Thursday, August 30, 2007

And The Winner Is...

Announcement: Samara L. of Elyria, OH who receives a copy of Valerie Block's new book, Don't Make A Scene!
Here is part two of my conversation with Valerie:
Chica Lit: You make references to Ingrid Bergman throughout the book. What qualities of Ms. Bergman appealed to you and how did she figure so prominently in the story?

Valerie: In the book, I used movie stars and directors to reflect on what is happening in the life of one of my main characters, Diane Kurasik, who is a movie lover. Diane is nearing 40 and still single, so a film like Indiscreet, where Bergman plays an actress in her 40s who is cheerful and single without apologies, appeals to her. Bergman was also one of the few people who stood up to David O. Selznick, who sat her down with a stylist when she first came to Hollywood, and told her how they would tweeze her eyebrows, fix her teeth and put her on a diet. She told him, “If you don’t like the way I look, what am I doing here?” And that was the end of that. When Diane is feeling pressure to conform, she recalls this meeting and finds strength to resist.

I wasn’t able to include all my favorites – only the ones that had something to do with what was going on with the story. So it was Katharine Hepburn who found her way into the book, because of her performance in Summertime, another film dealing with a single woman struggling to reconcile what she wants for herself, and her actual place in the world. Glenda Jackson made it in, because of her harassed intelligence, and Lucille Ball, who became personally and professionally involved with an impossible Cuban. Many others, too: Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard.

Chica Lit: Do your family and friends read your work, looking for themselves in your characters? (Mine do and they never get it right!)

Valerie: My friends and family members often bring up bits that I’ve used where they see direct parallels, and it’s useless to argue that I’ve radically changed the details, the context and/or the outcome. At this point, family members have mentioned some episodes that I’ve created from scratch as if they actually happened. These books take on a life of their own.

Chica Lit: How much did your husband influence the character of Vladimir?

Valerie: There are two main male characters in the book, both Cuban, and I would say my husband influenced both of them, but neither one of them is completely him. I wanted to write about my husband’s world, which I think any Cuban in exile would recognize, without writing about him. Alexis read every draft. He made sure I got everything right, not just the Cubanidad. But you know that it’s fiction — some might say science fiction — because I’ve written about a Cuban man who doesn't want to talk, an affliction from which my husband does not suffer, I assure you.

For more information about Valerie and her books, please visit her website!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Between The Pages With Lisa Wixon

She only planned to stay a week in Cuba, but came home a year later.

Lisa Wixon had saved enough money to travel the world but when she arrived in Cuba, via Panama City, she befriended a young woman who revealed that she was a jinetera (literal translation: a jockey), a young professional woman who earns money by acquiring foreign boyfriends, much like a 17th century courtesan or royal mistress. Lisa turned her experience among jineteros into a novel, Dirty Blonde and Half Cuban.

I've owned this book for about a year and when I finally set a time to interview Lisa, I sat down to read it. Four hours later when I finished the book, I had to go back and start it all over again because I didn't want to leave those characters behind. Also, Lisa told me that there wouldn't be a sequel.

Chica Lit: How long did it take you to write this novel and what was your process?

Lisa: The first 50 pages took two to three months. I wrote the last 200 to 250 pages in ten weeks and did nothing nothing else. I wrote from 10P till 930A. It was the only way to create the world.

Chica Lit: Pardon me for asking, but how do you support yourself with a writing schedule like that?

Lisa: Travel writing is my main occupation. I take in PR jobs, just to make enough money to take off and think and write. It's hard. Isolating myself is not something that I love because I'm an outgoing person. With this novel and the one I'm writing now, I have to really isolate myself. Torture is the only way I get it done.

Chica Lit: How did you research your book?

Lisa: The story of Alysia going to Cuba is fiction entirely. I held myself to nonfiction standard talking about issues and facts such as how much women make compared to how much a pair of tennis shoes cost.

Chica Lit: Why did you use an American character like Alysia in telling this story?

Lisa: I knew that people in America would understand her. There are so many similarities between Americans and Cubans in that they are very hard working and they place a high value on education. I wanted to use Alysia as an American woman with education and an upper class background who is forced to live the life as a jinetera to survive in Cuba.

Chica Lit: One of the things I loved in the story were the sex scenes because during those moments, Alysia seems to suddenly wake up and realize what she's gotten herself into. It's like she realizes she fell down a rabbit hole.

Lisa: The Cuban women who are jineteras feel that, too. They ask, why have I done this? I'm a doctor, why do I have to do this?

