Thursday, August 11, 2016

Once Upon a Time...

. . . I wrote a book called JUST PRINCESSES and a few months later, I got my copies of the finished book!

My first copies!

A little sneak peek at a couple pages,
illustrated by Manuel Preitano, lettered by Matt Krotzer,
written by me!

Since this was the first graphic novel I'd ever written, I had no idea how it would all come out in the end. In fact, I got to see only a few of the illustrated pages before the book came out, and those hadn't even been colored in yet. So seeing the finished product is pretty cool. Huge thanks to Manuel Preitano (illustrator), Matt Krotzer (letterer), Jessica Rossana and Dave Franchini (editors), Christopher Cote and Ashley Vanacore (production and design), Jennifer Bermel (managing editor), Joe Brusha (publisher), and the whole team at Zenescope and Silver Dragon Books. And special thanks to my old friend Matt Wang, who recommended me as a writer for this project. I tell you, having gone to Stuyvesant High School never stops paying off. Thanks, Matt!

And now it's time to promote, promote, promote. First up, yet another high school friend of mine, Dave Napitulu, has invited me to do my very first live interview tonight on a podcast he cohosts called Comic Book Chronicles. Hopefully I won't make a total fool of myself. Even if I do, though, I'll post the link to that as soon as I have it.

Then tomorrow I'm off to Brooklyn for the Summer Stroll, where I'll be signing books outside the BookMark Shoppe, one of the first bookstores I ever visited as an author. The owners and I have become friends, and when they heard I had another book coming out, they were so supportive. They ordered books right away and invited me to take part in their book fair. So tomorrow from 6-10 PM, that's where I'll be, hopefully signing and selling lots of copies of all my titles. (Psst... Even if you don't want to buy any of my books, rumor has it I'll have bowls of candy and stickers. So, you know, you might want to swing by anyway. Just saying.)

After that, my eyes will be on Comic Cons. First I'll be at the Baltimore Comic Con on September 1, handing out and signing copies of Just Princesses and hopefully catching up with friends. Then on October 6 you'll find me at New York Comic Con, signing books before sneaking away to hang with my brother and stop him from buying every piece of Star Wars merchandise in the place. Then there's the social media stuff, which I vowed to get better at, so I've been trying. I'm updating my website, I'm actually posting things on my Facebook author page, and yes, I even tweeted a few times this year! (What do you mean other people tweet a few times a day, at least. Argh... I can't keep up.)

All of this while writing two more books that I can't even tell you about, drawing up some ideas for a sequel to Just Princesses, doing my day-time editing job, and getting surgery real quick. (It seems my gall bladder is a troublemaker and needs to come out. Oh well.)

Anyway, I do hope you guys go forth and buy Just Princesses, and that if you do, you enjoy it. Oops, speaking of which... It's almost time for my interview. Wish me luck as I try my best not to do my nervous giggle thing. Ah, who am I kidding. I'm definitely going to do the nervous giggle thing. But I'll try not to.

Until next time!

Sunday, July 3, 2016


If there was an Olympic competition for neglecting one's blogs, I would take home the gold. Obviously. In the time since I've been away, I could have had a baby. I haven't, but I'm just saying. That's how long I've been AWOL--nine long months. Which means we've got plenty to catch up on. Since I can't possibly do it in order, I'll just hit all the highlights.

First, since last we spoke, my sequel to Hunters of Chaos came out. In February of this year, Hunters of Chaos 2: Circle of Lies hit the stands.

If you haven't already, please run out and buy a copy! I'm still hoping to write a third, but this one flying off the shelves would go a long way toward making that happen. I've already been yelled at (gently) by fans on Twitter for not having the third book immediately ready to go. I hear you, fans! I want to see how it all ends too. I'll keep you posted should it happen.

In May I was invited to meet with the advanced and talented & gifted kids of Elmont High School in Long Island, where my best friend, Dereeka Minks Marte, has taught geology for years. Our mutual friend, Maria Drew Harley, is the wonderful English teacher there who had the students read my book. And man, were these kids engaged!

