Interview with Author Nancy Arroyo Ruffin

I welcome Nancy Arroyo Ruffin to my blog.  Her passion for life and writing are inspiring! The message here is that you can’t keep it unless you give it away!

What are your genre and your intended audience?

I have self-published two poetry books (Welcome to Heartbreak and Letters to My Daughter) and I’m expanding into the fiction genre in the near future. I know this may sound broad, but my books are geared towards parents. I write a lot about my experience as a new mother and most of writing includes cultural themes about pride and identity. It is important to me that our children have a healthy appreciation and love for themselves and where they come from. I am a firm believer that love is taught and pride is instilled. My writing reflects that.

Arroyo

What are you currently writing?

I am currently working on a coming of age novel about the trials and tribulations of 2 sisters growing up in Brooklyn, NY in the 1980s.

When do you make time to write?

I have a 17 month old daughter so my writing time usually happens when she’s sleeping. Either early in the morning before she wakes or late in the evening after she’s gone to sleep.

 

Arroyo 2

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all?

I have always had a passion for writing. I’ve been writing since elementary school. As I got older, and once I went to college, I strayed away from my passion for writing. Primarily because I was always encouraged by my parents to focus on getting a “good” job.  So instead of majoring in English or Creative Writing I majored in Accounting and Health Care Management and got a “good” job in the health care industry. If I had to do it all over again I would have majored in Creative Writing. I now know that when you pursue your passion the Universe provides all that you need to ensure your success. I will always encourage my daughter to go after her dreams, whatever they may be.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

As a self-published author I rely heavily on social media networks and my established connections to get the word out. I’m on Twitter (www.twitter.com/msnancybk), Facebook (www.facebook.com/nancyarroyoruffin), and Instagram (www.instagram.com/msnancyruffin). I also have a personal website (www.nancyruffin.net) where I sell and promote my books. Most recently, I’ve started to schedule book readings and signings in non-traditional venues. For example, last month I had a book signing at Nail Lounge in Washington Heights, one of NYC’s trendiest and most popular nail salons. Sometimes people can’t make it to book signings so I’m bringing my books to them.

Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how?

Most definitely. I get inspiration from everywhere. And my books reflect that. I try not to limit the creative process so I am always open and aware to what is happening around me. Sometimes a news story will inspire me or I’ll read something from another writer and get inspired. In my first book Welcome to Heartbreak I have a poem entitled Public Service Announcement that addresses our flawed judicial system.

What would you like to see in your literary community?

I would really like to see more events that include children. It is so important to introduce them to reading and the arts while they are young. Help them to develop a love for reading from an early age. Personally, I will be focusing a lot of more on creating events where children can attend, get involved, and be more engaged.

 

 Are you working on any new projects?

I actually do have a couple of projects that I’m working on. On May 3 from 6-8pm, I will be having a book reading and signing at LaCasa Azul bookstore in Spanish Harlem. I also I have recently partnered with a local school in the Bronx to work with their 4th grade class on a book project after they wrote their own versions of Donde Vengo Yo, one of my poems which appears in Letters to My Daughter. Their poems were inspired by my poem. I have collected their poems and am in the process of editing them so that I can publish them and give each student a copy of the book. It is my gift to them to encourage them to follow their dreams whatever they may be. I am also trying to raise money to help fund a computer lab for the school. Anyone interested in learning more about the project or interested in making a donation should visit the campaign website. No amount is too small and every dollar counts.  https://fundly.com/christthekingfundraiser

De Donde Vengo Yo

 

Author Bio: Nancy Arroyo Ruffin is a New York City born Latina of Puerto Rican descent. She is a mother, wife, and author. As a performance poet and writer, Nancy has used the written word as her outlet to inspire, educate, and empower. She has facilitated writing workshops for aspiring writers and has performed at various venues in her beloved New York City. Nancy has featured at the legendary Nuyorican Poets Café and El Museo del Barrio. Her first book Welcome to Heartbreak: A Collection of Prose & Poetry was published in 2011. Most recently, her work appears in Joy, Interrupted: An Anthology on Motherhood and Loss published by Fat Daddy’s Press. Letters to My Daughters is her second collection of poetry. For more info visit www.nancyruffin.net

 

Interview with poet/artist Tamara G. Saliva

Tamara Grysel Saliva is a native ‘nuyorican’, born in Brooklyn NY. Raised on the borders of Harlem and Washington Heights, her childhood and teenage years were far from happy. At the age of 14, she decided to escape from home and sought refuge at her sister’s house. In an attempt to find herself, as a young adult, she left New York and began to work and live in different U.S. cities, such as, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami.

After 7 years, Tamara found her way back home, to Brooklyn with a mind full of memories and life adventures. This was the catalyst that inspired her to take paper to pen, and created in her a voice that was immediately identifiable with people of all creed, race and religious paths. Her writing has received its wings and begun to take flight. Her work has been published in the Hunter College Literary magazine, LETRAS and she has been featured in numerous poetry showcases, including the infamous Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

She has also teamed up with summer youth affiliates to bring spoken word to different groups of inner city kids. She believes that everyone has an inner voice and needs to be heard for liberation, emancipation and creativity.

