Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Essence of Latinas Party in L.A.

Me with Actress Eva La Rue of CSI: Miami. Believe it or not, I'm wearing five inch heels and I'm still short!

Me again with Actress Lidia Peres, starring in Ladrón que roba a ladrón.

After getting a new do, I drove up to L.A. to sign stock and attend Catalina Magazine's Essence of Latinas party in West Hollywood. (hosted by Deloitte, Volvo, Southwest Airlines, Eden and Exxon Mobile). Last year ,I was showing some major chunk in the arms, but after checking out these pictures, my workouts at Curves have paid off!

Leaving the Little Dude at home with the hub, I relived my L.A. youth by getting a bowl of red beans and rice at the Gumbo Pot in the L.A. Farmers Market. I then had a tarot card reading by Pauline at the Tea Garden on Melrose, across the street from the Bodhi Tree bookstore and Urth Cafe. (She pulled a lot of success and money cards ... woo hoo, the Little Dude may go to college yet!).

But the one thing I'd forgotten about L.A., or at least on the west side, is that everyone seems to be dressed in costume. There are the hipster guys with tats, snappy attitudes and names like Fritz. Women in velvets, lace and spangles with dramatically curly hair piled atop their heads, or shoved under news boy caps. And everyone has some "project" they're putting together.

Anyway, if you're looking for a copy of Switchcraft, I left signed copies at Barnes and Noble at The Grove. A big thanks to Jameson who tracked down my books and then took them out of the boxes for me to sign. Us authors love booksellers like you!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Between the Pages With Mindy Klasky

Last year at around this time, Selina McLemore gave me a copy of Girl's Guide to Witchcraft by Mindy Klasky. I started reading the book while waiting to board my flight home and finished it just before we flew over the Grand Canyon. I've been dying for the sequel, Sorcery and the Single Girl ever since! But as of yesterday, Switchcraft and Sorcery are bookshelf neighbors and to celebrate, Mindy tells us all about her series!

Chica Lit: Wow, book eight ... does writing get easier or harder with each new story?

Mindy: It gets easier *and* harder... It's easier, because I know that I can play this game - I've figured out the time management aspects, and I know that no matter how much I hate, hate, hate the middle chapters, I'll get through them, and it will all work out in the end. It gets harder, too, though. With each book, I meet more great people and I want to spend more time at conventions, and online chatting with people, and building my presence as a writer. (And when I win the lottery, I just might follow through on those desires! :-) )

Chica Lit: This is the second book in the series. Did you know what was going to happen to Jane over the course of three books when you sold the idea to Red Dress Ink, or did she refuse to go away after book one?

Mindy: I sold the first book, Girl's Guide to Witchcraft, on a three-paragraph blurb (not even a synopsis - it didn't include the ending!) We negotiated a contract that called for a total of three books. As I wrote Girl's Guide, I discovered the strands that could be pulled into Sorcery. By the time I had completed my outline for Sorcery, I knew the full, complete story arc, which will conclude in 2008 with Magic and the Modern Girl.

Chica Lit: What aspects of your heroine frustrate you the most and what makes you like her?

Mindy: I love the fact that Jane Madison refuses to stay down, even when the world around her is falling apart. She may have her bad days -- days that can only be redeemed by fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and/or mojitos -- but she never believes that the bad times are going to last forever. That said, Jane can be a bit too wrapped up in some details of life -- most notably, fashion. (I'm nowhere near the makeup fiend that Jane becomes under the expert tutelage of her familiar!)

Chica Lit: What's next?

Mindy: I've finished drafting Magic and the Modern Girl - it will go into production over the next year and appear in bookstores in October 2008. My next writing venture starts a new series - The Sisterhood of the Flame. In the first volume, a stage manager discovers a magic lantern when she's cleaning out the prop closet. Nothing in her theatrical background prepares her for the show that her genie is about to stage!

Chica Lit: How did you get involved with First Book and would you tell us more about it?

