The Mexican Rose (House of Cartels Trilogy)
Hi, Alex, it's awesome to have you visiting and sharing with our readers. I would love to have you tell us a little bit about yourself and The Mexican Rose. The story certainly appears to be full of danger,  drama, and excitement. 
I hail from the Lone Star State of Texas. In Elementary and Junior High Schools I discovered my deep writing skills, landing him in the Writer's Honor Society. Growing up as a targeted teen, I constantly dodged the local gangs called 'pachucos' and left the tough barrios of San Antonio after convincing my parents on a very tight budget to enroll me in a rowdy elitist and tequila-infused college prep school in Guadalajara, Mexico.
I constantly kept a personal journal and continued to hone his literary craft by detailing the turbulent world surrounding him. At the local market one day, I discovered the Huichole Indians of Nayarit and soon he and his bohemian class-mates joined the 'marakame' shamans in their annual pilgrimage to Real De Catorce for the scared peyote ritual. It was a Jack Kerouac moment to be free and on the road. It is at this nexus that I became enlightened to the spirit world....
I traveled throughout Mexico and Guatemala as a photo-journalist and collected folk art for my curio shop Cuatro Caminos in Austin, Texas, voted the best Mexican Art Gallery by Texas Monthly Magazine. Throughout life's journey, I came to understand these indigenous cultures and share the secrets of their longevity.
The mystical Zapotec Indian tribe of Oaxacan rug weavers introduced me to the healing and cleansing powers of mushrooms called 'La Familia' for its small bunches. In the mountains of Olinala, Guerrero, the Nahuatl Indian wood carvers taught me the use of herbal teas as a natural poultice and pain-killer, praising it's therapeutic properties. Both tribal experiences resonate in my writings.
I later returned to study linguistics at Cuahanahuac in Cuernavaca, Morelos, living with a Mexican family for one year to immerse myself in modern Mexico. This led to my fascination with Mayan culture; I travelled through the Mayan Highlands to Palenque and the rich exotic rainforest and lush jungles for several years. Later I fell passionately in love with the Mexican Caribbean and Yucatan where Tulum, Coba, Uxmal and Chichen Itza lie. I studied marine life and learned to scuba dive while learning local customs amongst the Mayans.
The locals shared their custom of 'El Abuelo'(grandfather) or Ayahuasca', 'spirit vine' of the Peruvian Andes, a legal powerful medicine derived from an Amazonian tree bark and vine. Botanists say it is the 'Tree of Life' and the Incas referred to it as the infamous Spanish quest for the 'Fountain of Youth'. Ritualists claim it to release your inner body, soul and mind. I’m currently researching the claims for a future book on psycho-tropics in the modern world of medicine.
My  early literary and film influences include Charles Dickens, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Heinlein, Kahlil Gibran, Francis Ford Coppola, Lee Strasberg, Costa Gravas, Carlos Fuentes, Isabel Allende, Hunter S. Thompson and Carlos Castaneda. Philosophical influences include Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Jefferson Clinton. Artistic influences include Pablo Picasso, Frieda Kahlo, Georgia O'Keefe, Jackson Pollock, Rufino Tamayo, and Banksey to name a few.
I have bungee jumped once, parasailed many times, co-piloted single and twin engine airplanes, climbed the Pyramids of Chichen-Itza, Uxmal, Xuphil and Palenque, survived the Chichonal volcano explosion, hiked on Iztlaccihuatl y Popocatepetl volcanoes, canoed the Usumacinta river, been lost in the Lacandon rainforest for one day and has scuba dived 60 ft. in the Caribbean and deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean, all in my younger days.
I’m now a semi-retired Ex-Pat, residing in Merida, Yucatan and Cancun, Q.R. When not writing, I can be found cooking Tex-Mex fusion foods and Mexican cuisine dishes, climbing more Mayan pyramids and swinging in a hammock with a tropical breeze to my back.
How did you decided to enter the world of writing?
