Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Children's Books from Piñata Books- Arte Público Press

Estas manos: Manitas de mi familia / These Hands: My Family’s Hands

by Samuel Caraballo
Illustrated by Shawn Costello
ISBN: 978-1-55885-795-7

Publication Date: 10/31/14
Bind: Hardcover

Pages: 32

Ages: 4-8

In this heart-warming ode to family, the young narrator compares the hands of family members to plants in the natural world. “Your hands, the most tender hands! / When I’m scared, / They soothe me,” she says to her mother. The girl compares her mother’s hands to rose petals, which represent tenderness in Latin America.
Her father’s hands are strong like the mahogany tree; her siblings’ friendly like the blooming oak tree. Grandma Inés’ are the happiest hands, like tulips that tickle and hug tightly. And Grandpa Juan’s are the wisest, like the ceiba tree, considered by many indigenous peoples of Latin America to be the tree of life and wisdom and the center of the universe. His are the hands that teach his granddaughter how to plant and care for the earth and how to play the conga drum.
She promises to give back all the love they have always given her, “Dad, when your feet get tired, / My hands will not let you fall.” Samuel Caraballo’s poetic text is combined with Shawn Costello’s striking illustrations depicting loving relationships between family members. An author’s note about Latin American symbols will introduce children both to the natural world and the idea that one thing can represent another.

Cecilia and Miguel Are Best Friends / Cecilia y Miguel son mejores amigos

by Diane Gonzales Bertrand
Illustrated by Thelma Muraida
ISBN: 978-1-55885-794-0

Publication Date: 10/31/14

Bind: Hardcover

Pages: 32

Ages: 4-8

Cecilia and Miguel are best friends, and have been since the third grade when he gave her bunny ears in the class picture. Their life-long friendship is recorded in warm recollections of bike races and soccer games, beach time and fishing from the pier.
Their closeness endures separation, “even when he drove north to college and she drove west.” The relationship evolves and grows, but remains strong even when … he dropped the ring and she found it inside her flan … he set up one crib and she told him they need two … the twins climb into their bed and beg for another story. In this celebration of friendship, best friends forgive mistakes, share adventures and—sometimes—even become family!
Popular children’s book author Diane Gonzales Bertrand teams up with illustrator Thelma Muraida to create an album of memories that reflect their shared Mexican-American childhood in San Antonio, Texas: swinging at birthday party piñatas, breaking cascarones over friends’ heads and dancing at quinceañeras. Young children are sure to giggle at the adventures of Cecilia and Miguel, and they’ll be prompted to ask about their parents’ relationship as well as explore their own.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: Journey to Aztlán Goes In Search of Its Audience

Review: Juan Blea. Journey to Aztlán. Parker CO: Outskirts Press, 2014.
ISBN: 9781478700371

Michael Sedano

With a title like Journey to Aztlán, no one reasonably expects the book to fulfill the title’s self-help promise and cultural mystery. Journey to Aztlán is not for nationalists looking for fantasy history, nor poets researching visions and philosophies of our separate Eden.

In this self-disclosing memoir, Juan Blea takes readers along on his journey to aware, self-sustaining sobriety, which he calls, Aztlán, or choosing life.

Journey to Aztlán accounts one man’s conquest of crippling depression and drug addiction. For Blea, expression is therapy, for certain readers likewise. For that audience, Journey to Aztlán offers a therapeutic, inspirational narrative of use in forming one's own narrative.

Structurally and stylistically, Journey to Aztlán is an easy, quick read. Blea begins in February 2000 in crisis, then flashes back to July 1977 and launches the story of the boy who lived to this moment. Each chapter moves the story forward, skipping months, or years, cataloging provocative, interesting incidents in Juan’s life, from how he abandons suicide that February to teaching, and writing books for people afflicted like Blea, in 2011.

