I’ve always loved books. Like many writers, I became addicted to reading as a child. I dove into the lives of fictional characters and worlds like it was the oxygen I needed to breathe. New books didn’t leave my hands. I read before breakfast, after dinner, and walked between classes with my nose in the pages of a thrilling story. Sometimes, I read while a teacher lectured — I don’t regret it.
My first recollection of writing a story was in third grade, though I imagine that wasn’t the first time. It’s just the first time I can remember. A third grade teacher assigned a creative writing assignment, and I was so ecstatic to craft a story that I quickly threw myself into the project. I can’t recall the plot or the characters, though I believe it was about a Native American woman. What I do remember was the teacher writing praise-worthy words on a yellow-sticky note and telling me to share it with my parents.
I’d like to say I was hooked on writing after that, but I wasn’t. I wrote fantastically, in terms of school essays and such. I received top scores on writing tests every year, but I can’t recall writing any more stories. That is, until high school.
Once again, my memory fails me on why I started writing a book — but I did. It was the only time I wrote a book by hand, across two notebooks, one of which I lost before finishing the book. This was a small tragedy, but I was soon seized with an even better idea for a book, inspired by a dream. This time, I put my computer skills to the test and wrote the book in Word. It took me two years to finish the first draft and by that time, I was in college.
Some of you may recall that I self-published that book on Amazon and many of you read it. I thank you for humoring my novice writing skills.
My second-to-last-year in college, I decided I wanted to be a writer after taking a few creative writing classes and writing four books, one of which I completed. I was surprised that it took me that long to realize that writing was my life calling (even though a few people said they knew that I’d be a writer all along).
So, I went to grad school and received my MFA in Creative Writing. There, I learned how to accurately craft a novel, the true tenements to creating a great story, how to develop characters, and began, wrote, and finished the novel that I am happy to announce — I am getting traditionally published this year.
So, yes, there it is! My big announcement today is that my dream of becoming a published novelist is coming true, and I couldn’t be any more excited. I’ve actually been wanting to share this news since last July. It was then that I was offered a publishing deal, but I’ve had to keep it under wraps until the contract was signed. And now it is!
Though I’ve been working on this contract with my literary agent, Mary C. Moore of Kimberley Cameron & Associates, for six months, here’s what I can share right now:
What’s the title? Secrets of the Casa Rosada (“Casa Rosada” means “Pink House,” hence the profile photo of this blog post)
Genre? Literary fiction/Ethnic American fiction/Young Adult-Adult/Magical Realism
Who’s the publisher? My novel will be published with Arte Publico Press.
What’s the release date? October 31, 2018. (I’ve never loved Halloween, but now it’s one of my favorite holidays)
What’s it about? In Secrets of the Casa Rosada readers experience a coming-of-age story with magical realism elements as they follow Martha’s struggle with a family full of women who hold onto their secrets tighter than they hold onto their rosaries.
For Martha, meeting her grandmother for the first time was a nice thought. Being abandoned by her flighty mother with a Spanish-only speaking, tough-as-nails curandera (folk healer) in a Pepto Bismol-colored house in Laredo, Texas, was not. Martha soon discovers that her grandmother, Abuela, and the rest of her family are hiding a lot of secrets about her mother. Why did her mother suddenly leave Laredo 18 years ago when she had a seemingly perfect life? And what did Abuela really do in that back room she always kept lock, where patients gleefully entered, sometimes screamed, and then left after paying in decorative plates with haloed angels?
Searching her mother’s past would be a lot easier for Martha if she didn’t have to also sidestep the jealousies of Marcella, a chola with a liking for violence and too much eye makeup. Martha must escape her grandmother’s watchful eye, battle Marcella, and search through the dark corners of curanderismo to uncover her mother’s past so she can discover who she is and where she’s going.
Where can you find it? The book will be released in stores and online.
Will you do signings or readings? I plan on hosting a launch party, traveling for book signings and readings, and doing some fun online giveaways.
Want to know more? There’s only so much that I can reveal right now, so if you want to stay up-to-date about things like the release date of the book, readings, signings, or giveaways, please sign up for my newsletter by signing up below, in the pop up on the right side of the website, or in the form at the top of the website. It’s the most reliable way to stay “in the know,” followed by my social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — @Alextemblador).
For now, all I can say is that I’m happy and so thankful for all the many people that have helped me along the way to make this dream a reality. It’s going to be a killer ride.