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framed poster
Originally uploaded by desayunoencama.
I didn't mean to go out looking for more stuff again last night, but I'd helped a friend with her move earlier in the morning and she invited me to dinner and I found this framed poster on the way home afterward. It was interesting enough to schlepp home and consider in the light of day.

Although the truth is that even after 8+ years in this apartment, I still don't have anything hung on the walls so the likelihood of my actually hanging it is slim.

I also have an enormous mirror that was also a street find years ago... sitting on the floor...
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Originally uploaded by desayunoencama.
I often joke that I've had three stages of poverty:

1) total poverty: all my furniture comes from the street
2) social poverty: my friends buy something new and give me their castoffs
3) buying things at IKEA

While I'm now at level three, I still do pick things up from the street.

Although now with the crisis and all, people don't toss out such good finds like the used to. My neighborhood has a free furniture removal the first Monday of every month. (It used to be only once every three months, and one could often find better stuff then.)

I've got some IKEA Billy bookshelves in a size they don't make any more and I need more shelves for it. So I'm always on the lookout for those.

Last night, I only managed to scavenge some of the little pins that hold the shelves up, but at least now I can have wood cut to size if need be and make do that way...

I also found this little nightstand.


Apr. 3rd, 2009 05:58 pm
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I heard from my editor today that BOS BRAL KNJIGO Z MANO?, the Slovene translation of my picture book ¿LEES UN LIBRO CONMIGO?, has been published, and my copies are en route to me. How exciting! :-)

Skuc did a lovely job with their edition of my picture book AMIGOS Y VECINOS last year.

¿LEES UN LIBRO CONMIGO? was published by Panamericana in Colombia and was chosen by IBBY for Outstanding Books for Young People With Disabilities 2007.

When the copies arrive, I'll post photos. :-)
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So, earlier this week I went with my friend Jesus to see SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. It was interesting (if often difficult) to watch, but I have been upset ever since by a number of aspects. And why else does one have a blog if not to rant about these things? :-)

If you haven't seen the film, I'll give you a chance to skip the rest of this post if you want to avoid spoilers. (For the triggery, you should know that the film includes numerous scenes of torture and violence, which is certainly NOT what I was expecting from what everyone keeps calling a "feel good" film.)

In fact, I think only in America could this film be considered a feel good film, because it is such a facile retelling of the rags to riches story, which happens through pure luck. Only in the US is this considered a viable plot (and a commercial one at that).

I was a bit surprised when it ended because to me, the only interesting part of the story STARTS there. It's hard not knowing before going in to the film that a boy from the slums wins 20 million rupees on a quiz show (can we say "deus ex machina"?). And the structure of the film, interleaving between the quiz show present and his growing up past, also makes this quite obvious. You root for him, but you also know all along that he's going to win. And that's it. It's all just so flat.

I knew all this before going in. What I what to know is what does he do with the money. What happens now that he's won the girl, after they've suffered so much to find each other again? Can they overcome those scars and find happiness together? We don't know; the curtain is drawn there, just where things get interesting. How does he react when he hears about what happened to his brother? How does he feel?

It was all so frustrating for me.

We suffered through all the scenes of torture and the difficult childhood. Yes, he triumphed, a mix of luck and loyalty from friends/family, although a loyalty which stabs him quite often as well.

And there was just no payoff for all of that, at least from my point of view.

We don't know what sort of person that made him into, because he's never allowed to do anything. Things happen to him, and that's it. He wins 20 million rupees and that's it. End of story.

This is one reason I have such problems with commercial movies, in general, and how its stories are told, and therefore wind up going so seldom to the cinema; it's about how I consume narratives, and what works or doesn't for me. (I no doubt will see the new Almodovar at some point, although I'm in no rush. His VOLVER was structurally so flat as well; 20 minutes in I knew exactly what was going to happen throughout, yawn.)

