — I was attending Harvard University to earn my second Master’s. The devastating, demoralizing, humiliating experience of losing my spirit and soul at work became my launching pad to living a life of excellence, my rewarding career and enjoying a fulfilling life.

What I considered punishment was simply preparation.

3749999_orig I want others to be equipped to embrace inevitable obstacles and use them as breakthroughs, not breakdowns. The 52 Ways provide a personal power leadership workout and concise resource for success regardless of external forces.

We are our choices. We can live an amazing life of excellence, self-expression and success in all its many forms by harnessing our personal power.

What does it mean to live courageously and fearlessly and how can we achieve it?

Living courageously to me is living our lives, not the lives that others or the life society says we should live. Living our lives from the inside out based on values, respect, trust and love. Each of us was made on purpose for a purpose, of that I am sure. Each of us is given unique talents, skills, attitudes and aptitudes that are meant to change the world for the better.

Unfortunately, most of us are living in a state of fear and stress, I know I was —  I still have my moments. In the past, I was driven by external validation, approval, acceptance and society’s definition of success. Externals can change in a heartbeat.

By grace, faith and better choices, I am now living from the truth within. I am loved, accepted and far more powerful than I imagine. I am made in the image of God. WOW! The 52 Ways provide the blueprint and toolkit to live courageously and fearlessly, to do what is right and fulfill our unique divine purpose.

Trust is the key. Trust for oneself, trust that life is for you and trust that you can be all that you were created to be with better choices. Every choice counts.

The book facilitates the readers’ feeling comfortable in their own skin thus gaining increased confidence to live boldly.

How does your book help people release their energy and creativity?

It is amazing how much energy and creativity I have freed up by living from the inside out. By trusting myself and trusting that life is for me, I can trust others and bring out the best in them.

When you live from your passion and purpose, there is no competition. You liberate your greatness and allow others to live from their potential instead of living from fear, doubt and survival. We all have greatness. We were meant for greatness!

The 52 ways allow the readers to harness their personal power, gain leadership muscle and emotional stamina – they did for me – to live from their greatness, not their self-imposed limitations

My life went from tragic to magic, from surviving to thriving. I learned the hard way and have enough gray hairs for all of us. These are my learnings I am delighted to share to make others’ lives easier, brighter and lighter!

Executives and leaders worldwide have used your book to create cultures of trust, sensational teamwork, innovation and excellence. Can you tell us how your book has helped them achieve this?

This book increases the executives’ and leaders’ awareness and provides them the tools to build and develop their leadership skills, abilities, emotional intelligence and people smarts. Did you know that emotional intelligence is up to 90% of the differential between leaders and managers according to Dr. Daniel Goleman – the leading expert in the field?

Spirited Leadership takes emotional intelligence and makes it practical by providing a concise description of the behavior, characteristic, attitude and/or action followed by insightful questions, practical exercises and success applications.

Many leaders use it as their go-to reference guide to solving immediate problems and challenges. Some managers and leaders have chosen to use it as a weekly team activity to create stronger bonds of trust and collaboration while building the capacity of the team members. Others use it as a coaching and mentoring guide.

Leaders have told me that it has made them very conscious of the impact they have on setting the culture. Culture beats strategy every time. They become conscious that everything communicates. There are no neutral actions. Everything they do either builds trust and increases their credibility or destroys it. Everything they do either unleashes potential and builds healthy self-esteem and confidence in themselves, others and the future or destroys it.

I could go on and on! I’ve seen the success my clients have had – it is inspiring and motivating!

Who is your target audience?

Anyone who wants the competitive edge in today’s stressful, non-traditional and intense times, where competence alone has ceased to be enough to succeed in business or in life.

The initial target audience in 1998 with the first edition was executives, leaders and managers in the workplace. Over the last 15 years the audience has expanded. It now includes people who are aspiring to those levels as well as influencers and professionals wanting better, quicker and enhanced results. Individuals entering the workplace are using it as an invaluable resource for assimilating into the workplace. Students are using it as their leadership primer and self-confidence igniter. Entrepreneurs are using the 52 Ways as a blueprint for building their brand value. Community volunteers and parents give it rave reviews for building better relationships in the community and at home. Associations such as Project Management Institute (PMI) and non-profits such as the Komen Foundation are buying it to uplift and educate their members.

Regardless of position, title, sector or industry, this concise book is relevant.