Presented as a patient's autobiography, the novelist in Blea lets his creative juices flow in the description and selection of key events and people. Keeping the narrative interesting, selected chapters change voice from first person to third. The tactic shows off Blea’s considerable skills in the third person. More importantly, third person allows him to tell and explain matters succinctly that escape tidy first-person illustrations.

Cultural nationalists will hate the Aztlánish elements of the narrative. At a point in life when Blea thinks himself an expert on chicanidad, especially Aztlán, a wise Japanese scholar sets him straight in a nearly “you see, grasshopper?” scenario. Humbled, Blea vows to abandon his tolerance for “good enough.” He vows to hold higher expectations of his students, and himself. A focused pursuit ever on goal is another name for Aztlán.

The simplicity of the argument strikes Blea as noteworthy so he recreates a story involving a tough group counseling session that rejects his--the counselor's--magic formula to “choose life" which is how the therapist translates Aztlán for these clients.

It’s a familiar lesson couched in intercultural terms. Behavior, not commitment, defines value. Blea realizes he can’t go after Aztlán in a half-assed manner. He insists his clients can’t go after their goals half-assed and, like Blea, turn to the pen to write it down and work it out. In the book, Blea makes believers of them.

Creative nonfiction is fun to read up to that point the writer makes a message or moral. This is Journey to Aztlán’s narrative flaw, fortunately it's at the end and the reader makes accounts, doesn't leave too disappointed.

Blea doesn’t have a satisfying conclusion to the book. The story is ongoing so there's no ending there. But ending the book escapes Blea. The final paragraphs find him wandering around a message until he runs out of equivocations and stops.

What else could he do? Growing conscienticized to living with a concept that “Aztlán is within everyone” defies narrative's capacities and reader expectations. It's an insight best suited to poetry.

Contact the publisher’s website here for ordering details.

Marketing Your Work
Reviewed in La Bloga-Tuesday
Note: Self-published writers have equal opportunity to be considered for a review by La Bloga-Tuesday. La Bloga is a team of eleven writers, each of whom follows her or his own practice. This is Michael Sedano’s.

Among the pleasures of doing criticism are the regular letters from self-published literary workers wanting a review in La Bloga. It’s encouraging learning how many writers in Aztlán are being productive, finishing manuscripts in a broadening range of genres, looking for an audience.

It’s a unique privilege to read new voices, even if some don’t make much of an impression. It's good knowing we are out there. The gems, those are worth reading through handsful of pulp, and ill-edited work to find the gems and semi-precious treasures la cultura churns out.

For the most part, La Bloga-Tuesday reviews work from independent, university, commercial publishers by established or notable emerging authors. Owing to marketing power and prowess, their product is what I read mostly. Así es.

I report on books I enjoy, that have value for a readership. Some come to me off the library’s new book shelf, others recommended by readers, and accidents. I came across Juan Blea’s 2007 novel, Butterfly Warrior, serendipitously. I liked it enough to share in a La Bloga Review. I later ran into Juan at a National Latino Writers Conference and we chatted.

Juan sent me a press kit early this year, offering his new work after seven years. It was an ideal entrée to get Journey to Aztlán into the stack of to-be-reads and possible reviews.

For writers coming in cold, there are sure-fire ways to be left out. For example, I get inquiries similar in entirety to these:

“Dear La Bloga: Please send me a mailing address so I can send you a review copy of my novel. Signed,…”

“Dear La Bloga, I would like you to review my latest novel. It’s a 60s based unbelievable novel somewhere between Naked Lunch and Wuthering Heights. Signed…”

I look at hapless efforts like those, disappointed at the lack of respect shown the writer’s art. Like reading one’s work aloud, respecting the labor of creation demands an effective presentation of one’s work to a public.

Debut novelists seeking a review from any genre-appropriate reviewer need to make a credible and competitive presentation to earn consideration. The work of writing a book ends when the work of marketing the book begins. They are both sides of a one-sided coin.

Respecting one’s time energy emotion poured into finishing the manuscript demands spending more time labor emotion putting together a marketing campaign.

