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  • Writer's pictureElaine Marie Carnegie

Author, Maria J. Estrada

Help me welcome this week's Guest Author on the Writer's Journey Blog.

My writing journey has not been smooth but continues to be rewarding. I grew up in the desert between Yuma and Somerton, AZ, close to the Cocopah Reservation. At an early age, I became an avid reader of Spanish comic books or novelas. Then, once I learned how to read in English, I devoured everything in both languages.

Growing up in the Southwest had a huge impact on my writing. I write about the desert where I grew up and infuse my stories with Spanish, English, and Spanglish. In fact, when I went to undergraduate school, most of my poetry and fiction dealt with the border. Recently, I have been trying to write more about Chicago, where I live, but I still veer back to the Southwest.

In 2016, I decided to stop talking about writing and actually do it. I continued writing a novel that I started back in my undergrad years now titled The Harvested—a dystopian novel where women rule with an iron fist. I’ve revised it five times and am going over it again and hope to publish it this summer.

2018 marked a huge milestone; I started putting my work out there. A friend of mine Eric Allen Yankee had been independently publishing his romance novels, and he helped me with the production of The Long Walk. I self-published four novelettes that summer, with some success.

Last year, I also started sending my work out and writing in genres out of my comfort zone like drabbles (100-word short stories). I am happy to have several poems and stories accepted to international anthologies ranging from literary to science fiction.

What really slowed down my writing, though, was prioritizing what mattered. I have three degrees in English, including a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition, but I would often get sidetracked by absurdities, like trying to find a date or playing too much on my X-box. Years later, when I started getting serious about my novel, I also got pregnant with my second child, and I tend to be a mom that uber-devotes her time to her kids, so I set that work aside. And that’s fine.

I just remind myself of the best writing advice I got from Jack Hirschman, international poet laureate, when I asked him with angst, “How do I write a novel?” He said, “Put the pencil to the paper and write.” That’s what I do. I try to write every day for at least thirty minutes, sometimes more.

I also try to build community with writers and readers and that keeps me focused. I run a group on Facebook called Penned in the City, and one thing I love to do is to review books written by the members. For independent writers, these reviews are gold. Even when I’m not sending work out, their writing victories inspire me to keep on.

No matter what, I write and don’t stop.

Two Books From Author Maria J Estrada coming in 2020

Find her at:

YouTube: “Radical Books and Politics”

Bio: MARIA J. ESTRADA is an English college professor of Composition, Literature, and her favorite, Creative Writing. She grew up in the desert outside of Yuma, Arizona in the real Barrio de Los Locos, a barrio comprised of new Mexican immigrants and first-generation Chicanos. Drawing from this setting and experiences, she writes like a loca every minute she can—all while magically balancing her work and family obligations. She lives in Chicago’s south side with her wonderfully supportive husband, two remarkable children, and two mischievous cats.

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