Posts Tagged ‘latina authors’

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Contact: Lida Quillen
(423) 323-0183
(September 25, 2015, Kingsport, TN)
Wisdom and Inspiration from Latina Authors in New Compilation
Latina Authors and Their Muses features advice from 40 women writers
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. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by delving into Latina Authors and Their Muses.
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.
I had the opportunity to meet Carmen Dolores Hernandez,  the book review editor at El Nuevo Día newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico, when she visited me in Brussels,says Calvani. Shed published some of my short stories and novel excerpts inRevista Domingo in the past, and I deeply admired her wisdom as a writer and woman of letters.
She mentioned the anthology she had put together back in 1997, Puerto Rican Voices in English. I ordered a copy and became absorbed by the candor and insight of the authors as they talked about their backgrounds, books, and writing, Calvani continues.
Wouldnt it be perfect to put together a similar anthology showcasing Latina authors writing in English in the United States? This book would not only showcase prominent figures but emerging voices as well, writers working on a wide range of genres from the literary to the commercial.
The result of several years of research and interviews is Latina Authors and Their Muses. Writing in genres ranging from the literary to childrens picture books to fantasy novels to chick lit, and more, this remarkable group of talented authors shares their passion and commitment to their craft and to sharing their stories with the world in spite of the odds.
Latina Authors and Their Muses is a celebration of creativity, the writers life, and the passionate quest for spiritual and artistic freedom.
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. Shes 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.
Discount price of 99 cents from Sept. 25th to Oct. 5th!
Get your copy today from Amazon or OmniLit
Book info
Title: Latina Authors and Their Muses
Author: Mayra Calvani, Editor
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Genre: Reference/Writing Skills
*Print ISBN: 978-1-60619-063-0
    Format: 6×9 trade paperback; 340 pages; $19.95 USD
Distributors: Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Brodart, Follett, etc.
*eBook ISBN: 978-1-60619-062-3; $6.50 USD
    Format: ebook in pdf, ePub, Kindle, Mobi, PRC, etc.
Distributors: Amazon Kindle; Apple iBookstore; BN.com Nook; Kobo Books; OmniLit; OverDrive, etc.
Release date: September 25, 2015 ebook; December 15, 2015 print
LCCN: 2015952662
Chapter excerpt:

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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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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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CurseGiver_Front Cover FinalIntrigue, romance and adventure await you in Dora Machado’s latest fast-paced, plot-twisting fantasy, The Curse Giver, just released by Twilight Times Books.

The story begins with our innocent healer heroine, Lusielle, as she is about to be burned on the pyre after she’s sentenced to death for a crime she didn’t commit. But just as the flames are about to engulf her, a mysterious stranger on a horse storms through the crowd and rescues her.

Brennus, Lord of Laonia, is tormented by the curse that has destroyed his people. To undo it, he must kill Lusielle in the most vicious of ways, for she is the one who bears the mysterious birthmark.

However, destiny plays a trick on them. Now together, amidst a world teetering on the brink of war, predator and prey grow too close for their own good. Passion flares as in a twist of fate, together, they try to defeat the terrifying curse and destroy the Curse Giver…

Lovers of dark romantic fantasy will relish The Curse Giver. This was a wonderfully entertaining, absorbing read. The stakes are high, the conflict compelling, and the sympathetic hero and heroine will make you fall in love with them. But the best thing about the novel is the writing itself. Lyric at times, Machado’s prose flows beautifully throughout the pages, bringing to life her fictional world in full, vivid detail.

The Curse Giver is a memorable adventure for fans of fantasy and one I can certainly recommend.

Find out more on Amazon or from Twilight Times Books.

Read my interview with the author here on Blogcritics.

This review first appeared on Blogcritics and was provided in exchange for a review copy provided by the author.

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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.
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:
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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For Lucha Corpi, art has always meant activism. As a woman, a Hispanic, an immigrant and a mother, she has always found herself breaking down barriers in both life and literature. Her initial writing forays led to the exploration of poetry in Spanish as an outlet for her creativity. In 1970, she received a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship for poems later included in several collections and anthologies.

