Friday, August 31, 2007

Oro Gris (Grey Gold) by Rossana Fuentes Berain

What a treat: last night, journalist and ITAM professor Rossana Fuentes Berain's book launch--- for Oro Gris, the biography of billionaire Lorenzo Zambrano, CEO of Mexico's Cemex, the world's #1 producer of cement. The presentation was in the Fondo de Cultura Economica's gorgeous new bookstore in Mexico City's La Condessa neighborhood, and the place--- not just the auditorium, I mean the whole place--- was packed. (Don't let anyone say Mexicans don't read!) It was a half hour in line to get my book paid for at the register and then autographed. Interestingly, Mexican book presentations are typically much more formal than those in the U.S. (Usually, in the U.S., someone introduces the author, the author reads and talks, then Q & A--- and that's whole show). In addition to Rossana Fuentes Berrain, on the dias were a moderator and three commentators, heavy hitters from the Mexican journalism world, including Alberto Bello and Alberto Aguilar. Here's an article (in Spanish) in El Universal about the event and the book. This is a book that should be available in English--- yesterday. More anon.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tell Your True Tale to Sam Quinones

There are so few truly good books about Mexico in English. By good, I mean not only beautifully written and deeply researched, but both compassionate and wise--- not the typical here-I-am-on-vacation, or oh-how-my-heart-is-bleeding stuff. (Even in a book as superb as Steinbeck's Log from the Sea of Cortez, Mexico is less the subject than a metaphor for other musings.) So I admire Sam Quinones's two collections of essays on Mexico more than I can say. When it came out a few years ago, I gave the first one, True Tales From Another Mexico, a rave review in the Wilson Quarterly. The new one, Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream, I didn't have time to review, alas, (I was finishing my novel), but I thought it was just as superb as his first collection--- perhaps even moreso. Really, if you're at all interested in Mexico, and Mexico's relationship with the U.S., Sam Quinones' two thought-provoking, consternating, informative, and highly entertaining books are essential reading. What promps me to sing his praises once more is the news that he has added a special feature to his website where you, too, can tell your true tale. Don't be shy! Or, as they say in Mexico, no seas ranchero. (That ranchero on the cover, by way, is Chalino.) More anon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

University of Maryland area: Dr Pedersoli

I just received this e-mail message and photograph of Dr Pedersoli. If you live anywhere around the University of Maryland area, please read this. It is urgent.

Dr. Waldir M. Pedersoli, of 9408 Presley Place in Lanham, has been missing since about 5:00 p.m. Friday August 24. Prince Georges County Police are handling the case and, along with the volunteers of Mid-Atlantic Search and Rescue, have done an exceptional job of looking for his whereabouts. His
wife Heleni works at the University of Maryland McKeldin Library, please help her finding her husband.

Dr. Pedersoli is a retired researcher with the USDA/DVMR/FDA in Beltsville and was a Professor of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University in Alabama. Several years ago he began developing Alzheimer's and it has steadily progressed.

On Friday afternoon he wandered out of his home and was tracked by bloodhounds to the intersection of Good Luck Rd and 94th Ave in Lanham where the trail went cold. Search has been done with helicopter and with the volunteers of Mid-Atlantic Search and Rescue, but no trace has shown up in the Lanham-Seabrook neighborhood. He is in very poor health and is without his medications; he will seem dazed and confused and has also reverted to his native tongue of Portuguese. At the time he was wearing gray pants and either a light green long sleeved shirt or a white t-shirt, and black plastic slip-ons. He was also wearing a navy blue cap and glasses.

Dr. Pedersoli may have been picked up by a motorist along Good Luck Rd or possibly assisted onto a Metro bus although he had no cash, credit cards, or ATM card. His only identification is a medical alert bracelet from the Alzheimer's Association Safe Return which has a toll free phone number - 1-800-572-1122.

Please call the following phone numbers with any information about Dr. Pedersoli : John Pedersoli at (301)982-4544 or cell: (240)603-8887. Heleni Pedersoli at 301-577-7852 or cell 301-806-6119. The PG County police 301-390-2100 or Greenbelt police 301-474-7200.

