|Celebrating Naomi's birthday in New Orleans.|
Imagine walking to work and being hit by a car who was trying to avoid an ambulance. This happened to my friend, Naomi Estrada, a vibrant young woman from New Mexico who decided to try her luck in New Orleans. Her injuries are extensive and required numerous surgeries to put her back together. If you are reading La Bloga today, please send your good vibrations, prayers, and healing thoughts to Naomi. Luckily, she has people pulling for her around the world, with friends as far away as Korea. She is an avid reader, quick with a smile, and eager to volunteer, especially when it came to book and literacy events.
On February 25, a monday, I treated myself to a matinee show of the film Bless Me Ultima at the Canal Theatres in New Orleans. This place does movies right, a full menu delivered to your seat, table and tray, very fancy. It was the only theatre in New Orleans showing the film so I had to splurge. At the end of the movie, when the lights came up, I realized I wasn't the only one in the theater crying up a river, sobbing so much the attendant handed me some tissue. The echo to my cries was Naomi wiping up tears. I was so happy to see she was taking some time out for herself. She is extremely hard working and hopes to become a teacher. I wish her a full recovery.
Perhaps those of you reading this might recall the many years Naomi volunteered for Denise Chavez and the Border Book Festival in Mesilla, NM. Please take a minute to say a prayer for her and if you have a dozen extra minutes, send her a get well card to Naomi Estrada, Touro Rehab , 1401 Foucher Street, Nola 70115, RM M-628.
Since Naomi may be reading this from her hospital room (or might have her mother who has been there for her read this), I will offer some fun and joyous news.
Sandra Ramos O'Briant and Melinda Palacio at the 2013 ILBA
Last week, at the 2013 International Latino Book Awards La Bloga and friends represented at the Instituto Cervantes in New York. As you've already heard, Rudy's The Closet of Discarded Dreams won Honorable Mention and my poetry book, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting , won First Place for Best Poetry Book in English. Three time's a charm, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting was a Finalist in the Milt Kessler Award and the Patterson Poetry Prize. It was great to win First Place. However, the Manhattan evening belonged to the Second Place Winners, Honorable Mentions, and Finalists.
In fact, I would say there was a Second Place Winner revolt this year because of the addition of several categories and the confusion of only allowing the First Place Winners to give a little speech.
It was fun to see La Bloga friend, Sandra Ramos O'Briant win the Mariposa Award for Best First Book for her novel, The Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood. This is a category that I was thrilled to win last year for Ocotillo Dreams. Sandra mentioned that she had yet to win a literary award and was encouraged by her son to attend. What was even more thrilling for Sandra was that she won twice and also took First Place in the Historical Fiction Category. Sandra says she has been working on the Sandoval Sisters for the past 15 years.
"Being a finalist in the ILBA was an unbelievable thrill, but when I wimped out about attending the award's ceremony, my youngest son reminded me of the years I'd put into this book. He said, 'Go for it, Mom. You're already a winner.' He was only 11 when I started writing, when I began fashioning a somewhat different lifestyle for myself, and for all of us. My husband was in a meeting when I called to give him the news. 'You won in both categories?' I could barely believe it myself. Before the second win was announced, all the finalists were called up to the stage. I did one final check on the schedule to make sure I hadn't imagined my name listed there, the forever outsider in me casting its shadow again."
Congratulations to everyone who entered! We are all winners. Here's to you, La Bloga reader! Let's see your name added to the list. Read the complete list of winners click here.
Over in Santa Barbara, California there is great news for all book lovers, a new bookstore, Granada Books, 1224 State Street, SB. The official opening is June 20th, but this weekend, poets may have a preview of the gorgeous new downtown space. However, poets may enjoy the new home of the Poetry Zone tomorrow, Saturday, June 8 from 4-6pm. Here's what hostess Sojourner Kincaid Rolle says of the new venue for the Poetry Zone:
"Billed as a "Community Bookstore", Granada Books is destined to become the 'in-spot' for writers and readers alike. Join us and bring a friend. Refreshments. Bring your poems, your books, your broadsides, your news - its a place to share. SBWC attendees Welcome."
Also, tomorrow is the beginning of the 41st annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference, a transformative week for all who attend. See the schedule for evening events, open to the public. Better yet, sign up for the week.