Archive for December, 2010

Another installment of Franky Benítez. For a full list of chapters, click here: Table of Contents

I have lost the power to love. I choose to love, but I cannot actively love any longer.

My son Mateo still sleeps as I let go of him and creak my way out of his room. I turn to my left and stop in front of Sofia’s room, the door closed, her name pasted in the magnetic letters we received as a gift when she turned two. I touch the knob with my hand and twist it. The darkness of the dawn still penetrates the room, covering the wrinkled posters of The Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, and Selena Gomez. My left shoulders glances against her bed’s metal post, causing a ping to run through my veins and all the way to the tip of my brain.

The quilt of her bed is filled with green, red, and blue butterflies flying about freely over the stitching. On the bed are some Build-a-Bear Workshop figures propped against the bedroom’s wall. Next to them is a Wally the Green Monster that sings “Sweet Caroline” when you press its chubby green index finger. Another bear wears a t-shirt congratulating Sofia on her performance in Annie a year ago. A few books (Roald Dahl, JK Rowling, Lois Lowry) are spread on the bed.

The rest of the bed is empty, motionless, no breath, no life. I place my hand on a Scooby Doo pillow and run it across the fabric, over Scooby’s face and Shaggy’s hair. I then uncover the butterfly quilt and get into the bed. There is no warmth anywhere I turn to, I press my head against the wall up against the bed and begin to bang it on the icy plaster. Seconds pass. My head throbs. A drop of red trickles down the wall towards the floor below.

Whatever love I had is now drifting away like a butterfly being tossed in a hurricane. I forge ahead? I keep my tiny wings fluttering? The gusts blow me aside, tumbling me down into a pit of black water. I heave for air as waves keep gushing into my mouth. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. I breathe again and settle my head onto the my daughter’s favorite pillow, which still smells like the mango shampoo she would use every night.

She is no longer here, no longer with us.

And it is all my fault.

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For the record, we are not a media outlet, just a blog that talks about trends in Latino literature, celebrates Latino literary talent with others, and shares examples of online fiction.

We are interested very much in the power of social media and how it eliminates walls in communication. That is what intrigued us about the Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez story. As people tweeted and streamed about The Social Media Saga of Valdes-Rodriguez, some readers asked whether we had contacted the other party involved in this scenario. The answer is yes, we sent some emails to ask for comment but we haven’t heard back and we don’t expect to. That is cool. This is just a part-time thing on our part.

Yet in the interest of painting a full picture, we did want to share a little bit about Luisa Leschin, who wrote the TV script adaptation of The Dirty Girls Social Club and Ann Lopez, head of Encanto Productions.

Copyright ©LuisaLeschin.com

Leschin’s bio is impressive. She is a native of Guatemala and has several acting and film credits. Her bio also states:

In prime-time television, Luisa is very proud to have been a writer on the ground-breaking, George Lopez show (ABC) from its inception. Through the six seasons of the show she rose from a position of Supervising Producer to Co-Executive Producer for the show.

In 2008, Luisa served as Co-Executive Producer for 22 episodes of the critically acclaimed CW series Everybody Hates Chris.

As for Ann Lopez, a lot has been written online about her much-publicized divorce with George Lopez, but very little is available about her. Her Facebook profile is private (as is ours) as well. She is not on LinkedIn. The best information we could find, besides basic bio information was this article from Herald de Paris, published in January, 2010.

Copyright © heralddeparis.com

The article’s introduction reads:

Ann Serrano Lopez… has been the executive producer for the 2009 Nickelodeon & Warner Premiere film Mr. Troop Mom, George Lopez’s 2009 and 2007 HBO comedy specials Tall, Dark & Chicano, and America’s Mexican, as well as the ABC Television film Naughty or Nice. She produced the television specials Ray Charles: 50 Years in Music and America’s Hope Award honoring Oprah Winfrey. Mrs. Lopez started her career as a casting director….She has selflessly worked to improve and save the lives of people confronting the challenges of chronic kidney issues. She has selflessly worked to improve and save the lives of people confronting the challenges of chronic kidney issues.

Her full artistic list of credits can be viewed here: Ann Lopez (Serrano).

