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.|
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!