Mindy: I discovered First Book when I started looking for a good cause -- a charitable organization to which I could donate 10% of my profits from the Witchcraft books. First Book - - is a non-profit that gives underprivileged children their own books to own forever. I remember the joy I took in reading, from a very young age, and I'm thrilled to find an organization that is so well-run and so dedicated to helping children throughout the country.

Visit Mindy's website or just go for it and get her books today!

Between the Pages of Switchcraft

It really does feel like yesterday and yet, it seems like a different lifetime ago.

I was just a few weeks pregnant when I was hit with the idea for my new book, Switchcraft. I was on the phone with my friend in New York, turning just an envious shade of green at the tales of her dating adventures. But then I wondered what would happen if we switched lives.

Initially the idea was too crazy. I mean, who would read a book like that? Convinced that my agent and editor would laugh at me, I went back to working on the sisterly drama story I was writing at the time. (Which then became a comedy: "Till Death Do Us Part" in Names I Call My Sister.)

Anyway…where was I? Oh yes. The characters of that nutty switcheroo idea—one a single entrepreneur and the other a suburban mom—wouldn't shut up. Frankly, they ganged up on me when I was slaving away at my sisterly drama, washing the dishes or sleeping. Worn down and frankly, intrigued by these women I sat down and wrote their story. When I proposed it to my agent; we had a deal the next week.

But conceiving the idea was easy compared with writing it.

I wrote the first draft during the second half of my pregnancy, and then revised it after my son was born. At the time it seemed like a great idea: I'd write while he slept. Bwah ha ha ha! (So young, so naive…)

It turned out that the Little Dude was easier to deliver than the book! If it wasn't for the two wise grandmas, Baby Einstein videos, and nights out with my girlfriends (after all, there's nothing more grounding than a martini and sympathy), I couldn't have finished Switchcraft.

No one ever admits to a favorite book or that their book is even good. I have no such pretentions in proclaiming that Switchcraft is my favorite because it was inspired by real emotions: envy, anger, frustration, loss, and, most of all, love…love between friends, a man and a woman, and a mother and her child. And in Switchcraft, love truly does conquer all. I cried when I wrote the final chapter because those two characters went through alot to get their happy ending. (And no, it wasn't because I wrote it at 4 a.m., hopped up on Pepsi and chocolate during a 24-hour writing spree!)

Now that Nely and Aggie are out of my head and are on the pages, I hope you'll enjoy reading their adventure as much as I loved writing it.

Order the e-book!

Friday, September 21, 2007

How Many More Days?

You've heard it before and now you'll hear it again but dudes, I'm going nuts with the upcoming release of Switchcraft. Happily, the reviews have been very enthusiastic (yes, Erica, I know I shouldn't be reading them but I couldn't help it!).

So let's talk about something else.

The chica lit panel in Phoenix was a blast!

Barb (aka Caridad Ferrer) almost made Alisa cry when she credited her for kicking the door down in the publishing industry so that a rush of chica lit writers could get their books in stores.

I made everyone laugh when I called my first screenwriting professor a dick for suggesting that I take out my Hispanic characters because there were no actors in Hollywood who would play those roles. He was right, because in 1994 we had yet to see America Ferrera, Salma Hayek, Eva Mendes, Eva Longoria and Rosario Dawson.

Alisa told everyone to stop lending their books to their friends, sisters, tias and co-workers or else, chica lit would become an endangered species.

We were asked how we balance our home lives to make time for our writing. Margo got big cheers when she said, "You have to do it and then make the people around you respect that. You make the time and then respect the time."

Now for the nagging portion of our program:

Did you enter to win a copy of The Reincarnationist? Email me with "MJ Rose Contest" in the subject line. I'll draw the name of the lucky winner on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007. Enter now!


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Between the Pages With M.J. Rose

Chica Lit: Describe your writing process with this particular book. What were its challenges?

M.J.: Three months before I start any new novel, I start my main character's scrapbook. The very process of collecting his or her past --preferred poems, swatches of favorite colors, letters, postcards, memorabilia allows me time to find him or her.

