Thousands of feet march to the beat / It's an army on the march

Lyrics from Sabaton - Price of a Mile

I’ve linked my top 40 writing songs before, and Sabaton is in them. They’re also coming back in May and I’m excited because they’re also coming with Leaves’ Eyes!

So, quick tangent. Theatre of Tragedy was one of the bands that brought me into the metal fold and I figure one day I’ll go on a writing series about it. The other bands/projects are Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, Rata Blanca, Edguy, Hammerfall, and Avantasia.

Anyway, so Theatre of Tragedy was one of the vanguards of the whole “beauty and beast” type of singing, where you have, as wiki calls it, an “angelic/soprano” female vocalist and a growly male vocals.

Anyway, so, the soprano of ToT, Liv Kristine, gets kicked out and forms her own band with her husband and calls it Leaves’ Eyes (Get it…because…Liv…Leaves Eyes…ha ha ha ha ha ha). The new sound is a lot less Theatre of Tragedy and a lot more Within Temptation (so less gothic metal, more symphonic metal) and sounds a lot like Sharon den Adel. WHO I LOVE, BY THE WAY, but it wasn’t the same. If I want Within Temptation, I’m going to listen to Within Temptation.

(Tangential Tangent: That’s also why I stopped listening to Nightwish once Tarja Turunen left. Anette Olzon made them sound like Within Temptation. Floor Jansen is objectively better than both.)

Anyway, so I find out Sonata Arctica’s coming to town last fall as part of their new CD tour, and the opening act is Leaves’ Eyes and a forgettable opening act (there was also a local band that opened for them, Dawn of Dissolution, but I missed their part). Then Leaves Eyes takes the stage at Scout Bar and I’m looking around for Liv the same way I looked around for my crush at the school cafeteria in high school, and she’s not there. Some other lady’s there.

So, I turn to google, because I don’t like spoilers even in the music I listen to, and turns out Liv’s been replaced in a contentious split and some other lady is singing. Turned out that SOMEWHERE in between them being formed and late 2016 they had gone to the beauty and beast vocal style and they rocked that show, man. And now they’re coming back as the opening act for Sabaton, another band that I love because their discography is them basically just talking about different historical events. Their song, Price of a Mile, has such a rhythmic beat to it that it’s one of my favorite writing songs.

(The song’s about Passchendale, by the way, and if you ever want to check out a really good podcast, Dan Carlin’s Blueprint for Armaggedon covers the history of WWI. I highly recommend it)

So, what’s the point of all this?

I finally have a book deal!

Oh, and I will be slowly re-vamping the website in the coming weeks, including much more engagement via all forms of social media, and possibly an improved vlogcast. Possibly.

But, let's talk about the book deal.

I was signed by La Casita Grande Editores, a publishing press specializing in Latino/Caribbean Literature. The anticipated date of release for my book will be February 2018.

How I came across LCG Press is a matter of sheer luck. I was doing my thing in a Facebook group and someone sends me a PM to tell me about the press, as they were friends with the publisher. I, of course, thanked the person profusely and started doing my research. Now, I’ve been burnt before, I know that “oh, my friend is such and such” doesn’t ever really have much weight. I was still going to take my chances because I hadn’t queried since late December and LCG really stood out for me. Why? Because they weren’t looking for stories about the Latino identity or the immigrant narrative (more on that next week) and that meant a lot because I am not writing that. I have a manuscript that’s 1) literary fiction trying to occupy the spot between Raymond Carver and Sandra Cisneros and 2) weird 3) about mental health. Are there immigrants in my stories? Yes. Are my characters Latino? Yes. Am I a proud Latino/Mexican/Chicano/Texan/American writer? Ahuevo. But my manuscript steps away from that. Now whether or not bookshelves will put my book right next to Daniel Jose Older and Octavio Paz and Gloria Anzaldua is going to be up to them. I mean, I’m hoping they won’t but, you know, it wouldn’t be the first time a writer of color is shoe-horned in somewhere because they’re brown.

I’ll be posting more deets, events, readings, etc., as they come up in the special page I created on the site.

I already thanked people on my Facebook page, but it’s worth re-stating because I believe that I would not be in the position I am without the support of these people. I’ve heard it being said that it’s better to be lucky than good. And it’s true. Look at all the people born on third base thinking they hit a triple. Their life is easier. My life has been made easier by the amount of support I’ve had.

I’m a good writer, but I’m also incredibly fortunate that I’ve had so many wonderful people in my life supporting me. My family and friends, definitely, for always being there. Seriously, I know I mentioned it many times before: I was never told that I couldn’t do something, or that I shouldn’t do something. It was always in the positive: You will be a writer, you can write. My friends have given me a lot of inspiration and conversations with them have ended up as stories or poems on more than one occasion. I’m thankful for my fiancée, who is twice the writer and editor I am, because she helps me continue to develop as a writer. Whenever I edit my stories or sketch out a new one, I hear two voices in my head. Hers, and my thesis director’s Daniel Chacón. I don’t need writing prompts when I have that.

 My teachers all throughout my life have all made a significant positive impact one way or the other, whether it was encouraging me to be creative or showing me that hard work matters and that I have the intellect to reach for my dreams. My classmates and faculty at the UTEP MFA program that set my expectations for what an MFA program should be like (and inevitably spoiled me since I’ve come to realize that UTEP’s program is an aberration).  We were encouraged to write to our strengths and shore up our weaknesses instead of writing some formulaic piece of shit aimed to please a particular aesthetic. Not only that, but those workshop sessions themselves were so instructive because we were all career men and women who had 1-3 hours a week for a workshop session and didn’t spend any time at all blowing smoke up our ass about it. I have the utter confidence that in five years, my entire cohort will all have published books.

I also lucked out that Sheldon Lee Compton, editor of The Airgonaut, who published my first fiction piece and also nominated it for the Best of the Net, the Best Short Fictions, and the Pushcart Prize. That connection led me to meet Hillary Leftwich, who alongside Lupe Mendez, cemented a place in my heart and my mind as my writing mentors. Through Lupe I was introduced into the Latino literary and performance scene in the Houston and he’s the one that awakened the inner activist by bringing me into the Librotraficante Movement because all art, in a way, is political, and the Venn Diagram of the Houston activist and the Houston artist scene looks like a single, solid circle. Hillary Leftwich introduced me to April Bradley and the supremely talented staff at Bartleby Snopes, and there I learned all about the slush pile (and how to rise through it) while also honing my skills as an editor.

I’m very happy. I am going to be traditionally-published!

I received the news from editor Jon Marcantoni around midnight last week, just as I was in Austin's 6th Street already celebrating my fiancée's brother's birthday. All the more reason to party.

But, I’ve got quite the unfortunate bit of pig-headed stubbornness in me, and that pig-headed stubbornness keeps me from enjoying things too long. I approached the news with the same way I approach every new recipe I try: Take a few bites to great enjoyment and hit the ground running by figuring out how to improve and what comes next.

Ya se armó!