Friday, December 16, 2011

Have You Read Say You'll Be Mine?

In the spirit of the holidays and gift giving, I thought for today's post, I would say thank you to those of you who purchased and read Say You'll Be Mine. I hope you have or are enjoying it.

As you might have guessed, it's a book that looks at the difficulties and joys of motherhood. I sometimes think back to the days before I became a mother, and though there were many great times and life experiences I'm grateful I had, motherhood brought out a whole new side of me. I'm constantly thinking about what would make my children happy, successful, fulfilled, and what I can do to improve myself to be a better role model.

Moms are not the only ones who feel this intense love for their kids or who grow as a result of parenthood. Nick, the male lead in Say You'll Be Mine isn't based on any one man I know, but rather all ther great fathers I've been lucky to know. My husband, my brother and brother-in-laws are SUCH shining examples of what fathers should be. My kids and nieces and nephews are so lucky.

So Say You'll Be Mine is a nod to all the moms and dads out there raising great kids in our complex world.

Now, for the gift. Since posting images isn't an option on blogger comments, if you have a copy of Say You'll Be Mine, take a picture of yourself reading it and post it somewhere. Facebook. Twitter. Your own blog. Where ever. Then copy the link in the comments below and I will enter you in a drawing to win a $20 B&N or Amazon gift card.

The winner will be chosen on Christmas Day.

Thank you for your support this year!!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Are You Following the Holiday Blog Tour?

Today, I'll just encourage you to follow all the great stories and blogs of my fellow writers on the Holiday Tour.

Up today is Maria Ferrer. Her terrific site helps to promote Latina/o authors so if you're not familiar with her blog, you're missing out.

"The Latina Book Club's goal is to promote Latino authors and literacy by reading at least one Latino book a month. Thereby broadening our minds and corazones. It's also an attempt to embrace our Hispanic heritage; make new friends; and have something to read on the subway. Join us! Read Latino!



Thursday, December 1, 2011

A New Beginning

After brainstorming ideas for a Christmas story that would do justice to the 2011 kick-off blog tour, I’ve decided not to write a “story” at all. Instead, I’d like to share with you a real story of a Christmas I will never forget. This was the year that I learned how much I valued being a mother.
I was teaching elementary school at the time and I was fortunate enough to get two weeks off for Christmas and New Year. I was looking forward to the time off to be home with my husband and son whom I had adopted only six months earlier. I wanted our first Christmas as a family to be special. Let me take you back there.

My son’s birthday is in December and we have a huge party for him. There are so many toys in my living room that I can barely walk. Everyone wants to hold and play with him, which is great even if I barely get a chance to be with him that day as I run around making sure everyone is eating, drinking, and having a good time.
At the end of the day, I’m worn out. So is the baby. He falls asleep early and wakes up later that night crying. I figure he’s just been over stimulated and I calm him down. But by morning I begin to suspect he has a little cold.

For the next couple of days I give him medicine and endure his cranky mood, hoping he’ll feel better soon. He seems to get better, then worse. He coughs and gets frustrated when he can’t breathe due to congestion. Then his fever starts.
I decide to take him to the doctor since the over the counter medication isn’t working. He’s given antibiotics and I’m told not to worry about the fever.
“It means the body is fighting the illness,” I’m told. “Continue to give him Advil.” Then I’m encouraged to give him his one-year-old vaccinations, which to me seems like a crazy time when he’s so miserable already, but I figure the doctor knows all and I know nothing, so I agree.

On Christmas Eve as we’re preparing to have company, I hear the baby wake up from his nap screaming at the top of his lungs and crying.

I put down the wrapping paper in my hands and hurry up the stairs where I hear a lot of movement coming from his crib. When I turn on the light, my stomach does a flip when I see the baby having convulsions.

I immediately call my husband who comes running into the room, takes one look, and runs back out to call the paramedics. Then the baby stops moving and I pick him up. I don’t even realize I’m crying until my husband runs back in to wipe my eyes and tell me it’s going to be okay.

But I’m not sure. My son is staring straight ahead at the ceiling. I can tell he’s alive but he’s not reacting. Between sobs I talk to him and try to get him to look at me. But there is no response.

I hear sirens and a few minutes later two paramedics are taking the baby out of my arms. They ask questions about him. I answer, but I can’t remember what they asked or what I said. They advise that we take him to the emergency room and we do.
By now, my son is beginning to come out of wherever he is, but he acts like he’s extremely tired. We wait in a hospital room as nurses walk in and out. A woman from a charity group pauses at the door and offers me a gift for the baby. She tells me that they spend every Christmas Eve passing out gifts to sick children. I take what she gives me, but it makes me cry to think that my son is spending his first Christmas in a hospital.

They run many tests on him. He might have meningitis they tell me. I don’t know what this is, but they ask if they can do a spinal tap to check. I don’t know what this is either, but they explain that they extract some spinal fluid to determine why he had a seizure. It could be a tumor, inflammation, an infection – all possible causes.

“The procedure will take five to ten minutes,” the doctor explains.

They make us sign a form with all the risks. I’m scared to death. After the procedure he has to lay flat on his back and not move. I start to feel nauseous. I’m picturing the worst case scenario and just the thought of a needle being inserted into my perfect little baby’s back fills me with a crazy kind of panic.

When they begin the procedure, I’m supposed to be holding the baby on his side.
“What if you do something wrong and he’s paralyzed for life?” I ask.

They reassure me that it can’t happen. My husband and I hold my son and I close my eyes for a second, then focus on his tired face noticing that he seems to have little reaction to a needle being inserted between his vertebrae.

Afterward, he has to lie on his back for thirty minutes. I sit beside him and rub his chest and talk to him. Eventually he falls asleep and the nurse tells my husband and me that they will keep him overnight, but that we’re welcome to go home and come back in the morning.

“I’m not leaving,” I say.

“You’re welcome to stay,” she says and leaves.

My husband tries to convince me to go home.

“You go.” I remember that we were supposed to have company over for Christmas Eve. “You need to call everyone and let them know--.”

“Your mom already did all that.”

I nod. My husband kisses the top of my head and tells me he’s going to go home and pick up the diaper bag, a change of clothes and he’ll be back in a few hours.

I spend the night staring at my baby, watching him sleep. I can’t remember all the thoughts I had that night, but I do remember thinking of Margaret, our social worker and her words to me when I first got a picture of my son. “This is the child God wanted you to have.” At the time, I felt it was over dramatic and I smiled, because she was being kind and I thought it was her job to say things adoptive parents wanted to hear. But I no longer think it was a crazy thing to say. I believe her.

That night, as the two of us spent the night together, he sleeping and me watching him, I knew he was my child and I knew I was meant to be his mother. I’d worked hard to become a teacher, but being a teacher no longer mattered. Being a best-selling author someday was irrelevant. Anything I might have thought was important in the past, paled in comparison to this little baby that needed me and that I loved. He was the only one in the world I wanted to spend Christmas Eve with, and when he opened his eyes on Christmas morning, looking normal and healthy and called me mommy, I knew I’d been given the best gift ever.

