A Wish

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

I know what it looks like.

The book came out and then I disappeared for a month.And even now, I’m just popping my head in for a moment, because I know that even if I try to sum up how incredible these last few weeks have been, words will always fall short.

But I turned 30 yesterday and I’ve been thinking a lot about wishes. Such tiny longings we whisper only within ourselves. We treasure them so much we don’t even say them out loud. And only when they do finally come true might someone tell us, I wished that for you, years and years ago.

This year I found out someone gave their wishes of the past several years to me. I won’t say who or what (I kind of want to keep that my own). But it was magical, and so deeply touching, I wanted to write it down and share it and tell you that I wish the same for you.

 

It’s Here. CHASING THE SUN is a book today, out in the world.

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

When I got the first, final copies of CHASING THE SUN in the mail a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t share more than a picture of me holding the book, close to my chest.

It was selfish of me, but I wanted that one moment to be mine, so I kept it secret for a few days before posting it on Facebook, Twitter…the usual places. Writing a book is intimate. It’s mornings when the rest of the house is still asleep, minutes we try to steal from each day for a quick hundred or thousand words.

holding

But today is different, and the fact that reading, too, is intimate is not lost on me. It’s those few minutes before bed, all to yourself with a story. A quick lunch break, an hour or two by the pool on the weekend, spent with the characters (and by extension, the writer).

Today, the book is out there, out of my hands (and arms) and in the homes of others. Thank you for welcoming it, for spending precious time with it, for turning this into an experience I can share with you.

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Chasing the Sun is now available everywhere books are sold: AmazonBarnes & Nobleyour local indie. You can also order a signed, personalized copy from my local bookshop and they’ll ship it to you for just $0.99.

I’m still in awe that this day has finally come. Thank you for being part of the journey with me.

 

The Writing Process Only Stops Working If You Do

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Miss A Writes a SongWriting is such a mystery. How the words flow, where the idea comes from, what makes a character tick…it seems everyone wants to know our big secret. So it seems appropriate that I was tagged in this blog hop by mystery author Lisa Alber, whose debut novel, Kilmoon, launched just a couple of weeks ago. Check out her post on her writing process and see mine below—you’ll see our processes are quite different, which just goes to show: there’s no right or wrong way to do this (you just have to actually do it).

What are you working on?

The first draft of my next book. I’m not quite ready to divulge all the details, but I will say this: it takes place in a Texas border town and deals with life, death, and the nearly impossible task of setting family history straight. Oh, and there are hints of magical realism. (Could I possibly be any more vague?)

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

This is such a hard question to answer about myself; I think these kinds of insights often come from readers, because we are usually too close to our work to see it objectively. One thing that sticks out is that my agent once told me she loved how my work tends to explore relationships. I hadn’t thought of that, but it makes sense: aren’t relationships what it’s all about at the end of the day? None of us exists in a bubble. Our need to interact with other humans is what drives so many of our actions. Chasing the Sun deals with a kidnapping, but it’s really the examination of a relationship under unthinkable circumstances. Stories I’ve written before, and stories I’ve written after, always go back to the connection that exists between two (or more) people.

Why do you write what you do?

It’s how I answer questions I probably couldn’t answer in just one lifetime. It’s how I try to understand things that are beyond my own experience.

How does your writing process work?

Wait…my writing process works? Kidding. Honestly, if I had the answer for that, things would be a lot easier for me. The truth is sometimes my writing process—write first thing in the morning, write a skeleton of a draft, then add texture and substance in revision, and finally edit, edit, edit—doesn’t work. Sometimes I get stuck. Sometimes I question whether I can really finish. The only thing I know about the writing process is that it stops working if you do. So I keep writing through the doubt and the difficulty because I know that eventually (I never know when) the story will come together.

I believe I’m supposed to tag more writers, so I’d like to tag you. Answer these four questions on your own blog and leave the link in the comments. What’s your process like?

photo by: mrsdkrebs

On Identity, Discrimination, and Helping Others

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

I had an eye-opening couple of days at AWP, especially in regards to what it means to be a woman and a writer of color. It’s funny, because when I was much younger and growing up in Miami, I never felt the need to self-identify as any of the many things that described me: Latina, immigrant, hispanic, Peruvian, American, Peruvian-American, person of color, woman; these things were simply understood. I grew up in a beautiful bubble where identity is fluid and the fact that we all come from somewhere is a given. Labels helped inform; they did not define.

