Category Archives: Writing Wisdom

Between the Pages with Karen White

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watch Give me a story with a plucky heroine in a mysterious house surrounded by trees draped in Spanish moss and I’m one happy girl. It’s enough to make me wonder if I was a Southerner in a former life. Nonetheless, Karen White delivers the goods in her latest novel, The Lost Hours. Its a powerful story of redemption and how the past still sends ripples into our present day lives. But man is this story powerful. When I reached the denouement, I had to put the book down and hold my Little Dude in my arms.

go Please welcome Author Karen White!

Chica Lit: The Lost Hours is a story of healing about a heroine who wants to bury herself alive and a mystery that probes into a very ugly part of U.S. history. How challenging was it to write and how did you keep going when it got rough?

Karen: I always start out with flawed characters who have a lot of growing and learning to do. When I put them in tough situations, I feel like a mother with a toddler helping him to walk for the first time. We have to suffer with them through the falls and stumbles, but we’ll all be better off with the end result. So, when my characters are suffering, I know it’s for a good reason and they will learn and grow from the experience. I still cry and/or laugh with them through some of the scenes–which always takes a lot out of me, but that means I’m on the right track!

Chica Lit: Why do you think Southern Gothics are so fascinating?
Karen: I don’t know about other readers, but for me it’s simply because it’s such familiar territory! I come from a long line of Southerners (my dad’s family has been in the South since the French Revolution) and I’ve got a very ‘interesting’ family tree. I don’t want to call them crazy , but there are characters and settings that I’ve experienced in real life that have certainly fed my fascination for “Southern Gothic” and inspired quite a lot of my own writing.
Chica Lit: What comes first: character, theme or story idea?
Karen: Always, always, always the character. Everything else stems from her and what she needs to learn.
Chica Lit: How do you know when a book is done?
Karen: When I’ve reached my deadline. Just kidding! When I feel as if I’ve tortured my characters enough and they’ve learned what they’re supposed to–that’s when I know the book is done.
Chica Lit: What’s next?
Karen: In November, The Girl on Legare Street (the sequel to The House on Tradd Street) will be released. I’m contracted for two more books in this series to be released in 2011 and 2013. In the meantime, I’ll have two new ‘southern women’s fiction/Southern Gothic novels out in spring of 2010 and 2011, and somewhere in there (we haven’t figured out exactly when) will be the re-written and re-released Falling Home, originally published in 2002.

All this will be accomplished if my children leave me alone and my head doesn’t spin off my shoulders!

To learn more about Karen and her books, please visit her website!

Between the Pages with Susan Meissner


When I read The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner, I got lost in the story and forgot all about being a writer. Lately I’ve been a real complainer about books that lack stories and certain fiction titles. But The Shape of Mercy reminded me that my love of books – especially those which take risks with prickly characters and pop back and forth between the past and present – is much stronger than the things that irritate me. As soon as I finished her book, I had to have her on the blog and talk about what inspired the story, the surprises she encountered on the way and the world she created for her characters.

Please welcome Susan Meissner, author of The Shape of Mercy.

Chica Lit: How did the idea for The Shape of Mercy come to you?

Susan: When I was in junior high, I was in play called To Burn a Witch. I played the role of an innocent young woman accused of witchcraft. The play opens with my character sitting in a jail cell with other innocent young women from her village also convicted of witchcraft and facing the stake. When my character realizes she can save herself by pretending to be bewitched, she begins to scream that one of the other girls in her cell – a friend, actually – is tormenting her. My character is led away to freedom and the woman she accused falsely is led away to her execution.

I had forgotten being in that play until I read a newspaper article a couple years ago about a woman who was petitioning a Massachusetts court to exonerate her great-times-eight grandmother. This ancestor of hers was accused and convicted of witchcraft during the Salem trials, was released when the hysteria ended, but whose name was never cleared. I was reminded of how it felt, even just as an actress, to be accused of being something I was not – and the far worse feeling of accusing someone I knew was innocent. These people who died in 1692 Salem were all innocent. They all died refusing to confess they were in league with the Devil, even though their lives would have been spared if they had. They held onto truth to the point of death. That, to me, is incredibly inspiring.

Chica Lit: Could you talk about your writing process?

Susan: The writing process for me begins with something like what I just shared: Ordinary people who I can relate to experiencing something extraordinary and faced with a choice. The Shape of Mercy is about a college student from an affluent family who takes a job she doesn’t need transcribing the 300-year-old diary of a young victim of the Salem Witch Trials. I wrote the diary first; before I wrote anything else. After reading several different kinds of books on the Salem Witch Trials (they are all listed in the back of the book), I felt ready to step into 1692. I interview my characters before I write their story, so I had already had several imaginary conversations with Mercy Hayworth before I began to write her diary. I knew how she was wired, what she was good at, what she feared, what she was willing to do for the people she loved. After I had written the diary, it felt real to me. And I wanted it to, because it had to feel real to Lauren, the college student. The Shape of Mercy is about how Lauren’s character develops, and it’s all based on the discoveries she makes while she’s transcribing Mercy’s diary.

Chica Lit: Which character surprised you the most?

Susan: I would have to say it’s Abigail who evolved into a character I actually grew to care about. Abigail is the 83-year-old recluse who owns the diary and hires Lauren to transcribe it. Abigail was always going to be kind of a hard-souled sourpuss whose own disastrous choices made her the way she was. She was to personify regret so that Lauren could see what becomes of a person who makes decisions based on self-preservation alone. But the more I got into the story, and into her stony heart, the more I saw a woman who wasn’t past getting through to. She became someone I could redeem. Nice surprise.

Chica Lit: How did your journalism career help and/or hinder you as a novelist?

Susan: I have come across only good things that have transferred over from my days as a newspaper editor. Journalism is all about word economy, hooking the reader with the first sentence, saying much in a short amount of space, choosing powerful nouns and verbs instead of cosmetic adjectives and adverbs, and of course, sticking to a deadline. I am amazed at how much journalism prepared me to write fiction. And I know that sounds a like a joke! But it’s true. Go figure.

Chica Lit: In a way, you’re continuing The Shape of Mercy through a blog written by the characters. Will you write a sequel or continue the blog?

Susan: The blog, which is found here, has been a wonderful way to keep the characters alive.

