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Sunday, August 17, 2014

How to properly wake up every morning!

Waking up in the morning is no easy business. But as life passes by and I reflect on how many people have come and gone.  I've decided that the best way to wake up in the morning is with a great celebration...for every morning we open our eyes is another day we are alive.--Ileana Araguti

                                                                                       Live well and thrive my good friends :-)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child earns awards!

On Saturday, June 28, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ileana Araguti's memoir, Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child, won first place for Best Non Fiction ebook, first place for Best Latino-focused book design and second place for Best First Book Non Fiction, whereas the late singer and actress Jenni Rivera was awarded first place at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards in association with the American Library Association 2014 Conference. 

The Awards were held at the Clark County-Las Vegas Library Theater. Over the last 16 years the Int’l Latino Book Awards has grown to become the largest Latino literary and cultural awards in the USA. Amongst this year’s 231 honorees were well known authors like Alma Flor Ada, Isabel Allende, Rudy Anaya, Mary J. Andrade, Edna Iturralde, all of whom are past ILBA Award Winners. Other honorees include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and celebrities like TV chef Pati Jinich, the late singer and actress Jenni Rivera, singer Linda Ronstadt, screenwriter Rick Najera, and TV personality Lilliana Vasquez. Winners were from across the USA and from 18 countries outside the USA.

Shattered Paradise is Araguti's first book and has received consistent 5 Star reviews on  She has earned an award from Readers' Favorite as well, and her inspirational book might be considered for a movie in the future. 

In addition, Araguti is currently wrapping up her next novel and is scheduled to complete two more within the next couple of years. To learn more about Ileana Araguti, visit her website and follow this blog!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Book Signing for 
Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child 
ALA Conference 2014, Vegas     Booth 2110
Saturday, June 28th @10:00 a.m.
Sunday, June  29th @ 9:00 a.m.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Signing

See you soon Dallas, Texas!

Book Signing & Reading

New Trends Press

Lucky Dog Books

Sunday, June 15, 12:00 noon, Lucky Dog Books, 10801 Garland Rd., Dallas 75218.
Sunday, June 15, 2:00 pm, Lucky Dog Books, 633 W. Davis St., Oak Cliff/Dallas 75208.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou, The Voice of Strength

Today I share the sadness of a great loss but I'm certain there is a red carpet celebration in the heavens. Maya Angelou left us many great gifts but the one I cherish the most is that of inner strength and intimate peace.  If in doubt, whether one person can make a difference in this world...just look around at all of the amazing people that have stepped up and demonstrated that yes, it CAN be done.

For years I've read her work and have been greatly inspired by it.  Her quote reaffirmed the great joy and relief I felt when I published my memoir, Shattered Paradise. Indeed, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."--Maya Angelou

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Malediction of War

On a day like today, May 20th, ill-omened clouds whirled in the sky; the thick air made it hard to breathe as changes were brought upon our small town in Nicaragua. It had been decided, the last Somoza dictator, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, would soon be overthrown by the FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional.) It was early in the morning, cannot recall the exact time, for all I can remember is the feeling of disorientation as we awoke to the resonating blast of bombs that crushed the cobblestone roads and the heavy machinery that annihilated whatever came across its path.  And after the thunders of weaponry had ceased and there was no one else to kill, the tenebrous siren that had first led us to the refuge, once again instructed us to resume our journey back home—as if nothing had ever happened. The frighten crowd gathered their belongings and cautiously stepped out of the building like deer into an open meadow. Slowly, people resumed their walk into town, but this time silence transpired through the multitude and no one shoved or hurried to get ahead, casting an eerie feeling amongst us. The clean smell of the air we were used to became replaced by gunpowder and the nauseating smell of blood.

The heart pounding reverberation of people’s fear now serenaded our innocent lives. My own heartbeat increased to levels I was unused to. People murmured and cried... and others stood silent like me, blinded by the sight of red hues from mutilated corpses that tainted the streets. After encountering the malediction of war, nothing could ever be the same.  

                                            ---Excepts from Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child

The cost of war is too high.  War only leads to despair and incurable loss.  We can all make a difference in this world...lead a positive life and minimize the many wars we might cause each day.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Mother for all Times

It was said once that merely giving birth to a child does not necessarily make a woman into a good mother.  Rather, it is both the act of physically giving birth and raising a child through good and bad times.  My mother did both and went beyond sacrifice to ensure my happiness...and for that I'm ever so grateful.

