Desert Blood Book Tour BLOG

This weblog is an online journal of my book tour for Desert Blood: the Juárez Murders. You'll find my observations of each venue, comments on the readings I chose, Q & A highlights, and other interactions that took place between March and June, 2005.

The Kickoff: UTEP Reading (3/17/05)
Reading at UTEP, my first alma mater, went very well. Packed house, with standing-room only. Great introduction by Emmy Pérez. Gloria went with me, and all my family was there: my mom, Teyali Senior, my sister Sonia, my nieces Lizeth and Teyali III, my nephew, Alonzo Omar, my cousin, Blanca, my goddaughter, Bianca, even my tía Margot and her best friend Helen "la amenaza." Read Chapter 1, a section of Chapter 2, all of Chapter 4, and about half of Chapter 6. It was definitely too long. But the audience was right there with me, and when I checked, folks wanted me to keep going. Excellent discussion followed. Sold over 30 books and had a long line of people waiting to get their books signed. With the great review that Rigoberto González wrote for the El Paso Times, and this kick-off reading at UTEP, things bode very well for this book tour.
3:50 pm pst

Private Reception (3/18/05)
Analinda and Arturo Guerrero, board members of Arte Publico Press who have recently returned home to El Paso after over twenty years away, hosted this private reception for me at Cafe Central in downtown El Paso. What a great event. Gave some extended background on Ivon Villa then read Chapter 21 (aka "Pay Day") and left everyone piqued for more. Sold out of all the books that Gabi brought to sell (it was great to have Gabi there, another native of the El Paso/Juárez border, now executive editor at Arte Publico Press). Excellent questions from the audience and terrific food, especially that asparagus and green chile soup. My mom and Gloria were with me.
4:00 pm pst

Barnes & Noble (3/19/05)
What a great feeling it is to see one's novel in the window of a bookstore. Gloria took pictures of me outside my favorite Barnes and Noble in El Paso (Sunland Park). Karen, the customer relations person at that bookstore, was extremely kind and invited my mom, grandmother, Gloria, and me to coffee before the event. She set up a small area off the travel section with chairs so I could do more than a simple signing and I had a small but very interested and involved audience. I was going to read the autopsy chapter, but changed my mind and read Chapter 33 instead (aka "Rastreo"). The PA system was a little loud in the store, but otherwise, it was a good event. Sold over 20 copies, I think. Other than my mom, grandma Tey, and Gloria, my aunt Irma, Blanca's mom, was there, as was Blanca, Bianca and Fraisito, Margarita and Estela (my "compadre" and comadre), Deena, her sister Rita, and their aunt Tere, Lizeth, Alonzo, and Anais. To my TOTAL surprise, three very old friends, two from Eastwood High, Eric Morales and Marta Tavares, and one from Loretto Elementary, Laura Caballero, showed up. I think that was the highlight of the afternoon for me. I used to be on the newspaper and literary magazine staff with Eric, on the basketball team with Marta, and on the phone constantly with Laura.
4:15 pm pst

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Jamocha Coffeehouse (3/19/05)
This reading was a fundraiser for Amigos de las Mujeres de Juárez. Arte Publico gave Amigos 40% of the proceeds of the book sales, and I signed at least 15 copies, if not more. Although I was worried the night before when we stopped by the coffeehouse and didn't see any publicity for the event, all was taken care of and I had a full house for the reading. The owner and all the workers at Jamocha were very nice (really strong espresso, too!) and tried to be as discreet as possible whenever they had to work that cadillac of an espresso machine, which proved to be a bit of a challenge for my voice. Decided this was the crowd to listen to the autopsy chapter (Chapter 7). This was the longest Q & A session, I think, and it was extremely helpful to me to have the folks from Amigos present to help with the questions. Greg Bloom acknowledged my role as not only an academic and a writer but also an activist in this issue of the Juárez murders, mentioning my work on the conference at UCLA (see the Desert Blood Homepage for more info on the conference) and especially the "Lamento for the Mujeres de Juárez" altar exhibition done by the Esperanza Center's MujerArtes cooperative, which helped to generate upward of five-thousand dollars for Amigos. Signed books and chatted with friends (thanks to Rich Yañez and Rosario Sanmiguel for being there!) until 10pm. I was completely exhausted at the end of the night, but overall felt pleased and grateful for the outcome of the first leg of the book tour. Muchisimas gracias to Marina Tristan at Arte Publico for putting it all together.
4:26 pm pst

