Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How Being Bullied Lead to Becoming an Author

by Sandra Ramos Sandoval

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, I attended barrio schools and was bullied for my O’Briant surname. My classmates refused to believe my mom was Latina. Being a 50/50 was not easy. A bullied child is an isolated child, and reading was my escape. Not only did it allow me to learn about other cultures, but books led me on a journey into our human past and even into the future. What I learned is that there is more that humans have in common with one another than what racially, ethnically or culturally separates us. The kids who bullied me acted out of ignorance that had been passed down for generations. I was lonely, but gained strength from my isolation; I learned to make my own path.
Sandra at about age 11

My first novel, The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood, won two literary awards. It tells the story of Anglo encroachment on New Mexico as they made real their vision of Manifest Destiny.

My historical research led to an examination of war, class, education, the role of women, religion and superstition during the Mexican American War. Santa Fe, NM, an area now known as an artistic and tourist mecca, was the first foreign capital conquered by the U.S. It had a profound impact on the people there.

The war is the backdrop for the Sandoval sisters' individual coming-of-age stories in which they cope with racism, sexism, political intrigue and the power of superstition. The eldest sister, Oratoria, was a Mexican peasant adopted into the family. The other two sisters can trace their heritage back to Spain. 

Alma runs off with a Texan and experiences racism while living with his family. She is also gifted/afflicted with the “Sandoval memories.” The youngest sister, Pilar, insists on wearing men’s clothes and working with horses. All of these family attributes set them apart from the people (la gente) in their community and make them targets when the war wreaks havoc and loss.

Over 20 of my short stories have been published. Some stories don’t have identifiable Latino characters. Against the Rules, which tells the fictionalized story of how I met my husband, does not. Personal Power does. What both stories have in common are strong voices and characters who are about to defy the odds. Not all of my stories have erotica in them, but when they do there might be a bit of sexual fluidity, as with Pilar in The Sandoval Sisters.

The sequel to The Sandoval Sisters focuses on the O’Reilly siblings, Alexandra and Phil, orphaned and found wandering on the Santa Fe Trail. The Sandoval sisters adopt them (this part is family legend; my maternal grandmother was a Sandoval.)

Alexandra: “Their blood was not our blood, but we became Sandovals . . . they were set apart, and so were Phil and I. Our Anglo last name disappeared and we became the Sandoval children on every legal document of that time, but we were not la gente. We were the children of the Sandoval witches. The community would not forget the old blood.”

Sandra Ramos Sandoval grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico and spent summers in Texas with herdad.  Before her switch to writing, she was an executive recruiter in the legal field.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Guest-Blogging a Novel

This is a slightly edited re-post of C.M. Mayo’s guest-blog for the Writer’s Center’s First Person Plural back on May 5, 2010, apropos of the novel The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire.
by C.M. Mayo 

What an education the last year has been. My novel came out in hardcover last May 5th; shortly thereafter, I embarked on a cram-packed, coast-to-coast book tour, beginning with a launch at the Mexican Cultural Institute of Washington, DC, then on to bookstores as diverse as Vroman's in Pasadena, CA; and Book People in Austin TX, and book fairs including the Texas Book Festival and the Virginia Festival of the Book. As a first-time novelist, I have have been fortunate indeed. That said, this is not my first book. My short story collection, Sky Over El Nido, was published in 1995; Miraculous Air, a travel memoir of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, in 2002; and an anthology, Mexico A Traveler's Literary Companion, in 2006.  

One of the most marked changes since the mid-2000s is the increasing importance of guest-blogs for helping a book find its readers. What's a guest-blog? What you're reading right here. It's a new literary genre-- closely related to, variously, the essay, the newspaper article, and whatnots on a bulletin board.

I felt so avant garde back in 2006, when I wrote for Wendi Kaufman's now, alas, apparently abandoned "Happy Booker" blog ("If I Had an iPod: Top 5 Mexican Music Selections ") and for the travel blog, World Hum ("The Speed of Rancho Santa Ines").

But over the past year, for The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, Holy Smokes! Among many others, I've written for:

   Work-in-Progress ("How to Hang in There and Finish Your Novel"); ("What Connects You to the 1860s?");
   A Writing Life ("Break the Block in 5 Minutes");
   Largehearted Boy (Playlist for The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire);
   Red Room ("C.M. Mayo Celebrates a Batch of Bookstores");
   Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Blog ("VCCA Memories"); and more.

And I am just one of legion of writers doing the same for their books.

Lessons learned:

1. Trying to do a book tour and keep up with email and do guest-blogs, it’s too much. It’s best to start coming up with ideas for guest-blogs, and bloggers to pitch, not on-the-fly, but months before the book comes off the presses.

