Saturday, June 30, 2012

Advanced Reading Copies of INK are in the house

Well, not my house — but at Crossed Genres Publications. I'll get to see my first perfect bound copy at Readercon 23 (where I'll be part of the Crossed Genres reading on Saturday at noon).

Excited doesn't even begin to cover how I feel...

For review copies of INK please contact publicity @ crossedgenres . com  

Format: Paperback (240 pp.) & Ebook
Release date: Monday, October 15, 2012
ISBN: 0615657818 / ISBN-13: 978-0615657813
Cost: $13.95 (print) / $5.99 (ebook)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tremendous shake-up at Archdiocese of Philadelphia

After 117 years, the Catholic Standard & Times will cease publication in an archdiocesan reorganization that will cut 40 jobs at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Philadelphia. The monthly magazine, Phaith, will also cease publication. The newspaper & magazine's portal site, will continue to operate.

I spent nine years at the CS&T as managing editor and deeply respect the vision and commitment of Matthew Gambino, the CS&T and Phaith's director and general manager, and all the dedicated and talented staff.

I'll miss you guys. =(

Monday, June 18, 2012

@BarackObama, I'm not cheering yet

This column appears in Spanish in Al Día News, June 22 edition.

If you pay attention to immigration matters, it was hard to ignore the jubilation June 15 as President Obama announced that, via a prosecutorial memo, his administration would change its exercise in priority of deportations for young people who were brought to the nation as children. The young people, between the ages of 15 and 30 and fitting specific criteria, will become eligible for deferred action and a two-year work authorization.

So a lot of my twitter friends — which include a number of DREAM-Act eligible young people and many immigration reform advocates — started celebrating Friday afternoon. “This is HUGE HUGE HUGE,” tweeted Jose Antonio Vargas, whose cover story about undocumented young people had appeared in Time Magazine the day before. A friend who’s been active in many aspects of advocacy for Latinos sent me a message that read, “what incredible news.”

Yeah, okay. Except I wasn’t one of the ones throwing confetti around or sending “thank you” tweets to the president. Call me cynical or cautious, but I’m withholding my celebration until this proves more than just lip-service or — to use Washington Post columnist Ruben Navarrette’s word — hispandering.

The president’s announcement, made as his reelection campaign gears up for November, reeks of desire to sew-up the Latino vote. And plenty on the internet commented on the convenient timing:

- “You waited for four years and you remembered four months before the elections?” tweeted journalist Diego Graglia in Spanish.

- “If this turns out to be another ... PR stunt from @barackobama rather than policy change some peeps better buy teflon shirts,” tweeted DREAM Act activist Anja Asenjo.

The thing is, many of us have made note of the president’s propensity to sell the Latino community a bill of goods that is never delivered:

- “The last time Obama promised a case by case review for prosecutorial discretion less than 2% of cases were completed,” tweeted Alfredo Gutierrez from La Frontera Times.

- “Today’s memo clarified the 2011 Morton Memo which clarified the 2010 Morton Memo. All Memo No Action.” echoed Rigo in his tweet of June 15. (Rigo is part of the IYJL and NIYA, both groups that had urged the president to issue an executive order to grant Dream-Act eligible students lawful residence and a path to citizenship.)

“I think it’s brave of the president,” said one of the reporters in the Al Día newsroom, after we had watched Obama deal with a heckler at his Rose Garden announcement of the memo, but before national anti-immigrant groups had disseminated their statements of outrage.

“What’s brave about it?” I scoffed. “It’s not an executive order. It’s not the Dream Act, not even close. It’s a two-year reprieve. If they’re lucky. That’s it.”

“Two years can mean a lot,” he said.

And it’s the way he said it that made me stop my rant.
I was suddenly very aware that this reporter jumps through hoops every year to get his work authorization renewed so he can stay in this country legally and do a job he has a gift for. There is, I suppose, no way to go through the process without concern that someday something could go very wrong and he might not make it back to the life he’s made for himself in Philadelphia.

Someday, he’s told me, he’d like to have a green card. But only a small number of employment-based green cards are issued for professionals and skilled workers coming from Mexico (just under 6,000 were issued in 2010, for example) and since Mexico is his country of origin, he is also excluded from entering the diversity visa lottery that randomly selects 100,000 winners from a pool of millions of green card seekers.

There is such desire to stay here from so many who recognize this as the country of their hearts, it almost hurts to hear it. “This is real,” tweeted Bessuvia, a DREAM activist, who followed her tweet with the hashmark “#Tears.”

“First thing I am doing is getting a drivers license,” tweeted Gaby Pacheco — another DREAM activist — clearly excited at the prospect of something those of us with documents, or citizens, don’t think too much about.

And there it is: People are celebrating such a little step by the Obama administration as if it were huge because even the little steps have been so few and so hard won.

And so precious.

That’s the part I don’t want to forget. And I don’t want the president to forget it either.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

So your book has a cover ... now what?

I am both the most and least patient of people.

The patient part was the part that wrote my novel. Every night after dinner was done and my family had gone to sleep, I’d sit down at the old laptop and figure out where the characters were taking me, then I’d get lost in words for the next three or four hours. Sometimes I’d write clear through the night until it was time to get my daughter’s lunch packed for school and myself ready for another day of work. Weekends were occasionally writing marathons, with breaks built in for the stuff of living. I didn’t rush — the characters’ lives unfolded at their own pace — and it took me a long time to get to the point where I understood it was time to let them find closure.

I’ve since learned that many writers produce not one but several novels in the time it had taken me to get to this winding down stage.

I think because I’ve worked at newspapers most of my life, this leisured pace — so far removed from hard deadlines and words turned in a few hours to article or editorial — made patience easy.

But it’s also what’s made what has come after the novel was finished so blasted trying.

With newspapers, your articles and editorials are poured onto the page instants after the edit is done, you see how the finished product will look minutes before you load it onto the printer’s ftp site, and the next morning, there it is, hot off the presses. No delayed gratification — just words in column widths on newsprint and someone telling you how much they loved or hated your editorial, thank you very much.

From waiting for my beta-readers to finish reading the manuscript to edits to galleys, this first-novel-in-the-making has been a test of patience. And now, I have a cover. And an ISBN number.

It feels like the novel is almost ready to see the light of day, but of course it isn’t. It doesn’t launch until Oct. 15 and between now and then there are who knows how many steps until I actually arrive at that  “hot off the presses” experience.

I think the level and consistency of my impatience amuses my editor/publisher — at least I hope it amuses more than irritates him. As self-protection against the bite of my impatience, I design book cards, make lists of the people I’ll send reading copies to, plan publicity pieces newspaper editors like me glance at to decide whether we’ll pass the book on to a reviewer or simply add it to the stack of books we’ll never find the time to get to.

And so I wonder how writers with multiple books to their name do it. I’m asking you, like a younger sibling hoping the older will have wisdom to share: How do you live in this in-between time?

In the interim, of course, I’m writing. Weekly columns and editorials, poems and short stories and novellas, but it’s not quite the same thing as a novel. No patience required, you see.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Meet the editor of INK

Want to get the much more readable PDF version of this newsletter? Email me at svourvoulias(at)yahoo(dot)com

Want to get the much more readable PDF version of this newsletter? Email me at svourvoulias(at)yahoo(dot)com
Want to get the much more readable PDF version of this newsletter? Email me at svourvoulias(at)yahoo(dot)com

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The incredible story continues ...

And the incredibly moving story continues — father and son meet after 30 years, during which the father believed all of his children dead in the Dos Erres massacre in Guatemala.

Kudos to ProPublica for the original story and all the follow-ups.