The first thing I discovered when deciding to self-publish is that by and large, the marketing and selling of my books was up to me. Did I say me? Trust me when I say I didn’t learn this overnight, in January 2006 when I published my first book I was as green as I could be and I innocently thought that joining groups and paying everyone who said they had a sure way for me to sell books. I tell you I spent hundreds of dollars before I got it. It being that you really have to put in work, you must make your targeted audience know who you are and what you offer and recognize that most people in ‘groups’ are trying to do what you do, sell their work, not purchase others work.

Mind you I did sell a few books that way, but not enough to make a difference. What I did garner from the groups such as RAWSISTAZ and BlackExpressions2005 is a plethora of information from other authors who had taken the route I was trying to take about how to truly self-publish. I would often say little; but I absorbed the wisdom and information that went before me. I also discovered that regardless of what anyone else had done. I would have to do it for ME.

So by 2007 when my second, third and fourth books was published I had learned to work what I knew, my community, local book clubs, my church, the libraries, local radio and print and guess what? People became interested and began to purchase my books and talk about my work to others who were not local and they in turn purchased my work. Many still felt I should do it differently but I knew what I needed and wanted and I am methodical. My intent is to write books for a long time and to do that I am taking my time; creating an audience and working on providing a product that will make readers come back and bring other readers with them.

To date I haven’t tried traditional publishing and am not saying I never will, however, for now while my cup runneth over with so many things I am quite pleased to be known as a local author who sometimes appeals to a much broader readership.



Angelia Vernon Menchan considers writing to be the elixir of her soul. Since learning penmanship at age four, most days have found her jotting down thoughts in a notebook. After decades of journal-keeping she decided to try her hand at writing and publishing books, from which was born her small publishing company, M.A.m.m. Productions through which she publishes her own books that she has coined, 'Fictionalized Truths, Ageless Fiction and Ramblings.'
When not writing, Angelia is a wife, mother, mentor and nana who loves reading almost as much as writing. Angelia is also an Avid Blogger and posts blogs most days to her blog, RAMBLINGS at
or for Skirt Magazine at http://skirt.com/angel08

Follow the tour:
Monday, July 19        Books And...Chat 
Tuesday, July 20       BrownGirl Speaks
Wednesday, July 21  Notorious Spinks Talks
Thursday, July 22      Books on the Train
Friday, July 23           Glamazini's Natural Hair Journey

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
Gregory Boyle
Author: Gregory Boyle
Free Press, March 2010
Hardcover, 240 pages
ISBN-10: 1439153027
ISBN-13: 9781439153024

About the Book
How do you fight despair and learn to meet the world with a loving heart? How do you overcome shame? Stay faithful in spite of failure? No matter where people live or what their circumstances may be, everyone needs boundless, restorative love. Gorgeous and uplifting, Tattoos on the Heart amply demonstrates the impact unconditional love can have on your life.As a pastor working in a neighborhood with the highest concentration of murderous gang activity in Los Angeles, Gregory Boyle created an organization to provide jobs, job training, and encouragement so that young people could work together and learn the mutual respect that comes from collaboration. Tattoos on the Heart is a breathtaking series of parables distilled from his twenty years in the barrio. Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally. Tattoos on the Heart reminds us that no life is less valuable than another.

Jesuit priest, Gregory Boyle initially began patrolling what he called "the gang capitol of L.A." via bike instigating peace treaties and truces among rival gangs. He decided to go in another direction as he felt his treaties and truces still perpetuated gang activity. Boyle's initiative of getting gang members employment, counseling, and tattoo removal services became Homeboy Industries.