After her first collection of poetry appeared, Corpi experienced a long and personally worrisome poetic silence. To ease the tension, she turned to prose, penning several award-winning short stories. In 1984, she wrote her first story in English and her first English-language novel, Delia’s Song, was published by Arte Público Press in 1989.

The publication of Eulogy for a Brown Angel: A Mystery Novel (Arte Público Press, 1992) was the culmination of a life-long dream. The novel won the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award and the Multicultural Publishers Exchange Best Book of Fiction. Corpi’s second mystery novel featuring Chicana detective Gloria Damasco is Cactus Blood (Arte Público Press, 1995), which was reissued in paperback in 2009. Black Widow’s Wardrobe (Arte Público Press, 1999) and Death at Solstice (Arte Público Press, 2009) are the two most recent editions to The Gloria Damasco Series. In between the publication of these works of fiction, she compiled and edited Máscaras (Third Woman Press, 1997), a collection of essays on writing by prominent Chicana and Latina authors. In addition to poetry and mystery novels, Lucha Corpi also writes for children. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from UC-Berkley and an M.A. in World and Comparative Literature from San Francisco State University. A tenured teacher in the Oakland Public Schools Neighborhood Centers Program for 30 years, she retired in 2005.

The Interview

Thanks for this interview, Lucha. Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

I was born in a small tropical town in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. There, people fostered both the creation and the performance of poetry and music, together with the art of storytelling. I was also fortunate to be a daughter of parents who believed in educating the two girls in the family equally well as their six sons. My father used to tell my sister and me that “When you educate a man, you educate an individual. But when you educate a woman, you educate the whole family.” My parents expected my sister and me to excel in school. We did.

I, however, did not start writing poetry or stories until I was twenty-four, already living in Berkeley, California, where I had moved after getting married. By then, I was going through a divorce, had a young child, no family in California, and very few friends. But when I started writing, I felt that I had found my destiny. As my grandmother used to tell us, your destiny is what you were born to do in this world. Except for teaching and motherhood to various degrees, nothing else makes me feel whole and content as writing does, whether poetry or narrative.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

I became “an author” when I published, that is, made my literary work public, beginning with my first collection of poetry in 1979, followed by six novels, a second poetry collection and two children’s books.

In a way, the author is a writer’s public persona. The writer, however, is a private person. Anyone who expresses life’s experiences—their own or someone else’s—in writing is a creative writer, and for him or her, the most important concern, the passion, is the writing itself.

Writing is a vocation and a trade as well. I was born already with an above-average affinity for the spoken and written word, with the voice-vision of the poet and writer, and a strong urgency to express what I perceive and experience using as medium the written word. These three elements, combined, amount to what we call “talent for writing.” But talent alone is never enough if the poet or writer is not willing to apprentice, to learn the craft, to fine-tune the engine that carries the poem or the story from beginning to end. And, the most difficult task of all: to keep one’s butt on a chair long enough to get the writing done.

Writers and poets learn and develop their craft from other writers and poets, either by reading the works of others or by taking writing workshops. In my case, I read, and my reading interests are varied. I like the sciences, especially the biological and physical sciences, but I also love history, philosophy, mythology, poetry, and literature in general.

Do you have another job besides writing?

My avocation, my second passion, was teaching. I was an ESL teacher in the Oakland Public Schools Neighborhood Centers for thirty-one years. I was a single mother, too, and I had to work to support myself and my son. I consider myself blessed to have been as passionate about teaching as about writing and motherhood, all creative endeavors. Creativity, however, does not spring eternal, and its well is not bottomless. Teaching and parenthood took most of my time and energy. And I had to do my writing for two hours a day only, from five to seven in the morning. But I wrote every day.

My son is a professor now, with children of his own. Most of all, he is a good man and a sensitive caring father and husband. And although I loved teaching, I knew it was time to leave and let the next generation of energetic, creative, enduring young teachers take over. But only I can do my writing. I did not want to die saying, “I could have written.” So I retired in 2005 to devote entirely to writing.

