Friday, August 17, 2018

To Free or not to Free?

(Reprinted from 1 year ago)

It is apparently the nature of humankind to try and obtain the coveted, but ever elusive, freebie. Oh, you know what I'm talking about. It turns out that if you're a person with a skill (doctor, lawyer, plumber, artist, writer, etc.), folks want you to share what you know ...for free (or close to it!).
  I've been guilty of it in the past, and just chalked it up to me getting some helpful tips... which they were. But some folks don't know when to quit and insist on more than mere tips. If you crochet, they want full-blown lessons and even free yarn. If you write, they want free critiques, editing services, or even your *ahem* help in writing their book or novel.
  So what do you do? That's entirely up to you, there's nothing wrong with sharing some knowledge or passing along some helpful hints. But there is something wrong with being taken advantage of. Your hard-earned skillset, whatever it is, deserves to be acknowledged and rewarded. The same way you wouldn't expect a car mechanic to fix your car for free (unless you got the hook-up), is the same way that folks shouldn't expect you to speak, critique, edit, write, or teach without some sort of honorarium or financial remuneration. The late and venerable poet, Louis Reyes Rivera of the National Writers Union, was a strong and outspoken proponent of this. Unfortunately many uninformed people consider those of us that work in the arts to be indulging in hobbies rather than actual "work", so they don't understand why we'd like to get paid.
  Ultimately it's your decision of course, but I'd urge you not to sell yourself, or your art, short.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Editing and Reviewing Services

Latino Authors & Writers Society
Are you working on your latest short story, novel, novella, or non-fiction book? You may want to have it edited and proofread before shipping it off to that agent or publisher!  Or maybe your work has already been published and you'd like an honest review that you can post onto your website or on social media.  Or maybe you can use some help with some basic promotion and marketing.  Well the Latino Authors & Writers Society, an organization dedicated to Latino Literature and literacy, will soon be offering these important services at reasonable prices!  Other companies, agencies & organizations may charge THOUSANDS of dollars for their services, while we provide those same services at prices much more affordable to the beginning, aspiring, or struggling writer (with a special understanding and appreciation for the works of POC). Of course, veteran writers can take advantage of these very reasonable prices as well!
1. Editing for Fiction (novels, novellas) - Flat rate of $150.00 for up to 74,000 words, with an additional 5-cents per word after the initial 74,000.
2. Editing for Non-Fiction (Memoirs, Religious, etc.) - Flat rate of $400.00 for up to 80,000 words, with an additional 5-cents per word after the initial 80,000. 
3. Editing for Short Stories (any genre) - Flat rate of $20.00 for up to 3,000 words, with an additional 5-cents per word after the initial 3,000.
4. Book Reviews (any genre) - Flat rate of $40.00 for works of up to 74,000 words, with an additional 5-cents per word after the initial 74,000.
5. Marketing & Promotion (any genre) - Flat rate of $200.00.
Please check out the traditional businesses that offer these services first, and then make up your mind.  We look forward to working with you!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Who inspired you?

Quite often, at various writing events that I have attended, someone will ask me what inspires or inspired me to write.  My answer is always the same: my parents.

I know that plenty of other writers may find this answer kind of corny, but it's the truth.  I was always somewhat eccentric when I was a kid, if you call having a lot of very varied interests "eccentric."  I read everything that I could get my hands on, built models (usually of the Universal monsters, animals, or scientific subjects), studied most of the sciences (I even had a lab in my parent's basement), practiced boxing and the martial arts, played baseball, I also kept a menagerie in my home that consisted of all sorts of reptiles, amphibians, and birds. And I still found the time and the wherewithal to write.

Throughout all this, my parents always encouraged me and never put me or my ideas down.  When the encyclopedia salesman came to our door, even though money was scarce, they bought me the entire set. I read the whole thing, including the bonus dictionary, that summer.  My father built me a huge terrarium out of 2X4's and Plexiglas to house my burgeoning collection of reptiles. And when some neighborhood kids brought a sick seagull to my house in the hopes that I could nurse it back to health (which I did), my mother didn't say no.