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
A Note of Gratitude
I want to pause here and thank, first of all, Gloria Ramírez, for accompanying me at the kickoff of the book tour in El Paso, but especially for promoting the book and my readings in the publication that she has edited for the last 17 years, La Voz de Esperanza (which many of you read or should read). My sabbatical in San Antonio so far this year has been amazingly productive, and, as I say in the acknowledgments in the novel, Gloria opened up the best room in her house so that I could have "a room of my own" in which to work. With four huge windows and a 12-foot ceiling, with beautiful Texas light and inspiring artwork all over the walls, not to mention the best Latina/o music collection on either side of the Rio Grande, it's been hard NOT to write. Here in this serene green room I finished revising, proofreading, and re-revising Desert Blood; I wrote a new short story called "The Sacrament," and had an old short story, "Lorca's Widow," finally accepted for publication (thanks also to la doctora corazón, Josie Mendez Negrete for workshopping the piece with me); in tribute to my friend and mentor, Gloria E. Anzaldúa (que en paz descanse), I wrote a new poem "Tu última cruzada" (published in La Voz last summer) and a memorial piece that was published in American Quarterly; I wrote an encyclopedia article on the CARA (Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation) Exhibition for the Oxford Dictionary of Latinos and Latinas in the United States; and, finally (drumroll, please....) after sixteen years since I'd written the first first draft, I finished the second first draft of my next novel, "Calligraphy of the Witch," a sequel to the Sor Juana book in which we learn what happened to her assistant, Concepción, after she escaped from the convent in Mexico City in 1683. All in all, despite emotional upheavals of differing magnitudes, the work flowed, and I am grateful for this time away from UCLA, for this room in Gloria's house, for the years and months that Gloria and I walked the same path together, and for all the friends who have kept me going. I am truly blessed.
10:09 am pst

Friday, March 25, 2005
U.T. San Antonio (3/24/05)
A phenomenal event at UTSA last night. Over 200 people in attendance and sold out of all the books. Arte Publico agreed to give the UTSA Chicana/o graduate students 40% of the book sales to help finance their way to the NACCS (National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies) conference in Miami next month, and they raised over $400. So that was a great benefit of the reading, and I'm happy to help. Read the very short chapter 1 again, which seems to rivet the audience whenever I read it, a small portion of chapter 4 to give them some background on Ivon Villa's motivation for returning to El Paso and wanting to adopt, and then broke in chapter 12, in which Ivon meets the mother of yet another child she can adopt and learns of the pregnancy testing and other sexual exploitations that occur when women apply for jobs in the maquiladora industry. Some great questions from the audience, particularly a discussion on NAFTA. My favorite comment was from a woman who asked if I thought the silence around the crimes was politically-motivated. What else could it be? If information is power, then silence, or rather the absence of information, the total lack of awareness, is the opposite of power, which of course makes it possible for the crimes to continue with impunity. Hopefully, Desert Blood will help to break that silence in the U.S. Got lots of flowers from the UTSA students and my friend David Zamora Casas, and Gloria had given me flowers earlier in the day, so the house is alight with flowers of all kinds. I want to thank everyone who attended, but especially la Doctora Josie Méndez Negrete (you should look up her amazing book, Las Hijas de Juan, on amazon.com), for organizing the event. I'm donating 50% of any honoraria I receive for my book tour gigs to Amigos de las Mujeres de Juarez, a nonprofit based in Las Cruces, New Mexico, that helps the families of some of the victims that are affiliated with nonprofits in Juárez. My next San Antonio event is tomorrow, at the Barnes and Noble in San Pedro Crossing. Will my books be in the window there, too?
8:52 am pst

