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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beach Reading!

Justified is now available in print! You can get a copy at Create Space, and use code Y8FN23QM at checkout for a 15% friend's discount. The title will also be available at Amazon next week. So those of you without an e-reader can now enjoy the misadventures of Edmond Styles.


Cuentos y Recuerdos: La Colección Latina incluye Recuerdos de Antes y Entonces, Una Noche con B.B., El Velorio de Maya, y La Chancleta (en ingles). El libro en tapa blanda esta a la venta en la tienda electrónica.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Writing Life

There is no downtime when you start writing. Almost every moment becomes corollary, although sometimes the lines between cause and effect is so thin it is almost invisible.

Of course, this should give folks some pause about their behavior, because all eccentric conduct makes for a good story and I’m on a roll. (There is some interesting drama going on in Facebook and there might be a graphic novel in there somewhere…)

In the meantime, I am busy writing the ghost story, the crime novel, and even started some thing new with the detectives from Justified. I’m not sure if the last thing will go anywhere, but for the moment I am having fun with it.

There might be a special promotion for La Chancleta. Details are being worked out and I will alert you all once it is green lit. I am very excited by the prospect!

The next launch will be a print-on-demand version of Justified – which will be the same as the e-book edition. A “new” title will be added to the print editions, Cuentos y Recuerdos: La Colección Latina it will include the three translated e-books, Una Noche con B.B., Recuerdos de Antes y Entonces, and El Velorio de Maya. As it is the Latin American bundle, I also included La Chancleta. I may also do the same with the English versions (bundle them into one volume).

Yes, I will bundle the cookbooks into one tome.

I realize that not everybody is ready (or as eager as I am) for e-readers and some of you feel a little left out.

The print editions will be available exclusively at Amazon (US, UK and Germany). Why? Because I do most of my business with Amazon and I doubt that adding to that distribution for print will make that big a difference right now. I may revisit this later and change accordingly.

Details as they develop…

Saturday, May 19, 2012

La Chancleta

There is no Latino who hasn’t heard the word chancleta in their life and few who haven’t been the victims of a lesson whose moral included a chancletazo. To some, even well into adulthood, the mention of it can cause a cringe and a twitch, as well as the primordial urge to flee. Nothing more than a simple sandal, a chancleta is a disciplinary tool meant to shock not harm, but it does inspire fear, respect and the very real threat that it if leaves the foot it will strike and find you for your offenses. This is the story of one such chancleta, told tongue-in-cheek in English and Spanish, and the Holy Trinity that is The Way of La Chancleta.  

* * *

This was fun to write and I did it for my high school friends, many of who are now living in the States but whose roots are deeply in Puerto Rico. I wrote in English, but the important bits are in the requisite español.

You need not be bilingual to enjoy the story, but coming from a bilingual Latino household adds a little nuance that can’t just be explained. It’s one of those priceless things…

The story combines two stories: one is a teenage shenanigan from a former co-worker’s kid and its aftermath; the other is a story I overheard on the bus one morning as I left my step-father’s apartment in the Lower East Side. The rest, the details, are cultural tidbits that add flavor – like sofrito.

*  *  *

La Chancleta is the story one such chancleta, told in English and Spanish. It is available at Smashwords* and will become available at other electronic retailers in the coming weeks.

*Blog readers may download the e-book for free by entering the special code provided below at checkout:

Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: RJ37U
Expires: May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Case for Bilingualism

I was born into a bilingual world. My parents, following in the family tradition on both sides for at least four generations, were a multicultural and multi-ethnic couple. My mother, fluent in both English and Spanish, helped me reach that same level of bilingualism.

My maternal grandparents made sure I did not lose either language even as I immersed myself in Spanish while living in Puerto Rico.

I learned to read and write both languages simultaneously, although my grandfather was more apt to read to me in English and my grandmother in Spanish.

When I began to write creatively I did so in Spanish mostly because it was the predominant language and I found its nuances and vocabulary, its very mechanics, a natural way to express my emotional state. Spanish is a very emotive language, as are all Romance languages, and I was able to express my passion in its sweet musicality.

As I got older, I began to write in English as well. English, I found, was very versatile and adaptive. Humor and sarcasm just sounded naturally snarkier in English.

The work I have done in the last year towards my self-publishing enterprise was originally done in English. It happens to be the language I use most and the fact that it is internationally used across several continents makes my work very accessible to a large number of potential readers.

But I owe a great deal to Spanish, the Mother Tongue. I fell in love with storytelling and poetry first in Spanish. Culturally, I define myself as Latina – except when forced to answer marketing surveys and some days I choose Pacific Islander just for kicks.

