Monday, 11 September 2017

Pura Vida by Annette Montez Kolda

Annette Montez Kolda was born into a large Catholic, Latino family in Corpus Christi, Texas. Much of the inspiration for her writing is drawn from her rich Tex-Mex culture and her beloved Church.

After graduating high school, Kolda went on to attend Corpus Christi's Del Mar Community College. In between attending classes, she worked at a residential facility for disabled children and took part in missionary trips to Mexico.

Later, she transferred to the University of Texas at Austin where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction.

Kolda's first job was that of pastoral associate with the Diocese of Corpus Christi. She partnered with a Sister of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament. Together, Kolda and her ministry partner visited the homes of people with disabilities, bringing to them the Word of God and instructing them in the Holy Sacraments of the Catholic Church. Kolda used the sign language that she learned at the University of Texas to communicate with the many hearing impaired individuals that attended Diocese Masses, classes, and social events.

Kolda's next job took her to Houston, Texas where she taught sixth-grade English to gifted and talented students. While in Houston, she married her high school sweetheart, Tim Kolda.

In 1991, Kolda and her husband started a family, and she left the classroom to stay at home and raise three children. During that time, she taught off and on– preschool, first grade, and third grade, but most of the years were spent volunteering at her children's schools, leading Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, teaching Sunday School and volunteering with bilingual students. In addition to her husband and three children, her family has grown to include a son-in-law and two grandsons.

In 2010, with the help of UCLA Online Writers' Program, Kolda imagined a tough, brave nun that would fight injustice and stand up for the poor, and she started writing her first novel, Pura Vida.


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About the Book


Pura Vida is a story about a family with a great deal on its plate: undocumented immigration, deportation, war, death, drugs, teenage pregnancy and now international terrorism. But what family isn't complicated?

Sister Bridget is the Miss Marple of East Austin's Latino community. She is known as a crime-fighting nun, but this time, she may be in over her head. Terrorists enter the US via the Texas/Mexico border. They incite violence and plot a race war. Sister Bridget and fifteen-year-old Miguel Lopez must race against the clock to stop them.

At the same time, Miguel's mother travels deep into Mexico to find her missing husband and tell him that their eldest son has died.

Pura Vida is an emotional ride that takes the reader on a dramatic, exciting ride through Texas and Mexico.


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Keep reading for an excerpt:


Chapter One


He called himself Javier.

He stole one bomb component from each small shop. The process took longer, but it kept him off the government’s radar. Small, disparate thefts didn’t raise red flags. He doubted the shop owners even missed the stolen items.

It was four o’clock on a chilly November morning. Javier clicked off his headlights and the Escalade’s bright, colorful dials and gauges went dark. The black SUV hulked along the block of small, patched-up houses of East Austin. Only the occasional porch light illuminated his way.

He didn’t own a computer, nor did he use a cell phone. He knew better than to create an Internet footprint. Javier didn’t buy bomb components with cash either, for once the explosive did its job; forensics would trace its parts, leading police to a description of the buyer. Him. He took no chances. Prison wasn’t an option.

He was thirty-two years old, six feet tall, lean and clean-shaven. He melded into the night with his black clothing, boots, and gloves. His black neoprene ski hat doubled as a facemask should he need it. The hat also hid Javier’s loss of hair, a relentless reminder that time never compromised. His task took many years of preparation and would be his crowning achievement, but the slipping away of his youth angered him nonetheless.

The abandoned house at the end of the street bore a condemned sign on its dilapidated door. The SUV’s hefty tires crackled on its gravel driveway as Javier pulled under the home’s rusty, sagging carport.

He carefully opened his car door, then froze as a furious dog barked across the street, setting off a loud, chaotic chain reaction.

When quiet returned, he moved on.

In just over two minutes, Javier reached the darkened Montez Hardware on MLK Boulevard. He’d cased the store in advance. It was a small, family run operation: no alarms, no cameras.

He inserted his filed-down bump key almost completely into the door’s keyway, nudging it the rest of the way while rotating at the same time. The lock held. The store’s owner had installed a dual sidebar locking system. He’d have to use his tools; two slim, metal picks.

In Javier’s mind, blinding, deafening explosions played on a constant loop. The blasts that tore his homeland apart resided permanently in his subconscious. And the disappearance of his father and uncles burned a hole in his brain that he filled with hatred.

Now, it was the United States’ turn to be ripped to pieces. Now was the time to ignite the Americans’ smoldering anger and fear. Time to turn their bigotry against them. After twelve years, he’d finally drawn close to his objective: Americans would bite and devour one another until their home became a country of ghosts who wandered amid wreckage and festering ruins. Like his own country.

He looked over his shoulder to MLK Boulevard. All was quiet and still; only gray moths flitted in the hazy streetlight. He carefully retrieved his pick tools and focused on the door’s lock.

***

It was four-fifteen AM, and Sister Bridget kept close to the streetlights of MLK Boulevard. Her morning exercise consisted of a three-mile run, which didn’t involve actual running. The middle-aged nun’s gait was more of a scuttle or a trot. She was fair-skinned and big-boned like her German mother, and she had curly, black hair and wide, brown eyes like her Mexican father.

She belonged to the Sisters of St. Paul, whose rules stated that each sister wear her veil and habit at all times when outside her residence. Sister Bridget wore a gray, hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants, size men’s large. She huffed and wiped sweat from her face with her sleeve. With Placido Domingo’s dramatic Granada resounding on her earphones, she threw back her hood, lifted her face to the wind, and let the opera and the cool breeze sweep over her like a baptism.

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