Boyle seems to have found an easy rapport with many of the gang members who come to him when they are ready to change their lifestyles. His faith has allowed him to be giving of his time and resources and receptive to these young people who often have dangerous criminal backgrounds. Each essay reveals the humanity of various men and women involved in gang activity. Their stories are insightful, encouraging, and often heartbreaking. Boyle not only tells of triumphs like former rival gang members coming together and building a child care center, but those of tragedy like a young mother gunned down after sharing with Boyle an inexplicable dream of a dove flying from a coffin that was either an epiphany or an omen. This is the beauty of his story that is obviously meant to uplift and inspire, for success cannot be achieved without disappointments. You cannot package such a tale in a neat bow and disregard the fact that changed behavior may not eliminate consequences for past erratic behavior. What Tattoos on the Heart does right is show that change is always possible and that, with the right people and tools facilitating change, a lost person can find themselves and discover that "nothing of [their] humanity is to be discarded."

About the author
Father Gregory Boyle was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1982. He received his Master of Divinity from the Weston School of Theology; and a Sacred Theology Masters degree from the Jesuit School of Theology. In 1988, Father Boyle began what would become Homeboy Industries, now located in downtown Los Angeles. Fr. Greg received the California Peace Prize, the “Humanitarian of the Year” Award from Bon Appétit; the Caring Institute’s 2007 Most Caring People Award; and received the 2008 Civic Medal of Honor from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

Since 1986, Father Gregory has been the pastor of Dolores Mission in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. The church sits between two large public housing projects, Pico Gardens and Aliso Village, known for decades as the gang capital of the world. There are 1,100 gangs encompassing 86,000 members in Los Angeles, and Boyle Heights has the highest concentration of murderous gang activity in the city. Since Father Greg—also known affectionately as G-dog, started Homeboy Industries nearly twenty years ago, it has served members of more than half of the gangs in Los Angeles. In Homeboy Industries’ various businesses—baking, silkscreening, landscaping—gang affiliations are left outside as young people work together, side by side, learning the mutual respect that comes from building something together.

About Homeboy Industries
Homeboy Industries traces its roots to “Jobs For A Future” (JFF), a program created in 1988 by Father Gregory Boyle while he was serving as pastor of Dolores Mission parish in Boyle Heights. Begun as a jobs program in 1988, offering alternatives to gang violence in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city, the program soon grew beyond the parish.

With the addition of a small bakery in a run-down warehouse across the street from Dolores Mission, JFF had its own business, one where it could hire the most challenging, difficult to place young people in a safe environment. The hope was that they could learn both concrete and soft job skills, to make them stronger, better prepared candidates for permanent employment. A tortilla stand in Grand Central Market downtown solidified the evolution of JFF into Homeboy Industries.

In only a few years, Homeboy Industries has had an important impact on the Los Angeles gang problem, with young people from over half of the region’s 1,100 known gangs seeking a way out through Homeboy. Thousands of young people have walked through the doors of Homeboy Industries looking for a second chance, and finding community. Gang affiliations are left outside as these young people work together, side by side, learning the mutual respect that comes from shared tasks and challenges.

Homeboy became an independent nonprofit in August of 2001, and has since grown into a national model. This year, we will celebrate our 20th anniversary as an organization in our new headquarters located in downtown Los Angeles, just two blocks from Union Station. Homeboy serves as a beacon of hope and opportunity for those seeking to leave gang life, for whom the barriers and challenges are great, and for whom there is virtually no other avenue to enter the mainstream.

In addition to providing job training and placement assistance and other free programs, a distinctive feature of Homeboy Industries continues to be its small businesses, where the most difficult to place individuals are hired in transitional jobs, thus giving them a safe, supportive environment in which to learn both concrete and soft job skills, while simultaneously building their resume and work experience. Former rivals find themselves working side by side, finding true community and friendship in place of the limited community of gang life. Homeboy’s businesses now include the Homeboy Bakery, newly re-opened in our new Headquarters downtown, Homeboy Silkscreen, which prints logos on apparel and provides embroidery services; Homeboy Maintenance, which provides landscaping and maintenance services; Homeboy Merchandise, which sells t-shirts, mugs, tote bags, and mouse pads with the Homeboy logo, now with a retail storefront in the new Headquarters, as well as online ordering; Homegirl Café, newly expanded in the new building with 86 seats, plus a dedicated Catering kitchen provides a training ground dedicated to female clients in all aspects of the restaurant and service industry.  Homeboy Press has been publishing a literary magazine since 2008.