Chica Lit: How did your family react to the novel? Did they wonder what you had been doing in Cuba all that time?

Lisa: Because this story is so far out from my real life experience, they didn’t think anything is true. My mom tells people, "Read my daughter's book but wear sunglasses!"

Chica Lit: What was your life in Cuba like?

Lisa: After I befriended her (the young jinetera), I moved in with her family. I met other jinoteros and I'd go out at night with them and watched them get picked up. I spent time with them and their boyfriends and girlfriends from other countries.
Chica Lit: How did you feel watching people you came to love, sell their bodies?

Lisa: It was really difficult, a very emotional time for me. I often had to question why I was there putting myself in an emotionally difficult situation and tried to compartmentalize it there. I had to tell myself that me being there would not change the consequences; this would happen if I was there or not. When I came back, it took me a long time to process it. Anger and a sense of indignation fueled me to write this book.

Chica Lit: How difficult was it to get into the heads of your characters?

Lisa: It is almost impossible not to feel what the characters feel. The intensity with which I lived in Alysia's skin while writing the story was one of reasons why I procrastinated after the book deal. I had to cut out the rest of the world to go back into Cuba at my desk.

Check out Lisa's novel, Dirty Blonde and Half Cuban.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Between the Pages With Valerie Block

About seven years ago, my mother in-law gave me a copy of Valerie Block's novel, Was It Something I Said. I remember thinking that it was a clever anti-romantic, romanctic comedy in that the hero and heroine meet when their plane is about to crash and when he tells her that they were fated, she thinks he's nuts. I loved it and through the years, scenes from that novel would pop up in my mind.

So imagine my surprise when Valerie's publicist contacted me about her new book, Don't Make A Scene. I couldn't believe my luck that I'd get a chance to talk with an author I'd admired for so long.
Chica Lit: What inspired Don't Make A Scene?

Valerie: I wanted to write about what happens when the eternal allure of classic movies collides with the daily indignities of contemporary life. I had a situation, a woman who begins a romance that ends before it has a chance to take off, with a man whose wife refuses on principle to grant him a divorce. Although they’re attracted to each other, things don’t move forward, and not necessarily because of the stalemate with his wife. Just because he’s a man and she’s a woman, doesn’t mean that they fall in love, and burst into song on public transportation, the way it happens in the movies. I saw their story as the kind of anti-climactic stuff that movies just don’t deal with. The characters of Diane and Vladimir emerged as people as I began to write.

Chica Lit: What were the challenges you faced when writing it?

Valerie: I started writing the novel, and although I was enjoying all the cinema business, the story wasn’t moving forward. I looked over at my husband, Alexis Romay, who grew up in Cuba and came to the US as an adult, in 1999. Alexis is also a writer, and we talk about Cuba every day. At any given time, he is cursing in anger, crying in pain or laughing hysterically about something happening in Cuba that he is reading about on the Internet. Alexis has written editorials that could have been published in 1967 or the day before yesterday. The situation worsens, but never changes.

And at some point, I got jealous. I certainly didn’t envy the repression, the censorship, the privations, the hunger, the anger or the frustration that being born in Cuba entails. But for a writer, Cuba is a never-ending source of great material. I felt sheepish, and wondered if he would call me a colonialist for appropriating his stories, but I asked my husband: Would you mind if I wrote about this? And he said, “You and I could write about the same thing, and it would come out completely differently.” So the leading man became Cuban, and that seemed to make the whole enterprise take off.

Chica Lit: Recently, Hollywood has been seeing a lot of misses versus hits. Do you feel that the quality of storytelling has suffered from the rise in celebrity when audiences are more interested in Brad & Angelina's personal life, versus their movies?

Valerie: The public has always been ravenous for trashy gossip, and the Hollywood stars have always had two jobs: embodying our higher aspirations and desires on-screen, and feeding our darker needs off-screen. Or, you might say, they are idolized by the public for what they do on screen, and then must pay for the deification by having their personal lives dissected and their privacy invaded at every turn. It’s part of the package. There’s a very interesting book, Intimate Strangers, by Richard Schickel, about the ill-will ordinary Americans bear the very people they put on pedestals. It’s almost a law of nature: when people get that big, they have to be shot down, sometimes – tragically – literally, as in the case of John Lennon.

