Still Writing and In Quarantine

March 26, 2020

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

This morning, I awoke ahead of the alarm to be ready for a delivery of seven bags of soil from Lowe’s; it’s that time again. I timed the delivery right as it’s supposed to be sunny later today. What I need at this time is a day in my garden for my mental health and for a bit of vitamin D.

I lay in bed, grateful for the doctors, nurses, mental health workers, and health care aides across the country, and worried for all of us in light of the government’s inaction in enacting the Defense Production Act. I’m trying to remain positive, but it’s getting more difficult to muster up any positive thoughts about this president and this administration. Honestly, I’m furious. Sorry, not sorry.  And I’m not alone.

This morning, I didn’t check my phone or turn on the news, probably because last night, I watched nonstop. I literally clicked between CNN and MSNBC. Anyway, within ten minutes of waking up, I was teary-eyed. I didn’t even feel it coming. After a good cry, I felt a little better and not as hopeless about the lethal spread of this deadly virus, knowing full well the news of the day would probably erase all the positive thoughts. Instead of allowing myself to “go there” again, I concentrated on remaining positive and grounded. I prayed for protection and good health for my kids and for my family and friends, and I offered up prayers for the world and for the end of this horrible outbreak. I prayed for negative results for anyone awaiting test results at this time, especially a wonderful nurse in Virginia I am fortunate to call a friend, who, along with some family members, is showing all the reported symptoms.

Then, I had a talk with myself. I’m fine. My children and my family are fine. In light of those who are at high risk for exposure and who are working nonstop for us–our doctors, nurses, health care workers, mental health therapists, and counselors–we are fine. I thought of other heroes on the front line, who are supporting us all during this frightening time–the people working in our grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and testing sites. God bless them and keep them all safe and healthy.

Unfortunately, those good thoughts turned into anger. That’s how it is these days, my emotions are up and down, positive and negative, spiritual and open to closed and angry. I felt anger (rage) toward anyone who chooses the economy and the almighty dollar over the health and well-being of the American population. Trump needs to sign the coronavirus stimulus bill already and evoke the Defense Production Bill now. No one seems to know or is willing to tell the American public why he is dragging his feet?? Doctors and nurses need all the supplies they keep asking for (and more!) like yesterday, two months ago, for their fight to save American lives and keep themselves safe from this virus. What is the damn hold up?

Praying. Trying to remain calm and praying some more. And not freaking out when I feel a tiny ache in my shoulder, a cough out of nowhere, and do I feel a bit feverish? Shit.

***

March 27, 2020

Ever since my mother put a pencil, bond paper (as it was called in the olden days), and crayons in my hand, I was hooked on art. I’ve kept drawings that go back to my early teen years. After my beautiful mother passed away in 1992, I found several Mother’s Day cards I’d made for her over the years. They are precious to me.

As a young mother, I loved drawing and doing crafts with my kids, which kept up my drawing skills and fed my creative spirit. I imagine like most parents, I keep a few Rubbermaid containers in the attic with my kid’s early drawings, school papers, and art projects. Actually, I have way too much of their school stuff that includes their middle school, high school, and university sports gear, trophies, clothing, and diplomas. They really do need to collect this stuff one day. Who am I kidding, they’re both in their 30s; it’s not going anywhere unless I hold a major yard sale. When this is all over….nope, not going there with anything negative today. Hell, no.

When my children were in elementary school, I began to study with a local watercolor artist, who encouraged me to exhibit for the first time in my life and to sell my watercolor pieces. I did quite well. Two years later, my then-husband was offered a posting at NATO. We shipped everything, including our mud-brown Toyota minivan and arrived in Brussels, Belgium at the end of summer 1994. I’d lived in Europe twice before as a child and as a kid in middle school. That tour was my first time living abroad as a young mother of a young child and an infant.