100% profits from book sales of Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion go directly to Homeboy Industries.  In this difficult economy, Homeboy Industries has had to lay off some of their staff.  Your purchase of this book helps support a much needed organization in our country today.

100% commissions generated through book sales through Condor Books, at our Products page, will be donated to the Homeboy Industries Review, a yearly publication of poetry and essays written and published by the young men and women involved in Homeboy Industries' writing and publishing skills program.  Please support by purchasing a book.

Disclosure: This book was provided by Condor Book Tours.
Bernardo and the Virgin
Silvio Sirias
(Northwestern University Press)ISBN-10: 0810122405ISBN-13: 978-0810122406


Bernardo Martinez is a devout Catholic and sacristan in his church in Cuapa, Nicaraugua. Based on actual events, Bernardo and the Virgin is a sweeping tale that juxtaposes the spirituality of Catholicism against the revolution occurring as the socialist Sandinistas overthrow the Somoza regime.  In 1980, Bernardo is visited by an apparition of the Virgin Mary and she instructs him to encourage everyone to pray the rosary daily and to "work for peace." He's well aware that he's not in a position where anyone would take him seriously, but his strong faith gives him the courage to be obedient. Not only do we learn how the title character is affected by the presence of the Virgin, but also that of others who all share some sort of connection with Bernardo. While interspersing Spanish throughout the novel, Sirias paints a vivid picture of village life in Cuapa. The overall tone is more spiritual than religious and exposes such humanity through Bernardo's complete surrender to his beliefs.  This in spite of his being denied the priesthood in his youth because he was deemed to poor. Just as in Meet Me Under the Ceiba, Sirias has given us another beautifully written novel revealing the intricacies of Central America. Bernardo and the Virgin was a great reminder of why I love historical fiction.

Support the author and an indie bookstore. Purchase your copy of Bernardo and the Virgin at Dulce Bread & Bookshop.


We're also hosting a unique giveaway on this book tour. Leave a question to be answered in Friday's live chat with author Silvio Sirias and you may be selected to win one of each: a change-purse and a decoration made by the Kuna artisans in Panama, called Molas.

Tour Hosts

Mon June 7 Latino Book Examiner
Tues June 8 Regular Rumination and La Bloga
Wed June 9  When I Was in 'nam
Thurs June 10 Sandra's Book Club
Fri June 11 Sententia Vera

Mon June 14 The Tranquilo Traveler
Tues June 15 BrownGirl BookSpeak
Wed June 16 The Book Nook
Thur June 17 Pisti Totol-Black Bird
Fri June 18 Musings

Live chat is Friday, June 18 at 7 pm EST at Condor Book Tours.

Imagine it's New York City in the roaring twenties and you teach English in a night school for immigrants. Sounds pretty normal, but add in the fact that vampires and all sorts of "Others" are integrated into society alongside humans. Not sounding so typical anymore,  unless you're Zephyr Hollis. Zephyr, reformed "Defender", is a "blessed" blade wielding, social activist extraordinaire, feminist, and closet Jazz singer. The vampire suffragette, as she's affectionately and mockingly known, is sent into a tail spin when a series of events beginning with a half dead little boy she finds in an alley on her way to teach one evening. Zephyr's comings and goings include a charming cast of characters including her hypocritically prudish landlady Mrs. Brodsky, roommate with a sixth sense Aileen, socialite and journalist Lily, and the ever mysterious Amir. Amir is not only an "Other" unlike any Zephyr's ever encountered, but also he's flirtatious, sarcastic, and dangerous- a winning combination for an intense budding romance.