Film has never been the writer’s medium, but in the studios of yore, there used to be a script department, writers on staff. These days, there’s so little respect for writing in the average Hollywood product, you get the feeling that they want to just eliminate the writer altogether. Sometimes films seem to have been written by the wardrobe designer – did you see the Gwyneth Paltrow bomb Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow? – or by a sleeping accountant using a previous script for easy reference. When I found out that Titanic had started shooting before the script had even been started, I decided that I didn’t need to see that movie. I may have been the only person on the planet who made that decision, but I stand by it.
Chica Lit: When you switch on the TV and see some of the reality shows that are produced, do you feel as you write/craft novels that you're casting pearls before swine?

Valerie: You make me laugh! I reject the very premise of reality TV. And as you know, even the least popular cable channels on television – the wood grain channel, the vitamin channel, etc. – get millions of viewers, even on a Saturday at 1:30 am. There are days when I feel like I’m in a dying business. On the other hand, I can’t watch much of what is popular now – I feel unclean! I know there are others who feel the same, and this is who I write for. Books reach people on a very different level. I hope there will always be a call for that, although I know the numbers are mere, when compared to televised competition of any kind.

Chica Lit: How have you grown comfortable in mixing your Jewish heritage with your husband's Cuban background? Or, does it remain a work in progress?

Valerie: My husband is fascinated by Jewish history and customs, amused by Yiddish, and absolutely enthralled by the ultra Orthodox. I come from a very secular family, and he’s getting a little too Jewish for us! For my part, I’ve been learning Spanish, reading Cuban history and fiction, watching Cuban movies. I am a fanatic for Cuban jazz. But I’m a gringa in the dancing department, alas: I just cannot follow, and we’ve had some very tense moments, as my husband is a terrific dancer, almost professional, and a big showman who likes to do very complicated moves with the hands above the head. I must spend every neuron keeping the beat, etc. Our wedding countdown unfolded like a real-life version of the rehearsal montage from Dirty Dancing, in which the nice Jewish girl doesn’t exactly “get it” in the end.

Enter to win a copy of Don't Make A Scene by emailing me at with "Don't Make A Scene" in the subject line. Next Tuesday, I'll draw one name from a hat and announce the winner!
Visit Valerie Block's website, or buy her books!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Between The Pages: Caridad Ferrer

Cari and I met online when we were both dreaming of the day we'd sell our first books. She was one of my first fans and has been actively promoting chica lit and chick lit through the Chick Lit chapter of Romance Writers of America. But now, she's stepped out from behind the scenes to become a rising star in young adult fiction.

Her debut, Adios To My Old Life placed second in the Florida Writers Association's Royal Palm Literary Award, was named by Latinidad as the Top Teen Read of 2006 and received the Rita for Best Contemporary Single Title Romance, the most prestigious award given by Romance Writers of America.

Today, Cari is releasing her second young adult novel, It's Not About The Accent. She sat down to share her story of publication and how music has played a role in all of her books.

Chica Lit: It's Not About The Accent is about Caroline who transforms herself into Carolina during her first year in college. Where did the story and Caroline come from?

Cari: It came primarily from the basic premise of how at some point or another, we all want to be someone or something else than what we are. Growing up, I remember a lot of Latina girls wanting to be more Anglo in their appearance with hair color and dress and tinted contact lenses. What I thought would be fun for this story would be to take a girl that on the surface is as white bread as they come (by her own reckoning) and have her try on the persona of a Cuban girl. It’s not entirely a random choice either— her great-grandmother, whom she adored, was Cuban although that was a fact my character didn’t find out until after her Nana’s death. But for her, it was like pieces of a puzzle falling into place— her great-grandmother had been the one person in the family who had had these exciting adventures and had traveled many places and she was the only one who hadn’t been born and bred in this small, Ohio town.

Chica Lit: Tell us about your journey to becoming a published (and award-winning!) author?

Cari: I wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more. Seriously, though, I’ve been writing my entire life, but seriously with an eye toward publication for about the last six years. My original focus was women’s fiction, which I still write and it was one of those manuscripts that captured an agent’s attention. While she was shopping that manuscript to editors, she heard that another editor was looking for Latina-themed young adult novels and did I have an idea? I was a little thrown initially, since I’d never considered YA— I honestly didn’t think I’d have a good voice/tone for the genre. But I gave it a go and well... here I am.

Chica Lit: If you could back to the time before you published your first book, what would you tell yourself?

Cari: Don’t ever assume ANYTHING. I know that publishing is a freaky, unpredictable industry, but if you had told me that my first published novel was going to be young adult and that it would win awards not only for young adult books, but take a RITA in an adult category and that nearly two years after selling my first young adult novel, I’d still be waiting on that first elusive sale for one of my women’s fiction novels, especially considering how close I’ve come a few times with those manuscripts? Well... let’s just say I’d be asking what you smoked.

