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Monday, October 29, 2012

Pecha Kucha

Twice in two days someone mentioned "Pecha Kucha" so I had to check it out. Love the concept: 20 slides, 20 seconds each.

Monday, October 22, 2012

World Waiting for a Dream: Travels in Far West Texas

The work-in-progress, begun back in January of this year, finally has a title: World Waiting for a Dream: Travels in Far West Texas. Of course, it opens with the arrival of Cabeza de Vaca in La Junta, a dreamlike sequence if there ever was one. I'll be reading from the manuscript and talking about travel writing on January 29, 2013 for PEN San Miguel de Allende. Stay tuned for details.

Meanwhile, listen in any time to the ongoing Marfa Mondays podcasts which, so far, include interviews with art expert and museum curator Mary Bones, artist Avram Dumitrescu, Big Bend wilderness expert Charles Angell, Chihuahuan Desert bee expert Cynthia McAlister, Rock hound Paul Graybeal of Moonlight Gemstones, and Yours Truly recounting some super weird experiences with the Marfa Lights. And... I've got several more podcasts in line to upload this month and next. There will be a total of 24 podcasts through the end of 2013 at which point I expect I'll have a complete draft of the book. Which may look nothing like the podcasts. A ver qué tal.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

New iBook: Los Visitantes ~ Una visita a Todos Santos

New in the iBookstore is Los Visitantes, the Spanish translation by the wonderful Bertha Ruiz de la Concha of chapter 2 "The Visitors," from my travel memoir, Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico.

>>Miraculous Air is available in a paperback edition from Milkweed Editions
>>and a Kindle edition.

An iBook edition of the whole enchilada is coming soon.


Also in the iBook store:

From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion

The Building of Quality

Monday, October 15, 2012

Helios 6 and Francisco I. Madero's Manual Espírita (Spiritist Manual)

With many thanks to Manual Guerra de Luna, author of Los Madero: La saga liberal, and the screenplay for the film 1910: La revolución espírita, who so kindly gave me a copy of this issue, on my Resources for Researchers page, I've just posted some scans and translation of the cover and selected pages from Helios 6, 1911.

Edited by Spiritist author Rogelio Fernández Güell, and supported by Madero,  Helios was the main Spiritist publication in Mexico. This issue celebrated both Madero's election as President (when he had yet to take office) and the publication of his Spiritist Manual-- asserting, disingenuously, that Madero was not the author, "Bhima."

A frankly evangelical document, the Spiritist Manual stands as the clearest statement of the esoteric philosophy behind Madero's launching of the Revolution of 1910. I've published my translation in a Kindle edition and am about to bring out a revised and expanded edition for 2013.

Here's the cover:

English translation:

Mexico, October 1911


Publication of the Standing Board of the Second Congress of the Mexican and Latin American Spiritist Federation and Confederation

Tip. "Artística," Corner of Soto 4 and de la Violeta 1.

Here's the half page ad that appeared on the back cover:

This very important work by a renowned Mexican philosopher has just been brought to public light. A grand edition is availble at minimal prices in order to help spread the principles of our sublime philosophy.

PRICES Bound in high quality paper, $0.20. Bound in heavy paper, $025.
For 10 or more copies, 20 percent discount.
Send orders to the Office of the Standing Committee of the 2nd Spiritist Congress,
Violeta 4, Box 1500, Mexico City.

+   +   +   +   +

View the rest of the pages and translations from Helios here:

+    +   +   +   +

>>Listen in to my talk for San Miguel PEN about this most unusual book and my translation here:

Cyberflanerie: Chicken Edtion

Because I am appalled at what I've learned about the way most commercial eggs are produced (most recently the NYT piece on chickens being dosed with Prozac and caffeine), I've developed an intense interest in keeping chickens, not that I am going to keep chickens. Of course, one can go to the store and pay a little extra for "organic" and/or "free range" eggs, but more than those little labels, what I believe would add the most most value to an egg is, simply, more information and even stories. How about a webcam into the hen house, knowing the names and histories of the individual chickens, videos with the owner, a report on what they ate this week, etc, etc.? I'd love it-- I'd sign up tomorrow, happy to pay the premium-- if someone in my neck of the woods would start a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with farm eggs raised on a small scale with this kind of added information, and a good, frequently updated, customer service-oriented website.

