Sunday, January 31, 2010

How Great to be a Kid Today

Lately, I've been thinking back to the things I got to do as a kid. You know the places, I got to see or simply the opportunities that came my way. Compared to what my children get to do . . . well, there is no comparison. The other day, we had an unbelievable time swimming with manatees in Homosassa Springs in Florida. My kids were out there in their scuba gear, floating around manatees that swam past as if were the most normal thing in the world. When I was a kid, I didn't even know what a manatee was. Seriously.
I think it was then, as I sat on the boat freezing under a towel that I thought about how lucky my kids are. But not only my kids -- most kids these days. I know quite a few kids that have things like yearly passes to Disneyland. Wow! When I was a kid, it was a special treat to go visit Micky (maybe) once a year if I was lucky, and I bounced around for weeks waiting for that special day. And the amout of toys they have! Plus the technology is out of this world. A Nintendo DSI can not only play games, but it has internet access, takes pictures, and makes moving cartoons. I used to ride my bike to an arcade to play pacman - LOL.

Sometimes I worry about spoiling my kids or wonder if they get to see too much too soon. What will excite them when they're twenty when they've already done it all and seen it all? But then I think that times are different. It's not a pacman world anymore. After all, they can learn Chinese on a Nintendo game these days - how awesome is that?

So I guess to prepare kids for the world to come, the more experiences they have the better. And if the experiences are more amazing and more intense than what I had, it's because life is more intense and calls for heightened encounters with the world. Hopefully, our kids will take these memories and experiences to continue to create and even more amazing world in the future.
What it means to me as a writer who still likes books rather than Kindles and Nooks, I don't know. I guess I'll just sit back and see what my kids, as well as those I teach or lead in scout activities do with the opportunities they're lucky enough to given.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Misa Ramirez Guest Blogging

As a special treat, today I have a guest blogger. This is the first time I've done this so I'm looking forward to sitting back with all of you and reading Author Misa Ramirez's interesting background on the character of her Latina Mystery series, Lola Cruz.

The first book in the series was Livin' La Vida Lola and now Misa has followed this book up with Hasta La Vista, Lola which will be released on February 2, 2010. So, let's hear all about Lola!

Thanks for hosting me today, Julia. The support for Hasta la Vista, Lola! has been fantastic, and I’m thrilled to be on this blog tour! I’ve debated what to write about, but thought I’d launch right into how Lola Cruz came to be. I hope you end up loving her as much as I do!

There’s one thing that I’m asked (and sometimes not asked verbally, but with raised eyebrows) as a writer of a Latina mystery series. Bet you can’t guess what the question is. I’ll give you a hint. I’m not Latina. In fact, I say in my bio that I’m proud to be Latina-by-marriage.

So, the question is... drum roll...

“Why do you write a Latina character, and how did you manage to make her so authentic?”

The short answer is: “I’m a writer, of course, so it all comes so easily! Why not a Latina?”

That’s a complete lie (the part about it coming easy, not the part about me being a writer). Writing is hard work, and it’s true that you have to write about what you know. But, as I’ve already stated, I’m not Latina. I’m a white girl from California now living in Texas. But I married a smokin’ Latino man (almost 20 years married now) and I’ve learned so much about his culture through the years of our relationship so I do know Lola. I know her from the outside looking in. I know her though my children’s eyes. I know her through my husband and his family. His parents lived with us for several years, his sister is one of my best friends and is the sister I never had, and so many elements of the Mexican culture speak to me. So I write this series and write Lola because there is so much beauty in the Mexican culture and it truly speaks to me.

When we had children, it became even more important that we find ways to bring that culture into our American lives, to show the kids the culture that is part of their history, and for them to embrace that part of them. When the character of Lola Cruz (given name Dolores) came to me, it felt right because in so many ways I felt that this family that I’d created in my mind represented so many things I wanted to emphasize about the Mexican culture for my kids. The family, the faith, the language, the food... But I also wanted to show how these elements can be balanced within an American life.

Lola balances (or struggles to balance) life with the cultural and familial expectations placed on her with the her own passions and desires which stem from living as an American. I was particularly careful and conscious not to slip into stereotypes, and when people comment that my characters are so authentic and non-stereotypical, I take great pride in that!

So, who is Lola Cruz? Here she is in a nutshell:

Dolores “Lola” Cruz: Part Crusader, Part Swashbuckler, Part Sage


Lola’s single, a good Catholic girl (usually), but willing to do a lot to live her dream of being a detective. She works for muy misterioso Manny Camacho, has always loved old high school crush Jack Callaghan, and has a modern day rogue for a brother. The long and the short of it is that Lola can definitely hold her own in any situation, even when her mother’s berating her for having a career instead of marriage and children, when her mafioso grandfather has her doing ‘family’ work, and when her grandmother thinks she’s a ghost.

