Pre-order A Decent Woman!

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Dear Friends and Readers,

I have some long-awaited and exciting book news to share – the Kindle edition of my newly-edited novel, A DECENT WOMAN, is available for pre-order today! The Amazon release day for both the Kindle edition and the paperback with the new cover is March 20, 2019!

In the past, you might have seen two other covers of this book on Amazon, and that’s because this is the third printing. Yes, it happens in the book world. I imagine this is what it feels like to send a child off into the world, only to have them return home…twice before. Smile. #shepersisted

So technically, I’m not a debut author, but it sure feels like it with this newly-edited book. The story has not changed, by the way, and in my humble opinion, it’s a better read. What a treat, what a gift, and what a journey. #shepersevered

A big thank you to Jessica Kristie and Winter Goose Publishing for putting my first novel back in reader’s hands, where it belongs. A special thank you to my sister, an ace proofreader, whom I owe dinner and drinks in Puerto Rico when we travel back to nuestra isla querida this summer.

From January 2019 to a few days ago, I read the manuscript, from page one to the end, eight times. I read, edited, and rewrote until my weary eyes went blurry and added a surprise wedding suggested by a lovely reviewer, thank you!

I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for this long winter that has kept me focused and out of the flower and vegetable gardens.

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I’m grateful to my family, friends, and to readers, who embraced Ana, her lifelong friend Serafina, and the cast of characters of A Decent Woman, which garnered two literary awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. I couldn’t be happier that local and national book clubs chose the book and that readers continue to share their love of Ana’s story with their family and friends, and with me.

Now I buckle down to finish my second novel, The Laments, set in 1927 Old San Juan and Isla de Cabras, Puerto Rico. The characters, Sister Inmaculada, Fray Ignacio, Doctor White, and the tiny community at the leprosarium on Isla de Cabras are more than ready to be presented to readers. I hope to finish the book later this year.

For those who’ve kindly asked, there is a sequel to A Decent Woman; it’s called Mistress of Coffee. The story continues in the mountains of Jayuya and in Ponce, Puerto Rico and will include events that led to the Ponce Massacre, which occurred on Palm Sunday, 1937. I am ten chapters in. #neverbored

Muchísimas gracias for your continued support and friendship!

Eleanor Parker Sapia



Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Her best-selling debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, garnered Second Place for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, English, at the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English, at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now. A Decent Woman was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015, and Eleanor is proud to be featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.

A writer, artist, and poet, Eleanor is currently working on her second novel, The Laments, set in 1926 Puerto Rico.

When Eleanor is not writing, she tends her garden, travels, reads, and tells herself she will walk El Camino de Santiago a second time. Eleanor is the mother of two amazing, adult children and she lives in her adopted state of West Virginia.

2017 International Latino Book Award Finalist – A Decent Woman

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Buenos días!

On this beautiful morning, I was humbled and happy to learn my debut novel, A Decent Woman, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico, is a finalist in the 2017 International Latino Book Award and Latino Literacy Now for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book. I’m beyond honored, blessed, and proud to introduce readers, through my books and book events, to Latina/o characters and to Puerto Rico, the beautiful island of my birth.

I am forever grateful to my readers and blogger friends for their continued support and friendship as I meet so many on my travels and during book events. A huge thank you to Latino Literacy Now and everyone at the International Latino Book Award organization for their untiring, brilliant work in bringing Latino literature in English and Spanish to readers in the US and around the world.

A special thank you to my children, my loves, and my family for their unending love, encouragement, and support. I am truly blessed to do what I love–tell stories from long ago. I honor my ancestors and my family, on both sides of my wonderful family, for their love and support, and for continuing to listen and tell stories at the kitchen table and around the fire for the younger generation as we did last month at a recent Sapia family reunion in Ohio. A very special time for all!

Now, I must confess. I really miss my Tuesday Author Interviews series with my fellow authors, which I began in 2014. I’m excited to begin a brand new author interview series in January 2018, and in the meantime, I am hard at work on my second book, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1927 Puerto Rico. I am in love with this new story and my new characters, who are whispering their stories in my ear. I hope you will like this new story as much as I do.

I will share the complete list of the 2017 International Latino Book Award finalists as soon as I find a good link. Congratulations to all the finalists.

Be well, be safe, and enjoy your summer! ❤




Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning historical novel, A Decent Woman, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, set in turn of the century Ponce, Puerto Rico, is a finalist for Best Latino Focused Fiction Book in the 2017 International Latino Book Award with Latino Literacy Now. The book also garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now. A Decent Woman was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses, edited by Mayra Calvani.

A writer, artist, and photographer, Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments of Forgotten Souls, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.

Eleanor’s book, A Decent Woman, available in paperback and ebook format:
Please visit Eleanor at her website:



The Writing Life: Signing A Creativity Contract

The Writing Life: Signing a Creativity Contract

By Eleanor Parker Sapia

My novel ‘A Decent Woman’ turns a year old on February 20, 2016, and you best believe I will be celebrating with champagne, just as I did the evening my publisher emailed to say, “Your book is live on Amazon.” I drank the entire bottle–no wine glass–and yes, I was alone! That day ranks right up there as one of the most thrilling days of my life.