As a writer (of fiction and travel memoir) I've been blogging, and making videos and podcasts for sometime now, and so I know, first hand, that it's not that expensive to do, nor is it rocket science.

Just surfin', I was delighted to come across Terry Golson, chicken keeper (um, is that the word?) who has a webpage.. full of webcams!
Pictures and information about the individual chickens!
>How to bathe a chicken
A blog!
>Including an excellent and free Introduction to Chicken Keeping
Cluck cluck cluck!

And here is an interview with Terry Golson on the Soil Sparks blog.

P.S. See also the very informative Mother Earth News "Chicken and Egg Page."

And Gene Logsdon, irreverently wise as ever, now has a new take on keeping chickens. OK, OK, I'm thinking about it. I don't like the coq au vin part.

And artist Kathryn Dunn of Apifera Farm, on her very photogenic chickens, blog starlets all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Alerting all Hemingway and Lezama Lima Fans: Literary Havana Trip with Tom Miller

Just received this note about a very interesting travel opportunity from widely-lauded travel writer and Cuba expert Tom Miller:

The third annual Literary Havana trip is now open for qualified applicants. The week (Jan. 6-13, 2013) touches on writers in Cuba, historical and contemporary (J. Martí, E. Hemingway) and includes a lively tertulia with Cuban poets and writers. Afro-Cuban history, from slavery to today, will be touched on, and there'll be visits to major art museums. Outside Havana, the group will visit the publishing house Ediciones Vigía in Matanzas. Finally, we’ll meet with a playwright and theater director and watch a play in rehearsal. Cuban music and street culture will surround you. To qualify: a documented background in the literary world and likelihood of disseminating observations gained. Details: contact Tom Miller (author of Trading With the Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through Castro’s Cuba) at, or by phone 520-325-3344 after 11 a.m. east coast time. (Participants will travel on a “Professional Researcher” license, under regs from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Treasury Dept.)

P.S. I'm about to read his latest,  Revenge of the Saguaro: Offbeat Travels through America's Southwest, which, given my current writing and podcasting project, I wish I'd already read! Y'all check out his book on Cuba, Trading with the Enemy: A Yankee Travels through Castro's Cuba.

P.S.S. Don't know who is Lezama Lima? Read his wikipedia page here.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Madam Mayo Now Available on Kindle Blogs; A Note on the Evolution of Blogs

If you're a Kindle fan, now you can read Madam Mayo via Whispernet. Yet another brick falls from the edifice of Publishing As We Know It. When I started out as a writer more years a go than I'll admit (OK, it was in the Clinton Administration), my goal, apart from writing books, was to publish in large circulation magazines and newspapers, which I did, in fact, at first. I placed a piece in the LA Times and another in the Wall Street Journal; and also stories, essays, and poems in passels of literary journals from the Kenyon Review to the Paris Review. But that was then and this is now and now I just wanna blog-- and publish digital Kindle and iBook editions of longer, more formal essays and books.

But back to the blog. I started "Madam Mayo" back in March of 2006, more as a playful adventure than serious endeavor. How I relished not having to bother with query letters and editors! And I thought the blog's format, provided by, looked mighty nice. It was remarkably different from maintaining a webpage-- bloggers read each other, commented on each others' pages and oh, it was jazzy what the search engines picked up.

Soon I was fascinated, perhaps even addicted to blogging. My blog's archive shows 211 entries that year. In 2007, I hopped up to 295 entries and in 2008, whoosh, up to 311.

Everything seemed yeasty and weird; this was, after all, the moment when not only blogging exploded, but YouTube, podcasting, Facebook, and Twitter took off. It was also a moment when I was actively promoting three books, hear ye, hear ye:

Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Whereabouts Press)
Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California (Milkweed Editions)
The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire (Unbridled Books)

Not to mention a literary magazine and my various writing workshops both at the Writer's Center outside DC and with Dancing Chiva in Mexico City.

But blogging at such a pace proved too much. In 2009, I began to cut back, with only 217 entries. By 2010 I had settled on a policy of Mondays only-ish and with guestbloggers, when available, on Wednesdays. By 2011 I was down to 140 posts for the year, and throughout this year I've averaged some 5 - 7 posts per month until-- what happened?-- I was back up to 13 for the month of September!

What happened was I'd seen a newspaper columnist somewhere assert that cyberflanerie is dead. Mangos! That's what my blog is, except when it's not-- lists of all the peculiar, fascinating, informative links I've surfed, for your surfing pleasure.

