Posts Tagged ‘hispanic’

Graciela LimónGraciela Limón is a Latina Writer, Educator and Activist. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish Literature from Marymount College Los Angeles, a Master of Arts Degree in the same field from the University of the Americas Mexico City, followed by a PhD in Latin American Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  Prior to retirement, Limón was a professor of U.S. Hispanic Literature as well as Chair of the Department of Chicana/o Studies at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California.  She is now Professor Emeritus of that University.

Limón has written critical work on Mexican, Latin American and Caribbean Literature.  However, she now concentrates her writing efforts on creative fiction that is germane to her areas of interest: feminism, social justice and cultural identity.  Her body of work includes In Search of Bernabé that won The Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award (1994).   Limón also published The Memories of Ana Calderón (1994), Song of the Hummingbird (1996) and The Day of the Moon (1999).   Erased Faces, which was awarded the 2002 Gustavus Myers Book Award, was published in 2001, Left Alive was released in 2005, The River Flows North, 2009, followed by The Madness of Mamá Carlota, 2012.  Her latest book is The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy, published by Cafe con Leche Books. Find out more about Graciela at www.gracielalimon.com.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy.  What was your inspiration for it? 

A: There were several inspirations, but above all is the woman of strength, resilience and ambition.  Certain historical events of the first part of the 20th Century worked as well as inspirational in the novel.  These were the Mexican Revolution, the Spanish Influenza, the Repatriation and Prohibition.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist. 

A:  I believe that the most interesting aspect of my protagonist is her fierce independence and courage when faced with adversity.  However, just as interesting is her flawed nature that in the end succumbs to her passions.

Q: How was your creative process like 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:  The creative process for me when writing this novel was different from my other experiences in that my protagonist turned out to be so unpredictable.  Ximena Godoy kept me guessing.  Hence, I experienced times when I needed to stop writing just to reflect on her nature, and try to decipher her motives.  Ximena Godoy is hardly what is expected of the Latina:  she breaks the canon, so to speak.  All of this created bumps and interruptions along the way, but once my Muse pulled me over those bumps, I was able to get going.  How long did it take me to complete Ximena’s story?  I would say that it was completed in about two years.

ximenaQ: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel? 

A:  Good stories, I find, contain enough ‘excitement’ to make the narrative flow.  In The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy, there is a strong historical element, such as the Mexican Revolution.  This event was followed by the Spanish Influenza, which, by the way, killed more people than did the Revolution.  There are other critical periods that form a background to my protagonist’s story and animate the novel’s narrative, keeping it going and – I hope – keep it exciting.

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

A:  No, I wouldn’t say that I experience anxiety.  What I do feel is a sense of urgency, of wanting to write what I’m feeling before it dilutes or disappears.  It’s really a mysterious feeling, difficult to explain.

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

A:  I’m an early bird, meaning that I write early in the day.  By this I mean to say that my schedule puts me at work before daylight when all is still in the house as well as out in the street.  With a cup of coffee to energize me, I usually write between three and five hours.  This isn’t a strict schedule because, as you can imagine, I get tired.  When the time comes to rest I do it by cooking – which I love to do, and by interacting with those around me.

Q: How do you define success? 

A:  Success for me means completing the novel I’ve been writing.  It means everything to me to be part of the mystery of creative writing, and giving it fullness.  Remember, completing a novel takes about two years out of my life.  That’s significant.  Also, success for me is knowing that a story has come to me from out of nowhere, and that I’m a part of the creation of characters that take flesh, who now live among us.  Success for me is being able to give life to that story.

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

A:  This is problematic, and I find it difficult to give such an aspiring writer advice except to say to not allow the dream to fade much less disappear.  I’d say to hang in there, to persevere until an understanding can hopefully be reached.

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:  No. I regret to disagree, and I do so with all respect since George Orwell is one of our world’s shining literary lights.  How painful it must have been for him to give us such gifts despite so much pain.  In my case, writing a book, although lonely, scary and sometimes bleak, nonetheless is a life-giving experience.  Writing for me is to breathe, to travel to another world, to dwell with people before unknown but now more real than even those that surround me.  Yes, for me writing is life giving.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers? 

A:  I would tell your readers to have faith in his/her work, to be confident, to reject nasty, mean-spirited criticism, to forge ahead and give us all a part of that God-given talent.

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profile-pic (1)Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s life experiences as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her passion for writing. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago a second time. A Decent Woman is her debut novel. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children, and she lives in West Virginia.

