Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Latino List in Boston

Each year, the Boston Public Library creates a guide, a list of book titles that reflect the Hispanic experience for Hispanic Heritage Month.

I'm happy to report that my new novel, Looking for Providence, made the list under fiction this year (page 5 in the guide).  Thank you BPL!

To scroll through the guide, check out the digital version here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The other Jonny Diaz

"I wish I could read all night - seriously one of the best books ever!!" Tweeted one young girl.

"Great show tonight!'' wrote another fan on Facebook.

I wish I could take credit for the compliments but it's not me they're talking about. It's the other Jonny Diaz. Over the years as his star has risen (and mine maybe just a little itty bit), people have confused us.

One commenter on Youtube for one of my readings wrote, "Is this jonny diaz the christian singer? Did he write a gay book? Is he gay?"  

I laughed when I saw that because the mix-ups keep happening. Jonny is my digital doppelganger. So much so that Wikipedia emphasizes that he's the American singer and I'm the American writer.  I remember one time while leaving the airport in Atlanta after a book reading, the security guy looked at my license, then looked at me and said "You're Jonny Diaz! My girlfriend loves your music." I grinned and responded, "Um, thanks but..."

Yet despite our differences (Jonny is a Christian country music singer who is married and I'm none of those things. He plays the guitar and I play with my curly hair), we do have some similarities if you take a closer look.

We're both from Florida. He of Lakeland. Me of Miami.

We went to college in the Sunshine State. Him, Florida State University. Me, Florida International University.

We both share a love of writing (him music, me gay romance novels and news feature stories.)

Most of all, we both enjoy connecting with others. We use our words to uplift people and to get closer to a universal truth.

Jonny broke out with an inspirational song called More Beautiful You which urges people, particularly young girls, that God made us beautiful just as we are and not to give into societal pressures. He also co-wrote a book based on that song.

I broke out with the song More Bootyful You. (Just kidding but that would make a good name for a song). Actually, I came out in the literary world with my debut novel Boston Boys Club, a fun, light-hearted book about three guys looking for love as newcomers to Boston. And I've since written four more books that focus on the power of friendship and love among 20, and 30something guys in Boston, Miami and Providence as they navigate their everyday lives.

Whenever someone has confused me for Jonny, I've smiled and responded to them, "Thank you for reaching out but you might be looking for Jonny Diaz. I'm a writer."   I'd like to think that Jonny has done the same for me over the years. Jonny, if you come across this post, I'd love to send you one of my books, maybe Looking for Providence. (The title alone is spiritual beyond the city.) And much continued success with your music!

By the way, heeere's Jonny in his own words!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Eat, Pray, Elizabeth Gilbert! 

"Be the hero of your own journey!"

"Go on a min-quest!"

"Ask yourself, what stirs you, what moves you, what interests you?... Point yourself in that direction, curiosity is going to lead you to your very own life."

Those are some of the nuggets from Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert that she shared for a story I wrote about her upcoming appearance. She's one of Oprah Winfrey's featured trailblazers on Oprah's The Life You Want tour which rolls into Miami this weekend.

 I had a chance to chat with Elizabeth during a stop in Miami. As expected, she was gregarious and gracious and had always something positive to share as she did in her book which I read mostly on my gym's ellypitcal machine when lived in Boston. I also remember being the only proud (and giddy) dude at the AMC movie theater in Braintree during a Sunday matinee screening of the movie in Aug. 2010. Welcome to Miami, Elizabeth!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Looking for Providence at Boston's Channel 7


A big thank you to Alberto Vasallo of El Mundo newspaper - Boston's oldest Spanish-language weekly - and to Boston's WHDH Channel 7 for having me on their Sunday morning show Urban Update this weekend. I got to talk about my new book Looking for Providence, my late mom Mily being my biggest fan, adjusting to a new job and Jamaica Plain!  Below is what I reference in the video.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hey cheapo, you're cool

Admit it, it's cool to be frugal these days. When people get a great deal or something free, they can't help but brag about it, flaunt it like a badge of honor via social media or in person.  Here's my Sun Sentinel story on how it's chic to be cheap.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book readings in Boston and Providence

To all my Boston and Providence peeps, I have two book readings next week for my latest novel Looking for Providence.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 30, I return to the South End branch of the Boston Public Library where I've always had a great enthusiastic turn out for my previous book readings.  I'll have some books for sale for $10 and there will be refreshments.  Stop by if you're in the neighborhood. 685 Tremont St., Boston.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday Oct. 2, I'll have a reading at the Providence Public Library for Hispanic Heritage Month.  I'm so honored to read from my Providence book there because the book is set in this beautiful city that I am very fond of (in case you haven't noticed.)
There will be some books for sale there too. 150 Empire St., Providence.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Versailles the book

Anyone who has been to Miami knows Versailles Restaurant, the brightly lit Cuban palace with accented wall-to-wall mirrors, green borders and sparkling chandeliers. It's where where the aroma of Cuban coffee mixes with the succulent scent of fresh garlic butter bread.

Now there's a new book that celebrates the family and the history of this Cuban restaurant. I wrote a story about the book, The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook which features some of the eatery's more popular recipes.

Besides the food, the restaurant is a great place to people-watch because of the cross-section of residents and tourists that gather there every day. The restaurant is usually abuzz with activity from the chatter of overly dressed older Hispanic ladies who have just come from one of the funeral homes down the street to the tables of sun-burned tourists and young couples in beach shorts, tank tops and flip flops.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Miami's Motown

Record cover for Helene Smith of Deep City Records
 Before the Miami Sound Machine and Expose, there was another sound that defined the South Florida music scene. It was the Caribbean-flavored, marching-band inspired soul music of Deep City Records, Florida's first black owned record label in the 1960s.  The enterprise helped launched the careers of singers Betty Wright and Helene Smith.

South Florida public broadcaster WLRN TV along with the Knight Foundation have produced a documentary that introduces viewers to this little unknown Miami record company and its artists. Here's my story on the film called "Deep City: The Birth of the Miami Sound."