In addition, the newspaper also interviews Lynette Ramirez, who has also been mentioned by Valdes-Rodriguez.

If we do hear back from anyone, we will let you know.

UPDATE, January 1, 2011: The Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez blog posts referred to here no longer appear on her site. Valdes-Rodriguez hinted that certain blog posts would very likely be deleted in accordance to the statement she published at Please Respect NBC.

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With people returning from the holidays, the curious social media story of Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez and her allegations that the leaked TV script adaptation of her book series The Dirty Girls Social Club is harboring Latina stereotypes continues. Today, Valdes-Rodriguez has been extremely active in the social media space, but just announced on her blog that “I have made the statements I needed to make.”

She continues:

Now it’s time for me to focus on the legal aspects of this situation. In the meantime, please keep speaking out, speaking among yourselves, and know that I am fighting for YOU, and for ALL OF US to be represented as we ARE and not as Hollywood wishes us TO BE.

Meanwhile, we had a chance to interview Valdes-Rodriguez on the Being Latino Blog, which was published today. To see the entire interview, you can click on the Being Latino image below:

The Being Latino interview is still the blog’s top post, according to their site.

Tweets Out Encanto Email
In another development, Valdes-Rodriguez tweeted out an email for Encanto Productions, the company that owns the option to produce the TV version of the book. She does continue to be active on Twitter and Facebook, although her blog says she is done with statements.

Other Outlets Pick Up Story
The story is starting to picking up momentum as it has appeared today in both Jezebel and The Boston Globe, where Valdes-Rodriguez used to work in the 1990s as a reporter.

La Bloga Weighs In
La Bloga, one of the Latino literature blogs, summarized the latest Valdes-Rodriguez saga and concluded with this opinion. See more at La Bloga.

Here’s wishing Alisa the best possible outcome from this altercation and the hardball fallout. Her work has been invariably entertaining and deserves to find the wider appreciation that comes of having your stuff on prime time television. Excoriation is what she’s in for if the pilot project gets made. She knows this, so she’s fighting for her life. Lástima.

My Latino Voice Blog
This was just pulled from My Latino Voice:

There is, however, a greater message here. As women, as Latinas, as Latinos, we must stop perpetuating stereotypes ourselves if we are to effect change (the producer and script writer of this TV production are both Latinas). The buck stops here, chicas. Mrs. Lopez, Ms. Leschin, how do you respond?

People have also asked us if we have contacted any of the other principals that Valdes-Rodriguez mentions in her allegations. For the record, we have contacted NBC, CAA, Ann Lopez, Luisa Leschin, and Lynette Ramirez. We have not received any response so far, but if we do, we will be certain to publish comments.

For more Twitter reaction to this, follow these hashtags: #alisavaldes and #LatinoLit.

UPDATE, January 1, 2011: The Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez blog posts referred to here no longer appear on her site. Valdes-Rodriguez hinted that certain blog posts would very likely be deleted in accordance to the statement she published at Please Respect NBC.

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When I started reposting on this blog about a month ago, my intent was to share some of my current online fiction, Franky Benítez. What is Franky about? It is a story of love, pain, and hope from San Juan to Boston, with stops in The Bronx. It is not autobiographical, it is a work of fiction that I have always wanted to do.

As I started writing at night, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, I saw a lot of literary Latino writers, authors, bloggers, poets, artists, publishers, editors, agents, and marketers who were on Twitter and Facebook. I wanted to reach out to them since I knew the writing community was very supportive. After tweeting with Charlie Vázquez, we noticed that the idea of an online community of Latino literary talent on Twitter had never been fully centralized. That is where #LatinoLit was formed.

Soon, I began to create a more centralized list of #LaitnoLit profiles on Twitter. We started on December 17, and as of today, we have 50 profiles on the list, and we keep adding names each day. I truly believe we will have over 100 names very soon.

In the meantime, even though I had a Franky Benítez Facebook writing page already active, I decided to add a Facebook LatinoLit List to that page. That list includes links to Latino literary talent on Facebook. I share my writings there, but also recommended books, and relevant links.