Alaya Johnson has written a fast-paced, engaging novel. Her no nonsense, sharp tongued characterizations of Zephyr and Amir make this an enchanting read. The notion of Moonshine being merely another vampire or paranormal fiction novel is taking it a bit too lightly. Though a quirky and supernatural tale, it's also a guise for a more grounded critique on race. Zephyr struggles daily to get humans to see that the "Others", who openly live, work, and play in mainstream society, are still deserving of humanity even if not human.

Now that you totally wanna read Moonshine, here's your chance to win a copy!
Please leave a comment for each entry completed and be sure to leave a valid email address so I can notify you if you win.

Main entry (this must be done to enter): If we lived in a society with sometimes dangerous, but often harmless "Others", would you be a Defender or Suffragette and why? You don't have to write more than a sentence.

Bonus entries:
RT this review and giveaway on Twitter +1 (include permalink in your comment by clicking the time stamp to that particular tweet)
Fan me on Facebook +1
Follow me on Twitter +1
Subscribe to my feed +1

Giveaway will close on Thursday, June 3 and winner will be announce on Friday, June 4.

About the Author
ALAYA JOHNSON is a recent Columbia graduate, and denizen of New York City.

Book Synopsis
Imagining vampires at the heart of the social struggles of 1920s, Moonshine blends a tempestuous romance with dramatic historical fiction, populated by a lively mythology inhabiting the gritty New York City streets Zephyr Hollis is an underfed, overzealous social activist who teaches night school to the underprivileged of the Lower East Side. Strapped for cash, Zephyr agrees to help a student, the mysterious Amir, who proposes she use her charity worker cover to bring down a notorious vampire mob boss. What he doesn’t tell her is why. Soon enough she’s tutoring a child criminal with an angelic voice, dodging vampires high on a new blood-based street drug, and trying to determine the real reason behind Amir’s request—not to mention attempting to resist his dark, inhuman charm.


Moonshine Tour Stops

Monday, May 24       Books And... live chat
Tuesday, May 25      Parajunkee
Wednesday, May 26 Fang-tastic Books
Thursday, May 27     BrownGirl BookSpeak
Friday, May 28          Not Really Southern Vamp Chick

I received this book from the publisher via Books And... virtual book tours.

African Diaspora
Women Unbound
POC Reading

Esperanza is your typical "nerd". She reads voraciously, has amazing study habits, has little fashion knowledge beyond jeans and t-shirts, and is accident prone. The best thing about the lead character of Beyond the Gardens is that she's perfectly content with who she is and grateful to be out of the barrio. She's fulfilling her dream of being in college, an art college, at that, where she studies animation. During freshmen year, she discovers that her childhood best friend, Carlos, wants to be more than friends but, she's fallen for another guy who has the same love for books as she does. Meanwhile, Esperanza forms an unlikely friendship with her shopaholic roommate.

Lopez easily takes us through the saga of a young woman from a working class east L.A. neighborhood dealing with the usual growing pains: first loves, finding a job, self-discovery. She thoughtfully explores a colorful mother-daughter dynamic which is refreshing.  In Esperanza, Sandra Lopez has written a believably studious and aspirational character. Through a solid first person narrative, the reader will cheer for Esperanza as she enters adulthood and carves her path Beyond the Gardens.

About the author
Sandra C. López was born and raised in Hawaiian Gardens, California. She learned to read at the young age of two and strived to achieve the best grades in school. Her free time was spent reading, writing, and drawing. Sandra managed to be the first in her family to graduate from high school and enter college. Her first novel, "Esperanza: A Latina Story," was published in March 2008 while she was still in college. Now, this young writer is a full graduate of Cal State University Fullerton with a BFA in Animation and Illustration, and she is anticipating a promising career as a writer and an artist. "Beyond the Gardens" is the follow up sequel to "Esperanza."

