Friday Fiesta: Blog Hop, Striking Gold, and Recommended Stories

Friday Fiesta: Blog Hop, Striking Gold, and Recommended Stories

I’m reviving my Friday Fiesta posts, in which I share the most interesting things that crossed my writing desk over the last week. This week it’s a blog hop invitation from author Jerry Last, striking gold with a great new marketing resource, and two new author friends with stories about Mexico.

Blog Hop

What am I working on?

The next full length Emilia Cruz novel, DIABLO NIGHTS, is slated for a late June 2014 release. This one draws inspiration from Mexico’s Cristero War of the late 1920’s during which the government tried to squeeze out the Catholic Church. It’s a mystery-within-a-mystery and Emilia has an unexpected link to the conflict.

I’m also collaborating with several other writers, including Jane Rosenthal, author of PALACE OF THE BLUE BUTTERFLY, and Christopher Irvin, author of FEDERALES, on a multi-author blog. We’re thinking of calling it the Mexico Mystery Writer Cartel. What do you think?

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

As far as I know, there is no one writing a series set in Mexico with a Mexican protagonist in the same international mystery and police procedural genre as Jo Nesbo, Ian Rankin, or Henning Mankell. Readers of those authors describe the Emilia Cruz series as a fresh take on the mystery protagonist. The mood of the Emilia Cruz books is the same but the setting and cultural elements are very different.

Why do I write what I do?

We lived in Mexico at a time when the drug wars were really beginning to heat up. One Christmas a junkie stumbled into midnight Mass. Father Richard was leading us in the Prayer of the Faithful when a man staggered up the center aisle, his limbs jerking as he alternately murmured and shouted incomprehensible words. We all shrank back as he made his way towards the altar, an unexpected and volatile presence.

As the congregation looked on in growing panic, the man accosted Father Richard. The priest didn’t move or stop the prayer, just dug through his robes for a pocket. He pulled out a few pesos and pressed them into the man’s hand.

By that time several of the male congregants had come onto the altar as well and they gently propelled the drug-addled man back down the altar steps and through the church to the rear door.

Christmas mass continued and the addict remained nameless to the shaken congregation. But he stayed with all of us, evidence that Mexico’s own drug problem was growing as more and more drugs transited the country en route to the insatiable United States.

He reminded me of the drug war raging just outside our happy expatriate bubble. We were an American family in Mexico City, embracing a new culture, exploring a vibrant city, and meeting people who were to impact our lives for years to come. But we always knew that the bubble was fragile and as if to prove it, Mexico’s news grew worse in the new year: shootouts in major cities, multiple drug seizures, rising numbers of dead and missing, the murders of mayors, governors and journalists.

I’m continually surprised and saddened by how little people know about what is happening in Mexico. Only big arrests become mainstream news. Especially as the numbers of people missing in Mexico continue to climb, I’m hoping a mystery series can raise awareness of what’s going on in Mexico, with plot elements straight out of the headlines, an authentic dive into one of the most beautiful settings on earth, and a little salsa fresca from my own years living in Mexico and Central America.

How does my writing process work?

book outlineI’m rigorous about having an outline before writing, and my technique depends heavily on sticky notes. Often, because each novel has several storylines, I’ll use different colors to keep them straight and the action sprinkled evenly. I’ll arrange the stickies on a big posterboard that gets taped over my desk. About a third of the way through the outline will be overtaken by events and redone. Once the draft is finished, I edit and edit, both to add layers of detail and to polish the prose. In the picture, the weeks refer to the story timeline, not my writing schedule.

More Hopping

Be sure to check out Jerry Last’s hop. He’s the author of the Roger and Suzanne Mysteries, which also have an international flavor!

Striking Author Marketing Gold

I was very pleased to be a beta tester for Tim Grahl’s new Instant Bestseller online course. Tim is a marketing consultant and the author of YOUR FIRST 1000 COPIES, a fantastic resource. The video-based course lays out a comprehensive strategy for successfully getting your books to the right audience and Tim gives the hard facts and figures to back up his approach. The Instant Bestseller name is a bit of a misnomer, however, as the course is all about building a system for sustained success. To find out more check out his company website.

Two Stories to Check Out

My reading list this weekend comes from the clever minds of Susannah Rigg and Chris Irvin. Susannah, who runs the Mexico Retold website, hosted me a few weeks ago and in an exchange of notes told me about her short story. Well, it’s out now and if her engaging blog style is an indication, it should be a very enjoyable read:

Chris is the author of FEDERALES, which also has a Mexican cop protagonist. But the Mexican federal cops have about the worst reputation imaginable so I’m interested to see what he does with it:

A reminder about Writing for Water

glasses of waterNorm Hamilton, Sharon Lee Johnson and Jerry Last are all part of the Writing for Water team this month, helping me by donating a portion of their book sales to Please consider getting one of their featured books from this list to read this weekend. You will make clean water possible for someone for life.

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blog hop


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


Author Carmen Amato

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