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Friday, July 4, 2014

SPOTLIGHT: Justified

Justified is a crime novel with a dark humor satire screaming to come out!

Purchase the e-book at
and the paperback at

There is no mystery: we know what has happened from the very beginning, even if not all the characters share in this knowledge.

There is a crime committed, but as is the case in real life these days, the crime becomes secondary to the reality of media coverage. 

The truth becomes sound bites and the faces of the talking heads giving credence to the facts they want to assume are in evidence.

No crime in the 21st century is truly complete without a media tour and a spokesperson.

Justified offers all that plus a road trip that transports the freak show from Brooklyn, NY under the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, to Los Angeles and then San Francisco, under the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Justified also offers a diverse cast of characters from the Colombian sexpot, to the angry African American lady, to the queer anti-hero and the Israeli commando with the faint Southern drawl… 

The book also savages two special cameos by media stars (both old and young), and how we treat crime stories differently on a generational level—but always in the interest of selling soap and bigger ratings.

Is morality dead or does it manifest differently to accommodate the ridiculous times we live in?

Race, religion, and politics all play a role in the story Justified tells, but it’s the characters that will stay with you: from the police detectives investigating the story, to the opportunist lawyer trying to cash in on the action, and especially Edmond Styles, the protagonist, who is a whole lot more than the quiet, aging civil servant everyone assumes him to be.

What makes this good summer reading? The scandal! 

The raw element of reality (as well as our own guilty pleasure and our part in the conspiracy as we follow the details, the blood trail, the facts that lead to the inevitable end). 

And it is an inevitable end, because at heart, Justified is a conventional story of the good triumphing over evil despite our basest instincts.

Sex, murder, violence, and objectionable language: it’s all there! The only thing missing is a car chase, but there is a scene in a crazy cab in San Francisco that fills in for it. 

More than that, Justified has heart, passion, and laughter. And in the end, you'll also learn what a manly haiku is all about.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Paperbacks are Here

These are the choices from Amapola Press to start your summer reading: a collection of vignettes of a dozen women taking the reins of their own destinies or the story of a queer man from humble beginnings to a life of civil servitude in Brooklyn, to a life of crime and a road trip and instant fame... Slices of life, rolling out of the pages and inviting you into a dozen different worlds, or one strange trip. Short stories or satire.

Of course, the Kindle version is also available at Amazon, but some people have a pathological need to lick a finger to flick a page and to dogear the corner of a page. Some people get a special satisfaction to carrying a small paperback with them to the beach or the pool or a lake... And their predilection for paper is okay.

In fact, if I could get myself doodling again, I was thinking of putting together a coloring book for the bored.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Relaunch 2014

Summer 2014 we are relaunching Amapola Press.

Justified, the crime drama that follows unassuming Edmond Styles after an incident at gun point. He quickly becomes a household name and a media sensation. He goes on a road trip and his private life becomes part of the nation's vernacular. Part parody and satire, part pulp, this is all about murder and mayhem and manly haikus.

BecauseShe Was A Woman is a collection of a dozen vignettes, a quick read but certainly not a simple one. Each story introduces a new woman living as best she can in a variety of situations.

The second editions are different in different ways. Justified was edited for further clarity. BSWAW was also edited for clarity, but mostly it was improved by adding “A Quiet Stroll” – a moody little story – replacing “The Next IT Couple” (which sadly was the weakest of the original vignettes.

To celebrate the Summer Solstice, Amazon Prime subscribers may obtain these titles for free and there will be promotional pricing in the US and UK until June 21.

In an effort to improve the online catalogue, several titles have been unpublished (or placed in that “out of print” limbo were its glory remains in yesterday but no more).

In the Culinary section: The Food Goddess is available as the combination Volumes 1 and 2.

In Fiction: the first edition of Justified and Because She Was A Woman, are no longer available at Amazon. Putting May to Rest will be discontinued as a stand-alone story.

(Smashwords and other retailers will soon follow; retailers such as Sony, Kobo, iBooks may carry these titles a little longer).

The Amapola Press website will reflect these changes.

Paperbacks will be similarly revised and updated in the next few weeks. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

New and Relaunched

Summer is rapidly descending upon us and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to clean up the old offerings and relaunch them as second editions.

The second edition of Justified is a tighter story and I fixed a couple of errors that no one else noticed but nagged at me.

