Sunday, December 30, 2018

Ending the old year on a positive note: Boricua en la Luna anthology!

I'm very excited and honored to announce that Boricua en la Luna: An Anthology of Puerto Rican voices just accepted two of my poems for their upcoming publication!  It's a great way to end this year, which doesn't have too many good things associated with it, in my mind.  Boricua en la Luna's profits will benefit the Hispanic Federation's efforts on behalf of the island's hurricanes Maria and Irma recovery effort.  Many thanks to editor Elena Aponte for her vision and effort on behalf of the island and support for diverse voices in literature!

From their site:
We want diverse voices from Puerto Rico: stories, poems, and essays that will help the world understand the wonderful people who live on the island, a place that has given the world immensely talented artists, actors, writers, poets, musicians, librarians, politicians, humanitarians, scientists, and athletes-- a place that still needs our support and our love.
Boricua En La Luna will be available in Mid-2019 in both electronic and print formats.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Space Operas galore--Corey, Chambers, Wells and Foner

Novels that take place as humanity expands its presence in the galaxy are perennial favorites.  (See previous post on Catherine Asaro's work as well) I've come across several contrasting and vastly entertaining series in this subgenre lately.

Fans of The Expanse (one of the most well-reviewed series on t.v., which was recently cancelled by Syfy and subsequently saved by Amazon) will be glad to know that it is based on the novels (Orbit Books) by a team of two writers under the pen name James S.A. Corey.  Both the show and the novels are fantastic.  In my case, since I began seeing the show before reading the novels, the two have melded in my mind in a very pleasing gestalt.  Leviathan Wakes is the first of the series.  The crew that comes together in the ship Rocinante are the first that remind me of the Firefly crew in their likable motleyness and unity.  In this first novel, the point of view shifts between the idealistic Holden and Miller, the hard-bitten detective, a contrast that works very well.  My one criticism is that the main female characters, Naomi and Julie Mao, are idealized to a point and not allowed to be totally human.  But that's a common issue in sci-fi, I find.

A series that contrasts well with Corey's rather dark and militaristic vision, is Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which describes as a "joyous, optimistic space opera."
The debut novel has been followed by two more, one just published, so enjoy!  Her novels have attracted much attention and awards for their quality and different approach.  Her emphasis is on the characters and their emotions.

In between these two series, as far as tone and ambiance, I would place Martha Wells' (read EVERYTHING she's ever written, not just this series, you will not regret it!) Murderbot Diaries novella series, the first of which, All Systems Red, just deservedly won the Nebula and Locus awards.  In this four-part series, we get inside the mind of an AI security unit that goes quietly (and then not so quietly) rogue.  The last novella in the series will be released in October.

On a totally different plane, is the hilarious, quirky Union Station series by E.M Foner (this interview by K.C. Sivils will tell you much of what is different about the series, beginning with the author!) While not technically a space opera, this series does take place in a future populated by aliens and AI superminds that interact in strange and surprising ways with the all-too-human humans!  It's a laugh-out-loud funny series that bring a welcome optimistic flavor to what is often envisioned as the dark and doomed future of humanity.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Feminine Rising: Voices of Power & Invisibility--anthology update

My poem "Reunion" was accepted for publication in this anthology a while back. I just visited their site and I'm happy to find out they found a publisher, Cynren Press! It's available for Pre-order here:
Feminine Rising
We've officially signed a contract with Cynren Press!
Contributors will hear from us as soon as possible about next steps. We are so grateful to you all for sharing your voices with us, for making this labor of love something really worth loving.
Andrea Fekete and Lara Lillibridge, editors

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Last Year's Best Frugal Choices: Work, Home and Travel

My road to frugality has not led me to what most frugal gurus would call a minimalist lifestyle but it has gotten me to where I wanted to be. I still have more stuff than I know what to do with, or that I could use in many lifetimes, so decluttering our modestly sized home is still a priority. This is why I really think twice before I bring anything into my life that doesn't add to its quality significantly.
That said, this past year a few purchases have greatly added to my quality of life:
Three identical pairs of pants from Kohl's (different colors) at about $30 each. They have elastic waists so if my weight goes up or down a few pounds I don't have to worry. They are dark so they don't show stains and they don't need ironing. This is my uniform system for work: each pant goes with almost every shirt I own so getting dressed for work is simplicity itself! I've divided my closet into work clothes, weekend clothes and in-between clothes (read: "retired" work clothes that will serve in a pinch!)
A medium sized oscillating fan ($30--Lasko brand purchased via Amazon) which immensely helps disperse a/c to specific spots where I need it instead of just turning the a/c to a lower temp. It would be nice to have ceiling fans, but this fan is perched on a bookshelf and does basically the same job much more cheaply! It reaches two "hot spots" in the house where I regularly hang out.
An under the seat carryon suitcase with wheels: $60. (London Fog brand, purchased at Tuesday Morning store) This simplified my traveling greatly--it's much smaller and lighter than the usual carryon so I can lift it with ease if necessary. I have fewer things hanging off my body so it's easier to get around the airport. And it serves as a leg rest when I'm in the waiting area and a bathroom door guard as well--when the stall door doesn't lock properly I prop it up against it to keep it closed.
Speaking of frugality gurus, I'm happy to see that Get Rich Slowly is back in the hands of its originator, J.D. Roth. I'm glad to see this trend away from corporatization of the frugality movement. I hated it when The Simple Dollar's Trent Hamm sold his site, for example. It's never the same once they do. You can see the differerence on the sites for yourself. They both have lots of advertisements but The Simple Dollar is obviously a commercial site now.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

