Speaking Truth to Power

Posted by admin on Thursday Sep 26, 2013 Under Uncategorized

For the next three months, I’m going to be blogging over at my novel’s website MexicoTrilogy.com, which I set up to market my book. I should probably be Tweeting, and Facebooking, and sticking pictures up on Pinterest, too, but since there are only 24 hours in a day, I’m hoping SEO will get readers to my site and to my book. I’d actually like to be, you know, writing novels. Anyway, visit me over at MexicoTrilogy.com, and let’s see if I can meet my goal of selling 500 books.

gabbyThroughout this whole process of putting a book out, I’ve been thinking a lot about what women must do to be part of the cultural and political discourse. Unlike me, some risk their lives.

In January 2011, Gabrielle Giffords was shot in a supermarket parking lot. Her crime? Holding a constituents’ meeting in a public place in a country so addicted to violence and guns it can’t think straight.

On October 9, 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban terrorists on the way to school. Her crime? She wanted an education, to be able to read and write. For this, she was shot by a patriarchal group addicted to violence and women-hating.

wendy_davis_memeLast year when the Texas legislature held a special session to deny women access to reproductive medical care, Wendy Davis, at one time a poor, single mother herself, stood and filibustered for eleven hours so that other women might have the same opportunities and choices she has had. The Texas law that later passed is a legal shot in the head for women.

That Gabby Giffords lived to be a beautiful, bright voice of reason is nothing short of a miracle. That Malala lived to speak so eloquently for the rights of girls is a miracle, as well. That Wendy Davis had the strength to stand up to the whole male establishment in the state of Texas is awe-inspiring. They are speaking truth to power.

This phrase—Speak Truth to Power— comes from a document created by The Society of Friends, the Quakers, in response to the arms race.

They identified a country’s worst enemy as not something external to that country, but something internal. They concluded the enemy within was:

1.) The Lust for Power
2.) The Addiction to Violence
3.) The Denial of Human Dignity

boehner092013Nowhere did we see that enemy better illustrated than by Republican members of the House of Representatives at the victory party they held after cutting funds to the SNAP program, funds that go disproportionately to children, the elderly and, increasingly to military families. That many of the members who voted to take food from the hungry also personally receive millions of dollars in farm subsidies, which they all voted to renew, is beyond hypocritical and power-lusting. It’s vicious. It’s venal. Words fail, really.

If you count these congressmen’s addiction to the NRA, you’re pretty much looking at what Quakers consider to be our worst enemy. It’s us. We voted for this. And if we didn’t vote for it, we didn’t speak truth to power loudly or often enough.

So where does that leave a Romantic Suspense fiction writer, a self-published one at that? Where does that leave me?

Jimmy Carter SayingIf I don’t speak truth to power in all ways available to me, in my blog, in my books and at the scariest of all — family gatherings, I will have aligned myself with cowards, hypocrites and Machiavellian ideologues.

Self-publishing my novel Palace of the Blue Butterfly was one little way of speaking truth to power. The novel tells the story of an older woman who longs for some kind of transformation. There is romance but not on the man’s terms. It explores the terrible period of McCarthyism in this country. It does not glorify the very rich, and it refutes the lie that Americans are comfortable perpetuating—that Mexico is a backward country full of desperately poor campesinos and drug lords.

When the powerful in my little world said that the Mexican setting wouldn’t sell, that the love interest couldn’t be Mexican, that my protagonist was too old, I could have remained silent. I did not. While there was no gun to my head nor was I in anyone’s crosshairs, it took a certain bit of courage to demand to be heard. It was a small step, nothing as huge as the women above, but it was a step.

It’s interesting that at last year’s Romance Writers of America annual conference, the largest workshop— standing room only—- was on self-publishing. Women storytellers are no longer allowing themselves to be silenced.

