Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rights to Literacy Campaign

As an author and former teacher, a mother of young children and a Latina-American who adores and credits libraries and books with the fact that she had the opportunity to become literate, I'm very proud to be participating in a rights to literacy campaign this weekend at my local library.

The best way for me to share information about this event is to let the two fabulous ladies running the events this weekend speak for themselves.

Linda Adams, Computer Lab Coordinator

Paula Miller, Literacy Program Coordinator

Julia: The Norman F. Feldheym Library always has so many great events for the community. You have an upcoming event this weekend. Can you share what the Delcaration to the Rights to Literacy National Literacy Campaign is, and what the public will be signing between July 31st and August 3rd?

Linda and Paula: In June 2009 at the National Community Literacy Conference, a Right to Literacy Convention convened. Delegates from across the country discussed and voted on the U. S. Declaration for the Right to Literacy.

The need is clear – tens of millions of adults and children do not have the skills needed to succeed in life. Literacy is the number one tool to make change and impact economic prosperity. The right to literacy must be a National priority!

The Declaration of the Right to Literacy is supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The Right to Literacy Declaration scroll has traveled the country and has been signed by tens of thousands of supporters. The scroll is making its way to the White House and is expected to be presented to President Obama in September 2010 for Literacy Awareness month.

Julia: Wow, that's exciting! I can't wait to sign it. I agree that being literate is the a great determiner of success in life. I always told my students that if they learned to read, they could learn about anything that interested them. It opens doors to their future.

Linda and Paula: Yes, literacy is essential to ensure prosperity for the nation and self determination for the individual. Changes at the national, regional and local level must take place.

Julia: What events will you have and are they open to the public?

Linda and Paula:

On Saturday, July 31 11:00 am to 4:00 pm we have the Local Author Event you'll be participating in. The “Right to Literacy” -- Authors in Support of Literacy

Local Authors will be invited to display, promote and sell their books as well as sign the Literacy Scroll to show their support.

The public will also be encouraged to sign and view the Scroll.

On Tuesday, August 3 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm we'll have - “Right to Literacy” – A Local Celebrations. Jack L. Hill Literacy Center Open House 3:00 – 5:00 pm

An Open House will showcase the Literacy Department of the Library and will be a precursor to the evening event highlighting the Scroll

Well have speakers 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Local Education and Literacy Advocates speak about their lives and work in promotion of a more literate America.

Speakers will include: Miss Dorothy Inghram
Mr. John Weeks
Mr. Phil Yeh

Reception 7:00 – 8:00 pm

Local politicians and other dignitaries will be invited to sign the “Declaration for the Right to Literacy” Scroll.

These events are open to the public

Julia: What other programs or events are available at the library throughout the year to encourage Literacy?

Linda and Paula:
The Jack L. Hill Literacy Center at the library provides basic literacy, ESL and citizenship classes as well as homework assistance to school age youth to over 450 adults per year. Today the Literacy Center is venturing into helping people with job seeking and preparation. Although this has always been a small portion of what our adult learners are taught, this year finds us working more diligently on this topic.

The library also has a summer reading program for children and teens. We also have early literacy, baby story time and preschool story times to encourage families to be involved in their children’s reading.
Julia: My students in the past, and my own children have participated in some of these programs, like the summer reading program, so I know they are wonderful. Thank you so much for all you do, and I look forward to seeing you on Saturday!
I encourage anyone who lives close to the library to stop by and sign the scroll!
Here is the library address:
555 W. 6th St.
San Bernardino, Ca. 92410

Friday, July 23, 2010

Taste Wine Like a Professional

I'm desperately trying to finish up re-writes on my next book set in a winery in Temecula and partially in Mendoza, Argentina. So today will be a short blog on how to properly taste wine. Books on wine tasting promise that the more times you do this, the more you'll develop your palate -- though I'm not sure I'm buying this. The more wine I taste, the drunker I get, and the more they all start tasting the same. But I'm sure they mean over time.

