Friday, May 31, 2013

Story Friday - When The Air Conditioner Quit - Congrats

Congratulations to fellow bloggers Melinda Palacio and Rudy Ch. Garcia who were announced as winners by the International Latino Book Awards at a ceremony in New York City on May 30.

Best Poetry Book - One Author - English
FIRST PLACE How Fire is a Story, Waiting, Melinda Palacio; Tia Chucha Press; USA

Best Novel - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
HONORABLE MENTION The Closet of Discarded Dreams, Rudy Ch. Garcia; Damnation Books LLC; USA

Melinda and Rudy have made La Bloga proud. You should see a list of all 190 winners at this link.

This bit of noir started off as a submission to a proposed Border Noir anthology. The project never finalized but I did finish my story. Crimespree Magazine  recently accepted it for Issue 51. And now to the Land of Enchantment ...

When The Air Conditioner Quit
copyright Manuel Ramos - all rights reserved

When the air conditioner quit, Torres shot it. The bullet bounced around the machine's innards like an insane pinball. "I don't have time for this shit," he said.

Juanita rushed into the room. "Jesus! What the hell was that?"

"Damn thing's broke. I put it out of its misery." He laughed the horse laugh that she hated. Sweat already flowed down his back.

The gray dented machine sported an ugly hole in its side. It hung crookedly in the window. A thin spiral of smoke rose from its louvered vents.

"You dumb son-of-a-bitch. Now what're we gonna do? It'll hit a hunnerd again today. You think of that before you pulled the trigger?"

"I tole you it’s broke. Useless. You said it yourself."

"I said it was goin' out. Big difference."

"Well, it went out. It stopped. Nothin' but hot air comin' from it. Stinkin' up the place. You must’a smelled it."

"So you shot it? Are you crazy?"

He grinned at her and scratched the back of his ear with the barrel of the gun. "You don't even have to ask, do you?"

She flipped him the bird then returned to the kitchen. At least her fan moved the cooked air while she cleaned a pot of beans.

Torres tucked the gun in the waistband of his sweat pants and covered it with his T-shirt. He needed a drink. “I’ll kill somebody if I stay here,” he said to the stuffed owl.  He rubbed his hands through his hair. “I’m taking the pickup into town,” he shouted. “I’ll be back for supper.” He looked in the direction of the kitchen.

“Good riddance,” Juanita said. “Don’t kill any tractors on your way. Or mailboxes. Damn things might shoot back.” She laughed and shook her head. Torres laughed, too. That's what he liked about Juanita.

She almost added that he should look for a job but the smell from the air conditioner cautioned her and she bit her tongue. He did what he could, she reasoned. What with the recession and all.

The pickup practically drove itself along the rutted dirt road for the five miles into Dexter. Torres hummed along to Hank Williams, Jr. “All my rowdy friends have settled down …”

He had money for a few drinks. Robbie Claxton, over in Roswell, finally paid him for the briefcase of weed from Albuquerque. Took him long enough. Juanita didn’t know he’d been paid but he’d work it out with her. Tell her, “I’ll put somethin’ away for a new air conditioner, get that dog you want, and then we’ll see what comes up.” The bulge of his wallet pressed against his butt. The fake leather case carried nothing but the money.  Five hundred dollars for a day’s worth of work. Not even work. Driving, mostly. Watching for cops, staying cool, under the radar. Picking up and delivering the package. Nothing to it. Life should always be so easy.

He rubbed the American flag tattoo on his right bicep. For a hot minute he thought about making a run to the border. In the old days, with five hundred bucks in his pocket, he would've disappeared for a week. Easy to do in El Paso, Juárez. The things he’d seen, no one believed. Some of it he wanted to forget.

He drove along quiet South Lincoln Avenue until he saw the faded sign that years before blinked “Bar” and then “Café.” These days it stuck on “Bar.” He stopped on the patch of soft asphalt that passed for a parking lot.

The Hi-Way offered nothing more than beer, strong whiskey, air conditioning, and a juke box with country and Tejano music. That was enough for Torres and the four other customers.

“It’s like a ghost town out there,” he said to Cole the bartender. “I didn’t see nobody.” 

“Too damn hot," Cole said. "And there's no work. It’s been so dead I’ve been thinkin’ of stayin’ closed until the weekend.”

Torres adjusted to the semi-darkness by squinting. He ordered a shot of whiskey and a beer back. He chugged the shot, sipped the beer. When he caught Cole’s eye he ordered another shot. The second shot lasted longer than the first.

By the time three empty beers sat on the bar he’d forgotten his promise to be home for dinner.

“Hey, Torres. How’s it hangin’?” Claxton’s younger brother slapped him on the back. Torres flinched under the sting of the slap. Dickie smelled like cigarettes and whiskey.

“Hey, Dickie. What you doin’ round here? I thought you was away at school.”

 Torres moved his whiskey closer. Dickie was a big kid, like every Claxton. Had that wild red hair they all carried. Quite a coincidence to run into Dickie Claxton. In the Hi-Way, of all places.

“That’s for suckers. I got more important things to do, know what I mean?”

“Yeah, sure. You here with Robbie?”

“Nah. On my own. Just checkin’ out the scene here in beautiful downtown Dexter. These Dexter women are good ole country girls, you know?”

“Yeah. I guess.” Torres didn't see one woman in the bar.

Dickie laughed. Torres tried to laugh but he choked on his beer. He knew about the rape charge and getting tossed from New Mexico State. Everyone knew. The paper made it front page news. No one brought it up, not to Dickie or his brother, that was for sure.

Torres finished his beer. He decided to leave. He opened his wallet to lay money on the bar.  Dickie grabbed his wrist.

“Hey, where you goin'? The party’s just started. You need to catch up. I’m way ahead. Let me buy you a drink.”

Torres twisted his arm from Dickie’s grasp. “I gotta go. Juanita’s waitin’. There's some work to do around the house.”

“Your shack, you mean? That place needs a lot of work, bud. What could you possibly do that would fix it?”

“The air conditioner's been actin’ up.”

“You know about air conditioners? I thought you was a roofer. What the hell you know about air conditioners?”

Dickie stepped away from the bar. He stood over Torres, at least six inches. His eyes fixed on the wallet. 

Torres shoved the wallet in his back pocket. The movement lifted his shirt and Dickie saw the gun. Dickie shuffled back to the bar.

“But if you gotta go …” Dickie’s voice trailed off.

“Yeah. I gotta go. Maybe next time.”

“Whatever.” He turned to Torres. "Robbie paid you? I was supposed to do that job for him, you know? But Robbie couldn’t wait. Your good luck, eh?”