A few years later, In 1995 or 1996, I joined a group of international and local artists and writers. Together, we formed the first English-speaking art guilds in Brussels, that’s still going strong today. In addition to holding different positions within the guild, I continued to paint and exhibit. I sold my work and began accepting commissions, which didn’t last long. I didn’t enjoy painting people’s homes or their pets; not because I don’t love architectural renderings or pet portraiture, I didn’t enjoy how picky and demanding people can be when they’re paying, smile.

I continued to sell my paintings and around the end of 1999, I added collage and pastel to my repertoire. In 2000, I read Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way”. In 2001, I organized my first creative cluster with six friends. By 2004, I’d facilitated three or four groups in Brussels (I can’t remember now for some reason), and in 2005, I finished the draft manuscript of my first novel called  “A Decent Woman”. I’ve written many blog posts about my writing journey, so I won’t repeat myself too much, but what happened is that writing overtook painting and it became my passion.

I don’t know why I wrote all that. I suppose it’s a reminder that I am a creative being and that’s what I do best. Creativity has always fed, inspired, led, and grounded me. That’s no different now, but cable TV is encroaching on my creative life. I want to know what’s going on, but I don’t need it all in my face 24/7.

Be well, be safe, stay home, be kind.

Eleanor x

***

March 28, 2020

I’ve been a writer for ten years and have lived in a hermit bubble without cable TV for the same amount of time, which is perfect for a writer. A month ago, I had but a few outside distractions (excluding family, they are not distractions; they are lovely), other than those I allowed into my life. I focused on writing, editing, and rewriting my work-in-progress called “The Laments”. Even when coronavirus reared its’ ugly head in Asia and I was worried as hell, I was able to gather up whatever writers need to keep themselves at the writing desk. It wasn’t easy. I did my best to keep writing through my fears and anxiety.

Two weeks ago, I realized if I want to keep in touch with the outside world and global news, and not risk my life going out for the daily newspaper, I had to act. It occurred to me that Comcast support might stop going to people’s homes to install cable, so I called. Two days later, I had cable.

Now I have mixed emotions about the wisdom of that decision. I spent nearly a week glued to the TV and what that did my anxiety was to shoot it up to unhealthy levels. Yes, I was caught up with minute by minute news alerts and breaking news, I watched good films on Amazon Prime and new series on Netflix, but dear God, it was too much for my hermit psyche. My body, my nervous system to be exact, was overloaded.

On Friday, I limited myself to only watching MSNBC in the evenings, starting at six in the evening until 11. That’s still a lot of television, but it also kept me at the writing desk and I began to plant seedlings for my vegetable and flower garden in trays and empty egg cartons and berry containers. By Saturday, I’d limited my television viewing to watching Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefing and I stopped watching the White House briefing for my sanity and to keep anger levels down…it worked.

Early this morning, a thunderstorm woke me up and it’s raining hard. No gardening today. When I turned up the volume on my cell phone, at least a dozen notifications popped up from the news channels–the 2$ Trillion Bill, the largest relief package in modern history passed and Trump signed it. Thank God. There is anger simmering, though. I try my best to squash it and to remain positive and hopeful.

Yesterday, I learned something new: stress can bring about low-grade fevers. I know stress can mess with our immune systems and cause disease, but the fever information was interesting.

There are reports of severe weather from northern Illinois to the Ohio Valley and in the south that brought (or is still bringing) tornadoes, damaging winds, and giant balls of hail. What the hell is going on with the planet? Pacha Mama is royally pissed off.

Many countries are reporting wildlife critters roaming in the cities: dolphins in Venice canals and on the island of Sardinia; pumas in Chile; wild boars in Italy and Spain, and a lone wolf was recently spotted in the mountains France. Animals are reclaiming our cities. You just can’t make this shit up. We are truly living in a new world.

Be safe, be calm, be kind, and big hugs. Prayers for the world.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Me in March 2020

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning, debut novel, A DECENT WOMAN, set in 1900 Puerto Rico, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses. Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, THE LAMENTS, set in 1927 Puerto Rico.

 

 

New Day, New Decade, New Books

Happy 2020!