Now She Cans: Leslie Pietrzyk in the Washington Post

My amiga and fellow blogista, novelist Leslie Pietrzyk, is featured in the Food section of today's Washington Post in an article by David Hagedorn about her adventures in canning! (A sure way to know where your food comes from--- a subject Madam Mayo is very interested in, thanks to Nina Planck's Real Food, Patricia Klindienst's The Earth Knows My Name, the DVD The Future of Food, and the recent pet food recall scandal, not to mention the absolutely luscious farmers markets all around DC.)

Soundwork: Your Brain on Music

This looks like an interesting book. There is a lauch event at Washington DC's Politics & Prose bookstore on the 29th.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Janice Eidus's 5 Favorite (mas o menos, directly or very indirectly) Mexico-Related Websites

Guest-blogging for Madam Mayo today is short story writer and novelist Janice Eidus, who has, by the way, just published a crackerjack novel, The War of the Rosens. Enthusiastically recommended!
I've been delighted, over these last few years, to discover how many things the wonderful and ever-productive Madam Mayo and I have in common. Among these things are our love of good writing in a wide range and variety of forms; our love of the art, literature, language, culture, and the day-to-day world of Mexico; our love of laughter; and, our belief in nurturing good friendships. I'm thrilled to be a guest blogger on Madam's extraordinary blog. I've chosen five (mas o menos) sites to recommend that--- either directly, or very indirectly--- relate to Mexico.

#1. Behler Publications, a new publisher based in Southern California (not that far, geographically, from Mexico), is publishing some very interesting and exciting new work. My new novel,The War of the Rosens, about a volatile and eccentric Bronx Jewish family, is just out from them. Behler has also recently published the very original and offbeat coming-of-age novel, Teched, written by my good friend, Thaddeus Rutkowski. The very indirect connection to Mexico here is that Thaddeus and I have both enjoyed good times writing in the Mexican sun.

#2. Casa Karmina is a beautiful, large, sunny, art-filled house in Mexico that's inspired the many writers who've stayed there over the years. It's an absolutely perfect writer's retreat.

#3. Roy Sorrels is a talented and versatile writer and writing coach who lived in Mexico for many years, and who now lives in New York. Sometimes when he and I are in New York at the same time, we meet for coffee at a West Village café and pretend that we're sitting in a café at the Jardin in San Miguel, sipping tequila. (In the interest of "full disclosure," I will mention that Roy just reviewed The War of the Rosens for CultureVulture online.

#4. Sheila Bender's website magazine, Writing It Real, is a treasure for writers--- she teaches, chats, and inspires. She and I have been friends for a long time. We met in Port Townsend, Washington, when I was teaching at the Port Townsend Writers Conference. Sheila and I have had some mighty good schmoozes in the Mexican sun and shade--- and, she and I have both been happily involved with Author's Sala in San Miguel de Allende.

#5. My friends, Jim Johnston and Patrice Wynne, live in Mexico and both divide their time between Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende, and both are creative in many fields. Jim's an artist and writer, and Patrice is a photographer, clothing and textile designer, and fabulous Mexican tour guide, among other things.

--- Janice Eidus.

To read Madam Mayo's other guest-blog posts, click here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sept 12th New York City--- Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 at 6 pm, reading and discussion of Mexico: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, an anthology of Mexican fiction and literary prose by some of Mexico’s best-known authors. With editor CM Mayo, writers Pedro Angel Palou and Monica Lavin, and translators Harry Morales and Daniel Shapiro. Sponsored by the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York. Free Admission. King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at New York University, 53 Washington Square South (between Thompson and Sullivan Streets)Info: 212.998.3650.

Viva Los Tibbies!

Here's a photo of Pabu with one of the hedgehog croquet balls. Today, Picadou guest-blogs over at Alice and Pabu. More anon.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Guest- Blogger Basil White's Top 5 Laugh-Links

Copyright (c) Basil White Posted by permission. Visit to view more...
DC-based comedy writer Basil White teaches "Applying Stand-Up Comedy Writing Secrets to Poetry and Fiction," an intensive one-weekend workshop at the Writers Center (sign up here). And check out the free handout package on his website here. So, here are Basil White's top 5:
#1. Wiki's Most Revisions
What people are arguing about. Pure satire fuel.
#2. Gaping Void
How to be creative, by Hugh MacLeod. Ignore everybody. Put the hours in. Keep your day job. He's right. Accept it.
Highlights all uses of the verb "to be" so that you can destroy them.
#4.Wiki's E-Prime
Why you should destroy all uses of the verb "to be" highlighted using the link above.
#5.Basil White's Comedy Workshop
Brain dump of everything I can explain about how the brain gets jokes.
--- Basil White

