Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Villagers View: Cornelio on The Gift of El Tio

Last week Larry Buchanan and Karen Gans introduced us to Cornelio Gonzales, pictured here with Larry, who lived in the town of San Cristobal, Bolivia, before the changes recounted in The Gift of El Tio.  Now a student at Southern Oregon University, about to receive his BA degree, Cornelio reflects on the progress in his town.


What is the situation in San Cristobal now?


The situation in San Cristobal is very calm; everybody is busy working.  Authorities along with the community members are creating new projects that benefit the whole village. I think last year there were strikes in the mines. I don’t have the details about this, but you can google it by typing San Cristobal + mine.


How has the town changed since The Gift of El Tio was released? What do you think about the changes?


Since Larry and Karen wrote the memoir, the town has changed and is still changing. Some of the changes are good and some are not.


The population of the town has increased dramatically—from about 800 to 2500.  People have come from around Bolivia to reside in the village because of job opportunities.  As a result, there is more diversity than ever before.  There are now people from different villages, including Pacenos, Crucenos, and Potosinos.  Because of this population increase, the town has expanded its boundaries, and more houses have been built.   The new housing is more comfortable with hot water, showers, washing machines, and cable TVs.


New buildings have been constructed, including the new high school. Now students have access to more computers, and lab rooms.  There is also a new building where they teach vocational skills such as mechanics, accounting, and computer skills.


The streets have been improved.  At a meeting, the townspeople decided the streets were too narrow and so they have now expanded the streets.


Free Health Care


Another important change is that workers, along with their families, can get free health care. Hospitals have more personnel than before. There are dentists, surgeons, etc.  Now, the company even provides flights from ‘la pista’ to La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz for sick people.


Improved Sewage System


The sewer system used to be very close to the town, and people complained of the smell and contamination. With the help of the company, the sewer system was moved a few kilometers away from the town and they have begun installing sewage to homes that didn’t have it before.


Money Takes on New Importance


A few years ago, there was a lot of theft of valuables and money, which angered the villagers and they began to lose trust.  The most interesting thing that came out of this is that people started playing with money.  They call the game ‘pasanaku,’ which consists of a group of people getting together and pooling their money so that whoever needs it can borrow from the group.  Next month, another person might need the money.  Eventually a bank was opened and people now have bank accounts.  The wise people have already begun to save money. This has given people more confidence in terms of money and safety. They don’t have to worry much whether their neighbor or the thieves will steal their money. This is a great change.


Local Infrastructure, More Mining Jobs, More Marriages


The local authorities along with the villagers also decided to better organize the town, which includes more signs in the streets, and keeping the streets neat and clean.  The garbage truck now comes twice a week. There are no plastic bags or people dumping garbage into the ditches or rivers.


Most of the teachers that used to work in the town have joined the mining company. They saw that other people, both educated and less educated, were making five times more than they do by working in the mines. They quickly became interested in the mine. Now that they are working there, they have way more money and have begun to donate books to the schools in the village.  So, students have more access to books and school materials.


Marriages have also increased.  It goes from Money to Love to Children…very rapidly.  Iheard that most of my school classmates have wives and children now.  I am still single and that makes me feel young.


Loss of Culture and Ancient Traditions


On the negative side, since people have begun working in the mine, they are now busier than ever before and have little time to participate in ceremonies and other events that are part of beliefs such as making ‘challa’ or going to ‘irucancha’.


Another major change since the memoir was written is the problems with drinking.  Some of the villagers, as soon as they go on a break, they start  drinking and drinking. They spend lots of money just on drinking…


Since merchants, shopkeepers, and traders have seen that San Cristobalenos are getting better, and richer, comerciantes have increased the prices of their goods. Now things are expensive, including the vegetables and food.


Do you think the improvements outweigh the losses?


Overall, I believe that the changes in my village, San Cristobal, have been a good thing for many reasons.  First, the residents of the town, including my own family, have experienced the changes as a driving force that is transforming their lives in a positive way that they could never have imagined before.  For the first time in their lives, people in my town have high paying jobs.  Whereas in the past, jobs were mostly for men, these days both men and women have jobs.  As a result, the townspeople’s standard of living has improved dramatically.  Many have opened small businesses and have had the opportunity to interact with people from different parts of the country and the world.  Families are sending their children to colleges in the nearby cities.  Students in the town have more access to books and technology.  It’s true, there have been losses and challenges to the community’s social life, belief, customs, and cultural traditions.  The residents of San Cristobal will need some time to adapt and transition to this new way of life.



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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


What Are They Up To? The Gift of El Tio Authors One Year Later!



When a world-renowned geologist discovers an enormous deposit of silver beneath a remote Quechua village in Bolivia, he unknowingly fulfills a 450-year-old prophecy that promised a life of wealth for the villagers.  It also predicted alienation, despair, and eventually cannibalism.  The discovery leads to the destruction of the village, and sends the geologist and his wife on an emotionally charged 10-year journey into the Quechua community.

