I almost cried when I saw my name written in solid black script on the cover of my debut novel. It was the culmination of seven years of relentless work, boundless joy, unexpected friendships and numerous disappointments.
After all the waiting, finally I could read – MAYRA CUEVAS – written under a gorgeous illustration of a girl of color wearing a chef’s coat, her wild locks adorned with a crown of flowers. Next to it stood the catchy title crafted by my editorial team at Blink/HarperColllins, Salty, Bitter, Sweet — the perfect name for the book, and for the long journey that brought it to existence. Read more
Awesome #MondayMotivation! Today, my short story RESILIENT published in the NEW VOICE category of April’s FORESHADOW YA short story anthology.
RESILIENT tells the story of two young women who left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria to work at a turkey processing plant in Huron, S.D. It’s a story of heartbreak and longing but also hope. In Marisol’s own words, sometimes we “have to be a palmera.”A palm treebends but never breaks.
Here is the inspiration behind the story:
On September 20, 2017, Hurricane María barreled through Puerto Rico, leaving behind the worst devastation the island had ever seen. Like millions of the island’s residents and the diaspora, my heart was broken and desperate to help, hanging onto every shred of news coming out of our homeland. In January 2018 Washington Post journalist Chico Harlan published a story about a group of young Puerto Ricans that left the island for jobs at a turkey processing plant in Huron. Most were in college, worked part-time jobs, and dreamed of a future that didn’t include leaving Puerto Rico. Their stories stayed with me long after reading Harlan’s moving report. Only weeks later, my agent Saritza Hernandez, also a Boricua, encouraged me to submit a story toFORESHADOW’s New Voice competition. Instantly, I knew I wanted to write a story about these young María evacuees. They had been forced to leave everything they knew and loved behind, and venture into the unknown. This is how Marisol and Rosa’s journey came to be.
My notes from our conversation with Justin follow (unless otherwise noted):
On independent bookstores, YA and KidLit: As an author, it is important to understand that all independent bookstores are different. Their differences is what makes them thrive. Independent bookstores understand who they are, and who they are within their community. They are successful when they own that identity.
Recently, there has been an explosion of independent and children’s bookstores. The ones that do well are the ones that know their community and have a very clear identity.
As a children’s bookstore, when we open a catalog to place and order, we have an instinct about what will do well.
This Spring I attended a SCBWI Southern Breeze SpringMingle conference with Jacquelyn Mitchard. Mitchard is a New York Times bestselling author and editor of Merit Press, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. Her novel The Deep End of the Ocean was Oprah Winfrey Book Club’s inaugural selection and was later adapted into a film.
During her workshop titled Why write YA? she talked about the virtues of writing for the young adult (YA) book category and some concepts every aspiring YA writer must know.
YA is a growing market
YA is the only consistently growing category of fiction. Teens are embracing books and buying hardcovers over e-books. They love stories like no one else. To a teen, the characters in these books are real people. When you write YA, you hook a reader for life. Read more
On Friday, I attended Jacquelyn Mitchard’s writers intensive workshop as part of the SCBWI Southern Breeze SpringMingle conference. Mitchard is a New York Times bestselling author and editor of Merit Press, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. Her novel The Deep End of the Ocean was Oprah Winfrey Book Club’s inaugural selection and was later adapted into a film. She has written over twenty books for adults, teens and children. She is also a faculty member at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Mitchard had me at hello. Her morning talk began something like this: In hard times, “writing will save your life.”
Her day-long workshop focused on great beginnings, structure, dialogue, and great endings. I have compiled the highlights in the following post. Read more