Jul 6

Tenner Tuesday with Jennifer Cervantes!

Yes, it’s that time again! Today for Tenner Tuesday I have amazing middle grade author Jennifer Cervantes and her oh-so-amazing book: Tortilla Sun!

A bunch about Jennifer: Jennifer lives with her husband, three daughters, two dogs, and two turtles in beautiful New Mexico. Her house is filled (and I mean filled) with books, lots of teen girls, and love. When she gets writer’s block she likes to jump on the trampoline with her youngest daughter, but sometimes they just lie on their backs and watch the clouds inch by; Jennifer love, love, loves Mexican food especially red chile enchiladas. She is inspired by her daughters Alex, Bella, and Jules, their silly friends, amazing stories, and real issues concerning kids who need hope and a place to call home.

Delicious Teaser of Tortilla Sun: When twelve-year-old Izzy discovers a beat-up baseball marked with the words “Because magic” while unpacking in yet another new apartment, she is determined to figure out what it means. What secrets does this old ball have to tell? Her mom certainly isn’t sharing any especially when it comes to Izzy’s father, who died before Izzy was born. But when she spends the summer in her Nana’s remote New Mexico village, Izzy discovers long-buried secrets that come alive in an enchanted landscape of watermelonmountains, whispering winds, and tortilla suns. Infused with the flavor of the southwest and sprinkled with just a pinch of magic, this heartfelt middle grade debut is as rich and satisfying as Nana’s homemade enchiladas.

And now onto my interview with Jennifer!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I wish I had a great epiphany to share, but really it’s been a sequential process. After I jumped each hurdle in my journey, I think I just morphed into the writer I am and I hope I continue to grow as a writer.

How long does it generally take you to write a book from those first words to the very last?

Well, I have to count all the days or weeks or even months I spend thinking about my characters before they ever come to life on the page. And while each book is different, I‘d have to say I spend anywhere from six to twelve months on a manuscript until it is submission ready.

What was the inspiration—that first spark of a story—behind your amazing book?

I think as writers, we often write what we know, so it doesn’t surprise me that my first book is based in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. I knew I wanted this magical backdrop for Izzy’s story and I also knew I wanted to include the richness of the Hispanic culture where my own daughters would see themselves reflected in the pages.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Dizzying! I also teach at the university and am a full time mom to three very active daughters, so I have to work hard to schedule certain days for my writing, which right now is Tuesdays and Thursdays. Wow! Six hours can fly by when you have the house to yourself.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk…come on…I know you have one!

I have a quirk that does not ever help me construct a story, but I can read, write, and talk backwards! But who knows? Maybe I’ll work it into one of my books one day.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I LOVE to read, take long walks, hang out with my girls, and eat red chile cheese enchiladas with a fried egg on top!

What do you think makes a good story?

Heart (Well said!)

Without giving us any spoilers, how did you choose the title for your book?

It was actually the first and only title and when I wrote the first scene with Izzy and Nana, I knew it was perfect!

Are there any tools that are absolute must-haves for writers?

The ability to imagine and persevere

What kind of research went into writing your book if any?

Talks with my mom, native New Mexicans to make sure I got the dialect right, and I spent time among the cottonwoods along the Rio Grande to make sure I captured the essence of the place.

Have you ever had someone try to matchmake for you and if so, how did it go?

No, but I have played matchmaker lots and lots of times.

Because I think you should always save room for dessert, as a child, what was your favorite dessert? And what is your favorite dessert now?

I love this question because I adore the saying, “Life is short, eat dessert first.” This tells you how I rank sugar. As a kid I loved jamocha almond fudge (still a fav), but now I love it in a buñuelo (a fried tortilla sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar).

What do you hope to leave your readers with once they’ve finished your book?

A strong sense of family and the possibility of magic in their lives.

What question would you like to ask me?

Monopoly or Scrabble?

Definitely Monopoly! I do love me a game of scrabble every now and then, but I have to say that Monopoly is more my game…besides I love being the hat.

You can visit Jennifer on her website at www.jennifercervantes.com! And to order your own copy of Tortilla Sun–which I recommend you do right now, click HERE!

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