In many ways, I can stomach American TV much better than its film, because the format is tighter: 30 minutes, with breaks for commercials, it's structured in little story arcs with an overall arc to hold the episode together but still leave things open enough for next episode(s). It's a tighter, cleaner format in a lot of ways. And it doesn't have the forced endings of so many films.

The only director I find interesting these days is Turkish-Italian Ferzan Ozpetek, whose LE FATE IGNORANTI I (with the horrible English title of HIS SECRET LIFE) think is just superbly structured, with each scene setting up resonances for later scenes in addition to the surface action, and ending in such a way as to give us closure but leave everything open. But many of his other films are juicy and interesting, even if (like HAREM SOARE) they ultimately fail, or fall short of their ambitions.

As my friend Jesus pointed out, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is probably the first film with a Muslim protagonist to win an Oscar, and that's a data point in its favor.

But I still found it a very frustrating and ultimately unrewarding viewing experience.
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I'd spent the early part of the week with too much socializing or meetings, so last night I just hit bottom and put on my pjs, made a pot of tea, and curled up with S J. Rozan's THE SHANGHAI MOON, which I'd been saving for just such a moment. and it's just lovely! I've only managed 90 pages but lots of twists. And best of all, Lydia Chin is back. It's been too long since the last chin/Smith book.

Last night I was torn between wanting to put it down so it would last longer and reading right through it in a single sitting.

Today, alas, I didn't get to grapple with this dilemma, since while I was at lunch with some friends, I got a call with a ridiculous rush translation assignment. Ridiculous because it was over 5000 words and they wanted it by tomorrow. clients never have any understanding of what's feasible or reasonable.

But I must be as foolish as they are, since I agreed to do it, at my rush translation rate, and have just emailed a draft of the finished translation to the client, so they could look it over and we'll discuss tomorrow morning.

So today was a lot of typing, since on the metro to my friend Sofia's house I also wrote 400+ words on a new short story I started a few days ago. (I had brought my laptop with me, thinking we might have a work session after lunch, although with the new rush translation I came right home to get to work.)

I can't just go right to bed, as fuzzy as my head is after so much translating, so am in my cool-down period.

I've been meaning to post about going to see SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, but I think that typing more (such as LJ posts) is not quite what I need just now. (Aside form the fact that coherence and I are not on speaking terms just now.) So perhaps more on this tomorrow, once I've slept.
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I've had an exhausting weekend, with a rush translation gig, and on top of that I helped out at the bookstore on Saturday and Sunday since I'd agreed months ago to cover a shift while the owner was in Barcelona to give a talk.

So, now that it's Monday I can relax a bit.

Not because I don't have many things to do and many things that are overdue, but because the immediate crises are for the moment over.

The rush translation gigs are grueling, but worthwhile since I charge a higher rush rate which makes losing the time and sleep worthwhile.

Besides, it's hard as a freelancer to turn gigs down, especially in today's uncertain economic climate.

(And these days I'm paying the rent with the translation, so it makes sense for me to delay other projects in order to bring in positive cash flow whenever I can. Not about what projects are nearer and dearer to my heart, just accounting.)

Some reviews:

The first SECOND PERSON QUEER review, from Amos Lassen at EUREKA PRIDE.

Evidently the book is also back early from the printers, so Arsenal Pulp is moving forward the ship date a month. It's such a pleasant surprise to have a book come out EARLY instead of late! (As many of my projects seem to be lately, often through my own fault or responsibility.)

In A Midsummer Night's Press news, Charles Tan reviews Rachel Pollack's FORTUNE'S LOVER: A BOOK OF TAROT POEMS.
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Spring Buzz
Originally uploaded by desayunoencama.
I buzzed my head last week and a friend took some photos and just sent them to me.

Huge bags under my eyes but I think buzz cut looks good.

(The books in the background, FYI, are his bookshelves not mine. You can tell because they're so orderly, and nothing is double-shelved!)
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Just got this in my email; in case anyone's interested:

SEVEN KITCHENS PRESS announces the 2009 ROBIN BECKER CHAPBOOK PRIZE for an original, unpublished poetry manuscript in English by a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered or Queer writer.