So, if you want to look like you know what you're doing, you first look at the wine in your glass and hold it up against the light. You might see a range of colors. Older wines will sort of fade as they approach the rim. Once you've admired the coloring, you swirl it around to release the wine's aromas. Then inhale and see if you can distinguish the key fruit flavors. After doing this many times, I actually started to smell and accurately guess if it was going to have say a cherry flavor. Interestingly, wine never smells like grape.

Finally after comparing with your friends what you think the wine smells like, and everyone having a different idea, go ahead and taste it. This is where it gets complicated. You're supposed to roll the wine around in your mouth so that your tongue can tastes all the various flavors. Your tongue can taste sweetness at the tip and as you move back, saltiness. On the sides you'll have a sensitivity to sourness and acidity. And lastly, bitterness is sensed way in the back. And as you have the wine in your mouth, rolling it around, you should suck in a little air to release more flavors. (Ah, huh, right)

Exhale through your nose and see what scents you can distinguish.

If at this point, you haven't dribbled the wine down your chin and onto your fancy top or drowned, see if you can distinguish it's weight. Light? Medium? Full-bodied? What were the levels of acidity (a bitter taste)? Was it sweet or dry? What fruits can you taste?

Finally, swallow it (or you can spit it out, but I just can bring myself to do this in public - which is why I end up with my head spinning after a couple of wineries). Notice any lingering flavors.

So, did you like it? If you did, you can buy a bottle. Or move on to the next wine.

It's actually a lot of fun. But, I have to be honest, I love wine much better at home with friends, empanadas and a barbeque.

Hugs to all. Now back to my novel.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Activities

It's officially summer, I think. It's hot everywhere. Yesterday, I took my daughter to the beach, which was nice, but on the way home, at 6:30 at night the temperature was still 101 degrees when I got home.

Actually, I don't mind the heat. I like all the summer activities. Going to the beach, taking my kids to the variety of camps that are available (where were these camps when I was a kid?), and taking family vacations.
Here are few things I've been doing:

Having a baby shower and watching grown women drink water out of baby bottles -LOL
I'm going to be an aunt next month!!!!
Yay, can't wait!!!!!!!!!!

Volunteering at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Great place! I love donating my time to a place that does so much to help the public become aware of the oceans and its inhabitants.

A lot of fun watching enjoy themselves!

Taking kids to play with friends at various amusement parks. I couldn't get on anything that went round and round. Ugh!

How come kids never get sick on these things??

Spent a week in Palm Springs. If you want hot, this is the place to.

These wind mills produce energy for the desert valley. One year my husband and took a tour of the windmills. Most of the information was way more than I wanted to know, but it was interesting. This year we just hung out at the pool. No windmill tours, but you drive by them on the way to Palm Springs and they are very cool to look at.

What has made each of these summer visits and activities so much fun is that I've had the chance to be with family and a friends that I love, and that's the best part.
Then there are the hours re-writing next year's novel. Thank goodness it's coming along well. Going back to a novel you haven't seen in months is always sort of awesome, because it's like reading a new novel, crazy as that sounds. I get into the characters again, and read the book as if someone else had written it. Very happy to almost have this finished!

So what has everyone else been doing this summer?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Interview with Margo Candela

While I was out in Palm Springs baking in 114 degree weather a couple of weeks ago, alternating between a pool and an air conditioned rec. room, I took along an advanced reading copy of Margo Candela's new release GOOD-BY TO ALL THAT, due to be released July 13th, and totally loved it.

Margo's writing style is unique, and I always enjoy reading about her unpredictable characters who are placed in very cool settings that are unfamiliar enough to intrigue me.

So today, I'm happy to share an interview with Margo, but first, a little about the book.

Great Reviews!

