a cry in the night
Lorena Ortiz
Lorena Ortiz was born and raised by Mexican immigrant parents in the Bay Area of California. She adores west coast sunsets and 70 degree weather year-round. That is why every winter at her current home in Washington, D.C., she grumbles about the weather the moment it falls below 60 degrees.

During the day she is a girl who codes health and claims data. During the early morning, lunch, breaks, evenings, and late night she writes the stories of her people. As a first-generation Mexican American woman, she has always written through the lens of a Latina who is surrounded by a spiritual intuitiveness and magic.

Her writing is influenced by her roots and the mysticism of Mexican culture. She is also the mom of several astounding children, daughter of an old-school Mexican mom, and wife to a D.C. high school principal, all of whom live under the same roof with her.


Agustine’s Mother

written by Lorena Ortiz

In Augustine’s Mother, Teresa, a young woman living in rural Mexico in the 1930s, is pregnant for the first time. She is bound to name her baby according to the tradition of the small town she has grown up in — a tradition that ensures prosperity or poverty for the child. This is the story of a young woman determined to break from tradition so that her unborn daughter has a better shot in the world.


© 2020 Lorena Ortiz | Recording © 2020 Rivercliff Books & Media. All rights reserved.

Read by Anni Sezate

“Everyone in the pueblo of Jalpa, in Zacatecas, Mexico, had been baptized according to the Catholic Saint’s Day calendar. Without exception. Generation after generation lived and died and only 365 names were recycled, draping the town in a peculiar tapestry of ancient and pious ghosts.”

“Teresa, born on the 3rd of October, was no exception. Like her namesake, Thérèse of Lisieux, Teresa had a simple nature. What is curious is that both had lost their mothers at an early age. Coincidence or providence?”
“As a child she would wander towards the river, el Rio Juchipila, and trace her reflection in the cool water, while her mother gossiped, and the other children ran through the tall grass playing tag.”
“God maneuvered all the birthdates. The rich would always remain rich and the poor would always remain poor, servants would always be servants, field workers would always be field workers…”

Q&A with Lorena

Tell us about your story...
This is the story of a young woman who is determined try to giver her unborn daughter a better shot in the world.
What was the inspiration for this story?
My mama! This story is based on her birth story, and like Agustina, she was born on the day of a lucrative saint and her father changed her name to a humble saint’s day. The rest is fiction! And what I imagine may have happened.



What have you recently read that you loved?
I recently finished Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility. Amor Towles is a magician with characters and dialogue. His prose is beautiful and precise. I finished this story aching to know more about Katey. I also love bittersweet endings!
Someday I want to...
Immerse myself in writing the novel that has lived inside of me for years and years!
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love talking to my kids. They are the most charming and hilarious people I have ever known.
Do you have any hidden talents?
My day job is my hidden talent. I’m a little like Chandler of the TV Show Friends. No one quite knows what I do during working hours. I am a data whisperer.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I binge watch Project Runway and Top Model. But I don’t feel guilty. I love fashion and clothes!

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