“Do what I have to. Need the work. Your brother will have more for you. He always does.”

“Yeah. Maybe.” Dickie stared down the neck of his beer bottle.

Robbie was okay, a good guy really, but Dickie was over the edge.

Torres walked out of the bar into the blazing sunshine. He swayed from the booze and the heat. The daytime glare blinded him. He stopped to get his bearings. Someone stood behind him. He tried to move out of the way. A fist slammed into his kidney. Torres fell forward on the asphalt. The gun slipped out of his pants.

“The wallet. Or I kick your face in.”

Torres struggled but Dickie’s boot dug into his throat. He pulled the wallet from his pocket. Dickie snatched it. The younger Claxton stepped back, hesitated, then punched Torres on the chin. He walked away, easy and slow.
Torres rubbed his jaw, tasted blood. He picked up the gun, aimed it at Dickie’s back. He flashed on the air conditioner.

A shadow crossed his face. Robbie Claxton blocked the sun. “You ain’t gonna do that, Torres. Give me the gun. I’ll get your money back.”

Torres handed over the gun. Robbie held it like it was a glass of water and he didn't want to spill a drop. He moved quickly after his brother.

Torres sat on his haunches.

The Claxtons disappeared around the corner of the bar. Torres heard shouting, a few grunts. He thought he should do something. The empty street stretched away from the building.  A white haze of summer light beat down on him.

He jerked his head when he heard the gunshot.  A dog barked across the street. No one came out of the bar.
Torres stood up. He leaned against his pickup, his hands in his pockets, his mind locked down. Robbie stumbled into view. Blood oozed from his chest. His bloody hand held the wallet.

“Take the goddam money and go home.” Claxton fell to his knees. Blood quickly covered his shirt. Tires squealed from behind the building. Torres ran into the bar and hollered for Cole to call 9-1-1.

He ran back outside followed by the bar's customers. He did what he could but Robbie Claxton was dead when the ambulance screeched into the parking lot.

The cops arrived at the same time. They ran around for a few minutes before they settled into a routine. One cop crossed the street and knocked on the door of a house. The cop in charge questioned the men from the bar. He paid special attention to Torres.

“I had a drink," Torres told him. "When I was getting into my truck Robbie come around the building, bleeding.” The cop took notes as Torres talked. “He must’a been in a fight in the back. I didn’t see anyone else. I tried to stop the bleeding but it didn’t do no good. Got blood all over my hands." He showed his hands to the cop.

“You got some on your lip,” the cop said.

Torres rubbed his chin and lips with the back of his hand.

 "I knowed this guy since high school,” he said. The cop nodded.

Torres didn’t say anything about Dickie, nor that Dickie drove a red F-150 with chrome wheels. How could he explain five hundred dollars?

The ambulance men loaded the body on a stretcher and covered it with a blanket. A dark red stain flared over the white cloth. The men lifted the stretcher. Torres watched his wallet fall like a wounded bird dropping from the sky. One of the ambulance guys picked it up and handed it to the cop. The cop thumbed through it.

“This Claxton’s?”

“Don’t know," Torres said. "Didn’t see it before. It was on him, right?”

“Under him. No money or I.D. Looks like he was robbed. I’ll give it to his widow.”

An hour later the cop said Torres could leave. "I hope you get the guy," Torres said.

He cleaned up the best he could in the bar's restroom. No soap, only a few paper towels.

His pickup started right up and he sped through the streets. He stomped the pedal when he swerved into the dirt road. The cab suffocated him. He kept the windows up because of the dust. His hands sweated on the steering wheel. Blood and sweat stained his T-shirt and pants.

He couldn't stop thinking about what happened between the Claxton brothers. And his money. He thought so hard and deep that he didn’t see the red truck until he was about a hundred yards from the house.

Then he saw Juanita hunched over in the doorway. She didn’t look right.



I've been busy talking about Desperado and crime fiction writing any chance I get. Here are links to a few recent interviews:

KUVO Radio

Crimespree Magazine

Susan Finlay Blog

That's it. Later.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

La leyenda de Ponciano Gutiérrez

"La leyenda de Ponciano Gutiérrez y los ladrones de la sierra" de A. Gabriel Meléndez y Amy Córdova destaca la historia y el folclor nuevomexicano de fines del siglo XIX. El libro es parte de la serie "Pasó por aquí", de la editorial universitaria de Nuevo México, cuya misión es preservar para las nuevas generaciones los cuentos y leyendas de la herencia hispana del estado.

Meléndez es también el editor general de la serie y, por lo tanto, conoce a fondo la tradición de donde proviene el patrimonio cultural que estos cuentos ofrecen. Son historias que pertenecen a la tradición oral y que han sido pasadas de generación en generación, prácticamente desde los primeros días del asentamiento hispano en el área. En ellas no solo se recoge parte de la historia y el color local, explica, sino también la sabiduría de un pueblo.

Siguiendo la tradición del relato colectivo, Meléndez comparte la autoría del texto con miembros de la familia Paiz que le contaron la versión de la leyenda de Ponciano Gutiérrez que él narra en este libro para niños. Enraizada en la zona de la cuenca superior del Río Grande en Nuevo México, la tradición de reunirse a contar cuentos proveía el principal entretenimiento familiar en las noches antes de que hubiera radio o televisión, explica Meléndez. La gente se reunía en veladas que duraban horas con el simple propósito de entretener a los presentes y, de paso, enseñar a los pequeños.

Según se cuenta, el personaje tuvo un encuentro con los bandidos de Vicente Silva, cuyas fechorías aparecen registradas en crónicas de la época hacia la década de 1880. Esta pandilla de malhechores aterrorizó a la población con una serie de asesinatos, robos, asaltos y apropiación de tierras. En el cuento, el ranchero Ponciano Gutiérrez desafía a los bandidos de Silva y termina convertido en héroe tras superar las destrezas de la gavilla. 

Una mañana de primavera, Ponciano Gutiérrez salió de su rancho rumbo a Santa Fe para ir al banco y comprar semilla para la nueva temporada. Por vía segura, el trayecto a caballo le tomaría siete días para llegar y siete más para regresar. Había, sin embargo, un atajo que cortaba la travesía a dos días atravesando las montañas de la Sangre de Cristo por la zona del Pecos. Confiado en la fortaleza de su caballo y alentado por la brevedad del viaje, Ponciano Gutiérrez toma el azaroso camino donde se encuentra frente a frente con la gavilla de Vicente Silva.

Los bandidos lo rodean y mientras deciden cómo disponer de él, Gutiérrez los reta a una serie de desafíos de malhechores para ver quien era el mejor ratero y tirador del grupo. Con destreza e ingenio, el ranchero sale victorioso de los retos y termina aprehendiéndolos sin que casi se dieran cuenta.