What if the writers—the actual workers in the 1.5 billion dollar a year industry that is romance novel writing— organized, demanded better contracts, created more publishing houses than three media conglomerates? Think about it. That’s close to a million women writers. If they started speaking truth to power, our whole collective narrative could change. No longer would women feel they had to be thrilled by heavily armed Navy Seals or whip-wielding plutocrats like in Fifty Shades of Grey. They could fall in love with bumbling guys you wouldn’t even want carrying a leaf-blower. You know men who are kind, gentle, soulful and who aren’t addicted to violence or lusting for power.

I can almost see a collective sneer. Romance Writers. Who are they? A bunch of fluff ball girls. Alas, there are so many ways to extinguish women’s voices, and this isn’t the worst.

malalaTo the Taliban, Malala was an infidel, Gabby Giffords was in the NRA’s cross-hairs, and Texas Republicans have tried to slut-shame Wendy Davis by calling her Abortion Barbie.

Really, doing almost anything that isn’t sanctioned by a male institution is subversive. I would add now after Citizen’s United that doing anything not sanctioned by an extremely wealthy white male institution is subversive.

Of course if we care about democracy, this is exactly why you, we, I have to speak truth to power every chance we get.

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Kiana Davenport or Self Publisher Beware of The Big Six

Posted by admin on Thursday Nov 3, 2011 Under Uncategorized

This image, folks, sort of sums up what self-publishing writers are up against.

All writers, really.

Or, at least, this is what dealing with the BIG SIX feels like.

Like climbers, writers train all their adult lives for one shot. Anything could happen. The weather could turn bad, your equipment could malfunction, and because of the tiniest error, (or simply because your editor moved to another house) you could fall. Very. Very. Far.

If you’re not a writer, you probably don’t know who the BIG SIX are. Ah, but as readers, you should. Everything on your bookshelves, I’m willing to bet, is published by one of these six media conglomerates. See the books on the table of a B&N? All from Harper Collins.

Sometime in the 90s, a massive consolidation in the publishing industry took place. After the dust from all the mergers settled, writers found themselves staring at the rock face of a publishing El Capitan with very few ways to climb.

First, there’s Hachette, which acquired Time Warner and is part of the French Media Conglomerate Lagardere. Little Brown and Grand Central are two of their imprints.

Moving right long, you’ve got Harper Collins which is part of American News Corp owned by Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch’s empire has about fifty imprints. It might be possible to go for weeks getting all your information and entertainment from this one source.

MacMillan Publishers, owned by the German Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, publishes commerical fiction (St. Martin’s Press) Sci-Fi (Tor) and very literary fiction (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

The largest trade publisher in the whole, wide world is Random House, and it is owned by the German conglomerate Bertelsmann. It is is divided into several publishing groups— Random House, Knopf Doubleday, and Crown.

Then you’ve got Simon & Schuster, which is owned by the CBS Corporation. It has many imprints, including Scribner.

Last, but not least, there’s Penguin Group, owned by the British conglomerate Pearson PLC. Penguin is the second largest trade publisher in the world.

And it is now to Penguin I wish to turn.

Apparently, there’s something even more frightening than the threat of a hostile takeover by these guys on the right, the ones whose job it is to make boatloads of money on what you read. It’s . . .

Guess who?

AMAZON.COM

Here’s a story that really put the fear of God in me for many reasons. It involves one writer of women’s fiction — Kiana Davenport — Penguin Publishers, and Amazon, and it had me wondering if I might need to lawyer up.

Kiana Davenport is what is known as a midlist writer. For those of you who don’t know what that means, I’m referring to to catalogues publishing houses send to bookstores each year. Front of the list books might include Michael Crichton, James Patterson, Tom Clancy, writers like that. Everyone else follows. Midlist is good, and used to be where ALL the literary fiction could be found, used to be the place for REAL writers before money became the end-all and be-all, back when houses wanted prestige.

But time marches on.

Here’s a bit of an article by David Streitfield of the New York Times, which gives you an idea of the tectonic plate-shifting that’s going on in publishing:

Publishers caught a glimpse of a future they fear has no role for them late last month when Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire, a tablet for books and other media sold by Amazon. Jeffrey P. Bezos, the company’s chief executive, referred several times to Kindle as “an end-to-end service,” conjuring up a world in which Amazon develops, promotes and delivers the product.

