"What we do in this life, echoes in eternity."
Maximus, Gladiator
"Our creator would never have made such lovely days, and given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Thursday, May 14, 2015

#Storymakers15

I love them!
This weekend I'm heading off to my fifth Storymakers conference. I look forward to this conference every year because of the quality of the presentations and classes. Every year since my first one, I've pitched an agent, and this year I'm so happy I won't be pitching because I have an agent! I'm still so thrilled about signing with Linda and the Prospect Agency, that sometimes I look at my kids and exclaim, "I have an agent!!!"

Although I have an agent and my manuscript won the New Visions Honor, and I'm doing the MFA through the Vermont College of Fine Arts, I'm passionate about learning my craft and becoming better and better every day. This conference is chock full of wonderful classes for writers in every stage of the journey: newbie to experienced. I'm almost done packing for the conference. See my pretty business cards?

This year is extra especial for me because my son, my Gorgeous Boy, is coming along. I'm so looking forward to spending time with him and so many wonderful friends! Martine Leavitt is presenting a class and although I'll be in a workshop with her this summer, I can't waste this chance to learn from her!

If you'll be at Storymakers, say hi. I love meeting new friends, and although I'm an introvert, I love talking about books, soccer, and dance. I hope to see you there!

Friday, May 08, 2015

Mother's Day Week deluge of happy news

I'll be studying here this summer!
I've heard people say that overnight success takes years in the making. These past few weeks I had an a torrent of good news that left me reeling for breath. How I love that word, reeling! Since I started writing seriously, I had the goal of finding a literary agent that would love my work so much, they'd be passionate to share it with the world. I queried two books. The first one I queried a few years ago wasn't ready to go into the world. I had a great reception for the query and the first chapter (I even won the First Chapter Contest at Storymakers!), but ultimately, I didn't find representation. I kept writing, and learning, and attending conferences, and getting up at 4 in the morning to get some quiet writing time, and submitting, and critiquing, and receiving critiques, and  writing some more. Writing and reading every day, all the time. Last year I started querying THE REEL WISH, my Latina Irish dancer novel. I had a great request rate too. I had dozens of full manuscripts being considered by agents. A wonderful agent even called me and suggested that
I earn the silver medal for the Honor! Isn't it
a gorgeous design?
I revise and resubmit. I did. I wrote a different book: ON THESE MAGIC SHORES. I submitted that book to Lee and Low's New Vision Award. I started my MFA program at VCFA. I found out I was a finalist for the New Visions. I received two offers of representation in the same week! And then another one. I sent a crazy query to a new agent that felt like a perfect match. Twenty-four hours later she offered representation. I found out I won the New Vision Award Honor. I found out I was accepted to the summer residency in Bath Spa. I could finally announce that I'm now represented by Linda Camacho from the Prospect Agency!
Again, I'm reeling with happiness and gratitude! And then on Tuesday, Barcelona won 3-0 against Bayern Munich, and Messi did this!

Isn't it a work of art? And then I found some audio from Polanco, one of my favorite ESPN commentators. Even if you don't understand the language, the emotion with which he talks about this goal reflects how I feel about signing with an agent, winning the Honor, and making it into Bath Spa!


My dear friends, my cup runneth over. I'm so humbled by all the words of support during these years trying to achieve these goals! I expect many trials ahead. My road in this writing career is just starting! I'm so excited to keep working and writing books and sharing my stories with the world. I only have a tiny Mother's Day wish: to be able to call my mom and tell her my wonderful news. I can't do that anymore. I just hope that she's smiling in Heaven, celebrating these goals that are also hers. Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful women who make this world a wonderful place and who made these dreams of mine come true!



Friday, May 01, 2015

How Writing Is Like Riding A Bike--Kinda

Today I rode my brand new bike to Baby Hulk's preschool. Since I started school I haven't been exercising much. Every once in a while I'd pop an exercise video, like Insanity or P90X or run/walk to the school. But the videos became boring. Baby Hulk insisted on getting out of the stroller to pick every. Single. Dandelion along the way. A 20 minute walk became a two hour event, especially because the most awesome park in our town is right on the way home from from the preschool. When the weather turned nice, I wanted to ride my bike. Put Hulk in one of those cute baby seats I'd seen in Argentina growing up, or more recently, in Amsterdam, where everyone rides their bike. But the seat I got didn't fit my bike, so I convinced Jeff that if he got me an awesome bucket bike, or Madsen bike, I'd ride it every day (it was his fault for telling me to follow them on Instagram).
He's like, "Thank you, angels!!! We made it alive!"

He did get it for me as an early mother's day, and I was thrilled, because--hello!--isn't it gorgeous? On my trial ride I did okay. When my Princess Peach wanted to hop on (there is room for 4! people), I just couldn't take the curve, and fell. From then on, we all decided I'd only take Baby Hulk until I became more comfortable with the bike. After much hesitation, Baby Hulk agreed to get back on the bike (Do Not Fall, MOM!), and today is Friday, so here are some of my thoughts as I climbed the hillS up to my house.


  1. The hardest thing is to start. I know I'll have to face The Climb at the end, and I dread it so very much.
  2. BUT: Riding a bike is one of my favorite things ever. When I first jump on it and we ride down the hill? WEEEEEEEEeeeeeee! What a thrill! It feels so wonderful! The wind on my face. My legs hardly pumping because we're going downhill. Before I know it, we're there at the preschool, and we have to wait a few minutes before going in because we're so early.
  3. An easy downhill hill gives you a push for when you have to start climbing. Sometimes I have wonderful writing days, and I take advantage of them and write all the words because I know I'll reach a point where I'll need the extra cushioning of being ahead in the game. 
  4. Even when it's hard, do not stop! You'll fall. It's okay to go slowly. But don't stop! Unless you get off the bike first. Sometimes it's not the best idea to first draft, write two critical essays, and write a brand new especial free lance project. Sometimes I have to get off the bike of one of my many mom-roles or I'll fall and hurt myself badly. I have fallen, hard, and I don't recommend it.
  5. Learn how to fall to minimize damage. Sometimes a project is non-viable. Put it away. Return to it later or use it as a learning experience. There are no wasted workouts!
  6. Wear a helmet. In writing, more than a helmet you need an armor, especially to protect your heart. I've let myself be excessively aware of my shortcomings as a writer and given more importance to other people's critiques than I should have. It's okay to take criticism. It's vital! Just don't let it hit you so hard that you can't write any more.
  7. Look around you and enjoy the scenery. Writing is how I analyze life, how I cope with things, how I think. But life is beautiful and without life, there wouldn't be anything worth writing about.
  8. Change gears accordingly. It can't be NaNo speed every month of the year. Sometimes I write tons of short stories and poems, other times I write a whole novel in 12 days. Sometimes I don't write at all.
  9. You never forget how to ride a bike. But once you get on a bike after a long time, you might be a little rusty. Be gentle with yourself! Whenever I've taken a break from writing, it takes me a while to get back on a rhythm (I don't take writing breaks often though. Sometimes it's just a day or two, but I don't even stop writing for long periods of time or I'd go even crazier).
  10. Don't pay attention to the cars--or oh my gosh!--the bikes that will pass you as if you're just walking. Don't try to beat anyone else but the rider you were yesterday or the year before.
Riding a bike is different for everyone. My ballerina daughter took off on her bike after her dad removed the training wheels like she'd been riding a two-wheeler forever. She has perfect balance and a core that makes me so, so jealous and proud at the same time! I, on the other hand, never had training wheels. I fell so many times when I was learning that I still have scars on my knees. Granted, I learned how to ride on a bike way to big for me, and I didn't have my own until my husband gave me one for Christmas a few years ago. Sometimes if you don't use the right tools or have a good teacher, learning can be painful. But guess what? I still learned how, and I totally love it. And that feeling when you want to quit, but then you look up and see your house Right. There. And your two little dogs bark in encouragement, and you park the bike, and in wobbly knees you walk in the house to finally start writing? That's the best feeling ever.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

I AM

My short story for 30 Days, 30 Stories is up at the Utah Children's Writers Blog today. To save you the click, here it is. I hope you enjoy it!

I Am

Where are you from? they ask.
Your moms from here. Your dads from there, they say.
Im from here, from today, same as everyone else, I say.
No, where are you really from? they insist.
I ask Abuelo because he knows everything,
and like me, he looks like he doesnt belong.
Where am I from?
Abuelo thinks. His eyes squint, like hes looking inside his heart for an answer.
You come from the Pampas, the open free land, he says.
Youre from the gaucho, brave and strong. From the brown river that cleanses and feeds the land that gives us the grain for our bread, the milk from the cows.
Youre from mountains so high they tickle Señor Cielos belly,
where the condor roosts his family
 and the jaguar prowls the night.
But youre also from the warm, blue oceans,
and the elegant palm trees that stretch their fingers to caress the waves.
Youre from a tiny singing frog that calls the island people home when the sun goes to sleep.
Youre from hurricanes and dark storms.
From the copper warriors that rode the ocean and worshipped the silver moon.
Youre from sea explorers, from their courage and their maps.
From two cousins that escaped war in the land that Jesus walked,
 From these new shores where they built a home for all of us.
Youre from the grandmothers who look for their grandchildren, waiting, always waiting  in a plaza, their white handkerchiefs wrapping the sorrow of their thoughts.
Youre from Pacific and Atlantic, Mediterranean and Caribbean.
You come from the sunshine that lights our path in this world and the rain that washes away our mistakes.
But Abuelo, I ask, Where am I really from?
Abuelo laughs. You want a place?
Then know that youre from here, he points to his temple,
from my dreams of freedom and books.
He points to his heart,
 Youre from here, from my love and the love of all those before us,
those who dreamed of you, free to ask questions and have a future.
Youre from all of us.
I am.
Im not from here, and Im not from there. Im from dreams and hopes,
from hard work and love. 
I am.


Yamile Saied Méndez was born and raised in Argentina, but has lived in Utah half of her life. She's a mother of five, lover of futbol, Irish dancing, and books. She's a free lance writer and a MFA candidate at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her musings can be read at www.yamilesm

Friday, April 24, 2015

World Book Day

Yesterday was World Book Day. Every day is now World Day This or That, but yesterday, when I saw the post of astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, I had to share my own tribute to my beloved books.

First of all, she's an astronaut, and although it's a cliche, I wanted to be an austronaut until I was about sixteen years old. Second, I love miniature books, and the fact that she chose to bring some along to the ultimate adventure just blew my mind. Third, her words; "They answer questions I  didn't yet have." So, so true!

So here's mine. Two videos of my sweet Teddy Bear, also previously known as Baby Hulk and Miracle Baby, reading Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Panda Bear, Panda Bear. He's not a little baby anymore, but his status of fifth child has granted him eternal babyhood and favoriteness in our family.

Books saved my life. They make me happy. They make me dream. They make me think and feel. Why are books important to you? Which ones are your favorite?

I see an adorable gordito reading to me




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Neil Gaiman on Being a Writer and Fears

Last Saturday, instead of going to the Real Salt Lake game (we have season tickets!), I took my handsome son on a date. Not to a concert, but to see another kind of rockstar. My kind of rockstar: a writer, and none other than Neil Gaiman.

He did NOT want a selfie with me
The drive to Park City is gorgeous, and while my son napped, I listened to the audio book of Good Omens, which Neil Gaiman co-wrote with Terry Pratchett. In one section I was laughing so hard that my son woke up, so he listened to Keane and Coldplay instead. Sometimes when I haven't heard some songs for a while, and I go back to them, I remember how much I love them for the melody, but especially the lyrics. I feel the same way with favorite books. But anyway, the Park City High School  Eccless auditorium was packed. Everyone looked like we were about to see Santa Claus or another mythical creature. In a way, Neil Gaiman is that mythical creature that can create stories for both adults and children with the same magisterial skill. When he walked on-stage, he got a standing ovation. "Sit down," he said. "A standing ovation when I haven't even started is nice, but also very silly. Sit down." Chastised, but smiling like goons, the audience (including myself) sat down, ready to drink in his words. In a way, listening to him was a little like reading his books: like falling into a dream or trance, and once awake, you know you loved every second of it, but once you try to put the feeling into words, the magic is gone and you can just say, "it was wonderful!" You had to be there to understand the energy in the room. The interviewer (I forgot his name) was very skilled, directing the conversation but never taking charge.
Neil on stage

Neil said he never consciously wanted to be a writer. Instead, he had these very vivid daydreams of him going to an alternate world with a copy of The Hobbit, and then finding an adult to type the whole thing. Getting rid of the witness, and then sending the "manuscript" off to a publisher that would help him become the author of The Hobbit. Or, he wanted to kidnap all of his favorite authors through time and space and MAKE them collaborate on the ultimate novel and then publish it as his own. None of the plans actually involved him doing the work of writing the book though :-)

He said that his favorite birthday present was when he turned 9 and his parents gave him the reading shed he'd asked for. Talk about lucky! I've been dreaming about this modern-sheds so I can have my
I want a writer shed!!!! 
own little writing/reading/sleeping space! My husband is kind of worried I want to move out on my own (not forever! Just a few hours in the day and a few nights here and there!). I'll keep asking for it and see if it works like it did with Neil. Neil, we're on a first name basis, he and I :-)

Me, fangirling. Photo cred: my son
He finally said that once when he was in his twenties, he realized that he didn't want to reach the end of his life and realize that he could've been a writer, but that he hadn't given himself the chance. He decided to try, even if he failed. He didn't, at least from an outsider's point of view, but like every writer, he suffered his share of rejection. He just kept going. That was my favorite advice of the night. Keep going and pursue your dreams!

Neil has a new book out, Trigger Warning, a collection of short stories. I can't wait to dive into it, but I'm in the middle of Packet 4 preparation. I can't wait to get the critical essays done to get them off my mind!
My boys
I'm also reading Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby. My friend R. recommended it to me, and she read me a passage from it that kept me thinking and thinking about it. Well, I started it last night at 1030. You know how that ended. Needless to say, I'll need major divine intervention to get through today (carpool at 9 pm. Ouch!). At least Barça won yesterday against Paris St. Germain, and although my darling Leo Messi didn't score, we're through to the next round! That's it for today! I'm also working on two short stories. One for the Need Diverse Books short story contest in honor of Walter Dean Myers, and another for the Bath Short Story Award. They're both due April 27th. Are you entering?
THE PURSE!!! Isn't it gorgeous? 



Monday, April 13, 2015

Scenes and Early Readers

My kids' second Spring break is over and I'm in full production mode for Packet 4 and my free lance project in a non-fiction project. I've been toying with chapter books and early readers these past few days, and I've been trying to read as many chapter books as possible. I'm shocked (not really. Maybe a little) by the lack of diversity in early readers and chapter books. I only found KEENA FORD, by Melissa Thompson and RUBY AND THE BOOKER BOYS, by Derrick Barnes, and DYAMONDE DANIEL, by Nikki Grimes. I found SOFIA MARTINEZ, but I haven't received it yet, and I'm anxiously waiting to read it with my daughter who's in second grade and loves chapter books. More than ever, We Need Diverse Books in which every child may see herself.


I've also been studying on scene, and one of my VCFA friends recommended THE SCENE BOOK, by Sandra Scofield. It's a treasure trove of advice that's keeping me up at night thinking about my WIP. I've also been up reading Nation, by Terry Prachett and because of some wonderful news I can't wait to share with everyone.

Books. Wonderful books. I love to see them, talk about them, touch them, arrange them in shelves and find them under my kids' pillows every morning when I make their beds :-)

What books are you reading?

Monday, April 06, 2015

He Lives and Here We Go Again

Last time I updated the blog, I went ahead and purchased the domain with my name. Blogger makes the transition super easy and painless, so now I (and this blog) can be found by going to www.yamilesmendez.com. Pretty sweet, huh? I had a wonderful weekend with my family. Although the brunt of the cooking and the Easter preparations fall on me, my writing was relegated to the bottom of my priorities, but I still got some done. If anything, I've been journaling/brainstorming/free-writing every day, which keeps the writing muscles warm, both in my typing fingers and my mind. Every time I hit a creativity block, it's because I have simply not shown up at the page.

I want to link up to some wonderful websites that have helped me tremendously lately. This wonderful blog by Emma Darwin, This Itch of Writing, has the most life-changing advice I've ever read on point of view and psychic distance. I learn of it from my wonderful advisor, Mary Quattlebaum whose help is making me a better writer than I ever thought possible. I also started subscribing to The Skimm, a daily newsletter that gives me the latest news before I start my day. It's April, and that means 30 Days, 30 Stories is in full swing. At least, it should be. In the past a different author published a short children's story, poem, etc, on the blog. This year, there aren't enough tributes, er, volunteers, so the blog has been sadly quit the whole weekend. If you want to participate, please contact Bruce and he'll assign you a day or work things out with you. You don't need to be a writer, or a children's writer to share. It's fun, stress free, and a great way to connect with other people. This is one of my favorite events of the year.

Last of all, I'm energized about Easter Sunday. I miss Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas in glorious, beautiful summer. But Easter in the North, with Spring's promise of re-birth and second chances and life, can't be beat. I know that Jesus lives, and I love him, and I'm grateful for another week, another Monday to fight for my goals. And if you need an excuse to smile this Monday morning, here's a little gift. Go ahead and be different!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

New Visions Award Finalist and the second half of the semester

At 2 in the morning I clicked send, and Packet 3 of 5 was out of my hands. Unbelievably, this was my easiest packet although I had only three weeks to work on it, instead of four. Maybe it was so because I've been reading ahead. I remember that when I first found out the packet requirements, I was most nervous about the reading. Ten to Fifteen books per packet! How was I ever going to read so much. But when I was halfway through packet 1, I realized I had passed the required amount of books, and I could add the extra ones to my next packet. The reading became problematic when I realized I'd rather read and mark up books all day long thank work on my writing. Now I'm forcing myself to read slower and with more attention. Right now I'm reading Sorrow's Knot by Eric Bow, and I'm blown away by its beauty and richness!   

Packet 3 is sent, but I'm deep into drafting, getting ready for Packet 4. Even if my advisor assigns me something different from what I'm working on, I like to keep the momentum, my writing muscles warm and alert. So even though it's snowing here for the fourth time this year, in my mind I'll be in beautiful Puerto Rico as I device more trouble for my main character.

As the post title suggests, I am a finalist in Lee and Low's New Visions Award with my middle grade ON THESE MAGIC SHORES. I loved working on that manuscript, and although all I can do now is wait for the announcement, my fingers are itching for a chance to go back to it and revise it. 
Here's Lee and Low's official announcement. I'm so honored to be among such a group of talented and hard working women! I can't wait until each of these books is published! 

And last but not least in this update, I wanted to share that I have received my first check for freelance writing! It's a modest amount, but it means the world to me. It means someone liked my three stories so much they were willing to pay for them, and guess what? They're getting illustrated! I haven't cashed it yet because I love looking at it and the encouragement letters I got from three dear friends. They remind me I can do this, I'm not alone, and all the work is worth it!

 


Friday, January 16, 2015

Cold!

I'm exhausted tonight, but I'll just post a picture of the day. It's so cold! I'm grateful I brought an electric blanket. Best purchase ever. 

Rolling up my sleeves

Today I met with my advisor, the amazing Mary Quattlebaum and we went over my study plan for the semester. It feels so surreal to be in the program! Today my workshop critiqued my piece, and I was so encouraged by the wonderful comments and advice. What a wonderful residency this has been so far. We're half way through, and I feel like this is Hogwarts and that I've been given a wonderful gift just by being allowed to be here. 

Today my word is "inspired," especially after listening to Katherine Paterson who received an honorary doctorate from VCFA. She's exactly who I want to be when I grow up as a writer, not because I write the same stuff she writes, not even similar, but because she's always approached writing for children with respect and devotion for children, our target audience. Today I'm INSPIRED!

Advisors

Today Suma and I walked to town in -17 weather to eat some pizza. The food was worth the trek. We also found out who our advisors for this semester are. Best Chritmas Eve-like feeling ever. Here's a picture of the teachers looking down as the students celebrated out assignments. I'm going to be working with Mary Quattlebaum and in beyond excited. 

Villains, the Himalayas and letting go

Today I had the privilege of attending a lecture about the writer's journey by the amazing Uma Krishnaswami. I will keep her words in plain sight to remind myself that this writing business (not the industry but the craft of writing and telling stories) is a journey with many challenges and also rewards. 
We also has a costume party with a Villains theme. I didn't bring a costume but I wore a mask I made a couple of nights ago during the 1st and 2nd semester gathering. 
Today I learned to let go of some things. My children miss me. They miss me more than I miss them to be honest. I'm having fun. I'm constantly busy. I'm meeting new friends. But they have a long weekend and they're home wishing we were doing something fun. Luckily my sister-in-law took them all in for a sleep over. If I were closer to home, tonight I would have (reluctantly) packed my bags and gone back to them. But I can't do that. So I'm working as hard as I can, taking advantage of as many lectures and classes as possible to make this time away from them worth it. If I take this time now, I'll hopefully go home a better mother and wife. I know I'll be a better writer. 
Group picture! We have three girls missing and the men from our group. 

A chilly -29 tonight in Vermont. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Speed dating and the reckoning

Before I left for Vermont, baby Hulk was sick for weeks and weeks. Nothing serious (except a scary bout of bronchitis and two series of antibiotics for ear infections), but it was still wrecking and heartbreaking to see him struggle for so many days. I stayed healthy through it all, thankfully. Of course my time of reckoning came the day I was headed to my first residency. I used my essential oils and all the over-the-counter medicine I could think of to keep the beast at bay, but today laringitis caught up with me. Not being able to talk hasn't stopped me from talking, which hasn't been helping me recover as fast as I've wanted. So tonight, I opted to take a break and stay in my room to rest and give my body the chance to heal. I didn't want to miss the faculty or class readings at night, but I don't want to miss any lectures or workshops tomorrow or the day after either, so I chose to rest. It's been good. Sometimes it's good to disconnect from everyone and rest the body and mind.

Of course once my roommate came in for the night we stayed talking until super late, but that's part of the experience, right?

The two lectures today by An Na and Martine Leavitt were amazing and energizing. I can't wait to implement heir advise! 

Tonight I'm posting a picture of my lovely roommate (with her permission, of course). 

PS: I had just found out Messi didn't win the Ballon D'or so I wasn't the happiest duck in the pond. I'm a little better now. Did you now the last time Messi wasn't a top three finalist he was still in his teens?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

My idol

Today was the second day of the residency and the first day of workshops. The morning started in the best way, with a sacrament meeting that the missionaries and the Montpelier bishopric prepared for the LDS students. I got to partake of the sacrament and share my testimony. The member of the bishopric made a comment as to how we each acquire a testimony in a way we understand. I see this in my life, how my love for books brought me to the Book of Mormon and the gospel. How I attended BYU and now I'm here at VCFA. This is nothing short of a miracle and I'm so thankful for this experience. What a tender mercy to carve out time out of our busy schedule for the peace and comfort of the sacrament.

The workshop was spectacular! But my favorite time of the day was listening to Katherine Paterson (first row!) and feasting in her wonderful words. Among many things, she mentioned that we heal through writing, as writers and readers.  what a privilege! The lectures by Cynthia Leitich-Smith and Kekla Magoon were also firework worthy. 

I'm staring to get tired of cafeteria food. I'm hungry for some hearty Italian. Maybe tomorrow I'll venture to town. 

Here's a picture of me and my idol. When I grow up, I want to he just like her

Saturday, January 10, 2015

First day of school!

Today was the first official day of school. We had orientation after orientation, and after so much orienting I think I know how things work--or better yet, I know who to ask when I don't know the answer, or even the question.

The cafeteria food has been surprisingly good, and I've been carrying my thermos with hot tea all over because it's so bitterly cold I felt my mind shutting down a few times. Luckily the dorms, although Spartan, are very comfortable. Maybe what makes it so comfortable and enjoyable is the companionship of my wonderful roommate, a woman I'm in awe of and whom I hope to introduce soon.

I also attended my first lecture, which was amazing.
Day one down. Tomorrow we start with workshops, and I can't wait to meet my workshop partners!

Note to self for next winter: bring the heaviest, warmest, most comfortable winter boots and leave the fancy ones at home.

Friday, January 09, 2015

First day of first semester at VCFA

Today I flew by myself for the first time in years. In fact, the very last time I was on an airplane without Jeff or the kids was when I was still at BYU. So today on the flight I read and slept.

Vermont was colder than Utah, but I was expecting it to be even colder, so I wasn't surprised. I had already made arrangements for a shuttle to take me to Montpelier, and while I waited, I had a wonderful conversation with the gentleman at the airport's info counter. He told me of his days traveling the world as a delta employee, his love of horses, and pretty Spanish flamenco dancers. He's of Irish-Scottish ascent, so he was way excited when he mentioned Irish dancing and I knew exactly what I was talking about. 

The trip to campus was super pleasant as the Bosnian driver pointed out the price of gasoline at the different stations we passed. 

I made it to campus and received my welcome package, including meal card and room key. My lovely roommate was already in the room. After dinner we had the new student orientation and I found out there are at least three other people from Utah. 

After some time pouring over all the welcome paperwork, going over my assignments, and talking books with my roommate I'm ready to turn in because tomorrow the real deal begins. 

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be here! It's a dream come true. And although the rooms are quite Spartan looking and the shower situation is more than interesting, I'm very excited for tomorrow. 

My desk, featuring my portable kettle for mate water:

My bed: featuring my pony sheets and my black bear to keep me company. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

That time of the year again

Yes, it's the holidays, but I'm talking about registration for the LDS Storymakers conference in May. You don't need to be an LDS person to attend. You just need to want to learn about craft and connecting with other writers. But even if you don't want to connect, you should attend if you're a writer or thinking about writing. It's my favorite conference ever, and next year it will be amazing. The keynote speaker is Martine Leavitt, whose book Keturah and Lord Death was a National Book Award finalist. She's also a faculty member at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Besides being the keynote speaker, she's also teaching an intensive class titled "The two hour MFA," to give you an idea of how amazing it will be.

Next year my fourteen year old son will come along with me, and only because of that I'm more excited than I can express.

Take the plunge! Sign up for it!

http://ldstorymakers.com/conferences/2015-conference/

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

It's not a Hogwart's letter or an invitation to Camp Half Blood, but it's the best next thing

It's September, and yesterday the Hogwarts Express left Platform 9 3/4 without me. Again. Although this summer has been pretty eventful (Coco attacked by a pitbull, Princess Peach spraining her foot, and Swan having an emergency appendectomy on Sunday night), I still haven't received my invitation to attend Camp Half Blood. I swear I'm Poseidon's offspring, and enough people can attest that I can be a major witch somedays ��

Who cares that I'm too old for either Hogwarts or Camp-Half Blood? I'm still eleven in my heart. But last Saturday, I received the best next thing besides an invitation to either school or camp. I got my letter of admission from The Vermont College, specifically for the Master In Fine Arts Programs In Writing for Children and Young Adults.

I hugged that giant envelope against my chest, and ran to my family who was playing soccer outside. I wish I could encapsulate the feeling of the late afternoon sun shining on me, Jeff and the kids, as we all celebrated this victory. The next day, when I was sitting in the surgery waiting room at Primary Children's Hospital, waiting to hear news on my daughter, I drew on this feeling. There was no need to encapsulate it after all. It's in my memory forever. I'm sure the future will bring days in which I'll wonder why I ever thought going back to school with five little kids and a husband with a very demanding job was a good idea, but for now, I'm ecstatic with my letter and the promise of adventure in the words "Congratulations! You have been accepted."  Vermont College of Fine Arts, here I come!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My #PitchWars Mentee Bio

I debated whether or not to write this. I don't want to jinx myself writing a bio and ruining my chances of being chosen by one of the mentors. But then, the other option was obsessing over my twitter feed. So I deleted my twitter app from my phone and decided to jump in. Why not? The main thing I want from PitchWars is the opportunity to work with a mentor.

Instead of having a GIF party, I decided to paste a personal essay I wrote to apply for the MFA program I've been dreaming of attending for years and years. I wrote a first draft of it during an exercise in Cynthia Leitich Smith's workshop during WIFYR, and I learned so much about me from that exercise that I decided to expand on it in my application.

So here it goes:

Rosario and the Parana River
I was born in Rosario, Argentina in the late seventies, at the cusp of the military dictatorship. In spite of censorship and persecution, my country has always been the breeding ground of thinkers and writers such as Borges, Cortázar, Quiroga, and Mármol. They used words not only to express themselves, but to also give voice to the voiceless and call the world’s attention to the reality of the southernmost country in the world. 

The first time words made sense to me, it was like I was seeing for the first time. I was five years old, in a crowded, middle-of-the-winter smelly bus, clutching my grandfather’s hand, when I read the bright words on a billboard. After that flash of understanding, words overwhelmed me. I couldn’t not read. Not anymore. But I couldn’t yet write. 

A few days later, playing school with older neighbor girls, I felt a writer’s frustration for the first time. In her expert second-grader voice, my friend read from the primer Argentine children have learned from for the last fifty years. “Pelusa mete la pata,” she said and waited for me to write it down. I saw the sentence in my mind. Pelusa, the dog, making a mess, sticking her leg in a pot of paint and leaving tiny blue footprints all over the floor. I saw it, but I didn’t have the tools yet to put my thoughts down on paper. Unfortunately, writer’s frustration is a feeling that has haunted me all my life. 

For weeks I sat at the kitchen table copying down letters from the salt box or the Coca-Cola bottle. Once I had the tools, I set out to build my own stories. When I was grieving the death of my grandfather, I wrote of a princess whose grandpa died of cancer. That was the beginning of my vocation as a contemporary writer. Although I love fantasy and speculative fiction, real life has so many mysteries that I’ve been exploring them ever since. My love of reading and writing have always walked hand in hand. As my eagerness to create stories grew, so did my search for stories that fueled my imagination and gave meaning to my life. 

At home, my family owned one book, the Bible. I read the Old Testament stories so many times, I almost memorized them. The Old Testament has something for every reader: mystery, betrayal, love, faith, sibling rivalry, murder and intrigue. 

One summer, my mother bought a dictionary from a door-to-door salesman, and my eyes were opened to the world. I read the words, but more than anything, I poured over the appendices at the end. The list of countries and their capitals. The list of dead tongues. I made stories about those people whose languages don’t exist anymore. 
In the list of modern languages, I marked the ones I would one day learn. I marked English, and with the help of a Spanish/English dictionary I learned it. Years of pouring over the dictionary and deciphering the phonetic guide gave me the opportunity to read my favorite authors in their native language. It also left me with dreadful mispronunciations. To this day, I have to remind myself that tired is pronounced TIE-erd and not TIE-red. 

When the Bible and the dictionary weren’t enough to satisfy my thirst for story, I turned to a neighbor and friend who graciously lent me the books of her meager library. That’s how I learned the Grimm and Andersen fairy tales and discovered the words of Monteiro Lobato, the great Brazilian children’s writer. He wrote about Little Nose and her friends, who listened to her grandmother’s stories in the Yellow Benteveo Farm. From Monteiro Lobato’s books I learned everything from Greek mythology to geology. From European history to Archimedes and math. Last year, on her last trip to Argentina, my mother found those books and brought all twenty-three to me. My love for Brazil and its people, in spite of the eternal rivalry between our two countries, has a beginning in the Yellow Benteveo. 

When I write now, I think of the books that shaped my vision of the world. Because of stories, I learned I could accomplish anything. Maybe that’s why when at the age of nineteen I left my country to attend university in the United States, I wasn’t scared. I was thrilled at the opportunity I had to live such an adventure. In an extended family of over seventy people, I’m the only one who graduated from college--in a foreign language that I learned from a dictionary. 

Even though writing and reading have always been a part of my life, I’ve been writing seriously for over seven years. During this time, I have attended several writing conferences, such as LDStorymakers and Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers. At the latter, I’ve attended workshops taught by Martine Leavitt, Ann Dee Ellis, and Cynthia Leitich-Smith. I’ve also attended SCBWI LA. I’ve been a member of a writers group, The Sharks and Pebbles, for almost five years. 

I’ve always been self-driven when it comes to learning and education. Besides English, I also speak Portuguese and Italian. 

Easter Day Family Picture
have five children, and I’m a stay-at-home mother. If anything, my children have inspired me to write from their perspective: the child who grows up between cultures. Being from Argentina, I come from several backgrounds. Even though my family tree has roots in Palestine, Spain, Yugoslavia, and the Pampas, I’ve always considered myself one hundred percent Argentine. I see a different experience in my children’s lives. Identity and what it means to belong to a culture or cultures are topics that resonate with me and inspire me to tell my stories. I write thinking of the little girl who seldom saw herself in the pictures of a book, but whose words are worth reading and writing about. 


I yearn for a mentor to guide me in my journey. In time, I feel I can also become a mentor for others--writers whose voices have been quieted, but who don’t want to remain silent anymore.

I didn't add in my application that I'm obsessed with fútbol, but that's such an important part of me I can't leave it out. I love it. I've never played it, but one day, I'll sign up for the women's futsal league. I will.
All my boyfriends :-)

Mentors, pick me! Pick me!



Monday, August 18, 2014

Don't leave me summer. Please.

I'm still recovering after the World Cup final. What an amazing adventure Brazil was!

It gave us James Rodriguez and his dance moves.


And his goals:


Mascherano and his Braveheart like talk to Chiquito Romero


His hug with Messi when we qualified for the final

Messi's happy tears 




And his tears of sadness even when he was chosen the best player of the world cup

David Luiz heartbreak 


And the tragedy of that terrible game against those who must not be named

Brazil was beautiful and all the emotions gave me plenty of food for many, many books. 

I went to SCBWI, I'm working for revisions that an agent requested (!!!), and I applied for the Vermont College Children's Writing Program. My garden is exploding with plants if not vegetables. Summer is almost over but it's been beautiful and I'll never forget it. Like I'll never forget this team:



Or the fact that my husband went to the World Cup with his friends and not me. Nope. Not forgetting any time soon ;-)









Thursday, June 12, 2014

The World Cup is here. I repeat: THE WORLD CUP IS HERE!!!!

Brazil 2014 starts today, and I admit, I'm happier than a kid on Christmas morning or my middle schooler on the last day of school. In my house, we breathe, eat, drink, and dream futbol (I detest the word soccer, sorry). This is the one time my two passions merge. Books and sports are beautiful. Sports inspire my writing, and writing has always been the medium through which I express myself, like a sport. It's no wonder my first "real" novel had a futbol soccer star love interest, and this one I'm working on is about an Irish dancer. Some say dance is an art, others that dancers are God's athletes. I tell you, my Irish dancers practice up to eight hours a day during the summer. They're athletes in every sense of the word.

If you're new to the World Cup but want to know more about it, this short clip explains how it works.

And here's a link that will tell you all the schedules, TV listing, etc.

Now back to books. Alex Morgan, the US Women's National Team super star and my daughters' heroine, has a series out. It's cute and fun and it's about girls being strong and wonderful!

There's also Hope Solo's bio for young readers.  

There's even a Magic Tree House: Soccer on Sunday.

Do you know of any books I can add to this small list? Name them in the comments! I hope you have a wonderful World Cup month, whatever you do!

Friday, May 02, 2014

Entry for the Voice: A Chair of Every Color

A CHAIR OF EVERY COLOR Query:

A young ballerina crippled by anxiety finds healing in the world of competitive Irish dancing.  

Florencia del Lago’s immigrant parents raised her to be a go-getter, an over achiever. So of course everyone was thrilled when she landed the part of Clara in The Nutcracker. But on opening night, Florencia suffered an anxiety attack and couldn’t perform. Now, eight months later, Florencia’s anxiety rules her life. Her only consolation is that she still has her best friend in the whole world—Selena. 

For her twelfth birthday, Florencia agrees to a shopping trip to the mall with Selena and a group of girls. When Selena is caught shoplifting and blames Florencia for it, Florencia’s world comes crashing down. 

Betrayed, friendless, and heartbroken, Florencia sees an Irish dance competition. The music ignites a determination buried deep inside. She enrolls in lessons and finds she’s actually pretty good at this Irish dance thing—especially for a Latina with not a drop of Irish blood. She’s so good, she might even have a chance to make it to the Irish Dance World Cup.

Plagued by her anxiety, her jealous ex-best friend, and the memory of the fateful Nutcracker, Florencia sets out to conquer her self-doubt. With the help of an Instagram celebrity, a boy fighting for the Irish Dance World Championship, a rescued cat with a crooked neck, and a pen-pal who lives in a rest home, Florencia will fight to vanquish her fears, forgive her enemy, and, hopefully, believe in friendship again. 

A Chair of Every Color, a middle grade novel, is finished at 57,000 words. I’m a member of SCBWI and a contributor of the Utah Children’s Writers blog. My two daughters are Irish dancers and, like me, children of many cultures. 

Thanks for your time and consideration. 

Sincerely,

Yamile Saied Méndez



250 Words:

 I was once a star. A shooting star. Una estrella fugaz, like Mamá said in Spanish. I was bright and beautiful and high, high in the sky. 
Like all shooting stars, I fell down. To reality. When I landed, well, I was just a piece of rock. Tiny, bumpy, unimportant. 
Dark.
When I was practicing to be Clara in the Nutcracker, I loved the promise of the spotlight, the sound of clapping hands, the thrill of pushing myself just a little more to make a perfect arabesque or pirouette. 
The spotlight, the clapping, the pushing myself must have been a little too much. I didn't last three minutes on the stage that opening night eight months ago, that terrible December 20th.
I froze. Forgot my steps. Failed everyone. 
I fell so fast, no one had time to make a wish. Not even me. I didnt even dare dream that Id dance again, that Id ever step on a stage.  
These days I didn't wish for much. 
When Mamá asked me whatever I wanted for my twelfth birthday, I didnt think twice. 
All I wanted, all I thought I could handle, was a late-night with my best friend, Selena. Shed saved the night and the Nutcracker. She made a perfect Clara. 
My friend, a movie, pizza and ice-cream, and me. At home. 
Simple as that.
When she heard me, Mamá choked on her chamomile tea. She gasped as if I had asked for a pony and the moon.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

#WeNeedDiverseBooks

Five years ago this happened. Five years ago! I now realize that there are a lot of books in Spanish for children that are incredible difficult to find in the US. And not only books for children, books, in general. I ordered Cien Años de Soledad right before Gabriel Garcia Marquez died and I'm still waiting for it.

What I realized these last five years too is that there aren't a lot of books about kids whose lives stray even a little from the norm. Or if there are, these books are "niche, issue books." My kids read and write English because it's the language of the country where they were born. I also strive to introduce them to writers and artists that marked me as a child because that cultural legacy belongs to them too, in Spanish, the language of our family.

I write stories about dancers, and soccer players, girls fighting to win the middle school government election, all told from the point of view of characters who live between cultures. That's a subject close to my heart because I'm the granddaughter of immigrants, and immigrant myself, mother of children who look at me with doubt when a stranger asks where they're from.

The DIA school in Salt Lake invited me to present at their school because in Utah at the time, there wasn't a single Hispanic/Latina writer. I might be wrong, but I think it's still true to this day. I hope this will change soon, not only because of selfish reasons. After all, I am submitting to agents at the moment, trying to find representation for my middle grade novel about a Latina dancer crippled by anxiety, who finds healing in the world of competitive Irish dancing. I know there is a lot of talent in the Latin community, and also the Polynesian, and the African American, and the regular Utah who descends from the Pioneers.

I read once that books are the mirror of society, and so far, our shelves don't represent the beauty and diversity I see everywhere I go even in homogenous Utah. Our state lauds the Pioneers and their struggles to live in a land where they could worship and live in peace. That desire to live in peace and achieve one's potential is still very much burning in the hearts of hundreds of people, many of them children, whose skin color, accents, sexual orientation and beliefs vary from our own.

Let's give everyone a chance to see themselves in the media! Growing up one of my favorite shows
was Heidi, the girl of the Alps. I had no idea where Switzerland was or what it was like to be a shepherdess, but I had just lost my grandfather and I missed him more than I could express. I didn't express it and developed what I now know was anxiety. I loved that show because I saw myself reflected in it. When Heidi was taken away from her "abuelito" I cried my little heart out. And how I celebrated once they were united! Heidi's friend, Clara, was in a wheelchair. Poor Clara. But what a forward thinking show! Clara was smart and kind and she was the best influence Heidi could ever want.

I want every child to see themselves in a book, a movie, a musical. Not like the quirky sidekick, but the hero/ine. Because we are all the heroes of our own stories. I invite you to participate in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Why do you think we need them?


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

20 years of Riverdance. The legacy of the Celtic Tiger

I don't remember exactly where I was 20 years ago. In 1994 I was in high school, fighting to learn English and apply to BYU. Everything is a blur. But one night that year, during the Eurovision show held in Dublin, the world met Michael Flatly, the Celtic Tiger. And Riverdance was born.

Years later, I'm not an Irish dancer myself, but three times a week my daughters practice under two wonderful teachers who toured the world with Michael Flatley. My children can claim a little bit of Irish from their paternal grandma's side, but that Irish is pretty diluted among the other cultures our family comes from: Palestinian, Argentine, Puerto Rican, Texan, Yugoslavian, Spanish, Anglo-Saxon. We have it all but Italian, which we still love because we're Argentines, right?

Irish dancing doesn't belong only to the Irish anymore. It belongs to the world. It's an art form that speaks to people from all cultures, religions and countries. Watch the video of the original Riverdance performance. I dare you not to feel anything. Last December, my daughters' studio held a Christmas show like nothing I ever witnessed. They recreated the original Riverdance number. I was mesmerized by those dancers, and my older daughter was one of them! Even my son the soccer player (just turned the wise age of thirteen) said that he loved it, that he wished he could do what those dancers were doing.

The life of an Irish dancer who competes is a life of sacrifice and discipline. My eleven-year-old arrives home at almost ten every night. She leaves for school at 7. She's always excited and inspired by her teachers, by the other dancers, and the Lord of the Dance himself.





My champion daughter, fighting for a place in the Dublin world cup. It wasn't meant to be, but like she said, "There's always next year!" and she was back on the practicing floor the same day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

And the winner is...

Thank you so much to those who took a moment to leave a comment on the Utah Children's Writers blog. I really appreciate your support! I love 30 Days, 30 Stories. I participated in it for the first time in 2009. It was the first time I dared share my writing with the world. My story was Teenage Warriors and you can read it here.

The support I received at the time was overwhelming and it kept me going. Even if one person likes my story, my day is made because ultimately, the writer's dream is not only to share stories, but to connect with the reader. In a way, until someone reads our words, the writing process isn't complete all the way. Writing and reading are only two sides of the same coin after all.

As promised, here's the random winner:

Cristina!!!!! Message me or email me at cheboricuas (at) gmail.com and I'll send you the book of your choice or Unravel by Julie Daines.

And before I go, I leave you with a piece of inspiration that Julie Peterson Wright shared in her class during the LDStorymakers Conference. This is just what I needed: a little reminder to keep going, little by little.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Storymakers 2014 and a perfect pet

Tonight I'm heading up to the beautiful city of Layton for one of my favorite events of the year, the annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference. It really is like General Conference for writers. This will be my fourth year attending, and it never ceases to astonish me how much I learn each year. Plus all the wonderful people I see. It's a wonderful opportunity to meet old and new friends and finally match a name I met online to a face in real life.

If you attend, please look for me. I'd love to meet you! I'm especially excited to attend Orson Scott Card's intensive class. I also have a pitch session with an agent. Pray for me and cross your fingers that everything goes well, and by everything, I mean that I don't forget my pitch and blank out on the agent :-)

There's a lot of advise out there for when you attend a conference, but here is my contribution. I hopw it helps:

Writer conferences are a great way to learn about your craft, meet new people, and push yourself to the next level.


  • Learn about your craft: Storymakers offers tons of different classes for writers who are on different levels in their careers. From beginner to multi-published, there's great opportunities to learn from the greats. 
  • Meet new people: Last year I made business cards with my information, such as twitter, blog, email. I always give out my card, but the most important thing to do is to just go out there with an open mind and a ready smile. Writers are mostly introverts who love nothing more than to be left alone with the voices in their heads, with a few crazy extroverts as the exception :-) But even if writing per se is a lonely endeavor, the writer's path doesn't have to be. In fact, it can't be, at least not if you want to remain sane. I struggle with making small talk, but it has helped me tremendously to be ready to say hi to the person next to me, to ask about their projects, to congratulate them on their successes and cheer them up as they march to their pitch sessions like gladiators to the arena. The writing community (especially here in Utah) is highly talented, but also VERY compassionate and supportive. Go out there and meet friends.
  • Last of all, writers' conferences push you to reach our next level. I'm inspired when I see my friends attain their dreams and goals. I love it when writers I've followed from the very beginning are nominated for an award or win the First Chapter Contest. Seeing how everyone perseveres makes me want to continue fighting for my dreams.
I hope to see you this weekend. And if you can't come, I'm sure there will be another chance to meet in the future.

Oh, it's my turn today to post at the Utah Children's Writers blog. We're celebrating 30 Days, 30 Stories. Stop by the blog and leave a message! As as thank you, I'll be doing a giveaway from the names that post at the blog. In honor of World Book Night (which was yesterday, but we can continue celebrating), I'll choose a random winner and send you a book of your choice. If you don't have a preference I'll send you Unravel, A Tale of True Love by my dear friend and critique partner Julie Daines.
Here's the link.
And here's the story, just in case. Thanks!!!!

30 Days: The Quest for the Perfect Pet

The Quest for the Perfect Pet
by Yamile Saied Mendez
One day after dinner, Mamá finally said I was ready for my first pet. 
But not a cat. 
Cats made Papá sneeze.
Not a dog either. 
Everyone already has a dog and I wanted my pet to be:
special, 
different, 
fun,
cuddly. 
Most of all, my pet had to be a good listener. 
I wanted a friend I could tell secrets to. 
Early next morning, I set out looking for my perfect pet. I passed the pet store without a glance in its direction.
I walked straight into the zoo. 
Right away, I found my perfect pet. After some tugging, and pushing and shoving and flapping of giant wings I brought it home. 
My pet was special. 
Ostriches aren’t that common in my neighborhood after all. 
My pet was different too. I could bet all of my Easter candy no one but me would bring an ostrich to school for show and tell. 
But my ostrich wasn’t that much fun. Instead of sitting primly while I served tea, it swallowed Mamá’s china tea service in a single gulp. 
I asked her to give it back, but it just stared at me and then started crying because her stomach hurt. I patted her head and told her “this too shall pass,” but she wasn’t a good listener. Before Mamá even said a word of protest, I took the ostrich back.
Now that I was pet-less and looking, I took advantage and chose another pet from the zoo.
My hyena was special.
 That’s for sure. 
But when she saw the mess the ostrich had made in my room, she started laughing and laughing. It wouldn’t stop. 
She laughed so much, I suspected she was laughing at me. I told her I needed a hug. After the incident with the ostrich I was so tired I became teary. But the hyena didn’t cuddle, she said. She just insisted on ordering some take-out. 
In the end, I made her a Cuban sandwich with mustard and sweet pork that she ate on the way to the zoo. 
The hyena wasn’t fun, cuddly or a good listener, but I was determined to find the perfect pet. 
Then I saw this cute little guy, doing all kinds of summersaults and jumps. Before his mama noticed, I grabbed his hand and we ran home. 
My spider monkey was special and different and oh, so much fun! 
He showed me the correct form to swing from the monkey bars at the park, and later, we snacked on dried plantain chips, my favorite kind.
But then my monkey got sleepy and cried for his mom. I gave him a hug as he cried and cried. I felt bad for the little guy, so I took him back. 
I definitely needed a pet that was special and different and fun, but most of all, I wanted it to be cuddly. And then, I had an idea. Because what’s more cuddly than a bear? 
A panda bear!
Oh my panda! It was special and different and it was so much fun to watch him climb the trees and dawdle all over the park! But his claws frightened me, and when it smiled and I saw his big teeth? I wasn’t so sure I wanted to cuddle with it. 
I took it back to the zoo where to my surprise I found the zookeeper waiting for me! After I promised I wouldn’t borrow any more animals to try out as pets, he agreed to send the police back to the station and me back home.
I wanted a pet. 
The perfect pet.
Special.
Different.
Fun.
Cuddly.
Someone who would listen to me.
I was so distracted by my longing for this creature that I walked right into the pet store sign. 
Bunnies for sale, it said. Come and find your perfect pet.
With butterflies in my stomach, I walked into the store.
In a wooden pen, a single bunny played with a plastic ball. 
She jumped over a log. 
She rolled on the grass. 
She played hide-and-seek with me.
She was black like midnight, so small it fit in my cupped hands. When I kissed her head, she nuzzled against my lips, soft and cuddly. 
“You’re the perfect pet,” I whispered in her long ears, “You’re special. You waited for me all this time. You’re different. I’ve never seen such a small rabbit like you. And you’re fun. I saw how you played with the ball.”
I didn’t need to say how cuddly she was. She fit right into my heart. And while I talked to her, she listened, flicking her little ears, like she understood everything I said. 
She was an excellent listener. I mean, her ears were perfect for the job!
I paid the store lady with some money Ratón Pérez left me for my teeth the week before, and we walked home. 
Both of us. 

My perfect pet and me.  

This is my daughter Areli with her perfect pet, Midnight. She's my constant source of inspiration.
Disclaimer: at least she hasn't brought a hyena home. Yet.