Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Writing Process Tour

Thank you, Jessica Ceballos, for passing the baton in my direction!
I've been so impressed by Jessica's artistic dedication, from her Bluebird Reading Series at Avenue 50 Studio to her impressive organizational abilities and vision involved in the care and feeding of that tremendous project, #90for90 Literary Events in downtown Los Angeles. 

What are you working on?
How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Why do you write what you do?
How does your writing process work?

Right now my writing life is a giddy jumble.  I am working as hard as I can to a) promote my recently published novel, b) begin the academic year at Oxy c)  write new words!
Writing new words right now is looking more like revising the words I already have. I've been working on another Inez Leon (my Latina PI with a tortilla chip on her shoulder) for too long, now.  I really should simply nail my feet to the floor, unable to leave my writing area until I can at last type "The End."

The recently published novel is family drama, and the work-in-progress is a mystery.  I feel my cast of characters reflects the diversity of the world I live in, and that alone is enough to differentiate my work from 90% of all forms of media right there.  Most importantly, to me, my writing includes nuanced portrayals of complex Latina/os. 

I write in order to shred the cloak of invisibility that has been thrust upon me and others like me.

I really search for an emotional landscape that engages me.  I mentally feel out its shape and contours, because I need a road map, I need to know where I am going.  My issues of control and organization are good, up to a point.  I've taken Rebecca Solnit's words to heart: "Be open to mysteries, the nature of which are unknown to you."  I'm working on doing that with my writing, as well as my life.  With some of the contours in mind, (oops, and a tentative outline) I'm off to Anne Lamott's "shitty first draft."  Words on the page, words on the page are all so much better than a wasteland of emptiness.  The writing itself helps sort out ideas, directions, impromptu scenes.

And now, I pass the quill/fountain pen/touch screen to three writers I enjoy and respect: Melanie Page who already knows a thing or two about blog tours, the impressive poet/writer/badass Rachel McKibbens
and that goddess of all things eclectic, Margaret Finnegan.
Hope to see your posts in a week!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Join My Virtual Book Tour

Discover the week's schedule here

The road to writing is a circuitous one, and I chat about it here.
Have you ever annotated your own writing? I enjoyed it--see it here.
Come visit me today, over at [Pank] although I must confess, I'm not sure if I'm cool
enough for that uber cool publication!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Restless Nest Syndrome

The day after we shipped my son off to parts known to him but not me, Chris Erskine published a mournful piece in the LA Times about his empty nest syndrome.

The night my son left I:
Read in a bar full of fans and strangers
Drank in the giddy energy of Union Station
Ate out, with my husband at a delicious spot in Chinatown.

Color me a bad mom.
What my husband and I will certainly miss is our son's ability to translate his mother for his dad's benefit, and his dad for his mother's enlightenment.

But both of us are giddy and full of joy for his upcoming adventures.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Now is the Time to Honor Summer Flings

Originally printed in RLife

Years ago, while touring my husband's country of origin with his aunt, Cupid blindsided me. 

Perhaps it was the quick city tour from the left side of the road, starring Big Ben, and the Tower of London, maybe it was his aunt's crisp, posh accent, but I knew deep in my heart, that I was irrevocably in love. With her classic, Hunter Green Range Rover. 

A few years later, when it was time for us to buy a car, lust and desire filled my heart with a madness of longing. I wanted one. My practical husband said we could buy a Range Rover if I didn't mind putting a mechanic on the payroll.

Ah, well, he was probably jealous.
I put this longing aside, and decided to be a faithful wife.  And for ten years, I was. I drove a serviceable minivan. I safely hauled kids around, as well as hundreds of cubic feet of camp gear. But there was no spark, and inwardly, I railed against this tyranny of monogamy.
Speeding along the freeway, or pulling up to the car pool, no one could possibly imagine my past: walking through the cobbled Parisian streets at four in the morning, sighting the soldiers with their rifles guarding the Albanian border, or weeks spent on the Adriatic coast, nude sunbathing.

Sitting in my van with the peeling wood side-paneling I was just like the millions of mothers around me. People saw carpools and Oreo cookies. Anticipation, excitement, a return to the illicit thrills and passion of youth was what I craved. It was time to push the minivan over a cliff, put a bullet in its heart, and move on, preferably to some flashy bad boy model. 

Only then did I realize I had been carrying a torch. The Range Rover remained idiosyncratic, quirky, provocative. It would know me, understand me, sense my every mood. Now observers would know a woman like me could wipe the rattlers and the tumbleweeds from the bush bar as I trekked through the desert . Yes, it was an environmentally heedless dream. But remember, it is better to love too well, if not too wisely.

