Bouchercon San Diego

Don’t miss: Strong Women in Peril, Saving Themselves at 3:35 p.m. on September 1st.No fairy tales here! I’m moderating Christina Hoag, Tori Eldridge, L.A. Chandlar, and Susan Roland in a lively discussion of why we don’t need knights in shining armor anymore! If you’re going to Bouchercon San Diego, please join us. Even you knights!

Don’t miss: Strong Women in Peril, Saving Themselves at 3:35 p.m. on September 1st.

No fairy tales here! I’m moderating Christina Hoag, Tori Eldridge, L.A. Chandlar, and Susan Roland in a lively discussion of why we don’t need knights in shining armor anymore! If you’re going to Bouchercon San Diego, please join us. Even you knights!

Morning Show Interview

I’m thrilled to have been interviewed by Marcia Macomber on Mondays on the Morning Show on KSVY—The Voice of Sonoma Valley. You can hear the ten minute interview HERE!

Stand Against Book Censorship!

Excerpt from the article, “The Extreme New Tactic in the Crusade to Ban Books” by Summer Lopez, PEN America Chief Program Officer, Free Expression published May 8, 2023 TIME/Ideas

“This is a dangerous escalation in the movement to censor public education. In a very short time, the censorship advocates have gone from trying to control what can be studied and read in schools to trying to control what private companies can publish.

Let’s be clear. These bills are not about protecting children. They are about using the power of the state to intimidate private companies and ban ideas and stories that some people find offensive or uncomfortable. By going after private publishing houses, these bills represent an appalling and undemocratic attempt at government overreach, and yet another escalation in the war against the freedom to read.”

Stand against book censorship!

Let Freedom Read!

CHICAGO – The American Library Association has announced the theme for Banned Books Week 2023: “Let Freedom Read!” Banned Books Week will take place October 1 – 7, 2023.

"As we’ve seen throughout National Library Week, as long as there are libraries, Americans’ right to read will not be overcome by censorship,” says Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada. “Our 2023 Banned Books Week theme – ‘Let Freedom Read’ – captures what’s at stake for our democracy: that the safety of our right to speak and think freely is directly in proportion to our right to read. ALA encourages libraries in every context to mark Banned Books Week by inviting other groups within their communities to celebrate and take action to protect our freedom to read all year long."

Launch of Saints and Skeletons

We had a great time at Vintage House in Sonoma at the launch of Saints and Skeletons! My co-presenter was Aletheia Morden whose book, The Last Indentured Servant A Hollywood Memoir, published in April.

It’s topping my list of favorite reads right now! Our host was Susan Savage who will be wowing reading audiences with her novel set in Wales in the near future. Many thanks to Katie DeJongh, VH’s program director, for a wonderful event. It even came with lunch! Put on your hat and pour a cool drink. These memoirs make great summer reading.

Saints and Skeletons: A perfect summer read!

Pages: 368 | ASIN: B0BJGZRTGP | Smashwords | Kobo

Part travel, part action-adventure, Saints and Skeletons is the memoir from which Manwaring’s award-winning JadeAnne Stone thriller series was born. Look for Saints and Skeletons at your favorite on-line bookstores.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

“Saints and Skeletons is a captivating and introspective work that encourages readers to embrace life’s complexities. Ana Manwaring’s unflinching honesty and willingness to bare her soul are both brave and inspiring. This memoir stands as a testament to the transformative power of storytelling and the remarkable human capacity for growth and resilience.” ~ Pricilla Evans, Managing Editor Literary Titan

“In Manwaring’s immersive memoir, Saints and Skeletons, she deftly takes her reader on a pilgrimage to Mexico. Rendered with heart and vulnerability, we observe her inner life through the risky choices she regrets, the love she desires, the sublime beauty she discovers. Don’t miss this multisensory adventure of a lifetime.” ~ JC Miller, Amazon bestselling author of Vacation, Heliotrope and Larkspur

“A true original, Ana Manwaring combines an uncanny eye for detail with unflinching honesty to create within her memoir internal and external landscapes that are arresting, unsettling and gorgeous.” ~ Laura McHale Holland, award-winning author of memoirs Reversible Skirt and Resilient Run

“What could be more delicious than a foodie road trip through Mexico and beyond with a Latin lover and beloved dog? Add a few thieves, sprinkle with corrupt officials, then mix in some fun-loving hippies for Ana Manwaring’s mid-life adventure with a bit of Spanish thrown in along the way.” ~ Aletheia Morden, author of The Last Indentured Servant A Hollywood Memoir

S&S 5 star review ~ Literary Titan
Some events in the book were chillingly similar to real-life events. Did you take any inspiration from real life when developing this book?

