It’s Here! The Duel for Consuelo is up and ready!

The Duel for Consuelo is up and ready for you to buy, enjoy, review, talk about, share! I’m too excited to do a long post today, but I am beyond excited! You can get it on Amazon,, and you can walk into your local bookstore and ask them to order it for you. Really. Even e-books. Did you know that? Of course you did!

While you’re at it, I am the guest blogger on the brilliant Jessica Knauss, Famous Author blog. You will find the fascinating story of the town of Matajudios, (or Kill Jews, really! That’s the name of the Spanish town!) See its history, find out why it took 1000 years to change it.

So come and read my book, and while you’re waiting for your book to arrive, check out Jessica Knauss, Famous Author!

#Love #Duty #Faith & the Inquisition. THE DUEL FOR CONSUELO is now available! #WeNeedDiverseBooks #theduelforconsuelo


“As heart rending as it is pulse pounding” THE DUEL FOR CONSUELO is up now! #WeNeedDiverseBooks #theduelforconsuelo

Beauty tips for the Mother of the Bride

Goldy-peach-mascara sludge is not pretty.

This past Saturday my amazing, wonderful daughter got married. She was beautiful, the wedding was beautiful, the groom was beautiful, and the mother of the bride, aka me, was, well, let’s just say I did my best!

So now, let me provide you with the five tips for extreme MOTB beauty:

1. Don’t chip your tooth the week before the wedding. If that means living on yogurt for a week, so be it. (Besides, a yogurt-only diet will increase the chances that your dress will still fit.) Your dentist will be booked with all those diligent patients who plan their teeth-cleaning sessions six months in advance. To squeeze you in and do a temporary spackeling job will require “emergency” billing…

2. If you use retinol (and who doesn’t?) don’t get your eyebrows or lip waxed. Either stop using the retinol a week before, right around when you chip your tooth, so that you spend a week all chipped and wrinkly, so you can have a lovely eyebrow arch and no mustache, or save the waxing cost for the dentist and pluck (and shave) on your own. Why? Because if you use retinol, your skin thins, even where you don’t put it, like your eyelids. When they pull off the wax (this is gross) your skin will come off. Just a layer, but you will be red, swollen like a toad, and crusty. Take my word for it.

3. But what if you forget and get all toad-like and scabby? That’s where eye makeup comes in. Put a slice of cucumber on each eyelid, lie back and let the vegetable do its work. After about 15 minutes you will be less toad-like. Put a thin layer of Neosporin over the offended area, and then concealer. Then peach eyeshadow (blends nicely with the red eyelids) and white under-brow cream. Top with a glittery gold shadow, and mascara. Remember not to cry. Goldy-peach-mascara sludge is not pretty.

4. Give yourself an hour to do your hair. Even if you are just pulling it into a clip, it will take an hour and a full bottle of extra-hold to keep it from standing on end.

5. Remember, it will all be a funny story in a week. And everyone will be looking at the bride.

Mazel tov!

Looking for something out of the ordinary?

This is an ode to the unusual! Much as we all love the tried-and-true #regencyromances, and the #dystopian #zombie #newbooks, there are some unusual stories being written out there that are worth stepping out of our usual rut for. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement captures those stories about places we don’t usually see in current literature, or books by writers who are a bit more diverse than the usual crowd.

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks blog relay allows us to do just that. So with great thanks to Ekaterine Xia, aspiring world tyrant and dominatrix , who “tagged” me to be the next diverse blogger, here I go!

Q: What are you working on?

A: My new book, The Duel for Consuelo, comes out in 4 weeks! So I am working on the final touches on my big announcement. And then, I will be working on the next book in the Castillo family series… more on that another day!

Q: How does your work differ from others of its genre?

A: Can you name another book about Colonial Mexico in 1690-1720? I didn’t think so. Historical fiction tends to cling to England from 1700-1924. There are a few brave souls who write about the same time frame in America. To dip into Mexico, at that mysterious time before the Industrial Revolution, when Mexico was still ruled by distant Spain and its local Viceroy, is really out of the ordinary.

Q: Why do you write what you do?

A: I grew up in Mexico City, and fell in love with the famous poetess of the late 1600s, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz when I was a young feminist in college, so my fascination couldn’t help but lead to my first main-stream fiction novel, Josefina’s Sin (Atria/Simon & Schuster 2011.) As the Enlightenment crept in illuminating the darkest corners of Spain and eventually Mexico, the Inquisition’s targets, Jews and Spaniards of Jewish blood, were absorbed more and more into the mainstream. But they never completely disappeared, guarding their secrets and identity in the face of certain death. That’s the core of The Duel for Consuelo.

Q: How does your writing process work?

A: It’s very strange. I think, and think, and think. I research and think some more. I scribble an outline. I refine it and think. I walk and think. And then, by miracle, all at once, I sit down and write for a couple of months!

Interested in seeing more about my books? Click on the tabs above for my website, and for the books themselves! Sign up to get updates, and be the first to read The Duel for Consuelo!

Next week, be sure to visit the blogs of the next three bloggers in the relay:

Sandra Ramos O’Briant, , is the amazing author of the Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood. It is a riveting story of New Mexico, harrowing and beautiful, a book like no other!