About the book

At the age of 18, Esperanza Ignacio begins her college years at an upscale Los Angeles art school, where she studies to fulfill her long-term dream in Animation. But she soon learns the truth to the old folktale: “you can take the girl out of the barrio, but you can’t take the barrio out of the girl.” Even though she’s getting financial aid, Esperanza works a part-time job during her break from classes just to make ends meet. Her roommate, Anna, is what she calls a “chicana from Beverly Hills” because of the rich daddy and the new car she got for her quinceañera.

Things get a little confusing for Esperanza when an old friend comes looking for her, hoping to start a meaningful relationship. But is Carlos the right guy for her? She never even considered him to be anything more than a friend since high school. Then comes Jake, a gorgeous mechanic,
who shares her passion for books and loves her for who she is. What’s a girl to do?

Strength and determination help pave the way for the future. And, as she approaches her graduation, she is faced with a difficult decision: should she leave
Los Angeles and leave behind her family, her home, and everything she’s known? Ever since she was born in the California barrio of Hawaiian Gardens, she’s always had to look over the fence, wondering what she’s been missing. Now she’s taking a flying leap over to see what’s beyond the little barrio. What’s beyond her family, her friends, and her past? What’s beyond the little nothing town, where dreams don’t exist? What’s beyond The Gardens? Is it life, love, a future? The story of Esperanza is finally concluded in this wildly entertaining and heart-warming sequel.


Beyond the Gardens
By Sandra C. Lopez
Price: $19.50
ISBN-13: 9781432746988
Published: Outskirts Press

Praise for
Beyond the Gardens

“Sandra Lopez’s sequel to Esperanza--Beyond the Gardens--
reacquaints the reader with a compelling character,
Esperanza, her barrio past and her college present, as
she struggles to get an education and find her identity. A
heartwarming story that young, female teens will enjoy!”
—Donna Del Oro – Author of Operation Familia and Hasta La Vista, Baby

“It’s not easy to figure out who you want to be, especially
if you’re a chica from the barrio. With a crazy family
and un amigo, who has suddenly decided he wants her,
brainy college student, Esperanza, finds herself having to
make some tough decisions. In this humorous and sweet
novel, Lopez brings us lovable characters we want to root
for from page one. Don’t miss it!”
—Lara Rios – Author of Becoming Latina in 10 Easy Steps

Tour Schedule

Monday     April 26     Bonnie S. Mata     http://authoroffaith.blogspot.com/   

Tuesday    April 27     Mayra Calvani     http://www.examiner.com/x-6309-Latino-Books-Examiner

Wednesday     April 28     Christina Rodriguez   http://www.christinarodriguez.com/

Thursday     April 29     Lori Calabrese     http://loricalabrese.com/blog/


Friday     April 30     Mary Jo     http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

Monday     May 3     Erin O'Riordan     http://www.erinoriordan.blogspot.com/

Tuesday    May 4     Joylene Nowell Butler     http://cluculzwriter.blogspot.com/

Wednesday     May 5     Terri Lee-Johnson     http://www.browngirlspeaks.com/

Thursday     May 6     Romina Tybitt     http://www.mamaxxi.blogspot.com/   

Friday     May 7     Leslie Toledo     http://thatchickthatreads.blogspot.com/   

Our author, Sandra Lopez, will be selecting from the comments on the tour stops a winner to receive a copy of Beyond the Gardens.

