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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Finished NaNoWriMo Today!




I am very proud to announce that I finished my 50,000 rough draft for a new book of fiction today. I called it "Calaveras in the Closet: Stories and Novellas." The exact word count was 52,945 words.

Here's the disjointed premise of the book:

All the characters I've ever created (and left behind) have banded together to form CACA, the Circle of Abandoned Characters Anonymous, a support group and 12-step program for those who need to air out their many abandonment issues, resentments, and unheard stories.

There are 10 stories and 3 novellas, although when and if I ever revise the book, I'm going to chop off 4 of the stories, as these were just grist for the writer's mill, ways to get me started with the writing process this year without actually knowing where I was going. 

Between now and next summer, I will be thinking about these stories, these characters needing to be heard, and hopefully, the elves in my brain will work their magic while I burn the midnight oil at my academic job and figure out how to turn all of this into a viable collection, my second collection of short fiction.


Friday, July 18, 2014




Bless me, oh gods of the Royal Blogsphere, it's been more than a year since my last blog. So many vestiges of my Catholic upbringing. Maybe that's why the concept of the "bad woman" intrigues me so much, because of that heavy Catholic/Christian/Patriarchal judgment placed on a woman's head, from Lilith and Eve down to all women, particularly those of us of the lesbian and/or feminist and/or queer persuasion. In fact, that's what my new book is all about. I realized I've been writing about "bad women," or at least women who were considered "bad" in their own lifetimes or who have become the scapegoats for all the bad stuff that has befallen our culture and our raza for the last 500 years--in both my fiction and my scholarship. I'm very proud of this collection of scholarly essays. You'll find pieces on Sor Juana, on la Malinche, on Chicana feminist artists and lesbian theorists, on the murdered girls and women of Juárez, as well as a rewriting of the Coyolxauhqui myth, and an opening letter to my paisana from the border, Gloria Anzaldúa, in gratitude for her lenguas de fuego. There are also 8 color plates and 37 black and white photos. Artwork includes different images by Alma Lopez, beginning with that fabulous cover she created for the occasion of the book's publication, as well as pieces by Ester Hernández, Yreina Cervantez, Liliana Wilson, Patssi Valdez, Laura Aguilar, Deliliah Montoya, Alma Gómez-Frith, Miguel Gandert, Alfonso Cano, the "Saint Jerome" of Leonardo da Vinci, the iconic "American Progress, 1872" by John Gast, and a painting of Juana Inés by my very own mother, Teyali Falcón that she created for the publication of Sor Juana's Second Dream. I'll be doing my first book talk and signing in Albuquerque on my birthday, July 29, at BookWorks, and a month later, another event at BookWoman in Austin, Texas, if anybody's interested in coming out to support the work. A special shout-out to the University of Texas Press, and my (now retired) editor, Theresa May, for always producing such beautiful books and helping to grow the library of Chicana feminist lesbian scholarship. You can order the book directly (and at a 33% discount) through U.T. Press, or go to my website to order it through Amazon.com. If you'd like for me to come and speak about the book at your university, send me an email.

Upcoming book talks/book signings:
July 29, 6-8pm

Austin, TX, August 28, 7pm


Monday, June 10, 2013

Movie based on Sor Juana's Second Dream












I have been completely remiss in not posting on my blog the fantastic news that Sor Juana's Second Dream has been adapted to a screenplay. I am, in fact, the co-screenplay-writer, along with the film's director and co-producer, Rene Bueno. Here's some more info about the film, which will be a Mexican production tentatively titled "Juana de Asbaje," starring Ana de la Reguera as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. The film will also star Bruno Bichir (of Padre Amaro fame) and Adriana Barraza (of Babel fame).  The short video from UNO-TV is in Spanish. The film will go into production in Fall 2014.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Burglary Blues

On Thursday, May 16, just as I was walking to my car, Alma called me panic-stricken because our condominium got broken into and someone stole our gold jewelry, including the heirloom pieces I'd inherited from my grandmother, and my laptop. The thief forced the front door open with a crowbar, jimmied both deadbolts, and seriously damaged the door and doorjamb. Luckily, nobody was home or hurt, although it's pretty clear to us that he was probably casing the place and waiting for it to be empty. Since Alma got home at 4 and a friend left at 1, the burglary happened in the those three hours in the middle of the day. Alma reported the incident at 4:15 but the police didn't show up here till after midnight, 12:29 to be exact. Eight hours later. Since then, I've been in a fog of insurance, police reports, locksmiths, contractors (we will need to replace the whole door not just the locks because the damage is irreparable), security systems, tracking Craig's List and Ebay just in case I see my grandmother's bracelets and St. Rita necklace, my precious fossil Ammolite ring that I'd given myself as a "rebirthday" present on a trip to Puerto Rico back in 2005--the pieces that would stand out from the more common stuff you see on those sites.

I'm not letting it sink in, though, that my MacBook Pro, stuffed to the gills with all my writings, is gone. I have old backups on Time Machine and on flash drives and CD's, but I think the last time I used Time Machine was in 2008, and although I have the most recent versions of my newest book which, thank the goddess, I'd finished putting together and sent off to the press, I don't have the latest drafts of other books, or the collections of stories, poems, chapters, I'd been working on since 2008. I don't have the latest draft of my YA novel that I was going to try to work on this summer. It's the weirdest feeling, like I'm unanchored but at the same time, sort of liberated from all that karma. Not that I wouldn't want the police to get my computer back so I could get those files back, all my pictures, and my thousands of songs (thank goodness for iPhone backups so that at least I still have some of my music and photos), but a part of me is willing to make the sacrifice, say to the Universe, okay you can have all of that, just keep us safe, let them erase the whole drive and reset the computer to factory settings so that none of my work or my personal information is out there drifting in cyberspace.