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

Death at Solstice comes to light as I celebrate forty years as a writer. It is the fourth of the Gloria Damasco mystery novels. Eulogy for a Brown Angel, Cactus Blood and Black Widow’s Wardrobe—each of the mystery novels in the series deals with aspects of the history and culture of Mexicans in the U.S., in California in particular.

Gloria Damasco is hired by the owners of the Oro Blanco winery in California’s Shenandoah Valley, in the heart of the legendary Gold Country, to investigate the theft of a pair of emerald-diamond earrings rumored to have belonged to Carlota, Empress of Mexico in the 19th century.

Shortly after, Gloria becomes aware that there is so much more than the theft of the family heirloom. A young woman considered by many to be a saint, able to perform miracles, disappears at the same time that the nurse who takes care of the young woman is found murdered. Add to the mix mysterious accidents, threatening anonymous notes, and the sightings of a ghost horse thought to have belonged to the notorious Gold Rush hero-bandit Joaquin Murrieta, and Gloria is soon struggling to fit together all the pieces of this puzzle before someone else is killed.

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

I do not write a chapter by chapter outline and the main premise, that is, a synopsis of the novel, before I sit down to work. But I do begin with a list that includes topics I must read, i.e. about the history or science in the novel, or firearms, etc. This research also involves frequent and extended visits to the sites/locales where the action is to take place. I also do a lot of thinking (the non-physical aspect of the writing process) about the crime(s) that trigger the investigation. My research takes me from six to eight months, and I try to complete it before I sit down to do the actual writing of the novel.

I tend to over-research, but I don’t mind. It is amazing how little we remember even about events and experiences of personal importance. The larger and deeper the well of knowledge, the easier it is for me to feel safe and secure in it, to be sure that I am as accurate and factual as possible, and to develop believable characters, who react in their own unique ways or betray what they’re capable of as they deal with extraordinary situations or unusual experiences. But it isn’t until I do the actual writing that I discover all of these aspects, including how much of the research is integral to the plot.

That said, I suppose my personal style of writing is one of discovery, of being open to surprises, allowing myself to let the characters reveal themselves as they see fit, and let my detective guide me as the investigation develops.

And at this point, I think I can guess what you must be wondering about: If what I say is true, then what is the role of the writer in all this?

My role, as I see it, is to tell the best story I can, with no agenda of my own, without manipulation of content or character. To make sure the characters, even the minor ones, are multi-dimensional, the plot is solid and every detail or question raised is accounted for or answered to my satisfaction at the end.

My first draft is usually from 50 to 80 pages longer, fatter, than it might need to be. So my second draft, my first revision of the work, is intended to pare down, to edit out every bit of material that adds little or nothing at all to characterization, setting or plot. And of course, if need be, I plug holes in the plot. The second revision or third draft has to do with checking the accuracy of facts pertaining to the historical, cultural, and socio-political content of the work. And in the fourth draft, third rewriting, I work on the fluidity and appropriate use of language and form.

I ask then two or three people I trust to read this fourth draft for their feedback. Based on what they tell me, and focusing on the similar issues raised by them, I revise the novel one more time, before I send it to my publisher. Subsequent rewrites of the novel are in conjunction with my editor at the press.

Who is your target audience? What will the reader learn after reading your book?

I write crime fiction. My novels will be of interest to anyone who likes mysteries that are not necessarily conventional, that offer more than the solution of a crime and the restoring of social order as the perpetrators are brought to justice. If I have done my job right, and I believe I have, my novels offer all of that. But they also provide a larger view of the life, culture and history of Mexican Americans and Latinos in the U.S.

It’s been said that Gloria Damasco is the first Chicana private detective in American literature. By that, I believe critics mean that Gloria is the first fictional private investigator to be deeply rooted in Chicano/Mexican culture in the U.S., written by someone—me—who is as deeply anchored and steeped in the culture as she.

They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?

I usually read critical reviews of my novels and my poetry, and consider the issues raised by individual critics, positive or negative. Sometimes my ego is wounded, and I walk around like a bird with a broken wing, or a homeless person with three raggedy blankets on yet chilled to the bone in the sunlight. Then I remind myself of the true reasons I write, because writing is what keeps me breathing, living, and what helps me make sense of myself and the world around me. I need to write; I am addicted to it.