I am currently writing my second book and thinking back to my experiences on the road to publication. I am happy. Every setback, challenge, and joy, and each little miracle with my first book reminds me that choosing to live a creative life at age 50 was worth it all!

In looking back, I’ve come up with a writing contract for myself for 2016. I’d love to share it with you. Whether you’re a writer or a reader, I hope you’ll glean a little encouragement to live your life to the fullest and do what you love. If you don’t write, replace ‘writing’ with whatever you like to do, or simply think of the sentences as they pertain to life.

What I will do in 2016:

  • Continue to tell stories that matter to me, with characters who do extraordinary things while leading simple lives during extraordinary times.
  • Remind myself how blessed I am to do what I love when writing becomes difficult.
  • Push myself to write every day. When I don’t think I can write another word, I will stand up from my writing chair and take a walk in nature. Or write a blog post. Call a good friend. Knit. And return to my writing chair.
  • Connect with friends and family on Sundays, and take days off when I feel the need to rest my mind, body, and soul.
  • Treat my writing (and marketing my books) as a job because it is.
  • Remember that my writing life is my writing life.
  • Learn more about developing my craft; read more, and keep writing to the best of my ability.
  • Maintain writing excellence.
  • Continue connecting with my readers, who are awesome. But limit Facebook time 🙂
  • Encourage more fellow authors by buying their books and writing more reviews.
  • Pay it forward with my fellow writers on social media, and continue offering them author interviews at my blog.
  • Pat myself on the back for a job well done after a good writing session, and remember that it’s not life or death, even though it feels like it!
  • Keep writing about what is deep in my heart; whether it’s popular or not.
  • Silence my inner censor–I can write another good book.
  • Pat myself on the back for a job well done after a ‘bad’ writing session–I showed up and put in the hours.
  • Keep writing!

What I won’t do:

  • Follow the literary trends of writing books in the popular genre of the month. I write what I’d like to read and hope my stories resonate with readers.
  • Obsess about reviews, positive or negative (a tough one for me). My writer friend says that what readers say about my book is none of my business. We all filter information through our life experiences. The book is no longer mine.
  • Push myself to the point of mental exhaustion. I can play with my animals, read, sit in the sun, or daydream for 30 minutes to refresh and regroup. Or take a nap.
  • Compare my writing to other writers, whether they’re in my genre or not. I’m on my journey and path. They are on their journey and path.
  • Become impatient with myself. The words will come.
  • Sweat what I don’t know today. The journey is as important as reaching the goal.

What can you do as a good reader and fan of your favorite writers?

  • Buy their books, books, books.
  • Soon after finishing a book, write an honest review and post it on social media and on Amazon while it’s fresh in your mind. We truly appreciate your reviews.
  • Interact with your favorite authors on social media. Writing is a lonely business.
  • Keep reading! Who wants an empty Kindle or bookshelf?

What would you add to my creativity list? I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you!

Happy writing.

About Eleanor


Puerto Rican novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker, and a refugee caseworker, inspire her stories.

‘A Decent Woman, Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club, and is listed in Centro Voices, The Center of Puerto Rican Studies, ‘Essential Boricua Reading for the 2015 Holiday Season’. Book clubs across the United States continue to enjoy A Decent Woman. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani, and in the soon-to-be released anthology, Organic Coffee, Haphazardly, edited by Allie Burke. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society, and she is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When not writing, she loves facilitating creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

Eleanor is a mother of two wonderful adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, ‘The Lament of Sister Maria Immaculata’, and a collection of short stories.

Reblogged, KJ Dixon chats with Eleanor Parker Sapia

I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with writer, KJ Dixon this week and what a great chat it was! We talked about what it means to be a decent woman today, and I gave KJ my picks for who would play Serafina and Ana in the film version of A Decent Woman, when the screenplay is written, of course!

A Decent Woman

Published on June 30th, 2015

Reblogged on July 1, 2015 The KJ Dixon Experience

When I learned that a book entitled A Decent Woman was released earlier this year, I couldn’t wait to pick it up. After all, it is the year 2015. To let the streets tell it, decent women have all disappeared like the dinosaurs.

Turns out that a few still exist though. In fact, Eleanor Parker Sapia, the author of this spectacular novel, is more than a decent woman. She’s a brilliant writer, a gifted storyteller, a sharp historian, and on top of all that, is extraordinarily kind. I was so impressed by Eleanor and her story that I asked permission to pick her brain on the whole notion of decent women, both inside and outside the parameters of her book, and share it with you. And being the decent woman that she is (smile), she lovingly and graciously obliged.