More than once I’ve finished reading a novel where I’ve connected deeply with the characters and found myself a little depressed when I turned the last page. It’s been like having to say goodbye too soon to people I’ve learned to care about. My goal is always to create characters that seem real. I want them to seem real to you and to do that they must seem real to me. This was especially true with the characters in The Shape of Mercy. I wanted Lauren, Abigail, Esperanza, Raul, Clarissa, – and even Mercy – to keep breathing, to keep talking to me, prodding me even though the book was done. It’s true that the characters write the posts and I wouldn’t exactly say it’s an online sequel. The posts are emails between Lauren and Raul, advice from Clarissa, stories and poems from Mercy’s recovered storybook, insights on life and literature from learning-to-let-go-of-regrets Abigail and kicky recipes from Esperanza, Abigail’s housekeeper. It has a sequel-type feel and I like that because I have no plans to carry the story into another full-length book. I feel I told the story that needed to be told there. And I guess I will continue the blog until the story that needs to be told here is told!

Check out The Shape of Mercy or visit her website and blogs at www.susanmeissner.com.

Between the Pages with Berta Platas

I’ve interviewed quite a few actors and writers in my day; some famous, some you’d see on the screen and wonder where you’d seen him or her before. Before some interviews I get a little nervous, like the one I did with Oscar Nunez of The Office and this Q&A with my Friday Night Chicas and Names I Call My Sister pen pal, Berta Platas. When you really respect someone, you don’t want to look stupid by asking stupid questions.

But Berta gives good interview and even better story. Her latest release, Lucky Chica is about values, how Rosie values herself, her family and her heart. It made me happy for my friend and it made me pretty damn proud to be included in the same company with her.

Please welcome Berta Platas!

Chica Lit: What inspired the idea for Lucky Chica and how long did it go from manuscript to published novel?

Berta: I play the lottery with my dad and we have fun scheming what we’ll do with all the loot if we win. So many people get excited about the lottery that I thought it would make a fun novel. I started plotting it while I was writing Cinderella Lopez, and then devoted myself to it after turning that book in. A major rewrite, at my editor’s suggestion, set it back a bit, but I figured out a way to make her ideas work, and they’ve certainly made it a better book.

Chica Lit: The first act in Lucky Chica shows Rosie’s dismal and hardscrabble existence. It was painful reading it because it brought memories of my college years. Did Rosie pop out of your head complete, or did it take time for her to develop into a full-fledged character?

Berta: I knew Rosie from the first. The Buford Highway area in Chamblee and Doraville, on the outskirts of Atlanta, have a very dense concentration of immigrants. It’s the place where folks start, where everyone speaks your language. Here, you either acclimate, then move up, or you start a business and are happy surrounded by folks just like you, or you feel stuck forever. I wanted Rosie to feel stuck, but optimistic. It’s hard to be optimistic forever. and the story starts when she’s at the end of her good attitude.

Chica Lit: How much research went into your book?

Berta: A lot! I studied past winners of huge lottery prizes, not just the ones you hear about who go wild and lose everything, but the ones who make good choices and live happily ever after. I found out about the types of people who prey on lottery winners, what the best advice is if you win a big prize like this, and what resources can offer dependable advice. Did you know that there’s a “Sudden Wealth Institute”? It’s a group of financial planners that help those who come into big money, whether it’s a lottery win, an inheritance, or an insurance settlement. They help you find the best tax advantages and make wise choices with money management. For a fee, of course!

Chica Lit: I know that you’re a marketing exec by day and novelist by, well, when you make the time to write. But do you keep a tape recorder or notebook on hand when you’re away from your book … ahem, do you sneak writing in at the office?

Berta: I have a digital recorder that my husband gave me. It’s so cute! It’s so complicated! I never could figure the little darling out. So I take notes. I carry my AlphaSmart with me and write whenever I can, aided by a chapter outline that lets me know exactly what’s coming up next in my book. As for sneaking writing at the office – never! My office mates know I’m an author, and I want to keep the two realms totally separate. At lunchtime I write on my Alphie, or longhand. At night, when my brain is fried, I can just transcribe what I wrote when I was fresher. Close to deadlines, I write at night, too, fried and all.

Chica Lit: Your next book is a complete departure from “chica lit.” What can you tell us?

Berta: I also write a humorous young adult urban fantasy series with my friend and longtime critique partner, Michelle Roper. The first trilogy is very popular and a critical success, and we recently sold a second trilogy, making it an official series! It’s set in Renaissance Faires, and follows Keelie Heartwood, a California teen who is uprooted and sent to live with her absentee dad when her mom dies in an accident. She soon discovers that her father is not human, and that she too has magical abilities. Kids as young as nine have read it, and we have a lot of adult fans, too.

I just got an email from a twelve year old who read Lucky Chica and reviewed it on Flamingnet.com, a review site for kids. I would never have thought of this book as young adult material, and it made me think hard about how books are marketed to children. I can see teens enjoying this book, it just never occurred to me to market to them. Twelve seemed a little young, though.

[Editorial note: Dude, tell me about it! A 13 year-old read Hot Tamara after reading the Red Hot Read excerpt in Cosmo magazine.]

Chica Lit: And finally, have you ever won the lottery and do you think you’d make the same mistakes that Rosie did?

Berta: I’ve never won more than $57 dollars at a time on the lottery, but it’s fun to play, as long as you don’t go crazy. I certainly wouldn’t make Rosie’s mistakes. My dad and I have a PLAN!

Funny thing is that while I was writing Rosie’s story, my family was going through some painful financial times, and I found that Rosie was making some really smart choices, money-wise. I had to rip all of that up! What was I thinking? It would have been a very different book. Frankly, it would have been a snore!

Check out Lucky Chica (hint: it makes a great Valentine’s Day girlfriend gift!)

Between the Pages with Misa Ramirez

The next time you look up the word persistence, Misa Ramirez’s name should be listed in the definition. If you’re complaining about having to do a third draft, pay attention to what happens when you’re willing to do six years worth of rewriting.

Please welcome, Misa Ramirez and her tough-talking and tough-walking heroine, Lola!

Chica Lit: What inspired the idea for Living La Vida Lola and how long did it go from manuscript to published novel?

Misa: It has taken six years, three agents, and about 1,000 revisions to bring the book to publication, but it made it, and Lola’s here to stay!

I started writing it right after I had my fifth (and last) baby. We had just moved to the Sacramento area, I wasn’t teaching at the time, my husband was in a wheelchair from an Achilles Tendon injury, and I HAD to get out of the house! I started going to a local coffee shop with a friend and we’d do little writing prompts. During one of them, Lola came to me as a character. The more prompts we did, the more Lola and her family and background developed.

She came to me as a Latina, I think, because I wanted to write about someone like my own children. Someone who straddled the lines of being American, but who embodied and embraced her family’s culture at the same time. I want her to find her balance, her identity, and her true self over the course of the series. No small order for anyone!

