Who said a wife is obligated to have a passionate opinion regarding bedroom drapes? What do you say to a friend when you can't stand her husband? When is okay to encourage a friend to lie to her new boyfriend? Where is the line between being friendly and flirting? How do you prove to your parents that you really are an adult?
The who, what, where, why and how about friends, family, marriage and life in Los Angeles slightly fictionalized to protect the innocent, the not so innocent.
Reviewed by: Bela Rating: 4 stars
Review: Funny and smart—two
things Margo Candela once again delivers in this collection of short stories,
anecdotes, and essays. Reading more like blog entries, like something out of a
diary, I was still enthralled by the quirky bluntness of Candela’s “life
observations.” She basically says the loud part quiet and the quiet part loud.
My favorite anecdote
came from “Baby Steps: When Friends Ask Uncomfortable Questions.” In this one,
Candela’s friend is uncomfortably walking on egg shells around a baby some
co-worker brought in, and she asks if she should have a baby. Knowing her
friend, Candela suggests having a plant or a pet first. Then her friend comes
back saying, “If I do pop one out, I'll never bring it to work…I don't need to
force people to tell me my kid is the cutest thing they've ever seen. Most
babies are ugly or at least real weird looking.” [Life Observed: reality meets
fiction. SugarMissile, LLC. Kindle Edition.] Not being a baby person myself, I
One question that stuck
out at me was: Where does Margo meet these people? Even though I know “the
characters’ names have been changed to protect the innocent and
not-so-innocent,” as it says on the back cover, they are still based on people
she knows. It seems to be that her life has a soap opera revolving around it,
which makes for some pretty addicting reads.
Once again, I will keep
an eye out for the newest release from Ms. Margo Candela.
Gabby Fierro is a regular teenage girl. She worries about grades, boys, college and family. She's in the top 10 in her class and has everything going for her. If only it was so simple. Instead of concerning herself with where she is going to school and what prom dress to get, Gabby is getting it from both ends about her ethnicity. Between her best friend calling her a "wetback" and the annoying girl in her gym class harassing her about being "too white" Gabby is a confused ball of nerves. She is proud of her Mexican heritage but she also doesn't feel she needs to fall into one of the Mexican stereotypes. To Gabby she is an American with Mexican roots and doesn't understand why she needs to be considered one or the other. With the help of her family and friends Gabby has to look at herself and see what it actually means to 'act so white'. From the writer of the Double Threat Series and More Than a Friend Request comes a story of a girl just trying to figure out what it means to be herself with out any labels. Reviewed by: Celia Rating: 4 stars
Review: Gabby is smart, driven, and tired of being
ridiculed over who she is by BOTH sides of the equation. She is stuck between
being called “white” and a “wetback.” Seriously, how’s a girl to feel? Where
should she fit in?
If you were to define “Mexican-American,” are you
more Mexican or more American? How can one tell? According to Reyna, being
“smart” means acting “white.” So Mexicans can’t be smart? Being American means
The best line came from Gabby: “What am I? That’s
such a dumb question. I’m human. That’s what I am. What is he really asking?
Where am I from? What is my cultural background? What does ‘what are you’ even
It seemed like everything Gabby did she was
offending someone. Well, most of us know what it’s like to offend people with
your “existence” –and it makes it that much harder to be yourself. Well, screw
‘em, I say. I really liked Gabby. She was funny, charismatic, and
intelligent. She was definitely a sweet nerd I could relate to, especially when
it came to boys. That’s why I was surprised that she let these people get to
her. She should be who she is and not listen to anybody—words I offer to
However, as smart as Gabby was, she still had to
learn something about her tormentors. At first, I thought Ally and Reyna were
just mean, little girls; but then you take a closer look at them and realize
that they are just human like everyone else.
The story was all about finding out who your real
friends are and the kind of person you want to be. It mostly read like an
After School Special in that light-hearted “eat your veggies, brush your teeth”
kind of tone. I also thought that the ending was a tad bit surreal; the way
everything was resolved was very “Disney-esque” in which all the pieces seem to
fit perfectly and merrily. It SO does NOT happen that way in reality. Still,
this was a good YA book—quick and enjoyable.
Felix Alexander (1976-Present) is a Mexican-born, American-raised
novelist, and poet of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent.
