Sisters Born, Sisters Found is not just an anthology of women writing about theirs sisters. The book acts as mysterious force unifying the sisterhood of women for readers and authors alike. The sister found. Last night one of my “sisters” recounted her experience: while lunching in the hospital cafeteria—her husband was in for a procedure—she entertained herself reading Sisters Born, Sisters Found. The two women at the next table, sisters it turned out, eyed my friend. “Is that a book about sisters?” one asked. “We always look for stories about sisters. They’re what we and our friends read.” In my own experience, I can’t keep enough copies on hand when I go to writer’s events. I’m flocked by my writing sisters to buy copies.

 

And if not for this lovely anthology, how would I have come to cross paths with the author of Lentil Soup, (page 11) Maria de Lourdes Victoria?

 

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Maria is a writer, teacher and social justice activist   from the Pacific Northwest whose award-winning  novels have yet to be translated to English from her native Spanish. She authors bi-lingual children’s stories and writes articles in English for various social justice publications. She says of her writing career, “I always wrote, but I became an author when I decided to write a book for my sons. I wanted them to be proud of their Mexican heritage. I also wanted an excuse to spend life in Mexico in the company of my father who was an amazing human being.”

Find her at: www.mariadelourdesvictoria.com

 139 

Ana: I've reread Lentil Soup and again, it's brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful story! I wish I could read your novels, but I'm just not that fluent in Spanish, and I didn't find translations on Amazon. Have you been translated?

Maria: Unfortunately my novels have not been translated into English (yet.) I am looking to sell the foreign rights to a smart (smile) editor who is willing to take a chance on three manuscripts that have been warmly received in the Spanish-speaking world. I cannot afford the translations. Translation is an art and I have deep respect for good, literary translators.

139

Ana: Your hometown is beautiful Veracruz, Mexico. When and how did you come to divide your life between Seattle and California?

Maria: My adventure in the USA began when I was seventeen years old. I came as a foreign exchange student to Seattle to learn English. While I was here, in high school, I met my husband. We married when I was nineteen and he was twenty-four, and yes, we are still happily married. But much as I tried, he would not move back with me to Veracruz. He is rooted in the Pacific Northwest and I can’t get him to go to California even! Move forward 37 years and we now have five beautiful grandchildren (such a gift!) who all live in California. They are the real reason I live in both states, back and forth I go, enjoying the wine country in the winter and spring months, and the glorious summers and falls in Seattle. And when I cannot stand it any longer I travel south to visit my beloved Mexico, my jarochos, palm tree, sugar cane, mangoes, parroquia coffee and danzon in the zocalo. 

139

Ana: I enjoyed parroquia coffee to the sounds of marimba in Veracruz. Do you still have an extended family there?

Maria: Yes, all my family, except two sisters, live in Mexico. I have siblings in Monterrey, Veracruz and Cuernavaca.

139

Ana: How did your family come to live in Mexico? Is your family history similar to the family histories of your protagonists in Los hijos del mar?

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Maria: Los hijos del mar is the story of my ancestors, going back to the mid 1800’s. My mother’s side of the family came from Spain and made a living in the coffee bean industry. My father’s family came from a small town in Veracruz called Catemaco (yes, where they have the yearly annual conference of national witches) and they fished in the lagoon and had a pharmacy. My grandfather went to Mexico City, got his degree as a pharmacist, and when he graduated he went back to Catemaco, picked up his family and moved to the “big city” of Veracruz, where he started his own pharmacy. This is where the story of Los hijos del mar begins. 

139

 Ana: In your story, Lentil Soup, you identify several family members including your sister, but there's scant mention of the rest of your immediate family. Was your sister your principle caregiver? How many years apart are you? Can you expand on your relationship a bit?

 

-1

Maria: When I was two years old our mother died and left our father a widow with six children. The car accident that took my mother’s life also left my father incapacitated, so the children were distributed among family members. Eventually we were reunited, but in the meantime [we] developed a close relationship, which has lasted until this day.

The sister in this story (I have six) was my playmate and my rock  during this time of loss. The principal caregiver was actually our oldest sister, Pilar, and to her I dedicated my second novel Mas alla de la justicia (Beyond Justice). 

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139

Ana: As an ESL teacher and a struggling student of Spanish, I know how hard it is to become fluent writing in a foreign language. I'm impressed with your ability to write in English, but which language do you primarily write in? Is there an advantage to one over the other?

