. . . not the only life you can lead. (Anna Quindlen).

 

I know this quote means one can change, but I interpret it another way: that I can live more lives than my everyday existence.

I mean, just look at my cows, my pond, the hills around me. Rustic, no? But in a minute, I can slip into my imagination and be walking down Vivienne’s street—the one you see at the left— following her on her way home from the gallery. Best of all worlds. Both of them!

After I write this post, I will go up to my cutting garden where I planted my older bulbs and pick an armload of tulips to arrange for the house. I’ll stop for a minute to look at the clouds over the mountain ranges, the sun setting over the foothills to the west.

Still, I might be thinking about Vivienne and Lili, imagining one of them at a window like this one on the right, but not quite, because Vivienne’s house is a bit more crumbling, its stucco a faded rose color and there are the cracks, the patina of age. And besides, Vivienne’s house only exists in my imagination and now, well, in yours.

There are several ways to listen to this story. You can take some time out—each episode runs about 35 minutes— sit by your computer or lie on your sofa, or you can download this onto any mp3 player—an iPhone, an iPod— and listen on your car radio or while you’re walking the dog. I preview each episode on my iPad while I fold laundry. How glamorous is that?

You could even pop into a cafe, stick your earbuds in and click on your iPod. Just imagine you’re at one of the elegant little cafes in the Roma district of the DF. See what I mean? The life you have led (or are leading) doesn’t have to be . . .

. . . the only life you lead.

But whatever you do, listen to the episodes in sequence! If you haven’t listened to Episode One, do not continue. Click on the home page, find Episode One and listen to it first. Palace of the Blue Butterfly is a romantic suspense novel. You wouldn’t want to spoil all the romance or the suspense now would you?

Episode 2 - click and listen

 

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Morelia, Michoacan or Goals are Dreams with Deadlines

Posted by admin on Thursday Mar 17, 2011 Under Uncategorized

Next week I will complete one of my New Year’s Resolutions — to self-publish my novel Palace of the Blue Butterfly, to put it out to the universe, so to speak.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see exactly where I was when I wrote the first words of what would become that book. Really, they were more like questions than anything else.

I was sitting on my private terrace in the Villa Montana in Morelia, Michoacan The waiter had taken away my lunch dishes — a lovely fruit platter, a sopa Tarasca, and a basket of warm bolillos. I picked up my black leather-bound notebook, and with the thin point pen I always use, I wrote Who is Vivienne? Why does she live in Mexico City? What has happened to her?

When I started this whole process, I never imagined being able to create an audio book. In the end, it’s funny how much the audio medium has impacted my life — first, by working for Public Radio, second, by teaching inner city kids in Oakland to record and produce radio documentaries and plays, and now finally this, my own audio version of my book. (Thank you Seth Harwood and Scott Sigler!)

I always thought I’d play by the rules and stick with the traditional route: write queries, wait patiently, get an agent if I’m lucky (I was), submit it to a publishing house and so on and so on and so on.

And then, I reached a certain age (Ladies, can I hear an AMEN!?!) when playing by the rules didn’t interest me so much. Ditto people’s approval. Enough already. It was one advantage of the economy tanking. I was forced to be more courageous. Weren’t we all?

Look, I figure everything I have in life comes from the fact that some woman somewhere did something untraditional, something she wasn’t supposed to do: fight for the vote, form a Union, demand the right to own property, sit in the front of the bus, play male sports and even insist that her husband do half the blipping housework.

I guess this blog, this audio version of Palace of the Blue Butterfly is what freedom looks like.

If you think I’m not the least bit scared, you’d be wrong. But if being scared is stopping you from doing something you really want to do, don’t let it.

I’ll tell you a little story about the next picture . . .

This beautiful city — sort of like a hill town in Italy — is Morelia, Michoacan. Anyone have any idea what’s going on there? Actually, many friends of mine live there, and they see nothing of the drug violence. Still, much of Michaocan is in the grips of a Drug Cartel called La Familia.

Well, my first novel — Bird of Paradise — which I intend to podcast here as well, was rejected by a big publishing house with these words to my then agent . . . “Tell your client drugs are over in Mexico.”