Yes! The opening of Set Up is a try story of what happened to me, although I was not kidnapped. From there I began to read everything I could on the burgeoning problem of organized crime in Mexico. I even went back to my local community college and studied Spanish to read Spanish-language news and commentary. The story is fiction, but rooted in reported facts...continue reading:

Sneak Preview!

Backlash | A JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventure | Book Five | Thriller | Suspense

Jackman Quint spent four years in prison paying his debt to society for his crimes. Now, when he has someone to lose, his past finds him. And it’s out for blood. If Quint can’t unravel why Nader is bent on his destruction, he’ll never be able to protect the team, his woman, or most importantly, JadeAnne.

Book #5 of the JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventures is with the publisher! It will be available in October for pre-order and comes out November 15th.

“Your past will always find you. And it’s going to take everything you love. Including your life.”

Jackman Quint’s former CO, Chuck Nader, has a vendetta to settle. For Quint, the Vietnam war ended thirty-two years ago with a dishonorable discharge, a prison term, and his daughter JadeAnne, lost to him. Shouldn’t Quint be the one with the grudge?

He’s made a new life for himself, reunited with his daughter, expanded his investigations, and dipped his toe into the dating pool.

Finally, life is going his way when Nader shows up in Mexico City on a top secret mission through the U.S. Embassy. Coincidence? But it’s soon clear, Nader is out for blood. And he won’t settle for killing Quint—he’s after everyone Quint loves. He’s already killed one of the team. If Quint can’t unravel why Nader is bent on his destruction, he’ll never be able to protect the team, his woman, or most importantly, JadeAnne. She flies home in less than a week. The days are counting down.

Chicken-Mushroom Quesadillas

A quick and easy weeknight meal

I didn’t learn this recipe in Mexico, but it’s a delicious take on quesadillas and worth trying. I’ve adapted it from Linda Gassenheimer/Tribune News Service.

Chicken-Mushroom Quesadillas
Makes two generous servings


½ lb. boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (½ “ thick) or a large whole breast to cut yourself
½ tsp. Ground cumin or more per your taste
Good quality olive oil or olive oil spray
¼ lb. baby bella mushrooms or your choice chopped to about 1 ⅓ cup
1-2 cups washed spinach
Salt and pepper
2 8” flour tortillas
¼ c. shredded melting cheese of your choice.


Sprinkle the chicken cutlets top and bottom with cumin. Heat a skillet to medium-high and add olive oil to coat.

Add the chicken cutlets and mushrooms and saute for 3-4 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft and the chicken is cooked.

Stir in the spinach and cook until it wilts. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove filling to a bowl.

Heat a dry comal or a large, dry frying pan and place two tortillas in a stack in the pan. Cook until the bottom tortilla begins to brown. Flip the stack and repeat. Open the stack and place one uncooked side down and cook to lightly browned.

Set aside the top tortilla and spread one half of the filling over ½ of the cooking tortilla. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the top. Gently fold the tortilla in half and cover with a lid and cook about a minute. Remove the quesadilla to a plate and repeat with the second tortilla.

Serve with salsa of your choice. JadeAnne prefers a creamy tomatillo and avocado salsa or pico de gallo. Any cooked salsa can be turned creamy by the addition of some Mexican crema or creme fraiche.

This dish goes well with a corn and black bean salad or a slaw with chipotle-ranch dressing and a frosty Victoria cerveza.

¡Buen Provecho!