Maria: When I first arrived in this country I could not ask for a glass of water. But then I fell in love and had the right motivation to learn quickly. I know it is easier to be published in English, and yet my heart whispers the stories in Spanish. So I listen. Sometimes it is a real struggle, for example, my second novel, Beyond Justice set in Seattle, with all English speaking characters, about the judicial system in the USA, that was a real challenge— especially my Afro-American character, Rhonda. How to convey her beautiful culture and persona and be true to her slang in Spanish??? It was not easy…

139
Ana: Language is culture-bound and I wonder if your work is more Latin or more North American depending on the language you write in. I tasted a distinct flavor of Latin America in your bi-lingual children's books. Do you consider yourself a Mexican author, a "left coast" author or something in between? Do you have any thoughts on language and culture?

Maria: I consider myself an author who writes primarily in Spanish and sometimes in English. My work gets labeled (maybe for cataloging purposes?) and I am often amused by the way I am described—Latina author, Mexican author, Chicano author, Spanish author, Hispanic author, etc, etc.

Here is a little poem I wrote one day when I was asked, yet again, if my parents were missionaries in Mexico.

 

I am an author

 

I am an author.

I am a woman author.

I am Mexican woman author.

I am a Mexican woman author who is blond.

I am also an American.

 

Yes, there are Mexicans who are Americans.

Yes, there are Mexicans who are blond.

Yes, there are Mexican women authors who are blond,

like me.

I am not what you see but what I write.

I am my words.

I am an author.

 

 139

Ana: Reading Lentil Soup, I'm reminded of  Laura Esquivel's Como Agua Para Chocolate for the strong connection between food and family. In your story and that book, food takes on near magical properties. Is this a cultural tradition in Mexican families and literature? Do you use food as a theme or metaphor in much of your work? How?

Maria: I am not sure I can generalize about Mexican literature and food, but I can say that most Mexican people take great pride in their own, regional cuisine. As you know Mexico is an incredibly diverse country. Each state has its own regional dress, music, cuisine, we have over 69 official languages! Veracruz alone is an amazingly diverse state. I am a jarocha, for example, which is to say I am from the port of Veracruz. But to answer your question, I think if you are writing about close-knit families in any given society (like Laura Esquivel’s De La Garza family in a Mexican ranch or Jane Austin’s landed gentry in England), the rituals around food are key elements of the story. The third novel which I am now finishing is a historical novel set in Oaxaca. It would be a sin, I think, not to include the traditional foods of Oaxaca in that story. So be ready for a literary feast!

139

Ana: You are a member of the Latino Bar Association and write articles on social justice. What do you write about and where might readers find your articles?

Maria: I consider myself a “recovered litigator” (smile) I no longer practice law, but I write about it. A lot. Readers may find my work on my blog and also on some journals, like the Seattle Journal for Social Justice or Conversations Across Borders

139

Ana: Everyone should read Cien Anos de Solidad (One Hundred Years of Solitude,) in my opinion. What Latin writers are your favorites and what book has influenced you the most? Who should everyone read? 

Maria: I have a huge list! Yes, I always said that Gabo (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) was my boyfriend, but my favorite book of his (in Spanish) is Love in the Time of Cholera (not the movie). Other authors in my library: Gabriela Mistral, Rosa Montero, Isabel Allende, Roberto Bolanos, Alejo Carpentier, Julio Cortazar, Romulo Gallegos, Jose Samargo, Ibarguengoita, Vargas Lloza, Maria Duenas, Galeano, Rosario Ferre, Rosario Castellanos, Adelia Prado, Teresa Calderon.

I am happy to say that we started the reading clubs inSpanish at the King County Public Libraries in Seattle. Maybe this could happen in the Bay area? Maybe this is already happening? I want to know!

139

Ana: What else do you think readers want to know?

Maria: That I consider the time they take away from their busy lives to read my work a true GIFT. And this is why I try to give them my best effort. 

139

I invite you to accept Maria de Lourdes Victoria’s gift of Lentil Soup and the joy as Maria and her sister “once again seal our pact: lentils in exchange for perpetual love, and not just any love but real love, Amor de los Buenos.”

 

Please be sure to check out the next post in our blog tour:

Monday, Feb. 23: Paige Adams Strickland interviewed by Vicki Batman http://vickibatman.blogspot.com

Laughing face Veracruz Classic period
Laughing face Veracruz Classic Period

 

 

At that talk I attended with Linda Watanabe McFerrin she mentioned an exercise she uses and  handed out a list of rather sexy sounding words:  tongues, Paris, salamander, lush, indigo, vanish, braille, silkily, Argentina, lips, apricots among many. She said, "don't think about it. Pick 7 words. Write a sexy scene using these words." I asked the class to pick their words and write whatever sexy thing they could think of, be it memoir, poetry, fiction. The following are some responses:

Farewell Training bra. So long hope chest.