Ilustrado por la destacada artista de Nuevo México Amy Córdova, el libro deleitará a los más pequeños como parte del cuentacuentos y a los mayores en la lectura independiente en ambos idiomas.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bobbi Salinas: Her Books

Bobbi Salinas was an author and illustrator. I met her through her books in my classroom. My students loved her book "Los Tres Cochinitos, Nacho, Tito and Miguel."  This is a great book about the three little pigs with the Latino style.

Several years later, I  met her in person in the Latino Writers Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I told her about the fantastic impact of her books in the classroom.

This May, her dead body was found in Santa Fe, New Mexico. To read the news, visit

Bobbi Salinas, descanse en paz

Today at La Bloga, I want to present some of her books.

The Three Pigs: Nacho, Tito and Miguel
By Bobbi Salinas
Spanish version by Amapola Franzen and Marcos Guerrero 

This retold, non-violent version of The Three Pigs takes place in  the Southwest. Miguel, the
cleverest of the pigs, sees through the wolf's artificially sugared tricks, and ultimately
destroys the wolf's power to deceive others.

Este versión relatada en forma no violenta de Los Tres Cerdos toma lugar en el sudoeste de los EUA. Miguel, el mas astuto de los cerdos, se da cuenta de los trucos artificialmente endulzados del lobo y termina destruyendo su poder para engañar a los demas. Este cuento expone que aquellos en el poder a veces son menos fuertes y temibles de lo que quieren que creamos.

Cinderella Latina 
By Bobbi Salinas
Translated by Enrique Lamadrid

A bilingual, contemporary version of Cinderella by Charles Perrault, using Mexican-American culture to tell a new story.

Indo Hispanic Folk Art Traditions I

By Bobbi Salinas

A book of culturally-based, year-round activities with an emphasis on Christmas. Designed to promote awareness and understanding of this important holiday as it is celebrated in Indo-Hispanic communities. Contains recipes, craft projects and even ideas for creating and performing plays and costumes. Special deluxe edition printed in Spanish and English

Indo Hispanic Folk Art Traditions II / 
Tradiciones Artesanales Indo-Hispanas II
By Bobbi Salinas

A book of culturally-based, year-round activities with an emphasis on the Day of the Dead. Designed to promote awareness and understanding of this important Indo-Hispanic holiday and of the folk art that has characterized its celebration from antiquity to the present. The Day of the Dead is a unique holiday that preserves and encourages folk art and folklore as no other holiday does. Recreated annually in the community, by the communit and for the community. Includes recipes, folk art projects, costumes, theatre and dance. This special deluxe edition is printed in Spanish and English.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Xicana travelogue. Memorial Day. On-line Floricanto

Guest Columnist Sarah R. Garcia, Xicana Travelogue

Hannover: A Chicana’s Perception
Hannover, Germany May 12-19, 2013

Note: Sarah R. Garcia is founder of Barrio Writers. She is on a European study program. This is part of her series of dispatches from the European front. 
--Michael Sedano

If it weren’t for the cacophony of raspy verbiage and phonation of scrambled street names in the vast diversity in culture that quickly flashes before me, I could have confused the tram ride in Hanover Germany for one in New York or Los Angeles.

It was obvious that I left behind the soothing view of forestry and unobtrusive pallid foot-travelers in Switzerland and replaced the environment with sudden fleeting city scenes and various shades of razzing university students.

Upon passing the Königsworther Platz university exit, the sidewalks were crowded with scarves in one lane and bicycles in the other. The deafening low-high ambulances and the licorice aroma sifting through open-close rail doors redirected my attention at every new stop. My childlike curiosity had been bluntly awoken, forcing my senses to absorb the familiar and unfamiliar.

While the city train passed a few more exits, tall gray buildings and green patches sped before me like a dolly shot. Within a blink, images of China, Thailand and Australia flickered through my mind.

My first Hanover rail excursion had triggered nostalgia, reminding me of various travel endeavors in the past. Then just as I blinked again, I caught a quick glance of a sidewalk display of literature. A wooden cabinet with a glass door filled with books was sitting on the pavement amongst the pedestrians and cyclists.

Eagerly, I took the following exit, Herrenhäuser Markt, which also happens to be my daily stop for the next two weeks in Hannover. After retracing the path towards the public bookcase by foot, I soon found myself skimming German titles with my fingertips and inhaling the scent from the nearby Turkish cafe.

At first, I assumed the public bookcase was a form of activism in Germany, maybe a way to trump some sort of book ban, similar to Arizona House Bill 2281 in the states. But without being able to read German, I was left to my own thoughts.

While skimming through a clothed cover with black lettering, I envisioned Tony Diaz with Librotraficante shouting, “scheiße!” and furiously stocking the bookcases with Dagoberto Gilb, Sandra Cisneros, Howard Zinn and Paulo Freire throughout Hannover.

Chuckling out loud, I exchanged books from one shelf to the next, simply scrutinizing strange words and marked pages that made up second-hand books. Contemplation set in, if it’s not an act of revolt, then maybe a visual art piece by a local library? Naively, I hoped to discover the reason within the texts themselves.

Later that evening, after tasting the döner box (lamb, fries, tzaziki and cabbage salad in a to-go box) and sipping on the complimentary Turkish hot tea, I interviewed my German housemate about the bookcase only a short distance away. She casually dismissed my curiosity by stating, “You know, so people can exchange free books.” Later, other German students informed me of other bookcases around town.

During the following days, I waited for the trailing image of the public bookcase while on my way home from Uni. My peering grew into research, research turned into deeper contemplation. The origin of the public bookcase was inspired by the “Bookcrossing” concept, which is the system of leaving a book at a public place to simply be picked up by someone else, with the intent to eventually influence others to do the same.
While riding the Stöcken 5 to Uni and back, my mind raced with ideas and comparisons. There have been many café’s and hostels in which I have picked up and left books because they too encourage building community through literacy. In Australia, I left a copy of Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country in a tree house hostel in Mission Beach and picked up Kafka’s Metamorphosis in The Forest (a communal home) in Brisbane.

One book sharing location I visit regularly is Calacas Café in Santa Ana, California. Their white, wooden crate is creatively marked to promote literacy and community support in the heart of my childhood city. Often, novels in English and Spanish are piled next to old college texts and favorite Chicano/a reads.

Such thoughts immerse daily, the weathered bookcase flashes by as a fragmented moment in time that not only transposes my traveler tales but also emits German history and humanity.