Not only did I have the pleasure of interviewing Tamara, she’s also shared a few of her creative pieces with us.

Aché pa’ ti, Tamara. Maferefun Yemaya!

 

What are your genre and your intended audience?

My intended audience, I don’t know that I intended on an audience per say. However the goal is to reach the one person that can relate to my story, and find faith their own survival by seeing that I am too a survivor.

What are you currently writing?

These days I am painting more then writing, but this could very well be due to the first display of my art and some avoidance on my part. I am in the process of writing my memoir. Something I started working on in 2011 yet the emotional roller coaster of the memories have caused me to put a pause on it from time to time, but I have decided that this year I will be focusing on my story.

 

Ibu Ana- Tamara Saliva

 

What other projects are you involved in?

I am currently working on creating journals for those of us who feel they have no voice. Those of us who have a similar story of child sexual, physical and mental abuse because victims of these things often feel alone and voiceless so I am creating journals that will always be used as a donation item. I am looking to the community for funds to print these journals. For more information go to: www.gofundme.com/bvpjournals

When do you make time to write?

Making time to write has always been difficult for me, but if lines come to me I always make sure to jot them down.

 

Yemaya- Tamara Saliva

 

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all?

I would have started much sooner.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

I am still getting the hang of marketing, I do all I can with social media and my own website.

Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how?

My spirituality is a huge influence in my writing because writing for me, is a cleansing a release of some sort of energy.

 

Chango- Tamara Saliva

 

What would you like to see in your literary community?

I would love to see more support of the community itself. I learned some time ago that if the art or literary scene is not supported, one day there will be no scene to support.

 

Blue Vein Pages

http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Vein-Pages-Tamara-Saliva-ebook/dp/B00CJUBJMW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392686049&sr=8-1&keywords=Tamara+Saliva

Below is Tamara’s flyer for Broken Silence – March 22, 2014 at the Simplicity Wine Bar and Café. She will be sharing her words with many other not to be missed poets.

Broken Silence- Saliva

Interview with author Raquel I. Penzo

Hello! Please welcome Raquel I. Penzo  author, event planner, literary person of many talents. It’s been my pleasure watching her growth in creativity and accomplishments these last several years. I do think she’d be a great stand up comic. But that’s another blog for another day. Enjoy!

What are your genre and your intended audience?

I write fictional stories because that’s where I’m most comfortable. I don’t write about pretty things and I use tons of foul language. I include a lot of dysfunction and unhappiness even though my own life has been relatively normal and uneventful and charmed and privileged.

But I suppose I should also acknowledge that I have a blog (TheJadedNYer.net, est. 2006) where I write very personal things about myself on an almost-daily basis (1800+ posts and counting). When folks ask if I’ll ever right a memoir I can just point them to that URL.

As for an audience? I’ve never had anyone other than my younger sister Mari in mind when I write. Before it was “Is this story age appropriate for Mari?” or “Will she like this?” But once she entered her 20s I was really able to let go, both in my stories and on my blog, although I still try to not shock or offend her. Not sure how successful I’ve been with that, though!

What are you currently writing?

I don’t have just one thing I’m working on because my brain can’t function like that right now. First, I have a group of short stories inspired by a recent trip to visit my family in the Dominican Republic. My Tia Iris took me to La Descubierta, a small town along the southern region (25 miles from the Haitian border) where my mother’s parents—Candelario Acosta Perez y Rafaela Bermudez Ortiz—met. My mom and Titi Gloris grew up there with my grandmother, great-grandmother Ramona, and a slew of aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was almost surreal to see this magical place I’d always heard about but never knew. It truly inspired me to write—I have five stories drafted from that trip alone! It also inspired me to move there, but that’s a story for another day.

I’m also working on a poem that just burst onto the page from nowhere. I’ve never been good with poetry; for the most part I don’t get it and it confuses me a lot. But I was looking out of the window while riding the F-train, saw the Kent Textiles sign that’s visible when the train is above ground in Park Slope, and <poof!> a poem was born. Obviously it’s about Brooklyn!

In addition to those two projects, I’m editing an anthology for the reading series I curate (the New Voices Reading Series), ghostwriting a book for a client and reading a memoir manuscript for a friend. I consider all of that “writing” because it influences where my ideas come from. The anthology features pieces from writers and poets who’ve participated in the reading series in the past five years, and some of those pieces are amazing! Very indicative of the talent I’ve seen cross the stage at my events. The memoir I’m reading tells such a captivation story of the author’s search for love that it’s making me see my friend in a whole new light. And the book I’m working on for a client is such a departure from what I normally write that it’s comical. I can’t discuss the project but if anyone knew I was writing this they’d laugh heartily!

When do you make time to write?

I am an insomniac and a chronic procrastinator, so I mostly write at night when I should be in bed (think: 3 a.m.), or at work when I should be editing articles or working on a campaign.  Something about only having T-30 seconds to meet a deadline gives me such a rush, and I’m addicted to that feeling. I swear it makes me more productive and creative, but in reality it’s probably just setting me up for a stroke!

