Posts Tagged ‘romantic mystery’

ImageTalking about Lola Cruz is one of my favorite things to do, and I’m so excited to be hanging out on The Dark Phantom today.  Bare-Naked Lola is the third Lola Cruz Mystery (Living the Vida Lola was first and then Hasta la Vista, Lola -4 1/2 stars from RT Book Reviews, came next). 


Despite the fact that it’s the third book in a series, I bet Lola Cruz mysteries are probably brand new to many of you. I thought I’d launch right into how she came to be.  I hope you end up loving her as much as I do!


There’s one thing that I’m asked (sometimes with raised eyebrows) as a writer of a Latina mystery series. 


Bet you can’t guess what the question is.


I’ll give you a hint.  I’m not Latina.  In fact, I say in my bio that I’m proud to be Latina-by-Marriage. 


So, the question is… drum roll…


“Why do you write a Latina character, and how did you manage to make her so authentic?” (My first editor, a Latina, felt that Lola Cruz was one of the most authentic Latina characters she’d read.  I felt so honored and as if I’d really done justice to the character and the culture when she told me that)


The short answer is: “I’m a writer, of course, so it all comes so easily!  Why not a Latina?” 


But that, of course, is a complete lie (the part about it coming easy, not the part about me being a writer). 


Writing is hard work, and it’s true that you have to write about what you know.  But, as I’ve already stated, I’m not Latina.  I’m a white girl from California now living in North Texas.  But I married a Latino man (21 years married now) and I’ve learned so much about his culture through the years of our relationship, so I really do feel as if I know Lola.  I know her from the outside looking in.  I know her though my children’s eyes.  I know her through my husband and his family.  His parents lived with us for several years, his sister is one of my best friends and is the sister I never had, and so many elements of the Mexican culture speak to me.  So I write this series and write Lola because there is so much beauty in the Mexican culture and it truly speaks to me.


When we had children, it became even more important that we find ways to bring that culture into our American lives, to show the kids the culture that is part of their history, and for them to embrace that part of them.  When the character of Lola Cruz (given name Dolores) came to me, it felt right because in so many ways I felt that this family that I’d created in my mind represented so many things I wanted to emphasize about the Mexican culture for my kids.  The family, the faith, the language, the food, the traditions…  But I also wanted to show how these elements can be balanced within an American life.  


Lola balances (or struggles to balance) life with the cultural and familial expectations placed on her with her own passions and desires which stem from living as an American.  I was particularly careful and conscious not to slip into stereotypes, and when people comment that my characters are so authentic and non-stereotypical, I take great pride in that!


So, who is Lola Cruz?  Here she is in a nutshell:


Dolores “Lola” Cruz: Part Crusader, Part Swashbuckler, Part Sage




Lola’s single, a good Catholic girl (usually), but willing to do a lot to live her dream of being a detective.  She works for muy misterioso Manny Camacho, has always loved old high school crush Jack Callaghan, and has a modern day rogue for a brother.  The long and the short of it is that Lola can definitely hold her own in any situation, even when her mother’s berating her for having a career instead of marriage and children, when her mafioso grandfather has her doing ‘family’ work, and when her grandmother thinks she’s a ghost.


The Look:


Long auburn hair with copper highlights, hips and boobs and curves to spare, stripper shoes (to go with her strip list), and a wardrobe full of clothes that Jack Callaghan can’t resist her in.  A belly button ring…maybe.  A black belt in kung fu and a love of yoga make her fit and strong.


Leading Man:


Jack Callaghan, newspaper columnist with a past and some baggage that prevents him and Lola from moving forward.  Who is Sarah, anyway?


The Bottom Line:


Lola Cruz is a feisty heroine.  She’s smart, sexy, and sassy.  She’s a great friend, loyal, and kick ass.  I like to say she’s my alter ego (if I were a super hot, sexy, smart Latina detective).