Michael Layne

 

Her mirror’s reflection, mocking, as she stands bare.

Reflecting back, yikes nothing’s there.

I’ve seen other girl’s grow, big and thrive.

Isn’t it time, for mine to arrive?

I’ll love them fondly if I get a darling pair.

                           Perfectly perky and sweetly fair.                       

            To Victoria’s Secrets, a bra for them to caress.

            So hard to choose, I leave the display a mess.

                   ****           

            Finally they come, I redden and blush

            Return to Victoria’s in a hell of a rush.

            I find the perfect bra and press it to my lips

            I check it in the mirror, my God I’m getting hips.

            I pick the one with a touch of glitter.           

Then a selfie, I post it on Twitter.

            A lush photo, of my two stunning sisters

            Once lovingly in play, the envy of misters.

 

♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

Guy  Sandler

TONGUES
PULSE
LOVINGLY 
REMEMBER
DAMP
KISSES
UNDERNEATH.

♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

Darkness Be Not Dark

Don Tynan

dtnapa@hotmail.com

   In deft darkness, my fingertips braille your face.

   In silence, they dance across the beckon of your cheeks.

   As a thief, they secretly kiss your lips, and

   In heart’s desire, they silkily caress your hair.

   They hear the whisper of your pulse, and

   The blossom of your breathe.

   They catch the subtle quiver in your skin, and

   Even the glitter of your starry want.

   They be not sinister in darkness, but brilliant hero.

♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

Valentine Poem

Dina Corcoran

 

My father bellows thunder, it fills us with despair.

Does reason slumber or will he be fair?

We have adored each other with eyes and hands and lips

But pungent prejudice swirls and forbids.

 

His soul is indigo to me now, the color of midnight.

Yours is white, the color of light.

Why can’t he see your soul and forget your ebony skin?

Must our love vanish into the darkness of ignorance,       

Or might it be allowed to take wing?

♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

Short Poem of Repose

(who knows?)

Kent Ward Butzine

kentwrd@gmail

Don’t stress, regress.

Don’t pine, recline.

Be mine, supine.

Say “yes,” me bless.


Acquiesce, caress.

 

Don’t go, let’s flow

into the night

of delight

and the dawning

after-glow.

 

No “no”!

 

♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

Bellweather of Climate Change

daphne birkmyer

 

‘Sweet Salamander’

whispers Dragon lovingly from her magenta cloud,

‘Slow your pulse and sleep a while longer

in the mercy of your hibernation underground,

For my time has come,

and as your damp skin is singed by the heat of my caress,

You will no longer breathe

And when you vanish?

Oh slender thief of my heart,

I shall be

so

lonely.’

 

♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

My New Love

Ana Manwaring

Paris sweetly singes my tongue

fondly remembered

 as lush apricots

devoured in the heat of summer.

♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

   One Red Rose      

Barbra Hana Austin

Tobe and I fell in love thirty years ago in Stockholm. Six months ago he found me on line. it was the week of my seventy-first birthday. That would mean he was sixty-one.

We spoke or emailed daily and soon, ever the romantic  he sent me a round trip ticket to his adopted  Argentina. What could I say?.

On the plane, a complimentary Vodka in hand, I re-created fragments of our long ago lovemaking. If a heart could glitter from the inside out, mine would be seen like the stars in the heavens.

We were single-minded in that a Niagara of water had passed under our separate bridges. Would we be so clear when we met? I was excited, happy and getting more romantic by the sip.

The plane landed at Ezeiza International, and there Tobe stood, tall and straight, by the exiting corridor, as noble as he had been in Stockholm with one red rose in his hand.

We stood, stared and flew into each others arms.  When his lips touched mine, a tiny nucleus of heat began to rise deep within my very belly button.

“Take my pulse” he whispered, “if I’m not dying, I want you now, right now and I don’t care if it makes the front page of La Nación”.

We were married three weeks later at the airport. I carried one red rose.

 

 

     HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY

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I had the pleasure of attending a talk on How to Write a Sex Scene by Linda Watanabe McFerrin last Sunday at the Redwood Writers monthly meeting. Besides almost splitting a gut laughing (she says the face muscles used for fear are those used to laugh, so laugh your way into some sexy stuff!) I learned a few tips that I've attempted put into practice in the second of the JadeAnne Stone Mexico series.