And then there’s the romance element. Love makes it all worthwhile and I wanted Lola to find love. Or at least the hope of love. =)

Chica Lit: Did Lola pop out of your head complete, or did it take time for her to develop into a full-fledged character?

Misa: I knew immediately that Lola would be a PI since I wanted the book to be a mystery. And I knew that I wanted her family to be a big and important part of her life. I wanted to delve into the interpersonal relationships that might exist in a traditional Mexican family (like my husband’s) if one of the daughters wanted to be a private investigator and buck the expectations her parents had for her.

It took a long time for Lola to fully develop, but now that she has, I love her! She’s got her principles and morals and her goals. She’s a black belt in kung fun, loves yoga, and won’t let anything get in her way. But she’s got weaknesses, too. She’s soft and feminine, but tough. She describes herself as Xena, Warrior Princess, with an occasional Cinderella moment thrown in.

Chica Lit: How much research went into your book?

Misa: About 18 years worth!!!! All the time I’ve been married to my husband–observing, being part of, loving, and absorbing his culture. My biggest goal in writing Lola was to make her an authentic person. I never want to misrepresent myself as a Latina, and I always want to be true to the beauty of the culture and all that means based on my experiences as the wife of a Mexican American man. So, lots of research, but just from living!

The mystery details of the book did require researching the process of becoming a PI, what the rules are, details about tattoos, particularly self-done tattoos, visiting the state Capitol and getting a private tour by my brother-in-law who works under the Treasurer. Things like that. All of it has been pretty fun.

Chica Lit: Do you like being a writer? What do you NOT like about being a writer?

Misa: I love being a writer, especially now that I’m not teaching anymore. I have dedicated time to write and it doesn’t encroach on time with my kids. At least not as much! I love that my kids, husband, and parents are so proud of me. I love that I’ve modeled the hard work and determination to pursue a dream, and I’ve reached my goal. I think that’s invaluable.

Things I don’t like about being a writer? Hmm. Probably the nervousness that I’m feeling over doing book signings! Writing is so solitary, and you live in your imagination so much, that to go out and speak about your books is daunting!

Chica Lit: When do we get the next Lola adventure?

Misa: The next book, tentatively titled Dead Girl Walking will be out a year from now. After that will be Bare Naked Ladies, the third book in the series. In it, Lola’s case takes her to a nudist resort. Yikes! I’ll tell you about the research for that one another time!

Get your copy of Misa Ramirez’s book at your favorite independent, or at my store!

New Year’s Blog Tour – Introducing La Cholita

Photo by Brandon Showers

She lives on a quiet street in one of those indefinable parts of L.A., wedged between Hollywood and Silverlake. It took me two tries to find the address she’d texted me and just like a man, I was forced to call for directions. On the phone, La Cholita spoke with a youthful enthusiasm – not with an Eartha Kitt growl or a Mae West purr that one might expect upon seeing her photos.

When Cholita opened her front door, I was surprised to see that she wasn’t much taller than me. “You’re so tiny,” I couldn’t help but exclaim. She threw open her arms and she gave me a tight hug as if we were best friends who hadn’t seen each other since high school. She laughed. “I know. Everyone says that.”

La Cholita is not her creator, nor is she exactly an alter ego. (She also asked me not to use her real name to preserve her mystique and no, I didn’t make her up.) Cholita is an extension if you will, of the 25 year-old Latina who grew up in Highland Park watching musicals from the 1930s and 40’s. As we talked in her hot pink living room, I saw glimpses of the platinum blonde vamp in the happy, energetic woman with freckles under her make-up. It’s hard and yet, wasn’t hard to imagine her wowing audiences in a sparkling costume and leaving them wearing a g-string and pasties. But I got to know the the phenomenon known as La Cholita.

here All I Need Is The Girl
Photo by Mr.40 Chev
Six years ago, after her mom took her to a burlesque convention, La Cholita burst onto the L.A. scene as the first and only Latina dancer.

“I had a really hard time finding my way in,” she said. “It was like this secret society and when I’d ask friends who were doing it, they were very hush hush about how to get started.”

At that convention, she was dazzled by the burlesque queens, some who were still flashing their goods like they had when we were fighting the Nazis. Cholita’s only disappointment was that there were no Latinas.

“It seemed ridiculous to me because Latinas are the most sensual and passionate women in the world but we are also kind of conditioned to keep it all under wraps,” she said. “My disappointment quickly turned to enlightenment when I realized that’s it! This is what I am meant to do! All of those years singing, dancing and dressing up as a young girl was all in preparation for my ultimate calling: Burlesque Starlet.”

Cholita signed up for a burlesque class that again didn’t throw open the doors. But it did crack them open a little. All the students would have their chance to dance on-stage at The Derby in the retro-cool neighborhood of Los Feliz. Cholita realized everything was up to her – the choreography, costume and music – for her to stand-out among the veterans and new girls before a demanding audience.

“When my heel hit the stage, I knew it was right,” she said. “I couldn’t do anything else.”

The audience loved her and La Cholita, the burlesque starlet was born.

enter site You Gotta Get A Gimmick
Photo by Mr.40 Chev
La Cholita made her official debut as a Lowrider Loca wearing her name crystallized in Old English across her corset. She’s appeared with a Dia de Los Muertos calavera mask painted on half her face, as an Aztec goddess and in a folklorico dress from Chiapas. (My favorite are her beaded pasties of the Mexican flag.) At the end of each number, she throws up an East L.A. sign – her signature move – and has a loyal following of couples, Latinas and cholos and old pachucos who love her for representing la raza.

But burlesque, with its roots in old school Hollywood glamor – many of the women boast looks clearly inspired by Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow – cast La Cholita as one of the bad girls.

“Some of the other dancers told me that my image wasn’t sexy, that the street element was too tough and my energy was too intense,” she remembers. “At first I felt bad but then I remembered that the reason I started was because I wanted to be different, I wanted girls to feel inspired, I wanted to represent a strong Latina and show that our curves are something to be proud of, that our culture is something to be proud of.”

Since then La Cholita has performed around the world, winning the coveted Miss Viva Las Vegas title in 2007 and appearing on Carson Kressley’s “How to Look Good Naked”, Telemundo and Eyewitness News. She’s danced for corporate clients Hornitos, Christina Aguilera and European surgeons. She now models for ChicanaWear Clothing, La Pachuca, Secrets in Lace, Stop Staring, Dainty Dames, Ignition, and My Lucky Girls Creations.

“I knew girls who gave up because they couldn’t make ends meet,” she said. “There were times when I was almost evicted and lost my power or water and had to hide my car from being repossessed. But I wouldn’t give up.”

