Timestorm and Martina and the Musician

Happy autumn!

Timestorm, the children’s audio fiction series Michael and I are producing through Cocotazo Media, launches next month. We’ve had a blast recording the first five episodes. The cast is incredibly talented – and it includes many dear friends and family members!

When twelve-year-old twins Alexa and Beni Ventura are sucked into an inter-dimensional portal, they meet a distant cousin who presents them with an incredible mission: travel through time to uncover hidden moments from their culture’s past. Along the way, they meet people from Africa, Europe, and the Americas who have left their mark on Puerto Rican heritage…only their names aren’t found in history books.

In the twenty-first century, Alexa and Beni navigate middle school, friendship, and home life while keeping their time-traveling pursuits secret. When a natural disaster devastates islands across the Caribbean, the twin’s come to understand just what’s at stake for their ancestral home. As Puerto Rico faces an uncertain future, Alexa and Beni do all they can to witness, find, and remember its past. 

The series launches on November 25 and is available wherever you listen to podcasts. Here are the trailers:

You can subscribe now on PlayerFM or Radio Public. Links for Apple Podcasts, GooglePlay, and Overcast coming soon.

I also had a couple of short scripts, Martina and the Musician and Crap, produced by Cocotazo Audio Theatre. Martina and the Musician has been nominated for a few Audio Verse Awards: Audio Engineering (Michael Aquino), Writing (Me!), and Production. You can check out all of the amazing shows in the AVA nominee showcase and then vote for your favorites in the first round here.

And, finally, publication update! The 7th Grade Sleuths Book #2: Ignacio in the Dark (Overdue Books, 2019) is coming this winter! Check back soon for more details and a cover reveal.

Henley Rose, ALNPF, the Stages Festival, and Continuing the Conversation

I'm thrilled to announce that Hielo will be part of Teatro Vivo's Austin Latino New Play Festival along with scripts by Augusto Federico Amador, Victor I. Cazares, and Ramon Esquivel. A public reading of Hielo will be presented at the Emma S. Barrientos-Mexican American Cultural Center (600 River Street, Austin, TX) on April 21 at 8:00 pm. Admission: donation amount of your choice. Click here for more information.

Hielo has also placed third in the Henley Rose Playwright Competition, and will receive a reading at the Birdhouse (800 North 4th Ave, Knoxville, TN) - the reading originally scheduled for April 29 has been postponed. The date and time are TBD.

Last month, I had two projects included in the New Jersey Theatre Alliance's 2018 Stages Festival. Mi Casa Tu Casa, produced in partnership with Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre, was presented at South St School in Newark and the Institute of Music for Children in Elizabeth. Our final show is April 6 at 4:00 pm at the Newark Public Library North End Branch.  Timestorm, a children's audio drama series produced by Cocotazo Media, was also included in the Stages festival. The pilot episode was presented as a live audio drama reading at the Newark Public Library Main Branch.

 Mi Casa Tu Casa, Institute of Music. Photo Credit: Alysia Souder

Mi Casa Tu Casa, Institute of Music.
Photo Credit: Alysia Souder

 Timestorm, Newark Public Library. Photo credit: Dania Ramos

Timestorm, Newark Public Library.
Photo credit: Dania Ramos

 Timestorm team with NJTA's Ruth Zamoyta. Photo credit: Ingrid Betancourt

Timestorm team with NJTA's Ruth Zamoyta.
Photo credit: Ingrid Betancourt

At the end of the month, I have a short play in Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre's production of Continuing the Conversation. The show features six works inspired by current events. Silent Aurora is set in the central mountains of Puerto Rico in the fall of 2017. A fourteen-year-old student and her teacher are cleaning a classroom when an assessor from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows up to inspect school grounds. Harriet Trangucci will direct my play. The cast features Michael Aquino (my husband!), Amanda Salazar, and Daria Sullivan. The other contributing authors for the production are Suzanne Bradbeer, Richard Dresser, Steve Harper, Lia Romeo, and David Lee White. Continuing the Conversation runs April 26-May 13 at the Oakes Center (120 Morris Ave, Summit, NJ). Tickets: $35 adults; $30 seniors 65+/students