As told to me by Eleanor, “A Decent Woman is historical fiction, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico, but as many lovely reviewers have said about the book, the issues women faced in 1900 aren’t so different from the issues we face today. We are single and married, working mothers, and stay-at-home moms, and some of us are faced with indecent situations in order to feed our families. We are society women, educated women, and women living on the fringes of society, but in my mind, we are a sisterhood. The word we use in Puerto Rico to refer to dear women friends is, comadre, which literally means, the woman who helped birth my children; my friend for life.”

Check out this excerpt from Eleanor’s book, my questions, and her thought-provoking answers.

From Eleanor Parker Sapia’s A Decent Woman:

Ana recognized the many bridges she’d burned in life by focusing on work, her clients, and their families, instead of marriage, children, and preparing for old age. She’d waited too long to accept friendship and now, Serafina was far away. Ana was alone, and soon she would be homeless. The poorer barrios of Bélgica and San Antón might prove difficult places to find paying clients, but perhaps it was time to go. She set her sights on San Antón, knowing there was nothing left for her in La Playa.

Two weeks later, Ana discovered the priest’s information was correct—a repeat of the 1890 campaign of mass cleansing of prostitution resurfaced in Ponce. Most of the workingwomen in Ponce were of African descent and thought to be loose and wayward by the upper classes. She’d read the articles about young, upper class women in the new feminist movement beginning to feel a kinship with their black and mulatto sisters. The feminists insisted that with time and care, the workingwomen could be transformed into proper ladies and responsible citizens with a few rights. To Ana, it was a ploy by women of society to rid Ponce of female competition for available and married men, specifically their husbands. Ana believed that behind closed doors, the young, married feminists worried about keeping their own husbands away from other women.

Ana understood that feeding hungry children, and lack of good-paying jobs and decent housing, forced many women to resort to prostitution; however, it seemed all black workingwomen were lumped together in the indecency whether they were guilty or not, including Ana.

End of excerpt.

KJD: Eleanor, thank you for allowing me to meet with you. I loved the book and I’m really feeling the themes that are so cleverly woven throughout it. So what does the term “decent woman” mean to you? What types of things will decent women do? Or perhaps a better question is, is there anything that decent women will not do?

EPS: Thanks so much for your kind words and for inviting me to visit with your readers, Kristen. I am honored to be here.

My debut historical novel was originally called The House on Luna Street, the street where my mother and her siblings were raised in my hometown of Ponce, Puerto Rico. The title, A Decent Woman, didn’t occur to me until after I finished the first manuscript of the book. As I began to edit and finesse the story, it became clear my protagonist, Ana Belén, a poor, illiterate black Cuban woman born into slavery, who becomes a midwife in her twenties, was a decent woman. She tried her best to live a ‘decent’ life in a turbulent time in Puerto Rico’s history, when many women found themselves getting caught up in ‘indecent’ lifestyles, thoughts, and situations to feed and protect their families if they were married, and for basic and utter survival if they were single women with no male protection. It was also a time when male doctors were entering the birthing room for the first time, threatening Ana’s livelihood. Her name had to remain impeccable because her good name was all she had.

To me, a decent woman has high integrity and self-esteem, courage, grit, compassion, and empathy for others no matter what her station in life. She listens to her inner voice and heart when her opinions and views might not be the popular choice among her friends, family, and society, but the right thing to do. A decent woman is an advocate for children, women of all walks of life, and she stands up for injustices against others. She is a mentor to women, young and old, and she shares and celebrates the accomplishments of the sisterhood. She is humble, but always knows and remembers who she is and where she came from.

In my view, what a decent woman doesn’t do is judge other women. It’s not necessary to discredit, bad mouth, or step on other women to get ahead in life, at work and personally. A secure woman doesn’t lose a thing by uplifting other women. In fact, it’s been my experience that uplifting all women leads to new experiences and rich blessings. I’m blessed to know many decent women who in my mind embody the term, decent woman. These women are family, friends, role models, and were early mentors. One of my closest friends and confidantes is younger than me by ten years. She is wise beyond her years and I respect her counsel and opinions.

KJD: I totally agree with that definition. And I love that you promote and celebrate extraordinary women! Before penning this novel, had you considered yourself to be a decent woman? Did writing it help you to see yourself or other women differently?

EPS: I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, the United States, and in Europe, which led to a rich life, full of travel, and wonderful opportunities to meet interesting people from all walks of life, and travel also meant I saw poverty around me. As a child, I always sided with the underdog, whether it was a classmate, a friend who was bullied, or a character in a book or film. In my teens, I was as interested in attending the formal dances at the country club where my grandparents were members as making new friends in the poorer neighborhoods during our visits to visit family. Even as a young child, the disparity between the classes made an impression on me. My mother told me I was an opinionated child who didn’t like to hear, “that’s impossible”—whatever it was we were discussing. Helping others has always been a possibility to me.