The following is an excerpt from my memoir: Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child.  Ever since I've known my mother, she has been abnegated and dedicated to the family.  Her resiliency has saved many lives and has brought much needed hope.

Chapter 1

According to my beloved grandfather, my parents’ marriage began with a promise of love, which made my young Mama agree to all ideas Papa proposed. She followed like a child follows a parent—right behind, no questions asked. Until one day, deep into the cloud forest of Nicaragua, fear thickened the air, and the warm soil’s vapors permeated through the wild grass. The torrential storm unleashed its fury, over-flooding riverbanks, and creating new paths along the way. Lightning parted the skies covered by an ominous curtain of clouds, which in turn brought unusually cold air upon my parents’ isolated farmhouse. To their denial, the reason for such wrath remains unclear. Papa had blamed it on natural disasters, possibly a hurricane or the exploitation of the land’s resources: the chained monkeys, deforestation and the extracting of scarlet macaws from their nests. Mama had blamed the Lord for washing away our sins, and I only blamed the unremitting tears escaping Mama’s soul at the recollection of an event, one that had happened so long ago.

For many years, I remained uncertain of what made Mama passionate for Papa. Out of respect to my parents, I never asked. Perhaps it was his deep clef chin, his light brown hair, his right cheek dimple or his incurable obstinacy. His height could not have attracted her, for Mama always stood taller than Papa. This disproportion, often exaggerated by her high-heeled shoes, did not trouble Papa as long as her arm went under his, and he was close to her brunette hair and to her slim silhouette wrapped in porcelain skin.

“Follow me to the farm. I have built us a new home. I will hire helpers to help us plow the land. There, you will have everything, from organic foods to my unconditional love,” Papa persuaded Mama.

“Wait until our first child is born,” Mama responded. Eager Papa could hardly wait to have her by his side, and solely for him. Therefore, just a month after the birth of their first child Amanda, he swayed her to follow him to their remote farm amid the forest. He wished to reproduce his family with only the symphony of the surrounding wildlife and solemn company of the broadleaf trees.

“No! Wait at least one year before taking the child to the forest,” Mama’s unfailing priest, Father Odorico advised.

“But father, the Holy Scripture commands that a good wife must accompany her husband wherever he might go! Please father, offer me your blessing.”

“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit...” the humble priest blessed, exposing a re- sewn cassock beneath his armpit.

Mama packed an old leather luggage that had belonged to Abuela and hurried to La Estación with little Amanda in her arms, wrapped snuggly in a pink blanket. Once there, she would ride the bus to meet her young husband by the roadside. The noise of the busy transit made little Amanda cry but Mama cradled her onto her warm chest. 

“It’s all right my angel, we are going with Papa,” she whispered to the child as her eyes glistened with emotions, typical of a woman in love.

The old yellow bus quickly overfilled its capacity with passengers who smelled like days-old fermentation. They were mostly campesinos, humble peasants traveling with live chickens tied up by their feet with a nylon string, upside down and hung onto wooden poles, which they carried over their shoulders nearly poking Mama on the head. But holding her breath behind her polite smile, she managed to shove herself to the very back of the bus where a gentleman would offer his own seat. The heavily pot-holed dirt road made her body ache, but she knew the pain was worth enduring, for beyond the dust clouds raised by the old diesel bus, awaited a completely new world.

“Soon, our lungs will breathe fresh air; our eyes will see beautiful wild flowers, moss and exotic animals,” she whispered again into the infant’s ear. Throughout the journey, Mama drifted into a world of spectacular dreams. She imagined herself galloping along with little Amanda and her husband through the mystical cloud forests, bathing under cool waterfalls and dancing in a garden filled with scented wild orchids and melodious Toucanets. Until the bus came to a sudden stop and Mama had to shove herself once more through the overly crowded bus, evading the flutter of the restless upside-down chickens on the campesinos’ wooden poles. 