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all?

I would have taken it more seriously earlier than I did. I began my academic career studying engineering and environmental science because I was taught to get a practical job, and that the arts didn’t pay. And while I enjoyed everything I learned in the sciences (it’s still a huge interest of mine) I can’t help but think about all the time I wasted not writing.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

You would think that someone with nearly eight years of working in marketing and public relations would have a plan, but I don’t. I come up with ideas for events or stories or books and then just go balls to the wall with it. If people get on board, great. If they don’t then I have an excuse to eat my feelings and pout, one of my favorite pastimes.

I definitely see the importance of publishing and getting exposure for your work, and of course monetary compensation never hurt anyone. But I’m of the school of “art should be free,” so if something I wrote, curated or produced touched just one person, but I didn’t make a dime from it, I still feel like I’ve done a good thing.

Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how?

I’ve dubbed myself a Recovering Catholic, meaning I was raised in the Catholic faith and then ran screaming from Christianity as soon as I gathered up the courage to do so. I’d be a fool to think this doesn’t influence my work! Just think of all the doubt, self-loathing, repression, and insecurities that have made the cut in all of my stories—that’s definitely latent Catholicism at its best!

As for politics, I’m a little vague on what that means here. I’ve always turned a blind eye to political happenings but one can only do that for so long. I know this white-washed Brooklyn of today influences my writing and my desire to creating a literary community for writers of color. I know that my racial/ethnic/cultural background influences the characters I create, the artists with whom I choose to associate, and the causes I choose to support. And I especially acknowledge that the tumultuous past (and present!) in the Dominican Republic affects what I do and write, too. It’s not something I can escape.

What would you like to see in your literary community?

I truly enjoyed the sense of community I felt while earning my MFA at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and I’d like to recreate that without charging someone $40,000. I loved the workshops, living on campus, sharing meals with other writers, taking day trips, sitting in on panels and lectures, meeting new writers as well as old favorites, trying my hand at a new genre—I fell in love with all of it.

Currently I’m running an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for La Pluma y La Tinta, an organization I co-founded in order to curate and host literary events and provide support to up-and-coming writers and poets. The event everyone knows and loves—the New Voices Reading Series, which features new artists living in and around NYC—is in its fifth year, and that made me want to help this thing I started evolve into something more.

I envision low-cost writing workshops run by talented teaching artists; book clubs that seek out interesting tomes from a variety of authors and not just those displayed in bookstore windows; literary readings for a lively audience; programs for young readers that enhance the school curriculum; a literary magazine; and even a residency in a beautiful international setting. I’ve been called a hippie for having this dream, but that’s fine. A commune of talented writers doesn’t sound too shabby to me at all!

 

BIO: Raquel I. Penzo is a Brooklyn, NY native who has carved a career for herself as a writer, editor and literary event curator, hosting the New Voices Reading Series each quarter in NYC and working in the Marketing & Communications Department of Brooklyn Public Library. Penzo has authored the self-published My Ego Likes the Compliments…And Other Musings on Writing, and the short stories, “Grey Matter,” published online at Blue Lake Review, and “On a Blue Day,” in the zine You Should Be Here.

Visit her online at http://RaquelPenzo.com and the Indiegogo campaign! http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/la-pluma-y-la-tinta-a-home-for-writers

Nuestra Palabra: Having our say

Nuestra Palabra cover photo

This is more than a brag blog. Sure, I like the look of Nuestra Palabra’s cover photo. In fact, I love it. Look closer.

I was interviewed on NP radio the other evening about my book Covering the Sun with My Hand. I’m humbled (yes, I’ve used that same word twice in two weeks) to be interviewed on the subject matter of my novel. Instead of sugar and spice and everything nice, my debut novel is about first generation Latinas and all the gritty strength we’re made of. It’s about a family dealing with the devastating mental illness of a son who was going to change the destiny of one family. The family that hangs together by the tenacious strings of love. The kind of family that I grew up in.

When I look more closely at this cover photo I see the link to Librotraficante. Man, oh man. Imagine depositing banned books to areas where states have attempted to stop the celebration of Latino voices and storytelling. The work of this organization is not only for this week’s recognition of book banning but takes place all the time. Imagine that a child can never open a book and read about someone like his or her grandma and her soft rich brown skin. Or who never sees the word cuchifrito in print?  One who never learns about the truths of slavery but only some whitewashed job? I don’t have to imagine it. That child was me in the early sixties. I am that child who, along with my fellow storytellers, grew up to tell the tales that were almost squashed. I remember being brought to my knees by the stories of Piri Thomas who rocked me in rhythm with his words. Once I got up and became able to claim my own voice I began writing some of the stories that tell of our Latino experience.

Being interviewed for this radio show by Liana Lopez and Bryan Parras  brought me to where I needed to dig down deep and reflect on not only what I write but for whom I am writing. Because its a matter of survival.

