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For the last few weeks, we have received several comments from our readers about the ongoing social media saga of Latina author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. One of the major issues some of our readers kept mentioning was that the story would never gain traction with the national press. Tonight, however, The New York Daily News, one of  Top 200 websites in the United States and one of the world’s top 700 sites, published a piece by Latina playwright Dolores Prida entitled “Hollywood goes bananas for stereotypes.”

 

 

In the piece, Prida recounts the many times movie and TV producers approached her to see if they could option her works. As she says: “[I] even received money for rights, but nothing ever came of it because I was unwilling to change characters and plot to fit a pre-determined idea of what Latinas are supposed to be.”

Prida then goes on to specifically use Valdes-Rodriguez’s recent battle with Ann Lopez’s Encanto Productions about the TV script adaptation of The Dirty Girls Social Club. It is pretty clear from Prida’s comments that she fully supports Valdes-Rodriguez. Here is how she closes the piece:

 

The blogosphere and social media has been abuzz in the last few days with another case of the disappearing real Latina character.

Alisa Valdés-Rodríguez, author of the 2003 best-selling novel “The Dirty Girls Social Club,” translated into some 10 languages, fulminated in her blog about the changes made to her characters and story for a television series pilot script.

Valdés-Rodríguez says she dislikes the script “because it is woven through with stereotypes and because it erased every single one of my African-diaspora characters, erased my Cuban-Jewish character, erased my only Dominican character, erased my main Puerto Rican character and erased my only lesbian character for no justifiable reason, changing them all into stereotypical characters more in keeping with persistent Hollywood cliches.”

The twist here is that the draft Valdés-Rodríguez read was written by three Latinas. Through their production company, they presented it to a major television network which shall remain unnamed, since this small-screen gran escándalo is now in the hands of lawyers and getting more convoluted by the day.

The unfathomable aspect of all this is that production companies or studios buy the rights to a property because of the success it has achieved as is, and then proceed to change the plot and characters into something unrecognizable.

Why not just commission scripts from scratch to fit their marketing vision? We writers would love to make some real money, and since the only other Hollywood Latina character is the ever-present Mexican nanny or undocumented maid, we should seriously consider channeling Carmen Miranda under the cover of pseudonyms.

After all, she was a lot more fun and had more talent, maturity and integrity than the bunch of tight-assed, sex-crazed, twentysomething generic Latina characters producers seem to prefer.

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Our next submission was posted on our Facebook site from David Peck García. Now that is how you submit works in the age of social media. We are proud to present a sample of David’s works. David has a fascinating biography and is currently living in our favorite city, Madrid! You can visit David here: David’s Video Page from Madrid.

 

About David Peck García

 

David Peck García was born on the Great Falls of the Missouri river in Montana; the child of James Peck and Teresa García. He was raised in Bakersfield, California. His first job was breaking a strike at Digorgio Farms of the United Farm Workers (UFW). He then worked on Tom Hayden’s U.S. Senate Campaign in 1976; later that year, he joined the UFW as a full-time volunteer in the legal department of César Chávez in Salinas. David worked the next 15 years on electoral political campaigns before moving to Madrid, Spain to finish his novel: The Lost Decade. David teaches scientific writing to Spanish MDs and scientists in Madrid, Spain.

Here is David’s contributions to #LatinoLit. This is a bilingual work:

 

La anatomía de primavera

 

Antes de abrir mis ojos, la imagen de sus labios ha tomado mi alma.

Labios rojos, sonriendo, labios que he estudiado anoche.

Labios contando,

Labios bailando.

Labios abriendo el camino hacia las puertas de primavera.

La Primavera. La Madrileña.

Ojos verdes, azul en la madrugada.

Quiero ver, despierto, bajo el sol de verano, sus ojos contando los

besos de la primavera, en silencio.

 

© David Peck García

 

Dos Veranos

 

Dos Veranos.

Ha sido dos enteros.

It was spring that fractured: the first, the beginning; the late

winter late: pregnant; aborting that spring; but this spring, the end.

An end that came too soon: an end with out explanation. She wouldn’t

say what she felt except the bits and pieces that lacked a narrative,

a narrator. The narrator quit, not to save the story, but to prevent

your unhappiness. She pays a woman to listen to her unhappiness that

she can’t tell you at any cost.