Barnes and Noble, San Pedro Crossing (3/26/05)
Another great audience at Barnes and Noble this afternoon. Didn't count how many people showed up, but it was a rainy Saturday afternoon, and I was a little worried the rain would keep folks away, but it didn't. They had to bring out two extra rows of chairs. Decided it was an "Irene" day, that is, a day to read those sections pertinent to Ivon's little sister, so I read the last part of the feria chapter, the chapter where their mother blames Ivon for her sister's disappearance and we learn of the history of her homophobia, and one of Irene's chapters after she's been captured, which gives us an entry into the dot.com porn business for which she's been kidnapped. The audience was a very informed group, and the discussion went far beyond "who's killing the women?" Thanks to Fabiola at B&N for setting it all up, and for including copies of my Chicano Art and Velvet Barrios books in the Desert Blood book display. Thanks also to the friends who took time to show up: Margie, Fernando, Choco, Andrea, Adán, Pablo, José, Rafael, Judy, even Anita Revilla who was home for the Easter holiday, and whom I haven't seen since she was at UCLA. A young woman named Cynthia also had me sign my Sor Juana's Second Dream novel, saying it was her favorite book of all time and that she'd read it, like, four times. Amazing! Stay tuned to a page of Gloria's terrific pictures from these events (once I'm able to upload pictures onto the site again). My next reading in San Antonio will be at Trinity University on April 12. Check out my website for time and place.
10:15 am pst

National Hispanic Cultural Center (4/5/05)
First off, I have to thank Carlos Vásquez for inviting me to read at the NHCC again. Last year I did a presentation on Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz for their "Dia del Libro" event and the audience was, to put it mildly, shocked and scandalized by my sapphic Sor Juana argument, but we had a great discussion nonetheless and sold lots of copies of SOR JUANA'S SECOND DREAM. Same thing happened this year. Great audience, great discussion about the Juárez crimes, and sold lots of copies of DESERT BLOOD. The highlight of the evening was seeing my old friend, New Mexican salsera de aquellas, Ivon Ulibarri there with her girlfriend, la Rosie (if you've never heard them perform with their band Café Mocha you are seriously missing one of the great musical pleasures in life). They were of course very surprised to find out that the name of my protagonist is Ivon Villa, spelled the same way as Ivon Ulibarri spells her name. You just never know when a writer is going to steal something from you; your name, an anecdote, even a sentence can be lifted right off your lips and be inserted into a writer's story in progress, so watch out: that person writing quietly in her journal at a Starbucks may be listening to your conversation and helping herself to your drama...sorry, I got off track. The point is, yes, of course I used Ivon because of Ivon, because it's a great butch name and Ivon is one of those great old-school butches full of talent and passion and conciencia. So, belatedly, thanks Ivon for lending me your name. We had a great dinner at the Frontier afterwards, best carne adovada burritos in Albuquerque.
2:18 pm pdt

University of New Mexico (4/6/05)
Went back to my second alma mater to read for the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UNM, thanks to my old profe, Tey Diana Rebolledo, who organized the event. Lots of students and lots of questions. Two interesting moments of synchronicity occurred. First, a young woman came up to have her book signed and told me her cousin's name was Mireya and that she worked in a maquila in Juárez, and I had just read Mireya's chapter in the book. A second and even wierder thing was that another woman gave me the name of a Father Frank who works at the Sacred Heart Church in El Paso and ministers, among other things, to prisons. She didn't realize that my Father Frank in the novel also is from the Sacred Heart Church. I reassured her that my Father Frank is not the same person, but it's an eerie thing, nonetheless. All she wanted to know was whether the Father Frank in my novel was a good priest or a bad priest. I guess you have to read the book to decide. Sold out of books again.
2:46 pm pdt

