Sunday, January 25, 2009

Follow Madam Mayo on Twitter

Why do so many people seem to, in the words of writer Gina Hyams, "totally heart Twitter"? (And why, pray tell, do so many use it to describe their lunch?) I am still pondering these and so many other questions.

Who's on twitter? Obama, the BBC, Los Angeles Times, La Jornada, xensen (that's Right-reading blogger Tom Christensen), poet E. Ethelbert Miller, 32 Poems (journal), and, well, Madam Mayo, among about a ba-gillion others.

So far my "tweets" are almost all links to:
---> new Madam Mayo blog posts
---> old Madam Mayo blog posts (e.g., a year ago today)
---> the daily 5 minute writing exercise
---> C.M. Mayo news (publications, readings, workshops)
---> whatever else strikes me as interesting enough to share.
More anon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obama's Social Media Toolkit

Yes, Obama is charismatic, yes, I voted for him, but I do not believe he would have come anywhere near overcoming the Clinton Juggernaut had he not made extraordinarily effective use of web 2.0 tools such as blogging, facebook and Twitter. Via Micropersuasion, download the PDF of the white paper from

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Richard Peabody's Novel Writing Workshop

Madam Mayo recommends! Here's the news from Richard Peabody:
I'm dusting off my novel class for what may be the last hurrah. Peabody's Novel Class for Spring 2009. Critique Your Complete Novel, Not Just a Couple of Chapters:

Limited to 5 students. We meet every two weeks on Wednesday nights (except the last one) 7:30 until 10pm at my house in Arlington, Virginia. Four to five blocks from Virginia Square Metro station.

1. March 4
2. March 18
3. April 1
4. April 15
5. April 29
6. May 13
7. May 19

Cost is $500 to be paid before the first night. Due to people dropping the class at the last minute and forcing me to cancel the entire session I now require that $125 of this fee be non-refundable and paid before the class begins. Every participant turns in their complete novel and synopsis the first night along with 5 copies for everybody else and me. That way you get handwritten notes on everything from everybody. And you should feel free to recommend cuts, improvements, make suggestions, mark the manuscripts up at will. That's what this class is all about. By meeting every two weeks each participant should have plenty of time to complete their critiques. If you can't attend every meeting (which I demand save for unforeseeable illness or death in the family as it's a question of fairness and honor) please don't bother signing up.

Why do I teach this class? Because you can go to your favorite bookshop and lift any number of contemporary novels off the shelf and read a few chapters only to discover that they fall apart at chapter four. Why? I've found that most MFA programs only critique the first three chapters of your manuscript. Plus, I've learned from the hands-on experience of teaching this course that a complete reading and critique is absolutely the best way (dare I say only way) to go. What's the advantage of a small class like this one? There's nothing quite like having five people discuss your characters as though they were living people for 2 1/2 hours. What sorts of novels are eligible? Generally I handle serious literary fiction (both realism and experimental works), but the class has included YA , Sci-Fi, Mystery, Horror, Thriller, and Romance novels. If you are interested do please email me a chapter and a synopsis. I'm only considering completed novels in the 250-350 dbl. spaced page range. (That's one-sided, double spaced, 12pt. in Courier font.) Anything longer than that is pretty much wishful thinking right now due to grim market economics and politics. Most first novels are 300 dbl. spaced pages which equals 200pp. in book form. Simply a fact of the biz. Second novels are frequently a different story.

Alumni from Peabody's 22 years of university, Writer's Center, and private classes with filmed screenplays, books in print (or forthcoming) include: Mark Baechtel, Doreen Baingana, Toby Barlow, Maggie Bartley, Jodi Bloom, Sean Brijbasi, Peter Brown, Robert Cullen, Priscilla Cummings, Katherine Davis, Lucinda Ebersole, Sandy Florian, Cara Haycak, Dave Housley, Catherine Kimrey, Rachel King, Adam Kulakow, Nathan Leslie, Redge Mahaffey, Charlotte Manning, James Mathews, Meena Nayak, Matthew Olshan, William Orem, Mary Over ton, Saideh Pakravan, Carolyn Parkhurst, Sally Pfoutz, Nani Power, Carey Roberts, Lisa Schamess, Brenda Seabrooke, Julia Slavin, David Taylor, Lisa M. Tillman, Sharlie West, and Yolanda Young.

My address is 3819 North 13th Street, Arlington, VA 22201. My house is 2 blocks from Quincy Park and the Central Library on Quincy Street. We are 3 doors from Washington-Lee High School where Quincy crosses 13th Street. My phone number is (703) 525-9296. My cell is (703) 380-4893

Richard Peabody wears many literary hats. He is editor of Gargoyle Magazine (founded in 1976), has published a novella, two books of short stories, six books of poems, plus an e-book, and edited or co-edited nineteen anthologies including: Mondo Barbie, Mondo Elvis, Mondo Marilyn, Mondo James Dean, Coming to Terms: A Literary Response to Abortion, Conversations with Gore Vidal, A Different Beat: Writings by Women of the Beat Generation, Grace and Gravity: Fiction by Washington Area Women, Alice Redux: New Stories of Alice, Lewis, and Wonderland, Sex & Chocolate: Tasty Morsels for Mind and Body, Enhanced Gravity: More Fiction by Washington Area Women, Kiss the Sky: Fiction and Poetry Starring Jimi Hendrix, Electric Grace: Still More Fiction by Washington Area Women, and Stress City: A Big Book of Fiction by Fifty DC Guys. Gravity Dancers, a fourth volume of fiction by Washington area women writers, is forthcoming in May 2009. Peabody teaches fiction writing for the Johns Hopkins Advanced Studies Program and the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland.. You can find out more at and/or

