Party for Maria Virginia!

pic of Maria Virginia as a teen

Hello all!

My friend and co-author Maria Virginia Farinango is back in town for two months.... and we had a brunch party today to celebrate! Our book, The Queen of Water, is coming out with Delacorte in Spring 2011... here's the blurb:

Co-written with Maria Virginia Farinango, this amazing true story begins in an impoverished community in the Ecuadorian Andes. As a seven-year-old, Virginia is taken from her indigenous family to be an unpaid servant in a mestizo household, where she struggles to hold on to her spirit. Eight years later, she escapes ... but discovers that freedom holds its own set of challenges. She must overcome obstacles to rebuild a life for herself, and ultimately, to figure out who she truly is.

I am SO excited about this book!! Here's a tiny clip from an article that I found in an Otavalo newspaper as I was researching her story there. She was a teen at the time, and had recently been crowned The Queen of Water (one of the three indigenous queens of the town). She was responding to questions for an interview... here's my favorite answer of hers!

Oh, um, if you don't read Spanish, here's a loose translation (I say loose because there's no good English translation for superacion...)

Your family?

That's a story that one day I'd like to make into a book. That's my big dream. A dream of overcoming struggles-- overcoming my own struggles -- and something which any girl my age could do, if she has the courage to learn how to make her dream a reality.

One thing that comes out in Maria's story is the idea that in order to make your dream a reality, you need to not only find strength within yourself, but also form friendships with people who feel passionate about helping you make your dream a reality. Our friends at the party today all played a part in making this book a reality!

Julie and Andrea (above) are ESL teachers in town. Andrea teaches at the community college where I taught ESL for many years -- I met Maria through her. She was a student of Andrea's in the classroom next to mine. Before I'd met Maria, Andrea told me a bit about her story. I was fascinated and soon got to know Maria better... and that winter, we began working on the book!

Kay and Marylou and Flora (above) have been like family for Maria here in Fort Collins, offering her places to stay and help with her crafts business and other endeavors. (I'm in the pink jeans and Maria's the one next to me in the long black skirt.)

Martha (above) is the librarian at Harris Bilingual Elementary here in town, and she was one of the bilingual educators in the focus group that helped Maria and me with our latest revision of The Queen of Water. She and the others gave incredibly helpful feedback! Muchisimas gracias!

Hopefully most of you got my most recent e-newsletter, which is chock full of my upcoming events in Colorado. You can see the latest newsletter here... and then you can sign up for future ones here!

I'll also be doing a *blog tour*... my first one ever! See the sidebar for a link to the first stop on my blog tour-- Marjolein's Young Adult Book Blog.) My next stop is around Sept 27 or 28 at the Through the Tollbooth blog, with all new, really interesting interview questions! Please check it out! (If you're a writer, esp a writer of teen fiction, I highly recommend you read this blog-- it's overflowing with great insights from respected YA authors.)

Thanks for reading! I'm going to make another cup of tea to enjoy before Toddler wakes up from his nap. It's a cool, rainy day here, and it feels cozy to be inside writing and sipping tea...