Whether you chose a party with friends, a dinner with a loved one, or a quiet night at home with your thoughts and a beloved pet, I hope you enjoyed ringing in the new decade. However you chose to celebrate the last night of 2019, it was momentous. A new day has dawned. A new decade has begun and it’s exciting.

Last night, I heard someone describe the new decade as the roaring ’20s, which resonated with me. I feel a new blog post coming on, smile.

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“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.”
– Anaïs Nin

This quote rings true for me. I stopped making New Year resolutions years ago. Oh sure, I’ve joined a gym, all gung-ho to lose the extra pounds and by February 1st, I was done. The new running shoes and yoga pants became part of my daily uniform. I swear to quit smoking several times a year, tried e-cigarettes with all good intentions last year, and that didn’t work (cold turkey is the only way to quit). I vow to throw out, give away my hundreds of books to friends and strangers, but find it difficult to part with books. A few years ago, my daughter kindly gifted me a Kindle and that worked well for maybe a year, but there is nothing like holding a book. Some day, I’ll go through all my books and again gift some to my local library. Some day.

Writing and perfecting my craft is my long-range plan each year. I write full-time, so this makes perfect sense to me. I approach writing (and life) with a strong feeling, no, an urgency, that life is short. Unfortunately, life taught me with my beloved mother’s passing in 1992 that life can be short for some of us. So since 1992, I’ve tried to live each day as if it’s my last day on earth. My father developed Alzheimer’s in his early 70s and that also serves as a reminder not to waste time. I’m not saying I live in fear, mind you. No, it’s the urgency that motivates me to write as many books and poems as I can and to paint while I’m here.

This Christmas, I received three books on writing by A.M. Weiland, a beautiful journal for 2020, and I bought three books on plot and structure, dialogue, and creating character arcs by James Scott Bell, a new author for me. Six more books for my writing arsenal!

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

I’m not a Virgo who enjoys a strict routine of doing the same thing day in and day out. I’m not speaking about my writing routine, though. I’m talking about having my nails done every Friday or having a standing hair or medical appointment each month. Inevitably, I always reschedule. When I’m at the writing desk, I lose total track of time and my sleep schedule isn’t “normal”. When I’m in the writing flow, I’m productive and it doesn’t matter if the sun is coming up and I fall asleep at noon or 1 pm. I live alone, so the only one possibly bothered by my vampire hours, as I can them, is Sophie, my Chihuahua. God bless her wee little heart, as my Irish friend would say. The only routine I’ve stuck to for decades is my morning routine (whenever I wake up): stretching in bed, praying, meditating, drinking a cup of hot water with lemon, and writing in my journal, which I love. I write and let it go into the Universe.

What I will do this year is to be kinder, more compassionate, and gentle with myself. I will welcome mystery and the unknown. I will stop apologizing for this or that. Instead, I will release and remain grateful for the lessons. I will raise my vibration and reincorporate yoga into my life, maybe Tai Chi, who knows? My body, mind, and soul need all that on this new day, in this new year, and in this new decade. I will continue to listen to the urgency within and take more chances and risks in life and love, and in writing and art. Time waits for no woman.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, back to writing and editing poems. I crossed off several items on my bucket list in 2019 and traveled to Thailand and Florida with my children, which made me very happy. Now, I buckle down. I have books to finish and art to make.

May we speak truth to power in our words, deeds, and in our writing. May we always remember to honor and respect Gaia, the ancestral mother of all life. May we remember the forgotten, the marginalized, the lost and jailed children, the separated families at the border, and may we continue to fight against racism, the patriarchy, hatred, and world-wide violence against women and children.

I guess I do have a few 2020 resolutions. Welcome, 2020. Happy writing to you.

“What I love about now is that it is always a beginning.” – Byron Katie

Eleanor 

About Eleanor:

me in ma july 2019

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning 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, and was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, Latina Authors and Their Muses.

Eleanor currently lives in Berkeley County, West Virginia, where she is working on her second novel, The Laments, set in 1927 Old San Juan and Isla de Cabras, Puerto Rico. Look for The Laments in 2020.

BUY THE BOOK:

A Decent Woman Flat (1)

https://www.amazon.com/Decent-Woman-Eleanor-Parker-Sapia/dp/1941058876/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=a+decent+woman+by+eleanor+parker+sepia&qid=1576099888&sr=8-1-fkmr0

 

 

Back to writing!

Hello, friends of this blog!

I hope you enjoyed your summer with your loved ones! I packed away my WIP and all the research material to set off for visits with family and friends in mid-July. I usually try to take July and August off in search of rest, rejuvenation, and inspiration, and this year was no different. I’ve discovered the harder I work at writing and research throughout the year (and I worked hard!), the better the summer break. This summer was great fun, so I thought it would be easy to get organized and to return to the writing desk–not the case! I found it difficult despite getting to a place in the novel in late June where I felt good despite knowing it was not ready for an editor’s eyes just yet.

So, after unpacking and giving my home a thorough cleaning, I unpacked the manuscript, pulled out the bulging research notebooks, and bought new pens, highlighters, and sticky tabs. I bought a new calendar, moved my writing desk to a quiet corner of my living room and fired up the laptop. I did what I do every September after vacation, I tried to psych myself up to write again by rereading where I left off. I liked what I read. I edited a few pages while reminding myself not to edit too much (I am guilty of this during the writing process) because I believe it’s better to allow the writing to flow without editing. But…the words didn’t come as they usually do.

I just needed more inspiration, I told myself. So, since I hadn’t read a single book over the summer and hadn’t watched many movies, I turned to Amazon and Netflix. I searched for books and films with the topics and themes of The Laments. Of course, I found a book along with films starring Catherine Deneuve and Audrey Tautou–two of my favorite actresses. I ordered the book and unsubscribed from The Rachel Maddow Show blog to keep me focused and on task.

Did I find the perfect inspiration to finish my novel? While I enjoyed the book, I’d broken my writing “rule” to stay away from reading when I’m writing. I know nothing these days is 100% original, but reading other’s words is not helpful for me during the writing process. So, I caught up with The Handmaid’s Tale. I know, I know, but I love that series.

When I finally got fed up and remembered that nothing is promised to us, my dear friend and master writer Jack’s words came to mind, “Quit whining. Write.”

So with this first blog post of September 2019, I’m back to writing.

Happy writing and reading to you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ellie

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning 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 to 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 currently lives in her adopted state of West Virginia.

 

 

 

 

Summer 2019 Update

Happy Summer to you, dear reader!

Me at the wedding June 2019

June was a special month of much joy and long-awaited reunions with my family. In early June, I enjoyed six fun-filled days with my daughter, my son, and his girlfriend in Capon Bridge, WV after their year in Asia. We kayaked and fished on the Great Cacapon River; cooked together and enjoyed Portuguese wines (courtesy of my son and his girlfriend); laughed and hugged, and made new memories. 🧡

Last week, I spent four fun days in Maryland with a cousin and my sister before her daughter tied the knot, and this past weekend, our family members and friends traveled from MA, OH, GA, MD, and VA to share the joy at my niece’s beautiful wedding ceremony and fun-filled reception at Celebrations at the Bay in Pasadena, Maryland with breathtaking views of the Bay at sunset. It was magical. My Polish/Russian and Puerto Rican clans sure can party and party, we did!

Last night, my son and his girlfriend flew back to Asia. Of course, as a mom, I have mixed emotions about that, but they are happy, so I am happy for them. My daughter is thinking about new adventures herself, especially about joining me in visiting my son and his lovely girlfriend in Thailand this fall. We are excited to see them again!

So life goes on, and I do what I always do—take off enough time during the summer months to enjoy life and my loved ones. And to make sure my second book, The Laments, (published next year) is the best novel possible, I will be working with someone special, with whom I’ve wanted to work with for a few years now. More details about that later!

Enjoy your summer and your families, my friends, and keep calling your state representatives—No more family separations at the border! Reunite the families!

Note to self: Learn how to apply lashes before the wedding day 🙂

Be well and be happy.

Eleanor x

16 Puerto Rican Woman and Non-Binary Writers Telling New Stories

16 Puerto Rican Women and Non-Binary Writers Telling New Stories

Dr. Ivelisse Rodriguez, author of Love War Stories, on the writers who are changing the topography of Puerto Rican literature

In 1916, Bernardo Vega boards a ship in San Juan, Puerto Rico to come to New York City — this journey, this life as a Puerto Rican in the pioneer phase of migration, where on average 2,000 Puerto Ricans were migrating to the continental U.S., is chronicled in theMemoirs of Bernardo Vega.

Purchase the book

In 1993, Esmeralda Santiago published When I Was Puerto Rican, an endearing memoir about a young girl’s life in Puerto Rico and her eventual migration to the U.S. Between Vega and Santiago, there are other canonical Puerto Rican texts published — what connects them all are ideas of migration, identity, belonging, and facing racism in the continental U.S.

As of 2013, approximately 5 million Puerto Ricans reside in the mainland U.S. and these 16 non-binary and women writers are adding new narratives to the history of Puerto Rican writing. Their fiction, essays, and poetry focuses on blackness and slavery, queerness, the sexual and romantic lives of women, racial passing, and African-based religions, and so much more. These are the writers to watch to see how they change the topography of Puerto Rican literature.

15 Views of Miami by Jaquira Díaz

In the 1970s, Nicholasa Mohr captured Puerto Rican girlhood, and today the Southern Review has said “Jaquira Díaz illuminates the beauty and brutality of being a teenager.” She captures this in essays like “Girls, Monsters” about the awakening of sexual desire and the sexual threat all women experience and in “My Mother and Mercy” where Diaz recounts her estranged relationship with her mother and Mercy, her grandmother. She has also written about the Baby Lollipops murder case, belonging, and suicide. Diaz has been a fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and the Kenyon Review. Her work appears in Rolling StoneThe Guardian, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. Her memoir Ordinary Girlsand a novel are forthcoming from Algonquin Books.

Lo Terciario / The Tertiary by Raquel Salas Rivera

Raquel Salas Rivera, the 2018–19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, is the writer of Caneca de anhelos turbios, oropel/tinsel,and tierra intermitente, along with five chapbooksTheir latest book, lo terciario/the tertiary, utilizes a “decolonial queer critique and reconsideration of Marx” to respond to the PROMESA bill (Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act) regarding the Puerto Rican debt crisis. Their poem “landscape of old san juan” illustrates another of Salas Rivera’s themes: colonialism. “In the center of your chest there is a treasure / if you move the flower pots you’ll find/ your enemy curled up like a snake / he is the gravedigger / that keeps throwing dirt / in the pan.”

Now We Will Be Happy by Amina Gautier

Dr. Amina Lolita Gautier is the winner of the 2018 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. Dr. Gautier has published over 100 stories in literary journals and has three award-winning short story collections: At-Riskand The Loss of All Lost Things. The third book, Now We Will Be Happy, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction and highlights the lives of Afro-Puerto Ricans, those born on the mainland, and those who migrate to the US. The stories in the book cross “boundaries of comfort, culture, language, race, and tradition in unexpected ways, these characters struggle valiantly and doggedly to reconcile their fantasies of happiness with the realities of their existence.”

Stay With Me by Sandra Rodriguez Barron

Sandra Rodriguez Barron is the award-winning author of The Heiress of Water, a Borders Original Voices selection. The novel is about Monica Winters Borrero, a physical therapist who was raised in El Salvador until the death of her mother. In order to aid a comatose patient, Monica returns to El Salvador in search of a therapeutic treatment her mother had been researching. There, Monica will confront the past and the difficult relationship she had with her mother. Her second novel, Stay with Me, is about the life-long relationship between five kids who were abandoned in Puerto Rico and who forged their own family.

Unfinished Portrait: Poems by Luivette Resto

Luivette Resto tackles issues of identity, womanhood, motherhood, and romance. “No sucios for me! / No sucios for me! / No sucios for me!” one of the girls in her poems implores. Resto is the author of two books of poetry, Unfinished Portrait, a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, and Ascension. She is also a CantoMundo Fellow. While in her poetry she reaches back to connect with Puerto Rican poets like Julia de Burgos and Pedro Pietri and contends with similar themes, she approaches these timeless issues with a present-day eye so that “women find a sense of freedom to embrace all of the nuances and complexities of feminism and mujerismo.”

Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism edited by Danielle Barnhart & Iris Mahan, featuring Denice Frohman

Denice Frohman’s work “focuses on identity, social change, disrupting notions of power, and celebrating the parts of ourselves deemed unworthy.” For example, in “A queer girl’s ode to the piraguero,” she writes, “Oh, Piraguero! My first lover. / The only man I ever wanted / anything from. I sprinted half blocks for you, got off / the bus two stops early, took the long way home / just to see: your rainbow umbrella.” Her poem “Dear Straight People” went viral with over 2 million views. She is one of the “Top 20 Emerging LGBT Leaders” according to the Philadelphia Gay Newspaper. She is also a CantoMundo Fellow, a Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion, and the recipient of many other accolades.

A Decent Woman by Eleanor Parker Sapia

Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the award-winning, historical novel A Decent Woman, which is set in the late 1800s in Ponce, Puerto Rico and tells the story of the life-long friendship between midwife Ana and her friend Serafina. A class and racial division opens up between Ana and Serafina when Serafina marries into the upper echelons of Ponce society, and Ana remains in their impoverished neighborhood. Ana’s livelihood is jeopardized by the changing view that women should deliver in hospitals rather than at home with a midwife. This novel captures Ponce in a time of great advancement and exposes how all these shifts affect the lives of women.

Image result for Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay, featuring Vanessa Mártir

Vanessa Mártir is an essayist who was most recently published in the New York Times bestseller Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Cultureedited by Roxane Gay, as well as in Bitch MagazineSmokelong Quarterly, and the VONA/Voices Anthology Dismantle. Martír is the creator of the Writing Our Lives Workshop. She has written about growing up in Bushwick with two mothers in the 1980s, writers of color, motherhood, grief, and other topics. She is currently completing her memoir, A Dim Capacity for Wings.

Kingdom of Women by Rosalie Morales Kearns

Rosalie Morales Kearns, a writer of Puerto Rican and Pennsylvania Dutch descent, is the founder of the feminist publishing house Shade Mountain Press. Her novel Kingdom of Women is about Averil Parnell, a female Roman Catholic priest who has to decide what advice she is going to offer to a group of vigilante women who go after murderers, rapists, and child abusers. Virgins and Tricksters is Morales Kearns’ magic-realist short story collection. The Small Press Book Review raved:“It’s not that the stories are comfortable — these worlds of virgins, tricksters, wives, daughters — are fraught with complication and searching. Nor do they lack surprise: by blending precise realism with wild magic, Kearns subverts our expectations in subtle yet astounding ways.”

Scar on/Scar Off by Jennifer Maritza McCauley

Jennifer Maritza McCauley is a 2018 National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship winner and an Academy of American Poets Award recipient. Her first book is Scar On/Scar Off, a cross-genre poetry and prose text. The theme of scarring runs through the book — the scarring from being a woman, from having dual ethnic identities, and from dealing with racism. She is the Contest Editor at The Missouri Review. Her work has been selected as a “Short Story of the Day” by The Seattle Review of Books and a “Poem of the Week” by Split this Rock. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles ReviewPuerto del SolThe Feminist Wire, among other outlets. She has finished a historical novel set during the Reconstruction era.