This is the link to my interview. I hope you tune in. There’s some groovy music on this too! Enjoy!

http://archive.kpft.org/mp3/kpft_130924_180001np.mp3

Interview with Author Karina Guardiola Lopez

Eleven

(Eleven Lopez)
Author, Lyricist, Writer and Poet

Karina Guardiola Lopez (also known as Eleven Lopez) was born in the Bronx, raised in Queens and now resides in Spanish Harlem, New York City. She is an author, poet, lyricist and educator. She has written two poetry books which are available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel and Itunes.com. When Karina is not working on her poetry, she works and counsels the homeless, foster care and underprivileged population of Manhattan and the South Bronx. She is currently pursuing her Masters Degree at Baruch College and is also working on a third book. For more information you can go to about.me/K11Lopez.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading along with Eleven and love the way she plays with words to create genuine and needed observations of the world we are blessed to live in! – Theresa

Welcome! 

What are your genre and your intended audience? My genre is Poetry/spoken word and my audience is pretty much anyone who wants to hear what I want to share.

What are you currently writing? Right now, I am currently working on my third book.

When do you make time to write? The moment I see that I am free. Sometimes if something inspires me, I will text it to my phone, type it into the computer or even write on a napkin. I try to keep myself writing at all times.

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all? I should have taken more publishing courses in college which involved intense editing.

Tell us about your marketing strategy. Honestly, I do not have one. I wish I had someone to market me. I try to do the best I can by posting events, poems and photos on social networks, but I feel everyone should have someone doing that for them.

Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how? Yes, very much.  Although my faith is present in mostly all of my works, there is a handful of works from the perspective of others, whether it was inspired from a debate, intimate conversation or something I overheard. I try to write about the human condition.

Do you have a particular theoretical foundation that keeps you afloat? My faith is my theoretical foundation.

What would you like to see in your literary community? I would like to see more support of other artists instead of making it a competition. Humility is key to achieve that.

*How long have you been writing?* I have been writing since I was about 9 years old. I was very much into short stories and children’s fiction. When I was 11, I created a hard cover for my book report out of a cereal box; it was a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I then started to  write poetry until I was around 16 years old.

 

Interview with Author- Maria Aponte

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Let’s welcome Maria Aponte- Author of Transitions of a Nuyorican Cinderella

A poet, performance artist, and playwright, born and raised in New York City’s East Harlem (El Barrio), Maria has worked extensively in Latino Theatre and in video productions that deals with racial discrimination, and women’s rights in theatre and film. Maria’s one-woman show, “Lágrimas de Mis Madres” is a biography about the women in her family. She also wrote and performed “I Will Not Be Silenced,” based on the life of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mexico’s first feminist poet and playwright. Maria performs her work at various college, universities and artistic venues locally and nationally.

In April 2010, Maria received the Vagina Warrior Award, a special recognition from the Eve Ensler Organization for “someone who has suffered or witnessed violence, grieved it, transformed it, and then does extraordinary work to make sure it doesn’t happen  to anyone else in their community.”

In May 2013, Transitions of a Nuyorican Cinderella won the International Latino Book Award 2nd place for Best Poetry in English.

Maria currently works in Career Services at Fordham University, and will be completing her Masters in Latin American Latino Studies in May of 2014.

What are your genre and your intended audience?

When I first started writing poetry I never thought of having an intended genre or audience.  I came onto the poetry scene during the late 1970’s and to find a place where I could hear my voice through others was important to me then. The only place I felt that I heard my voice, was at the Nuyorican Poets Café.  Listening to poets, like Pedro Petri, Sandra Maria Esteves, and Jose Angel Figueroa read in Spanglish made me feel at home.  It would not be until much later, that I would start writing about the women in my family that my voice would shape into a genre for women. As I grew as an artist, so did my writing. I found that sharing my life experiences through stories was setting common ground for many Latinas and non-Latinas. Today my intended audience is everyone.  If my stories can help all people across life’s spectrum then I feel like I did my job as a writer.

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What are you currently writing?

As of this writing I’m just collecting my thoughts on life for me today and aging.  I feel that sharing those “older coming of age women” stories is very important. A lot happens in your life from your 20’s to your 50’s and beyond.  As an Afro Latina Puerto Rican woman those stories from those years need to be told. So right now, I’m working on new pieces that are focusing on that, with a couple of short stories.

When do you make time to write?

Now that is a good question. It is not easy for me to find that special time to write because I work a full time job in higher education that sometimes requires early mornings and late night and depending on the time of year, weekends.  I am also completing my Masters in Latin American and Latino Studies, so my free time is spent doing a lot of reading/research and papers. So when it comes to my creative side of writing I usually write notes during the school year and write during the summer on my vacations.

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all?

Since I did not start out as writer, and my background is theatre I can’t say I would have done anything differently. For me, theatre is my first love in the arts and it was from theatre that I came into writing.  But my major influence was when I decided to go back to school and get my undergraduate degree in English literature.  It would be there that my literary world opened up and discovering so many different authors, reading and developing my critical thinking skills opened my mind to the world of writing on a different level then when I took an interest in the 1970’s.  It was going to school that gave me my writers voice.

