Luz: A Novella
by Leslie DJ
Date of Publication: March 24th 2017
Publisher: Sinister Girlz
Cover Artist: Michele Catalano
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Tagline: He’s going to propose. She’s going to tie up loose ends.
The Book Junkie Reads . . . Review of . . . Luz: A Novella . . . Luz has come a long way to get to where she was. She has an American male that loves her enough to want to marry her. She has a promising career as a writer. A get-away was just what she needed. Her Luke has plans to take her to the Dominican Republic for a couple’s get-away and to propose to her. But of course, things could not run that smooth. Once there things change for Luz. She has to make some decisions that could change the course of her life and her future. It could also make or destroy one man or two men’s lives.
This was a quick read in to the live of Luz and the path she takes on making choices in her life. I found that short format fit well with the way things were presented. It was like a pilot view in to a series. I find this setting intriguing enough to want to follow and she the where Luz’s will go from here.
Luz Vargas is a promising young Latina writer from Washington Heights, a predominantly Dominican neighborhood in New York City. Who upon receiving top honors for her short story, "Here and There" from the prestigious Quisqueya Writers of Tomorrow Association, Luz's boyfriend, Luke, suggests a couple's getaway to the Dominican Republic where he plans to propose. But when the trip to the Island brings her face to face with a past love, Luz is torn between honoring her commitment to Luke and revisiting an island romance.
The story is told through a series of vignettes that chronicle Luz's struggle to reconcile her American identity with her Dominican side.
Luz awoke to the sound of roosters crowing. Her eyes fluttered as they adjusted to the sunlight that crept through the tangerine-colored curtains. As she sat up and reached across the bed, familiarizing herself with her surroundings, the man beside her stirred. She placed a hand over her mouth and looked down to the tiled floor while she recalled the events of the previous night. For a moment, she had forgotten where she was. Luz had been vacationing in her mother’s homeland, the Dominican Republic, for the first time in over a year, the longest she had gone without paying the island a visit. She traveled there so frequently that she knew the immigration officers by name and the female officers often came from behind the glass partition to give her a hug. She steered clear of the male immigration officers because they were known to get a little too friendly, especially with foreign-born Dominicanas traveling on their own.
Usually she went to the DR alone, but this time Luke, her boyfriend of seven months, was accompanying her. Luke was the complete opposite of Luz. He was short, stout and fair-skinned with light-colored eyes that changed depending on his mood or the color of his shirt. Luz was tall with sizeable hips but a slender figure. She spent most of her mornings on a treadmill or punching and kicking Tae Bo-style to old VHS tapes. She had long, jet-black hair and a tan complexion. They rooted for opposite teams—he for his home team, the Red Sox, while Luz was a seasonal Yankees fan — which meant they were bound to break up during the post-season depending on whose team made it further into the playoffs and how much gloating the other could withstand. Luke enjoyed his scotch neat while Luz preferred a cold cerveza now and then and only resorted to hard drinks when in desperate need of a pick-me-up. They were such opposites, in fact, that many of their friends often joked that the only thing they had in common was the first two letters of their names.
Even so, Luke was kind and understanding and ‘got’ Luz. He especially understood and respected her need for writing, encouraging her and even submitting discarded manuscripts to local contests behind her back. He was handsome, well-mannered and the first real American boy to pursue Luz. She appeared to be living the American Dream.
Leslie DJ is a Dominican-American writer and radio personality who resides in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.
She is the writer and founder of SinisterGirlz.com, an online publication that features written and audio music related content. She hosts Sinister Girlz Live on WBMB Baruch College Radio 94.3 FM New York on Fridays at 4pm EST.
Her debut novel, “That Girl” was released in September of 2016 and is available on Amazon.com
She graduated with a BA in Theatre Arts with a concentration in Playwriting from Marymount Manhattan College and received her MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Fiction from The New School of General Studies.
MY INTERVIEW WITH LESLIE DJ
How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
I tend to write from personal experiences, which means that at times I am too honest. I’m not afraid to make my characters look foolish or fall on their faces because I am very flawed and laugh at myself constantly.
What are some of your writing/publishing goals for this year?
Now that “Luz” is out my goal is to complete the first draft of the sequel to my debut novel, “That Girl” I hope to release book 2 of “That Girl” by the end of 2018.
Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally for you?
It’s something that comes easy to me. I carry pen and paper everywhere I go, I try using notes on my iPhone but it’s not the same, there’s just something about jotting down thoughts on paper that is calming for me. I was a very shy kid growing up and sometimes wouldn’t speak so I found it easier to write the things I wish I had the courage to say. I didn’t know it then but I was creating characters and writing dialogue.
Do you have a character that you have been working on for a long time that still isn't quite ready, but fills you with excitement to work on the story?
I have this YA story that I’ve been working on for years off and on and I can’t wait to find the time and give it the full attention it deserves. All I’m going to say about that project is that it takes place in the 90s during summer camp.
If you could spend one-week with 5 fictional characters, who would they be?
Princess Leia, Wonder Woman, Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web so that I can spend time on Zuckerman’s farm and pal around with all the talking barn animals, which technically will be more than five.
Where would you spend one full year, if you could go anywhere? What would you do with this time?
I’ve often thought of spending a year in London. I would love to walk the streets of London and get inspired and write about being a Dominican American in London. Ultimately I’d live in a flat like Bridget Jones and run away with Colin Firth or Hugh Grant whichever shows the most interest in me.
Can you share your next creative project(s)? If yes, can you give a few details?
Now that Luz is done I’m focusing on book 2 of the “That Girl” series. I have a lot of readers asking me what happens next and at times just yell at me, “hurry up!” I’m glad there’s interest but now I have a lot of pressure to not let them down.
5 autographed copies of Luz