Thank you for making the first stop on the tour. Please leave your comments below to be entered into a drawing to win your choice of EVENINGS AT THE ARGENTINE CLUB or SAY YOU'LL BE MINE.

The tour contines on December 3rd at Radames Ortiz


See you there!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Blog Tour Two Days Away

The 2011 Holiday Blog Tour begins right here on December 1st!!

I invite you to visit and read about my most memorable Christmas.

Those that leave a comment will be entered in a drawing to win your choice of EVENINGS AT THE ARGENTINE CLUB or SAY YOU'LL BE MINE.

See you on the first!!



Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Blog Tour

I'm very excited to announce that in two days will begin a Holiday Blog Tour with 24 writers ranging from established to new to up-and-coming!! I'm thrilled to start us all off on December 1st!! More information to come about prizes, etc.

Here is the line up!

Dec. 1 Julia Amante
Dec. 2 Valerie R.
Dec. 3 Radames Ortiz

Dec. 4 Deborah Grace Staley
Dec. 5 Zoraida Cordova
Dec. 6.Danielle Klenak
Dec. 7 Lupe Mendez
Dec. 8 Natasha Oliver
Dec. 9 Maria Ferrer
Dec. 10 Sidney Williams
Dec. 11 Toni Plummer
Dec. 12 Mayra Calvani
Dec. 13 Kristy Harding
Dec. 14 Thelma Reyna
Dec. 15.Sylvia Mendoza
Dec. 16 Regina Tingle
Dec. 17 Teresa Dovalpage
Dec. 18 Mirta Espinola
Dec. 19 Kim Brown
Dec. 20 Gwen Jerris
Dec. 21 Paula Altschuler
Dec. 22 Caridad Pinero
Dec. 23 Teresa Carbajal Revet
Dec. 24 Icess Fernandez Rojas

Friday, November 18, 2011

An Early Morning Swim

After a whirlwind three weeks of book signings, workshops and events, I woke up this morning thinking I didn't have to do anything but work on writing my new book.

But that wasn't completely true. I did have to do one thing - homework for a swim class. An hour of physical activity of my choice. It did not have to be swimming, but I decided yesterday that since I'd signed up for this swimming class to become a better swimmer, it made sense to actually swim rather than do another activity.

So, on my drive to the pool, the car is cutting through dense fog and I'm wondering if maybe I should have chosen another activity. But I keep driving. My plan is to work on being able to breathe from my left side without swallowing a mouthful of water each time. I've gotten pretty good at breathing to the right, but can't seem to turn my head far enough to the left to both breathe and swim.

When I get there, only one other person is crazy enough to be in the pool. Steam is coming off the surface of the water. Two twenty-year old lifeguards are sitting at their posts covered up in hoodies, working on their laptop.

I jump in the pool and start swimming, thinking this is actually pretty great, because the water is warm and I have a whole lane to myself. Normally, in class I have to share the lane with 5 or 6 other people. I make to the other side - 25 meters, and like always, I'm out of breath. So I rest for a couple of minutes and watch the other woman swim back and forth. I take off again and make it across the pool. Again, I rest. She swims. I continue to do this for about thirty minutes before I notice that this woman who is smoking me is pregnant. I'm impressed. But I notice that the life guards are gone. I'm not sure where they went, but I have this horrible thought about the pregnant woman. Is she supposed to get this much exercise? What if she suddenly goes into labor and the life guards are gone? Would I know what to do? Yes, run into the locker room, grab my phone and call 911.

Well, she didn't go into labor thank goodness, or this would be a different kind of blog tonight. Everything went smoothly and I finished my hour of swimming. Then went into the empty locker room, took a shower and went on to do my Thanksgiving shopping.

Is there a point to this blog? Not really, though I do want to say that it feels really great to follow through on plans to make heathy choices in life. It would have been easy to turn around and return home when I saw all that fog. Or to simply choose another activity or none at all. But the rest of the day has flowed great, thanks to this cold workout this morning.

Here's to making healthy choices as we prepare for Thanksgiving!!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Lateness Drives My Son Crazy

Every morning it's the same thing with my son. He hates to be late to school. Doesn't even like to be on-time. He has to get there early. I don't know where he got it from - I'm late . . . a lot. I look at the clock and see that I have fifteen minutes before I absolutely have to leave and decide that I can put a load of laundry into the washer, find a picture frame I've needed from the garage, and package up a book I've promised to send to someone. This ultimately adds a lot of stress to my life, and yes, makes me late.

Basically, I have more to do in one day than hours available to do them in, and this is why try to pack so much into every moment. But I realize it's not a great habit.

So, every morning at 8am my son starts to remind me that it's time to go. School starts at 8:40 and we live 5 minutes away, but he knows me. "Mom, let's go. It's time to go," he tells me. "8:15 we'll go," I promise. But he doesn't let up. About every minute or so he tells me again that we have to go and that we're going to be late. I start to get frustrated and try to ignore him, because if I don't focus on what I'm doing, I'm going to forget to take something I have to take with me as I walk out the door. Pretty soon it's 8:20 and he begins to pace and complain. "Jeeze, let's go. You don't need anything else. We're going to be late. Forget the coffee. Jeeze, Mom, what's wrong with you?" What's wrong with me? I've raised a spoiled, loud mouth kid, that's what's wrong with me.

But after I drop him off at school and he runs off with barely a good-bye, I get this warm feeling inside. I'm so proud of him for wanting to get to school on time, and for being so excited to get there. I know it's because he wants to hang out with friends before the bell rings, but still. What a great kid. Someday, he's going to be a fantastic asset to a company or his own business (and a bit of an annoying husband).

So today he calmly suggests that I plan to leave the house at 8am so that we will really leave at 8:15. I ask myself if he's really twelve, then unable to resist I give him a hug and tell him I'm proud of him for being so responsible. "Mom, really? I hate being late. Can we leave on time?"

"Yes," I tell him and I decide the laundry can wait and I'll buy a cup of coffee before I get to the university, and I'll mail that book tomorrow, and I don't need to hang that picture yet anyway. He got to school early and I got the the university on time and right now, I feel really good.

Wishing you all a great weekend with no stress and no craziness!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Meet the Characters!

Official release day of SAY YOU'LL BE MINE!! After months of writing, rewriting, reading copy edits, and weeks of marketing preparations, the book hits bookstores today! I'm very excited and am off to celebrate tonight.

For the next few days, I will post information to get readers better acquanted with the story. For today, let's mee the characters.

SAY YOU'LL BE MINE has a fairly large cast of characters and multiple view points. Although, this is undeniably Isabel’s book, each of the characters in SAY YOU’LL BE MINE really have their own stories that complicate and enrich the main plot-line.

As the owner and CEO of Gallegos Wines, Isabel is used to having the power to make decisions and even more used to seeing them carried out. However, when her cousin dies and motherhood is suddenly thrust upon her, Isabel finds that she has no power to control even her own destiny.
Now, when she’s in the process of selling Gallegos, she must to travel to Mendoza, the wine country of Argentina where she and her parents once lived, to meet the children who need her to be the person her cousin Brenda hoped she would be.