Carlin Romano on Mexico's Feria Internacional del Libro, Guadalajara

His article for the Chronicle of Higher Education:
A Mexican saying holds that Como Mexico no hay dos — There is only one Mexico. American media these days interpret that notion with a vengeance. Story after story depicts a country overrun by out-of-control drug wars and murder, where corrupt police officers trip over beheaded victims more often than they nab perpetrators. South of the border, a beauty queen smuggles drugs. Kidnappers take a hostage negotiator hostage. People with money keep security SWAT teams close by. Killers invade hospitals to shoot enemies who escaped earlier hits. All that in a land that endlessly exports illiterate illegal immigrants, viewed by many in the United States as either continuing threats to our economy or ethnic jokes who stoke the rise of a book such as Gustavo Arellano's ¡Ask a Mexican!, with its replies to questions like, "Why do Mexicans park their cars on the front lawn?" Don't believe it? C'mon — it's all in The New York Times. And then, somewhere below the radar, is Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara, the foremost book fair in the Spanish-speaking world... READ MORE

Obamicon Yourself (Inaugural Obama Link Du Jour)

Via one of my favorite blogs, Right-reading: Obamicon yourself! Surely, if you need to procrastinate about something, this beats a large number of alternatives. More anon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mexico Institute's Mexico Blog, The Mexico Portal

The Mexico Institute at Washington DC's Woodrow Wilson Center has launched a blog-- an outstanding resource for anyone interested in Mexico. The Mexico Portal.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Mexico Connect's James Tipton Reviews Chapbook of Poems by Jorge Fernandez Granados, translated by John Oliver Simon (Tameme, 2008)

James Tipton writes,
Many readers of Mexico Connect have discovered these illuminating words by Octavio Paz: "In the United States the word death burns the lips, but the Mexican lives close to it, jokes about it, caresses it, celebrates it, sleeps with it, it is his favorite toy." Those words are echoed in the translator's (John Oliver Simon's) introduction to Ghosts of the Palace of Blue Tiles, by Jorge Fernández Granados ... READ MORE.

HoneyBee News

Excellent new honey bee site. Watch the Bee Video News.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Blogging Basics - Womens National Book Association, Washington DC

Join the wiki-wacky-web 2.0 fray! Here's an announcement from the Washington DC chapter of the Womens National Book Association:

Blogging Basics - Feb 11, 6:30 - 9pm at Sumner School, 1201 17th St., NW in DC (snow date Feb 18th, same time & place) check in, network & light refreshments 6:30 - 7, program 7 - 8:45, cleanup. Presenters: Jo Golden, Joy Butler, Kristen King, Karren Alenier; Moderator Jada Bradley - come do some creative warm-ups and learn about legal & copyright issues, how to promote your blog, and blogging for fiction writers. FREE to WNBA members, $10 for non-members. RSVP to
wnbaeventsdc (at) by Feb 9.

P.S. Several WNBA members have blogs worth checking out. Among them, Leslie Pietrzyk's excellent Work-in-Progress. Also, if you're interested in the subject of blogging, check out Writers' Blogs: Best (& Worst) Practices, my notes from a talk for the 2008 Maryland Writers Association Conference.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion - on Travel'n On Radio

Listen in anytime-- my interview about Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, a portrait of Mexico in a collection of 24 Mexican writers, as well as my memoir Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico, and my forthcoming novel The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, is now archived at Travel'n On Radio with Tonya and Ian Fitzpatrick. More anon.

Now I Finally Can Understand Some Led Zeppelin Lyrics

(Not that I needed to.) More anon.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Travel'n On Radio: A Literary Look at Mexico

I'll be on the Travel'n-on radio show tomorrow at 8 pm EST to chat with host Tonya Fiztpatrick about Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion, my collection of 24 Mexican writers' fiction and essays on Mexico City, Puebla, the US-Mexico Border, Queretaro, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Yucatan and more. Listen in and participate in the "live chat" here. (The interview will also be archived.) More anon.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Claiborne Pell's Quality Hill

May he rest in peace: Former senator Claiborne Pell has died. (Read his obituary in the Washington Post here.) He was a major figure in the U.S. Senate, foreign relations, Georgetown society and, unlikely as it sounds, a supporter of remote viewing.

I never had the priviledge of meeting him, but he's been been on my mind occasionally because of his house on Prospect Street in Georgetown, DC. For a year back in 1979-1980, I lived in the Georgetown University's Loyola dormitory across from his garden gate; so I walked by his house almost every day. All the students knew that was Senator Pell's house--- he was famous then. Some twenty years later, when I began researching my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, based on the true story of Agustin de Iturbide Green (1863-1925), the grandson of Mexico's Emperor Iturbide, when I delved into various archives, I found the address of his wife's the family home, an historic Federal-style mansion known then as "Quality Hill." So I took a walk up Prospect Street to have a look. Imagine my astonishment to find that it was none other than the house I'd lived next to for a year--- Senator Pell's house!

"Quality Hill" was owned by the Kearney family for much of the 19th century. In the early 20th century, Louise Kearney de Iturbide inherited it and, after a court battle against her siblings, which she won, she immediately sold it. Some histories claim that she and her husband lived there for many years, however, the records show that soon after their marriage in 1915, they went to live in an apartment on P Street near Dupont Circle.

As for Senator Pell, he sold his house a few years ago for a not insubstantial sum, as noted in Washington Life. More anon.