Upon arrival, wearing black high-water boots and a large cowboy hat, awaited Papa, acknow- ledging Mama with anticipation. When Mama first saw him, her heart nearly exited off her chest and feeling butterflies inside her stomach nearly forgot she was carrying little Amanda. Papa waved by the roadside, exposing his deep cheek dimples and cleft chin as he held two horses firmly, a black Andalusia horse that was his and a red Clydesdale he had purchased for Mama. The young lovers hugged and without much hesitation, saddled onto their own horses and embarked on a journey that would soon transform their lives forever.

To be continued...... 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

#Mother's Day

Flower Fields, Carlsbad, CA 

Happy Mother's Day to all amazing and resilient mother's in the world!  You deserve the best, for without you there would be no world.

As we celebrate Mother's Day, I think and reflect about the sacrifices my mother made to ensure my happiness...and I'm ever so grateful.  I will be adding a story about her soon :-)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Writing your Memoir

We all have stories...memories.  Do you wish to write your own memoir but don't know how to begin or like me once, needed to gather the strength to write it and publish? 

Book Signing and Free Workshop Sat. May 03, 2014   

Writing Your Memoirs--AWA, Ileana Araguti  
Sat. May 3                3-4 pm
 Rm. 207/208 (Skybox)--The World of Publishing Room 

Check out other great workshops:

Bullying--AWA, Joseph Gutiz
1-2 pm   The Theater
7th Inland Empire Latino Book & Family Festival
California State University, San Bernardino

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Book Story

Once upon a time, there was a life without a story, a story without a book and a book without a reader.
Until one day, Story knocked on Life's door.

"Who is it?" asked Life.
"Your story," answered Story.

Life and Story shared many moments: happy, sad ones and of the unspeakable kind.  The more they shared, the more excited they became and out of their joyous relationship came about a book.  A book about life... a story of many lives.  Only there was a problem, the book needed readers.

Knock, knock!

"Who is it? asked Book.
"Your reader,"said the dreamer.

Lets face it.  We all have stories.  We all love stories. Stories make life all the more interesting.  Books transport us to other worlds.  Readers turn books to life, movies, traditions...a book without a reader is lost and forgotten.

And that's why we have book festivals!  To satisfy our literature hunger :-)

The Los Angeles Times Book Festival is one of the largest around.  If anyone is attending, please stop by and say hello.  I will be discussing and signing for Shattered Paradise on the following dates:

April 12, 2014

USC, Los Angeles Times Book Festival, Hoy News Booth

April 13, 2014

USC, Los Angeles Times Book Festival, Booth 464
12:00-1:00 and 2:00-3:00

Live, Love and Read!

Ileana :-)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Allow dreams into your life!

Anything is possible if you allow yourself to dream. Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child is a 2014 International Latino Book Award Recipient!  Thank you all for believing and supporting :-)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Latest review for Shattered Paradise!

Thank you friends for your reviews and for being a part of my life :-) Here's the latest review for Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child!

"Ms. Ileana Araguti experienced atrocities that no child should ever have to experience during the Nicaraguan Revolution. She begins by narrating her everyday life being the youngest member of a family. Beautifully written, she digs deep into the hardships that her father and mother had to endure working in the forests, yet maintaining a close family knit. Religion was a major factor that solidified her family bond that also served them during the revolution.The war between the Sandinistas and the Contra factions was yet another tragic result of the cold war of the 1980s. The horror and devastation happening before her eyes was described in grim detail, yet in the most intimate way. The story is hard to read, but I appreciated the sincerity and eventual triumph of her family and the survivors of the revolution.This book takes you through a journey where you'll laugh, you'll'll cry and you'll cringe. In the end, you'll appreciate the little girl turned radiant woman and all that she experienced. It felt like I was right there with her, running, crying, and smiling with her."--Jim Hague

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Nicaraguan Gallo Pinto!

Good morning, the Nicaraguan Way!

Per the request of some friends, I awoke early this morning to make you all breakfast!  A complete "desayuno Nicaraguense!" In Nicaragua, a complete breakfast include: Gallo Pinto (rice and beans), fried plantains, eggs and other things such as fresh cheese and sour cream.

Since I now reside in the United States, I'm conscious of time and therefore I've made some modifications.  In conclusion, quick and easy Gallo Pinto!


