*My ENTIRE backlist is still on SALE for just 99 cents now through the end of the year!*
In honor of the holidays as well as the publishing anniversary of my first book, The Things They Didn’t Bury, my ENTIRE BACKLIST is NOW ON SALE for just 99 cents through the end of the year! This past year has been full of so many firsts. I moved out of state for the first time. I published my first novel. And even though it’s been an emotional roller coaster sharing my work with the world, slowly but surely, I’ve reached more readers than I could have imagined and I’ve developed so many special relationships with those readers. That’s truly been my greatest joy this year and I just want each and every one of them to know how much they are appreciated! Here’s to an even more amazing 2014! Merry Christmas!
*To celebrate my one year blogging anniversary, I’ll be posting some of my favorite posts from 2013 through the month of December*
During a brief period in high school I thought I’d wanted to be a journalist. I hadn’t really gotten serious about writing yet. I knew that I liked it but I didn’t do it enough to know which avenue I preferred. But I knew that I’d always wanted to travel. I liked the idea of having an adventure—of seeing things and doing things that most people haven’t. It sounded exotic and dangerous and terribly exciting, everything an introvert like me would spend hours fantasizing about but never actually gather the gall to do.
I’d also been a really socially conscious teenager—at least I liked to think so. That combined with my mild self-righteousness and know-it-all attitude made me the perfect candidate for future congresswoman or UN Ambassador. Except without all of the smiling and hand shaking and general pleasantness that accompanies public figures working in the humanitarian field. I was more of the overzealous, angry variety. To me every injustice was an outrage. I cared about the fate of humanity to such an extent that the only emotion I could manage most days was anger. Yes I was a very strange kid.
I thought I was going to become this big time journalist working for National Geographic covering political prisoners and terrorist groups and the plight of the poor and I’d live out of a backpack and I would save the world. I mentioned I was self-righteous right?
But then I went to college and I took a news writing class and it was absolutely tortuous. There were too many rules. And while I understood that writing for a newspaper was not my ultimate goal and that there is room for narrative in journalism, I just knew that there was absolutely no way I’d survive that rite of passage let alone subject myself to it as an unpaid intern.
I was also taking Creative Writing courses around that time. I hadn’t declared it as my major yet but I was getting there. I had some amazing teachers. One in particular wrote both fiction and non-fiction and we really connected over the social bend to the pieces I was turning in. I was obsessed with South America and the drug war and all of the conflict in that region. I was writing about The Dirty War in Argentina and drug mules in Chile and the people living in the Andes whose native tongue was almost extinct.
There is something just so haunting and supernatural to me about Latin culture and there’s something terribly romantic about the way it clings to its traditions so fiercely, the past so intertwined in the present. Every Latino grows up knowing at least a few parables and old wives tales by heart, even ones as Americanized as me. It’s a culture built on stories. And what writer wouldn’t be drawn to that?
But I wasn’t just drawn to the subject by birth. I’ve always struggled with my identity. My mother is Hispanic and my father was white. My grandparents only spoke Spanish in the house when they were trying to hide something from their children. And even though my mom learned it anyway, she never spoke it with me—maybe because my father wouldn’t have been able to understand, maybe because she was trying to distance her new family from something I wasn’t quite aware of yet, or maybe because she just didn’t think it was important. But that cultural void was always there.
Growing up I was the only Hispanic girl in any of my AP classes. All of my friends were white. I was basically shunned by the other Latinas because apparently I thought that I was too good for them. Not only that but I didn’t speak their language. Something that I still feel a deep-rooted shame about to this day. The truth is people look down on you in the Latin community if you’re not fluent in Spanish. It makes you seem like you’re trying to distance yourself from your culture, like your ashamed of it somehow. And that makes them ashamed of you.
But even though I grew up, on the one hand feeling abandoned by that part of my culture, there always has and always will be this insatiable desire to feel like I’m a part of it.
That is the real reason why I’m so obsessed with writing about Latin culture. Because I just want to feel like I belong to it somehow. And when I started writing fiction and I realized that I could explore that same culture and those same social issues without following all of those ridiculous AP style guidelines I knew I’d finally found the right path.
My first book uses the backdrop of the Dirty War in Argentina to explore family, racism, and the concept of identity. My next book, set to debut this summer, delves into the complexities of family responsibility, good vs. evil, and the quest for redemption. But that’s not really all they’re about. Every book I’ve ever written, every book I ever will write is also about love. And while these two books may be violent and dark they are also about two broken people, their pieces so inexplicably tangled, trying to assemble what’s left of themselves into something new.
