Author Interview: Fiona Hogan

Welcome to The Writing Life, where I’ll be interviewing fabulous authors every Tuesday morning. So please check back to see who is next!
Today I’m pleased to welcome multi-genre writer, Fiona Hogan.
Fiona Cooke Hogan is a writer, poet and blogger living in the beautiful midlands of Ireland. She has two books on Amazon  – a book of short stories  called The Lights Went Out and Other Stories; a quirky collection of short, long and flash fiction in a range of genres from humorous to romantic and supernatural; and a novella called What Happened In Dingle – a romantic comedy set in wild windswept Dingle, County Kerry.
Fiona is currently working on a horror as yet untitled, and is pitching her romantic fiction novel- Martha’s Cottage to an agent. She hopes to have a poetry chapbook published before Christmas.
When not scribbling like a lunatic, she is addicted to The Walking Dead, Poldark and anything Tolkien.
Welcome, Fiona!

What is your book’s genre category?

My book is a collection of short and longer fiction and they are a mix of many genres, The Lights Went Out and Other Stories runs the gamut from humorous to the supernatural.

Please describe what ‘The Lights Went Out And Other Stories’ is about?

I always described this book as having a mix of differing themes from despair and love to loneliness and madness, however a recent reviewer very kindly wrote of a commonality that he noted between my stories that I will share here –

“Some more obvious commonalities or connecting threads between the stories is the feeling of “romance in the air.” The author is quite good at giving us dramatic, heart-stopping slices from the lives of young lovers. But she seems less interested in the Harlequin romance end of things and more interested in portraying the pains, insecurities, fears, trepidations, and heartbreaks that accompany young love, and the psychologically odd spaces lovers are drawn into, the way these romantic encounters leave them shattered, or in some way forever altered, and forever after haunted by eerie feelings of drug-like intensity it seems no amount of processing time will be enough to digest.”

I couldn’t begin to disagree with him. I like the discordant notes and unusual themes and there are plenty of these in my stories.

How did you come up with the title?

The title is taken from one of the longer tales – “The Lights Went Out”; a story of one man’s loneliness and struggle with the demons of his past. It’s funny because I had the title before the actual story was conceived. I just really liked the title- I thought it evocative and also slightly old fashioned.

That story was a pain in the ass – I lost the first draft on my laptop and the next time being super careful, I saved it onto my USB only for that file to become corrupted! It’s a fairly long story and I had to rewrite it fully to my chagrin, but perhaps the final version was the one I was meant to write. Personally, I dislike it because of the hassle it caused me, but a lot of people tell me it is one of their favourites.

What inspired you to write the book?

As a collection, each story comes from a different place. Some where inspired from personal experience – Blood Orange and The Saxophone Song, for instance.  Others were pure fiction.  Some were a mixture of both. One story in particular – Loose Ends was a spin off of  a longer story that was causing me problems. I couldn’t decide what to do with a character and thought, what if this happened? And I came up with a nice little flash fiction piece along with sorting out the direction of the main story – I love it when that happens.

What is your favorite part of writing?

My favourite part of writing is the excitement that comes with an idea, the “quick, where is the pen?” moment and then the euphoria of the flow – when I am writing so fast in my notebook that I get a cramp in the wrist (yes, I write longhand). There is no better feeling.

Researching is also an essential and sometimes indulgent pleasure. It’s amazing where a few clicks of the mouse can take you – from your own living room into Victorian London or Medieval France.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Procrastination. I have the attention span of a stunned goldfish and am very easily distracted – social media is both a blessing and a curse. I have to be really strict with myself.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

I grew up on the Brontes, Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, George Elliot and Thomas Hardy – I love how the landscapes are as much a character as the individuals in their stories.

I discovered the work of JRR Tolkien at a young age and found true escapism. I remember crying when Frodo left for the Havens in the final chapter. Contemporary literary idols are Susanna Clarke, Paul Auster, Sarah Waters and Jonathan Tropper. Also Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and lashings of John Connolly because I love a bit of well written horror and suspense.

What authors or persons have influenced you?

