Saturday, June 27, 2009


It was my pleasure to be interviewed recently by Mayra Calvani, multi-genre author, blogger, and book reviewer for National Latino Books Examiner for To view the entire interview, click on Interview.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Book reviews

An interesting scene by a highway in Texas.

I just finished writing a book review for a book whose theme is writing picture books. It was fun reading and analyzing the book from a writer's point of view. It took a little out of my regular writing time, but I consider this part of the writing process as well. I found an excellent article on doing book reviews at the following Web site:

Several days ago, I was browsing through the net and found a book review on one of my own books, The Woodcutter's Gift. The review includes several other bilingual picture books.

Have a great writing day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pisa Tower, Journaling

Have you ever seen the leaning tower of Pisa in person? I had the privilege of going on a pilgrimage to Italy a few years back. One of the cities I visited was Pisa. I journaled the whole time I was there. Here is an excerpt from that day. I recommend journaling whenever you travel or even on a daily basis. Not only might you use some of your comments in a story someday, but you've also captured the essence of the moment. I am on the right at the bottom of the picture. My friend is standing beside me.

March 13: We arrived in Pisa. As soon as I saw the leaning tower of Pisa, I was amazed at how much smaller it really was. It wasn’t as tall as I imagined. But, boy, was it leaning. Then our priest pointed out the domed baptistry next to it. Awesome.

Lunch was at a local restaurant. I had some kind of soup that was rather bland and without color but I was hungry so I ate it. The owner was loud and impatient. If you ordered water, they brought you bottled water and charged you for it. They didn’t put water on the table. After lunch, I bought some postcards at a small stand outside. My friend and I strolled along the sort of flea market on the road opposite the tower. So many vendors. So many tourists.

After lunch, we had Mass in the basilica next to the Pisa tower. We went in through a side door to avoid the crowd. We sang before Mass and our voices resonated in the openness of the basilica. Basilicas in Italy have several altars for different Masses at different times. The ceiling of the church was so high and it was cold inside. I kept glancing at the old-fashioned confessionals on the side of the pews. They were ornately carved of rich, dark wood. The wooden pews were hard as were the benches. My knees hurt whenever we knelt.

I felt overwhelmed by the splendor of the renaissance art on the ceiling and the statues on the walls. The communion railing was made out of white marble. We took communion but didn’t kneel at the railing like in the old days. We lined up instead. It felt almost like a mausoleum; it was so big. We walked around in hushed tones. Then we walked back to the bus and started our journey to Florence praying a rosary on the way enjoying the pleasant weather and the green rolling hills of the Italian countryside.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I just returned from my local branch library. How I love libraries. Takes me back to my childhood when we couldn't afford to buy books so I spent as much time as I could at the school library. Today there is so much more that libraries offer. The technology is just amazing. For instance, I find it absolutely marvelous that I can sit at my desk in my own home and search for a book at my library online. I reserve it and then pick it up the next day. How cool is that?

I am in the middle of doing some research for a middle-grade story. I found exactly what I was looking for at the library. During these economic times, the libraries are overflowing with people reading, checking out books, doing research, or sitting in front of PC screens. It's a bustling place but quiet and reserved as well. If you haven't taken advantage of your library lately, please do. It's a whole new world out there.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Historic buildings

Old buildings intrigue me. I don't know why. I can almost feel the history behind an old building whenever I see one. I always end up taking a picture. I got out of my car and took this picture along the way down to the Rio Grande Valley. I wondered who had lived in this house at one time. What memories are still there? What kind of people lived there? Who built it? A writer is always curious about such things. I think we see things in a different way than others do. I know I do. What someone else might see as a discarded, ugly building, I see as a home that once housed real people of a different era but with the same dreams and aspirations that still live in us today. Look around you. You might discover such a place and write a story about it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I just received some black and white sketches for my latest bilingual picture book due out in 2010. It is very exciting to see the progress of a book from manuscript to sketches to final art form. Because of the illustrations, some books take as long as two, three, or even four years before they are published and in bookstores. As I mention to the children during school visits, a writer has to have a lot of patience. While waiting for the book to come out in final form, a writer is always writing something new. Children are usually amazed when I tell them how long the process takes.

I invite you to take a look at Jon Bard's free video on Jacketflap's Web site. Jon is the managing editor of The Children's Book Insider - The Newsletter for Children's Writers. You can view the video on "Do you have what it takes to make it as a children's writer?" at It offers great guidance for writers. I invite any comments you might have.