You remain active in the Hispanic community and co-authored Tortilla Soup for the Spirit. Tell us about this.

You are right, I do remain active in the Hispanic community — it is very important to me.

Tortilla Soup was a delight and honor to co-author. The heart-warming book is a delicious collection of works by Latinas and Latinos from across the country.  The compilation reflects the many aspects of our heritage and culture, including our deep faith and love for life.

What important message you hope readers will get from your book?

We are our choices.

Every choice counts.

You are always on stage.

You are far more powerful than you imagine.

Live greater with trust!

Any last words you’d like to share with my readers?

Redefine failure.

Life is for you — promise.

You are meant for greatness!

Live empowered and energized.

Be a spirited leader!

Blessings and thanks!

Thank you, Ellen!

My interview was originally published in Blogcritics.

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Dora Tapestry 2 June 2013 (480x640)Dora Machado is the award winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books July 2013. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com.

Subscribe to her blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/, sign up for her newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Book

Lusielle’s bleak but orderly life as a remedy mixer is shattered when her husband betrays her and she is sentenced to die for a crime she didn’t commit. She’s on the pyre, about to be burned, when a stranger breaks through the crowd and rescues her from the flames.

Brennus, Lord of Laonia is the last of his line. He is caught in the grip of a mysterious curse that has murdered his kin, doomed his people and embittered his life. To defeat the curse, he must hunt a birthmark and kill the woman who bears it in the foulest of ways. Lusielle bears such a mark.

Stalked by intrigue and confounded by the forbidden passion flaring between them, predator and prey must come together to defeat not only the vile curse, but also the curse giver who has already conjured their ends.

PURCHASE ON AMAZON.

Q: It’s great to have you here, Dora! Tell us why readers should buy The Curse Giver.

A: If you like fast-paced, plot-twisting, epic, dark, and yes—why not?—romantic fantasy, The Curse Giver is for you. In a world teetering on the brink of war and destruction, three lives collide, bound together by a powerful, terrifying, undefeatable curse: an embittered lord at the brink of death, doomed by a curse he doesn’t understand and tormented by a terrible secret; an innocent healer on the run, accused of a crime she didn’t commit, bearing a mysterious birthmark that commands her murder; and the evil curse giver who has already conjured their ends. The stakes are high—peace, healing and freedom or war, madness and horrible death. Somewhere between love and hate and justice or revenge, redemption awaits those who dare to challenge the tenuous boundaries of good and evil.

CurseGiver_Front Cover Final

Q: What makes a good fantasy novel?

A: Fast-paced action, thrilling adventures and rich imagination perfectly balanced by deep, complex and engaging characters, intricate plots, and transcendental relationships that matter.

Q: What is a regular writing day like for you?

A: I sit down to write sometime between eight or nine in the evening and write through the night. I go to bed anywhere between three and six and sleep the morning away. I get up around ten or eleven and spend the afternoon editing what I did the night before and taking care of the business aspects of writing. The best part: It’s my schedule and I get to choose my office’s dress code, which, by the way, is a notch below casual, super comfy. The biggest challenge: Talk about not being a morning person!

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an author?

A: The amazing readers who come along in my adventures.

Q: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received that you’d like to pass to other authors?

A: Write like the wind, write often, diligently and continuously, write for yourself and, my favorite, write all the way to The End.

 

 

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It’s a pleasure to have as my guest Juana Bordas today. Bordas is president of Mestiza Leadership International, a company that focuses on diversity, leadership and organizational change, as well as founding President of the National Hispana Leadership Institute. After being a faculty member for the Center for Creative Leadership, she served as vice president of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership and as a trustee of the International Leadership Association. Her book Salsa, Soul and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age was a International Latino Book Award winner in 2008. Bordas is here today to talk about her latest book, The Power of Latino Leadership. Visit her website.

Bordas is currently touring the blogosphere with Condor Book Tours.

JuanaBordas1What is Mestiza Leadership International and how did your work there begin?

I started Mestiza Leadership International in order to integrate leadership, diversity, and positive social change. In the multicultural age, achieving our potential requires tapping into the talents and assets of our rich diversity. Second, in our country today leadership is listed under business. There is no classification of leadership as a field in libraries, universities, or book categories.

