Enough Germany Bashing Already

World Cup 2014 Winner Germany 1 300x173 Enough Germany Bashing Already

In the wake of Germany’s World Cup win yesterday, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been littered with the anti-German musings of “friends” who likely consider themselves to be progressive humanitarians and oh-so-funny.

One such friend, watching the game, continuously referred to the Germans as “Nazis,” just as he’d done to the Dutch a week before.

The sad truth of the matter is this: Among many liberal Americans, it is not only still okay to bash Germans, it’s considered hip and hilarious. Why? Because of Hitler and the holocaust, of course. Because of lingering stereotypes of Germans as evil. Because Hollywood loves to portray the worst of the “bad guys” as Germans, often with eye patches and limps, and most Americans have no idea what contemporary Germany is like at all.

This is not okay, America. This is not funny, progressives.

Many of those bashing the Germans on my social media feeds are prominent Latino comedians and artists. To them, I ask: How can you even begin to hope for social justice for “your own” people when you are guilty of the same dehumanizing stereotyping that impacts all of us, against Germans? Do you not understand that stereotyping is exactly how prejudice and racism flourish?

Yes, Germany has a painful, ugly history that involved fascism and genocide. No country is perhaps more acutely aware of this, and ashamed of it, and working hard to move beyond it, than modern Germany. That so many Americans can sit in judgment of these crimes, when our own nation was founded on the same atrocities, is mind-boggling. All of the colonized nations of the Americas share a similar history – it just happens to have taken place four hundred years ago. All over the world, people have been doing hideous shit to each other. Germany does not have a lock on this.

Today’s Germany has a much better record on human rights, press freedoms, environmentalism, health care and social justice than our own nation. So, enough with the Germany bashing. Enough with the invention of a demonic “other”. Stop with the stereotypes.

Congratulations on your win, Germany.

Google Exec Killed by Prosititute He Hired Online

article 2685918 1F81EC4200000578 173 306x423 217x300 Google Exec Killed by Prosititute He Hired Online Mike, Alex and I have been watching the wonderful scripted series “Mr. Selfridge” on Amazon Prime. The show is a fictional presentation of a real-life man, Harry Selfridge, an American entrepreneur who took London by storm with his energetic, modern and, at the time, controversial ideas about how department stores ought to look and run.

We love it for all the usual reasons we love TV shows when we love them – great writing, great acting, great directing. One of the things I most enjoy about the show is its portrayal of the restrained “civility” of proper English society in the early 20th century, and the way the writers balance each character’s carefully controlled (fake) public persona against their true, darker selves – the selves they let no one but those closest to them see.

The lead character, Mr. Selfridge, brilliantly and bombastically portrayed by Jeremy Piven, is deeply conflicted – a bright and loving family man and visionary businessman who has problems with drinking, gambling, and showgirls.

When I saw the headline in the news today about a much respected, high-ranking Google executive who was killed on a yacht by the hooker who’d injected him with a lethal dose of heroin, I realized that we haven’t really come that far as a society, in reconciling the public and private self. I realized, frankly, that the world is still filled with modern-day Mr. Selfridges about whom few of us know anything at all, even though they are prominent citizens.

In public, the man described by USA Today as an “extremely successful Google exec,” Forest Timothy Hayes, 51, was a “practical” business executive, married for 17 years and the devoted father of five children. But in private, he was trolling websites for prostitutes he could do drugs and whatever else with – not unlike Mr. Selfridge.

As a novelist, I traffic in the complexities of the human psyche and would be out of business without them. But as a human being, I wonder how much I truly know about the people who populate my daily life – and whether I’d want to know everything if I could. I don’t think I would. Would you?

Top Three Reasons All Americans Should Read Latino Authors

It is not unusual in the United States to hear of Latino authors being referred to as “niche” writers – you know, writers whose writing is supposedly only suitable to other Latinos. While it is certainly true that Latino authors have an ability to speak in a specific and direct way to many Latino readers, it is also true that great Latino authors, like all great authors, should be read far and wide, by all readers interested in great storytelling. Here are the top three reasons everyone in the United States should be reading Latino authors.

