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.

 

Gracie Book Club Comes to the Bronx Museum of Art – Wed. Oct. 23

As you may know, some of First Lady of NYC Chirlane McCray’s projects have been her mental health awareness campaign and the creation of the city-wide Gracie Book Club in conjunction with the Gracie Mansion Conservancy.  Reading to Thrive—Great Books Exploring Mental Health melds the two together. This month’s pick is I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez. A discussion will be held at the Bronx Museum of  the Arts on Wednesday, October 23. Doors open at 5:30 pm and the event is from 6pm – 7pm. Tickets are free, you can reserve them here.

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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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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.

Bibliophiles Unite! Bronx Book Fair May 7 & 8

The Bronx Book Fair is back and better than ever (and I’m not just saying that because I’m on the planning committee this year!) Now a two-day event, the Bronx Library Center will serve as host to a diverse array of authors, poets, publishers, and discussions on the literary landscape of the Bronx.  Best of all, it’s free and open to all ages.

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Bronx Book Fair Q & A with Charlie Vázquez

This month, I will be doing a series a interviews with participants in this year’s Bronx Book Fair.  I am currently on the planning committee and am so excited to introduce you to some of the amazing writers that will be a part of this amazing literary event.

First up is Charlie Vázquez, the Director of the Bronx Writers’ Center as well as Editorial Trance CCO and NYC Coordinator for Festival de la Palabra de Puerto Rico.
 
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Are you from the Bronx? If so, which neighborhood?

 

I was born in Fordham Hospital in 1971 and grew up near Crotona/West Farms in my earliest years. We moved to Fordham in the mid-1970s and then to the Olinville neighborhood where my mother still lives. I live in the Pelham Parkway area currently.

 

Does the Bronx play a role in your writing? If so, please explain.

 

The Bronx plays a very major role in everything about me. The stigma that being a Bronxite carried (and still carries) has given me the propulsion and fearlessness for writing whatever I feel like expressing, whether that be about my Puerto Rican and Cuban heritage, growing up poor, or identifying as a queer man later in life. Writing from marginalized perspectives takes a lot of courage and armor in the face of judgement and criticism–a radical act if you think about it. That energy has found its way into everything I’ve ever written, whether poetry or erotic fiction. If people would like to know more they can follow my Facebook author page.

 

 What are you most looking forward to at the Bronx Book Fair? 

 

This will be my third year at the Bronx Book Fair. What I love most about it is that it creates the opportunity for local readers to learn about local authors. Disengagement with literature is a serious issue that we need to address. One way of doing this is by supporting local authors who are publishing books with diverse protagonists and children-of-color.

 

What would you like attendees to take away from your talk? 

 

As relates to publishing, that there are options. Not to fall too quickly into the self-publishing platform out of temptation for instant gratification. Writing can be a solitary act, but writers benefit from finding peer groups and writing circles where they can share their work, to get the feedback necessary for making it the best it can be before publishing it. All books, regardless of style and voice, should be looked over by someone with a critical eye to make sure grammar and formatting are professional enough. Your book’s quality is a direct reflection of how professional you are.

 

Please tell us about any current or upcoming projects you are working on that we can look forward to. 

 

We’re collaborating with PEN World Voices for our Bronx:Africa exhibit in late April and we’ll be hosting three Poetry Town Halls (a new program I created) from April through June. We also have a fiction writers group that meets once a month at the Poe Park Visitor Center. That info can be found on our website and folks can write to me directly to request being added to the Bronx Writers Center newsletter.  My email is charlie@bronxarts.org.

 

Charlie Vázquez will be participating in the  Getting Published: How to Get Your Work in Readers’ Hands panel.