I collect everything -- the ticket stubs for a performance of the Metropolitan Opera that she went to, a postcard from his mother's first trip to Europe, a piece of the red and white string on the pastry box from her grandmother's apartment: it's all in the scrapbook.

Only when I've found all the knickknacks of that imagined life and I've done a fair amount of procrastinating do I sit down to write. By then, I've unconsciously worked out a lot of the plot of the themes of the book.

This time in addition to that I read about 60 books - reasearching both reincarnation and ancient Rome.

The challenge was keeping all that info organized so I could get to it when I needed it.

Chica Lit: How do you know when the characters are present and the story is coming alive?

M.J.: It takes a long time, usually the thrird draft of the novel, and what happens is I start to see the people in my head operating of their own accord without me pushing them around the page.

Chica Lit: When you're not writing, what other interests do you pursue?

M.J.: I love to paint. I don't get to do it often enough but I pick up a paintbrush as often as I can. No one sees what I do; I'm just not good. But this I do for me and it recharges me like nothing else. I think because compared to writing its physical versus intellectual and cerebral versus philosophical. Paintings, like music move you without logic. Writing and reading for that matter requires thinking, logic. I love the movement of painting. I can stare at colors for hours, mix blues and greens into each other for no other reason than seeing them bleed together like the ocean. I love the smell of paint, the sting of the turpentine in your nose, the overwhelming scent of the linseed oil, the feel of brushes, buying new brushes and running one down your cheek and feeling that smooth silky touch of the sable. I love touching thick rich watercolor paper with its tiny indentations where the color pools. And I lust after the idea that when you paint you can create something in an hour or an afternoon and look at all of it at once. See the whole. Take in all of it all at the same time.

Chica Lit: Do you feel that you chose to be a writer or that it chose you?

M.J.: A little of both I think. I wanted to be a writer for along time but never wrote. Then at a certain point I didn't really want to be a writer anymore and tried to move on.

That's when I really became compelled to write. How perverse, right?

Chica Lit: What are you working on now?

M.J.: The Reincarnationist is the first in a series of at least three books. I'm doing this series a little differently. There won't be continuing characters but rather a continuing group of objects.

The first book, The Reincarnationist, is about the modern day discovery of and adventure around an ancient memory tool that helps people access their past lives. I've suggested in this book that there were 12 such memory tools created in ancient India over 5,000 years ago. In each book in the series, a different one of those memory tools will surface and the story will flow from there. I'm working on book two now.


Win a copy of M.J.'s new book by emailing me with "MJ Rose Contest" in the subject line. I'll draw the name of the lucky winner on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007. Enter now!

And check out my guest blog, "The Five Qualities of a Writer" at The Writing Playground!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Guest Blogger: M.J. Rose

When I was three years old, I told my great grandfather things about his childhood in Russia that there was simply no way I could have known. He became convinced I was a reincarnation of someone in his past. And over time, after more incidents, my mother "a very sane and logical woman" -- also came to believe it.

Reincarnation was an idea I grew up with that my mom and I talked about and researched together. For years, I wanted to write a novel about someone like my mother "who was sane and logical" who started out skeptical but came to believe in reincarnation. But I was afraid if I did people would think I was a "woo woo"weirdo.

I tried to start the book ten years ago after my mother died but I was too close to the subject and missed her too much to be able to explore it objectively. Every once in while the idea would start to pester me again but I still stayed away from it.

Then a few years ago on the exact anniversary of my momâ's death my niece, who was a toddler at the time, said some very curious things to me about my mother and "things she really couldn't have known -- and the pestering became an obsession.

Josh Ryder, the main character has my momâ's initials, her spirit and her curiosity and like her, he's a photographer. But there the similarities end.When Josh starts having flashbacks that simply can't be explained any other way except as possible reincarnation memories he goes to New York to study with Dr. Malachai Samuels -- a scientist and Reincarnationist who works with children helping them deal with past life memories.

