Tags: christina diaz gonzalez

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Books, Soccer, and the Cookie that Almost Burned Down Atlanta

Yes, those words sum up my Labor Day weekend and believe it or not, they all converged into one climactic moment at the Holiday Inn in Decatur, Georgia.  First some background information. 

Many months ago I was invited to speak at the Decatur Book Festival (the largest independent book festival in the Southeast) and I jumped at the chance because I’d been there a few years ago and it was such a lovely festival.  PLUS, my two sons were going with their respective soccer teams to  Atlanta to compete in the Atlanta Cup Soccer tournament and Decatur was only 20 minutes outside of Atlanta --- the timing seemed perfect!    

This is what I forgot… 30 kids travelling out of state can get awfully noisy at a hotel full of authors and other book lovers.  So when I met amazing authors/bloggers at a breakfast organized by the fabulous Vania, I’d ask if they were staying at my hotel and then promptly apologize for all the kids.  Carrie Ryan (author of The Forest of Hands & Feet) just laughed and asked if I meant the soccer team which she found fun & cute (except for the fact that someone had ding-dong ditched her door the day before).  Still it was all going well…so far.

        

(l-r Nancy Werlin, Jackson Pearce, me, Carrie Ryan,                     (Vania & me)
Jennifer Lovelidge Jabaley, Marianne Mancussi Beach)  

Then I walked around the festival before spending the afternoon on the soccer fields watching some intense soccer games.  In the evening, I switched hats and went from Soccer Mom to Author again, just in time for the Author Reception.  It was fantastic to meet such great writers and publishing experts.  It was all very casual and I was lucky enough to hang out with these amazing people and talk books, upcoming projects and share a few laughs.  I was even asked by Cinda to join her and some other authors for dinner afterwards…tons of fun and I got to meet two new 2011 debut authors - Myra McEntire and Victoria Schwab (can’t wait for their books to come out) and hang out with fellow Tenner Rachel Hawkins and the uber-cool Josh Lewis.

    
(l-r Vicky Alvear Shecter, Marie Rutkowski, me, Cinda Williams Chima, David Levithan, Jim McCoy)

SO, you might be asking, where is the flaming cookie and how do your worlds collide in a fiery mess?  I’m getting to that. 

The next day, I don my role as Super Soccer Mom in the morning (unfortunately my sons’ teams lose) and rush back to Decatur to give my own book presentation at the Old Courthouse (an amazing venue).  Here I meet the amazingly talented Noni Carter (author of Good Fortune).  This young woman knocked me off my feet with her talent and intellect.  She is a classical pianist, started writing her amazing debut novel at 13 and is now, at 19, a freshman at Harvard! Plus, she has an incredibly supportive family who were beaming with pride.  Anyway, our presentation to a packed room went really well--- so well that Noni and I are thinking of doing more things together in the future! Afterwards, I signed lots of books and met a bunch of great readers and fans. 

 (Not the best picture, but my camera was acting a little wonky).

 

The Cookie Incident

Then it was time to head back to the hotel to unwind.  I was pretty proud of myself for so efficiently multi-tasking the whole weekend and decided to confirm that night’s soccer dinner at the hotel.  When I got to the front desk, who pops up behind me asking for a cab… Lev Grossman.  Now, I’m a big fan of Lev Grossman for his book The Magicians and for his writing in Time magazine.
     At the Author’s Reception I hadn’t approached him because so many people were coming up to talk to him, but now it was just the two of us.  I turned around and introduced myself and he was actually polite enough to say he recognized ME!  I quickly explained that it was probably just from the reception the night before, but still we had a chance to talk about his book and he was interested in talking about my book.  We were bonding when the fire alarm goes off! Uh-oh.  I mean…UH! OH!

I glance up to the second floor and see about seven pre-teen boys looking down at me and think Oh, no.  Someone pulled the fire alarm. Please don't let it be one of my kids.  But the chorus of heads from up above are all shaking their heads mouthing “not me” and then I see smoke coming from the indoor pool room/ business center.  A real fire, you ask?  No, just lots of smoke (maybe a really, really tiny fire).  From what was later revealed it seems that “someone” (one of our soccer players) had “inadvertently” (whether this incident was a re-creation of something from Mythbusters is still up for debate) put a cookie in the microwave and set it for fifty minutes.  Obviously, the cookie got scorched.

SO, there we are, Lev (I’m on a first name basis now) and me, watching the commotion of the fire department coming in, hearing the deafening hotel alarm and smelling the all-too-familiar odor of burned cookies.  At that point, my role as soccer mom and author collided.  I smiled weakly at Lev, told him that I’d be following him on Twitter (I’ve been a fan for a while) and that it was nice meeting him but soccer duty called (plus the soccer coach had already interrupted us to tell me that an emergency team meeting was being called).   As I made my way upstairs to where fifteen pre-teen boys looked like deer caught in the headlights, I reminded myself that this might one day make it into one of my books, so I smiled and inhaled the lovely smell of charred chocolate chips that had now filtered throughout the hotel. 

