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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Book Story

Once upon a time, there was a life without a story, a story without a book and a book without a reader.
Until one day, Story knocked on Life's door.

"Who is it?" asked Life.
"Your story," answered Story.

Life and Story shared many moments: happy, sad ones and of the unspeakable kind.  The more they shared, the more excited they became and out of their joyous relationship came about a book.  A book about life... a story of many lives.  Only there was a problem, the book needed readers.

Knock, knock!

"Who is it? asked Book.
"Your reader,"said the dreamer.

Lets face it.  We all have stories.  We all love stories. Stories make life all the more interesting.  Books transport us to other worlds.  Readers turn books to life, movies, traditions...a book without a reader is lost and forgotten.

And that's why we have book festivals!  To satisfy our literature hunger :-)

The Los Angeles Times Book Festival is one of the largest around.  If anyone is attending, please stop by and say hello.  I will be discussing and signing for Shattered Paradise on the following dates:

April 12, 2014

USC, Los Angeles Times Book Festival, Hoy News Booth

April 13, 2014

USC, Los Angeles Times Book Festival, Booth 464
12:00-1:00 and 2:00-3:00

Live, Love and Read!

Ileana :-)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Allow dreams into your life!

Anything is possible if you allow yourself to dream. Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child is a 2014 International Latino Book Award Recipient!  Thank you all for believing and supporting :-)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Latest review for Shattered Paradise!

Thank you friends for your reviews and for being a part of my life :-) Here's the latest review for Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child!

"Ms. Ileana Araguti experienced atrocities that no child should ever have to experience during the Nicaraguan Revolution. She begins by narrating her everyday life being the youngest member of a family. Beautifully written, she digs deep into the hardships that her father and mother had to endure working in the forests, yet maintaining a close family knit. Religion was a major factor that solidified her family bond that also served them during the revolution.The war between the Sandinistas and the Contra factions was yet another tragic result of the cold war of the 1980s. The horror and devastation happening before her eyes was described in grim detail, yet in the most intimate way. The story is hard to read, but I appreciated the sincerity and eventual triumph of her family and the survivors of the revolution.This book takes you through a journey where you'll laugh, you'll'll cry and you'll cringe. In the end, you'll appreciate the little girl turned radiant woman and all that she experienced. It felt like I was right there with her, running, crying, and smiling with her."--Jim Hague

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Nicaraguan Gallo Pinto!

Good morning, the Nicaraguan Way!

Per the request of some friends, I awoke early this morning to make you all breakfast!  A complete "desayuno Nicaraguense!" In Nicaragua, a complete breakfast include: Gallo Pinto (rice and beans), fried plantains, eggs and other things such as fresh cheese and sour cream.

Since I now reside in the United States, I'm conscious of time and therefore I've made some modifications.  In conclusion, quick and easy Gallo Pinto!


1 pound red beans (or 1-2 cans red beans)
1 cup white rice 
1/2 onion
1/2 bell pepper
olive oil
Salt to taste
chicken broth
chicken bouillon


1.  As far as the red beans, you can either boil your own beans or use canned red beans. If you choose to boil them, it is recommended that you let them soak the night before to speed up cooking time.  But if you're busy like me and forget to soak them, you can simply wash the red beans, add twice the water as the beans to a pot and bring to boil.  Let the beans cook slowly on medium heat.  Add salt to taste towards the end of the cooking for tenderness.  If you add salt too soon, the beans might not turn out as tender. When using canned beans, drain the liquid.

2.  Rice.  If in a hurry, you can steam white rice in a rice cooker or a pot.  But if you want to be more traditional and make a less mushy Gallo Pinto, you may cook the rice as you boil the beans. 

a.  Sauté chopped yellow/white onion, bell pepper and cilantro to taste in about 1-2 tablespoons olive 
b.  Add 1cup of white rice without washing to a pan and sauté until slightly golden brown.
c.  Add chicken broth or water to cover the rice.
d.  Add salt or cubes of chicken bouillon to taste.
e.  Cover and let it boil.
f.   Reduce heat and let it cook slowly until the water is gone and the rice is puffy and soft.

3.  When done cooking the beans and the rice.  Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan.  Fry the beans and gradually add the rice.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

4.  Now, here's the quick U.S. way:

a.  Use previously steamed rice or left overs.
b.  Use canned red beans, drained.
c.   Sauté onion, bell pepper, olive oil and salt in a pan.
d.  Add drained red beans and white rice; fry until well-mixed.
e.  Serve and enjoy without any guilt!  After all, you have all day to burn the calories!!!

Note:  Nicaraguans use red beans, Costa Ricans use black beans!  Both taste delicious :-)

Modifications:  Traditionally, lard or other types of oils are used.  I've substituted olive oil or grape seed oil for a healthier meal!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Marta A. Lomeli, Guest Blogger

Our guest blogger this week is Marta A. Lomeli, author of Cuentos from the House on West Connecticut Avenue. Her keen sense of humor is contagious.  Marta A. Lomeli is one of those amazing beings that know how to enjoy life to the fullest.  She has over twenty-five years of teaching experience, over ten years in the martial arts, and years of community involvement: youth mentoring programs, police community relations support, and precinct walking. Beginning with her college years, she was well-known for her original cartoons, many of which were published in college newspapers. She has had poetry published, as well as many articles on personal safety and self-defense for women and children.A few years ago, she achieved the rank of second degree black belt in Chinese Shao-lin Kempo, an ancient form of martial arts. She managed to reach this goal even though she was a single mother for a number of years.She has discovered other wild ways to enjoy life, such as skydiving, public speaking, and painting. Today, she is "retired," but keeps busy by being a full-time "baby wrangler," taking care of her toddler grandson. She enjoys participating in Las Comadres networking Comadrazos and the Las Comadres Book Club.

Saludos! I am Ileana's "Comadre." We were not born relatives. We did not become relatives via any religious ceremony, but we are Comadres nonetheless. We are friends for life.

I had the good fortune to read Ileana's book, Shattered Paradise: Memoir of a Nicaraguan War Child, and it touched my soul. Selfish person that I am, I thought, "How can my writing ever compare to her beautiful prose? Her childhood had beauty and peace until the chaos of war turned things upside down." I wanted to jump into her book and pull her out of that horrible danger, but that isn't how books work. 

It is an honor to be a guest in her blog. Today, I will share with you the little juicy bits of inspiration that I read to myself every now and then:
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
--Louis L'Amour

“Certain things they should just stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those glass cases and just leave them alone.”--J.D. Salingerl, Catcher in the Rye

“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked and it would be like living the memory all over again.”--Daphne Du Maurier

Among other things, I am a culture vulture and proud of it. I don't think that you are less of a Chicana (Latina, Hispanic, whatever) if you adapt and make it your own. Wasn't it Paulo Freire that used the words "man as the creator of culture?" For the sake of a discussion, let's talk about cultural traditions that could could affect a family's future.  Since I'm not writing a book or a thesis here, I won't be listing to the million of examples that are possible.  I'll just choose one example: Quinceañeras, a girl’s 15th birthday celebration!

First, a disclaimer, I didn't have a quinceañera. My father, did, however, give me a $20 bill. Not much? It was in those days! I was born in the 1950s. We lived at the poverty level. I didn't expect my dad to give me anything more than a hug. I think that Mom made enchiladas or something. That was always appreciated. I would have felt guilty if they had spent hundreds of dollars on a party for me while they had sons in college that were scrimping to get by, working dangerously long hours in the summer as fire fighters. Not many scholarships for Latinos in those early days. 

When I became a sixth grade teacher, I once overheard a fellow teacher chatting about her daughter's upcoming birthday. We were in the faculty lounge, eating lunch, and I heard her say, "I'm all about letting kids learn from making their own decisions. So, I gave my daughter the choice: I'll take her to Europe in the summer, or I’ll give her a quinceañera. She chose the quinceañera. I'm going to get a limo for her and everything!" For those of you who might not be familiar with this celebration, the cost of a quinceañera could be as much as a wedding. It is not rare that often times, families might have to choose between celebrating a quinceañera or paying for college.  

Did you ever come across such choices?

Marta A. Lomeli

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review for Shattered Paradise!

Great friends are like a good marriage, correct?  We share the good and the bad :-)  Today, I would like to share a wonderful review for my memoir, Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Heron's Path Review

Ever since a little girl, I’ve been fascinated by paths and remote roads that lead to who knows where.  I recall building secret paths in Mama’s garden using a stick.  Then, my plastic animal figurines would find their way around.  Heron’s Path by Alethea Eason, although not exactly a book about a little girl like me, reminds me somewhat of my childhood, my two lovely sisters and even the frightening river I had to cross every time we would travel to the farm in the forest. 

When I picked up Heron’s Path, by Alethea Eason, I chose it first for the beautiful cover and the title, but later it became a good reminder about the strength of the human spirit.  Heron’s Path is a beautifully written story about two sisters, Katy and Celeste and about the enchanting tales of the Nanchuti.  The current of the river, the mystery of dreams, the meaning of life and growing up all come to life through Alethea’s magnificent writing, which gently guides the reader to the end through a path of courage and love.  This lovely read is ultimately about the gift of sisterhood and the thrilling mysteries of life. 

Alethea Eason is a writer and teacher. Her latest publication is Starved, a sequel to her humorous middle grade science fiction novel, Hungry.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Village Sang to the Sea

Where to travel next for my great inspiration?  Other than writing, working and traveling, reading is my other passion.  The other day, I picked up a novel from a bookstore, simply because I fell in love with its title:  The Village Sang to the Sea.  Then, I proceeded to read the novel and my imagination took flight.  The end result of my reading: Desire to someday visit Lerici!