"Margo Candela combines a cunning wit with a deep understanding of the office politics specific to the entertainment industry to create a frantic atmosphere and a near breathless momentum as the story barrels toward an ending that's anything but your focus grouped happy fade-out." --Publishers Weekly

“Candela captures the ups and downs of Hollywood in her appealing send-up of the cutthroat side of the industry.” –Booklist

The Story:

Raquel Azorian has worked her way from temp to executive assistant and is this close to a promotion when her boss suffers a very public meltdown that puts not only his future in Hollywood, but also Raquel’s on the line.

It’s not just Raquel’s professional life that’s a mess, her whole family is in turmoil and Raquel is forced to become the intermediary—all while trying to figure out how to save her job and not derail her office romance with the man of her dreams. Unfortunately for her, the clashing of her personal and professional life is making that rung hard to reach for. When the chaos of juggling so many lives reaches a breaking point, Raquel realizes she’s going to have to choose—success at work or happiness at home. Whatever choice she makes, Raquel knows it going to cost her, but part of her is still pulling for her very own Hollywood ending.

The Interview:

JA: Tell me how you would describe Good-bye To All That to those waiting to read it.

Margo: The book came together for me when I conceptualized it as Working Girl meets Mad Men with a dash of Entourage. That movie and those two shows really sum up the world that Raquel, the main character, is living and trying to succeed in. It’s the funny, frustrating and highly fictionalized story of young woman trying to make it at a Disney-esque type of company while trying to keep her family from falling apart.

JA: What made you want to write a Hollywood industry novel?

Margo: I moved back to Los Angeles from San Francisco in 2005 and realized just how different the two cities are. In San Francisco, when I’d tell people I was a writer, they’d ask if I was published or what kind of writing I did. In L.A. everyone automatically assumes I write for film or TV and then they ask why I’m bothering with books. There’s just a different mindset here and a lot of it is influenced by Hollywood. Everyone is supposed to have a fabulous life and washboard abs, but that’s not the case. When I started to think about Good-bye To All That, I knew I wanted to write a novel about a young woman who let her job take over her life and I wanted to explore the non-glamorous side Hollywood.

JA: How much research did it involve, and how much of the craziness reflects real life?

Margo: I did a lot of listening, question asking and observing of friends who have desk jobs in big companies. I didn’t feel like work for me because I have a thing for office life. I find it fascinating and I’m lucky that friends were willing to share their workplace horror stories.

JA: I know you're a screenwriter too. Have you written a screenplay to Good-bye To All That?

Margo: I’ve written three screenplays so far, but Good-bye To All That is too fresh for me to consider tackling. It’s not easy to adapt your own work and most writers advise against it, but for me it was an opportunity to take a look at my books from a different perspective. The script I wrote for Life Over Easy is currently being read by producers and I’m really proud that I got it to a point where it can stand alone as a movie and still have the essence of the novel. I’ve also finished a draft of an original screenplay, but my preference is to write novels.

JA: Wow, that's exciting! Good luck with those. When you do get around to adapting GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT, and Hollywood snatches it up, who would you like to see play Raquel, Kyle, and the parents in a motion picture?

Margo: Jessica Alba would be perfect for Raquel. She’s smart and sexy, but I could see her dressing down and doing a hardworking Raquel justice. In the book Kyle is a smart and slick very attractive redhead so I’d have to go for Ewan McGregor. I was thinking about his charm and sex appeal when I wrote the Kyle character.

JA: Great choices! I liked Raquel's parents and their conflict. In some ways, they were typical Latino parents, but in many ways they were not. Were they based or inspired by anyone you know?

Margo: Let me state for the record that Marlene, Raquel’s mother, is in no way shape or form based on my mom. Her father is also nothing like my dad. I have no idea what kind of person I would have grown up to be if I had parents like Marlene and Robert. What I tried to do is see her parents as people, not just as Raquel’s mom and dad and give them traits and issues that arose from them being individuals. I will admit that there is a little bit here and there in all my characters of people I’ve met and know, but I’m always very careful not to borrow too much from someone’s real life. Using other people for novel fodder is one sure way to get yourself disinvited from Thanksgiving dinner for the rest of your life. Personally, I like turkey too much to risk making anyone I care about angry at me.

