Archives for December 2013

Authors of Influence

This past week has been a literary whirlwind here in San Miguel de Allende, both on a personal level and a public one. 

On the personal level, I’m in the final stages of publishing my novel, Under the Salvadoran Sun. I know many of my readers have already heard that and are probably saying: “OK, already—when we are we really going to be able to see it and  order it and read it?”  Barring unforseen circumstances  or  international Christmas mail delays for my final proof, it looks like my book will be available to order from Amazon, as an ebook or a print paperback, some time the first or second week of January. Sorry, it won’t make your Christmas gift giving list, but an Amazon gift card tucked in with a note about my book would be a great gift. Hint!

The public whirlwind this past week has been created by three great Literary Sala readings: one by Eva Hunter, author of A Little Morman Girl, and another by Beldon Butterfield, author of Mexico Behind the Mask.  Last night there was a Literary Sala’s Special Event with Alfredo Corchado’s spellbinding reading and discussion about his book,  for which his agent has just sold the movie rights, Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness.                                                                    

Why have I titled this blog “Authors of Influence?”  Precisely because all three of these authors have unique stories, one’s which can influence the public’s thinking on a number of issues. I found each fascinating and informative for different reasons.

Eva Hunter, author of A Little Mormon Girl, is an ex-pat in San Miguel, but formerly, like myself, from Portland, Oregon, where she taught in the Writing Department at Portland State University. She has had a distinguished career as a writer, teacher, and editor of SOL, The English Language on-line Literary Magazine here in San Miguel de Allende. She continues to give writing workshops. Eva’s reading from her personal memoir was moving and informative, “taking us through a secret world of highest-leval Mormonism, and the underbelly of her family,” with the voice of a child of six up to young adulthood. Her story touched me deeply and I’m now looking forward to reading my autographed copy. Eva Hunter  

Beldon Butterfield, author of La Linea, The Line and The Crystal Bull,  read from his latest non-fiction book: Mexico Behind the Mask, and it sounds like a winner, full of fascinating details about Mexico’s hidden historical, political and social past. He starts out by saying “To understand Mexico, you have to understand the conquest in 1519.” Buttlefield went on to set the record straight on a number of mistaken notions of Mexican history, such as relating the “story behind the story”  of The Alamo  and the everlasting impact it has had on relations between the United States and Mexico. The author’s sense of humor and his fun presentation style made us all want to read this book. Beldon Butterfield

 My third “author of influence” is Alfredo Corchado, award-winning Mexican-American  journalist, who has covered Mexico for many years, and is currently the Mexico City bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News. He specializes in covering the drug wars and the U.S-Mexican border and corruption among police and government officials. Born in Durango, Mexico and raised in the U.S., Corchado says he lives between two worlds. His wealth of knowledge about the “inside story” behind the horrific crimes of the drug cartels, makes him a perfect person to write Midnight in Mexico. I sat on the edge of my seat as he reported about how Mexico has descended into “hell” with the problems of drug cartels and an ineffective judicial system. In spite of that he has great optimism for the future of Mexico. I was moved as he explained his story was not only “dark” but a memorial to his mother, whose influence got him to where he is, and to the many women behind the scenes of the narco crimes fighting to save their children, their communities and their country, refusing to give up.  I downloaded his book on my kindle the minute I got home. Alfredo Corchado

I’m adding this quote  about Corchado’s book from Benjamin Saenz, a keynote speaker at the upcoming 2014 San Miguel Writers Conference:

“Anyone interested in what is happening and has happened in Mexico for the past six years must read this book. We can call what is happening in Mexico a “drug war,” but that phrase cheapens the politics and the economics that govern the relationship between the United States and Mexico. I believe Midnight in Mexico will become one of the most necessary books about the Mexican-American experience in this country. More than a journalist, Alfredo Corchado is the real thing, a voice that represents millions of people.”

Hope you enjoyed this “book review blog” and will keep watching for my novel, Under the Salvadoran Sun. Happy Holidays!