I plan to share news, links, and other relevant information about the Latino literary world. I also hope you take the time to see what you think of Franky Benítez.

So, if you are

  • a published Latino/a author
  • a Latino/a writer
  • a Latino/a poet
  • a Latino/a blogger
  • a Latino/a editor, agent, publisher, or literary marketer

Come join the growing list of #LatinoLit. I will do my very best to share and promote your works, whether published or unpublished. The site has grown so quickly so soon, but it is the right kind of growth because we know we are filling a need.

¡Gracias mil! Thank you!

Help support #LatinoLit by sharing the works of Latino talent with others. We all have good stories to tell.

Charlie also wrote about #LatinoLit on his blog post In the Time of the Butterflies and #latinolit. Stop by and say hi to him to!

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The social media saga of Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez continued tonight as she reported in her blog posted earlier that Creative Artists Agency has decided to stop representing her on The Kindred, a young adult trilogy that was scheduled to be launched in 2011. According to another blog by Valdes-Rodriguez, dated October 15, 2010 and titled Updated on my Film and TV Projects, Valdes-Rodriguez had indicated her excitement about signing with CAA and her potential project with a major network.

What follow are excerpts from tonight’s blog, titled CAA quits representing KINDRED because I spoke out against Ann Lopez in a totally unrelated deal. You can visit her blog for the complete text.

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

From her blog:

You will also know I got a cease and desist letter from NBC on Christmas. Well, here it is the day after Christmas and I got a notice from Shari Smiley, who represents books to film for CAA, saying she would no longer represent me on THE KINDRED, my young adult trilogy set to launch next year. Actually, she didn’t send it to me directly, she sent it to my literary agent, because clearly telling me directly would soil her hands with the filth of me.

I am unsurprised by this turn of events. CAA represents Ann Lopez, too.

She ends her blog with this:

Anyway, wanted to let y’all know how swift the smackdown has been against me. I have no doubt it will progress quickly. And for what? For saying “Stop putting Latina whores on TV, show us some realistic, likable Hispanic women for once.

In addition, Valdes-Rodriguez just posted another blog, titled From powerful columnist to fired, unemployed drunk living in a residential motel – what Ann Lopez did to LAUREN, in reference to one of her the characters in The Dirty Girls Social Club. Here is an excerpt from her blog:

The best analogy I have heard yet about this situation came from a reader and twitter follower named Ofelia in New Jersey. She said this “adaptation” is like paying a florist to deliver a bouquet of red roses in a beautiful crystal vase to a loved one, only to find, when you get to the loved one’s house, that what was delivered instead, with your name on the card, were dead and wilted daisies in a wicker basket.

Valdes-Rodriguez is referring to @OfeliaNJ, who made the analogy earlier today on our previous post: The Valdes-Rodriguez Backlash?.

On the the night of December 26, Valdes-Rodriguez added another post, titled How I’d Write the Opening to a Dirty Girls Social Club Series. In that post, she offers an different script opening than the one she that was leaked to her. Her first paragraph hints that the scene she had seen in the leaked script was a possibility. From her blog.

You how unhappy I am with what I probably and possibly saw in what might have been a pilot script for the TV adaptation of my novel THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB put together by Encanto Enterprises for NBC. I told you what was possibly in an opening title sequence, and hinted at the teaser that followed (after commercial break, before act 1), which possibly and probably might have been scenes of each “dirty girl” having sex, with the lone whitegirl being raped by her husband, who tells her she should have expected as much when she married “a hot-blooded Cuban.” As you might also know, my novel poked fun as heat-and-food based Latino stereotypes in language, including “hot” “spicy” “sizzling” etc.

As of Monday morning, the blog was tweeted around Twitter and also on her public Facebook profile. Comment reaction has been starting to trickle in, with one profile, who very likely hasn’t read the book, questioning the opener, and another commenter attacking Valdes-Rodriguez directly for recent events:

As for us, we are committed to covering the story, but believe that personal attacks from both sides of the issue is not be the best way to move forward. Entertainment is a high-powered and very personal business, where writers and creators can feel slighted and ignored. Valdes-Rodriguez has taken her fight to the social media sphere, and there is no question that she is opinionated and stands for what she feels is right.