In sum, blogging is still so new a genre I'm still, after after more than six years, trying to get my mind around it.

I was trying to get my mind around it as far back as day one in 2006, and I blogged frequently on the topic for about two years. (In 2008, I made an archive of those posts as "Gone to the Litblogs"  >)

Here's the blog post from June 13, 2007
Gone to the Litblogs: Narrowcasting and Notes Towards a Taxonomy

Dinner conversation this evening with my amiga K., a DC writer who works in a media organization, about blogging. K. says the successful ones are narrowcasting, i.e., aiming a highly specific blog at a highly specific audience. Indeed: in the litblog world, a good example would be Wendi Kaufman's The Happy Booker, which focuses on news in literary Washington DC and environs. Novelist Leslie Pietrzyk's Work in Progress focuses on, yes, work in progress. In the news world--- for example, for news on Iraq--- a blog I often check in on is Informed Comment, in which University of Michigan Professor of Middle Eastern History Juan Cole offers a daily summary of and commentary on the news in the Middle East. They may not be the end all of the All on this Subject, but between Juan Cole and Col Pat Lang's Sic Semper Tyrannis, I get a better sense of what's going on in Iraq than from reading, say, the Washington Post. For example, last week, when Turkish troops invaded Iraq, to get a sense of what this meant, I skipped the papers and went immediately to these two blogs because (1) both Juan Cole and Col Pat Lang are highly knowledgable about this subject and (2) their blogs often go into far more depth than scant newsprint can. (Though now and again, Col. Pat Lang dips into movie reviewing and showcasing excerpts of his civil war novel...) But back to the litblog world: for literary travel writing, another excellent example of narrowcasting would be World Hum. What of Madam Mayo? I'd put this blog in the category of a Individual Artist Blog. It's about my work and what interests me, as an artist. Some other blogs in said category: David Byrne (musician), Margaret Cho (comedian),Moorish Girl (writer Laila Lalami), Coffee with Ken (Kenneth Ackerman, the writer/ historian/ lawyer). Last thought: It occurs to me that few people over the age of 30 have heard the term "narrowcasting." K. said the under 30s in her office didn't recognize the phrase "Drink the Kool-Aid." Interesting juxtaposition. Possibly meaningless. More anon.

UPDATE: In Clusterfuck Nation--- a hybrid (as per my defintions) of Narrowcasting (comments on current events as related to his book The Long Emergency) and Individual Artist Blog--- Jim Kunstler writes, that this is "a society of envious slobs deluded into thinking that they could become the next Trump if only the Baby Jeezus would whack them over the head with a sock-full of silver dollars." That's pretty much the tone throughout. Post up, bingo, 193 comments.

I never did take my own advice, if it was that. Madam Mayo is about anything and the kitchen sink but narrowcasting.

Funny, these days I don't follow that many litblogs (though I do maintain a hearty blogroll, as you'll see over to the right). Over morning coffee, after a browse through the New York Times and the FT,  if I feel the urge to peek  at the tottering zombie show that is the Euro, I'm most apt to check in with Swiss Miss, the Swiss designer in NYC, who offers such luscious photos and links celebrating good design, or the blog by Rose Rosetree, my favorite aura reader (her aura reading books are gold for any novelist, by the way), or marketing guru Seth Godin for his pithy and soulful advice du jour. But I was and am and will be a litblogger, blogging about books and all the wacky stuff that goes -- or might go into-- into mine. So stay tuned for more about Marfa, Texas, Cabeza de Vaca, biographies, the dead and undead, podcasts, guestblogs, and cyberflanerie galore. And book reviews, of course. One of these days I just might even come up with another book.

---> Sign up for your Kindle delivery here.

More from the Kindle store:

The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire

Miraculous Air

The Building of Quality (short story with interview)

From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion (long travel essay)

Spiritist Manual: The Secret Book by Francisco I. 
Madero, Translated and Introduced by C.M. Mayo

More anon.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

La ofrenda debida por Agustín Cadena

One of the most profound and elegant writers from Mexico is Agustín Cadena, and he's just brought out a splendid new collection of poetry, La ofrenda debida.

If you read Spanish, be sure to check out his blog, El vino y la hiel.

