LunaI had foot surgery recently and have been laid up almost completely – no pressure on the foot for 4 weeks. Given that I’ll be in this rather potato-like state for a while, I decided to hold my breath, make a wish and dive in to an Evangelina Takes Flight sequel.

I’ve had some ideas floating around my head for a sequel but didn’t have enough, or in any order to make for an entire storyline, that is, until I found myself with all this time on my hands (not on my feet).

Writing a historical fiction is a serious commitment due to the amount of research that has to be done on top of the story development and writing itself. Four chapters in and I already love where the story is leading me. And the research – the surprising and illuminating research! There’s at least one thing on every page I have to check into.

The story is set in 1914.

  • When did the position of sheriff become an elected one?
  • When did murder “by degrees” come into being?
  • What kinds of food would have been typical in southwest county jails?
  • Who was the first female Mexican-American doctor in the US and what was her journey to success like?
  • What exactly was happening in the Mexican Revolution that year?
  • Are there any cases in US history of curanderos (or “healers”) from Mexico being tried for witchcraft?
  • What would a smart-looking and not too overdone ladies hat have looked like; what would it have been made of and adorned with?
  • Were there many (if any) female reporters in the newspaper industry and what did they write about?

Evangelina Takes Flight was bestowed with some notable awards due to its historical authenticity, and I pledge to take as much care with the research on the sequel. I have so much to learn, and oh, what fun it will be!

PS: the photo is of Luna (and Diego in the background). They’ve been good company while I recuperate and type, type, type.

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The Raiders are Coming! ~Book Review~

Somehow I missed this review of Evangelina Takes Flight, posted in October 2018 on the site Books YA Love. The *reviewer did an excellent job capturing the suspenseful elements of the novel.

The raiders are coming! Evangelina Takes Flight with her family, by Diana J. Noble (book review)

book cover of Evangelina Takes Flight, by Diana J. Noble, published by Pinata Books | recommended on Pancho Villa‘s rebels are coming!
Carry what you can and flee – or be killed!
But refugees aren’t welcomed when they cross into Texas…

So much for 13-year-old Evangelina to cope with now – a girl trying to steal her suitcase on the train (with grandfather’s secret box inside!), store signs in the Texas town that say “No Mexicans” (where can they buy food?), and wondering if they can ever go home to Mexico (is anyone safe there?).

The story is set in 1911, but many things still resonate today in the borderlands.

Book info: Evangelina Takes Flight / Diana J. Noble. Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press, 2017.

My book talk: Pancho Villa and his rebel soldiers are coming? As big sister celebrates her quinceanera before the family flees their northern Mexico rancho, Evangelina worries about little Tomas’ recovering so slowly from a scorpion sting, whether grandfather can travel north with them, what they will find at her aunt’s house in Texas.

By mule wagon, with the men herding their best cattle on another trail, Evangelina’s mother gets the children to the crowded train station, but the journey onward is anything but smooth, and the Texas border town holds no welcome for refugees.

Why is wailing woman La Llorona coming into her dreams?
Will the townspeople’s prejudice keep her and Dr. Taylor from saving lives?
What is in the box grandfather gave her for safekeeping?

Evangelina might even be brave enough to attend the town meeting where rich white people are demanding that only white children can attend the school!


*Katy Manck, MLS Librarian-at-large & independent book reviewer recommends great books beyond the bestseller lists, rather than reviewing every YA book she reads.

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Book Review by Romeo Rosales, Jr.

Romeo Rosales, Jr

Thrilled and grateful to see this review of Evangelina Takes Flight by Romeo Rosales, Jr. posted on the Goodreads website. Mr Rosales is the Collections and Acquisitions Librarian at BiblioTech, the only 100% digital library in the country, located in San Antonio, TX. He’s also a contributor for Book Riot and Public Libraries Online, an author, blogger and historian.

“What a great, timely novel by a talented writer. Noble’s novel comes to life and should resonate with readers of all ages. Her cursory exploration of the struggle Mexican families faced during the revolution hit home for me. Although fictional, this book is definitely based off her actual family’s dilemma during the Mexican Revolution: Should we stay or should we go? Being a product of the Rio Grande Valley, a Texas – Mexico border region, I recall hearing stories about families who fled the revolution and settled in Texas towns all along the Rio Grande. Their stories, having been marginalized for too long, deserve to be told. The characters in this story are well-developed and the book reads so well, that it is quite literally hard to put down. This beautiful story of tragedy, love and loss is an important piece of literature that belongs among the pantheon of books of the same topic. I highly recommend this read for all those who have ever wondered, or even considered, the true perplexity of the relationship between Texas and Mexico.”         