Nonetheless, I re-read the negative comments. And if two or more of those critics agree that my work is lacking in particular ways, I heed.

When Eulogy for a Brown Angel, my first detective novel, came out, critics praised the “dazzingly evocative prose,” the “original and highly charged moments” and the fact that with this work, I “expanded the genre.” They liked the characters, the historical background offered. Yet, more than a few found the novel lacking in terms of the plot. I listened and began to apprentice how to plot not just a novel, but a mystery novel. My apprenticeship was the writing of my second novel, Cactus Blood. Each of my novels is an apprenticeship in terms of the craft so I can tell the best story possible, be the best writer I can be.

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

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Evenings at the Argentine Club
By Julia Amante
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-446-58162-2
Copyright 2009
General Fiction

Evenings at the Argentine Club is a tale of love and family relationships set in modern Southern California. It centers on two families, The Torres and the Ortellis, who came to the US from Argentina to follow their dreams and ‘make it’ in America. Together with other families, they formed The Argentine Club, a place where they meet on Sundays for entertainment and as a way to preserve their traditions.

The story begins many years after the club was formed and our protagonist, Victoria Torres, is already twenty-eight years old. Victoria still lives with her parents, helping her father with his restaurant business, La Parrilla. From the start, we get the feeling that although Victoria loves her family with all her heart and wants to make her father proud, she also silently regrets not finishing college and pursuing her dreams to become ‘someone’. She feels a bit lost, mostly following the plans set out for her—mainly by her father—and putting her desires aside.

Then one weekend, during an evening at the club, Victoria meets Eric Ortellis, the son of her parents’ best friends. From that day on, Victoria’s life begins to change. The change doesn’t happen overnight but gradually. Eric is considered a ‘black sheep’, a lost son who has come back to his family after many years of being away. Eric had his reasons—to make it on his own and somehow ‘escape’ the fatality of their little town—but no one seems to understand. Soon Victoria is influenced and affected by his ambition and views about life and the Argentine culture. A transformation begins to take place in Victoria’s character, one that deeply affects her relationship with her family but especially with her father, who has never given her total credit for the smart young woman that she really is. More tension arises when Victoria and Eric begin to feel attracted to each other.

The story is told from various points of views, including Victoria’s and Eric’s parents, offering a clear snapshot of their family dynamics. In the end, it is not only Victoria who changes, but her friends and family as well.

Evenings at the Argentine Club is an absorbing novel that sheds light into the Argentine immigrants living in the United States. It is also a love story between two different people who share the same cultural background. The author has done an excellent job in creating everyday, genuine characters that shine on every page. The secondary characters are as compelling as the protagonists. I was hooked from the start by Amante’s simple, smooth prose and by the lives of these people, their culture and beliefs. Even though the story centers on an Argentinean family, the themes and family dramas explored in the novel are universal. Above all, I loved the author’s genuine voice and unpretentious writing style. I recommend you pick this one up!

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Lara Rios 2

My guest today is the very talented Latina author Julia Amante. A fellow Examiner, Julia is here to talk about her latest novel, Evenings at the Argentine Club, scheduled for released by Grand Central Publishing on September 25th, 2009.

About Julia Amante:

Julia Amante is the pen name of Lara Rios. Lara had the misfortune of growing up away from the extended family that is so valued in the Latin culture, but missed out on very little of what it means to be Argentine. Asados were sacred meals shared together on weekends. Cheering for the Argentine soccer team was a must, as were the weekly pilgrimages to the Argentine Club in Los Angeles where the young Americanized kids hid under the tables and watched the adults dance tango until the wee hours of the morning. Lara giggled right along with the rest of the kids at how “geeky” the parents looked, but secretly, was intrigued by the romantic culture and passionate music.

Not a surprise to most of her family members that she would grow up to write romance novels featuring Latino characters. Lara believes in love and happy endings, and all the magnificent emotions romance novels offer their readers.

