Connecting Latinas All Over the World through Literature


2014 Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference Panelists

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Chris Campanioni


Chris Campanioni is a first-generation Cuban- and Polish-American and a native New Yorker. He has worked as a journalist, model, and actor, and he currently teaches literature and creative writing at the City University of New York. His writing has also appeared in the Star-Ledger, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Bergen Record, the Herald News, The Brooklyn Rail, StatORec, La Pluma y La Tinta, theNewerYork, Vending Machine Press, and Fjords Review.

He was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize at Lincoln Center in 2013, and his novel, Going Down, was recently selected as Best Debut Novel for the approaching International Latino Book Awards. It was also named by the New York Post as a “must-read book” and one of the best books of the year by the Latina Book Club.

For more information, visit

Johanna CastilloJohanna Castillo

Johanna Castillo is the Vice President and Senior Editor of Atria Publishing, a division of Simon & Schuster. With more than 240 New York Times bestsellers to the imprint’s credit since its launch in 2002, Atria is known for particular expertise in the areas of women’s fiction, mystery/thriller, African-American fiction, memoir, popular culture, health and diet, cooking, popular science, psychology, self-help and spirituality. Atria brings innovation to the publication of books that entertain and enlighten.

The authors Johanna has worked with include Laura Esquivel, Laura Day, Jorge Posada, Daisy Martinez, Javier Sierra, Felix Palma, Maria Dueñas, Juan Gomez-Jurado, Peter Prange, Augusto Cury, Dr.Elisha Goldstein, Maria Celeste Arrarás, Daisy Fuentes, Liz Balmaseda, and Xu Xiaobin.

For more information, visit Johanna Castillo at Atria Publishing Group.

Suzan Colon

Photo by Nathan Tweti

Suzan Colón

Suzan Colón is the author of the inspirational memoir Cherries in Winter: My Family’s Recipe for Hope in Hard Times, published by Random House, and the yoga-themed women’s fiction title Beach Glass, published by Bell Bridge Books.

Suzan is a former senior editor at O, the Oprah Magazine. She has contributed to lifestyle and women’s interest magazines including Latina, Good Housekeeping, MSO Whole Living, Harper’s Bazaar, Jane, Details, and many others. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post and has appeared on The Today Show and The Early Show.

Suzan has also written three YA novels for Little, Brown based on the hit TV series Smallville, two books for Chronicle based on DC Comics characters, and three children’s books. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Nathan, a photographer.

For more information, visit

Shelley Diaz

Shelley Diaz has worked in several areas of children’s publishing, from licensing to book scouting. She was the co-editor of Caridad Ferrer’s So She Dances and Gloria Whelan’s The Disappeared. Currently the Associate Editor at School Library Journal, Shelley is simultaneously working on her MLIS at Queens College (where she is currently researching for her thesis: “Diversity in YA Book Covers”), editing book reviews, and writing news articles on diversity issues.

A yalit-lover for life, she can be found tweeting about books, TV shows, and movies @sdiaz101. She’s also been known to fiddle around on Tumblr:

Alina Garcia-LapuertaAlina García-Lapuerta

Alina García-Lapuerta is the author of the upcoming book La Belle Créole: The Cuban Countess Who Captivated Havana, Madrid, and Paris (Chicago Review Press, September 2014), the first English-language biography of Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, the Cuban-born star of nineteenth-century Parisian society.

Alina was born in Cuba, but came to the US at an early age. A graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, she is a member of Biographers International Organization, and The Biographers’ Club of London. Based in London with her Spanish-American husband and their two children, Alina still spends considerable time in South Florida where she grew up.

For more information, visit

For more information, visit

Daisy HernandezDaisy Hernández

Daisy Hernández is the author of A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir and coeditor of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism. The former editor of ColorLines magazine, she speaks at colleges and conferences about feminism, race, and media justice, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, NPR’s All Things Considered, and Ms. magazine.

For more information, visit

Luis JaramilloLuis Jaramillo

Luis Jaramillo is the author of The Doctor’s Wife, winner of the Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Contest, an Oprah Book of the Week, and one of NPR’s Best Books of 2012. Luis’s work has also appeared in Open City, Gamers (Soft Skull Press), Tin House Magazine, H.O.W. Journal, and Red Line Blues.

He is the new Director of the School of Writing at the New School, where he is also co-editor of the journal The Inquisitive Eater: New School Food. He has led workshops on yoga and writing at the New School Summer Writers Colony, NYU Paris, and the Laughing Lotus Yoga Studios in Manhattan and San Francisco. He received an undergraduate degree from Stanford and an MFA from The New School.

For more information, visit

Toni Kirkpatrick

Toni Kirkpatrick is an editor at Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, where she began her publishing career over 9 years ago. She manages two mystery writing competitions and enjoys working with debut and established authors.

Under the name Toni Margarita Plummer she is the author of the story collection The Bolero of Andi Rowe and a contributor to the anthology Wise Latinas. Toni serves on the board of Kweli Journal, an online literary journal for diverse voices.

