Costa Alegre: Where I go from Mexico City

Posted by admin on Thursday Jul 28, 2011 Under Uncategorized

I’m a little sad to be leaving Lili and Mexico City behind. I’ve loved roaming around there in my imagination. I’ve loved being those people.

If you’re thinking of writing a novel or stories, there is no better reason to do it than the feeling you will retain afterward of having lived another life, of having seen the world through completely different perspectives.

Forget the fame and fortune part. This is the only thing that matters.

And for that, practicing your craft daily, rather than worrying about all the other junk—like what kind of paranormal, vampire young adult novels agents are seeking—is what matters.

That’s where I go from here, shaping sentences and paragraphs until I hear a character’s voice, until she steps out of nowhere to tell me her story, to let me be her for a while.

The other day I read a lovely little quote in the New Yorker by the writer Jhumpa Lahiri that really spoke to what I’m feeling now. “Every story is foreign territory, which, in the process of writing, is occupied and then abandoned. I belong to my work, to my characters, and in order to create new ones, I leave the old ones behind.”

I’ll be working on the last draft of my almost completed Romantic Suspense novel called Bird of Paradise. I’ll fill you in a bit as I go, but I just came up with another character I want to introduce into the story—Rick Murphy. Well, maybe he was the one who decided he wanted to be included. Anyway, he just appeared at the end of chapter one, sitting on a chair in front of his motel room on the beach, watching my protagonist Bee run up from the water’s edge.

Bird of Paradise is set on the west coast of Mexico—the Costa Alegre—, in funky, little beach towns like the one on the right, in sublime homes of the wealthy jet set, high up in the mountains of Nayarit, and in the dangerous Drug-Lord controlled town of Tepic.

I’ll be reading the first chapter on KVRP in February. If you are in range, be sure to give a listen.

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Yucatan Shrimp: The Caribbean in a Bowl

Posted by admin on Thursday Jul 21, 2011 Under Uncategorized

Here’s the shrimp recipe I promised you. I got it from the New York Times, and the Times writer, Sam Sifton, got it from Doc Ford’s Bar on Sanibel Island in Florida, not Mexico, but Florida is a good place to read a Romantic Suspense Novel, a beach book like Palace of the Blue Butterfly, don’t you think?

Anyway, the shrimp tastes totally like the shrimp we had in Mexico. Now all you have to do is supply the Coronas.

Yucatan Shrimp

4 TBS. unsalted butter
1 large clove of garlic
Juice of two large limes
1 TBS. sriracha
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Lb. large, fresh, shell-on shrimp*
1 tsp. jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 TBS. chopped cilantro

1. In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt 1 TBS. of butter. Add garlic and stir until fragrant but do not brown.

2. Add remaining butter to saucepan. When it melts, stir in the lime juice, sriracha, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to rest

3. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Add the shrimp and cook for two minutes or just until pink. Do not overcook. Drain into a colander over the sink and shake off excess moisture.

In a large bowl, toss shrimp with the sauce. Add jalapeno and cilantro and toss again.

Put out bowls for the shells. Serve with warm, crusty bread for sopping up the sauce and plenty of napkins. It doesn’t hurt if you put Trio Los Panchos on the CD player, either.

*Obviously, I don’t get fresh shrimp around here. What I use is the Key West Pink Shrimp from Whole Foods. I never, ever eat shrimp from China, or Tilapia for that matter. If you’re reading this blog, you’re savvy enough to Google Fish and China. It’s up to you. I’m just sayin…

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Riviera Maya: My Reward for Meeting my Goal

Posted by admin on Thursday Jul 14, 2011 Under Uncategorized

Palace of the Blue Butterfly | Episode 17

See the place above? Sometime after hurricane season in Mexico and before the spring wildflowers arrive here on the ranch, that’s where I’ll be, diving into that incredible water. Yes, it really, really looks like that. I swear.

I have always wanted to stay at this hotel— the Maroma— set on a deserted beach fifteen miles down a bumpy, dirt road off the highway to Tulum. This year I’m going to do it, my reward for getting my novel out of the closet and into the world. On this post, I’ll be reading the very last episode.

