Mystery Writers of America – Noir at the Bar


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Last Sunday I attended my first full Mystery Writers of America meeting. I have kind of dropped in to meetings before but have had to leave quickly. This past Sunday felt like the first day of high school. I walked into a room, completely self-conscious about my hair, my clothes, and wondering if my breath smelled pleasant. I said’ Hello’ to a few people who I have worked with in applying and submitting a blog post.


The writers were on break from the first half of the reading series. So, people were standing around, drinking beer, cocktails, eating French Fries and other awesomely looking bar food. I took a seat in a booth in the back, way back of the room, and hid.


The meeting was again called to order and the host proceeded to read an author’s bio and introduction. The first new reader came to the stage and read from her novel. While I was listening to the reader I was wondering if I was going to be called to read. I had emailed MWA a few weeks prior to state my interest in reading, but I wondered if they had forgotten. No one had asked me for a bio, so maybe I wasn’t going to read. I started to have anxiety. I have not read in public since before my kiddo was born, that was almost a year ago.


Another reader was called up. Then another. All of the readers had a novel, or novels! They were all splendid. Then I heard “Cynthia Pelayo.” Oh dear. They did have my bio. I was going to read in front of these wonderful writers. My look of terror was evident when the host asked if I was going to read. I nodded and dug my hand into my messenger bag and took out my computer. “What am I going to read?” I thought. I had an idea what I was going to read. I had even practiced, but it was a new piece and it wasn’t yet published and I felt…embarrassed.


I got to the stage and briefly introduced myself and explained how my attendance at meetings was lacking since I was a new mom and kiddo needed my time. I looked at the title of my story and thought “Should I really read this? This is a really graphic story.” It is titled “Lake” and I proceeded to read three pages of my short story. I found myself censoring language as I went along, afraid of the graphic content in this urban myth serial killer tale. When I finished I sort of just scampered off the stage, but there was clapping! Very loud clapping and my hand was not just grabbed once, but four times by other authors in the crowd saying “That was wonderful.” My heart was racing and I was so happy and I thought “I’m doing this. I’m a writer.” I stayed for the remainder of the reading, and afterward shared stories with a police sergeant who is also an MWA member and other writers. One of the writers, told me to send him my novel, short story collection and to keep writing what I had just read.


The MWA meeting was such a great injection of energy. I needed that, needed a reminder that I am good. I am a writer.





NaPoWriMo 2014!

So, I nearly forgot that it’s one of my favorite months, April, and that means it’s NaPoWriMo! In addition to writing one story a week this year I am also participating in NaPoWriMo. Last year’s NaPoWriMo is currently being drafted for a poetry collection, and that along with the work I produce this month will be the culmination of that collection. Therefore, I’m not particularly sure I can post the poems again this year, which I’m a bit sad about.


Nonetheless, I will post the titles of each poem that I produce each day. I think that may be a good measure. I also will start updating you on how my story a month process is going, which it’s going pretty well. I have several short stories I have developed and I’m looking forward to writing and editing more.


Regarding my reading, I’ve been doing a lot of research for my poetry collection and I have several books coming in today that I’m very much looking forward to pouring through. I’m now reading The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. Last week, I finished reading the detective classic by Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon and I’ve been thinking of Sam Spade since! In keeping with the detective theme, I will be reading with the Mystery Writers Association of America this Saturday in my lovely city of Chicago. We’re going to read detective and mystery stories at a local pub and I’m looking forward to spending time with some wonderful writers.


In other news, Burial Day Books will be participating in the Pop-Up Book Fair at the Hemingway Museum in Oak Park this Saturday. This spring is already turning out to be very busy, but busy is good.




Toasting Poe, again and again

Hello friends!


As you all know, I’m a member of the Mystery Writers of America. Since I’m based in the Midwest, I am part of their Midwest chapter, which is full of fantastic writers.


Recently, I wrote an article for their newsletter on Edgar Allan Poe, and my frequent visits to his cemetery to pay tribute to the author so many of us mystery writers adore.


Here is a link to the newsletter which contains my article.

Read and enjoy!


Latino book awards

These past few days have been intense, and wonderful.


First off, the sequel to SANTA MUERTE is almost done! Yes, finally! I’m really enjoying where this story is going, and I feel a little saddened by the content around this book. Still, while it’s sad, because it deals with some troubling  true events, I am happy with it. I hope to have it completed and off to the editor for review soon.