I love the Victorian tales of mystery and horror and I would have to say that my stories in that vein are influenced by HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, Shelley, and Stoker. My more contemporary stories are influenced by Joyce Carol Oates, Joanne Harris, and the wonderful Dorothy Parker.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

There is an old leather armchair in my living room that is rather comfortable for curling up on with a notebook; it’s also perfect for using the laptop. But in good weather I can be found outside on the bench on my deck beside the wonderful ancient hedgerow that runs the length of our long garden. It really is the most peaceful and inspiring place, and has provided many a blog post, poem, and chapter.

Fiona, tell us something personal about you that people might be surprised to know.

I live and breathe Tolkien, and have the first two lines of the poem that Aragorn shows Frodo in The Prancing Pony (written by Gandalf to vouch for Strider/Aragorn’s true character) tattooed on my left upper arm– in Elvish. Below is the English version.

“All that is gold does not glitter

Not all those who wander are lost”

What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

I’m self published, so everything was a surprise and learning experience! I really hurled myself at the process with little or no knowledge of how everything worked, and hence learned an awful lot in a very quick period of time.

My first book was always going to be an experiment and as such I don’t think I have done too badly. I designed the cover myself from one of my own photographs – a beautiful view of an old cottage through an old iron gate surrounded by ivy and overgrown hedge. That cover has gone through a few incarnations and I am delighted with the final version  – I messed about with colouring on the picture and picked a segment for the cover of the paperback. I wanted it to be brighter and it looks amazing, especially the ivy on the back cover.


I figured out the formatting (eventually) and have been going at the promotion ever since. I hold a degree in Marketing, but old school stuff  – the press releases and organisational side, digital marketing is a whole different animal and I have to say I love it.  But apart from the inimitable joy of holding my book in my arms for the first time, I have to say one of the highlights of self publishing for me has been connecting with so many amazing and helpful authors (and now friends) online. I look forward to meeting these writers over time. It still astounds me how helpful and generous these people are; from sharing and re-tweeting, to buying and reviewing my book, not to mention the invaluable advice. I make it my business to do the same for authors I come across, and I do a lot of reviewing myself because I understand just how important it is to an author.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped with this book?

Well, if you don’t have the content, there really is no point in putting your writing out there. I had a large amount of stories that had never seen the light of day and I picked through them until I was happy with the fiction I put forward. Thankfully my reviews have shown that these stories are relevant and interesting to readers and this is gratifying. I was lucky with my promotion as a newbie, and hopefully I have created a nice amount of interest for my next books.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Make sure your writing is the best it can possibly be. For the first couple of months my book was out there, I couldn’t afford to get it professionally edited – I was forever correcting what I had thought perfect. A writer can only edit to a certain degree, it takes an objective professional to spot the errors that have been overlooked many times.  As soon as I could, I hired a wonderful editor and now friend in New York, to work my book and she did a stellar job; it really is amazing the difference a little tightening can do.

(My next novel – Martha’s Cottage has been sent to an agent as polished as possible thanks to my editor)

Don’t be afraid to get your work out there, have people lined up to read your work and critique.

When your book is ready for publishing, make sure and have the best cover art you can get, either buy it or download a free image (although you do run the risk of someone somewhere using the same pic), or use a good quality picture of your own and photo shop it to your liking. You can format the document yourself or pay for someone else to do it, but YouTube has many free tutorials.

My first book arrived on Amazon with no fanfare apart from much screaming and clinking of wine glasses with my husband. Now, I know better and my next book will get a proper online launch with the help of my blog, Twitter, and hopefully my Facebook author friends. There will be giveaways and I will promote the hell out of it before it even goes live. I can’t wait.


Incessant Musings is full of snippets of poetry, my thoughts on everything from woolly socks to dogs, my love of nature and news on my books –

My Facebook page is a great platform for showing little bits of my work and also commenting on the writing process –

Where can we find your book?

The Lights Went Out and Other Stories can be found on Amazon. There are also links on my website and my author page on Facebook.

What’s next for you, Fiona?