Lara lives in California with her husband, son, daughter, and one pampered dachshund. When she’s not writing she enjoys challenging herself physically. Feats to date include five marathons in one year; biking down a volcano in Hawaii; and the latest – walking across a fiery bed of burning coals all the while praying she didn’t become another of her father’s asados. But of course, spending time with her family is what she treasures most of all.

Thanks for this interview, Julia. It’s a treat having you here today. Tell us a bit about how you started writing and your first road to publication.

I’ve been writing forever, but when I sold to Grand Central, I had taken my kids to a piano camp where strict piano teachers wanted absolute silence. My cell phone went off and it sounded like a fire truck passing through a church. I scrambled to get it out of my purse, and when I answered, it was my agent with an offer from Grand Central to buy the manuscript that became Evenings at the Argentine Club. I was so excited that I ran out of that piano room, ignoring the frowning teachers and shouted as loud as I wanted.

Evenings cover

Congratulations on the upcoming release of your novel!  What was your inspiration for it?

Since my parents were immigrants and their journey really impacted my life, I always wanted to write a story about what it’s like to move away from everything you know to start a new life. It amazes me that people can do that, and I’ve always felt that it was extremely courageous. The realities often turn out different from what immigrants expect, and this has been true for all groups, from long ago pioneers moving west to immigrants today.

But what really sort of pushed me to pursue this idea was a gift my grandmother gave me a few years ago when I went to Argentina to visit her. She gave me a notebook full of letters that my father and my grandfather wrote to each other when my father first moved to America. His entire first couple of years in New York were there for me to read. Reading the letters full of my young father’s dreams and hopes was unbelievably moving. As a child, you never think that your parents were once twenty, uncertain, and full of dreams that didn’t include you. Sadly, his American dream didn’t turn out like he expected, but in Evenings at the Argentine Club I had control over my character’s outcomes, which allowed me to create a nicer story.

How long did it take you to write it? What were your writing habits like?

For this book, it took me a way over a year from beginning to final draft. But this was because when I originally turned in the first copy of my manuscript, I had concentrated on the main character, Victoria’s weight issues — the immigrant story was in the background. Luckily, my editor saw the real story hidden underneath, which was the relationship between Victoria and her immigrant parents, and helped me focus on what was really important in the story. Once I rewrote the book, concentrating on the deeper aspects of the plot, this story really blossomed. But it took a while to get there. I think as writers we are sometimes reluctant to write things that are too close to us. In general though, I’m finding that most of my books are taking a year to complete these days. I have to work late at night when my family goes to bed (like many authors do), which doesn’t allow me to produce as quickly as I used to. For me, as long as what I finally write is quality work, one book a year is enough.

Do you get along with your Muse? What do you do to keep her happy?

Absolutely. I don’t believe in writer’s block. When it’s time to work, I tune everything else out and simply write. People that call me while I’m working will often ask if I was sleeping because I’m so into the world of my book, and it happens instantly, the second I hit my computer.

I read once that Agatha Christie got her best ideas in the shower, and that Steven Spielberg gets his while driving on the highway. Where do you get your best ideas?

Hmm, just from observing life and people. Because I write about relationships, I observe people all the time. I listen to radio talk shows about people’s problems – real people are much crazier than book characters! Other than that I think I’m always seeing possible stories. Most, when you sit down to write don’t amount to much, but other do.

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

Yes, my website is www.JuliaAmante.com, my blog is at http://juliaamante.blogspot.com, and my facebook page is here.

You also write for the Examiner. Tell us all about your column!

Sure! This is completely unrelated to my fiction writing. The reason I decided to write for Examiner was because being a home schooling mom, and a teacher as well as a writer, I found myself giving writing advice a lot to parents. So, I thought this would be a perfect way to share what I know about writing with other mom’s trying to help their kids, and with young writers who themselves are interested in writing. I’m constantly looking things up for my own children, so why not share information with others as well. It’s very different from writing books, and it allows me to combine my two loves, writing and teaching. I’ve learned a lot about writing articles, which is great. Finding images is the hardest part!

What’s on the horizon?