This presents a challenge. The purpose of leadership is not just about business or the economy. Leadership is about creating the society we want to live in. It is about ensuring that the values we hold most dear–equality, justice, the common good, pluralism, community, and individual worth–are integrated into our society. Leadership is also a communal responsibility–everyone has something to contribute. Yes, we want to have a strong economy and good jobs, but we can’t let corporations highjack leadership–leadership has a much wider scope and that is to ensure the people’s well-being and to create the good society.

Mestiza Leadership International promotes leadership that empowers people to make a contribution and be more effective in their communities and organizations.

You’re also the president of National Hispana Leadership Institute. How did that come about?

I was the first president of the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) for the first seven years. NHLI is now 26 years old and I am proud to say has trained hundreds of Latinas from across the country for leadership. The NHLI network of Latinas is an hermanidad or sisterhood who assist and support each other. NHLI is creating a powerful leadership force for Hispanic community advancement and to build a more inclusive America.

Your second book, The Power of Latino Leadership: Culture, Inclusion, and Contribution has just come out. What was your inspiration behind this book?

Recently Time, Newsweek, Parade and Rolling Stone all had Latinos on their covers. Salsa is America’s favourite condiment. Latinos were the deciding force in the last presidential election. Hispanics have the highest participation in the workforce and are the fastest growing small business sector. Moreover, the US is the fastest growing Spanish speaking country in the world. Because of their exploding demographics, by the middle of the century Latinos will make up a third of the US.

The Latinization of America is a real phenomenon–right now!

But how did this happen? What are the leadership lessons of those who advanced the Latino community? What are the contributions Latinos will make in the future…in other words what is Latino Destino? And how can leading with a Latino flavor be a valuable asset for everyone?

5140509The Power of Latino Leadership answers these questions. By understanding how Latinos have arrived to where we are today, and by embracing our unique form of leadership, Latinos can continue moving forward and bring their cultural assets into the mainstream.

Who is your target audience?

Latino leadership is a model for the 21st century. It has an inclusive community spirit that fosters contribution and service. It has an international, intergenerational scope and an immigrant spirit. The Power of Latino Leadership is for anyone who wants to embrace diversity and be a more effective leader.

Mainstream leaders will learn about the powerful ways Latinos have led their communities. Companies will better understand how to serve and connect with Latino consumers. Young Latinos can take pride in the accomplishments and integrity of our leaders. Latinos will know their history and see how leading from their cultural core will make them even more successful.

What would you like readers to learn from your book?

I want to change the “conversation” and focus of leadership. Most leadership books have been written from Anglo, male, and Euro-centric perspective. Historically, leadership has been hierarchical, the domain of the influential few, and associated with control and dominance.

This type of leadership is not strategically suited for the global multicultural age where change is constant and our problems are very complex. People are better educated and want to participate.

The Power of Latino Leadership provides a model that embraces diversity and promotes participation, social responsibility, and community. I hope readers will be inspired to join in and help build a world that cares for its people and values differences.

Tell us about your Latino Leadership Program and its benefits. Who would be a good candidate for this program?

The Latino Leadership Development Program (LLDP) was launched ten years ago. The purpose is to assist Latinos actualize their leadership potential and to increase their contributions to their organizations. The program includes individualized assessments and coaching. The LLDP integrates the best of mainstream leadership with the assets and lessons that come from the Latino culture and leadership.

You also have a program specifically aimed at Latinas. Could you give us a brief overview?

Latinos are the youngest population in America. To keep moving forward, leaders must prepare the next generation. This is the purpose of the Circle of Latina Leadership. Emerging leaders (25-40 years old) participate in a nine month community leadership program that builds their skills. Each participant works with a mentor to clarify what their contribution will be.

Latinas have always been the connectors and nurtures of family and community. By coming together, they can support one another’s journeys and build a network that benefits their communities and families.

What do you find the most rewarding about working as a coach?

I don’t do much individual coaching at this time. As a social worker I spent years coaching and assisting individuals and groups. I then moved to helping create organizations such as Mi Casa and NHLI that benefit more people and have continuity. The programs I design include coaching or mentoring as individual reflection and learning are key components of leadership development.

The most challenging?

Finding the right match for people is a challenge. We can learn from everyone, but there is a certain chemistry and connection that happens between folks that can really spark growth and development. Coaching is successful when both parties learn from each other.

What’s on the horizon for Juana Bordas?

Promoting The Power of Latino Leadership is numero uno. And if you are reading this you can help by buying the book. And Gracias!

