Book Jacket


rank 5348
word count 61609
date submitted 18.03.2010
date updated 18.04.2010
genres: Non-fiction, Travel, Harper True Li...
classification: universal

Flirting in Spanish

Susan McKinney de Ortega

Why would the daughter of a Los Angeles Laker coach fall for a poor Mexican teenager and consider changing her life to be with him?


My 61,000 word memoir, Flirting in Spanish, A Love Story tells how I came of age in a sports household dominated by my famous and bigger-than-life father, a basketball coach who led (sort of) the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA title. When I flee this macho world for Mexico, I fall for a poor teenager.

Part travel/romance memoir, part fish-out-of-water story, Flirting in Spanish takes readers inside my novio´s upper-poverty home, where I share a room with him, his brother and his sister. Here, I cope with the lack of hot water and telephone service, and the stream of relatives who come to visit and stay for weeks. I learn how this barrio tribe exists - hand-washing clothes and selling fried chicken feet for extra pesos – and what it takes to be considered family.

The lack of comforts, though, is not my biggest challenge. To embrace my unconventional partnership and my simpler life, I have to accept myself and reveal the secret that made me run from the United States in the first place. When I do, I find my identity apart from being the coach´s daughter, my grown-up self and a genuine relationship with my father.

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dating, father-daughter, mexico, multi-cultural, national basketball association, romance, san miguel de allende, travel

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name falied moderation wrote 1354 days ago

Dear Susan
I cannot believe i did not see this book earlier. my favorite genre and such a good book. I love the way you have taken me along with you on your journey like i am invisible and experiencing it all. Wonderful use of words to paint your life and those involved in it. Crafted so well. I have no idea who is going up or down on this site. i do know that i want to back this book though....I will carry on reading and comment further on as I would like to get this book of yours backed to assist it on the climb to the top.
Backed for sure my me. ..I would really appreciate it if your would look at my book, COMMENT , and back it. If not that is OK also
The VERY best of luck with your book

The Letter

J. G. Reynolds wrote 1440 days ago

Hi Susan
Truly impressive stuff, written with great heart and honesty and plenty of skill too. I can imagine myself reading it all at some point. It's amusing, quirky, but unlike a lot of stuff I've read recently clearly rings true and is all the more powerful for that. Backed.
Hope you're tip top,
JG Reynolds (Head, Heart & Trousers).

Pia wrote 1456 days ago


Flirting in Spanish - This is lovely, riveting and humorous. I enjoyed the read skipping also to later chapters.
The story has a rightness about it that is very satisfying, a unique life, beautifully told.

Pia (Course of Mirrors)

Famlavan wrote 1461 days ago

Flirting In Spanish

It’s a privilege to be let into someone’s life in this way – Thank you.
I think this is an amazing book and so very well told. I like how you create the comparisons between now and the past by fractionating between Mexico and Philadelphia is makes the book more poignant. You have a very sensual style that makes this so easy to read. Once again thank you for the privilege.

Andrew Burans wrote 1463 days ago

I'm a typical male and so I seldom if ever read this genre - your pitch sucked me in because I am a huge sports fan. It is a pleasure to read a book that is truly written from the heart - well done. You have an excellent writing style with great use of imagery. Backed with pleasure.

Andrew Burans
The Reluctant Warrior: The Beginning

A Knight wrote 1468 days ago


Such wonderful writing here. The opening sections are very provocative, and the thoughts of your characters, like Carlos, bring this to life with punchy, brilliant writing.

This is a colourful, intriguing piece, and I backed it with pleasure.
Abi xxx

Raymond Nickford wrote 1469 days ago

Flirting in Spanish: A Love Story -


The Prologue, to me, is a celebration of the kind of passion which transcends age and cultural differences.
The same candour and urgency to relate the 'naked truth' [no pun intended] is mirrored in the very readable and rhythmic flow of your prose; the short paragraphs and the insightful observation of Carlos, Hugo and Juana.
It is wonderful to learn how passage to a more humble existence from a more comfortable one can be bridged by love and there are, are there not, so many varieties of 'love'; from the caring and companionable to the passionate and romantic, the sexual, but to begin, and it is particularly satisfying to see how the woman who is feeling 'teacherly' can find such a vibrant and colourful life where she might not have otherwise have thought of seeking it.
I wanted to read on, partly for all of the above but, particularly, to see how this relationship might or might not strain the bond between father and daughter - the core of my own work.