And, as a sure sign of either being a nice guy or curious as to whether charges will ever be brought against the team, Lev Grossman now follows me on Twitter.  :-)


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HIGH SCHOOL FLASHBACK - COMMENT TODAY TO WIN!


So, today I choose a winner from the comments to this post to win all this cool stuff:







All you have to do is tell me one of your high school memories and then tell me what you found most interesting/embarassing, funniest or just plain weird about MY high school flashback tour. It's THAT simple!

You can read my four interviews at these blogs (while you're there feel free to checkout the great authors who hosted the interviews):

kimberlyderting.blogspot.com/2010/05/high-school-flashback-tour-christina.html

www.kaycassidy.com/blog/2010/05/18/hs-tour-christina/

www.jennadolbooks.com/blog/

raedeke.blogspot.com/2010/05/high-school-flashback-author-christina.html

I'll choose the winner (at random) from the comments below and edit this post announcing the winner (you don't have to leave your real name). Winner will then have to contact me with their address so they can receive their prize!  So go...leave me a comment!

UPDATE:  A winner was chosen (at random) and that winner is... iheartpinguinos!
Thank you to all who joined me on my High School Flashback Tour!

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ARC CONTEST! FREE STUFF! Come 'n get it!

This is it, people! My first ever foray into the world of promotional contests!

Over at my website
www.christinagonzalez.com you can enter to win an advance reader's copy of THE RED UMBRELLA by just sending me a message (just make sure you put CONTEST in the subject heading). 

You get extra entries for tweeting/blogging about the contest or for putting up my countdown widget on your website.  The only thing you have to do is tell me about it so I can make sure to give you credit!

The contest will run through Jan. 24th and if I get more than 50 entries I'll give another winner some swag (signed bookmarks, exclusive The Red Umbrella umbrella).

Now, why are you still reading?  Go try to win some FREE stuff!

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Time to Party

This past Saturday was the Operation Pedro Pan Annual Dinner/Dance and I got to party it up with many of the people who lived through what my book, The Red Umbrella, is all about. Here I am with the President of the Operation Pedro Pan Group, Jorge Finlay, and member of the Board of Directors, Carmen Romanach.




At the party, I witnessed some tears as many remembered the home, friends and family they’d been forced to leave behind 49 years ago, but mostly I heard laughter. Men and women, hugging each other and reminiscing about their teen years. Many who hadn’t seen each other in almost 50 years laughed at some of the expanding waistlines and receding hairlines, but you could tell that, in their mind's eye, they were still the same teenagers that were thrust together back in the early 1960's.

This all reminded me that no matter how old you are, your teen years are always a special time and you really don’t lose those feelings (although sometimes so-called maturity buries it a bit). Maybe that’s why YA books appeal to so many, and yes, THAT is why I write.
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Miami Book Fair- What to Wear?

The Miami Book Fair is coming up and I was just asked to introduce two great authors Joan Biscupic (Biography of Justice Scalia) and Barry Friedman (The Will of the People) who will be doing a panel talk on Satuday afternoon.  Seems that I was chosen since I am both a lawyer and author, so I guess the law degree comes in handy even for promoting my new writing career. 

Anyway, now the important decision will be...what to wear?  The event is being taped by C-SPAN Book TV and so the question becomes even more critical (although I will probably be edited out of the taping).  My wonderful Tenner cohorts have suggested I do the following:  wear a tweed sportsjacket with elbow patches and a monocle, carry a pipe, sit by a fireplace and play some background mood music. 

Hmm, methinks I will definitely stand out... but not in a good way!  A thorough scan of my closet (and that of my sister's) may be in order.  Perhaps even a bit of retail therapy will be necessary.

Regardless, I hope everyone in the Miami area comes out for this wonderful event.  There's something for everyone (from kids to monocled, tweed-sportsjacketed, pipe-smoking book lovers).  Here are some pictures from past years (from the fair's website).





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My ARCs have arrived!


For all my non-writer friends, ARCs are Advance Reader's Copy and they are sent out to reviewers before the book is actually available for sale.  This is actually the very first time I see my book as a...well, you know...book! I am so excited! Thrilled! Over the moon! Ecstatic! I've even been acting a little like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings (yes, caressing the ARC and calling it "precious").  Random House and my fabulous editor also sent me my jacket flap which is glossy and pretty and beautiful...I could go on and on.  Oh yeah, it's "pre-e-e-ecious".

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Look what Google revealed!


Admit it...we've all done it ...we've googled our names to see what comes up.  I registered my name and book title with Google Alert (it does the googling for me) and look what popped up. 

