Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Guest Blogger: Misa Ramirez & Giveaway

Yesterday, I reviewed a cute mystery book called LIVING THE VIDA LOLA by Misa Ramirez. You can read my review here. I really enjoyed the book, and I thought it was highly entertaining (and very funny.) I am definitely looking forward in the next book in the series HASTA LA VISTA, LOLA which is available next month.

So without further ado, I'd like to welcome the author of the Lola Cruz mysteries, Misa Ramirez, to Booking Mama.

Thanks for hosting me today, Julie. Your site is such an inspiration. Books, books, and more books. What’s not to LOVE?!

I’m thrilled to be on a blog tour to celebrate the upcoming release of Hasta la Vista, Lola!, the second book in the Lola Cruz Mystery Series. Since Lola Cruz is probably brand new to most 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 (and sometimes not asked verbally, but 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?”

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

That’s 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 Texas. But I married a smokin’ Latino man (almost 20 years married now) and I’ve learned so much about his culture through the years of our relationship so I do 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... 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 the 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

Stats: 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, Latina detective).

Lola’s next adventure has her investigating her own death–and Jack’s mysterious ex-girlfriend. There’s never a dull moment in her life!

So, that’s Lola’s story. What do you think? I’d love to hear!

Hasta la Vista, Lola! comes out February 2, 2010. Here’s the teaser:

What’s a girl to do when she finds out she’s been killed? Pinch herself to make sure she’s not a ghost, for starters. When Dolores Cruz comes home to her parents’ house to find every relative she has mourning her death, all hell breaks loose. With the help of on-again/off-again love Jack Callaghan, and juggling a new case thrown at her by muy misterioso boss Manny Camacho, it’s up to fledgling detective Lola to find out who’s behind the identity theft and suddenly wants her dead.

Click here to read an excerpt from the second installment in the Lola Cruz Mystery Series.

Living the Vida Lola, book one in the Lola Cruz Mystery Series

Dolores Cruz (Lola for short) loves shoes, chicken mole, kung fu (she’s a black belt) and her close-knit family. When her brother’s hunky old high school friend Jack Callaghan moves back to town, Lola falls hard. Now, after a year and a half as an underling at Camacho and Associates, a local private investigation firm, her oh-so-sexy and mysterious boss, Manny Camacho, assigns Lola her first big case: solving the mysterious disappearance of Emily Diggs. Can Lola juggle two men, her loving but demanding family, her PI exams, solve her all-important first case, and shop for fabulous shoes?


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

Join Misa’s mailing list at http://misaramirez.com

.There are recipes and more on her web site. Also, check out Chasing Heroes where it’s all about...heroes!

Thanks again for having me here, Julie! Keep Booking.

I'd like to thank Ms. Ramirez stopping by and sharing with us some information about her very fun Lola Cruz mystery books. Ms. Ramirez has graciously offered to giveaway a copy of her second book in the series HASTA LA VISTA to one lucky reader. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment with a valid email address telling me one of your favorite female mystery characters. This contest will be open until Monday, February 8th at 11:59 p.m. ET, and I will notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!


lag123 said...

I love Stephanie Plum and Ellie Haskell. Thank you for having this giveaway!


Karlie said...

Stephanie Plum! Thanks for the giveaway.

bermudaonion said...

Nice guest post. It's nice to know Ramirez has such a respect for the culture she writes about. I like Kinsey Millhone. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

Deborah said...

well since i'm in my nancy drew phase, i'm going to have go with her! please enter me!

Misa said...

Thanks again for having me here, Julie! This has been so much fun. =) lag123 and Karlie, if you are Stephanie Plum fans, you HAVE to give Lola a try!! You'll like her.

Misa said...

I definitely do respect the culture, bermudiaonion (fun handle!!). My husband and I want our children to embrace it and carry it on. In such a melting pot society, it's often hard, and there is prejudice here in the South (we moved from California 1 1/2 years ago) and they see it and hate it. They are are American, but they are proud of being Mexican and so they are layered (like an onion!), which is what I wanted Lola to be.

Misa said...

Love Nancy Drew growing up, Deborah!

Tracy said...

I gotta say Stephanie Plum - if Lola is half as funny as Stephanie is, I think I'll love these books! :)

Misa said...

Thanks for stopping by, Tracy! I do think Lola is as funny as Stephanie, though the humor is a little different. Stephanie stumbles into her career which is where a lot of the humor comes from (at least in the early books--I haven't read one in a long time!). Lola is in her career by design. The humor is more her than situational, I think. And her family, of course, like Julie mentioned.

I'm sure you'd love it so I hope you'll give it a try!

Beth F said...

I love the sound of these books and of Lola. I read a lot of mysteries so it's hard to pick a favorite but I'm going with Bennie Harper from Earlene Fowler's series. Bennie is married to a "smokin’ Latino man" too.

Beth F said...

Shoot. I forgot my email addy:

BFish (dot) Reads (at) gmail (dot) com

Nancye said...

Sounds like a great read! Thanks for the chance!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Sandy Nawrot said...