I have sent my latest book; a romantic fiction – Martha’s Cottage to an agent because I want to try a traditional publishing house with this one. I am interested to see how things differ from self-publishing promotion and marketing wise.

I am currently working on a horror or I should say “wrestling with” as this book is doing its best to fight me hard.  I also plan on self publishing a chap book of my poetry before Christmas and there is the second collection of short stories that is lurking about in the back of my mind. So busy, busy, busy. Busy is great.

You can connect with Fiona at:
It was pleasure chatting with you, Fiona. I wish you all the best with your books and finding an agent! Eleanor


Eleanor Parker Sapia is the Puerto Rican-born author of the award-winning historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Sixth Street River Press. Her debut book, which garnered an Honorable Mention in Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, was Book of the Month with Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is proud to be featured in the award-winning anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Well-traveled Eleanor is a writer, artist, photographer, and blogger who is never without a pen and a notebook, her passport and a camera. Her awesome adult children are out in the world doing amazing things. Eleanor currently lives and writes in Berkeley County, West Virginia.

Eleanor’s book:

Please visit Eleanor at her website:

Guest Post: Finding that book inside you

This informative guest post is by the lovely Sally Cronin, who is discussing the option of writing Non-Fiction books.

eternal scribbler

This week’s guest post is by the lovely Sally Cronin who is discussing the option of writing Non-Fiction books.

sallyFinding that book inside youby Sally Cronin

Not everyone can dive into publishing with a best-selling novel, and most successful authors who have sold a million copies of their books are a rare breed.

Writing and then marketing our own books can be exciting but it can also be a daunting task. Whilst most of us who write love the process, we understand that we are competing with hundreds of thousands of other fiction titles that are published each year. This is particularly true if you are writing within one of the most popular of the genres such as Thrillers, Mystery or Fantasy.

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Author Interview: Gabrielle Mathieu

Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life.  I will be interviewing authors every Tuesday until the end of November, so please check back in next week. Today I’m pleased to welcome Gabrielle Mathieu, author of The Falcon Flies Alone.

Gabrielle Mathieu lived on three continents by the age of eight. She’d experienced the bustling bazaars of Pakistan, the serenity of Swiss mountain lakes, and the chaos of the immigration desk at the JFK airport. Perhaps that’s why she developed an appetite for the unusual and disorienting. Her fantasy books are grounded in her experience of different cultures and interest in altered states of consciousness (mostly white wine and yoga these days). The Falcon Flies Alone is her debut novel.


Welcome, Gabrielle!

What is your book’s genre/category?

It’s a fantasy adventure firmly grounded in reality.

Please describe what The Falcon Flies Alone is about.

It’s the beginning of a series following Peppa Mueller, an orphan and chemistry geek who survives a gruesome experiment with a psychotropic plant, and tracks down the villains behind the plan.

How did you come up with the title?

Peppa meets a half-Asian priest she falls in love with. At one point, he says he’s never met someone like her before. The title also reflects on Peppa’s loner tendencies. 

Gabrielle, what inspired you to write this book?

The novel itself is actually based on a nightmare I had many years ago, in which a dangerous group of scientific conspirators tricked everyone into drinking a poisonous concoction. But basically, I just write to stave off the boredom of routine.

 What is your favorite part of writing?

The first draft, when everything comes to life. Even though I’m now using an outline as preparation, I’m still surprised by how the novels evolve once I start writing.

Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?

I’m eccentric as well, and I prefer to rely on myself. If I had an animal totem like Peppa, it would be a predator, though not a falcon. 

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Translating all the information in my brain into something people can follow.

What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?

I just finished Unholy Night, by Seth Grahame-Smith. On one hand, I could see why an agent would drool over representing him. The snarky quick dialogue and the original idea make it an appealing story. On the other hand, the moral nuances of the tale were muddied. The protagonist is driven by vengeance, which we are lead to believe is a failing. Yet, violence is never renounced as a method of concluding conflict. Since the story is woven around the narrative of Jesus’ birth, I think Grahame-Smith failed to address some central themes. 