I don’t know if that had to do with location or inexperience or both. There are days when I’m grateful I didn’t know all I know now (like how underrepresented women writers of color are in the publishing world) before I tried to write and publish my first novel.

Sometimes I wonder, would I have been discouraged? I can’t tell you if I had to work any harder than any other first-time, white male writer; I can only tell you how hard I’ve worked.

But I can tell you that there are countless other women writers working just as hard to get their stories heard, and somehow, so few of us end up breaking through. At a panel that looked beyond gender to various types of identity—like race and sexual orientation—and the many challenges identity authors face today, author Roxane Gay discussed that there shouldn’t be only one: one LGBT author, one hispanic author, one black woman author, who makes it big and ends up representing the whole. And when there is one, then it’s that person’s job to create pipelines of opportunity for others.

This really stuck with me. I feel lucky to be part of the publishing community, to have a book coming out, to have written it blissfully unaware that things like my name or my novel’s setting might have presented obstacles along the way. And I am in no way saying I’ve “made it,” but I’m grateful for the success I’ve enjoyed thus far, and I’d wish it for any other writer who wants it badly and works for it even more.

I may not know exactly how to create pipelines of opportunity just yet, but I think sharing truths is a good place to start. Below are some of mine: some I tell myself, some I wish to tell other writers who’ve ever felt marginalized, some I simply wish to tell the world.

Know what you stand for. Know what you don’t. Do not allow others to misrepresent you.

You are not one identity or one story. You are a mixture of big and small experiences, some of which must be known for you to be completely understood, none of which solely define you. Which ones you share, how you want to be understood, what you write about: these choices are yours alone.

Just because you’ve never perceived being discriminated against doesn’t mean you haven’t experienced it.

Your not being discriminated against (or your perception of it) is only your reality. This does not make it the reality of others like you.

The fact that you overcame obstacles without realizing it does not mean those obstacles don’t exist. Look at how far you’ve come, but also look back. You’ve learned some things along the way. Use it to help others who are trying to forge a similar path.

When you acknowledge someone is coming from a different place than you, don’t let that cloud your vision of all the ways you’re the same.

What It’s All About

Friday, January 17th, 2014

I’ve had the hokey pokey song stuck in my head ever since I decided I wanted to write about this. (Sorry if it’s now in your head, too.)

I’ve had some very exciting moments these past couple of weeks. Last Thursday, while E and I were putting away the dishes after lunch, we heard a knock at our door. In the afternoons, it’s usually the UPS guy, and I opened the door thinking the facial lotion that I’d ordered a couple of weeks ago finally arrived. The UPS carrier had this small box resting at the top of his cart, and so I signed for the package and reached for it. But he said, “No, that one’s not yours. This one is.”

And well, it turned out to be this box:

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(If you follow me on Twitter or FB, you might’ve already seen this picture of me opening my box of Advanced Copies of Chasing the Sun. You may also know that moments later, I was in tears. Seeing the words I’d previously only seen as a word doc transformed into a book—that’s a moment I won’t ever forget.)

I called my mom. I texted the photo to my sister. I flipped through the pages late every night. E installed another new bookshelf by my bed so my ARCs would have a nice place to rest (for now…some of them have already been sent off to new places).

Then a few nights ago, I met another writer at a happy hour. He asked me about my book and whether I was writing a new one. I told him that I had, and that it’s such a relief to be writing again, not because I feel I need to rush and crank out another one…but because I don’t want to forget the writing. Publishing has been exhilarating, but what am I doing this for, if not so I can always keep writing?

But truth be told, the new WIP has been a bit of a slow burn. I’ve been telling myself I need to take my time with it, that this is such a busy time, I shouldn’t worry that I haven’t made more progress. Part of that is true; part of that, if I’m being honest with myself, is procrastination.

So that night I couldn’t sleep. I finally gave up trying around 5 in the morning and got out of bed, grabbed a journal, and wrote. Not a new scene for the new book. Just about my characters. Their backstory. Their favorite memories, how they met. Pen to paper, eventually I started writing down questions, and then answering them, and by the time I was finished I’d figured out specific plot points for the rest of the book. I wrote past a mental block that’d been holding me back in this story. And my god, did it feel good.

Out of all the things that have happened lately, that early morning writing session is what I’m most excited about. Because writing rarely comes easy for me. Because a moment like this, and the promise that it’ll come again, even if I have no clue when, is what keeps me going.

::cue the music:: That’s what it’s all about.

 

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