Most of my friends, though relatively to fully bilingual, are Spanish speakers. I wanted them to read my work too! So I translated three off my e-books for them.

This expands my market of potential readers and buyers. The first two efforts, especially because I have not written in Spanish in years, were mostly literal translations. The third was more poetic.

I still want to write something in Spanish and, as I mentioned earlier, it cannot be something trite. I want it to be meaningful.

The case for bilingualism is simple. Spanish can afford me the opportunity to tweak the essence of the work, the tonality of it. It may still include a dash of humor, but it will involve a different voice. It expands the writer’s ability to express ideas with a different emotional tenor.

More importantly, some stories can be retold in many languages, but their true essence has a language of its own. Therefore, when first written, each story must be told in the language in which they were born. To deny the story this, is like denying a good song a brilliant arrangement.

A story at its core is unplugged; picking the right language in which to tell it makes it symphonic. It’s a sketch compared to a painted canvas.

Now everyone is lucky enough to share my multiculturalism, but I encourage all writers (and readers as well) to learn a second language that speaks to their inner passions because reading, writing and conversing in a second tongue gives the soul a full orchestra (or a full palate with multiple tools) in which to experience and express life.

And this is very important: you should always be able to cuss in more than one language. It is essential for every writer to be able to spew maledictions in as many colorful ways as possible. It is a step towards sanity.

On any given day, the ability to look up at the heavens and curse your own limitations can be easily expressed thusly: “Dammit!” -- but there are some days when only this will do: “¡Carajo!”

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Time for Mom's Day!

A second volume in the Kali, The Food Goddess series, Fruits of the Family Tree the short compilation of recipes from places of origin in the gene pool is now available at Smashwords. Details about it can be found here, here and (hilariously) here. There is also a delicious excerpt here.

Recuerdos de Antes y Entonces is also available at Smashwords now. A liberal translation of Life, Dreams and Magical Landscapes, an excerpt can be found here – and it also includes excerpts for other translated works.

In a few weeks, the titles will also be available at Apple, Diesel, Kobo, and Sony. The titles are available at Amazon now and will also become available at Barnes & Noble in the next few days.

You can access my Smashwords page by clicking on the link at the right side of the page. If you buy my books, you’d be doing me a solid and you can gift them to your Mom! It’s a win-win.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Spooky Honeysuckles

There is a new food column at Barbara Bretton’s website. We’ve been trying to work around some technical issues with the site and decided to run the column in the blog section and will archive later. I wax poetic about a cup of hummus and the myriad of ways you can enhance a piece of fish.

Another round of royalties rained on me in the last couple of weeks to cover the first quarter and while I cannot say that it will cover the rent for the next six months, it will keep me in Netflix for a while. To me Netflix is secondary research. Don’t get all judgmental, I’ll have you know Joseph Campbell’s Mythos and The Hero’s Journey are in my queue.

I’ve added a couple of chapters to Poetic Justice in which the investigation of a series of crimes starts to take shape in a very hands-on way. As I write it, I am left with a dilemma of whether to focus on the action or extend the dramatic political landscape.

On the one hand, it may not advance the story, but it can hinder the progress of the investigation, thereby serving as a conceptual antagonist. On the other hand, without a context that connects the stories, even if it’s just institutional racism, I’m not sure it’s worth detailing it. Besides, it is a daunting project to make sure you get it just right. The crime and its investigation (and eventual resolution) seems the easiest way to go.

Of course, I rarely take the easy road…

I’ve put Cocina Latina in the back burner for the moment. We have a few very lean months coming up and any activity that requires spending additional cash needs to be halted for a short time. Of course, this saddens me a bit but it also gives me something wonderful to look forward to when I can sink into it with gusto.

The plan is to combine all the cookbooks into one large volume once this next version is completed.

In the meantime I started writing a ghost story to amuse myself. It did not start that way, mind you. I just wanted to write about living in a modern day lighthouse. There was absolutely no supernatural element in the beginning, but it just lent itself for creepy spookiness.

The main characters have been established and I have a pretty good idea what comes next (though not entirely how it ends). The end is not entirely up to me, you understand. I believe there is going to be a couple of twists deep in the story of The Scent of Honeysuckle but not all has been revealed to the author yet.

That story seems like a good early fall release. Unless it scares the daylights of me and I end up burying the notebook in the backyard.

I’ve been toying with the idea to write something in Spanish (not a translation). The idea is a little scary because it simply cannot be something trite and whenever I sit to think about it, my mind immediately wanders to the most ridiculous thoughts as if desperately running away from the idea. I wasn’t expecting my brain to turn down the challenge in such a passive-aggressive way, hey look, unicorn!