1. A CULTURE OF FUN, COMEDIC STORYTELLING

While most cultures around the world have some form of traditional storytelling, certain cultures stand out for their decided emphasis upon the craft. Irish culture, for instance, is known for its love of humorous wordplay and symbolic storytelling. In Latin America, there is also a vibrant and widespread devotion to comedic story as a means to pass down values. The incredibly complex and often hilarious written ancient Mayan language of Mexico and Central America, only recently decoded, is a testament to the genius of Latin America’s inspired and fun use of symbols to tell stories, while in Cuba symbolic parables and jokes have risen up as the only safe way to express dissent against a repressive government, much in the same way Africans forced into slavery throughout Latin America hid their own pantheon of Gods behind the faces of Catholic Saints, whether in Brazil or the Puerto Rico. Latinos use humor to survive, to thrive. Latin America has a rich history of telling captivating, capricious stories not just for entertainment, but for social justice and change, as well as preservation of cultures. Many of us Latino authors writing in English in the United States bring a comedic, empowering Latino sensibility to our tales, whether we speak Spanish or not and whether we’ve ever been south of the US border. Suggested authors in this vein: Junot Diaz, Rudolfo Anaya, Sandra Cisneros, Matt de la Pena, Julie Leto, Caridad Ferrer, Marta Acosta, Gaby Triana.

2. THERE ARE MORE OF US IN THE UNITED STATES THAN THERE ARE CANADIANS IN CANADA

With Latinos numbers nearly 60 million people in the United States, we are the nation’s “largest minority,” in spite of that phrase being somewhat oxymoronic and potential plain old moronic. We are your coworkers, neighbors, friends and family. Most of us speak English, and many of us also speak Spanish, meaning we are your bridge to the rest of your hemisphere. Our stories are your stories. We invented rodeo and cowboys. We’ve been here a long time. We are so much more than you might realize if all you knew of us was what you saw on TV or in Hollywood movies. You won’t find the true Latino story in those places; you’ll find it in books, and you might be surprised to realize that our stories are happening in your nation, your state, your town, your neighborhood. Suggested authors in this vein: Esmeralda Santiago, Carolina Garcia-Aguilar, Julia Alvarez, Reyna Grande, Johnny Diaz, Sofia Quintero, Joy Castro, Des Zamorano.

3. WE WRITE BESTSELLERS ABOUT EVERYTHING

Some of the top authors working in popular fiction are Latinos, and they are every bit as good as any other authors working in the highly competitive genres of romance, erotica, suspense, mystery, thrillers and more. Even if you aren’t particularly interested in Latino themes in literature, you will find great universal stories being spun by Latino authors. Suggested authors in this vein: Daniel Silva, Diana Gabaldon, Linda Castillo, E.L. James, Michelle Martinez, Marisa de los Santos.

Entertainment Weekly Names Me One of the Five Top Authors to Follow on Twitter

twitter logo Entertainment Weekly Names Me One of the Five Top Authors to Follow on Twitter

I admit it. I love Twitter. I love it the same way I loved writing Haiku in high school.

And as of today, that love is paying off.

Entertainment Weekly just named me one of the five top authors to follow on Twitter, “if you’re over John Green and miss Maya Angelou.” When I first heard they’d put me on the list, I was flabbergasted. I’m in the company of giants there, and am deeply grateful to EW for including me alongside Paulo Coehlo, Ruth Reichl, Teju Cole, and Bryan Lee O’Malley.

No one will ever fill Maya Angelou’s shoes.

Ever.

But the older I get, the more strive to inspire and provoke positive thought, just as she did, through everything I write, including tweets.

Now, let’s see if Oprah will finally pick up one of my books! icon wink Entertainment Weekly Names Me One of the Five Top Authors to Follow on Twitter Yeah, probably not.

Who are some of YOUR favorite authors to follow on Twitter?

Writing In a Journal Fosters Emotional and Physical Health

 

5 Writing In a Journal Fosters Emotional and Physical Health

When I was a teenager, I used to write everything down in a journal. It helped me to feel better about life. There, I could analyze what was going on around me, affirm my own perceptions, set goals and remind myself to work toward them.

