Friday, June 17, 2011

Flying Solo

The publication of Conversations with Rudolfo Anaya was the first time I saw my name on the cover of a book, as co-editor. The feeling was exhilarating. I knew I wanted to repeat it, and often.

Thirteen years and five books later—including two novels—the day of a new release still remains a special moment.

In my previous publishing experiences I counted with the backing of respected publishers, mostly university presses. But this time I decided to publish Love Made Visible: Reflections on Writing, Teaching, and Other Distractions on my own. The reason may seem unsustainable by logic, but it just felt like the right thing to do. This collection of writings does not require an intermediary. Besides, with the revolutionary changes in the world of self-publishing—with Amazon having now become the world’s largest “publisher,” as well as easily accessible to every writer—the risks are low, thereby making the adventure worth pursuing.

I assure every reader who has found something of value in my previous works that the quality of my writing holds to the same standards as when I’ve worked with traditional publishers. Love Made Visible is definitely not a rush job: it took eight years to write. And, as usual, a great deal of the credit for the book being such a smooth read belong to Nina Forsythe and my wife Erinn, who were excellent editors of both of my novels. (My third beloved editor, Rhonda Patzia, couldn’t join us on this venture because of health reasons, but her voice was always present, urging me to express myself with honesty.)

Love Made Visible: Reflections on Writing, Teaching, and Other Distractions is, without a doubt, my most personal book. Within its pages, you’ll find many of my beliefs, feelings, and much of my life’s story.

I hope you enjoy the journey.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

With Eva, Once Again

Every time that I’ve crossed paths with Eva the experience has been delightful. The first time we met—online, that is—was through the intercession of a reader of Eva’s outstanding book-review site, A Striped Armchair. At the time I was in the midst of a virtual book tour for Meet Me under the Ceiba. On the day we first exchanged thoughts a furious debate was taking place on Eva’s site regarding her commitment—made public that morning—to read more works by authors of color. What’s more, she urged others to do the same.

The reader who brought us together also happened to drop by the site that was hosting Meet Me under the Ceiba, and she asked for my opinion of Eva’s decision. As a result of my reply, Eva invited me to contribute a guest post. I agreed and a couple of months later my take on the matter, “Leisure Time and Reading in a Shrinking—Yet Colorful—World,” appeared on A Striped Armchair. I had a marvelous time that day reading and responding to readers’ reactions to my contribution.

Since that day, Eva and I remained in touch. A few months later, in a “Sunday Salon” post, she shared her impressions on Meet Me under the Ceiba.

And yesterday, to my delight, Eva reviewed Bernardo and the Virgin. Eva’s reviews are always insightful and, more importantly, honest. Anyone who reads her thoughts on Bernardo will see that she pulls no punches. Yet, in spite of Eva’s candor, I believe that the novel emerges rather well.

I'm certain our paths will cross again, and I'm also certain that our exchanges will be, as usual, memorable.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Those Aching Twinges of Nostalgia

I spent my adolescence in Granada, Nicaragua. After having lived the first eleven years of my life in Los Angeles, California, moving to Granada—the birthplace of both of my parents—was a traumatic experience . . . at first.

It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this stunning colonial city. What’s more, I found Granadinos, and Nicaraguans in general, excellent subjects for an inquisitive teenager to observe. In fact, those years I lived in Granada—from ages 11 through 17—made me want to tell stories: they turned me into a writer.

And it doesn’t matter where I am, or how comfortable my situation, deep down I’ll always miss Granada. Every day there will be a moment when nostalgia overcomes me, and I’ll sigh, wishing that I could, like Dorothy, click my heels together and find myself back there, if only for a brief stroll down my favorite streets.

This photograph of the the cathedral captures, I believe, the majesty and magic of Granada during the late afternoon. My wife climbed up the ironwork support of the reserve water tank at the bed and breakfast where we were staying, on the street of La Calzada.

It was dangerous and foolish of her to do so, but who can argue with the result.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Perks of the Trade

One of the most rewarding parts of being a novelist is to have others comment on your work, especially when they take the time to do so in writing.

Today, a review of Bernardo and the Virgin appeared in The Boquete Guide. (To read the review, click here.) I enjoyed the positive review, particularly because this reader of Bernardo and the Virgin spotted many of the paradoxes within the narrative caused by the political tensions surrounding the apparitions.

The author, Lee Zeltzer, is also the publisher of The Boquete Guide. The town of Boquete, in the province of Chiriquí, here in Panama, has become a retirement haven for ex-pats from all over the world, particularly the United States. Located in the mountains, near Volcán Barú, the weather of Boquete is marvelous year-round. What’s more, the scenery of the region is breathtaking.

That’s why I’m excited to have been invited to give a few talks there on July 19. It will be good to escape the sweltering heat of the lowlands. Such trips are among the occasional perks that pop up in a writer’s life.

In the meantime, however, I hope you enjoy Lee’s take on Bernardo and the Virgin—and if you get a chance, leave a comment on Lee's blog.