 

It was too clean, to easy, too American this broken dialog – turning

one inward to a tortured monologue. The void filled in with questions;

the night emptied of sleep. Awake at 3:00AM, again. Immovable. The

sadness, jealousy, rejection filling an endless night: who, why, when:

what does she feel and when did she feel it – but with whom? Who

replaced you comforting her when she was sad? Who is laughing with her

when she is happy? Who makes her laugh? Really, what’s the cat she

left with you got to do with it.

 

If you love her, let her go. It is the last bit, the only piece out of

place; that and the taking care of her cat.

 

Are you happy, he asked. Un poco, she said last night, coyly.

 

Let her go. Let her be happy. Let her feel joy. She gave you two

joyful summers of her life. She doesn’t need your memory. She needs to

start anew. Be strong and give her this last piece; to end her

suffering; to begin her new narrative – because you love her still.

Let her go to this new joyful springtime dialog. It’s a good ending.

 

© David Peck García

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Yes, I have posted a new chapter for FRANKY BENÍTEZ, and I had mentioned that a critical plot detail would be revealed that would explain a major reason for Franky’s current state of sorrow. This chapter, although not autobiographical at all (this is a fictional piece inspired by several experiences in my life and others lives), was deeply personal and painful at times to write. I am exploring some very troubling scenarios that I would never wish for as a dad.

Instead of having the chapter on display as a blog, I have decided to make it a PDF that you can download. Please enjoy the next chapter and let me know what you think either here on this blog, on Twitter or on Facebook.

All the best,

Julio

DOWNLOAD THE NEW CHAPTER

CLICK ON FRANKY'S SNEAKERS

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

Franky Benítez fell in love for the only time in his life on a Friday night in the South End during the first act of a local lesbian farce. The playwrights were a socialist couple from Davis Square who had staged a comedy about a five-women band in London struggling with finances, record deals, and relationships. The reviews in the Globe had called Five Punks “unique, stylish, and edgy.” Franky convinced his roommate Martin to take the T with him from Central and head into town. Martin had spent most of the day smoking pot and reading Tolstoy, but when Franky bribed him with a roast beef sandwich from Buzzy’s before the show, he finally got showered, shaved and changed into a fresh pair of clothes.

“Let’s go see some lesbian punks,” Franky said, as they left their apartment.

The ride on the Red Line was bumpy and cramped, full of Harvard, Tufts, and MIT sweatshirts, and young people who were still unsure about whether an X would be the best letter to describe their generation. Franky and Martin, two New Yorkers now living in Cambridge, always felt that when compared to the New York City subway, the T was a line of toy trains. Unlike a 4 or an A or a D rumbling though Manhattan’s underground, Boston’s Red Line was Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy. It crawled past Kendall Square, over the Salt and Pepper Bridge and into Charles Street. By then, Franky and Martin would be so impatient with the train’s pace, they would get off at Charles, grab two roast beef and Russian dressing sandwiches at Buzzy’s and walk through Beacon Hill, into the heart of the Back Bay and then finish at the South End. To the roommates, a 15-minute walk in Boston would take you across three or four neighborhoods, unlike Manhattan, where walking from 1st to 5th was an army march. Once Martin was so high during one of their walks that he told Franky that Boston was too tiny and he felt like Gulliver in Lilliput, each giant step eating up a mile of terrain.

