Monday, September 01, 2014

Viva Gumroad

So far my little Gumroad shop only has one item for sale: the ebook From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion, what I call a "nonfiction novela about a fairytale" -- a visit to the Emperor of Mexico's castle in Italy. (Have a look here-- and if you buy it, you'll see what a lickety-split easy process Gumroad makes that.)

Most of my several books are available on and Barnes & Noble, and a few items are also on iTunes (visit my main shop here), but I see Gumroad as a very promising venue for many more of my ebooks, forthcoming audio books, and possibly some videos as well.

Gumroad doesn't do marketing, but fellow writers take note: the power is the elegant simplicity and ease of its customer interface. On that note, via publishing guru Jane Friedman's blog, here's a post by Jeremiah Shoaf on why, after several years, he switched from E-Junkie to Gumroad.

More Gumroaderie:
> In Wired
> In the New York Times (in the context of building your own website)

P.S. I'm a huge fan of for the same reason: the interface. Instacart's puts most grocery store on-line ordering sites in the Neanderthal pee-wee league. I'm in Mexico City mainly these days, where don't yet have Instacart but I used it to order bottled water, kibble and canned dog food when I was traveling with my dog in California. Superb. Apart from saving time, since I couldn't leave my dog in the car (too hot) or take him into the store, delivery was a most welcome convenience.

COMMENTS always welcome

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Madam Mayo:
> Traditional + Indie = Hybrid Publishing: Three Authors Dish at Jane Friedman's Blog
> Cyberflanerie: Instacart Mexico City & etc.
> M.M. McAllen's new Book, Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico

And over on the homepage,
> About the book, Podcasting for Writers & Other Creative Entrepreneurs
> Answers to the Three Questions I am Most Often Asked About the Writing Business
> Upcoming one day only Literary Travel Writing workshop at the Writer's Center, Bethesda, MD, Saturday October 11th.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cyberflanerie: Definitely Different Edition

The Octopus Mandala

Toy Mammals and Dinosaurs Burdened with Miniature Civilizations

How the Sun Sees You

George Lombardi's Mission to India (well worth the listen)

Ye Olde Roots of the Federal Marijuana Ban

The Art Car Museum

Big Foot or Another Guy in a Ghillie Suit? (The Ghillie Suit reminds me of a neighbor's dog…)

Nancy Marie Brown on the Ornament of the World

P.S. I hear from Clare Sullivan that there are still a few spaces left in what looks like a terrific poetry retreat in Oaxaca, Mexico. Check it out here.

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Madam Mayo:
The Novel is a Mandala
> Cyberflanerie: Fun in Mexico, Literary Edition
> Top 10 Books Read 2008 (#1 was Nancy Marie Brown's The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman)

And on the home page,
> Upcoming workshops: Literary Travel Writing one day workshop October 11th at the Writer's Center
> Marfa Mondays: Podcast interview with historian John Tutino: Looking at Mexico in New Ways
> Conversations with Other Writers: Podcast interview with novelist Solveig Eggerz

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cyberflanerie: STUFF & Stuff & More Stuff Edition

Seth Godin on the Nitty-Gritty Boring Stuff (of being an artist-- or whatever).

For those who don't have much stuff (or happen to have some spare $$$ for a writing studio): the Molecule Tiny House.

Mike Clelland on how to pack only micro amounts of stuff and hike off into the sunset (watch out for that link to his UFO abduction blog, though).

Lighten Up! Free Yourself from Clutter by Michelle Passoff. One of my faves.

They're called "garbage gyres": NYT on those Texas-sized floating islands of plastic.

For the metaphysically inclined: Rose Rosetree on 15 types of "STUFF" (astral whatnot that can get stuck in the aura, that is).

More metaphysical stuff: Karen Kingston on the energies in stuff (objects).