2. Whether you’ve gotten the invitation to guest-blog or not, don’t wait to start writing! Assemble your cache of polished, short pieces (500-750 words), including links (to your web page, your book, and anything else most readers would want to click on for more information.) If one blog cannot use a given post, another can—and if not, you can always post it on your own.

3. Once your guets-blog post appears, re-post it with a thankyou and link back to your host on your own blog, website, FB page, etc. This is not only good for your book, but a courtesy to your host.

4. If your book has a publicist, don’t forget to send her the link to your guest-blog. She just might do something amazing with it.

C.M. Mayo has
been living in and writing about Mexico for many years. Twenty three, last she counted. She is the author of THE LAST PRINCE OF THE MEXICAN EMPIRE, an historical novel based on the true story, which was named one of the best books of 2009 by Library Journal; also, MIRACULOUS AIR: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico; a collection of Mexican literary works in translation, MEXICO: A TRAVELER'S LITERARY COMPANION; and SKY OVER EL NIDO, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction. Herlatest translation is SPIRITIST MANUAL, the secret book originally published in 1911 as MANUAL ESPIRITA, by Francisco I. Madero.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Member News

We have several new books out this month and a respectable number of awards. Congratulations to all!
New Releases

Jonnie Martin, Wrangle is set on a Texas quarter horse ranch in the 1970s.  Into this tactile and sometimes dangerous world comes city-bred Shannon Murphy to help her father manage his ranch and train-up a promising race horse.  Despite a series of setbacks, the success of the ranch's prized race horse seems assured until a tragedy strikes – a tragedy for which some blame Shannon. Exiling herself to the Davis Mountains, Shannon embarks on a journey of self-reflection that challenges her every notion of life, love and family loyalty.  More details on Amazon and on Jonnie’s website.

Heidi M. Thomas, Dare to Dream, completes the “Cowgirl Dreams” trilogy based on her rodeo-riding grandmother. In the spring of 1941, Nettie, now age 36, is regaining her heart and spirit, and she is determined to ride again at an event in Cheyenne, Wyoming. To her dismay, the male-dominated Rodeo Association of America enforces its rule barring women from riding rough stock and denies her the chance to ride. Her fury at the discrimination can’t change things for women—yet. this sweeping rodeo saga parallels the evolution of women’s rodeo from the golden years of the 1920s, producing many world champion riders, and shows its decline, beginning in the 1930s and ending with World War II in 1941.

Heidi M. Thomas, Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream, the first two novels in the “Cowgirl Dreams” trilogy have been re-published by Globe-Pequot/Twodot Press.

Shanna Hatfield, Ilsa (Pendleton Petticoats Book 3) One of the most talented seamstresses of her time, Ilsa Thorsen could sell her creations anywhere in the world, but she ends up on her sister’s ranch in the western town of Pendleton, Oregon. Disgusted with the dust, smells, and nearly every aspect of rural life, Ilsa wonders how she’ll survive, particularly with the arrogant Tony Campanelli constantly underfoot.
Enterprising and hardworking, Tony Campanelli embraces life in the small community of Pendleton with his sister and their friends, especially since Ilsa Thorsen moves to town. The uptight seamstress just needs to learn to have some fun and Tony’s convinced he’s the man for the job. Links: Kindle Amazon

Amron Gravett and Christine Robinette, Chimney Rock National Monument (Arcadia Publishing)
The appreciation of the Chimney Rock region goes back more than 1,000 years. Here in southwestern Colorado, the Ancestral Puebloans inhabited the northern San Juan River Basin as an outlier community of Chaco Canyon. This book explores the archaeology, geography, geology, and stewards of this archaeoastronomy site and its nonrenewable, cultural resources.  

 Marcia Melton, Joe Henry's Journey: Up the Missouri River to the Montana Gold Fields, 1862 (Raven Publishing) When eleven-year-old Joe Henry Grummond and his Pa board a steamboat going up the "Big Muddy" Missouri River to Fort Benton, Montana, they travel into the hard life of the frontier. Come along as Joe Henry pans for gold, finds friends, has adventures, meets the prettiest girl he's ever seen, and learns about law and lawlessness, vigilantism, and the elusive questions of justice.For middle grade readers. 

C.M. Mayo, the Spanish edition of MetaphysicalOdyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book,Spiritist Manual is now out in Kindle. The Spanish translation Odisea metafísica hacia la RevoluciónMexicana: Francisco I. Madero y su libro secreto, Manual espírita Por C.M. Mayo, traducido por Agustín Cadena (Dancing Chiva) Francisco I. Madero was the leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution and President of Mexico, 1911-1913.

Amy Hale Auker has had an essay, "Infinite Pink," published in a new women’s magazine SteviZine.


Correction from April
Pamela Nowak's historical romance novel, Changes, is a Colorado Book Award finalist in the genre fiction category. 

Kayann Short, A Bushel¹s Worth: An Ecobiography, has received a silver medal in Green Living and Sustainability for the Nautilus ³Better Books for a Better World Awards.

Andrea Downing, LAWLESS LOVE is finalist for the 2014 Best historical Novella RONE Award: Lacey Everhart has carved out a tough existence in the wilds of 1880s Wyoming, working hard to build a secure life for herself and her younger brother, Luke. She will stop at nothing to protect what’s hers and keep them safe. Even if it means keeping a secret that could destroy their lives.

Tammy Hinton Western Fictioneers has named Retribution as a finalist for their Best Book award.

PageLambert has been selected for The Spirited Woman's Top 12 Spring Pick List. LIFE IS AN ADVENTURE! WRITE IT! LIVE IT! LOVE IT!  Author, retreat leader, book doctor, writing coach, Page helps women creatively reconnect!   Page was also a finalist in the Colorado Authors’ League awards for fiction, and in 2013 was awarded her the 2013 Wise Woman Fellowship by AROHO.

Susan Tweit won the 2014 Colorado Authors' League award for her blog. This is Susan’s third CAL Award  and recognized a series of blog posts she wrote that are the seeds for the memoir she’s working on. Susan and Page at the awards ceremony.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Indie Bookseller’s Misunderstanding

by Carol Buchanan

(This post appeared recently on Carol's own blog, Writing Near the Swan Range.) 

This morning in “Publisher’s Weekly Daily,” a email newsletter that I subscribe to from Publisher’s Weekly, I came across a bookseller’s misunderstanding about selling books by authors who use CreateSpace as our printer/distributor. And the author, apparently, did not understand his/her precise relationship with either CreateSpace or Amazon.

Here’s the situation: A self-published author had approached the bookseller about carrying his/her book. Both erred in this transaction because they both had too little information. The upshot was that the bookseller turned the author away — at least temporarily. 

Neither of them understood the following four concepts about an author’s relationship with CreateSpace, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon. (I originally wrote this in response to the bookseller’s blog post in PW.)

1. Books like your local author’s and mine are not “published by Amazon” when we have them printed by CreateSpace. CreateSpace is not a publisher; it is a printer/distributor. The book’s publisher is your local author, not CreateSpace and definitely not Amazon. The biggest advantage we have when using CreateSpace is that our books go directly to Amazon to be sold on its website.

2. We CreateSpace authors pay for our books to be printed and distributed by CreateSpace. Some authors pay for design services and marketing services as well as printing and distribution. Some pay nothing up front. In that case, the book’s gross sales are split into thirds, approximately. The author gets 1/3; CS gets about 1/3; and Amazon gets 1/3. That is not a rip-off, because the books are POD, and both businesses have to recoup their costs. Like you, they have to pay employees, keep the lights on, and provide benefits. Amazon earns its cut from maintaining and developing the website, so that all my books sold through them are delivered promptly when ordered, even though they may not actually exist at the time of the sale. (POD again.) All authors on the Amazon website have our individual author pages that we can use for marketing our books.

3. You can set up your own direct reseller account with CreateSpace just as you do with other distributors. My indie bookseller customers do precisely that. Or they order from me, and I give them the standard bookstore discount of 40% off the retail price that I have set. (I do not sell on consignment, though.)

4. If your local author clicked a few simple buttons on the CreateSpace website, s/he would have selected “Expanded Distribution” channels. This option, provided free to us, enables our books to be listed with Baker & Taylor, Ingram, etc. You could then order from your regular wholesaler at the rates you’re accustomed to. We get about 5% – 10% when you do that, but we also get more readers and you make sales. To me that’s a win-win. 

My bookstore customers who order that way often have several other titles they can put into one invoice and pay one bill to their distributor. It’s very convenient for them. 

I’d recommend that you share this information with your local author, who may not have known about any of this. Many don’t, and that’s unfortunate because author and bookseller both can miss out on new customers.

Carol Buchanan is the author of God's Thunderbolt, Gold Under Ice, The Devil in the Bottle, and her fourth book, The Ghost at Beaverhead Rock, will be out later this year. She says, "After generations of courageous people on both sides of my family, I alone remain to tell their stories, to ensure they do not lie forgotten in their graves. For me, writing is a calling, and telling their stories of courage, faith, and hope is my mission. To write stories of courage, faith and hope in people who faced dangerous choices to survive in the West. Some of the people I write about walked the earth; the fictional ones walk only in the landscape of my mind.