Thursday, July 17, 2014

From New York to Alabama--My Editor's Visit

As a writer, one always hears about the real pleasures in working with an independent publisher, and my experience with Europa Editions, who will be publishing The Distant Marvels in 2015, has been truly marvel-ous.

A few weeks ago, my editor, Michael Reynolds, came to visit. Let me repeat. He came to visit. Me. Here in Alabama. Michael lives in NYC, of course, and so this wasn't exactly a short commute. After visiting with Important Book People in Birmingham, Michael drove two hours to Auburn to spend some time here.

We did the usual Auburn things, including taking a selfie on campus:

War Eagle, y'all!

He brought Mo Willem and Jeanne Birdsall books for the girls (SUCH good taste) and champagne for us to celebrate The Distant Marvels:

AND I got to keep the Europa fall catalog, aka, my Christmas wishlist.
I cooked him some Cuban food--ropa vieja con platanitos maduros--and made sure he had his first pimento cheese sandwich, a Southern staple.

We talked about the final cover for The Distant Marvels, which I can't wait to reveal! I tried not to geek out too hard over Elena Ferrante's work, which Michael edits (I showed incredible restraint). And we both geeked out over Hilary Mantel a bunch.

It was a lovely couple of days, and I still can't believe my book editor came to visit.  Meeting Michael made The Distant Marvels feel quite real.

Oh, and we have a launch date--April 7th, 2015.

Excuse me while I wait for my toes to touch the ground.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Countdown to A Falling Star

A Falling Star will officially be released on August 1st. That's only 21 days away!

But if you can't wait, you can get your advanced copy now through Carolina Wren Press, my wonderful publishers. Did I mention they have a mission to publish underrepresented authors? So very cool and wonderful, and worth supporting.

After August 1st, you can order the book on Amazon and the usual online channels. But you'd be doing Carolina Wren Press a solid by ordering the novel through them. When you do, you'll be supporting a terrific team, with big hearts and a love for literature. Can't say the same about Amazon, know what I mean?

So, to sweeten the pot, anyone who orders an advanced copy of A Falling Star via the Carolina Wren Press website will get either a stamped and signed bookmark or bookplate (your choice). Just let me know you've ordered your book. You can comment here, send me an email, holler at me on Twitter, etc. Tell me if you'd like a bookmark or bookplate, and it'll be in the mail for you with my thanks.

Why the goldfish, you're wondering?

Here's an excerpt from the novel:

Wheres Belén? Daysy asked again, and Angel, gravel-voiced, told her that Belén had turned into a beautiful goldfish, with a long white tail, like a brides veil. Daysy sat pensive for a moment, then she cupped her hands just under her chin and whispered, When she comes out of the faucet, Ill catch her, like this. The three of them listened to the sound of the waves slapping the side of the boat for a long time.

Where the goldfish thing came from: This idea of turning into a goldfish and traversing the 90 miles from Cuba to Miami is something I heard as a child, when my grandmother's beloved nephew said a similar thing to her in a letter. He eventually did come to Miami and lived in my house with his family for a short while.

So, get to ordering those advanced copies here, and then shoot me a message. Meanwhile, I'll start crafting some bookmarks and bookplates!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

The delightful writer Glenda Bailey-Mershon, author of EVE'S GARDEN (which you can preorder now) tagged me on this blog tour. Here are my answers, followed by the wonderful writer I get to tag next (this is fun!).

1) What am I working on?

Ha. HA. HAAAHAHAAAAA. Did I say this was going to be fun? Well, this is the one question you don't ask a writer who's been stuck on the first third of a new novel for a some time. It's also not something you ask the superstitious sort, who fear that talking about works in progress dilutes them in some way. Let's just say that it's set in the 1890's, in Spain and Chicago, and leave it be, okay?

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write literary historical fiction, in the main. Aside from the sense that there aren't very many works of literary historical fiction featuring Cubans in the 19 century, I don't worry too much about how my work is different. Instead, I read stuff by Hilary Mantel and Kate Morton, and think, Damn. How can I be better?

3) Why do I write what I do?

I keep thinking, the next novel won't be historical. And yet, I find myself time and again in a museum, reading a book, watching a documentary, listening to a lecture or a friend telling an old story over dinner, and BAM, I'm back THERE, wherever that is. The story that bubbles up to the surface is a new perspective on something from long ago. I've always loved history, and I've said before that in another life I was a Classicist, knee-deep in ancient Mycenean mud or something...

4) How does my writing process work?

Ha. HA. HAAAHAAHAAAAA. AGAIN. I don't have much of a process, and it changes with each book I've written. But, for the sake of this blog post, here's my CURRENT process:  at first, I smothered myself in research. Then, I outlined. Then I drafedt, and re-outlined, and drafted and got stuck. Really stuck. Now I have to work myself out of the corner I've painted. This "process" will get repeated about a hundred times. Efficiency is not my thing, y'all.

Keeping in mind that I'm in that dreaded first third part of the process right now gives you a sense of where my head is at! Here's hoping that the enormously talented Lila Quintero Weaver, who is up next week with a blog post of her own, is in a much happier writing place at the moment!