Nick grew up the fatherless son of an alcoholic mother. He follows in her footsteps without even realizing what he’s doing. In his twenties, he falls in love with Isabel while attending college in Argentina. He is moved by the close relationship she has with her parents and encourages them to move to America to start their business. Eventually, he marries Isabel. His drinking becomes so bad that after repeated attempts to help him get healthy, Isabel gives up and divorces him.
After the divorce, he continues to work at Gallegos. When he gets sober and rebuilds his life, he meets a new woman. They are due to get married once the winery sells and he’s finally free of his entanglements with Isabel. When Isabel gets the call about her cousin’s death, he sees this as a potential obstacle to both their plans of selling the winery, and decides to accompany her to Argentina.

Isabel’s cousins who die in a skiing accident, leaving behind three children.

Brother to Andres. Ramiro was in love with Brenda back when he was young, wild and irresponsible. Brenda cared about him, but chose Andres to marry and build a life. This caused bad blood between Andres and Ramiro and they eventually stopped talking. Ramiro was accused of stealing from his mother, and disowned by all his family. But now Ramiro has turned his life around, or so he says. But no one trusts him, especially the children’s grandmother who makes Isabel promise to keep him out of the kids’ lives.

Eight-year-old Adelmo is devastated to lose his parents in a skiing accident, but the agony is compounded when he learns that his mother appointed a cousin from America to be their guardian. Adelmo's Goal quickly becomes to make sure he gets to stay in Argentina even if he has to live with a man his father hated.

Julieta is only four and all she wants is to be loved. She wants to find safety and reassurance and feel less afraid.

Sandra is the oldest sibling at ten-years-old, and she is the one who has the most in common with Isabel. As the only one who actually met Isabel, she feels a connection to her and she wants to trust that her mother knew what she was doing when she appointed Isabel their guardian. She’s also convinced that if Isabel and Nick get re-married, they can all be a family again.

Isabel’s best friend in Argentina who finds herself falling in love with the enemy. Ramiro is rude and obnoxious and dangerous. But he’s also incredibly sexy and is able to make Rosa forget that she’s an aging divorcee. So when it appears that there will be a battle between Ramiro and Isabel, Rosa has to choose between friendship and love.

Losing her only child is the most heartbreaking thing that can happen to a mother, and Tia Dominga avoids a complete break-down only because Brenda has three children who need an adult to comfort them. But she knows that she can only take care of them temporarily until Isabel returns from America and takes charge of Brenda’s children.

SAY YOU'LL BE MINE is available at all Barnes & Noble and online stores.



Friday, October 7, 2011

I Won't Miss You, Mom

After flying on a redeye, I arrived in Boston this morning, pretty worn out. I can never sleep on an airplane, and to make things worse American Airline thinks it's a good idea to show a movie on those screens that come down from cieling on the center aisle so that the bright flickering light makes you feel like you're at a disco club from the 70's.

So, tired today, but I realized I'm not as worried about the kids as I used to be when they were younger. Maybe because I know they won't miss me as much as they did when they were little. I remeber leaving for writer's conferences and calling my husband a million times. I worried about who would read them a book before bed (my husband of course buy my mom ego told me he wouldn't do it as well), what they would eat, and how they would live without me there telling them I loved them.

Now, I drop them off at school and my daughter, who is still at the age where she can show affection and not be paranoid about it, will say, "I love you, Mom." My son, on the other hand, told her the other day that she should not say that so darned loud as she's getting out of the car. I sort of joked and said, "Hey, why not? And where is the I love you from you?" He shook his head and got out of the car. I yelled, I love you loudly and he ran away. LOL.

Well, I guess it's my job to keep saying it even if they don't want to hear it. But it does give me a feeling that they can be apart from me now without going through mommy withdrawls. Which makes me more relaxed on my trips.

I will call home tonight, and remind them that I love them. But, I'll also enjoy reading a novel in peace in my hotel room and getting a good night's sleep : )

And for any Bostonians out there, I will leave Say You'll Be Mine bookmarks at the BN in Copley Square and any other book store I run across.

Happy weekend to all!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Interview with Dalia Cejas

I'm SO excited about my guest this week! I first learned of Ceja Vineyards last May when I saw the business profiled on Hispanic Lifestyle. I knew immediately that I wanted to interview Dalia Ceja and ask her my own questions. If feel very lucky that she has taken time out of her busy schedule to spend some time with me and my readers.

I hope you enjoy the interview!

Julia: Dalia, interviewing you is such a treat for me! I spent hours reading about production and wine tasting and trying to learn all I could about the business in order to write Say You'll Be Mine. But what I did not do is talk to actual owners of wineries. That was partially on purpose, because I wanted my characters to be complete fictional creations. I didn’t want to inadvertently pick up facts about actual people. But now that the book is finished and due to be released next month, I’m very much interested in learning about the real people who have chosen to make wine-making and the running of a winery their life. Thank you for agreeing to this interview! First of all, can you introduce me to the Ceja’s family and what they do for the business?

Dalia: There are three generations of Ceja’s that are involved in the business. The partners and founders of Ceja Vineyards are Amelia, Pedro, Armando & Martha Ceja. My mom, Amelia Ceja is the first Latina woman to be President and Owner of a winery in Napa. My uncle, Armando, is our winemaker and my father Pedro, is behind all of the architectural creativity of the operation. I joined my family’s team in 2009 as Director of Sales and Marketing and my grandmother, Mama Juana, also helps us cook for many wine club events and special dinners.

Julia How did your family get involved in the wine-making business? Would you share a bit of history?

Dalia:My grandparent’s came from Mexico to the U.S. in the 60’s as migrant farm workers through the Bracero program. In the mid 60’s they settled in St. Helena working in the fields picking the fruit during harvest. In 1968, both sets of grandparents brought their families from Mexico in search of better life opportunities. The kids worked in the fields and continued going to school. We went from vineyard workers to vineyard owners in a very short period of time. My uncle, Armando went to UC and got a degree in Viticulture & Enology. In 1999 my parents founded Ceja Vineyards and launched their own brand. Currently we make a total of 10,000 cases annually and make beautiful handcrafted wines.

Julia: What a great success story! When I first learned about Ceja Vineyards, my interest was immediately piqued. Here was a Latina family who owned a winery. How do you bring your Latino roots into your business? Maybe in the food you serve? Or does your background figure in your business at all?

Dalia: For us, our roots go very deep into our Mexican heritage and Mexican culture, and we show that with everything that we do. Cooking plays an integral part of our culture and we pair authentic Mexican cuisine with all of our wines. We’re also in the process of constructing our Mission style winery, which plays homage to the Missions of CA.

Julia: Yes, I've watched a few of your YouTube cooking videos, and loved them! Yum. And I appreciate learning how to pair wines to different foods. The next point of interest for me, since the protagonist of my novel comes from Mendoza Argentina and her family brought their knowledge of wine-making from South America, is that you spent a number of weeks traveling around South America, including Mendoza. Can you share what you learned from your travels and what you enjoyed about this trip?

