The 19th International Latino Book Awards:  A Reflection of the Quality of Books By & For Latinos

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The 19th International Latino Book Awards:
A Reflection of the Quality of Books By & For Latinos
By Kirk Whisler

         

       The Int’l Latino Book Awards is a major reflection that the fastest growing group in the USA has truly arrived. The Awards are now by far the largest Latino cultural Awards in the USA and with the 233 finalists this year in 91 categories, it has honored the greatness of 2,404 authors and publishers over the past two decades. These books are a great reflection that books by and about Latinos are in high demand. In 2017 Latinos will purchase nearly $700 million in books in English and Spanish.
       The 2017 Finalists for the 19th Annual Int’l Latino Book Awards are another reflection of the growing quality of books by and about Latinos. In order to handle this large number of books, the Awards had 196 judges. The judges glowed more than ever about how hard the choices were. Judges shared how the books “Enriched my life” and how much they “Loved the books”. Another judge stated ‘This book appears as candy for the soul and senses’. Several dozen judges exclaimed ‘I could not put the book down until I finished.’ The Awards celebrates books in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Finalists are from across the USA and Puerto Rico, as well as from 20 countries outside the USA.
       This has been a great year of growth for Latino Literacy Now’s efforts. Our most recent Latino Book & Family Festival in San Bernardino was our 61st – and brought our combined attendance to over 900,000. The Int’l Society of Latino Authors is now just under a hundred members. Education Begins in the Home, a Latino Literacy Now program, has impacted literacy for over 25,000 people. The first formal event for the 2017 Finalist will be at the American Library Associations Conference at the end of June in Chicago. Latino Literacy Now is now an Affiliate of the ALA. The Award Winning Author Tour has 10 more events in just 2017.
       The Awards Cermony will be held September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles at the Dominguez Ballroom at California State University Dominguez Hills. This is part of the Award Winning Author Recognition Weekend that also includes the Award Winning Author Celebration Night on Friday, September 8th and the Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes on the 10th. The Awards are produced by Latino Literacy Now, an organization co-founded by Edward James Olmos and Kirk Whisler, and co-presented by Las Comadres de las Americas and REFORMA. Major sponsors include the California State University Dominguez Hills, Libros Publishing, and Scholastic.
ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA:

 

ellie

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:
www.eleanorparkersapia.com

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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! ❤

Eleanor

ABOUT ELEANOR:

ellie

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:
www.eleanorparkersapia.com

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Sometimes a visit to crazy town is necessary.

Earlier this week, nearly twenty days after my debut historical novel, A Decent Woman was published, I set about creating a to-do list that included, answering emails, writing articles for ezines, replying to author interview questions, and trying to keep up on social media sites I’m part of. The list of what I needed to accomplish post-publication seemed overwhelming, and I didn’t expect to feel new, strange emotions–I was a bit disoriented, and felt flustered and overwhelmed. The book I’d worked on for five years was no longer in my hands–it was in readers’ hands. All I could do was stand on the sidelines and watch my protagonists, Ana and Serafina, take over–it’s their story. At this point, my book, the story, must stand alone. I just happened to write it. But, of course, I got in my own way.

When A Decent Woman first came out, I was overwhelmed with feelings of pride and joy, much like a parent when their firstborn goes off to school. I was grateful to Booktrope Publishing for taking a chance on an historical novel about an Afro-Cuban midwife, who lives and works in Puerto Rico, and thankful to my publishing team, who were a dream to work with on this project. I was thrilled and grateful when readers left wonderful comments and reviews. I was humbled and felt dizzy. Much like my experiences when my adult kids left the nest, who are doing wonderful things in the world, by the way, I knew post-publication that it was time to get a life.

I realized I had to write another book, but how? I couldn’t concentrate, and in the first ten days, I obsessively checked Amazon, looking for new reviews so I could thank the kind reader (if I knew them). Checking my rankings on Amazon was a daily ritual, which I didn’t know how to do until my marketing guru, Anne told me where to look. Then, I realized being a best selling author is an hourly thing, and I soon gave that up. I now look weekly and hope that stops. During the first ten days, I found it difficult to have ‘normal’ conversations, and discovered it was extremely difficult not to mention my debut novel to the mailman, the guy at the post office as I mailed out copies of my book, and to the guy behind the deli counter, who loves historical fiction. I went a bit nutty reminding my very kind and tolerant family members and friends not to forget to post an honest review for A Decent Woman on Amazon. Sheesh.