In the process Josh gets caught up in the search for ancient memory tools that may or may not physically enable people to reach back and discover who they were and who they are. I think of all my books, this is the one my mom would be the most proud of which is fitting since it's really the one she inspired.

Please visit my website: for an excerpt, an interview with me about the book, a booktrailer and more.
Win a copy of M.J.'s new book by emailing me with "MJ Rose Contest" in the subject line. I'll draw the name of the lucky winner on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007. Enter now!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Leavin' On A Jet Plane

Today I had a great day with the Little Dude. He threw one tantrum. (Only one!) We played under a gorgeous blue sky with a kicky wind blowing off the ocean. We picnicked and checked our tomato plant because it has a "baby" tomato and the Little Dude is convinced that it will be ready to eat any second now.

Tomorrow, I'm taking off for Phoenix to attend the National Hispanic Women's Conference. I'll be joining Margo Candela, Caridad Ferrer and Alisa Valdes Rodriguez to talk about Chica Lit. We'll be signing copies of our books from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Expo Hall at the Phoenix Convention Center West Building. For information, go here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why The World Needs Chica Lit

Six years ago today, I came to work and did nothing but sit at my desk, trying to get on the Internet to find out what happened in New York and Washington D.C.

A week later I was laid off from my job. My husband walked out of our house, watching me as I pulled up. The neighborhood was still quiet but candles waited on porchsteps, waiting to be burned. I carried my box of stuf into the house, joining my husband at the front door. He didn't ask me what I would do next because the answer was simple: I'd find a job. We'd be fine. Life would go on and I'd fall right back into step.
Six months later, I finished the first draft of a book that I had no idea would one day become part of the chica lit movement. I had no savings left in my account and took a job that paid me half of my former salary.
But looking back, I got kicked around. Not destroyed because the events of September 11th showed me what true loss was. But I was a little battered and bruised; uncertain and unable to sleep because one wrong move, one errant dollar spent and we'd be late in paying the phone bill.

But we recovered. The job markt reopened and I got a better job. My book had been revised and I shot off several queries to agents in hopes of selling it before my 30th birthday. In May of 2003, I got my issue of Latina magazine and in it was an excerpt of a book called, The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes Rodriguez.

When I read it, I forgot about the uncertainty of my immediate world and that larger, scarier one outside my door. I read one review that said the book was "okay" for a story with a happy ending. (Apparently the reader didn't care for stories that gave its characters what they wanted.) To me, it was a life line that whispered everything would be okay and that out there, even if it was in make-believe land, women like me were winning.

Unlike that reader who deemed herself too good for happily-ever-after's, there's a world of women out there who wouldn't beg to differ with her. They would simply go to the bookstore, hand over their hard-earned cash and read chica lit books during their lunch hour, commute or when their babies nap. They need to go into a world that resembles their world and yet, its a world where women like them win.

These women are grounded by family and friends (Sex and the South Beach Chicas). They are cleansed by tears of laughter and loss (Cinderella Lopez). These women take in deep gulps of breath to laugh at what life throws their way (Underneath It All). These women burn with the fire of determination to the point where they're willing to do anything - even sell their bodies - for a chance to meet a long lost father and still, have a sense of humor about it (Dirty Blonde and Half Cuban).

The destruction and the lives all of us lost on that day were not in vain. Words and stories were awakened and fingers eagerly tapped on keyboards to give birth to chica lit. Back then we didn't have chica lit on the bookshelves. Today, there are new stories and new authors waiting to be discovered.

Rather than dwell in loss, today I'm going to celebrate life and creativity. I'm going to dwell in gratitude.

Monday, September 10, 2007

On The Radio

Up till this morning, I've never had the experience of being an on-air expert and frankly, it was a little weird. I called in at 6 a.m. and listened to the conversation between the host, Mel and Ariel Gobert, author of Red Hot Revolution. Two commercial breaks later, I'm on and I'm still wondering how I can help Ms. Gobert market her self-published book.

So I did what I do best: I talked about myself.