It is not difficult to contemplate the history of Germany when trotting over brick pathways that are embedded with brass plates honoring Holocaust victims. After encountering such reminders in the streets and discussing German history, Kafka and the Guttenberg press, the public bookcase across from the Herrenhäuser Markt train stop, found its way into my course at Leibniz Universität Hannover. Upon re-reading Metamorphosis as a class requirement in Germany, I found new meaning to one of his quotes. Franz Kafka once stated, “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.” Basically, books have an impact on our lives and sometimes they allow us to see ourselves from beneath the layers of disconnection.

Considering I am clearly across the Atlantic Ocean and closer to the North Sea at the moment, I find it ironic that I’m digging through foreign history only to realize that the U.S.A. is starting to mirror some of it. Take Arizona for example, by passing laws that alienate people and abolish ethnic studies, they have created the notion of keeping a “pure” race, only acknowledging the ideals of those in power, rather than the general population. It is quite disheartening to know the potential outcome of such governing. Scheiße, indeed.

As my thoughts continued to form later in the week, I returned to the public bookcase to capture its existence on camera, my German housemate joined me. I recounted that the public bookcases are maintained by volunteers, and mentioned their derivation, “Yeah, so the public bookcase actually originated in Hannover and Darmstadt in the 1990s as ‘free open air libraries.’ Since then, many other places around the world also started using them too. Cool huh?”

She had no knowledge of it until now. And that’s when it all hit me at once. Of course Germany was first to disseminate the public bookcase concept! Just like it was Gutenberg who invented the first printing press around 1450. It led to the printing revolution, eventually providing access to the bible, poetry and other types of literature to vast audiences in various languages.

It all seemed to resonate through a high-speed lens - from the tram window, to past travel memories and now onto my camera in front of my eye. All the images from the last week collected in shutter speed and stopped within a blink. Made me think of Kafka once again, who would’ve thought that the Hannover public bookcase that some just see as a blur from the rail, would be my axe to till through German history and rediscover my own life? Huh, in a way, these words are also a public display of exchangeable literature.

Mail bag
Academics: Afrofuturism Lensed Through  Chicanafuturism

It seems ancient history, because it is. My friend and research partner, Sidney, was excited his friend Molefi Asante would be at the speech association conference in San Antonio. Molefi was bringing Sidney a copy of Molefi’s new book. Sidney’s excitement was contagious and I, too, wanted a look at a book called Afrocentricity. This struck me as serious stuff, a theoretical parallel to literature’s role in developing liberation epistemology.

Molefi was tardy. He missed the first day of the conference. The second day, he shows up with the promised book. Having spent the day prior partying in Laredo, he’s driven directly to the conference from la frontera. Covered in a garish sarape and wearing a fiesta sombrero, Molefi Asante hands over the promised copy of Afrocentricity.

That incongruous meeting with Asante was in the back of my mind the other day when a “Call for chapters for an anthology on Afrofuturism 2.0” arrived. Asante's landmark work stands among the progenitors of this line of scholarly inquiry.

Here are a few datos, from Reynaldo Anderson:

Afrofuturism, is a transnational, diasporic, and cultural aesthetic that interrogates the past, present and future in literature, technology, art, or music, and challenges Eurocentric motifs of identity, time and space. While this approach has grown in the past decade, there has been limited engagement with Afrofuturism’s relationship to the discipline of Africana studies, or Africology.

Anderson and his research partner are soliciting scholarly research, theoretical essays, and applied studies that explore how the concept of Afrofuturism is related to other futurisms such as Rastafuturism, Chicanafuturism, Occidental futurism or Techno-Orientalism.

Contact  Reynaldo Anderson at the Department of Arts and Sciences, Harris-Stowe State University, Saint Louis, MO, via Email.

Memorial Day 2013: Face-to-Face With the Enemy in Panmunjom 1970

Michael Sedano

For the US Army soldier serving on the world’s highest anti-aircraft missile site, Mae Bong mountain, thoughts of North Korea lurked just at the edge of awareness.

From the mile high mountain peak, North Korea lay somewhere out there, past one of those repetitious ranges of barren mountains stretching off to the horizon.

Our mission mirrored the name of our weapon: Homing All the Way Killer. The HAWK system is a big computer connected via a series of radars and umbilical cords to guided missile launchers. Mae Bong--Site 7/5 in signals lingo, Bravo Battery 7/5 its formal designation--perched at the mouth of MiG Alley.

An invading MiG could maneuver through valleys, around peaks, go high or fly low, finding easy targets on the ground or driving hell-bent to bomb Seoul a few minutes downrange. That’s why we’re up here on the mountain. Air defense artillery will be the first line of defense.

Sp/4 Sedano standing with microphone.
In an attack, battery control alerts the missile crewmen stationed out on the mountainside. The crewmen charge out of their cinderblock shelters, unwrap umbilical cables, open ports on the launchers, drag the heavy cable to the launcher, connect the fittings, then dash for cover behind nearby sandbags. On take-off, HAWK exhaust spews a column of thousand-degree fire into the launch area.

A pair of radars work in triangulation with the big radar. The Identification Friend-or-Foe radar makes sure that’s a bad guy, the Illuminator radar locks on to the hostile planes and sics missiles.

As supersonic jets dodge behind mountains, the BCC predicts emergence and points the Illuminator. The microsecond the target reappears, the Illuminator reacquires it as expected, all the while guiding the in-flight HAWK to the lethal interception point.

To reload, crewmen drive a tractor from a nearby stack of aluminum cans where missiles wait to be extracted, prepped, loaded, installed, and fired.

Once the hill runs out of missiles, our job atop Mae Bong was done. We’d either pick up our rifles and head toward the smoke, or hold on to that mountain.

That was the theory. What we laughed about during those hours huddled against the elements came from thoughts of tanks and screaming hordes of North Korean infantry filling the valley below us, waiting for us to come on down. The day we found a withered boot with an Australian soldier’s bones, it wasn’t so funny.
The DMZ on left, South Korea on right.

North Koreans remained an abstraction until the day I read a Special Services offer of a trip to Panmunjom and the Joint Security Area. The sign-up sheet filled early. Since everything about our year in Korea originates from this place, a year’s duty in this country wouldn’t be complete without a visit to where it all began.

The JSA is a tourist destination, neutral territory straddling the line between North Korea and South. But as GIs we weren’t tourists and were ordered to dress the part. Khaki was our summer uniform, but unlike duty days, today we were required to wear all our brass, medals, ribbons. Someone in charge somewhere decided we needed to look like strac troopers.

Briefly I recall Xenophon's soldiers sneaking up on the Persians for their first sight of the fearsome warriors. When the spies witness their baby-eating foe lounging around the campfire, combing their hair and preening in front of mirrors, the fear goes out of the Greeks. How will our first face-to-face meeting with North Koreans shape our perceptions?