(A Child from the Wishing Well)

lionel25 wrote 1475 days ago

Susan, your prologue and first chapter are rather enjoyable. Almost reads like a solid piece of fiction, if you don't mind that comparison.

Happy to back your work.

Joffrey (The Silver Spoon Effect)

C W Bigelow wrote 1475 days ago

Susan, you've posed all the questions and I have to keep turning to try and figure out what would have led you down this path. Intriguing story. Backed. CW (To Save the Sun)

writingwildly wrote 1477 days ago

What a beautiful story. I'm normally a "skimmer" and planned on reading a bit from chapter 1, a bit from, oh, I dunno, chapter 12 ... and I read the entire thing. What a tragic/beautiful/heart-wrenching story. absolutely fascinating and written by an obviously accomplished writer. You have a wonderful book and I hope you'll let me know when I can buy a copy.

Ransom Heart wrote 1477 days ago

Susan, Thanks for telling the secret. It's so important for people to tell s-o-m-e-o-n-e right away, instead of going through life sabatoging relationships and career choices by feeling a lack of personal authenticity. Also, I visited San MIguel de Allende when I was seventeen, and I could smell the tortilla stand odor as I read your book. Great entry, and big hopes for publication. Backed yesterday. Marianne (Saint Paddy and the Sundial)

Cait wrote 1478 days ago

Flirting in Spanish: A Love Story :

Ah, I remember those songs in the prologue. Seems a lifetime ago.

Interesting prologue, also the first and second chapters. Little typo in ch 2 - a double a in Maartens.

I admire your courage in writing this memoir and I like the way it sounds like fiction. Wish I had the luxury of time to read more right now, but I have backed it.

All the best,

Cáit ~ Muckers ~

S Richard Betterton wrote 1479 days ago

Heidi (Pearl Edda) recommended this to me and I was going to leave it til later in the week, but your pitch pulled me in and I couldn't resist having a look right away. And before I knew it I was through three chapters. Being an English teacher in Spain, obviously the classroom scene struck a chord - you captured that perfectly. I especially loved the 'feeling teacherly' line, and then near the end of 3 'his black flag of hair flapping' is masterly description. In short, this is quality! Backed.

hkraak wrote 1479 days ago

FLIRTING IN SPANISH: Last night as I was swept into your world with Carlos and Hugo and Juana and chickens and crowded rooms without privacy, I read until I couldn't keep my eyes open. I woke up thinking about your story and read until I finished, more than a little anxious that you would pull it from the site before I was done. As I breathed a sigh of relief at the last words, tears streamed down my cheeks; partly because I knew you would see Carlos on the other side; partly because I was not sure what to write here; afraid my words would not do justice to the raw beauty of your story. I know I will continue thinking about this and will return to read and reread and savor.

Pearl Edda

bonalibro wrote 1479 days ago


I read through Chapter 3 and I thought your writing was wonderful. I wish I had time to read more. A captivating story of a life in the lost and found box. It sounds so much like my own, in some ways, though our experiences are different. I have always felt the importance of finding my own way, though I have no idea why, and endured many years of such hardship as a young adult. You're a very courageous woman to have undergone such an odyssey and I admire your spirit for having done so.

Tim Chambers
Moonbeam Highway: With Apologies to Miguel de Cervantes.

bonalibro wrote 1479 days ago


I read through Chapter 3 and I thought your writing was wonderful. I wish I had time to read more. A captivating story of a life in the lost and found box. It sounds so much like my own, in some ways, though our experiences are different. I have always felt the importance of finding my own way, though I have no idea why, and endured many years of such hardship as a young adult. You're a very courageous woman to have undergone such an odyssey and I admire your spirit for having done so.

Tim Chambers
Moonbeam Highway: With Apologies to Miguel de Cervantes.

