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“The Silent Fountain” – Print Version Out Today

“You never really stop loving someone.”

 

 

            “Just grass,” Juan Miguel mumbled. Just flowers. What kind of flowers?

            Lílas.

            Yes – lilacs. I don’t know much about flowers. Lilacs, orchids… He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. Love that scent – fresh grass – lilacs – her. Her scent, her soft skin. He opened his eyes, as sunlight spilled through a gap in the ceiling and bounced off her auburn hair.

            “Ay, que simpatico,” she crooned, as if seeing him for the first time.

            He grinned modestly, realizing how he must look: half naked and sweaty with matted hair. “Gracias,” he finally chirped, feeling like an awkward teenager – again.

            “Es verdad.” (It’s true.)

            He didn’t know what to say. How did she manage to do this to him? Her dark green eyes still bore that strong sense of love and admiration – and hurt. Why? Why do you look so sad? What hurts so much?

 

The print version of my debut novel, “The Silent Fountain”, is now available.  The e-version has been out since December 21, 2018.  Today, January 14, 2019, also happens to be my father’s 86th birthday.  That wasn’t by design, but I also don’t believe it’s purely coincidental either.

As always, thanks for your continued support, my good followers!

Keep writing and keep fighting!

 

“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.”

Washington Irving (1783-1859)

 

Image by J.L.A. De La Garza

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“The Silent Fountain” – Now Available

“You never really stop loving someone.”

The hours moved quickly: midnight, one o’clock, two o’clock… Why can’t I sleep? He flipped the pillow again, sighing heavily, and closed his eyes, determined to keep them that way.

Then David’s smiling face sprinted through his mind. “Oh, God!” he hollered, more out of irritation than sadness, his hands slamming onto his forehead. “Not now! I’m too tired!” His arms flopped down on either side of him. “I’m just too damn tired.”

David’s quirky grin disappeared, but the same guilty sensation settled back into him. He sat up, face buried in his hands. “It’s not fair,” he whispered. “It’s just not right. Why, God? Why David? Why’d you do that to him? I’ve asked you again and again, and you still won’t tell me.”

“You shouldn’t be afraid of death,” Juan Miguel’s paternal grandfather once told him and his brothers. The old man actually admired death. “It doesn’t discriminate. It takes whomever it wants: young, old, anyone.”

But as Juan Miguel now let his body convulse in quiet sobs, he had to disagree; it does discriminate. It takes the young, when it should take the old. It takes the good, when it should take the bad.

I know.

 

The e-book version of my debut novel, “The Silent Fountain”, is now available.  And what better Christmas present than a story of someone in a gigantic old house filled with colorful characters and strange sounds?!  Aside from me in a Speedo with a bottle of wine…no, wait!  That was in another life.  Never mind!  I told you people when I started this blog nearly 7 years ago I was weird!  Like you needed more proof, right?  Anyway, thanks for your love and adoration, my good followers!

Amazon Kindle

Baker & Taylor

Barnes & Noble

Book Baby Print-On-Demand

Goodreads

iBooks (Apple)

Kobo

 

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act.  There is no other route to success.”

Pablo Picasso

 

Image by J.L.A. De La Garza

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My Debut Novel – “The Silent Fountain”

The Chief is happy to announce the upcoming publication of my first completed novel, “The Silent Fountain”, courtesy of Book Baby – an independent firm based in Pennsauken, New Jersey.  It will be available in both print and electronic versions by mid-December 2018.  Once I confirm the actual publication date, I will issue another formal announcement.

To family and friends who have known of my literary dreams for decades and heard me speak of this for so long (too long actually), yes finally, it is now becoming a reality!  Following what seems like a lifetime of promises, it IS happening.  Now, aren’t you glad you waited!

After some two decades of writing and rewriting; plotting and planning; submitting and getting rejected; hoping and praying; and slaving over hot pencils and hotter keyboards, it is all coming to fruition.  It took a while (to put it mildly), but I have kept my promise to all of you.

“The Silent Fountain” is best classified as a paranormal romance – emphasis on paranormal.  I don’t do romance very well – either in literature or real life.  I came up with the story idea around 1996 and first submitted it to a traditional publisher in 2001.  The publisher, a university-based imprint that shall go unnamed, specializes in fiction and non-fiction from both published and unpublished writers of Hispanic heritage, with a focus on all things Hispanic or Latino.  The company stated in their mission that they strive to combat stereotypes about Latinos and to give a voice to a group that has otherwise been ignored by the mainstream press and the literary world.

I felt “The Silent Fountain” met that criteria.  As my blog followers should know by now, I am definitely of Hispanic heritage.  I’ve been fighting stereotypes about Latinos my entire life.  Most of the characters in “The Silent Fountain” are Hispanic; yet don’t fit the Hollywood mold of how we behave and what we look like.  They’re not gang-bangers or low-riders; they’re not violent, alcoholic, dim-witted and sexually-obsessed cretins; and they’re not illiterate fools who snuck across the U.S. border in the middle of the night with a handful of clothes stuffed into plastic bags.

The people in my novel are educated, smart and possess the amazing ability to speak perfect English.  Most are native-born Texans who own and operate a real estate conglomerate; live in a large, century-old, well-appointed home; listen to classical music; and wear nice clothes.  They are much like my own relatives and other Latinos I’ve known and worked with over the nearly six decades of my life on Earth.

But that university turned it down, giving me the most classic of all literary rejections: it didn’t meet “their needs at this time.”  I got the same response from the seven other publishing houses where I submitted the novel.  One editor actually returned the manuscript with a note declaring the “characters are too implausible” because of their wealth and Hispanic ethnicity.  “The average reader won’t believe that,” they told me.  I replied with a letter to that editor (which I know sounds childish and unprofessional) telling them I write for smart people anyway.  They didn’t reply.

After taking a closer look at the type of books and essays the university imprint publishes and distributes, I realized why they turned me down.  I’m not some pathetic wetback who made their way to the U.S. via a harrowing journey across vast expanses of deserts and mountains atop an aging train; thus, neither are my characters.  I don’t know many people like that anyway.  I’ve spent my life avoiding people who are illiterate and don’t care about the sanctity of U.S. law.  My book also isn’t a saccharine-laced tale told in a first-person narrative by a young child who grew up in huts with no shoes and little schooling; yet still has the ability to comprehend everything that’s going on around them and are subsequently able to offer their elders sensible explanations on how to deal with critical issues.  This is not a children’s picture book with verbiage sweet enough to give you cavities.  In fact, there are no children in my novel.  Moreover, it’s a paranormal romance with some sexual activity and foul language.  So, while they look for Hispanic-oriented literary works by Hispanic authors that defy mainstream stereotypes, I feel they essentially created a stereotypical classification for themselves.  And, as usual, I didn’t fit into it.  But that’s okay.  People have always tried to place me in a box to make themselves comfortable with who they think I am or should be and ended up failing.  Such as happened in this case.

Upon starting this blog in 2012, I had to sit back and reconsider where I wanted my writing ventures to go.  Did I want to attempt the traditional route again?  Go through the same decades-old procedures for contacting a publishing house?  Between 2001 and 2012, it seemed the list of book publishers had dwindled.  Publishing has fallen victim to the same corporate evil as banks did in the 1990s and IT firms did in the last decade: mergers and acquisitions.

By 2012, however, self-publishing had become a more popular route for average writers.  In fact, self-publishing has come a long way from the vanity press market several years ago; the last resort road for luckless writers.  Growth of that beloved monstrosity known as the Internet gave storytellers a more direct path to seeing their words in print.  And thus, I made my decision.  And here I am.

Below is a synopsis of the novel, which is the verbiage that will appear on the back cover.

 

Juan Miguel de la Montana lives a quiet life as a single man, spending his personal time reading, exercising, listening to music and drinking white wine. But his carefully-structured routine is interrupted when he learns of the death of an old college friend.  He attends the funeral and planned to return home quickly. He didn’t expect to encounter another college friend at the grave site, much less strike up a conversation and then meet him for dinner. He certainly didn’t expect the man to invite him to a nearby ranch estate where he’s vacationing with friends, much less accept the offer.

Yet, once there, Juan Miguel feels pleasantly overwhelmed – and begins to enjoy the company of the estate’s owners, the Santiago family, and their colorful friends. Black orchids, a blue-eyed cat, lilac perfume and a long-dormant water fountain slip into his subconscious and initially mean nothing to him. But, just as Juan Miguel falls in love with his new friends and the ranch’s bucolic surroundings, he’s unprepared to fall in love with Esperanza, a Santiago relative.

And, it doesn’t seem to matter that she died sixty years ago.

 

I’m dedicating this book to my parents, George and Guadalupe De La Garza, who tolerated more from me than most reasonable people would have.  My father especially helped me with the Spanish translations; we’d spend an hour or more on the phone.  My biggest regret is that I didn’t make a more concerted effort to get this thing published before he died in 2016.  And my mother’s mental health has deteriorated to the point where she probably doesn’t remember me talking about it much.

So, if there’s one piece of advice I can give to anyone, it’s NEVER put off what you can do as soon as possible.  I always said that life got in the way.  But I finally realized life wasn’t getting in the way.  I was letting it get in the way.  My writing and my dreams have always been a part of my persona.  But I kept putting them on hold to take care of other stuff.  Don’t do that!  Your best dreams can never die, but the people you love the most eventually do.