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=canine-side-effects-of-lasix Little Lamb
Photo by Mr.40 Chev
“I’ve always been an outsider,” Cholita said. “My childhood wasn’t all rainbows and lollipops.”

When she was grew up with her single, artist mom in Highland Park. She wasn’t brown enough for the chicano kids in her neighborhood, nor could she relate to the privileged kids in the private prep schools her mom enrolled her in. She didn’t form a relationship with her father until she was fourteen and he was dying of cancer.

“I was really awkward and I’d come home crying that I hated my chubby legs, curly hair and freckles and that I hated my mom for giving them to me.”

Cholita escaped her self-loathing through dance and acting lessons her mom scrapped to provide, and through the glamor of old movies. And yet, she was fascinated by the cholas she’d see hanging in her neighborhood and at the car shows where her uncles would proudly show off their lowriders.

“I remember seeing cholas on the street corners with their crazy nails and their hair teased and just that opulent, over-the-top look,” she said. “And yet, they were tough.”

Her grandfather, a zoot suiter from the ’40s, also had an influence on her developing style. “He’d tell me all kinds of stories probably because I was the only person who listened to him. He used to tell me you could get into a fight or kill a man but you looked good doing it.”

She laughed and shook her head. “He always said in his day you had to represent.” She then mimicked him. “Cholos nowadays, they don’t got no style. In my day, I’d fuck a man up and still had a crease in my pants.”

He passed away last November and Cholita occasionally had to buck up when she talked of him.

“My biggest validation was when he came to my shows,” she said. “He really said he loved it.”

Some People
Photo by Mr.40 Chev
La Cholita not only dresses the part of the “fuck-you-up” chola, she also lived the life. In high school, she began running with gangsters and dabbling in drugs. When she started to see her friends getting shot and dying, she knew she had to get out of the life if she wanted to live.

“I weighed 98 pounds and when I look at my high school prom pictures-” She sucked in her breath. “I was barely there.”

Her mother taking her to the burlesque convention seemed to have opened an escape hatch.

“I was a 180 pounds when I started [dancing] and I’ve never felt more secure and more empowered.” Even though she’s getting naked before strangers on bars and theatre stages, the burlesque style of stripping is all on the dancer’s terms.

“I decide what people see and what they don’t,” she said. “What I thought was my flaws are what make me stand out.”

Ironically, corsets and fishnets are in her blood. Her grandmother on her father’s side was once a burlesque dancer.

“When [that side of the family] found out what I was doing, they-” she makes a slicing motion through the air. “They cut me off.”

Let Me Entertain You
Photo from Miss Viva Las Vegas Competition 2007
La Cholita’s L.A. appearances are family affairs with her mom, tios, tias, cousins and friends cheering her on. She’s backed by her own band and her fans come dressed to the nines to see her. Men treat her like a lady when they approach her after her performances. “I’ve never been treated more respectfully than ever in my life,” she says.

She has driven audiences into ecstasy just by taking off a glove. At a performance at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, she sent an elderly man to the hospital. Her friend once told her that she’s a force on stage.

“Every single time I’m standing in the wings, I’m nervous. I can barely hold it in. It’s like I’m being electrocuted in the inside,” she said.

As Cholita she doesn’t feel intimidated about anything. She can approach a cute guy and ask him out. The second her music comes on and she steps out under the lights, something takes over her. She doesn’t think about the moves. She gets off on the energy, feeding it and feeding off of it. She loves that she never knows what’s going to happen and that no number is ever the same as the last.

But in more intimate situations, when she’s with a guy, she admits, “I’m thinking, ‘oh now I have to take off my bra’ … ‘is the light hiding my cellulite from him?'” We laughed; I’m relieved that I have the same hang-ups as a woman who seduces audiences for a living.

“I’m more vulnerable as myself,” she said.

La Cholita sees no limit to the possibilities. She sees designing a line of clothing, creating her own one-woman show and modeling. Her dream is to dance in Paris and tour Mexico, especially to perform on the stage of the Juarez theatre in Guanajuato, where she visited with her grandfather.

“I’m not ready for that,” she said, pausing to think about returning to that theatre without him. “I am following my dreams, making things happen and representing where I’ve come from. I am very lucky and ever so grateful to have the support of mi familia.”

To see the complete gallery of La Cholita’s photos, her schedule of performances and more, visit her at VivaCholita.

Contest!
Sherri won Berta Platas’ drawing from yesterday’s blog … hurray!

The winner of my contest is Teresa Carbajal Ravet! Thanks EVERYONE for reading and getting to know La Cholita!

Between the Pages With Christine Fletcher

Some of you know that I did NaNoMo last month to finish my latest WIP. About three days into it I discovered Christine Fletcher’s novel, http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=price-check-50mg-soft-viagra Ten Cents A Dance. Upon reading the excerpt on her website, I had to have it. But my rule when writing, especially a first draft, is that I don’t get to read novels. I made her book my reward when I reached “the end.”

It’s not a great way to live but now you know why I write my books so quickly.

As soon as it arrived, I tore into it and rarely came up for air … except when the Little Dude ate crap from falling out of his wagon. Anyway, we’ve all used the saying, “a guilty pleasure” and I’ve resolved to abolish it from my lexicon because pleasure and rewards after a hard day’s work shouldn’t inspire guilt. A pleasure such as Christine’s novel makes me remember what its like to be a reader again and why I got into this business in the first place.

So I was stoked when she agreed to my crazed fan email/interview request. Please welcome Christine Fletcher!

Chica Lit: As writers we always have a particular idea that simmers in our heads. Ten Cents A Dance was inspired by the story of your great aunt. How long had you had the idea for a story about taxi dancers and when/how did it come to life?

Christine: Five or six years ago, I had the idea to write a novel based on my great-aunt’s life. They say every writer has a half-finished novel abandoned in a drawer, and that one is mine. I just couldn’t make it work. But while trying to write that book, I did some research on taxi dancers. I was fascinated to learn that many of the younger dancers kept their jobs a secret while living with their families. I kept wondering: how would a teenaged girl get away with that? And for how long? Once I made those questions the focus for a novel, the writing really took off.

Chica Lit: Ruby is one of those characters who truly felt alive as I read her story. Did she shock and surprise you during the writing of the story and do you think you’ll continue her story?

Christine: Ruby constantly surprised me during the writing of the book. I remember vividly one scene which played itself out in my head–it was almost like watching a movie, and I was typing madly, trying to keep up with the action–when suddenly Ruby did something so completely unexpected that I actually said out loud, “Oh no, you did not!” It was a perfect Ruby move, but when I sat down to write the scene, I had no idea she would do that! Moments like that made her an enormously fun character to hang out with.