Bamboo Promise wrote 1479 days ago

This is a lovely prologue. I always honor someone who has the courage to write a memoir. Most of the times it takes a lot of courage, energy, soul to put in writing as It is very emotional and painful. You are done a good job and thanks for sharing with us.
Bamboo Promise

zan wrote 1479 days ago

Flirting in Spanish: A Love Story
Susan McKinney de Ortega

Congrats on having the courage to share your story here. I think in today's world, within our global village as it were, it is quite the norm for many of us to reside, live, even spend the rest of our lives in places which are not our birthplace, native homeland, country of nationality and so on. My family consists of five people born in five different countries with genes from three continents. I don't think any one of us has an identity problem - largely because we're a close-knit family, and we view the earth as one country and mankind, it's citizens. When I read your pitches, I was able to identify with a lot of what your story promised. When I started reading the prologue, I felt such honesty and sincerity in your writing, I knew that this would be a book I would take to easily. I have never been to Mexico and I like settings which help me to appreciate another culture and way of life. I love your 1992 Disco scene - and the vision of you kissing Carlos with your eyes closed - appreciating the reservation you had, because he was your student. I wonder if you then under that glittering disco ball knew that your being una muchacha besando a un muchacho, not wanting the song or the kiss to end, would have been the beginning of a more permanenet attachment to Mexico, its culture, people, traditions, and so on, whether you would have withdrawn your hold on Carlos' shoulder and his long-sleeved paisley button-down shirt. So far, this reads a bit like a fairy tale, but then I haven't yet read enough to see how you cope with upper-poverty, lack of water and telephone service, and that unending stream of relatives. I am sure the experience would have been enriching, after all, we are born where we are born, and are in many ways who we are, by accidents of fate. I look forward to reading more about your life in Mexico, about your love for Carlos, and your relationship with your father. This appears to have the essence of a best seller, not joking at all - it is wonderfully written and rich on so many levels that I think it will ultimately sell itself to a publisher in due course. Happy to have given this some time on my shelf Susan.
Best wishes,

Valley Woman wrote 1479 days ago

I'm enjoying this stunningly written memoir. I have never been to Mexico, but I'm Latina so your description of the colors, the attitudes and the atmosphere of the sleepy Mexican town ring true with me. Normally, I find memoirs self-indulgent, but your's also possesses some travelogue qualities. And your story is compelling. I can relate, but not sure why since I've never experienced anything that you've described.


greeneyes1660 wrote 1480 days ago

Susan, Well written and your strength and bravery to share your life experiences will indeed help those who may be encountering similar struggles for identity. I wrote a non-fiction as well. I think everyone reviews and reflects on their life in their own mind and find that tough enough to do.

When we can verbalize or share our accounts of reactions to actions, or the choices we make I think it makes a difference.

I applaud your honesty in sharing your journey, I wish you much success Backed whole heartily Patricia aka Columbia Layers of the Heart

JD Revene wrote 1480 days ago


Intriguing pitch. And wow, I've read three chapters and really have anything to offer by way of constructive critque (honestly, I usually do). This is a fascinating story, well told. There's a painful honesty that makes it irresistble.

Backed with pleasure.

Peculiar wrote 1481 days ago

Hi Susan Your prologue was good and drew me into the story. You write well and the story has the makings of a polished piece. In the first chapter I would have liked to see the paragraphs broken up a little more to increase the pace. Also there are one or two places (I noticed) where you could remove a word for better effect. eg. About Claudia, 'She existed on spaghetti and (a) secret savings' The word 'a' could be dropped for effect
Similarly in or two other places words could be dropped.Your sentences could then be shortened at times. All in all a great read and I wish you all the best with it. Hope my comments are useful Backed


carlashmore wrote 1482 days ago

Gosh, this did surprise me. True life stories are rarely my thing, but I felt both moved and touched by yours. I think what sets it apart for me is the eloquent use of language which perfectly captures emotion and setting. Your prose is fluid and your honesty is creditable. A lovely read. Carl.