Turns out, I wasn’t just imagining the benefits my journal brought me. Research out of Southern Methodist University shows that writing in a journal for 15 minutes a day leads to measurable and dramatic improvements in a person’s mental and physical health.

Journaling, it turns out, isn’t just self indulgence or quaint; it’s one of the greatest tools we can give human beings to improve their lives. Some psychologist are even saying that posting selfies and updates to social media can have a similar positive effect on people’s sense of control over their own lives.

Have you written in your journal today?

Girls’ Night In

big girlsnightin Girls Night InGirls’ Night In (featuring Alisa Valdes)
ISBN-13: 978-0373895397

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The USA Today bestselling collection from 21 of the hottest female writers around

In this must-have short-story anthology, Jennifer Weiner revisits one of her Good in Bed characters (and tells the story from, ahem, his point of view), Jill A. Davis (Girls’ Poker Night) offers a darkly humorous take on starting over in New York and working with “the Elizabeths,” Sarah Miynowski (Milkrun) tempts fate (and an on-again-off-again boyfriend) and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez (The Dirty Girls Social Club) considers how different the words lady and woman are when paired with cat. Girls’ Night In features stories about growing up, growing out of, moving out, moving on, falling apart and getting it all together. So turn off your cell phone and curl up on the couch; this is one Girls’ Night In you won’t want to miss.

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Girls’ Night Out

big girlsnightout Girls Night OutGirls’ Night Out (featuring Alisa Valdes)
ISBN-13: 978-0373895793

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25 stories from the hottest female writers on the scene

Too tired to doll up and head out for a night on the town? (It happens to the best of us.) Just dip into this year’s must-read collection for a Girls’ Night Out to remember and indulge in tales of reunions and weddings, sisters and friends, endings and beginnings . . . No waiting in line, no wardrobe malfunctions, no jockeying for position as you try to catch the bartender’s eye. With a lineup of fantastic writers like Meg Cabot (The Boy Next Door), Emily Giffin (Something Borrowed), Kristin Gore (Sammy’s Hill0, Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus (The Nanny Diaries), Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez (The Dirty Girls Social Club) and Lolly Winston (Good Grief), you’ll be hanging with the VIPS all night long!

Net proceeds to benefit War Child and No Strings

Other fabulous writers featured: Jessica Adams, Cecelia Ahern, Maggie Alderson, Tilly Bagshawe, Elizabeth Buchan, Laura Caldwell, Lynda Curnyn, Kathleen DeMarco, Nicki Earls, Imogen Edwards-Jones, Robyn Harding, Lauren Henderson, Marian Keyes, Chris Manby, Carole Matthews, Anna Maxted, Lynn Messina, Sarah Mlynowski, Pamela Ribon.

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Maybe Baby

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ISBN-10: 0060737824

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To breed or not to breed? That is the question twenty-eight accomplished writers ponder in this collection of provocative, honest, soul-searching essays. Based on a popular series at Salon.com, Maybe Baby offers both frank and nuanced opinions from a wide range of viewpoints on parenting choices, both alternative and traditional.

Yes: “I’ve been granted access to a new plane of existence, one I could not have imagined, and would not now live without.” —Peter Nichols

No: “I can sort of see that it might be nice to have children, but there are a thousand things I’d rather spend my time doing than raise them.” —Michelle Goldberg

Maybe: “As we both slip into our mid-thirties, my own personal daddy dilemma has quietly taken on an urgency that I frankly didn’t expect.” —Larry Smith

From infertility to adoption, from ambivalence to baby lust, Maybe Baby brings together the full force of opinions about this national, but also intensely personal, debate.

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Lauren’s Very Dirty Chapter

big laurensverydirtychapter Laurens Very Dirty ChapterLauren’s Very Dirty Chapter
ASIN: B007TBBUXE

icon kindle Laurens Very Dirty Chapter

The X-rated final chapter of book 3 in the series The Dirty Girls Social Club. This chapter was kept separate from the main book, Lauren’s Saints of Dirty Faith, because of its X rating, in order to allow readers to choose whether or not to read it.

