Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I hadn't published a book since 2011, when my poetry chapbook, Breath & Bone, was issued by Kentucky's Finishing Line Press. But I've stayed busy with writing since then and have been totally delighted that various editors and presses have published my work. Even after years of writing, the joy of seeing my work in print--whether in a book, journal, anthology, or blog--never diminishes. I think most writers feel the same way. I'm very thankful for all the kind people who believe in my work and are supportive toward it. You're the best!

Do you have any questions you'd like to ask an author about his/her writing process? Meaning of stories or poems he/she wrote? Where inspiration comes from? 
I love to interact with readers! Please feel free to email me at thelma.reyna@ymail.com with your questions or comments. Or visit my Facebook page, "Author Thelma Reyna's Fan Club," with any comments. I'm especially pleased to talk with students, aspiring writers, and published authors. Let's share our thoughts!


My new poetry chapbook, Hearts in Common, will be mailed out by Finishing Line Press soon. Those who pre-ordered it, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. (The press is apologetic about their delay.) To those of you who haven't had a chance to order a copy yet, please feel free to visit http://www.finishinglinepress.com or http://www.amazon.com . The book was a national semi-finalist in a poetry chapbook competition. It has received some good reviews thus far, I'm thankful to say.


Short Stories:
  • "Lesbian": If & When Literary Journal, Issue Two, June 2013. [The full text of this story is posted in this blog, below.]
  • "Liar, Liar": The Acentos Review, Fifth Anniversary Issue, May 2013
  • "Widow Bride": Hinchas de Poesia, Issue 9, May 2013
  • "Making It Well Again": PALABRA: A Magazine of Chicano & Latino Literary Art, Issue 8, (2012) 
  • "Juana Macho": phati'tude Literary Magazine, Winter 2012
  • "Snap": Soul Vomit: Beating Domestic Violence (Broken Publications, 2012).
  • "The Undivorced": If & When Literary Journal (Issue One, 2013)
  • "I Stopped by Your House Today": Poetry & Cookies Anthology (Spring 2013)
  • "Talismans": Poetry & Cookies Anthology (Spring 2013)
  • "The Mayans Were Wrong": 2013 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Calendar
  • "Old Habits": San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly [SGVPQ], Spring 2013
  • "Oscar the Blade Runner": SGVPQ, Winter 2013
  • "Shades of Blue": SGVPQ, Fall 2012
  • "Coming to Empty": SGVPQ, Summer 2012
  • "Only the Moon Knows My Secrets": Soul Vomit: Beating Domestic Violence (Broken Publications, 2012).
  • "Hammock: Chicago Old Town": Poetry & Cookies: 2012 Anthology of Poems
  • "Rosita's Hands": Poetry & Cookies: 2012 Anthology of Poems
  • "Early Morning": SGVPQ, Spring 2012
  • "Manicure Diva: Hong Hanh, Apricot Blossom": SGVPQ, Winter 2011
  • "Chicago Winter": SGVPQ, Fall 2011
  • "School Bell": SGVPQ, Summer 2011
  • "Brown Arms": SGVPQ, Spring 2011.
  • "Grandmother's Insomnia": Poetry & Cookies: 2011 Anthology of Poems
  • "Annie's Lap": Poetry & Cookies: 2011 Anthology of Poems.
Book Reviews:
  • Melinda Palacio, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting: La Bloga, June 30, 2013, at www.LaBloga.blogspot.com
  • Melinda Palacio, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting: Hinchas de Poesia, Issue 10, June 2013.
  • Alma Luz Villanueva, The Ultraviolet Sky: Latinopia, May 6, 2013, at www.Latinopia.com
  • Ana Castillo, The Mixquiahuala Letters: Latinopia, March 3, 2013.
  • Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands: Latinopia, December 9, 2012.
  • Pat Mora, Borders: Latinopia, September 30, 2012.
  • Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street: Latinopia, September 3, 2012
  • Cherrie Moraga, Loving in the War Years: Latinopia, July 8, 2012.
  • Lorna Dee Cervantes, Emplumada: Latinopia, May 27, 2012.
  • Lorna Dee Cervantes, Emplumada: Letras Latinas, Review Roundup, June 10, 2012 at www.latinopoetryreview.blogspot.com
  • Estela Portillo Trambley, Rain of Scorpions and Other Writings: Latinopia, April 30, 2012.
  • Estela Portillo Trambley, Rain of Scorpions and Other Writings: La Bloga, May 14, 2012.
  • Nicholasa Mohr, Nilda: Latinopia, March 26, 2012.
  • Oscar Hijuelos, Beautiful Maria of My Soul: Latinopia, December 19, 2011.