For more information visit the Thomas Dunne website.

Meg Medina

Meg Medina
Meg Medina is an award-winning Cuban American author who writes picture books, middle grade, and YA fiction. She is the 2014 recipient of the Pura Belpré medal and the 2013 CYBILS Fiction winner for her young adult novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. She is also the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers medal winner for her picture book Tia Isa Wants a Car.

Meg’s other books are The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind, a 2012 Bank Street Best Book and CBI Recommended Read in the UK; and Milagros: Girl From Away.

The first American citizen in her family, Meg was raised in Queens, New York by her mother – and a clan of tios, primos, and abuelos who arrived from Cuba over the years. She was the fortunate victim of their storytelling, and credits them with her passion for tales.

Meg’s work examines how cultures intersect through the eyes of young people, and she brings to audiences stories that speak to both what is unique in Latino culture and to the qualities that are universal. Her favorite protagonists are strong girls. In March 2014, she was recognized as one of the CNN 10 Visionary Women in America.

When she is not writing, Meg works on community projects that support girls, Latino youth and/or literacy. She lives with her extended family in Richmond, Virginia.

For more information, visit

Nancy Mercado

Nancy Mercado began her career in the Scholastic Book Clubs, where she worked for several years, which led her to Dial Books for Young Readers, where she worked as an editor and a senior editor for several more years, which led to her Roaring Brook Press where she was an executive editor at Roaring Brook Press. Now back at her old stomping grounds, Nancy is currently the editorial director at Scholastic Press. She mostly gravitates towards contemporary, realistic middle-grade and young-adult novels, with an occasional picture book, non-fiction project and graphic novel thrown into the mix for good measure.

Nancy’s had the good fortune of editing such books as the Charlie Joe Jackson series by Tommy Greenwald, the Birthmarked trilogy by Caragh O’Brien, I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora, Year of the Beasts by Cecil Castellucci and Nate Powell, Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook by Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer, Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis, and many, many others. When not editing, Nancy is exploring the Brooklyn playground scene with her husband and two young children and spending way too much time on Twitter — follow Nancy @nanmercado.

For more information, about the books Nancy has edited, visit her web page on Goodreads.

Karen E. Quinones Miller

An Essence best selling author and NAACP Literary Award Nominee, Karen E. Quinones Miller started her literary career in 1999 when she self-published her novel, Satin Doll, and sold 28,000 copies in less than six months. An auction was held and Simon & Schuster won the publishing rights to Satin Doll, and a second book, with a six-figure bid.

Miller subsequently published seven books through major publishing houses, but she also maintained her own publishing company – Oshun Publishing Company, Inc. – of which she is CEO. Oshun Publishing has published Yo Yo Love, an Essence best seller that launched the career of Daaimah S. Poole who has since published six other novels with Kensington Books. Formerly a staff writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Miller often presents workshops on writing, publishing, and self-publishing.

For more information, visit and

Lila Quintero WeaverLila Quintero Weaver

Lila Quintero Weaver is the author-illustrator of Darkroom: A Memoir in Black & White, a graphic novel and Lila’s first major publication.

Lila was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1961. She is a self-taught visual artist with a degree from the University of Alabama. She and her husband, Paul Weaver, have three grown children.

Darkroom is part immigration story and part first-hand account of the racial tension and violence that Lila’s family witnessed in their adopted hometown in Alabama’s Black Belt region. The book was released in March 2012 by The University of Alabama Press.

Darkroom was named a finalist for the Small Press Expo 2012 Ignatz Award for Promising New Talent and for the graphic-novel category in the 2012 Cybils. The Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group designated Darkroom a winner in its 2013 Notable Books for a Global Society. Recently, the Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa announced Lila as its Druid Arts Awards Literary Artist for 2013.

Steinkis Editions, a Parisian publisher, has released the French translation, Darkroom: Mémoires en Noirs et Blancs. A Swedish translation is forthcoming.

Lila is a co-blogger on Latin@s in Kid Lit, a site that promotes children’s and YA books with Latin@ themes and characters, founded by author Cindy L. Rodriguez in 2013, with four other authors.

For more information, visit

Sandra Rodriguez BarronSandra Rodriguez Barron

Sandra Rodriguez Barron was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in El Salvador. She is the author of The Heiress of Water, which won first place for debut fiction at the 2007 International Latino Book Awards and was a Borders Original Voices selection. Her second novel, Stay with Me, was a finalist for the 2011 Connecticut Book Award.

Sandra is the grateful recipient of support from The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Greater Hartford Arts Council, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, and the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University and teaches at the Western Connecticut State University MFA Program in Professional and Creative Writing.

For more information, visit

Jose Luis VilsonJosé Luis Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist in New York City, NY. He has written about education, math, and race for a number of organizations and publications, including The New York Times, Education Week, Huffington Post, Edutopia, GOOD, and El Diario / La Prensa, NY. He lives with his fiancee and son in El Barrio / Harlem, NY. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook as @theJLV.

For more information, visit

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