1 pound red beans (or 1-2 cans red beans)
1 cup white rice 
1/2 onion
1/2 bell pepper
olive oil
Salt to taste
chicken broth
chicken bouillon


1.  As far as the red beans, you can either boil your own beans or use canned red beans. If you choose to boil them, it is recommended that you let them soak the night before to speed up cooking time.  But if you're busy like me and forget to soak them, you can simply wash the red beans, add twice the water as the beans to a pot and bring to boil.  Let the beans cook slowly on medium heat.  Add salt to taste towards the end of the cooking for tenderness.  If you add salt too soon, the beans might not turn out as tender. When using canned beans, drain the liquid.

2.  Rice.  If in a hurry, you can steam white rice in a rice cooker or a pot.  But if you want to be more traditional and make a less mushy Gallo Pinto, you may cook the rice as you boil the beans. 

a.  Sauté chopped yellow/white onion, bell pepper and cilantro to taste in about 1-2 tablespoons olive 
b.  Add 1cup of white rice without washing to a pan and sauté until slightly golden brown.
c.  Add chicken broth or water to cover the rice.
d.  Add salt or cubes of chicken bouillon to taste.
e.  Cover and let it boil.
f.   Reduce heat and let it cook slowly until the water is gone and the rice is puffy and soft.

3.  When done cooking the beans and the rice.  Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan.  Fry the beans and gradually add the rice.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

4.  Now, here's the quick U.S. way:

a.  Use previously steamed rice or left overs.
b.  Use canned red beans, drained.
c.   Sauté onion, bell pepper, olive oil and salt in a pan.
d.  Add drained red beans and white rice; fry until well-mixed.
e.  Serve and enjoy without any guilt!  After all, you have all day to burn the calories!!!

Note:  Nicaraguans use red beans, Costa Ricans use black beans!  Both taste delicious :-)

Modifications:  Traditionally, lard or other types of oils are used.  I've substituted olive oil or grape seed oil for a healthier meal!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Marta A. Lomeli, Guest Blogger

Our guest blogger this week is Marta A. Lomeli, author of Cuentos from the House on West Connecticut Avenue. Her keen sense of humor is contagious.  Marta A. Lomeli is one of those amazing beings that know how to enjoy life to the fullest.  She has over twenty-five years of teaching experience, over ten years in the martial arts, and years of community involvement: youth mentoring programs, police community relations support, and precinct walking. Beginning with her college years, she was well-known for her original cartoons, many of which were published in college newspapers. She has had poetry published, as well as many articles on personal safety and self-defense for women and children.A few years ago, she achieved the rank of second degree black belt in Chinese Shao-lin Kempo, an ancient form of martial arts. She managed to reach this goal even though she was a single mother for a number of years.She has discovered other wild ways to enjoy life, such as skydiving, public speaking, and painting. Today, she is "retired," but keeps busy by being a full-time "baby wrangler," taking care of her toddler grandson. She enjoys participating in Las Comadres networking Comadrazos and the Las Comadres Book Club.

Saludos! I am Ileana's "Comadre." We were not born relatives. We did not become relatives via any religious ceremony, but we are Comadres nonetheless. We are friends for life.

I had the good fortune to read Ileana's book, Shattered Paradise: Memoir of a Nicaraguan War Child, and it touched my soul. Selfish person that I am, I thought, "How can my writing ever compare to her beautiful prose? Her childhood had beauty and peace until the chaos of war turned things upside down." I wanted to jump into her book and pull her out of that horrible danger, but that isn't how books work. 

It is an honor to be a guest in her blog. Today, I will share with you the little juicy bits of inspiration that I read to myself every now and then:
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
--Louis L'Amour

“Certain things they should just stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those glass cases and just leave them alone.”--J.D. Salingerl, Catcher in the Rye

“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked and it would be like living the memory all over again.”--Daphne Du Maurier

Among other things, I am a culture vulture and proud of it. I don't think that you are less of a Chicana (Latina, Hispanic, whatever) if you adapt and make it your own. Wasn't it Paulo Freire that used the words "man as the creator of culture?" For the sake of a discussion, let's talk about cultural traditions that could could affect a family's future.  Since I'm not writing a book or a thesis here, I won't be listing to the million of examples that are possible.  I'll just choose one example: Quinceañeras, a girl’s 15th birthday celebration!