People who read the book will understand that Latinos are a culture or ethnic group and not a race. Furthermore, Latinos are impeccably inclusive and can be Black, White, Brown, Indigenous, Mocha or Mestizo (mixed).

Because culture is learned, people can choose to “learn” or experience the culture. In my family, for instance, my sister’s husband, Karl has become a “Latino by affinity” or Corazon. He loves the extended familia, the music, food, and values such as celebration and generosity. I say if you are around Latinos long enough the rhythm is going to get you.

The Latino culture also has a bienvenido or welcoming spirit. We embrace people who want to share our values and way of life. My next book will be about becoming a Latino by Corazon. So stay tuned and get ready for the Latinization of America. We are all going to have a very good time!

This interview first appeared on Blogcritics

Follow the author’s virtual book tour!

Monday June 17 Condor Musings

Tuesday June 18 Hispanic New York
Wed June 19 Examiner
Thursday June 20 Latina Lista
Friday June 21 OC Gente

Monday June 24 L2L
Tuesday June 25 Latina Book Club
Wed June 26 Latina Geeks
Thurs June 27 Que Means What & Amigapreneur 
Friday June 28 Pa’lante Latino

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john-paul-jaramillo authorA native of Southern Colorado, John Paul Jaramillo now lives, writes and teaches in Springfield, Illinois. He has an MFA in creative writing from Oregon State University, and presently holds the position of Associate Professor of English at Lincoln Land Community College.

His writing has been featured in Acentos ReviewCopper Nickel Review, Antique Children Arts Journal, Fogged Clarity Arts JournalDigest Magazine, Verdad Magazine, Polyphony Online, Paraphilia Magazine, Sleet Magazine and forthcoming in Palabra Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art. 

He’s the author of the short story collection,The House of Order, published by Anaphora Literary Press.

About the cover…

“The artwork is from an amazing Illinois artist named Felicia Olin. Her work inspires me and this particular piece titled ‘Breathe Out’ caught my eye at an art showing at the University of Illinois Springfield. I’ve been told these stories are very raw and I hoped the artwork matched. I also liked the way composite stories could break down a family and also a man so that we might see a fuller understanding. A fuller dimension in the layers of storytelling and narration. I like the idea that narration of a story can give us the inside and outside view of something. As in Olin’s work I guess things aren’t as pretty on the inside of folks or in the inner-workings of the world. I’m all for more complication in fiction to match the complication that exists in what Amy Hempel calls ‘the problem of being alive.’ Hopefully when one reads the book they might see a fuller view of a man or character, or situation for that matter, they might otherwise ignore or become offended with.”

About his writing style…

“I’ve always been more interested in the form of books rather than the meaning. Expressing rather than communicating. I try to teach that to my students. Content only matters as much as it is organized and structured on the page and I have studied literary minimalism so closely. Obsessed with it really. I’m attracted to the idea of doing more with less. That’s the failed poet in my I guess. I’ve always been inspired with the minimalism of Amy Hempel and Denis Johnson. The minimal form works best with stories about such weighted subject matter such as abusive fathers or delinquent parents. I’ve tried to steal an elliptical and bare bones style to match the laconic male family members.”

About what makes a good story…

“I think I’m particularly interested in trouble. Folks getting in and out of trouble. The thing within folks that creates that trouble around them. Expecially Latino males. Tom Spanbauer describes his style as dangerous writing. And I’ve tried to steal that for my stories. I think finding the trouble and putting the reader in an uncomfortable position along with the characters creates the most interest for the reader. So that’s one. I also think the language needs to mean more to the writer than the reader. That comes from my study of poetry. Tracy Daugherty told his workshop members that language is a character’s skin. I like that idea. We have to get inside of our character utilizing more and more intimate language. I guess that’s when I started using more and more mixing and switching of English and Spanish in my stories. To match the intimate language of the old folks from Colorado that influenced me and that best represent me. So that’s trouble and language. I guess the story must also be affecting. And I guess I mean that stories need to be less plot-driven and more driven by emotion. The best stories that I return to again and again are stories that give less plot and storyline but through the deep use of language and care for the main character makes me feel the most. The work has to be character driven and affecting to create a true immersible experience to compete with films and television and more visual mediums.”