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Panelist @ Texas Library Association Conference – Tuesday, April 16, 10 am

Thrilled to be invited back 2 years in a row! And, bonus! It’s in Austin this year. Before my official duties begin, my husband and I plan to spend some time with cousin Joaquín and his lovely wife, Heather, in central Texas wine country. Here we come!

If you’d like me to speak at YOUR event, or school or library or book club, check out the “Author Interactions” tab on the front page of this site for more information.

With the 2019 school year coming to a close, now is the time to plan author visits for Hispanic Heritage Month in the September/October timeframe. While I believe the themes in Evangelina Takes Flight are highly relevant all year long, Hispanic Heritage Month is a perfect opportunity to highlight Mexican history, accomplishments, contributions and culture.

TLA Conf Schedule 2019

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Publishing Statistics on Children’s Books About and by People of Color

“Imagine a day when all children can see themselves in the pages of a book.” ~We Need Diverse Books

Laredo Public Library 7.11.17

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has released its annual publishing statistics on children’s books about people of color and First/Native Nations, as well as titles written by people of color and First/Native Nations authors and illustrators.

Of all the children’s and youth books published in 2017, less than 6% had significant Latinx content/characters, and only 2% were written by Latino authors. 18% of the United States population is Hispanic or Latino. Sources: Lee & Low Publishers, US Census

While the data below shows a level of improvement, there is more progress to be made.

CCBC Stats for Multicultural Books_Authors

We Need Diverse Books™ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people. To support We Need Diverse Books, check out their website.

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Wonderful Time with the Kids from Icicle Creek Middle & Cascade High Schools

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I will always cherish my time with the students at Icicle Creek Middle and Cascade High Schools in stunning Leavenworth, WA followed by a book signing at A Book for All Seasons. The kids energized and inspired me (smart, polite, curious, totally engaged!), and the librarian, Amy, was a most gracious host. Thanks to her and Theresa at the bookstore for arranging everything. I wrote Evangelina Takes Flight so I could have exactly these types of experiences! My school presentation is part “Mexican Revolution history + my personal author’s journey talk” and part Evangelina Takes Flight Jeopardy which the kids seem to love, judging by all the raised hands and enthusiasm in the room!

If you’d like me to visit your school, library or book club, check out the author interactions section of this site.

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Recipe – Smoky Mexican Charro Beans


I looked over the recipes on my blog today and was surprised to see that I’d never posted a recipe for Mexican Charro beans, the high protein staple of many Mexican kitchens! My own family ate them 3-4 times a week, sometimes more.

Serve them with scrambled eggs, pico de gallo and hot flour tortillas for a do it yourself breakfast burrito. Serve them for lunch with rice cooked in spiced chicken broth and a side of guacamole and tortilla chips, or serve them with enchiladas, inside burritos, alongside tacos, fideo, chile verde, chile relleno, tostadas or just about anything else!



  • 1 lb (2 cups) dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped (my Abuelita used a ham hock)
  • 2 T corn or canola oil for sautéing
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, split, deveined, seeded and minced (or just half a jalapeño if you don’t want that much heat)
  • 1/2 c chopped cilantro
  • ground cumin, salt, pepper

These beans are served whole (rather than mashed). You can also take these same beans and mash them into a smoother, bacony concoction much like you see in Mexican restaurants.

  • Put 1 lb (2 cups) of dried pinto beans in a colander and rinse them thoroughly. Remove any whole or partial beans that are significantly discolored. You also want to check for pebbles and clumps of dirt. Unless you want to eat pebbles and dirt, but I don’t recommend it.
  • To get rid of the stuff that causes gas, use one of these 2 techniques:
    1. Put the beans in a pot and cover them with water (plus about 4 extra inches). Let soak overnight and drain the beans in a colander in the morning.
    2. Cover the beans with water (plus a few extra inches) and bring them to a full boil. Turn them off and drain the beans in a colander.
  • Put the prepared beans into a crock pot and cover with up to 3 extra inches of water. Cover and cook on high up to 4 hours or medium up to 6 hours. Do not add any spices at this stage. If you add salt too early, the beans will stay hard!
  • Cut half a pound of bacon into small chunks and brown until medium-crispy.
  • In a separate skillet heat the oil and sauté 1 chopped yellow onion, 1 finely chopped jalapeño (seeded and deveined), 4 cloves minced fresh garlic and 3 diced plum tomatoes.
  • When the beans in the crockpot are soft and easily pierced with a fork, add the bacon (with some of the bacon grease, but not all) and the onion-tomato mixture.
  • Stir in 1/2 c chopped cilantro.
  • Stir in 1 t ground cumin.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook another half hour uncovered to let the bacon soften up and infuse that smoky flavor.