Second, the poetry collection is moving…slowly. I’m trying to complete the sequel of SANTA MUERTE and the poetry collection at the same time so then I can move on to my next novel. My third novel is about a third of the way through, but there’s so much editing to go. I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time with that book over the summer. My third novel will be sent out to agents, and I hope, hope, hope that this third novel will be the one that will finally find me an agent.


Third, I am now an AWARD WINNING AUTHOR. Do you like all-caps? Well, good, because I’m now an AWARD WINNING AUTHOR. My first novel, SANTA MUERTE, released by Post Mortem Press, was nominated for the Best Young Adult Fiction category for an International Latino Book Award ( If you are nominated you are considered an award winning author. The awards will be announced in Las Vegas during the American Library Association convention.


I was interviewed by Gozamos last week, and they asked me about my feelings being nominated. Here’s the article. Read it!


I’ve written a few short stories as well. I’m still participating in A Story A Week for 2014 and I’m trying to write one short story each week. There is one call for submission that I want to write the perfect ghost story for, but I’ve been obsessing over which type of ghost story to write. I really want to get in this anthology.


Off to write I go.


Thanks for reading friends. I’ll post updates again next week.



It’s multiple project madness!


I’ve been doing a lot lately, too much, like always. Here is just a quick round up of what I’m working on and what I’ve been doing. I promise to update you all more, each week from now on!



Capricon 34

Burial Day Books attended Capricon 34. We shared a table with two wonderful authors that are part of the Post Mortem Press family with me; Chris Larsen, author of LOSING TOUCH ( and Michael Matula, author of TRY NOT TO BURN (


Next up, is


Pop-Up Book Fair!
On April 12th, Burial Day Books will be at the Pop-Up Book Fair at The Ernest Hemingway Museum in Oak Park, Illinois.



I was interviewed about my novel SANTA MUERTE, my short story collection LOTERIA, my writing projects and Burial Day Books on My Paranormal Experience Live. The link is below if you want to listen in. It was a great time



I wrote the below article on witch markets for Atlas Obscura. It was great research and I’m looking forward to my next couple of articles for them. They are a great website. Check them out!



I’m still trying to finish up SANTA MUERTE 2, and a poetry collection and another novel. Oh, and I’m writing one short story a week for the rest of the year. My next blog post will be all about that. This year, I want to focus on these projects, as I feel like that’s enough.


Mystery Writers of America

I’m a member now! It’s official! Yay! I’m writing for their newsletter, interviewing fellow young adult authors, and just writing random, fun blog posts for them. I’m honored and very glad to be a part of MWA!


Thanks for checking in friends!


Mysterious Plane Disappearances


We at Burial Day Books have the families of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that went missing after leaving Kuala Lumpur in our thoughts right now.

We have flown frequently in the past, and long distance flights do stir our fears and anxieties, more particularly my fears and anxieties. The Undertaker is a levelheaded flier. Each time we have been on an airplane and the aircraft hits a pocket of turbulence I feel the blood rush from my face, I dig my fingernails into his hand and I stop breathing. The Undertaker will then whisper to me ‘We’re on a bus, and we’ve hit a bump. That is all.’ While his words are kind, I can’t relax on board a plane. I frequently have nightmares about planes, because I have read so much about mysterious disappearances that involve aircraft. The recent event of the missing Malaysia flight has kept me up reading about recent findings, and thinking about the passengers and their families. It’s strange to think that planes can go missing in this modern age, but strangely they do. Below is a list of famous missing aircraft.

  • The most famous flight disappearance is that involving Amelia Earhart in 1937.  Earhart, and her navigator Fred Noonan, disappeared in her Lockheed Electra on her attempt to circumnavigate the globe. She was the first woman to fly independently across the Atlantic, and she was nearing the end of her around-the-world trip when her plane disappeared over Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean.
  • In Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince [SPOILER ALERT] the story ends with the narrator searching for the Little Prince who had previously stepped away with the snake, but when the narrator awakes to search for the Little Prince he is nowhere to be found. In 1944, while in the military, Saint-Exupéry too disappeared like his Little Prince. He was on his last reconnaissance mission when his plane disappeared.
  • I have spent much time researching the Bermuda Triangle, and the Bermuda Triangle is such a fascinating phenomenon that it deserves its own blog post one day, but for now, I wanted to cover a few flights that went missing over that area, and beyond. For those unfamiliar with the Bermuda Triangle, it’s the points between the Florida peninsula, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda. A number of aircraft and ships have mysteriously disappeared in this area, which have led a variety of government officials and paranormal investigative groups to investigate the location.