CU Boulder (4/8/05)
One of the things I've been consistently amazed by is how much interest there really is out there to find out more about the Juárez murders, particularly at university campuses like this one. I guess my old pal, Arturo Aldama, director of Center for the Studies of Race and Ethnicity in America, wasn't expecting as heavy of a turnout as we had for the reading, but the room was jampacked, standing-room only, and then some. So, gracias Arturo and gracias especially to my good bud, Emma Pérez, chair of the Department of Ehtnic Studies, for organizing the event, especially now in the midst of all of your own media blitzing of Ward Churchill and institutional backlash against the department. Another thing I was extremely happy about was that the Raza Womyn student organization (phat thanks to Bernadette Garcia!) took the initiative to order the books directly from Arte Publico Press and turned it into a fundraiser for Amigos de las Mujeres de Juárez, who agreed to donate 40% of the booksales to Amigos. Since we sold out of books (and left a few people wanting) I am sure the Amigos folks are going to be very happy with the contribution. CU was my one and only gig in this neck of the woods because, even though Marina at Arte Publico (who's done a fabulous job organizing the book tour, by the way!) tried to get me a signing at either Tattered Cover or Cultural Legacy, the alternative bookstores in Denver, neither place responded to her various calls. I finally got in touch with someone at Tattered Cover, who kindly called me back, and informed me that "frankly, unless you're a big name with a big draw, we can't get anyone out to our events." GULP. Okay, fair enough, but I tell her the issue is an important issue and that there's much interest in the topic of the Juárez murders, and she says, "well, maybe in your area." DOUBLE GULP. At Cultural Legacy I am treated to a fascinating story about how much the bookstore owner has done for Latina literature, and she mentions that she did order my book though doesn't remember getting any calls from Arte Publico, but she doesn't ask me to sign any stock.
3:01 pm pdt

Sunday, April 10, 2005
What To Do In Denver When You're Stranded in a Blizzard in April
Yep, it's April 10th and my flight was scheduled to leave an hour ago and I'm still sitting in my jammies in Emma and Scarlet's house watching the snow accumulate in the backyard and being treated to signs from the Universe: a pair of red-shafted flickers appear out of nowhere, amazing orange light under their wings and spots of reddish-orange on their cheeks and at the back of their heads. Sophia, one of the cats, whom I call the sentinel of the snow because she's been watching it all day, entranced, not taking her eyes off the window except when she's harrasing me to give her some mayonnaise from my sandwich, calls our attention out the window and then suddenly one flicker appears and then another, and they both sit on the cable outside, balanced perfectly against the snowy wind, and give us a good long opportunity to be amazed by their presence. We know it's a sign from the Universe, so we look it up in Ted Andrews' ANIMAL SPEAK book, and sure enough, it's a powerful totem that came to both of us, Emma and me, signifying huge spiritual growth, healing, and the stimulation of all the chakras in the head. "...a catalyst for major creative changes in your life ... this totem can reflect a new balance coming into your life, regardless of the conditions...Flicker will awaken a new rhythm and the ability and opportunity to manifest all-healing love" (142-143). WOW! This sure does put a different spin on being "stranded in Denver in a blizzard." I would have missed that sign, if it hadn't been for the snow and the canceled flights, and for Sophia staring so intently out on all that whiteness, teaching me how to sit still and wait for the Universe to answer my questions. I want to thank Scarlet and Emma for hosting me in their home and treating me to a fine example of healthy living.
3:20 pm pdt

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Miami (4/13/05 - 4/18/05)
I've crossed three time zones in 24 hours, and I have to say I'm so tired I'm actually dazed, and the six days in Miami seem like they happened last year. But actually, just yesterday morning (Monday morning) I was walking along Highland Beach with my friend (professor, mentor, and model of an academic who practices the politics she preaches), Jane Caputi, who invited me to read at Florida Atlantic University. I hadn't seen Jane since 2003, when I invited her to participate in the Maquiladora Murders conference at UCLA, and I hadn't actually been in her space since before I left Albuquerque while still her student and dissertation advisee at UNM in 1991. All around it was a great visit. I enjoyed meeting Roger and spending time in their beautiful condo filled with the sound of the surf, photographs of glaciers, and lots of Wicca iconography. I especially enjoyed cooking breakfast, frying up some bacon and tomatoes and real freshly-thawed New Mexico green chile scrambled into the eggs. You have to understand that at this point in the book tour when exhaustion hangs off you like a second shadow the memorable things are the homey things, the details of daily life that remind you of a more grounded existence. Had a very nice reading at Murder on the Beach bookstore on Sunday and at the Highland Beach library on Thursday as well, though some of the people who attended the library reading were not expecting their lovely late afternoon to be spoiled by my not-so-cheery presentation. The bookstore audience, gritty hard-cores that they are, really seemed to enjoy the presentation and we had a great discussion on the politics of NAFTA (and now CAFTA, too) and the essential vein of GREED that is at the core of so many of these crimes on the border. Returned to San Antonio late last night and I was at the airport again this afternoon to catch my flight to L.A. Tonight, I'm sitting here in Deena and Ellie's house waiting for my laundry to dry so I can get myself to bed and get ready to hit the pavement again tomorrow. Ah, the romantic life of a writer...
11:38 pm pdt