The busload of GIs single filed into the central building, the room where negotiators brought hostilities to a close back in 1953. In the middle, a rectangular table holds the blue UN flag and the red star of North Korea. A cable laid across the table is the demarcation line, the MP explains. The line runs around the world, the 38th parallel, and from the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan it marks the dividing line between the two Koreas.

Sedano with "Bridge of No Return" and North Korea in background.
The touring GIs have taken fotos looking toward the “bridge of no return” and are walking the grounds of the place when the MPs begin to herd us back to the bus. The orientation lecture warned about provocation; sometimes “they” try to provoke us, so do whatever the MPs tell you and nothing else. “Get on the bus and don’t say a word, no matter what they say,” the MPs command.

“They” is two North Korean soldiers, an officer and an enlisted man. The soldiers walk around our group. The MPs position themselves between us and the two North Korean soldiers, herding us toward the bus, then onto it and into our seats. It’s time to leave.

The two soldiers walk around the bus to stand below our open bus windows. In unaccented speech, well modulated and unrushed, the EM says to his officer, “How about that. We scared the shit out of a whole busload of GIs.”

Six years later, not far from this foto, North Korean soldiers will axe murder two U.S. soldiers, Arthur Bonifas and Mark Barrett. I always wonder if these two guys were part of that attack.

On-Line Floricanto Sees May End
Gail Bornfield, Iris De Anda, Rose Valencia Sanchez, Nancy Lechuga, Andrea Mauk

"The Journey" by Gail Bornfield
"Red Leather Heart (for my mama)" by Iris De Anda
"Long Ago and Every After" by Rose Valencia Sanchez,
"Segundo Memories" by Nancy Lechuga
"Potato Salad Epiphanies" by Andrea Mauk

The Journey
by Gail Bornfield

They survived the coyotes
The Mexican drug cartels
They climbed the border fence
Walked across the Sonoran desert

To have a chance
To begin a new life
To make a home
In the land of opportunity

Now, dressed in their best
Oaxacan embroidered white
With a whisper of hope
He takes her hand

Exchanging a glance
They dart across the roadway
Hoping to go unnoticed
Their journey nearly over

Red Leather Heart (for my mama)
by Iris De Anda

My fondest memory is her standing
in red leather knee length boots
they came to represent
her heart on fire
for each one of us
she had a certain look
and we were 5
the fiercest mujer
I've ever known
who loved him
like no one ever could
not even himself
when things changed fast
she held even faster to prayer
she had known this pain before
when leaving her country
plagued by war
she left a piece of her corazón
in the river of her mother &
her fathers' mountain
she followed her destiny north
like many have done before
she stands here still
weaving our lives with love
& warming our bellies with masa
her tears transformed into agua ardiente
that runs in my veins
I get all my goodness from her
my strong roots &
the dreaming of better days to come

Long Ago and Every After
by Rose Valencia Sanchez

Opening up my heart,
but closing my eyes
I am a child again
You are gentle & patient,
trying in vain
to work a brush
through my wild
copper curly hair.

Drifting away,
A hazy, but still sweet memory
carrying me.
We are there,
Sitting on the front porch steps.
In the soft summer twilight you hear me,
As I jabber and make no sense.
Even through approaching darkness
I see the love you feel for me
shining bright in your brown eyes.
Joy & Pride.

When I close my eyes
The taste of my favorite breakfast
On a dismal winter morning
Teases my taste buds
in memory
Scrambled, fluffy eggs
flanked by golden white bread
toast slices.
One slice with butter & Welches grape jelly,
One slice with butter only.
Hot, steamy cocoa
Sometimes with mini marshmallows.
Best of all,
savoring one last moment with you.

Before you had to send me off
to books, learning & school
Did I ever tell you?
All those day I just waited,
hurrying back home as soon as I could to you
away from all those strangers
imagined dangers.

Back to safe and secure
the way you helped me to feel
whenever I was with you.

My memories build
funny and sad times
that only my momma comprehends.
Even after we are both gone,
our bond will never end.

do you remember the cat falling out the window,
Spaghetti dinners in box?
Or you sitting patiently on a bird pooped bench in the park
While daddy & I rode bikes or jogged?
I think I can even remember as far back
to the summer I learned to walk.
We ran barefoot just you and I,
Didn't we squish our toes in a teeny patch of green grass?
Watching hazy clouds drape themselves across a summer sky?

When I open my eyes
Your heart still beats for me.
When you close yours, do you remember when
You laid your hand upon your swollen belly
Wishing I would kick.
I responded to your voice
and your touch
inside you felt
the budding promise of your baby girl
and nothing but my love.

Dedicated to my momma Claudia Valencia
When anyone wants to know what kind of childhood I had,
please read this poem.
I love you momma.
I love you.

Segundo Memories
by Nancy Lechuga

Fondly, I remember,

McDonald’s figurines lined up uniformly on windowsills,
a bright pink porch pointing out the boldest of Mexicans
a cholo on a bike balancing a pot of hot menudo on the handlebars,
blue coconut slushies after church on Sunday,
freshly made Mata’sProduce tortillas,
and over- the- hill Chicanos playing wallball
(I carry the hollow sound of their little blue balls
hitting the concrete walls in the wallet I carry
in my back pocket).

I remember locuras.

Playing hair salon and picking off the toritos from the neighbor’s bushes,
thin walls, and Cata la Loca’s moans penetrating my pillow head muffs,
aluminum can collections Friday morning with Grandma Antonia
and Blueford, the neighborhood bum, asking for a peseta.
(I gave him several of my domingos).

Yo recuerdo cucarachas.

A mural of the Virgen outside my door, and matachines
killing the roaches I sprayed with Raid, immortals that hid
behind the rings of my three ring binder and surprising
three seventh graders.
Jacobo laughed.
Lorenzo laughed.
Me? Appalled.
(Memories stick to me like roaches
behind the microwave timer screens,
they stick like a wad of bubblegum tape
on a seven year old’s hair,
just so daddy would cut it.)

I remember Cri Cri’s Caminito a la Escuela.

Anglo principals in Mexican schools,
summer programs from hell,
scary stories told in an Alamo Elementary’s school basement,
everyone’s personal encounter with La Llorona
and the less popular sister no one talks about.
(And in 1995, Lourdes the lunch lady announced Selena’s death,
screaming at the top of her lungs, startling
the third graders doing arm circles during P.E.).

I remember a time before Facebook.