Prize: $100 plus 25 copies.
Submission deadline: Postmarked between March 1 and May 15 of each year.
Eligibility: Open to all L/G/B/T/Q poets writing in English (no translations, please).

PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING CHANGE TO THIS YEAR’S COMPETITION: Two manuscripts will be selected as CO-WINNERS of the 2009 Robin Becker Prize: one by a writer with no previous book or chapbook, and the other by a writer with previous book or chapbook publication.
Read more... )
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For a number of reasons, I had already decided to skip my planned trip to the US for BookExpo/The Lammies, even though it's in NY this year. On the one hand, is simple finances. Another is I'm exhausted from so much travel, in general, but especially so many working trips across the puddle. Especially trips like this last, where I'm not just going to NY (exhausting in and of itself) but the internal travel to Chicago, while exiting and all, just knocked me out.

Mostly it was this self-imposed feeling of obligation that I wanted to get rid of.

Sure it would be nice if I went and maybe even useful, but it's not actually necessary. In terms of what I manage to achieve, in terms of contacts with editors or promoting my work, the benefits are negligible. And this year, so many publishers are pulling out or scaling back their participation because of the economic stiuation, etc.

(I regret more not going to the Bologna Children's Book Fair, which started today and which I've attended for the past five years, but again I think it was the right decision.)

Anyway, today I was invited to a poetry festival in Palma de Mallorca for the first few days of June. So deciding not to force myself to make this work-related trip (and one that comes out of my pocket) for BookExpo was obviously the right decision since I'm now available for this serendipitous invitation. (And while it is another trip, it's something I'm looking forward to, and it's also a short hop and in the same time zone--same country even. Quite a difference, having to go to the US for work or to a Mediterranean island to be feted as a poet!)
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I had responded to a call for translators on a translation listserv.

It turned out to be for a specialty I don't have (legal) but it also turns out that the woman in charge of the project knows and likes my children's books, especially LA AVENTURA DE CECILIA Y EL DRAGÓN.

Was a nice surprise.

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Just back from the hospital. I was supposed to have a cyst removed; it's become inflamed twice in the past few months and my primary care physician sent me to have it excised (while also giving me antibiotics).

But since my appointment today was six weeks after the end of the antibiotics, the doctor decided not to do it; no, I need to wait until it gets infected again and THEN come back.


Been busy these past few days with the social whirl of visiting writers, so have hardly been home and have huge backlog of unanswered or unread emails.

Colombian writer Jaime Manrique was in town so had a chance to catch up with him, since we've not seen one another in close to ten years.

Then two poets from Malaga, Maria Eloy-Garcia and Carmen López, were in Madrid for a reading and overnight trip, so there was a fun group of people who all got together to meet up with them while they were in town.

One thing that's been so lovely about having published DESAYUNO EN LA CAMA is that I'm suddenly discovering and meeting people from and being welcomed into this great network of Spanish poets. It's much more of a community than what happens for/with many other genres, at least here, and as that is something I'd been missing these past years, I am very much enjoying becoming part of it.
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The finalists for the Publishing Triangle Awards, which include the Audre Lorde Award for lesbian poetry, the Thom Gunn Award for gay male poetry, the Randy Shilts and Judy Grahn awards for non-ficiton, and the Ferro-Gumley Awards for LGBT fiction, The Edmund White Award for debut fiction, have been announced.

It's especially nice to see Ellen Wittlinger's lovely YA novel LOVE & LIES: MARISOL'S STORY getting attention as an adult book (it's also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards in the YA category), and also Alison Bechdel's fantastic ESSENTIAL DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR (not a finalist for the Lammies).
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Just came across this call for submissions, and while I normally just forward these sort of things to friends and writers I have worked with who might find it of interest, I thought I'd post it as part of the whole ongoing RaceFail discussion. While not a genre market, per se, that doesn't mean they might not be interested in genre material.