Read Madam Mayo's other guest-blog posts here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Over at Leslie Pietrzyk's blog, Work-in-Progress

I'm the guest-blogger for today with my "10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Writing Workshop". Thanks Leslie! Leslie, by the way, is the one who got me into blogging. I had the reaction many writers have when first hearing about blogs--- who has time? Where would I even start? Why bother? But here I am, blogging and avidly reading blogs for the past year and half. It's lickety-split fun--- but more than anything, it's a way of expanding community and finding about about the world. What's going on in Iraq? Juan Cole and Sic Semper Tyrannis. What's happening in the DC poetry scene? E. Ethelbert Miller's E-Notes and Deborah Ager's 32 Poems. What's up with the world's sweetest Tibetan Spaniel aka Prince Fluffy Butt? Alice and Pabu. French art, political philosophy, torture & fruit pix? The Phron. Click here to read my archive of "Gone to the Litblogs" posts. And here for my blogroll-o-rama of litblogs. More anon.

Gone to the Litblogs: Madam Mayo's Blogroll-o-rama

There are such a lot of good litblogs--- by which I mean books by writers and books about blogs. My blogroll in that category was growing a bit too long for this webpage--- so I moved it over to my website. Here's the link to the all new blogroll-o-rama:

UPDATE 2017: Check out my various blogrolls in this blog's right hand column.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tepoz: La Sombra del Sabino

Gracias to my amiga I.R., here is a photo of Yours Truly giving a reading from Miraculous Air at that most divine of tropical bookstores, Tepoztlan's La Sombra del Sabino, which has a lawn for the Queen to play croquet upon and sunshine enough for a thousand years. More anon.

Dancing Chiva Workshops in Mexico City

Announced today: I'll be offering two special one day writing workshops in Mexico City via Dancing Chiva.
--->October 27th: "Techniques of Fiction" and
--->January 12th: "Literary Travel Writing."
For more info, visit Dancing Chiva or my workshop page.

Jim Johnston's Mexico City

Yesterday, over a ginormous capuccino in the Fondo de Cultura Economica's fabulous new La Condessa Centro Cultural Bella Epoca cafe, I gave artist and long-time Mexico City-resident Jim Johnston a copy of my anthology, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, and in exchange, he gave me a copy of his Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide for the Curious Traveler. Quite unlike any other guidebook to the megalopolis, Johnston's Mexico City is a very personal guided tour--- and by someone with not only a wealth of experience, but excellent taste. The chapters on Coyoacan and La Condessa, two of the city's most vibrant neighborhoods, are especially well-done. Very highly recommended.

Monday, August 20, 2007

La Paz (Baja California Sur, Mexico) Carnival Babies

I've been meaning to post this picture. My sister's friend Jane snapped it at the La Paz Carnival last winter. The three coolest things about the carnival? The seabreeze as we walked long the malecon. The churros. The golden Nefertiti headdress.

In San Miguel de Allende

the other week, Mary Morris (on the left) and Janice Eidus (middle) celebrated the publication of their new books--- both fantastic--- Mary Morris's memoir, River Queen and Janice Eidus's novel The War of the Rosens. So here we are (Yours Truly on the right) at Janice's magical, candy-colored Casa Karmina. (Alas! My right shoulder is covering up Janice's very cool Frida Kahlo cameo.)

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Day Before She Flew to Shanghai, L. Peat O'Neil

signed books with Yours Truly at the Washington Independent Writers Conference. Madam Mayo hears that she's now in Shanghai, but will be offering her on-line travel writing workshop via UCLA. If you're interested in travel writing, don't miss this workshop, and check out her excellent advice-packed book, Travel Writing: See the World, Sell the Story.