The Look:

Long auburn hair with copper highlights, hips and boobs and curves to spare, stripper shoes (to go with her strip list), and a wardrobe full of clothes that Jack Callaghan can’t resist her in. A belly button ring…maybe. A black belt in kung fu and a love of yoga make her fit and strong.

Leading Man:

Jack Callaghan, newspaper columnist with a past and some baggage that prevents him and Lola from moving forward. Who is Sarah, anyway?

The Bottom Line:

Lola Cruz is a feisty heroine. She’s smart, sexy, and sassy. She’s a great friend, loyal, and kick ass. I like to say she’s my alter ego (if I were a super hot, sexy, Latina detective).

Lola’s next adventure has her investigating her own death–and Jack’s mysterious ex-girlfriend. There’s never a dull moment in her life!

So, that’s Lola’s story. What do you think? I’d love to hear!

Hasta la Vista, Lola! comes out February 2, 2010. Here’s the teaser:

What’s a girl to do when she finds out she’s been killed? Pinch herself to make sure she’s not a ghost, for starters. When Dolores Cruz comes home to her parents’ house to find every relative she has mourning her death, all hell breaks loose. With the help of on-again/off-again love Jack Callaghan, and juggling a new case thrown at her by muy misterioso boss Manny Camacho, it’s up to fledgling detective Lola to find out who’s behind the identity theft and suddenly wants her dead.

here to read an excerpt from the second installment in the Lola Cruz Mystery Series.

Living the Vida Lola, book one in the Lola Cruz Mystery Series

Dolores Cruz (Lola for short) loves shoes, chicken mole, kung fu (she’s a black belt) and her close-knit family. When her brother’s hunky old high school friend Jack Callaghan moves back to town, Lola falls hard. Now, after a year and a half as an underling at Camacho and Associates, a local private investigation firm, her oh-so-sexy and mysterious boss, Manny Camacho, assigns Lola her first big case: solving the mysterious disappearance of Emily Diggs. Can Lola juggle two men, her loving but demanding family, her PI exams, solve her all-important first case, and shop for fabulous shoes?


Meet the characters! Read Lola and her crew’s On-Line Dating profiles.

To learn more about Misa be sure to follow her other stops on the Bronze Latino Book Tour.

Tues Jan 19 Book-Lover Carol

Thur Jan 21 Julia Amante

Fri Jan 22 Lori Calabrese

Mon Jan 25 Murder By 4

Tues Jan 26 Book Journey

Wed Jan 27 Mama Latina Tips

Thur Jan 28 Caridad PiƱeiro

Fri Jan 29 Literary Feline

Please leave your comments for Misa below to be entered into a drawing for a copy of her book.


Friday, January 15, 2010

What Does This All Mean

Last Tuesday I spoke on an author panel to high schoolers at Buena Park High School. On the way there the front tire on my car blew up, a chunk of it actually flew over my car and I watched it disappear as I tried to maneuver my now violently shaking car off the freeway. Thank God for AAA, because they came to my rescue again and I actually make it to my panel presentation on time.

The next day, as I'm packing for my trip to Florida, making sure I've got enough copies of my books for librarians I plan to see or give-aways, and plenty of bookmarks, I take a break to have lunch with my mother and notice that my glasses have broken. Being that I'm almost completely blind without them and I've got to go through airports with a gazillion security screenings then next day, this is a very bad thing. I rushed over to my optometrist to see what he can do. He tells me that if I'm willing to leave my glasses, he will order new frames and overnight them to me in Florida. I will ge them Saturday. This still leaves me traveling blind, but do I have a choice? I take option #1. And luckily, all went well and I arrived in Florida in one piece.

But last night as I was suffering from jet lag and dozing off to sleep, I thought of Jamie Wood Martinez, who was on the author panel with me the other day and how she was talking about how she questions what it means when these rotten things happen to her. She spoke about how she "caused herself" to have car accident on the way to a book signing once, because she was nervous about going.

So, am I subconsciously, mystically bringing these accidents into my life? What does it all mean? Maybe that I should be home writing my proposal that my agent is waiiting for rather than traveling all over the US promoting a book that is already written? Possibly.

Or maybe my tire was old, my glasses frame was old and they both needed to be replaced.

Just in case, I'm going to get that book proposal done while I'm on my book tour out here in Florida . . .


