June 21, 2019

Paying Homage...

Happy Summer Solstice and Happy International Yoga Day!

During the writers' retreat in Paris this past Spring, I thought about the old adage of "Teach what you wish to learn."

Well, as my lesson plan was chock full of writing prompts that encouraged participants to observe and write using all the senses, I invited myself to do the same. And there's no better place in the world than Paris for a writer to do just that! I'm sure that there are several other places elsewhere in the world where one can experience a sensory feast, but for me, Paris eternally holds a special place in my heart as far as heightening the senses is concerned.

That said, once I was able to take a break from teaching at the writers' retreat, I became a flaneur and strolled along the Seine and the fact that the rain was relentlessly pouring that day made the experience all the more sensual! Most poignant, however, was paying homage to the dear Cathedral de Notre Dame whose towers I had planned to climb up to so I can get up close and personal with the gargoyles and where I could light a candle and meditate. Alas, that was not to be as our Dear Lady had partially been consumed by fire but thankfully survived. Notre Dame is a symbol of resilience and when I walked around her, my clothes drenched from that rainy day, it was as though she and I were being cleansed. And as talks about the beloved cathedral being rebuilt were in the air, I couldn't help but feel that photographing her in that post-fire state was sacrilegious. Yet, my love for what Cathedral de Notre Dame symbolizes, her resilience and strength after surviving centuries of war and occupation, represented what I honor most about my time in Paris: that despite everything, we must persevere. Bruised, battered and burned, Cathedral de Notre Dame may look embattled but Our Lady still has a lot of fight left in her. And as I sniffed the scent of the rain that day as I paid tribute to Notre Dame, vowing I will one day return to see her again, I renewed my own vow to stay true to my writing passion no matter what obstacles may seem to linger on my path.

And guided by the spirit and strength of Notre Dame, onward we go...



May 31, 2019



Paris Writers' Retreat 2019

Finally, after years of waiting to return to my Creative "home," I finally got the chance to go back this Spring not just to write but also to teach novel writing at my first ever Paris Writers' Retreat!

This is a first of a series of blog posts from the trip which will focus on my own personal adventures and experiences. But first, some history on why Paris has been my Creative Haven all this time. I first visited Paris after a summer studying abroad in Madrid years ago. I had always dreamed of visiting Paris with a special romantic someone but I quickly realized when I was there for the first time, that I didn't need to have a romantic partner to enjoy Paris---the City of Light had put a spell on me with its own brand of magic! I was a stressed-out, burned-out fledgling journalist when I took a sabbatical that year. But by the time I reached Paris, I immediately felt like I had come home! Back home to my creative writing self! Since I had been so mired in my journalism career, I had put my creative dreams aside. But long solo walks around La Tour Eiffel, around the Left Bank, La Sorbonne, and La Marais, proved that the literary ghosts of the past had haunted me, had guided me back to my creative writing self---my authentic self. When I left to go back home to the Bay Area, I had left a huge part of my heart behind. I couldn't wait to go back. 

So it was quite serendipitous when immediately upon my return home, I chanced upon a business card for French language lessons at a local French bistro and quickly signed up. Through Sara Villat and her French with Class, I was back in Paris within a year for a French class field trip. To my delight, I found that the magic of Paris continued to refresh my creative juices as I found myself writing, with pen and tiny notebook in hand, at places such as inside the sanctuary of Saint-Chappelle, surrounded by glorious stained-glass windows, and high up the towers of the Cathedrale de Notre Dame, with the precious gargoyles keeping me company! These first two trips to Paris resulted in the creation of my novels Not Just Another Pretty Face and Pretty as a Picture where Paris is very much a main character!

With my return to my Creative Homeland this Spring, I can say that it was well worth the long wait. I can't believe it took me so long to revisit Paris and now I can't wait to return for more of that Parisian literary magic!

And so with every blog post in my Literary Paris series, I shall continue to revisit Paris as I share my photos, experiences along with some literary musings. For more photos of the Paris trip, please visit me on Instagram @literaryyogini

à bientôt! 



November 22, 2018


Welcome to the World New Book Baby Girl and Happy Thanksgiving!


So much to be grateful for this year...This book was my thesis in completion of my MFA in Creative Writing. While it's been said that writing is a solitary endeavor, editing and publishing a book, in my case, had been the result of a collaborative effort involving the assistance of many wonderful people.

Many thanks to my Thesis Advisers and professors in the MFA Fiction program at Mills College: authors Cristina Garcia, Yiyun Li and YA author Kathryn Reiss who took time to read and critique the entire manuscript in its early stages. I would also like to extend my gratitude to my writing peers in the YA Fiction workshops who critiqued my work.

I am grateful to the book's "Godmother," cover designer and publisher, my dear friend, Ana Galvan, for her meticulous work and attention to detail. Immense gratitude goes to Julie Abitbol, a true artist who listened carefully to my ideas, took time to absorb the story and then used her vivid imagination to create the artwork that graces the book's front cover.

Much appreciation goes to my editing team: Susan Medina and Judy Swager for copyediting and proofreading; and to Nemia Carpio, my longtime friend since my two-year high school stint in the Philippines, for editing the Tagalog sentences and phrases.

And of course my love and gratitude to my family and friends for their love and support and to my students for their continued commitment to the written word. Much love and thanks to my furry nephew and nieces, especially to Lilly, the Feline Editor, for continually inspiring me.