Acclaimed by readers for his poetic prose, his indie releases include: Dear
Love: Diary of a Man's Desire, a collection of love letters and poems; and The
Romantic, a novel.
After his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army, he embarked on the long and
arduous journey of a writer. Having made a name for himself during his tenure,
serving his country, he vowed to himself and his fellow soldiers that he would
answer his true calling.
1.What inspired the idea for THE ROMANTIC?
I originally wrote the first draft several years
ago, during my separation. It was an outlet for the myriad of emotions I felt
at the time. Years later, after I concluded revisions on a different novel, I sat
at my desk with the windows open. My home office overlooks a water fountain,
and the new beginning simply came to me.
2.What was your writing process like?
I began each day with a can of Starbucks Double
Shot Espresso. I’d re-read what I had already written to recapture my momentum.
Whenever I hit “writer’s block,” I’d simply read. At the time, I was reading
the first Game of Thrones book, and I
merely immersed myself in another story instead of panicking the way I had in
3.How did you come up with the character of Hadriel Alighieri?
In many respects, his character was a reflection of
who I was. Although the name Hadriel was fabricated, the surname Alighieri was
derived from Dante Alighieri, because of his epic poem. To a romantic, love is
heaven. The absence of it—in the case of Hadriel—was his own personal hell. The
story was his journey during the stages of his life. Until he reconciles his
differences with God, and finds his angel.
4.How different do you think this story would
be had you written from a female perspective?
I daresay that writing it from a woman’s
perspective would have forced me to essentially face my greatest fear. What I
mean by that is… in order to tap into the depth of such sadness—with regard to
unrequited love—I believe I would have to see love through my daughter’s eyes,
because my greatest hope, and my greatest fear is that she will find her true
5.Do you consider this to be a romance story?
Yes, because even though there are scenes that
depict intimate encounters, the main premise of the story centers on the
emotions that create conflict in our love life.
6.What message did you want to convey with
I believe the message I hope to convey stems from
advice my dad shared with us growing up: When you love someone, take your time.
When you love someone, get to know who he or she truly is. When someone truly
loves you, they will show you. And when you have fallen in love, don’t be
afraid to say it…because tomorrow is promised to no one.
7.What do you hope readers will gain from
I hope they will draw wisdom about love and
relationships. I hope they will draw inspiration to tell their own love
stories. I hope they will discover that Latinos are great storytellers, too!
8.Do you feel your story is an inspiration to
I hope it will be. Many of us know someone who
migrated to America. Many of us have tasted love on foreign soil. Many of us
feel deeply, and passionately about love. I hope that The Romantic will encourage more Latinos to read and write, so that
we—as a community—pursue academic endeavors to raise the standard for future
9.What books do you like to read?
I love to read anything I can get my hands on!
Fantasy; Romance (paranormal, contemporary, literary); Historical epics;
Sci-Fi; Mystery and books on mythology/ancient civilizations.
10.Are you working on any other stories?
I am currently working on a mystery novel. I am also
waiting to hear back from a publisher about a fantasy novel, which will be the
first in a series.
To make ends meet, Maggie, a divorcee with three sons, takes creative moonlighting to the limit. While cleaning a model home with her friend, Jane, she discovers a naked dead man with a donut over his genitals. The dead man is a married contractor who had once groped Maggie. Maggie and Jane become caught up in the investigation to the annoyance of the police officer first on the scene. The Hispanic cop responds with pithy Mexican proverbs to Maggie’s sleuthing efforts. Then Maggie’s ex rolls into town scheming to sell the family home out from under her with the help of an unscrupulous realtor, who is a suspect in the murder. When her sons pop up into the crosshairs of the killer, Maggie sharpens her survival skills to protect them and bring down the murderer. TURN KEY CONDITION features a heroine who stares down danger with the humor and grace gained from an earlier detour into life’s darkness. Reviewed by: Sandra L. Rating: 2.5 stars
Review: What could be more fun than cleaning celebrity
homes at night? How about finding a dead body—naked!? All he had was a donut
over the genitals. By the way, I also thought that the “donut” was a Krispy
Kreme donut—you know, the kinds you find Homer Simpson salivating over. I
actually thought that would’ve been funnier. Oh, well.
the bat, the mystery of the dead body is presented to the reader, but then it
immediately deviates to the background information of the two main characters, slowing
the pace of the story. In fact, I wonder if this was even necessary since we
return to that very scene at the end of chapter 1.
reader will enjoy Maggie’s biting wit. What I liked best about her was the
humor she had about the whole situation. There’s a dead man in the middle of
the room and all she can think of is getting paid for the night. Well, yeah!