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Tell us about your marketing strategy.

I find that although I use Face book, Twitter & LinkedIn, word of mouth and old fashion emails still work.  I also have started blogging and launched my website this past January so that helps.

 Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how?

The most influential person and teacher of all things Spiritual was my Abuela.  Abuela taught me to respect my spiritual gifts because I was born with them and part of my ancestral heritage. For me spirituality is organic and as normal as breathing.   Regarding politics, it was and still is a major influence in my life which transfers to my writing. Growing up during the Civil Rights Movement in El Barrio, the fight for equal rights, education, and social services for Puerto Ricans were the hotbed topics that were dealt with daily.  Some of the pieces in my book, Transitions of a Nuyorican Cinderella, address those issues through family and life events.

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What would you like to see in your literary community?

In terms of what I would like to see in my literary community is the flexibility of more diversity in what we write about. I feel that since we are living in a more diverse community locally and globally there is much that can be written so that all communities can find commonality in the issues that we all deal with.  I also would like to see more positive writing to break down the stereotypes that are continually perpetuated in main stream media about Latinos. In order for that to happen more Latinos must write and tell their stories from the Latino Voice – not others.

 

Interview with Author Kristen Elise PhD

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Kristen Elise, Ph.D. is a drug discovery biologist and the author of The Vesuvius Isotope. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, stepson, and three canine children.

Let’s welcome Kristen Elise!

Thank you so much, Theresa, for inviting me on your blog!

Kris, what is your genre and your intended audience?

My genre is mystery/thriller. While I do distinguish between the two, I think The Vesuvius Isotope is right on the border. It is a definite mystery, and carries a trademark component of a cozy – a strong female protagonist on a quest to solve a murder. However, I would definitely not classify the book overall as a cozy mystery, because I think it’s a bit too involved. There are several interwoven subplots, and both historical and scientific non-fictional themes are incorporated within the murder mystery. The fast pace and transitions between subplots give the story a definite thriller feel. So my intended audience is people who like mysteries and thrillers, who like to be challenged intellectually when they read, and who take their fiction with a healthy tablespoon of non-fiction sprinkled on top.

What are you currently writing?

The Vesuvius Isotope has a prequel in the works, entitled The Death Row Complex. The first draft is written and I hope to release this one in 2014. The Death Row Complex features the same protagonist as The Vesuvius Isotope, drug discovery biologist Katrina Stone, but the prequel takes place eight years prior. One thing I really look forward to revealing in the second novel is a very different side of Katrina. By the time The Vesuvius Isotope takes place, she has been through a series of events that have refined her personality dramatically. In The Death Row Complex, we meet a much younger, much grittier Katrina Stone. A couple of other characters are also featured in both books.

When do you make time to write?

Right now, I don’t! This being the debut month of my debut novel, I’m fairly wrapped up in marketing and publicity efforts at the moment (following months of editing galore.) But I can’t wait to get back to writing. Normally, I try to dedicate at least two or three nights a week and several hours on the weekends. At the moment, however, I’m between day jobs and lucky enough to be at it full time.

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all?

I would have started writing sooner, and on purpose. Writing was something I just stumbled into with absolutely no idea how addicting it would become. Had I realized at a younger age that I have a severe writing problem, and just embraced it, I could have had a dozen books out by now.

I work really hard to maintain a strong platform and online presence, because I firmly believe that you are your own biggest advocate. At the same time, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support I have received in debuting The Vesuvius Isotope online. At the moment, I’m in the midst of a 20-stop blog tour.

But I still believe in face-to-face communication. I am proud to say that I know how to throw an epic party, and I currently have a launch party in planning for the end of July here in San Diego. The party will feature Italian and Egyptian food, drinks, and music, since these are the two main locales where the book is set. I hope to generate some buzz for the novel and I’m certain that the party will be a good time.

Finally, I have been lucky to receive the strong support of several book clubs and bookstores locally in San Diego, and I hope to branch out into other cities in the next few months.

Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how?

Perhaps the other way around. The Vesuvius Isotope is partially set in Egypt, and in researching the novel, I traveled there, alone. I had an absolutely wonderful experience and fell in love with Egypt and the Egyptians. I experienced exactly zero of the negatives you hear so rampantly about. And my book-research mission was most successful, to boot.

Then the Arab Spring broke out, just weeks after I came home from my trip. Since then, the unrest has only intensified, and Westerners are more nervous than ever about traveling to a uniquely fascinating country with more than ten thousand years of recorded history. I think this is tragic, and even more so because tourism is the life-blood of Egypt’s fragile economy. So I can definitely sympathize with the Egyptian people, and I continue to advocate for a peaceful solution to their woes.

What would you like to see in your literary community?

The next step. It’s amazing how quickly the writing community is evolving with technologies and economies. The ease of self-publishing. The advances in Internet sales and marketing. The ease of self-publishing. It’s tough to know the current best approaches when the best approaches are always in flux, but it’s also an exciting time. I think writers have so much more control now than ever before.