Linda stressed that timing is really important. JadeAnne has lusted for the hot DEA agent, Anibal, since the first book. It's been a game of cat-and-mouse as she's resisted his advances. Now she's a guest at his house in Colonia Condesa in Mexico City and she's on fire. I'm betting my readers are ready for "something to happen." Golly, it's been long enough!

Ok, so does this coupling occur in innuendo, metaphor or graphic detail? Linda says to go easy on the four-letter Anglo Saxon words. Think about what the characters would say. Use their language and images in a natural way. Linda encourages sex scenes that are honest and authentic, but ultimately she says, "Don't hold back."

So here is my first attempt to write that most basic and wonderful action: The Sex Scene

From: Chapter 8  Our Love is Like a Ship on the Ocean

Chop, chop, chop. Someone was chopping wood. Chop chop chop chop—Jade!

Jade? Chop, chop, chop. Someone wanted me to help chop the wood. Someone was out there and wanted me—I needed to wake up and chop the wood—

“Jade, It’s me, Anibal.” Tap, tap. “Jade, can I come in?” Tap tap tap.

Pepper pounced onto the bed and nudged me with his cold nose.

“Huh? Wha—chop wood? What?” I swam up to consciousness and floated on the dark raft with my dog.

Tap-tap. “Jade, it’s me.”

Pepper whined and I came fully awake. Anibal. I padded to the door.

“What happened?” I asked, cracking it open, alarmed.

He pushed through, drew me to him without a word and kissed me sweetly. I kissed him back; I feasted on those plump lips—nibbling, licking, sucking on the spongy flesh until I’d made his mouth mine. I could feel his heart pounding, pacing me beat for beat, and it made me bold. I wanted this man. I wanted him now and again and again.

He embraced me more urgently, so tightly I gasped, but he kissed me even deeper and danced me across the room, sinking us to Anahi’s creaking bed. His lips never lost mine. I pulled away and kissed his face, his neck. He slid his hands under my camisole and caressed me softly, gently, like he was handling a new-born babe. His lips followed his hands, his tongue left hot trails of tingling along my chest and stomach. I felt electrified.

His hands caressed down my legs, up my thighs—kisses right behind. I felt my panties slide away, but I was floating on a rolling sea. I was a vessel on a running sea, rocking, tossing. A slick of sweat spread between our bodies and we slipped and slid into one another until we were face to face, breath to breath—one body tossed by the wild rhythm of the waves. I heard gasping and skin slapping against skin. We bucked and turned through the peaks and troughs. The wind of our breath howled.

“Come on baby! Jade, Jade. Come !”

His hands were everywhere at once, hauling the sheets, raising the sails; I heard inhuman mewling, the wind gone feral. The wind nipping, scratching, tearing at the sea—we, a single ship in a tsunami—the wave flooding us, washing us away.

Castaway onto shore of Anibal’s chest, I wept, spent. Our thundering hearts slowed down after some moments and we nestled together, fitting our bodies around each other and slept.

So how did I do? 

The To-Do List published January 2015 by Booktrope Editions December, 23, 2014
The To-Do List published January 2015 by Booktrope Editions December, 23, 2014

By JC Miller

We meet Ginny Cooper in her kitchen where she’s contemplating a stale donut and negotiating the day’s calorie count with herself. Her husband, Cal, browbeats her for her weight and she dumps the donut into the garbage, belittled. Her two kids don’t offer her any more respect than Cal, and her tedious job in a town that is dying doesn’t offer Ginny any relief. She needs an Arbys. But she’s a busy woman—she needs a list to keep track of the myriad details of her day: Buy milk, walk the dog, clean the garage, kill Cal.

Ginny remembers a time in college, before she and Cal met when she was self actualized and she wants to become that woman again. That woman didn’t manically count calories or soothe herself with Arbys. That woman wasn’t a doormat for an uncaring and arrogant man. She fantasizes about meeting someone new who will affirm her and joins an on-line dating service, but she submits a photo of someone else.

Ginny’s journey to empowerment is rough at times, bittersweet at times, and inspiring at times. Readers may feel impatient for her false starts and back-sliding, but ultimately Ginny takes charge of her own happiness. This is a story that doesn’t come with a predictable ending, but it delivers satisfaction. Her last to-do-list might read:

  1. Breathe
  2. Relax
  3. Smile

And she’s sure to do just that. Even if the garage still needs cleaning.

At the launch of The To-Do List February 1, 2015
At the launch of The To-Do List February 1, 2015

The To-Do List and JC's other books, Believing in Bigfoot, and Vacation are available through Amazon

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