I don't even know if they are interested in fiction, but since they pay three times what most genre mags pay, it's worth a query; they might also be interested in a personal essay about one's experiences as a genre reader/writer. Lots of ways to possibly slant or pitch something, it all depends on how you approach things.

Anyway, FWIW, for Writers of Color who may be looking for additional/interesting markets:

Kraze magazine (USA) is looking for freelance contributors. The new quarterly publication targets African American/Multicultural women and contains various types of articles. Payment: US18 cents per word. For guidelines contact Candra Jolly at
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The Finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards have been announced, and can be found here. Congrats and good luck to all the finalists!
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I guess I'm still cranky today, so let me set forth some GENERAL guidelines about Social Media and Author-Editor Etiquette. These are not response to anyone in particular who may have posted or commented on recent entries or status updates, but are GENERAL ideas about social interaction between authors and editors, some of which I have been mulling about for some time.

Let me say up front that I'm a big fan of various new and less-new social media tools, on both a personal and professional level.

As a reader, I love talking about books with other people who love books. As a writer, it's great to be able to hear directly from people who have read my work (and maybe let them know about new things they might also be interested in), and also to interact with other writers, whether in celebrating or commiserating about the ups and downs of this crazy field or discussing aspects of craft or other parts of the business. As an editor, it's useful to be able to get the word out about various projects to contributors and potential contributors.

I still don't quite grok twitter, but I haven't been on it very long; I have much fun on facebook; Myspace hurts my brain from all the visual and other noise; and of course, I have this blog, which is perhaps the most public or open of all these tools.

I think many authors lose sight of the fact that blogs or these other social media tools are PUBLIC forums. Even though it may SEEM like an intimate conversation, it is not one; it is public, and it should be treated as such. (And while something like Facebook is more of a "closed" forum, since I now have over 3500 contacts on my Facebook page, this is a rather sizeable audience that is potentially looking over one's shoulder at anything posted there; not to mention the fact that my Facebook page is publicly accessible since it's become one of the ways people find me and interact with me from many of the different genres and areas in which I write and work--not to mention in my social life.)

Most authors would not stand up in the middle of a panel discussion and ask, from the audience, if I was accepting or not their submission.

This is, essentially, what many authors do however, when they ask such questions in the comments of a blog entry instead of in a private message, which is where such material belongs.

Yes, it's often easier to just hit add comment instead of opening your email software and typing in a private message to me. Taking the time to do that is, however, the only professional way to act.

That, at least, is my personal stance on the subject.

If you have questions or concerns about a project, ask me about them in private.

It is humiliating both for the author in question and for me when wearing my editor hat to have to discuss such things in public, especially if the answer is negative. Maybe I'm just not enough of a sadist to reject someone in public, but the entire situation makes ME uncomfortable, so I seek to avoid it (and as authors, you should seek to avoid putting editors in uncomfortable positions). I'm hereby publicly asking people not to put me in such positions. And if you do go ahead and put me in such a position, I will likely ignore you, or if I get cranky and pushed too far, I may use you as an example of why this is not a good thing to do to an editor, though I hope not to get that cranky or pushed that far.

As an editor, if I talk about projects online, I do so in the most general of terms.

If you wonder if what I have had to say applies to you directly, DROP ME AN EMAIL.

Especially if I am complaining about something, in general terms, I am absolutely boggled that anyone would post "I hope you're not talking about my submission" in the comment section. I can totally understand FEELING that, and even dropping me a private message to say so. But in the event that I were talking about your submission, do you really want me to reply to your comment, IN PUBLIC, and SAY SO?

Think about it.

The biggest issue is the fact of these being PUBLIC SPACES and what is appropriate author-editor interaction.

Just as I won't reject someone in public, I'm not going to accept someone in public, either--aside from not considering it appropriate behavior as an editor, there may be other contributors who are reading the status update or blog entry whose work I have rejected or have not yet responded to. This is also why I tend to wait until all responses, both yea and nay, are ready before making any official acceptances or rejections, especially for projects with open submission calls. (Aside from the fact that the final balance of the book may still be tottering until the very end as subthemes and threads and so on are considered and counterweighed, or if there are multiple editors involved, until we come to a consensus on what to include or not, or if we're waiting for rewrites which may or may not in the end work, or etc.)