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Interview with Caridad Pineiro

I'm sure you all are as excited as I am about my interview with Caridad Pineiro today! In the last post I shared Caridad's impressive background. Today, before we jump into the interview, I'd like to say how much I enjoyed reading SINS OF THE FLESH. I was lucky to have some down time during the holidays and was able to relax and disappear into the suspenseful world Caridad created. And I'm not the only one who loved it. SINS OF THE FLESH has gotten fantastic reviews.

My favorite its this one:
"Cutting-edge scientific conspiracy gives "paranormal" a fascinating and believable new edge in Caridad Pineiro's exciting romantic suspense thriller. A man and woman, each labeled "rogue," must make extraordinary efforts to stop a species-threatening scheme. Pineiro's Mick and Caterina generate plenty of heart, heat, and heroism to defeat clever and brutal killers." by Carole Nelson Douglas

You can read a excerpt of SINS OF THE FLESH here, and also read a prequel. Let's look at the book teaser and then we'll start the interview.

Caterina Shaw’s days are numbered. Her only chance for survival is a highly experimental gene treatment – a risk she willingly takes. But now Caterina barely recognizes herself. She has new, terrifying powers, an exotic, arresting body — and she’s been accused of a savage murder, sending her on the run. Mick Carrera is a mercenary and an expert at capturing elusive, clever prey. Yet the woman he’s hunting down is far from the vicious killer he’s been told to expect: Caterina is wounded, vulnerable, and a startling mystery of medical science. Even more, she’s a beautiful woman whose innocent sensuality tempts Mick to show her exactly how thrilling pleasure can be. The heat that builds between them is irresistible, but surrendering to it could kill them both . . . for a dangerous group is plotting its next move using Caterina as its deadly pawn.

Julia:  Hello Caridad, I'm really been looking forward to having you visit!
I loved reading SINS OF THE FLESH . As soon as I began reading,
I said to myself, "this is somethingvery different from the other works
Caridad has produced." Genetic Engineering? What lead you to write this book?

Caridad: I love science and have always been fascinated by genetics.
I wanted to do a novel with a paranormal element, but did not want to do one
with vampires or demons. That got me to thinking about how a human could
develop otherworldly properties and it occurred to me that was possible with
genetic engineering. I brushed up on what I remembered from being
a science major, did some research and started writing.

Julia: I know you're a super fast writer, so did it take you longer to
produce this book? Was the research time consuming?

Caridad: The research for this book was time consuming because
I wanted to justifywhat was happening in the heroine's body with real life science.
That took making a list of those traits and then tracking down the science
that would produce those traits.In addition, I wanted to have someone trying
to treat the heroine, so I had to researchwhat medical procedures and tests
would be used. Between research and the writing,it took me about
5 months to write the book.

Julia: I loved Caterina's "turning invisible" power. This is something t
hat would come in handywhen I'm working and don't want my kids to find me.
Is there a special "power" you wish you had?

Caridad: LOL! Yes, it would be nice to hide from the world for a little bit.
I thinkI would like super power because I'm protective by nature and would
like to use that ability to keep people safe.

Julia: Actually, I'm convinced you're some type of wonder woman to be
able to do as much as youdo. How DO you juggle a demanding job as
an attorney, being a hugely prolific author, run a writer's organization,
and have time for yourself and family?

Caridad: I just clink those two bracelets together and . . . All kidding aside,
I just try tomake the most of the time that I have. I visualize the scene
I'm going to write as I walk toand from the office so I can sit down and write
at the computer. I try not to spend toomuch time on the Internet and get up
extra early to work (both at writing and in my law office)so I can always
have time for my family.

Julia: I know SINS OF THE FLESH is the first of a series. How many are
you planningfor the series and will they all be about genetic engineering?
Tell us a little about the upcoming books.

Caridad: SINS OF THE FLESH is the first in a series. The second book
comesout inOctober 2010 and is titled STRONGER THAN SIN. In STRONGER
there willbe another patient who has been genetically engineered -
this time to produce bone to replace bone he has lost due to disease.
Unfortunately, the bone is showing upin all kinds of places whereit shouldn't.
Did I mention there is a black ops group that iscontrolling this patient?
STRONGER is an emotionally compelling read which brings back Dr. Liliana Carrera
from SINS OF THE FLESH. As for other books, I'm finishing the proposal for
books 3 and 4. These will also involve patients who will have some genetic engineering,
but I'll also be bringing inbionics and nanotechnology to give these patients
even cooler powers.

Julia: This all sounds so exciting!! I can't wait to read them all! Thanks so
much for visitingmy blog! I wish you tons of success with this series.
I know readers are going to love it!

Please leave a comment for Caridad.
Those who leave a comment are eligible
for an autographed copy of Sins of the Flesh.