Dalia: I spent six glorious months backpacking throughout South America. It was probably one of the greatest and most life changing experiences yet. In a nutshell: I traveled with my best friend exploring five countries, over 500 hours of bus rides, crashing in hostels, visiting Machu Picchu, trekking up an active volcano, falling in love {with Chile}, swimming in the gorgeous white beaches of Brazil, eating amazing asado {Argentian BBQ} and most importantly, discovering who I really am… For me, my experiences can be described in three words {that are tattooed on my forearm} – live your passions. This became the anchor for a blog that I would later launch in 2011.

Julia: How do you compare the process/production/taste of California and in particular Ceja Wines to those you saw in South America?

Dalia: One thing a visitor will notice about Argentine wine producers is their sense of enthusiasm. The revolution in technology and information that has flooded the industry has left winemakers as excited as kids on Christmas morning playing with all of their new toys.

It was evident that a significant portion of the Argentine and Chilean wine industry has been revolutionized. Where they once produced simple, inexpensive wines primarily designated as red, white and rosé, now in 2011, Argentina is focused on fine varietal-designated wines, especially their Malbec (which I love!).

Their mission is to deliver, high quality wines of good value. Much of the technological advancement, along with the development of the new international style of winemaking in Argentina and Chile, is directly related to consultants from California, France, Chile and Italy sharing information with Argentine winemakers.

Julia: Very cool, I love Malbecs too. Which are your favorite Ceja Wines and how can readers buy your wines if they can’t travel to Napa Valley?

Dalia: I love all of our wines for different reasons. It depends on the dish I’m pairing it with, the time of year and the mood I’m in. Right now, I seem to gravitate toward our crisp and refreshing “Bella Flor” Rose, which is the perfect wine to pair with spicy food. You can buy our wines on our website at, at our tasting room in downtown Napa on 1248 First street, or over the phone at (707) 255-3954.

Julia: Wine tasting is such an art. Even after spending half a year doing “research” and going to wine tastings, I still have a difficult time really understanding how to choose a good wine. What should the average person look for when choosing a wine after a wine tasting event?

Dalia: In my opinion wine is subjective and to many people, a very personal experience. The best way to choose a wine is to enjoy the varietals you love, that you might have had a fabulous experience drinking in the past, or enjoyed drinking in a memorable setting with family and friends. Since I’m a foodie, I usually choose a wine that with compliment the dish I’m about to cook and devour. Also, have fun with your decisions, pick a wine that you wouldn’t normally try and I promise you it might surprise you and your taste buds.

Julia: That's great advice, especially about a wine you've enjoyed with friends and family. Wine always seems to taste better when sharing it. Moving away from the product to the business aspect of owning a vineyard and winery - what does it take to be successful in the wine-making business? I notice that you have a big presence online. I love yours and Amelia’s recipes! And you both seem to be naturals behind the camera. In today’s world, do you feel that this type of connection with your customers is necessary?

Dalia: Be passionate. Love what you do and it will never feel like work. There is a saying in my family, “we don’t have blood in our veins, we have wine.” This is a mere reflection of the passion and enthusiasm I have always felt toward this industry. We have utilized social media {Facebook, Twitter &YouTube} as a means to create a community around our brand. It has been a very powerful tool for our business and to create an online persona. My mom and I have over 120 videos on YouTube that focus on short food and wine pairings. We love to cook and this has been another creative outlet to brand our business and sell wine!

Julia: Dalia, would you like to share a bit more about yourself? Tell us about your blog, your interests and passions in life. Pictures? Video clips?

Dalia: I have been surrounded by wine, food and travel my entire life. I may have grown up in the wine industry but I come from very humble beginnings. In 2008 I graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Marketing & Communications. After graduating from college I departed on a six month “Study Abroad” backpacking journey through South America, learning, exploring and enriching my career with real life experiences. This became the anchor for a blog that I would later launch in 2011.
In 2011 I was named “Woman of the Year” through the Napa Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for my entrepreneurial leadership and charitable contributions. In May of 2011 I launched my own blog and website titled The Ole! Report. I highlight my own passions to creatively focus on wine, fashion, food, travel and fiestas! Please visit
I also plan to further my education and attend Sonoma State University to receive my M.B.A. in Wine Marketing. With a personal flare and passion for fashion, wine, cooking and travel, I’m set to leave a mark! Ole!

Julia: How can readers find Ceja Vineyards on the Internet? Blogs? Facebook?

Dalia: You can find Ceja Vineyards at, Also on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube! Become a fan and become a part of our extended familia!

Julia: Thank you so much for letting me ask so many questions! Best of luck to you and your family! You are true inspirations to many hard working Latino families.

To my wonderful readers, please leave your comments or questions for Dalia below. I will draw one random name next Friday 9/30 and the winner will have the opportunity to own a fabulous wine kit to uncork and re-cork your wine - $30 value! Great to take on romantic picnics!

Friday, September 16, 2011

State Street Winery

Recently, in my local newspaper I ran across an article about a new winery opening up close to home, and it piqued my interest immediately. I love when new, cool businesses start, especially family owned businesses. With Say You'll Be Mine being set in a winery, I knew I wanted to meet the owners and interview them. Happily, one of the owners, Janet Harter agreed to an interview.

I hope you enjoy the interview and if you live close to Redlands, California, stop by and sample their great wines.

Julia: Janet, it’s so exciting to have a winery in Redlands! How did you and Robin come to the decision of opening a winery?

Janet: Robin and I wanted to have our own winery for about 5 years and then the last year we decided to open our winery.

Julia: Why did you choose Redlands as the perfect location to open your business?

Janet: We have lived in Redlands for 30 years and just thought down town would be the perfect location for our winery.

Julia: I agree! I think it's going to make downtown even more charming and enticing than it already is. I really love that this is a family business for you all. In fact, when I was doing research for Say You'll Be Mine, I realized that it is a business that tends to be family run. Who are the family members and how do you help each other run the winery.

Janet: Yes we are a family business. Robin –Husband wine maker, owner, Victor son-in-law wine maker, stocker, Desiree- daughter, helps bottle, label, work tasting room, Kelly-Daughter helps bottle, label, work tasting room, Elizabeth- daughter, helps bottle, label, work tasting room. My family does whatever it has taken to help run the winery and get it started they also have other jobs as well. I also have friends that all help bottle and label. They work for wine.

Julia: LOL - that would work for me too! What varieties of wines do you offer?

Janet: Whites, Reds, Fruit

Julia: You offer patrons the opportunity to create custom labels and to have their own vintage. Can you tell me a bit about how that works?

Janet: Guest can email me a picture for a bottle of wine or just put words on a label.
Guest would pick out a wine they like and we would start the wine for them
And the 5 to 7 weeks later they would come back and bottle it themselves.

Julia: How fun! In fact, that idea is so appealing to me, that I'm going to be doing it!! I can't wait to see the bottles of wine with the Say You'll Be Mine label. Well, thank you for taking the time to meet with me. Where can readers go on the web to find out more about your winery?