About the Book 

Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century: Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife with a tempestuous past. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past, but continues to hide an even more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest, Padre Vicénte, and young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must battle to preserve her twenty-five year career as the only midwife in La Playa.

Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small children, who marries an older wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. A crime against Serafina during her last pregnancy forever bonds her to Ana in an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.

Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of these two women as they battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change.

Find out more on Amazon.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your debut novel, A Decent Woman. What was your inspiration for it? 

A: Thanks so much for your kind words and for the opportunity for this author interview, Mayra. My historical novel, A Decent Woman is my love letter to the island of my birth, Puerto Rico. I was inspired to write the book by my Puerto Rican grandmother’s stories about her Afro-Caribbean midwife, Ana, who caught my mother, two aunts, and my uncle. The lack of information about the history of Puerto Rican women in American history textbooks also inspired me to write this book. I researched non-fiction books written about the complex lives of women in colonial Puerto Rico, and was also inspired by my interviews of daughters of Puerto Rican women born in that era.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist. 

A: Ana is a tenacious, gritty, feisty, Afro-Cuban midwife, born into slavery, who mysteriously arrived on the shores of Puerto Rico in the middle of the night at age twenty. Alongside her positive characteristics, Ana is suspicious of strangers, stubborn, distrustful of men and authority, and she is hiding a secret from her past. She also practices the Yoruba traditions of her Nigerian ancestors, which involves praying to the ancestors and to gods and goddesses.

BOOK COVER SEPT 2014 (2) (1)Q: What was your creative process like 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: I wrote A Decent Woman in six months. The words came quickly, but the editing and research took nearly three years! Six months before the book was published, I met my current editor and she was incredibly helpful to me and the story. She challenged me to change the ending and remove male POV—it was a great idea.

Oh yes, I faced many bumps! Before I signed with Booktrope Publishing, I’d queried 100 agents for two years. There were many agents interested in my book, but in the end, they thought an historical novel about an Afro-Cuban midwife would be tough to sell. I wasn’t deterred; I kept at it and finally went the hybrid publisher route, which is between traditional and Indie publishing. I’m very happy where I am, and have several projects lined up with Booktrope—a happy ending for me after quite a journey.

Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel? 

A: I live in my head, and use all the senses when I describe the sights, smells, texture, and sounds of a scene or a character. There must be momentum in a story, no stagnant places where nothing is happening, to keep the excitement moving forward, and the reader turning the pages.

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

A: I didn’t experience any anxiety whatsoever with my debut novel, but I am experiencing a bit now with my second historical novel. I handle it by reminding myself of what I’ve accomplished, how difficult it was to get published, and how fortunate I am to have a great publisher and publishing team. I psyche myself out is what I do; I talk to myself, and calm down with prayer, meditation, and a good night’s sleep. Taking writing breaks to garden and play with my pets also helps me.

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

A: I am a single lady, and my two wonderful adult kids are out of my nest, doing wonderful things in the world, so I have a lot of free time. In 2010, I left my job and moved to West Virginia to write full time. It was a bit like falling off a cliff, but it was the best thing I’ve done post-kids.

I wake up between 8 and 9 every morning. I write in my journal and tackle social media and answer emails until noon. I take a long lunch break, walk the dog, check in with social media, and begin working on my work in progress around 2 in the afternoon until dinner time. After dinner, I get organized, turn off the phone, select favorite music to write by, and write until I can’t see any more. It’s very common for my best writing to come between 10pm-2 am.

Q: How do you define success?

A: I like this quote by Orison Swett Marden – “When a man feels throbbing within him, the power to do what he undertakes as well as it can possibly be done, this is happiness, this is success.” I feel the same way about success. I feel blessed to do what I’m passionate about—writing, and the opportunity to write full time makes me very happy, every day.

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

A: I was a social worker and a counselor for a few years, so my advice would be to have an honest talk with the spouse or partner about personal needs and dreams. If nothing changes, a good look into the marriage or relationship would be necessary, and a realistic look at the writer’s commitment to writing. It’s a long haul for most of us. Every marriage and relationship is different, so I won’t generalize. Personally, I’d have to move on because I was a painter for 25 years and I write novels; I’ve always lived a creative life. Life is too short to live with someone who doesn’t support my dreams.

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: Yes, I agree. Orwell is correct, once you’re in the process of writing a book, it’s an intense, exhausting experience. But highly satisfying at the same time! Writers must be a bit nuts. I am obsessed with writing, and there aren’t many things I love more than writing.