At minimum, bring the book to market with a press kit prepared with all the professionalism you and collaborators can muster. Your press kit doesn’t sell the book, it sells the would-be critic on ordering and reading the book.

The competition does it. Every successful book gets to market as the result of a marketing plan. Self-published authors are no different except they have a bigger hill to climb: no track record, no corporate money, no sales history. Y que?

Send a press kit like the pros do. There’s a fifty-fifty chance you get a reply. If you ask wrong, or not at all, it’s a hundred percent chance of No. When you ask again, take the second "No."

Just because you do everything right doesn’t mean it’s going to work. Think of the odds your novel faces from big-time competition and dozens of self-published authors with slick press kits. That’s why you have a competitive press kit!

There’s no limit on the number of winners. Give yourself that fifty-fifty chance of being one.

On a Personal Note

August 31, 1968 was one of those penetrating heat hot summer days in Los Angeles. The bride and groom kneeled for what seemed hours as the Monsignor droned on about marriage like a barbeque, the coals grow hotter, then cool, then the coals grow hotter.

That 23-year old groom turns 69 on his 46th anniversary next Sunday. I'm still having the time of my life.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Poetry Para la Gente in El Salvador

Xanath Caraza
Universidad de Sonsonate

El 2o Festival Internacional de Poesía de Occidente, Leyla Quintana, 2014, organized by Fundación Metáfora was held in a variety of cities in El Salvador from August 10 to August 16.  Hoy comparto parte de esa experiencia.


First, let me discuss some important background information about El Salvador to give a broader context of this wonderful country to situate the significance of this creative gathering, the Festival Internacional de Poesía de Occidente.  El Salvador is a beautiful, small country in Central America that experienced a traumatic war in the 80’s.  Many Salvadorian families fled the country and came to the U. S. during that time, others ended up in Mexico, Canada and a number of European countries.  Lately, here in the U.S., our attention has been directed to the unfortunate situation of the children who are traveling alone from Central America to the U.S. and have been detained in the U.S., being placed in what seems to be more of a concentration camp than anything else.  We also hear about the tremendous violence that El Salvador experiences due to the Maras.
Capilla de la Divina Providencia, San Salvador

Yes, El Salvador is all of the above and has areas definitely not recommended to enter.  It is hot and humid, and is a country that is still rebuilding.  However, El Salvador is also poetry and through the hard work of poets and activist like those of Fundación Metáfora (Robert Deras, Marisol Alfaro, Mixtli Alejandra, Anthony Molina, Nestor Duran, Vladimir Baiza, Lili Alfaro and Otoniel Guevara), El Salvador is changing minds, and bringing hope one poem at a time.


For the Fesitival itself this year, we,  the other guest poets and I, visited San Salvador, Santa Tecla, Santa Ana, Sonsonate, Ahuachapán, Caluco, Chalchuapa, Metapan, Coatepeque, San Marcos and other communities, reading poetry, as part of el 2o Festival Internacional de Poesía de Occidente, Leyla Quintana, 2014, from August 10 to the 16.  We, the poets, were taken care by all members of Fundación Metáfora, we had a special bus that picked us up and drove us to the different communities where our presentations and Q & A sessions took place.  I was not just surprised, but impressed by the numerous audiences that attended our readings. 

El bus poético

Of the readings we had, most were in public schools; many students were from junior high and high schools.  We read twice a day, one reading in the morning and a second one in the evening.  Many times our readings prolonged for almost three to four hours, and yes, I will do it all over again. 
San Marcos
San Marcos

During these readings with the bright, young people we met, it was hearing the questions that our young audiences had for us after our presentations that brought light and hope to me.  They, as many of our young audiences here in the U.S., want to be poets; therefore, these wonderfully eager young people in El Salvador also asked about what they can do to improve their writing skills.  They continued to inquire if we are born a poet or if we become one along the way.  What is more, they were inquisitive about where to publish, how to come up with a manuscript, or simply, these young audiences wanted us to hear them, the young people, read a poem. 
San Salvador

