A wonderful, happy, very inspired book birthday to Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse by Chantel Acevedo!
The first in a middle grade fantasy duology about a Cuban American girl who discovers that she’s one of the nine Muses of Greek mythology.
Callie Martinez-Silva didn’t mean to turn her best friend into a pop star. But when a simple pep talk leads to miraculous results, Callie learns she’s the newest muse of epic poetry, one of the nine Muses of Greek mythology tasked with protecting humanity’s fate in secret.
Whisked away to Muse Headquarters, she joins three recruits her age, who call themselves the Muse Squad. Together, the junior muses are tasked with using their magic to inspire and empower—not an easy feat when you’re eleven and still figuring out the goddess within.
When their first assignment turns out to be Callie’s exceptionally nerdy classmate, Maya Rivero, the squad comes to Miami to stay with Callie and her Cuban family. There, they discover that Maya doesn’t just need inspiration, she needs saving from vicious Sirens out to unleash a curse that will corrupt her destiny.
As chaos erupts, will the Muse Squad be able to master their newfound powers in time to thwart the Cassandra Curse . . . or will it undo them all?
When we put out the call for Las Musas to come together for Black Lives Matter statement, madrina Lisa Alvarado (Poet. Chicana. Italian. Jew. Finding God in nature. Aleyo. ) sent us the the poem below to share with you all!
In her words, she offers this because Black brothers and sisters are our family.
ANTHEM by Lisa Alvarado
The poem is a blessing. The poem is contraband. The poem is Molotov cocktail. The poem is balm. The poem is napalm. The poem is a slap. The poem is a kiss. The poem is a curse. The poem is revelation. The poem is revolution.
The poem is Sunday church supper. The poem is the lash. The poem is a firebrand. The poem is The Underground Railroad. The poem is a night stick. The poem is someone who will not break. The poem is the tree never bearing strange fruit. The poem is a rope that spells freedom.
The poem is wet feet and the Rio Grande. The poem is the back of a truck. The poem’s other name is coyote. The poem is La Migra handcuffed to a chair. The poem is papeles. The poem is a wall that keeps crumbling. The poem es una poema.
The poem is a broken swastika. The poem is a shredded brown shirt. The poem is a white hood with no eyes. The poem is yelling Basta ya! The poem spits out bullets.
The poem is a panhandler. The poem is a Walmart cashier. The poem is a hotel maid. The poem is a factory worker. The poem is a time clock. The poem is a paycheck. The poem is child labor. The poem is a striker. The poem is an eight-hour day.
Las Musas is thrilled to announce the cover reveal of Yamile Mendez's Shaking Up the House!
But first, a little about Shaking Up the House...
Ingrid and Winnie Lopez have lived there for eight years, but a new family is moving in, and the Lopez girls are determined to combine Ingrid’s comedic timing and Winnie’s quick thinking to give the new First Kids a proper White House welcome.
Skylar and Zora know a lot of things about the White House—Zora loves history, and Skylar’s thrilled to begin her new A-list lifestyle. What the sisters don’t know is that incoming presidents’ families are often pranked by the folks they’re replacing, and Ingrid and Winnie take that tradition very seriously.
When what is meant to be a friendly goof sets off an epic prank war, though, it’s only a matter of time before things spiral out of control. Can the four girls call a truce before an innocent trick sparks an international incident? Or will their battle go down in American history?
From acclaimed author Yamile Saied Mendez comes a laugh-a-minute friendship story full of hijinks, misunderstandings, and loads of glitter.
Coming January 5, 2021! Pre-order now!
And now, read an excerpt...
Las Musas celebrates the book birthday of Alex Aster’s Emblem Island: Curse of the Night Witch!
ABOUT EMBLEM ISLAND: CURSE OF THE NIGHT WITCH...
"Worthy of every magical ounce"―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
A fast-paced series starter, perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and Percy Jackson, filled with adventure, mythology, and an unforgettable trio of friends.