Photographs of unknown family members forgotten
in shoe boxes, and my favorite picture of Tio Gordo’s
old baby blue Plymouth, windows rolled down,
and my dad and him smoking a joint.
(I placed that picture behind the clear plastic of my three ring binder.)

I remember teenagers entertaining
little cousins of various ages at Armijo Park,
Limon con sal for car sickness,
and Planned Parenthood Durex condoms
for backseat initiation.
(I still have a drawer full of old apartment keys
and old camera rolls my mom forgot to take to Walgreen’s,
I still have the agua bendita in a glass Coca Cola bottle
that my mom kept underneath the kitchen sink
to ward of bad spirits and to sprinkle on rebellious
teenage girls with hickie necklaces).

I remember the time before the neighbor ran off with my dad.

A line around Bowie Bakery for francesitos,
the place where my parents met,
and even though I wasn’t conceived
on the bread making table,
I’m a real panecito.

©Nancy Lechuga

Potato Salad Epiphanies
by Andrea Mauk

There is no one left in the house
except for me and the potatoes,
their skins cracked just enough
to let the steam rise from the pot
and hit my face.
Who ever thought of boiling potatoes in Arizona
in July?
The potatoes are like a sentence to me,
not a phrase of words, but jail time
where all I can do is remember things
I don't want to think about,
so I think about this:
If you boil the potatoes first,
their skins slip right off.

There are many such epiphanies to be had
making potato salad.
My family likes to use the red potatoes
maybe because my mom is an artist and
red skins are more aesthetically pleasing
than the paper bag brown.
I like them when you leave the skins on.
The steam curls around my face,
opening my nostrils,
beads of sweat form on my upper lip.
I touch the skins gently,
coaxing them off without digging.
I know that wasting food is bad since
somewhere there is a child with a bloated belly
who only gets one bowl of rice all day.

I prefer potatoes.

I like the feel of the warm crumbly bulbs
under my fingertips.
I am touching food,
something my mother can't do anymore.
Last year she stopped cooking.
She writhes in the bed
and moans in pain
and she screams bloody murder
when the only thing that is killing her is her mind.
It is so damned hard to not have a mother
when I can see her body right there
breathing in and out, when I can talk to her.
I want to ask her, Mommy, am I pretty? Am I good?
Will anyone ever love me
or will I always feel invisible?
She just says, I love you, honey,
but you don't come home anymore
and I worry about you. Where are you?
I want to ask her the same question.

She's right, I don't go home much anymore.
Instead I stay here at my second mom's house
alone with the naked potatoes,
and the hard boiled eggs in the sauce pan
that I've soaked with cold water
so I can touch them.
My second mom taught me that.

My second mom is no relation.
Isn't that funny?
I live with this family
that I consider my family
and I don't know how it happened,
how it came to me being a part of them,
but I think it was God who sent them to me
or me to them, not sure which,
probably me to them
like I was a lost puppy in need of a home.
But I am taller than all of them,
and I don't look like them much,
except for maybe the youngest son.
Is that why God picked them?
Don't know.

My second mom and them,
they went to the park for a picnic.
I'll go once I'm done cooking.
Before they left, I asked my second mom
what she wanted in the potato salad.
So many people put weird stuff in it
like mustard and pickle relish,
each family is different.
You can tell a lot about a family
from their potato salad.
That's why I had to ask her out of respect,
I couldn't assume anything.
She gave me my real mom's potato salad recipe,
Maybe that's why God picked her
to take care of me
until my real mom

Copyright 2013 Andrea Mauk
All rights reserved

"The Journey" by Gail Bornfield
"Red Leather Heart (for my mama)" by Iris De Anda
"Long Ago and Every After" by Rose Valencia Sanchez,
"Segundo Memories" by Nancy Lechuga
"Potato Salad Epiphanies" by Andrea Mauk

Gail Bornfield grew up on a small family farm in the rural Midwest. She is an educator in the public schools and a community volunteer. Her degrees are from the University of Iowa and the University of Arizona. She has also published short stories, essay, and poetry in The Tucson Weekly, The Oracle, The Hummingbird Review and La Bloga. Gail also has written a children’s chapter book.

Rose Valencia Sanchez was born to Santos and Claudia Valencia in East Los Angele's California. Rose developed a love for words and reading at a young age, due to playing word games, and reading together with her family. She also enjoyed listening to the many stories of her fathers childhood in New Mexico. He painted such a vivid picture with his words, that Rose aspired to do the same.

Rose currently resides Arizona, and is fighting against racial intolerance and injustice aimed at the people she was always taught to be so proud of. The first thing you see when you walk up to Rose's front door is a sign on her front window that states "NO SB1070." She carries this statement inside her heart, and it fills up her every waking moment. She is fighting this war her words, her weapons is drawn, she is ready to battle.

Nancy Lechuga is an El Paso poet and educator. She conducts writing workshops in her community and is currently at work on her first book of poems.

Andrea García Mauk grew up in Arizona, where both the immense beauty and harsh realities of living in the desert shaped her artistic soul. She calls Los Angeles home, but has also lived in Chicago, New York and Boston. She has worked in the music industry, and on various film and television productions. She writes short fiction, poetry, original screenplays and adaptations, and is currently finishing two novels. Her writing and artwork has been published and viewed in a variety of places such as on The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder; The Journal of School Psychologists and Victorian Homes Magazine. Both her poetry and artwork have won awards. Several of her poems and a memoir are included in the 2011 anthology, Our Spirit, Our Reality, and her poetry is featured in the 2012 Mujeres de Maiz “‘Zine.” She is a regular contributor to Poets responding to SB 1070. Her poems have been chosen for publication on La Bloga’s Tuesday Floricanto numerous times. She is also a moderator of Diving Deeper, an online workshop for writers, and has written extensively about music, especially jazz, while working in the entertainment industry. Her production company, Dancing Horse Media Group, is currently in pre-production of her independent film, “Beautiful Dreamer,” based on her original screenplay and manuscript, and along with her partners, is producing a unique cookbook that blends healthful recipes with poetry and prose from the community.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Spotlight on Luivette Resto and her new poetry collection, “Ascension” (Tia Chucha Press)

Luivette Resto was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, but proudly raised in the Bronx. In 2003, she completed her M.F.A. from the University of Massachu­setts at Amherst. Her first book of poetry, Unfinished Portrait, was published in 2008 by Tia Chucha Press and later named a finalist for the 2009 Paterson Poetry Prize. She is also a contributing poetry editor for Kweli Journal, a CantoMundo fellow, and the hostess of a monthly poetry reading series called La Palabra at Avenue 50 Studio in Los Angeles.