Five Death Bed Regrets (not one to do with stuff…) via the blog about dealing with stuff by Julie Hall, author of The Boomer Burden, a peace-inducing book about dealing with your parents' lifetime accumulation of stuff.

COMMENTS always welcome

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Madam Mayo:
>30 Deadly-Effective Ways to Free Up Bits, Drips & Gimungously Vast Swaths of Time for Writing
>Decluttering a Library: The 10 Question Flow Chart
>On Decluttering Your Writing or, Respecting the Integrity of Narrative Design
>Guest-blogger Regina Leeds on 5 + 1 resources to Make Writer Happy in an Organized Space

And on the homepage,
>Ten Tips for Organizing a Novel-in-Progress
>Updates on Recommended Books on Mexico
>Updates about my upcoming workshop on Literary Travel Writing at the Writer's Center & other events

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cyberflanerie: Low-Techerie

Ingenious little contraption: Heatstick.dom's Candle Heater

Low-Tech Magazine on Tile Stoves: "Sunbathing in the Living Room"

Low-Tech Magazine: How to Downsize a Transportation Network: Chinese Wheelbarrows

Never let a sunny day go to waste! The daily solar cooking recipe

Introduction to Woodworking Classes at the Northwest Woodworking Studio

This looks worth a hajj: The Oasis Camel Dairy. (I bought some of their camel milk soap, great stuff.)

Neat trick: DIY Ice cream 

My own impression precisely: Michael Wolff on How the Book Biz Dug Its Own Amazon Grave

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gabriele Lusser Rico (1937-2013)

I was so sad to learn, belatedly, of the death of writer and visionary writing teacher Gabriele Lusser Rico. I never met her, but I felt as if I had, because I read and reread her book, Writing the Natural Way, until it was, literally, falling to pieces.

>Visit Gabriele Lusser Rico's webpage for more about her life and work.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Rose Mary Salum's Visionary Anthology DELTA DE LAS ARENAS: Cuentos Arabes, Cuentos Judíos

Cuentos Árabes, Cuentos Judíos
Editora, Rose Mary Salum
Literal Publishing
Houston, 2014
One of the opening epigraphs of Delta de arenas (Delta of the Sands), this visionary anthology of Arab and Jewish Latin American stories, is by one of my favorite writers, Edward Said, author of the classic Orientalism. He says:
"The ideal of comparable literature is not to show how English literature is really a secondary phenomenon or how French or Arabic literature is really a poor cousin to Persian literature, but to show them as existing contrapunctual lines in a great composition through which difference is respected and understood without coercion."
The great composition then, of Latin American literature, of course, includes its multitude of Arab and Jewish writers. But until now, Arab and Jewish Latin American writers have not been gathered together between covers-- a group just the size for a cocktail party, were it possible:

Katya Adaui (Peru, b. 1977)
Carlos Azar (Mexico, b. 1970)
Alicia Borinsky (Argentina, b. 1946)
Nayla Chehade (Colombia, b. 1953)
Sergio Chejfec (Argentina, b. 1956)
Marcelo Cohen (Argentina, b. 1951)
Ariel Dorfman (Argentina, 1942)
Rose Mary Espinosa Elías (Mexico, b. 1969)
Luis Fayad (Colombia, b. 1945)
Julián Fuks (Brazil, b. 1981)
Margo Glantz (Mexico, b. 1930)
Eduardo Halfon (Guatemala, b. 1971)
Rodrigo Hasbún (Bolivia, b. 1981)
Milton Hatoum (Brazil, b. 1952)
Gisela Heffes (Argentina, b. 1971)
Bárbara Jacobs (Mexico, b. 1947)
Andrea Jeftanovic (Chile, b. 1970)
Jorge Kattán Zablah (El Salvador, b. 1939)
Sandra Lorenzano (Argentina, b. 1960)
Jeannette L. Clariond (Mexico, b. 1949)
Carlos Martínez Assad (Mexico, b. 1946)
Lina Meruane (Chile, b. 1970)
Salim Miguel (Lebanon, b. 1924, naturalized Brazilian)
Myriam Moscona (Mexico, b. 1955)
Angelina Muñiz-Huberman (France, b. 1936, resident in Mexico since 1942)
Alberto Mussa (Brazil, b. 1961)
León Rodríguez Zahar (Mexico, b. 1962)
Ilán Stavans (Mexico, b. 1961)
Tatiana Salem Levy (Brazil, b. 1979)
Rose Mary Salum (Mexico, b. 1964)
Leandro Sarmatz (Brazil, b. 1973)
Ana María Shua (Argentina, b. 1951)
David Unger (Guatemala, b. 1950)
Naief Yehya (Mexico, b. 1963)