For a sense of how rattled publishers are by Amazon’s foray into their business, consider the case of Kiana Davenport, a Hawaiian writer whose career abruptly derailed last month.

In 2010 Ms. Davenport signed with Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin, for “The Chinese Soldier’s Daughter,” a Civil War love story. She received a $20,000 advance for the book, which was supposed to come out next summer.

If writers have one message drilled into them these days, it is this: hustle yourself. So Ms. Davenport took off the shelf several award-winning short stories she had written 20 years ago and packaged them in an e-book, “Cannibal Nights,” available on Amazon.

When Penguin found out, it went “ballistic,” Ms. Davenport wrote on her blog, accusing her of breaking her contractual promise to avoid competing with it. Penguin canceled her novel and has said it will pursue legal action if she does not return the advance.

In ten days. She’s got to come up with twenty — that’s two-oh — grand in ten days. Until then, she has no rights to the novel it took her five years to write.

(BTW: Lawyers for the National Writer’s Guild have taken up Ms. Davenport’s case, and state Ms. Davenport did not in any way violate her contract.)

Nonetheless, here’s where things stand now according to Ms. Davenport’s blog:

” . . . the publisher demanded that I immediately and totally delete CANNIBAL NIGHTS from Amazon, iNook, iPad, and all other e-platforms. Plus, that I delete all Google hits mentioning me and CANNIBAL NIGHTS. Currently, that’s about 600,000 hits. (How does one even do that?) Plus that I guarantee in writing I would not self-publish another ebook of any of my backlog of works until my novel with them was published in hardback and paperback. In other words they were demanding that I agree to be muzzled for the next two years, to sit silent and impotent as a writer . . . ”

Let’s, for a moment, do the math. The novel took five years to write. Ms. Davenport signed a contract with Penguin in 2010 and was expected, as we all are, to wait two years before it would be published, before it would earn back the advance and perhaps bring in more revenue. And now, she is being required to wait another two years before she can make money on any other novel or story in any other way.

Nine years of this woman’s life? For $20,000? The rough equivalent of $2,200 a year? So the boys you see above can live large? So you get to pay $24.00 for a hardback book?

Now enter Amazon. No wonder publishers are worried. A writer can put a book on Amazon for a buck, a book that’s available to every English language reader in the world . . .

Like I said before . . . Do. The. Math. Why wouldn’t they?

Anyway, I went right to Amazon.com and for $2.99 ordered Cannibal Nights. It’s wonderful.

Just think. If a few thousand of us do this, she’ll pay back her advance in no time, and we’ll get to read her civil war novel sooner and cheaper.

If you’ve got an ipad or Kindle and you want to right a wrong, why don’t you join me?

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Would Jane Austen or The Bronte Sisters Have Self-Published?

Posted by admin on Thursday Sep 29, 2011 Under Uncategorized

Well, they did, actually. Or offered to. Or rather their male family members offered to on ” . . . behalf of the author who will incur all expenses” since no one could know their gender. In Austen’s case, the publisher took the manuscript from her father and then refused to publish it. Years went by — something like ten years — before she was ever in print. Such was the reality for women authors in her day.

I’ve been thinking about the spaces these women writers carved out for themselves. Such small tables, such narrow lives, such vivid imaginations, such huge accomplishments.

Look at Jane Austen’s tiny desk and quill pen in the middle of her family’s parlor. It was here she wrote and edited her books. Think of all the pages of Sense and Sensibility piled on top and everyone chattering around her.

And then there’s the table on the right where the Bronte sisters wrote and discussed their books, where they came up with their pseudonyms — Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell — in order to (self) publish their first volumes. Think of the Yorkshire wind howling around them and the church cemetery — the one that would later cause Charlotte’s death from thyphoid fever– their bleak view from the window.

And on the other side of the Atlantic, Emily Dickinson sat at this small desk and stared out of this window when she wrote poems that would — except for only a handful — be hidden away.

When I read about the financial hardships of Jane Austen, for example, the isolation of the Brontes, or all the domestic duties of Emily Dickinson, I have to wonder how I would have fared.