I was sick of me, and this isn’t me. Although I know how important social media is, and how very important reviews are to an author, I lived alone for five years, writing and rewriting a story that  loved. In the pre-publication days when I was writing, I wouldn’t speak to a soul for days on end, save for a quick phone call, emails and texts to family and friends to catch up and let them know I was alive. I did talk with my cat and my Chihuahua, Sophie, who as it turns out, is an extremely good listener if you don’t mind her licking your face. I knew how to do all that. I just didn’t know how to be humble and a social animal, when all I wanted to do was write more books. Life is all about balance, and I wasn’t feeling particularly balanced right after publication.

So, I wrote an email to my friend and writing mentor to many writers, including myself, the master storyteller, Jack Remick. Sensing that I was experiencing, as he calls it, “Firstitis”, he kindly wrote back with a diagnosis that was spot on. He gave me the definition of this curable illness and the cure–get back to writing. Immediately. He was absolutely right. It was sage and timely advice from an incredibly talented writer and a composed, generous man to a discombobulated, but well meaning, new author.

Thank you, Jack. The craziness has diminished. I’m getting down to the business at hand–writing my second book–and I’m at peace. I should have written sooner, but I learned valuable lessons, and I’ve always learned the hard way.

Ana Belén, you are on your own, my love. I’m onto The Island of Goats, my second historical novel set in 1920 Puerto Rico and Spain. I’m getting to know my characters, Alta Gracia and India Meath, and accessing my experiences on the medieval route of El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, The Way of St. James, in Spain, which I walked with my then-teenage children.

But, I’ll see Ana and Serafina again when I get to writing the sequel to A Decent Woman called Mistress of Coffee.

Sometimes, you must visit crazy town to find peace and sanity again.

About Eleanor

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s life experiences as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is her debut historical novel. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children, and she currently lives in West Virginia.

A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon 

Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century: Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife with a tempestuous past. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past, but continues to hide an even more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest, Padre Vicénte, and young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must battle to preserve her twenty-five year career as the only midwife in La Playa.

Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small children, who marries an older wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. A crime against Serafina during her last pregnancy forever bonds her to Ana in an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.

Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of these two women as they battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change.

amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M

 

Great Kismet

You know the feeling you get when you visit a town or city and you feel completely at home like you were meant to live there? Berkeley Springs, West Virginia is that town for me.  Last weekend, I took a little road trip to the historic spa town of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia to attend the Uniquely West Virginia Wine and Food Festival hosted by the Ice House Community Center and Gallery. I expected to sample, offered by over a dozen vendors, great West Virginia wine and food and I wasn’t disappointed. Where wine and food make an appearance locally, in West Virginia and Virginia, I’m usually there.  What I didn’t expect on that chilly Saturday was meeting and making contact with three awesome women- local award-winning writer, Jeanne Mozier, Joyce Morningstar Barron, owner of Star Eagle Studio & Gardens in Berkeley Springs, and Lynn Lavin, owner of the Carrot Patch Pottery also in town. These women have already enriched my life, as author, artist and alternative health practitioner in many wonderful and mysterious ways.

Writer, Jeanne Mozier is the author of Way Out in West Virginia,  the novel Senate Magic, Images of Berkeley Springs: Historic Photos, and West Virginia Beauty: Familiar and Rare, a coffee table book with photographer Steve Shaluta.  What I later learned about Jeanne is that in addition to her earned degrees in political science from Cornell and Columbia universities, she also reads Tarot cards, gives astrology and palm readings, and she is the founder of Morgan Arts Council. This is a woman I want to get to know better.

I had a great chat with this fun lady who graciously invited me to share my historical novel, A Decent Woman, out in June 2014, and to offer a short talk on reviewing books at the Berkeley Springs Bookfest  on June 14. I was thrilled!

As one radio host characterized Jeanne: “Ivy League educated, CIA indoctrinated, West Virginia marinated.” It’s a potent combination that makes for fun reading what Jeanne writes.

