#truestory

What happens when Carmen thinks out loud.

Like the smartest thing any mother/author ever said. Ever.

Open Letter to 2019

Dear 2019, With the benefit of having lived through your younger brother known as 2018, you will find me a bit changed. Older, wiser, and a bit more cunning.   Love, Carmen From 2018, with love Every year, instead of a list of easily-forgotten resolutions,...

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The mystery of the disappearing home office

As 2019 approaches, many of us (self included) look to see the progress made over the past year. For many of us (self included) it was a year of transition. We moved to a new house in a new state. The Dream House, in a place with lots of...

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Welcome to the opioid crisis

I spent 30 years with the CIA. My official resume says things like “distinguished record of solutions-driven leadership across multiple mission areas,” and “led program responsible for collection, translation, and analysis of breaking events,” and “oversaw work of...

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Season of change, complete with koi pond

It's the season of change. After years as professional nomads, we finally bought the Dream House. The move to a new state was a 60-day exercise in logistics and determination during which we sold Old House, bought Dream House, packed up, and drove caravan-style for 2...

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The worst writing advice ever. Not kidding.

“But the novel is set in Mexico,” she said. “All the characters are Mexican.” “That’s right,” I replied. “Lives of the people fighting the drug cartels. And Mexico’s class structure.” More than 5 years ago, I was speaking on the phone to a well-known American author...

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5 Excellent Phrases to Sound Busy and Important

Some time ago, I took a break from mysteries and read BRIDGET JONES: MAD ABOUT THE BOY by Helen Fielding. It was time for some mind candy and Bridget Jones--books or movies--always delivers. The book was written in the same diary/inner dialogue familiar from the first...

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Desert Island Folllies

There used to be a British radio show called Desert Island Disks. Guest DJs shared the 3 albums they’d want to listen to if shipwrecked on a deserted island. If you’re familiar with the classic BBC comedy The Vicar of Dibley, you’ll recall the episode in...

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Living With a Thief

"Comparison is the thief of joy." -- Teddy Roosevelt I mentioned to someone recently that my goal for the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series is to eventually be as well known as the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. And got a not-so-subtle...

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Where in the World on Social Media

Social media for authors is an everlasting game. As a form of marketing, social media platforms can suck up all our time, yet still yield little in the shape of real relationships with readers and collaborators. In the 5 years that I’ve been a published author, I’ve...

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5 Lessons Learned After 5 Years as an Indie Author

It is hard to believe but I’ve been a published independent author for 5 years. In May 2012, after a tearful breakup with a publisher, I released THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY via Amazon and Createspace. Once headed down the indie author road and loving the creative...

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Taxes and the Mystery Author: Winners and Losers

In May I will celebrate my fifth year as a published author. For most of that time I was what the IRS would term a "hobbyist" but in April 2016 I embraced full-time authordom. Here were my priorities: Publish AWAKENING MACBETH, the romantic thriller that I’d written...

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A lesson in personal growth

KING PESO, the 4th Detective Emilia Cruz novel, was released on 18 August and the paperback will be released on 30 August. So far the reviews have been positive and sales encouraging.But as I admitted to fellow thriller author Khaled Talib, I'm feeling very let...

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The Ultimate Secret to Productivity

My #1 secret to productivity isn't an app or a clock. But it works better than either. As a mystery author, I look for as productivity tips the way Detective Emilia Cruz looks for clues to solve the latest murder in Acapulco. Productivity becomes an even bigger issue...

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Intention versus Reaction

"Persistence is the master virtue." The quote is attributed to the great thinker Anonymous. As I plug away at the 4th Detective Emilia Cruz mystery, KING PESO, it really resonates. But along with persistence, a few other key words have been useful lately. A friend is...

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The Elusive Charms of Productivity

I’ve been reading the blog of James Clear, a life coach and productivity expert. While I mostly agree that productivity is all about Me, I also think it’s all about Them. Where for art thou, Productivity? Clear gives great advice on how to live a richer life and enjoy...

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Theme for 2015: Maximize!

At our family New Year’s Eve dinner, I asked if anyone had made any resolutions. My husband had some fitness goals, while our college kids talked about GPAs, Zumba classes, getting more sleep, and internships. Later, I realized that no one had asked me if I had made...

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It Goes Without Saying

It wasn’t a high school for the performing arts, but it came darn close. Every year, my Catholic high school raised the majority of its operating funds by putting on two plays and a musical. With about 360 kids in four grades, that meant that at some point, you were...

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Where’s a Cheerleader When You Need One?

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was part of my high school’s cheer team. I was also a member of the band, playing—yes, you read it here—the cymbals. Those cymbals were red hot when we New Yorkers played the Wisconsin fight song. Alas, we could only play the...

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The Right Fork

A number of years ago, when my children were younger and we were living in Mexico, my family was invited to the residence of a NATO ambassador and his family for a New Year’s Eve dinner.  Our children were all the same age and the wife and I were close friends, both...

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Mexico, Two Dogs, and An Unexpected Gift

A few weeks ago, I cleaned out the room I use as an office and writing lair. Piles of paper got shifted from one side of the room to the other, new artwork went up (thank you, Command hooks) and some much-needed tax receipts got organized. And I found a CD with the...

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How Deep Are Your Reading Roots?

I blame my oldest sister, really. She was studious and serious and had a lot of books. She organized them tidily on bookcases in the basement where they joined books my uncle had left when he joined the Navy and headed for Vietnam. The shelves also had room for an...

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35 Ways to be the Worst Traveller in the World

I travel internationally about every 4 months or so. This means I get to watch fellow travelers, many of whom unsuspectingly offer colorful characteristics and situations ripe for my next mystery novel. Yes, I admit it. I travel with a notebook and all too frequently...

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