Thursday, November 30, 2017

Pushcart Prize nomination surprise!

Thirty West Publishing House just nominated my sonnet "Blood Pacts" as one of their Pushcart Prize nominations for 2017!  I am floored and very honored!  I never imagined it would happen again so soon.  Many thanks to editor Josh Dale and others who took the time and effort to make it happen!
Congratulations to my fellow nominees, too! 


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Book Reviews--Two feel-good books: one from the past, one from the present

This blog has become less and less about books and frugality and more about my writing and publications, so I thought I'd break the pace and recommend some books.

Over my blessedly quiet Thanksgiving holidays, I've completed two very different books that nonetheless have been very satisfying reads and somehow seem to complement each other well. I think a Jane Austen reader would heartily approve of this first book:

Mrs Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, was first published in 1938 and has been reintroduced by Persephone Classics books.  My copy has a 10 lb price on and it's worth every penny (pence?)--it's 10 lbs of utter satisfaction.  Mrs. Watson, who like Jane Austen (foreshadowing next book review here) published six books upon which her fame was made, but who unlike Ms. Austen, lived a long and healthy life afterwards, was interviewed by the person who rediscovered her book and urged it upon the publishers.  Since then, a film starring Frances McDormand, which is also stupendous, has been made.

Mrs. Pettigrew has been described as a frothy confection of a novel with a Cinderella theme, but I think the reason it is so touching and enjoyable is because the author herself experienced a version of the Cinderella dream she confers so entertainingly on her book's eponymous heroine.  Watson herself was an "overnight" success with her first novel and was widely feted and celebrated, so she knew first-hand how it felt.  What distinguishes the novel from other fun reads is the author's deep sense of compassion for the frantic desperation behind all the bubbly adventures and witty repartee.  Watson's insight into the human heart makes her novel timeless.

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And, speaking of time, the other book I devoured over the break is a brand new one (though also about the past):

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn (who, by the way, had the same idea as I had had a while back for a story but she made it into a novel!  In my story, it was the Great Lives Project)   In this time travel novel, two researchers go back to Jane Austen's time ostensibly to retrieve the lost full manuscript of The Watsons (ha! another link to Mrs. Pettigrew book) and the letters Cassandra destroyed but also end up doing something else (no spoilers!) that of course, alters everything in unpredictable ways.

My only objection to this novel is that I was led to believe by the blurb writers that it had a surprise ending, which it didn't. Not unless you count the present being changed by the time travelers' actions in the past as surprising, which it shouldn't be to anyone who has ever read a time travel novel!  Also, the author keeps dropping what I thought were really obvious hints about certain things which never came to pass--ok, so maybe that was me reading things into things but still, I think it would have made for an interesting twist if what I thought was going to happen had happened.  Oh, and I thought the main character acted quite against character in the end, which threw me a bit.

But all these comments don't detract in any way from it being a most wonderful read.  I don't even bother thinking up all these objections to novels that don't have meat to them.  I love when novels give you food for thought and raise all these questions in your mind.  Few novels are even worthy of a second thought and this one will certainly provide lots of discussion fodder for an Austenite book club!


Friday, November 10, 2017

The Ocean Between Us cover reveal!

Backbone Press just published my new poetry chapbook The Ocean Between Us along with Faisal Mohyuddin‘s The Riddle of Longing.  Faisal’s book The Displaced Children of Displaced Children just won the 2017 Sexton Prize for Poetry from Eyewear Publishing; I’m very honored and excited to be published alongside him!

Many thanks to editor Crystal Simone Smith for the beautiful cover design and to editor Daniel Romo for his blurb!


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Backbone Press will publish The Ocean Between Us!

I'm excited and honored to announce that Backbone Press chose my chapbook The Ocean Between Us as one of their two Fall 2017 publications from 120+ entries.  It will be in the pre-order stage for a few weeks ($9 via paypal).  The Riddle of Longing by Faisal Mohyuddin is the other chapbook chosen. Faisal just won the the 2017 Sexton Prize selected by Kimiko Hahn! 

