Friday, March 18, 2011

Interview and book win with Jennifer Cervantes

We’re going to finish out March with two more great interviews. Our second to last is the wonderful JENNIFER CERVANTES, debut author of Tortilla Sun. TS is the story of “12 year old Izzy Roybal who is sent to spend the summer in her nana's New Mexico village where she is soon caught up in the foreign world of her own culture, from patron saints and soulful food to the curious and magical blessings Nana gives her tortillas”.

Q1: First off, my burning question to everyone published is at what point in the long road to publication did you actually think you could succeed, that you could make it into print?
A1: That’s a great question and one that is sometimes hard for me to answer since my journey felt so sequential and even serendipitous. But here goes. When I began to write TORTILLA SUN, my only goal was to finish it; I had to see what happened to the characters. And then when I did finish it, I celebrated and felt like I’d accomplished something that felt so big. And anyone who writes an entire ms knows what I’m talking about. It is a true labor love. Then after I finished the manuscript, some crit partners encouraged me to really try to get it published. So I went the long route of finding an agent and when I did, I think that was the point when I thought, Wow, this could really happen.

Q2: Was there ever a point when it was the opposite, where you thought you couldn’t succeed in getting published? Dare to share the story?
A2: I think I was such a neophyte, and so amazingly naïve about the publishing world, that I didn’t know to even think about not getting it published. Sometimes I wish I could go back there.

Q3: Now for the hardest question yet: many of my blog readers are moms or are working full-time outside of writing. Can you give us some advice on how you manage to keep up this writing gig and mother kids to boot?
A3: I think all women have to deal with this idea of balance. For me, I succeed on most days and fail on others. There is never enough time in the day to do everything I want to do and to do it well. But, I have learned to be kinder to myself on those days that I don’t quite balance all the components of my life as well as I’d like to. Keeping a schedule and lists really helps. But carving out time for your writing is critical. Sometimes you have to shut the door and post a “keep out” sign.

Q4. How has an online presence helped you become published or promote your book?
A4: For me, I don’t think it helped me get published since I didn’t even have an active presence at the time TS was sold. Now I use my website to connect with readers which is so important to me. Also, visiting with bloggers has been a wonderful way to reach out to potential readers and let them know about TS and my journey as a writer. And I love Twitter and Facebook to stay connected to my writer friends, readers, and the publishing industry as a whole.

Q5. Having been born in a small New Mexico town myself, I’m hungry to see more books about this area. Have any others in the works? If not, care to share any new projects you are working on?
A5: Yeah for a native of the Land of Enchantment! I don’t have any works in progress that are set in NM, but you never know. I just finished an MG manuscript titled MAX OF THIEVES which is about a boy named Max, (who is born to a long line of thieves) the Day of the Dead, a curse, magic, and family. And am now working simultaneously on two projects—one light and fun; the other is creepy and cool.

Q6: And final question (a writerly one): long-winded first drafter or a skeleton sketcher?
A6: In the beginning of a project-skeleton sketcher! And then I can definitely get long-winded.

Thank you so much, Jennifer! Max of Thieves sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to hear more about this one. In the meantime, to learn about Jen and Tortilla Sun, check out her adorable website.

For a chance to win a copy of Tortilla Sun, just leave a comment and be a follower. The chance to win will be open until Thursday, March 24th @ 8 pm MST. The winner will be announced Friday, March 25th, when we’ll have our LAST author interview and giveaway. Then I’ll be back to a regular blogging schedule. :o)

And as for last week’s winner….

The Liar Society goes to: Myrna Foster. Congratulations, Myrna! Please email me your snail mail address and I’ll get the book to you.


  1. Wow, wonderful interview! I'm so glad to learn more about Jennifer and Tortilla Sun. This book sounds amazing, with elements I love to see in middle grade--culture, a hint of magical realism, and FOOD. I will definitely be buying this book if I'm not lucky enough to win. And Max of Thieves sounds fantasic too (I love reading about the Day of the Dead, and a mystery surrounding it sounds so intriguing).

    Thanks to both of you ladies!

  2. hi miss jackee and miss jennifer! wow cool interview. that tortilla book sounds real neat. mostly i dont like girly books but maybe its not so girly. but for sure that max of thieves is gonna be one i could wanna read just the very minute its gets out. :)
    ...hugs from lenny

  3. Great interview! Jennifer sounds like a lovely person. I have to agree with Lenny: I think I would enjoy Tortilla Sun, but Max of Thieves sounds awesome!

  4. Lovely insight on balancing real life and writing from the fab Ms Cervantes!!!! Thanks Jackee for a really useful author interview!! Take care

  5. Very nice interview. Thanks to both of you! I'm adding this book to my list ... I was just thinking I needed another another middle-grade to read and this one sounds great.

  6. Thank you, Jackee! I'm excited to read Liar Society.

    Max of Thieves sounds even better than Tortilla Sun. Thanks for the interview!

  7. Enjoyed this interview with Jennifer. Tortilla Sun really appeals and I'd love to read it. I'm also looking forward to Max of Thieves. I'm glad she was interviewed here as it introduced me to Winded Words.

  8. Congrats to Myrna! :)

    I love stories that help me learn new cultures as well as new characters - sounds like a terrific book.

  9. Hi Jackee! You asked really great questions. I smiled when Jennifer said she was too "naive" to get discouraged about the long road to publication! Lol I wish I didn't know, either :)

  10. Good interview! I have a copy of Tortilla Sun (so am not looking to win a copy), and it was a great read. Something that lingers in the mind afterwards.

  11. Myrna won Liar? Congratulations, Myrna! Lucky duck! :)

    This book looks so good. I'd be thrilled to win a copy. Great interview, too.

    Thanks, ladies!


  12. Great interview. As a former New Mexican (lived there 33 years), I am definitely excited to read Tortilla Sun!

    Well done.


  13. Great interview - it sounds like the road to publication many authors dream of!

    And congrats to Myrna!

  14. Hi Jackee!
    Thanks so much for a fun interview and thanks to your readers for taking the time to comment. I wish everyone luck in winning a copy :)

  15. Great interview! I would love to read this book. Will be putting on my TBR list for sure!

  16. The book looks so great! Awesome interview! =)

  17. Congratulations to Myrna. And I'd love to be entered in this contest!

  18. For mothers, it's all about balance. I agree!

    I'm a skeleton sketcher too!

    Great interview. I like to hear other writers' journeys.