Strauss wrote 1485 days ago

Enjoying this so far! The paths followed by modern women always fascinate me, and I am really looking forward to finding out where yours will lead! I am putting this on my shelf, and I would like to wish you lots of luck in getting it published. Straussy

Paige Pendleton wrote 1485 days ago

This is quite touching. I thought the prologue was very well done, and then you move into the actual story seamlessly. A memoir seems so challenging to me - I wouldn't even want to attempt it - and you have given this an easy, light flow that is compelling. Well done, and backed by a usually cynical heart that is a bit warmer tonight.

klouholmes wrote 1485 days ago

Hi Susan, The prologue is very flowing and I like how the first chapter is grounded. You’ve covered a lot in telling background and about the others in Mexico while going forward with the events there. There’s already self-examination and that type of person is interesting to follow when making unusual decisions! Easily shelved – Katherine (The Swan Bonnet)

Miss Sully wrote 1486 days ago

Lovely prologue. I always wondered what it would be like to write a memoir - it somehow fascinated me and I love what you're done here with yours. The pitch is open and honest and the writing takes on a life of its own the more you read. It's on my shelf. All the best with it ;-)
Grace ~ Suitcase of Memories

Chris 1 wrote 1486 days ago

Hello Susan, this is an intriguing story - how you swapped your relatively affluent lifestyle to share your life with your poverty-stricken lover. It allows us to compare and contrast two different lifestyles and two different cultures and works rather well. BACKED Chris1

mujax wrote 1486 days ago

I love the opening. I also love that she's 33 and kisses her 19 year old student! And doesn't even try to resist thought she tells herself she does. I am 33, so the fact that she hopes to have figured out her life by her 34th birthday is something I can relate to. I also love that Ted had lived in a yurt. I stayed in a yurt last summer in Sussex, England, it was idyllic. Your prose really flows. I'm happy to back your book, Muchacha. :)

Lord Dunno wrote 1486 days ago

This really struck a chord with me, having been an English teacher in the past and instead of heading for Mexico I headed for Spain. You've got all the ingredients here for a great movie adaptation. Muchisimas gracias, guapa.

Su Dan wrote 1487 days ago

I have only read the prologue,but reading that, I can see what a well written piece of work this is...

Jessica L Degarmo wrote 1487 days ago

Wonderfully descriptive and the first chapter is sure to make readers want more. Nicely done.

Jessica L. Degarmo

Colin Normanshaw wrote 1488 days ago

A very good story and generally well scripted with good dialogue. I suggest a careful edit for unnecessary commas and flawed sentence construction - this will be well worth the effort as I think you have a winner here if you can ploish it. You might also want to consider changing font. Times Roman is common enough but difficult to read off screen as on this site. Why not change just one chapter (eg to Ariel or Tahoma) and see if it looks easier to read? Backed with pleasure. Colin

ellen911 wrote 1489 days ago

I love the premise of this, and I like the voice of your narrator. She speaks with realism and her thoughts seem honest. This is so easy to read, I imagine doing so tucked inside the warmth of a soft armchair. Beautiful!
Ellen (Thoughts of a Teenage Girl)

Robbins wrote 1489 days ago

Excellent read. It just sucks the reader straight in from the first page. I have read through ch. 6 and am still curious as to how things will work out between the teacher and her student.


carolynlawrence wrote 1489 days ago

I am amazed. I am not a non-fiction reader by any stretch of the imagination, but your story has truly captured me. It was painful, and beautiful, and mesmerizing. I am in awe that this is your life and you are sharing it with me. Thank you. You have lived and loved, and I am envious of this (and your writing skill). Brilliant. I would suggest anyone to read this. Good luck.

Fetish: A Love Story

David Fearnhead wrote 1489 days ago

Your pitch really grabbed my attention, even more so when I saw the Non-fiction genre tag.
It seemed to have all the components for an excellent work of fiction. I was also drawn by the Spanish element and this was not just a romance tale but a true life fish out of water, change of life move.
What makes it work on reading was your honesty, you could quite easily have killed it had the reader suspected you of being disingenuous, but its all there. I dipped into a few chapters at random and found each one had that quality of just sucking you into the story. I liked how you used fashion and the way people dress to demonstrate your worry over your age and the hidden feelings jealousy towards young. More than happy to back.
Bailey of the Saints

Lucy Heath wrote 1490 days ago

This is great writing and a fascinating story, which makes for a very good combination. You definitely want to know how it all turns out! On a personal level I can relate to being chatted up by students learning English so that very much struck a chord. Luckily I managed to resist some very cute fourteen-year-olds in Greece! More seriously, I think the theme of what we can find out about ourselves by encountering another culture is a very rich one, and one that you have carried off extremely well. All the best with it.