Monday, May 16, 2005
Catching Up (L.A., San Francisco, Houston)
Apologies to all who have been vicariously following my book tour via this blog. Today is May 16 and I'm just now able to catch up on my last three venues. To recap, I was in Los Angeles from 4/21-4/26; in San Francisco from 4/28-4/30; and, in Houston from 5/5-5/7. The last you heard from me I was waiting for my laundry to dry in Deena and Ellie's house, and actually, laundry is a good metaphor for the L.A. visit. Because L.A. is my homebase (even though I have been on sabbatical and leave in San Antonio), there were other things to do in Los Angeles beyond my readings and booksignings. Sorting, cleaning, organizing--these generic activities that we engage in rather mindlessly when we do laundry are what I was up to, both at home and at UCLA. As I prepare to wind down the book tour and end my stay in San Antonio, I have to clean up the messes I've made along the way, sort through the past and the present, and organize a new kind of future with me, myself, and I.

But I digress. Back to the book tour.

Los Angeles: I had a fabulous reading sponsored by Women's Studies and Chicano/a Studies at UCLA, where we (again) sold out of books. Signed books at the L.A. Times Festival of Books at the following booths: Cultural Latina (which had a long line waiting for me and where we also ran out of books the first day), the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, and Book'Em Mysteries. Also did a fabulous radio interview on KPFK with Marcos McPeek Villatoro, host of "Shelf Life," in which he actually asked me to read a short excerpt from the autopsy scene! Bold choice for a radio show! As a capstone event, my friend Tish (aka Morticia Addams aka Susana Chavez Silverman) invited me to a whole day of events at Pomona College that included a reading from Desert Blood, a class visit where I was enjoined to read from my latest poetry collection, La Llorona on the Longfellow Bridge, a lunch, a reception, a dinner, and a spot of tea at her home in Claremont. Arrived home at 10 pm and proceeded to stay up the whole night, finishing what I needed to finish before heading out to San Francisco, including, of course, laundry!

San Francisco: After 24 hours of no sleep, I arrived in the City and was promptly taken by Peter Handel (hired by Arte Publico Press to handle publicity in San Francisco) to the studio of the local NPR-affiliate, KALW, where I was interviewed for the show, "Up Front," with Sandip Roy (the show will air later in May). Great interview, too. Really makes a difference when, as happened at KPFK, the show's host has read your book and can really converse with you about the story. Later that evening, I drove to San Mateo, about 30 miles out of the City, to speak and sign books at M is for Mystery Bookstore, where nobody showed up to the reading. That's the first time that's happened on the book tour, but to tell you the truth, I was so exhausted from not having slept in 24 hours, that it didn't bother me at all. I gave my presentation to the bookstore's manager and she had me sign all the copies she had ordered of Desert Blood. So, if anybody in the San Francisco area needs a signed copy of the book, go to M is for Mystery.

