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:  http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK
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 one-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) like 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 case worker, 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  http://thekjdixonexperience.com/2015/06/30/a-decent-woman/

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 atwww.eleanorparkersapia.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/eleanorparkersapia, 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 back 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 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, I learned.

I learned to trust that some road blocks 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, but I’m a nice person. 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 are 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 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: