Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Ocotillo Dreams", an Appreciation

I recently read Melinda Palacio's wonderful "Ocotillo Dreams" and have been thinking about it quite a bit. If you don't know the versatile and talented Ms Palacio, check out her site here. She's probably best known as a poet, but she's also a blogger, speaker, and now, a novelist to be reckoned with.
Like Isola, the heroine of "Ocotillo Dreams," I grew up in a family that sometimes embraced and sometimes barely balanced between two cultures; I have found myself fascinated more and more by my own blended culture--and drawn to others' hybrid identities--as each year passes.
I also grew up with a mother who challenged stereotypes, and created her own persona--part hippy, part activist, part "earth mother", and always her own woman--so I could relate to Isola's mixture of embarrassment and pride in her own mom.
The novel's story is deceptively simple--Isola comes to Arizona to settle her late mom's "estate" and finds herself involved with some undocumented workers that have crossed and are crossing the border. But the story is not the whole story--the deeper tale is one of identity, self-awareness, and belonging. Isola must learn about herself in order to learn about her mother--and in order to find her life's deeper purpose.
For those of us who live on the border, and confront these challenges daily, the book's characters and locations will feel specific and familiar, but no less intriguing for all that. For those unfamiliar with the Southwest U.S. and our border issues, this book is a great way to explore the territory and the culture--but more than all that, readers will be drawn into the novel and soon care deeply about the people they meet in its pages.
This week I've switched literary gears a few times--I finished the Hunger Games series, am currently reading "Black and White" Wes Albers debut police novel, set in San Diego. And of course, I'm preparing for the YA fiction class I'm teaching on March 31st at San Diego Writer's Ink.
Meanwhile, the wind is gusting hard under a bright blue sky--blowing my little boat about at its mooring, reminding me who is boss. Nature, that is.
hasta pronto!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

SDLFF and Pitch Witches with new link

I'm having a great week at the San Diego Latino Film Festival--so far my favorites are "Mosquita Y Mari" and "Mamitas". Today it's the Frontera Films showcase--more than an hour of very short films, all about the border, or made by border filmmakers, or about the border experience.
Just saw that my friend Marla Miller has posted her video class of the "Pitch Witches" workshop we did at SCWC. Here is the link to her site--it is at the top of the page right now.
I am reading book two of the "Hunger Games" series...and I just finished the marvelous "Ocotillo Dreams" by Melinda Palacio--stay tuned for the book review...I'm off to get ready to see more films--hasta pronto!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Writing, Pitching, & Selling Young Adult Fiction

To those authors working on Young Adult fiction...I'm teaching a class this month at San Diego Writers' Ink, called Writing, Pitching and Selling Fiction for Young Adults (YA). The class will be held at the Ink Spot on Sat March 31st from 2:30 to 5:30.
I've worked with quite a few YA authors in the last few years--on everything from story arc and plot construction to book distribution--including marketing and social media. Most of them are now published or represented.
We'll talk about what makes successful YA books "tick", how to find and pitch to agents and publishers, and how to market and sell your books. Yes, I know that is a lot to cover in 3 hours, but we're gonna do it!
Bring your query letter or a short synopsis, or just a verbal "pitch" of what you're writing, or what you want to write. Don't forget to bring lots of questions...and pass this along to all those YA writers you know.
I hope to see you there,
hasta pronto!