 

Image by J.L.A. De La Garza

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Banned Books Week 2018

Many social movements begin with the simplest of acts.  In the fall of 1975, a group of parents called Parents of New York United complained to a local school board that school policies on library books were too “permissive.”  Among the offensive tomes were Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five” and Langston Hughes’ “Best Short Stories by Negro Writers,” which, the parents moaned, were “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and just plain filthy.”  In response, the school district removed the books in February of 1976.  But a senior high school student, Steven Pico, and four classmates challenged the board’s decision; claiming the books were removed simply because “passages in the books offended [the group’s] social, political, and moral tastes and not because the books, taken as a whole, were lacking in educational value.”  Other libraries and free speech organizations filed briefs on the students’ behalf, and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1982 as Island Trees School District v. Pico.

While many parents surely were upset that a group of high school kids had the audacity to circumvent their authority, the more significant issue was the school board’s actions.  And, on a grander scale, who has the right to determine what is acceptable and unacceptable?

As the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once declared, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so.  But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

Shortly after the SCOTUS reversal of the aforementioned school board’s decision, “Banned Books Week” was founded.  Since then it has grown into an international event with the goal of ensuring that true freedom begins with our ability and the right to read and see pretty much whatever we want.  There’s a reason, after all, why the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is first.

Like any legitimate scribe, I strongly support the right to free speech and free expression.  We in these democratic societies don’t often appreciate the importance of it.  But speak with anyone who grew up in a totalitarian state – where people are told what to read and how to think – and you’ll realize the value of it.

Sadly this battle will never be won.  We will ALWAYS have to combat those who feel that, since they’re offended by something, no else should have access to it either.  In the current chaos of extreme political correctness and assaults on the media by a deranged American president, none of us should have to tolerate the narrow-minded choices of others.

Keep writing and keep fighting!

Banned Books Week runs this year from September 23 – 29.

Frequently Challenged Books

Ten Most Challenged Books Lists

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Happy 80th Birthday SPCA Texas!

The animal rights movement in the United States is nothing new.  But the “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals” was something of an anomaly when the New York State Legislature granted Henry Bergh a charter for it in 1866.  In the more than 150 years since, the ASPCA has been advocate for the netherworld of animal welfare.  The Texas branch of the SPCA was incorporated on September 22, 1938 and works in conjunction with state and local leaders to oversee the well-being various non-human creatures (not including, of course, politicians and child molesters).

Currently, the ASPCA is monitoring the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which hit the East Coast last week.  After the debacle involving Hurricane Katrina – and the literally millions of animals forcibly left stranded to be killed or die in agony – people demanded better protections for human and animal survivors of natural or even human-made disasters.

But, just as importantly, we now understand that animal abuse is tied to more severe problems in society.  Some of the world’s worst serial killers, for example, had a history of animal cruelty.  While most people who do something mean to an animal won’t turn into a Hannibal Lecter-type monster, we take it seriously now and often involve law enforcement.

I implore everyone to help in any way possible.  Besides, animals actually appreciate when you help them out.

 

ASPCA

SPCA Texas

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In Memoriam – Tom Wolfe: 1931 – 2018

“Love is the ultimate expression of the will to live.”

“The surest cure for vanity is loneliness.”

“I do novels a bit backward. I look for a situation, a milieu first, and then I wait to see who walks into it.”

“To me, the great joy of writing is discovering.  Most writers are told to write about what they know, but I still love the adventure of going out and reporting on things I don’t know about.”

“This is the artist, then, life’s hungry man, the glutton of eternity, beauty’s miser, glory’s slave.”

“The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.”

“It’s fortunate that I am a writer, because that has helped me understand the properties of words.  They are what have made life complex.  In the battle for status in the animal kingdom, power and aggressiveness have been all-important.  But among humans, once they acquired speech, all that changed.”

“There are some people who have the quality of richness and joy in them and they communicate it to everything they touch.  It is first of all a physical quality; then it is a quality of the spirit.”

“I never forget.  I never forgive.  I can wait.  I find it very easy to harbor a grudge.  I have scores to settle.”

“People complain about my exclamation points, but I honestly think that’s the way people think.  I don’t think people think in essays; it’s one exclamation point to another.”

“I have never knowingly, I swear to God, written satire.  The word connotes exaggeration of the foibles of mankind.  To me, mankind just has foibles.  You don’t have to push it!”

“There was a time in the 1930s when magazine writers could actually make a good living.  ‘The Saturday Evening Post’ and ‘Collier’s’ both had three stories in each issue.  These were usually entertaining, and people really went for them.  But then television came along, and now of course, information technology… the new way of killing time.”

“My idol is Emile Zola.  He was a man of the left, so people expected of him a kind of ‘Les Miserables,’ in which the underdogs are always noble people.  But he went out, and found a lot of ambitious, drunk, slothful and mean people out there.  Zola simply could not – and was not interested in – telling a lie.”

“The modern notion of art is an essentially religious or magical one in which the artist is viewed as a holy beast who in some way, big or small, receives flashes from the godhead, which is known as creativity.”

“Nonfiction is never going to die.”

Tom Wolfe

 

Tom Wolfe Bibliography

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Writers

Alejandro De La Garza, 2018

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March 9, 2018 · 12:57 AM