At the moment, I’m working on another historical novel with different characters. But Ruby is near and dear to my heart, and I may take up her story again at some point.

Chica Lit: Did you research before writing the book, or during and in between revisions?

Christine: All of the above! As I mentioned earlier, I’d done some research on taxi dancers beforehand. But most of the research happened during the writing. I would get to a certain point and then I’d have to find out what a black-and-tan club might have looked like. Or which radio shows were popular in 1942. So the writing directed the research to a large extent…although occasionally, it happened the other way around. That was how the policy kings ended up in the book. I was looking for information on urban crime in the 1940s and came across a reference to this enormous gambling empire in Chicago. It not only filled a niche in the story perfectly, it eventually provided material for an entire subplot.

The danger with research, at least for me, is that it’s easy to start obsessing. At one point I was driving myself crazy trying to find out if chicken was expensive during the war. Some references said yes, others said no. My older relatives either couldn’t agree or couldn’t remember (yes, I was even asking family members!) I finally came to my senses and realized the price of chicken in 1942 was not going to make or break the book. So I cut out that detail and immediately felt my sanity returning.

Chica Lit: The relationship between Paulie and Ruby is fascinating and yet, as an adult woman, made me cringe because I knew the games he was playing with her. How did Paulie’s character evolve and what do you hope readers will take away from Ruby’s experience with him?

Christine: Most of us are familiar with the guy who thinks he’s smarter and tougher than anybody else around. From the beginning, I knew Paulie was that guy. And I knew Ruby would fall for him, because I’ve been that girl. It’s the age-old question: Why do girls go for bad boys? People say, “How can she be so blind? Can’t she see how terrible he is for her?” They don’t understand that being with him makes her feel good. Especially at the beginning, in that heady, romantic time. These guys talk a good game, and she feels special because he could have anyone but he chose her. (Of course, the real reason he chose her is because other girls won’t put up with being manipulated and bullied, and she will–but she doesn’t realize that). Ruby is smart and savvy for her age, but Paulie knows just how to play her. I wanted readers to experience what that dynamic feels like from the inside. How easy it is to get caught up, and how hard it is to get out.

Chica Lit: I read that you have a day job as a vet. When do you write? Do you think you’ll write full-time?

Christine: I work part-time two days a week. The other five are for writing (and everything else in life!) I mostly write in the morning (and try to push until mid-afternoon if I can) three to four days a week.

Right now it’s not financially possible for me to write full-time. If it ever does become possible, though, I’m not sure I would. Writing is such an isolating activity. In one sense, that’s not a problem for me, because I’m terribly introverted–I love quiet and solitude. But I’ve found that too much solitude makes me a bit wobbly, as if I’m out of step with the rest of life. My day job keeps me rooted in the real world, and I think ultimately that helps the writing. There’s something tremendously grounding about working with animals. They take life as it comes, for better or worse. I’ve learned more from my patients than I could ever have imagined, and I’m not sure I’d give that up, even if all my books become runaway bestsellers. (Not that I’d complain if that happened, mind you!

Chica Lit: What’s next for you and what was the best book you read in 2008 and why?

Christine: Next up is another historical YA novel set during World War II. I’ve discovered that what I really love is dropping characters into situations way over their heads, then seeing what happens! So I’m doing that again in this book, and I’m having a blast.

The best book I read in 2008…that’s a tough one, because I read several I adored. But I’d have to say the best was A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. I read the first three pages in the bookstore and was immediately enthralled. It’s a big, multiple-family epic set in India in the early 1950s. Lata’s family is looking for a “suitable boy” for her to marry…only Lata has ideas of her own, and thereupon hangs the tale! The author carried me through 1400+ pages, four families, a few dozen characters, I don’t know how many plots and subplots…and somehow never confused me or lost my interest. The book made it onto my “desert island” list, and that’s the highest recommendation I can make!

Chica Lit: If you’re behind on your holiday shopping like me, and you have a teen on your list who loves books, you’ll be the coolest aunt/uncle when you give http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=miglior-sito-per-acquistare-viagra-generico-25-mg-spedizione-veloce-a-Bologna Ten Cents A Dance … even if you’re wearing a dorky reindeer sweater. You can learn more about Christine’s books at her website.

Between the Pages with Gloria DeLa Torre-Wycoff


Back when I was in high school, my mom worked with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s niece. When Mrs. Reneau discovered how much I loved her uncle’s books – I carried his collection of short stories in my backpack – she let me read a book she had written about her father, Vice Admiral Clifton Sprague.

What I remember most about her book – other than Mrs. Reneau’s memory of Scotty Fitzgerald and her French nanny coming to the dinner table in evening wear – was the way she referred to her father as “daddy.” It was a little strange because this was a man who was one of the first to open fire on Japanese planes on the morning of December 7, 1941.

(Ironically, the same week Wonder Woman first appeared as a comic strip!)

Anyway, writing about your parents can be tricky business. When I met Gloria DeLa Torre-Wycoff at the California Comadrazo earlier this year and saw the cover of her book, I bought it without hesitation. In Scarred by Scandal, Redeemed by Love, Gloria tells the story of her mother, Maria DeLa Torre, a young woman who grew up in the priveleged household of her uncle and aunt in Mexico City. But her parents who had fled for the U.S. during the Revolution called her back to live with them and Maria entered a different world in the barrio of East Los Angeles circa the 1920’s. At the age of 19, Maria was pregnant by her brother-in-law and then banished from her family.

Even though her love for her mother is apparent, Gloria steps back to show Maria’s strength and weaknesses; her mistakes and her triumphs. It’s an extraordinary book about a single mother who in spite of a life of poverty and humiliation, leaves an enduring legacy of love. Please meet Gloria DeLa Torre-Wycoff.

Chica Lit: When did you start writing this book and why?

Gloria: I actually began writing this memoir in 1997. Although I didn’t consciously realize it at the time, the seed for this book was planted on the day my mother died in October 1993. I had asked my daughters to call family and friends to let them know of her passing, and that we would mail details about the funeral. During the phone calls, one of my daughters came to me upset and frustrated because a family member on my father’s side had reacted sarcastically to the news about my mother and referred to her own mother’s death 60 years earlier. Because of the vulnerable state of our emotions at that moment, my daughter and I agreed to just “let it go” and talk about it another time.