And so it was that through all of the problems regular folks go through like bills, health concerns, etc., my parents still found the strength and patience to encourage me, and thus to inspire me.  I learned more from observing my parent's strength, positivity, support for their kids, hard work ethic, and love, than I ever learned from any books.  I was inspired to be patient, loving, strong, and hard-working. These things in turn inspired me to write, and it's no coincidence that my first published work was titled, "My Mother: Superstar!"  My father and I used to visit used bookstores where I'd buy books and comics, and this inspired me to write a guest column for D.C. comics where I extolled the benefits of reading comicbooks.

So, it was my parents and their truly unconditional love that inspired me most to put pen to paper and share parts of my life with the world.  My mom passed away a few years ago, and took a huge part of my heart with her. I will always miss and treasure her.  My father is still here, and we try to make it to his favorite restaurant, IHOP, about once a month.  His resilience at having lost his best friend is another source of inspiration to me.

Thanks mom. Thanks pop. For inspiring me to live. Love. Write.

So fellow writers, who or what inspired you to write?

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Story of... Me.

  As a writer, you've probably already experienced having someone approach you and mention how they would like to write a book about their life and experiences, but they don't know where to start. These folks are usually earnest about sharing their story, some may even be driven to do so, thinking that this would be a way to exorcise their demons.  Or it's possible that they feel that their story would make for an exciting, worthwhile, or cautionary tale.
  Maybe you're actually that potential author that feels that your life is worth writing about.  Yes, maybe you are and maybe it is.  Let's talk about your life story...

  First you have to realize that just about every person on the planet feels that his or her life story is unique and worth telling.  And they're right.  Which means, of course, that you're right.  Your story is worth telling.  Almost everyone has a story to tell, and if that story has to do with what you have experienced or gone through in your life, then it's probably worth sharing.  Maybe you were (or still are) an arsonist, or a drag queen, or a Walmart's cashier... it doesn't matter.  Your life is unique and different from any other.  You have a unique perspective, and a different way of saying or doing things that other people may not have thought of or experienced.  Some of the best novels, non-fiction books, and movies, are based on people and/or situations that to the casual observer or reader may seem ordinary and mundane at first, but which blossom into full-blown life-altering experiences full of "ah-h-h" moments.  So if you're teetering on the proverbial threshold of whether or not you should write the story of your life, or a chapter of your life, take that step and do it.  It's always a good bet to go with your first mind on certain things.  If for some reason you honestly feel compelled to write about something you and/or your family have gone through, then it's probably a good idea to do so. It can be a cathartic experience that may help answer questions that maybe even you and your loved ones didn't know you had.  "Each of us is a book waiting to be written, and that book, if written, results in a person explained." ~Thomas M. Cirignano, author of The Constant Outsider: Memoirs of a South Boston Mechanic.

  Speaking of loved ones...   Be aware that if and when you do write the story of your life, that there have probably been  many persons that have shared your experiences with you - mom, dad, grandma, the mailman... and not all of them would be happy to have their lives and experiences immortalized alongside yours.  In writing the story of your life, this issue may become a big, glaring one that may cause you more pain and angst if not handled correctly.  One avenue to consider as a way of avoiding trouble is to "change the names to protect the innocent", or guilty, or whatever.  This is okay, but it's by no means the best option.  You can change people's names in your book, but they may still be easily recognizable.  In which case this person or persons can argue in court (yes, court!) that you have used their likeness without their permission, or that you may have actually defamed them if your part of the story that includes them is less than positive.  In this case you may have to go as far as changing their appearance, job, relation to you... all in an effort to keep yourself safe from trouble and possible litigation.  Depending on the story you want to tell however, this may water-down or alter your story in an unsatisfying way.  In this case, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the laws concerning the use of real names, etc. in your written work.  I would also like to recommend Helen Sedwick's wonderful book, The Self-Publisher's Legal Handbook.  The following is an excerpt from her website,
 "Writers face three big risks when using real people in their writing: defamation, invasion of privacy, and misappropriation of the right of publicity. Yet every fiction writer bases characters on real people. Memoirists and nonfiction writers identify people by name. How can writers use real people in their work without risking a lawsuit?
First, a simple rule. If what you write about a person is positive or even neutral, then you don’t have defamation or privacy issues."
  But, that may be the problem.  Rarely do we want to write a life story in which everyone, everything, and every experience is positive or neutral.  So, in that case, read the article on Helen's website and then buy her book.  It's better to be safe than sorry!  Also, be prepared to have family, friends, relatives, and acquaintances tell you how they're not being portrayed correctly, or how their memories of the same events are different than yours.
  Another thing you can do is to have everyone mentioned in your book sign a release form or waiver which absolves you from any litigation for using their name and/or likeness in your book.  Often, that's just not practical however.