But then a brilliant idea occurred to me. Maybe she should link up with a local reporter and take them on one of her blind dates. It could open up a discussion about women in their 50's who have had careers, raised kids, etc., now entering the dating scene. My former editor would've given me a raise on the spot for an idea like that. In fact, I was starting to wish that I was a reporter so I could do the story!

However, my idea bombed. Frankly, I think it horrified her. Hours later when I was at the gym, I realized that that is one of the problems we face when pursuing our dreams. We say we want something and yet, we're frightened of apprearing foolish. We tell the world and ourselves how much we want it but we won't do the things that terrify us like, finish a book, find a new man or lose weight.

In a way, I feel lucky to be a foolish person, or a person who doesn't give a shit if people think I'm foolish. A few years ago, one of my husband's colleagues turned to me and to my face said, "I read your book and I was so embarassed for you. Those love scenes were so..."

She shuddered as if she'd been mind raped. But I said, "Thank you."

And I meant it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I'm On The Radio, Ma!

Just got the call that I'll be on Make It Happen with Mel Robbins, live on Monday Sept. 10 at 9 a.m. (EST) on Sirius satellite radio Lime Channel 114. The show will be rebroadcast that night at 9 p.m. EST but I'll see if I can post my segment on my website.

Woo hoo!

If you haven't listened to Mel, dudes, check her out. Her no-nonsense, straight-to-the-gut style will get you revved up to get un-stuck and go after what you want! Listen to her take on J.K. Rowling or visit her website.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Mary's Mom Reads Switchcraft

During the Little Dude's birthday party, Mom swiped a copy of Switchraft from my supply closet. Having reached the middle of the book, she called me the other night.

Mom: I'm at the part where Aggie goes to the baby class.

Me: What do you think?

Mom: By the way, are you going to have Aggie sleep with Nely's husband?

Me (not sure how we went from the baby class to this): I can't tell you. You'll have to finish the book.

Mom (mutters something I can't quite make out): So, were the moms from the baby class you went to as bad as the ones in the book?

Me: No. The ones at my class were worse. They tried to kill my son, remember?

Mom: That's right, those pendejas!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Mary's Mom Sends Us A Barbie Joke

Teen Barbie 24-Pak
One day, a father gets out of work and on his way home he suddenly remembers that it's his daughter's birthday.

He pulls over to a toy shop and asks the salesperson, "How much for one of those Barbie's in the display window?"

The salesperson answers, "Which one do you mean, sir? We have:
  • Work Out Barbie for $19.95
  • Shopping Barbie for $19.95
  • Beach Barbie for $19.95
  • Disco Barbie for $19.95
  • Ballerina Barbie for $19.95
  • Astronaut Barbie for $19.95
  • Skater Barbie for $19.95
  • and Divorced Barbie for $265.95"
The amazed father asks: "You what?! Why is theDivorced Barbie $265.95 and the others only $19.95?"

The annoyed salesperson rolls her eyes, sighs, and answers: "Sir, Divorced Barbie comes with:
  • Ken's Car
  • Ken's House
  • Ken's Boat
  • Ken's Furniture
  • Ken's Computer and
  • one of Ken's Friends."

Shaggy Beast

I finished draft five of the mariachi book. I cut ten pages and it's still longer than any of my previous books.
Editing and revision are curious times in a book's life. I could've sworn that the book was done, er, two drafts ago. But then after reading my husband's editorial notes, I found scenes that had once seemed crucial to the life of the story. They were just dead weight and sadly, with some really beautiful sentences, had to go.
But my gut tells me that this newly shorn version is the one that I'll send to my agent. I'm already missing my characters, which is a sign that they have gone on with their lives and want nothing more to do with me and my God complex.
Sigh. Like a college freshman is to her parents, this book is no longer mine. It now belongs to the readers and while I love it when you guys enjoy my books, there's a possessive voice in my head that says, "But it was mine first!"
Hey, it could be worse, right?
Now I have to decide which new story idea to write!