One year ago, The Gift of El Tio, written by husband and wife team Karen Gans and Larry Buchanan, was released to enthusiastic reviews. In the he said/she said style of the memoir, we asked Larry and Karen to answer questions about their transformative year.


It’s been a year since The Gift of El Tio was released.  How would you describe the experience of having your memoir published?


Karen Gans: It’s been very exciting to see ten years of writing result in a published book.  It’s like birthing a baby and watching him/her grow up!


Larry Buchanan:  One of the best years ever.  We wanted the story published, not to get rich or famous, but just to let people know what life was like when a little stone and grass thatch Quechua village suddenly leaped a few centuries into the present.  Having so many people honestly say that they enjoyed learning about the Quechua through El Tío was reward enough…though fame and fortune would be nice.


What was the best thing about the year?


K:  As an author, I could never be sure how readers might react.  It’s been very rewarding to hear our readers say that they loved the book and found it very meaningful.  We’re also so appreciative of those readers who’ve taken the time to write a review for Amazon.  (Forty-four five star reviews!)  I have been pleasantly surprised by the geologists who have read the book who stated that it’s about time the impact of mining on social and cultural issues was addressed from a balanced viewpoint.   I had wondered whether or not my husband would lose credibility in his field, but he seems to have gained respect, not lost it!


L:  Reaffirming, as if I had ever forgotten, just how decent those geologists are.


What was the most challenging experience in the year?


K:  Initially, we had a lot of energy to market the book, visiting independent book stores, arranging readings, etc.  It’s been hard to keep that up as we discovered it’s not the most efficient way to sell the book and often more costly than profitable.


L:  There were challenges, but it was worth it, as someday some wise investors will want to make a movie of El Tío!!   It’ll be a killer.


How did the experience of writing and publicizing the book together impact your relationship? 


K: Having met Larry too late in life to birth a baby together, I often speak of our book as our co-creation.  Both the writing and the publicizing have brought us closer.  I am delighted that Larry has truly changed, showing more respect for different cultures and their spirituality.  Here in Mexico, we have lots of opportunities to see the impact of Catholicism on the people. He now acknowledges the importance of rituals that he would have scoffed at years ago.  Hopefully, I am more open-minded to the benefits ofdevelopment!  The challenge that faces us now is to keep publicizing the book – one of us may have more energy for this than the other, yet we’re most successful when we both are involved.


L:  To write we had to get away from the house and all its interruptions.  We would go off to a little cabin on the beach or mountains, spending a week or so alone, writing in the mornings, hiking in the afternoons, trying some wine and warm romance at night.   We have thirty-one chapters, and thus we had thirty-one mini-honeymoons.  If that doesn’t bring a couple together, nothing will.


What feedback have you received from the inhabitants of the town about your book?


K: We did send copies of the book to the three main characters: Octavio, Senobio, and Soledad, but have not heard from them about it.  The book has not been translated into Spanish so this will be a problem for them.


You established a very close relationship to one of the inhabitants during the years that you lived in San Cristobal.  Can you give an update on Cornelio? 


K:    Cornelio was a student in the village school when I began teaching English in San Cristobal.  I did not get to know him personally until he was finishing high school and requested individual tutoring.  We knew his father well (he’s Octavio in the book) and I was delighted to get to know Cornelio.  When I was getting ready to return to the UnitedStates, Cornelio said, “My dream is to study English in the United States.”  Without thinking, I replied, “Here’s my email address.  Write me when you’re ready to come.”  I don’t recall that San Cristobal even had electricity at the time, and certainly not the internet.  Two years later, I received an email stating, “I’m ready.”

Cornelio has now been with us for five years.  He came to learn English and after eighteen months in a language course on the Southern Oregon University campus, he sat at our kitchen table, looking very depressed.  When asked what was going on, he said that he saw no reason to learn English if he was just going to go back to herding llamas.  He wanted to go to the university and get a degree.  Fortunately, Larry’s boss is very generous and agreed to sponsor Cornelio’s education at the university as well as a year abroad, studying in Thailand.  Cornelio will graduate with a bachelor’s degree this June.  He has applied to master’s programs in England and Thailand with a plan to study International Development. Cornelio had many challenges from a lack of educational resources in his youth and has exhibited remarkable motivation and discipline in overcoming these deficits.  He hopes to return to Bolivia one day and help change the educational system so that Bolivians will have more opportunities for advancement.


Next week:  Cornelio reports on changes in San Cristobal, Bolivia!


Learn more about The Gift of El Tio!


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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak Book Launch: Standing Room Only!

