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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Poetry, Australia and John Holland

Dear friends,

I introduce to you all my first guest blogger and author: John Holland from the beautiful Australia!  As you all know, I love to highlight beautiful places and wonderful people. 

John Holland grew up in outback Australia. Living on cattle stations (ranches) his father Jack Holland managed in Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Kimberley.

He has been a stockman (cowboy), miner, road worker, speech writer/media officer for a Queensland state member of parliament and a newspaper columnist.

John now lives in Townsville, tropical North Queensland and writes full time.

His writing credits include:

Dry Bones (Stonesthrow Poetry) :

Under The Dog Star (Hammer & Anvil Books):

His work has also appeared in the anthologies:

Ink Angels (Allpoetry)
Found Patrick (Regina Sokas)
Rawahi (Lazarus Media)

His work has also appeared in the poetry magazines:

Danse Macabre
Mystical Muse
Spontaneous Spirits
The Mozzie and many others.

Presently working as a co-author with Californian author Nia Simone on a novel set in Australia and America. 

I look forward to sharing some of his amazing poetry sometime :-)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Year: New You

New Year: New You! It's a tradition, as the year ends, we make new resolutions.  Mine is to lead a positive life and to live life to the fullest. As many of you know, I was born in Nicaragua during times of war and survived not only to tell a story but to also serve as testimony that life is beautiful and it's ultimately whatever WE make of it. Throughout the years, I've learned that successful people (spiritually and financially) tend to share the following skills: 
1. Adapt: learn to adapt. Life isn't always what we think it is. Do as Bruce Lee once advised, "become water."
2. Persist: if you don't pursue your own goals, then who will? Never, ever give up for a good cause. But don't confuse giving up with taking a step back, sometimes the view is better from a distance.
3. Reinvent yourself as necessary. In our new world, nothing is truly organic and that includes us and our dreams. Sometimes, it is necessary to run a data analysis on our own selves and reinvent our skills, goals and dreams.
4. Dream to Achieve: Author Joseph Gutiz describes dreaming as a skill.  A skill to keep you motivated, to keep you focused and energized. Dreaming is vitamin to our souls.
5. Balance: a life well-lived is well-balanced. What's the point of achieving, if you're not enjoying? There's a time for everything: for crying, for laughing, for living.  Learn to live!
6. Forgive but don't forget: Learning to sincerely forgive is therapeutic. Not forgetting ensures you don't make the same mistake twice!
7. Only compete if you're an olympian! In other words, let others do their own thing and don't overdo yourself in trying to keep up.  Their dreams are theirs.  Your dreams are yours. However, unity is a nice recipe for success. 
8. Keep only the positive, discard the negative.
9. Prioritize. In my hierarchy of needs: God and family come first, the rest I leave to destiny and determination.
10. Love yourself. You are beautiful and unique. Your happiness and confidence will radiate to others.
11. Stay Healthy: Health overrides all of the above. Happiness begins within. Diminish stress for it doesn't help you with anything. Eat healthy, take walks and see the world...who knows, you might discover new and exciting new venues ;-) Live every moment as if it were your last.
Overall success is defined by how well we learn to adapt, by how well we forgive and how persistent we become at NEVER GIVING UP! With that being said, we must learn to enjoy and accept what we have and pursue what we desire diligently.  Happy New YOU!

Saturday, October 5, 2013


The irony of life: a game of chess guided by predictions, choices--the element of time.  What makes us interesting beings is the ability to go through life unnoticed, to blend amongst the ordinary and the grand, and to camouflage a past to where no one can tell it ever existed. But at the end, we return to who we once were and still are--keepers of memories.--Ileana Araguti

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Upcoming Book Reading and Signing

Dear friends,

I will be reading and signing SHATTERED PARADISE at the beautiful Upstart Crow Bookstore and Coffee House on August 8th, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Hope to see you there :-)

Upstart Crow Bookstore and Coffee House
835C West Harbor Drive, Seaport Village
San Diego,CA 92101. 619-232-4855

Monday, June 10, 2013

Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child

                                                                                        Now Available at Amazon! Click on the cover!

“Wonderfully evokes Nicaragua’s enchanting beauty and the enormity of its loss.”—Kirkus Reviews

"Descriptive and compelling, Shattered Paradise brings the reader to this magical land, its folkloric culture and its diminishing wildlife." Maria Beltran, Readers' Favorite

WHEN  I LEFT NICARAGUA, I swore never to return. Twenty-four years have passed since I left my native land. “Someday, you will return,” Mama once said.  Her words were prophetic. Twenty-four years later, I found myself alongside Mama boarding an airplane to Managua, Nicaragua, and by sunrise I fell asleep. In my dream, I saw a little girl. She hopped over colorful frogs in the lush Nicaraguan rain forest. Howler monkeys swung from vines as the melody in my headphones rebounded off their cries—scattering leaves.  “Fasten your seat belt,” a gentle voice interrupted as we arrived to the land of my dreams. 