Memorializing Nelson Mandela, an Author of Change

Wishing to honor the memory of Nelson Mandela this past week caused me to think about how he transformed the world. That coincided with the  the privilege I had of participating in a teleseminar with Nina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book  and the Author Training Manual.  The theme of the seminar was about being an author of change. I thought about the essence of my new novel, Under the Salvadoran Sun, and one of the main reasons I wrote it. Like my main character, Angela, I have always wanted to “make a difference,” to feel I have done something that might help others, that might bring more justice and peace to the world. Like great people whose lives serve as examples of good, literature has the ability to inspire us to think in new ways, to inform, and to influence the thoughts and actions of others. This is not only true of non-fiction, but can be true of fiction as well. One of my favorite books, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee is a perfect example. Her thoughtful and profound writing about racial prejudice was not a polemic against racism, instead she created a literary microcosm in which the interactions of her characters brought the issue to the forefront in a poignant manner, causing readers then and to this day to think about the awful consequences of prejudice. Likewise, Mandela’s life and actions brought about the end of apartheid.

Motivated by growing concerns on how our country treats those who put food on our tables, namely the undocumented workers from Latin America, I wrote Under the Salvadoran Sun. My concerns are reflected in dialogue between my characters and the plot. I hope my readers will think about our nation’s current policies which leave little opportunity for those who cross the border, work hard and pay taxes, and often have familias in the US, to find a road to citizenship. Of course, I do not pretend to have all the answers on this complicated issue and want only to  encourage dialogue about possible solutions to a more and more untenable situation. 

What Nina calls an Author of Change is someone who writes with passion about an issue. who has a message, a cause or a soul purpose to fulfill via her or his writing.  As she states, “we live at a unique time in history when change happens more quickly than ever before. You can have impact, assist positive change, author change in a variety of ways including with a book.

First and most importantly, I hope my readers find pleasure in reading “a love story, wrapped around the issue of immigration” as I often call it. That they may enjoy it and relate to my characters is of key importance, but maybe they will also remember to think with compassion about the many immigrants that make up the fiber of our nation and have always contributed to its history.

I would love to hear readers’ opinions on this key issue, immigration reform, and invite you to comment by clicking Contact on my menu bar.  

Blog: Birthing My First Novel

This has been quite a journey—or should I say, a long gestation period. I’ve been writing my first novel for five years, with several interruptions, of course,  such as selling a house in Portland, Oregon, buying a house in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and moving to a new casa. There have been travels also, to France, Sweden and Turkey. All these have meant my writing practice has been irregular, to say the least, and has not  allowed for a smooth and speedy gestation for this “new one.”  I’m happy to say I’m on the eve of birthing Under the Salvadoran Sun. It should appear in the next three weeks!  I’m waiting breathlessly, as I huff and puff to get it out, hopefully in one piece with a healthy start!

"Comparte Tu Paz con Tu Hermano" by Fernando Llort

“Comparte Tu Paz con Tu Hermano” by Fernando Llort

There have been many developemental changes along the way. Who once said “Writing is rewriting?”  Was that Hemingway? This baby has had to undergo a lot while being hosted  by my pen. Even the characters have had name changes, when first readers complained there were too many names beginning with the letter “A”—I listened to them and changed some of the names. Other readers said “there’ s too many Spanish words.”  So I deleted some but kept, I hope, just enough to give the story its intentional Latin flavor. After all,most of it takes place in El Salvador, Central America. Naming this new one was the hardest; names were chosen and dropped until finally the right one just came to me one day in this last trimester. Of course, it’s a story that has heat running through it, in the form of a love affair between people, and between people and a place, El Salvador. Why not Under the Salvdoran Sun? The name was right!  

At last, I was ready to choose a comfy cover to wrap around the “new one.”  It was my good fortune to find Margot Boland, a wonderful book cover designer, and one of the many talented people I’ve had the privilege to meet in my new home, San Miguel de Allende. Margot had the skill and insight to quilt together a lovely cover for my new offspring. Thankfully, I received the permission to use several quotes from authors, whose works I admire, in this progeny of mine. They make great god parents.  Lastly, I’ve had to learn a lot about parenting a novel:  for instance, setting up a new web site where it could be easily pushed out into the world. Afterall, every good parent knows, it’s no good if you don’t encourage your children to go beyond the homefront, the writing desk and pen, and contribute to the minds and apetites of others for new literary delights. 

I’m looking forward to sharing my new creation with the literary community at the upcoming San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference. I hope many of you will join me there, where my book will be in the company of many other “children” of excellent authors.  I hope the novel will inspire thought, discussion and stimulate new ideas about a complex problem: immigration, one of the many key themes of the story. 

My novel will be available on Amazon, both as an ebook and a print-on-demand paperback. Aren’t you excited about seeing my beautiful cover grace your bedside table? I hope you enjoy the contents as much. Please take time to write a review on amazon or comment on my web page, hopefully you will find the product of this long gestation period worthy of your praise.