Bird of Paradise: Romantic Suspense Novel Set on the . . .

Posted by admin on Thursday Aug 15, 2013 Under Uncategorized

. . . West coast of Mexico!

Finally! After all the proofreading and all the formatting and all the figuring out how to get Palace of the Blue Butterfly on Amazon Books and Goodreads, I‘m starting to revise my second romantic suspense novel Bird of Paradise.

This is sort of what I look like these days—only no fishbowl, no fish, no green branches, just me staring out into space.

Any normal person would wonder what I’m doing.

Well just FYI: Yesterday, my imagination took me to a beach on Mexico’s Pacific coast. I felt the sand on the soles of my feet, the wind in my hair, heard the waves, the shells being pulled out to sea, and in this trance, characters emerged from nowhere, for example, the French guy— Francois Richter. Where did he come from? He wasn’t in my first draft. But Bee, my main character, opened the door of the van, and there he was in the front passenger seat. I’ve spent my insomniac hours between 2 and 4 am trying to figure out who he is, what he’ll do.

I suppose the rest of you have real jobs, right?

Bird of Paradise started a long time ago when Dave and I took a trip to the west coast of Mexico. Our plan was to hit the funky beach towns around the Bay of Melaque for a few days and then luxe it up at Costa Careyes before heading east to Oaxaca, San Cristobal and Palenque.

Unfortunately, the first night in Barra de Navidad, I came down with a horrible flu—fever, coughing, absolute misery. In desperation, Dave went to the local pharmacy in search of some Mexican version of Nyquil and returned bearing a brown glass bottle, retrieved, it appeared, from some sorcerer’s den. “I don’t know about this,” he said, holding the bottle up to the light to see if it had congealed. “The guy got it from the back of the store. It was covered in dust.”

Since the bottle came with no instructions, I figured two tablespoons would do it. Boy did they. I think I hallucinated for a week; everything I heard or saw—the vacationing pot growers from Humbolt County, the surfer dude expats, the beautiful Europeans at Costa Careyes, swathed in gauzy, white pareos, who punctuated everything they said with the words “tu sais, tu sais” regardless of what language they happened to be speaking — charmed me.

It — the place, them — all seemed larger than life, mythic, iconic. Wow was I stoned!

Tropical beach in Mexico

Anyway, I never forgot them. Neither have I forgotten the stunning woman —an American travelling alone— writing in a notebook as she lay on her chaise lounge in front of the small cove of Playa Rosa, lifting her binoculars every now and then to look at birds.

Who was she? I wondered. What was she doing there alone?

Bird of Paradise is my answer.

Mexican Beach

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A Self-Publishing Writer’s Role Model. Introducing . . .

Posted by admin on Saturday Sep 22, 2012 Under Uncategorized

. . . Erika Robuck.

Three years ago when I was fishing around for what to do with my novels now that I was living so far from anything that could in any way resemble a publishing metropolis, I came across a few brave souls, pioneers, pushing forward on the vast prairies of self-publishing.

One of those very brave souls was the lovely young woman you see on the left. I read her very first blogs about her self-published women’s fiction novel Receive me Falling and ideas started percolating in my head. A voice started whispering, You can do this, Jane.

In those days before e-books, the perils of self-publishing were really daunting. Along with worrying about whether you were kamikaze-ing any future career you might wish to have or whether your book would ever be permitted to go onto the shelves of brick and mortar stores, you had to make several other decisions. Should you create your own publishing house? Should you go with one of the self-publishing firms? There were not a lot of people out there to help, and besides, you had to deal with utter contempt from anyone remotely associated with traditional publishing. And it cost big bucks.

My, how times have changed.

For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to write about the women who inspired me, who still inspire me. Today, it’s Erika.

After the birth of her first son, Erika’s life-long desire to write surfaced, and during her son’s naptimes, she completed Receive Me Falling , set on a haunted Caribbean sugar plantation.

Her son’s naptimes? Dear Lord. That in itself is inspiring, don’t you think?

After many revisions, she began the agent-query, request-for-partial, dead-silence-plus-rejection level of Dante’s Inferno that all writers are required to go through.

Her problem she began to realize from agent responses had less to do with the book than with the fact that she had no publishing credentials, no platform.

When her husband suggested she self-publish the book, she hesitated. That old stigma thing, again.

Long story short: she DID self-publish (see book cover on right). She did create a platform for herself by blogging and getting book clubs to read her novel and so on. She did create a path for other writers far away from the center of the publishing universe, so they could move forward. Thank you, Erika.

And it’s not just writers who benefit, it’s readers. There are stories you might never have heard, set in places that have never seen the light of day or the dark of printer’s ink—like my story set in Mexico, in the Condesa/ Roma neighborhood— had writers like Erika Robuck not done all this hard, scary work.