Because She Was a Woman is losing its weakest story and gaining at least one new one – which I suspect will be a trimmed version of Magic Stilettos.

Scent of Honeysuckle probably requires no tweaking, but as I am in edit mode I probably will give it a glance and decide whether to revise it.

One Night with B.B. has done very well and introduced many to my writings. I may revise it slightly (if nothing else to update the back matter).

Some titles will disappear as stand-alones and will now be part of anthologies only (such as Putting May to Rest/El Velorio de Maya).

Kali: The Food Goddess cookbook series will become one volume and it will include new entries from the new Food Goddess blog. Individual volumes will be discontinued.

A Quiet Stroll may make it into the BSWAW anthology of short stories as the baker’s dozen and it may also be produced as an audio book (a test). The stand-alone version will remain a freebie.

Any e-books that go into a second edition will also be released as a second edition as paperbacks (for continuity).

Why relaunch? To keep things fresh. The basic premise of each book and story will remain the same, but as I hone my craft, I can revise and make the writing tighter. This also serves to recognize some of the stories that need not become part of a back-catalogue. A relaunch makes your final product better because it seeks to offer excellence to your readers.

This is a good thing.

Stay tuned for more news about our relaunch! There will be an opportunity to obtain free and review copies for those who’d like to upgrade your previously purchased versions of my work.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

RIP, Maya Angelou

Quotation in this post are all Maya Angelou's words.
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”

I once told my Mother, “Ugh, I hate jazz!” and I even made a face. She rolled her eyes, but she was more annoyed than horrified. She later told me she knew I'd fall on the right side of reason because I am, after all, her child...

I do love jazz in many of its styles. Moreover, despite my childish rejection of it on that one terrible occasion, the truth is that under the right kind of questioning it turned out that I had been exposed to and already liked a great variety of jazz styles – it's just that I had been under the false impression that this music was “something else.”

And it was not cool. Nope! Anything but cool.

At some point, I was indoctrinated into believing that “jazz” included ragtime and avant garde styles – but irrelevant without context and not as sexy as bebop or Latin jazz, and completely oblivious of fusion forms.

I tend to make the same noises about poets and poetry. “Ugh!” and the face.

That tends to be crap too. The biggest killer of a love for poetry is the education system in this country. I don't mind admitting that I got suicidal during an extended reading of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I wanted to jump into the pages, shoot the albatross and beat the old guy with the dead bird (half to death and drown him!). 

It was not my finest scholastic moment.

A good poet has an expert understanding of words, and music, and color and texture and taste, of language to a degree that it evokes the divine.

Poets aren't necessarily good writers beyond poetry. I note Canadian dynamo Margaret Atwood as an outstanding example of a great writer. Even as she can weave an interesting yarn, what I remember most about reading one of my favorite books, The Handmaid's Tale, was the cadence.

So expert at writing poetry, her sentences were short and packed with meaning, and as you read, their delicate simplicity invited you to read faster to meet the story sooner until it left your brain and soul breathless and dizzy, thirsty, hungry, and exhausted!

Then there was Maya Angelou.
If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.”
She was a youthful kinda of 86 in an old-soul package. I cannot say I loved every piece of work the woman produced, but I appreciated the loving craft she put into every word she shared. There was something almost divine in the way she treated words.
Love is that condition in the human spirit so profound that it allows me to survive, and better than that, to thrive with passion, compassion, and style.”

My introduction to her work, of course, was “I Know What the Caged Bird Sings” – it was a rite of passage in many ways.
Poetry is music written for the human voice.”

She lived a remarkable life (good, bad, spectacular, dramatic and tragic); and I hope that her legacy has the endurance the work and the woman truly deserves. To her, with her, in her existed a certain magic in her use of language, she loved word so that every one she spoke and each word she wrote she created and delivered with a metaphysical caress.
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”

She released her words with love, pure and unadulterated love. Sometimes there was passion, and sometimes wisdom, some humor, the odd moment of regret; but above all, there was love: of life, of learning, of being a woman, despite it all!
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.”
An artist may finish a piece and its beauty is plain for all to see, on their own terms. And so the finality of death completes the artwork of one life. But much like art, the beauty of the piece is rarely immediate. Beauty depends as much on endurance and environment as it does on those admiring it. And therein lies immortality. That is where she exists now...
If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.”

Good night, you honey-tongued ebony queen!

And finally, words that I feel deeply:
There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.”