First acceptances of 2018--New Reader Magazine

I haven't been sending out poems as often as I used to, so it was very heartening to receive my first acceptances of the new year from New Reader Magazine, an Arts, Literature & Cultural Quarterly. They have an exciting mixture of prose and poetry from writers all over the world. Their site is very fresh and visually pleasing as well!

My two poems, The Little Sunfish and Mistress Prynne Dreams of Her Youth were accepted for their June issue. The Little Sunfish is my latest poem, written about the robots used to clean up after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2017. The robot they called Manbo, which means "little sunfish", was the one that helped discover the source of the leak and thus saved many lives.

Mistress Prynne refers to the epilogue about Hester Prynne's later life in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter which not everyone remembers after reading the book, but which obviously made an impression on my imagination!

K.M. Peyton, an old favorite discovered anew!

Frankly, I thought K.M. Peyton (of Flambards fame) was no longer with us, but I just found out she's still here and still writing!! Her most recent novel, Wild Lily,

was a very enjoyable read. Peyton has not lost her fascination for me, after all these years. Her books have a quality unlike any other (which may not be to everyone's taste) and over the years I've tried to analyze exactly what that quality consists of. For one thing, her books are always about love: whether it's love for another person, an animal (frequently horses), an occupation (flying, sailing), or a place. And it's the kind of all-encompassing love that one sacrifices everything for--the kind of love that few people seem to experience but which Peyton knows all about. Sometimes it's reciprocated, but sometimes it's just a unrequited devoted love for another that never fades.

Another distinguishing trait: her characters--there is always a mad, bad, fascinating character who dominates--for better or for worse. There is always a character who is quietly strong and good to the core. But none of her characters are totally black and white--the good ones can be silly, the bad ones often humane, and the clash of good and evil takes place in at atmosphere where luck sometimes favors one over the other.

The last two books by Peyton I read were _Small Gains_ and _Greater Gains_, a two-part series which thankfully ended happily! When Amazon describes something as a "tragic saga set at the turn of the 18th century," you have to worry! Granted, the happy ended was a bit forced (and unlikely) but I'll take it.

My all-time favorite of hers, besides the Flambards series, is _The Right-Hand Man_, which Wikipedia describes as "the book is set in 1818 in Essex and London, during the Georgian era. It tells the story of Ned Rowlands, a talented stagecoach driver who meets the three creatures he loves best on the same day: a horse, a woman, and the man who will become his employer."

Catherine Asaro, where have you been all my life?

Nothing's sweeter than discovering an author, who, unbeknownst to you, has been writing exactly the type of novel you love to read for years and yet somehow has managed to remain under your radar!  We're talking about an extensive backlist of titles waiting for my reading pleasure!

I've heard Catherine Asaro's name before but finally chanced upon her book, Primary Inversion, recently and had a great time immersing myself into its colorful characters and world.

Kick-ass female protagonists ready to take over galactic empires, political machinations, worlds in conflict, star-crossed's all there for your reading enjoyment!

To top it all, Asaro is one of the few well-known hispanic female science fiction writers and she's a scientist and dancer as well!

FIU campus authors reception at Barnes & Noble

FIU Academic Imaging Services: Author's Reception 2018 &emdash;

At the FIU Provost's office reception for faculty authors. I got there late (I was on the desk) and was the last one to get my picture taken! Thanks to the campus Barnes & Noble for hosting the reception and purchasing two of my books!

The Dean of Libraries, Anne Prestamo, gave a speech and mentioned both librarians who had books out this last year and the faculty authors book display I had put together the night before! As I was leaving the desk to go to the event, there was already a faculty member looking for the display and happy to find his book there.

Monday, March 05, 2018

2017 publishing year in review (a bit late!)

I usually post these "year in review" columns in January, but I just realized I hadn't written one for 2017.  It was the year of the sonnet for me!  Four sonnets published, one reprinted in an anthology, one featured as a weekly read, one winning a sonnet challenge, one nominated for the Pushcart Prize and both the latter published in a mini chapbook!  (Something's telling me I should be writing more sonnets!)  