Ultimately I was reunited with my 1994 Range Rover Hunter Green Classic model. My husband, probably intrigued by thoughts of a menage a trois, agreed and we bought it. Later that winter we drove to Reno, to Denver, to Santa Fe, to the Grand Canyon and back, the six cd changer crooning in my ear the entire way.

Unfortunately, when we returned home, the honeymoon was over.

You see, each week, bits would fall off, plastic, metal, rubber, revealing my new love to be, well, past its prime. When the panel to the fuse box fell off, my 9 year old was delighted to test the fuses en route. Once those were fiddledwith the moon roof wouldn't budge and the car alarm sounded at the worst moments, like when I started the car. As gas prices rocketed, my gas mileage plummeted. My car had turned into something needy, demanding, and imperious.

After spending the equivalent of a decent family vacation on essential repairs, I ran errands and went to retrieve my children from school. My key froze in the ignition. During my call to Auto Club the operator asked for the make and model. 
When I told him, he said, "Wow."

"Wow, as in you get a lot of these calls?"

"No, wow as in it's a Range Rover."

I took a deep breath. I glanced at the parking lot, where my car waited, out of ear shot, resolutely immobile, unaware of the coming betrayal, It was time. My heart was pounding wildly. In a low voice I asked, "You looking to buy?"

Road side assistance demurred.

Next time I long for a fling, I'll settle for a strategically placed tattoo or piercing.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Cocktail Recipe: The Amado

Yes, I've been gone too long, and I'm not sure when I'll return.
In short, it's been a lot of celebrations and wish fulfillment, thanks to THE AMADO WOMEN

In their honor, a champagne cocktail:

The Amado

In a champagne flute pour:
One half part vodka
One part grapefruit juice
top with
One part pink, slightly sweet champagne.

Stir once, gently.

Bittersweet, in honor of their lives.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Barbarism and Barbecue

According to this post in Salon, barbecue traces its roots back to cannibalism. According to this post, (in my honor, may I add), by goddess Margaret, all that should be right up my alley.

How appropriate, then, that I should have recently developed a savage addiction to Ken Bruen's work. London Boulevard (a play on "Sunset Boulevard," get it? I was halfway through the book before I could figure it out) is dripping with violence, blood, noir and hard boiled allusions; I was going to return it to the library, but then changed my mind. Working through its references should fill my summer reading list.

Although Bruen's Irish, his writing style is strictly US of A. And what embodies that legend most? Bar B Q.

I will not post the recipe, I will merely give you the link for the most amazing Carolina pulled pork sandwiches. Last night we used the smoker, and let me tell you, dinner was smokin' hot.

Sounds like a 4th of July recipe, to me. That was a revolution, right? We are a violent bunch of people.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

You CAN do this at home

I love manila clams.  They're small and flavorful, and pop open, when steamed, in minutes.

1/2 pound per person.
(what follows are ingredients per person/serving)

In a saute pan add a splash of olive oil. Saute a tablespoon of minced shallots until translucent. Add a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of minced jalapenos.  Cook a few seconds, until soft.  Add half an ounce or so of sliced Spanish chorizo, saute briefly.  Into sauce pan splash a bit of white wine about.  Once half-evaporated, add a half a cup of broth (fish, chicken or vegetable) and bring to a boil.   Toss in your rinsed clams, lower to a simmer, cover and check after three minutes.  The clams will be opening right before your eyes.  If not, give it another minute or two, but no longer.  (And don't pry open the closed ones, they're shut tight for a reason).

Serve in a soup bowl with plenty of the spicy broth, crusty bread and sweet butter.

Soooo satisfying!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Crab Risotto
The kids have flown, the spouse is out of town. Sola, perduta, abbandonata, as the Puccini aria goes.
On the upside, the menu is all my own.

Here's something I made for myself.  Full confession: I actually had shrimp stock in the freezer, making it so much more memorable.

In a heavy sauce pan heat  a teaspoon or so of vegetable oil.  Add a tablespoon of shallots.  Stir until transparent, or cook until caramelized a bit. Stir in half a cup of risotto, heat through.  Splash with white wine, stir until evaporated. Add salt.
A half a cup of watered down stock at a time, add to sauce pan, stirring over medium heat, until liquid is absorbed.  Keep doing this until the rice is done to your desired consistency (cooked through, but not mushy). This may take 15 minutes.  At last,  stir in a teaspoon of unsalted butter, a scattering of chopped herbs: tarragon, parsley, chives and half a cup of crab (canned, I'm not fussy) stirring until heated through.

A little fume blanc with your meal, and you could be singing like this.