Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Short-Handed Halloween Stomp

Copyright illustration © 1999, Luis San Vicente.
All rights reserved. Reproduction or copy of this image is not permitted without permission.

Oh, my God. El Día de los Muertos and Halloween are just a few days away and we’ve not published our annual mini-catalog for these sweet and holy days. The ghosts are sharpening their knives for supper, they’re cleaning their bowls and glasses, they're hungry for some menudo and tequila, but they need to know what to read. Well, it’s certainly not too late if you live in El Paso. Just come on down to 701 Texas Avenue and we’ll pack your goodie bags with books. And if you live out of town, well, it’s not too late if you have a good bookstore near you. Or you could even call Cactus Mary Fountaine here at Cinco Puntos and she’ll do what she can to get you books. But meanwhile, we’re sorry for the delay. The Fall is a busy time for Independent Publishing and we’re traveling and working. Ni modo. We thank you always for your support of Cinco Puntos Press.

The Festival of Bones / El Festival de las calaveras: A Little-Bitty Book for the Day of the Dead written and illustrated by Luis San Vicente. On Mexico's Day of the Dead, the skeletons jump for sheer joy. And no wonder: they’ve been cooped up the whole year long and now they’re ready to party. With fantastic illustrations and a wild and fanciful poem, San Vicente captures the spirit of this most marvelous holiday. A short and fun essay, directed toward young readers, explains this important Mexican holiday, and the fun things kids can do to join in the festivities.

El Cucuy: A Bogeyman Story in Spanish and English by Joe Hayes and illustrated by Honorio Robledo. In the Southwest and much of Mexico, the scary bogeyman is known as el Cucuy. With his humped back and his big red ear, el Cucuy was once a standard part of child rearing. Many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans will tell you, "I grew up with el Cucuy." And there are plenty of stories of lazy, disobedient children whose feet were set back on the straight and narrow path by an encounter with this ogre. Although today's parents no longer think it appropriate to rely on threats of calling the local bogeyman to come and carry their children away, the young still delight in tales of bad boys and girls, ones who are much worse than they are, getting the good scare they deserve from El Cucuy. Of course the best tales, like this one, always have a happy ending.

Egad! We’re briefly out of stock of Joe Hayes classic La Llorona, the Weeping Woman. Can you believe that? Our best selling book is so popular she’s all out into the streets looking for her children. She’s arriving—at least in her iconic book form—in November. Not soon enough. Forgive us. But we have something almost as good. Perhaps for some, even better: Joe Hayes telling the story of La Llorona--along with El Cucuy--on the audio compact disk: Two Scary Folktales in Spanish and English. And you can watch Joe telling La Llorona bilingually on his classic DVD. He’s in a mountain New Mexico ghost town. He tells a little bit of Spanish, the same then in English. A classic Spanish guitar is playing in the background. And every once in a while you see La Llorona herself running through the stream. Oh, she’s looking for her children. Mis hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiijjjooooooooos! Mis hiiiiiiiiiiiiiijjooooooooooooos! It’s something else to hear and watch Joe telling the story. Bring your blankets. It's very good to have some place to hide!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


This weekend, October 17th and 18th, is the Texas Book Festival at the State Capital in Austin, Cinco Puntos Press will be celebrating our usual theme: Book Publishing Independence. We'll be at Booth Number 311. Publishers Johnny Byrd and Bobby Byrd will be the hosts at our booth. Come by and visit, check out our new books, remember the back list and talk the talk and buy some books. Remember, we’re “the publishing house La Llorona built,” so as always we’ll be giving out a free bumper sticker with every purchase: HONK IF YOU’VE SEEN LA LLORONA.

As always, Cinco Puntos Press will be sending our representatives to the State Capital.

Saturday, 12pm, Capitol Extension Room E2.014. Johnny Byrd and Bobby Byrd will be discussing their anthology LONE STAR NOIR which they edited for Akashic Books (Brooklyn). It’s always fun to collaborate with a colleague in this world of independent publishing. They will be joined by contributors Tim Tingle and Sarah Cortez.

Saturday, 12:30pm, Capital Extension Room E2.016. Tom Miller will be on the panel “110 In the Shade -- Writing About the Southwest.” He says he’ll be shamelessly flogging REVENGE OF  THE SAGUARO: Offbeat Travels Through America's Southwest.

