Phillip Dominic Cortez

Dynamite Dads Go To School

I have always said that the toughest crowds to speak in front of are 5-year-olds. They are not afraid to let me know whether I’m bombing or not. But speaking to a group of dads may have topped those tiny tikes!

It was all smiles at REL Washington Elementary School in El Paso for their first annual Cool Guys read event in January.
It was all smiles at REL Washington Elementary School in El Paso for their first annual Cool Guys read event in January.

Last month I had the honor of reading and speaking to a gymnasium full of dads and grandfathers – all of them cool – during REL Washington Elementary School’s 1st Annual Cool Guys Read event. The idea was hatched by librarian Rosie Rodriguez and brilliantly executed by staff and volunteers. We talked books, literacy, the importance of setting an example and most importantly – letting go.

What do I mean by letting go? It means forgetting about how silly you may look when you read in funny voices, make weird faces and let loose in front of your kids. As guys we need to set aside our egos sometimes and give our kids an experience that will stay with our children

. And believe me, I know as a father and a son how positive moments like these can be.

Hats off to all of those fathers, grandfathers and even big brothers that showed up to the event!

You’re invited to a Pancake Dinner Party

New book served fresh 91.15.17!

With the release of my new children’s book, Pancakes For Dinner! just under a month away (9.15.17), I have been pretty lucky to have encountered more than a few enthusiastic and supportive educators from different parts of the country. A couple of them came up with a pretty bright idea.

They chose August 22, 2017 to hold a virtual pancake dinner party. How are they going to do it? They will enjoy pancakes for dinner with their families and then post pictures on social media with the hashtag #pancakes4dinner.

Consider yourselves officially invited! Tomorrow night make it a fun evening for your family – serve pancakes for dinner and be a part of this ever-growing online event.

  1. Simply take pictures of all the fun
  2. Post to your preferred social media outlet
  3. Tag me – @phillipdcortez for FB, IG & Twitter
  4. Use the #pancakes4dinner hashtag

Remember, Pancakes For Dinner! comes out on September 15, 2017! Can’t wait? Pre-order your copy here!

It’s never too early to book your 2017-18 school visit. Download school visit information here!

Thoughts about Book Expo

The intermittent rain fell from what looked like a marble sky of grey, black and blue that Saturday morning, my final day at Book Expo in New York.

Not yet nine o’clock, the corner of 50th and 8th in Manhattan buzzes with activity, from your morning jogger types and early risers in search of good coffee or the late night crowd staggering home like some apocalyptic zombies (probably in search of coffee). Tourists are aplenty, luggage in tow, emptying cabs in front of hotels while others wait on the sidewalk, waiting on an Uber or taxi while frantically checking their watches.

All of these normal observations can take place in any major city. But perhaps the most surprising (and impressive) observation that stood out was the long and winding cue of kids, teens and young adults inside the Javits Center for the final (and only) day of Book Expo/Book Con open to the public.

In what is supposed to be a dying medium due to the daily advances of technology and how people consume their information, this long line of kids not only provided me with an injection of hope – seriously, if you were to see this line you’d think you were at an Ariana Grande concert – it gave me the boost I needed to keep moving forward with a writing career that has taken me many places over the last 20-something years.

“Yeah but books are big in New York.”

Not so fast – these book fans came from all over the country and across borders to stand in that line and geek out to their favorite authors signing autographs, listen to panels and check out the latest releases hitting stores in the fall. They came in costume, dressed like their favorite book characters and it was refreshing to see that at no time did I see a Marvel costume.

“What’s your name?” I asked a young woman approaching my table. I saw how her eyes gazed across the vast showroom of impressive displays from publishers like Random House, Disney, Harper Collins and Candlewick.

Her name was Diana and she was from El Paso, Texas (my awesome hometown) and she was in New York specifically for this very occasion. I still get goose bumps thinking about encounter.

The bottom line

Looking back on the experience, I realize that there is no long line of book fans on a cloudy and moist Saturday in New York without the influence of teachers, librarians and parents. And for this, I say “Thank you so much.” I fell in love with writing because I had the same support from people providing me stories to read, whether it was the back of a cereal box, a major daily or a novel so thick it could double as a doorstop.

If you find yourself in New York for Book Expo 2018, stop by my booth and say hello. Pizza for Breakfast! is the follow up for Pancakes for Dinner! and I’ll be promoting this title. I’d love to know your name and where you came from.

There’s nothing better than meeting readers in person! Check out information on school visits here!

Why does Trump Have A Problem With Women?

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 9.25.19 AMIt’s a scene that can be played out on televisions everywhere:

Child enters the room (waaay past her bedtime) and in the most adorable of ways drops this little gem:

“Daddy, what’s a b*#ch?”