Janet: They can go to

Julia: Great! Thank you so much. State Street Winery als has a wine club where members receive one bottle of wine a month and they get 10% off everything in the winery!

I'm also excited to announce that anyone who comes to the launch book signing of Say You'll Be Mine on October 29th, at Barnes & Noble (3485 Tyler Street, Riverside, Ca. 92503) and purchases a book, will be invited for a free wine tasting at the State Stree Winery!! Thank you, Harter family!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Loving Writing

As writers, I think, we have the illusion that everyone enjoys writing. I'm not sure where it comes from. People actually do confess to authors often that they would like to write a book or that they have an idea for a book and one day they will find the time to actually "write that book."

So, realizing that some people struggle with writing or really don't like it is short of a shockers. It's like when I meet the odd-ball person who says, "I don't like chocolate." Really?? How is that possible?

Well, later this month I'm going to being working in a writing center at my university. I'm excited about it, because I love to teach writing! I love to help people produce papers that help them express exactly what they want to say, or stories they can be proud of. And I enjoy reading other people's writing. Everyone views the world differently, so no two people will write quite the same thing even about the same subject.

But I was warned, that some students who visit the writing center will be there because the instructor forced the to go, not because they want to be there. Really? How is that possible?

Doesn't everyone want to improve their writing? I've tutored children before, and I was an elementary school teacher, so I'm not that naive, but seriously, I wonder why anyone would dread writing and being able to express their thoughts on paper. It's such a gift that we are given as people and citizens of this country. Is it because someone has told them at some point that they are not a good writer? If so, don't let that stop you people. Every writer has been told that by someone. EVERY WRITER. Is it because they don't have confidence in their skills? That's what writing centers and tutors are for - to help people improve their skills.

I think I'm going to approach this writing center job with the attitude that everyone wants to be there and that they may not yet know it. I'm hoping that my love of writing will be infectious and will translate into getting others to love it too, or at least like it. I'm excited!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Can One Party Too Much?

Life is pretty crazy in my household right now. Going through my calendar and thinking, "wow, I'm planning too much!"

I've decided to throw my mom a 75th birthday party in September! Plans for that are underway. Menus, invitations, catalogues for gift ideas, etc, are in a box taking up space in my family room. My husband's birthday is also in September, and both my kids follow that up with birthdays in the fall which I haven't even begun to plan.

My girl scout troop is going to Washington DC next year to celebrate the 100 anniversary of girl scouts!!! Yay! But organizing parents and girls for this is huge! Funraising alone is a full time job. I have an entire cabinet stuffed with binders of papers dedicated to this trip. Everyday there are forms to fill out, money to deposit, calls to make, parents to email.

Then there is the biggie for me as an author - the release of Say You'll Be Mine!! I'm working with my publicist at Grand Central, who is wonderful, setting up the launch book signing event, as well as other tour events and speaking engagements. I'm writing articles and blogs. Might try to make a book trailer if I can figure how how. Working on a new book idea. Searching for a new agent. This makes my office a danger zone with piles of paperwork and files and books, and planners everywhere.

These are just the things that I'm planning and doesn't include birthdays, mixers, meetings, BBQ's, recitals and family gatherings I've been invited to. So, I'm starting to wonder if I'm planning too much. Should I leave some time to kick back and watch TV? Clean my house? Sleep? As I jot everything into my planner, I question my sanity. Do I really want to do all this stuff? Sometimes it's exhausting and I think I don't.

But, wait, I want to celebrate the release of my book. And can't wait to watch my mom blow out 75 candles (okay, I won't make her do that). And am going to love watching my scouts faces as they travel to our capital and meet hundreds of other girls from across the nation. And I enjoy visiting with friends and supporting them at their events, and going to meetings for groups that I believe in, and all the other things that I do. I love all of it!

So as I end another week where I've gone to bed at midnight or one in the morning only to wake up at five, I remind myself that the reason I'm tired is because all the things I've got planned take work. And the work is worth it, because the things I want are worth it.

I wanted to share all this with you, because maybe you too have huge goals that take a lot of time and effort and you end your week feeling drained. But I want to encourage you to keep at it, whatever it might be. Careers. Great relationships. Your health. Maybe a great garden. None of it just shows up in your life. You have to work hard for it. But the day will come, when you'll get what you're after.

Hope everyone has a GREAT weekend!


Friday, August 19, 2011

The parallels of Writing and Baking

Today I'm thrilled to have Gabriella Hewitt guest blogging!

Please leave a comment below to be entered into the OUT OF THE SHADOWS Blog Tour Contest to win A $25 GC to Winner will be announced on Gabriella' blog August 26th. Check here for official rules.


I have a banana stand to keep my bananas bruise free and fresh. I guess they were too fresh because they were peeling off the stand. I had the brilliant idea to bake banana bread. So, after the kids finally went to bed I got started. A friend who had moved away had given me cake flour--at least I thought it was. I looked at the package and read bread flour. Flour is flour, right?

Ha ha. I start mixing the batter, only it's not batter. It's really doughy and not blending all that well. Does it need water or milk? No. I'm not my sharpest at 10 pm, so it took a moment to connect the dots. Maybe it's the flour. There I was wondering if I should toss it all out. But I hate to waste food. Well, it's bread dough. It's got enough sugar in it that the kids will probably eat it anyway. Okay, so it doesn't have yeast and won't rise, but it'll make a great focaccia. Sure it will. I flatten it out in the bottom of a glass baking pan and baked it.

Writing is kind of the same. You start out with all these ingredients and it might even seem like it's coming together. Then disaster. Nothing mixes right. The pieces don't fit. You'r positive that you can't achieve anything worth serving up to your readers. But, with patience, perserverance and ingenuity, the whole becomes clear and as you near the end, you wonder why you ever doubted yourself to begin with.

I've got to be honest, though. That so-called focaccia may be hard as a rock and completely inedible. I won't know until tomorrow. That's why I'll stick with writing rather than baking, even if some of the same principles apply.

Here is the recipe I am using. Got it from

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella

1.In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and black pepper. Mix in the vegetable oil and water.
2.When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.
3.Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Brush top with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.
4.Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

You can find more recipes at my website and download Puerto Rican Recipes free booklet. Free Reads

Gabriella Hewitt is the pen name of creative writing talents Sasha Tomaszycki and Patrizia M.J. Hayashi. Together they weave tales of romantic suspense and dangerously sensual paranormals. Check out the website to find out about upcoming releases and events on her blog.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Special Guest Blogger Almost Here

Special treat Friday!! Gabriella Hewitt will be guest blogging on our site.

Gabriella Hewitt is the pen name of creative writing talents Sasha Tomaszycki and Patrizia M.J. Hayashi. Together they weave tales of romantic suspense and dangerously sensual paranormals. Check out the website to find out about upcoming releases and events on her blog.

To make it even more special, if you leave a comment tomorrow, you will be entered into the OUT OF THE SHADOWS Blog Tour Contest to win A $25 GC to Winner will be announced on Gabriella' blog August 26th. Check here for official rules.

