Alisa Valdes

Writer. Producer. Human.

This One Word Ruins Lives. How Often Are You Using It?


Lately, I’ve been channeling my inner teenager, messing around WAY too much with a hair color app on my phone. Why? Because I’m curious about what I’d look like with the bright hair colors so many young women are sporting these days. I flippin’ love the “suicide girl” look, and if I could hack 20 years off myself, I would go full Cosplay Mamita in the blink of a Katie Perry strip-lashed eye.

But as a woman of 48 – a mother, no less! – I am told by society that I should not use silly hair color apps, or wish for bright blue hair and sexy tattoos. But the truth is, I love both these things, even if I “shouldn’t”…and I’m having a blast with it all. So, seriously, just stfu.

This brings me to the point of today’s post: The word SHOULD sucks, and it’s ruining your life.

The world SHOULD has far too much power over us, in the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and others, and in the stories others tell about us that we accept. No other word brings about more needless shame and suffering than SHOULD, which is only invoked for these purposes.

Most women I know are SHOULD ADDICTS. They walk around should-ing all over themselves, all the time. You can see their shoulders droop a little with each utterance of the blasted word, until they’re as wilted as Charlie Rose on a bender.

How about you, my love? How often do you should yourself? I really shouldn’t eat that. I should call my (abusive) dad just to see how he’s doing. I should just be quiet. I shouldn’t say what I really think, they might not like me. I should be thinner. I shouldn’t wear that. I hate my boss but I should just stay in this job because I probably can’t find anything better. I shouldn’t love him. I should clean my bathroom instead of reading this blog post…

Dios mio. Women use “should” when we want something, but don’t feel entitled to have it. Usually, the thing we want is perfectly reasonable, but we are worried about how other people will judge us for thinking we deserve it.

My challenge for all of you today is this: I want you to think about how you THINK and what you SAY, and right now, right this second, weed your personal narrative of the word SHOULD. Pull it out. Throw it into the linguistic compost pile. Get effing rid of it, like a used tampon. Quit worrying about the judgements of others, and, most of all, quit judging yourself. Let it go. Embrace who you are, what you want and what you enjoy, with no apologies.

Cut that should out, girl.

Throw that SHOULD away. Replace it with empowering language instead. Let “I shouldn’t eat these glazed donuts” become, instead, “I’m eating donuts, and they’re delicious,” or “I’d like to eat these glazed donuts, but I won’t because I am making myself healthy” or “I don’t eat anymore.”

I’m not telling you WHAT choice to make. Okay? I’m not saying eat donuts or don’t. Eat what you want.

I’m saying stop judging yourself through the words you choose to tell your story, no matter what choices you make.

Make the choices that feel right to you, and own them. Don’t change who  you are; change the vocabulary you use to describe your choices – and that will AUTOMATICALLY change who you are, for the better. You’ll feel lighter, better, happier and more empowered, and, really, what’s more wonderful than that?

Did you find this post helpful? Would you like to learn more about how changing your own narrative can change your life for the better? Click here to learn about my SUCIA Empowerment Weekends, coming to a city near you! I’ve helped thousands of women change their lives for the better by learning how to tell better stories about themselves, to themselves, and I can’t wait to help you! Already know you want to attend? Click here to request your application!

If Topaz Could Talk


(My beloved dog Topaz is about four million years old. No one’s sure just how old, but probably around 18. This is how I imagine her morning monologue goes.)


I’m on the floor. Next to the wall. This is a bed, supposedly. But look at it. Thin and really, just not good. That’s a real bed, right there.

The queen is still asleep in it. How I love her.

James, though. He’s up there. On the bed. He should know dogs aren’t allowed on the bed. I hate him. He is very bad. Very bad. Bad, bad dog.

The queen tries to make me go up there sometimes. She says “Up! Topaz, Up!” I go but I hate it. I feel guilty. See, I learned a long time ago, from someone else. No dogs on the bed! Bad things happen, very bad things.

Dogs, no.

And that James. He is a terrible dog. Just terrible. His tail is too long and he only wags it when he’s mad. The noise he makes isn’t even a dog noise. It’s like he’s dying. Mrwreowr. Whatever!

And those birds he brings home. And mice.

No dog eats mice.

Look how he’s staring at me. Smug, stupid, tiny dog with triangle ears. I think I’ll kill him. Or maybe I’ll just yelp a little and start to whine.

Oh, that did it. The queen is up.

“Shut up, please,” she tells me. She puts the little dog bed over her head.

James stares at me. Contempt. It goes both ways. I hate him.

Maybe today is the day he will die.