On Twitter, Valdes-Rodriguez has indeed received an outpouring of support. She has also received advice from her readers online about how the tone of the debate can be crafted.

Valdes-Rodriguez has visited our site to answer reader’s questions and issues. Last night she posted the following:

I appreciate your comments and respect them. You make some good points. It is nice to know you can separate your feelings about/for me personally from the issue at hand. If only everyone could!

I am a journalist at heart; it’s where I got my start. I wholeheartedly believe in the power of pubic journalism for the public good, and see social media and my blog as places where I can expose wrongdoing to the people it might impact. It is, odd as it sounds, a way to arouse the collective energy in the universe to affect change. So far, it works for me.

One of our own readers suggested the following on a previous post:

I would love to see all this collective energy of rage, anger and outcry against the continuous denigration of our culture in media go towards a petition, a website or maybe a write-in campaign. Although there is a great sense of unity and voice in social media, there is a major disconnect in inciting active change in the real world due to this new platform for communication: the internet (something argued ad nauseum by sociologists for the last decade). Essentially, we are all arguing at keyboards and white screens and you/we need to direct this HUGE collective energy towards real change.

In the end, we think that Valdes-Rodriguez will continue to share her message in social media. It will be up to her readers to decide how they will digest the message and how they will act.

UPDATE, December 27, 10:45 a.m.: Valdes-Rodriguez adds additional information about sources at NBC who claim to not like the script adaptation that was presented.

For more Twitter reaction to this, follow these hashtags: #alisavaldes and #LatinoLit.

UPDATE, January 1, 2011: The Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez blog posts referred to here no longer appear on her site. Valdes-Rodriguez hinted that certain blog posts would very likely be deleted in accordance to the statement she published at Please Respect NBC.

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As we continue to provide coverage of the ongoing social media saga of best-selling Latina author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez and her public campaign to criticize the treatment of her book series, The Dirty Girls Social Club, a few sporadic negative comments about what she has written on Her Blog are starting to appear. Mind you, the vast majority of comments have been very positive of Valdes-Rodriguez but comments criticizing her opinions and unfiltered posts have surfaced.

Valdes-Rodriguez has already said to us that she is allowing all types of comments to be posted since all opinions should be heard.

As this story grows, it will be interesting if a pattern of comments begins to appear. It means that the story is getting out there, yes, even during Christmas holiday. Here was one posted to her WordPress blog last night. The post was taken down today, but it was up for a few hours on the blog:

HA HA HA!!! YOU start a fight at Christmas time, talk all kinds of s—, illegally publish their script and now that NBC has sent you a cease and desist letter you cry …oh they sent a poor penniless single mother a cease and desist letter on Xmas eve. What a hypocrite! You can’t have it both ways honey. You started this ridiculous fight and right before xmas. You took their money…by the way $5000 is a lot of money for a book that has been optioned twice before and failed…and signed on the dotted line. Most deals only want “based on” a novel. They don’t want to make the exact book. You say they want to make another Sex and the City….yeah NBC wants to, that was one of the most successful series and just got a second run on syndication and two movies. You say you have so much integrity but you are a nasty piece of work. I don’t see anything wrong with the changes they have made…next time don’t option your book…but then again I don’t think anyone will want to…they haven’t been that good lately.

What do you think? Is this getting too personal now? Let us know.

In the meantime, Valdes-Rodriguez continues to tweet on Twitter, sharing additional information from the copy of the Dirty Girls TV script she has received.

Here is one she posted at 2pm EST on December 26, that reveals the beginning of the script and is now being shared on Twitter:

Finally, Valdes-Rodriguez is also posting on her Public Facebook Profile and getting support there as well.

UPDATE, January 1, 2011: The Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez blog posts referred to here no longer appear on her site. Valdes-Rodriguez hinted that certain blog posts would very likely be deleted in accordance to the statement she published at Please Respect NBC.

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On a day when people don’t work, the social media space has been very active with the ongoing saga of best-selling author, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, who has alleged that the production company headed up by Ann Lopez (the former wife of comedian George Lopez) has created a “racist and sexist bastardization” of her series, The Dirty Girls Social Club.

