July has been good to Orqui and Starr!

Jul 16, 2023 | Blog

Well, hello there!  ¡Hola, mis amigos! Thank you for popping in to see what’s going on with The Story of Orqui and Starr. This is going to be a great month for my book! I’m so excited to announce that my all-time favorite bookstore, Books & Books, will be hosting my book launch in Miami on July 30th!  Plus, on July 8th, I had the honor of addressing my church’s Women’s Ministry group.  I am pumped!

I’ve been a regular at Books & Books for decades because they are exactly what a great bookstore is all about – unbiased, welcoming, creative, and well-stocked. They also host great events! I’ve seen such literary masters such as John Grisham, Isabel Allende, Isaac Singer, even Ina Garten, who autographed a copy of my favorite of her amazing cookbooks on one of her appearances there. My friend and former coworker, Jim Grippando, has launched most, if not all, of his 30 novels there. Jim’s first book, The Pardon, was my introduction to Books & Books many years ago. What owner Mitchell Kaplan started as a 500 sq. foot hub, is now housed in an exquisite 1927 Register of Historic Places building in Coral Gables.  Besides an abundance of brilliant books, they have a café and host monthly art exhibits, live music events, comedy nights, and trivia nights. What author would not want to be affiliated with this place?

When I got the email saying they wanted to host my event, I read it three times because, honestly, I didn’t believe it. Me, a first-time author, at Books & Books? Yes! I called my husband and yelled (yelled!) over the phone that I was in! Folks, this is a dream for any author, especially one whose book is about the Cuban experience. You see, Miami is the Ellis Island for Cubans who sought political asylum in the United States. Every Cuban person I personally know has arrived in the U.S. via South Florida. Some by airplane through Miami International Airport, some by boat or raft via the Florida Keys. And since the majority stayed in the area, this venue is exactly the right spot to speak about my experience because so many there share that experience and can relate to it. Orqui and Starr’s story is shared by many there.

If you’re in Miami on July 30th at 2 pm, I would absolutely LOVE to see you (or meet you if we’ve not met before)! The address is Books & Books, 265 Aragon Avenue Coral Gables, FL.

The event is free, but a reservation is suggested.  Click here to reserve your place:


And if you would like a personally dedicated copy, click here to order a soft or hardcover book:





But July brought me two opportunities to share The Story of Orqui and Starr!  The Capital Church Women’s Ministry invited me to speak at their July meeting and it was an absolute blast! Nick and I have been members of The Capital Church since we arrived in Raleigh. Having lived in such a diverse city as Miami for eons, we searched for a bible-based church with a good dose of diversity. We found it in The Capital Church. Actually, we first noticed it because it had a huge banner out front announcing their Christmas “live nativity” festivities to the public. A church that caters to the community is our kind of church. This one has a gifted pastor, Dr. Ryan Jackson, a great worship service, and nonjudgmental, warm, and caring people at every turn – it’s exactly what the church is all about.

The Women’s Ministry asked if I’d speak to them about my story and I jumped at the opportunity.  I admire these ladies so much and the chance to tell them about a childhood that is quite different from theirs was one not to be missed.  It could not have gone better!  Everyone was so kind and encouraging.  This is the first time I’ve spoken to a large group about the book and their reception built up my confidence in a way I can never repay.  Yes, I was a bit nervous at first, but looking out at all those lovely faces and seeing their genuine curiosity and interest soon calmed me down and gave me the boost I needed to speak from the heart.

As an added treat, my cousin Peter and his wife, Jeanann, who I didn’t realize live here in Raleigh, heard about it from a mutual cousin of ours in Miami and surprised me by attending.  Peter and I grew up together but as unfortunately happens, we lost track of each other as adults.  I was overjoyed to reconnect and have them both there.  God works in mysterious ways!

And while you’re on the website, make sure to check out this month’s recipe – Vaca Frita!  A literal translation of this tongue-in-cheek name is “Fried Cow” because it’s basically fried shredded beef.  But that’s just the beginning!  The seasoning that goes into this dish elevate it to a delicacy.  So much so that it is my all time favorite Cuban dish.  I have tried Vaca Frita in almost every Cuban restaurant I’ve visited.  Yet, as usual with Cuban cooking, my Mom’s was my favorite.  This is why I never mastered Cuban cooking – I knew I couldn’t top my Mom and let face it, everything tastes better when Mom cooks it!  Don’t miss this beloved Cuban recipe on the Recipes page!

Lastly, I’m taking submissions for the Your Story page here on the website.  If you have a story you care to share with us, please check it out.  I am a firm believer that everyone’s story is worth telling and I would love to hear and share yours.  Don’t worry if you’re not a “writer” – email me (orquiandstarr@gmail.com) and let’s talk!

Bueno, mis amigos, wish me luck with my upcoming Miami event and attend if you can.  Wishing you a wonderful July!