On Emblem Island all are born knowing their fate. Their lifelines show the course of their life and an emblem dictates how they will spend it.
Twelve-year-old Tor Luna was born with a leadership emblem, just like his mother. But he hates his mark and is determined to choose a different path for himself. So, on the annual New Year's Eve celebration, where Emblemites throw their wishes into a bonfire in the hopes of having them granted, Tor wishes for a different power.
The next morning Tor wakes up to discover a new marking on his skin...the symbol of a curse that has shortened his lifeline, giving him only a week before an untimely death. There is only one way to break the curse, and it requires a trip to the notorious Night Witch.
With only his village's terrifying, ancient stories as a guide, and his two friends Engle and Melda by his side, Tor must travel across unpredictable Emblem Island, filled with wicked creatures he only knows through myths, in a race against his dwindling lifeline.
"Debut author Aster takes inspiration from Colombian folklore to craft a rousing series opener that's both fast-paced and thrilling. As her protagonists face off against a host of horrors, they learn the value of friendship and explore the possibility of changing one's fate in a world where destiny is predetermined."―Publishers Weekly, starred review
Las Musas is united in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement. We mourn and are outraged over the loss of every precious Black life. This fight is our fight.
We demand the arrests and prosecution of the police officers who are responsible for the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others. We demand the prosecution of ex-police officer Travis McMichael and his son Gregory McMichael for their murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
We support the Black freedom fighters who daily rise up against white supremacy to dismantle systemic racism and risk their lives in the protests for their human right to breathe in peace; for their human right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness; for their human right to fight against the brutality they have continued to suffer for centuries in America.
We acknowledge anti-Blackness in our Latinx community and seek to root out and extinguish it. We have all been drinking from the poisoned well of systemic racism and, therefore, each one of us has internalized racism. We vow to examine our own hearts and call in dialogue those in our families and communities who perpetuate the cycle of systemic oppression against the Black community. We vow to intervene when we see Black people being harassed, gaslit, and antagonized online.
We call for the decolonization of our education systems that are at the root of raising white supremacists and domestic terrorists. We call for an end to school-prison pipelines. We call for the divestment and demilitarization of police and investment in Black and Brown communities and education systems not corporate bailouts.
We call on the publishing industry to be accountable and hire Black agents and Black editors that represent the Black demographic in our society. We call on publishers to make the industry accessible by creating virtual internships and job positions. We call on library systems and librarians to purchase, promote, and circulate diverse works by Black creators.
We know the power of words and demand news outlets to be held accountable. We will not accept false narratives that seek to reframe and criminalize the Black Lives Matter Movement. We demand that Telemundo and Univision stop endangering the lives of the Black community by demonizing the BLM freedom fighters and instead use the power of these platforms to fight for justice.
We will not be silent. We will speak up with our voices, our art, and the power of our platforms for a rightful redistribution of the wealth the Brown and Black community have afforded this country. We promise to support and uplift Black creators. As Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network said, we will “reimagine a world with an economy of care versus an economy of punishment” and fight for it with our allyship, our money, and our activism. The Black community’s fight for justice is our fight. In moments of protest and moments of celebration, we are united. Black liberation and Black joy is our joy. Black lives matter. Black voices matter. Black futures matter. Black dreams matter.
If you wish to join us in this fight, below is a jumping off point of suggested activism, places to donate, and ways to educate yourself in how to be anti-racist. This list is by no means comprehensive and will continue to grow, but we hope it serves as a place to start on your journey.
- Las Musas
MIA GARCIA: I’ve been a fan of Jenny Torres Sanchez’s writing since The Fall of Innocence tore my heart out two years ago. I’ve been a fan of Jenny since way before that, when I met her during the whirlwind that is NYC Teen Author Festival.
Since then Jenny has joined as a Madrina! She is a kind and incredibly thoughtful person both in life and in her writing; which is why I wanted to ask some fellow Musas to take a moment to gush about her heart wrenching new novel, We Are Not From Here.