Tonight, people have been returning to Twitter and are responding to the situation. Here is a summary of developments:

  • It appears that a small group of Latina Twitter profiles has created a #TeamAlisa hashtag, prompting one profile to tweet: “@alisavaldes I’m totally with you girl. F— NBC. #TeamAlisa” Again, we think this hashtag will be growing as the word spreads.
  • Valdes-Rodriguez’s latest post, NBC’s Cease and Desist Letter on Christmas Eve, has been RT’d by at more than 50 profiles in the last few hours and this is growing. We think this will also increase tomorrow and Monday.
  • Valdes-Rodriguez is actively engaging her followers on Twitter, encouraging them to contact Roger Ebert on Twitter to see if he can tweet about it. So far, Ebert has not as of this posting.

Over on blogs covering this story, Valdes-Rodriguez has been commenting and replying to her readers. Here are just a few examples:

  • On suggestions that she is “mudslinging” at Ann Lopez and her production company: “Why is my public defense of my own HANDICRAFT ‘mudslinging,’ but Ann’s lies, deceit, and perpetuation of Latino stereotypes to make a buck is ‘professional’?”
  • When asked about why she made the deal with the producers: “I have not made much money on this TV deal, and I won’t, but even if they offered me millions I’d refuse it with the direction they’ve taken. They are shameless.”
  • On the lessons she has learned: “As an author, the idea is to co-executive produce my books in the future, so that I am IN THE ROOM with those experienced ‘professionals’ and can correct their mistakes before they ruin the who thing.”
  • When asked about getting a lawyer: “Thanks! Believe it or not, lawyers are coming out of the woodwork with offers to defend me. People are amazing. My readers are so loyal and so amazing. I am beyond blessed.

While the vast majority of comments on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs has been supportive of Valdes-Rodriguez, some of her tweets and posts (i.e., using a “rape” metaphor in one of her tweets and using strong language to get her point across) have been criticized.

  • On PerezHilton.com, one commenter said: “This woman is crazy. Ask everyone that has ever worked with her..google her name and see what trouble she stirred with the LA Times. She may have written one good novel but she doesn’t know the first thing about how Hollywood works. I know Ann Lopez and this is all about an unstable author. I hope NBC, Lopez and Leschin set the record straight.”
  • On PerezHilton.com, another commenter said: “This woman is NUTS and has a persecution problem. Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez is known as a CRAZY! She did the same thing with the LA TIMES. She made stuff up to try to make them look like the bad guys. This woman lies through her teeth. It is obvious she is pissed she is not writing the script. She says NBC wanted her to write it but Ann Lopez said no….if a network wants a writer then they get them. I’m positive NBC didn’t want her. She lies!!!! from what i can see they changed two of the characters..one to white and one to black and four are still Latinas. So what, it’ll appeal to a larger audience.To call NBC and Ann Lopez anti-black is ridiculous but then again Ms. Valdes is ridiculous. Her book sold 600,000 copies 11 years ago. that doesn’t make it a mega hit. I’m team Ann…she is one of the good people in Hollywood!”
  • We also found this comment: “I understand the importance of standing up for the integrity of your work, but her personal attacks on Twitter yesterday and today seem petty and unprofessional.”
  • In a late Christmas Eve tweet from her account Valdes-Rodriguez tweets: “Dear NBC lawyers trying to gag me; perhaps u’d have more luck finding a swede to say I raped her.” Within minutes, she was questioned about it and later on Christmas morning, she tweeted apologies and said: “I will not make light of rape charges again.” and “My assange comment was in bad taste. I apologize.”

For more details about what has transpired over the last 48 hours (and it has been a lot), go to these previous posts:

NBC Lawyers to Valdes-Rodriguez: “Cease and Desist”

Perez Hilton and the Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez Saga

Latino Racism: Hollywood and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

UPDATE, January 1, 2011: The Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez blog posts referred to here no longer appear on her site. Valdes-Rodriguez hinted that certain blog posts would very likely be deleted in accordance to the statement she published at Please Respect NBC.

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