So, remind yourself to stop by Friday!

See you then,


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Interviewed on Turn The Page

Being interviewed today at Turn The Page. Stop by here and leave a comment to be in a drawing for a copy of Evenings At The Argentine Club.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Big Boy School

Who's afraid of middle school and middle school kids?

As far as the kids, unless they're ours, they probably make many of us nervous. First of all, they're larger than we are. They have more hair. Or less hair that stands up in scary, pointy, sharp, colorful spikes. Girl's make-up is so thick, it's difficult to find their eyes, which makes them look even spookier. They mumble when they speak, and when you ask them to repeat what they said, they glare at you. Worst of all, they hang out in packs, so you're almost always outnumbered. Scary.

Then there is middle school itself. I remember Jr. High. Loud bells. Angry teachers who seemed to hate their lives. Rules. Threats if you didn't follow the rules. And today they've added psycho security guards that yell at you if you don't follow the rules or aren't afraid of the threats.

So, this summer when I made the decision to place my children in one of these hell-holes, I actually got sick to my stomach. I decided to do this, not becuase I stopped loving my kids, but because they no longer wanted to be home schooled and the charter they were going to had substandard education and it became unacceptable to return them to that school even if they were comfortable there.

This week was their first week at a public middle school, and Monday I toured the school and met the teachers. I told myself that if this middle school was anything like my Jr. High, I wouldn't follow through on my plan. I was pleasantly surprised to meet super nice teachers. They all had great educational plans for the school year. Something else that I loved was that I wasn't the only parent who showed up to the orientation day. Hundreds of parents and students were there. I can't ever remember seeing a parent at my Jr. High. This was a good sign. Good involved parents = good students. And the kids looked pretty cute : )

So, I won't say that I'm not still nervous and worried about my babies, but I end the week feeling happy about my decision. Like all parents, I want my children to learn, be happy, make some friends, and be safe. If this school can offer me this, I'll revise my ideas about middle school.

What difficult parent decisions have you had to make?


Friday, July 15, 2011

Your Identity

Sitting in my kitchen with my bother the other day, we were discussing . . . just stuff. You know like when you're hanging out with friends and family and you're not really talking about anything in particular. Well, the conversation turned to how we identify ourselves on those stupid little boxes on almost every application you've ever filled out that ask you to say who (what) you are. Especially if you're Hispanic or Latino - that's not enough. Are you a white or black or asian or whatever of Latino orgin? It's crazy.

He said, he looks at his arm, it looks white so he always marks the Caucasian box and who gives a damn if he's from Latino orgin or not. He was born in America and he's American, period. Whereas, I always mark the Latino box. Always have. I identify myself first on my cultural background - not that I feel any less American, but culturally I bring with me all the Latino and specifically Argentine roots.

After he went home, I started thinking that it's interesting how having the same parents and practically the same upbringing, we have such different views of ourselves. Based on what? I'm not sure.

On the surface it doesn't really matter, but subtly, it does. It makes a big difference on how we view ourselves and our place in the world. What it did was sort of cement in my mind that WE decide who we want to be - not our government, not other people. So even though they have those annoying little boxes questioning who we are - it's basically you and I who decide who we are based on our beliefs.

Deep down, I'm pretty sure that is the message I've placed in most of my books. Decide who you are and be proud of your identity.



Sunday, July 3, 2011

Back from RWA 2011

Back from nine days in spectacular New York City for the RWA (Romance Writer's of America) conference, so I've neglected to post the last couple of Fridays.

The conference was interesting and I met a lot of first time conference attendees and new writers! Awesome!

My publisher, Grand Central Publishing held an author cocktail get together with their staff, and I loved it!! They usually have wonderful dinners, but this was really special, because authors got the opportunity to meet many of the people that contribute to the production of books who we usually never see. And we got great munchies and endless sangria to boot!

About five people showed up to my workshop presentation on Making Research Fun! I knew I should have presented a workshop entitled how to Absolutely, Positively Get Published in 90 Days - LOL.

Seemed like the big talk from publishers, agents and authors was digital publishing and the future of books. All seem to be in agreement that the future is up in the air and we can expect big changes within the next five years. Most seem to be positive about how the changes will affect those of us in the publishing world. I think the best I heard was from an agent who said that with each new change things always get bigger. When we moved from writing on clay tablets to papyrus to paper to typewriters to computers, we've never had less books and reading material, we've always had more. And this is going to be true in the digital age as well.

As always, I return home more inspired to write that perfect book that will make readers laugh and cry and happy that invested some of their entertianment time reading. After the Fourth of July weekend, I plan to jump fully back into my book.

Hugs to you all and Happy Birthday America, where people like the Naked Cowboy are allowed to walk the streets and entertain conference-weary writers and shocked tourists : )


Friday, June 3, 2011

Are We Finished With Print Books?

Recently, I read an article about the skyrocketing of ebook readers and ebook sales compared to print books, and it left me wondering why. I remember not long ago at writer's organizations and conferences there was repeated talk about whether they would even acknowledge an author who only published an ebook as even being published. And this wasn't even that long ago -maybe 6 or 7 years ago. And now Amazon is telling us that ebook sales have surpassed regular book sales. Wow.

It can't be the price of the books, because they pretty much still ask for the same cover price on most books. In fact, my daughter who owns a Nook, was looking for books to fill her ebook reader's shelf and a series she was interested in was actually MORE expensive for the ebook than for the actual book, especially if I added a Border's 40% off coupon to the equation.

And it can't be the reading experience. Again, I read a preview of a book on my Kindle, and didn't like the book. Then a friend let me borrow the same book, and I found that I loved it! For some reason, the experience was different. Much more pleasant. It's much nicer to hold a book and turn real pages

So is it just the ease of storing a large number of books onto a reader, and maybe the ease of purchase?

I wonder what the real reason is, because if the trend continues - and it appears it will - I can't see publishers continuing to print large volumes of books that will only be returned. Especially since it costs them so little to put an ebook out.

I belong to a book club and always choose the real book over buying the ebook version. It's so much easier to jump to a certain page in a real book. For my college classes, I also buy the actual books, so I can jump back and forth in an instant when I want to find details for a research paper or assignment. Though I do have to admit that when I travel to New York this month, I plan to take my rarely used Kindle on the trip, because it's much easier to carry in my purse.

What about you? Are you a converted ebook reader or still gravitate toward print books?


