Palace of the Blue Butterfly coverEn Fin! Finally. Amazing what I can do with a little free time. Now all I have to do is get this novel formatted for Amazon, and all those who “Have Kindle Will Travel” can download it and be good to go.

I’m not giving anything away if I tell you that Lili takes a side trip to Valle de Bravo, a charming hillside town built around Lake Avandaro just a couple of hours outside of Mexico City. Of course, you’ll just have to read the book and find out why she goes there and what she finds out when she does, but I thought I’d show you some pretty pictures I pulled from Travel and Leisure just to whet your appetite.

In the chapter I’m talking about, we will follow Lili as she walks by the lake, heads up to the plaza and wanders the streets looking for a certain address. It will be hard to read a romantic suspense novel like Palace of the Blue Butterfly if the only images you have in your mind of Mexico are vast deserts, dusty run-down villages, narco-kingpins and a population . . .

Jesse Morrow Mountain, CaliforniaFresno County planning commissioners Wednesday sided with emotional opponents of rock mining at Jesse Morrow Mountain, surprising many who watched a four-hour debate over the project.

In a 4-3 vote, the commission turned thumbs down to the proposal from multinational cement company Cemex, which wants to dig rock from the Sierra foothill and crush it for ready-mix concrete. The company will appeal the decision to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors later this year. Supervisors could still approve the quarry, which would . . .

Horse on  lupine covered hillSeven weeks ago Dave and I were on the front porch, drinking coffee, not a care in the world. All was bliss. Okay, so I had a few cares. I was worried about the presentation on Mexico City that I was scheduled to give at a “Salon” we hold up here.

Actually, let me restate that. I was worried about getting down to the valley to get my hair and nails done before the presentation, and except for that little detail, all was well. I just needed to get myself caffeinated up and run through the presentation a final time.

I went inside to pour another cup of coffee, looked out the window and that’s when I saw Dave lying face down in the grass. You have to realize my first thought wasn’t that he was hurt. Noooo. He’d been on a mission to eradicate all gophers from the lawn, and I just assumed he was getting an up close and personal look at a gopher warren. Except that didn’t make sense, not the way he was lying.

In what now seems like very slow motion, I finally got the idea that his lying on the grass had nothing to do with the gophers, that something was seriously wrong. Only I didn’t know how wrong or I would have . . .

Angelica HoustonCheck out the style statement, ladies.

Nah. Not the movie star, the great boots and fabulous hat.

I’m talking about the collection of Flow Blue plates you can see through the window.

Just kidding. But I bet if you’re the kind of antique dishware lover that I am, the plates jumped out at you.

However, I really am talking about the chic Western look. Gotta love it.

Note to self: Next time I’m in Santa Fe, I’m buying some turquoise boots at Back at the Ranch. Very, very cool, especially with that little snakeskin touch at the toes.

I suppose you could wander around NYC looking . . .

Brooklyn Skyline. . . Ten of Palace of the Blue Butterfly proofread and posted.

There are days, like today when the cows broke down the fence around the house, and I had to herd them all of the off the lawn (think Dale Evans meets Keystone Cops) when I realize why writers live in studio apartments in Brooklyn. No ranch tasks. Plenty of takeout food. But then you’re in Brooklyn, which I hear is the end-all and be-all of cool, just pas pour moi, as I like to say while I’m rounding up livestock. Okay, so no one can really see me living . . .

The Friends of Jesse Morrow Mountain had a victory of sorts last week at the Planning Commission meeting.

Two hundred opponents of Cemex’s proposed horrible blight crowded into the hearing, spilling out into multiple hallways. Seventy-five people signed up to speak against the Cementos de Mexico eyesore.

And speak we did.

Dr. Richard Young, a NASA physicist, proved in his presentation that Fresno has more than enough aggregate to meet its needs for the next thirty years. Dr. Pat Cassen, another NASA physicist, pretty much destroyed Cemex’s claims about mitigating air pollution. The League of . . .

Jesse Morrow Mountain, smallSee the little mountain in this picture? Now imagine it leveled by Cemex, the Mexican multinational concrete company. Imagine blasting noise, imagine dust, imagine the air pollution you can’t see, the ground water pollution from the facility seeping into farmers’ wells. Imagine the trolleys running up and down the side of the hill carrying the mountain down rock by rock.

Imagine the cherry orchards covered in dust, the fields of poppies buried under it. And all for road-building materials that . . .

Los Girasoles Restaurant in MexicoAnd just to nudge your imagination a bit more, here’s the restaurant Los Girasoles on the left where she’s dining.

BTW — Fabulous food. Great margaritas.

Also, I’ve got a little announcement. Any of you within range of KVRP Public Radio (FM 89) can listen to me read El Tropical, an excerpt from my novel Bird of Paradise. It airs February 8 at 7 pm. Hope you’ll tune in . . .

Poetess Julie SukI’ve been looking for images of older women, women I might like to be like or whose footsteps I’d like to follow, something to put on said “Vision Board” and not an image of a movie star, either.

Wow! Are they hard to find.

And then something wonderful happened. I clicked on my hometown newspaper — the Charlotte Observer — and there was an article (with a picture!) about a local poet — Julie Suk. Eighty-seven years old and still writing.

Not only is she writing, but writing what many critics (Galassi of the Paris Review to name one) consider to be the best poetry in America . . .

Restaurante Izote in Mexico CityI know that you are hearing terrifying story after terrifying story about Mexico City. All I can say is that with the same precautions I would take in any large city in the world, I feel safe.

Safe and also having a fantastic time!

Anyway, I’ve just posted two more proofed chapters of Palace of the Blue Butterfly on this website. Now, I’m a little closer to my goal of getting it on the Kindle. You’ll probably want to go back and read Chapter Five before you continue just to refresh your memory.

And since in the novel I mention Vivienne dining at Restaurante Izote, I’d thought I’d show you all what it looks like. Now I’m wondering . . .