Early the next morning I had a live interview with the Morning Show on KPFA, which would have been a fiasco given the poor condition of the telephone in my hotel room, but the Communication Goddess decided to bless me with 20 minutes of good contact time and the interview went fine. Even spoke to a couple of callers who were listening to the show on their morning commute. Little did I know that Marilyn Kalman would be listening to the show, as well, which is what prompted her to invite me to be the keynote speaker at DykeMarch, 2005! The San Francisco leg ended with my standing-room-only reading at Modern Times Books in the Mission, where I got to see some of my old students (it was great seeing you Erica, Carmen, and Anayvette--all Razawomyn troublemakers with amazing writing skills and far out organizational talents) and my dear dear friend and border "prima," Chicana artist, Yolanda Lopez, with whom I have been working on a children's book for the last ten years, at least. I need to thank Valentin Aguirre with a big hug for the email blasts to the folks on the QueLaCo (or Queer Latino Arts Coalition) listserve and for making the reading possible at Modern Times. Also want to thank Bill Jennings for his photos (check out the still-under-construction Photo Album Page on the Desert Blood website to see some of his images). Went out to dinner at La Rondalla afterwards and was treated to several rounds of very impassioned mariachi music to accompany my enchiladas. By the way, Anayvette's gift of homemade Salvadoran bread is what kept me going the whole next day as I transitioned back to San Antonio.

Houston: Gloria and I decided to drive to Houston, being only 3 hours away from San Antonio. But the first day of the trip coincided with Gloria's birthday, so first we had a breakfast party at Cascabel, with 20 of her closest friends in attendance and an all-female mariachi band called Las Alteñitas (thanks to my buddy Cynthia Perez for helping me to organize this, even though she did forget to tell the mariachis that their performance was supposed to be a surprise!) I'd never been to Houston, so didn't know what to expect, and I found it to be a cross between Philadelphia, Mexico City, and San Francisco. We spent all our "free" time in the gay district, eating great food in different restaurants on Montrose and Westheimer. The University of Houston is also the homebase of Arte Publico Press, and I spent a couple of days visiting with Nick Kanellos and his amazing staff of powerful and talented women (Marina, Gabi, Linda, Monica, Georgina, Carmen, et al) and climbing up and down the four floors of the Cullen Performance Hall, where the press is housed. I can see why you're in such good shape, Marina! And, by the way, thanks for taxiing us around in your cute little red car that you need to stop apologizing for. Had another great radio interview, this one with Alison Young on "The Front Row" at KUHF (see the link to the show on my Desert Blood website). What I loved about this interview was the fully feminist spin that Alison Young gave to the questions. She had me reading a section of the book I've never read in public before but that really illustrates one of the rifts that exists in the whole dilemma of the murdered women of Juarez between the feminist activists and those who don't see domestic abuse, sex abuse, or the murders of women as a feminist issue at all. That evening, I was the keynote speaker of the "La Voz Femenina/Voices Breaking Boundaries" event that took place at the Museum of Fine Arts. My reading was preceded by four young writers from the Project Row-Houses' After School Program. The next day, I spoke to a group of high school students, most of them Raza, involved with the Planned Parenthood After School Program, impressing upon them, especially the young women, that they were the same age and physical profile as most of the victims of the Juarez femicides. "Keep in mind that it could have been you," I said to the girls, "or your sister," I said to the boys. I find that making it personal for young people is the best way of getting them to understand the ramifications of these crimes. Perhaps the highlight of the Houston trip for me was going out to dinner with the Arte Publico women and watching Gabi and Georgina remembering Ivon Villa's exploits in the book, talking about her as though she were a member of their own family. Georgina said that a really sad thing for her was realizing that Ivon Villa "didn't really exist."

Since I returned from Houston, I've been to El Paso to visit my mom and grandmothers for Mexican Mother's Day (May 10), and I've already done two more events in San Antonio, both of them related to Texas Mystery Week, where I got to meet other crime authors and hear about their books. The folks at Remember the Alibi, the mystery bookstore in town, were especially responsive and interested in reading Desert Blood. It's been an intense three weeks, to say the least. I hope I haven't bored you with this long catch-up entry. Now, on to do more ... laundry ... as I get ready for yet another trip to Los Angeles.
11:36 am pdt

Friday, June 17, 2005
Coast to Coast
In our last installment I'd brought us all up to date through the Houston leg of the book tour and swore to myself I wouldn't get behind again. Yeah, right. Here it is another month later and I realize this blog has become like my journal, something I know I should be working on daily but somehow manage to leave until the time is right, and we all know the time is never right to just write. So now I'm sitting in my hotel in San Francisco trying to remember my book signing at the BEA (that's Book Expo America for the uninitiates) in New York City, and my memory is as distant as the West Coast from the East.