I began writing random notes about my mother which took the form of a poem of sorts about the tender, lonely nurturing of a single mother – lovingly breastfeeding her babes, picturing my mother, alone with her infant. (These writings became the book’s Dedication). I also developed a list of all the places we had lived, beginning in 1927 when Ruben was born, until 1950, when I married. It took quite a while to tie this information together because we had lived in so many places. I wanted this to be as accurate as possible, so I mailed a copy to my brother, Ruben in New York City. He appreciated it, made a few changes and interesting comments. This list served as a guide for me, an outline for writing the book.

In 1997 when my husband and I moved to Orange County, I was planning to retire and decided it was time to write something for my children about my mother – their Nana –and for my grandchildren and great–grandchildren. My intention was to write something to serve as a loving legacy for my family. I would write it, print it out, take it to Kinko’s and have it set in a nice binding. And that was it. But the more I thought about it, and the more I wrote, the more my husband encouraged me to develop it into a book. This is when I realized that it was time to write a book in honor of my mother.

Chica Lit: Would she have approved?

Gloria: I believe she would have approved, or rather, she would have agreed, especially if she could have seen the finished creation. Mama and I had implicit trust in one another. Also, knowing it was written as a loving legacy for her grand-and great-grandchildren, yes, I believe she would have approved. She would have loved the photographs!

Chica Lit: I’m curious … what happened to your father after your marriage? You never mentioned him again after that chapter.

Gloria: The last time I mentioned my father was on page 237 in a discussion with my nephew about my mother being perceived as passive. She was not passive, rather, she was unobtrusive. Back to your question: the last two chapters were devoted primarily to the memory of my mother. Not mentioning Ezequiel was not intentional; he simply no longer played a role in my mother’s life once Ruben and I had married. I stayed in touch with him until he died in 1976. He and his 2nd wife were fond of my children, liked my first husband – no negative vibes…

Chica Lit: How did you mother feel about your father after all was said and done. Did she resent him or did she still love him?

Gloria: She always loved him. I don’t recall being aware of overt resentment from my mother toward my father. Her attitude, her actions told me she accepted her responsibility for her part in their relationship. Although there were times when I did sense her great disappointment, sadness and sorrow where my father was concerned, but she rarely talked about it. She never blamed him for her situation. I’ve conjectured that she may have acted out her resentment when Ezequiel remarried because that was when she began seeing other men.

When he died in 1976, I took her to his funeral in East Los Angeles; she was greeted by some and ignored by others. It’s a vague memory for me. The next day, after I had gone to his burial, I went to see my mother and she had taken out a formal handsome photograph of him and placed it on a shelf in her front room. In later years it “disappeared” otherwise it would have been in my book. To repeat, yes, I believe she still loved him.

Chica Lit: One of the most poignant moments of your book is your mother’s regret over leaving Mexico. How did she not let her regrets get the best of her?

Gloria: Leaving Mexico was a major turning point for her. She was a young 18 and had lived a relatively affluent, albeit lonely lifestyle in Mexico City as a result of living with her aunt and uncle. According to my cousin, when she first came to the U.S., my mother was not happy and hated living in East L.A. Unfortunately, she did not stay in touch with her aunt and uncle ~ probably because of her relationship with Ezequiel.

My mother often reminisced about her early life in Mexico City with some regrets, but she didn’t allow them to consume her or to dwell on them. My mother had an innate ability to adapt to life’s changes even under the harshest of circumstances. One of my reader’s wrote in her Reader’s Review: “…such a profound story of a woman who lived life on life’s terms.” And that’s what she intuitively learned to do at an early age; she learned to accept what life dealt her. She was not without regrets, yet didn’t blame others for her situation. She had moments of depression, sadness, longing – probably for my father to re-enter her life…

Chica Lit: I’ll never forget when you told me that your mother’s story is one of the oldest stories in the book. Why do you think her tale is so prevalent among our mothers and grandmothers’ generations?

Gloria: Two sources have made me aware that my mother’s story was not unique. My first source was the local library when I became curious about the term “illegitimate births.” I could only find census data beginning in 1940, but it was enough to indicate that “births to unmarried mothers” have grown exponentially since then. In 1940 there were 90,000 “Illegitimate Live Births to Unmarried Mothers” and in 2006 there were 1.6 million “Births to Unmarried Mothers.”

The other source has continued to be more personal and anecdotal; it evolves after I do readings and presentations of my book. This is where I hear very moving, touching stories, often from young Latinas/Chicanas who buy my book and tell me tearfully, proudly about their unwed mother’s or grandmother’s who struggled to raise their children; or they tell me about themselves as single, unwed mothers struggling to get through college to make a life for themselves and their children. I’ve also been approached by older women, mostly Mexicanas/Latinas, who have stories about their husbands, grandfathers. In fact, my very special friend/colleague of 20 years, told me (after reading my book) about her father having a relationship with her mother’s (his wife’s) younger sister who had his child. Sound familiar?

Chica Lit: What do you hope the younger generations of Latinas will take away from reading your book?

Gloria: My hope is that they will recognize and take away the experience of the great power of mother love which endures beyond any other love. It is my hope that this book carries a motivational message for Latinas of all ages – unwed mothers in particular – who struggle with family and with bettering their lives. I hope they take away the message of the value of education; the richness of reading; the gift of encouraging young children to read at an early age. As she struggled to learn English, my mother discovered the public library and literally opened the doors to the wonderful world of books for us – her young children. No matter how poor we were, we always had access to library books – and they were free!

My hope for the younger generations of Latinas is that that they recognize that there is no shame in giving birth as an unmarried mother. The shame is when the attitude of others – family in particular – see this chosen birth as shameful act. The shame is also when a child born out of wedlock is treated as “less than” by family members, by the school system, by society.

My greatest hope is that the younger generation of Latinas will ultimately be inspired to make wise choices for herself and for her future.

Chica Lit: To order a copy of this amazing memoir, please visit Gloria’s website.

Between the Pages with Lorraine López


One day Selina McLemore asked me if I’d like to add points to my karma. Who can say no to that? She sent me a copy of Lorraine Lopez’s book, http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=quanto-costa-viagra-generico-200-mg-online-a-Bologna The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters. I made a grave error of cracking open the book when my husband was away because once I started it was very hard to put it down to play fire fighter with the Little Dude. (When you’ve played fire fighter as much as I have, dude, it’s cruel and unusual.)

Anyway whether I get good karma points or not, I’m really happy to introduce you to Lorraine and her beautifully written story of three sisters who are each gifted with a power by their late housekeeper, Fermina. This story is not what you’d expect and so without giving too much of the story away, please enjoy my Q&A with Lorraine.

Chica Lit: How did you learn of the story of your grandfather?