Resto’s latest book of poetry is Ascension (Tia Chucha Press). As the publisher describes this new collection: “Ascension explores the delicacy and the fragility of all re­lationships; not just the romantic ones in nature, but the ones we have with our family, friends, community, city, politics, nature, history, and ourselves. Some poems focus on the complexity, nascency, and dissolution of these re­lationships while other verses are unapologetic with their celebration of the self.”


“In Luivette Resto’s Ascension, our speaker is an unflinching witness and an exposed nerve. ‘Slut, murderer, mother,’ she carries betrayal, heartbreak, and hope. She mines the everyday, the ‘pedestrian or exquisite,’ for all its possibility. In paean, in dirge, in sonnet, she invokes Wonder Woman, and Puerto Rican Obituary. Without hesitation, she calls out misogynist colleagues, two-timing lovers. Personal and political, these are poems of defiance, affirmation, material and spiritual survival.” Barbara Jane Reyes, author of Poeta en San Francisco and Diwata

“This collection is full of fierce and tender poems. I love their clarity, their unpretentiousness, their courage, the respect given to people and situations by detailed seeing and saying. I love the poems’ lyricism, in both languages, not afraid to put the beat and heat of Spanish into English or the cool ironies and savvy of the Anglo-Saxon voice into Spanish. I love how the poems give voice to outrage but without singeing the world with bitterness or ideology or rhetoric. How they celebrate our culture and champion its hybrid manifestations instead of the simple and seductive either-ors.” —Julia Alvarez, author of The Woman I Kept To Myself and Homecoming



She didn’t kiss me like you.
That’s what you said
as we sat on my bedroom fire escape,
staring at the luminescent red and green lights
of the Empire State Building.

Christmas was almost here.
Our third one if I counted correctly.

We never faced one another
as you spoke to a starless night sky
and I listened to taxis curse at brave pedestrians.

You didn’t love me the same way anymore.
You needed to find yourself
before you could give to others.
I wasn’t what you needed right now.
You didn’t see a future or a family with me.

I didn’t cry.
Not for your satisfaction
but for mine.
I didn’t want to remember myself that way.

Thoughtfully the city exhaled
a wind full of flurries up my thin nightshirt.
Shuttering for the first time,
I got up and dusted off the rust from my jeans.

(Copyright 2009 Luivette Resto)

To watch and hear Luivette Resto read “Christmas Lies” from Ascension, visit this YouTube clip.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Book! _Every Broken Trust_ by Linda Rodriguez The Interview . . .

Amelia Montes:  Congratulations, Linda, on the publication of your new and second mystery novel: Every Broken Trust

Linda Rodriguez:  Thank you, Amelia. It’s lovely to visit La Bloga again.

Amelia Montes: Where does Every Broken Trust take us?  Should we have read the first novel Every Last Secret or can the reader read this one and then go back to the first?

Linda Rodriguez:  You can read Every Broken Trust even if you haven't read Every Last Secret before it.  They are a series, but I've tried to make each book work as a stand-alone novel, as well.  Every Broken Trust takes place in Brewster, MO, right outside Kansas City and into Kansas City itself in terms of physical terrain.  In other ways, this book explores various kinds of betrayal and the effects betrayal can have on normally nice, sane people.  

Linda's first book, winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition
Amelia Montes:  How was the writing of Every Broken Trust different from writing Every Last Secret

Linda Rodriguez:  One difference was that Every Broken Trust was written under contract with a deadline. Every Last Secret was written with no assurance that anyone would ever want it, but with the freedom to take as long as I wanted and with no time pressures since it was written on spec. When I first sat down to write Every Broken Trust, I panicked. Could I write a good novel, preferably even better than the previous one, on a schedule? I emailed a good friend who’s a NYT bestselling novelist—“Help! I’m not sure I can do this! How do you manage it?”—but got no answer since she was out of her office. So I told myself that I knew how books were written: by planting the butt in the chair and just doing the work. By the time the workday was over, and I heard back from my friend, I had several scenes written and didn’t need her to hold my hand, after all. “Just do the work” has become my mantra.

Amelia Montes:  Was your process different?

Linda Rodriguez:  I tried to use an outline, as always. I’ve come to realize that I need that outline to get me past the intimidation of the blank page.  But I know now that I won’t really follow it. I’m congenitally incapable of following a pattern or instructions. I guess I have a problem with authority, even my own. At about halfway through the manuscript, I realized that the murderers I had planned on wouldn’t work because everyone would know it was them right from the start—it would be obvious. My husband came home to find me stalking through the house, hands flailing and crying, “It’s all wrong. What will I do?” I did what I always do with my writing when there’s a problem. I went back to character and started digging deeper into some of the lesser characters to see how I could make them better suspects. I found my murderer there and made a much stronger book in the process.

Amelia Montes:  How much research went into the writing of Every Broken Trust?

Linda Rodriguez:  I did research about the storage caves, a common thing in the Kansas City area. There’s a local college that has a setup very close to what I’ve given Chouteau University in terms of the caves. I did research into the immigration and refugee situation in Kansas City.  Kansas City is the Ellis Island of the Midwest. As well, with human trafficking—Kansas City has the first federal human trafficking task force that’s a pilot for the whole country, run out of the U.S. Attorney’s office. And I did research on the families of Chilean shepherds who have run the sheep and goat ranches of the western states for many generations, most kept in much worse conditions than Ignacio endures on Karen’s farm.

Amelia Montes:  Do you feel much more confident now, after having written two novels?

Linda Rodriguez:  I think I would, except each novel sets a new writing problem, so each time it feels like starting from scratch again. I think that, as we move along and become more experienced, we expect more from ourselves and take on more ambitious projects. At least, I know that’s how my mind works. But at least I am more confident that I will be able to finish what I begin.

Amelia Montes:  How well did your first book do and how do you plan to help sell Every Broken Trust differently or will you use the same strategies?  (I guess this is a question about the "business" and best ways to sell one's work)

Linda Rodriguez:  Every Last Secret did quite well for a first book. My publisher is happy with the sales, and though the final data is very slow to come in, it looks as if I’ll earn out my advance which was larger than usual for a first book because it was a prizewinner. (And I would urge any writers out in “La Bloga’s” audience to submit to one of the four free St. Martin’s Press book contests if you have an idea for a crime novel. They have no entry fee and each offers publication and a $10,000 advance. More info here: (click here)

Among the different strategies I hope to try in promoting Every Broken Trust is a book tour through Texas. Texas is the largest market for mystery novels in the country, and I have many good friends in Texas.  I hope to hit Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio for a week in September. Texas is also where the great organization Las Comadres started, and in September, Every Broken Trust will be a part of the Las Comadres National Latino Book Club.

Amelia Montes:  Is there a third installment coming?

