Friday, April 18, 2008

New This Week: The Road from La Cueva by Sheila Ortego

January Magazine

Sheila Ortego’s debut novel is interesting on several levels. Ortego holds a doctorate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico and she has taught Southwestern literature, women’s literature and women’s studies at several institutes of higher learning. She is currently the president of Santa Fe Community College, the first woman to hold that post. So, clearly, she is someone who has spent time exploring the intellectual side of making words that move hearts.

On the other hand, Ortego is a poet and she was recently invited to join the Live Poets Society in Santa Fe.

Both of these facets of Ortego’s life path are well represented in The Road from La Cueva (Sunstone Press) where we meet Ana Howland, a woman at a violent emotional crossroad in her life. Ana is faced with choices, some of which are hidden from her by a controlling husband and a habit of personal repression. None of this is particularly new ground, but Ortego’s sharp eye and delicate tread make it a vibrant journey of discovery. The Road from La Cueva is slender, but engaging and entirely memorable.

Front Street Reviews

The Road from La Cueva
Sheila Ortego

Reviewed by Terry Studer
Front Street Reviews

The Road from La Cueva by Sheila Ortego is such a wonderful read. It was short, far from sweet and to the point without all the added fluff and filler you will find in most books. This book could pertain to any number of women around the world in trouble.

Ana Howland is an almost to perfect woman for a fiction novel. She's a wife, mother, friend, daughter and lover. Lacking self esteem, being depressed, feeling trapped and scared to death keeps her in a marriage of hardship.

The story is a journey through a year of Ana's life and of the changes that come from a welcoming hand out of the blue. Each day, week, month offer up steps forward and steps backward while Ana tries so hard to find the tiniest morsel of courage to make the right decisions for her and her daughter.

Ana is in an abusive controlling marriage with the constant threat of danger at every turn she makes. What she thought would be a life long loving relationship has been anything but. The only kindness her husband does show is to their young daughter and she wonders how much of that is true.

A stranger comes along and offers her salvation but at what cost. A neighbor becomes friends with her on such a deep level that Ana's husband is jealous and forbids her to stay friends with this person. Both of these people help Ana see that life is not always what you're handed and you can change the outcome. All you need to do is ask for help but does she have the courage and will she escape unscathed.

The author of this book deserves the best of reviews for this touching, heart melting story that could be of any one of our lives. The novel seems too real to be a work of fiction and I wonder how much is fact and how much is truly fiction. I would give this a 5 star rating because it captured me, educated me and let me see that there are true friends and love out there, you only have to reach for them.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Writing Awards

Here's a short list of awards I've won:

Third Prize ($25), for the Santa Fe Writer's League 2007 Quarterly Poetry Competition, for: "Agamogenesis"

Second Prize ($50), for 2008 Modern Love Writing Competition, for The Road From La Cueva synopsis.

First Place for First Novel (Recognition Only) in 2008 New Mexico Book Cooperative's annual Book Awards.

I hope there will be many more awards to come!

The Road From La Cueva

The book signings for my new novel, The Road From La Cueva, are coming up soon! Even better -- they will serve as fundraisers for Esperanza, the shelter for victims of domestic abuse. I'll attach the post card invitation momentarily...