Sunday, 1:00pm. Children’s Chapter Read Me A Story Tent. Tim Tingle will be telling the story from his new book SALTYPIE: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light, Saltypie is a Native American’s story of moving to Texas. The trouble it brought. Tim says if there's no trouble, there's no story. So there you go. Cynthia Leitich Smith has praised it as an important children's book about growing up Native American. And if you're there on Sunday, ask Tim to conclude with his famous singing of “Amazing Grace” in his native Choctaw.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Texas Bleeds Noir Fiction

Well, like we didn't have anything else to do, Johnny Byrd and I delighted ourselves by editing Lone Star Noir, an anthology of unpublished crime fiction featuring Texas writers. And, no, Cinco Puntos is not the publisher, Akashic Books of Brooklyn is the publisher. Akashic has a large and very successful series of noir anthologies--Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Rome, Mexico City, Istanbul, Las Vegas, Phoenix for God's sake. All sorts of places. And Akashic publisher Johnny Temple--obviously feeling the need to plug the noir side Texas into the series--asked Johnny Byrd and me to edit Lone Star Noir. He wanted us to go beat the bushes.

The rule is all stories in an Akashic noir collection will be unpublished. Akashic, like Cinco Puntos, likes diversity, so he wanted the greatest mixture of voices we could find. It was what made the looking fun. Akashic and Cinco Puntos have for a long time been sharing booths at conferences and book fairs. We have one of those solid relationships that are the foundation of independent publishing in the United States. They are good friends, good colleagues and they are good citizens in the world of independent publishing. So it was a no-brainer. Yes, we said.

And it's been kicks.

You'll find some great stories (no filler here) in the volume, all unpublished. Even Mary Martha Crumley, the widow of Jim, searched through his archives and found a delightful and unpublished James Crumley story. It was like a visit from Jim's ghost. He brought along his Texas twang and his weird humor to tell a downright scary story of sisters and sex and envy and sorrow. Thanks, Mary Martha. And there's a whole list of good writers (see below). Some known and some new folks getting their feet wet and others in-between. Joe Lansdale, the creme de Texas noir. And Luis Alberto Urrea and David Corbette did a wild collaboration that waltzes across Texas from the Gulf Coast to El Paso and Juarez. Cinco Puntos Press writers contributed--Jessica Powers and Lisa Sandlin--getting their feet good and wet in the genre. The common denominator is good writing. Johnny and I are proud. We'll be in Austin this weekend at the Texas Book Festival doing a panel and selling Lone Star Noir in the big tent and at the Cinco Puntos Press booth. If you're there, come see us. Tim Tingle, Sarah Cortez, Johnny Byrd and me (aka Bobby Byrd) will be on the panel, and we hope some of the other authors are in the audience. Folks like Jesse Sublette, George Wier, Milton Burton, all of whom live in the vicinity. And whoever else is in the neighborhood. Copies should be shipping to your bookstores right now and should be available in the next week or so. We'll put them on our website, but in the meantime, if you are a noir fiction junkie, give us a call and we'll sell you one from our stock.

The List of Writers:  James Crumley, Joe Lansdale, Claudia Smith, Ito Romo, Luis Alberto Urrea, David Corbett, George Weir, Sarah Cortez, Jesse Sublette, Dean James, Tim Tingle, Milton Burton, Lisa Sandlin, Bill Crider, and Bobby Byrd.

From Bobby's introduction:

You can drive around Texas for a long time and never meet J.R. Ewing or Woodrow Call. The real Texas hides out in towns and cities like you'll find in Lone Star Noir,  and in that very Texas reality, among the everyday good folks of Texas, you'll find the hard-boiled understanding of guns and dope and blood money and greed and hatred and delusion that makes these fourteen stories come alive on the page. Sure, you might catch a glimpse of J.R. and old Woodrow Call, like a shadow at the edge of your sight, feel their heat at your back, catch a whiff of the dead flowers which are their Texas dreams. This is basic foodstuff for a Texas writer telling a story, but the story must always stay true to its place and the people who live there. That's the strength of these stories in Lone Star Noir--the particular place they come from, the language that the characters speak. Yes, they are pieces of the larger puzzle that is Texas, but they are more true to the pieces of ground they reveal. Texas, in all its many places, bleeds noir fiction . . .

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


The Instituto Cultural de México in San Antonio (Hemisfair Park), in collaboration with Gemini Inc and its director Rosemary Catacalos, is presenting the book Incantations: Songs, Spells & Images by Mayan Women by Ambar Past, Maruch Mendes Peres and the Taller  Leñateros in San Cristobal, Chiapas. At 6pm on Thursday night, October 7, there will be a discussion with Ambar, Lee Byrd and Bobby Byrd at the Instituto. Immediately following at 7pm, Maya-Tzotzil Maruch Mendez will join Ambar for a Mayan ceremony to celebrate the book and the Mayan women who made it.