New York City's Mexican Cultural Institute & New York University's King Juan Carlos of Spain Center--- September 12th

Save the date! This September 12th, as part of the Celebrate Mexico Now Festival, the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York and NYU's King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center will host the presentation of my anthology of Mexican fiction and literary prose, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion. I am delighted that, accompanying me will be some of the translators--- Harry Morales and Daniel Shapiro--- as well as Mexican writers Monica Lavin and Pedro Angel Palou. Click here for the info about the event, which is free and open to the public, so if you're in town, consider yourself invited! And click here to hear my interview with John Ydsie of National Public Radio about the book and to read some stories--- including Monica Lavin's stunningly good short story, "Day and Night." More anon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Christine Boyka Kluge's Five Favorites for Hybrid Writing, Collaborations and Experimental Work

Guest-blogging today is New York poet and visual artist Christine Boyka Kluge, the author of Teaching Bones to Fly (2003) and Stirring the Mirror (2007), both from Bitter Oleander Press, and Domestic Weather (2004), which won the 2003 Uccelli Press Chapbook Contest. Other awards include winning the 2006 Hotel Amerika Poetry Contest and the 1999 Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award and receiving several Pushcart Prize nominations. Christine Boyka Kluge has "guest-blogged" for me back when I didn't even have this blog--- back when I was doing the "daily 5 minute writing exercises" (a kind of blog). Hers was definitely one of the most original. You can read it here (scroll down to October 22nd, "Falling Mirror").

Since I love hybrid writing (prose poems, flash fiction, lyric essays, etc.), collaborations, and experimental work, I was delighted to discover the following Web sites. For summer entertainment and enlightenment, here are links to five extraordinary, inventive literary sites:

1. Born Magazine: Art and Literature Collaboration
They describe themselves as “an experimental venue marrying literary arts and interactive media.” The editors arrange collaborations between writers and artists, and the results are fascinating. Sometimes a musician gets into the mix. You’ll get lost in these creative masterpieces as you click your way through new little worlds.

2. The Diagram
How can you resist an electronic journal that claims to “value the insides of things, vivisection, urgency, risk, elegance, flamboyance…. Ruins and ghosts. Mechanical, moving parts, balloons, and frenzy.” The Diagram is chock full of odd diagrams and art, innovative poetry and prose, and everything in between.

3. Blackbird: An Online Journal of Literature and the Arts
From Virginia Commonwealth University, Blackbird is a feast of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, art, interviews, streaming audio, and video. There is always something new to intrigue and educate the visitor. Try the “browse” button.

4. Double Room: A Journal of Prose Poetry and Flash Fiction
Double Room’s goal is “to explore the intersection of prose poetry and flash fiction.” You’ll find a wealth of topnotch hybrid writing here, as well as discussion of the forms. Contributors answer questions about prose poetry and flash fiction. Art, too!

5. Bound Off: A Monthly Literary Audio Magazine
Bound Off releases a new podcast of short stories (and short-short stories) every month. Pieces are read aloud by their authors or the editors. Some musical interludes as well. Fun listening!

Monday, August 13, 2007

C.M. Mayo's 10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Writing Workshop

I'm going to be giving a special one day "Techniques of the Craft of Fiction" workshop in Mexico City this fall. More info here.


#1. Buy and read your teacher's book. (Analogy: would you let a carpenter whose work you've never seen remodel your kitchen?)

#2. Ask him or her to autograph it. (An autographed first edition hardcover can be surprisingly valuable! And: flattery never hurts! Don't be shy about asking for an autograph; authors love this, they really do.)

#3. Expect to learn. (Analogy: do carpenters learn their craft wholly on their own? Maybe what you'll learn is that this is a writing teacher to avoid. Certainly, this is much cheaper experience than having a bad carpenter mess with your kitchen.)

#4. Realize that most people who come to a writing workshop have naive notions about the writing world (think money, celebrity, booze-crazed Bohemia), no clue from Adam how hard it is to write anything worth reading, how tough it is get published, and how consternating an experience it can be to be published (criminey, all these people taking your workshops who never even read your book!!). Realize, you are way ahead of the game by following steps 1-3, and that, therefore, though you might learn a lot about the craft, you do not need validation from this workshop, its leader and/or its participants, which is what you were secretly hoping for, no?

#5. Expect to give thoughtful critiques to others who (though their manuscripts are suprisingly bad, not to mention boring and often tasteless), are, strangely, resistant and argumentative. Expect also to receive unbelievably moronic comments on your manuscript and know that this, actually, is a good thing because learning to take criticism with open-minded equanimity is part of learning to be a published and productive writer--- unless, that is, you want to be a writer who cringes at every review, every blog mention, every shark attack out of Nowheresville, and is, therefore, both miserable and miserable to be around. (You can win the Nobel Prize and someone, somewhere, will say something unkind about your writing. So, Buck up.)

