ETF Chosen for Spirit of Texas Reading Program!

Spirit of Texas

Wow! Super happy to share this news with you.

Evangelina Takes Flight (ETF) has been chosen for the 2018 Spirit of Texas Reading Program!

The Spirit of Texas Reading Program- Middle School creates a recommended reading list developed by public and school librarians from the Young Adult Round Table (YART). The purpose of the list is to encourage youths in grades 6-8 to explore a variety of current, quality books from Texas authors and illustrators, develop critical reading skills, and to encourage greater interaction between Texas authors and illustrators, Texas librarians, and Texas youth.

The Spirit of Texas Committee will create 3 ready-to-use library programs based on the book and make them available on the Texas Library Association’s website.

To see examples of past program winners and the accompanying educational programs, go to 2017 Spirit of Texas Winners & Curriculum, then click on “Past Lists” and an author’s name to check it out.

Can’t wait to see what curriculum they develop for ETF and learn how I can participate.

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35% OFF from Arte Público Press through December 15

Revised ETF Cover

Want to buy Evangelina Takes Flight as a holiday gift for a family member or friend? Know an educator or librarian who’d like to purchase it (a Junior Library Guild Selection!) for a group of students? It’s available now at 35% off the retail price of $11.95. Arte Público has lots of other high quality books as well. They’ve been at this since 1979 and are the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors. Check them out online at

See discount details below.


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The Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving Story


A good read and a different account of the usual Thanksgiving story we were raised to believe. Link: Article from Indian Country Today

And an interesting bit from Wikipedia:

Early contacts between the Wampanoag and Europeans date from the 16th century, when European merchant vessels and fishing boats traveled along the coast of present-day New England. Captains of merchant vessels captured Native Americans and sold them as slaves in order to increase their earnings. For example, Captain Thomas Hunt captured several Wampanoag in 1614. After his return to Europe, he sold them in Spain as slaves. A Patuxet named Tisquantum (or Squanto) was bought by Spanish monks, who attempted to convert him before eventually setting him free.

Tisquantum boarded an English ship to accompany an expedition to Newfoundland as an interpreter. From Newfoundland, he made his way back to his homeland in 1619, only to discover that the entire Patuxet tribe — and with them, his family — had fallen victim to an epidemic.

In 1620, religious refugees from England, known popularly as the Pilgrims, arrived in present-day Plymouth. Tisquantum and other Wampanoag taught the newly arrived settlers how to cultivate the varieties of corn, squash and beans (the Three Sisters) that flourished in New England, as well as how to catch and process fish and collect seafood. They enabled the English pilgrims to survive their first winters.

Thanksgiving to me is a day to celebrate family, enjoy good food, good company, laughter and the occasional football game. I LOVE to cook, and this year, I am up-ending the usual tradition. No one in our family likes turkey all that much, so I’m making a crispy baked chicken (light and dark pieces) and ham with all the fixings. Family members are also bringing some deliciousness with them! Can’t wait to try our son’s stuffing. He’s a real gourmet.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

It’s been a wild year for my family with ups and downs like we’ve never experienced before. I am thankful for my health (I am pain free at the moment and hope to stay that way), my family, my job, my book, my publisher and the country I live in, which is full of opportunity for those willing to invest the effort.

I hope for greater peace, and inclusion in our fractured world. Less pointing fingers. Less hateful words. An insistence on civility – a return to respectful interaction, and yes, even disagreement. More understanding and collaboration. LOVE.

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Video – Texas Book Festival Panel

The Texas Book Festival panel with Alexandra Díaz (fellow author) and Rita Painter (moderator) and the adorable kids from Galindo Elementary. Loved this experience, although I have to say I was aware of that dang little bug buzzing around our faces, but not aware of how much I waved my hand around trying to get rid of it!

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White Savior Figure?


This is the most comprehensive review of Evangelina Takes Flight to date. Thank you to reviewer Cris Rhodes for her thoughtful assessment. While there is much for me to smile about with this review (!), Ms. Rhodes has a critical review of what she calls the “white savior figure.”

Is the character of Dr. Russell Taylor a “white savior,” and do his actions make Evangelina less of a humanized figure? (This question will only make sense if you read the review.)

I have a ready explanation for why I wrote the Town Hall scene the way I did, and why Evangelina behaved as she did, but I won’t go there. I’d be interested in your perspective.

Again, thank you Ms. Rhodes for your comprehensive review. I will give the notion of a “white savior” some thought.


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Message of Acceptance and Hope

The photos above are some of my paternal ancestors:

  • Selim Njaim from Syria
  • Jesus Benavides Garcia from Mexico
  • Annabelle Crossley from England

Before Alexandra Díaz and I sat down for our panel discussion at the Texas Book Festival, Rita Painter, our moderator, asked us to reflect on this question: “What message are you trying to convey with your novel?” 

Not long before the panel started, I managed to peck out what came to mind on my IPhone Notes app. Luckily, I’d given it some thought before.

We are a great nation because of our diversity. All of us here are descendants of immigrants. My ancestors came to the US from Spain, Mexico, Syria and England (and many other countries the farther back in time you go). If my ancestors hadn’t made the brave decision to come to the United States, I would not be here today. And, if your ancestors hadn’t made the same brave decision, you wouldn’t either.

Through Evangelina Takes Flight, I want readers to get to know a Mexican family and feel as if they’re part of that family. I want readers who don’t know Mexican culture or people beyond the stereotypes to steep themselves in the beauty of it all – the love, the pride, the tradition and dedication to family and friends.

We cannot choose where we are born. In fact, our very existence is nothing more than a chance mixing of genetics. We CAN choose how we live our lives and how we treat each other.

The vast, vast majority of immigrants who come here simply want to be safe, have a chance to succeed and be treated fairly, the same thing each of our ancestors wanted when they arrived, hopeful for a better life. They, as Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed, want to be treated by the contents of their character.

Isn’t that what every human being wants?

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Thank You Texas Book Festival!

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I had an amazing time at the Texas Book Festival in Austin.

First, Austin is a way-cool city!

Second, my husband, mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law were all there to support me.

Third, I met some of the nicest, most supportive authors there – some very willing to share their tips for continued success in publishing.

Fourth, they SOLD OUT of my book!

Fifth and maybe best of all, I had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of smart, sweet students from Galindo Elementary who read Evangelina Takes Flight before the festival and introduced author Alexandra Diaz and me before our panel titled: Seeking Sanctuary.

The festival was bigger than I ever imagined and went off beautifully. Bravo to the festival sponsors and organizers and volunteers! I’ll go back again and again if they’ll have me.

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