As an adult, I was a painter; counselor; an alternative health practitioner; a pilgrimage coordinator in Lourdes, France; and a Spanish language family support worker and a refugee case manager in the United States and Belgium, all of which inspire my writing to this day. Today I’m a full time novelist. I enjoy introducing readers to women who do extraordinary things while living ordinary lives. I am drawn to writing about people who live on the fringes of society, which I suppose makes sense after a career in social services and because of my travels.

So to answer your question, I believe I was a decent woman before I penned A Decent Woman, and I raised my children to be decent, compassionate, empathic, and aware of the world at large. One discovery I made while writing my book was that my life, with its’ challenges, joys, and what I struggled with wasn’t that different from women of the past. Life was certainly harder for women at turn of the century without modern conveniences, opportunities, rights, but many women around the world today are living exactly like our foremothers—and worse—with few or no rights, limited modern conveniences, and unreachable opportunities for themselves and their children. That wasn’t a discovery—it was a painful reminder.

KJD: Yes indeed. And you know, some of the poor race relations in America would have many of us to think that there are major differences that exist between the struggles of women of different ethnicities. Once of the things that I love about your book is that it clearly demonstrates that we all oftentimes struggle with the same universal issues. How did you make this discovery before writing it?

EPS: My maternal grandmother, Eloina was born into poverty in the coastal town of La Playa de Ponce, Puerto Rico, the setting of A Decent Woman, and lost her mother at nine years of age. It became impossible for her father, a merchant marine, to care for her and her five siblings, and they were sent to an orphanage for a few years. Later, they were sent to live with an aunt who my grandmother described as a hard, unfeeling woman. My grandmother says she survived thanks to her wicked sense of humor, her beauty (which is true, smile), a close-knit relationship with her brothers and sister, and thanks to a high sense of self. She married my grandfather, who at the time was a clerk at the Banco de Ponce, and she left the life of poverty behind, but she never forgot her humble roots. Despite my grandfather rising in the ranks at the bank and retiring as Vice President, they lived a simple life, and went on to buy two coffee farms on the island, where they employed many laborers for decades.

A few years ago, I visited the area where my grandfather’s farm thrived and was later sold in the mountains of Yayuya, by a forced government sale. During my visit, I was thrilled to find that many of the tenant farmers and their families still live in the area, and had nice things to say about my grandparents. The land area, several hundred acres, is called Zona Sapia, Zone Sapia after my grandparents.

So I understood and experienced universal struggles from a young age thanks to my maternal and paternal grandparents’ stories of lean years and struggles, who were all amazing storytellers, and by my experiences of lean years and struggle as a divorced, single mother after a twenty-five year marriage of privilege and certain luxury. After our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, my husband replaced me with another woman and my life literally changed in twenty-four hours. That’s another story. I will add that without those lean years of struggle and heartache as a single, working mother of two young adults in college, I could have never fully understood and written Ana’s journey. Those years were blessings and a gift to me as a woman, mother, and as a writer. With both sides of the coin, so to speak, I was able to write Serafina and Ana’s stories.

KJD: I get it, and their story makes me smile. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but in your mind, can you tell us how your main characters, Ana and Serafina, change or evolve throughout the course of the story? And what events trigger these changes?

EPS: Without giving away the story or offering any spoilers, when the story begins, forty-year old Ana delivers sixteen-year old Serafina’s first child. Unmarried and alone, Ana is distrustful of men and authority, a loner, but she is also a loyal friend to her midwifery clients and their children. She must work to support herself. Her journey is about keeping a dark secret from her past hidden while searching for love, respectability, and a family to call her own.

Sixteen-year old Serafina pursues a friendship with Ana, which will reopen their hearts and also break them for a few years. Although Serafina is married and has the protection of two men, her life is paved with heartache and loss. The changes she goes through in the book are part of growing up and maturing into a confident wife, mother, and woman. Later in life, she will come face to face with her humble beginnings, a reminder of those who loved her most.

What forever bonds these two women is an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor after a crime against Serafina.

KJD: In a movie version of this story, who would play what parts?

EPS: Oh, I love this question, Kristen! I was a painter for twenty-five years, mostly portraits in those days, before discovering my passion for writing stories. As I wrote A Decent Woman, I visualized the adult Ana played by one of my favorite actresses, the fabulous Viola Davis. Ana Belén is strong, gentle, intelligent, and has the quiet strength and gritty courage I’ve seen in many of Viola’s characters in films and in television. I adore Viola’s grin, which reminds me of Ana, who in my mind’s eye has a great grin.

For the flashbacks of young Ana as a child born into slavery on a sugar plantation in Cuba, I’d pick the young actress and Oscar winner, Quvenzhané Wallis and Lupita Nyong’o would be perfect to play Ana in her twenties when she first arrives in Puerto Rico.

I visualize the young actress, Selena Gomez as Serafina at sixteen, and the incredible Mexican actress and director, Salma Hayek as the adult Serafina. Now I need a screenplay, don’t I?

KJD: Yes you do! I’d say that it’s time to get started on one. I’d pay for a ticket, Coke and popcorn in order to see it. But for now, I’ll just thank you for writing such a brilliant novel.

