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 down.

Long live the KING

Not by the quality of KING PESO or it’s reception by readers, of course. But after having been immersed in the story for months, and sprinting hard for the last three months in particular, typing “el fin” was oddly difficult.

Related: Read the first chapter of KING PESO

Suddenly, there is no more deep focus on the deliciously twisting details of the plot. No more hours at the computer with my favorite thesaurus, the one that weighs 10 lbs from the Eleftheroudakis bookstore in Athens, savoring new ways to describe Detective Emilia Cruz’s dilemmas. No more self-induced pressure to make sure all the dots connect.

King Peso novel draftNot much is left. The binder with the penultimate draft, the one I marked up with red pen. A dozen sticky notes on the wall above my desk with details I want to change or add. Scraps of paper clipped together representing inspiration while in the grocery store or nearly asleep or in the coffee shop. At least one large spiral notebook filled with scenes written longhand.

Notebook Carmen AmatoAs an aside, for years I’ve kept all of the spiral notebooks filled with story notes and at present count have 11. I taped peso coins to the front of some of them, a sort of fung shui for authors who write about Mexico. I keep thinking that when I’m astronomically famous, I’ll auction them off for charity. Dream big or go home, right?

But back to my point

Gretchen Rubin, author of THE HAPPINESS PROJECT and HAPPIER AT HOME, lists this as the first “Splendid Truths:”

To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.

I read this a few years ago and wow, did it resonate. If I’m not in an atmosphere of growth, I feel let down. Stagnant.

Growth for me is writing. Stretching my mental boundaries. Juggling plot as well as descriptions and characters. Loving the “flow” when things come together and hey, where the heck did the day go?

And so . . .

While I hate endings, beginnings are great. Two more projects lie ahead: the short memoir GIRL MEETS PARIS and PACIFIC REAPER, the 5th Detective Emilia Cruz novel. My accountability buddy and I talked this out last night, and the next 90 days promise much personal growth!

I think everybody has the potential for personal growth. The trick is to recognize what triggers growth for the individual. If we can pursue that thing, our individual “atmosphere of growth” will expand and lift up other parts of our lives.

But what about you? What activity sparks YOUR personal growth?


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Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.


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