It was two weeks ago that I shared an amazing celebration for the launch of my novel, Nights of Indigo Blue, at La Casa Azul Bookstore in New York City. Having so many family and friends, new and old, gather for the party was thrilling for me. Aurora Anaya-Cerda, the owner of our beloved bookstore and her staff, could probably open another business on teaching professionalism with genuine warmth. I could not have asked for a better night!
I send hugs and thanks to Maria Aponte-Gonzalez, Bobby Gonzalez, Manuel Williams, and Anwar Uhuru who are amazing performers. Their poetry and performances reminds me of the talent that Spirit gifts us with and how we as artists and authors share with others bringing smiles and tears to our eyes. I’d especially like to thank Albert TainoImage Areizaga for his wonderful photo shots! I also want to thank my daughter, Mara Cordova, who trekked uptown on the train with me hauling food and other things we couldn’t do without. The Pope hadn’t gotten my message that I planned to drive so the streets were pretty much on lock down. And for those of you who don’t know, my spouse, Patricia Dornelles, is the very fabulous photographer who captured the book cover at Prospect Park lake at dawn about a year ago! Thank you!
Each person who was there is special to me in very different ways. Thank you all for making the celebration one I will hold treasured in my heart forever. There are so many pictures that I don’t have of so many people who came out to show love and support. I wish I had them all! If any one else has photos of that evening, send them this way please!
What a great night!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Suffice it to say that last week I’d been walking around in a cloud of free floating anxiety. I have no idea what other authors go through when their newly pressed novels take their places on public shelves but I can be pretty sure that everyone deals with this stress in some shape or form. My subject matter will soon be up for scrutiny… wait… it is already out in the world.
I can’t help but get consumed about ‘what will the neighbors think?’ or in my case, ‘what will my readers think?’, but censoring my characters would be a travesty to the development of their stories. There will be readers who get the characters, the stories, and the backstories and there are some who won’t. This all reminds me of a creative course I took where several students and teachers told me they ‘didn’t get’ my writing. That, I believe is a mask for the inability to articulate what may be ‘wrong’ with how a story is told. Maybe it’s the style or the POV that needs some fixing but it may be difficult for some people to utilize the tools of critiquing adequately. But truthfully speaking, I didn’t get the teacher’s, aka Editor for a Magazine, decision to encourage a fellow student to submit her piece for publishing. The story was about a couple who rolled down hills together in a deep pile of crunchy autumn leaves. Pretty, but what was the story? I guess I’ll never know.
It’s possible that a writer’s subject matter is taboo to certain people. Taboo- that’s not a word that I experience in my world often. Every day I’m made aware that the line in the sand is pushed a little further all the time and it is washed away by the waves of the Universe. We carry our personal lines in the sand deep within us. Many of us don’t allow others to witness how far we’ve ventured with that line on that stretch of sand and never will.
Reading is certainly not a passive act, it is an action. I cannot be fed by the author but if I open myself to what he or she wrote I may be able to identify and not compare and see the humanism in the story. Just in the same way, I cannot expect my work to be all for everyone. That’s an impossibility but in the bigger picture, we are all more alike than different. I’ve read many books in my lifetime and I’ve loved many and not so many. Different readers will click with different types of writings. Hashing these thoughts and feelings out with supportive people has brought me to another place- one where I can be free of the anxiety of what others think to a place of enjoying the process that being a writer brings.
I’m quite taken with my new creative piece. When the box arrived and I opened it, I thought of how much I’d like to read it. The book is exactly one that I would pick up from a public shelf. A mystery, starring a Latina, who is full of zeal for life and the beauty it brings, is my kind of story. That’s what counts the most. Yes, I care. But I also know that life is large and what is today may not be tomorrow. That makes everything all right. So for today, I’ll stay in today. What a great place to be.
A writer not only develops a protagonist and antagonist, they spend a lot of time creating environment, credibility in terms of space in time, but also minor characters and their backstory,
In Nights of Indigo Blue, Daisy Muñiz’s Dad is named Octavio. It would be easy to keep the level of information simple. That’s important to the novel because we don’t want to detract too much from Daisy. But Octavio is rich with possibilities of, at some point, becoming a major player in the series. Octavio Muñiz is a Viet Nam veteran and he continued to suffer from the throes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder until something changed in his relationship his daughter and he finally agreed to get help.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is an illness that occurs for some people who have experienced one horrific traumatic event or a series. While we tend to think of major instances like wars or terrorist events, PTSD can also be suffered by persons who have lived having to cower under their beds when gunshots ring out in their neighborhoods or by witnessing the life of a mother who is in a domestic violent relationship. People have different levels of capacity for tolerating certain events so while one person may not be affected, another may need intensive therapy for healing.
All of this may seem to be on the outskirts of developing a storyline for a ‘cozy mystery’ but all characters should have depth. How much is revealed to the reader is up to the writer, to the story, and mostly, to the character!
Cozy mysteries are the ones that I grew up reading. They are the ones that were dependable. I knew that the protagonist would usually be a woman. She would be a general busybody and I’d either love her and want to be like her or she’d irritate me. Either way I wanted to read more. Suffice it to say that either way, I was glad that there was usually another few “mysteries” in the queue that I couldn’t wait to crack open. Cozies are like crossword puzzles. They tax my brain but not so much that I get a headache. They are relaxing, engaging, and have enough twists and turns in the plot to keep me reading.
More familiar cozies, due to television and movies , were Murder She Wrote, the Ladies Number One Detective Agency that is stationed in Botswana, and of course, the Agatha Christie series. Some of my first best friend amateur sleuths were Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames. These mysteries are usually of the gentle type, there is love and romance and usually no profanity or anything of the hardcore nature. This allows for more of an audience to enjoy including YA and Middle School readers. Yes, I was that kid that read Agatha Christie novels in the fifth grade. Who doesn’t love a fun and quick read? Believe me, as a writer I can definitely delve into intrigue, espionage, and complexities that make the hair stand up on the back of arms- but not all the time.
A few years ago, a character introduced herself to me. Her name was Daisy Muñiz and she had all the stuff of an amateur detective. She has been living in Park Slope, Brooklyn, thanks to her besties Jose and Rubio, and she has somewhat of a troubled past that she is working through one day a time to change. I was glad she came to me to write her tales of mystery because I never really had the experience of truly enjoying the antics of a Latina sleuth in the cozy mysteries I’ve read. She’s young, but not so young that she doesn’t have some skeletons in her closet. Daisy would give you the shirt off her back but hopefully she’s paid up her credit card bill and the shirt is hers to give away. Her other best friend, Letty, who knows her since high school will tell you that while Daisy does put her foot in her mouth sometimes, she has a heart of gold. Detective David Rodriguez is just getting to know about that heart of hers.
Daisy’s first mystery, Nights of Indigo Blue, will be released by Aignos Publishing Inc. at the end of September of 2015. I plan to have book launch for her in NYC at La Casa Azul Bookstore on September 25, 2015. I can’t wait for you to meet Daisy- she’s a bit awkward, affectionate, and awesome! See you there!