The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!

They’re here! Just sayin’.


Growing up in the 60’s, every time I heard a plane fly over, I cowered. Had the Russians finally crossed into our skies? My paranoia soared. Was this the first time I’d heard some fake news.

The Russians are Coming! ” is a phrase from 1949 attributed to United States Secretary of Defense James Forrestal who added, “The Russians are Coming! They’re right around. I’ve seen Russian soldiers.” Forrestal allegedly uttered those words while suffering from mental illness, not long before “allegedly” falling out a 16thstory window of the Bethesda Naval hospital.

The nations nerves were just as mentally frazzled for over a decade.

And then in 1966, as the anti-communism crusade subsided in the early 1960s, the Hollywood blacklist was slowly discontinued and Norman Jewison put out the comedy “The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!” starring Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Alan Arkin and Brian Keith. But…

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Mexican Soil: My Agave Roots

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Ah, the writer’s life. The morning after the launch of my new book Curse of the Ninth, it’s back to the real world of rejection. Perhaps, the world isn’t ready for my next book Agaves Blues. Is it the voice, the writing, the characters? Is it just not resonating with agents and the New York publishing world? Maybe it’s just not Mexicany enough.

Alas, there is some good news to report. In response to some controversy over American Dirt, in a Los Angeles Times article published yesterday, “According to the release, the publisher made commitments to “substantially increasing Latinx representation across Macmillan, including authors, titles, staff and its overall literary ecosystem” as well as “developing an action plan to address these objectives within 90 days.”

I’m dusting off (dirt, get it?) Agave Blues now. Macmillan, where can I send my manuscript?

Official Launch for Curse of the Ninth

Not to be eclipsed by American Dirt, today is the official launch day for Curse of the Ninth (a Los Angeles Dirt story).

In the music world, there is a superstition, Curse of the Ninth, whereby a composer who produces a ninth symphony has reached a decisive landmark – to embark on the tenth is a challenge to fate. 

EXCERPT: While I wasn’t a composer of music and had always discounted this concept of the curse, I wondered if somehow I’d struck a wrong chord with fate. Was it wrong to have wanted more? Was it wrong to attempt a tenth? Was our baby to be the tenth symphony of my life, and therefore a mistake—? No!” – Dr. Wesley “Doc” Marnier.

Will "American Dirt" Crumble into a "Million Little Pieces"?

What about Bolton’s Memoir – will it ever see the light of day? The fate of his book is in the hands of the White House. 

Photo by James Frid on

Whatever happens to these books, there certainly has been a lot of buzz surrounding their release.

What about the biggest PR myth of all? “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”  I wonder how much Author Jeanine Cummins or former National Security Advisor John Bolton are enjoying their publicity. Hey, whatever happened to James Frey? Oh wait, I see they turned “A Million Little Pieces” into  a movie. I can just see it now. “American Dirt” starring Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman – oh wait, she’s Australian.

Photo by Scott Webb on

And now I wonder is “Curse of the Ninth” cursed not to have gotten this sort of buzz? It will just have to thrive on its own merits. Oh, and what about my novel “Agave Blues,” inspired by my family’s immigrant experience, so of course it’s filled with magic realism and I’m a real half-Mexican, to boot!


Oh what a tangled web! This is the first in a series of newspaper articles that spread like wildfire across the country from San Bernardino to Boston between the period October, 1930 to April, 1934. These articles are what helped me shape the story Curse of the Ninth available now for presale.

            “First wife asserts that the beneficiary of his will, the second Mrs. Marnier (name has been changed) alienated Dr. Marnier’s affections from his first wife and family; and that further, the Las Vegas Nevada Divorce which he obtained from his first wife before marrying the second Mrs. was irregular.

            The late optometrist is asserted to have obtained the Las Vegas divorce in September of 1917. He married his second wife in October of the same year ( his death came 13 years later).            

The first Mrs. charges that the will beneficiary, a well-known musician at the time the doctor married her, “induced her husband to bequest the bulk of his estate to her.”

Oh, Phoebe Mae, will I finally uncover the truth?


GLENDALE, CA, 1930 – After thirteen years of wedded bliss, shortly before his demise and the birth of Charley, Doc and Phoebe pose for the camera in front of the home he built for her. Curse of the Ninth

Phoebe Mae

Did this sweet Phoebe Mae belong to “a fantastical religious cult, one of the causes of Doc’s infatuation” with her, as his ex-wife would later testify in court? Would his life be forever cursed the moment he first heard the young piano teacher play? Curse of the Ninth

EXTRA, EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! Did He Fall or Was He Pushed?

Excerpt from Curse of the Ninth:

GLENDALE, September, 1930: The year after the fall of Wall Street – The Stock Market Crash 1929.

“Dr. Belyea, who attended me, stated my ‘skull was fractured, three vertebrae were broken and the fall had cut a bad gash in the victim’s scalp.'” 

“Well, I certainly was the victim, but this was no accident. I must admit, dying wasn’t that painful, but it wasn’t quick either. Most agonizing were the memories I’d relive before exhaling my last breath. 

“I’m not proud of what I’d have to do. While exacting revenge had not been the goal, and it wouldn’t be sweet, staying connected to the love of my life, my darling, would be close to divine.”

Holiday Guests or As 2019 Swirls Down the Drain

My New Years’ Resolution is to get a second bathroom before the next holiday season!

photography of waterfalls between trees
Photo by Rifqi Ramadhan on
Sneaking in a moment for ourselves,
What could be more metaphorical
Than the overflowed tub
Or the near-severed thumb?
Bath water cascades over the rim
Blood dances onto the new parquet
To fraternize with the warm water
Oozing under the brand new floorboards.
Achilles-deep we stand in the flood
The jetsam and flotsam of our year.
Bone-weary, we don’t overreact
This shit happens, we still have our health.
All I had wanted was a moment
For Calgon to please take me away
All he’d asked was a minute to shave
Before the next bathroom squatter.


My book cover is here! My book cover is here!
After all these years, my book can finally sing out loud!
I have nothing but songs of praise for the staff over at #WiDo Publishing, a home for my book and a place that’s made me feel like family. More details to come.CurseofTheNinth_CVR_LRG.jpg