In the U.S., I have met several young men and women who are either originally from El Salvador or whose parents are from El Salvador.  I have wonderful poet friends from El Salvador too, who have lived here in the U.S. since the 80’s.  Visiting this small and beautiful country, for the first time, made me remember of my own childhood in Mexico, where with very few, but with tons of corazón and much curiosity, my friends and I learnt and discussed about poets and writers.  Some of us even became poets and writers thanks to those discussions and in a very few occasions thanks to an encounter with a poeta de carne y hueso. 
Santa Ana

How important is it to remember or to know where we come from or where our parents have come from was a constant thought during my visit to El Salvador?    How important is it to know the history of our countries of origin and to learn about those powerful culturas prehispánicas that we, in many occasions, know very little about.  How important is it to hear los testimonios of those who experienced la Guerra, how hard and heart breaking it is to listen, or at least that was my own experience.  Will I go back to El Salvador, por supuesto, the same as I would go back wherever I am called to read la poesía.


Why is important for us to learn about la literatura salvadoreña?  It is vital since a great deal of our youth in the U.S. have raíces en El Salvador, simple and plain.  How many of us know about Leyla Quintana, Otoniel Guevara, Kenny Rodríguez, Salarrué, Roque Dalton, Luis Borja, Noé Lima, Argelia Quintana among many more poetas y escritores.  I invite you to learn more about our own poetas in the U.S. whose orígenes are salvadoreños and as well I invite you to celebrate them. 

Thankful and with hope I am, one poem at a time, one word one mind.




“La oportunidad de viajar y conocer a poetas con tanta sensibilidad me ha dejado el alma liviana, del festival me llevo historias hechas poemas, a través de esta patria sin tiempo comprendí lo que significa la lucha y el amor, como lo diría Silvio Rodríguez “¿Te molesta mi amor? Mi amor de juventud y mi amor es un arte de virtud” Eso era Leyla Quintana-Amada Libertad juventud hecha arte en revolución,  la conciencia y las letras se desbordan después de este encuentro, supongo que esta es la victoria que no esperaba dejar Amada Libertad, reivindicar la poesía y la mujer.”

Lourdes Soto, poeta



“Siempre participar en un festival de poesía es provechoso, pues se comparte el trabajo con un público en vivo, es posible confrontarse con otros autores contemporáneos, se idean proyectos compartidos. Pero la participación a este festival fue algo más. Creo que hemos logrado hermanarnos entre poetas a un nivel sincero y profundo y también creo que el público que asistió al evento, en su mayoría jóvenes, han entrado en comunicación con nosotros con entusiasmo. Me llevo, entonces, mucho más de lo que di: las historias de estas mujeres valientes, de las que tanto aprendí, y los ojos asombrados de éstos jóvenes a los que espero haberle enseñado algo.”

Silvia Favaretto, poeta


“El segundo festival internacional de poesía de occidente en El Salvador incluye el desarrollo de aspectos intelectuales, culturales, históricos y emocionales-vivenciales. Significó para mí una especie de graduación como poeta, porque el sentido de la poesía incluye emociones, asombro y disciplina, aspectos cumplidos literalmente.

Recibí además del apoyo a mi poesía, conocimiento in situ de un legado histórico de los sucesos de una guerra que han marcado a un país hermano,  el regalo hermoso de amistades auténticas que serán permanentes y que guardo como un tesoro entre las mejores. El cariño sincero de los estudiantes salvadoreños nos revela que la poesía llega a nuestra vida en momentos donde solo ella puede explicarnos el porqué se vive. Sostengo apretados a mis versos los de Leyla Quintana, para dejar claro en este mundo que la vida convoca a la rebeldía y a la lucha.”