Lerici is a village in Italy said to be “The pearl of the Poet’s Gulf.” It is called the Gulf of Poets because the great Romantic poets, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron often visited it; and Percy and his wife Mary, author of FRANKENSTEIN, lived in Lerici. The picturesque village is the southern tip of the Italian Riviera.  Just north of the Gulf of Poets is the famous tourist destination of Cinque Terre, "The Five Lands," and south of the Gulf is Pisa and its also famous, "Leaning Tower."
Lerici appears to be an inspirational paradise for artists! It is an enchanting village, which reminds me of my own native village in Nicaragua, City of Mist.  The village of Lerici is surrounded by splendid green hills, rich in history and breathtaking landscapes.  In his lyrical memoir, The Village Sang to the Sea, author Bruce McAllister magically transports you to different worlds, yet you wish to remain in the captivating village of Lerici, Italy. The events that flow through this beautiful book are enchanting and riveting. The Village Sang to the Sea is an unforgettable book!

As a boy, Bruce Mc Allister lived in magical Lerici, learned Italian, and attended school in the shadows of its castle, like the protagonist in the novel.  McAllister is now a science fiction, fantasy and literary fiction author who has appeared over the years in literary quarterlies, national magazines, college textbooks and "year's best" anthologies like, Best American Short Stories 2007. The Village Sang to the Sea has been compared to Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes.  Bruce McAllister lives in Orange County, California, with his wife, choreographer Amelie Hunter.  He works as a writer, writing coach and book and screenplay consultant.
Have you visited or lived in Lerici? Share your experience/s :-)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Poetry, Australia and John Holland

Dear friends,

I introduce to you all my first guest blogger and author: John Holland from the beautiful Australia!  As you all know, I love to highlight beautiful places and wonderful people. 

John Holland grew up in outback Australia. Living on cattle stations (ranches) his father Jack Holland managed in Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Kimberley.

He has been a stockman (cowboy), miner, road worker, speech writer/media officer for a Queensland state member of parliament and a newspaper columnist.

John now lives in Townsville, tropical North Queensland and writes full time.

His writing credits include:

Dry Bones (Stonesthrow Poetry) :

Under The Dog Star (Hammer & Anvil Books):

His work has also appeared in the anthologies:

Ink Angels (Allpoetry)
Found Patrick (Regina Sokas)
Rawahi (Lazarus Media)

His work has also appeared in the poetry magazines:

Danse Macabre
Mystical Muse
Spontaneous Spirits
The Mozzie and many others.

Presently working as a co-author with Californian author Nia Simone on a novel set in Australia and America. 

I look forward to sharing some of his amazing poetry sometime :-)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Year: New You

New Year: New You! It's a tradition, as the year ends, we make new resolutions.  Mine is to lead a positive life and to live life to the fullest. As many of you know, I was born in Nicaragua during times of war and survived not only to tell a story but to also serve as testimony that life is beautiful and it's ultimately whatever WE make of it. Throughout the years, I've learned that successful people (spiritually and financially) tend to share the following skills: 
1. Adapt: learn to adapt. Life isn't always what we think it is. Do as Bruce Lee once advised, "become water."
2. Persist: if you don't pursue your own goals, then who will? Never, ever give up for a good cause. But don't confuse giving up with taking a step back, sometimes the view is better from a distance.
3. Reinvent yourself as necessary. In our new world, nothing is truly organic and that includes us and our dreams. Sometimes, it is necessary to run a data analysis on our own selves and reinvent our skills, goals and dreams.
4. Dream to Achieve: Author Joseph Gutiz describes dreaming as a skill.  A skill to keep you motivated, to keep you focused and energized. Dreaming is vitamin to our souls.
5. Balance: a life well-lived is well-balanced. What's the point of achieving, if you're not enjoying? There's a time for everything: for crying, for laughing, for living.  Learn to live!
6. Forgive but don't forget: Learning to sincerely forgive is therapeutic. Not forgetting ensures you don't make the same mistake twice!
7. Only compete if you're an olympian! In other words, let others do their own thing and don't overdo yourself in trying to keep up.  Their dreams are theirs.  Your dreams are yours. However, unity is a nice recipe for success. 
8. Keep only the positive, discard the negative.
9. Prioritize. In my hierarchy of needs: God and family come first, the rest I leave to destiny and determination.
10. Love yourself. You are beautiful and unique. Your happiness and confidence will radiate to others.
11. Stay Healthy: Health overrides all of the above. Happiness begins within. Diminish stress for it doesn't help you with anything. Eat healthy, take walks and see the world...who knows, you might discover new and exciting new venues ;-) Live every moment as if it were your last.
Overall success is defined by how well we learn to adapt, by how well we forgive and how persistent we become at NEVER GIVING UP! With that being said, we must learn to enjoy and accept what we have and pursue what we desire diligently.  Happy New YOU!