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I actually like authors like Elizabeth George and Gillian Flynn for their suspenseful plotting, but too many thrillers, and I get depressed. I enjoy a good character arc, where the protagonist has changed (for the better) over the course of the book. I’m very picky, so I don’t currently have a favorite writer. 

What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?

Tolkien was a huge influence. I read him in 1972 at the age of eight, and was transported into another world. More recently, I was intrigued by George RR Martin’s convoluted plotting and amazing world-building, but the continual rape and torture is a turn-off.

Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?

We have a three-bedroom apartment in Switzerland, which we can afford because it’s a walk-up under the eaves. I have one room set up as a writing study. I read all the time, and carry my Kindle with me, so I don’t have just one place to read.

Gabrielle, tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I’m addicted to afternoon naps. It’s pure luxury to crawl into bed after lunch, and have a deep refreshing sleep, followed by a cup of tea. Even though I’m not British, I love hot tea with milk and honey. 

Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?

The writing process was a surprise, because at first, like many writers, I failed to recognize the level of craft involved. As time went on, I realized how marginal my first attempts were. The publishing process was even more of a surprise. Since most beta-readers binge-read The Falcon Flies Alone, I expected I’d find an agent sooner or later. I hadn’t realized the very originality I was proud of would prove to be the problem. Luckily, I had the opportunity to join the women of Five Directions Press, a publishing co-op. I can honestly say this was one of the best things that ever happened to me in my writing career. Courtney J. Hall designed fantastic covers for the series, and C.P. Lesley has been a mentor, as well as copy-editing and formatting my manuscripts.  Ariadne Apostolou, who I met through the co-op, has a good eye for story development, but she’s become a good friend as well. The new members are lovely too. 

What do you hope readers will gain from The Falcon Flies Alone?

Primarily, I want them to be entertained, but I hope some themes will speak to them. I write about themes on my website blog as well. What is the importance of the natural world in our neurophysiological make-up, for example? Plants and animals are not just there for our physical nourishment. Our millenia of evolutional are intimately tied up in the natural world which they share with us. I’m also interested in the role of anger in the women’s lives. My first novel is set in 1957. At that time, in movies and literature, women didn’t defend themselves. They stayed in safe situations. How stultifying that life must have been. Someone like my heroine, Peppa Mueller, who is a scientist, would have felt like an outsider, even without a falcon totem that she has to keep hidden from the world. 

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

Well first of all, I have to say this to all aspiring writers. Please, please, learn the basics of grammar. You can break the rules once you know what they are. I am very conscious of grammar and sentence formation.

It’s helpful to find readers, even if they don’t perform literary criticism. You want to know whether people can follow your story. Do they find it interesting enough to finish? Those are two basics. Positive feedback from my beta-readers kept me going through some hard times, before I found Five Directions Press.  

What didn’t work?

People may get annoyed with you or your book. Personality quirks can put other writers off, and sometimes they cross the line when they offer you a “helpful” critique. (Especially if you see their e-mail was written late at night, in which case you may assume some libation was involved). It’s painful when that happens, but perhaps I should have seen it coming.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

You have to give some thought to what direction you want to go in. If you’re still hoping for an agent and a traditional publisher, think like they do. Decide on a genre, read the best-sellers in your genre, and then write something similar enough to be marketed, but something different enough so it’s not a blatant rip-off. If you want to remain true to your creativity, start making contacts now, so when the time comes, you can get your work properly edited and formatted. Don’t just push your first effort out into the internet, “to see what happens.” Join an organization like The Alliance of Independent Authors, and take your work seriously. Write multiple drafts, and learn your weak and strong points. You probably won’t make money, but you’ll have the satisfaction of creation.

Website and social media links?,, @GabrielleAuthor on Twitter. Our publishing co-op is

Where can we find The Falcon Flies Alone?

It’s on Amazon world-wide, both as an e-book and as a paperback. There were also a few copies at BookPeople in Austin and Imagine Books and Records in San Antonio. (Both cities are in Texas).

What’s next for you, Gabrielle?