What’s next for John Paul Jaramillo…

“I’m working on a follow up to my first collection of stories. I’m tentatively calling the book Huérfanos named after the nearby county I grew up around and it is more of a traditional novel rather than literary minimalism styled collection of short stories. The criticisms of my shorter stories have been a complaint on the length of the stories. We don’t spend much time with characters and within a novel I can spend that time. I can give a fuller trajectory for the characters. I jump from generation to generation in the short work but I like the idea of adding even more dimension of time within a novel. I also like the idea of following more characters. I’m also interested in creative nonfiction essays about the steel mills and steel unions of Southern Colorado. I’m also interested in turning blog posts from my writing and teaching weblog I keep into fuller essays on the subject of so-called “Spanglish” and the use of intimate language within my written work. I’m interested in writing on the representation of Latinos in popular culture and in films as well as in literature.”

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house of order

The House of Order, the first collection of composite stories by John Paul Jaramillo, presents a stark vision of American childhood and family, set in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. Manito Ortiz sorts family truth from legend as broken as the steel industry and the rusting vehicles that line Spruce Street. The only access to his lost family’s story is his uncle, the unreliable Neto Ortiz.

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ImageSandra Ramos O’Briant is proud to announce the release of her first novel, The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood. She’s the author of the short stories, “Death & Taxes and…Worms” in Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery (Arte Publico, 2009), “Lana Turner Slept Here” in Latinos in Lotusland (Bilingual Press, 2008) and “Chile Tales” inWhat Wildness is This (University of Texas Press, 2007). She was generous to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some of my questions. Please give her a warm welcome!

About the book:

When Alma flees with her young lover to Texas to escape an arranged marriage with a much older man, she sets in motion a drama that will put the sisters and their legacy at risk. Pilar, a 14-year-old tomboy, is offered as a replacement bride, and what follows is a sensuous courtship and marriage clouded by the curses of her husband’s former lover, Consuelo. She will stop at nothing, even the use of black magic, in her effort to destroy the Sandoval family. The Mexican-American war begins and the Americans invade Santa Fe. The sisters survive the hostilities from two important fronts-New Mexico and Texas. Their money and ancient knowledge offer some protection, but their lives are changed forever.

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Interview:

It’s a pleasure having you on The Dark Phantom Review, Sandra! Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it?

I grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, an area steeped in history, but I’m not aware of much fiction written about the New Mexican women of the 19th century. There are references to the “first white woman” in Santa Fe, and most of the other period pieces (nonfiction written by men) barely mention women, or are unflattering when they do. My goal was to tell a story about women who interested me, women who bravely dealt with whatever life dished out to them. The issues confronted by the Sandoval sisters are contemporary: racism, sexual intolerance, the power of superstition, dealing with mother-in-laws.

The story also has a fair bit of romantic eroticism which the centuries-old Sandoval diaries dealt with candidly. The Sandoval sisters were encouraged to read the diaries and learn their secrets. My research didn’t yield much information on rebellious Latinas of yore. They obeyed their fathers, brothers, husbands, and priests, so I wrote the Sandoval sisters–not exactly as firebrands–but as women who make a change toward owning their power, each in their own way, and all while living on a rough frontier at the juncture of three cultures.

When I tell people I’m from Santa Fe, their eyes light up; they’ve either visited the Land of Enchantment, or it’s on their bucket list. Growing up there, tourists were a mixed bag. The woman running through the plaza shouting that “real Indians” sat on blankets outside the historic Governor’s Palace (now a museum) was an idiot in my opinion. I played tag in the plaza near the End of the Santa Fe trail marker, and listened to viejas sitting on the park benches. They complained about all the gringos taking over the tiendas, and how expensive everything was, and that la raza should do something about it. They also told stories of the devil and witches and unholy events in the night.

The plaza is still there, but the locals don’t gather like they used to. They shop at Walmart now. In the privacy of their homes, some of them still complain about big-shot Anglos. Even though my natal family still lives there, it wasn’t until I traveled to Santa Fe with friends that I allowed myself to feel the “magic.” But I couldn’t answer my friend’s modern questions regarding identity: “Are the people here Spanish or Mexican? What are you?”

Initially, my research was to gain a better understanding of my New Mexican ancestry (Sandoval and Gallegos), but also to find the root of Northern New Mexican identity. I wanted to know why they insisted on calling themselves Spanish, and why they seemed to resent Texans, in particular.

