News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The things we leave behind define who we are

Silvio Sirias is the award-winning author of the novels Bernardo and the Virgin, Meet Me Under the Ceiba, and The Saint of Santa Fe.

A review of The Skinny Years by Silvio Sirias

"The things we leave behind play a significant role in defining who we are. Moreover, as youth, what life forces us to jettison helps to give shape to the adults we become." This how award-winning author Silvio Sirias begins his review of my new novel The Skinny Years.

The conclusion of Sirias's review left me feeling gratified. 

"In The Skinny Years, a highly readable coming-of-age tale, Ramos y S├ínchez assures readers that when immigrants are allowed to leave behind their former selves at their own pace, renovated identities will emerge. And although these new “Americans” will carry the bruises of their efforts to assimilate, most become grateful and wise contributors to the continuing saga of the United States of America."

You can read the complete review at Silvio's blog, Tropical Perceptions.

With the often-bitter debate over immigration taking place in the U.S. and throughout the world, I am grateful to Silvio Sirias for his insights and wisdom.

The Skinny Years is now available in paperback, hardcover and e-book on Amazon. More distribution sources will follow. 

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rebecca Coffey's review of The Skinny Years

Rebecca Coffey is a science journalist, humorist and the author of several books. She contributes to Scientific American and Discover magazines, as well as to McSweeney's Internet Tendency and The Rumpus. She blogs for Psychology Today and is a frequent guest on talk shows including her on-air commentary for Vermont Public Radio. 
Her latest novel, Hysterical: Anna Freud's Story has garnered glowing reviews from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, LAMDA Literary, and the project director of the Freud Archives, to name a few. So Rebecca’s take on The Skinny Years was reason for elation by its author. Here is her full review:

"Raul Ramos y Sanchez’s The Skinny Years reminded me how precarious world events could make life in the 1960s feel. The “Skinny” of the novel’s title is a pudgy Cuban immigrant boy, a perennial outsider looking in. He’s got his mind and heart focused safely on the sweet, beautiful rich girl in his class. Meanwhile his peripheral vision catches an onslaught of very real calamities. The many humiliations of poverty. Pervasive racism and jingoism that, as a white Cuban in Miami, he can almost sidestep. The Bay of Pigs. Slaughter in Vietnam. Classroom safety movies about how to survive nuclear holocaust. Triggers like these conspire to drive Skinny ever more deeply into an almost carnival-like circle of naysayers, druggies, and dreamers. The Skinny Years is as nervy and improbable as Oliver Twist and The Goldfinch. And that’s saying a lot."
-- Rebecca Coffey, author of Hysterical: Anna Freud's Story

I want to thank Rebecca for her kind words and for taking the time to review The Skinny Years.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Preview: The Skinny Years

New coming-of-age novel available in June 

My fourth novel, The Skinny Years, is quite different from the Class H Trilogy. It's more personal and closer to home. I hope this coming-of-age story set in the stormy sixties reminds readers of every generation that the path out of innocence is always a one-way journey—and one we never forget.

A synopsis of The Skinny Years:

Surfers, soul brothers, hippies, and thugs— they’re all part of Victor “Skinny” Delgado’s world growing up in Miami during the turbulent 1960s. Fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba, Skinny’s once-wealthy family moves from a mansion in Havana to a roach-infested bungalow in Miami’s low-rent Wynwood district. Over the next ten years the Delgados struggle to survive in this strange new land—a place where fat men in red suits enter your home through the chimney, demons appear at the door begging for candy, and young women go on dates without chaperones. There’s only one constant in Skinny's world as he grows from 8 to 18. He longs in vain for the girl of his dreams: his neighbor Janice Bockman who seems everything American—and everything he’s not.

Advance reviews:

"Vivid, engaging, well-paced, with compelling characters. A terrific book."
  Ralph Keyes, best-selling author of Is There Life After High School?

"As nervy and improbable as Oliver Twist and The Goldfinch. And that's saying a lot."  — Rebecca Coffey, journalist, humorist and author of Hysterical: Anna Freud's Story

Coming in June. Want a reminder email?

If you'd like to get an email reminding you when The Skinny Years has been released please click here.

The novel will be available in hardbound, paperback and eBook editions.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Saturday, April 9, 2016

I Tend a White Rose

Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca (I Tend a White Rose) is perhaps the best-known work of Cuba’s most beloved patriot and poet, Jose Marti. In Spanish, the poem’s simple words are powerful and inspiring. Yet I’ve never been nearly as moved by its many English translations. So I will toss my hat into the ring. Whether you are bilingual or not, I hope you’ll let me know what you think of my version.

I Tend a White Rose 
I tend a single white rose
in summer as well as winter,
for the true friend who will extend
an honest hand in peace.  
And for the foe who would tear
the living heart from my chest,
thistle nor thorns do I sow,
I tend a single white rose.

Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca
Cultivo una rosa blanca
en junio como en enero
para el amigo sincero
que me da su mano franca.
Y para el cruel que me arranca
el coraz├│n con que vivo,
cardo ni ortiga cultivo;
cultivo la rosa blanca.

Little known outside Cuba, Jose Marti was a patriot, a poet, and most of all, a humanitarian.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Do you cringe when recalling high school?

Do you cringe when recalling your high school years? You may be surprised to learn you’re not alone after reading best-selling author Ralph Keyes' updated classic “Is There Life After High School.”

The latest edition contains new research on the high school experiences of public figures like Barrack Obama, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Katie Couric, George Clooney, Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and many more. 

One of my favorite nuggets from the book:
When a high school tormentor came to congratulate Mike Nichols after his standup act, Nichols asked the former bully what he was doing now.
"I'm selling used cars," said the tormentor.
"I'm so glad," said Nichols. 
If you’re a few years beyond those hallways filled with lockers and adolescent angst (or even if you're still in high school), you’ll find this an enlightening and enjoyable read. 

"Is There Life After High School" is currently available as a Kindle edition

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Friday, March 18, 2016

Author James Rollins: A Class Act

James Rollins has written dozens of novels, many of them best-sellers. As anyone who's penned a novel can tell you, good writing takes time. And Rollins is no slouch. His work is consistently ranked with other thriller giants like John Grisham, David Baldacci and James Patterson. Yet Rollins somehow finds the time to read the work of other authors and showcase their books alongside his own.

I found this out firsthand a few days ago.

On Jim's FantasticFiction page, along with his many titles, were novels he recommends. There, among books by several other authors, was the second novel of my Class H Trilogy, House Divided.

Jim Rollins is an example of what we should all strive to be, regardless of our endeavors: dedicated, hardworking, and generous.  I'm honored by his recognition--as a fellow author and a class act. 

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Thursday, March 10, 2016

When the book is better than the movie

When the subject of books-into-movies comes up, almost everyone I know favors the book over the film. The most often cited reason? The book offers more depth of character and plot.

That’s not surprising when you do the math. Most books run 250 to 350 pages. The typical movie script is 100 pages long.

All the same, there’s an exception to every rule. Below is a short list of movies I think are better than the book. Have a different opinion? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Forrest Gump

I found the novel by Winston Groom rambling and bizarre. In the book, Forrest is a stereotypical lug-of-a-lineman at Alabama who becomes an astronaut and has an extended relationship with a chimpanzee. Thank God the film’s producer kept the title and little else.  

The Legend of Bagger Vance

I’m a fan of Stephen Pressfield’s historical novels. But the film adaptation of his golf-themed book is more focused and richer in character. An outstanding performance by Will Smith really helped. I was also pleasantly surprised to find Robert Redford’s direction less treacly than usual.

Get Shorty

I am messing with a demi-god in dissing Elmore Leonard. Over 20 of his novels were made into films—and I’ve loved many of them. But Get Shorty on the page seems slow and stale compared to its screen adaptation. Chili Palmer could be John Travolta’s best role ever—although that’s not saying much.

The Martian 

My hat is off to Andy Weir. Rare is the contemporary science fiction writer who hews to the laws of physics and resists invoking mystical forces. Still, the novel’s dialog and narrative are stilted at times. Ridley Scott transformed Weir’s well-intentioned effort into a captivating film.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Just because you can write a book doesn’t mean you can sign one

As an author of 16 titles, you'd think author Ralph Keyes faces book signings with little trepidation. After reading Ralph's new essay for The American Scholar, I was relieved to find I was not alone in my angst over dedicating books. Enjoy Inscriber's Block, an inside look into the world of authors and our insecurities.


Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Thursday, March 3, 2016

KKUP live: Cuban myths, El Trumpazo, music and more

When: Saturday March 5th 3-4 PM ET - Noon to 1 PM PT
Alma Latina - hosted by Jesus Orosco

Listen live on your laptop or computer 

Hope you can join our conversation as host Jesus Orosco and I discuss... 

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio -- Cubanos or Latinos?

How El Trumpazo made his bones on Mexicans

Cuba: the reality vs. the media myth

Great music too

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Saturday, February 20, 2016

PANCHO LAND now available in paperback and Nook eBook


Nook eBook

PANCHO LAND, the third novel of my Class H Trilogy, is now available in paperback and Nook eBook. I expected these other editions were just around the corner when the Kindle version was released in 2012. Now, nearly four years later, the stars have aligned and the other editions are finally available. Whew.

Anyway, it's an excuse to celebrate. So here is the honorary PANCHO LAND spokesperson Chi Chi Chihuahua with his take on the news.


Raul Ramos y Sanchez