This fall I will be doing some additional research for the third book, The Falcon Soars, as I travel to Nepal on a hiking adventure. Then I’ll return to the second in the series, The Falcon Strikes, to streamline and polish the narrative.
November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) month, and this year I plan to power through a first draft of my dystopian police-buddy novel, Shangri-la Apocalypse, featuring Ivanka Trump as the president of the USA. How’s that for dystopian?

Shangri-la Apocalypse sounds intriguing! Best wishes with your writing and safe travels to Nepal! Thanks for chatting with us today, Gabrielle.


Eleanor Parker Sapia is the Puerto Rican-born author of the award-winning historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Sixth Street River Press. Her debut book, which garnered an Honorable Mention in Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, was Book of the Month with Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is proud to be featured in the award-winning anthology, Latino Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani. Well-traveled Eleanor is a writer, artist, photographer, and blogger who is never without a pen and a notebook, her passport and a camera. Her awesome adult children are out in the world doing amazing things. Eleanor currently lives and writes in Berkeley County, West Virginia.

Eleanor’s book:

Please visit Eleanor at her website:




Here Are Some of the 18th Annual 2016 International Latino Book Awards Winners

Outstanding books in the fields of fiction and non-fiction, children’s literature and poetry are just a few of the dozens of genres showcased at the 18th annual International Latino Authors Awards.

Authors and publishers gathered for one of the largest cultural awards honoring Latinos at California State University Dominguez Hills outside of Los Angeles on Thursday. Over 2,000 gathered to honor colleagues in a variety of genres, including Children and Youth Adults, Biography, History, Politics & Current Affairs, Cookbooks, Travel, Science Fiction, among others, in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

For the full NBC article and a complete list of nominees:

Author Interview: Jonisha Rios

Welcome back to the Author Interview series at The Writing Life blog. I’ll be chatting with authors every Tuesday until the end of November, so please do check back in.

Today I’m pleased to chat with my first guest Jonisha Rios, author of Curse of the Blue Vagina.

Jonisha Rios is an accomplished screenwriter, author, director, and actress who currently resides in California. She teaches Solo-show workshops to adults and kids.
Jonisha Rios
Welcome, Jonisha!

What is your book’s genre/category?

Women’s Fiction /Humor-Empowerment, I guess.

Please describe what the story/book is about.

Curse of the Blue Vagina is a collection that includes two short stories and a one-act play. The stories are about women. The first is a story about one woman’s journey to break a curse that keeps her from attracting the love that she desires.  

How did you come up with the title?

I was sitting next to my husband and we were talking about the concept of “Blue Balls”, you know when a man is left feeling physically in pain when he is not sexually satisfied. I never gave him those, by the way.  But there we were chit chatting about it, and then I told him that women go through the same thing.  Only for us, it’s more of an emotional rather than a physical pain. For us, the Blue Vagina occurs when the love we want isn’t reciprocated. 

What inspired you to write this book, Jonisha?

What inspired these pieces were three distinctly different things. For the first story I wanted to explore the dynamic of first time love.  My aunt who had cancer inspired the second story.  I was blown away by her incredible faith despite her unfortunate diagnosis.  And the third inspiration was a night out with the girls whose vivid conversations had stayed with me long after our night of hanging out was over.  I remembered each story had a life of its own and a clear voice.  So if I had to summarize in one word, I would say unshakeable, amazing women inspired my book. (Okay, that’s three words.)

What is your favorite part of writing?

The freedom to use my imagination.  I love to get away and create scenarios that make me laugh out loud, and also make me feel empowered and even romanced. 

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Just making the time to sit with no interruption is a challenge. Between shuffling my son around to various classes and working part-time as a nanny, by the time I am done running around with three kids, I am too tired to write.  But, I do it anyway. When you are a mom and a writer, oftentimes you have to write when the kids go to sleep. Other times you have to write when there are countless interruptions. Whether you are tired or interrupted a million times, your brain can feel like mush.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Honestly I’ve read so many books I don’t really have any specific favorites. I genuinely get into whatever I am reading, so that whoever wrote the book I am reading in the moment becomes my new favorite author. Right now my favorite book is “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo. I have her second book “Spark Joy”, and it’s a great companion piece to go along with the first. I just love those books. You see, I used to teach classes in Feng Shui and this book has been so much fun for me to read. Your outside world is often a reflection of what’s going on in your inner world.  I also love books on Homeopathy and joke books.  Pretty much anything on Kindle Unlimited!

