Manuscripts I'm pitching. . .
A colleague asks her students beginning Writer’s Workshop, “What kind of story would you like to exist in the world?’’ I ask the same question of myself every day. I wavered on the edges of my career in education before I travelled abroad as a Peace Corps volunteer, and then reached a point of no return related to development work after ten years in Guatemala. I returned home to Wisconsin to live where I paid new attention to my father, a man versed in all things agricultural and climatic. My pieces are built around knowledge unacknowledged ignored by so many in my generation. My desire to lead through storytelling that values diversity as the strength of tradition in both a natural and cultural context. Below are three examples. I also have several picture books, two other YA novels, one of which is in verse.
Tzi’ begins in present day Guatemala where 'Solo' remembers some of who he was, a K'iche boy destined to be a writer. Solo struggles to adapt to his dog body and a world that he belongs to and doesn’t in too many ways. He understands the reason for his amnesia. He exists now in his nahual, spirit counterpart, tzi’ or dog. An unlikely ally, Sera, a development worker, frees him from his cage in the village marketplace. Solo is confused about his next steps, but his deepest regret is his inability to retell his memories the way he knows they were once lived and how he should have learned to tell them.
Tzi’ intentionally employs a character born on the date the Spanish conquest “ended” in Guatemala. His journey initially is one that combats invisibility of a diverse group of people against the generalization “Maya”. The K'iche boy's character reincarnated in present times in his nahual form, tzi’ is set against the degradation of “empty” space in rural Wisconsin where highway bypasses cut off rural communities in which youth see little worth and only lost opportunities. The haunting connections around “development” are the means in which my work addresses oversimplified generalizations, power relationships, and engagement for change.
DUST CHOKED AND SORE
Etta is the only member of her family who can’t carry a tune. Yet she dreams of pursuing a career in the music industry as a means to reconnect with her father. Unable to find a summer job working in the music industry, she finds that adjusting to the tone echoing on the farm property after her grandfather’s death presents a more immediate challenge. Compelled by the guilt she feels from her lack of inaction after her grandfather’s supposed suicide, Etta decides to stay the summer on her father’s farm. Etta is convinced that her father should have never given up music, but wonders if her mom was part of that decision, maybe even the reason they split up. Progress is slow, but after an unexpected summer storm disrupts his work schedule Etta's dad plays songs he wrote on his guitar for Etta. One in particular captures her imagination, Dust Choked and Sore. Dust Choked and Sore integrates geographically, socially and culturally marginalized voices, the the assumptions they tell and retell about each other and how they transform their passions.
SAVE THE ELEPHANTS
Francys was born in a refugee camp on the border between Mexico and Guatemala. Now, fourteen she lives with her cousin Gloria in Chiapas. Ten years older, Gloria raised Francys after Francys’ mother did not return from Zapatista demonstrations in Mexico City. Gloria works at a local women’s project in San Cristobal de las Casas advocating for imprisoned women. Francys frames the role of migration in her family’s past and present through an interest in elephants, how they live, how they find resources, how they learn and remember old trails, and especially how women band together. However, she and Gloria are “orphans” and must somehow form a new band to survive.
Her inclusion of new allies and understanding of unintentional enemies both pushes Francys’ family together and pulls them apart. Save the Elephantsis an attempt to connect and find power within story to preserve trails believed lost or never found, both for the living and the dead.
Save the Elephants is a novel in verse that narrates the tests, allies and enemies known through one family’s experience.