Chica Lit: What turns you on creatively?

Cari: Oh, music. Without a doubt. A musical passage or a lyric can inspire whole scenes, if not entire storylines, in a flash. There’s nothing that brings me peace, fires me up, stirs the deepest core of my emotions as music— any kind of music.

Chica Lit: What turns you off?

Cari: A lack of respect for the creative process, especially when it comes from other writers, who are the first ones who should respect that the process is different for everyone. Actually, just a lack of respect in general— all of us who do this gig have first hand knowledge of how hard it is, both creatively and from a business standpoint. The last thing we need to be doing is tearing each other or what we write down.

Chica Lit: Best piece of advice ever given to you?

Cari: The classic, BICHOK- Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. You can’t write a book without actually, you know, writing.

Chica Lit: What's next?

Cari: I’m currently working on a modern retelling of the story of Carmen, from Bizet’s opera. My Carmen is a dancer, and rather than an army officer and bullfighter, she finds herself between an intense, disciplined music prodigy and a flamboyant, let it all hang out, soccer player. It’s been a lot of fun writing this so far, since the overall setting is the world of competitive drum and bugle corps (it all makes sense, I SWEAR). Anyhow, drum corps was an activity that formed a huge part of my adolescence and it’s been a blast being able to revisit some of the best times of my life while writing this story. Right now, the working title is, "A Thin Line" and it’s scheduled for a Spring 09 release from Dial.

After you run out and get Cari's new book, It's Not About The Accent (so she'll become a best seller and buy me a drink at next year's RWA Conference!), here's the soundtrack she created for the story!

It's Not About The Accent: Soundtrack

Here’s the soundtrack Caridad Ferrer created for her new book, It's Not About The Accent.

Other Side of the World- KT Tunstall
Downtown Train- Everything But The Girl
Peace of Me- Natasha Bedingfield
If Anybody Had a Heart - John Waite
Songbird- Eva Cassidy
Forgiven (Featuring Jonatha Brooke)- Chris Botti
Better (m)- Toby Lightman
Stumble- Natasha Bedingfield
More Than Words (English Version)- Frankie J
Don't Dream It's Over- Sixpence None the Richer
Look Where We Are Now- Teddy Geiger
Cry - Faith Hill
Missing You- Alison Krauss & John Waite
St. Teresa- Joan Osborne
One - Mary J. Blige & U2
Come September - Natalie Imbruglia
Do You Sleep- Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories
Everytime We Touch (Yanou's Candlelight Mix)- Cascada
When Did You Fall (In Love With Me) [Groovin' Version]- Chris Rice
Heal Over - KT Tunstall
Afterglow- INXS
Run to Me- Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs
Come On Home- Everything But The Girl

Read chapter one

Monday, August 20, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Today I'm celebrating two birthdays. The Little Dude turned two and he woke up extra early this morning to begin the festivities!

And then my editor sent me PW's review of Switchcraft. I conceived the story idea a week or two after I discovered that the Little Dude had taken up residence in my uterus. It's amazing to have watched him grow into this feisty running, screaming and talking little person, and now, Switchcraft is findings its legs. This is enough to make a mama get a little misty.

So here's the review:

Best friends Nely Mendoza and Aggie Portero share a life-changing switcheroo in Castillo's spirited romantic comedy. Past 30, curvy wife and mom Nely and hot, no-carb spitfire shop owner Aggie are a little jealous of each other's life. But after the two switch bodies during a “transcendental meditation ceremony,” they realize that the other's grass isn't necessarily greener. Aggie, who's been yearning for marriage and a baby, experiences some reality checks while taking care of Nely's toddler, and Simon, Nely's cop husband, all the while handling Simon's manipulative mother. Nely's challenges as Aggie include rescuing her friend's shop from financial meltdown, fending off a stalker and figuring out what's up with Aggie's playboy pal, chef Kevin Sanchez. Although the trading places idea isn't a fresh concept, Castillo's effervescent style and likable characters sweeten the deal.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chatting with Food Network Chef Ingrid Hoffman

By Mary Castillo

For Ingrid Hoffman, the smell and taste of oatmeal and homemade orange jam brings to life the memories she spent at the table with her abuelos. Her Food Network show, Simply Delicioso, is driven by her passion for making new memories with family, friends and food.