My next book is titled (for now) Family Vines, and it’s about a woman who owns a winery, and is suddenly thrust into motherhood when a family member dies in an accident and leaves her as sole custodian of her children. But after a lifetime of running a business, the last thing she wants is to now become responsible for children.

Thanks for the interview, Julia!

Evenings at the Argentine Club is now available for pre-order on Amazon and B&N.


–Mayra is an author and book reviewer, visit her at www.MayraCalvani.com.




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Cuban author Teresa Dovalpage has published three novels, one in English, A Girl Like Che Guevara (Soho Press 2004) and two in Spanish, Posesas de la Habana (Haunted Ladies of Havana, PurePlay Press, 2004) and Muerte de un murciano en La Habana (Death of a Murcian in Havana, Anagrama, 2006), which was runner-up for the Herralde Award in Spain. Her collection of short stories, Por culpa de Candela, was recently released by Floricanto Press in 2008. Her short novel, El difunto Fidel (The Late Fidel) just won the Rincon de la Victoria Award in Spain. Dovalpage currently lives in Taos, NM. Visit her at www.dovalpage.com.

Thanks for this interview Teresa. It’s a pleasure having you here. Tell us a little about your childhood? Were you an avid reader?

I grew up in Havana, in a house full of books. And I was definitely a bookworm, or, as my mother liked to call me, una ratona de biblioteca —a library mouse. I could always be found with a book in my hand or scribbling something. I was too shy to play with other kids and that made me long for the company of those quiet, faithful paper friends that don’t talk back or tease.

When did you start writing?
When I was a teenager I wrote my first short story. Quoting my mom again, it was horrendous. It had something to do with a deadly plague, and not too cheerful… But I didn’t get discouraged. I bought an ancient Underwood typewriter (it was during the 80’s, in Cuba, and computers were then considered as science fiction devices) and continued to write away.

What was your inspiration for A Girl like Che Guevara?
My American friends, who kept asking me how life in Cuba was. I started writing a series of vignettes about Santeria, life in the school-in-the-fields (a program in which high-school students used to spend a couple of months working on the tobacco fields) and other Cubanese stuff. And it turned out to be a full-length novel after all!

On average, how long does it take you to write a novel?
The first decent draft (not the “vomit draft”, eh, but a well-polished one) may take several months, from six to eight. It seldom takes longer because I start getting bored with the plot and the characters. But I have learned to put it on the back burner for a while and return to it before sending the ms. out. I always find a lot of things to change in that phase so I start rewriting it… Then, all together, maybe a whole year.

What is your writing ritual? Are you a disciplined writer?
I write for several hours every day when I have the opportunity. I work part-time as a Spanish professor at the University of New Mexico and that allows me to devote time to writing. Though I wouldn’t use the word “disciplined” to describe me in this context. I need discipline to go to the gym, to study a new language and even to get up early. But I love writing so I keep doing it whenever I have a chance.

Did you have a smooth path to publishing?
It wasn’t too rough. I sold my first novels by myself and now I have two very good agents who take care of that part of the business. But still, it does take time, energy and commitment. And discipline (here I would definitely use the word) to send the manuscripts out and not to get discouraged with rejections.

Do you have any favorite authors? What type of books do you read for entertainment?
Yes! In English I love Ann Tyler. I have read all her books several times. One of my favorites is The Accidental Tourist. I also admire Lorraine Lopez, who just published The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters and who is also a creative writing professor at Vanderbilt University. I like the Spanish classics of the nineteenth century (Benito Perez Galdos, Leopoldo Alas, Armando Palacio Valdes). In fact, I brought all the way from Cuba a ragged copy of La Regenta. I supposed that I could find the book here but just in case…I am also a big fan of Daina Chaviano and Pedro Juan Gutierrez.

What’s on the horizon?
My play Hasta que el mortgage nos separe (Until Mortgage Do Us Part) will be staged on Chicago by Aguijon Theater in May and June and my short novel El difunto Fidel (The late Fidel) will be published by Editorial Renacimiento in Spain so I will be promoting them this summer. I am also working on another collection of short stories in English.

Thanks, Teresa! And good luck with your work!

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