First published in 1924, There Is Confusion was the first novel for poet and The Crisis editor Jessie Redmon Fauset. The novel examines the lives of some Black middle class (Fauset's specialty) residents of New York and Philadelphia trying to navigate the inevitable confusion present in their lives due to race and/ or gender. Fauset is not known for very colorful writing, which hasn't stopped me from being a fan of her work, but her stories are presented in a realistic fashion. Her characters are believable as they are flawed in various degrees. For example, Joanna Marshall is an average looking Black woman of some means thanks to her father's hardcore desire for success. The same tenacity was inherent in Joanna and somewhat to a fault. Joanna believes that not only should she be aiming for mega-success but also all Black people should be just as driven. Her life is consumed by it so much so that she believes success is more important than love and finds out the hard way that she may have been wrong. However, it's very important that Fauset wrote this female character as outside the box when it comes to goals and self reliance unlike her counterpart Maggie. Maggie's goal in life is typical for a woman of any color during the time: marriage. The real flaw with Maggie, though, is that she only partially realizes her abilities to be successful without depending on a man for financial security. Meanwhile, the major male character, Peter, struggles the most with simply wanting to be ambitious or just accepting the confusion that color brings and settling for mediocrity. He comes from a long line of "old Philadelphians" but now only their name survives their socioeconomic status as his father lost the sense of ambition held by his forefathers becoming shiftless and losing most of the family's material possessions. I found this novel very enjoyable and a good piece of social commentary on the state of the Northern middle class Black American of the 1920's.

African Diaspora
POC Reading

Thanks to the Classics Circuit for hosting this tour featuring the prolific works of the Harlem Renaissance.

As we all know, February is Black History Month. I knew I'd want to do something special at BrownGirl BookSpeak to celebrate. Several months ago, I mapped out some glorious plans to host a challenge for this month with a Harlem Renaissance theme but decided to try my hand at hosting a year long challenge at the eleventh hour. As fate would have it, the Classics Circuit had also chosen the Harlem Renaissance as its February theme so I was more than happy to join. By the way, I love the concept of that blog in general.

The Harlem Renaissance is such an important period in literary history and history in general. The brilliance of the writing of the time, in my opinion, is the way it all showed that the Black experience was no longer monolithic or static. And neither was the writing itself. More attention to creativity through various writing styles became apparent while often still providing a social and political platform.

Be sure to follow the Classics Circuit Harlem Renaissance tour all this month. I'll be reading a few books from the period to celebrate Black History Month.

Tour Schedule
February 1, 2010   Shelf Love The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois

February 2, 2010   Evening All Afternoon Cane by Jean Toomer

February 3, 2010   Daily Words and Acts Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

February 4, 2010   Paperback_Reader Passing and/or Quicksand by Nella Larsen

February 4, 2010   BookNAround The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories by Charles Chesnutt

February 5, 2010   A Striped Armchair The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man by James Weldon Johnson

February 5, 2010   Moored at Sea Overview: The relationship between the Harlem Renaissance and the Negritude movement of the French Colonies that grew from it.

February 6, 2010   Joyfully Retired His Eye is On the Sparrow by Ethel Waters (autobiography) and the life of Ethel Waters

February 7, 2010   Stephanie’s Confessions of a Book-a-Holic Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes or The Conjure Man Dies by Rudolph Fisher

February 8, 2010   Sparks’ Notes Plum Bun by Jessie Redmon Fauset

February 9, 2010   The Zen Leaf Jonah’s Gourd Vine by Zora Neale Hurston

February 9, 2010   Breathing Space The New Negro edited by Alain Locke

February 10, 2010  Books and Chocolate Passing by Nella Larsen

February 11, 2010   Laura’s Reviews Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

February 11, 2010   Musings The Ways of White Folks: Stories by Langston Hughes

February 12, 2010   Bibliosue Home to Harlem by Claude McKay

February 13, 2010   things mean a lot Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston

February 14, 2010   eclectic / eccentric Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance by Bruce Nugent and an overview of African-American homosexuality during the Renaissance

February 15, 2010   Nonsuch Book Poetry of the Renaissance

February 16, 2010   Notes from the North The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois

February 17, 2010   Becky’s Book Reviews Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston

February 17, 2010   Notorious Spinks Talks Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance by Bruce Nugent and the movie Brother to Brother

February 18, 2010   The Things We Read Passing by Nella Larsen

February 18, 2010   Rebecca Reads Black No More by George Schuyler

February 19, 2010   Reviews by Lola Passing by Nella Larsen

February 20, 2010  Gimme More Books! The Conjure-Man Dies by Rudolph Fisher

February 21, 2010   book-a-rama Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

