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Welcome to my site!

I’m glad you have found your way here and hope we can get acquainted.  I would love to have you in my circle of contacts.  I have three goals for this new venture:     

1) To build a “platform” aimed at promoting my newly completed and first literary and historical novel, “Raising the Blackbirds”;

2) To share my experiences as I work to get the book published; and

3) To circulate my blog, “Loving English Language Anguish!” …. Let’s get started.

My  Novel

A story of an immigrant farmworker and his community; of distrust, enmity, and opposition; of vision, leadership, and confrontation; of sacrifice, redemption, and legacy . . .

The Mexican dicho “You raise the blackbirds, and they pluck out your eyes” captures succinctly Mexico’s four-hundred-fifty-year history of treachery plotted and blood spilled both by its leaders and by those in rebellion.   The saying likewise captures this story, entitled Raising the Blackbirds; Mexican history and cultural, vibrant still in the blood and flesh of its people, propels the narrative to its soulful yet redemptive conclusion.

Sixto Torres narrates his journey from childhood in Mexico to his immigration to Rio Grande Valley.  Eventually, in order to support his growing family, he joins the migrant stream to California.  Sixto and his family arrive in Salinas in early 1970 just as César Chavez is challenging the power of the Valley’s growers.

Sixto and his fellow farmworkers organize for better wages and greater power over their living conditions, but Sixto’s leadership talents are driven in a different direction when he and his labor-camp neighbors are evicted by their employer.  Sixto is soon organizing a new effort focused on the Valley’s deplorable farm labor housing conditions.  He seizes a rare opportunity to purchase and rehabilitate an abandon labor camp.  His fight to gain the knowledge and skills needed to overcome daunting cultural, political, and social obstacles—and to bring his fellow farmworkers along in the process—is successful; but Sixto is less able to overcome distrust, jealousy, and opposition among some among his own community.

Raising the Blackbirds will appeal to readers of literary, historical, and immigrant fiction that references the ancient and near past for a deeper understanding of our current world.  Sixto’s story will also appeal to millions of second-generation Mexican-Americans whose parents and grandparents were a part of the great post-War migration to the U.S. and who fought to overcome deprivation, discrimination, and distrust in order to find greater opportunities for their children.

Raising The Blackbirds Blogs

My  Bio

I spent my forty-two-year career in non-profit housing development and finance. Among other positions, I was the director of El Porvenir, an early self-help housing project launched by the American Friends Service Committee with farmworkers on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley. Upon completion of that sixty-unit subdivision, I came to Salinas in 1973 to work with Central Coast Counties Development Corporation (CCCDC). I oversaw the establishment of farming cooperatives and the development of the San Jerardo Cooperative Housing project, both with farmworker families seeking to improve their economic and living conditions.

From 1980 through 1995, as founding executive director of Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association, Inc. (CHISPA), I directed the development of more than seven hundred homes for farmworker families of the Salinas Valley. From 1997 through 2000, I was the executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of the Inland Empire and from 2000 through 2011, Neighborhood Housing Services Silicon Valley. With both of these organizations, the staff and I operated homeownership centers, providing homebuyer education, credit counseling, and safe and sane fixed-rate mortgage financing to low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers.

During my younger years, I was a Franciscan cleric, studying for the priesthood and living in the Old Missions of California. After leaving seminary, I earned a Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Community Organizing and Development. I have also studied law, real estate, and mortgage financing and hold a real estate broker license and am a certified mortgage originator although my licenses are currently “inactive” because I’m much too busy with my life as a writer.

I am married to Judi Moncrief. We have two boys and four grandchildren.

Over the years, I have been a guest columnist and have written editorials and articles on farmworker housing for The Salinas Californian and Monterey County Herald and for Western City Magazine among other newspapers and journals.  I am also a contributing writer to Making Housing Affordable, an anthology of stories about Faith-based affordable housing models.

Since retiring, I have worked as a consultant to other non-profit housing organizations. I have also become a freelance writer for The Salinas Californian.  As indicated elsewhere on this Website, I have also completed and am in the midst of publishing my first historical, literary novel, Raising the Blackbirds.

I am also a singer and songwriter and have published four CDs of my music.

My Latest Blogs

Loving English Language Anguish

How many times have you winced when you’ve……

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One Place Only…

Today after the historic appearance of Pope F

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Commas that Don’t Belong

What is wrong with the punctuation in this…

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One Day, This Too Shall Go Ahead And Pass

Have you noticed how, in some sectors, the office…

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My  Stories

In the fall of 2015, the Salinas Californian put out a call for freelance writers. I submitted material to the editorial staff and was selected for the gig. As I told the editor, I wanted to write “human interest stories with social impact”. Having now written a number of these, I feel blessed to have met the people profiled in each. I have also been impressed with the work of the non-profit and public agencies that have supported each of the individuals through their trials.

I hope you find My Stories both interesting and inspirational.

My Affiliations

Agricultural & Land-Based Training Association (ALBA)

The Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) provides educational and business opportunities for farm workers and aspiring farmers to grow and sell crops grown on two organic farms in Monterey County, California.

Dorothy's Place

With love, respect and compassion, the Franciscan Workers of Junipero Serra provide essential services and transitional support to people experiencing the injustice of homelessness and extreme poverty.

Camerata Singers of Monterey County

The Camerata Singers of Monterey County provides high quality cultural and educational opportunities for a multi-generational audience through the production of choral music recognized for its imaginative programming and performance excellence.

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