Monday, April 30, 2007


Have you ever seen the movie, Chinatown with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunway? If you haven't, there is a scene where this guy cuts through Jack Nicholson's nostril. It's one of those scenes that are branded in your mind forever and when you think about it, you shiver and say, "blech!"

Well, I've just written three chapters that gave me the hee-bee-jeebies. Not so much "blech" in that blood is flying everywhere. More like "blech" in that I'd cut down to the bone and exposed the raw emotions of my characters. The exposure was necessary and not always pretty (or gory for that matter). But still, when I faced having to write those particular scenes, it was scary (in that I wasn't sure I could go there), exhilarating (when I found that I could go there and beyond) and now, exhausting because I went there and I know I have to go back and do it again.

In spite of the doubt and fear that goes hand-in-hand with being a writer (and don't get me started on the pay), I'd much rather be doing this than sitting in traffic every morning to get to a job that I hate.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Now I'm Getting Nervous

...because Names I Call My Sister will be unleashed on the reading public and all I can think about before I go to sleep are all the things I wish that I'd written differently.

I do this to myself with every book. And I have a feeling that it will only be worse with Switchcraft because it came from a deep and very personal place in my heart.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I wore the pearls...

Compete with ESPN
And nothing else!

Okay fine, that was a total lie.

You know, I should've taken a picture of myself because it took me half an hour to do the hair thing and that feat alone, was worth a photo.

Anyway the interview was a blast. I was more excited than nervous ... and it wasn't because Bling the Sound Guy had to attach the mic to the inside of my dress. (He was gentle but masterful ... come on, I gotta make this interesting, right?)

Veronica Jacuinde and her crew were professional and very welcoming and it was over too soon.
Alas this morning, I'm back to my normal life. Ryan is coming down with a bug. The Little Dude woke up at 4 a.m., fussed all morning and then had to have a time-out after he smacked me.

But as soon as I know, I'll let you know when the segment airs.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Look Ma: I'm Gonna Be On TV!

Dudes, I'm going to be interviewed for Si Tv's "On The Up!"

So at 11:30 a.m. (PST) on Tuesday, think good thoughts that I don't (a) have lipstick on my teeth, (b) babble or (c) forget that the title of my book is Names I Call My Sister. (Repeat to self!)

The last time I was interviewed on TV it was for Good Morning Arizona during my Hot Tamara book tour. I was fifteen weeks pregnant with the Little Dude and during the live segment, he started kicking me. It was hard not to grab my stomach and tell all of Arizona that I felt my passenger move for the first time.

In a way, I'm a bit sad that I'll be flying solo this time around.

Oh and I found a red, wrap dress (ala Diane von Furstenberg) at Le Target. I'm trying to decide if I should go with pearls or a chunky, arty piece.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I've Got Nuthin'

To blog about anyway.

I'm deep in writing mode while pitching ideas to magazines, cooking (I'm in this experimentation phase that doesn't seem to be ending any time soon) growing an herb garden with the Little Dude (he has a green thumb!) and oh yeah, trying to spend time with that guy I married seven years ago!

But rather than be a blogger dud, I thought I'd share a book with you that I finished recently.

If you're in a slump and need some inspiration, run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore and get this book. I couldn't put it down. Heck, I started drinking tons of water so I had an excuse to go to the bathroom and read the book while my husband watched the Little Dude.
I started watching Paula Deen's show on the Food Network back when the Little Dude was three months old. (He must think that Paula is one of his grandmas and that Rachel Ray is a really cool aunt!) Anyway, Paula bravely talks about her agoraphobia and her darkest moments as a mother, wife and human being. And yet, you recognize yourself in her and when she gets to the part as she climbs out of the pit to start her own busines, you cheer her on. At the end, I felt that if Paula could do what she has done, I could, too!
There's my blog for the day. I'll try to check in and not be a total loser.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spicy Mexican Brownies

I was experimenting in the kitchen and came up with this awesome trick to spice up brownies.

