Tag Archives: chica lit authors

Steaming up the nook

Vintage Harlequin title

Ever since I discovered the Southern California Digital Library through the Newport Beach Public Library, I’ve been putting El Libro (the name of my Nook) through her paces especially in the romance department.

For about three years I’ve strayed from romance novels, only reading the latest Lisa Kleypas. I just wasn’t into the whole girl-meets-boy-happily-ever-after stories. Instead I devoured historical mysteries by Jacqueline Winspear, Rhys Bowen and Tasha Alexander. But last week when I stumbled upon Julia London’s Secret Lover – a cliched romance title if there ever was one – I downloaded it and was instantly caught up in one of the most daring, emotionally true and unpredictable romances I had read. Her story made me fall in love with romance again and now my Nook screen is steamed up with unbridled passion.

Last month there was a bit of kerfuffle over Jonathan Franzen appearing on the cover of Time magazine. By the way, do you notice that we have the same conversation about the relevance of romance, chick lit and women’s fiction about every four months? I think they should add it to the Farmer’s Almanac so we can prepare our statements in advance to the press. Oh and before I forget, Nora Roberts has been profiled in at least two issues of Time Magazine. So apparently we’re not the Cinderellas we fear we are.

Anyway, if people want to thumb their noses at us, they have every right. But will their sneering cleverness make me ashamed to write what my stories and jump ship to literary fiction? Not a chance. When women’s fiction (and I use that term collectively for romance, chick lit and crossover mystery/romance/strong female protagonist), account for the three-quarters of paperbacks sold in the U.S., as a business person I’m going with the winning team. (Furthermore, if that doesn’t speak to the relevance of women’s fiction, than I don’t what proof will change your mind.)

But the real, more powerful reason why I write titles like Hot Tamara and In Between Men (cliched chick lit titles if I ever saw ‘em) is that I enjoy the exchange I have with the heroine’s journey, whether I’m writing it or reading it. If it’s a story about true love, or a heroine coming to terms with a haunted past, I’ll read it because as women we have a great deal to teach one another and yet, we are also each others worse enemies – anyone who has worked in an office full of women knows what I’m talking about. In my life, a man has never broken my heart as much as a best girlfriend who called quits on our friendship. As an author, the criticisms that sting the most are those that dismiss my books as a trashy Harlequin romance in a trade paperback. There’s nothing wrong with a Harlequin romance – girl, if I could write those I would! – rather, the sting is no different than those bitchy comments you would hate overhear in the ladies room that you’re a big-time loser.

As women, we stand stronger when we support each other. I’ve always made it a practice to email authors I enjoy and then twitter their good news. It’s makes us a tighter-knit community, and hopefully as we do those little kindnesses in our every day lives – i.e. abstaining from criticizing about what the girl in sales wore to work today – we show our girls the very best of women.

So What Do You Want to Know?


This coming Saturday, Oct 10th from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Latino Family & Book Festival at CSU Los Angeles, I’ll be moderating “Chicas, Chicanas & Latinas: A Panel of Contemporary Female Authors” with Julia Amante, Margo Candela, Irete Lazo and Josefina Lopez.

Many of you lovely readers hail from far and wide but I bet you have a question or two about these amazing authors. So please feel free to leave some questions in the Comments section and I’ll do my best to get them answered!

Last Night at the East Los Angeles Library

Last night, the East L.A. Public Library hosted a chica lit panel moderated by Margo Candela. I had the honor of sitting up with the likes of Reyna Grande, Sylvia Mendoza and Lara Rios. The place was packed and even though many students received class credit for attending, I could see their excitement and energy. (And yes, we signed tons of books so THANK YOU!)

Hopefully in a few years, I’ll be in an audience listening to them talk about their work and their paths to publication!


Me (probably making a bad joke), Margo, Sylvia and Lara. (Reyna was off to the side eating the fabulous sandwiches they had at the event!)

Sylvia Mendoza and Lara Rios



Reyna (hey wake up!), Evita – I mean me! – and Margo.