As a youth, I always kept a travel journal and always wrote short stories but made the leap last year into deep, dark writing as I had more free time. My first two full-length novels, The Mexican Rose and American Beauty, took exactly one year to write and rewrite. From July 4th, 2011-July 2012. The editing took several weeks along with the final proof-read. Corazon E-Books published The Mexican Rose August 18th, on Delorean’s, my niece, birthday!
What does your family think of your writing?
They are very supportive as I had also done a few free-lance online magazines for the electronic Dance Music scene in Texas circa 1996 which inspired my niece to become the publisher at her high-school newspaper at Lamar in Houston, Texas where Dan Rather attended.
Where do you get your ideas?
My travels, my friends, my heart, my mind and lately international events. You know the cartels are one of the most powerful underground groups right in both countries of Mexico and The USA. I think the governments are closely tied to some but I drop more bombs in the next installment of The House Of Cartels, American Beauty.  
Can you tell us a little about your book?
When her husband is brutally murdered in broad daylight, activist-turned-schoolteacher Rosa Rios finds herself immersed in the blood soaked world of the Mexican drug cartels. She and her fly-by-night sister Mercedes travel across a lush, storied Latin American landscape, from the decaying seaside city of Acapulco to the mystical pyramids of Palenque. 

Rosa’s quest for vengeance leads her to Ponchis, a brash young assassin whose actions determine the future of La Familia, the most prominent of the cartels. With him is Bruce, the charming American pilot with a nightmarish past. When American and Mexican politics collide with the world of organized crime and corruption is the norm, who can be trusted? Only the supposedly psychic healer Tamara Castro may know for sure.

The Mexican Rose is the first book in the House Of Cartels Trilogy. It bluntly depicts the erosion of the Mexican way of life in a way that shocks, educates and entertains.
What is your writing process?
I do my research in the late afternoon around sunset, catch-up on emails and all social network communications, all on copious amounts of coffee and my own Mexican food fusion. The coffee is from Chiapas, Mexico with raw brown sugar, chocolate and cinnamon. I need total silence to write. I have a roof-top garden with a palapa, a thatched roof patio, and I start writing on my laptop at ten pm or midnight until sunrise with white candles and copal incense burning. I have recipes on my web-blog-site, lol.
For writing The House Of Cartels Trilogy, being in this setting has been a huge asset. I don’t think I could have put the same feelings into it in the states.
Often, I will go into a dream for an hour before waking up and get visions of the next chapters or books. The breezes, tropical rains and sounds of the silence instill me into a transcendental Zen-Zone, my own form of meditation. Sometimes it feels like astral-projection travel. Very unusual since I am in the heart of the Mayan region.
Or I can just be walking around the Mexican market and see people that inspire or sadden me. One day I saw a man with three young daughters picking thru our dumpster for cardboard. They found an old tricycle and the youngest jumped right on. It’s very moving and that which pushes your humanity and soul. It gave me an idea about an orphanage for The Mexican Rose.
 I have three in my head right now plus the next novel almost complete in my trusty Dell laptop of six years.
What was the hardest part for you when working on your book?
Thinking about the real life stories of victims getting, well, sorry to be graphic but mutilated and beheaded. Lately, dozens of bodies have been found in Western Mexico. I live in Cancun and Merida and luckily the Mayans are not like their ancestors doing human sacrifices. Most of the narco-violence is on the US border and non-touristy ports like in Sinaloa and Veracruz. The stories about women becoming victims is especially hard since I have so many aunts and cousins. I have one hard-hitting chapter that is a must read.
What influenced or inspired you to write?
 Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Charles Dickens are my first literary heroes. Also growing up poor in San Antonio, Texas, reading and writing were my only escape hatches. I would checkout the limit of books from school library on the last school day and have them all summer. Later I had great older friends in college and some teachers while I was in Junior High who they turned me on to the New York Times and deeper thoughts on literature. I knew I wanted to be a journalist and later actually tried photo-journalism while travelling in Mexico and Guatemala.
Was there a scene that you didn’t add or you removed in your finished work?
