October 22, 2014


The Latina Book Club welcomes children’s author Diana Lee Santamaria.  As a child she struggled with reading so she understands the importance of literacy.  As an educator she recognizes the need for more diverse books.  Hence, the birth of DLee’s World – bright fun stories that engage young readers and expands their learning.

GIVEAWAY!  Please leave a comment below to win a free copy of DLee’s World.

"As a child who struggled with reading, I understand the importance of literacy and making it fun for children, so I work on bringing all the essential elements into DLee's World to engage children and increase learning."  --Diana Lee Santamaria    

Q: Schools seem to slowly be coming to the realization that there are no books with “diverse” characters –African-American, Asian, and Hispanic – available for children. As an educator, do you also think that, “we need diverse books?” 

Yes, I do believe that there is a lack of books displaying diversity. Therefore it is my belief that as educators, we need to begin introducing books that have diverse characters with which children can relate. Growing up, I remember reading books and seeing characters in those books, which I felt did not look like me. So at times, it was hard for me to relate to them. I wondered why there were no characters that even remotely resembled my family or me. That idea sparked something in me and I decided that the characters in my stories would include people of all distinctions. Therefore as a children’s writer, I made sure to create a group of diverse characters in “DLee’s World,” to which all children can relate. As our population is getting more and more diverse, it is important to display that diversity throughout all forms of media including books - and with children’s books a great avenue to start. 

Q:   Who is DLee and how did she come to be? 

DLee the character represents bits and pieces of me as a child and as an adult. DLee is a quirky and inquisitive preschooler who loves to learn and have fun. The name DLee derives from my own name Diana Lee. As a child, my mother always called me DLee and I decided to use the name because I think it is catchy, cute, and different. It just seemed so appropriate. Thanks Mom! When I wrote my first story, I was not quite sure who my character was going to be. But I did know that I wanted the character to represent someone who was different then the norm. Then I thought back to the way I looked as a child and figured that my childhood appearance would make a great character. Since I had a full face and large glasses, I experienced a lot of ridicule from children and even adults. Thus based on my own personal experiences, I wanted my character to represent that child who does look different; and I would hopefully demonstrate to children that it is okay to be divergent and also show children to be accepting of others no matter how they look. However, the difference between DLee and me is that as a child I was very shy and fearful of everything.

It wasn’t till later in life, after enrolling in acting classes, that I was able to fully come out of my shell and become the “DLee” I always wanted to be. So I created a character that was the opposite of me as a child and more like me as an adult. As a result, I used DLee as an outlet to share my knowledge of early childhood education concepts and knowledge of children and their struggles inside and outside of the classroom to create my bright, bold, and fun preschool learning stories. Additionally, each character in DLee’s World has been created in the image of the people closest to me. For example, DLee’s mother, father and best friend were created in the images of my actual mother, father, and fiancé. 

Q:  Does writing about personal experiences make the writing easier? 

I think incorporating personal experiences does make creating concepts of DLee’s World easier however it does not necessarily simplify the writing process. For example, I had a great story in mind that I wanted to write about DLee going to the zoo with her abuela and abuelo. Unfortunately, for some reason when I went to write the story it just wasn’t coming out right. Since, for now, all my stories incorporate rhymes, I was having trouble making the story fit the “DLee’s World” rhyme scheme, which can make the writing process a lot more difficult than you would think.

Q:  You have plotted 15 books in the DLee series. What kind of stories should we expect? Are there any plans to translate DLee's stories into Spanish?

Yes, I am proud to say that I have already written a total of 15 DLee stories and I am always brainstorming new concepts for future books. Each of my stories touches upon different objectives that preschool teachers would use in early childhood classrooms. My books include concepts related to all educational domains social, emotional, cognitive, mathematics, literacy, language, science and so on. Resultantly, I have written books on color recognition, number and numeral recognition, new experiences like the first day of school, and moving, sharing, germs, being afraid of monsters, planting seeds, exploring caterpillars etc. I would love to one day be able to translate DLee’s stories into various languages including the Spanish language. I think translating my books would be a great opportunity to take DLee to the next level to allow all non-English speaking children to experience DLee’s World learning books. My stories have been created so that children can relate, learn, and have fun with literacy. However, they are also supposed to be useful resources or tools for parents, teachers and families of all diversities.

Q:  I noticed that your website offers a lesson plan and cue cards for each book. Can a schoolteacher use your books in the classroom or are they for personal reading only?

Most definitely! My website does offer free lesson plans, cards or cutouts, and assessments for both parents and teachers to utilize. As a teacher, I wanted to make sure that my books were relevant to children as well as resourceful learning tools for both parents and educators to utilize at home or in the classroom. Therefore, I created lesson plans that coincide with each book that anyone can use to enhance the learning experience for each child or group of children reading my books.

Q:   Tell us about yourself and how teachers and parents can get a copy of your books. Also, give us your website and social network addresses.

My name is Diana Lee Santamaria and I am a quirky, positive, creative, fun, and artist Hispanic woman who loves spending time with my family and friends, working and helping to teach children and most of all writing children’s books. I have been teaching for six years and I have a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. I absolutely love working on my DLee’s World Series and cannot wait till early childhood children and educators everywhere are experiencing my bright, bold, fun learning books for themselves!

DLee’s World books are available on paperback and kindle and can be found on www.createspace.com, www.dleesworld.com under the BUY NOW tab, www.amazon.com in addition to Funky Monkey Toys and Books in Greenvale, NY and Orion Toy Works in Delaware Water Gap, PA.

My website is www.dleesworld.com and my social networking addresses are as follows: Facebook: www.facebook.com/dleesworld

October 20, 2014

REVIEW: EVERY HIDDEN FEAR by Linda Rodriguez (& Giveaway)

The Party Continues!  Join The Latina Book Club every week this month for new book reviews, fun “Top 14” lists, author interviews and book giveaways.  This week, we are giving away an e-book copy of EVERY HIDDEN FEAR.  Leave a comment below or tweet our hashtag -- #amreadingwiththelatinabookclub --  to win. Happy Hispanic Heritage Month and Good luck! --mcf

If you’re not constantly watching and taking care of little things with a house, all kinds of things will fester in the dark and grow out of sight to damage it until they pull it down on your head.—Gran

Riveting. Masterful. Suspenseful. Memorable.

EVERY HIDDEN FEAR is book three in Linda Rodriguez’s Skeet Bannion series.  It’s a fast-paced, exhilarating drama starring a clever heroine, a ghastly murder and more suspects than innocents.  Readers will be enthralled (once again) from the very first page to the last.  NOTE: This may be third in a series, but it stands alone, and once done, readers will run, not walk, to get the others. Happy Reading!

SUMMARY:  Skeet Bannion has enough on her plate – a teenage ward with raging hormones, a psychic grandmother, a difficult father, a rascal of an ex, a hot sexy admirer she wants but fears, plus a college campus full of students and faculty she has to protect.  The last thing she wants is to be dragged into a murder investigation that is none of her business.  But when her ward’s best friend is arrested for murder, Skeet can’t say no.

The whole town of Brewster seems to have a grudge against the dead victim.  Ash Mowbray was a bad boy from the wrong end of the tracks, returned to town as a wealthy developer with plans to build a huge shopping mall that would destroy the businesses in the town square.  Everyone is in an uproar but Ash doesn’t care, and in fact, goes out of his way to antagonize everyone with threats of revealing old salacious secrets.  One he reveals at the public coffee shop is the fact that the high school football star, Noah Steen, is his biological son.  Tempers flare and fists fly.  When Ash turns up dead, there are plenty of suspects but the local sheriff is only looking at Noah.  Skeet refuses to let a young boy be railroaded into prison.  Soon she is immersed in a messy investigation bursting with dark secrets, blackmail schemes and a town full of suspects.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Linda Rodriguez is a winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition.  As a poet, she has won the Thorpe Menn Award and the Midwest Voices and Visions Awards.  Linda is president of the Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime.  Her novels have been selected for Las Comadres Book Club.  She lives in Kansas City.  Visit her at www.lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com.

October 17, 2014


La Latina Book Club continua con su celebración de Hispanic Heritage Month todo este mes.  Mas tenemos para ustedes reseñas todos los Viernes de libros en Español.  Le agradecemos a Open Media Español su regalo de una copia de DESEO DE UNA  NOCHE.  Dejen un comentario aqui o un Tweet con nuestro “hashtag” #amreadingwiththelatinabookclub.  Buena suerte!  //  The Latina Book Club continues celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and our Spanish reviews on Fridays.  We want to thank Open Media Español who is donating an e-copy of Alonso Cueto’s book, DESEO DE UNA NOCHE (in Spanish), to one lucky reader.  Enter to win by leaving a comment below or Tweeting our hashtag, #amreadingwiththelatinabookclub.  Good luck!

Las historias pasan dentro de cada uno de nosotros. Y al final esto es lo que cuenta, creo: que las historias son parte fundamental de nuestras vidas y sirven para tratar de explicar lo que no tiene explicación. Durante muchos siglos no entendíamos los fenómenos naturales, y los mitos y las leyendas explicaban por qué sale el sol, por qué hay terremotos, por qué llueve, por qué hay truenos y relámpagos… Y las explicaciones eran explicaciones religiosas. Hoy día sí sabemos por qué hay terremotos, o por qué sale el sol o por qué llueve, pero hay otros misterios de la existencia humana que no conocemos. ¿Por qué la gente se enamora? ¿Por qué la gente es fiel? Y creo que, como no entendemos esas cosas, surgen las historias.   –Alonso Cueto

DESEO DE UNA NOCHE es mitad thriller y mitad novella romántica/erotica.  Cueto pone a Julian y a nosotros en el medio de un misterio poderoso, en el medio de una relación sexual, en el medio de un crimen.  Y no es hasta la ultima palabra, la ultima relevación que todos podemos respirar tranquilos y volver a nuestras vidas normales.  Pero, que es normal?!

RESEŇA:  Julián es un solitario y opaco profesor de colegio. Una noche estando sólo en un café es abordado por Laura, una mujer a la que ya ha visto antes. Después e una breve conversación, ella le confiesa que acaba de matar a un hombre y le pide que la ayude a deshacerse del cadáver. Sin explicarle muy bien las razones, él accede. Desde esa noche, la relación entre ambos empieza a crecer. Con el tiempo Julián va acercándose con el lector al misterio de Laura. Su identidad final es tan reveladora como la verdad sobre el primer crimen.

SOBRE EL AUTOR:  Alonso Cueto es considerado uno de los escritores más destacados del panorama literario Peruano en la etapa post-boom, apoyado por Vargas Llosa. Ha recibido diversos premios entre los que se encuentran el Premio Herralde (2005) por LA HORA AZUL.  Entre sus novelas destacan además GRANDES MIRADAS, DALIA Y LOS PERROS y DESEO DE UNA NOCHE. Interesado por la crueldad, la venganza, la violencia, el erotismo o la culpa-presentes según el autor en cualquier lugar: desde un patio de colegio hasta en el terrorismo-indaga en las zonas oscuras de la psique humana en sus novelas para llegar a conocer las zonas más extremas.  Para aprender mas sobre este autor, visiten www.alonsocueto.com.pe.


DESEO DE UNA NOCHE is part thriller and part romance—and erotic!—novel.  Cueto puts Julian—and readers! —in the middle of a mystery with a sexy femme fatale and a dead body.  And it is not until the last word, the last revelation that we can all go back to our normal lives.  But, what is normal?!

BOOK SUMMARY:   Julian is a loner and lowly college professor.  One night, he’s at a café, bored, wishing for something to happen when a mysterious desirable woman walks in.  Laura strikes up a conversation with Julian, and suddenly confesses to killing a man and would he help her get rid of the body.   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Alonso Cueto is the author of several novels, short stories and essays. He has won several distinctions for his literary work, including the prestigious Herralde Award (Spain 2005) for his novel LA HORA AZUL (THE BLUE HOUR), the 2007 Casa de Ámericas-Planeta second-place prize for his novel SUSURRO DE LA MUJER BALLENA (SIGH OF THE WHALE WOMAN) and the Anna Seghers Prize for his body of work (Germany, 2000).  He also received a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation grant in 2002. Filmmaker Francisco Lombardi adapted Cueto’s novel GRANDES MIRADAS (Knowing Gazes) to the screen in “Mariposa Negra,” which won several international awards. Cueto’s work has been translated into 15 languages, including Chinese and Korean. Cueto lives in Lima, Peru, where he teaches literature and writing workshops at the Universidad Católica.  To learn more about this author, visit him at www.alonsocueto.com.pe.

WIN FREE COPY!   Leave a comment here or retweet our hashtag— #amreadingwiththelatinabookclub—to win an e-copy of DESEO DE UNA NOCHE in Spanish.  Good luck!

October 15, 2014


The Latina Book Club welcomes Valerie Tejeda, a journalist turned author.  She had a dream about Marilyn Monroe and a book idea was born.  Despite her writing credits and contacts, getting published was not easy, but not impossible.  We are looking forward to her book’s debut next July.  Congratulations, Valerie!

CONTEST!  Enter to win an advance readers copy of HOLLYWOOD WITCH HUNTER by visiting valerietejeda.com/showmethemagic.  Good luck!

“Writing and performing have always been passions of mine, even though now I wouldn't be caught dead acting!” – Valerie Tejeda

Q:  Are you a "Valley Girl?" Tell us about yourself and what you love most about living in Southern California.

Well, I was born in North Hollywood, California, grew up in Burbank and spent my high school years in the Sacramento area, so I am truly a California girl!  To be honest, I love everything about Southern California! I love the weather. I love the people. I just love the vibe there! Southern California will always have a special place in my heart. But am I a “Valley Girl”? I don't think so, but maybe my friends would disagree. I do however say the word “totally” more than the average person.

Q:  You are an entertainment journalist interviewing authors like Veronica Roth (Divergent) and James Dasher (The Maze Runner), Selena Gómez' stylist, athletes, actors, etc. Did your love of "Hollywood" inspire your book?

I definitely think my love for Hollywood inspired my book! Since I was a little girl I have always wanted to be in the entertainment industry. As soon as I was old enough to write, I started writing plays for my Barbies and stuffed animals, and then that evolved into me writing plays for me and my friends to act out. So writing and performing have always been passions of mine, even though now I wouldn't be caught dead acting!  The older I got, the more I was drawn to the writing side of entertainment, such as journalism, books, scripts, etc. My first real writing gig was for Latina Magazine and I will always be incredible grateful to Latina for taking a chance on me. And being part-Mexican, writing for Latina was seriously a dream come true and the experience was invaluable.

Q:  Tell us about your book, Hollywood Witch Hunter. Why YA and why witches? Wouldn't vampires be more fun?

HOLLYWOOD WITCH HUNTER is about a coven of witches in Hollywood who are bent on retaining their youth and must sacrifice the beautiful, and the rich women of Southern California. There is also a society of witch hunters who strive to protect the humans at all costs.  The idea came to me after I had a dream that Marilyn Monroe did not die of a drug overdose but instead, was killed by a witch. The next day it got me to thinking, "Why would a witch ever want to kill Marilyn Monroe?" I came to the conclusion that the witch was most likely trying to steal her incomparable beauty. So the idea kind of developed from there. Plus, there have been other stories about witches sacrificing to preserve their youth, so witches just seemed fitting.

I chose to write HOLLYWOOD WITCH HUNTER for a young adult audience because I wanted to not only write a fun story, but also a story about finding yourself and figuring out who you really are. Since a lot of this self-discovery happens in the teen years, YA was the perfect fit!

Q:  You noted on your bio that your favorite thing about being a writer is telling someone else's story. Was it easy to write your book since you are a journalist?

I don’t really think writing HOLLYWOOD WITCH HUNTER as a journalist made it easier or harder. However, I do think my background in journalism prepared me for the publishing industry in the sense that I was used to sending out pitches to magazines and getting rejected over and over again. So it’s safe to say my journalism work helped me develop thick skin for the publishing industry.

Q:  Was it easy to sell your book given your connections and fans?

You know, I don't think my connections in the journalism world helped me get a book deal. I still had to go the same route as everyone else -- completing a full manuscript, sending out queries, etc. I do think my relationships with other authors (many whom I met through interviews) gave me some valuable insight into what to expect in the publishing industry. But other than that, the process of selling my book was no different than the next person.

Q:  What advice would you give to new writers?

Think outside the box. The publishing industry has drastically changed over the last few years and there are opportunities now for authors that were not available a few years ago. So keep writing, don’t give up, and be open-minded about traditional and non-traditional ways to get your book published.

Q:  When can we expect your book debut? Is there a cover?

As of now, HOLLYWOOD WITCH HUNTER will be debuting in July of 2015 from Bloomsbury Publishing under their imprint Spark. The exact publication date is not quite set, but it should be finalized soon!  The cover will be coming sometime in the New Year, and I am very excited to work on this process with Bloomsbury! All of Bloomsbury’s covers are just amazing, but their Spark line in particular has some beautiful ones! I honestly can’t wait!

Q:  How can fans find you on the internet and on social networks?

Anyone can find me on
Website:  www.valerietejeda.com – for updates on my journalism work and books!
Hollywood Witch Hunter can be found on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23202520-hollywood-witch-hunter).

October 13, 2014


 There's a new Latina on TV and she is a hit! 
Cristela Alonzo made history this past Friday, October 10, 2014, by being the first Latina to create, produce, write and star in her own primetime comedy show.  "Cristela" (the show) debut to 6.6 million viewers and rave reviews from audiences of all backgrounds.  It's a funny, loving show about family, fulfilling your dreams, getting ahead and being a strong modern woman.  We are very excited about this new show and its portrayal of a modern Mexican family living in the heart of Texas.
But Cristela isn't the first Latina on television, and certainly not the last.  Below is a fun list of 14 other Latinos on television.  How many do you know?  We welcome additions to this list.  --mcf
Desi Arnaz

1.         Desi Arnaz on "I Love Lucy"

2.         Lynda Carter on "Wonder Woman"
3.         George Lopez on "The George Lopez Show"
4.         Christina Aguilera on "The Voice"
5.         Selena Gomez on "Wizards of Waverly Place"
6.         Mario Lopez on "Save By The Bell"
7.         Jimmy Smits on "L.A. Law"
Sofia Vergara
8.         Benjamin Bratt on "Law and Order"
9.         Edward James Olmos on "Battlestar Galactica"
10.       America Ferrera on "Ugly Betty"
11.       Eva Longoria on "Desperate Housewives"
12.       Rita Moreno on "Oz"
13.       Lana Parrilla on "Once Upon A Time"
14.       Sofia Vergara on "Modern Family"