After I told them a little about myself and how I became a writer, we discussed the book and writing in general. They had lots of questions. (Which one of the characters do I identify with most? Anna. When did I start writing? Third grade. How do I deal with writer's block? Having deadlines helps. Also reading someone else's writing or listening to music.) Many of them were big fans of mythology, and several wanted to be writers themselves. I gave them my usual advice about writing (read everything you can get your hands on, work on expanding your vocabulary, keep a journal, don't be lazy about revisions, share your work), but one of the most important pieces of advice I gave was to be open to criticism and learn from it.

For example, after Hunters of Chaos came out, a reviewer and critic pointed me toward more trustworthy references and books about the Navajo people and their history, which have given me a deeper understanding than I had before, and for that I am grateful. (Side note: I recently had my DNA tested and found that I am 12% Native American. That isn't too surprising since Puerto Rico was once home to the Taino Indians. But having confirmation does make me want to learn even more about my ancestry and heritage.) Bottom line, when creating a character who represents a specific culture, especially one that's different from your own, you owe it to yourself, the reader, and the people of that culture to do it as accurately as you can. My hope is that writers (including myself) will continue to try to learn about and represent diverse characters on the page.

I've made my share of mistakes, and had lots of sleepless nights thinking of all the things I could have done better, but when I saw how these kids responded to the book, I thought I must have gotten more right than wrong. They gave me so much love, it was crazy. Need proof? Check out all these group hug photos.

Dereeka and I and some of the kids just hanging out and talking after the event. Main topic of discussion: Not including murder, the worst thing you can do is spoil the ending of a book for someone. Seriously, don't do it.  

Signing a book for the teacher's daughter. 
Two of the most fashionable attendees. 

Signing books and giving out Hunters of Chaos stickers.
I left that school on cloud nine. I love seeing young people so excited about books and writing. (At least three of them were writing books of their own. They let me read some of their work, and I was beyond impressed.) Having them be so enthusiastic and affected by something I'd written . . . well, it was surreal. Thank you, Elmont! It was an honor to meet all of you, and I doubt it would have been possible to make me feel any more loved.

It's weird to have fans since I'm much more used to being the fan. Case in point, the very next day, I went to a book signing for Marvel writer and artist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. You might know him from his work on comics like Guardians of the Lower East Side. I'm looking forward to his latest offering, La Borinqueña, due out this fall. It will star a Puerto Rican superhero; of course I can't wait to read it. I'm thinking about writing a book based on my grandmother's upbringing in Puerto Rico, so I'm hoping La Borinqueña will serve as inspiration for me. After all, my grandmother was a superhero to me.

Me and Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez.
Yo soy Groot! This art installation was part of the 29th Loisada Festival
at the Loisada Inc. Center on East 9th Street in NYC.
Artists: Herson Cabreras, Dioscoro Pineda, & Andrew Pu, from ASAPTech.

My friends Miguel, Navani, and Dallas, all of us posing with our signed prints.

Speaking of comic books, I'll be attending Comic Con again this October! When I was younger I used to think I wouldn't fit in at Comic Con because I wasn't as big a fan as the people who attended. But then I went to Comic Con last year and realized that I loved Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, The Walking Dead, The Powerpuff Girls, The Hunger Games, graphic novels, superhero movies, etc., etc., etc. I've read the books, seen the films, listened to the podcasts, watched the shows, read online analysis about the shows... Huh. Maybe I've been a fan girl all along.

What will make it extra exciting this year is that I may be signing some books! I worked on a graphic novel for Zenescope that is due to come out this August. So if you're attending Comic Con, come by the Zenescope booth on Sunday, October 9th. You may find me signing copies of Just Princesses.

Until then, I'll be busy working on another writing projects, which I can't talk about just yet, but stay tuned. Come to think of it, I should get to work. Thanks for listening to me ramble. See you soon!