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Visit to Callaway Vineyard and Winery

In our second walk through a winery, today you'll have the opportunity to visit Callaway Vineyard and Winery. I'm so excited about this one, because it's the first winery I visited when I first thought of setting SAY YOU'LL BE MINE in a winery. I planned to spend the day visiting a few Temecula vineyards, but this one was so interesting and had so much to offer a writer looking for impressions of a winery as well as details and plain education, that I spent the entire day at this one winery. I hope you enjoy Cecilia Vasquez's tour:

The Winery…
While some work for greatness others are born with it. Eli Reeves Callaway Jr. was one of those people who was born with greatness. Callaway displayed a knack for business at a very young age with an acre peach farm he started at the age of 10. In his first season with his peach business he made over seven hundred dollars. It doesn’t seem like much of a surprise to anyone that this young entrepreneur would become the man behind Callaway Vineyard & Winery. He defied experts who considered Southern California unsuitable for growing wine grapes and put Temecula on the map as a serious wine producing region. In 1976 at a luncheon with the United States President, Queen Elizabeth II, and The Prince Duke of Edinburgh at Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City there was only one wine served. The wine of choice for the bicentennial event was the Callaway's estate bottled 1974 White Riesling. The Queen, not known to be a wine drinker, requested a second glass. This was the first time in U.S. viticultural history that a dry table wine from Southern California was chosen to be served on the east coast at an international diplomatic event. The Callaway Vineyard & Winery was an underdog winery that hit the big time. Eli Reeves Callaway Jr. was a business man with an inevitable future of greatness and he made it in the Callaway Vineyard and Winery.

The Wine…
The Callaway Vineyard & Winery has a very wide selection; it leaves just so many wines to choose from. Some of Callaway’s top award winning wines include, 2008 Winemaker's Reserve Calliope Red, 2010 Special Selection Rosé of Sangiovese, 2009 Special Selection Chardonnay, 2009 Special Selection Gewurztraminer, 2009 Special Selection Viognier, and 2008 Winemaker's Reserve Chardonnay.

Upcoming Events…

Taste of Winemaking - Seasonal Seminars
Saturday Mornings from 10am-12:30pm

$88.50 Per Seminar
Legacy Club Member Price - $79.65 Per Seminar
Prices are per person, plus tax

Taste of Summer Winemaking Seminar
Saturday, July 23, 2011 from 10:00am - 12:30pm
This seminar includes guided tour of the production facility with Winemaker, lab demonstration, rosé flight tasting, casual lunch and certificate of completion.

A Taste of Autumn Winemaking Seminar
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Take part in harvest as you pick grapes in the vineyard and help with the crush process. Enjoy wine tasting with artisan cheese and fruit and receive a certificate of completion.


Cecilia Vasquez

To celebrate our visit to Callaway Vineyard and Winery, I will be drawing another winner this month! For June, I'll be giving away a nifty little wine pump and sealers set. For those times when you don't finish the entire bottle of wine (rarely happens at my house) this is perfect to preserve the flavor and essence of the wine by resealing it!

To enter the drawing, please visit the SAY YOU'LL BE MINE page on Facebook and press the little "Like" button, then let me know you did it in the comments below!

You get an extra entry if you've visited Callaway or another winery and want to share a little about your experience.

Winner will be drawn on June 30th!

I look forward to hearing from you!


Friday, May 20, 2011


I log onto my email account and at the top is an ad for Franklin Covey offering me free shipping if I complete my order (I would if they didn't continually discontinue planners just when I get used to them). On the side is an ad from Staples flashing a picture of an action planner I viewed on their site. Periodically, it switches to various hotels in NYC which I viewed when trying to decide where to stay for my upcoming conference.

As I rub my eyes and try to wake up, I start to feel like I'm being watched and I'm reminded of that movie where Tom Cruise (I think it was him) is walking in a mall and the ads change specifically for him. It's weird, because we're there in that sci-fi world!!

I'm not sure how I feel about this kind of target marketing. I mean, do I really want everyone to know what planner I use, what coffee I drink, what computers I buy, where I send my kids to summer camp? Do you?

And then I wonder if we're all making it too easy for marketers and criminals to know our every step. Has anyone ever "checked you in" to a restaurant on Facebook and announced to the entire world that you aren't home?

I'm not computer savvy enough to figure out how to block all these crazy ads and companies from finding me, but I think it's worth spending the time to figure out how to do it. I found this one option.

Here is another article about target marketing.

Something to think about . . .



Friday, May 6, 2011

To Mom

No, she'll never read this. She owns a computer and knows how to get on the Internet. Emails every once in a while, but has no patience when something goes wrong. And since I can totally relate to feeling incompetent when it comes to technology, I'm no help. But it's okay for her not to read my blog post, she knows how I feel and I'll be telling her in person tonight anyway.

My mom and I are very different. I love books, she loves TV. I think dogs are people, she'd rather never touch one if possible. Her idea of fun is dressing up and going to a fancy restaurant, mine is a hike in the mountains or a day at the beach. You get the picture. Sometimes I think we are complete opposites in just about everything.

And yet, maybe because she's my mother and I'm her daughter we only see perfection in each other.

Not recently, but she's mentioned that she wishes I'd get a "real" job rather than be a writer - however, she's convinced I'm the best author that ever lived. She tells me I'm a better cook than she is (I'm not); I'm the best mother ever (I'll share that title with her); and the list goes on - sometimes to an embarrassing extreme. And she believes all this, not because any of it is true, but I think because she sees me through that mother's lens that erases all the faults and only sees the good.

And to me, she's my inspiration. I'm forever amazed at all she has accomplished in her life, and by the incredible strength and determination she pulls from somewhere inside herself. Maybe it's because she lost her own mother when she was only 9-years-old and had to learn to be tough at a young age, I don't know. But at 74, she's still telling her children what to do, taking care of grandchildren, taking yoga and belly-dancing classes. She was doing marathons in her sixties and attending rock concerts. She had the strength to go through a major divorce in her fifties knowing that she would have no way to support herself, and that as an Argentine woman it would be frowned upon. All this in the second half of her life. In my office I have a picture of her on a motorcycle when she was in her teens and have heard stories of how she stood in front of tanks when the military dictatorship threatened the citizens in the streets of Argentina. When I asked about this, she laughed and said it was fun. Fun? I would have been scared to death. I also often question if I would have had the nerve to move to a foreign country where I didn't speak the language or know anyone, like she did.

My mother is soft-spoken, and sweet, and doesn't appear strong at all. But she is. And I'm so grateful that I've had the chance to learn from her and thankful that she's my mom.

Love you, Mom! Happy Mother's Day.

I would love to year about your moms and their stories. Let's celebrate our mothers.



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Visiting The Joseph Filippi Winery

Today I'm very excited to introduce a guest blogger who will be taking us on a journey through some of Southern California's most beautiful wineries and vineyards in a five part monthly series. The wineries we've chosen to highlight on this blog are the ones I visited and enjoyed while researching SAY YOU'LL BE MINE. Each is unique and offered a learning experience for me as a writer and gave me a deeper appreciation for the art of wine-making. I hope you'll enjoy learning about these wineries too, and have a chance to visit them.

For an opportunity to win a set of artistic wine charms, I'm asking everyone one to do one thing. Visit the SAY YOU'LL BE MINE Facebook page and "Like" it. If you already have, ask one of your friends to "Like" it and I'll give you both and entry. Then post below that you've done it.

For an additional entry, comment on Ceclia's blog post. Have you visited this winery? Others? What did you think? Drink? Who did you visit with? Which was your favorite wine? Let's talk wines.

I will draw the winner on Friday at midnight, Pacific time.

Enjoy the tour of the first winery!

