Saturday, February 26, 2011

Featuring [drum roll] Naomi DeLaTorre!!

Have you ever met someone with whom you think, “Have we been friends in another life?” because the friendship develops so effortlessly and naturally?

That’s how it has been between Naomi and me. I honestly think we were friends in heaven, and a couple of years ago we just picked up where we left off.

What’s great about Naomi is her attitude, she is always happy and encouraging and if she’s ever not; the most she’ll ever say to indicate otherwise is, “I’m not great today.” She has been indispensible in my own journey as a writer; in fact, she’s the one who through her vast networking skills connected me with a publisher. So without further ado, here’s my awesome friend Naomi DeLaTorre.

I grew up in Chicago with my mom, dad and sisters. We have an awesome and mildly crazy family. I went to college in Iowa where I studied English lit, Spanish and dance. I spent my last semester living abroad in Chile. That was one of the best experiences of my entire life. When I came back from Chile, I wasn’t sure what to do with my (not incredibly useful) English lit degree, so I became a secretary and professional salsa dancer.

After a little while, it became clear to me that I might become an ax murderer if I didn’t do something outside of secretarial work. So I applied to grad school to get my MFA in creative writing. At the time, I was writing mainly poetry. I was accepted by the University of Arizona, so I ended up living in the beautiful desert of Tucson for a few years while I got my MFA. The poets in my department were a wild and wacky crew and I also met one of my closest girlfriends while I was there.

I moved to Dallas the next year where I met my husband while we were out salsa dancing. He is an incredible dancer and an amazing person. We hit it off immediately and got married less than a year after we’d met. We have two little boys, Nino and Diego, ages 6 and 3. They are fabulous and full of so much love. I can’t help but be awed by how much I learn from them and from being a mom. I feel blessed each and every day that I’ve been given the opportunity to raise such amazing little people.

You studied Creative Writing in College, what did you imagine yourself doing while in grad. school?

Honestly, I don’t know if I ever really thought through what I would do with either of my degrees. (I think somewhere in my brain I was hoping I would become a famous dancer or writer, but I’m not even sure if I had that plan fully hashed out.) My BA in English lit was a total bomb (as you can see from my subsequent secretarial jobs which caused me to consider killing as a profession—just kidding—maybe), but I was actually surprised by how useful my MFA became. While I was still in grad school, I got a job writing grants for a local arts nonprofit organization, whose mission was to teach creative writing classes to the Native American students in the reservations surrounding Tucson. It was a great organization and I learned fabulous grant writing skills working there. After I moved to Dallas, I continued writing grants when was I was hired by a really awesome children’s hospital to help fund their programs.

What made you want to start blogging after you started a family?

Those who know me well will know that I am mildly neurotic and slightly insane. Anything that I throw myself into becomes a serious obsession if I enjoy it at all. So when I became a parent, it wasn’t any different. I lived, ate and breathed motherhood for several years.

I’m one of those wacky co-sleeping, babywearing, extended breastfeeding, partially homeschooling folk you hear about who will probably have tweenagers in my bed in a few years. But in all seriousness, I love being a mom. It has been an amazing experience for me to have the opportunity to watch my boys grow and learn. I feel so lucky to share every day with them.

I started my blog as a way to get back into writing again. Specifically, I wanted to write a book about the experience of motherhood that didn’t sugar coat everything the way most parenting books do. I wanted to write about the nitty gritty reality of day-to-day life with babies and toddlers. Amazingly, I did manage to land eight literary agents who were interested in working with me. But unfortunately, my agent and I have not been able to sell my book as of yet.

What do you prefer to write, fiction or non-fiction?

I enjoy writing everything from non-fiction to fiction and poetry. My degree is actually in poetry writing, believe it or not. But I am pretty focused on non-fiction right now, mostly because I don’t have a lot of time to write and so I am just sticking with one thing for the moment. Hopefully I can write poetry and fiction again when I’m older and have more time.

How did you choose the topic of your Blog? (Organic Motherhood with Coolwhip)

My parents were card-carrying hippies and so I grew up really aware of healthy eating, eco-friendly living and other progressive ideas. When we started out family, I read a lot about different methods of parenting and became really interested in attachment parenting and natural family living, which both encourage parents to rely on their natural instincts and parent in a way that respects humans as part of nature. I’m really happy I found out about these parenting ideas early on because I have truly enjoyed co-sleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding and even homeschooling for a period of time. I love being integrally involved in my children’s lives and I hope we can remain close and connected for the entirety of our existence here on Earth.

The cool whip part of my blog (and book) title is a metaphor for all the ways we fail as parents. I recently was featured on the awesome site, “World’s Worst Moms.” That was a big honor for me because I think it is so important for us as moms to acknowledge our imperfections. Yes, I try to feed my kids healthy food, but I’m not going to lie and tell you I never go to McDonald’s.

What advice would you give someone who is currently blogging and wants to expand their following?

Honestly, I suck at blogging right now. I was hired as a freelance writer back in July of last year by SheKnows, a fantastic online magazine for women. I am doing a lot of writing and blogging for them right now and my own blog is kind of languishing meanwhile. I hope to get back to it at some point in the future, but right now, I just can’t keep all the balls in the air.

But for those people who have time on their hands, my best advice to expand your blog is social networking. There are so many amazing and incredible bloggers out there. Read their blogs. Comment. Talk to them on Twitter. Connect on Facebook. The entire world is open in cyberspace. During my time blogging, I have had to pleasure of connecting with so many amazing writers. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful and supportive they have been to me. I only wish I could be more involved right now because I miss everyone, but I know things will get easier as my kids get older and I have more time.

Tell us about your latest venture as a fee-lance writer and how you landed the job.

I feel extremely lucky to have landed the position I have at SheKnows. I think I must have applied at a lucky moment and my application happened to fall into the right hands at the right time. I had applied for a position writing for the Parenting Channel and one of SK’s editors wrote me back and told me that she had forwarded my application to the Parenting editor, but that she had another position she thought I might like. It was the Baby Banter blog position. I applied, was accepted and Baby Lucha was born.

Now I write Baby Lucha’s blog on a daily basis, as well as articles for the Parenting, Health, Food, Pets and other channels at SK. It is a really fun job. Probably the most fun I’ve ever had working before in my life. (Except maybe when I was working as a professional salsa dancer. But that’s another story.)

Share a sample of your writing either from your blog or from Baby Banter. 

I can’t republish my writing at SK, so I will just leave you with a few selections from my work over there and at my own blog:

The Vagina Chronicles:


Thursday, February 24, 2011

“Steadiness and toil will serve you better than brilliance.” James E. Faust

“Steadiness and toil will serve you better than brilliance.” James E. Faust

I love this quote; I first read it when I was 21. I knew then, what I still know now, that I’m not or ever will be brilliant. But I thought that perhaps I might still have a chance with the other two. And even when steadiness might fail me, I could still toil—and toil is definitely something that I can do.

I hear so many people limit themselves by saying, “I could never do that!” And I know that sometimes there are real limitations that need to be taken into consideration, but for the most part we all have the capability of accomplishing things that are way beyond our expectations.

So it’s in this spirit of accomplishing and achieving, through sheer work and determination that I’d like to start a series of interviews featuring friends that I admire greatly. Amid raising a young family and all the everyday cares, these women have managed to turn hobbies into a career that defines them without changing them or their lives. It hasn’t taken them away from children or family, it hasn’t turned them into millionaires, but it has given them great pleasure and they have achieved that which seemed to be unattainable at first. What I like about these moms is that they are your average women, who live their dreams every day and get the laundry done in between—sometimes. They embody this quote of mine, thought I have to say—I do thing they are brilliant!

So stay tuned for my next blog entry to learn more about Naomi DeLaTorre, blogger, writer, salsa dancer supreme!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Spot Light

Hey, hey!!! stop by Naomi's blog and read the spotlight she did on...yours truly.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Queries, Agents and Publishers

I was recently asked about queries and that brought back all kinds of bad memories! Querying agents has got to be every author's worse nightmare. Writers are artists and as such are whimsical not marketers. But we are a large bunch and clog up agent's inboxes and publishers with our creations. So to be able to put out creations out there, we have to polish our business side.

I was lucky in the sense that I went through the process of sending queries with one of my good friends Naomi De la Torre

Having a buddy who understands and is ready to hear you rant or watch you bounce off the with excitement is, in my opinion, essential! It keeps you motivated and focused.

Like so many people who are trying to get their book under the right pair of eyes, I did a lot of research on how to write a good query. I wrote and re-wrote it more times than I can count, but in the end I settled on this one.

I'm sharing it now because I loved reading the queries that others were writing, and I found that the most helpful blogs were the ones that had sample queries on them.

With this said I have to add: I don't think my query was particularly good.
In fact I don't really know what a good query is. I read so many queries that I found confusing and uninteresting that had managed to get an agent's attention, that in the end I was led to believe that a lot is hinged on whether the agent's bean burrito was good or not. Or if their skim mocha cappuccino was particularly hot at that moment or not.

So I'm not going to pretend like I can give you any advice, other than...Buena Suerte! and Valla con Dios!

Query for VEILED (draft # 426)

Silvina B. Niccum

My address
My e-mail
My phone #

July 19, 2010

Agent’s Address

Dear Ms. ________:

“I have always existed, not just me but all of us, the un-embodied spirits who wait to live.”

VEILED is the first of a proposed three part fantasy about Tess, and the evolution of her soul. Tess is an unborn spirit, who is about to embark on a much awaited journey into mortality to a brand new planet called Earth. She is chosen by the Eternals for an important mission, and is put under a rigorous training, which exposes her to some of her darkest fears and insecurities. These experiences, however, enhance her gift as a discerner of thoughts and reader of auras—thus helping her become one of Heaven’s most powerful angels.

But even angels falter, and deep inside her a gnawing fear is growing. Will she meet her soul mate in life? Will their love be strong enough to overcome the forgetting effects of the Veil? And, is she prepared to take on the responsibility of keeping the most dangerous renegade and leader of the Fallen Angels at bay during mortality?

In this 107,000 word YA fantasy, the supernatural, the spiritual, mortal, and the out-of-this-world intermingle quite naturally as twelve feet tall Cherubs with feathered wings and half-lion, half-human Seraphs take center stage as the superhero watchdogs of the universe. With a good moral and uplifting message about the never ending quest of finding oneself and that one true love—VEILED will capture the interest of “Ghost Whisperer” fans and C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” readers alike.

I was born and raised in Argentina and at the age of fourteen, my family moved to the United States. I later attended the University of Utah where I studied Spanish Literature. I now live in Dallas, Texas with my husband, and am a proud homeschooling, yoga stretching, treadmill running, 6 a.m. writing mother of three. I am also a member of the Writers’ Guild of Texas.

I appreciate the time you have taken to read my query and would be delighted if you were interested in representing me before a publisher. This is a simultaneous submission. Sample chapters and a full manuscript will be provided upon request. Please feel free to call me at _______ or ____________.

Silvina B. Niccum