So, that’s Lola’s story.  What do you think?  I’d love to hear!  Oh! I have a copy of Hasta la Vista, Lola! (book 2 in the series) for one commenter.  The books don’t have to be read in order.  They stand alone as mysteries, although the relationship between Lola and Jack develops with each book.


Meet the characters!  Read Lola and her crew’s On-Line Dating profiles.


ImageAbout Melissa Bourbon


Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas.  She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.


She is the marketing director at Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur and Entangled Publishing, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox and two romantic suspense titles.


Visit Melissa at her website | Twitter Page | Facebook Home | Goodreads | and Books on the House, a website bringing books and readers together!


Join Melissa’s mailing list at her website:  http://misaramirez.com 


About Bare Naked Lola


Going undercover is second nature for Private Investigator Lola Cruz, but she’s out of her league when the case of a murdered Royals Courtside Dancer leads her to a local nudist resort. Parading around the sidelines of Sacramento’s professional basketball scene in a barely-there cheerleading outfit is one thing—but parading around in nothing but smile? If she has any chance of hiding this from her traditional family and on-again/off-again boyfriend Jack, she’s going to have a lot more than her duct tape bra and killer dance moves to keep under wraps….


Get your copy of Bare-Naked Lola at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!




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dreamordestiny_frontcover_web_small-185x300Authors who write for large New York publishers often don’t see the cover art for their books until the cover has already been printed. I’m fortunate that my small press publisher, GASLight Publishing LLC, allowed me to have input into the cover design of Dream or Destiny.
The cover designer submitted a great first draft. The body of a woman in a nightgown lay on her side on a hardwood floor, and the spine of the book looked like a blood-splattered door jamb. However, in Dream or Destiny, the victim was shot while lying on her back in bed, and there was no blood-splattered door jamb in the story.

I gave the publisher several suggestions, but the cover designer couldn’t find stock photos that would work with any of my ideas. He suggested several photo Web sites, but the publisher and I couldn’t find anything that fit the story. GASLight’s publishing plan didn’t include original artwork, but we all became increasingly frustrated with the cover. Now I understood why book covers don’t always match the contents of the books.

Although we always hear that you can’t judge a book by its cover, people do. Readers often choose books based on the author, published reviews, or recommendations from people they trust. Otherwise, customers in bookstores typically look at the front cover, then read the back cover blurb, and finally open the book and read a few paragraphs. The cover art, blurb, and opening have to capture readers’ attention or they will return the book to the shelf.

I help my clients who self-publish come up with the right covers for their books, and I wasn’t going to be satisfied with anything less for my own story. I talked to artist Aundrea Hernandez, who has created covers for several of my clients, and got a quote for original artwork for the cover illustration. Then I approached the publisher and offered to split the cost of the artwork. GASLight agreed, and I sent Aundrea an excerpt from the book. She sent us several sketches, and the publisher and I made suggestions. Aundrea kept refining the illustration until we all agreed it was perfect.

The vague and shadowy murderer Marilee envisioned in her dream, a smoking gun, and a bright splatter of blood occupy the top of the cover. Below the title and author name Marilee sits up in bed, eyes wide with the terror she felt on waking from her dream. The picture on the cover perfectly matches the opening scene of the story.

Does the cover of Dream or Destiny make you want to read the book? Do you have any cover art horror stories or any happy stories of perfect cover art to share? I’ll also be glad to answer any other questions you might have. Just leave a comment, and I’ll be back to answer later in the day.

Lillie Ammann is on a blog book tour for her second novel, the romantic mystery Dream or Destiny. You can read reviews, a free excerpt, and the tour schedule on her Web site. As a freelance writer and editor, Lillie specializes working with self-publishing authors. She blogs books, authors, writing, editing, and publishing at A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye, where she covers. She and her husband Jack live in San Antonio, Texas.

About Dream or Destiny: Marilee Anderson dreams about a murder and wakes to find it really happened. She and David Nichols, the victim’s brother, become the prime suspects. Though they have their secrets and aren’t sure they can trust each other, Marilee and David team up to find the killer in this psychic suspense.

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