EPS: Thanks very much for the wonderful opportunity to stop by and chat with you, Kristen!

KJD: It has been my absolute pleasure. Miracles and blessings to you, Eleanor.

Eleanor Parker Sapia loves to interact with her readers, and may be reached on her website, on Facebook at, or on Twitter at @eleanorparkerwv. Check out her book here:

Fifty-seven Shades of Amazing



On the eve of my fifty-seventh birthday, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, and incredibly blessed. Last night as I looked at old family photographs, I was reminded of the incredibly rich life I’ve enjoyed on this amazing planet of ours.

The tattoo on my shoulder sums up how I’ve lived my life–it reads, ‘regrette rien‘, French for regret nothing. Even the darkest days afforded lessons and opportunities for personal growth necessary to forge ahead. I realize the older I get, the more feisty, fearless, and grateful I am for my life, and everyone in it.

The minute I signed the publishing contract with Booktrope for my novel, A DECENT WOMAN,  my life changed, and my world opened up. The quiet, solitary life of a writer was soon to change. My friend says my life blew open and she’s right! From writing alone for four years, and not speaking to a soul for days on end, I began working with an incredibly talented publishing team at Booktrope of editors, book managers, project managers, a cover designer, and a proofreader, many of whom are talented writers themselves. My experience with Booktrope has been rewarding and very enriching which is saying a lot as the road to publication is a tough, confusing road for many.

My writing brain cells were already perky and feeling the urgency when I signed my writing contract, and soon, my dormant business brain cells were woken up, challenged, and tested. Every day I’m a working sponge, absorbing large amounts of information, and putting what I learned in practice. Earlier this week, I tweaked and published a book trailer on Animoto for my debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, coming out this Fall. When I posted the trailer on my Facebook author page, a fellow author and new friend, suggested I upload it to YouTube for a wider audience. My eyebrows rose and I thought, why not? I certainly love watching YouTube videos, specifically book trailers, so why not put it way out there? Well, for one…I didn’t have a clue how to do it. Good reason.

So today, I took a lunch break from writing and signed up for a YouTube page/channel. I clicked upload, crossing my fingers the book trailer would upload with no issues, and the time I spent wouldn’t be a total waste. Well, it couldn’t have been easier. In 20 minutes, my YouTube was up and running. When I went back to check my channel just now, I had seven views (four are my own!). Thanks for the tip, Alina Garcia-Lapuerta! Trust me, I’m not a computer-savvy woman, this was a big deal for me!

Please enjoy the official book trailer for the debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, coming out in Fall 2014. Please leave comments, I love hearing from you!

Heeding Roadblocks and Detours in Our Creative Lives.


This blog post is an update on what’s happening in my world. I’m happy to say it’s all great news, even if it took a bit more patience, perseverance, and new energy and vision to get here. I learned a few important life lessons in the process of preparing A DECENT WOMAN for the book launch in Fall 2014 which in turn, accelerated personal growth. My good friends and family know I’m all about learning, growth, and sharing what I learn along the way, and these lessons served me well. Perhaps you can relate.

Great patience has never been my best character trait, but solving problems, good listening skills, and perseverance are. If you come to me with a difficult situation, a challenge or problem, I’m your gal. I like solving problems and assisting others to get where they’d like to be. If you aren’t quite sure what you want in life, I’ll sit with you and help you figure that out. If you say you’re ready to get out of a toxic relationship, I am a great sounding board, and if you’re looking to make a change or achieve a goal, I’m a great cheerleader. If you’re running down a hotel hallway, trip and fall onto your backpack, and the front of your knee is impaled by a sharpened pencil, I am a cool customer. I don’t jump around screaming, I take charge. I’ll calm you down, won’t let you look at your knee, and I’ll hold a towel on your leg until the doctor arrives. True story. Yes, that really happened to my son on the first day of our last European tour when he was six. He’s fine, thank God. I fell apart after the doctor left.

But, would I follow my own advice when several personal and book challenges arose? Not so much, at first. I was certainly on top of the sticky situations, but as turned out, I was too close to have good perspective, and the old ways weren’t working. My attitude was what my father, the Sergeant Major, taught me – forge ahead and make the situation work. Not always great advice for every situation, though.

I learned to trust that some roadblocks and detours in life should be heeded, and are in place for good reasons. The old me was forging ahead with my eye clearly focused on the prize, forgetting the journey is as important as the destination. I would have missed the personal growth experiences and lessons by staying the course. Electing to remain steady and going around roadblocks, ignoring the available detour, can prolong an already long journey, and can cause us to miss the boat entirely. Maneuvering life is tricky.

I’m an optimist by nature with a good dose of reality which probably comes from my many years in counseling and social work. I’m not what my daughter calls ‘a Disneyland optimistic’ and she’s right. I remembered that if it stinks, it stinks, and no amount of air freshener is going to help, but I tried to work my way around hurting others. Sometimes it just can’t be helped. Feelings will get hurt along the way if we are listening to our gut. I was reminded that our decisions will impact others and are often for everyone’s highest good like a wake-up call or much-needed personal growth and awareness. But my path is my path.