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Billy, the Man

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ISBN-68-123456789101

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In this short, steamy romance, Megan Garcia returns to New Mexico from Texas, to be with Mama Bryant, the loving and now dying ranch-owner who raised her as one of her own, when she was orphaned. Heartbroken by Mama’s illness, Megan finds herself still secretly in love with Billy, Mama’s only son, who was 16 when Megan moved in with them at age 9 — only now they’re both grown up, and Billy, still every bit the sexy bad boy he always was, isn’t ignoring her anymore.

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Better Lover Than a Husband

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ASIN: B00BPEY53I

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The second installment in Valdes’ monthly ebook “novelita” erotica series explores infidelity, art, and passion. Barton Chavez has been good all his life. He’s been a good son, a good husband, a good Catholic and a good member of his Santa Fe, New Mexico, community. But where has being good gotten him? A career lived for his mother. A marriage to a cheating wife with whom he has nothing in common. Being good has led Barton to loneliness and sorrow. That’s all about to change, when fiery, passionate Jane, a Chicana painter, enters his life — and asks to enter his bed.

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The Dirty Girls Social Club

big dirtygirlssocialclub The Dirty Girls Social ClubThe Dirty Girls Social Club
ISBN-13: 978-0312989248

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Meet the six unforgettable women who make up… The Dirty Girls Social Club

Lauren, the “caliente” columnist for the local Boston paper whose love life is making headlines… Sara, the perfect wife and mother who’s got it all but pays a high price… Elizabeth, the stunning black Latina whose TV anchor job conflicts with her intensely private personal life… Amber, the Valley girl who doesn’t speak Spanish but is fast becoming a huge rock star en Espanol… Rebecca, hyper-in-command in her glossy magazine world but clueless when it comes to men…and Usnavys, fabulous, larger than life, and at risk of falling head over five-inch Manolos in love….

No matter what happens to each of them, the Girls dish, dine, whine, and compare notes as they try to sort out the bumpy course of life and love. And what a wild ride it is!

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Dirty Girls On Top

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ISBN-10: 0312349815

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The Dirty Girls are back, saucier and sexier than ever….but are they any wiser?

Lauren is at the top of her game as a newspaper columnist—but her romantic life is a total disaster.  Usnavys is still ready for action—from anyone except her husband Juan, that is—his role as stay-at-home dad bores her.

Maybe the other Dirty Girls could help Lauren and ‘navy out, but they’ve got their own messes to deal with: Rebecca hasn’t gained a pound since college (well, who would, if they had an ounce of self-control?) but now that she has a picture-perfect marriage, all that’s missing is a baby; Sara may be the star of her own decorating show on TV, but her dangerous pull toward her ex-husband isn’t so pretty;  Amber keeps reinventing herself and doesn’t want to hear that it isn’t enough to make fans buy her music; and Elizabeth is discovering that a relationship with another woman takes more than bravery and a nesting instinct.

Dirty Girls on Top is about trying to figure it all out—sex, love, careers, friendship, motherhood. And, in the end, if your fingers are crossed and the planets are in alignment, having it come out just the way it should.

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Playing With Boys

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ISBN-10: 0312332351

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It’s a jungle out there–in Los Angeles, that is, where the tangle of freeways and ingrained insincerity can make a girl feel very alone, no matter how fabulous the weather or how cute the clothes at the South Coast Plaza mall. With very different styles and attitudes, Marcella, Olivia, and Alexis are trying to crack the code in L.A, trying to snare love and success. But first they have to come together–to make their marks and plan the fun they’re going to have along the way.

Marcella is a hot, sharp young television actress who’s barely able to enjoy the life she’s bought for herself and certainly isn’t enjoying her body, which is never quite perfect enough. Olivia, whose life revolves around her toddler son, Jack, is tethered to her suburban mommy track so tightly she can almost forget the horrible thing that happened to her family when she was a child herself. Alexis is a musicians’ manager with a smart mouth, an ample body, and loads of style but barely enough self-esteem to fill a Prada card case. And the boys in their lives? Marcella’s had about enough of them throwing themselves at her; Olivia’s boy is her son; and Alexis is still searching, not for a boy this time, but for a man.

Playing with Boys is a savvy novel with charm, style, and heart to spare.

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