"We live so busy in this country that we forget the importance sitting around the table," she said. "I make my food easy so you don't have excuses not to make it."

Using fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs, Hoffman follows her instincts in creating easy, flavorful dishes with a distinct Latin flavor. She has fans and critics for her reinterpretations of traditional Latin dishes, which she proudly calls Spanglish cuisine.

"This is a cuisine that for many, many years has not been altered and is deeply rooted in its tradition," she said. "[Chefs] are finding ways of bringing it into this millennium with new techniques, new flavors and giving new life to ancient ingredients."

Born and raised in Colombia, Ingrid learned how to marry her love of food with business, literally at her mother's knee. A Cordon Bleu trained chef, her mother started a catering company out of her home kitchen, eventually growing the business to handle events for up to 1,000 guests. As soon as she could, Ingrid remembers begging her mom to work. But then at 13 she was sent to boarding school in Miami, falling in love with the city and determined to return. She did and opened a luxury boutique and restaurant, Rocca that was featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

"I loved the creative part of it," she said, of her entrepreneurial enterprises. "But the running of a business and restaurant was difficult. Maybe it would've helped if I was a big guy with a mean face."

An admitted adventurer with the heart of a teenager but the head of a woman, it took Ingrid awhile to find her way. But the door to her new life opened when a friend invited her to appear on a small, local TV show to demonstrate recipes from her restaurant. Before she knew it, Ingrid was doing segments for Despierta America. In September 2005, her Spanish show, Delicioso premiered on DirecTV and a year later, premiered on Galavisión.

With a new season on order from Food Network, her continuing production at Galavisión and the upcoming release of her debut cookbook, Simply Delicioso: A Collection of Everyday Recipes with a Latin Twist, Ingrid stays grounded by working closely with her mother (who brainstorms, researches and tests recipes) and by staying true to her concept of delicioso.

"I cook for the love of bringing family and friends together, and for eating and drinking. I didn't do it to be a Suzy Homemaker, which believe me, I'm not!"

Ingrid invites you to try her Limon, Limon menu this weekend! See the recipes below and tune into her show, Simply Delicioso on Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. E/P on the Food Network.

Limon Limon

Recipes courtesy of Ingrid Hoffman (Mil gracias, Ingrid!)

Limon Chicken
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pound chicken parts or boneless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 pounds yellow onions, chopped
3 tablespoons yellow Peruvian chile or aji amarillo paste (or diced green chiles)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 5 to 6 lemons

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan, add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken and add the onions and garlic and cook at medium-low heat until the onions are clear, about 10 minutes. Add the yellow chile and stir. Return the chicken to the onion mixture, cover and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until chile sauce has completely infused the mixture and the chicken is cooked through. Chicken parts will take longer than boneless breasts. Add the lemon juice and cook another 10 minutes, to allow flavors to meld.

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy

Mango, Jicama and Radish Salad with Peanut Dressing
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
8 large radishes, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
6 cups mixed baby greens, washed and dried
1 large or 2 small mangoes, peeled, fruit cut off the seed and cubed
2 cups peeled and cubed jicama (cut into about 1/2-inch cubes)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

In a medium bowl, whisk the peanut butter and lime juice until smooth. Add the brown sugar, vegetable oil and some salt and whisk until combined. Add enough water to thin the sauce and give it a dressing-like consistency, about 2 to 3 tablespoons.
Place the radishes, greens, mangoes, jicama and cilantro in a large bowl and toss together.
Drizzle with the dressing, toss using tongs to coat and serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy

Snowball Potatoes
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled
1 tablespoon salt
2 ounces Oaxaca or any other soft white cheese, cubed
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Put potatoes in a large pot and fill with water until potatoes are just covered. Add the 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are very soft, about 40 minutes.

Press potatoes through a potato ricer or pulse in a bowl with an immersion hand blender until they are mashed. Let sit for a few minutes until just cool enough to handle.

Cut the white cheese in 1/2-inch cubes.

Prepare a baking sheet with foil wrap and coat with vegetable spray or rub with oil.
Put bread crumbs in a small bowl.

While mashed potatoes are still warm, form into 2-inch balls and insert 1 cheese cube in center, then roll into bread crumbs and place on cookie sheet. Wash hands and dry after every third ball so the potatoes will form evenly and not stick to the bread crumbs in your hand. Quantity should make about 10 balls.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, serve immediately.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Inactive Prep Time: 3 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy

Watermelon Lime Spritzer
2 cups seedless watermelon, cut into cubes
1/2 cup ice cubes
2 cups lemon-lime flavored soda, divided
1 lime, cut into wedges

Place the watermelon and ice cubes in a blender and blend until liquefied. (Once you add the lemon-lime soda, it will thin out even more, add more ice cubes if you want it slushier.) Slowly add 1/2 of the lemon-lime soda and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses, garnish with limes and serve.