If you don't read Spanish, check out my translation of his short story, "Lady of the Seas," in my anthology, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion. 
You can also read my translation of history story "Parque Murillo" in Eduardo Jimenez Mayo and Chris N. Brown's anthology, Three Messages and a Warning.

P.S. Five quick questions for Agustin Cadena, apropos of his short story collection, Las tentaciones de la dicha.

P.S.S. I'm incredibly proud to say he translated-- beautifully-- my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, as El último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Sol Literary Jounal's New Anthology of English Writing from Mexico

Now available on

Where to Go to Write in Washington DC? Writers Room DC

Alas, this is not for me at this time, but wow, truly, this a very welcome development in the Washington DC literary community because for those writing books, a quiet, dedicated space in which to work is a godspeed:

Dear Ms. Mayo, 
Over the past months, you and quite a few other writers have indicated an interest in having available in DC a quiet, comfortable, convenient, and affordable workspace for serious writers of fiction and non-fiction. As we recently announced, Writers Room DC is about to open just such a space. Specifically, we plan to open for business at nine o’clock on Monday morning, October 15th, eleven days from today. 
Where: Writers Room DC is to be located in suite 510 at 4000 Albemarle Street, NW, which is close to the southeast corner of Wisconsin and Albemarle and directly across Albemarle from the Tenley Metro.

What we offer: Writers Room DC will feature eighteen workstations, comfortable chairs for breaks and contemplation, a small kitchen with a couple of tables, free wi-fi, free printing, and free coffee. Besides the great Metro access, there is convenient on-street parking, a nice view northward up Wisconsin Ave., windows that open, a Whole Foods across the street, and a variety of good eating spots nearby. Members will have access to the space 24/7.

Please come to one of our upcoming Open Houses and sign up for a free trial week.

(1) The Open Houses are being held between 4 and 6 p.m. on Friday the 12th (a week from tomorrow), Saturday the 13th, and Sunday the 14th. To get into the building, hit 7777* on the small, plastic keypad to the right of the building entrance. Then take the elevator up to suite 510. We’ll welcome you with a tour and a cup of coffee or tea. 
(2) While you’re looking at the space, give us a minute or two to explain our simple membership options. Memberships will run as little as $130 per month. (That’s $4.27 a day. Two regular coffees at Starbucks and a Washington Post would set you back $4.86.) To celebrate our kick-off month, we’re waiving the initiation fee.

(3) If you like what you see, sign up on the spot for a free trial week, which is just what its name implies. Use the space for up to a week. If WRDC isn’t for you, you don’t owe us a cent. If you do want to join, we’ll begin charging you each month, but that first week will have been free in any case. (This offer will probably be discontinued once we open.)

To take advantage of the free trial week, you will be asked to fill out a one-page application. We’ll also take your credit card information. But we will tear up that information without charging a penny against your card—unless you want to join after you’ve had a chance to try the space.

Please note that there will be a new members’ welcome party on Sunday, October 28th from 6 until 8 p.m.

One last thing. We would very much appreciate it if you would tell friends who might be interested in Writers Room DC about our upcoming Open Houses, or bring them with you when you come. We will look forward to welcoming them as well.

Yours sincerely,

Charles Karelis
Alex Karelis  

Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life by Natalie Dykstra

This is one of those rare novelesque biographies than can change the way one thinks about a whole country, a whole century, and certainly one city: Washington DC. Out of five stars I give six, lit up in flashing neon, to Natalie Dysktra's beautifully researched Clover Adams.

Definitely on my top 10 list for 2012.

P.S. View Clover Adams' photo album at the Massachusetts Historical Society website.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Cyberflanerie: Besquare, Sandell Morse in Ascent, Pond on Pond, Cloud Terrace, and an Open Letter from Patrice Wynne

Besquare, Craig Lockwood's collection of creative talks. (Sandwich-time worthy indeed!)
Here's his own intro.

"Hiding," a new essay by Sandell Morse in one of my favorite literary journals, the now on-line Ascent.

Pond on Pond by Meredith Pond
A fun and thoughtful blog by my fellow Writer's Center member and Baja Buff.

Cloud Terrace, art installation through Fall 2012 at Dumbarton Oaks
By Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot.
This fairy-like natural light show is located within the gardens in "Arbor Terrace," which was originally designed by Beatrix Ferrand (Edith Wharton's niece) in the 1930s and subsequently redesigned by Ruth Harvey in the 1950s. If you're anywhere near Washington DC this fall, be sure to check this out.