Artists United for Puerto Rico, Cocotazo Audio Theater, and Women Rising

I'll be taking part in Step1 Theatre Project's Artists United for Puerto Rico, a benefit performance of poetry, music, and theatrical pieces. An excerpt from my play Hielo will be featured along with other theatre pieces by Nelson Diaz-Marcano and Desi Moreno-Penson, music by Aquino and Tanya Perez, and poetry by Maria Aponte, Isabel Pask, and Richard Perez. The event will take place on 11/13 at 7pm at The Physics Theater (Times Square Arts Center). There'll be a post-show reception with a live DJ, Coquito Bar, giveaways and a silent auction. All proceeds from the evening will go toward direct relief efforts and distribution of goods on the ground in Puerto Rico. Tickets $20, purchase here.

Can't attend, but want to donate? Go here. For more information on how you can donate and for resources about Hurricane Maria relief and recovery visit this page I've created.

 
 

In other news, I'm proud to announce that the Cooctazo Audio Theatre podcast has been nominated for several Audio Verse Awards! This includes writing, production, music, and acting nominations for my script Hot Drinks. You can vote (here!) in the semi-final round until October 30. (The password is pancakes.) 

This month also marks the return of Women Rising: Stories of Hope produced by Speranza Theatre Company. It runs through 10/29 at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City. You can purchase tickets and find details here.

From Speranza: "WOMEN RISING, Stories of Hope, is a 75-minute original play created by Speranza Theatre Company with the help of our community partner WomenRising.org. Directed by Mikaela Kafka, featuring original music by Drama Desk Nominated composer Estelle Bajou, WOMEN RISING is a compilation of stories written by 7 playwrights under the guidance of lead writer, Jennie Contuzzi." Recommended for ages 15+. Wheelchair accessible.

 
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The Night Bazaar, Continuing the Conversation, Sakura Medal Nomination

 
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Publication news! You can read my short story “Vista Eterna” in the new horror anthology The Night Bazaar: Eleven Haunting Tales of Forbidden Wishes and Dangerous Desires, edited by Lenore Hart (Northampton House Press). This is a bewitching collection of short fiction for adults. I’m thrilled to have my writing included along with excellent short pieces by ten other authors. The book is available now through all major online outlets including Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Here's what Publishers Weekly said about the collection: “Appealing to those who like their fantasy served with a side of psychological horror, this anthology is sure to entertain.”

On the theatre side of things, Work With Us, a short musical I co-wrote with Michael Aquino (my husband), will be part of Dreamcatcher Rep’s event “Continuing the Conversation: An Evening of Short Plays in Response to the Election” on February 2 at 7:30pm. The evening features readings of eight works written by local playwrights and will be followed by a talk back discussion. Tickets are $20 and benefit the organization Interweave. You can buy tickets here.

One final piece of good news—I learned that Who’s Ju? has been nominated for a 2017 Sakura Medal, which is organized by 22 international schools across Japan. The program encourages students to read books in English and Japanese from lists prepared by library media specialists. It’s an honor to have my work recognized by school librarians in Japan and I love knowing that middle school students on the other side of the world are reading Ju’s story!

Women Rising and the Puerto Rican Book Expo

Speranza Theatre Company’s production of Women Rising: Stories of Hope opens tonight and runs through October 23 in Jersey City. I’m proud to have contributed a monologue for this important project that raises awareness about domestic violence. WOMEN RISING: STORIES OF HOPE Directed by Diana Basmajian Written by Merri Biechler, Jennie Contuzzi, Megan Lohne, Dania Ramos, Lia Romeo, Caren Skibell, DeLora Whitney Starring Larissa Adamczyk, Jason Faust, Laura Gourdine, Vanessa Rappa, Alicia Rivas, Samille Ganges Art House Productions, 136 Magnolia Avenue, Jersey City 10/20 @ 7:30pm; 10/21 & 10/22 at 8pm; 10/23 a@ 2pm For tickets visit: SperanzaTheatreCompany.org. (Recommended for ages 15+)

Next month I’ll be participating in the Puerto Rican Book Expo on Saturday, November 19 from 12:00-7:00pm at Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse in the Bronx. Comité Noviembre sponsors this annual event held in conjunction with the National Puerto Rican Artisan Fair and Exhibit. Come get an early start on holiday shopping while showing your support for local artists and authors!