STARZ CEO Chris Albrecht Announces the Network is Developing My Novel for Series



Two days ago, at a press conference in Beverly Hills, Chris Albrecht, the CEO of the STARZ network, announced to the entire world that his company is developing my novel THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB for a half-hour TV series. Of course, I’d known this for a while, but had not been able to talk about it because we were all awaiting the official announcement. Now, it’s here! Hurray!

The half-hour series will be fun, sexy and smart, focused on the intertwined lives of six diverse women friends in New York City.

I am thrilled. Like beyond thrilled. I could not have asked for a better team than the one STARZ has put together. Anne Thomopolous and Lucia Cottone are Co Executive Producers. Ligiah Villalobos is the showrunner, Co Executive Producer and head writer. I get to tag along as another Co Executive Producer and paid consultant. We will also have Robin Shushan on board as a writer for the show. From the get-go I have been incredibly impressed by the intelligence, compassion and insight demonstrated by the executives I’ve met with at Starz, including Marta Fernandez and Carmi Zlotnik. Even though we are still very early in the development stages, I do feel pretty confident about this show eventually getting made, just because the assembled talent and experience is too incredible for it not to.

It has been a surreal week. There are a few days that stand out in my mind as being formative, careerwise, and this is on that short list. My first staff writing job for a newspaper felt a little like this, as did the day I found out I’d sold my first novel to a major publishing house. I am just so so SO happy that Starz gets my material, my voice, my message of empowered and authentic Latina experiences.

I will keep y’all updated as development and, hopefully, production progresses. Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have here, in the comments section.

A big thank-you to Starz for their support. This is going to be SO MUCH FUN!

3 Times the Adaptation Was (Way) Better Than the (Chick Lit) Book


If you’re an author with aspirations of seeing your work adapted for film or TV, people love to look at you like you’re a sad puppy. “Oh, but movies are never as good as the book,” they say. But is that really true? Happily, no. There are many cases of exactly the reverse, from Jaws to the entire James Bond assembly. I can think of at least three times in recent history that the screen adaptations of books in my own genre, “commercial women’s fiction,” were significantly better than the books they were derived from.


The 2003 novel, by Lauren Weisberger, was unreadable for me – bloated with passive voice, scarred on every page by cliches. The story beneath the awful writing, however, was good. This happens, sometimes. Good story, atrocious writing. Actually, it happens…a lot. The adaptation by screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna unraveled Weisberher’s threads, and stitched a great film. Add excellent performances by Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, and you get a movie exponentially better than its source material.




Though more readable than THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, the 1996 novel BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY by Helen Fielding is still a clumsy hunk of prose. The film adaptation, co-written by the author and screenwriters Andrew Davies and Richard Curtis, creates more tension and higher stakes than the book, and an agile performance by Renee Zellweger (it earned her an Oscar nomination) makes the movie soar miles above the book.


Even though NPR, the NY Times and most other guilty-white-liberal media loved the 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett, I found the “black” voices to be annoyingly stereotypical in that golly-gee-whiz-we-pity-the-coloreds white-privilegey way. All I saw in that book was Stockett, being “generous” to the poor, poor, unidimensional negrahs, who fit Spike Lee’s brilliant “magical negro” paradigm like a dainty white hand in a lacy lady’s glove. The film, however, transcended that claptrap almost entirely because of a defiantly human performance by Viola Davis, who won the Oscar for it. Davis elevated her character beyond the pitiable paper cutout Stockett created, and made her fully a person.

DGSC Saturday Recipe – Spicy Miami Lemonade Cocktail


20130105_200106This cocktail recipe comes to us courtesy of the spirit of Sara Behar-Asis, my Jewish Cuban character from Miami, in my novel THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB. This is part of a DGSC Cookbook I’m writing. Try it and let me know what you think! Sara is a wealthy socialite, with a knack for entertaining. In later books, she is good enough at it to make a living at it as a host of her own TV show, Casas Americanas, featuring design, cooking, etc – just think of her as the Latina Martha Stewart, complete with a blonde bob and button-down shirts. I came up with this recipe in January, and even though the drink is iced it still has a bit of wintery bite to it, thanks to the herbs and honey. It reminded me a little of the concoction my own Cuban dad used to give me whenever I had a cough or cold as a child — a spoonful of rum, lemon juice and honey. – Alisa



  • 4 cups of water, divided
  • 1/4 cup of fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 tablespoon anise seed
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • ice
  • 4 shots of light rum

Boil two of the cups of water. Place the rosemary, ginger, anise seed and honey into a glass mixing bowl. Pour the boiling water over the herbs and honey in the bowl, let steep for 30 minutes. Strain. Add the additional 2 cups of water plus the lemon juice to the liquid. Pour into glasses filled to the top with ice. Add 2 shots of rum to each glass. Put a thick sprig of rosemary into each glass as a stirrer. Enjoy!

Makes about three drinks.