And what’s the harm of taking a photo to possibly sell to the tabloids? Hey,
easy money! The struggle to make a buck is something we can all relate to.
Moving on, Maggie
could not shake the wonder of who the killer was. Perhaps she was obsessing a
little too much about it, which then resulted in an in-depth speculation that
included every minute character in the book. Who could’ve done such a thing?
How did they do it? And, most importantly, why?
As we get
down to the nitty-gritty of the case, I found my curiosity waning. Perhaps it was the languorous details
concerning the victim’s real estate entities. Then there was all this talk
about the Taliban, KGB, CIA, and SEAL—nothing really that tickled my fancy. The
austere approach of Officer Fortunado “Tuna” Rocha (the Hispanic cop) was a
stark contrast to Maggie’s neurotic ingenuity. Did that make them a great team?
Not necessarily. I felt that their chemistry was off-synch. Maggie and Jane
were the dynamic duo, but, unfortunately, they knew zilch about solving crimes.
this was an okay read. I was allured by the peculiar fashion of the murder (in
fact, the entire story centered on that hilarious anecdote) and entertained by
the occasional quips between the characters, but I wasn’t completely fulfilled
by the fatuous plot development and general flow.
M.L. Ortega was raised in the North by Southerners and thus learned to embrace dichotomy, which shows in her writing. With humor at the wheel, dark subject matter rides 'shotgun'.
Moving frequently throughout her childhood, her family finally settled in California, where she eventually married and had four children. The children have grown and moved away, leaving her in the care of a very patient husband and two independent cats.
1.Where did the idea for TURN KEY CONDITION
I work in a school office. One day my son
came home from a college class dealing with human sexuality and told me a
startling statistic on the estimated number of people who have been abused as
young people. All staff members are mandated reporters, meaning they have to
report even a suspicion of abuse to authorities. I wondered how someone with
that kind of history would react to such a suspicion. Would it bring back
2.What was the inspiration behind the main
When I did research into the subject I was
surprised at the number of very successful people who had survived that
experience and wanted to present a character who reflected such resilience,
living a regular life with a lot of humor.
3.What do you think made Maggie, a cleaning
lady, a suitable detective?
She’s not a cleaning woman, per se. This is a
single mom who does any odd job that comes her way to support her family. That
kind of hands-on attitude gave her innate qualities to solve whatever comes
into her life and threatens her family.
4.Can you briefly describe the relationship of
Maggie and Jane?
Sometimes the most opposites of people make
the best of friends. They seem to make up what is lacking in the other person
and appreciate the traits they themselves don’t have. That’s why you often see
a shy, introverted person becoming best friends with a gregarious one.
5.Do you enjoy watching crime shows like CSI?
I enjoy them but at the same time was
frustrated by them. There were the gritty shows like Law and Order, Hannibal
and Justified. Then, the odd misfit detective shows like Perception. British
ones like the new Sherlock Holmes and the Agatha Christie ones aired on
Masterpiece Mystery. But none that reflected the reality of many of the School
Resource Officers I’ve met at school – many of them Hispanic.
6.What was your writing process like when
writing this novel?
I began on a
spring break, set up an outline and set each chapter as the events of a day
keeping a time frame that resolved the events in the book within about a week.
For some reason, that kept the ball rolling. I go into more detail about this
on an article on my blog entitled “My Writing Process” http://mlortega.wordpress.com/
7.Who are the authors that you admire most?
there are many good women mystery writers, I’ve just recently found Desiree
Zamarano, who’s a Southern California Sisters in Crime member and pretty good
8.What do you hope readers will gain from your
understanding of abuse survivors, interesting insight into Hispanic culture. A
new TV network for Hispanics, NUVO, has just come on the scene and it reflects
the bicultural experience I see in the friends I have and my co-workers.
There’s a sense that hispanics/latino(a)s are neither fish nor fowl. They have
their own culture.