Fish Out of Agua: My Life On Neither Side of the (Subway) Tracks by Michele Carlo

Michele Carlo’s Fish Out Of Agua: My Life on Neither Side of the (Subway) Tracks is a memoir about growing up as a redheaded, freckle-faced Puerto Rican in the Bronx during the 1970s. Throughout her youth, Carlo had to contend with being seen as white and not Puerto Rican. The memoir also chronicle’s her mother’s mental illness, the secrets that her family keeps, and how she comes into her own and becomes the artist she had always wanted to be. Carlo is also a performer who has appeared across the US, including The Moth’s GrandSlam and MainStage storytelling shows in NYC. Her current project is a radio show on Radio Free Brooklyn, where she interviews artists, activists, and educators.

The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho by Anjanette Delgado

Anjanette Delgado is an award-winning novelist, speaker, and journalist who has written or produced for media outlets, such as NBC, CNN, NPR, Univision, HBO, Telemundo, and Vogue Magazine’s LatAm and Mexico divisions, among others. Her award-winning romance novel The Heartbreak Pill is about scientist Erika Luna who sets out to create a pill to undo heartbreak. Her latest novel, The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho, is about Mariela Estevez whose clairvoyance kicks in when her lover is found murdered. Delgado is “fascinated with heartbreak, the different ways in which it occurs, and the consequences it brings.”

Homenaje a las guerreras/Homage to the Warrior Women by Peggy Robles-Alvarado

Peggy Robles-Alvarado is a writer and editor of several projects. She is the author of Conversations With My Skin, which is about the transformation of a pregnant and abused 15-year old who learns to define herself, and Homenaje a las guerreras/Homage to the Warrior Women, which pays tribute to women who “carry several lifetimes and dimensions within one frame and [who] learn how to properly balance them.” She is also the editor of The Abuela Stories Project, an anthology of writing and photography by women that is meant to challenge the notion of abuelas and their stories as inconsequential. Her latest book Mujeres, The Magic, The Movement and The Muse is an anthology “inspired by Taino, Lukumi and Palo traditions where women make connections to their muses through body and spirit.”

Daughters of the Stone by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s debut novel is Daughters of the Stone. Author Cristina Garcia enthuses, “Rejoice! Here is a novel you’ve never read before: the story of a long line of extraordinary Afro-Puerto Rican women silenced by history…Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa rescues them from oblivion.” Llanos-Figueroa’s novel follows the lives of five generation of women starting from Africa, moving to Puerto Rico, and ending in New York City. The novel was shortlisted for the 2010 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. Daughters of the Stone is the first novel in a series of five, and Llanos-Figueroa has completed her second novel, A Woman of Endurance, and is now working on her third novel.

Outside the Bones by Lyn Di Lorio

Dr. Lyn Di Lorio is a professor and was a consultant on Puerto Rican cultural matters for Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir, My Beloved WorldIn her book, Outside the Bones, protagonist Fina Mata unwittingly unleashes a powerful Palo spirit when she attempts to make her neighbor Chico fall in love with her. Outside the Bones is the first English language novel about Palo Monte, an Afro-Caribbean religion that stems from the Bantu-speaking people and their Caribbean descendants.

The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

For decades, young readers of color did not find themselves in the literature they read. But now, representation of Latinxs in young adult literature is on the rise. A recent book to fill this niche is Lilliam Rivera’s The Education of Margot Sanchez, which tells the story of Margot who is caught between her Puerto Rican world and the world of her prep school. Rivera was named a “2017 Face to Watch” by the Los Angeles Times.

Her next book, Dealing in Dreams, is forthcoming in March 2019; it’s a futuristic story about girl gangs and the leader’s desire to get off the streets and move up in the world.

About the Author

Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Ivelisse Rodriguez earned a PhD in English and creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MFA from Emerson College. She has published fiction in All about Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color, the Boston Review, the Bilingual Review, and others. She was a senior fiction editor at Kweli, a Kimbilio fellow, and a VONA/Voices alum.