I started out as a painter, and I painted and exhibited for 25 years before discovering a passion for writing books. When the paint brush could no longer express all I had inside, I turned to words.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers? 

A:  A Decent Woman is now available on Amazon.

and I love hearing from my readers, so please visit me at my website http://www.eleanorparkersapia.com and at my writing blog http://www.thewritinglifeeparker.wordpress.com

Thanks so much, Mayra! I’ve enjoyed my time with you today.

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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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America Libre
By Raul Ramos y Sanchez
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 978-0446507752
Copyright August 2009
General Fiction

Dramatic and thought-provoking, America Libre is an ambitious novel.

The story is set in Los Angeles in the near future and begins with our protagonist, ex-army soldier Manolo Suarez, as he is desperately trying to find a job to support his wife and children. Early each morning he goes out in search of work, only to come back exhausted and depressed each evening. At the same time, tension between Hispanic and Anglos is rapidly escalating in the Hispanic communities. When an innocent child bystander gets caught up in a shooting and is killed in El Paso, Texas, the situation begins to turn from ugly to extreme.

Then a mysterious, beautiful blond Hispanic named Jo offers Manolo a job. After a short time, it becomes clear to Manolo that there’s something not quite right about his attractive new boss and the place he’s working in. His suspicions prove clear when he finds out that Jo is a rich woman working for La Defensa del Pueblo, a movement that seeks to re-do the borders between the United States and Mexico, and she offers him a ‘real’ job in the organization as a bodyguard. From that moment on, Manolo is morally torn between two belief systems. Though she doesn’t know the full extend of her husband’s job, from the very start Rosa is suspicious of Jo and doesn’t want Manolo to work for her. Rosa is also jealous, and believes Jo has blinded Manolo.

As Manolo’s involvement in the organization gets deeper and deeper, and the situation in the country between Hispanics and Anglos turns to extreme, the US government decides to take drastic measures to handle the situation, including classifying all Hispanics as ‘Class H’ and putting them in special camps. As all this is happening, the romantic tension between Manolo and Jo increases each day, sending him into an even deeper moral struggle than he ever imagined. Then something horrible happens to Manolo’s wife and kids which serves as a catalyst for making Manolo decide where his loyalties lie.

I have many good things to say about this novel. Sanchez’s gives us a scary and fascinating scenario of what could happen in the future. The book has a powerful premise and the author has set the stage well for the story and the characters. The novel appears to be well researched and all the action scenes and description of weapons sound genuine. The protagonist’s inner struggle and his high morality and sense of justice push the story along and draw the reader deeper into the non-stop action scenario. Manolo is a sympathetic character that made me feel for his predicament. My favorite character, though, is beautiful and enigmatic Jo. She’s strong, passionate, and like Manolo, also possesses a high sense of justice. But for me, she kept the story alive by being more ‘human’, more complex and full of contradictions than Manolo. I guess sometimes, for me, Manolo is too ‘perfect’. But Jo, with all her strengths and weaknesses, comes across as very real.

The relationship between Jo and Manolo, although sentimental at times, is interesting to follow. I kept wondering until the end what was going to happen between them.

The pace is good and the writing flows smoothly; the story drew me right away at the beginning and kept me turning pages until the end. This is a very cinematographic novel and the scenes unfolded before my eyes like a movie. The dialogue is crisp and natural. I found most secondary characters well developed except for Manolo’s wife, Rosa. I’m not sure why, but Rosa never came alive for me. She was completely overshadowed by Jo—I’d say practically invisible next to Jo, and her high morals and role of perfect wife and mother never quite convinced me. If the author did this on purpose to show Jo’s unique character, he succeeded.

In sum, I loved the book and found it intriguing and mentally stimulating. America Libre is one of the books to read this 2009, so make sure you have it on your list.

Read my interview with the author!

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by Mayra Calvani
Zumaya Publications
Release date: February 2009
Print ISBN: 978-1-934841-18-1
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-934841-19-8
Parody/Satire/Women’s Fiction
Available on Amazon and as ebook from EReader.com

Sunstruck has its own site at: www.sunstruckthenovel.blogspot.com


Twenty-four year old Daniella is an architecture student living with her narcissistic artist boyfriend in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Abandoned by her father at an early age, Daniella always falls for the wrong type of man.

Her most enduring male relationship so far is with her 30-pound Turkish angora cat. Thankfully, Daniella’s mother is always there to offer a shoulder.