I'm sorry that it slows the process down, especially when I'd also like to share the good news and celebrate the great work that was submitted and I'm using, but as a courtesy to everyone who submitted, I want to avoid having people who haven't heard yet read elsewhere about acceptances (and it's normal to blog the good news of your acceptance, I expect it, which is why I wait until all decisions--to accept and to reject--are made and communicated) when they're still waiting to hear.

So, to summarize: These various social media are great, fun, useful, etc. And also, they're PUBLIC spaces. Please remember this, and act accordingly.
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Saturday, March 28th, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. - Founders Auditorium
Celebrating the Life and Work of Octavia E. Butler – SYMPOSIUM
The National Black Writers Conference Bi-Annual Symposium celebrates the life and work of renowned speculative fiction author Octavia E. Butler in a daylong symposium. The program features readings, panels and book signings with a stellar roster of speculative fiction writers including L.A. Banks, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, and Nnedi Okorafor. For ticket info: Sponsored by the National Black Writers Conference and the Center for Black Literature.


Mar. 12th, 2009 05:56 pm
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I've been reading the submissions for I LIKE IT LIKE THAT: TRUE TALES OF GAY DESIRE, forthcoming from Arsenal Pulp Press in October. My co-editor, Richard Labonté, has already read everything and I'm trying to catch up now.

And I'm boggled at how many people missed the mark on this project.

Whatever happened to the first person personal essay? There are so many people who write so smartly about sex and desire. For previous books, the slush pile has been an embarrassment of riches. Obviously, we didn't do a good enough job in getting the word out or they've all stopped writing or were too busy with other projects or a myriad of other possible problems.

Why did so many people write things in second person for a book titled *I* LIKE IT LIKE THAT?

There are, of course, some exceptions, which are beautiful and lovely and APPROPRIATE submissions, but...

Right now the slush pile (and I've only just dipped a toe in so maybe all the dross floated to the top) is making me very cranky. And it's a lovely spring day, around 21º c (70º F). I may very well shut the computer and go for a walk through the Retiro or something to clear my head.
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I had one of those days that're full of meetings, so while it feels like it's been "unproductive" in that I've had no time to produce anything (creative or translation, or even reading submissions) it's actually been a productive day, since these meetings are part of making projects happen and all.

I did do one quickie translation this morning, but they're still missing one text for the most recent gig, so that's lingering...

I finally heard from the client with the big unpaid invoice and learned what I needed to do to get paid, which involved a little bit of busy work getting my bank account verified (as simple as bringing my passbook and a photocopy and my ID card and a photocopy to an hacienda office where they looked at the originals and stapled the photocopies together with a cover form I filled out and that's that). But hopefully from now on this will all be smoother.

I met with one of my kidzbook publishers, who I hadn't actually seen in YEARS, to talk about an upcoming picture book (and things in general). The woman who's illustrating the book just won a prize from the Bologna Book Fair, which is exciting news. (Mine will be her second book.)

Also met with the editor for whom I recently translated a Spanish fantasy novel into English, to go over the translation. Mostly little nit picks. And a few extra things, like we agreed to remove some anachronisms, like kilometers and technicolor, which were in the Spanish original.

Yesterday afternoon I had a pleasant meeting over drinks with Chilean writer Pablo Simonetti, who's passing through Spain en route to Italy for the launch of the Italian translation of one of his novels.

Tomorrow I've promised to go with a friend to a reading in the afternoon, but hopefully will have plenty of at home time to atch up on work, email, etc.

I'd try and do something now but my brain is mush. So I think to bed for me soon, early though it is.
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frameless glasses
Originally uploaded by desayunoencama.
The other day I tried on my friend Gonzalo's glasses, but I don't think I like this frameless look, even though these are a better size for my face than the last time I tried on a friend's glasses.