Lorraine: We always knew that our paternal grandfather was adopted. For as far back as I can remember, my mother talked about this, but she never disclosed the circumstances of his adoption. It wasn’t until I was an adult, with children of my own, that two of my aunts told me who he was and why he was adopted in response to my questions about him. No one discussed this openly with me before this time, but I knew there had to be a story here. By the time I asked about his origins, things had relaxed some with regard to notions of propriety, and people were more open to acknowledging, even taking pride in their indigenous roots. My aunts readily told me that my grandfather, their father, was the biological son of his adopted father’s brother and a Pueblo woman who worked as a servant in the family home, something they would have never dared to admit a decade earlier.

Chica Lit: Did you know that it would inspire a novel?

Lorraine: In the moment, I didn’t necessarily see this information as inspiration for a novel. It took me a few years to think this over and to think about the woman who had given birth to him and to his sister before I could articulate the information in a fictive way. It was the women–his mother and his sister–who moved and inspired me. My grandfather was extremely lucky to have been adopted by this childless couple of some means. Due to an accident of birth–because he was born a male–he lived a life of relative privilege as the son of property-owning Hispanos in Central New Mexico. Unfortunately, his mother and his sister had very different lives.

Chica Lit: Also, what happened to his sister?

Lorraine: I was told that she was sent to an asilo de huerfanos, literally an asylum for orphans, or an orphange, though in those days, these institutions were more like asylums than sunny places where childless couples found children to adopt. Basically, they were warehouses for unwanted infants and children.

Chica Lit: Do you feel that Latinos will always be at odds with our indigenous ancestors?

Lorraine: I believe this is changing for the better. I think it’s a good sign that people who once considered the circumstances of my grandfather’s birth and adoption to be too scandalous to discuss can now speak candidly about such things. That my very conservative family is ready to dismantle the denial and finally honor the complexity of our heritage is a terrific step in the right direction.

Chica Lit: You’re published short stories in literary journals and with small presses. How different was it to work with a large publisher?

Lorraine: Working with a large publisher certainly has its advantages. My book is more accessible than my first two books ever were. Friends and family members are calling and writing to let me know that they’re seeing it in bookstores. Whereas, unless ordered on-line, my earlier two books were and still are challenging to find. Nevertheless, I miss the intimacy and personal connection I had with Sandy Taylor of Curbstone Press. Sandy, who passed away last winter, was a great man. He was resourceful, imaginative, talented, and extremely well respected and well loved in the independent publishing industry. I’m certainly grateful for the benefits of working with a large press, but in my heart, I’m still a Curbstonista, and I miss Sandy terribly.

Chica Lit: Please tell us how you sold your book.

Lorraine: I responded to an on-line call for book proposals sent out by an editor of what was Warner Books. She liked my proposal and asked to see the manuscript, which she also liked, but she urged me to find an agent. With the help of my friend and fellow writer, Tayari Jones, I found an agent at Dystel and Goderich, and the deal was made. Of course, this is the short version that leaves out the two editors, two agents, two publishing houses (Warner was sold to Hachette Book Group USA–Grand Central Press), and the three years it took from the time the manuscript was first accepted until the book came out this month.

Chica Lit: What are you working on now?

Lorraine: Right now, I’m at work on a first-person narrative about a Latina woman named Marina who is on a quest for spiritual enlightenment and inner peace, despite the fact that she has no affinity for enlightenment and no aptitude for peace. Her goal is akin to a tone deaf person’s desire to become a concert musician. I am having a great time writing this voice. It’s bawdy, outspoken, indignant, funny, and sad. I like when a character acts out in startling ways, and I’m discovering that Marina is full of surprises.

Chica Lit: prednisone 10 mg dosepak The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters makes a great book club read! For a sampling of questions and an excerpt, go here.

Between the Pages with Diana Rodriguez Wallach

I think it was the end of spring when Diana Rodriguez Wallach contacted me through MySpace and told me about her upcoming YA release, Amor and Summer Secrets. This is not just her first book but it’s also the start of a whole new life for this former business journalist.

Chica Lit: Please tell us about your series starting with Amor and Summer Secrets?

Diana: When I started this series, I wanted to write a multi-cultural novel from the perspective of a girl who didn’t quite identify with either of her parents’ cultures. My main character, Mariana Ruiz, is half-Polish and half-Puerto Rican, like I am. But I don’t think it really matters what your specific background is in terms of enjoying this series. In my opinion, Amor and Summer Secrets speaks to all people (and specifically teens) who can relate being torn between two very different ethnic groups. It’s a very American story.

That said, Amor and Summer Secrets tells the story of when Mariana’s father ships her and her brother off to Puerto Rico for the summer to live with relatives they’ve never met. She doesn’t speak Spanish, nor does she appreciate the culture. All she wants is to be back in Philadelphia celebrating her best friend’s Sweet 16.

And though the trip wasn’t what she wanted, Mariana does eventually open up. She makes friends with her cousin Lilly, she helps plan a quinceanera, and she meets her first love. All this while unleashing a secret her family hid on the island more than 30 years ago.

Chica Lit: When your wrote your first book, how did you transition from business reporter to novelist?

Diana: I actually don’t think the two fields are that unrelated. Having a job where you write all day, every day can only help improve your skills—whether you’re writing about business or for children. Additionally, in journalism you’re taught to be succinct. You don’t bury your lead, and you don’t add in a lot of purple prose. I find writing for YA to be somewhat similar. We’re trying to maintain the attention of teenagers, so you often don’t find a lot of long-winded passages. Not to mention, when you work for daily publications, you learn to write a lot of copy very quickly. This definitely contributes to the speed and ease in which I write today.

Chica Lit: In your bio, you said your agent signed you right away but that book has not yet sold. Were you disappointed and how did you overcome it to write Amor and Summer Secrets?

Diana: Of course. I was incredibly disappointed. Who wouldn’t be? But, truthfully, that initial submission was a whirlwind. I started querying in June and by July 4th, I had signed with an agent and my book was on submission. The day after it went out, we got a call from an editor (I won’t say the name, but I still remember it) swooning about how much she loved it. My agent thought it was a done deal, and then the whole thing fell apart. Apparently, the publisher didn’t feel the same way.

But I think I needed that to happen. Rejection is a part of the game, and every author has to learn how to take her lumps. But we keep writing. That’s the point. I didn’t stop when the success wasn’t immediate, and if I had, I would have never written Amor and Summer Secrets and I wouldn’t be published today.

Chica Lit: Please tell us about where you were when you got “the call” that your book had been picked up by Kensington?

Diana: I love sharing this story! Amor and Summer Secrets sold quickly. It was submitted to Kate Duffy at Kensington on a Thursday, and by the following Tuesday, I got THE CALL. It was Fat Tuesday. I was at Mardi Gras.