Several strange mysteries are threaded through Daniella’s everyday life: her ex-husband, Ismael, has just opened an outlandish hotel for animal lovers that has her distraught; Ismael’s wife, a rich woman Daniella fondly refers to as “Lady Dracula,” has some gruesome ways to keep her skin looking young; Daniella’s mother is founding a revolutionary, feminist society called The Praying Mantises; the island’s national forest is being depleted of hallucinogenic mushrooms; meanwhile, young girls are disappearing and there’s a nut loose dressed as Zorro slashing the rear ends of women who wear miniskirts.

Oppressed by all these crazed, eccentric characters, Daniella feels herself falling into an abyss. Then something horrendous happens, making Daniella wake from her stupor and take charge of her life.


“Salvador Dali meets Terry Gilliam in a surrealistic romp that skewers the society of dilettantes and artistic poseurs. Reading Sunstruck is like having one of those long, convoluted dreams that seem to be totally logical until they twist off into another dimension entirely. Monty Python’s Flying Circus would be proud.” -Blue Iris Journal

“Brilliant” –MyShelf.com

“Dark and quirky humor coupled with quixotic characters adds to the surprising mix found in Sunstruck… I’ve never read a book remotely like it. Everything from the humorously weird to the actue macabre can be found between these covers, and then some.” -Laurel Johnson, Midwest Book Review

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In this interview, author and former news director Don Miles talks about his latest book, Cinco de Mayo–a date most often misunderstood in the US. Don talks about his inspiration for the book and his struggle in finding the right publisher.

When did you decide to become an author?  Do you have another job besides writing? 

Believe it or not, I’m supposed to be “retired.”  I’ve written all my books so far because there was a  problem to be solved in each case and few or no books on how to solve them. As a news director in the late 1960’s I got tired of writing memos to my reporters and anchors in radio newsrooms, so I came out with a book called Broadcast News Handbook.  As a professor at the University of Florida in the 1970’s, I had 65 undergraduates in the newsroom and no style book, so I wrote one for them.

Tell us a bit about your book, and what inspired you to write such a story. 

Cinco de Mayo means “the fifth of May,” and this latest book was triggered when the principal at an elementary school where I was teaching in Texas told the whole school on the P.A. system that May fifth was Mexican Independence Day. Well, no it’s not – it’s September 16th – so I went to her office to say that, and her attitude was “We’ve always taught it that way, so don’t make trouble.” I looked in libraries, bookstores – all over the place – for a book that would prove her wrong, but there was nothing in print for adults. There are 56 children’s books on the market, and almost all of them have the French army show up and lose the battle, but then when you turn the page it says something like, “Now, here’s how to make a piñata for your classroom party!” That’s when I said to myself, “Somebody’s got to write this book.” So, here we are!

My real inspiration in this case was a smiling young señorita from Mexico City who came up to me in the cafeteria at college and said, “Hi, I’m one of the foreign students. May I sit here?” Well, sure, it’s the cafeteria, right? To make a long story short, we got married and we traveled all over Mexico for  more than 40 years. I didn’t have a book in mind for at least the first 35 years, but when I told her what the principal had said to me, we started scouring the stacks of libraries in Texas, Washington-DC, Mexico City, Veracruz, Orizaba, Puebla, – you name it. Yes, I had to write an outline. There was a lot of information in more than 100 books, some of them dating back to the late 18-hundreds, so an outline was the best way to sort it all out. It took me five years to write it.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity? 

Writer’s block?  Not really.  As I said, my motivation has always been, “Somebody’s gotta write this,” so when I commit to the topic, the whole project sort of gains a life of its own, like a runaway train. I’ll admit to you, though, that I wrote a complete novel about Cinco de Mayo before I wrote the non-fiction book that’s been published. As I resumed sending the manuscript for the novel around, a reviewer said that one of my characters was “flat,” meaning that she was just “there” in every scene but didn’t do much. After a few days, I had her kidnapped by a serial killer, but that’s as close as I’ve ever come to  writer’s block. Even then, the delay was because I was busy with other stuff and had deliberately set the manuscript aside.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one? 

My advice would be, “Keep your day job.”  I was rejected by 44 agents over more than a year of sending out queries for the novel, but when one of them wrote on the rejection slip, “I’d like to see a non-fiction version of this,” I immediately got in touch with him and he took me on. Even he couldn’t find me a traditional publisher, though, so I finally laid out my own money and went with a subsidy publisher. At least we were talking about a real book, not just an idea or a manuscript. I’m about ready to upgrade from there, and I’ll have two editions in Spanish coming out in ’09, with maps and charts and a lot of nice color graphics.