For one thing, chunky plastic frames might better hide the bags under my eyes! :-)
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My friend Achy Obejas, whose poetry collection THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED IN OUR OTHER LIFE I published through A Midsummer Night's Press, is on tour with her new novel, RUINS, just out fro Akashic. She's started a blog to chronicle her touring adventures:

Here's where you can have a chance to catch her (and hopefully they'll have her poetry book available, too!):

Sat., March 7, 3pm
Barnes & Noble
2323 Sagamore Parkway S.
Lafayette, IN

Mon., March 9, 7pm
Barnes & Noble West
7433 Mineral Point Rd.
Madison, WI

Tues., March 10, 7pm
Prairie Lights Books
15 S. Dubuque St.
Iowa City, IA

Thurs., March 12, 8pm
The Wild Pug
4810 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL

Wed., March 18, 7pm
Left Bank Books
399 N. Euclid Ave.
St. Louis, MO

Thurs., March 19, 7pm
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
2692 Madison Rd.
Cincinnati, OH

Fri., March 20, 7pm
55 Haywood St.
Asheville, NC

Sat., March 21, 3pm
Barnes & Noble
5400 New Hope Commons
Durham, NC

Sun., March 22, 6:30-8pm
Busboys and Poets @ 5th & K
1025 5th St. NW
Washington, DC
*With Robert Arellano, author of Havana Lunar. Cosponsored by the Center for Democracy in the Americas.

Mon., March 23, 6:30-8pm
Enoch Pratt Free Library (Central Branch, Poe Room)
400 Cathedral St.
Baltimore, MD
*With Robert Arellano, author of Havana Lunar.

Tues., March 24, 7pm
172 Allen St.
New York, NY
*With Robert Arellano, author of Havana Lunar.

Wed., March 25, 7:30pm
92nd St. Y
1395 Lexington Ave.
New York, NY
*With Robert Arellano, author of Havana Lunar.

Thurs., March 26, 8pm
Raconteur Books
431 Main St.
Metuchen, NJ
*With Robert Arellano, author of Havana Lunar.

Fri., March 27, 7:30pm
Ada Books
717 Westminster St.
Providence, RI
*With Robert Arellano, author of Havana Lunar.

Thurs., April 16
Bryan Mawr
Philadelphia, PA

Thurs., April 30
Center for New Words
Boston, MA

Fri., May 1
Loose Leaf Tea Loft
4229 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL
*Poetry event with Mary Hawley, David Hernandez, Lisa Alvarado, Cynthia Gallaher and many others.

Mon., May 4, 7:30pm
Elliott Bay Book Co.
101 S. Main St.
Seattle, WA
*Akashic All-Stars Event: Featuring Achy Obejas, author of Ruins, Robert Arellano, author of Havana Lunar, and Maggie Estep, author of Alice Fantastic.

Tues., May 5, 7:30pm
1005 W. Burnside
Portland, OR
*Akashic All-Stars Event: Featuring Achy Obejas, author of Ruins, Robert Arellano, author of Havana Lunar, and Maggie Estep, author of Alice Fantastic.

Thurs., May 7, 7pm
City Lights
261 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA
*Akashic All-Stars Event: Featuring Achy Obejas, author of Ruins, Robert Arellano, author of Havana Lunar, and Maggie Estep, author of Alice Fantastic.

Fri., May 8, 7pm
Book Soup
8818 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
*Akashic All-Stars Event: Featuring Achy Obejas, author of Ruins, Robert Arellano, author of Havana Lunar, and Maggie Estep, author of Alice Fantastic.

Sat., May 9, 7:30pm
Make-Out Room
3225 22nd St.
San Francisco, CA
*Part of the "Writers with Drinks" reading series

Wed., May 13, 6:30pm
DePaul University
Chicago, IL
* With Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban, and Edmundo Desnoes, author of Memories of Underdevelopment.
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