Serve in bowls – the liquid the beans have cooked in is delicious!


Using a large cooking spoon, remove some (not all) of the liquid from the fully cooked beans before adding the onions, tomatoes and spices. Leave at least 1 extra inch of cooking liquid or the beans will be dry.

After adding the onions, tomatoes and spices, use a potato masher to mash the beans to the desired consistency. I have a Braun hand-blender which is much easier. I just plug it in, plunge the hand-blender into the beans and blend.

Note: Black beans, not pinto beans, are more commonly served in Mexico’s southern region.


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Evangelina Takes Flight Review


I so enjoyed the review below by Rebecca Balcárel that I had to share it with you. Her words capture everything I tried to accomplish when writing Evangelina Takes Flight. Thank you, Rebecca!

Kids aged 10-14 will enjoy meeting Evangelina and her family as they flee their village in Mexico during the Revolution in 1911. Gone are the scrumptious fruits of their hacienda and elaborate plans for Evangelina’s quinceañera. Instead, their lives turn to surviving a nighttime escape and a cold welcome in a Texas town. Readers will root for observant, kind Evangelina as she faces racism and condescension in school and throughout town. When her intelligence is noticed by a doctor, she finds a way to shine in the midst of cruelty. With lovely turns of phrase, a well-drawn historical context, and emotional depth, this book is a must-read at this time in US history, when we need to grasp both the horrors that refugees have endured and conquered, and the gifts and talents they bring to their new homes.

Readers – if you enjoyed Evangelina Takes Flight, post a review on Amazon, goodreads or any site that accepts reviews.

In a few weeks I will be off to gorgeous Leavenworth, WA to speak to middle and high school students about the book. Looking forward to it! Will post photos soon after.

If you’d like me visit your school, book club or library, there’s more information posted on this site under “Author Interactions” in the gray bar near the top of the page.

Happy reading!

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The Importance of Family Stories

family stories

I recently received an email from a distant cousin, Margie Coronado, who reminded me of the importance of being inquisitive about family history and taking the time to listen to our elders. When they pass, we mourn their loss and only later realize their precious memories are gone forever, and with them, our opportunity to understand our heritage and pass it on to future generations.

Don’t wait to learn your own family stories. Ask your parents and/or grandparents soon, and record what they say with a recording device or in writing. Their stories are a treasure of incalculable value. Capture and pass them on. Evangelina Takes Flight, is a retelling of my own family stories with a lot of creative license thrown in. My mother, father, Tío David, cousin Chema and others provided the family history, and what an honor it was. I only wish I’d asked my grandmothers to tell me about their experiences firsthand, but I lost that chance a long time ago.

Thank you to cousin Margie for the following:

I stayed up quite late reading “Evangelina Takes Flight” … I had to know what was going to happen to Evangelina and her family. What a heartwarming story!

I loved all the characters and wondered throughout the story how many of my ancestors faced similar obstacles and challenges. I wondered if they also fled the revolution in Mexico and wound up settling in Guerrero, Zapata, Laredo, Hebbronville ….  I wish I had been old enough and knowledgeable enough to have asked my grandparents about their journey, and that of their ancestors, to the U.S.

Now there is no one to ask.  Everyone is gone and there is no one to ask except my mom and my aunt but, unfortunately, they are both in the last stages of dementia. However, I feel so blessed to have gotten a glimpse of my ancestral history through the book. Since I started reading about our ancestors, I am filled with such pride and wonder for all they endured and accomplished.  




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Author Interactions

Happy New Year! I recently added information about author presentations to this site – the audiences I might speak to, the topics I can present, my fee, book ordering logistics, etc. Click on “Author Interactions” on the menu bar above to learn more.

I would be honored to speak to your book club, parent group, students (middle school, high school, college), library patrons, civic organizations, etc. Please contact me at to make arrangements. I look forward to hearing from you!

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