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

I have one of the best publicists in the business, and together we’ve spent the past year researching that very question. I told a panel at “Book Expo America” in New York last summer that my best responses were coming from libraries, museums and the field of education, but I said that Barnes & Noble, Borders and the other major book stores were not putting it on their shelves. One of the panel members told me how to solve the problem. He said, “Just change the title to The Secret Diary of Anna Nicole Smith!”  Oh, sure. On the other hand, I addressed a faculty gathering at the University of Texas     on May 4th, the night before Cinco de Mayo, and the very next day I sold 19 books at Book People, the state’s largest independent bookstore, a few blocks away. Unless you’re already famous, you’re going to be in a “learning process” when the book comes out. You have to be flexible and patient.

What is your favorite book of all time? Why? 

Oh, I’d have to say  Three Cups of Tea,  by Greg Mortenson.  He’s a mountain-climber, and when he failed to make it to the top of one of the world’s toughest peaks known as “K-2,” he wound up in a little village in Pakistan. They were extremely poor, but since they had treated him with such warmth and kindness, he promised that he would come back and build a school for them. Well, this is way up in the Karakoram mountains, where the Taliban got its start. This is the story of how he not only went back and built a school, but in the next ten years he built 55 of them. It’s a really fine example of      Americans at their best, and a relief from all the “negatives” we hear in the news lately.

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

I’m  so  glad you asked!   It’s only a website right now, but I hope to add a blog within the year. It’s simply  www.DonMiles.com.

Do you have another book in the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects? 

I’m expecting to have the two Spanish editions out sometime next year – one for students taking Spanish and the other for Latin America. Then, there’s the novel which has been on the back burner for a few years, which will come out in both English and Spanish, and I’m going to be in Mexico a number of times before this year is out – recording some DVD’s – for a documentary, for some visuals that Spanish and History teachers can use, for promotional purposes, and some of my friends and family members are mulling over the possibility of a movie. We’ll see. It’s fun dreaming about it.

Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your work? 

Oh, just that a very supportive family has been the foundation of everything I’ve achieved. My wife – that señorita I told you about – became a United States citizen and earned a bachelor's, a master's and a P-H-D, and taught at several universities. The book is dedicated to her. She died in 2006, but lived long enough not only to see both our daughter and son graduate from college and get married, but to see our daughter become a helicopter pilot and our son work at the White House.

Our daughter is now retired from the military, and our son is now the National Security Council Director for Canada and Mexico. I’m very proud of each of them, and very grateful for the enabling role that all of them have played in my life.  I might not have ever written a book without them.

Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here. 

You’re very welcome! Thanks for having me.


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Five Latina authors, five stories, five prizes! From February 10 to February 14. All you have to do is leave a comment in order to be eligible for the prize.
Here’s the line-up:

February 10 – “Por un Amor” by Mary Castillo, a $10 Starbucks gift card

February 11 – “The Painting” by Mayra Calvani, here on the Dark Phantom, a box of Belgian chocolate

February 12 – “A Box of Valentines” by Jamie Martinez Wood, a one pound bag of homemade toffee

February 13 – “Missed Connections” by Margo Candela, Prize: B&N Gift Card

February 14- “Dream Catch Me” by Barbara Caridad Ferrer,

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Starting December 11th until the 23rd travel to a new blog for a Christmas story, recipe and prize giveaway. The prizes will range from print books to gift certificates to goodie baskets!

Here’s the schedule of the chica-lit stars:

12.11.07: Mary Castillo, author of Switchcraft

12.12.07: Berta Platas, author of Cinderella Lopez

12.13.07: Mayra Calvani, author of Dark Lullaby (That’s me and I’ll post my story here at The Dark Phantom!)

12.14.07: Caridad Pineiro, author of Holiday With a Vampire

12.15.07: Lara Rios, author of Becoming Americana

12.16.07: Caridad Ferrer, author of It’s Not About the Accent

12.17.07: Margo Candela, author of Life Over Easy

12.18.07: Kathy Cano Murillo, author of Crafty Chica’s Art de la Soul

12.19.07: Tracy Montoya, author of Telling Secrets

12.20.07: Jamie Martinez Wood, author of Latino Writers & Journalists and Rogelia’s House of Magic (coming summer 2008)

12.21.07: Misa Ramirez, author of Lola PI: Living the Vida Lola (January 2009 from St. Martin’s Press)

12.22.07: Sofia Quintero, author of Juicy Mangos

12.23.07: Toni Margarita Plummer, author and editor

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