February 22, 2010   1330v Ebony Rising: Short Fiction from the Harlem Renaissance

February 23, 20101  BrownGirl BookSpeak There Is Confusion by Jessie Fauset

February 24, 2010    Wuthering Expectations The Conjure Woman by Charles Chesnutt

February 25, 2010    Linus’s Blanket Stories by Zora Neale Hurston

February 25, 2010    Michelle’s Masterful Musings When Washington Was in Vogue by Edward Christopher Williams

February 26, 2010    My Friend Amy Quicksand by Nella Larson

February 27, 2010    Bookgazing Gentleman Jigger by Bruce Nugent

February 28, 2010    BookLust The House Behind the Cedars by Charles Chesnutt
After consulting random.org, Nina Forsythe has been selected the winner of an autographed copy of Silvio Sirias' novel Meet Me Under the Ceiba. Nina will hopefully respond within 48 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Congratulations Nina!

And thanks to Silvio Sirias for a writing a great book exposing me to Nicaragua and to Bronzeword Latino Virtual Book Tours.
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Arte Publico Pr (September 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558855922
On Christmas Day, Adela Rugama disappeared. She was murdered because she was in love with a woman that was the object of an old man and her mother's obsession. Adela's lover, Ixelia, was the object of desire for most men in the Nicaraguan town of La Curva. She was uneducated and had been pimped by her mother from an early age when she met the handy, swift coffee plantation worker Adela and they became lovers. As Adela seemed to step on others' toes, she was simply "the cochona" they despised and wanted to be rid of...permanently. A college professor, who learns of the murder, becomes engrossed in telling Adela's story. He conducts a number of interviews including Mariela, Adela's older sister, Lizbeth, a mulata shopkeeper and one of Adela's previous conquests, and even those involved in the crime. From them he learns not only the events leading up to and the subsequent murder of Adela but also, of many secrets and shortcomings of the townsfolk.

Meet Me Under the Ceiba is more than a murder mystery of sorts. It presents harsh criticism on the homophobic attitudes still rampant in Nicaragua and towards all GLBT Latinos. One way Sirias exemplifies this throughout the novel is that most of the characters constantly refer to Adela derogatorily as cochona (dyke). This is, for some, to make light of her murder. Silvio Sirias has done a wonderful job of writing a variety of female characters that all (except Ixelia's mother, Erlinda) exhibit a great deal of strength and independence in spite of a number of unpleasant circumstances and typical marginalization of women. There is also a strong propensity towards the idea of "women's intutition" as each woman in Adela's life all claimed that their last encounters with her were apparent. With one exception, the men are all portrayed as jealous, obsessive, controlling, and sometimes abusive. Some might want to pull the man bashing card but that's moot since this is based on a true story. Those characteristics have to be in place for a man to be driven to kill because of a beautiful woman. Against the backdrop of what seems to be a well described town in Nicaragua, Sirias sharp, colorful writing explores the little discussed issues of homosexuality in that country and the flaws behind human emotions.

GLBT Challenge

Author's website:www.silviosirias.com

Silvio Sirias has been kind enough to make himself available for any questions today and will also be giving away an autographed copy of Meet Me Under the Ceiba to the question or comment of the day. Feel free to join in the discussion.