Below, NoNieqa Ramos (The Truth Is), Yamile Saied Méndez (On These Magic Shores), Alexandra Villasante (The Grief Keeper), and I (Mia García, The Resolutions) discuss what makes We Are Not From Here a stunning novel, why we need it, and why you need to read it... but first a little bit about the novel:
We are thrilled to celebrate the book birthday of A Breath Too Late by Rocky Callen! A Breath Too Late has received some incredible reviews and blurbs. Here are just a few:
“Bittersweet and haunting.” ― Booklist
“A memorable, hopeful story of regret.” ― Kirkus Reviews
“A haunting story of suffering, punctuated with brilliant points of hope and light. This is an important story. A necessary story for so many countless people who need to know they are not alone in their pain. Callen’s writing radiates with passion, honesty and love.” ― An Na, National Book Award finalist and Printz award winning author
“Achingly poignant...a love letter and life raft to the broken-hearted.” ― Alison McGhee, NYT bestselling author
"An exquisitely played love song to life, in all of its hurts, wonders, memories, and loves. This book will remind you that you are needed, in this big and often messy world." ― Jeff Zentner, Morris Award winning author of The Serpent King and Goodbye Days
"Absolutely devastating and yet hauntingly beautiful, A Breath Too Late is a poignant and timely debut from an incredibly gifted author." ― Isabella Ogbolumani, Buffalo Street Books
And here is a little bit about the book:
For fans of Girl in Pieces, All the Bright Places, and Girl, Interrupted comes a haunting and breathtaking YA contemporary debut novel that packs a powerful message: hope can be found in the darkness.
Seventeen-year-old Ellie had no hope left. Yet the day after she dies by suicide, she finds herself in the midst of an out-of-body experience. She is a spectator, swaying between past and present, retracing the events that unfolded prior to her death.
But there are gaps in her memory, fractured pieces Ellie is desperate to re-assemble. There's her mother, a songbird who wanted to break free from her oppressive cage. The boy made of brushstrokes and goofy smiles who brought color into a gray world. Her brooding father, with his sad puppy eyes and clenched fists. Told in epistolary-like style, this deeply moving novel sensitively examines the beautiful and terrible moments that make up a life and the possibilities that live in even the darkest of places. Perfect for fans of the critically-acclaimed Speak, I’ll Give You the Sun, and If I Stay.
And now, the Las Musas interview with author Rocky Callen, arranged by NoNieqa Ramos:
From Mia: Can you talk about how you approach writing difficult and complex topics like depression in your novel?
My mission in writing A BREATH TOO LATE was to make sure to strip depression and suicide of the glamour that often media cloaks it with. I wanted to show the raw ache of both by being honest about the experience. The first draft of the novel was the most explicit and as time went on, I researched, leaned on professionals, and sensitivity readers to make sure the story and prose remained true to the experience while not being gratuitous in its portrayal. I wrote about the experience of writing and revising Breath and also gave ideas for others writing their own stories in the We Need Diverse Books blog with my post “Writing Responsibly About Mental Health and Suicide in Children’s Fiction.”
At the heart of it, I think we must be honest and sensitive and fiercely compassionate as we approach these with our stories (and ourselves) every step of the way.
From Raquel: I always LOVE to hear about how authors choose character names!
I love picking names! Ellie’s name means ‘light’ and I wanted her to be symbolic of being a light in her own life even when she doesn’t realize it. Regina means queen and I wanted to underscore how we can give our power away in toxic relationships AND reclaim it with our choices moving forward. Abel was a name that actually had a lot of significance originally to Ellie, but that thread in the story line was cut before submitting to editors. The idea that sometimes the good son can have Cain fists and the world wouldn’t even know it. August’s name chose itself. When he appeared on the page (I’m a panster), his name appeared and so did the next line: “I kind of like the fact that his name is a month of the year, a month of sunlight, humid air, lightning bugs, last parties, beach trips, and my birthday.” And since that very first draft, his name has never changed.