Essays & Mini-Essays:
Thank you for taking a look at these works whenever you have time. Share these sites and writings with others, and let's keep spreading the word about other authors, especially those whose books I reviewed. We all have so much to learn all the time! And it's fun.

[Here is the full text of my latest short story, "Lesbian." See publication information above.]


A Short Story by Thelma T. Reyna
             “I’m not a lesbian,” she tells the woman as she holds the door open.

            The visitor stops inside the doorway. She doesn’t look like a hooker, though Marina knows she is.  She’s been referred.  She looks at Marina’s face, probably to see if she’s joking. Else, why has Marina sent for her?

            “Whatever,” the hooker says, and strolls to the sofa. She drops her fake Gucci bag on the floor near the foyer table and starts making herself at home.  Marina brings her a cup of specialty coffee she prepared just before the hooker’s arrival.  Playing the gracious hostess to this stranger might take the edge off a possibly wasted trip.

            The hooker cradles the cup in soft, plump hands and inhales its curlicues of steam. She takes a sip and sighs, leaning back into pillows Marina purchased just for her, for her visit.  Whoever “her” would be.  The stranger has come highly recommended by the man who lives a floor below Marina, a hip, sexy man with an incongruent beer belly and a George Clooney face. Marina asked him, a month ago, if he knew a nice female prostitute she could invite over, and Mister Sexy hadn’t hesitated.

            “Nora!” he blurted, with a grin. “I’ll get you her number. You’ll like her.”  He winked at Marina and didn’t even ask why she wanted a female hooker. Could he possibly think Marina was....

            “I’m not a lesbian,” she says aloud now and flushes when she realizes she’s talking to herself.  Her visitor sits unflustered. 

            “Yeah, you told me,” Nora replies. “And, dearie, the word is ‘gay.’” Her eyes widen at Marina, and she continues sipping her coffee, scanning the apartment, lounging like a lynx. Maybe she likes earning money this way, like a luncheon guest in a fancy city loft, gazing at soothing art on soft blue walls. Nora kicks off her stiletto heels and sinks more deeply into velvet pillows.    

“Great coffee,” she murmurs.

            Marina sits across from Nora, the mirrored coffee table a continent between the two. Marina has no idea what to say, but her stomach churns, her head feels like pigeons are pelting themselves against her skull, and her mouth twitches in anticipation of whatever miraculous words might wend themselves  in.

            Nora stares at her host. “So, are you bi?” she asks.

The question catches Marina by surprise.  Is she?  Who knows? 

“Are you?” Marina deflects.

Nora laughs. She peers into Marina’s face. “Honey, I don’t have a choice what I am.” Her lipstick is wide, her eyes drilling into this peculiar woman’s face, this woman disappearing into her sofa like she is the goddamned hooker, a trespasser in a pad like this. For all the years Nora has worked streets, or linked up temporarily with sugar dads, she’s seen a panoply of humanity, an exhilarating, suffocating, baffling diorama of good, bad, ugly, and downright hideous. But she isn’t prepared for an outlier like this one.

Nora’s question hangs in the air. Marina has never identified herself based on sexual practice, for, actually, she has none. She blushes, her middle-aged virginity rising like a traitorous heat wave. Silent, knees glued, lips pursed, eyes down, she whips herself. What am I doing? Why did I send for this woman? What in heaven’s name got into me?

 “OK. You’re not bi,” says Nora as she watches Marina’s muddled face. Not lesbian, not bi. But she ain’t no hetero, either,cause she summoned me.