Gentle readers, I listened to that advice as if it came from on high.

The good thing is I wrote my second novel, which you will hear next week.

The bad thing? Well, I don’t know if there was a bad thing. Why? Because I learned, and I’m passing that knowledge off to you.

I don’t know how that cautionary tale of yielding too quickly to authority may apply to your life, but if it does, you’ll know what I mean.

Listen to your own truth.

Love, Jane

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San Miguel de Allende, VRBO and the Lovely Woman . . .

Posted by admin on Thursday Jan 27, 2011 Under Uncategorized


. . . I met on the plane going to Mexico City.

I went to Mexico for three days last week to attend the memorial service for George Miller, the photographer I’ve written about. It was a beautiful ceremony, and the church was packed, not a dry eye in the crowd. He was much loved by the expatriate crowd.

On the flight down, I sat next to a lovely woman who was on her way to spend a month in San Miguel de Allende—something I’ve always wanted to do. Sometimes I go to VRBO and look up the wonderful houses you can rent in San Miguel through them. Just take a look!

“Did all your friends freak out that you were going to Mexico?” I asked. “Did they tell you how dangerous it was?”

She laughed. Apparently, they had already done that when she went to Cuernavaca last fall with some girlfriends to take a cooking class. I’m glad to report a great time was had by all.

‘”Well, “I said, “At least, we’re not going someplace really dangerous like Arizona.”

After a while, she pulled out her Kindle, I grabbed my i pad, and we began to compare notes on what our book groups were reading. That’s when it hit me. I have to make business cards! Here was a woman who fit my demographic perfectly, as they say, in terms of age, education (she was a music teacher) and whatever else goes into the market research publishing houses do. Besides, she loved Mexico AND she had an e-reader. And she was a really, really nice person.

Okay, so add to the New Year’s resolution list…make business cards (if you can call what I do a business. It seems just like life or fun—something like that.)

So now I’m thinking about what kind of graphics to have on the card, what kind of font to use. (Any suggestions y’all? Anyone know an on-line business card company that’s really good?)

This is the thing I really like about self-publishing. It’s so creative. I get to blog, pod-cast, think about cover art. In fact, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to complete the steps in The Artist’s Way. I have a hard time figuring out when I’m NOT doing things in that book, which says something great about country life (plus cool technology) out here on the ranch.

It’s true I would love to spend a month in San Miguel. I mean take a look at one of the places Dave and I dined when we were there—Hotel Sierra Nevada.

But really, I’m loathe to leave the ranch, especially now that I can feel spring in the air. I’ve been cutting back all the plants in the patio, the sun warm on my back and the balmiest of breezes all around me. The tulips are sending up little green points and the daffodils are starting to show in the meadows where I’ve planted a thousand—really! I’m about to take a walk around the property—so green and lush this time of year. Soon I will see the first spring flowers on this walk—the little Baby Blue Eyes I love so much. Hard to leave.

Anyway, if the lovely woman I met on the plane to Mexico City sees this, maybe she’ll tune into my podcast, or maybe —when the book is in e-book format—she and her book group will read it. She should know she was the inspiration for my making business cards. I hope she’s having a great time in San Miguel.

As we say out here in California, I’m expressing my intention to the universe. We’ll see what happens.

Oh BTW. I was going to give you all an update on my podcasting progress. Episode Two is recorded and edited. This time it only took about three hours. Tomorrow I’m recording Episode Three. I’m getting there.

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Author Boot Camp at Stanford: Scott Sigler and Seth Harwood

Posted by admin on Thursday Jan 20, 2011 Under Uncategorized

Seth HarwoodWhen the student is ready, as the Buddhists say, the teacher will appear. Who knew my teacher(s) would be these two guys?

If you are thinking about self-publishing a book or you live anywhere near San Francisco, you probably know about them. Well, if you’re my age, maybe not. Scott and Seth are two publishing phenoms who got book contracts through their podcasting endeavors. They are adorable, charming and sooooo smart. So smart. (See the mother hen in me appear!) They also happen to be very good writers.