Eleanor Parker Sapia, Latina Author,, writes of Puerto Rico. Her eagerly awaited debut novel of a midwife in Puerto Rico, A Decent Woman, comes out this summer.

Lisa J. Yarde writes fiction inspired by the Middle Ages in Europe. She is the author of six historical novels, which take place during Europe’s medieval period, including two works set in England and France, and a series about the last Muslim rulers of Spain.
Her novel Sultana: The Bride Price takes place in fourteenth-century Moorish Spain.

Happy Diverse Reading!

The Enlightenment Creeps In

It’s true! I have a publication date for THE DUEL FOR CONSUELO. It comes out on June 15 with Booktrope, and I am beyond excited. CONSUELO is the story of a woman torn between love and duty, the old religion and new survival, two men, two worlds. It will take you back to 1711, in Colonial Mexico.

In 1711 the Inquisition’s reach and power was fading. The Spanish king, starved for cash after fighting wars on two fronts, no longer had the funds to chase “infidels.” The ripe pickings of the Jewish lands and fortunes had long ago been plundered, and the time and effort it took to search out false Christians brought too little return. The Inquisition, or the Holy Office, was a Church function, of course, but without the king’s support its power was severely diminished.

In the rest of Europe the tendrils of the Enlightenment were creeping in, and even Spain couldn’t hold off the light much longer. Far away, in Colonial Mexico, the effects of this change were somewhat conflicted. On the one hand, the distance had made it harder to keep the colonies in line, and mainstream thinking took on a regional flavor all its own. But on the other, the creollos oft-times wanted to be more Spanish than the Spanish, so they kept with their intrenched views while Europe progressed.

That’s the world Consuelo inhabits.  Join me soon for the whole story!

Earth day scars

I was 15 on the first #earthday, in 1970. Yes, true confession! And I was one of the young participants in this very first day. I tried to speak in front of my high school class, but those were different times and Earth Day was seen as some radical hippie type event, something else we were against, along with things like the Viet Nam War and the Draft, something else we were for, like legal abortion and Civil Rights.

So a group of us went out to pick up trash in front of the school. Such radicals, girls in school uniforms picking up garbage! A pull tab (remember those? they were vicious tabs of metal pulled by a ring, in order to open soda cans) came through the garbage bag and sliced me on the forearm.

My sister put a bandaid on it while I tried not to faint. I was a squeamish little brat… and I still have the scar. Happily, Earth Day is now a world movement. Let’s unite once again to try, somehow, to preserve Mother Earth. Check out this link for a more complete and less personal history of Earth Day:

The amazing Helen Valeska Bary

Never heard of Helen Valeska Bary? Of course not. Nor, probably, of Maud Younger, Sara Bard Field, Alice Paul, or Anita Whitney! All these remarkable women are invisible in our history books, but they did much to shape our country and our laws. Helen Valeska Bary 1888-1973, worked for the Labor Commission, the department of Social Security, negotiated labor strikes across California. She toiled for the minimum wage for women at a time when employers had “girls” sign a statement upon application for work stating that they were not using the funds for support of a family, so as to get around the need to pay a living wage.

Post World War 1 San Francisco saw the progress women had made in the work-force diminish as concerns that they were “stealing” work from men drove public opinion against them. At the same time, a wave of puritanism, the same wave that brought us prohibition, fueled the closure of brothels. Women who had made their living on their backs now made it on their feet, but any hope of a living wage was dashed by public resistance. Valeska Bary rose through the ranks of government during the War, but managed to remain not only employed but with a growing sphere of influence, after the men returned home.

Sara Bard Field

An amazing oral history of Valeska Bary, along with other feminists of bygone times, can be found at the Bancroft Library. Here’s a quote from her interview:

“Also, I saw something that annoyed me very much. That was that an application for employment at Nathan Dohrmann’s contained a statement just above the signature that the applicant was living at home and not dependent on her wages….
When you talked about low wages with many people, they would tell you that these women were living at home and whatever they earned was just pin money. Every girl, in applying for a job, had to say that it was just pin money….She did not need it. You may say that cleared their skirts from the idea that they were grinding the faces of the poor, it was just a pin money occupation.”
See more, and more and more, at:


Walking the streets of San Francisco

There’s walking the streets and street-walking, right? Last year I took the Dasheill Hammett’s San Francisco walking tour with the magnetic Don Herron. We peeked into John’s Grill (home of the Maltese Falcon) and saw the very spot where Sam Spade’s partner was shot…in the fictional real world.

We got to talking, and I told him about my book. He said he’d mention me in a blog post someday. Well check it out!

Take the tour. It’s $20 and wear your walking shoes. After all, if you’re going to walk #thestreetsofSanFrancisco you’d better be able to walk up hill!

Winchester Mystery House calls my name


I’ve been to the Winchester Mystery House once, a long time ago, and I have always wanted to go back. Only about 50 miles from where I live, the house is a maze of secret passages, doors to nowhere, chutes, ladders, cubbies and hiding places. Oh, and it’s haunted too! What more could you ask? Let me tell you: sleepovers and a cocktail! They just got their permit for a b&b, and can serve drinks!

Maybe the setting for my next novel? Only one way to find out, I guess. Better book my room before the summer tourist rush!