I'm on the Random House website!  I know, I know, this shouldn't be surprise.  After all, they are publishing my book and everything...but still!  Random House has me on their website with an awesome book summary and author info!  Breathe, okay, feeling better.  Nope, I'm giddy all over again.  Great way to start a Monday!



 

The Red Umbrella

 

Written by Christina Gonzalez


Also available as an eBook and a hardcover library binding.

ABOUT THIS BOOK

The Red Umbrella is the moving tale of a 14-year-old girl's journey from Cuba to America as part of Operation Pedro Pan-an organized exodus of more than 14,000 unaccompanied children, whose parents sent them away to escape Fidel Castro's revolution.
In 1961, two years after the Communist revolution, Lucía Álvarez still leads a carefree life, dreaming of parties and her first crush. But when the soldiers come to her sleepy Cuban town, everything begins to change. Suddenly the revolution hits home. Freedoms are stripped away. Neighbors disappear. Her friends feel like strangers. And her family is being watched.
As the revolution's impact becomes more oppressive, Lucía's parents make the heart-wrenching decision to send her and her little brother to the United States-by themselves.
Suddenly plunked down in Nebraska with well-meaning strangers, Lucía struggles to adapt to a new country, a new language, a new way of life. But what of her old life? Will she ever see her home or her parents again? And if she does, will she still be the same girl?
The Red Umbrella is a moving story of country, culture, family, and the true meaning of home.

About the Author

Christina Diaz Gonzalez based this powerful novel on the experiences of her parents, and of the 14,000 other unaccompanied minors who came to the United States in Operation Pedro Pan. This mass exodus of children is a little-known and fascinating piece of history, and Gonzalez has created a story that brings that history vibrantly to life.
Gonzalez practiced law for several years before returning to her childhood passion for stories and writing. The Red Umbrella is her first novel.
Christina Diaz Gonzalez lives in Miami, Florida, with her husband and two sons. You can visit her on the Web at www.christinagonzalez.com.


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Copyright © 1995-2008 Random House, Inc. All rights reserved
 


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A Week of Adventure


After a few days of recovering from my American Southwest Adventure (aka this year's summer vacation) I am ready to get back to ordinary life...NOT!  The past week was incredibly fun and exciting for me...it was a week of firsts. 

It was the first time I went white water rafting (that's me in the middle on the right side - in front of the lady trying to stand up -- silly lady).



It was the first time I saw the Grand Canyon (amazingly beautiful even if it was a bit frightening for people like moi who get nervous-- alright downright petrified-- of standing on the edge of anything remotely high),



it was the first time I rode a horse as an adult (last time I did this I was a teen),


the first time I helped prop up a boulder (okay there may be a little photo magic here),



and it was the first (possibly the last) time I jumped off the edge of a 25 foot cliff into a swimming hole (remember, I'm the one who is afraid of heights!) --  and no this is not the actual picture because I'm not crazy enough (or brave enough) to put a picture of myself in a swimsuit on the internet!
   

Then I did something really nerve-racking... I visited independent bookstores and talked to the owners about my book which comes out next May.  Here I am at Arches Book Company and the Well Red Coyote.  Later in the year, I 'll be featuring the different bookstores I visit and their owners/booksellers as part of my blog/website.

                  

So now I'm ready to start a new adventure... except this time my characters will be doing all the fun stuff (I just get to write about it)!


 

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I feel like an empty-nester

Today I sent the master pages back to my publisher and I'm having a little withdrawal.   Is this what it will feel like when the kids grow-up and leave for college?  I'm very proud of those 200+ pages (my how they've grown and matured over the last year), but now they are beyond my influence and control...*sniff* they are so grown-up!  The next time I see them they will be a real book. 

Don't get me wrong, I've been waiting for this time for a while.  I'm very excited and can't wait to see my ARC (advance reader's copy---- I know how much my non-writing friends love it when I explain these terms).  Yet, the moment is a touch bittersweet.  Hmm, bittersweet... I bet chocolate can make me feel better.  I can use chocolate for celebration or as a comfort food.  Sorry...I got side-tracked there. 

So, today I'm going to think of those early days when The Red Umbrella was only an idea bouncing around in my head.  Tomorrow I'll start on my work-in-progress again, but for now... just pass me some Oreos.
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The Truth About Copy Edits


Well, I'm almost done with my copyedits (or is that copy edits... see I need a copyeditor for just that word!) and it isn't too bad of a process.  Yes, I feel like an idiot for my total lack of knowledge when it comes to the proper use of commas, but then again, I'm not a copyeditor.  (Did that sentence require an additional comma after "but"?)  The bright side is that there was one page (yes, only one out of 200+pages .... don't laugh) that did not have a single red mark on it.  Here's the page...

Wait for it...



Ta-da!!!!!!






Yes, there are only two lines on that page, but that's two good lines and I'm proud of them!



Ahhh, the truth about writing!