I remembered that looking at a situation in a new way and seeing the big picture is necessary to get from point A to B with all our marbles intact. Well, it wasn’t easy and certainly put me out of my comfort zone, but boy was the lesson important.

So, I’m working hard, staying up late, drinking way too much coffee, and rising early with A DECENT WOMAN. I’m in the darker corners of my mind and uncovering where more creative gold is hiding. I’m challenging myself to put the best book on those bookshelves this Fall. I’m in excellent hands as I move forward on final edits.

We hope you’ll love A DECENT WOMAN as much as we do when it comes out in Fall 2014 with Booktrope Books.

I love hearing from you, so please feel free to leave a comment, and please click on Follow and Like! I thank you in advance!






















A DECENT WOMAN Has a New Look!

I am very excited to share the new book cover of A DECENT WOMAN with you!

It has been an intense week of designing, changing fonts and backgrounds on a photograph I shot of a hand-painted wood statue of the Virgin Mary of Montserrat I purchased in France many years ago.

Although I was deeply disappointed to discover we couldn’t use our original book cover because two authors had already used it on their books, I love this image which personifies some of the important themes of A DECENT WOMAN – faith, tradition, and change.

I hope you like it as much as I do. My thanks to my Cover Designer, Greg Simanson, and Mindy Halleck, my Book Manager for working with me and sharing my vision!

A DECENT WOMAN is coming out Fall 2014 with Booktrope Books!


The Use of Spanish Slang, Words, and Phrases in Novel Writing

When the student is ready, the teacher appears. –Buddhist proverb

A Google search for the definition of a new term to me, ‘heritage speaker’, led me to a blog series by Lisa Bradley who writes at Cafe Nowhere. Lisa’s blog is a gold mine of information and I was happy to land in her’ Cafe’. I especially enjoyed her series, Writing Latin@ Characters Well, where I found the answers to questions about the complicated business of using Spanish words and phrases in novels.

My novel, A Decent Woman, debuts this autumn with Spanish words sprinkled throughout the story. I’m a native Spanish speaker, so it was natural for me to include them as I wrote the story.

The questions rattling in my brain this week,( besides the questions of when the City Public Works will collect the debris from my neighbor’s downed tree branches now littering my sidewalk), were:

1. Should I italicize the Spanish words and phrases in  A Decent Woman? What about my character’s thoughts? Should they be italicized?

2. Is it best to offer the meaning of Spanish words and phrases within the text, or place a comma after the Spanish word and use the English word in the same sentence?

3. Should I include a glossary at the end of the novel for non-Spanish speaking readers?

4. Am I missing important differences between 1900 Cuban and Puerto Rican slang, words, and phrases? Important to know as A Decent Woman is historical fiction. I wouldn’t want to get caught making a faux pas. See right there? I automatically italicized the French word.

5. What were Puerto Rican Spanish curse words used in 1900-1930? Yes, I need to know this!

Thoughts and light bulb moments I gleaned today from a few of Lisa Bradley’s blog posts, and from her reader’s comments as they pertain to my novel:

1. Me – Do not use names for characters that require accents marks. I used the names, Raúl, Agustín, Isabél, and Vicénte in A Decent Woman. Great names, but what a pain when it came time to edit! I kept finding names with missing accent marks during editing. I have since replaced Raúl with Isidro because it’s an older name, and learned about the ‘find’ and ‘replace’ feature on Microsoft Word. I’m no longer hesitant to use great names with accents. I learn every day.

2. Do not italicize Spanish phrases or words in a book. Potential readers and buyers will (hopefully) have read the book cover blurb and/or the synopsis on Amazon or Goodreads. If the author has written a good description, synopsis or blurb, the reader will know to expect some Spanish words.

3. Readers will rise to the challenge; don’t dumb down text with translations of Spanish words. I’ve read books with French and German words in the story; a talented writer will offer the meaning of the word or phrase within the text. A very talented author will make you think you haven’t missed a beat as you read along.

4. No glossary. Same reason as #3.

5. I’m still searching for the answer to my question about whether thoughts should be italicized in a novel. I’m sure my editor extraordinaire, Ally Bishop, will know the answer to that, so I’m leaving that one alone for now!

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments!

Thanks for your visit today! Click Like and Follow, please. I will do the same!

Definition of a Heritage Speaker: “a person who is raised in a home where a non-English language is spoken, who speaks or merely understands the heritage language, and who is to some degree bilingual in English and the heritage language” (Valdés, 2000)

Link to Cafe Nowhere:


Choosing the Right Book Cover and Title


At a recent gathering, a woman I’d just met, joked – ‘I’m not decent enough to read A DECENT WOMAN.’ A couple of weeks later, another person said the same thing. While I understood they were joking, I started thinking about the importance of a great title and awesome book covers.

