The Cheeseburger Tamale: an American complex

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The day with no identity crisis. I was a princess like my daddy always said.

Now that my manuscript is in the hands of beta readers, I’ve had the chance to explore my next project. It’s something I always knew I needed to write because the world needs stories like this, but it’s also a project I’ve put off because it requires me to open up about myself. I’m going to address the bi-cultural experience. What it feels like to be a cheeseburger trapped inside a tamale.

Before you start wondering what the heck I’m talking about and decide that you’d rather be eating a cheeseburger or a tamale instead of reading this, let me say that I was fortunate enough to grow up in a loving family and I did not suffer anything horrific. All my racist encounters were by all standards, mild. However, I had, and still have to some extent what I call the American complex. And at no time was this crisis more acute than during middle school.

I am American. I was born in Arizona and lived in many states all across the U.S. My dad is American. His great grandparents came from Sweden, and his father’s family came from England. My mom is American and Mexican. She was born and raised in Mexico, but became an American citizen when I was nine. Her grandfather was of native descent and her grandmother’s family was Spanish.

My skin is a healthy cinnamon sugar, but by the end of the summer it can get as dark as a bar of rich milk chocolate. My hair and eyes are also dark, with the same nuances of brown layered in different shades and hues. To Americans, I just look Mexican.

My English is impeccable, or at least indistinguishable. Upon meeting strangers, the first time I speak is met with a confused look, which is often followed by the question, “where are you from originally?” You know how everyone has pet peeves? This is one of mine. What the person really wants to know is what box I belong in: Mexican or Native American.

I always have the urge to answer that question with, “I don’t know that I’m the right person to answer that question. You should ask your mom.” But I know that people aren’t trying to be annoying or offensive, they’re just curious, so I try to answer politely. Though, sometimes I don’t succeed and I just say, “my mommy’s tummy,” or “heaven.”

Inside, I’m a cheeseburger. You can’t get any more American than me. But all people see is the tamale. At least, that’s how I feel, that’s the American complex. I have gone to great lengths to get people to see past the corn husk to the ketchup and processed cheese.

As an adult, I recognize that I sacrificed a part of my identity to pursue a facade that will never fool anyone. My mother cries over her culture that is largely lost on her children. Slowly, painfully, I am learning how to be me, how to be American and celebrate the part of my identity rooted in Mexico. I am learning to be a burrito, American-sized and smothered in hot, smokey chipotle.


For a short blurb about this project, you can visit my works in progress page.


 

 

Calling all Beta Readers

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This is an exciting time for me. I finally reached the point where I feel I have done everything I can for my current novel, Siphors. I know there are still plenty of problem spots and questions that I need to answer, but it’s in a place now that I feel comfortable sharing it outside my critique group.

I’m hoping to get a mix of beta readers for this draft so I can get fresh reactions. They will be a sample of what I can expect later when I do get it published. Since I intend to traditionally publish this book, I am also entering the query trenches at the same time. That way, if I do sign with an agent, I will come armed with reader feedback and be ready to dig back into editing. And, if I don’t find an agent, I can apply the edits right away and try querying again.

If you’re interested in being a beta reader for me, please visit this page. You’ll find my reader expectations, a blurb of my book, and a link to sign up.

Breaking News: Trump Bans Santa Claus

For the past few years, my uncle has asked me to help him write his annual Christmas letter. He’s the mastermind behind the concept. I just help him execute it. This year’s letter was particularly fun.

Here’s the PDF version: fauxnews-report

FauxNews

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Trump Bans Santa Claus from U.S.

Barrie Marchant | Daphne Higbee

In a not-so-stunning development, President Elect, Donald Trump denounced Santa Claus in a public rally on Thursday night. “Santa can go wherever he wants,” Donald said, “But I’ll tell you where he can’t go: here.” The President Elect went on to declare that as long as he is in charge, “no jolly fat man in a red suit” or his “stupid little slaves” will be allowed in the United States.

His comments were in answer to a question about his recent tweets where he labeled Santa a communist.

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At the rally, aides to Ted Cruze, Ben Sasse, and Jason Chaffetz admitted to similar feelings towards jolly old St. Nicholas. Chris Christie complained of the lumps of coal in his Christmas pudding.

One stated, “Clearly, this is a political hatchet job by an overtly partisan foreign agent intent on destroying our constitution.” Governor Sarah Palin noted, “Santa has a long history of stalking and burglary. He has a comprehensive list of every child’s actions, and it is estimated he violates millions of American homes every year.” She went on to site his refusal to cooperate with DMVs across the country and his unlicensed sleigh.

Famed neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, highlighted another concern. “He is a known drug pusher. Children under his influence experience hallucinations of dancing sugar plum fairies. Mothers and fathers should be concerned about the negative influence Santa has on their children.  These dancing fairies highlight the role drugs play in advancing the homosexual agenda.”

The US Chamber of Commerce announced full support of Trump’s actions, their official statement noting that Santa has not contributed to any CC sponsored super PACs, or supported anti-union legislation. The Chamber allowed that as such time as Santa actively endorses the legislative agenda of Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, and the Platte Institute, they will reconsider his suspension. “Until that time,” they said, “we are confident that large retailers like Walmart will produce appropriate gifts at prices of excellent profit margin.”

Meanwhile, malls are encouraged to replace Santa with kiosks protesting Planned Parenthood. Letters to Santa should be replaced with contributions to support the Family Research Council, the Billy Graham Evangelist Association, and the 700 Club.

Pentagon officials refused to comment on the proposal of a northern wall. However, both the NRA and Minuteman militia officials expressed their enthusiasm. Governors in Nebraska, Texas, Utah, and Mississippi have initiated an open season for all reindeer during the month of December.