"I hate it that Americans are taught to fear some books and some ideas as though they were diseases..." ― Kurt Vonnegut

Who am I, what do I believe, and what is it I want to do? These and similar questions are top of mind these days, in part because I had the privilege to proofread newly released Week by Week, A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts and Meditations written by Amber Lea Starfire. The book is a collection of writing prompts and musings by the author that are designed to encourage and enhance self-awareness and healing through journaling. The book is arranged into weekly themes with daily prompts to inspire journal writers to deeply explore themselves and their relationship with the world. The themes include: Spirituality, Family & Relationships, Authenticity, Obstacles & Opportunities and more.

My opportunity to read Week by Week came right after I’d finished Julia Cameron’s The Writing Diet: Write yourself Right-Size and was beginning to enjoy writing my “morning pages.” Digging down into my mind with a pen had at first seemed self-indulgent, but by the time I’d worked through that first book, I’d begun to feel more comfortable with the process, and I had begun to see how I could use my insight into my motivations and behavior as tools to help me deepen my fictional characters. Then I was rear-ended, and it was no fender bender. Only by the mysterious movement of the Universe was I not seriously injured. That got me really thinking! And along came Week by Week.

I’ve learned another use for journaling—calming the mind. Writing on the topics in the book kept me going. I wrote about my physical experience, my luck. I wrote myself out of a big case of the jitters. A friend called it PTSD. I agree, I was traumatized by being hit by a car hurtling along at 50 mph. I'm still clenching the steering wheel and thinking don't hit me, don't hit me everytime I slow don, but I'm back in the saddle. I meditated on Amber Lea Starfire’s meditations. I started to heal my trauma, and I noticed I started to heal old wounds, too. Everyone said journaling is a great thing to do, and now I’m a convert!

It’s synchronicity how things that are on my mind crop up in one or both of my books of prompts. (I’m also using Julia Cameron’s The Right to
Write, An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life,
Penguin Putnam Inc. 1998) My current writing project, a memoir of the time I lived in Mexico, has me stymied. The writing is getting tricky now, because I’m going to have to reveal my “dark side”—my bad behavior, my insecurities—I’m going to have to expose my inner secrets. I’ve noticed that I’m working hard to avoid revealing myself and my writing is taking on a false tone. I might as well quit writing the book if I can’t be honest—or write a novel!

So the topic of honesty in memoir (and in life in general) has been coming up for me in my journaling. Today I randomly opened Week by Week to “Honesty.” The prompts got me thinking about my time in Mexico, and I realize that I may not know myself, or my motivation from that time. I may be hiding the truth even from myself. Amber Lea calls this pockets of deceit and I feel like that’s all my pockets are filled with. She posits that the truth is getting to an absence of deceit. Truth, she claims is simple and unpretentious— an attitude not just a standard.

My journal entry today: To write Saints and Skeletons I have to be unpretentious. It’s the only way. I must say, “I engineered the entire fiasco because I was so empty inside, so insecure, that I needed to manipulate this guy to be with me. I hooked him in with the glamour of adventure and romance. I bought his attention. It was easy. He was weak, lacking in moral fiber, greedy and lost and like a jerky, exaggerated Mambo, we each knew our steps and we danced it down and dirty in perfect syncopation. I lured, he followed. He pulled back, I manipulated….” This memoir is going to require that I assess my own honesty, emotional, intellectual and moral.

Lucky for me I’ve got Week by Week to prompt and guide me past the shadows obscuring my emotions. In my journal, I’ll find the truth, admit to it and when I get to those difficult chapters in Saints and Skeletons, I’ll be able to adhere to the facts. I’ll be able to (metaphorically) stand up and claim myself. No excuses. No regrets. “Here I am, Readers. I dare you not to love me!”

Here's prompt #4 under Honesty in Week by Week : Write about the facade or mask you wear in the world—your public face. If the public could really know you, what would they know about you? If you're in my classyour assignment is to keep a journal for the duration of the session. Write each day. Start by writing to Amber Lea Starfire's prompt. When you have exhausted your thoughts on your "public face," take what you learned about yourself and write a poem, essay, short story, or use your understanding to create a short scene in your novel. Plan on reading your piece at the next class.