Alisa Lynn Valdes, you may know her as Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. If you don’t know about her, you should. She is my favorite contemporary author, her novel Dirty Girls Social Club was the first non assigned book I read in ten years. She brought back my love of reading that I had as a child when I devoured 300 books every summer and won read a thons. A love of reading that I lost while being an English major at Stanford where I was forced to read books that had characters that I had nothing in common with. So one day I wrote her and she wrote me back. I was thrilled, I have met tons of celebrities in my life and I don’t care about any of them who I perceive to be lucky and attractive but not necessarily talented. But Alisa is different. Alisa is creative and a brilliant writer. And she has been a mentor to me, I attended two Chica Lit conferences and she even tried to help me get published. I am so grateful that she, a best selling author, took the time to try to help me fulfill my dream. Her novel inspired me to write. So I am a Harvard and Stanford alum – the ultimate old boys network. Has anyone in my network helped me get published? No. So I advise everyone to create your own network and go after your dreams. Especially women of color. I still don’t have a book deal or agent yet but I won’t give up. And you have to read her new young adult novel Haters. It is great, realistic, and all my high school students loved it.