If there’s one thing I would like to see more of, it’s small, independent bookstores. I am one of those old-fashioned types who still loves the feel of a print book in my hand, although, I admit to also owning a Kindle and using both Kindle and eBooks on my iPhone. And I also wish that my book looked the same on the Kindle and eBooks apps as it looks in print. Technology gurus, I challenge you…

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Back cover blurb for The Vesuvius Isotope:

When her Nobel laureate husband is murdered, biologist Katrina Stone can no longer ignore the secrecy that increasingly pervaded his behavior in recent weeks. Her search for answers leads to a two-thousand-year-old medical mystery and the esoteric life of one of history’s most enigmatic women. Following the trail forged by her late husband, Katrina must separate truth from legend as she chases medicine from ancient Italy and Egypt to a clandestine modern-day war. Her quest will reveal a legacy of greed and murder and resurrect an ancient plague, introducing it into the twenty-first century.

Please visit Kris’ websites at www.kristenelisephd.com and www.murderlab.com.

The Vesuvius Isotope is available in both print (www.kristenelisephd.com and www.amazon.com) and e-book formats (www.amazon.com for Kindle, www.barnesandnoble.com for Nook, www.kobo.com for Kobo reader.)

Interview with Author Chris Campanioni

chris Campanioni1

It’s a great pleasure to interview Chris who is a fellow author at Aignos Publishing!

Welcome, Chris! Tell us a bit about your background.

I was born in New York City to a Cuban father and a Polish mother, and I was raised in New Jersey. I wrote a trilogy of novels about media, communication, tourism, and terrorism, which are now being published by Aignos Publishing (Going Down, my most recent novel, is the first). I worked as a journalist–as a reporter and a copy editor–at the Star-Ledger, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Bergen Record, and at the same time, found work as an actor and model, spending the morning on location photo shoots and the evening on deadlines, putting out one of the largest daily newspapers in the country. I just received my Master’s in English literature at Fordham University and this past spring, was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize for 2013. I am sending out query letters for my first poetry book, In Conversation, now.

Congratulations on your award, Chris. What is your genre and your intended audience?
 

Because of my cultural background and the characters and settings in the novel, I think there is a strong Latino crossover. Readers who gravitate toward coming-of-age, multicultural, contemporary, and literary genres are among my target audience, as well as readers who are interested in celebrity culture and the world of fashion. I have had discussions with university professors in various English literature programs, and I very much look forward to the possibility of my work being included in their future syllabi.

That prospect sounds so exciting! What are you currently writing?

I am right now finishing the revisions on my second novel, Fashion of the Seasons. This story, which is a companion to Going Down, is divided into five books that correspond with the seasons of the year. I take the normal conception of temporal order and invert it; the narrative is linear in terms of the seasons but non-linear in terms of time. The illusion that the fashion industry wishes to engender about constant change is also turned on its head. Each season’s chapters move from various points in the characters’ lives, hopscotching years while staying in the same season until we reach the end of the Winter—the end of the world, really—and discover “Out of Season”—a book that exists in dead time, a collapse of memory and events that manifests in fragments.

The polyphonic narrative is told from a variety of perspectives that diverge and collide. Fashion is used both literally and metaphorically; the stories revolve around a fashioning of the self, and how we fashion others in our gaze. Identity and contact—physical or otherwise—is what converges the various plots.

When I was initially workshopping Fashion, a number of people suggested I include the fashion industry in every chapter and associate it with every character, and I was disappointed, because I felt as if my whole point had been lost in translation. I already wrote a novel about the fashion industry; it’s called Going Down … but by calling this novel Fashion and setting it in the “everyday” world, I believe I am forcing people to look at the implicit processes of the fashion industry, and how this cultural production affects our day-to-day lives, almost on the unconscious level.

Chris Campanioni2

When do you make time to write?

I mostly write during my commute. A lot of that means eventually typing out the notes and fragments I have recorded on my cell phone, and sometimes, in my old reporter’s notebook—like the one Chris Selden is always carrying with him in Going Down.

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all?

It sounds trite, but I really do believe everything happens for a reason. I don’t think I would have changed anything. One of the most valuable lessons that came out of my experience in the Master’s of English program at Fordham University was the discovery of certain cultural and literary traditions that I saw in my own writing. It gave me a theoretical grounding I did not have before, and ironically, helped me understand my own work long after I had written it. Also, I do believe the best editor is time, and any good story—or any good stories—need that necessary time to simmer, especially since the material I drew from, at least in this trilogy, was very autobiographical.

Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how?

I think the influence of spiritual and political elements are unavoidable for any writer. There is a segment in my third novel, Tourist Trap, in which an interview with the author interrupts the narrative (the chapter, “What Else He Said”) and perhaps the best way to answer your question is to quote the author’s answer to the interviewer’s question, “So you’re a political writer?”:

“To be a writer and political is a dangerous thing. To be a writer and apolitical is even more dangerous. Art is right, left; in truth, it has only one direction and that is forward.”