I’ve talked about broken characters before, about their importance, and about our draw to them. But when I talk about wanting to make readers feel recognized and connected, it’s much more personal than that. Because I want to be recognized too. I’m looking for a connection with my readers just as much as they are with my characters. Two books down and I’m still just looking for a place to belong in this world. Whether that’s within a culture with a sorted and seductive history, within a family that’s still drifting, our anchor lost three years ago this month, or in a community of pixelated strangers, all of us shouting into the void that is the internet, waiting to be heard. I’m still looking, waiting, and that’s why I keep writing. Because I’m still waiting to find where I belong.
*Originally posted on 5/30/13*
***ALL of my books are NOW available at Barnes & Noble so if you have a nook, now is your chance to finally get a copy!***
River has just lost the one thing that matters most to him—Nia—and all she’s left behind is a pile of scribbled love notes detailing their past and a pin-holed map planning out their future. Hopes and dreams confined to one dimension now that she’s gone and River’s too afraid to leave his hometown, crippled by the same anxiety that’s plagued his mother for as long as he can remember.
But after a strange encounter with the only girl he ever loved a week after laying her to rest, River, armed with nothing but her map and his memories, decides to finally leave and never look back. And with the help of a pair of eccentrically named siblings as well as a mutt with three legs, he sets out to do the very thing Nia always knew how to do better than he ever could—live.
From the moonlit beaches off of Florida’s east coast, to the forests of Mississippi, to Bourbon Street, Cadillac Ranch, and the Arizona desert, River is faced with not only Nia’s ghost but his own and he learns that in life there are no accidents, only miracles.
Only Nadia wasn’t waiting for them when they landed., muling drugs from Colombia and earning enough money to buy her family’s freedom to the States. They’d had a plan. Nadia would make one final drop in Boston, her siblings following her on a separate flight, leaving behind the shanty towns and the ashes of a territory war that had taken everything from them, including their parents.
Jax is the heir to the largest drug operation in Boston, every officer and city official in his brother’s back pocket. But when their mother leaves, abandoning not only her sons but a lifetime’s worth of being afraid, Jax decides to leave too. He’s seen enough. Done enough. And all he wants to be is numb—alone and frozen as he trades his mother’s old apartment for an abandoned lifeguard stand near the harbor.
He’s almost mastered it too, until he’s attacked one night by a girl he’s never seen before. Though he knows those eyes—the same one’s belonging to the girl who ran with his brother’s money, the girl his brother would find, though this time without Jax’s help. Because Jax isn’t just looking for a way out, he’s looking for a way to make amends. To be the son his mother could love again. But as Jax helps Rani find the things she’s lost, she helps him find something even more precious than redemption—a reason to live.
Gritty and raw, Orphans of Paradise isn’t just a dark exploration of the underground drug trade, but it’s the story of two broken people, their pieces so intensely tangled, trying to assemble what’s left of themselves into something new.
The war took everything. Except the truth. When Liliana and her family move back to Argentina after seeking refuge in the States during La Guerra Sucia, a lifetime’s worth of wondering comes to a head, reigniting the search for what really happened to her mother, one of the thousands of los desaparecidos—the disappeared.
With the help of a young Flamenco player who saw the atrocities committed by the military firsthand, Liliana not only makes the devastating discovery of what really happened to her mother but by forcing open the country’s old wounds as well as her own she also learns a disturbing truth about her origins that will reconstruct the lives of the people she loves most.
Seamlessly alternating between the voices of mother and daughter—one trying to survive the rising chaos of The Dirty War and the other sifting through its aftermath, The Things They Didn’t Bury is a novel about forbidden love and family secrets.
Gripping, heartbreaking and lyrical this is not a story about war or about the secrets still buried beneath its wreckage but it is a story about the things they didn’t bury, intangible and infinite—love, truth, and family.
For anyone who missed my previous post, in honor of the release of Breathing Ghosts I’m planning a blog tour for the month of October and I need your help! Anyone willing to post a spotlight, teaser, excerpt, or giveaway let me know in the comments and I’ll do a group spotlight every Friday to publicly thank and highlight each and every one of you and your blogs/projects. I’m also giving away FREE review copies to anyone willing to post a review on Goodreads, Amazon, and (hopefully soon) Barnes & Noble.
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Or let me know if you’re interested in excerpts, an interview, or giveaway in the form of Smashwords coupons.
I’m also open to any ideas anyone may have so feel free to contact me in the comments or at lzkbooks [@] gmail [.] com