And an open letter from the fabulous Patrice Wynne, beautiful creative spirit and book angel of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico:

Dear Community, 
You are joyfully invited to my Birthday Fiesta, Store Sale, and Fundraiser at Abrazos featuring San Miguel Designs, for a 3 day celebration, Thursday, October 4th and Friday, October 5th, from 9am to 8pm, and Saturday October 6th, 9am to 12pm.  
Abrazos is located at Zacateros 24, near Pila Seca in San Miguel. We are known as the apron store of San Miguel, but our collection now includes over 35 cool creations, all made with Mexican themed fabrics by local, talented, hard working seamstresses. Come visit us! 

As many of you know, I have been seriously ill and recuperating at LifePath Center for a month. This event marks my return to Abrazos. Nothing would make me happier than to share these days with you to celebrate my birthday, to introduce you to our new designs and creations (dresses, pillow cases, covers for electronics, shoulder bags), to lure you to our new sale section (some items up to 50% off!), to have a heckofa lot of fun and to raise some income to cover my self insured medical expenses. 
There will be food and drink in abundance, birthday cake, and original gifts with purchase of 150 pesos or more. 
If you cannot attend, there are other ways to connect with Abrazos featuring San Miguel Designs : via Facebook, Pinterest, and our website. To place an order from our website, send your Wish List in the Contact section. 
Website: Facebook: Pinterest:  
Please invite your friends, mil gracias. I hope to see you here, and to exchange abrazos in Abrazos, or to meet you online! To Life! 
SALUDos, Patrice 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Journeys Through the MFA and Beyond @ The Writer's Center October 13

Though I've managed to publish several books and a wheelbarrow full of stories, essays and poems in literary journals, I did not do an Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing, which I do not regret and there were several reasons for this, some of which might be yours, and some of which might not. On the other hand, many of my contemporaries and indeed, one of my very favorite writers and editor, Dawn Marano, earned an MFA, and have told me it was a great decision. Every writer is different, and so if you're considering an MFA, my main advice to you would be:

1. State your intentions clearly (if only to yourself);
2. Explore your options and do your research. I mean, really explore and really research-- these puppies ain't cheap.

There's a splendid and very economical opportunity to explore and research MFAs in the one-day seminar which will be held this October 13 at The Writer's Center, just outside Washington DC, so check it out:

The Writer’s Center presents Make Lit Happen: Journeys Through the MFA and Beyond.
9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Saturday, October 13.  
This one-day seminar will examine the value of MFA programs, the differences between low-residency and traditional MFA programs, and alternatives to the MFA. The seminar will include two panels focusing on MFAs and alternatives.
The first panel, “MA & MFA Nuts & Bolts,” will include directors of local MFA and MA programs and will meet from 10 am to 12 noon. The second, “Personal Journeys,” will meet from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., and will include individuals who’ll relate their particular journeys as writers and the role the MFA played, or did not play, in the process. We’ll have a 1-hour break for lunch in-between the two panels and a wine and cheese reception for informal mingling and networking after the second panel. We will also have light refreshments -- muffins, orange juice and coffee -- at 9:30 a.m. before the first panel meets. 
This seminar is for anybody who is: 
•curious about an MFA program 
•already in a program 
•considering other intensive writing workshops 
•seeking to maintain focus in a stimulating environment after having completed an MFA. 
Panelists will include Michael Collier, David Everett, David Keplinger, Eugenia Kim, Tim Denevi, Tarfia Faizullah, Barbara Klein Moss, Jenny Moore, Amber Withycombe and moderators Amin Ahmad and Nicole Idar. 
Location: The Writer's Center
4508 Walsh Street
Bethesda, MD 20815
Fees: $50 ($35 for members and educators, $20 for students).
More information and to register online

---> So if I didn't do an MFA, how did I learn to write fiction and creative nonfiction, and find an agent, and all that stuff? More anon.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Cyberflanerie: The Book Apocalypse Has Arrived, In A Good Way, I Guess

I'm drowning in books... and yet I buy more... What to do? I did come up with a handy dandy 10 question flowchart for decluttering a library, and if I do say so myself, it works. Problem is, people keep writing more books! Great books! And even more great books!

Modern solutions?

Little Free Libraries

The man who turned his home into a public library

P.S. Now, with the Lucy Phone, you can read a book while on hold!