  Now let's get to the nitty-gritty, the actual writing!  Many people that want to write about their life experiences just don;t know where to start.  They stare at a blank sheet of paper and get intimidated.  What's the first thing I should say?  Well, I'm going to give you a word of advice that I give most aspiring writers... don't "write."  You see, the part of the writing process that intimidates most new or aspiring writers is the writing process itself.  Many folks get bogged down with grammar, spelling, making sure that their T's are crossed and their I's are dotted.  The process becomes a chore and next thing you know, that manuscript is relegated to the underwear drawer maybe to never see the light of day again.  Write?  No.  What you want to do is tell your story.  Don't sit there trying to give birth to a book that's probably a breach anyway.  It will be all pain, grunting and screaming with an outcome that could have been achieved in an easier, gentler, and more accommodating way.  Just. Tell. Your. Story.  When you're talking to your friends and family about things that really interest you or mean a lot to you, you don't worry about grammar or spelling.  Your words come from your heart and your gut.  That's how you're going to successfully tell your story to that blank sheet of paper.  Disregard the "writing" part for now and just let your words flow from your fingertips, even if you have to speak aloud while you're doing it (a lot of writers do this!).  Forget about spelling, punctuation, grammar, or anything you may have learned in a writing class.  Let your gut and heart do the talking, your brain can fix and clean it up later.  Tell the story as if you are talking to your friend while sitting in your livingroom, or at the bar, or standing around the water cooler at work.  Get comfortable and let the memories and the words flow.  The most important thing is to tell your story.

Tell your story.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Summer Reading List!

Summer is officially here, and one of our favorite activities while sitting at the beach or lounging by the pool is, of course, READING!
So below we have compiled some of our best choices to help with your summer reading list. Enjoy!

1. I am not your perfect Mexican daughter- by Erika L. Sanchez
2. Covering the Sun with my Hand- by Theresa Varela
3. Drown - by Junot Diaz
4. The House on Mango Street- by Sandra Cisneros
5. When I was Puerto Rican & Casi una Mujer- by Esmeralda Santiago
6. Battle for a Soul- by Manuel Melendez
7. The Invisible Guardian- by Dolores Redondo
8. How the Garcia Girls lost their accents- by Julia Alvarez
9. Isla Negra- Pablo Neruda
10. Tell me how it Ends- by Valeria Luiselli
11. "97" - by Jonathan Bonhomme
12. The Shadowshaper series- by Daniel Jose Older
13. Wicked Weeds - by Pedro Cabiya
14. City of Beasts - by Isabel Allende
15. Who's Ju? - by Dania Ramos
16. Her Body and other Parties - by Carmen Maria Machado
17. Un Espejo en la Selva- by Silverio Perez
18. Chickenhawk- by Arnaldo Lopez Jr
19. The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lillian Rivera

Wednesday, June 27, 2018



SUBMISSIONS! - Ellen Aponte

I am very happy and excited to announce that I am putting together an anthology to help Puerto Rico! But I need your help! Please share this post and read through the Call for Submissions I have posted below. If anyone has any questions, just send me a message or contact me at the email below.

Now accepting poetry, fiction, and short essays for Boricua en la Luna, an anthology of work by artists from Puerto Rico or of Puerto Rican descent.

Proceeds from this anthology will go to the Hispanic Federation to assist with Hurricane Maria and Irma recovery relief.

Work may be on any subject, but should reference or relate to Puerto Rican identity. Work may be in Spanish or English or both; we are open to work in translation, but require translated artist or estate permission. We will not consider work that is sexist, racist, or in other ways bigoted.

Submit .pdf or .doc/.docx attachment of 1-6 poems, 1-3 flash fiction or nonfiction, or short story or essay up to 3000 words to by September 30th. Please include a brief biographical note of up to 50 words. Please place title(s) of work in a list within the email, and include name and contact information on the first page of your submission.

Acceptance decisions will be made by December 31st, with release of anthology in mid-2019.

Previously published works considered. We acquire one-time print and electronic rights. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if a work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us at the above email.

All contributors will receive a copy of the anthology, which will be distributed in both print and electronic forms.