The legend of the Bermuda Triangle was cemented on December 5th 1945 with Flight 19. Five Navy Avenger planes set off on a series of training exercises. After an hour into their flight, pilots began reporting that they felt disoriented and were unable to recognize landmarks below. Pilots even reported that the compass on board their planes had malfunctioned. All five planes disappeared , which included 14 airmen and 13 crew members.  An airplane that set out to search for the training mission also disappeared.

In recent years, there has been growing suspicion over the numbers “19” and “191” in relation to air travel. In 1967, experimental X-15 Flight 191 crashed killing its pilot. In 1979, American Airlines flight 191 crashed shortly after take-off from O’Hare International Airport killing all 258 passengers and 13 crew members. In 2012, JetBlue Airways flight 191’s pilot had to be restrained by passengers when he had a sudden panic attack. Many airlines have since retired the use of the use of the use of the “191” number.

Other flights that have mysteriously disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle include British South American Airways Star Tiger, which went missing in 1948 and the Star Ariel that went missing in 1949.

Again, our thoughts are with the families of Malaysian flight 370. These mysteries are tragic and heart wrenching for so many.


Happy 205th Birthday Edgar Allan Poe


Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s 205th birthday and here at Burial Day Books we honor the master of the short story, inventor of the fictional detective, and the man who perfected the horror tale. Poe’s contributions to American literature are staggering.  Often Poe’s shadowy life marred in tragedy overshadows his work, but don’t be fooled by the deceptive characterization that his rival, Rufus Wilmot Griswold, portrayed of Poe in his scathing obituary of him.

As a young man Poe saw many people he loved die terribly from illness, including his mother, Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe, and his young wife, Virginia Clemm. These early images of beautiful women sickly and in death are recurring themes in his works, such as in The Raven, Annabel Lee and The Fall of the House of Usher.

Yet, beyond the melancholy we must see the brilliance. In addition to writing the macabre Poe explored technology in the emerging genre of science fiction with The Balloon-Hoax, and even his prose-poem Eureka which demonstrates how difficult it is for artists to take science seriously. He also invented an entirely new genre of fiction, detective fiction, with the invention of C. Auguste Dupin, the first ever detective who solves crime through logic and reasoning.

Beyond poetry and fiction Poe was an editor and a literary critic and wrote articles reviewing writers such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Sir Walter Scott.

Today, take a moment to read Berenice, MS. Found in a Bottle, Ligeia, The Devil in Belfry, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, William Wilson, or even The Raven. Do this in memory of Poe, a great American writer whose memory should be ever preserved.


The happiest of New Year’s to you!

Last year was a whirlwind, or more like a consistent stream of wonderful work, and we are still trying to catch up. 2013 was just an incredible year and we can only thank you for continuing to support us and all that we do.

In 2014, we hope to bring you more fantastic work by established and emerging writers. We will be working on a slight redesign of our logo with our artist. We will also be working on a series of blogs, guest bloggers, and of course a new Gothic Blue Book! We are working on the new guidelines for the 2014 Gothic Blue Book, which will be up in a few months.

For now, we invite you to review our current content and standby for a flood of great stories and poems this month.

We thank you, wholeheartedly for your support. You are the reason why we do this. You are great friends and great supporters.

May this year bring you and your family immense health, happiness and prosperity!

Now, forward to great writing!


Feliz Ano Nuevo! Happy New Year!

It’s 2014. I like looking at those numbers – two, zero, one and four. There’s something brilliant and shocking about saying that we are in the year we are. Time moves so fast. The numbers tell us that.


Last year moved so quickly and I expect this year will feel like a blink. I hope to be able to slow things down a little, while still writing hard. Last year I published a handful of short stories, wrote a short poetry collection and began two novels. This year, I hope to complete those two novels and I’m participating in this monster of a project with the wonderful writer Jessica Mchugh and others.