But so are a lot of unpublished writers. Including me. And that’s not just my humble opinion. That’s what editors at Bantam and Little Brown, Mysterious Press, and St. Martin’s said about my first novel—Mexican Book of the Dead. “Sophisticated and stylish writer!” “Strong original voice!” “I can see why you are excited about this writer!” they wrote my agent, and so on . . .

HOWEVER

Sorry. They just didn’t know what shelf to put the book on, and besides, the setting—Mexico— would not reach a large enough audience to meet their marketing goals.

Scott SiglerUndaunted, I wrote another novel—Palace of the Blue Butterfly— which I’ve talked about on my blogs. Got another agent. Edited, re-edited and re-re-edited the book, and then the economy fell off a cliff. AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bank of America remember them? Trust me, there was no debut novel in America, mine included, that was TOO BIG TO FAIL.

At least I had already moved to the ranch, at least I was growing my own food, and my water came from my own well. There were horses in the meadow, cattle in the pasture, and fragrant Winter Daphne bloomed by my porch. Life was good. I put the books in boxes and told myself, ”You can’t always do everything you hope to in life.” Basically, I tried to forget about it. But I couldn’t.

I thought about self-publishing a paperback book, but well . . .no. If whole publishing houses in New York were collapsing, what chance did I have?

And then I read about Scott Sigler and Seth Harwood in Pat Holt’s blog— Holt Uncensored— in the San Francisco Chronicle. The very same day, I walked down to my mailbox across from the horse pasture, and there was my catalogue for Stanford University’s Continuing Education courses.

I made myself some tea—an afternoon ritual—and sat down on the porch to check out the online courses. (Picture of my rocking chair on the porch in spring. With the daphne blooming— OMG heaven!)

BAM. There it was! PODCASTING YOUR NOVEL: AUTHOR BOOT CAMP with SETH HARWOOD and SCOTT SIGLER.

Not on-line, but so what? I signed up with Dave, and the adventure began.

Seth or Scott actually posted a picture of Dave and me, sitting there in the first row of their class. In the photo, I look studious while Dave stares hard at the laptop. Had there been a little caption bubble over our heads, it would have read “What the @#&* is Feedburner?” Also Garageband, itunes, Mp3, GoDaddy, RSS, LybSyn. I mean, I didn’t even know what E-Blogger was or WordPress. How far I’ve come. And these two young men helped get me there.

If you’re looking for an eye-opening experience, take the Author Boot Camp class with them. Even if you are not a writer, your life will be richer knowing all the possibilities out there. Don’t be scared of how techno-savvy and sci-fi or crime-writerly they are if that’s not your thing. These are really, really talented people, and they are changing the world as we know it. Do yourself a favor. Go along for the ride.

Anyway, as you all know, one of my goals for the year is to self-publish my book. I’m going to follow Seth and Scott’s path. I’m going to put Palace of the Blue Butterfly up on my website as a free audio book for you.

My progress so far? Episode one is recorded and edited. With all the other chores around here, the first episode took about a week to complete. I made a recording of the first chapter, but when I played it back, there was too much echo. (Ah, the old NPR days came back to me.) Still, I practiced editing on Garageband. Woo-hoo. Garageband! ME!

Palace of the Blue Butterfly on Garage Band

Next, I turned the guest bedroom into a Recording Studio. I piled quilts and blankets on the hard surfaces, put my H2Zoom microphone on the bed with the duvet, built big mounds of pillows around me and read my first chapter. It sounded great.

Chapter One is now edited. The next step is to put it up on itunes and compress it into an Mp3 version. After that, I upload it into Lybsyn, get a URL and post that on my website. That way all YOU have to do is CLICK AND LISTEN. At least, that’s what I think I have to do. I’ll update you next week, so check in to see how I’m doing. (AND BTW—if I can do this, YOU can do this. Think about it.)

According to Scott and Seth, I should have at least four to seven episodes recorded and stored on Lybsyn before I post them on my blog. That way, if there are any snafus, it doesn’t spoil the story for you all.

Wish me luck. I’d love to hear from others who are doing this. Really. I’m stepping into uncharted waters for me. But remember what I said about taking leaps and risks and having faith last time? Well, here I go.

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Mexico Trilogy Graphic Link

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