Check Me Out on Bronx Buzz Discussing My Novella, Cooties & Other Kindergarten Quandaries

I was so excited to be invited back to The Bronx Buzz to discuss my novella, Cooties & Other Kindergarten Quandaries. (Grab your copy here.) The Bronx Buzz does excellent work and I was glad to be on again to talk about my fiction work!

 

 

 

 

My Novella is Now Available!

A couple months back, I hinted at some cool news I’d announce soon and now is that time! My novella, Cooties & Other Kindergarten Quandaries is now available in Running Wild Press’ Novella Anthology, Vol. 3, Book 3.

Despite the title and the fact that the four protagonists are in kindergarten, this is not a children’s book. Unless your kid likes satire and and political humor thrown in every so often.

It’s an episodic novella, consisting of 11 chapters, each tackling another obstacle – the boogeyman, an evil substitute teacher, tattletales, etc.

This novella was about five years in the making. I wrote the very first chapter back in 2010 when I was a senior at Baruch for one of my assignments. I didn’t do much with it afterward, maybe sent it out to a few lit mags, but it wasn’t until 2014 when I picked it back up and continued the characters’ misadventures trying to navigate kindergarten as these super geniuses. It was just a lot of fun to write, to be honest.

Novellas are kind of a weird in between genre, so I was really glad it found a home at Running Wild Press, an independent press based in California. Cooties… shares the pages with about eight other talented authors, and I’m excited to be able to share this news with you finally.

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You can purchase Book 3 from Powells, Mysterious Galaxy, Indiebound, or Amazon. (Please support independent bookstores!)

If you’d like to keep up with my writing life and endeavors, check out my author site here.

 

Reading Juliet Takes a Breath

At this year’s Bronx Book Fair, I had the pleasure of meeting the awesome people of Riverdale Avenue Books, based in Riverdale (duh!) They were gracious enough to let me pick one of their books to read, and Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera was the one that stood out to me.

I recently wrote about The Education of Margot Sanchez and how amazing the cover is, and Juliet Takes a Breath is a book with another eye-catching cover and after reading the blurb on the back, I knew it was the one.

Following Bronxite Juliet, an undergrad who, after reading fictional hippie feminist Harlowe Brisbane’s Raging Flower” Empowering Your Pussy by Empowering Your Mind, decides  to move across the country to Portland to intern for her new hero. But not before coming out to her family and leaving them to deal with the news.

What I enjoyed most about this novel is Juliet’s transformation. We see her with a tough exterior that I’m sure many of us who have grown up here will recognize, but she is incredibly vulnerable and unsure of herself, trying to figure out who she is. I also enjoyed Rivera’s use of language. Juliet does not mince words and her personality comes through in the way she mixes her growing knowledge of feminism and intersectionality with the slang she has learned growing up here in the Bronx.

Definitely something to take along with you as you head to Orchard this summer!

 

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The Education of Margot Sanchez is the Book I wish I Had Growing Up

The March read for the book club I joined this year, Readers & Shakers, was The Education of Margot Sanchez by Bronx-raised Lilliam Rivera.

The young adult novel follows Bronx teen Margot Sanchez and her quest find herself set against the backdrop of the battle over the gentrification of the South Bronx. When I was a teen, I loved reading romance comedies, but was also (and still am) an absolute nerd for politics and news. There never seemed anything that was somewhere in the middle. I think The Education of Margot Sanchez is a step in the right direction.

The novel takes place over the course of a summer. Margot, whose family lives in Riverdale, but owns two supermarkets in the South Bronx, not far from St. Mary’s, is desperately trying to fit in with the “popular” girls at her affluent prep school. Forced to work in her family’s supermarket for the summer, she spends her time trying to avoid creepers and drama with the cashieristas. One day, she meets Moises, a young community activist trying to prevent developers from coming into the neighborhood to build luxury buildings that are obviously not for any of the locals *swoon.* On top of all of this, she’s also trying to figure out her friendship with her best friend from elementary school, who instead of attending the elite prep school, has gone to an art high school and made a bunch of new friends, causing Margot to feel insecure.

I’m so glad I’m not a teenager anymore.

With all of the Bronx references and the complexity and endless drama that comes with adolescence, I know that 16 year old Lisa would have really enjoyed this novel. Then again, so did 27 year old Lisa.

I did feel that the ending was a bit rushed and I couldn’t believe it was over so quickly! But, I think the desire to want more from a book in this way isn’t a deal breaker. At the book club, we talked about keeping the audience in mind, which is also important. For a teen, it may not be a big deal or they may not even notice.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed it a lot and definitely recommend checking it out and supporting a writer from the Bronx.

Also, the cover is gorgeous!

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Celebrate the Literary Culture of the Bronx at the 2017 Bronx Book Fair

Saturday, May 6, the Bronx Book Fair returns for an annual celebration of literature. This year’s line up is even better than ever (and I’m not just saying that because I’m facilitating a workshop and am on the planning committee!) Check out the schedule below:

11:00-12:00

Focus on Vendors
Kick off your day by browsing (and buying!) books from over 30 vendors in the Bronx Library Center’s spacious lower level. Vendors will be present throughout the event through 7:00 p.m.

AUDITORIUM

12:00-12:10

Welcome/Opening Remarks

Michael Alvarez, Associate Director for the Central Bronx Neighborhood Libraries at The New York Public Library
12:10-12:55

“The Business of Writing” : Literary Organizations discuss needed elements for a successful writing career.

Panelists: Kevin Larimer, Editor-in Chief of Poets & Writers Magazine and Michael Mejias, literary agent at Writer’s House. Moderated by Americo Casiano Jr
1:00-1:45

The Bronx “Book Desert”: Fighting Back through Public Libraries and New Bookstores
Panelists Noëlle Santos (Lit Bar), Oren Teicher (American Booksellers Association), Melissa Coss Aquino (Bronx Community College) and Gesille Dixon (Director of Bronx Libraries for the New York Public Library) will discuss the lack of bookstores in the Bronx and what the borough is doing about it. Moderator: Robert Farrell.
2:00-2:30

Keynote Speaker

Kevin Young, poet, essayist, Director of the Schomburg Center for

Research in Black Culture and incoming Poetry Editor of the New Yorker Magazine.

Introduction: Michael Alvarez, Associate Director for the Central Bronx Neighborhood Libraries at The New York Public Library
2:40-3:25

The Next Chapter

Our panel of writers and poets will discuss their writing and publishing careers, sharing their personal experiences as young writers to present.Topics to include ageism, genderism, racism, their thoughts on the key to longevity and what’s the next chapter to a long and distinguished career? Writers and poets at all levels as well as those interested in literary pursues will appreciate their insights.

Panelists: Edward D. Currelley, Ed Friedman, Kate Rushin, and Carmen D. Lucca. Moderator: Lorraine Currelley
3:30-4:00

Get to Know Your Library

Bronx Library Center staff discuss the roles of librarians and the importance of reading and literacy in the Bronx.  Facilitators:  Jean Harripersaud, Managing Librarian of the Bronx Library Center and Michael Alvarez, Associate Director for the Central Bronx Neighborhood Libraries at The New York Public Library.
4:05-4:50

We’re Here!

LGBTQ writers of color discuss opportunities, support, writing, and social justice issues under the new presidency. Panelists: Imani Rashid, Meriam Rodriguez, and Orlando Ferrand. Moderator: Charles Rice-González
5:00-5:45

A Weaving of Voices

A poetry and spoken word presentation featuring Cyd Charisse Fulton, Gha’il Rhodes Benjamin, Jesus “Papoleto” Melendez and Noel Quinones. Facilitator: Oscar Sanders
6:00-6:45

Musical Performance

Jackie Flowers Quartet performs

6:45-7:00

A Gathering of Community

CONFERENCE ROOM (Upper Level)

12:40-2:00

Speed Coaching

Poets and Writers: Need assistance with writing or performance? Perhaps you have some ideas you need assistance with? Consult with one of our Speed Coaches: Mercy Tullis-Bukhari,  Edward D. Currelley, Peggy Robles Alvarado & (Coordinator), Lorraine Currelley. Ramatu Mohammad (Time Manager). ALL SESSIONS ARE FREE, but are limited and early registration is required.  Click on link for details.

CONFERENCE ROOM (Lower Level-C1)

12:10-12:55

Women’s Literary Workshop

The Abuela Stories Project will be at The Bronx Book Fair. Award winning performance poet Peggy Robles- Alvarado and Bronx blogger Lisa Gomez will facilitate a workshop using The Abuela Stories Project Book as a tool to generate original writing. Writers of all ages, identifiers, genres and levels are welcome. To end our workshop, participants will share their work to cheers, claps and finger snaps in our open mic! The Abuela Stories Project Book will be available for purchase but will not be required for the workshop. Join us for an afternoon of Abuela Stories at The Bronx Book Fair! For more information on The Abuela Stories Project Please visit abuelastories.com
1:00-1:50

“How to Publish” Getting Your Work Out.

Facilitator Gary Johnston will talk to attendees about how to get your work published.
2:45-3:30

Zine Publishing and Beyond

Learn different ways of self-publishing, and walk away with ideas on how to create, print, and distribute your own publication.  Facilitators: Margot Terc, Ana Maria Hoffman, and Tammy Lopez.
3:45-4:30

Funding Literary Artists and Literary Institutions (Nonprofits).

Facilitated by Americo Casiano, this workshop will focus on basic funding available to both the writer of creative literature (fiction and poetry) and nonprofit organizations whose focus is the Literary Arts and/or whose mission is the promotion of the fine arts in which creative literature (fiction and poetry) serves as one of its programming focuses. It will begin with a short summary of the funding landscape in general and then focus on the central theme of the workshop.
4:35-5:20

Youth on the Mic

A youth poetry and spoken word presentation, featuring Oyindamola Shoola (Bronx Community College), Rebecca  Perez (Bronx Community College), Gabrielle O’Connor (Lehman College), Dimitrios Lefas (Lehman College), and Sasha Smith, BCC alum and Poetry Project 2016-2017 Emerge-Surface-Be Fellow. Facilitated by Melissa Coss-Aquino.
CHILDREN’S STORY HOUR ROOM (2ND FLOOR)
11:00-11:45

Children’s Programming: Bilingual Storytime

Stories, music and movement!
1:00-1:45

Family Time

A program for the family (Parents with children are invited to participate in reading aloud and craft.  Each child that attends will be given 1 free book.

2:00-2:45

Mother’s Day Card Making

Each child will make a card for Mother’s Day

As always, the fair is FREE! It’ll be held at the Bronx Library Center, 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd.

 

Let’s Show the World that #theBronxReads by Supporting the Lit Bar

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few months, you’ve heard about Noelle Santos and her mission to bring a  bookstore/ wine bar to the Bronx. With the closure of the Bay Plaza Barnes and Noble, the Bronx’s 1 million+ residents are left without a bookstore, independent or otherwise, which is an egregious sin. Show the world that the Bronx reads by supporting this important cause and if that’s not enough to convince you, check out Noelle’s video below in which she outlines (with an amazing flow) why the Bronx needs the Lit Bar. Donate to the Indiegogo campaign here.

What I’m Reading: Under the Bridge: The East 238th Street Graffiti Hall of Fame

Since graduating from grad school in May, it feels like I gained back a huge part of my social life, which is an unbelievable feeling. During my new found freedom, I have actually been able to read for fun again. Though I won’t meet my Goodreads goal of 50 books read in 2014, I have been slowly chipping away at it.

Under the Bridge

Perfect for your coffee table for all your guests to check out.

I recently had the chance to check out a new book titled Under the Bridge: The East 238th Street Graffiti Hall of Fame .  The book features photography of Paul “Cavs” Cavalieri, which documents decades of graffiti underneath the 238th Street bridge which connects Woodlawn and Wakefield.

Cavalieri’s photographs are so vibrant and give readers insight to a world of art many of us who are not part of the scene have never been exposed to before. It’s also great to see through the perspective of a graffiti artist himself.  Further, not only do they show a vast variety of tags and artwork representative of the diverse artists who frequented the area, but brief anecdotes throughout the book provide background knowledge that really puts the photographs into context.

The one that struck me most was the story of Michael (Mars) Dugan, who at 14, was walking along with his friends atop a wooden fence above the Metro North tracks, when he slipped and tried to save himself by grabbing wires, which ended up electrocuting him. Reading this tragic story and seeing his tag on the very next page struck a chord with me, because I often find myself marveling, particularly at graffiti that’s on high locations or in subways, but sometimes forgetting how dangerous and risky it can be.

If you couldn’t tell, I definitely recommend checking out the book, available wherever it is you buy your books.

Note: This book was given to me by the awesome people at Schiffer Publishing to review and all views expressed are entirely mine.