Perla Rivera, poeta


“Traigo los ojos llenos de verde y juventud; el paladar ebrio de yuca y maíz. Mis honduras colmadas de palabras que resucitan anhelos enterrados en las montañas de la existencia. Traigo el testimonio de un amor. Amor es fuego que transforma el corazón; llama que lucha en vilo, siempre “en la punta del delirio”. Amado es el hombre, amada la tierra, Amada Libertad. La inútil e imprescindible poesía, tan como el amor, voz que busca el centro donde Verdad coincide con Libertad. Traigo de vuelta amigos nuevos y un manojo de Camelias que tanto había buscado Leyla en el manglar.”

Zingonia Zingone, poeta







In Other News


Hot off the presses! Angels of the Americlypse.  An Anthology of New Latin@ Writing (Counterpath, 2014)




Celebrating 100 years of Octavio Paz on August 28, 2014 at the Consulate of Mexico in Kansas City


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Codeswitch: The Poetic Fuego of Iris De Anda

Olga García Echeverría

today I awoke with fire
burning through my heart
speaking universal tongue
my spirit bursting like stars
a strong sense of desire
to rise up and manifest
feeling ready for revolt
and I ask you
where did you leave your Corazón?

Iris De Anda's recent book of poetry Codeswitch: Fires From Mi Corazón is an offering, a pumping heart, and in that heart are 4 chambers that burn. Rage. Love. Revolution. Evolution. The idea for creating 4 chapters or chambers in Codeswitch came to Iris late one night as she was drifting off to sleep. "This gave me a blueprint to work with, where I plugged in my personal medicine wheel and the poems that spoke to each section."

Heart Art from Codeswitch by Alfonso Aceves

Each chamber of De Anda's collection is full of Pocha poetry, and among the many poems is her anthem to Pocha reality, "To be a Pocha or not to be." In 2013, I had the pleasure of hearing De Anda read this poem live at a Mujeres de Maiz reading in East LA. The poem came out of her like a rhythmic chant with a punk rock flare:

because I'm my father's daughter
drowning in alcohol
seeking the metaphysical
calling back in time
my family line
a forgotten leaf
on the familia's tree
to be a Pocha or not to be

because I'm my mother's daughter
drowning in depression
seeking a connection
recovering memories
of a tierra I never knew
a forgotten trace
of ancestors in me
to be a Pocha or not to be

because I'm not good enough
for here or there
i love to hate my flag &
hate to love my creation
ashamed of spanish in the 1st grade
i'm sorry mami i never meant to hurt you
ashamed of english in abuela's embrace
i know you never meant to hurt me

because I'm merging culturas
every time I breathe
crossing borders
every time I speak
split forever into one
at the edge of possibility
to be a Pocha or not to be...

De Anda's poems sing, remember, rant, narrate the happenings, thoughts, and dreams of a girl/woman/mother who flies with crows, who sees herself deeply rooted in cultura, community, nature, healing, and art. The poet/narrator in Codeswitch has a tattooed spirit, piercings, glossy eyes. She dons steel toe boots and spikes. She digresses, questions, demands that life bloom amidst the strife. She taps into the spiritual-magical realm and calls out the Heart, hers and ours.

who invaded your divinity?
gave you false ideals & comprised liberty
tell you how to dress
how to feel
what to choose
what you can afford to lose
the reality is you were born free
daughters & sons of the galaxy
be bold in your search for truth and equality
where has humanity left their Corazón?

Iris began writing at the age of 13. "It was the best outlet I had at a time when I was suicidal. Writing saved my life," she says.  As a mother of three, a writer, and a co-founder of Here & Now (an art and healing space in El Sereno), Iris knows firsthand the art of juggling. "I wake up every morning and just go," she shares. "I make sure my kids have what they need to flourish and I write when they are not around or asleep, which is late night. I also have a very supportive husband who steps up...My art is driven by making this world a better place for them [my children, my family]." And that better world is about social justice, about No Papers No Fear, about unplugging from the Matrix and standing "barefoot in the grass" to watch a drifting cloud. It is about rising from the ashes like a burning phoenix.

