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Friendship, Mystery

Meet My Mystery Writer Friend

Death of a Telenovela Star is the title of Teresa Dovalpage’s latest mystery. This novella, set on a cruise to the Caribbean, features a former Havana detective who now runs a bakery inIMG_0711 Miami. But Marlene Martínez can’t help figuring out whodunnit when a murder happens onboard. Yes, the telenovela star has an untimely death. This book is short, fast and fun read.

Full disclosure: Teresa, or la Te, as I call her is my friend, actually one of my closest friends. And while I want you to read her book, I want to tell you about her.

I met Teresa when I lived in Taos and took the Spanish 101 course she taught at the local branch of the University of New Mexico. She made the class fun. When I found out she was also an author, I bought her first novel, A Girl Like Che Guevara, which is set in Cuba, where she grew up.

Then she started reporting on a freelance basis for The Taos News — I was the editor-in-chief then — for our Spanish page, plus writing features in English. She had no journalism experience but caught on right away.

We became friends. I enjoyed her energy, humor, and Cuban coffee. We even collaborated on a project — a bilingual series for kids. I did the English, she translated. Only one — The Cousins and the Magic Fish/Los primos y el pez mágico has been published so far, but I plan to change that. The first book, which was second runner-up for the Zia Book Award in 2018, deserves a new layout and to be continued.

Teresa has had success with the publishing world. Check out her books on Amazon: Teresa Dovalpage Books on Amazon

I was frustrated by my lack of it. After many years of effort, including two agents who failed me, I ended up self-publishing two of my novels: Peace, Love and You Know What and The Sweet Spot.

Teresa always encouraged me and gave me good advice.

And then, she inspired me to write mysteries. This was a different genre for me. I like to think my adult books are literary fiction, but I am a huge fan of mystery shows, especially those from the UK.

Teresa wrote a mystery, Death Comes in Through the Kitchen, and sold it to a publishing house. I read a draft and thought why not try my own. Like Teresa, who set that book in her native Cuba, I chose to set Chasing the Case in rural Western Mass., where I have lived twice. (As I’ve said before, it’s a case of taking what you know and having your way with it.)

I so enjoyed writing that first book, I completed three more, all published by Darkstroke Books. And I’m onto my fifth.

When Hank and I left Taos to return to Western Mass. three years ago, Teresa and her husband moved to Hobbs, NM, where she is a professor at the university there. We keep in touch via social media, email, and the occasional phone call. I hope our paths cross again.

But back to Death of a Telenovela Star, it’s a good escape from this strange world we have now. Check it out.

PHOTO ABOVE: Teresa and I at the New Mexico Press Women’s conference in 2018.

KILLING THE STORY: No. 4 in the Isabel Long Mystery Series launched Aug. 26. Here’s the link: Killing the Story. And thanks for your support.

 

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Teaching, Writing

Keep Writing

Today, May 6 marks the end of one writing project: creating a book of flash fiction with my fifth-grade students. They’re not really my students. But as part of the Taos Visiting Artists Program, I began working with Kathy Serna’s class for two hours a week beginning last fall.

The photo above is the book’s cover. The students chose its name: Superstar Writers of Ranchos Elementary. And, yes, to me they are superstars. Today at a reception the public can see that, too.

My life as a writer began in earnest in fifth-grade. Students from the town’s schools gathered on Wednesday afternoons to take an advanced course in science and creative writing. Guess which one caught my imagination?

I wanted to do the same for these fifth-grade students. I came for an hour on most Tuesdays and Thursdays. I began by reading aloud, some from other people’s writing, but mostly mine, actually from The Cousins/Los Primos bilingual series. Los Primos cover(More below on that.)

Then over the months we spent together, I gave them five writing prompts: A Picture Is Worth 750 Words; Along With Paul Revere’s Ride; Three Inches Tall; My Neighbor Is a Giant; and I Have a Superpower. The students were given a word count for each.

Their teacher and I worked alongside the students, encouraging them. A few, whose first language is Spanish, wrote in English. One boy wrote in Spanish.

Hopefully, this experience was as rewarding to the students as it was for me. Their teacher said her students wouldn’t have had such opportunities to write without this program.

Yes, I believe their creativity and confidence increased over those months. One student wrote a story about living in a sink of dirty dishes. Another told Paul Revere’s ride from the perspective of his horse, Brown Beauty. One student wrote a giant stepped on her father — but a potion save him.

Here is one called “The Battle,” by Elijah.

3-5-20: Have you ever wanted to join the ant army? Well, don’t. Let me tell you why. If you’re three inches tall like me and a human, then you are unlucky. I was a mad scientist’s puppet for a long time until one day he shrunk me and I got away. Then about three days later, the ants found me. The Midway Ants found me, I meant. They raised me, fed me, all the stuff a child needs to stay alive. I was always a little bit bigger than the other ants, but they didn’t mind. Neither did I.

When I was 16, I joined the Midway Ant Army. Now in 2020, there is another ant war. Midway vs. Fullway! It’s three days until I get sent to the army. My birthday is tomorrow.

3-6-20: Today is my birthday, but I have no one to celebrate it with because everyone is freaking out about the ant war. Well, I need to go train in base camp. I’ll probably document again tomorrow.

3-7-20: It’s 6:30 p.m. and I’m going to bed, so I can be ready for the war. God bless Midway!

Day of the War: Right now as I write, my left arm is not working, so this is pretty hard for me. I got bit three times and shot once. It hurts so bad. If anyone ever gets a hold of this, please send help. We are under attack. I don’t think I’m going to survive.

Midway Loses the War: Sgt. Elijah almost won the war for Midway, but Fullway had the upper hand. Now all Midway Ants are extinct. These are the last documents Sgt. Elijah took. God bless Midway!

This week, I visited the class this week to bring each student a copy of the book, plus cookies I baked. I got a huge welcome with cries of,“We missed you so much.”

Many asked me to sign their books. This is what I wrote: “Keep writing.” And I meant it.

Zia awardABOUT LOS PRIMOS: The bilingual kids books “The Cousins and the Magic Fish/Los Primos y el Pez Mágico” got some recognition when the New Mexico Press Women named it second runner up for the Zia Award. I was the author and Teresa Dovalpage, the translator. My son, Ezra, created the illustrations. Teresa and I were at the conference in Las Cruces to accept the award and read from the book. Jessica Savage, with the NM Press Women, is behind us.

 

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