Finding Rosa

Guys. Y’all. I almost want to stop for a second and walk us back to some especially tortured 2013 blog posts. Or even stumble right to a really awkward almost definitely deleted 2009 one and invite them to this party, because your girl did it.

I sold my book!

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I SOLD MY CUBA BOOK TO DISNEY.

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I’ve been at this trying to become published thing for a minute. Only a minute in the grand scheme of things, I know, but still, that minute has felt looooooong, and there has been way more stumbling than climbing. Pitch contests, weak queries, chances that weren’t. Endless waiting and feeling eternally stuck while trying to keep my eyes on my own paper. Was I any good at this? My heart said one thing, but my head was wondering something else while sorting through the rejections.

SAINT ROSA OF THE SEA is the book of my heart. My rom-com, awkward teen, next-gen Latina heart. I wish I could say it was easy to write, but it wasn’t. It so painfully wasn’t.

I’ve always written stories about Latinas. They’ve starred in whatever I did, but this was my first time trying to write about the experience of being next generation to exile. The dynamics of being home and feeling like you’re not. Of loving a complicated mother and homeland. Trying to pick where to go next when you so desperately want to look back and understand where you came from. I wanted this story to be ultimately romantic and grounded in community. I wanted it to be funny with a really good meet-cute. I wanted too many cousins and bodegas and a swoon-worthy bakery. How a generational curse is carried like memories. A curious bookworm who builds small altars and pops strawberry candies and dresses too much like her abuela. These were all really important elements and ideas to me, and for too long they all sat together in a story that wasn’t doing enough. There was a lot of heart, but I had to get my head out from those past rejections and remember how to do the work of this again.

I took a couple breaks. The last one came late in the game, with the story already on desks. I was on my morning run and the surety that I needed to revise hit me so hard I had to stop. I was worried, but my agent, Laura, my steadfast supporter and fiercest champion, had my back at every turn. She said, “let’s go,” and climbed back into the story with me. We brainstormed by phone and email, and her patience and unwavering belief in me gave me the confidence to explore those complicated ideas, all while helping what I loved grow beyond an idea. Cross-legged in front of a mirror piled with sticky notes, I finally found my way. I found Rosa.

And I’m so excited to work with my editor, Hannah. From the first, the constellation of Rosa’s journey clicked into place. Hannah saw my ability to do the work. She loved the heart and magic. And she immediately quoted In The Heights. (“Paciencia y fe!”) After an amazing conversation, I knew Rosa was home.

I can’t wait to invite you all to Port Coral so you can finally meet her. Don’t worry, she’ll bring the snacks.

 

 

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