Here’s the plan. Dave and I rent a car in Merida, and we drive to one of those wonderfully restored henequen plantations like, well, like the one on the right.

From there, if we can peel ourselves away, it will take a day to drive to the coast where we’ll head south from Cancun toward Tulum. Maybe we’ll stop at one of the cenotes along the way. (see below left)

When we were younger, with child in tow, we stayed at some pretty rustic places, like the one below on the right. Great when you’re in your twenties and thirties, but uh, now . . . no.

Still, we did have some fabulous shrimp dinners in a little beach shack under a palapa roof. Stay tuned for the recipe in next week’s post.

But first a little secret . . .

There’s a reason I “published” Palace of the Blue Butterfly as a podcast first, and here it is. I was told I wouldn’t be penalized by large publishing houses for podcasting a novel in the same way I would be for self-publishing an e-book. I would still be considered a debut novelist. Okay. Whatever. I am so over all that.

An e-book is on the way. Right now, I’m working with a book cover designer who tells me she wants to create an image which is as “sexy and mysterious as the novel itself.” Go girl! will be doing the formatting, and, hey, in a few weeks to a month . . . presto zingo voila! An e-book.

No 60 or more agent queries, no publishing house fiascos, like your editor leaving, no waiting two years for your book to see the light of day, no $24.00 hardbacks you have to figure a way to sell if you ever want to pay back your advance. No fame and fortune either, but a writer’s real chances of that are what, really? I’ll just buy a few lottery tickets.

By self-publishing I get to work hand in hand with super-creative people like the cover designer, like the lovely freelance editor who went through several iterations of this novel with me, my website designer, and all the very cool people who are facilitating self-publishers like me, like the folks at

Then, of course, there’s you, gentle reader. For a $0.99 e-book on Amazon or B&N, you get to be both agent and editor. You get to decide. Spread the word.

Meanwhile, I’ll be dreaming up one of my next Romantic Suspense novels on the Mayan Riviera.


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Episode 17 – click and listen” dl=”0″]


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Adios Mexico City (almost), But Before We Leave . . .

Posted by admin on Thursday Jul 7, 2011 Under Uncategorized

Palace of the Blue Butterfly | Episode 16

. . . A quick, little tour of Monte Piedad, the National Pawn Shop.

If you go to Mexico City, this is must stop shopping.

You want to find some of those fabulous gold Oaxacan earrings? Monte Piedad.

Antique Silver bracelets? Monte Piedad.

Art Deco coffee service? Ditto.

Perhaps, like me, you just want to wander around and think of all the stories behind the jewels and silverware.

Or maybe you’ve gotten this far in Palace of the Blue Butterfly, and you want to know what Monte Piedad looks like. Well, here it is. Mysterious, huh?

And if you have gotten this far in the story, you’ll know why I asked my friend Frances Miller to take the photograph on the right. No need to explain further. Here it is, and we’re lucky to have it, because no sooner had she taken the shot than the guard ran out and told us “No Fotos, por favor senoras. No fotos.”

Well, here it is—the line at the payment windows at Monte Piedad. I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.

A brief bit of history. Monte Piedad—the building on the left— is on the southwest corner of the Zolcolo, facing the Palacio Nacional and right across the street from the Catedral Metropolitana.

The setting is where Moctezuma’s father had his palace. “More of a city than a palace,” the Spaniards said. After the conquest, the building housed Cortez’s offices. That’s what I love about Mexico. Just go shopping and you pass through centuries of history.
Frances took a picture of the tile marker on the building. Translation: Here were the old houses of Moctezuma until 1521.

A little explanation. Moctezuma lived in the “new houses” a huge palace where the Palacio Nacional is today.

And speaking of shopping . . . just in case you’re in need of that special little witchcraft item, that potion, root or herb, there’s always the Mercado Sonora—the sorcerer’s market. And if you’ve gotten this far in the story, well, you know why this picture’s here.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy the rest of Lili’s journey. We could all use a little witchcraft and magic in our lives these days.


[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Episode 16 – click and listen” dl=”0″]


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