It was also the year I broke out into fiction and published the first flash fiction stories I attempted, which became the Sara's Siren Song Trilogy.  

And last but not least, it was the year my second chapbook, The Ocean Between Us, got accepted and published by Backbone Press!

2017: Year in Review

Jan---“Calle del Cristo” in the Arte Latino Now exhibit from Jan17 to Feb 17.

Feb—“Point of No Return” (sonnet) reprinted in Shabda Press’s Nuclear Impact anthology on Amazon. 

—“Seagrapes” appears in The Australian Times, illustrated.

March --“Origins” (sonnet) on Red Bird Chapbook’s Weekly Read feature page/and fb. 3-14-17

April – “Wings” in The Ghazal Page 4-15-17 

          --  “The Surest Poison” in Thirty West Publishing’s website as winner of their sonnet challenge!

May – “The Surest Poison” and “Blood Pacts” (both sonnets) in a16 page chaplet by Thirty West Publishing with other formal poetry winners.

June—“The Astronomer’s New Eyes” in Whale Road Review.

----“The Last Thing I’ll Lose” repubbed in Highland Park Poetry’s The Muses Gallery (Birds-themed issue.) (6-4-17).

—“Plague Graffiti” featured on Songs of Eretz 6/28/17

— “Story of the Stones”  in The Ginger Collect

----“Under a Graveyard Sun” in The Ginger Collect. 

July“Sara’s Siren Song,”“Sara’s Second Chance” and “Sara’s Love Song” a flash fiction trilogy published by Alsina Publications on their Lingobite language learning app.  Selina Fenech’s illustration “Saviour” is the cover.

AugThe Ocean Between Us chapbook accepted by Backbone Press on 8/14.  It consists of 26 poems, some previously published, in two sections: Puerto Rico poems and Florida poems.

Oct 22The Ocean Between Us published. 
 Nov--"Blood Pacts” nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Thirty West Publishing House!

DecThe Ocean Between Us  added to the FIU Faculty publication collection at the FIU libraries!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Historical murder mysteries for the fantasy lover

I'm on a roll of excellent historical mystery/fantasy reads that shows no signs of ending!  Due in part to my ill health the last week, I finished

The Hanged Man by P.N. Elrod

the first of a series, I'm pleased to note!  This mystery laced with magic takes place in an alternate Victorian England any lover of Sherlock Holmes will enjoy.  In this novel the magic makes perfect sense and posits preferable criminal investigative techniques than our present ones, that's for sure!  Her characters are well-developed and I look forward to reading more about all of them.

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

In this novel, a time traveler from the present encounters a serial killer in Regency England.  Fast-moving and led by a very unique female protagonist, this novel satisfies to the very last, (the very last) word!  I liked that the author zigged where the reader would zag.  I heartily approve of zigging!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

More glowing book recommendations...

Mentioned by many as one of the best non-fiction books of 2017,

The Radium Girls: the dark story of America's shining women by Kate Moore (Sourcebooks)

definitely deserves that distinction.  The story is old, as there have been a few books written about it (and a play, These Shining Lives!) but Moore's approach is fresh.  She focused on the women and their personal lives, which makes the story of their suffering and struggle for justice even more poignant.  The book reads fast and makes a lasting impression.  What strikes me the most is the courage these very young women had in the face of unbelievable setbacks, indifference on the part of both employers and industry, and the hopelessness of their situation.  They really did shine like beacons in the dark history of industrial safety in this country, making it safer for generations to come.

This book led me to

The Woman Who Knew Too Much: Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation,
by Gayle Greene (University of Michigan Press, 1999). 

Another incredible story:  a pioneer female doctor who became an epidemiologist who saved countless lives by first discovering the danger of x-raying fetuses before birth, a formerly common practice, and later in her careet, at an age when most people are retired "challenged international nuclear safety standards."  An amazing woman who has not been celebrated enough.

My fiction recommendation is another Jane Austen world spinoff:

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (2011)

This is the first of a series of regency/fantasy novels by this author, who very skillfully weaves the working of "glamour" as she calls the magical essence into an Austen inspired world.  This particular novel derives inspiration from Austen's Sense and Sensibility but does a nice job of making you forget that fact!  Entertaining, enchanting, and fun.  Even though I enjoyed this novel tremendously, I find I don't feel the need to read the next one, which is strange but maybe a tribute to the satisfying ending of the first!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Happiness is seeing your own book in your library!

Today I walked into the Green Library at Florida International University, where I work, and found that some nice person had displayed my new poetry chapbook, The Ocean Between Us, in good company on the New Books shelf!  They obviously intended that I see it, since I'm the one who usually organizes the display shelves!  A few minutes later it was gone...maybe someone's actually reading it?  Uh, oh!

Call number:  PS 3606. E7334.O33 2017