It was standing room only at theNobody Knows the Spanish I Speak book launch on January 25th at the popular La Biblioteca bookstore in San Miguel de Allende.  Author Mark Saunders sold all the books he had, including the copy he read from!  The Q&A was engaging and participants had to move outside of the room to finish the book signing, since there were so many books purchased!  The crowded pictures say it all…




In anticipation of the launch, the local San Miguel de Allende newspaper, Atencion, ran an article announcing the upcoming launch.  In it, journalist Robin Loving Rowland calls Nobody Knows a “must read,” and remarks, “how refreshing it is when one of our own writes a truly original slant on the San Miguel experience, and shares it in a way that encourages others to find out what the author’s kernels of truth are!


Purchase your own copy of Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak today!


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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


Black Wings Book Launch Party!

 On January 14th, at a private home in Virginia Beach, author Kathleen Jabs celebrated the launch of her new book, Black Wings.  Forty friends and neighbors celebrated the book release while Kathleen signed and sold books.  Many reported they had purchased the book on kindle as well.  It was an all-around great time and success! 






Maribeth Gamble and Amy Prince enjoy theBlack Wings book launch party.  Dave Gamble in far right. 






Roy Thorvaldsen, Kathleen’s former boss and a Norwegian citizen who works at NATO Allied Command Transformation, congratulates Kathleen on her book publication.







John Rayhill, Larry and Jenna Lambert compare notes at the Black Wings launch party.

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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


BLACK WINGS Featured in Virginian-Pilot!

On January 8th, Kathleen Toomey Jabs and her mystery, Black Wings, were featured in the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, which serves southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina. In an article entitled “Naval Academy Grad Spins a Novel of Military Intrigue,” journalist Irene Bowers discussed the origins of Black Wings with Jabs, who revealed that the novel was born as a work of literary fiction.  Only after Fuze editor Molly Tinsley suggested that Jabs’ story had all the tension and plot elements of a mystery, did the process of transformation begin.  “The result,” Bowers remarks, “is a mystery that goes beyond a whodunit.”

Ringing true with authenticity that can only be gained by personal experience, this debut novel draws from the author’s four year at the United States Naval Academy, as well as from her military career as a public affairs officer.  Jabs points out that the story and characters are “entirely fictional,” and actually grew from a series of short stories that merged into a longer work when the author received her MFA degree from George Mason University.
How does Jabs like the world of publishing?  After a roller-coaster journey–having the book passed over by mainstream presses, deciding to put the novel on the shelf, then reshaping it under the tutelage of the Fuze editing staff, Jabs says, “It’s thrilling and slightly nerve-wracking to be published.”
Jabs also revealed her intentions for a sequel…so, stay tuned!
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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


Entering the Blue Stone — Another Fuze Spark!!

Several years ago, Fuze co-founder Molly Best Tinsley crafted a memoir that chronicled the final stage of her parents’ lives.  Though a number of agents chose to pass on the dark humor of this family story, she was encouraged by an editor at a small but well-known publishing house, who loved it and said she would get back to her with a contract.  A week later Tinsley received an apologetic retraction of the offer.  It turned out the publishing house had just been bought out by a much larger one, and the new marketing department didn’t think Entering the Blue Stone would make enough money. The marketers suggested that Tinsley revise the book into a how-to manual for those whose loved ones suffered from organic brain disorders.  There was just one problem with that instruction: the ultimate point of Tinsley’s narrative is that the only path through these situations requires surrendering the need for a simple how-to. 

Entering the Blue Stone’s fate seemed sealed, then, by the old publishing paradigm which favored tried-and-true authors and subjects and tended tooverlook the special, hard to classify books, the books that plant seeds in the reader which bloom at unexpected moments ever after.  Tinsley put the BlueStone manuscript in a drawer and all but forgot about it as she moved on to new creative projects.  Then recently by chance,  Karetta Hubbard, Fuze co-founder asked to read the manuscript, for her own parents’ lives have grown complicated by issues of advanced age.  Stunned by the book’s beauty and universal message, she told Molly, “We have to publish this.”  And so we find ourselves adding one more title to the list of treats coming to you in 2012–Entering the Blue Stone.  Here it is in miniature:
What happens when one’s larger-than-life military parents–so strong, so capable, so valiant–find themselves sliding out of control?  The General struggles with Parkinson’s disease; his wife manifests a bizarre dementia. Their three grown children embrace what seems the perfect solution–an upscale retirement community.  Shuttling between laughter and tears, Entering the Blue Stone discovers what shines beneath catastrophe: family bonds, the dignity of even an unsound mind, and the endurance of the heart.


A former professor of English at the United States Naval Academy, Molly Best Tinsley is recognized as the first professoremerita in its history.  Her fiction has twice received  a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, as well as the Oregon Book Award and the Pushcart Prize.  She is the co-author of Satan’s Chamber (Fuze Publishing), Throwing Knives (Ohio State University Press), and My Life With Darwin (Houghton Mifflin).  Dr. Tinsley also co-authoredThe Creative Process (St. Martin’s), and her plays have been read or staged nationwide, from Seattle, to Houston, New York City, and Washington DC.  She lives in Oregon, where she divides her time between Ashland and Portland.


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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Uncategorized