The theatre was a black box space on the corner of Berkeley and Tremont, about three blocks from the publishing company where Franky worked. The South End was a neighborhood in transition, but it was the one place where Boston felt like Manhattan. In the early 19th century, this part of Boston didn’t even exist, as it was just tidal marsh, but as the city grew and fill was transported from the city’s outer suburbs to form the South End and eventually the Back Bay, the neighborhood became the final stop of the Boston and Providence Railroad line. All the bowfront buildings that gave the South End its charm had always reminded Franky of Manhattan’s brownstones.  The South End, once a white Protestant district after the Civil War, began to attract Irish Catholic immigrants as well as blacks from nearby Roxbury, and Boston’s white middle class fled the neighborhood, adding to the city’s racist past.  Soon, tenements ruled the neighborhood, a place for new arrivals to share rooms together and by the 1940s gay men began to live there. Jazz took over parts of the neighborhood in the 1950s, and Franky recalled the time Martin and he went to the original Wally’s Paradise to catch Arturo Sandoval. After the city’s jazz age, the district became poorer for the next twenty years and it was common to see empty bowfronts decaying. A few Puerto Ricans led a cultural revival at Villa Victoria in the late 1960s (Franky had always loved walking down Aguadilla Street in the winter and murals of Albizu Campos against a snowy backdrop), but it wasn’t until the early 80s when the gay community restored the South End into a neighborhood of hipness. Theater mixed with nouveau cuisine and people stayed out later into the night. This mini-Manhattan was all Boston had for Franky and Martin, and they found themselves spending more time there than in another place in Boston or Cambridge.

They sat in the back row of the black box, behind a group of elderly ladies from Newton who had read the Globe review and had ventured out into Boston for a monthly adventure. While the ladies chattered and read their programs, slowly enunciating the word “les-bi-an” to show off their new way of thinking, a group of younger and stylish men to the left of Franky were talking about a converted pub that had just started serving tapas from Barcelona. Franky made a mental note. Tapas in Boston? The city was changing. Finally.

The play began inside a cold, dreary flat in London’s West End as the punk rock lesbians were collaborating on a song inspired by their childhood love for Duran Duran. The dialogue was witty and English, and when Franky’s eyes focused on the character of Fiona, the sassy bass player from Belfast, his stomach swirled and somersaulted. Even though her wardrobe was styled after George Michael during his early Wham! years, her eyes transfixed Franky and made him ignore the other four cast members. Her eyes were green and deep, like an emerald gemstone reflecting into sunshine. Her accent was brass and northern, the wit in her speech displayed a raw energy that gave her presence. She commanded every action in the play, but made sure her fellow actors had their moments as well. And her body. Her body wasn’t thin and flat and Irish. Her body was full and Latin, with dark black hair that fell to her shoulders and framed her rosy cheeks. She was, as Franky found out later on their first date, dark Irish, having received the blood of the Spanish Armada when the English navy sank certain ships and sailors rowed their way to Ireland.

“Martin, that’s the one,” Franky whispered to his roommate.

“The one? The one what?” Martin asked. The pot had yet to leave his system completely and there were times when he would wander and his brain would shut down. This was one of those times, which were becoming more frequent. How the hell did he ever get into Harvard, Franky thought. He already knew the answer: Daddy’s Jewish money from the East Side.

“That girl right there, Fiona, she’s the one,” Franky said. “I’m in love, Martin.”

Martin smiled at his friend. “That’s cool.”

During intermission, Franky grabbed a program and read the bio of Siobhán McDonald (Fiona):

Siobhán McDonald is thrilled to be playing the role of Fiona.  A native of Dublin, she moved to the Boston area with her family when she was six. She quickly shed her inherited Irish melancholy and has been performing in plays since high school. Siobhán earned her way into Emerson College, where she played the lead roles in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? and A Tribute to John Patrick Shanley. She is a recent graduate of the New Theater Conservatory, and was recently cast in the role of Chicklet in Psycho Beach Party, to be staged later in June at the Central Square Center for the Arts. She would like to thank her father and mother for supporting her dreams after all the years.

“Martin, I’ll be right back.” Franky said, as he jogged through the black box lobby and outside to Tremont Street. He searched around to see if the homeless flower peddler who was always walking around with roses in his hand was still selling flowers.  Franky picked him out right in front of Hamersley’s trying to convince a middle-aged man to buy a rose for his lady. Franky ran over to the peddler, grabbed a twenty from his wallet and took the last of the roses. He returned to the black box just as the second act was beginning, short of breath but relieved that he had accomplished his mission.

“We’re waiting for her,” Franky told Martin. “You bet your ass we’re waiting for her.”