Linda Rodriguez:  My agent is knocking out the final contract details on the third Skeet book, which will be called Every Hidden Fear, right now. So look for that next spring.

Amelia Montes:  Are you planning Skeet to be a recurring character in this mystery series?  I am calling it a mystery series--is that okay?  I guess that connects to my earlier question on whether there will be more.

Linda Rodriguez:  Yes, Skeet will continue to be the protagonist of these books. Some of the important secondary characters, such as Karen, Ignacio, Gil and Dolores, and others will take center stage as part of the mystery and main story of one book or another, though, as Karen and Ignacio do in this book. I see them as a repertory cast of characters. But the whole series is a meta-novel about Skeet’s development as a person.

Amelia Montes:  What does Skeet learn about herself in this new novel that she didn't learn in the first?

Linda Rodriguez:  One of the hardest lessons Skeet has to learn in this book is forgiveness. She also has to confront the clay feet of people she set up as role models and parents of choice and learn how to continue loving and valuing people who’ve fallen short of her ideals. This book also pushes Skeet further down the road toward integration into her life of her heritage and toward some sort of relationship with her estranged family. And in this book, Skeet must become a real nurturer of others, a role she’s always run from before.

Author, Linda Rodriguez
Amelia Montes:  Now that you've written two novels, what is your experience with the book business?  What advice can you give to a beginning writer who is ready to market a book?

Linda Rodriguez:  First of all, I’ve learned that publishing is ver-r-r-r-ry slow. Patience isn’t a virtue but a necessity.

Secondly, if you have written a novel and want to publish it, it’s probably not ready yet unless you’ve done an awful lot of re-visioning and rewriting, and you don’t want to submit what isn’t the best work you can do. Publishing, even at the top levels, is actually like a small town. Editors know each other and move from house to house. You don’t want to develop a reputation as someone who sends out half-baked work. So, make it your absolute best to begin with. 

Next, learn about the business of publishing. Like any other profession or industry, it has its own ways of doing things. Learn how things are and are not done. Don’t get a reputation as a fool or a boor simply because you haven’t bothered to learn how things work. Join a national professional writers’ organization—it almost doesn’t matter which. If you write mysteries and none of the mystery organizations are near, but you have a local branch of RWA, the romance writers national, don’t turn up your nose: (click here). Any of the national writers’ organizations will teach you a lot about the business of publishing—Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction Writers of America, the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and others—and that’s what you need to learn.

I wrote a whole blog post about first steps to take for publishing your book with more information and you can find it here: (click here).

Amelia Montes:  You are a member of The Kansas City Latino Writers Collective.  Tell us a little bit about that group and how that group has helped your work.

Linda Rodriguez:  The Latino Writers Collective is an organization very dear to my heart. It’s based in Kansas City, Missouri, but also has members in other cities and states. The Collective supports Latino writers and the Latino community with critique sessions, workshops, readings and events, publications, and collaborations with other community organizations. I was vice president for six years. Now I’m no longer on the board, but I am still a member.

The Latino Writers Collective was very important to my work. I already had a master’s in creative writing, but it was while working with the Collective that I was encouraged to work with the Latino and Native American material of my life. I had always been discouraged from this by my professors (who meant well and were creatures of their time). I had already been published quite a bit before the Collective formed, but I feel that my fellow LWC members were a huge help as I began to do my best work. LWC is mi familia, and I always acknowledge them in my books.

I strongly urge aspiring writers to find some similar supportive group, one that won’t tell them (as I had been before LWC) “don’t write about that—it’s not universal.” Who decided that only the privileged white cis-gendered male take on life was universal anyway? I hope you can find a group of writers who are as supportive and great as LWC has been for me and many other writers. Macondo is another similar group on a more national level, as is Canto Mundo. I think these organizations where we band together with people of similar backgrounds and situations—and aspirations!—can be life-changing for us as writers.

Amelia Montes:  How would you define "the mystery genre"?  Are there different genres within "the mystery" bookshelf?  How would you define your books within this book world of mysteries?

Linda Rodriguez:  Right now, crime fiction tends to cover a wide spectrum from the coziest of cozies to the darkest of violent serial killer novels. The basic categories within the genre are the traditional mystery (of which the cozy is just one part), suspense (with its sub-category, romantic suspense), noir and hard-boiled (once two distinct categories that have come to blend into each other), urban fantasy (which blends aspects of hardboiled and horror or fantasy), and thriller (with its subcategories of psychological, adventure, espionage and spy, techno, and serial killer). And of course, people are blending these categories and genres fast and furiously to make even more.  The big division is between mystery and suspense. In mystery, the reader is learning what happened and why along with the protagonist while, in suspense, the reader may know who the evildoer is or certainly what’s being planned, although the protagonist doesn’t. But even those lines blend today. My books are traditional mysteries until near the end where they veer into suspense once the reader and Skeet learn who has committed the crimes but s/he has yet to be caught and stopped.

Amelia Montes:  What else would you like to tell our "La Bloga" readers about . . .

Linda Rodriguez:  I would like to urge "La Bloga" readers to support the writers they love to read by requesting and checking them out from the library, buying them from bookstores and online, and telling people about them through word of mouth recommendations, reviews on online sites or blogs, and formal critical reviews and essays. Latino, Native American, African American, Asian American, LGBTQIA, and other writers who don’t fit that “universal” privileged model I mentioned earlier are often published by smaller presses which can’t get the review coverage the Big Six can. These writers are reviewed less and thus are less likely to be in libraries and bookstores because people are not aware that they exist. Some of us have been lucky enough to publish with large publishers, but the majority of books coming from these writers are from the small presses, those heroes in the trenches of literature. Do whatever you can to see that others out there in the world have the chance to learn about the writers you love. That way, it’s much more likely that you’ll see more of their works and writers like them offered to the public.

Amelia Montes:  Thank you so much for taking the time to be with "La Bloga" this Sunday.  

Linda Rodriguez Bio:
Linda Rodriguez’s second Skeet Bannion novel, Every Broken Trust (St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books), is available for sale now and was selected by Las Comadres National Latino Book Club. Her first Skeet novel, Every Last Secret, won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, was a Barnes & Noble mystery pick, and is a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. For her books of poetry, Skin Hunger (Scapegoat Press) and Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press), Rodriguez has received many awards and fellowships. She is the president of the Borders Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, a founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of the Macondo Community, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, Kansas City Cherokee Community, and International Thriller Writers. She was formerly director of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Women’s Center. She spends too much time on Twitter as @rodriguez_linda and on Facebook at  She blogs about writers, writing, and the absurdities of everyday life at

Interview by Amelia M.L. Montes (