My hazed eyes turned to the window as if expecting to see what I’ve dreamt. Instead I saw volcanoes, remnants of the 1972 earthquake and a land, which appeared as viewed from a map: triangular, verdant, cooled by the Pacific Ocean and cradled by the waters of the Caribbean Sea. “We’re here!” announced Mama as we exited directly to the outdoors of the airport. The heat and the humidity of Managua seemed worse than when I left the country and my silk dress became one with my skin.  As we traveled away in an air-conditioned shuttle, I saw beautiful landscapes, murals painted with faces of heroes and graffiti that read “Patria Libre—Free Nation.” The streets were different from my new homeland; they lacked signs and names. But somehow, the third world country inspired tranquility, as smiling vendors pushed wooden carts and children played soccer in the streets with a deflated ball.

Later, when we arrived to our destination, I stood before the Mere Pacificum as bestowed upon it by Ferdinand Magellan to denote the peaceful sea of the Pacific Ocean. Its gentle waters wickedly hypnotized me into a tsunami of memories and as the sun settled, I saw hues of red, orange and yellow seemingly merging from the magnificent sky into the vast sea. The sea appeared calmer than usual and the sand caressed my bare feet as if loving me again, as if to remind me that my life wasn’t always a sad story. And to make matters worse, my skin failed to distinguish between the smooth sand rubbing against it and the velvety touch of the scattered leaves back home, the isolated cabin amid the cloud forests.

It was on that beautiful day, that I was forced to remember through the ripples of the water, how as a child in that heaven; I once enjoyed a world most could only dream of: endless days of riding horses through forests of warm rain and adventures on moonlit nights to the sound of distant jaguar cries. And as I closed my eyes, I could still see her, the rebellious curly haired girl running freely through the fog, rolling from the top of verdant hills that were scented by coffee blossoms and pungent orchids.

Desperate to cool off, I further immersed my body into the gentle waters of this peaceful sea. But the sand continued to impersonate the leaves of my beloved forests, delivering an electrical current throughout my bare feet, tickling them—the way the leaves used to feel when I removed my red water boots. To add to my moment of bliss, the warm breeze of the sea whispered into my ears—that all had ended. But as I recall, it was Mama who insisted that it was never my fault, but rather the curse of my elephant’s memory, the type that never forgets.

It felt strange to be back. I no longer felt at home and the natives saw me as a tourist, for I was disguised as one. I spoke with an accent, not native to Nicaragua or my naturalized home back in California. I wore the look of a Californian girl: Billabong sandals, Rip Curl shorts and a tank top covering my neon swimsuit. My mother in the other hand, attempted to give me away; she wore a white kimono with colorful embroidery and plastic sandals. For sure, they thought of us as tourists attempting to assimilate into their culture. If only they knew the truth, that I’ve known this land earlier, when the forests were denser and the towns were speckles in between the mountains—silent. If only they knew...that I once killed the spirit of a little Nicaraguan girl, but had returned to revive it once more.

Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child was inspired after this visit.  I couldn't keep the memories of this beautiful country all to myself.   

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Irony of Life

The irony of life: a game of chess guided by predictions, choices—the element of time. What makes us interesting beings is the ability to go through life unnoticed, to blend amongst the ordinary and the grand, and to camouflage a past to where no one can tell it ever existed.
--Excerpt from Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child

At last, I have found the courage to click on the "submit for publication" button and share my childhood with a world of wonderful strangers.  Cheers to life, friends and the excitement of the unknown.  

Share your greatest achievement with me...or adventure!  It will certainly soothe my nerves :-)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Winter Getaways

Big Sur, California

Happy 2013 everyone! Now that the holidays are over and a new year has begun, hopefully we have renewed our hopes and aspirations.  As many of you already know I strive to live life to the fullest —however long that life may be. Therefore, I set out to explore two of my most favorite places in California: Big Sur and Yosemite. After a few days of exploring Yosemite, we cut across the state and headed to the majestic coast of Big Sur, California, one of those seascapes that can remain forever in your mind. 