Silvio Sirias Blog Tour Dates:
Monday 11th: Book Lover Carol http://bookluver-carol.blogspot.com/
Tuesday Jan 12th: Brown Girl Speaks www.browngirl.weebly.com/book-speak.html
Wed Jan 13th: Regular Ruminations www.regularrumination.wordpress.com
Thursday Jan 14th: The Tranquilo Traveler http://blog.joshuaberman.net/
Friday Jan 15th: Pisti Totol www.pistitotol.wordpress.com
Monday 18th: Mama XXI www.mamaxxi.blogspot.com
Tuesday 19th: Farm Lane Books http://www.farmlanebooks.co.uk/
Wed 20th: Sandra's Book Club http://sandrasbookclub.blogspot.com/
Thurs. 21st: Latino Books Examiner www.examiner.com/x-6309-Latino-Books-Examiner
Friday 22nd: Una in a Million http://unainamillion.blogspot.com
Today, I'm delighted to share this Q&A I did with the author of Megan's Way, Melissa Foster. You may remember I reviewed her novel a few weeks ago. so, let's see what Melissa had to say about her book and being a writer.

BGBS: Megan's Way is brimming with so much emotion. It really had me engaged because of its realness. Did you revisit past experiences to achieve this or solely rely on imagination ?

Melissa Foster:That's a great question. I pulled from all aspects of my life. In fact, when writing, I had to act out a few scenes (weird, I know), to make sure I was writing everything I felt the character would feel. Olivia's emotions were raw and I pulled some of that from the episode with my mother's surgery, even though I wasn't a teen at the time, but I also pulled a lot of the push-pull from my experiences with our teens.

BGBS: Spirituality is almost like a fifth character in the novel as we see it expressed through Megan's connection to her daughter, a ritual, meditation, etc. Why was this element significant to the story?

Melissa Foster: When Megan came to me, she had this connection already in place. It surprised me as much as everyone else, I think, but it wasn't something I could dissolve - it was too strong. In fact my editor, Dominique, who I adore, wrestled with me about taking it out and I felt it was too powerfully a part of Megan, that it had to be kept in. I think the connection made Megan's relationships even stronger-it gave piece to her friends after her death-just by her wisping by, touching an arm, her smell lingering. It gave them comfort.

BGBS: In the book, Megan has a near epic friendship with her best friend Holly. What inspired this sisterly bond?

Melissa Foster: I have six brothers and no sisters! I had a best friend when I was growing up, and many really close girlfriends that I grew up with who were almost best friends, but there's always that one that knew all (or most) of my secrets. I loved that relationship, the security of it, and the comfort of knowing that I could turn to her for anything. As a grown woman, our lives have taken us in different directions, although we do keep in touch. As a grown woman, I have a few close friends that I feel just as close to, even though we don't have the same history. I wanted to let Megan have the carry-over and security of that one sister-like friend who would always be there.

BGBS: Many first time authors are opting to self-publish. How has that experience been and will you choose this means of getting published for any future work?

Melissa Foster: The experience has been interesting and a learning process. I chose to self-publish because the publishing industry as a whole had cut back due to the poor economy, as did most businesses. I wanted to get Megan's story out there for readers and move on to my next book. The publishing part of the process was actually not difficult, though when you self-publish, you climb mountains rather than hills. Around every corner is a face of doubt because self-publishing has had such a negative stigma associated with it in the past. I am a strong-willed woman and believe in the power of Megan's Story, so rather than shrivel away, I push forward and show people Megan, I ask for comments and feedback, and welcome both negative and positive. Marketing when you are self-published is a battle in-and-of itself, and I'm not sure how self-published authors who don't have that skill succeed. I am a marketer by trade, so to me, this is another chance to succeed-and hopefully my readers will feel as if they've gained something valuable by reading Megan's Way.

That being said, although it's enjoyable having full control over my writing, distribution, etc., I do very much hope to be picked up by a literary agent. There are many more readily-available opportunities for agented-writers.

BGBS: What can we expect from you in the future?

Melissa Foster: A lot! I am currently working on rewriting my second novel, The Knowing. It is a mystery with a paranormal twist (of course!) about a seven-year-old girl who is abducted. It is set in the small town of Boyds, Maryland, and during the search, long-held secrets of residents are exposed.

I really appreciate your time Melissa and look forward to what you bring us in the future.

Melissa is more than happy to respond to any future questions my readers may have. So, just leave a comment and I'll make sure that she provides a response.