The United Shades of America – Set Your DVRs for This Sunday

W Kamau Bell 2

I plan to watch this Sunday’s United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell on CNN. The opening episode of season 3 is titled: The Human Cost of America’s Immigration Policy. This Sunday, 7:15 pm PST. Set your recording devices.

From the TV show host on CNN’s website:

So while this episode isn’t a “scary premiere” like we have done in the last two seasons, it is maybe one of the most important episodes we have ever done. And within it are the three questions that hover over every episode of season three: Who are we? Who do we want to be? Can’t we do better? My answers are: We are the United States of America. We want to be a shining example to the globe of how tremendous wealth, tremendous opportunity, and tremendous freedom can benefit all those who want to participate in this grand experiment — regardless of whether they were born here. And yes, we can do much better.

And there is no better place to see how that all plays out than in this episode, because I’m taking you to the US/Mexico border.

Specifically, I’m taking you to Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico — one city divided into two by an imaginary line that we think is real because we are taught in schools it is called a border. And on that border is a wall, or a fence, or a barrier, or whatever you want to call it (depending on what you are trying to prove in your conversation). And the people I meet in this episode — people who live on each side of the border — seem like they are always the last ones considered in that conversation.

From your blog host:

In many ways, the immigrant experience in Evangelina Takes Flight is not that different than what is happening today, 107 years later, but I still have much to learn.

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A Quiet Place as an Allegory for Living the Undocumented Life in America

A Quiet Place John Krasinski.JPG

I recently read a review of  the movie, A Quiet Place, by poet and essayist Eloísa Pérez-Lozano and found it to be thought provoking.

I’ve heard stories from my parents about hardworking, caring friends and associates in the Houston area who are living in fear in much the way Ms. Pérez-Lozano describes, only to be apprehended for something like a broken tail light and deported anyway. Imagine the painful toll on those families!

It’s also reminiscent of a story I read in The Seattle Times about a man who was arrested by ICE officials for talking to another newspaper about his girlfriend’s arrest and subsequent deportation. His girlfriend made and sold piñatas. The Seattle Times wrote: “That came to an end when Diaz, along with their children, went to a bank parking lot in June to meet someone who had answered her online ad for a piñata. ICE agents were waiting.”

Compassion (sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others), humility and humanity will heal this great nation, not hatred, an us-and-them mentality and self-righteousness (having or characterized by a certainty, especially an unfounded one, that one is totally correct or morally superior).

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Ask an Author


I’ve noticed quite an increase in traffic on my blog in the past few months and hope this means lots of Evangelina readers are checking it out.

If you have any questions for me about the book or my author’s journey, shoot me an email at or leave a comment on the blog. I am perfectly happy to engage!

And, speaking of engagement, my next school presentation is coming in early May with a group of 7th graders north of Seattle. Can’t wait!

Lastly, if you’ve read Evangelina Takes Flight and are willing to post a review on Amazon or Goodreads or whatever site you used to buy the book (B&N, Target, etc.), I would be grateful. Of course, if it’s a bad review, never mind!

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Evangelina Takes Flight Learning Materials Available

Courtesy of the Texas Library Association’s Spirit of Texas Reading Program! Lots of excellent resources teachers and librarians can use to deepen students’ learning when reading Evangelina Takes Flight.

SPOT slide


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Who Says Teens Don’t Like Historical Fiction?

Fleming Middle School

I spoke to 6 groups of 6th – 8th graders in 3 Houston area schools earlier this week. They showed great enthusiasm and interest in Evangelina Takes Flight. One teacher commented, “I’ve never seen these kids get so excited about a book.”

In contrast, an editor at a writers’ conference once told me that YA historical fiction would be a difficult “sell,” because teens don’t want to read that genre.

But, I believe that history, if told the right way, brings the past to life, fires up the imagination and, sometimes, in revealing the past, illuminates our path forward.

If the responses I got from the kids in Houston tell me anything, the editor at the conference got it wrong. Go teens!

BUY the Book

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TLA Conference Schedule

TLA Schedule

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Gearing Up for Houston-Area School Presentations & TLA Conference

ETF Jeopardy Logo

On April 2 & 3, I will give presentations at 3 Houston-area middle schools; my first school presentations so far. I’ll present again at a middle school in my home state of Washington later this spring. I hope to do many more!

I’ve enjoyed crafting my Evangelina Takes Flight school presentation and worked in an exciting game of ETF Jeopardy to make it fast-paced and fun. Photos of the events to come!

On April 4, I’ll participate on a panel at the Texas Library Association’s Conference in Dallas on the research involved in writing a historical fiction. In preparation, I’ve tried to re-trace the many sources I used: books, documentaries, websites, articles, recorded interviews of first-hand accounts, Q&A sessions with history professors and perhaps most important of all, frequent conversations with my father who shared my Abuelita’s story and deep knowledge of history and Mexican culture. The writing experience was a beautiful father-daughter melding of minds and hearts.


My Abuelita and her 4 children. My father is sitting on the stool.


I began writing the book with no background on the Mexican Revolution or the discrimination suffered by so many fearful-hopeful-desperate immigrants who crossed the US border. As the book sprang from my fingertips onto the page, the research came together like puzzle pieces that took shape in the form of a manuscript and eventually, a finished product. What a revelation it’s been!

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