Merchants have always loved the Santa Fe trail. The Mexican-American War was fought to gain more land, but it was also about controlling trade, and that meant controlling Santa Fe: it was the first foreign capital captured by the U.S. An unbelievable influx of men occurred, but nary a word has been written about how that affected the New Mexican women. Until now.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

The story started as stream-of-consciousness, but I very quickly needed an outline. I wanted to tell the story I had heard from childhood, about the two Anglo children whose parents died in a wagon train on the trail to Santa Fe. The spinterish Sandoval sisters adopted them. Very quickly the Sandoval sisters took over my dreams, and their adopted heirs told me about the Sisters’ influence on them in flashbacks, about what it meant to grow up with the Sandoval witches.
I sent the story off to an agent. She said that I had the makings of two, possibly three, books in my manuscript. She wanted to know more about the Sandoval sisters, too. I rewrote the story and brought the past (the flashbacks) into the present. The next generation doesn’t appear yet, but the groundwork is set for everything with which they will have to contend in the future.

How long did it take you to write the book?

Twelve years including a zillion rewrites, and lots of research. Not only did I read U.S. expansionist history–how the West was won (conquered)–but I did archival research on first person diaries and letters. I switched off from writing the novel to experimenting with short stories, many of which have been published. Go here for a complete list and links. For me, the switch between long and short form was like looking at certain art out of the corner of your eye. Images you didn’t see sometimes come to the fore. Also, short stories are hard-bodied, tight. In a novel, you can stretch.

What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

Daydreaming. In my youth, daydreaming nurtured me, provided a safe haven. I’d sleep for twelve hours and even when awake escape to the safe place in my mind. Of course, I was a terrible student. Still, I managed to get into college, but my daydreaming threatened to sabotage me. I used behavior modification to break the cycle. I started by setting an arbitrary time limit on studying: for every 15 minutes of study, I’d allow myself an hour of daydreaming. I set the alarm. My roommates thought I was weird. I was. Gradually I increased the studying time while reducing the daydreaming. My GPA went up. I got into grad school. I rarely daydreamed.
In the business world, I did fairly well, but wasn’t happy. A bout of sciatica put me flat on my back. All I could do was read, listen to my mother’s stories about the Sandovals, and daydream: a return to self. My writing career had begun.

Exercise also helps. While focusing on my body and trying not to hurt myself, my mind goes to new and unexpected places.

What authors or type of books do you read for fun?

I’ve always read broadly: literary fiction, scifi, fantasy, chicklit, historical, dystopian, nonfiction, memoir. I’ve even read Westerns. I prefer female protagonists. In the historical genre, I cut a swath through kings and queens, and pretty much like more exotic locations now. I’m a great admirer of Castañeda, Sandra Cisneros, Margaret Atwood, Antonia Fraser, Olivas, Jill Smolinski. Anne Rice and Isabel Allende were huge influences. Go to my Goodreads page for a list of books I’ve read and a giveaway of the Sandoval Sisters.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

All of the above. www.thesandovalsisters.com will give you more information about the book and my bio. My blog is eclectic and everything social media experts say not to do. It focuses on what is important in my life at the moment–could be fidelity in marriage, earthquakes, or pubic hair nostalgia. The posts are short. I try to write it in a creative and interesting way, but I don’t offer how to’s: www.bloodmother.com

Why Bloodmother?

My next book will be a vampire story. It’s almost complete and I’m switching off between it, the next in the Sandoval sisters series, and short stories.

Thank you, Sandra! Best of luck with your book!

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Janelle Meraz Hooper is an Anglo-Hispanic writer who was born in Oklahoma; she now lives in Washington State. An award-winning author, her books are character-driven and lean heavily on the lives and challenges of women. She has been awarded the 2002 Bold Media Book Award for Fiction, the 1999 Surrey Writing Contest 1st Place for Fiction, and was also a finalist at the 2004 Oklahoma Book Awards. Her books include A Three-Turtle Summer, As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries, Custer and His Naked Ladies, Bears in the Hibiscus, and Free-Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories.

Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it?

Photo by Bonnie King

My latest published book (2010) is Bears in the Hibiscus, a humorous romance about a woman in her late thirties starting over. This is the first book I’ve written that isn’t based on my family. I’m sure they breathed a sigh of relief when I emailed them to say I’d finally stopped writing about them!