Backbone's description: 
The Ocean Between Us is a collection of poems wrapped in memories and language. Beatriz Fernandez artfully weaves together dazzling imagery and alluring sounds to create concrete visions of Puerto Rico, Florida, and a geography of loss. With the ability to use the perfect words to describe imperfect times, she poses questions that pierce the human spirit. Unsure of the answer, this is a book of poetry that is rich with the “embryonic code of things to come.”

I'm really happy to have another chapbook published so soon after my first, Shining from a Different Firmament, in 2015 (Finishing Line Press).

The Ocean Between Us is very different than Shining, which was mostly a collection of persona poems about historical, literary and legendary women.  Ocean, as I described in my last post, is a collection of 25 poems about my personal experiences in Puerto Rico and Florida, from childhood to the present.  The first poem, Calle del Cristo, is an exception in that it is a persona poem.

The suffering of all Puerto Ricans as the island has endured two hurricanes is omnipresent in my mind these days.  My family members are safe and being very brave about the circumstances but I can't imagine living through that.  We were in Miami during Hurricane Andrew, but it did not hit our area directly.  Irma again sideswiped us, leaving only fences and trees down, mostly.  We are so lucky to have our homes and our lives to go back to.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Backbone Press finalist!

I'm very happy to learn that my chapbook, The Ocean Between Us, is a finalist in Backbone Press's Spring open reading session.

Backbone Press is a small press for ethnic poets and is interested in:
language that is elegant and provocative; poetry that informs and engages us in broader cultural conversations.
Even if my chapbook doesn't get accepted for publication, it is an honor to make it to the final round!
The Ocean Between Us is a 25-poem chapbook divided into two sections: Puerto Rico poems and Florida poems.  The journey begins with a brief visit back to Puerto Rico that brings back many memories of my childhood spent there. I’m the daughter of an immigrant and an islander whose ancestors also immigrated to their respective homelands.  Within every generation of my family there came a decision: to leave or to stay, and my ancestors always chose to leave, for their own sake and for their children’s.  From this restless heritage I derived a curious lack of home sense—I’ve always been neither one thing nor another, neither native nor alien.  These poems are an attempt to gather all these emotions together into a cohesive whole—to define what we mean by “home” and to highlight that perhaps it’s the ocean between that really matters:  that ever-changing, ever-the-same body that divides us and yet also unites us into a single body.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Alsina Publishing to present my flash fiction trilogy

I'm excited to announce that Alsina Publishing will present my fantasy fiction trilogy via LingoBites, their app for language learning via story-telling.

I'm also so pleased and grateful that Selina Fenech, an incredible Australian artist and author, agreed to let me use her beautiful artwork for the trilogy cover!

This gorgeous piece, entitled "Saviour" perfectly illustrates my stories! Check out Selina's website for all her fiction, artwork, coloring books, figurines, etc. You will be amazed!



Update on this post:  LingoBites is in Beta launch mode and I have a limited number of free trial codes to give out--contact me if you are interested!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Rejections can be sweet...

thirty west finalist
However, their critique of the manuscript let me down very easy!  I am going to frame it and post it by my writing desk for encouragement!  Thank you, Thirty West Editorial panel!
Excerpts:
"These pieces are unique, fresh, and beautifully written. The muses here have constructed some unique narrative voices and superbly distinct pieces ..." "Supremely creative."
"...one must be widely-read and knowledgeable of literary, artistic, and historical touchstones to fully catch all of the allusions here. That makes the target audience for these pieces much less universal than some other pieces."  "The unique thoughtfulness and dedicated execution of these pieces far outweighs any audience concerns."
"Not only is this magnificent on a conceptual level, but the beauty in the writing lies in its use of literary devices throughout. For instance, the internal rhythm and rhyme in “Guinevere to Arthur” is so seamless as to seem easily done..."
"..the level of intellectualism and foresight, the knowledge and exploratory nature of poetic structure and elements, and the skill and artistry in execution make this a great piece that any publishing company should be honored to print."