But maybe, just maybe, all of this was supposed to happen to help me open my eyes to what's really important, especially in this economy: take extra measures to protect your safety. Don't procrastinate on things like installing a home security system or backing up your computer. Listen to your Facultad when she sends up a random sense of relief when you come home one afternoon and discover you haven't been broken into; that's your wiser self, telling you, be careful, something's coming. If you're afraid of this, maybe you should listen more closely. Deja vu, perhaps.

I went to a pawn shop today but didn't find any of our stuff. We're going undercover this week, hitting the pawnshops because I feel like I'm going to find at least some of my grandmother's pieces. Don't worry. If I do see something, I'll report it to the police and let them handle it. I'm looking forward to getting our wireless security system installed tomorrow. Our front door replaced and new and better locks put in. Then I'm going to transplant my baby blue spruce tree that we used as a Christmas tree and get back in touch with our plants, our flowers, our patio.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Good Riddance Tax Day 2013

I don't know why it's always such a big production, but "doing my taxes," has become this ritualized version of self-torture that I put myself through every single year, usually two days before Tax Day. I buy an 8-pack of Diet Coke or now Coke Zero (more caffeine) for the occasion and agree to "take time out of time," which means disregard all normal routines, family obligations, eating and sleeping schedules, avoid phonecalls and emails, just to focus completely on this ritual of mind-numbing numbers and glassy-eyed confusion. With the new rules regarding same-sex married couples who live in community property states like California, it's even more of a picnic. But, I'm happy to say, Alma and I actually got our taxes done a day early. We weren't those people sliding into the airport post office at 11:58pm, although we were those people last year. We celebrated with the last of the Coke Zero and an evening of all our favorite shows: Nurse Jackie, The Borgias, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, and of course, Dark Shadows. I don't know why I don't just haul our boxes of receipts to an accountant and let someone who gets paid to do this take care of it for us. It's a vestige of control-freakism, no doubt. Or maybe, the ritualized challenge of slaying the dragon again, year after year.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Online Radio Interview with KUHA in Houston

Check out my "Arte Publico Author of the Month" online radio interview with Eric Landau of KUHA, 91.7 Classical Radio, Houston. Thanks for a great conversation, Eric!

http://www.classical917.org/articles/1363004392-Classical-91.7-Arte-Publico-Author-of-the-Month-Alicia-Gaspar-de-Alba.html

Monday, March 11, 2013

AWP in Boston

At Logan Airport waiting for our flight back to LA after a very stimulating AWP that was one part informational, one part nostalgic, and at times just plain eerie. I used to live in Boston in the latter half of the 1980s and Copley Square, Boylston Street, the whole Back Bay Area was my old neighborhood. Back then I walked almost daily, long walks down Newbury or Marlborough Streets, between my apartment on The Fenway and the Public Garden, with side trips to Beacon Hill or the Public Library, where I was doing research on the witch trials for the book that would become Calligraphy of the Witch.

I kept feeling the magnetic pull of the Boston Common, and the yearning to be outside meandering through the streets. I wanted to show my darling Alma the gazebo in the Common where I stood when I wrote the poem, "Listening to My Bones" the time five pigeons landed on my arm and a squirrel for some reason scurried up my back and stood on my head for a few seconds. I wanted her to see  the Old South Church, the grand entrance of the Library, my T Stop off the Green Line, my favorite bookstore (the Trident,  of course, which I'm happy to say us still in business) but my plans were foiled by the snowstorm. A huge snowstorm fell over the Eastern seaboard on the first day of the conference, and we awoke to one of those silver-white days where the snow flurries from daybreak to dusk and the only light comes from the mounting snowbanks on the ground. No walking that day, so we stayed put inside the Hynes Convention center and attended all the sessions we could, though it was crazy how many sessions had been scheduled at the same time and really how little we could take in. Still we learned about picture books and illustrated novels and heard some excellent short fiction and poetry. It was heartening to see how many literary journals are still in business and
still publishing poetry. How many new poetry books there were, how many poets still plying their trade, how many new formats there are to publish poetry and short fiction.  We were especially impressed with the new journal called Hoot, which bills itself a mini-review of work that is no longer than 150 words, published on postcards. We loved that format and saw immediately how we could adapt it for our Codex Nepantla project.

Perhaps the most inspiring part of the conference was Jeanette Winterson's keynote presentation and reading from her memoir on Friday afternoon to a packed auditorium. It seemed like all 11,000 of the AWP attendees were at her reading, which was so much more than a reading, but also a philosophical contemplation of the writer's life, her family foibles, her experience as an adopted child, and at one point she apologized for having transformed the reading into a revival meeting. She was so funny, and her memoir so very good, authentic and honest. Unfortunately, the line of folks wanting to buy her book wrapped around the balustrade and they ran out just as I was getting there. I wasn't able to bring home her signature in a book but Jeanette did get to take home the beautiful watercolor drawing Alma was making of her while she spoke, with Winterson's hilarious phrase, "... Contemplating the horrors of heterosexuality..." on it.

But the streets' beckoning would not relent, and luckily Saturday turned out to be a clear day, the sky a pristine blue and the snow dazzling white in the sunlight. Off to the Common we went, setting off on Boylston Street and making stops along the way for Alma to film me with her bloggie for a short video she wants to put together for me to help give Calligraphy of the Witch more exposure. She loved the old buildings, the friendliness of the Boston folks, the food (mostly pub food) we ate. She really loved that the writers at the conference seemed very down to earth, and that they seemed genuinely excited about sharing their work and their ideas. At one point she said that hanging out with writers was like being around artists, only with words.