The President elect ended his speech with a final declaration: “Santa is not Patriotic. Nobody is as unamerican as he is.”

Santa was unavailable for comment.

Reporters Barrie Marchant and Daphne Higbee are special correspondents of the Marchant/Higbee FauxNews Service with a focus on political factoids and innuendo.

Pitch Wars: #pimpmybio

I’ll admit, Pitch Wars is new to me, and quite frankly, all the Twitter interaction is intimidating. Making friends has always come easily, but conversing via social media couldn’t be more awkward for me. Still, I won’t shirk from something that could only improve my writing.

Submission Manuscript:

Siphors is a YA superhero origin story where incredible powers aren’t enough to make a hero.

Fifteen-year-old Chandler O’Connor knows your pain, your anger, your insecurities. He can take it away or use it against you. But even the best intentions fail when it comes at the price of your humanity, and Chandler must decide what it means to be super-human.

This story began as a short work for a college class. I liked the premise so much that I expanded it into a novel and have rewritten it several times in my quest to find the right plot, age, and voice. Each time, my skills have grown, and now the elements feel just about perfect. My critique group recently provided feedback on the full manuscript, and I’m ready to polish those edits with the help of a Pitch Wars mentor.

About Me:

As a child, I wanted to be a fireman, an inventor, and a marine biologist. I grew up in libraries and savored my dad’s bedtime readings: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Mouse and the Motocycle, The Chronicles of Prydain, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and other classic children’s tales. Though, I didn’t like reading on my own until Animorphs, when I no longer saw the words and felt literally transported to a different world. It wasn’t until I read Ella Enchanted in sixth grade, that I knew I would be a fiction writer.

Since then I’ve dedicated myself to the art of writing. I enrolled in as many creative writing, and literature classes as I could during high school and college. I worked in libraries from college through last fall, when circumstances allowed me to write full-time. I’m the current president of the nonprofit organization, Utah Valley Writers, and take full advantage of the great critical minds that frequent the group.

I split my writing time with triathlon training, cooking (especially grilling), my husband, and religion. When not working or training, I dabble in other hobbies such as rock climbing, archery, fencing, and gardening. My not-so-secret desire is to become an American Ninja Warrior.

Non-comprehensive list of favorites as they come to mind:

  • Ella Enchanted
  • The Goose Girl and Enna Burning
  • Hollow Kingdom
  • The False Prince
  • The Rithmatist
  • Airman
  • The Lunar Chronicles
  • Ruby Red
  • Smile
  • El Deafo
  • The Way of Kings
  • Psych
  • Monk
  • Castle
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • NCIS
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch
  • Last Man Standing
  • Gilmore Girls (mostly seasons 1-2)
  • American Ninja Warrior
  • Chopped
  • Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan)
  • The Princess Bride
  • Ever After
  • Batman (the animated series, Christopher Nolan, and comics)
  • Superman (the animated series, and Man of Steel)
  • Spiderman (spectacular, 90’s animated, Tobey Maguire, and amazing)
  • Captain America (Chris Evans)
  • Zelda
  • Homemade pizza, burgers, Mexican, and Brazilian
  • Thai and Indian restaurants
  • Chocolate

First Launch Party

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Last night was my first launch party. I had wondered how a launch would go for an anthology, but now I’m wondering how it works for a novel. I loved sharing the night with the other authors of the anthology. We all read excerpts from our stories, and met and mingled with their friends and family. It was great.

Honestly, I was blown away with the quality of this anthology. It is perfectly professional, from the cover to the formatting. The stories are amazing, too. They’re well told and well written. (And I’m not saying that just because my story is in there.)

I am looking forward to the next launch party, whether it’s celebrating another short story, or my novel.

Anthology Release

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Cool cover, right? Of course, the most exciting part for me is that my name is on it. Lab Rats won third place in the 2015 UAA short story contest, flash fiction category. It went through a series of edits afterward and on April 28, 2016, it will be officially published.

I’ve had a chance to read the other stories and I have to say I’m impressed. They’re all pretty awesome. The Patent Man, by Michelle Stoddard, is one of my favorite short stories. It drew me in from the first scene and held fast until long after I’d finished reading.

The anthology’s cover is inspired by Michael Darling’s The Mark, which is also a great read. It offers an enticing glimpse into the world of his novel, Got Luck. Hayley Hess-Beaumont’s Treacherous is a super fun Sci-Fi Western. I could go on about the others such as Murdering a Dead Man by Laura Henriksen, and The Extremities of Love by Jerry Timothy.

The whole experience from writing the flash fic, to winning third, to publication has been a rush. For the first time, I had editors and it was amazing. It’s got me chomping at the bits to submit Siphors. I have to remind myself it’s not ready yet, but soon it will be. Meanwhile, I will continue submitting short stories and hopefully repeat this experience.

Utah Valley Writers

Oakley, UT overviewUtah Valley Writers is the local chapter of the United Authors Association. Before I found them, I had a small writing group. We did the best we could in helping each other, but we floundered in some ways. The group disintegrated eventually, and I knew I needed a new writing family.

Since joining UVW, my writing has improved immensely. I’ve made new friends, learned from experienced authors, and served the community. I really can’t say enough about Utah Valley Writers.

Last year, a few talented members of UVW started a new organization that sought to expand the pattern and goals of UVW to outside of the valley. This organization is called the United Authors Association (the UAA). As membership in UVW increases, more chapters of UAA will naturally evolve. I’m excited to see more writers join us in developing their writing/publishing skills and then give back.