Monday, October 31, 2011

Astral Projection, Interplanetary Reincarnation (and Way More!)

Working on the website for the Spiritist Manual, my translation of Francisco I. Madero's 1911 secret book, Manual espírita. Read all about it here.

Watch the plummy new video here:

I'll be presenting and discussing my translation of this most unusual work in San Miguel de Allende next Thursday November 10th at the Author's Sala reading series.

The book will be available as an e-book, both PDF and Kindle. (And a print edition? Stay tuned.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lift Off! War and Peace

So, I started War and Peace. Again. Dagnabbit, 2011 is the year! I'll be posting the first blog about that later this evening at the Reading Tolstoy's War & Peace blog.

For those of you who follow the Maximilian ~ Carlota blog, the Tuesday update is on-line.

No, I don't blog every day. Just Mondays here, some Tuesdays at Maximilian ~ Carlota (that's to share my research on the Second Empire /French Intervention of the 1860s) and, from now through December 31, the Reading Tolstoy's War and Peace blog. I aim to finish by December 31.

So what happened to the Wednesday guest-blogs? Well, never say never. But reading War & Peace and preparing the translation of Francisco I. Madero's secret book of 1911, are keeping me more than busy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Guest-blogger Jim Johnston on Mexico City’s Centro Histórico: Five things to see with your feet off the ground

Born in New York City, Jim Johnston grew up in the woods of New Hampshire. After studying architecture at the University of Virginia and graphic design at the School of Visual Arts, he worked as a professional artist and potter in New York City for 27 years. He moved to Mexico in 1997, where he continues working as an artist and writer. A few years ago, I was fortunate to make his acquaintance through our mutual friend, the writer Janice Eidus, and I've been a fan ever since.
I follow and warmly recommend his blog, Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide, which has the same title as his book. If you're going to visit Mexico City or, especially, if you happen to live here, get your copy from

Mexico City Centro Histórico:
Five things to see with your feet off the ground

By Jim Johnston

My first visit in 1989 to Mexico City's Centro Histórico was scary. Teeming with manic energy in the daytime, the streets became eerily empty at night. Scars from the 1985 earthquake were evident: tall buildings stood abandoned, gaping holes in the pavement defied you to pass. There were rumors of thieves lurking in doorways and kidnappers prowling in taxis. But as a rule, I like any town that's more than 700 years old and still cookin’. So, of course, I fell for Mexico City, hook, line and molcajete.

Mexico is a city that wears its age well. It’s got Aztec splendor and ruin, Spanish majesty and bombast, 50’s modernism, quirky time-warp shops, smoke tinged cantinas, excellent museums, and street life that never stops.

In the past five years, the Centro Histórico of Mexico City (A UNESCO World Heritage Site) has been transformed. It's busy night and day, and looking better than ever. There are increased security measures, new paving and lighting; hundreds of old buildings have been plastered and painted (gracias a Carlos Slim). New museums, hotels, restaurants, outdoor cafés and shops have opened. Several streets are now traffic-free pedestrian zones (check out 5 de Mayo, Motolinia, and Regina). You can now ride your eco-bici to the centro. New bars and dance clubs are drawing young crowds on weekend nights. It seems like every time I visit (about once a week) I see something new. But one thing hasn't changed-- the intense level of energy on the street, which can excite and exhaust in equal measure.

What to do? I like to take my feet off the ground.

Here are a few tips for keeping above the fray--5 places in the Centro Histórico that are above street level, semi-hidden places I’ve discovered over the years that you are sure to enjoy.

1. Sears Cafe
Go up to the 8th floor of the Sears store, just across from the Palacio de Bellas Artes. The coffee is good and the view is great.

2. Museum of Architecture
Take the elevator to the very top of the Palacio de Bellas Artes (separate ticket required). The changing exhibits on Mexican architecture are OK, but the real treat here is the surprising view you get of the building itself.

3. Pasteleria Ideal (16 de Septiembre #18)
Upstairs, this ‘world of cakes’ is one of the city’s great surreal spots.

4. Shoe Museum
Bolivar #27) Above the venerable Borcegui shoe store is this entertaining mini-museum.

5. Studio of Joaquin Clausell
(Museo de la Ciudad, Pino Suarez #30 at El Salvador). Tucked away on the second floor of this exquisite colonial mansion is the former studio of Joaquin Clausell (1866-1935), a Mexican impressionist painter. For years he used the walls of his studio as a sketchbook, and the result is a delightful mural of overlapping paintings and sketches.

Above and beyond the Centro Histórico you can tour the major attractions in Mexico City on the Turibus. The open top deck affords great views and a wonderful feeling of being above all the hustle and bustle. Click here for information.