Dad knows the drill all too well, giving his wife the “it wasn’t me” look while hoping to God the child didn’t hear it from him.

“Where did you hear that word?” Dad asks, demanding an answer, but not really because there lies the very real possibility that one simple word will basically guarantee the panicky father many nights in the doghouse:


Cue the lame laugh track.

Thanks to Donald Trump and his sad trail of misogyny, degradation of women and racism (to name a few of his deplorable qualities), dads like the example above now have the ultimate scapegoat. See how differently the scene plays out when you apply the Trumped Up, Trickle Blame Down method to such a scenario:

Cut to child entering the room.

“Daddy, what’s a b*#ch?”

Dad gets angry, looks at mommy.

“You see! This is what happens when we let the kids watch Trump debates! He’s starting to rub off on her!”

Dad leaves room in disgust (a brilliant move in the event dad wants to laugh). Dad then opens the fridge (looking for a beer):

“That’s another reason we’re not voting for Trump!” he yells at the grapes.

All joking aside, this isn’t some made-up television show with a fake laugh track. This is real. And based on last Monday night’s debate performance, Trump’s a guy that’s unprepared, unrefined, unfiltered and unfocused. Hell, he may have spent more time talking about a woman’s weight and (I can’t believe I’m typing this) Rosie O’Donnell than to better explain his policies that would “Make America Great Again.”

“Why is that man so angry?” my 4-year-old asks, staring at the Dorito-faced man with the feathered front comb over.

“The woman in red is kicking his, uh, is much smarter than he is and it makes him angry.” My God, it’s starting to rub off on me!

Any child will ask a ton of questions. But what happens when my older daughters start asking tougher questions. Like, “What is the big freaking deal with Trump and women? Why does he seem to have a *problem with us?”

*There are 134,000,000 search results when you Bing the following phrase: Trump’s Issues With Women.

I might not be the smartest parent in my house, but I’m pretty sure about this: I wouldn’t want anyone, much less a presidential candidate, talking about one of my daughters the way Trump has talked about some women. In a world rife with bullies, body shaming and perverted Internet trolls, hearing Trump describe former Miss Universe Alicia Machado as Miss Piggy, Miss Housekeeping or an eating machine makes my skin crawl.

Realize, people, that I’m not even talking about his politics. And for Trump, that’s a huge problem. It’s a problem because that’s what we should be discussing. Instead, he’s citing phony polls, defending his actions and threatening to bring up Bill Clinton’s infidelities as a way to play mind games before the next debate.

And for some odd reason we continue to give him a free pass for this odd behavior/strategy. What if we all took a page from Donald and applied his Trumped Up, Trickle Blame Down method for all of our discrepancies?

  • Your daughter learned a new cuss word because you didn’t change the channel from Howard Stern? Blame it on satellite radio technology!
  • Don’t want to pay your Federal taxes? Disagree with how the government uses the money and don’t pay!

You see, by applying the Trumped Up, Trickle Blame Down method, you can skirt any issue and deflect the way Donald has his entire career. With enough practice, you, too, may find yourself blaming a microphone, a mean debate moderator, a Mexican-American judge, the liberal media, etc.

Believe me, this is not an endorsement for Hillary Clinton as much as this is an appeal for decency and respect. Want to know why Trump has dragged this election into the pits of Kardashia? Because we’re suckers for this type of content, that’s why. We’re a growing population of timeline-scrolling zombies with the attention spans of cats on crack. We’re fascinated with wreck on the side of the road, which is why so many people watched last Monday’s debate – we were waiting for the wreck and Trump came through!

Many people feel that we don’t have quality candidates this election cycle. My response is, uh, yeah, we actually did. But we sold ourselves short by choosing the entertainment value of a Trump candidacy over qualified candidates who actually respected the office they were seeking.

If we want better candidates, then we have to be better, too. And it starts at home with me. You. We try and teach our kids right from wrong and that doing the right thing is important. We want them to treat others the way they expect to be treated. And that includes the way this dad wants his daughter’s to be treated.

It’s hard to take a candidate and his policies seriously when he can’t seem to take women seriously.

Dorito-faced man in suit enters the Oval Office, sits on gold-plated chair.

“I asked you to bring me my coffee, you fat cow,” Trump barks.

Enter a panting Chris Christie holding a coffee cup. He stares off into the distance, wondering how a once-promising career led him to be Donald Trump’s b*#ch.

Cue sad music. Fade to black.

New book – Pancakes For Dinner! (Waldorf Press) – out September 15, 2017. Follow me on Twitter @phillipdcortez