August 30, 2018

Happy 1st Birthday Book Baby!

Today, my first book of short stories, Soulstice: Living and Loving On and Off the Yoga Mat, and I share the same birthday! A year ago today, I had the honor of sharing this collection of stories that had been a labor of love for over 4 years!

I'm also happy to announce that I'm putting the "finishing touches" on my YA novel and as soon as that's done, my Christmas novella will be right on its heels as I'll be on the home stretch of editing that and hopefully (crossing my fingers!) will have it ready in time for the holidays this year!

Thank you all for your love and encouragement throughout this amazing and inspiring literary journey: to my family, my friends, my students and all the beautiful animals who continue to inspire me everyday! My gratitude for your unconditional love and support all these years! Here's to welcoming more literary blessings in the months and years to come!

August 3, 2018

Celebrating Indie Author's Birthday

Happy Birthday to author and good friend, Ana Galvan (Check her out on Instagram  @anagalvan_writes) who’s holding her newest book baby— The Other Side of the Sky, a very compelling sci-fi read with strong female characters!  

To celebrate her special day, Ana shares her passion for reading and writing with us!

*What books are on your nightstand?
The books have spilled onto the floor but on the nightstand per se I have Portnoy’s Complaint by Phillip Roth because everybody said how nasty it was, The Mysteries of Udolpho, because it's the beginning of the Gothic novel, La Isla Bajo el Mar, because I always have a book in Spanish and I found it at the San Pablo Library bookstore and finally The Ensemble, because it was on my Amazon list and I found it for free at the Contra Costa County library.

*What’s your favorite book of all time?
Anna Karenina or The Goldfinch

*Which books got you hooked on reading? On Writing?
On reading I would have to say the Spanish classics: The Poem of the Cid, Life and Adventures of Lazarillo de Tormes, and whatever was assigned in school. In the summer I would read more classics but also titles I heard my classmates talking about that were more age oriented. On writing it wasn’t really a book, it was more a need to cleanse myself from a bad marriage, that’s what inspired The Contents of Desire, then I was hooked on writing.

*Who’s your favorite fictional character?
Rebecca in the book of the same name. I find this character intriguing, unconventional and daring.

*In your opinion, what qualities make a great novel?
Characters you love or hate. Characters
make you care what happens next.

*What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
If you knew me, you wouldn’t be surprised by any of the books on my shelves.

*If you were to write a memoir, what aspect of your life would you focus on?
The adventure of migrating to the US

*Who’s your favorite historical character?
Marie Curie, could be Cleopatra or Queen Isabel of Spain (although she was too religious for my taste)

*Who’s your favorite childhood literary character or hero?
Heidi, but I have to confess I didn’t read the books. I watched the cartoons.

*What book have you read again and again and why?
The Time in Between in Spanish and English. I love the Spanish version and I wondered about the translation into Spanish. As it turns out I loved it as well. Translation is an art.

*What’s the best book you ever received as a gift?
Don Quijote de la Mancha

*What’s the best book you have ever given as a gift?
The Story of O. It was fun to give.

*Which is a book you’ve read that you wished you had written?
Call Me by Your Name

*If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Hemingway, because I am convinced he met my grandfather in Spain while he was reporting on the (Spanish) Civil War and my grandfather worked at the famous bar Chicote. I usually don’t want to meet authors. It kills the magic.

August 30, 2017

Yoga Book Baby is Born!

It's another Book Baby Girl! Born shortly after midnight, August 30, 2017, she's tiny, weighs just a few ounces, but big on LOVE! After five long years of juggling work, relationships, and family, while striving to find time to write to my heart's content, and all the tears and fears that went along with the process, this book baby has finally been born! I am grateful to you all for celebrating her birthday with me! Proceeds from the sales of this book will go toward various animal welfare organizations. Really appreciate everyone's love and support. Much gratitude goes to Alexandra Corral for the beautiful cover art! Thank you for embracing this book with an open mind and a compassionate heart! ☺❤

August 13, 2017

A Book Publishing Dream Come True!

One word to describe my entire creative writing life journey so far: GRATEFUL. I am grateful for all the beautiful loving, living beings who have supported me since I started this journey as a child of three writing on my Mom's cookbooks and recipe notebooks. I have immense gratitude to all the books, authors, teachers, students, fellow writers, readers, family, friends and furry and feathered creatures who have been there for me and whose love has sustained me through it all. I literally have to pinch myself each single day I face the blessed reality: "I'm a published author!" Fiction writing has been my first love ever since I put pen to paper, composing my own mystery stories inspired by reading those lovable Nancy Drew mystery series as a kid growing up in New Orleans and the Bay Area. And now, it's come to this: still celebrating the birth of Pretty as a Picture, Book Two of the Pretty Princess Trilogy and I'll say it's been nothing short of an amazing ride! Right on the heels of Book Two's release, I find myself still reveling in the literary universe that is the Principality of Moradonia! How blessed can one be to still have passion for all these characters and to revisit the fabulously scenic (some real, some imagined) locales along Western Europe and the Mediterranean! I truly wish for everyone to be embraced with the blessing of being able to create art and live life doing whatever it is you're passionate about! Stay inspired! Blessings and love to you all!