MacWay Falls and the Sun Setting by Highway 1

Driving along such an awe-inspiring landscape, I understood why the first settlers fell in love with this enchanting land.  From Yosemite, the landscape transforms into an Oak-filled landscape that stretches all the way to the sea. You can see how the land and the sea appear to meet in an almost primitive and  rhythmical way. The scenic highway 1 offers many turnouts to enjoy the scenery and plenty of opportunities to photograph its beauty.   By the time we approached our destination, we nearly stopped at every turnout!

The Purple Beach at Pfeiffer Beach

Although Big Sur offers many lodging opportunities, for years our family tradition has been to stay at the historic Big Sur River Inn,, a hidden jewel in the popular Big Sur, strategically located on Highway 1 and right next to a beautiful river.  Perhaps, the small lodge attracts many tourists from all parts of the world because it has been around since 1888, which was then named the “Apple Pie Inn.”  I happen to love apple pie!  When we first discovered this place, it was during the summertime at midnight.  My husband and I were so tired that all I remember was checking in and waking up with a million dollar view!  From there, the rest was history!  

A hearty breakfast or a romantic dinner by the large fireplace was ideal to mend all your worries. If that isn’t enough, you can have lunch on the wooden lawn chairs by the river or directly on the river.  The simplicity of the inn allows you the luxury to do whatever you wish, from sitting at the bar or simply sitting on a bench with your significant other to enjoy a glass of wine.  For families, the inn also offers a heated pool and an outdoor barbecue.  It is also the perfect place for an unforgettable dream wedding.

The beautiful ray of sunlight from the sun setting on Pfeiffer Beach

But for writers like me or those seeking to escape from it all, the inn offers the ultimate perk: privacy along with the serene sounds of the river—or better yet, a disconnection from civilization! As a frequent traveler, I have experienced many high-end resorts but the simplicity of this little inn is often hard to find.  But the thing I love the most from the River Inn is that it is my central point in which I use to explore the many natural wonders around that area. Big Sur is a photographers' and a writers' paradise and I indulge selfishly on the scenery.  The breathtaking coastal landscapes, such as Pfeiffer State Park, Pfeiffer Beach and Los Lobos State Park, are just some of the many places you can go to in order to absorb the best that nature has to offer.  This photos are for you to enjoy!  Cheers to a new and inspiring new year!  

A little time to meditate and enjoy the scenery

Yosemite: My Winter Wonderland!

A glimpse at Mirror Lake

If telling you that Yosemite is an awe-inspiring place is an understatement, that’s because it is just that. After fourteen years of not visiting this majestic place, I decided that it was time to visit once more with my husband and two preteen kids. While most people visit the park during the spring and summer, a rare wintery wonderland beckoned all of our senses.

A walk on the Merced river

Many know Yosemite National Park as the home to the world’s largest granite monolith, El Capitan.  It is also home to one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, Yosemite Falls.  As you enter the park, you are quickly absorbed into winding roads that are contoured by a variety of pines, oaks, firs and cedar trees to name a few. There is even one lone Elm tree in one of the meadows in the valley floor. The elevation ranges from 2,000 to 13,114 feet!  I traveled during the month of January in the New Year and it was a beautiful winter wonderland to say the least.  The snowcapped landscape made the geological landscape all the more incredible.  The snow covered the meadows but the waterfalls were still flowing from the immense cliffs.  If you pause to admire the wintery waterfalls, you could see the cold water transforming into snow while piling up at the foot of the waterfall, which then it turns into ice.  

Beautiful Landscaped Mountains 

A beautiful 600 foot drop at Bridalveil Fall 

As a writer, I wanted a one-on-one experience with nature.  Therefore, I contacted a couple of good friends that have vast experience all through out the park.  I explained to them my many restrictions and my endless wish list.  John and Gabe at, listened and for the next couple of days, showcased without reserve the beauty of Yosemite.  

A Mariposa Grove of Sequoias 
The only Elm tree in the Yosemite valley floor 
Bridal Veil Falls 

They first took us on a gentle hike, into a wintery landscape along the Merced River.  As we hiked and stopped to take photos of the beautiful snow capped mountains above us, they enchanted us with the history of the park by telling us the many stories of the Native Americans, John Muir, the Gold Rush, the glaciers and the first pioneers that helped protect this park from the pillaging of the land. Their expertise in the region was priceless as they are very aware of the weather and its patterns.  To make a long story short, we were caught-up so much on the place that we even forgot to eat!  Now, that’s a rarity. But as the old saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words…here are some more landscape photos, courtesy of Joseph Gutiz.  Enjoy!

Majestic Sequoias
The Yosemite Chapel in the valley floor