9.Do you feel your book is an inspiration to
an inspiration but I hope the proverbs take them back to their childhood years
where usually grandparents voiced these sayings. Full disclosure here: I
am not Hispanic but have an outsider’s view into the culture through my fellow
office workers and outside friends. It’s their thoughts and feelings I hope to
express through Fortunado (Tuna) Rocha, one of the characters in Turn Key
10.What is your next project?
Shampoo and Condition, Book Two of Conditions Series in which
Maggie’s sister-in-law drops dead in a beauty salon called “Ro-Sham-Bo” and Tuna
again buffers Maggie from the dangers of criminal investigation.
Have you ever wondered why popular books keep giving us the same tired plot lines over and over again?
Peter sure does. He has a theory that there are simply no more original ideas left in the world. To prove his hunch right, he makes a bet with his best friend, Andy. Together, along with the girl of his dreams and his best friend’s wife, they set out on a zany adventure that includes escaping the clutches of an illegal street racing crew, a terrorist attempt, one creepy morgue attendant, and a near death experience at the wheel of a well-known celebrity.
Will Peter find out why all of the words went away or will this unlikely foursome just prove he is a terrible writer?
has a problem: he has a hard time writing something that doesn’t suck. It’s a
lot more difficult than it seems, especially when everything has been done to
best-selling novel, he won’t be able to make all those millions.So how does he end up making a living?
running an academic paper mill…Some people may take the moral high road on
this. Thos people would find the thought of doing work for other people, such
as lazy college students that are on a free ride through a sport scholarship,
detestable, but I see things just a little bit differently. I’m poor. You’d be
surprised by this, but a degree in English doesn’t stretch as far as it used
to…Besides the whole not-being-able-to-get-the-teaching-position-I-wanted thing,
I’m kind of soft. I can’t handle manual labor and I sure as hell can’t handle
retail. Retail, with its exchange of money for goods or services, requires
numbers and calculations and people yelling at you. Oh, God, the yelling.” (13)
also an interesting theory about the doppelganger. “Is this another one of your
stupid theories? Like the whole thing about everyone on the planet having a
doppelganger because there’s a limited number of human facial features that
humans can have or whatever?” Mmmm…
the bet: Proving that creativity is dead. Fascinating!
Peter is a
lovable, smart, frumpy nerd with a deep knowledge of pop culture and an
incredible shyness toward girls—like the guys on The Big Bang Theory. Andy’s wife, Angela, is one scary, jealous
Latina with her always yelling at him. No wonder Peter is afraid of her.
I loved the
cholo fight that they all get into. What is
the deal with the tear drop tattoo?
in-your-face humor, this story incorporates many genres—action, romance,
mystery, drama, horror, adventure—into one zany and enjoyable package. I didn’t
quite understand how they all wound up at a terrorist war camp surrounded by
dead zombies. Weird!
artistic integrity? What about making something that is going to last, be
memorable, mean something? Isn’t that why we do this? Why we create? I know I’m
just some wanna-be writer, but I can’t be the only one who isn’t in it for the
money. I’m in it because I want to share my stories with the world! I want kids
to have a sense of imagination and adults have the book stay with them years
after they’ve put it down…I want to leave something behind when I die.” (208)
how Peter is trying to kill himself to come up with a unique story, not
realizing that he was in one. Readers will wonder what Peter will learn at the
end of this day. Will he finally come up with that original story? Or will he
Christina Escamilla Publishing is a two-fold website. First and foremost, the primary goal is to help me personally connect with other writers and readers by providing a plethora of engaging content and interactive fun. Here, you’ll find everything from book reviews (which you can also vote on yourself) to advice and writing tips on a variety of topics.
Second, the site also allows me to offer up my books and stories for you to enjoy! As much as I enjoy writing, I live for the moment where my worlds and characters get to live on through reader imagination. I’m a pretty eclectic writer so I hope you find something that peaks your interest!
1.Whatinspired the idea for THE DAY THE WORDS WENT AWAY?