Lila is a graphic novelist, and an incredible artist and writer. Her graphic memoir, Darkroom, tells the Lila's of growing up in Alabama during the Civil Rights era, with her Argentinean family. It's an outsider's perspective of a turbulent time, rendered artistically and poignantly.

Obviously, I'm a big fan of Lila's work, and SO glad she's part of this year's Auburn Writers Conference, happening in Auburn from October 17-18.

So, Lila. TAG. YOU'RE IT.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Book Trailer Premiere (It's a Cuban Thing)


I don't have one of those model-home refrigerators. Mine is covered in photographs and magnets. Cluttered and wonderful. And among them is a "It's a Cuban Thing" magnet I picked up somewhere years ago.

It's a phrase that reminds me of a couple of things:

  • That though Cubans on the island and in the diaspora are separated by ocean, by land, by politics, we're still one people.
  • That my family and I in Auburn, Alabama aren't truly alone. The bonds of family and friendship in the Cuban-American community mean that my girls have always had their abuelas here for their birthdays, and their cousins, too. We may live ten hours from Miami, but Penny and Mary-Blair can name over fifteen cousins and feel as if they live right around the corner.
  • That, as someone pointed out the other day, every Cuban has a friend, a tia, tio, third cousin, who can fix an A/C unit, a car, install cable, put up a ceiling fan, hook you up at Starbucks, pick you up from the airport, serve as your lawyer, you name it. We are a well-connected and multi-talented people:)
That last point brings me to this moment. When working with the wonderful folks at Carolina Wren Press, who published my new novel, A FALLING STAR, I was able to tap so many wonderful Cubans to help bring the book into the world.

The cover image is by Cuban-American photographer, Elaine Palladino. The little girl on the cover is a young Cubanita named Victoria.

As for the book trailer (which, PREMIERE, VOILA, IT'S HERE!), it was produced and directed by the incomparable Lucy Darby, another young Cuban-American, of the Californian variety;)

Have you seen it yet? Lucy did a phenomenal job:

People keep telling me they get misty when the song starts to play, and I'm glad I wasn't the only one to feel that way. Also, the little girl in the video is Victoria again. Isn't she gorgeous??

Of course, when it came time to reveal the book trailer, I tapped yet another fabulous Cubana, Marta Darby, of My Big Fat Cuban Family blog. If you don't read Marta on the regular you should! She always says how "accidentally cool" her life it. I say she's built that coolness brick by brick. No accidents there. Marta is amazing.

AND, she's generously offered her blog space to run a giveaway of A FALLING STAR in conjunction with the book trailer premier.  Go see her blog for details, and enter!

Also, please share the book trailer, tweet about the novel, add it on Goodreads, and get the word out. Carolina Wren Press is a publisher dedicated to getting diverse books out into the world. They are good people and book lovers to the core. And as the recent Twitter campaign suggests, #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

Finally, you can support Carolina Wren Press by ordering your own advanced copy of A FALLING STAR here. And if you leave a comment here telling me you've ordered your copy (or send me a message or a Tweet), I'll send you a little thank you gift.

It's a Cuban thing, y'all, which means to say, it's a thing of love and beauty, family and friendship, and the warmest of joys.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My First Vlog! And a Giveaway!

I screwed my courage to the sticking place and finally posted my first vlog. And just so it's worth your while, I'm doing a giveaway of an autographed copy of A FALLING STAR and a new copy of Alice Hoffman's The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Just tweet about your favorite museum to win, and include this hashtag: #AFallingStar

Details, and a peek into my book buying obsession, plus an excerpt from A FALLING STAR, in the video.

Share broadly, friends!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Cleaning, Goodreads, and a Giveaway

What is it about springtime that invites cleaning? Once mid-March rolls around, I get all twitchy about sprucing up the house, envisioning all sorts of home-improvement plans.

Most of these plans involve daydreams of the Property Brothers and expensive granite countertops. Ahem.

"We can totally build you a bookcase, girl."

Then, I snap to, and think about the things I CAN do. One of these things is to clear out some space on the old bookshelves, which are full and sagging with the weight of many wonderful words.

It just so happens that A FALLING STAR is now available to add on Goodreads.

And lo, an idea for spring cleaning + a chance to talk about my new book is born.

Here's what we're going to do. Everyone who adds A FALLING STAR to their Goodreads "want to read" shelf will be eligible to win an advanced copy of A FALLING STAR and a book from my spring cleaning shelf. We'll do a couple of these, okay?

For this first round, the book up for grabs is Andrea Barrett's collection of short stories, Ship Fever.

Ship Fever won the 1996 National Book Award, and is just gut-wrenchingly beautiful. It combines many of the things I love--historical settings (the 19th century), love stories, and SCIENTISTS.

All you have to do to win Ship Fever and an advanced copy of a A FALLING STAR, is add A FALLING STAR to your Goodreads shelf. Click here to do that. Go on. It'll only take a second.

There you go. You're in. I'll announce the winner next Friday, April 4th!

Stay tuned for the next giveaway!

And if you're the impatient sort, you can order your own advanced copy of A FALLING STAR via the Carolina Wren Press website. Click here for that.