This is not just poetry
it is justice screaming
thru us in constant
vowels & soliloquy...

This is not just poetry
it is life revealing itself
thru spoken word
this is the sound of urgency...

This is not just poetry
it is death beckoning us
thru dark nights
this is the typist bleeding...

Yet, despite the urgency and struggle, there is a constant reminder in De Anda's collection that each day begins anew:

There is no end
The cycle is beginning
Always mending
To live
To give to self
To love
To rebirth
Nurture the virtue
The veil unfolds
The gift is present
The knowledge gold

A highly motivated, do-it-yourself artist, Iris did not sit around and wait for the "literary powers that be" to validate her creative work. This past year she took publishing and marketing into her own hands and began her own press, Los Writers Underground. "As an indie author, I take pride in pushing myself to seek new experiences where I can share my work. I'm open to the possibilities that can stem from having my own press...It is my hope that Los Writers Underground Press can be a platform for writers who may not find a home in the traditional writing arena."

De Anda describes the journey of releasing her first book as both exhilarating and anxiety ridden. "I've had to balance a lot in my home life, as well as overcome some obstacles that presented themselves in the process. I've been lucky to have a supportive community around me."

Unlike Virgina Woolf's insistence that a woman must have money and a room of her own to write, Iris states, "I don't have money or a room of my own to write, but I have the ganas." Iris notes that as a woman of color it is many times a struggle to be heard, hence the creation of her own press and the self-publication of Codeswitch. She notes, "I acknowledge those that came before who opened the path for me. I also realize that there are more avenues of making our work available than previous generations." As a bilingual writer who loves subcultures and embraces alternative ways of seeing and living, De Anda shares that she tends "to identify more with our cultura of flor y canto than an academic take on writing. I want to break away from the idea that you need a degree to be a writer...Life experience and lots of reading are what made me the writer I am today."

When asked what she wants to leave her readers with, De Anda states, "I want my readers to be inspired into action. I want them to connect to the fires that move them and for them to create or step into their own journey with their entire Corazón."

You must rise above
cleanse again
like feelings & rain
create beauty to reflect
believe in truth & love
and most of all awaken
to your Corazón

Muchas felicidades and many thanks to Iris for sharing a bit about herself and her work here at La Bloga.

Iris De Anda is a writer, activist, and practitioner of the healing arts. She is a native of Los Angeles with roots in Mexico, El Salvador, and The Cosmos. She believes in the power of Spoken Word, poetry, storytelling, and dreams. She is a member of the poetry community Poets Responding to SB1070 and her poems have been featured here at La Bloga numerous times.

Codeswitch: Fires From Mi Corazón is her first book. It is available at as well as Amazon. It is also available at several local bookstores including Here & Now in El Sereno, Seite, Espacio 1839, Beyond Barroque, Skylight Books, Stories, and Vromans.

Upcoming Readings:

Seeds of Resistance: earth is my flesh
Friday August 29 @ 7pm
211 N Sycamore St
Santa Ana, California 92701

Luna Cafe
Friday, September 5th @ 7pm
1414 16th St Sacramento, California 95814

Poetry Express
Monday September 8th @ 7pm
Himalayan Flavors
585 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94703

Seite Books-Libros
Thursday September 11th @ 7pm
419 N Rowan Ave
East Los Angeles, California 90063

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What future for Latino spec lit?

In a conversation this week, I was reminded again how mainstream academia doesn't consider speculative literature to be as respectable or of the same literary worth as what's called "literary fiction." U.S. culture traditionally looks down on us spec authors as not as refined and our works as not "worthy." Latino academics react much the same. [There's not one list of spec lit. I use: fantasy/sci-fi, magical realism, horror, alternate-world, paranormal and fables, at least.]