As a reader, I love asking authors how they came up with their titles and book covers. My recent experiences with the jokes prompted a conversation with my best friend who suggested I write a blog post about how I came up with the title of my historical novel, and why I selected an image of a bare-breasted black woman for the book cover. Thanks for the great suggestion, K!

During the writing and editing of a novel, a writer is very close to their story, so much so, they may forget readers are from every part of the world, speaking dozens of languages, and have entirely different life experiences to ours. Reader’s interpretation of book titles, book covers, and stories will be as varied as grains of sand on the ocean floor. Now, while an author can’t control how their title, book cover image, and their story are received and interpreted by a reader, she can write blog posts about how I came up with my title and book cover image!

The title, A DECENT WOMAN, and the image on my book cover are perfect for my historical novel.


I chose to use a portion of an image of the painting, Portrait d’une Negresse by Marie-Guillemine Benoist because I fell in love with the painting during one of my many visits to Paris. Years after I finished my manuscript, I discovered the symbolism this painting inspired when it was exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1880 – the emancipation of women, the abolishment of slavery, and the rights of black people. I was thrilled. The protagonist of A DECENT WOMAN, freed slave, Ana Belén, is a single midwife living in 1900 Puerto Rico who fights society and male medical doctors as they enter the birthing room. Perfect.

I sent my ideas along with a copy of the vintage-inspired font to the cover designer I’m working on for this project, Greg Simanson, and he put together the awesome cover. I’m sure Greg will do as great a job on the back cover, as well. I leave that to the cover designer pros!


The original manuscript of A DECENT WOMAN was called, ‘The House on Luna Street’. My Puerto Rican grandparents lived on Luna Street in Ponce, Puerto Rico before they moved from the city center to the suburbs. I later discovered Rosario Ferré’s novel, ‘The House on the Lagoon’ and the novel, ‘House on Mango Street’ by Sandra Cisneros. Too close for my comfort. After much deliberation, I scrapped the title and filed the photograph I’d taken of an old front door painted light aqua with a half-moon cut out for a future book. Now, I’m very happy I didn’t use that title– it no longer fits the novel that evolved after rewrites and a bit more research.

Through my research of turn of the century Puerto Rico, I realized the themes of my story were decency and indecency, and the dark side of our personality that often comes out when we are abused, lost, desperate, struggling, and poor. I explored how easily good people can fall into indecent situations that lead them to the dark side. I continued exploring themes and the word ‘decent’ kept popping up, but I still couldn’t come up with a title.  Sometimes the simplest and amazing titles are the ones right under our noses!

The character of Ana Belén, a hard-working woman who struggles to lead a decent, honest life, is plagued by a crime she committed as a slave in Cuba. Her dark past must remain a secret if she is to continue working as a midwife in Puerto Rico. When a second crime is committed, this time on Ana’s behalf, the themes of light, forgiveness, and redemption enter the last half of the book.  You will have to read my book to see what, why, where and how Ana deals with all that!  The title fit and stuck.

A DECENT WOMAN is a story of betrayal and choices, sacrifice and love. The combustive backdrop of 1900 Puerto Rico after the United States invasion of the island offers a provocative look into the complex lives of women of that era.




The Indomitable Miss Jeannie ‘Smith’

When we speed through our days, small gifts of heart-warming moments and meaningful life experiences can easily slip through our fingers. I was blessed with such a moment at my neighborhood Staples store this week. The Universe conspired with the Heavens the day I met the indomitable, eighty-plus year old, Miss Jeannie. I’m very glad I had nowhere to rush to that day.

I was waiting at the counter for my printing order when an elderly black woman approached. I was immediately drawn to her. She wore a short-sleeved floral blouse with a safety pin attached to one button, and a plaid skirt that hugged her calves. I noticed another safety pin holding her skirt together at the waist.

The young man helping me waved at her and asked if she had a little time to wait as he was working on my order. She smiled warmly and said, “I have all the time in the world,” to which he replied, “You’re the best, Miss Jeannie! Be with you just as soon as I can.”

“I come in here once a week,” she told me. I loved her warm energy. She told me she speaks at her church about health and wellness. I was impressed. I introduced myself and thanked the diminutive Miss Jeannie for her patience, adding I didn’t think it would take much longer for my order.

“No problem, honey,” she said with a beautiful smile. She inched over and placed a well-worn 8×12 collage on the counter. “I only need one enlarged copy and don’t mind waiting. What else do I have to do today? Nothing on my agenda!”

What a doll, I thought. She smoothed back her short gray hair with an elegant hand and asked my opinion about removing a specific photo she’d taped to the collage. I said the poster looked great and congratulated her on her artistic eye which made her giggle. Then, her dark eyes twinkled as if in anticipation of a big secret. “Watcha waitin’ on?”

“Oh! I’m waiting for a poster of my book cover, 500 postcards, and 500 business cards to hand out at a book festival I’m participating in on Saturday. I want to be prepared, Miss Jeannie!” She agreed and I immediately felt bad about having such a large order ahead of her.  I told the young man to wait on Miss Jeannie and I’d return before the store’s closing time to pick up my stuff. I surely didn’t want her leave on my account.