Take a box of brownie mix (not the kind with the fudge package) and follow the package directions

Mix in two teaspoons of ancho chile powder* and two teaspoons of cinnamon

Bake according to the package directions

When I pulled them out, I let them sit for about ten minutes. The smell was da-vine but I forced myself to wait because they're easier to cut out of the pan and yet, still have a bit of gooey warmth that won't burn your mouth.

At first taste, the cinnamon and chocolate taste like Mexican hot chocolate. But then the chile kicks in - not too much but just enough to make it interesting.

If you don't have or can't find ancho chile powder, cayenne will do the job but use a teaspoon and a half because it has a smokier taste.

Make a batch and let me know what you think!
Psst! I wrote an essay for's "When My Mom Stood Up For Me" contest. Check it out and if you like it, please vote! Go here
And one more thing, if you're in Orange County, CA, check out Tu Ciudad's April Issue

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It Just Doesn't Pay To Ignore Us

I'm not a political person. I hardly watch the news because it only scares me about the world I've brought my son into. But this is something that I have to talk about.

A couple of days after MGM and Salma Hayek signed a deal to create Ventanazul, PBS announced today that they are "amending" Ken Burns' World War II documentary to include stories from Latino veterans.

I don't have relatives who served in that war but my Auntie Betty's father was in the Army and he was a very proud veteran. When I think about young men like him who served their country - even when their country had deported anyone who looked like a Mexican during the Depression - I think that at the very least, they deserve this victory.

The Little Dude is half Mexican and one day, I'd like for him to watch this documentary and hear about the men and women with last names like his, share their stories.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Real Mama Grande

Not only is Salma with child, but this mama is now tight with MGM.

Reuters reported yesterday that Salma Hayek and Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Inc. have agreed to form Ventanazul, a film company that will "make or acquire independent movies, and hopes to distribute two to four films a year that draw on Latin themes, feature Latino or Latina actors and cross over to mainstream audiences for broad, box office appeal."

With Salma's track record (Frida and Ugly Betty), she's the woman who will get it done!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What I Did This Weekend

I cleaned, cooked and then wore bunny ears while herding five small children hopped up on chocolate and God knows what else through an Easter egg hunt.

No lives were lost in the hunt.

And we had a blast!

But before the weekend began I got this ... uh, if you haven't clicked on link, here's your second hint.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

How do you know it's any good?

This week I've been in deep revision mode and I was on deadline for an article that will be published in the June/July issue of Tu Ciudad! Busy! Busy!

But the other day I was nosing around online and came across a message posted from a writer who asked when do we know a story is any good? How do you know if its worth pursuing?

For me, it's gut instinct. If the characters come to life and refuse to go away until I finish their story, then I know this is a journey I have to complete. I don't judge if the story is "good" or "bad." My agent does that for me. How I feel is that every story and character who has come into my life has done so for a reason.

Right after I turned in In Between Men (waaay back in September 2004), I wrote a drama about two sisters who never knew the other existed until their father was diagnosed with cancer. I loved the characters Dori and Sela, but the story was so so. I talked to my agent about it she asked me what I was doing writing a heavy-handed drama when I've been writing comedies? Unfortunately, she has a really annoying tendency to be right and that story has since become an organ donor.

But I missed those sisters. Five or six months later, I was at a wedding and while eavesdropping on a conversation, found the story for Sela and Dori. Next month, "Till Death Do Us Part" will be inflicted on the reading public in Names I Call My Sister.

I'm not sure if I successfully answered this question. For those of you writing out there, how do you know if your story is "good enough"?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Rereading Old Favorites

Before I start a new story or a major revision, I like to reread one of my favorite books. I read them because I want to be swept out of my world and into someone else's. I like discovering the small nuances that I might have missed or forgotten. A favorite book simply reminds me why I am a writer. It's not for the website or the publicity or smart business plans. A favorite book reminds me of the miracle in creating a whole world out of words, ink and paper.

So what am I reading? Diary of a Blues Goddess by Erica Orloff. Someone "borrowed" my copy, as in they'll stole it and I happened to find it when I went to their house the other day! Anyway, it has been years since I last read it and even though Erica has written many amazing books since this one, it holds a special place in my heart.

Do you have favorites you like to read over and over again?