Mchugh says that “2014 is the year of #AStoryAWeek,” and I am so looking forward to this delightful challenge. According to the guidelines a “story is a story, no matter how small.” I can totally do that. Whether I craft a piece that’s 60 or 6,000 words each week I’m on track. It can also be “edited, and polished for submission, or it can be super-rough first draft.” McHugh’s motto is “think in ink.” You have to write. You have to challenge yourself with one word on the page after the other. If you don’t do that then you’re not a writer. If you put words on a page then you’re a writer. If some of your writing gets published, then bonus! You’re a published writer.


Each week I’m going to post the title of the short story I have written, perhaps with a summary guide; word count and genre. I this is the kick in the face I need. What I also like about Mchugh’s guide is that she says to experiment. If you’re a dark fiction or horror writer perhaps write something different the following week and the next. This is a great opportunity to explore writing with other writers and even that alone will make this a wonderful 2014.


Here is a link to Jessica McHugh’s #AStoryAWeek post that lists the other writers involved.


I pray that this New Year brings me and you a thousand blessings, and more. I hope that we will celebrate health, happiness and prosperity together. Be kind to one another. Make the world a better place. Peace and love.



Things and Happenings

Sooooo, I have been very busy…mostly with the day job and with my little boy. It was our son’s first Christmas, and so him enjoying this time of year took priority over everything.


There are a few new updates that I have, but not too many. They are all very general in nature. First of all, the writing is going good! I’m wrapping up two novels now. I’ll be blogging soon for a great writerly organization and I’ll be attending some book fairs and conventions. There will also be a flood of short stories in 2014.


I’m looking forward to 2014. I have some great and interesting projects coming up and I look forward to telling you all about the things I’m working on. I’m also looking forward to chatting with more of my writerly followers in 2014! So, please, follow what I’m up to J


Today I spent most of the day making tamales. I posted a picture of the progress on Twitter. One of my Twitter followers said they had never had a tamale. Below is a recipe I put together. If you have time, a lot of time, you should try it out! If you’re not the tamale type, I placed a link below of the BEST sugar cookies I have ever made. The cookie recipe was simple and yielded quite a lot.


Do you think you have what it takes for these tamales?

Warning: This takes a LONG time, five hours’ worth of time. You will need to make the dough and the filling. You will also need to prepare corn husks and will need a steamer.


Corn Husks:

Place the corn husks in a large pot. Cover them completely with warm water and allow to soak for 20 minutes (at least) until they are soft and pliable. I like to do this first and then work on all of the other parts of the recipe.


Tamale Dough:

4 cups of Masa Harina corn flour (It looks like this!


4 cups of vegetable broth


2 teaspoons of baking powder


1/3 cup of olive oil


Directions: In a large bowl, combine the masa harina, broth, salt, baking powder and oil. Mix until dough is fluffy. Cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator while you work on the other parts.


Vegetarian Filling:

1 cup of frozen corn


Salsa verde (If you like a bit of space, add this! You can just purchase this canned. Here are some examples of brands you can buy: The Rick Bayless brand is my favorite:


Directions: Boil the frozen corn. That’s it!



Chicken Filling:

1 pound of chicken breast


8 ounce Hunts tomato sauce


8 ounce jalapeno peppers in sauce (If you like a bit of spice, add this. It looks like this!


½ teaspoon of salt


Directions: Boil chicken breast and salt for 40 minutes. Once done, place chicken breast in glass bowl. Pour the juice from the jalapeno peppers into the bowl. Then, pour the tomato sauce. With a fork in each hand, proceed to shred the chicken until all of it is shredded finely.



Take a corn husk and lay it flat. Spread 2 tablespoons starting from the center across and upward. It should be a thin layer across, not too thick or you will not be able to roll this closed. Drop 1 tablespoon of your preferred filling in the center. Carefully roll up the tamale, making sure to encase the filling completely in the corn husk. We like to fold once from left to right, then again right to left and then finally lifting up the thinnest part of the cornhusk upward. That’s one way. Another way is rolling it up and tying both ends. If you like, you can tie both ends with heavy duty kitchen string. Loosely pack the tamales into a large steamer basket. Steam for 4-5 hours. Some recipes call to steam them for 30-40 minutes. I don’t know how that’s possible. We steam them for 4-5 hours until they feel firm to the touch. Serve with your favorite guacamole and chips as a side.


Don’t want tamales and just want to bake sugar cookies instead? THIS was the recipe that won Christmas for me. Enjoy!


Best of luck!