Nora sets her coffee mug on the mirrored table and catches a glimpse of herself. She looks a bit flustered, and she flinches. She pats her bangs, her thickly-padded bra, and tugs on her short skirt. But today it doesn’t matter what she looks like, sex siren that she fancies herself. Today will be a first for Nora. She rises from the sofa and stubs her bare toes on the table legs as she moves toward Marina. She’s in alien territory now, and she sits gingerly beside the older woman.

           “Honey,” Nora coos, “give me your hand.”

Marina averts her face and slides her hand toward the hooker. Nora takes it in hers and strokes it, her large, warm palms cupping Marina’s hand in a protective orb.

Now what do you say to a virgin who summons you, but you realize it’s not for sex. What do you say to this woman paying you good money for absolutely nothing. Nora’s stomach lurches in recognition of an ancient self, a little girl so long ago, it makes her head hurt when she resurrects the ghost, the girl who shouldn’t have been on streets, the girl who defied the odds in reverse, who sank despite things. She glances at the mirrored cocktail table and sees young and old side by side, two flummoxed faces, and she feels that she is both.

“You know, honey,” murmurs Nora, “my daddy was a rich man, a mucky-muck who ran a bank, fancy-pants man, my mommy used to call him. Fancy pants. He went around kissing and hugging everyone, Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky, friendly, friendly man.”

Marina looks up slowly, her hand still in Nora’s. The hooker takes Marina’s other hand, cups both together, and clears her throat.

“But he ran out of hugs before he ever got home.”

Her voice is barely audible. Nora moves closer to Marina and wraps her arm around her. Like her mommy and she used to do, she thinks. This is what we got, all we had. This is what the little ghost girl got. Mr. Fancy Pants left it all in the bank.

“And here I am today,” whispers Nora. Her face quivers.

Marina can’t remember the last time her flesh touched someone else’s flesh. Her work is fancy pants, too, and look at her fancy pants condo. Pricey paintings on the walls, velvet pillows, plenty of style. Marina’s hands glow, encased in a human shell of fingers and skin. Nora reaches over the older woman’s lap for the blue throw draped on the sofa arm. She shakes the silk throw open and spreads it over Marina’s lap. Marina adjusts her hips on the sofa so the throw drapes easily and helps Nora tuck in the edges close to her thighs and legs touched for the first time with the warmth of another.

Nora murmurs things Marina can’t decipher, but it’s OK.  These are soothing sounds, human sounds. Marina squeezes Nora’s hands, feels her arm across her shoulders, sighs and tilts her head back, eyes closed toward her ceiling, her mouth quivering.

“It’s OK, dear,” Nora says again. Her mother’s words. “I know. I understand.”

Marina’s tears fall on Nora’s blouse, but Nora doesn’t notice.  The women settle into the cushions, one woman with moist eyes closed, savoring touch and human presence, the other remembering how unbeholden touch used to be. Encased in a cocoon of silk, both women listen to the clock on the wall near them, daylight from the large bay window slowly turning to dusky swirls on Marina’s oriental rug. The large glass of the bay slowly blackens as city lights twinkle coolly beyond it.

The young hooker and the older woman sit in silence side by side, shoulders touching, hips touching, knees touching, hands touching, each remembering aloneness, and for this particular evening, each transcending it to provide a measure of solace.

#       #       #

Tuesday, May 7, 2013



 Highly sophisticated technology and one of the oldest means of human communication, the written word, continue to be inextricably entwined, expanding side by side like the proverbial odd couple.

 Verbal communication has evolved at light speed, with talking on the spot seemingly dominating how we communicate. After all, we have Skype, face-to-face talks on fancy phones, “Go To Meetings” for job-related face-to-face discussions, Instagram how-to videos, and TED webinars. People are ubiquitously seeing and speaking to one another on screens in real time, whether it’s for high-stakes negotiations, cutting a business deal with someone on the other side of the globe, catching up with friends and family, or simply having a laid-back chat. We have voice recognition and robots, with people at a distance telling drones, space travelers, and other non-humans in algorithmic messages what to do. Also, camera phones’ pictures, as they say, “are worth a thousand words.”