In response, as I mourned the passing of one of our literary living legends, I wrote 339 words in three acts (morning, mid and late afternoon). My words may never reach the quality of some of her best work, but I aspire to greatness and will rise to the challenge every time. I cannot compete, but I can learn from her passion.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

An Idle Mind

Every other day a line comes to me and I document it, but at this rate I will be in my 90's before I finish the story.

At first I thought that I was unfocused because stress was building up – as my situation has not improved yet and perhaps deep down I am a little disappointed that I cannot push it along. If will alone could reverse this period, I'd be in heaven, but patience must rule until every other factor that is not under my control meets at the center and creates a perfect opportunity.

Several weeks of misery did not awaken that Dark Muse that rules the other world where the story originates. Apparently, my ability to write is not necessarily dependent upon a tortured soul.

I thought that perhaps this was a mild case of writer's block that came and went like some teenage love affair (the type that lasts exactly 24 hours and dies a swift death at the hands of a killer smile).

But that is not true: my imaginary friends still share bits of story. In fact, I dream of the story, but not the main character and I am starting to believe she is the weak link in the whole deal! I see scenes and I document each bit.

It makes me wonder whether this is not meant to be a novella but rather a screenplay...

Perhaps Magic Stilettos is meant to be committed to film (perhaps an animated project?).

The one thing I have learned from this period of relative sadness is that I have been wasting my time, filling up my free moments on nothing but smoke and mirrors. Mostly smoke!

It was an interesting experience, but I believe my time would be better spent learning something new. Tomorrow, I start catching up on my reading. And this week, probably after Wednesday, I will look into adding another skill to my arsenal.

The biggest seller in the book world says that an idle mind is the devil's playground. Well, he can stop by to tell me funny stories, but he is not welcome to stay. That giant, strange landscape is my playground alone!

My goal is to have at least a short film written by summer's end. At any rate, things are changing here, they have to. I'm shedding unnecessary things and loads of smoke.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


I'm keeping a list, separate from the current writing projects, of ideas that I'd like to explore in writing at some point. These are seeds rather than fully-formed concepts. Some may even be more interesting as morsels for conversation but not necessarily as foundations to a story.

I have not started a new project, per se, but I am thinking that out of these ideas I may come up with a theme for the next volume of short stories. The first volume, Because She Was a Woman, was based on a conversation about a song and followed from a line in a poem a friend had shared with me years ago.

Occasionally I try to broach one of these topics in my Facebook page, but it is not always a success.

Words are funny things. They are easily misconstrued, especially online where they seem to take a life of their own and in unexpected ways.
Things break. Some, delicate little things, can not be glued back together. You may pretend you cannot see the cracks by squinting or dimming the lights. You may pretend its surface is still smooth and beautiful even as your finger bleeds, jagged glass ripping the skin apart. It is still irrevocably broken. You can't unshatter it. Is the value of the thing entirely in what it brought to your life? Do you keep the broken artifact for sentimental reasons or do you accept it is no longer the thing you once loved, let it go and dump it -- live off the memories and not the reality?

I am not entirely sure that everyone who participated in the ensuing discussion understood the deeper meaning of the words in the same way – which is the beauty of it because that makes each answer nuanced and personal. Each perception then becomes a different story – if the exercise is successful.

I didn't explain it beyond that and I received a variety of responses. The eternal optimist that believes anything can be fixed. The more pragmatic realist that recognized that sometimes you need to let go, but also that some times you must ease yourself into that state. The eternal romantic that feels that there is an almost metaphysical relationship where an understanding is achieved... (I admit being completely ignorant of such things and missing the point almost entirely, luckily my stupidity in matter of the heart doesn't affect our friendship.) And finally, the beautiful mind that introduced me to the concept of kintsugi and added a classical elegance to the conversation.

And this is precisely what I wanted to see, a network of ideas springing from a single thought and growing into as many possibilities as varied as the minds and voices added to it.

The inspiration for the original thought? An extended and unstructured journey through Pinterest that lead to re-purposed antiques -- people using damaged porcelain and glassware to make new works of art and jewelry. I wondered if these pieces of discarded heirlooms would, in turn, become heirlooms to a new generation in their newest guise.

A simple thought gave way to a larger conversation with far more possibilities than the story of a single mosaic pin made out of a broken tea cup. But even if no other stories come of this specific exercise, what interesting ideas come from it and what a perfect opportunity to learn something new – about history, life, and the people that populate your life!