Wednesday, June 17, 2015
I crawled to the end of the school year. My poor children. On the very last day Joaquin said he had no clean uniform, so he was just going to wear street clothes because what is the worst that could happen? So he wore street clothes, and nothing happened, and then I spend the next four days doing laundry (the last time I did laundry, by the way, so I guess I'll spend the next four days doing laundry again). But I finished and I'm so happy with my progress. Not only did I submit my packet, my end of semester materials, but also my short stories and poems that I wrote for Imagine Learning, and revisions for my agent. I'm still letting the revisions simmer before I turn them in to her to make sure they make sense and it's not all just a figment of my imagination :-)
This week I'm attending WIFYR (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers) which is one of my two favorite writers' conferences ever. It's the first one I ever attended, seven years ago when I started getting serious about being a writer, when I had a couple of manuscripts and wanted to learn what to do to make them readable and publishable. Those two will never see the light of day, but how grateful I am that I wrote them. That conference I met Martine Leavitt for the first time and my life changed forever. Dandi Daley Mackall was the keynote speaker, and I remember her telling a story about a person who goes to Heaven in her dream and visits the Library. The walls of the enormous building covered with books, and yet, so many people wrote and wrote. An angel told her they wrote spiritually the books that were needed on Earth, and that they were just waiting for writers to sit down, get the inspiration sent from Heaven, and put into paper the books the world was waiting for so desperately. I've always loved that image of my stories just waiting for me to listen so they can be born.
Yesterday at WIFYR, Julie Berry (THE Julie Berry) spoke about the four pillars of her writing journey: commitment, believing, love, and listening.
She said it's the writers' duty to sit down and listen, and put the gift of inspiration down on paper. Later ugly first drafts will get cleaned up and polished on revision, but if stop listening, noticing, and writing, there will be nothing to clean up, no creation.
Yesterday Argentina played in Copa America against our rivals and brothers the Uruguay team. What a difficult game! So ugly and thick! So dense and violent. But there were the usual bursts of brilliance by my favorite guy, Leo Messi. We ended up winning, and later my husband posted this Messi quote on Facebook;
I don't intend to be an overnight success, although this semester I had a wonderful shower of good news (writing on commission, the New Visions Honor, my brand new agent), surviving semester 1 at VCFA. It was just a coincidence that my plants all sprouted at the same time, after years of work and commitment, believing, loving, and listening. But I still have so much to grow as a writer. My plants still need watering and nurturing and work.
So my kids are still sleeping and I woke up earlier than I have in a long time to have some quiet writing time, and I feel better than ever. Especially because there will be more amazing classes in the afternoon. If you're attending WIFYR, come say hello! I love meeting new friends.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
|I love them!|
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
|I'll be studying here this summer!|
|I earn the silver medal for the Honor! Isn't it|
a gorgeous design?
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
|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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
Monday, April 27, 2015
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
I like reading books because they answer questions I didn't yet have... #WorldBookDay https://t.co/HXDlGuqlMZ pic.twitter.com/I5v1x6apfFFirst 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!
— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) April 23, 2015
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
|He did NOT want a selfie with me|
|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!!!!|
|Me, fangirling. Photo cred: my son|
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!
|THE PURSE!!! Isn't it gorgeous?|
Monday, April 13, 2015
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
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
Friday, January 16, 2015
Monday, January 12, 2015
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Saturday, January 10, 2015
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
Monday, December 08, 2014
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!
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
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
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|
|Easter Day Family Picture|
|All my boyfriends :-)|
|Mentors, pick me! Pick me!|
Monday, August 18, 2014
It gave us James Rodriguez and his dance moves.
And his goals:
Thursday, June 12, 2014
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
Thursday, May 01, 2014
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
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
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
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.