On Saturday night, October 9th, Ambar, Lee and Bobby will perform their work of poetry and fiction at 7:00pm at the offices of Gemini Inc at 513 South Presa. Also on Saturday Lee will be giving a workshop in publishing and Bobby will be giving a workshop in poetry. For more information, call Gemini Inc at (210) 734-9673.

Come join us. It should be fun. 

Monday, October 4, 2010


On September 18th, the El Paso Community College, as part of its Second Annual EPCC Literary Fiesta, gave Cinco Puntos its Community Spirit Award for 25 years of celebrating literature. All three of us--Johnny Byrd, Lee Byrd and me too, Bobby Byrd--were delighted and honored. And we were in good company. The night before EPCC awarded its Literacy Legacy Award to Pat Mora for her work as a writer and as the principal force behind the annual literacy celebration El Día de los Niños. We were of course very proud. Our good friend Benjamin Alire Sáenz, who couldn’t be there sent out some very nice comments to be read. Novelist Rich Yañez and poet Lawrence Welch likewise honored us with some great thoughts, but most special was that our daughter Susie Byrd, who is the El Paso City Council Representative for District Two, gave a speech honoring us. Susie, of course, is an alumnus of Cinco Puntos. We are always wishing she would come back.

This is what Ben said—

I’m sorry I’m not able to be here, but I just wanted to convey to all of you how absolutely thrilled I am that EPCC is recognizing Cinco Puntos with this award. For the last 25 years, Lee and Bobby Byrd have committed their lives, their energies, their hearts, their passions, their resources and their minds to publishing the highest quality literature that reflects the border culture in which they live. Cinco Puntos Press is not only a local and regional treasure--they are a national treasure. They have published--and continue to publish--books that are contributing to the national debate as to who we are as a people and as a nation. I love and admire Bobby and Lee and I have nothing but respect for what they have done for the writing community of this country. What they have accomplished is no small feat. I am proud and grateful to be one of their authors. I hate to brag, but I believe I may be their biggest fan.


My Parents Wandered Around for a While

My parents wandered around for awhile. Moving from place to place, looking for an anchor. Then when I was 7, after having lived in 15 different places from Colorado to New Mexico, they landed on the 2700 block Louisville Street in El Paso, Texas and haven’t moved since.

They found their anchor on the border, a place so unlike Plainfield, NJ where my mother grew up and Memphis, TN where my father grew up. They fell in love with the wide open spaces, the barren desert landscape, living at the base of a mountain, living five minutes from another country, living in a neighborhood with a little bit of everyone, where everyone belongs. They fell in love with the confusion of the border, a place American but not quite, a place Mexican but not quite. As writers, the language of the border made sense to them, mixing up Spanish and English to find the words that mean what you want to say, rather than confining yourself to one language or the other. Making up words when neither language quite captures the meaning. Language should always mean something. Right?

Cinco Puntos Press is their homage to a place they love, a place that has welcomed them as neighbor. Because they were not trained in the art of publishing, they were free to make the mistakes that built their reputation as an internationally recognized publishing company.

No one seeped in the children book industry headquartered in New York City would have ever recommended publishing a bilingual book about a woman who drowns her children. But when storyteller Joe Hayes tells the legend of La Llorona, he builds the story from both Spanish and English. Mom and Dad knew that La Llorona, a Mexican story passed from generation to generation, belonged to the Spanish language but could also be told in English. So for them it was a no brainer that both languages would share the same page, the same book. It was one of their first books and one of the first bilingual books in the United States. Now with the changing demographics of our country, no one blinks when you offer up bilingual books. Cultural change comes from places like El Paso, from companies like Cinco Puntos Press who build themselves from the pulse of their community. New York follows.

My dad and mom firmly believe in the publishing process as an act of creative discovery, a way for the actors involved to know themselves better. They picked Gloria Osuna Perez to paint the illustrations for Little Gold Star, another bilingual book by Joe Hayes, even though they knew she was dying. She was the right illustrator for the book. She finished three paintings and then told my mom and dad that she probably couldn’t finish. But she had an idea. Her daughter Lucia Angela Perez was an artist. Gloria had sketched the book. Lucia could finish the book. My mom and dad agreed. So while Lucia cared for her mom as she was dying, Gloria would teach Lucia about the colors, how to blend them, what her vision was for the book, how Lucia could help her finish. When Gloria died, Lucia was able to honor her mom and know her mom by finishing her work. The book is gorgeous and a testament to the open hearts of my parents.

The other thing about Cinco Puntos Press that I want you to know is that it is a family business. My brothers and I have all worked there. My husband worked there. And if you aren’t family to start with, you eventually get there. And the remarkable thing about working there is that even if you are packing books or managing the accounts, you are invited into the process of creating and selling books.