From Alexandra: I'm always intrigued at what inspired authors to write their stories. How did the idea for A BREATH TOO LATE start? What was the spark that brought it to life?
I wrote the first page as a flash fiction piece I posted on World Suicide Prevention Day. Someone asked me if it was going to be my novel and my first reaction was a hard, visceral NO. It felt too intimate, too raw for me to hold. But over time, the story kept tapping on my heart. The book started almost as a love letter to the girl I once was who almost made the same choice Ellie made and as a reminder of all that I could (or would lose) if I ever did. I faced my own depression that I had long locked behind closed doors with the mask of productivity and accomplishment, the childhood memories that we kept secret, and the grief of all those I have lost to suicide over the years. I wrote the first draft in just over a week, sobbing every step of the way. Over time, the story evolved and took on its own heart and wings, but at first it was a reclaiming of so much of what I had kept in the dark myself.
From Francesca: What were some challenges you encountered while writing in your unique frame (epistolary-style, a character having an out-of-body experience, etc)?
I actually found the POV and epistolary format for this novel to be very organic and natural to write. It is just what came out from the very first draft. Unlike other stories that have a “ghost”, Ellie has no influence or impact on her environment. She is simply there to bear witness to the life she lived and lost. The novel also jumps between past and present and I think that is where I had to really spend more time teasing out the bridges between those moments and also be more explicit about the significance of Ellie retracing her own memories on the page so the reader could follow in a meaningful way.
From Nikki: How does writing heavy material affect you? Do you have any tips on how to take care of yourself while writing? (I ask as someone who is trying to figure this out myself!)
It impacts me tremendously. The last few years have been full of heavy material projects that all have a level of intimacy to me that feels very raw and vulnerable. I am learning my own routines of self care, but tend to work best by going ALL IN and writing as much as quickly as possible so then I can completely step away for a time. I need substantial breaks and bright, luminous, playful things to anchor me along the way. Meditation and journaling (I do daily), music, unplugged time, fun reading, and family activities all help. I think the biggest thing for me as I write things that are heavy or painful or vulnerable is to acknowledge that I am here to tell this story and that is not something to take for granted. I am here and that matters. I am here and this story will unfold as not only it needs to, but as I need it to.
You can order A Breath Too Late at Indiebound, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Please add the book to Goodreads here!
“A collective of women and non-binary (identifying on the female spectrum) Latinx Picture Book, Middle Grade and Young Adult debut authors. Our mission is to spotlight the new contributions of Las Musas in the evolving canon of children's literature and celebrate the diversity of voice, experience, and power in our communities.”
With this text heading our website, Las Musas wanted to take a moment to clarify our language and our intentions regarding gender in this group. We arrived at this wording after a thoughtful group questioned the ambiguity of our original terminology of “women and nonbinary authors.” Our current wording still feels imperfect, so we thought it would be best to explain in more detail.
Las Musas was always meant to be a space for Latina authors (cis or trans), who face specific though varied roadblocks and responses from a largely cisgender white patriarchal publishing industry. (While we seek alliance with binary Latinos in publishing, we exist as a unique and separate entity. This in no way disregards the difficulties faced by the Latinx community of all genders, nor the intricate prejudices within the community.)
In our ever growing evolution of understanding, we quickly realized that limiting our collective to binary genders would deny community to Latinx authors who faced similar and in some cases more severe roadblocks. At the same time, we don’t want anyone to be hurt or caught off guard when the group uses language or focuses on experience that center womanhood.
What this all means is that we do not want to police or gatekeep anyone’s entrance into Las Musas.
If you want to be a Musa, we want you here.
If you feel that your writing career is impacted by your proximity to femininity, we want to uplift your voice.
If you have any questions about this, have a suggestion for how we can word this all more clearly in ten words or less at the top of our website, or want to point out a flaw in our thinking, please reach out so that we can make sure we are achieving our goal of creating a unified and inclusive community.
Las Musas wishes Kim Baker the happiest of book birthdays for her release of the middle-grade novel, The Water Bears.
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