I think that notion of progress, of moving forward, is our responsibility as artists.

Do you have a particular theoretical foundation that keeps you afloat?

Without simply repeating what you wrote in your excellent piece on Latino themes, I would only add this: Latin America is so far-reaching, and so diverse, that there are innumerable “Latino themes”—so many that the very idea of Latino themes becomes irrelevant, if not also dangerously reductive. I would only say that I believe the reverberating, ever-present Latino theme is one of displacement, because that is our history. How do I react to this in my own work? With the iteration of scenes, stories, the lines themselves; by a love of words that manifests in double entendres; through narratives that are inherently fragmented and re-fashioned; and with interruptions and mistranslations that become revelatory—a dosplacement of language—narrative space as utopic possibility.

In my work—as well as in my own life—there can never be binaries, positive and negative relationships, either/or; there is only possibility, imagination, truth, which is always multiple, contradictory, and open-ended.

When I Googled my name, I discovered that people who have read my work have associated me with Latin American neo-Surrealism (what is Latin American neo-Surrealism? I ask myself) and the Dada movement in the early twentieth century. I am very hesitant—and generally averse—to allow my self or my work to be categorized, but I find a lot more in common with the neo-Baroque—also known as the American Baroque—Cuban writers like Lezama Lima, Sarduy, and especially, Cabrera Infante, whom all took language to its threshold, and did not discover content, but rather, a form devoid of content. They found ellipsis, the space between words, the blank space, which is not death, but the possibility of life. This is what I try to reenact in my work to date. The text has become organic; the moment one reads Going Down is the moment I am writing it.

In terms of other themes that I think pervade my work, there is the fixation on memory and a recovery of the past, the sensual pleasures of food, an emphasis on the body, and the euphoria of music. Is it Cuban? Is it human? I have no conception of how to categorize these themes, but I also think it’s important–and I know we have discussed this together before–to always be cognizant of never consciously writing about anything, except the story you are creating on the page. That sounds almost paradoxical, but it’s not. The moment you are aware of an aesthetic is the moment that aesthetic escapes you.

Writing should always—at its most fundamental level—be a means of pleasure. Sensibilities, aesthetics, academics, money—all of these things must remain suppressed during the creative process of the work of art. Another Cuban artist at Aignos Publishing, Carlos Aleman, understands and emphasizes this point very well, I think.

Chris Campanioni

Go check out Chris’ website and learn more about his writing and projects at  http://chriscampanioni.co

Thanks for visiting, Chris!

-Theresa

 

 

 

 

Interview with Author Lyn Di Iorio

Lyn Di IorioNot only is Lyn a power of example when it comes to writing, she is down to earth and is tireless in her work. I’m very happy to have her visit here today!

Lyn Di Iorio grew up in Puerto Rico and came to the Mainland to attend Harvard University. She teaches literature and creative writing at The City College of New York and The Graduate Center of the CIty University of New York. She is the author of scholarly books of Latino literature; this is her first novel, an excerpt of which won an honorable mention in the 2009 New Millenium Writings Awards Competition.

What is your genre and your intended audience?

I don’t have a specific “genre.”  I generally think of myself as a writer of literary fiction.  That said, however, some reviewers of OUTSIDE THE BONES surprised me by calling it a “mystery.”  It does have a mystery at its heart, but I don’t think it is exclusively a mystery story.

What are you currently writing?

I may be about to contradict what I said above-hah!  I am working on a book that is definitely in the suspense mode.  The working title is THE SOUND OF FALLING DARKNESS and the protagonist is a criminal.

When do you make time to write?

Since I am also a college professor, I try to take advantage of the summer and winter vacations as well as spring break.  It’s hard for me to get much writing done in the course of the semester, but sometimes I will try to do a little on my non-teaching days.

What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all?

I think I would have let my first agent finish submitting my novel as she had intended.  I got cold feet in the midst of the submission process—which can be very grueling—and withdrew the novel from submission.

What inspired you to become a writer?

For one, reading so many great writers.  As a child I loved classic works such as the novels of Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling and so many other writers from all over the world, but I also loved mysteries by Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Dick Francis, and others. When I was a teenager I started reading work by Puerto Rican and Caribbean women writers such as Ana Lydia Vega, Rosario Ferré, and Jean Rhys, which really woke up my eyes to the magical and mysterious world that is the Caribbean.  I was also always really fascinated by the fact that the Afro-Caribbean religions were regarded with fear by most of the people I knew growing up.  Or, on the other hand, people negated their existence altogether.  But the more I discovered about them, the more they fascinated me.  I think, in general and this applies beyond my interest in Afro-Caribbean religio-magical practices, I am really intrigued by surfaces that seem commonplace with little cracks or flaws, and the more you explore the cracks the more you see that the apparently commonplace surfaces are just facades behind which lie completely different realities.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

I created a website for my book Outsidethebones.com and when we launched the novel at Barnes and Noble in NYC, I did hire somebody on my own—outside of my publisher’s efforts—to do a massive blast about the event by email and through social media.

Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how?

My spiritual life very much does, and in a general way so does my political life.  Regarding the former, I’ve always been interested in spiritual practices that allow for contact with the other world in the here and now.  So, for example, my deep appreciation for the way the gods/spirits are conceived of in Afro-Caribbean religious practices such as Santería and Palo Monte led me to create two protagonists in OUTSIDE THE BONES that are very much connected to the spiritual beliefs of those practices.  In my current book, my interest in Christian mystics, such as St. Theresa of Avila, is playing an important role.

What would you like to see in your literary community?

I’d like to see more active publishing of Latino/a writers, and more of an interest in the variety of Latino/a experience on the part of publishers.

-If you haven’t read Outside the Bones, I encourage you to carve some time out and have one of your best reading experiences yet!- Theresa

 

Di Iorio book cover

http://www.amazon.com/Outside-Bones-Lyn-Di-Iorio/dp/1558857036/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366988178&sr=1-1&keywords=outside+the+bones

 

Patrick Neal- Author and Singer/Songwriter

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Patrick Neal is a freelance author and singer/songwriter. A self-taught guitarist, he saw how the music tells a story. Over the years, he became influenced by dreams of themed scenarios, taking part in merging them with a unique writing style, as each novel unravels it’s own mystery. The stories he crafts begin to take on a life of their own, as he leaves a glimpse of personal life experiences in each one.

Please help to welcome Patrick!

Hello, my name is Patrick Neal. My first book, Control Factor, was released by Aignos Publishing as of January 28th, 2013 . First and foremost, I have always sought out new music and influences, to further learn the intricacies of the guitar. I feel that Spanish classical music has always been in my heart, for example, the music of Andres Segovia called out to me. Now it is the base of my guitar style, from composing freestyle solos, to learning to play the most difficult of songs (in my opinion, the harder, the better). At first, I found that the connection between the mind and the hands was the most difficult, only after years of practice and long hours of translating classical music, piano and guitar, to my guitar; this is something I have achieved, and always is a work in progress.

Years ago I wrote a particular classical piece, based on simultaneous ascending and descending notes, in the key of E Minor. I since left it on a mental shelf, to use with appropriate vocals at a later time.

I then began writing a song entitled, “Mi Corazon”, that I needed to be translated to Spanish. I asked Jon Marcantoni, a colleague and mentor of mine, to translate the song to Spanish. Because English doesn’t always translate to Spanish clearly, Jon was able to revise and edit my version into one that would capture the same message, without losing meaning. If anything, his revised version has defined the meaning. My vision for the song is for the lyrics to be sung by a woman in Spanish, preferably with Valerie Fernandez, as I play my classical piece. I am happy with the finished product. This song represents a love that can bridge the gap between different cultures and languages. I am including both sets of lyrics with a sample of the song, “Mi Corazon.”

My English version started out this way:
Mi Corazon-

My heart alone
Cannot decide
Between truth
And disguise
Is this a dream?
Behold beautiful scenes
The true measure
Sharing earthly pleasures
Beating in my chest
Savoring the best
Your confusion is yours alone
Feel it to the bone
Mi amore siempre vida

Within my heart
Secrets locked away
Dreaming of love
And passions unreal
Craving affections
From a love so true
Losing myself into you
Fearing the day
I can no longer feel
Give it time to heal
Your seductive infection

Jon’s revised-revised edition:

Mi Corazón
Patrick Cummings

Hombre (pause)
de burlas
Dime si es sueño este amor
Algo de espuma
O algo duro
Dime si las vistas bonitas
Lo’ placeres
Y las promesas
Son mentiras

Quedas confundido
Pero soy cierto
Que mi amor es sincero
Hasta mis huesos
Que alcanzan hacia la eternidad

Lo’ secretos entre mi corazón
Que sueñan de amor y pasione’
Anhelan los cariños
De tu amor verdadero
Y yo pierdo el miedo,
El control de mis emocione’
Y sin dudo grito a lo’ cielos
Que te quiero

Dime, dime corazón
Que no llegara el día
Cuando vas a acabar
Este amor enfermo (2x)

I’m most excited to share his music, sung by Valerie Fernandez. I have found it quite haunting and lovely. You can watch this wonderful and fresh live recording by clicking on the link below:

 

https://www.facebook.com/PuzzleBox76

Control factor book cover

This is a description of Control Factor. It can be found at Amazon. The link is below the description.
A sparse human population, in this well-detailed future post-apocalyptic novel, nervously co-exist with the saurian, the decendents of biologically modified super soldiers engineered during the unwinding of our world. It is against this strange backdrop that an unlikely hero, Joe Flannigan, rescues Eva from a cult commune, and invokes the rage roiling inside of its mystical and messianic leader. Follow Joe and Eva’s journey, as the man possessed with a supernatural affliction pursues them, controlling all who would dare block his own will or the evil that controls him.

http://www.amazon.com/Control-Factor-Patrick-Neal/dp/0986023345/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361449997&sr=1-1&keywords=control+factor+patrick+neal