First, a disclaimer, I didn't have a quinceañera. My father, did, however, give me a $20 bill. Not much? It was in those days! I was born in the 1950s. We lived at the poverty level. I didn't expect my dad to give me anything more than a hug. I think that Mom made enchiladas or something. That was always appreciated. I would have felt guilty if they had spent hundreds of dollars on a party for me while they had sons in college that were scrimping to get by, working dangerously long hours in the summer as fire fighters. Not many scholarships for Latinos in those early days. 

When I became a sixth grade teacher, I once overheard a fellow teacher chatting about her daughter's upcoming birthday. We were in the faculty lounge, eating lunch, and I heard her say, "I'm all about letting kids learn from making their own decisions. So, I gave my daughter the choice: I'll take her to Europe in the summer, or I’ll give her a quinceañera. She chose the quinceañera. I'm going to get a limo for her and everything!" For those of you who might not be familiar with this celebration, the cost of a quinceañera could be as much as a wedding. It is not rare that often times, families might have to choose between celebrating a quinceañera or paying for college.  

Did you ever come across such choices?

Marta A. Lomeli

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review for Shattered Paradise!

Great friends are like a good marriage, correct?  We share the good and the bad :-)  Today, I would like to share a wonderful review for my memoir, Shattered Paradise: Memoirs of a Nicaraguan War Child!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Heron's Path Review

Ever since a little girl, I’ve been fascinated by paths and remote roads that lead to who knows where.  I recall building secret paths in Mama’s garden using a stick.  Then, my plastic animal figurines would find their way around.  Heron’s Path by Alethea Eason, although not exactly a book about a little girl like me, reminds me somewhat of my childhood, my two lovely sisters and even the frightening river I had to cross every time we would travel to the farm in the forest. 

When I picked up Heron’s Path, by Alethea Eason, I chose it first for the beautiful cover and the title, but later it became a good reminder about the strength of the human spirit.  Heron’s Path is a beautifully written story about two sisters, Katy and Celeste and about the enchanting tales of the Nanchuti.  The current of the river, the mystery of dreams, the meaning of life and growing up all come to life through Alethea’s magnificent writing, which gently guides the reader to the end through a path of courage and love.  This lovely read is ultimately about the gift of sisterhood and the thrilling mysteries of life. 

Alethea Eason is a writer and teacher. Her latest publication is Starved, a sequel to her humorous middle grade science fiction novel, Hungry.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Village Sang to the Sea

Where to travel next for my great inspiration?  Other than writing, working and traveling, reading is my other passion.  The other day, I picked up a novel from a bookstore, simply because I fell in love with its title:  The Village Sang to the Sea.  Then, I proceeded to read the novel and my imagination took flight.  The end result of my reading: Desire to someday visit Lerici!

Lerici is a village in Italy said to be “The pearl of the Poet’s Gulf.” It is called the Gulf of Poets because the great Romantic poets, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron often visited it; and Percy and his wife Mary, author of FRANKENSTEIN, lived in Lerici. The picturesque village is the southern tip of the Italian Riviera.  Just north of the Gulf of Poets is the famous tourist destination of Cinque Terre, "The Five Lands," and south of the Gulf is Pisa and its also famous, "Leaning Tower."
Lerici appears to be an inspirational paradise for artists! It is an enchanting village, which reminds me of my own native village in Nicaragua, City of Mist.  The village of Lerici is surrounded by splendid green hills, rich in history and breathtaking landscapes.  In his lyrical memoir, The Village Sang to the Sea, author Bruce McAllister magically transports you to different worlds, yet you wish to remain in the captivating village of Lerici, Italy. The events that flow through this beautiful book are enchanting and riveting. The Village Sang to the Sea is an unforgettable book!

As a boy, Bruce Mc Allister lived in magical Lerici, learned Italian, and attended school in the shadows of its castle, like the protagonist in the novel.  McAllister is now a science fiction, fantasy and literary fiction author who has appeared over the years in literary quarterlies, national magazines, college textbooks and "year's best" anthologies like, Best American Short Stories 2007. The Village Sang to the Sea has been compared to Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes.  Bruce McAllister lives in Orange County, California, with his wife, choreographer Amelie Hunter.  He works as a writer, writing coach and book and screenplay consultant.
Have you visited or lived in Lerici? Share your experience/s :-)