Leave a comment with your email addy!

Extra Entries:

+4 for asking Caridad a question
+3 for being a follower
+2 for becoming a follower
+1 link on your sidebar or twitter (please leave a link)

Good luck!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Multi-published Author Caridad Pineiro

As promised, today (tonight) I'd like to introduce mulit-published, award winning author, Caridad Pineiro who happens to be a wonderful friend as well.

I met Caridad over ten years ago when we both began our publishing careers writing Latino romances for Kensington's Encanto line. Through the ups and downs of the publishing business we've shared emails and telephone calls about everything it seems. I've gotten to know not only what a talented writer Caridad is, but what a funny, kind, generous person, and what a truly good heart she has. I'm very proud to share a bit about Caridad and to interview her on January 12th.

Caridad was born in Havana, Cuba and grew up in the New York Metropolitan area. She attended Villanova University on a Presidential Scholarship and graduated magna cum laude. She earned her juris doctor from St. John’s University and became the first female partner of Abelman, Frayne & Schwab, an intellectual property firm in midtown Manhattan.

In 1999, she published her first Encanto novel and has followed that first book up with seventeen more. In December 2006, Caridad helped Silhouette launch its successful Nocturne paranormal line with DEATH CALLS, one of the novels in the award-winning THE CALLING Vampire series.

Though her dark, paranormal side is exciting to read, she has proven that she is truly multi-talented with her CHICAS novels, including her seventeenth release, SOUTH BEACH CHICAS CATCH THEIR MAN from Simon & Schuster’s Downtown Press.

Her most current novel, which we will talk about next Tuesday is SINS OF THE FLESH, the first in a series of paranormal romantic suspense novels with Grand Central Publishing.

Somehow, while being a full time attorney and a full time author, Caridad finds time to be an exceptional mother and wife and recently launched a writing group that will be having a conference in 2010.

See why I'm impressed?

Be sure to stop by on January 12th to read her interview and see below for the full schedule of her blog tour.

Jan 11: Jo Ann BronzeWord Latino Authors
Jan 12: Lara Julia Amante
Jan 13: Mayra Latino Books Examiner http://
Jan 14: Kate Babbling About Books and More

Jan 15: Tasha Heidenkind
Jan 18: Nilki Musings
Jan 19: Erin Pagan Spirits
Jan 20: Alice Bergers Book Reviews

Jan 21: Blodeuedd Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Jan 22: Misa Chasing Heroes

See you next Tuesday!


Friday, January 8, 2010

Plans for the New Year

Hopefully by now, everyone has gotten a good start on new year's resolutions and are busy implementing goals.

I long ago switched from once a year resolutions to an actual notebook of continual growth and change. I try to focus on not more than a dozen major results for the year. Then I go through and outline various ways that I can achieve that result. For example, rather than saying I plan to start a garden this year, which I do. I have a very general result that I'd like to see. I want my back yard to be a place that is useful, restful, and a pleasant place to hang out. This is something I can work on year round, by creating a garden, keeping the back yard clutter free, adding things like wind chimes, etc. So if I don't have money to terrace and plant all the trees and vegetables I want right away, I can still feel that I'm making progress by weeding and cleaning up the yard. At the end of the year, I find that I can look at the results and see that I made progress on that part of my life without feeling like a failure if I didn't achieve on specific thing like have an awesome garden.

Trying to make things easy for myself. Do you all write out resolutions or have year long goals?

One result that I'd like for this blog is to continue to have many guests drop by to make this a comfy place to discuss and share books and whatever other issue we choose to talk about.

I had so much fun at the end of last year visiting other writers, that I'd like to continue to do more visits or interviews. I'm going to start with an amazing writer that happens to be a great friend of mine, Caridad Pineiro. Caridad also writes for Grand Central as well as for Harelquin Nocturne. I'll be interviewing Caridad on January 12th, but stop by tomorrow for a preview of her book SINS OF THE FLESH.

And if you haven't already decided what results you'd like to see for yourself in 2010, spend the weekend thinking about it. Have a great one!


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Winners of Holiday Book Give-away

Thank you all that participated in the Hatchett Books Holiday contest! I appreciate you all stopping by my blog during the busy holiday season. Here is the list of the winners:

Robinl won Susan Crandall's book

Martha Lawson won Lisa Dale

Anne won Elizabeth Hoyt

Catslady won Jennifer Haymore

April won Carolyn Jewel

Robinl won Robyn DeHart

Estella won Sherril Bodine

Congratulations to all. Don't forget to get in contact with me. I need your mailing addresses to get your books out. Send your information to

Thanks again!