As an American writer and translator who has been living in Mexico City on and off for over two decades, when I meet with my north-of-the-border American writer- and other friends, one of the things that continually astonishes me is that so many of them are entirely ignorant of even the existence of Jewish or Arab Mexican communities in Mexico-- which are large, and especially in the cities. Well, let's see, they've heard of Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes…. and not that they're writers, but of course, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. And when I mention that Frida Kahlo's father, Guillermo Kahlo, was born in Germany, of Hungarian Jewish descent, they do a double take. ("You're kidding, right?") In short, like most Americans, they've been lulled into assuming they know everything about Mexico already because they watch the evening news and a movie or three at their local Cineplex. (And woohoo, maybe they've visited Cancun or Los Cabos.) The reality of Mexican culture is infinity richer and more complex than its image in the United States even begins to suggest-- well, more from the soap box here.

Over the centuries, Mexico, like Latin America as a whole, has taken in many waves of immigrants, from Africans to Chinese to Welshmen. Not all but most of Latin America's Jewish immigrants have come from Europe, some as early as the 16th century, but most in the 20th century and the wake of World War II, while Arabs have come primarily from the Levant in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Jews and Arabs: the juxtaposition conjures images of war, and indeed, as I write these lines, the newspapers feature horrific ones from the conflict over the Gaza Strip. But on the far shores of Latin America, where Jews and Arabs live together in peace, the common threads in their cultures are easier to pick out. Writes editor Rose Mary Salum, a Mexican of Lebanese descent, in her preface:
"Los autores de los cuentos participantes viven en este continente, el español o el portugués es su lengua madre, pero desde su nacimiento, dado su singular legado, llevan consigo una herencia que matizó las experiencias personales y los determinó, enriquiciendo el tejido con el que el lenguaje embebe la realidad".

[My translation: The authors of these stories live in this continent with Spanish or Portuguese as their mother tongue, but given their singular legacy, from birth they carry an inheritance that clarifies and determines their personal experiences, enriching the texture with which language absorbs reality.]

What these stories do, varied as they are, is what all good stories do: open our minds and elevate our awareness and our compassion. In other words, with heart and with art, they explore what it means to be human.

Salum's introduction is especially valuable for scholars, as she provides an overview of the scarce literature on Jewish Latin American writing and the even scarcer literature on Arab Latin American writing. A delightful and fascinating read, this collection is also a vital and visionary contribution to world literature itself. Highly recommended for both book groups and libraries. And highly recommended for a translation into English. Please.

Literal Publishing, by the way, was founded by Salum and in addition to a small but growing list of outstanding literary titles, she edits Literal Magazine: Reflections, Art and Culture / Pensamientos, Arte y Cultura, about Latin American culture. Look for that on the newsstands in Sanborns and elsewhere, or visit the website page.

> Visit the webpage for this book at Literal Publishing.
> Review in Nexos
> Review in Milenio
> Buy it on

This blog post is in memory of my great uncle, Robert R. Mayo, who was professor of comparative literature at Northwestern University-- and a wonderful conversationalist. How I wish he were still here, that we could discuss this book over Turkish coffee and baklava!