I think of what they achieved with so little formal education, so little personal freedom or privacy. How did they even know what they knew?

Every woman who writes anything — even a letter to the editor — owes them, and other women writers, a huge debt.

Me included.

So what do I do about it?

Not give up. I think that’s what’s required here. Not giving up.

And so self-publishing is my way of repaying my debt to these women writers. Who knows what will happen, and if not to me, to someone else because of my actions?

So in the spirit of Aphra Behn, the 17th century writer and first woman author to earn money from her writing, and Amanda Hocking, one of the great 21st century self-publishing women authors, I’m putting my book up on my website in written form, free.

“All women ought to let flowers fall upon the grave of Aphra Behn . . . for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.”

Imagine Virginia Woolf writing that sentence at her desk on the right.

With great deference to them and all women authors Palace of the Blue Butterfly is my offering, my flower on the grave of Aphra Behn. Click on the title to see the chapters as I put them up.

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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 City (Part 2)

Posted by admin on Thursday Dec 16, 2010 Under Uncategorized

Here’s a picture of my friend Frances and me.

On the morning this photo was taken, we’d met for coffee in leafy Parque Mexico before Dave and I were to embark on the rest of our day. However, we ended up spending a lot of time talking about our families, our gardening plans and our enneagram signs. ( I’m a six. She’s a two. Does this mean anything to you?)

I’ve come up with a new math equation. Women + Interest in Personal Growth = Cultural Universal. Anyway, Frances and I always marvel at the fact that we come from two different cultures and yet have so many of the same interests.

When we finally looked at our watches (OMG the time!), I got on the cell phone—like every other Mexico City resident— and arranged to meet Dave in another of my favorite neighborhoods in Mexico City—The Roma. Actually, the two neighborhoods that I love sort of merge into one another and are sometimes referred to as Condesa/Roma.

I wanted to walk around Parque Rio de Janeiro—the setting that inspired my novel. After the 1985 earthquake, the buildings around the park, which are so romantic, fell into disrepair. Many were abandoned, and it didn’t take long for Mexico City’s artists, musicians and writers to move in.

I don’t know what it’s like for other writers of women’s fiction, but I didn’t make a conscious decision to write about the two expat sisters—Vivienne and Lili— who inhabit a house on this park. They just came to me, like new friends do—and I spent the rest of the time trying to get to know them—their passions, their rivalries, their secrets. Finally, the whole draft came together and the title —Palace of the Blue Butterfly— as well. I have no, I mean it, no idea how I got the title. It just flew into my head the way a bird might fly into a room.

If you are familiar with Nahautl, you’ll know that Quetzalpapalotl means Blue Butterfly, and if you know that, you’ll know that Blue Butterfly was the rain god’s (Tlaloc) wife. Okay. Actually, the real translation is iridescent, blue-green butterfly goddess. Not really a book title.

Well, to continue in this pedantic vein a moment . . . the actual Palacio de Quetzalpapalotl is a beautiful temple to Blue Butterfly at Teotihuacan, which houses this mural . . .

The Paradise of Tlaloc. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of Pre-Columbian art.

A little digression, I know, except that’s Mexico—so many layers, ancient, colonial, modern—and they all sort of blur.

After poking our heads into the OMR gallery, Dave and I ended up in a little tea shop on Orizaba—the street that wraps around Rio de Janeiro Park, the street where my characters Vivienne and Lili live. Okay. Live? I can hear you say. Uh . . . Jane?

Oh dear. That’s why I have to get this book out there in the world . . . as an e-book, anything, so Lili and Vivienne can actually live— in someone else’s head not just mine— and can be sitting at a table in this exact cafe on a lovely, autumn evening when one of them gets the news that . . .

If any of you folks out there know anyone who has published an e-book, I’d love to hear about it. And yes, I’ve gotten agents and so on. They were both lovely, supportive people who only wanted the best for me. And then, there’s the publishing industry, the economy and well . . . If you write, you know the rest of the story. Let’s just not go there. Life, my friends, is too short, and there’s still so much to do!

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Mexico Trilogy Graphic Link