 But just as pundits predicted the end of books we hold in our hands when Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers saturated the market, the written word—written by us individually or collectively, written in complete sentences, paragraphs, and pages—has not fallen into the realm of dodo birds and dinosaurs. If anything, the written word, created and disseminated by human hands (with the aid of technology) has continued to thrive and expand its reach. And, at least with the truncated writing in Twitter and texting, millions of people who might not have composed written communications beyond their school years and job-related documents, are engaging in daily person-to-person writing.

Utilitarian Websites: A Modern Necessity

 The majority of reputable businesses interested in “branding” themselves, in having an “internet presence,” a “profile” in their business domain, establish and maintain a website. Individuals who are themselves “the business”—independent consultants, authors, lecturers, life coaches, private teachers and tutors, for example—also increasingly tout their work on professional websites. Technology and the old-fashioned primo communication tool, writing, are like a pair of gloves. You can’t have one without the other.

 Whether websites are maintained by the owners themselves, or by webmasters, the ability to write clear, attractive, compelling prose, to communicate in a friendly, accessible manner with clients or potential clients, can make the difference between a business that thrives and one that stagnates. Technology has enabled websites to have bells and whistles, photos, music, videos, and interactive gizmos, that a simple written document lacks, but it’s the written words on the page that work their magic and help a business succeed.

 Citizen Journalists: Bloggers with a Cause

 Ever heard of The Huffington Post, or Huff Post? Created in 2005 by famed blogger/commentator Arianna Huffington and three other blogger columnists, the Huff Post has been called the most powerful news source in the world and, in 2012, became the first commercial online newspaper to win a Pultizer Prize, the most prestigious writing award in the U.S. It grew exponentially and has garnered numerous awards, including the #1 rank out of 15 top-ranked political websites in America.

Thousands of bloggers write columns and articles for the site without compensation, just for the opportunity to be published. Also, prominent experts in varied fields regularly contribute blogs and columns. Each month, over a million comments are written by readers and posted to Huff Post. The Huff Post is the poster child for the rise and success of the written word on digital media, as well as the engagement of the international public to write commentary on hot topics the digital newspaper covers.

 Admittedly, the Huff Post is an anomaly, with its astonishing success. But bloggers like you and me have staked out territories in cyberspace and regularly dish on topics ranging from the small and insignificant but personally appealing, to the more momentous issues that well-known blogs cover. Political issues are routinely debated and dissected by “citizen journalists” in their blogs and websites all across America. These “journalists” are writing about topics, issues, and events that were once monopolized by the “mainstream media” (long-established newspapers and broadcast media; also called “MSM”) who, prior to the internet, had sole proprietorship of media information as gatekeepers of what news got reported, when, where, and how. Citizen journalists, in fact, sometimes beat the MSM to the punch in discovering and uncovering vital news events and information and capturing the attention of the nation.

 We no longer just rely on the MSM as our eyes and ears on what’s happening. The people’s eyes and ears collectively, via technology coupled with the people’s writing, have become our conduit to keeping up with the world. The sociopolitical landscape has thus shifted tremendously since websites, blogs, and citizen journalists exploded onto the scene...and throughout the scene.

 Social Media: The Written Word Flourishes

Though they are sometimes minimized in importance, perhaps due to their brevity and greater focus on the personal rather than on gravitas, the “social media”—Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, My Space, Tumblr, and the many other venues for expression—have fingers flying and people writing daily, often throughout the day in fits and spurts. Whether it’s a coughed-out phrase, emotional protestations of love, terse political commentary, or invitations to engage, the social media cast their nets wide, and wider, across the globe.

In the 21st century, our communication is like a pair of gloves: technology, with its gee-whiz alacrity and ability to wow; and the old-fashioned written compositions we each hammer together with our fingers and hands and our own brains. Put these two seemingly-mismatched gloves together, and you have human interaction that has something for everyone: the visual, the oral, and the best of both worlds.