My first editor took out a real steamy scene about Rosa Rios and her new fond lover in a sweat lodge. I kind of got pissed off about it but then thought I would add it back in the revised edition coming out this month. The great thing about E-publishing is that you go back and fix it easily. Whereas in print masses you are somewhat stuck if you do thousands. On POD, not so much, Publishing On Demand, the next BIG thing to happen in the literary world...just wait and see. You can order a book in the mall and come back in an hour, just like One-Hour Prints. Oops, I went off topic. My bad.

Do you have a favorite character (from you're book)? Why?
I love ALL my characters but ostensibly, Rosa Rios an activist turn housewife/mother/teacher and again back to activist , is the the main protagonist but also Ponchis, the sicario/assassin who is only 18. He reminds me of a Mexican Pip (from Great Expectations) gone terribly bad. Rosa is conflicted and strong-willed but guided by free-will but influenced by pre-determined or rather past events. I call it Free-Determination where one creates their own destiny yet is torn into thinking everything happens for a reason. Most women think of pre-determined events while most men think of free-will. I fall somewhere in-between, lol.  Ponchis truly represents many young teens here in Mexico that have experienced murdering someone whether for money, revenge or fun, which is really morbid but makes me stop to wonder what is that doing to the country’s psyche.
Do you already know what to write next? Can you tell us?
I have American Beauty, the sequel almost done plus I wanted to take a mental break from suspense and crime thrillers to do a cookbook called ‘La Cocina De Mi Madre’. It has memoirs of my childhood and famous family recipes that coverts Tex-Mex and Mexican fusion styles. Another two books are ‘Whatever-Land’ about the electronic music Rave scene circa 1999 since I did some publicity at one time for Rave promoters and the other is ‘Gods of the Luddites’ about the technological advancements that have displaced so many workers and creative writers and artists taking place in the year 2020. But the third book of the trilogy, Moment Of Truth, may be out by January. It will be a novella and nicely and tightly wrap-up these two cliff-hangers. It’s best to read them all in sequence to truly appreciate them. I wish I could say they are standalone novels but I wanted to recapture the true suspense feeling of the cliff-hanger movies or serials that were so popular like Star Wars and the Indiana Jones series. It just makes perfect sense to me but then again I am a big film fan as well.   
Where can we find more information about you and your books?
plus shameless self-promo

Do you have any last words?
Read, wr!te and research in no particular order but keep the mind moving. If you’re young, I recommend writing without the use of spell-check and try to get those words in your head spelled correctly without depending so much on a machine at least until you have mastered your language, any language. The same goes for basic math. I find too many errors in major websites and I often wonder if we are losing something that should be first and second nature to us as students of the world. The other is to travel, see another town, city, state or country. I find too many kids and even adults not ever having discovered the magic of travel. It WILL stretch your horizons, literally. And eat good, fresh foods that are healthy for your mind, body and spirit.
Thank you for sharing your work with us. Your book sounds fascinating and I look forward to reading it,  of course when I'm finished with my series, lol. Now for the fun Questions-  
I love weekends because? I can dance.
I hate? No one.
I want to buy? An iPad or Kindle Fire or both.
My favorite song is? Between Hey Jude by The Beatles and Imagine by John Lennon. One song is of youthful optimism that reminds me my days at a college prep-school in Guadalajara. The second of wild idealism that may or may never come to pass, thus my Pre-Determination versus Free-Will conundrum.
My favorite precious stone is? Amethyst
I want to travel to? Why? The moon because I want to see the earth.
I want to meet?  Why? An alien to see if they truly exist, in any form, shape or matter…
I want to invite   -------------- to dinner. Why? I would love to invite John Lennon because he is one of the greatest song writers but also Isabel Allende, Carlos Fuentes or Hunter S. Thompson for their writing and conversational skills.
My dream is to? Have lived in England during Charles Dickens’ times, Italy during Leonardo Da Vinci’s times or  Mexico during Diego Rivera’s and Frida Kahlo’s times and of course to have dinner with them too, lol.
My favorite book is? Great Expectations