The argument goes like this. "Serious" book writers create literary sorts of books and are "better" writers. All of the most prestigious awards for fiction each year go to works of Literary Fiction. Genre Fiction, like spec lit, is "only for entertainment." Literary Fiction separates itself from Genre because it is not about escaping from reality, but provides a means to better understand the world and delivers real emotional responses. "Serious" works of literature are for highbrow, literary readers who believe genre fiction does not have much merit.

Of course, as a writer or reader, you don't need to choose between Latino spec or Latino literary works. You read and write what you want.

At the same time, out in the real world, Hollywood, cable and TV companies are on spec lit like moscas on mierda. You know that Hunger Games, Lord of Rings, Guardians of the Galaxy, and network TV shows like Extant and Touch--of my faves--proliferate, seemingly without end. Teen vampires, ghosts and zombies are everywhere on Netflix and cable, except in classrooms. Literary agents and publishers want to represent the next J.K. Rowling, maybe even a Latino one.

Mainstream, literary Latino lit is also still alive and has its audience and always will.

But what's new are the young people, our children and grandchildren, who drive many of the markets, including in movies, videogames, graphic novels and books in other forms. In videogames, 3 are  Lego, 1 pirate, 1 auto, 1 war, 1 NBA, and 3 are spec-related, including #1 (SF war) and #2 (ghosts and Predator). 9 of the top 10 comics sold in Jan. were spec genre. Spec and War shared the top 10 in graphic novels in March. Right now there's no end in sight for the most sought-after stories that could become the next blockbuster.

I myself never sold 4 stories in the space of two years. So far this year, I've gotten 4 requests to submit to anthologies, which definitely don't result from my book sales. Ernesto Hogan is doing at least twice as well as me.

But the U.S. markets can't keep putting out the same ole white-hero stories, because many of our young people were raised or have become true internationalists. They hang with, date and marry across racial, class and cultural borders that were harder to cross in the last century. Yes, racism and prejudice are being enflamed in this country by right-wing vestiges of previous times. But the old fogies will die out. Will new young internationalists outnumber the new young prejudiced who inherited their worldview from dead parents? Time will decide that.

In the meantime and foreseeable future, Latino, and other, spec literature is a largely untapped source of new voices, perspectives, legends and unique cultures that interest the Anglo commercial world. They might shoot us on the streets, but they love J-Lo and Calle 13 and Mexican indigenous ruins and suck in the money from consumers looking for the exotic, the entertaining. The screen, for theaters or monitors, needs new material. And a lot of it will first appear in print and E-book.

This makes Latino spec authors ripe for the pickings. Every author is a desperate creature, willing to grovel for attention, publication or even a chance to read their works. Latino spec authors, maybe more so, speaking only for myself.

In the eastern U.S., latino and black authors are meeting, joining together and somewhat coalescing as collective entities. The legacy of slavery and U.S. Caribbean history naturally reflects the latino-black cultural and social ties. This has been manifested in Spec Cons, the We Need Diverse Books and some anthologies.

On this side of the Mississippi, peoples' cultures developed differently, especially from our  heritage where Latinos link with our indio past, whether from here or Latin America. If Latino spec lit writers hang with their "better half," los indios, we may see something different develop than what has out East.

In the Southwest, our work, our specific peoples and cultures, we ourselves, are mestizo. It reminds me of José Vasconcelos vision of a raza cósmica that re-connects to its indio roots. Like Ernesto Hogan's Aztecofuturism stories.

Interest in Latino spec has  taken off. There's new markets for it. It may not give such authors the respectability that literary authors receive, but young people, including Anglos, are ready for it. It can be "good" writing; it can be "serious, refined and worthy."

Just ask the next under-40-year-old if they'd buy into a videogame, comic, movie, cable series or graphic novel that was based on a spec book, written by a Latino, that had Latino and other characters. They'd probably answer, "If it was good, fun and exciting." They wouldn't say, "If it had literary worth."

Es todo, hoy,
a.k.a. Chicano spec author Rudy Ch. Garcia