To tell you the truth, I have only recently started thinking about these women who’d inspired me. I’ve been caught up in learning to pod-cast and blog and completing all the tasks necessary to get an e-book on AMAZON. It wasn’t until I started to get close to the end that I began to remember that distant past before e-books, before iPads and Kindles, before all the wonderful writing sites and book reviewing sites.

In fact, I was reading one of my favorite book reviewing sites—Goodreads— when the book cover you see on the left popped up.

Well, I’ll be darned if it wasn’t Erika Robuck. The novel-in-progress she’d been blogging about when I last checked in had found a traditional publisher—Penguin/NAL. It was something she always wanted, and she made it happen.

If this sounds like an OPRAH moment, it is.

Anyway, you can Google Erika Robuck and read about her books and her story on her own blog. She also has lots of book reviews on that blog and interviews with writers, so if you’re looking for something to read you can get a recommendation that way.

There are going to be many, many new ways for writers and readers to connect in the future. This is especially important for voices that tend to be marginalized—women, minorities, people in rural and even suburban areas and even older people. Maybe ESPECIALLY older people. See next week’s blog about Elle Newmark who was 60 when she first published. You see, everything is changing, and I feel thrilled to be a part of this change. One small step for Jane . . .

What’s that dictum? Be the change you want to see in the world.

Okay, so what are you going to change?

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Mendocino LandscapeThe great thing about being a woman of a certain age, which you probably are if you’re reading my blog instead of tweets, is that you have a lot more time to take spontaneous trips.

Exactly what Dave and I did last week.

Just as the heat was cranking up here in the Sierra foothills, we headed to Mendocino for a few days of cool fog, fine dining and great music at the Mendocino Music Festival. Great Music. If you were there for big band night, you will know what I mean when I say Julian Waterfall-Pollack and his arrangement of The Water is Wide. The crowd was in tears and then up on its feet for a standing ovation. You have got to hear this young pianist at some point in your life.

Miguel Angel ManceraAnyway, I’m interrupting my little blog tour of Mexico City even though everyone I know is asking me about the recent elections there.

Short version: Yes, Mexico City is safe with the usual precautions you would take in any big city, and Miguel Angel Mancera—the new mayor— is very cool. Because of his good looks and single status, he’s known as the George Clooney of Tenochitlan. However, that appellation belies his very real seriousness. As Mexico City’s Attorney General, he has been largely responsible for the security of Mexico City over the past several years and one of the reasons it’s so safe.

And I am planning to go to the DF after the summer monsoon rains there are over.

Now if I could just get George Clooney to play the role of Alejandro in the film version of Palace of the Blue Butterfly . . .

Mendocino SunsetMeanwhile back in the real world. . . . Well sort of real, because what could be more heavenly than this view from my rocking chair at The Little River Inn, the Mendocino hotel where we stayed.

Okay, a couple of things maybe, one of them being a great book to get lost in like Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins. You don’t need a blurb by me about this novel. Just get on Goodreads and you can find out all about it. Or better yet, go to Mendocino, get tickets for the Mendocino Music Festival and wander into the Gallery Bookshop to get a copy of Beautiful Ruins. I saw it on display there as an Independent booksellers’ choice.

I loved reading this book with the sound of waves crashing on rocks and the buoy bell in the cove below warning of shallow water. All very cozy and romantic.

Just to give you all a taste, so to speak, of my recent foray to the wild California coast, here’s The Little River Inn’s delicious olallieberry cobbler— a perfect summer dessert.

Little River Inn
Mendocino, California
Yields 12 to 14 servings

8 cups olallieberries, cleaned and picked over
2 cups sugar
½ cup flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat over to 300˚. Mix all ingredients gently in a bowl, just enough to combine. Place in a 9” x 13” baking pan and shake to make a flat surface. Set aside.


1 cup flour
Pinch of salt
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon shortening
1 tablespoon softened butter
1 ½ tablespoons ice water
Egg white and sugar for topping

Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse twice, then add shortening and butter. Process for about 15 seconds, then add the ice water. Process briefly, until the mixture is like a paste. Turn the pastry onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Roll the crust with a floured rolling pin, shaping it to be slightly larger than the pan. Place the crust gently on top of the cobbler. Brush with egg white, dust with sugar, and bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes. If the crust needs more browning, bake for up to 12 minutes more. How much time you need to bake depends on the temperature of your oven.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and enjoy!

Mendocino Beach

Note: This recipe works in a conventional oven only. Do not use a convection oven.

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Mexico Trilogy Graphic Link