My first book, Chants, was published in 1984 by Arte Público Press at the University of Houston. I was an administrator at the University of Texas at El Paso when my first copy arrived. Thanks to my mom, I’d grown up loving books, libraries, and reading in the desert city of El Paso. How happy it made me to hold that little book Chants with my name on it.
Since then, I’ve published seven books of poetry for adults and young adults and three books of nonfiction, one a family memoir, House of Houses. A mom and grandmom, I’ve also had the pleasure of publishing many books for children.
How does a book evolve?
Recently, I’ve had an idea for a novella I’d like to try as I wait hopefully for editors to smile on some of my pending manuscripts. I’m a plant person, so as I putter inside and out, I’m listening to the main character of the novella. I know what she does–her work–but I’m listening for a signature musical phrase, her theme, to accompany me/us on our verbal journey.
This is a strange time in our country, isn’t it? Because of the pandemic, we wear masks even when we’re with our friends. We wash our hands more and practice social distancing. We don’t get too close to people except the family we live with.
Scientists are working to create a vaccine to protect all of us from the Covid virus. Once we have that vaccine, that OUCH, like the OUCH from our flu shot every year, will mean we can enjoy our usual life and run and play without masks.
I have been busy with my desert garden, Face-timing with our granddaughter and chatting with family on the phone. I’ve been writing new books and working so that girls and boys all over the country enjoy Children’s Day, Book Day–every day. Do you do that? I read every day.
Next April 30th, Children’s Day, Book Day will be 25 years old. Wow!
How are you going to celebrate at your home, school and library? Maybe, you’ll make your own book.
A challenging time for our country with COVID and the recent tragedies. I derive hope from so many in our United States who live their commitments to liberty and justice for all.
I also derive solace from the natural world. Enjoying warm weather in the High Desert is such a pleasure. Pine trees seem to stretch, lizards dart and cactus bloom. The desert, high and low, has inspired me for years to write children’s books such as The Desert Is My Mother (1994), and books for adults, such as Encantado: Desert Monologues (2018).
I look forward to sharing my new picture book, My Magic Wand: Growing with the Seasons,, due out next spring from Lee & Low Books. A special girl is the star. I look forward to meeting the new illustrator Amber Alvarez one day. I don’t always meet the illustrators though I’d like to. Recently, I’ve been finishing a new family memoir set in my home city of El Paso, Texas, and featuring some of my favorite relatives who are with me in spirit.
How I hope that across the country, we’ll be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Children’s Day, Book Day (El día de los niños, El día de los libros), April 30th, 2021. Unlike Mother’s Day and Father’s Day—Children’s Day, Book Day is purposefully a yearlong initiative as book lovers encourage all our young to be readers, including Summer Readers.
Wishing you health, creativity, and resilience in the coming months.
The American Flag Foundation’s Annual National Flag Day and Pause For The Pledge of Allegiance happens at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Flag Day, June 14th. May we each ponder how we participate in fostering “liberty and justice for all.”
Illustration from I Pledge Allegiance, by Pat Mora & Libby Martinez, illustrated by Patrice Barton