Tuesday, January 15, 2008


A couple of days ago I got to see the cover for the short story anthology The Darker Mask. It was designed by Jamie Stafford-Hill and the art was done by Tomer Hanuka.

I thought it was a wonderful, eye catching cover design and loved Tomer's illustration.

Then I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that they put my name on the cover as one of the contributors. There was my name with Walter Mosley, Lorenzo Carcaterra, L.A. Banks, Tananarive Due...bestselling and critically acclaimed authors.

Wow. The Newbie gets a major break. I am truly honored.

Been a long time

Haven't done a post in way too long. I know I'm supposed to keep up with this blog more frequently but I was seriously ill and just didn't have the energy. Besides, I always looked at this as an author's diary, anyway. Meaning that I expect people to go back and read it after discovering my work, not real time readers who check it out every day.

I just finished going over my "page proofs" for Revenge Tango. This the last time anybody gets to proof and review the novel before it goes on to production. My sister Sylvia was a great help and did the first read through. Between us we found plenty of typos which would've ended up in the final book. Thanks hermana!

I also did the copyedit for my story Dred, which will appear in the short story collection The Darker Mask. All of this was during the holidays. I guess new authors don't get time off.

I'm halfway through the third Nicholas Esperanza novel. It's tentatively titled Rumba for the Dead. It was originally supposed be a big thriller, influenced by my favorite show 24. Didn't end up that way. During the illness I was in a pretty dark place, so it's going to end up being pure noir. I guess when I suffer, Esperanza has to suffer even more. 
Since it's the final novel I wanted to go out with a bang, so it's going to be a pretty shocking read.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I've been working on the final draft of Revenge Tango, the sequel to The Devil's Mambo. It's been going extremely well and I should be finished by the end of July. The title was recently approved by my pusblisher and the back cover copy has been finished.

What I've been nervously waiting for is the cover. The cover The Devil's Mambo is great and I was worried as to whether Kris Noble would come up with an equally compelling design. I had no idea what to expect. There was a lot of back and forth on the first cover, which my original editor, Sulay Hernandez fought tooth and nail for. I received an email this morning from my editor Kate Duffy with the jpeg of the Revenge Tango cover. Needless to say, I was blown out of my desk chair. Kris Noble rocks!

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

BEA and all that jazz

Attended the Book Expo of America at Jacob Javitz and it was certainly a unique experience.

First, I went to the Hardcase Crime booth to see Jason Starr and got a signed copy of Slide, the sequel to he and Ken Bruen's masterful pulp collaboration Bust. I wasn't just excited 'cause I loved Bust but I was also honored that Ken and Jason named a character after me in the book. After ogling the hot Hardcase models for a couple of minutes, I headed over to the Kensington booth.

I was expecting to sign some books for Kensington but they had given of them all out. Saw mystery author Twist Phelan, which was completely unexpected. She's rushing off to do a signing. I hung around for awhile and eventually had a chance to sit down with Kesington's publisher Laurie Parkin. She was very enthusiastic at how the novel was doing and was also very happy about the Publisher's Weekly review.

Also spoke to Walter Zacharius, the 90 year old founder of Kensington. He really loved the Devil's Mambo and said a lot of nice things. When I told him the sequel Revenge Tango was set in Brooklyn, he got really excited, since he's originally from Brooklyn. He asked if I'd handed the manuscript in, I said yes, and he said he'd read it right away.

Finally, I had lunch with Jason and writer James Winter. We ran into author Jim Fusili, who I'm doing a panel with at Thrillerfest (Jason is moderating and it also features Michele Martinez, Con Lehane and Peter Blauner. I'm in really good company and the only first time author on the panel). Then we saw Duan Swierczynski, author of The Blonde. He was gracious and congratulated me on The Devil's Mambo. I recently signed with David Hale Smith, DHS Literary, who also reps Duane and some of the hottest young authors in crime fiction .

Finally, completely exhausted, I went home, climbed into bed and proceeded to read Slide.

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Monday, May 28, 2007


The Devil' s Mambo finally got a couple of reviews. Though they are mixed, I'm happy because getting any kind of review is nearly impossible these days. Over 150,000 books are published annually and there are less and outlets to get your novel reviews. So here they are:

From Publishers Weekly
Ex-homicide detective and Navy SEAL Nick Esperanza dives deep into New York's sexual underworld in this graphic, gritty first novel. Esperanza has everything: he's a $30 million Lotto winner, retired at 40, madly in love with his gorgeous girlfriend, Legs, and singing the occasional song in his thriving salsa club. When Legs's niece disappears, he reluctantly agrees to take a break from the good life to scout around. Playwright and filmmaker Rodriguez gives his Puerto Rican Spenser a standard supporting cast-an FBI agent brother, a fellow former SEAL running club security-and starts out mostly painting by the numbers. Then the trail leads to kiddie porn ring the Candyland Club and its sadomasochistic enforcers, and Esperanza's taste for kinky sex meets its match in the vicious Mistress Devona Love, who reduces the once cocksure investigator to a quivering heap in the book's best and raunchiest scene. The squeamish may wince as Esperanza does his desperate and dark dance down the wild side.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
When NYPD homicide cop Nicholas Esperanza wins 30 million bucks in the lottery, he does what any right-thinking fella would do: chucks his job, buys a nightclub, and spends his days relaxing, and his nights . . . well, let's just say the man likes his fun. But when his girlfriend, Legs (really), asks him to find her missing niece, our hero soon finds that you can take the man out of the cop shop, but you can't take the cop out of the man. A very uneven mix of private-eye yarn and erotic thriller, the novel will please some readers while it turns off others. The language in the novel is frank and may strike some readers as over the top, but the story is well plotted and the characters, especially Esperanza, are well drawn. This may lack the depth one associates with top-level hard-boiled fiction, but it packs the punch and entertaining edge of the pulps. Just be sure to keep it away from cozy fans. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Next Phase

The Devil's Mambo is in bookstores, I'm having my launch party in a couple days and several readings coming up. Now it's time to get in a different head and promote. When you're writing, you get to be anti-social and spend most of your time alone, in your head. Promoting is a whole different ball game; you have to put yourself out there, do readings, meet and greet strangers, and push your novel to everyone you meet. Ultimately, it's not up to the publisher how well your novel does, it's up to the author.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I finally completed my "booktrailer" for The Devil's Mambo. Here's a low resolution You Tube version. I'll be adding a high resolution version to my website very soon. This booktrailer is a whole new experiment, since I didn't want to do the standard, often boring 30 second commercial. Most importantly, I'm hoping that it will eventually go viral.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Oscar Hernandez Rocks

Oscar Hernandez recently finished his original score for my short film/book trailer The Devil's Mambo: Poisoned Kiss. The band leader of two time Grammy-award winners The Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Oscar has been a major force in the Latin Music scene since the 1960's. He did an incredible job with the score. It's a lush, jazzy sound that gives Poisoned Kiss a whole different feel. I was quite fortunate that Oscar did this for me and I'm looking forward to SHO's latest cd, which comes out in May. Check it out. I'm sure another Grammy's on the way.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Creative Procrastination

So I was a couple of chapters away from finishing Revenge Tango, I knew where it was going but found myself stuck, suddenly couldn't write a damned word. Writer's block. Nah, I don't really believe in that. I forced myself to write a couple of scenes, and it was a tedious, tiring experience. Finally, I decided to let it go. It was time for a little creative procrastination.

One of the things I learned over the years is how much of an important ally is the subconscious is. By letting go, I let my imagination stew for a while, let dreams take over, let random thoughts do there thing.

Answers started to come to me. New ideas and new scenes started to develop. It was no longer simply about filling plot points, It was about deeper ideas, subtle emotional changes, it was about the characters transforming. Endings can make or break a novel, and I knew that I had to leave the reader not only emotional satisfied, but emotionally moved by the characters journey and that they'd be willing to follow Esperanza on his next adventure.

I don't consider the Ezperanza novels a mysteries series. I consider them noir novels. While mysteries are more concerned with the whodunit, noirs are about a characters journey into darkness. Subconsciously, I understood that all the action the climax of the novel contained wouldn't matter if Esperanza wasn't as emotionally impacted by the entire experience as he was in the first novel. That's why my mind put on the breaks, and gave me the time to think deeper, to find the emotional truth of the climax and hopefully make it a much stronger novel.

A few weeks later, I finally finished the first draft, and though not perfect, I found it to be pretty solid and that it would give me a really solid foundation to work from. Now I plan to test it on some "first readers". These are people who read The Devil's Mambo (I'm talking about editors or writers, I'm talking about the folks who'd go buy the book). Also gave it to a couple of people who didn't read the first novel to see how well it works as a stand alone.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007


A couple of weeks ago I received a box of Advanced Reading Copies (or galleys) of The Devil's Mambo. I've seen plenty of ARCs before and they usually have a plain, grey-colored, card stock cover with the title, author name and the words Uncorrected Proof. ARCs cost the publisher something like eight bucks each (while the final version is around $2.00). Though my editor told me that my publisher was printing ARCs with full color, glossy covers, I was still stunned when I pulled out a copy. A thing of beauty. Looked like the final product. The fact that Kensington spent serious money on the ARC, was a huge vote of confidence in me and my novel. Usually, that kind of treatment is reserved for bestselling authors, so I was both proud and flattered.

Holding the book in my hand was an emotionally overwhelming experience. After all these years, all the drafts, the rejections, here was the novel. Finally. Seemed utterly surreal and brought tears to my eyes. And to think, it's still not the finished novel. Makes me wonder what it'll be like to walk into a bookstore and see it on a shelf. Can't wait.