From Jeanne’s Goodreads page:

Jeanne has practiced astrology for more than 40 years using it to analyze and project social and political trends as well as applying astrological insight to individual lives. A “full service oracle” she also consults tarot cards, Nordic runes and reads palms. She lectures widely delivering annual Oracles talks.

Currently, Jeanne lives with her husband in the historic spa town of Berkeley Springs, WV where they own and operate the Star Theatre, a vintage movie house. A noted social entrepreneur and popular writer, Jeanne has accumulated many honors and awards in her years of creating an enclave for all things and people with a slightly different perspective. 

I thank my lucky stars that I met author, Oracle and all-around fun lady, Jeanne Mozier, on Saturday! I’m excited to read my autographed copy of her book, Images of Berkeley Springs: Historic Photos. I invite you to discover this talented author and  her adopted hometown of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. I would move to Berkeley Springs in a heartbeat and might just see about selling my house in order to move to this artsy town!

http://www.starwv.com

I will be contacting Morningstar about the 16th Annual Festival of Light Psychic Fair and Alternative Health Expo in Berkeley Springs to be held on November 8 and 9, and Lynne about an exhibit she is currently planning for July. Ya gotta love synchronicity and kismet!

 

Life’s Challenges, Surprises and Joyful Moments

Big sighs on this beautiful Spring morning. My son has decided to pack it up in Northern Virginia and move back to Europe.  Not an easy decision for him. What did I expect? I live in West Virginia where I’m growing roots, originally from Northern Virginia where my parents retired after my Dad’s Army career and before that, I was a citizen of the world. I understand my son’s feelings very well. I was an Army brat and later, an Army wife. It is a life I know and understand, living overseas and starting over. I’ve lived in five European cities in my life. Back and forth across the Atlantic. I just didn’t think my son would return so soon to start a new life in Europe, but it’s in his blood-travel and living the ex-pat life.

My kids were raised in Europe during our tours of duty. We lived in Brussels, Belgium for 13 years and that is home to them, but it doesn’t take away the heartache I feel this morning. My youngest is moving overseas. I tell myself that he isn’t going off to war, only moving an ocean away where we know he will be happier, but all that is little consolation this morning. I went to my neighbor’s house at 8 am this morning. She opened the door, gave me a hug, put the coffee on, and let me talk. It takes a lot for me to cry in front of others. I didn’t have a problem this morning. I hate appearing weak which I know is poppy cock. I can be strong during adversity and can hold it together for friends going through challenges and hardships but, I don’t give a rat’s ass about being strong this morning. My friend has said goodbye to two military sons who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, welcomed them home only to have them leave on another tour. This went on for years. I knew she was the person to speak to this morning and I am grateful that she was up early!

So not only do I have my historical fiction book, A Decent Woman, to publish this summer, frenzied marketing after the release,  my daughter’s university graduation in May and her wedding next Fall, I now have one month to spend with my son before he moves this May. Good Lord. All great opportunities, joyful celebrations and blessings, but sheesh. All at once.

So what do I have to do? How am I going to get this all done and still have my marbles in the end? How am I going to say goodbye to my son in one months’s time and again when my daughter and son-in-law get into the limo to start their new lives? With a smile and lots of tears and prayers.

I will do this and more by putting one foot in front of another. I’ve raised my children and they are going off into the world. As it should be and how I’ve always hoped and prayed. I couldn’t feel more proud, loved and grateful to be their mother. They are awesome young adults. So, it seems my life will change drastically in the coming month and there’s nothing I can do about it. I must continue moving forward and remember to be in the moment. I’m actually happy for the distractions of planning a wedding and getting my book ready for publication this summer. I will take it one day at a time and the future looks good. I am choosing joy.

I welcome, encourage and thank you in advance for following my author blog, The Writing Life.  April will begin with my first book review ever of Jack Remick’s fantastic book, Gabriella and the Widow and there are two author interviews in the works for you, as well.

So please put a smile on my face (you know I need it), follow my author blog here, find and friend me on Facebook Pinterest, LinkedIn, Goodreads and also on Twitter. I would love to hear from you and if you can relate to this blog post, please let me know. I could use some friendly comments, suggestions and advice! Thanks in advance!

Ellie