COMMENTS always welcome.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cyberflanerie: Writers and Writing: Sam Quinones on the Mennonite Mob, the Daily Skimm, Write On!

Debra Eckerling's Write On! August newsletter is out. (Thanks, amiga, for the mention of my "30 Deadly-Effectve Ways to Free Up Bits, Drips & Gimungously Vast Swaths of Time for Writing" and the new edition of From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion.") Lots of useful information in there for writers. Take note, those of you looking for some inspiration, Eckerling is offering Purple Pencil Adventures, her Kindle of writing prompts for free on specific dates. Read the newsletter to find out all about it.

Sam Quinones, who I admire more than I can say, has just posted on his blog about the Mexican Mennonite Mob. Whoa.

Something I find charming, useful and yet totally appalling: The Daily Skimm.

How to Rank Well in Amazon. Uh, for all one's spare time. 

James Somers asserts: You're Probably Using the Wrong Dictionary.

The always elegant and thoughtful Pat Dubrava on Discovering Indians in 1951.

COMMENTS always welcome.

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Madam Mayo:
>Why Aren't There More Readers? A Note on Curiosity, Creativity and Courage
>Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West by Rubén Martínez
>My Little Gumroad Shop
And on the home page,
>Review of Sam Quinones' True Tales of Mexico
>Giant Golden Buddha & 364 More Free 5 Minute Writing Exercises: August
>New Workshop: One One Day Writing Workshop at the Writer's Center on Literary Travel Writing, Saturday October 11, 2014.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Extinction of the Vaquita?

In the San Diego Tribune, Sandra Dibble has just published an important article on the immanent extinction of the vaquita, the world's smallest porpoise, unique to Mexico's Sea of Cortez. Read it in full and watch the video here.

I've written about the catastrophe-- that really is the word-- in the Sea of Cortez in my book on Baja California, Miraculous Air. One of the chapters, about Bahía de los Angeles, is on-line at this link. It's a complex issue, and it's not all about the lack of regulation and enforcement on fishing limits, but also on the pollutants washing into the Sea of Cortez from the United States' agricultural run-off.  But it is also as simple as this: the tragedy of the commons.

COMMENTS always welcome.

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Madam Mayo:
> Cyberflanerie: Bajacaliforniana
> Guest-blogger David Rothenberg's 5 Links on Music for and with Whales
> The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece
On the homepage
> Baja California photo album
> (Podcast) A Conversation with Sara Mansfield Taber, author of the memoir Born Under an Assumed Name
> (Podcast) An Interview with Cynthia McAllister: "The Buzz on the Bees" (Pollinators in the Chihuahuan Desert)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Traditional + Indie = Hybrid Publishing: Three Authors Dish at Jane Friedman's Blog

I'm not the only one (my previous publishers include University of Georgia Press, University of Utah Press,  Milkweed Editions, Whereabouts Press, Unbridled Books, and in Spanish, Planeta and Random House-Mondadori) now going indie. Maybe that long list of publishers sounds impressive; I think it's evidence of the crack-up in the publishing industry. Read about three other authors' indie adventures over at Jane Friedman's excellent blog:

(I already linked to Leslie Well's article in this previous post, noting that her book's cover was one of the best I've yet seen for a Kindle.)

COMMENTS always welcome.

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> 30 Deadly-Effective Ways to Free Up Bits, Drips & Gimungously Vast Swaths of Time for Writing
> Cyberflanerie: Writerly Whatnot Edition
> Cyberflanerie: Epic Travel Edition
> Self-Publishing for All the Right Reasons (Reporting on The Writer's Centers "Publish Now!" Seminar)
> Guest-blogger Regina Leeds on 5+1 Resources to Make a Writer Happy in an Organized Space

And on the home page,
>Giant Golden Buddha & 364 More Free 5 Minute Writing Exercises
>Recommended Reading on Craft
>The Manuscript is Finished --(or is It?)-- Now What?
> Once-in-a-purple moon newsletter