Rosa Santos is out in the world!

DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS has been on shelves for a little over a month, and it’s still so wild to me to see and hear from readers. Port Coral isn’t just my make-believe spot anymore, but has all these new folks running around town meeting everyone.

One of the coolest things to happen was ROSA being selected as an Okra Pick! It means the world to have my Latinx diaspora story also be embraced as a Southern one. The Latina who can’t kick her Georgia twang!

DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS has also been chosen as a Junior Library Guild pick! Everyone pretty much knows by now that my first dream job was to work at my library, and it was one of the best jobs ever. My local branch is still so wildly supportive, and to have ROSA be a JLG pick was an absolute dream.

And ROSA is also a Summer Indie Next List pick for teen readers! LIKE, WHAT! I love indie bookstores and hope to visit as many as I can. BOOKS & BOOKS in Miami has been the absolute best and hosted an amazing launch for Rosa and me. And I recently had an unforgettable event with some of my favorite YA authors at ONE MORE PAGE in Arlington, VA.

Rosa’s in the world and she’s making herself quite comfortable. I hope readers do the same in Port Coral. I’m sure they’re having a festival as we speak.

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Rosa is Ms. Worldwide!

Rosa Santos is going international!

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I’m so wildly grateful to my team at Triada US and how hard they’ve all championed this story. I didn’t even stop to think about foreign rights, and now I’m so over the moon that it’s happening.¬† Stay tuned! *eyes emoji*

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.