My husband, Jordan, and I had spent the morning catching beads from parade floats in New Orleans. We stopped into our hotel room for mere minutes (to dump the 50 pounds of beads we were carrying) when my cell phone rang. It was my agent.

I was wearing a sequined mask with feathers and my favorite strings of gold, purple and green beads that I had caught during the trip. (On my website, there’s a photo of me on the phone with my agent during the exact moment I got the news.)

Let me just say that there is no better place on Earth to be when you get good news than Mardi Gras. There was an actual parade going on outside of my hotel room. I hung up the phone and spent the rest of the day dancing in the French Quarter with hundreds of costumed strangers and drinking hurricanes at Pat O’Briens. It was amazing.

(Editorial note: for all the details click here!)

Chica Lit: Now that you’re writing full time, what challenges do you face? (I ask this because when I started writing full time, I wasn’t as disciplined with my time and then I had a baby!)

Diana: That’s an interesting question, because truthfully the biggest challenge I’ve faced is from friends and family thinking “working from home” means I don’t have a real job. Seriously. I wrote three books in one year, and I still have people who ask, “What do you do to fill your time now?” They think I sit around watching soap operas.

The reality is I’m a workaholic. I work much harder now than I ever did when I had an office job. Those jobs ended at 5 o’clock, whereas my writing process can go until midnight. It’s a rare day I turn off my laptop off before 11 pm. Whether I’m writing, editing, promoting, blogging, setting up events, updating MySpace, etc., there’s a lot of work that goes along with this profession. But the beauty of it is, when you love what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work. Plus, it’s nice to wake up and be in charge of deciding what I’m going to do that day.

(Editorial note: Amen to that!)

Chica Lit: Do you enjoy being a writer?

Diana: I love it. I write a lot on my website about how I didn’t always know I wanted to be an author. And that’s true. But the entire time I was working as a journalist, I had a nagging feeling inside me that there was “something else” I should be doing; I just hadn’t figured it out. When I sat down to write my first novel, it flowed naturally, it didn’t feel like work, and I knew I had finally found “it.” Everything clicked.

Chica Lit: What’s next and what are you working on now?

Diana: The sequels to the series, Amigas and School Scandals and Adios to all the Drama, will be released in November 2008 and January 2009, respectively. I think readers are going to be really happy with how the story plays out—at least I hope so!

Also, I’m currently working new YA project. It’s a complete departure from what I’ve done in the past—lots of spies, suspense, fight scenes and, of course, a love triangle. I’m really excited about it. Plus I get to travel because I’m setting some scenes in Europe. The character is a lot of fun—all about girl power. I hope to have it ready for the publishing world soon!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kwCsXujb3I&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&fs=1]

Between the Pages With Margo Candela


Margo Candela was standing on a street corner in downtown Phoenix when I picked her up. We had lunch. We had a few laughs. We then did our thing at the Celebrating Chica Lit panel at the National Hispanic Women’s Conference. I distinctly remember when someone asked us how we balanced writing with our family lives. Margo is not one to mince words. She took that mic and said, “You make the time. If it’s really that important, you just do it.”

With her third book, More Than This now in stores (it is a Target Breakout book!) and a fourth on the way, Margo has the goods to back up her convictions.

Chica Lit: What was the biggest challenge in writing More Than This?

Margo: In More Than This I got explore the ‘what if’ period before anything actually happens. I also wrote it from two separate and alternating male and female perspectives. Usually I write about what happens after the relationship implodes from a single perspective. I was forced to step out of my comfort bubble, plus it’s a love story. But I figured if I was going to do it, I was going to go all out.

Chica Lit: Do you feel that you accomplished what you set out to write?

Margo: My intention was always to write a love story between two people who don’t meet. Some people want a nice tidy ending but for me it was more interesting to see Evelyn and Alexander, the main characters, as individuals, not as a couple. I wrote the book I said I was going to write and it was published. I think that’s pretty wonderful.

Chica Lit: When do you know you’re done with the book? Do you miss your characters?

Margo: When I start a book I always know what’s going to happen at the beginning, in middle and at end. The work comes with filling in the gaps in-between. Sometimes situations or locations change, characters evolve but my basic points usually remain the same. I really haven’t had a chance to miss any of my characters. I’ve gone from book to book, by the time one is out, I’m in the middle of the next one. My hope is to take a bit of a break this fall and enjoy what I’ve accomplished. Maybe I’ll even read my own books, because I haven’t since I turned in the final profs. Is that bad?

Chica Lit: Does writing get any easier with each book?

Margo: Yes and no. I just turned in my fourth and I became an spaced-out incoherent zombie for a while. I work well with outlines, they keep me on track, and I find them reassuring since they tell me where I should be and where I’ll be going. For the book I just finished (How Can I Tell You?, Touchstone, Summer ’09), I didn’t have one and it made life not so fun for a few months. I’ll be outlining the hell out of my next project. Lesson learned.

Chica Lit: More Than This has been out for almost a month. What has surprised you about the readers’ reactions?

Margo: Readers have been very supportive. It made me realize I should have written a love type story a lot sooner. When my editor, Sulay Hernandez at Touchstone, told me Target had picked it up as a Breakout Book because the buyer loved the story, I knew I’d done something right.

Chica Lit: Do you enjoy being a writer?

Margo: Some days I do, some days I do a lot of laundry and sighing. That being said, this is by far the best job I’ve ever had. I’d like to branch out in my writing but this is what I’d like to do for the rest of my life.

Chica Lit: When did you know you were a writer?

Margo: I was applying for my first passport years ago and when I came to the line that asked for my occupation, I put down writer. Just like that. No second guessing myself or trying to justify it. It was a great feeling once I realized what I’d made that mental leap.

Chica Lit: I heard that you just turned in your fourth book. What is it about or what
can you tell us at this point in the process?

Margo: After More Than This, I wanted to focus on a single first person perspective again. How Can I Tell You? tells the story of how Raquel Ortiz makes a royal mess out of her life and then tries to pretend nothing has changed. She goes as far as to fake going to work so her family doesn’t find out she’s been forced to leave her dream job. A line from cover copy of my next book reads that I’m “a writer who thrives on creating morally ambiguous situations in her novels” and I’d have to say that’s pretty accurate. She’s not going to do the right thing and things may not work out for her, but it’ll be a fun ride.

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=siti-sicuri-per-comprare-levitra-20-mg-in-italia Margo and I will be appearing together along with our fellow authors Jamie Martinez Wood and Sandra Lopez next month. Check out the details at my Events page and get your signed copy of http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=long-term-use-side-effects-prednisone More Than This.