If you’re in San Diego, come on down to Bay Books in Coronado on Thursday, Nov. 8th from 7 to 8:30 p.m. for Switchcraft and the Spicy Mexican brownies!

Cheers,
Mary

Leavin’ On A Jet Plane

Today I had a great day with the Little Dude. He threw one tantrum. (Only one!) We played under a gorgeous blue sky with a kicky wind blowing off the ocean. We picnicked and checked our tomato plant because it has a “baby” tomato and the Little Dude is convinced that it will be ready to eat any second now.

Tomorrow, I’m taking off for Phoenix to attend the National Hispanic Women’s Conference. I’ll be joining Margo Candela, Caridad Ferrer and Alisa Valdes Rodriguez to talk about Chica Lit. We’ll be signing copies of our books from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Expo Hall at the Phoenix Convention Center West Building. For information, go here.

Why The World Needs Chica Lit

Six years ago today, I came to work and did nothing but sit at my desk, trying to get on the Internet to find out what happened in New York and Washington D.C.

A week later I was laid off from my job. My husband walked out of our house, watching me as I pulled up. The neighborhood was still quiet but candles waited on porchsteps, waiting to be burned. I carried my box of stuf into the house, joining my husband at the front door. He didn’t ask me what I would do next because the answer was simple: I’d find a job. We’d be fine. Life would go on and I’d fall right back into step.
Six months later, I finished the first draft of a book that I had no idea would one day become part of the chica lit movement. I had no savings left in my account and took a job that paid me half of my former salary.
But looking back, I got kicked around. Not destroyed because the events of September 11th showed me what true loss was. But I was a little battered and bruised; uncertain and unable to sleep because one wrong move, one errant dollar spent and we’d be late in paying the phone bill.

But we recovered. The job markt reopened and I got a better job. My book had been revised and I shot off several queries to agents in hopes of selling it before my 30th birthday. In May of 2003, I got my issue of Latina magazine and in it was an excerpt of a book called, The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes Rodriguez.

When I read it, I forgot about the uncertainty of my immediate world and that larger, scarier one outside my door. I read one review that said the book was “okay” for a story with a happy ending. (Apparently the reader didn’t care for stories that gave its characters what they wanted.) To me, it was a life line that whispered everything would be okay and that out there, even if it was in make-believe land, women like me were winning.

Unlike that reader who deemed herself too good for happily-ever-after’s, there’s a world of women out there who wouldn’t beg to differ with her. They would simply go to the bookstore, hand over their hard-earned cash and read chica lit books during their lunch hour, commute or when their babies nap. They need to go into a world that resembles their world and yet, its a world where women like them win.

These women are grounded by family and friends (Sex and the South Beach Chicas). They are cleansed by tears of laughter and loss (Cinderella Lopez). These women take in deep gulps of breath to laugh at what life throws their way (Underneath It All). These women burn with the fire of determination to the point where they’re willing to do anything – even sell their bodies – for a chance to meet a long lost father and still, have a sense of humor about it (Dirty Blonde and Half Cuban).

The destruction and the lives all of us lost on that day were not in vain. Words and stories were awakened and fingers eagerly tapped on keyboards to give birth to chica lit. Back then we didn’t have chica lit on the bookshelves. Today, there are new stories and new authors waiting to be discovered.

Rather than dwell in loss, today I’m going to celebrate life and creativity. I’m going to dwell in gratitude.

Chicas In The House

Every year more and more Latinas are being published in romance and we’d like to get the word out to our Dallas fans!

If you’re planning to attend RWA National in Dallas, or you happen to work in downtown Dallas and want to hang after hours, Lynda Sandoval and I will be signing Names I Call My Sister at the Reader’s For Life event on Wednesday, July 11 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Caridad Ferrer will also sign copies of her young adult novel, Adios to My Old Life and Caridad Piniero will be signing Secret Agent Reunion and Sex and the South Beach Chicas. This massive booksigning event is free and open to the public and all the proceeds from booksales go to literacy causes.

I’ll also be signing at Avon’s open house (for conference attendee’s only) on Thursday, July 12th from 11 to 11:30 a.m.