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

Candace Bushnell (Sex and the City), Chelsea Handler, Woody Allen (his early years), and Alisa Valdes, (Dirty Girls Social Club).

Do you have a favorite place to write?

The bathroom or the closet.  These are not fancy big spaces but they are all I have to escape to when I need to write.  Because I live in a loft, it’s just one open space with no one place for me.  So I decorated the closet as my own little hideaway nook. I put some Christmas lights up and added a meditation matt. If it is too noisy during the day, then the bathroom is my number 2 spot, (no pun intended lol). 

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I not only teach Feng Shui workshops, I do live blood analysis and provide guided healing counseling sessions – check out It’s a gift I have. I believe having the ability to meditate allows you to tap into a stream of consciousness that opens up imaginative pathways to creating whatever you desire.

What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

Learn how to format or hire someone who can handle it easily.  Make sure you tell them to give you a version you can correct.  Even after having had my work professionally proofed several times, I found that once the book was formatted, errors jumped out at me that I didn’t notice before.  I was lucky enough that my formatter allowed me to fix these things, but it was a very expensive lesson.  So I guess even before that step, make sure you have your manuscript proofed no less than 5 times. And in the end, if it’s still not perfect, let it go. As long as people connect with the story, that is all that matters.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

I completed it.  I took it from A-Z and once I did that, the floodgates opened for me. That was when a team of supporters magically arrived to support me. I love my agent Leticia Gomez, manager Marilyn Atlas, and most importantly, my editor Elizabeth Lopez. These people were instrumental in the completion of this book.  I’d also like to thank my husband for giving me my blue vagina! lol

And I thank my son Iysaac. I raced to finish up this book before he woke up at night. That was the fire under my ass I needed to get it completed. Mama got it done.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

If you don’t have a team of people out there to help you get the book to where it needs to be, I would suggest you go about completing the book from start to finish on your own.  That needs to be the goal and the team will arrive. If not for your first book, then for the second one, for sure. My friend did that recently and got himself on Amazon and other sites. He had a goal and made it happen. I think that is the key.  If you want to get published, go about having a plan to publish yourself as you are sending out query letters to different publishing companies and agencies.


Where can we find Curse of the Blue Vagina?

The above website works.

What’s next for you, Jonisha?

My next book and some web shows and pod casts are in the works. Follow me on Facebook to see what is coming up next.


Fun interview, Jonisha. Best wishes with Curse of the Blue Vagina!



Award winning novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s career paths as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, is published by Sixth Street River Press. The book is a finalist for Best Historical Fiction, English, in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, and was selected as Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the award-winning anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani.

When Our Words Seem Trite

I hope you enjoy my new piece, written for Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society.


by Eleanor Parker Sapia

Despite many attempts last month, I found it difficult to write, especially about writing. Every word seemed trite and nothing I said seemed relevant in light of the terror and chaos caused by recent crimes of hatred and acts of terrorism at home and abroad.

In desperation, I decided it was time to take a break. Not a break from writing my second book—that keeps me sane—no, I decided to take a break from social media and blogging, until such time that our world becomes a more peaceful place to live. My thoughts were muddied by too much chaos, heartache, and uncertainty.

Then I thought, wait a minute…that peace might take a long, long time.

Last night I read a heart-tugging article in The Nation by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, published last year. One quote in particular spoke to what I was facing and seemed…

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Guest Post: Norma Burgos Vázquez on Puerto Rico, PROMESA, and Oscar López Rivera

“Give Us Our Mandela Moment: Free Oscar Now! So the World Can Witness ‘Invictus’ of Puerto Ricans by the Power of One”

“If I am standing here today, it is not because I lack the courage to fight, but rather because I have the courage to fight. I am certain, and will reaffirm, that Puerto Rico will be a free and sovereign nation.” 

