About the Author
Imagine growing up in a Penitente household where your father, Hermano Mayor of the community's cofradía, never discloses a word about their secret rituals although you’re allowed to participate in their public ceremonies. Fast forward another decade after your father’s passing when you clean out the Hermanos’ morada and unearth an old wooden box filled with their religious relics, their implements for performing penance, their blood-stained garments, and their rules established in 1850, all of which confirm what you suspected all along from your limited studies of Penitentes in New Mexico.
When this happened to me, I knew I had to write my father's story to provide an insight into their secret society which I believe no one else can. What sets my book apart from those already on the market is the first person narration in a style reminiscent of Bless Me, Ultima.
Hello, I'm Carmen: I'm Hispanic, wife of a wonderful Marine, mother to two sons, a daughter and two grandsons. I'm also a retired teacher. Valley Middle School, located in a rural community, was my first school, where I taught English for six wonderful years. In 1983 when I transferred to West Las Vegas High School in Las Vegas, New Mexico, I taught a variety of English and history courses, mostly at the junior, senior and college levels over the course of the next thirty years before retiring in 2014. Many of the colleagues I worked with over all those years have remained my steadfast friends, just as many more of my former students are my greatest supporters.
I'm a member of the Las Vegas chapter of the New Mexico Association of Educational Retirees. I'm also a member of several writers' and author groups, among them Southwest Authors, Artists, and Artisans, created by author J. Franklin Green, a new friend and mentor, and more recently, of The Inner Circle Writers' Group. The administrator, Grant Hudson, is my publisher through Clarendon House Publications.
My writing skills in both English and Spanish enable me to write with true story telling talent (I’ve been told). My experiences growing up amongst los Hermanos Penitentes, traditions, and folklore permit me to tell the story of my father’s entrance into the secret society of the Penitente Brotherhood. Set in the early nineteen hundreds, El Hermano provides historical insight into the life of a rural community which embraced los Hermanos and welcomed their selfless acts of charity. Living on the land left to us by my father, my husband and I enjoy a peaceful county life in northern New Mexico with our furry friends.
What people are saying about El Hermano after reading Carmen's excerpts on Tumblr and Facebook:
“Después de tanto tiempo que no veía comentarios sobre el libro. 😊 As I read here and there with the pictures and the story behind it, its so real I get transported to those years. It's so detailed that I can even get the sense del aroma, la tierra, el clima y el sonido de todo lo que es relatado en el libro."
“Have my full attention…keep writing! Loved what I read so far…”
Mary O. González
"Your characters are so alive, it's like I know them already—well done. You have a gift for storytelling.
“Wow! I would like to read more.”
April 25, 2017
El Hermano takes place during the forty days of Lent in 1928 as José and his cousins conspire to spy on one of the brotherhood's secret rituals to see what lies ahead for them as novices. José knows his time to join the cofradía (of which his own father is Hermano Mayor) is near, but having seen Hermanos who appear to be in pain after a night spent at the morada, a meeting house and chapel, and having heard stories about those who even died in the past because of whatever went on within the sacred structure, his fear guides him to join his cousins in their clandestine scheme. Little do they know, certain New Mexican legends conspire against them; La Muerte, Saint Death, warns José to leave his future unknown, a ball of fire thought to be a witch crosses their path, and even la Llorona, ghost of the Weeping Woman, and el Diablo, the Devil, make an appearance. Age-old traditions, folklore, cures and formal customs of the Hispanics of the mountain villages are interwoven in José's story.
El Hermano is a rare and authentic window into everyday Hispanic village life the way it once was, and to some extent, still exists.
Las Mujeres Misteriosas
August 30, 2018
Three mysterious women inhabit the American southwest. La Llorona, a vengeful ghost, haunts the waterways searching for the children she drowned before killing herself. La Muerte, much more than just a ghost, is Santa Muerte, who takes every man to his eternal home. La Lunática, a recent ghost, spent much of her life fighting el Diablo's obsession with her. These three women battle for the soul of another, a human named Rosita, who fears nothing and innocently accepts a gift from la Llorona.
After years of learning how to use her skill, Rosita can only free herself from the ghost's spell by complying with her demands. However, her freedom depends on a Pyrrhic victory: she can only win by losing something precious.
Anthologies with my short stories
Expand Your Bookshelf
Being a writer has its perks, especially the sense of pride that swells inside when I see someone reading a book of mine. Below are a few of my most recently published books for you to browse. Please feel free to get in touch and share your comments or questions, I’d be more than happy to hear from you and help out.
Boned Every Which Way
May 1, 2018
First published in Boned, an online literary magazine, my short story, "La Muerte," features one of the protagonists from my second book. Saint Death teaches apathetic humans a life lesson about treating others with respect.
"We started this project with the ambitious and silly idea that skeletons could inspire an infinite amount of writing. Turns out, it worked even better than we could have imagined.
"This book contains 41 original poems, short stories, and a comic by 46 writers, who will take you into the depths of horror, to strange futures, through contemplations of the human spirit, and leave you in stitches." -Nate Ragolia, editor-in-chief
May 28, 2018
My short story, "Rey Salvador," an allegory of the life of Christ, published in this eclectic mix of short stories.
"In this unique collection of literary stories, you will find stories from the comic to the dramatic, from the poetic to the experimental, from the emotionally powerful to the dynamically straightforward. You can rekindle your love of reading by immersing yourself in this anthology."-Grant Hudson, editor & publisher
August 28, 2018
My first attempt at flash fiction, "The Store," is included in this collection by over 61 authors. "Intense, keen, extreme, sincere, deeply felt, wholehearted-you'll find stories within ranging from the amusing to the overwhelming."-Grant Hudson, editor & publisher
Cuentos del Cañón
January 11, 2019
This collection of stories set in or near the same canyon that is home to her first novel, El Hermano, elicits emotional responses in readers who feel the palpable agony of the parents of an infant victim of the evil eye, the terror of sufferers of realistic nightmares, and the wonder of a ghost's miraculous act. The Devil teaches valuable lessons, and a serpent that nightmares are made of exists in a corner of the Sangre de Cristos; these are a few of the stories you'll find in this anthology by award-winning story-teller Carmen Baca.
A Sampling of My Online Publications
Between books I publish short stories and articles for online literary magazines (all are available from the pinned post on my Facebook author page).
September 6, 2017
When words are mispronounced, misunderstood, or just plain out delivered with no pun intended, there's nothing you can do but laugh and try to regain control, which sometimes is impossible.
Viajes con Fantasmas
Released on July 18, 2019
the sequel to Las Mujeres Misteriosas
A boy, a ghost, and a saint continue the fight Rosita started with la Llorona. The battle for justice or for revenge continues. And the boy, afraid of change, must learn to accept it to conquer his fears.
follow my Facebook page for updates on this book and future publications