-- Jim Johnston

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---> For the complete archive of Madam Mayo guest-blog posts, click here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Event in Mexico City October 18, 2011

Some news re: The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire
Tomorrow, October 18th 5 pm, I'm doing an unusual event for my book, the Spanish translation (beautifully translated by Agustín Cadena), El último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano: a live interview by Bertha Hernández in the National Palace (Palacio Naciona), as part of a series hosted by Random House Mandadori and SHCP about the historical novel of Mexico. All events are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Guest-Blog Archive On-Line

The Wednesday guest-blog will resume next week with a very fun piece by my amigo, the Mexico City-based artist and travel writer Jim Johnston. Meanwhile, check out some of these other guest-blogs on Mexico:
>Nicholas Gilman 5 Funky Foods and Where to Find Them in Mexico City
>Claudia Long 5 Delicious Links on the Food of Baroque Mexico
>Trudy Balch on 5 Things Gaby Brimmer Loved, or Would Have
>David Lida on 5 Secrets of Mexico City

---> Visit the archive here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Author's Sala on November 10, Reading from and Discussing Francisco I. Madero's Spiritist Manual

Some news: on November 10 as part of the Author's Sala reading series in San Miguel de Allende, I'll be reading from and discussing my translation-- the first into English-- of Francisco I. Madero's secret book, Spiritist Manual. Yes, Francisco I. Madero, the leader of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and President of Mexico, really did write this book with the pen name "Bhima," a character in the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavadgita. My website for this book is still under construction, but visit again soon for extensive Q & A, resources for researchers (bibliographies and much more), podcasts, videos, and excerpts.

I'll be updating this blog post with updated links shortly.

>C.M. Mayo translations
>C.M. Mayo events

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Podcasting: 5 Frequently Asked Questions for Yours Truly

On Wednesdays I run a guest-blog post when I happen to have one. This week's didn't come through. Oh well! So I'm going to talk about podcasting, my new enthusiasm. (Click here to visit my main podcast page.)

I started podcasting back in 2009 because I wanted to make available my lecture at the Library of Congress about the research behind my novel based on the true story, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire. The last prince was, in fact, Agustin de Iturbide y Green, grandson of Mexico's first emperor, Agustin de Iturbide. Because the story takes place in Mexico during its Second Empire or so-called "French Intervention," one might very naturally assume that my archival research would be primarily in Mexico. But in fact the Library of Congress has the main archives, that of the Emperor Iturbide (first Emperor) and the Iturbide family. Mexico's second Emperor, Maximilian von Habsburg, has his archive in Vienna and, though I did visit that archive, fortunately for me, there is a nearly complete copy at the Library of Congress. Anyway, I explained all of this is elaborate detail in my lecture, now a podcast, which you can listen to here.

There are many ways, and I won't bother count them, but I can tell you, I find it very easy to use Apple's "Garage Band" program. I usually just talk into my iPhone's dictation app and take the mp3 file from there. I am sure professional sound engineers would be horrified. Oh well! If I want to add music, I buy clips at royalty-free sites such as, or Music Bakery.

Again, there are many ways, but the one I like to use is I offer the feed at iTunes. Next year when I start up my Marfa Mondays Project, I plan to also add those podcasts to a youtube page. Stay tuned.

*****UPDATE 1/16/2012***** The Marfa Mondays Podcasts have launched. Read all about it and listen in here.

As they say, information wants to be free. And well, many of my podcasts (such as this one), are, quite frankly, intended to help promote my books and workshops. Others are for my writing students-- a gift to them. Others, such as "Conversations with Other Writers," are just fun to do and I hope people enjoy them.


Podcasting is still very new to me. Just like blogs and youtube channels, there are so many that it takes some time to sift the (alas) few grains of wheat from the Himalayas of chaff. A few podcasts I am delighted to have found are NPR's (and the iPad app lets you put together a playlist); Rice Freeman Zachary's Notes from the Voodoo Lounge; James Howards Kunstler's; and Dr Rita Louise's "Just Energy".

---> For the complete archive of Madam Mayo's guest-blog posts, click here.

Monday, October 03, 2011

New Podcast in the Series on Creative Writing: How to Break a Block

The occasional podcast series on creative writing continues. Just posted: How to Break a Block.

Several podcasts are coming up on various subjects, including conversations with other writers. Check out my main podcast page here.

Further surfing:

>I'll be teaching "Techniques of Fiction" at the San Miguel Writers Workshops and also in Mexico City this winter. Click here for my schedule.

>Giant Golden Buddha & 364 more 5 minute writing exercises

>Recommended reading on the creative process (several cover the issue of block)

>C.M. Mayo on Creative Writing: The Best from the Blog, a free e-book for members of the Dancing Chiva Literary Club (it's free)