Yield: 3 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Ease of preparation: Easy

Pre-order your copy of Ingrid's upcoming cook book, Simply Delicioso: A Collection of Everyday Recipes with a Latin Twist

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hey There Good Lookin'

New & Recycled Romance's 20th Anniversary party was a big hit! I signed books alongside Meryl Sawyer, who made me cry when I read, Closer Than She Thinks. If you like New Orleans, Meryl brings the city to life in this taut thriller.

Here I am sitting next to bestselling author, Brenda Novak. (Isn't her dress cute?) Every year, Brenda organizes a mega, online auction to raise money for diabetes research. Check out the spooky trailer for her new release, Dead Right!
And I was so happy to run into fellow Avon lady, Sylvia Day who writes spicy erotic romances for Avon Red. By the way, if you're getting ready to make babies, read erotic romance. All I'll say is that it worked for me!
By the way, if you're in Costa Mesa/Newport Beach, make sure to visit New & Recycled Romances. Toni and her staff have read just about every book in the place. (You think I'm kidding but I swear it's true!) These women love romances, mysteries and women's fiction - the spicier the better! - and they're more than happy to share their favorites. Also, if you want a copy of one of my books, Toni will order one for you, call me down to the store to sign it and keep it at the store for pick-up or ship it to you!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Time For Tea

Today, Toni Bruner is celebrating twenty years of owning and operating New & Recycled Romances. She opened her store when her collection of books began crowding out her and her husband. Her philosophy, "romance is good for the heart" is evident when you see her regulars come in with bags of books, eagerly talking about the new author she urged them to try or the latest release of their favorite author. I'm lucky to be one of the authors she recommends to customers who drift into the store and profess (with a shudder) that they don't read romances.
Today, Toni is celebrating her anniversary with an afternoon tea with a whole crew of authors, including best-seller, Brenda Novak (and me, too). If you haven't gotten around to buying your copy of Names I Call My Sister, come on by for a spot of tea from 3 to 5 p.m. at New & Recycled Romances, 145 Broadway in Costa Mesa.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Introducing the Fabulous Jen Mahal

I'm really lucky to count among my friends the one and only, Jen Mahal. She's smart as a whip (and if you f*%$ with her, she'll sting!) but also generous with her time and expertise.

Today, she started a new column about media relations for writers and artists called, Sex and the (Publi)city.

See, I told she was smart.

While I'm ironing out a few wrinkles left over from the last polish of my Mariachi story, and preparing some changes to this blog, I hope you'll see what Jen has to say.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Adventures in Marriage

My husband is a six foot one Irish-German guy. (His mom swears that he's Mexican by association because he was conceived in Cancun.)

Anyway, our Little Dude has been throwing nuclear tantrums and the other day my husband walked into the kitchen as I was saying, "No llores, papi. No llores!"

Bewildered, my husband says (in his O.C. accent), "What a coincidence that the word for crying is the name of that town where all those women were disapearing."

"Llores," I replied. "Not Juarez."


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Mi Ciudad Es Tu Ciudad

I got my weekly e-newsletter from Tu Ciudad magazine today and to my delight found that my article in the June issue is on the website!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Gina Ravera, who stars in arguably one of the best police shows ever, The Closer. And she works with my "boyfriend" Raymond Cruz. (tee hee!)
Ahem, if you want to read about Gina go here.
If you want to know what's hot and happening in L.A. and Orange County, go here.
If you want to win a $10 gift certificate, go here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Too Close For Comfort

In case you were wondering, the lunch was excellent and that nimrod who was so rude to Mom wasn't there!
But here's another story for you.
My mom's co-worker came into work without a bra, which in Mom's book of rules, is a mortal sin. (As is wearing a black bra under a white shirt.) Apparently, the one bra that she had owned died and after everyone in the office told her to, she went to buy more.
Well, this same co-worker came back to work, now complaining about how she couldn't breathe very well but she was too afriad to go see her doctor. Mom's compassionate reply, "Maybe your new bra is too tight."
Ahh, Mom ... gotta love her!
In other news, I have a new Switchcraft contest posted on the site ... this time for a $10 gift certificate!