JA: Very good point and an important one to make. I don't know any writer who bases their characters on actualy people, just general traits that are common to people in general. Which brings me to Raquel who wasn't typical, stereotypical, or predictable at all, which was why I liked her so much. I felt bad that none the men in her family, personal life, or at work seemed to be there for her. Reason?

Margo: The book takes place in a time in Raquel’s life when men and romance aren’t on her radar. She’s kind of given up on having a relationship and is instead married to her job. She and her job have the perfect relationship because, for the most part, she’s getting what she wants and sees a bright future on the horizon. When her boss has his breakdown, she realizes she’s truly on her own. She can’t hide behind her job or depend on anyone to do theirs so she can continue to succeed at hers. I like to think that she’ll find the right guy. It just couldn’t happen while she was trying to sort out her work and family life. She had enough on her plate without throwing in the love of her life.

JA: I felt like the story wasn't over for Raquel. Are there plans for a sequel?

Margo: A sequel for Good-bye To All That would be great fun to write. I’d get to delve into a different part Hollywood and of what makes the industry tick. It would also give me an excuse to hang out at parties, raw food cafes and colonic spas for ‘research.’ But for now, I’m content to let Good-bye To All That stand on its own. My next book will also be set in Los Angeles with a whole new cast of characters and their issues.

JA: I look forward to any all your future books, Margo. And if you decide to write a sequel to GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT, I'll go with you to those parties and raw food cafes, but I'll skip the colonic spas - LOL. Thanks for a great interview!

Bloggers, please leave Margo some questions or comments for an opportunity to win a copy of GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT. I'll draw a winner from one of the comments on Sunday night.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

What I Love and What I Hate

I've been neglecting my blog lately, because summer had shown up and forced me to go on things like girl scout camp, swimming with my kids, vicious ping pong tournaments, and even to watch Disney movies. I'm in full mommy mode. But while sitting in the heat beside the pool, I made a list of things I loved and hated. Mostly it was a silly exercise to keep from being bored to death, but since it was sort of fun, I'll share my list with you.

Ten Things I Love

1. Smell of freshly shampooed hair on my kids (after they get out of the chlorinaded pool)

2. NYC lights viewed out of a hotel window 25+ floors up (thinking of next years RWA conference which will be in NYC and getting excited already)

3. Hot cup of coffee on a Sunday morning a I sit to work on my novel.

4. Scent of very old books

5. Watching World Cup Soccer - and the sexy players

6. A board game on a Friday night with my family

7. Complete silence

8 Puppies, puppies, puppies!

9. A good book I can't put down

10 Clothes sized so that I can buy a smaller size and pretend I've lost weight.

Ten Things I Hate (or really dislike, or find annoying)

1. A $3 softdrink that is mostly ice

2. Computer crashes that happen after I've written something brilliant (both happen rarely)

3. Ridiculous style of dress that's lasted way too long. I'm talking about men's pants below their ass and women wearing those double shirts - one shorter than the other, creating a band around thier stomach. This is not attractive. Come on!

4. Tissue-paper-thin toilet paper at Chipotle. Great burritos, but what's up with the toilet paper?

5. Babies crying at movie theaters. Sorry, but ticket prices are $12-$15 these days - no babies please.

6. Califlower

7. All the cartoon shows for ADULTS. Hasn't our generation grown up yet?

8. Make up - hate that women feel they have to wear so much of it. Also hate that I'm allergic to it and that my eyes look like tomatos when I have to wear it.

9. Driving tickets. All of them. Speeding, parking, seat belts - they're all bogus.

10. Hearing about another Hollywood 20-something actress getting arrested for something stupid she should know better not to do. Tired of Linsay Lohan already.