The actors came back on stage and began jamming to a Pistols-like song specifically written for the play called, “Love Can Hurt, So Give It To Me.” While the backbeat bounced off the walls of the black box, Franky Benítez began to imagine a life with Siobhán McDonald, the girl from Dublin who shed herself from her family’s Irish melancholy. Franky clutched the roses close to his heart. Love can hurt, as he already knew, but sometimes the hurt can be pure joy. And for the first time in his life, Franky Benítez felt a love that had nothing do to with his past. This time, this love was his, one he could mold and nurture. And there was no way he was going to let this love leave him. This love had nothing to do with his parents. For once, Franky would love and this would stay with him forever, faithful and true.

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In the digital age, the printed word has its challengers and one of the biggest ones of all is YouTube. So, without question, as authors share and market their works with others online, video is central to any social media marketing strategy.

As part of the plan to spread the word about Franky Benítez, I created a YouTube channel for the novel. The hope is to share videos related to the stories mentioned in the book and even include some appearances from me and other guests.

In the meantime, we did a quick 30 second intro about the novel with some photos and iMovie (oh, yeah and The Beta Band). The photos are family ones that inspired some of the characters in the novel. Yeah, I do write about what I know, but a lot of what I have included is fiction.

Let me know what you think?

And don’t forget to follow the novel on Twitter and Facebook.

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We are pumped. 2011 is here and we think #LatinoLit is here to stay and here to grow.

As part of our commitment to support and promote Latino literary talent, we proudly announce the #LatinoLit Author Series, a collection of blogs that will be published on this site and focus on the issues related to creative inspiration in a digital age.

We hope to share some stories and interviews from established authors and new Latino voices that will add to the dialogue about how one creates (and markets) art in an online world.

There has already been interest by several authors and we are excited to be kicking off this initiative in the coming week.

  • In the meantime, don’t forget: if you are a Latino author, poet, writer, blogger, artist, publisher, agent, editor or marketer involved in the publishing business, visit us at #LatinoLit so we can add you to our growing directory of names. We are also on Facebook and you can “like” us to be added to the Facebook list as well.
  • Also, if you would like to submit to #LatinoLit, we will also be giving writers and poets a forum to promote their works online. Go to Submit to #LatinoLit for more information.

 

 

 

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The last month, when I haven’t been working (I go back to the office on January 4) I have gotten some very nice responses to my plans to publish (or self-publish) a novel. The working title is called Franky Benítez, and my 15-second elevator pitch (right now) is: A story of love, pain, and hope, from San Juan to Boston.

A photo model I used for the characters of Franky and Linda.

To kick off 2011, I have decided to create a to-do list of what I would like to accomplish. Let’s see where I stand next December 31:

  • Finish and edit the final manuscript. I would think I couldn’t do that much until I have the whole story completed. Right now, I am posting unedited first drafts and sharing them online for reaction. I plan to write about 5,000 words a week, which would get me to about 100,000 words in about 10 weeks. Goal is to complete the first draft by March. Then, I go looking for an editor.
  • Share the work-in-progress through social media. I have a blog (this one), I have a Facebook page which shares my writing and also shares the Facebook world of LatinoLit. I just opened a Twitter profile, a Flickr site with old photos that helped me to develop some of the characters and a YouTube site (we made a list of favorite videos that inspired the characters in the story; more videos to come). My goal is to share the back story of how the novel was developed and also ask readers questions as we go. So far, the reaction has been incredibly supportive.

  • Engage my network, and keep it balanced. There is a lot of upfront work that I needed to do during my vacation. The goal now is to settle into a pattern that will keep me focused and discipline on the task at hand, but also ensure that I don’t forget about other life’s responsibilities, unless of course, I win the lottery and can focus on this project 100%.
  • Don’t turn down opportunities to discuss the project. I welcome any blogger who wants to discuss this project with me. More than happy to, and I would be more than happy to blog about you if it relates to the literary world or exhibits a good example of social media.
  • Explore editing, publishing and/or self-publishing options. Granted, there is a lot of work to do in this category. I will definitely need an editor who can help me polish the work. I am still on the fence about submitting a final manuscript to an agent or just going ahead and self-publishing. Let’s keep that one open. Yeah, as well as a cover and all the other fun stuff.

So, the list is done. Now it’s time to complete it.

Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive so far. It should be a fun journey.

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