Linda Lou wrote 1490 days ago

hullo Susan. Well, we have something to share, I modeled in college sort of like what you experienced. School can be expensive. Good story line and descriptions. Shelved and backed. Please take a look at my book and thanks for that.

Linda Lou Long
Southern dis-Comfort

soutexmex wrote 1490 days ago

This reminds me of another book that was once on here. This is Harper True story for sure and your pitches sold me on this book. SHELVED!

I can use your comments on my book when you get the chance. Cheers!

The Obergemau Key
Authonomy's #1 rated commentator

SusieGulick wrote 1490 days ago

Dear Susan, Since I've already backed your book, I will again put it on my watchlist to possibly help it advance. Thanks for backing, "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" AND "Tell Me True Love Stories." Love, Susie :)
Thanks, Susie :)

SusieGulick wrote 1490 days ago

Dear Susan, I love non-fiction & travel. :) I like that your book has a prologue for the setting. Your story is a good read because you create interest by having short paragraphs & lots of dialogue which makes me want to keep reading & reading to find out what's going to happen next. I will happily back your book. Thanks for backing, "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not." Could you take a moment to BACK my unedited version? "Tell Me True Love Stories" Thanks, Susie :) Yes, you can actually cuddle full term, just difficult, like when I was pregnant with Danny in my Daddy/Phil chapter.

Beval wrote 1491 days ago

This is a amazing story, when it began I could see no way this could end happily, a woman that age with a boy his age. I had to go to the end to see how it all turned out.
In between is a rich pagent of emotion laced with the colour and tyhe vibrance of Mexico. The whole thing is wonderfully frank and entertaing and uplifting. And very, very readable.

holdril wrote 1491 days ago

Dear Susan.
You are braver tha I am. I would have to use a nom-de-plume to write this memoir. It is alive and yells reality. I like it only read a couple of random chapters anwas suprised to see that Calos survived. The style of writing suits the genre, whats not to like I'll back it,

lizjrnm wrote 1492 days ago

This is my kind of book! Well written, funny - love the comparison of clothes that are hot in Philly but not so hot in Mexico! BACKED with pleasure!

The Cheech Room

pinkcoffee wrote 1492 days ago

Wow... you got me hooked from the first paragraph. I love that song & the fact you include pasley... can you believe that is making a come back of sorts!? Writing in the first person is not easy yet you manage it with ease. Thoroughly enjoyed. I wish you the best of luck. kind regards pinkcoffee 'In The Moment' & 'Chameleon'

Barry Wenlock wrote 1492 days ago

Hi -- I read quite a bit of this. It's an interesting and original story. A glimpse into another world. Very well written. Sorry, I can't offer anything constructive. Backed with pleasure.
best wishes, Barry
(Little Krisna and the Bihar Boys)

Burgio wrote 1492 days ago

This is an interesting story. First, because it's so well written - a lot of clever descriptions and described relationships - secondly because it's true and it takes courage to write about self-discovery. A good read. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

jfredlee wrote 1492 days ago

Memoirs are usually my cup of tea, but yours definitely is.

What an incredibly rich tapestry of sights, sounds, emotions, problems and solutions.

Plus, I can't find a single thing to criticize in your writing.

I'm sooo backing this.

Jeff Lee

Suzannah Burke wrote 1492 days ago

Sue, this is at times painful, always moving, tapesty of color,sounds,smells and emotions.
Beautifully crafted and polished to a rich gleam. I am sad for you, laugh with you,and am tempted to cry for you on your long journey into self discovery and completion.

Thank you for sharing your story, your love and your life.
It's a book that will linger in memory.
backed with pleasure.
Suzannah Burke
Dudes down Under