– Oscar López Rivera, at his trial for seditious conspiracy, 1981

Oscar Part 2: “The Perfect Storm”

The Winston Churchill words “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” often touted by President Obama on the dais, to steer Americans on the path to righteousness, ring very hollow today.  The PROMESA passage on June 29, 2016 will go down in history as a day of infamy for the United States of America. And the buzz word from every corner of the island is“indignation.”



May 27, 2016
Juan González, co-host of Democracy Now, Daily News column, “A Colonial Takeover Proposed Puerto Rican Debt Bill to Give ‘Dictatorial’ Powers to Unelected Board.” “The bill has provoked a furor among many island residents because it imposes a seven-member oversight board with dictatorial powers that hearken back to colonial days, and because it is geared to protecting bondholders and paving the way for massive cuts in the island’s public services.” read more

May 31, 2016
Matt Peppe, Global Research, “Obama Continues to Ignore Pleas to Free Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera.” The mega star Lin Manuel Miranda uses his coveted invitation to the White House to put in a good word for the release of political prisoner Oscar, to which President Obama made the reply, “he had the case on his desk.” read more

The Puerto Rican tragedy couldn’t get any worse, you might think. But it does for me. The catharsis that followed this email was the 16-year build-up of outrage, frustration and anguish. I froze before my closet mirror sliding doors, my eyes on the floor, afraid to see the woman in the mirror.  Tears were staining my face like the forlorn stepchild, unloved and mistreated.  I prayed, God, in our darkest hour don’t let President Obama turn his back on the people of Puerto Rico he made a promise to back in June 2011.  When the eyes of the world were on us for a whole 3 ½ hours!  And Obama won the hearts and minds of islanders enjoying the Puerto Rican hospitality, “El Sandwiche Media Noche” surrounded by jubilant locals for lunch.

Obama’s ‘Visita Flash’

To the outside world, beyond our island’s shores, Obama’s historic presidential visit all boiled down to just another pit-stop along the campaign trail, and his courtship of the State of Florida Puerto Rican voters.  But from my view (a loyal and I mean loyal Obama supporter) Air Force One was packed with hope.  The Fortuño years of unbridled austerity had ruined confidence in local government. Obama represented the “Great Black Hope for Brown Folks” coming to the rescue of his adoring fans.

Obama’s top advisers to the 2010 White House Task Force on the Status of Puerto Rico were also aboard, to follow-up on the President’s mandate to island political leaders: To set a date for the 2012 referendum on the resolution of the island’s political status that he promised to honor, endorse and take before the US Congress. This Task Force Report revealed President Obama is a friend and ally of the Puerto Rican people and our cause for self-determination, economic and sustainable recovery and prosperity (unlike his predecessors who are most remembered for their policy of lip-service):

“The Task Force recommends (consulting) all relevant parties – the president, Congress, and the leadership and people of Puerto Rico – statehood, independence, free association, and commonwealth- and have that will acted upon by the end of 2012 or soon thereafter.” (NILP: “The White House Task Force on Puerto Rico,” March 16, 2011) 

Five years later…Nada que ver.

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate. 

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About Norma Burgos Vazquez

Norma Burgos Vazquez

A DiaspoRican returnee, residing in Puerto Rico since 1999, the forty-year veteran of the wars on poverty in NY, the SF/Bay Area and Comunidades Especiales (PR) has worked for federal, state and municipal island governments.  She’s a Writer’s WellLiterary Competition Winner, former public affairs writer KCBS News Radio (SF), her personal vignettes and essays appear in The Rebeldes Anthology: Bolder (Latino Rebels e-book),Border-Lines Journal, Latino Research Center, University of Nevada, Reno; La Respuesta; Mujeres Talk; Latina Lista News; Somos Primos. The Bronx Science alumna, holds a BA in Black and Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College (NYC) and education courses, La Universidad Interamericana, Guayama. And lives in Vega Alta with her daughter where she is editing her back-to-roots memoirs.

Norma Iris Lafé is her pen name

Read Part One here: