Thursday, September 5, 2013

New York Uptown Literary Festival Oct. 19th

I'm very excited to be invited to participate in Uptown Lit: A Festival of Readers and Writers in conjunction with Word Up bookstore, the impressive, never say die, all-volunteer bookstore in Washington Heights this October 19, 2013. The festival is being sponsored by the NY-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia University Medical Center Reach Out and Read program. I'll be answering questions about The Color of My Words and Flowers in the Sky in the Adolescent Program portion of the event. YEAH! I will also definitely be stopping for some tostones and my other fave Dominican dishes. More info to come soon. Hope to see you there.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"Fear" is My Bad Child in the Attic Whom I Love!

We all feel at times as if we just "blew it." Whether it's on a date, in an important conversation, at work, on a test, an interview, and I definitely feel it when I'm writing a new book. Not just after the first draft, which Hemingway said is always shit.  But I feel like "I blew it" even after several drafts!  My mind whirls with thoughts like "I'm losing this story" and "this is so boring" and, of course, the ever present niggling doubt, "who will want to read this?" But while these fears circle inside like some inner galactic experience, I've realized that the journey of my writing is only made sweeter by them. According to Wikipedia, "Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. In short, fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it (the fight or flight response)."

Basically, without any fear we would be zombies walking through the world, just doing the same thing over and over and not aiming to reach our potential. So, heck, I embrace my fears, I love them, they're mine!  Like bad children you wish you could send to the attic (jk, Jared!)  But you keep them around anyway.  I face my fears every day by keeping on writing. Pushing through.  This is the "fight" part. Although I must admit, the "flight" response attracts me especially in the middle of the night when Expedia sends emails of 50% off flights to the Caribbean with pics of warm beaches and cold margaritas. I stay strong. I glare at my laptop. I listen to my character's playlist. I keep plucking away on the keyboard hoping that as I fight the fear that "I'm blowing it" some universal creative magic will flow down, wrap me in a silver cocoon and float me softly to the other side.  That never happens, by the way.  But what does, is I finish another draft.  And it is always better than the last one. It always is!!  So, that's what you aim for. Finishing your book, your painting, your poem, your designs, your rap, or dance or film. Finish it, start a new one, and finish that too. Your only real fear is the danger of not being YOU!
St. Luc, Switzerland

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Transforming Power of Art and Nature

As an author, mother and lawyer, I am interested in how children and teenagers develop their identities within family, community and the world at large.  In my books, my characters hail from Caribbean islands, or NYC Caribbean and African-American communities. They overcome obstacles imposed upon them by poverty, censorship, government takeover of their lands, immigration issues, and crime.  They do so by developing their individual creative talents and being exposed to art and nature.
It is a widely accepted view that Art and Nature provide positive avenues for people dealing with pain and feelings of loss and loneliness.  My personal interest is how it all affects children and teens. Developing creative intelligence and exposure to beauty, whether in nature or in art, are some of the greatest gifts we can give our children to help them feel connected to something greater than their immediate surroundings. I found this great site with articles for parents and teachers on these exact topics.

In Flowers in the Sky, Nina is transported from her isolation in Washington Heights, a perplexing world to her, when she sees the gorgeous paintings of Vincent Van Gogh at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Wheat Field with Cypresses.  She grows beautiful flowers on her fire escape to bring beauty into her stark living conditions. 
In The Colors of My Words, Ana Rosa learns that writing down stories and poetry sets her free even in a country where censorship may reign and governmental oppression inflicts upon her family a great tragedy.  The beach is Ana Rosa's refuge from all the sadness and confusion around her. 
With my books, I hope to empower and inspire children and teenagers to develop their own creative/artistic/personal talents as the best antidote to a confusing, complex and sometimes tragic world.  To use the words of the eminent mythologist Joseph Campbell, my ultimate goal is “to learn to live joyfully in the sorrows of the world.” If I can show our children how to do that, too, then my life’s purpose is accomplished.