She held up her hand. “No, I will wait my turn. Tell me what your book.”

Now, I’ve written dozens of query letters regarding my book and I’ve blogged about my book for years. Do you, dear reader, think I could give this kind lady a brief synopsis about my book? Negative. Nothing and everything came to mind! In my urge to include everything, I came up with nothing. Why was I so nervous? So, I read her the short synopsis of my historical novel, A Decent Woman, as it was printed on the sample postcard:

‘At the turn of the century, male-dominated Puerto Rico was a chaotic, uncertain, and hard place for a woman to survive; especially one with a secretive past, which if discovered, threatens her future. With twenty years of slavery behind her, Afro-Cuban Ana Belén, is a midwife who reverently fuses Catholicism with her vivid ancestral Yoruba traditions. Ana forms an unlikely friendship with a Puerto Rican socialite that sustains them through years of parallel tragedies and the betrayals of men who want to rule them.

Spell-binding and insightful, A Decent Woman is a story of fate, choices, sacrifice and love. The combustive backdrop of 1900 Puerto Rico after the United States invasion of the island offers a provocative look into the complex lives of women of that era.’

“May I see the postcard?” I handed it to her. As she read, I wondered if she was surprised or confused by something I’d said. I didn’t know why I felt a bit anxious, but I did.

“You wrote this book?” I nodded. “Well, now.  A black heroine.” I nodded and she looked up at me with curious eyes. “Why did you write this story?” Despite her gentle and kind tone of voice, my throat seemed to close a bit.

“Well, I was born in Puerto Rico and the character of the midwife Ana was based on my Puerto Rican grandmother’s midwife who delivered my mother and her siblings.” I then showed her the image of the book cover from my cell phone. It all seemed to come together for her. Well, that Miss Jeannie lowered her reading glasses, looked at me intently and said, “Young lady, I’m going to buy this book of yours and can’t wait to tell the church ladies about it!” The church ladies! Oh, oh. My story has crime, punishment, love, sex, murder, abuse…

I moved in closer and said in a low voice, “Now Miss Jeannie, this book is kinda raw. It’s not a love story, okay?”

“Yes, I already gathered that,” she said, holding up the postcard, laughing. We shared a good laugh and I greatly relieved she might not hand the postcard back to me before leaving the store.

“The lives of  women in 1900 Puerto Rico were difficult and challenging, and the lives of Afro-Caribbean women were nearly impossible. Sometimes they got caught up in less than desirable situations because of what life threw at them.”

Miss Jeannie was thoughtful and then nodded. “Oh, I understand that. My girl, you were chosen to write this story and you tell the TRUTH, you hear?”

“I’ve told the truth, Miss Jeannie,” I answered with tears forming in the corners of my eyes. Why was I so emotional? “I’ve done a lot of research and spoken to many women with good memories, but it’s also a work of fiction.”

“I get it. You are giving a voice to the women who didn’t have a voice back then.” I agreed with her. I answered her questions about slavery in the West Indies and about African influences in Puerto Rican language, food, music and culture. Miss Jeannie seemed pleased with what she heard and then, we spoke about Puerto Rico which had been on her bucket list for years. “I’ll never get there, you know. I don’t have a passport anymore, so I’ll read your book and feel like I’ve just taken a trip to the islands!” Well, I wanted to adopt Miss Jeannie right then and there.

Through our conversation, I learned she’d worked as a nurse at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC for  over twenty-five years. We discovered we’re both ex-pats in our adopted state of West Virginia. She has three children, nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. She beamed as she gave me the names and ages of every single one.  Miss Jeannie is sharp as a tack and a pure joy to know.

Minutes later, the young man handed me a box containing my postcards and business cards, and the poster of my book cover. I paid, thanked him for his super work, and hugged Miss Jeannie. I offered her twenty postcards to give out to her church ladies! She asked me to autograph a postcard for her which made me smile. When I turned to leave, I heard her say, “You know, I’ve changed my mind about enlarging this poster. I’ll see you next week, young man.”

Driving home, I smiled at how nervous I’d been giving her the synopsis, of receiving her feedback, and possibly of an early negative review from her! I think she enjoyed our conversation as much as I did. I will never forget Miss Jeannie. When my book comes out in the fall, I will return to Staples with an autographed copy of A Decent Woman for her as I didn’t think to ask for her contact information before I left. I hope I see her again.

Miss Jeannie was on my mind today and I wanted to share this story with you before the weekend gets away from me. Let’s remember to take the time to sit and visit with our elderly relatives, friends and neighbors. They have much to teach us. This kind lady tested me as a writer, a Latina, and as a woman. Thanks to her and the great experience I had at the Berkeley Springs WV Book Festival, I now have the short synopsis of my book memorized!

Thanks, Miss Jeannie! God bless you. XO