I wrote the book because so many of my friends are starting over. Some of the for the third and fourth time. Love isn’t just for the young. It’s for all ages, just with different challenges.

Are you a full-time writer or do you have another job?

I’m a full-time writer.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

I work with an outline. I’ve tried it both ways but the outline method works the best for me. For me, the main difference is it’s faster!

Do you use index cards to plot your book?

No. I do everything on the computer.

How long did it take you to write the book?

I wrote this one in a year. In 2011, I wrote two books, one was a romance, the other a literary novella. Neither one is published yet.

What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

I like to go places where I can people-watch. When I was a child in Oklahoma, on summer nights it was too hot to sleep. It was a popular past time to go downtown, buy an ice cream cone, then sit in the car and watch the people go by. Lawton was great for people-watching. The streets were full of Indians, cowboys, Hispanics, blacks, and Asians, and more. An awful lot of them were our friends. I’ve never forgotten those nights. Many of those people are in my Turtle Trilogy (A Three-Turtle Summer, As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead Diaries, and Custer and His Naked Ladies).

How was your experience in looking for a publisher?

Well, not good. I sent out my first novel to agents and publishers right after 9-11-2001 and most of my manuscripts were sent back unopened. Someone said they were afraid of bombs. I finally self-published in 2002.

What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

I’d advise them to carefully watch everything I do—and do the opposite!

What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you?

The best way for me to sell a book is at a book event. I have to put the book in a potential reader’s hand. The next best way is on Facebook. My Facebook readers are very faithful. I have blogs and websites that get a lot of hits but I have no way of knowing if any of them result in sales.

Share with us some writing tips!

I have a section on writing tips for students on my web page. My favorites are:

Exercise! Writing is exhausting work. Having enough stamina to do that one extra rewrite can make the difference between success and failure.

Listen- Are you listening? Really listening? I used to be a big talker at parties. Then I figured out that I’d be better off if I listened more. I listen not only to what people say but how they say it. Also, listen to the sounds around you. Listen to the sounds a prom dress makes when it dances across the floor. Listen to the different sounds the leaves in the trees make in the different seasons. Listen to the sounds of children playing.
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Read. Everything- Well…almost everything. Let’s stay in the deep end of the IQ and morality pool. Remember that old computer saying: Garbage in, garbage out!

The best tool a writer can have is self-discipline. ‘Nuff said.

In college, an English instructor told me that I’d be a good writer someday when “I’d lived enough”. My first two novels are about my childhood. All I gained by waiting was perspective.

What authors or type of books do you read for fun?

I have a lot of interests so I like to read books on American Native history, marine science, archaeology, geology, interior design, biographies, etc.

Do you think a critique group is essential for a writer?

Yes, if you can find a good one. My definition of a good critique group is one that is nurturing and sociable. I seldom get out. When I do, I want to have a good time! Most of the serious critiquing goes on through email the next day.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Yes. My main ones are:
www.JanelleMerazHooper.com
A site I started for local indie authors: www.NorthwestAuthors.org
A blog: http://JanelleMerazHooper.blogspot.com
Social networks include Facebook and National Society of Hispanic Professionals.

Do you have another novel on the works?

I have a new light romance, Boogie, Boots & Cherry Pie, but it isn’t published yet. I imagine it won’t be out until September. I’ve turned it in to my publisher but it is in a long queue. He’s putting it on Kindle for me to begin with. The paperback will come later. (All of my other books are available on Kindle and paperback.)

Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

Right now, I’m writing a one-man show for a Hollywood actor (Rudy Ramos) on Geronimo. It’s a very different take on the Chiricahua Apache. I’ve been interested in him since childhood. It is so different I haven’t had the nerve to show it to anyone yet, not even my husband.

I’m holding on to a literary novella titled The Welfare Resort because I thinking of expanding it into a novel.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

Anyone who has read my Turtle Trilogy will realize I’ve had a very unusual life as an Anglo-Hispanic. To the first part, I was never white enough to fit in. To the second part, I was never brown enough to be really accepted. But to be fair, my Hispanic mother’s side of the family was very sociable and loved to play cards till all hours of the night and ballroom dance. I was just a nerdy little kid sitting on the floor of the living room reading a stack of library books. I didn’t play cribbage. I didn’t dance. I didn’t tell funny stories. But oh, how I loved them. Especially the women. They were the inspiration for my Turtle Trilogy.

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