Joseph Filippi Winery

Cecilia Vasquez

The Cucamonga Valley is just one part of the great history of the Inland Empire. The Cucamonga Valley that once spanned over 30,000 acres was the home to many wineries. One in particular is the Joseph Filippi Winery. Founded in 1922, it is one of the oldest wineries in the country. If I were to describe the Joseph Filippi Winery in one word it would be tradition. The Winery has been kept within the Filippi family since its founding and flourishes today under fourth and fifth generation vintners. From the intimate care of the vineyards to the personal tending of the wine, the family is as involved in the creative process of their wines today as they were when they first began.

Along with being a winery that has many traditions they also preserve many. The wine culture of the Cucamonga Valley is a grand tradition of the Inland Empire and the Filippi family has worked to preserve it. They are currently revitalizing the building that once housed the Ellena Brothers-Regina Winery, a designated local historic landmark. Since 1994, the winery has undertaken several new acres of vineyard plantings and vineyard revitalization projects in the Etiwanda area of Rancho Cucamonga.

Joseph Filippi Winery & Vineyards has earned over 200 Awards for winemaking excellence in the past 30 years. Award-winning varieties include Zinfandels, Grenaches, Cabernets, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Sherries, Ports and Angelica wines.

The Wine…
From the making of the wine to the décor of the labels there is a Filippi every step of the way. They specialize in red grape wines such as zinfandels and merlots. Some of their more popular wines are Big Joe Red, Zinfandel, and Syrah.

Upcoming Events…
May 5: Cinco de Mayo Celebration, a chance to relax and enjoy sangria and mojitos
May 8: Mother’s Day complimentary tasting, bring your Mother in for a complimentary tasting or if you are a mom come in and let us treat you to a complimentary tasting.
May 13: Late Night Fridays; come in with your friends. 9 pm closing
May 15: Enter your favorite recipes using Filippi Wine. Submit recipes by May 1. See home page for more info
May 27: Late Night Fridays; come in with your friends. 9 pm closing

The Joseph Filippi Winery is open daily. Monday from 12-5pm, Tuesday-Thursday 11-6pm, Friday-Saturday 11-7pm, and Sunday 12-6pm.

The address is 12467 Baseline Rd. Rancho Cucamonga 91739.

Friday, April 29, 2011

RT Convention

As count down for the release of Say You'll Be Mine officially started for me this month with the the reciept of my cover image, I've been busy with the usual - getting bookmarks printed, planning workshops, preparing for contests, and establishing a Facebook page for the book itself, which I've officially launched - yay! You should be able to "Like" by searching for the title. Otherwise, here is the link.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the RT Convention at the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, and it was so much fun. I met so many wonderful readers - maybe some of you!

Hatchett Book Group had an amazing banner outside of Club RT with the title of books that will be released soon. I was excited to see Say You'll Be Mine there!! Since I could't take the banner (though I wanted to) I took a picture.

The setting for Say You'll Be Mine is in the wine country of Temecula Valley in California and the wine capital of Argentina, Mendoza. So, starting this month, I'll be featuring various wineries in Southern California that you may be interested in visiting. And there will be a fun contest connected with the winery series. Check back on Wednesday, May 4th for more details.



Friday, March 4, 2011

Say You'll Be Mine

My new cover !! This week, I got the cover image for my upcoming book, SAY YOU'LL BE MINE, and I absolutely love it!! I think it's the best cover I've ever had. Not only does it maintain the beautiful blues from EVENINGS, but it captures the romantic feel of our Califoria vineyards. The elegant table in front with the miss-matched chairs is inviting and just . . . perfect.

I hope you all like it as much as I do!!!

The idea for SAY YOU'LL BE MINE came to me about four years ago, way before EVENINGS, and yet I had to sit with it for a long time to decide exactly how I wanted to present it.

One weekend I visited a winery out in Temecula, California and it was late afternoon. The warmth of the day was still hanging in the valley, but it was growing cooler and I found a warm place to sit and take notes about the tour I'd taken. But as I sat there, I thought about how peaceful and wonderful it was outside and how anyone lucky to live on a vineyard would be so fortunate. Then my thoughts sort of wandered and what came to me was this vague idea of a woman who from the outside had every reason to be happy - a successful vineyard, money, power - and yet wasn't happy at all. I wasn't sure why at the time, but eventually this woman grew into Isabel, the owner of Gallegos Winery.

Whereas my Lara Rios books and even EVENINGS have been stories about the immigrant experience and adapting to being a Latina in America, SAY YOU'LL BE MINE is the first book that doesn't touch on that theme. Even though it pays a long visit to Argentina as Isabel goes to rescue three children, this book is about family and motherhood and what truly makes people happy.

It will be released in October 2011.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yard Sale Update and Screen Writing

Last week's girl scout yard sale was a big success.

We had so many great things to sell, including coffee and muffins!

The moms all worked hard, getting up early, posting signs, and getting the best price for all items.

"How much are these skates?"

"We're asking $5, but we'll take $4, and even $3."

"I pick $3," the customer said, probably thinking these women are suckers.

Okay, so we weren't the best sales women, but we had fun, and the girls helped out too. Mostly by buying each other's stuff. My daughter came home with two stuffed animals and a pillow pet. Okay and I came home with candles. I love candles!

Only bad thing is that I hurt my back dragging a dang tarp full of clothes. It's made for a miserable week. But I'm hopeful that it will heal quickly.

This week our little group started their cookie fundraising. I won't bore you cookie selling stories. But remember to support those
smiling little girl scouts in your neighborhood.

Now on to writing related news. Are there any screen writers out there? Here is a great contest. If I had the time, I'd enter it myself.
SYNOPSIS: The sponsor will award two $3,000 cash prizes: one tothe best feature-length script with a female protagonist and one tothe best script showcasing diversity. Deadline(s): 03/19/2011
Good Luck!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Yard Sale Anyone?

I'm getting ready in a few hours to go "prepare" for a ten family yard sale tomorrow. We're going to sort and price all the items that we're happy to have eliminated from our house and garages. There will be pizza and beer and it will be a blast. Since I hate yard sales, this is what I keep telling myself.

I remember saying last year that I would not anymore yard sales, but I caved on this one. The goal is to do a funraiser for our girl scout troop, but as of today, I haven't gotten approval to raise money for my scout troop. So, it has now become simply a yard sale.

Why I'm I not a huge fan of yard sales? People sell the weirdest things, don't they? I always think, if I don't want this, why would anyone else want it? I found this on the internet. Someone selling a casket. Hey, why not? Of course, I'd put one of my relatives in a casket I bought at a yard sale! Especially if I didn't like them very much.

Plus you have to get up super early to put all the junk out in your driveway, and a few hours later put most it back in. Waste of time.

Then there are those signs you have to make and hang. Ugh. I love to write, but making yard sale signs have to be the most boring, uninspiring chore every. I've tried to get my kids to get creative with them, and even they can't do it. But I did find a couple of funny examples on the internet.

Maybe I'll try these.
Well, I'll post some of my own pictures tomorrow. Wish me luck!