This is what I remember, a few impressions. New York was grueling, physically. I'd forgotten how demanding the city is on your body; even flagging down a taxi can be taxing, especially at 5pm on a rainy Friday afternoon. You guessed it. No taxis anywhere, just a long slog through the west side from the Jacob Javitz Center, where my book signing was, to Penn Station, and from there winding hallways, steep stairwells, even steeper, non-functioning escalators to get from the green to the purple to the orange, or vice-versa, and end up at Grand Central Station (where we desperately needed to use the "ladies" at the Oyster Bar) and then another 5-block trudge in the rain to our hotel in Murray Hill. I remember the pain in my right heel like a hot nail being driven through the bone. Sometimes the pain just stopped me from moving, and then I had to hobble along for awhile until I worked the metaphorical nail out and could walk normally again.

And those were the good times. Not really. Other than just being out of shape from sitting in airports and in front of a computer for too many months w/ no exercise (and we won't talk about those delicious hand-made corn tortillas you get force-fed in San Antonio, where I've been on sabbatical and leave this last year), New York was great great fun. Very productive, signed over 70 copies of my book at the BEA signing, met lots of people, attended a terrific Writers Digest conference and learned how to "pitch" a book to an agent in 60 seconds (literally!), and attended the Lammys (that's the Lambda Literary Awards, again, for the uninitates). Gloria and I hung out with Norma Cantu and Elvia, who happened to be in NYC the same week that we were, and got a chance to catch "Doubt" on Broadway, and to walk around Greenwich Village with our dear friend and amazing artist, Lisa Mellenger, where I got to visit the Oscar Wilde Bookshop for the first (see how much of an initiate I am?) time and gloat over the great review "Desert Blood" got in Go NYC! a free dyke publication that they just happened to be carrying at the Oscar Wilde. So, have I left anything out? I'm sure I have, but I've got to rush, now, and go pick up Gloria who's arriving at the Oakland airport in less than hour. More later. I promise. If I don't forget, or simply wait too long for the right moment.
2:54 pm pdt

Thursday, June 30, 2005
Adios, Book Tour!
What a trip! Literally. Several trips. Many trips. Still tripping on all the trips, and still not done tripping, or traveling, or both. Okay, the good news is I SURVIVED MY FIRST BOOK TOUR pretty much intact, thanks to the direct intervention of several good people whom I must thank right now: Gloria Ramirez, who travelled with me on the last few legs and who will walk with me to the end of my yellow-brick road through the magical land of my sabbatical year; Tina Luna, the masseuse with the gentlest and most healing hands (who also happens to be from El Paso, by the way); Patti Weissler, warrior woman of needles and herbs aka my acupuncturist; Ms. Sandra, Macondo Queen and fellow writer who gave me my first instruction manual on how to survive a book tour; and all the friends and familia who were there for lunch or dinner or breakfast, with a hug and a prayer and a big sonrisa. To everyone who bought the book and helped us sell out of the first printing. To everyone who attended my readings and listened with such compassion and corazón. To all the bookstore managers and community relations coordinators and colleagues who hosted me at their institutions. And especially, to Marina at Arte Publico Press, a true workhorse, who not only organized the whole thing and kept me on track but also generously accommodated all requests for fund raisers and nonprofit consciousness-raising actions using Desert Blood.

 

I know that, even though the official book tour is over now, that I will continue to speak on the Juárez crimes, to read from Desert Blood, and to break the silence. I hope you will continue to check in with me here periodically and learn of my other writing adventures (with occasional forays into my teaching life at UCLA), and more than anything, I hope you will make it a point stay informed and involved in the campaign to end violence against women and girls

in Juárez. ¡Ni Una Más!
10:02 pm pdt

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