You just can't go wrong with a name like Lola! All girls with that name must be spunky and feisty. Loved the guest post, and love the fact that Ramirez is a Gringo writing about a Latina! As far a fun mysteries, you can beat Stephanie Plum. For the edgier mystery, I am enchated with Lisbeth Salander (of the Dragon Tattoo).

Victoria said...

I haven't read mystery in awhile, but I'll have to say Kay Scarpetta is my favorit mystery character!

Thank you for the giveaway! I'd love to win this!


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, babe. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

tetewa said...

Stephanie Plum and Kay Scarpetta are my favorites! tWarner419@aol.com

Benita said...

As a youngster I loved Nancy Drew. I haven't read any mysteries with female protagonists in awhile.


Katy said...

This sounds like such a fun series! :)

A few of my favorites include Kinsey Millhone, Trixie Belden, and Torie O'Shea.

srfbluemama at gmail dot com

Stacie said...

I loved Precious Ramotswe from the #1 Ladies Detective Agency. Thanks for the great interview and giveaway!

mindy said...

this looks just wonderful thanks for the giveaway minsthins at optonline dot net

Sandy Jay said...

I love Stephanine Plum. Thanks for the giveaway.

forwhlz at gmail dot com

Katrina said...

to be honest I have to admit to have never read a mystery with a female protaganist....that is really sad especially since I am about to finish my degree in library science to become a librarian

ykatrina at hotmail dot com

enyl said...

I like Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta, and Ardella Garland's Georgia Barnet.

Anonymous said...

Living in Cali and Texas, you could claim "Latina" by osmosis :-) I love that you've raised your kids to appreciate their heritage. I'm doing as much as I can to do the same with my youngest, who's half-Vietnamese.

I really enjoyed your guest post :-D


Misa said...

I have to say that you are ALL awesome! So great to respond as you have today. It's a joy to share Lola with people. Of course, even if you don't win, I sure hope you'll all give Living the Vida Lola, and then Hasta la Vista, Lola! (thought they don't have to be read in order!) a go and maybe she'll end up on one of your favorite lists in the future!

Julie, I can't thank you enough for hosting me. You rock, girl!

holdenj said...

I enjoyed your review so much, I went and reserved it at the library today! How fun to have a chance to win the second one. I really like Hannah Swenson and of course, Stephanie Plum.

Linda Henderson said...

Well my favorite mystery heroine was actually in a tv series and it was Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote. When I was young I read all the Nancy Drew books I could put my hands on.

seriousreader at live dot com

Aik said...

Stephanie Plum!

aikychien at yahoo dot com

D Q said...

I love Agatha Raisin. She's just so quirky.

Bani said...

Nancy Drew. My dad always bought those books for me when I was young.

wakeupangel at gmail dot com

samovar said...

i love aimée leduc by kara black, who sleuths in paris! my e-mail is apd41(at)free.fr
but i have a friend in the US you could mail it to! thanks!

Beth (BBRB) said...

Definitely Stephanie Plum! Love her!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Unknown said...

I found your blog by Googling Misa Ramirez, how exciting! It looks great and I've bookmarked it for the future.

Just want to say that yes if you like Stephanie Plum you WILL like Lola. I absolutely love the first Lola book and can't wait for the 2nd, counting the days. :)

My favorite is and I hate to sound like a broken record but Stephanie Plum, you have got to love her! I'm also a big fan of Finley Anderson Tanner (Yes, F.A.T! lol) by Rhonda Pollero, Chrissy McMullen by Lois Greiman, Kate Holly by Charlotte Hughes, Pauline Sokol by Lori Avocato, and Isabel Spellman from by Lisa Lutz. I suggest any of these to Stephanie Plum/Lola fans :)

E-mail: irresistibly[at]gmail.com

Beth F said...

I'm just writing up my sign-up post now! So excited.

Dawn M. said...

I'm another Stephanie Plum fan. :0) Although I also like Harry Harristeen from the Rita Mae Brown books.

This sounds like a really fun series. I'd love the chance to read one of the books.

librarygrinch at gmail dot com

Misa said...

It is so awesome to see so many of you interested in Hasta la Vista, Lola! Even if you don't win, I sure hope you'll give the book a try!

Jennifer said...

I love Stephanie Plum.

This sounds like a great series with great characters, I will definitely add them to my TBR list! Thanks for the great giveaway!


bless their hearts mom said...

lola sounds like a latina mix of stephanie plum and izzy spellman-my fav females!

books sounds like fun!

Margie said...

I always liked Miss Marple, although she is very old school now.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Anita Yancey said...

One of my favorite mystery characters is Stephanie Plum from the Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich. I read every book she writes. Please enter me. Thanks!


Deb said...

Eve Dallas--hands down favorite. A close second is Stephanie Plum.

deborah150 at hotmail dot com

Jolee said...

Love you blog site. Please enter me in the giveaway. :)

Tara said...

I love Stephanie Plum and Kinsey Milhone.

Jenna said...

Nacy Drew! (can't forget childhood memories)

papajm25 @ gmail . com