A few years ago I entered my first Nanowrimo
contest.It’s basically a challenge to
write a 50k word novel in month.I sat
down at my computer, completely eager to come up with something amazing…and
then I couldn’t decide what to write.So
instead of writing an actual story down I simply wrote out my thoughts, which
became the opening to the tDtWWA.Last
year, after releasing my first book, 64
Deaths, I knew I wanted my next novel to center on the concept of original
ideas and writing tropes, but in a fun and humorous way.I immediately thought back to that running stream
of consciousness and how it felt to try to come up with something without
making traction – so it all just escalated from there.
2.Whatwas your writing process like?
When I get a good idea for a novel,
which usually comes by connecting a bunch of random ideas together, the first
thing I do is start to map out what I have.I flesh out characters, begin to come up with key scenes, figure out
locations, etc.Then, once I have a
collection of notes, I draw up a synopsis and make a basic shell for the story,
usually chapter by chapter.Then I sit
down and begin to write the first draft. From there on out, I let the story
take me where it wants to go and after I’m done I edit, edit, edit, and edit
some more until I hand it off.
3.Howdid you come up with the character of Peter?
Since the original story was just a
collection of my thoughts, it was really easy to kind of throw in a lot of
things that I liked, such as a lot of love for specific TV shows, books,
movies, and other pop culture stuff.However, I knew I wanted the story to have a male lead that is not your
traditional protagonist.To that extent,
I wanted him to be kind of awkward, socially inept, eternally optimistic, and
be sometimes unsure of himself.So I
tried to merge all of these aspects to make a sweet guy that means well, but
doesn’t always meet his mark.
4.Whydid you write this story from a male point of view?
I wanted to use a male for two
reasons: I thought it would be challenging to look at the world from a male
point of view, and still have it be really realistic, and I wanted to use your
typical book protagonist and make it completely the opposite of what is generally
expected.I had a lot of fun with it,
and hopefully I did Peter’s character justice!
5.Wasthere a reason you incorporated different genres into one book?
Since this book was not only a way to
simply allow people a good laugh, but also a commentary on the writing process
in general, I thought it would be a good idea to play around with different genres.I wanted to make the book a Hodgepodge of the
most popular concepts and common stereotypes to both poke fun at them, but also
use them to help showcase how you can use these ideas and make them very much
your own without worrying about whether or not your idea is “original” enough.
6.Wasthere a hidden message for writers? If so, what?
Absolutely!At the heart of the book is the bare bones
reason that we write – because it keeps us alive.It allows us to share how we see the world
with our audience.I think a lot of
writers, especially new writers, make the mistake of trying to meet some kind
of technical standard.They think that
they have to have that one spark of inspiration, or if they do x, y, and z in a
specific order then they will have the perfect manuscript.I’d like the book to show that writing is not
about all that technical stuff, but it’s about the actual doing.To get a good idea you don’t need to have a
set a rules – you just need to go out and live.The ideas will happen by default.
7.Whatdo you hope readers will gain from this book?
First and foremost, I hope that
people find it funny and get a really good laugh out of it.Even if that’s all that happens!But, I’d also love for people to get a
general appreciation for life, and living and how the best inspiration comes
from going on crazy adventures with the people you love the most.
8.Doyou feel your story is an inspiration to Latinos?
I believe it is, and that is definitely
my hope!As a Latina, I think it’s
really important that we have a sense of community that also extends into the larger
world.Our cultures and customs should
be treasured and also shared, whether that is in the sense of the broader
spectrum or in a personal facet.For
instance, I wanted to include a feisty Latina woman who is roughly modeled
after my sister and I also wanted to include a lot of the language.Not just Spanish, but also a lot of the playful
back and forth disses that are harmless and done in jest, but for someone like
Peter it’s seen as threatening because he doesn’t understand it.I really wanted to use that approach because
it puts a mirror to the idea of the “us versus them” mentality that some folk
have when faced with any culture not their own.At the same time I liked the idea that Latinos would “get” some of the
jokes and scenes, so I hope that the book is received well in that sense.
9.Whatbooks do you like to read?
I read just about everything!I write in a variety of different genres and
that love of experimentation and exploration definitely factors into my reading
choices.You can find everything from
romance to horror to children’s books and everything in between!
working on any other stories?
Yep!I have two projects going on right now.First is the sequel to The Day the
Words Went Away, which will feature more crazy shenanigans, but will take
place across much of Europe.In
addition, I am accepting submissions for my “Welcome to the Future” anthology.The open call ends
in September 15th and the book will be published around November.