#6. Despite all of the above, take very seriously your critiquing of other participants's manuscripts, for good karma and all that, but also because the fastest way to learn to recognize problems in your own manuscripts is by identifying the same in others's manuscripts. I think it was Ann Lamott who said (more or less), "we point, but do not cut, with the sword of truth." Read the pages carefully, and offer honest, thoughtful, and detailed critiques in a spirit of kindness. (Wouldn't you want the same?)

#7. Remember the bicycle analogy. Like riding a bicycle, to take criticism productively, a writer needs to be able to balance between meekness (listening to everyone) and arrogance (listening to no one). Too much of either, your writing falls flat. (Too much of either and your whole life falls flat, now that I think about it.)

#8. Do the assigned reading. To learn the craft, workshops are not enough (see again Tip #4). If you do the assigned reading while in a workshop, rather than later (or never) you have the inestimable advantage of being able to ask questions and discuss it with the workshop leader and other participants.

#9. Remember, what goes around comes around. If you come to the workshop with an attitude of respect and goodwill, you will attract the same. (Any exceptions you will, one day, consider hilarious. You can also put them in your novel, ha ha.)

#10. Before, during and after the workshop, keep writing. In other words, don't let the workshop deadlines become a crutch. Don't give your power as an artist to anyone else; find your own motivation, develop your own habits. Play God. God riding a bicycle.
--- C.M. Mayo
Copyright (c) C.M. Mayo 2007
For more tips and many other resources for writers, click here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New on the Maximilian Emperor of Mexico Page

New links on my Maximilian Emperor of Mexico page: to Michael Organ's extensive on-line bibliography (I'm still working on mine...) and a page about the Austrian Imperial Frigate SMS Novara, which brought Maximilian and Carlota to Mexico (and Maximilian's body back to Austria). Yes, I have written the last chapter of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire. More anon.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Monica F. Jacobe on "A Space Inside"

Over at E. Ethelbert Miller's blog, DC writer Monica F. Jacobe talks about her Capitol Hill reading series "A Space Inside". I really admire her for her vision and hard work to make this happen. (The story I read for the inaugural reading was "A Building of Quality" which has a climatic scene at the Vietnam Memorial, wierdly enough.) More anon.

So, Is It News, We're Living in a Police State?

Washington DC and author Kenneth Ackerman has a great post on his blog, Coffee With Ken.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Check out the excellent summer issue of Brevity, the on-line creative nonfiction journal edited by Dinty W. Moore. (This issue doesn't contain anything of mine, but some time ago, Brevity ran an excerpt from Miraculous Air.) I think the form-- 750 words or less-- is perfect for on-line reading. (How I hate to have to scroll down.) More anon.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Edith Wharton

was infinitely more interesting--- and important--- than her popular image would suggest. After savoring it bit by bit over a period of weeks, I just finished reading Hermoine Lee's massive and exquisitely written tome of a biography. At last, Wharton has the bio she deserves.

Monday, August 06, 2007

San Felipe de Jesus, the First Mexican Saint

who, to my suprise, appears at the end of my novel, had a very bad end in Nagasaki. His chapel in Mexico City's cathedral, which contains the Emperor Iturbide's throne, is opened on the Day of the Dead and on February 5th. More anon.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The River Queen Rocks

New on my list of favorite literary travel memoirs is Mary Morris's The River Queen. It's a page turner, a heart-felt personal memoir, and a journey to rival Huck Finn's own.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Internet Surfari: Snori Asmundsson's "God Save the Artist"

Looks good to me.

Helmut Needs to Write a Novel!

Madam Mayo is a big fan of the Phron-- Helmut's Phronesisiacal, that is. Fruit pix, torture, political philosophy and French art & cinema whatnot--- whatever blogging may or may not be (I for one am still trying to figure it out), I still, almost every day, read the farrago o' fun & freak-out that is the Phron. Check out Helmut's post for today on the perfect crime.

San Miguel Authors Sala This Saturday

I'll be at the San Miguel del Allende Authors Sala Bookfair this Saturday with Miraculous Air, The Visitors, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, Sky Over El Nido, Tameme, and my audio CD, "The Essential Francisco Sosa or, Picadou's Mexico City." Other authors include Janice Eidus and Susan Page. More anon.