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I'm thrilled that my newest novel, The Dog Thief, is now available!

"Amazing! A gripping read that will have your heart racing from start to finish." —James Sinclair, Autistic & Unapologetic

She stole a dog. He stole her heart.

Canine rehabilitator Madeline "Mad Girl" Whitney stumbles upon a murder victim, thrusting her into the limelight of her small town. She makes a wild claim, hoping to help her struggling business, but it has the effect of drawing too much attention. When the hostile sheriff, her ex-girlfriend's twin brother, threatens to take away Maddie's former military dog, she's forced to work with him to establish a Search & Rescue team.

Now everyone, including a killer, is watching the girl who can't make eye contact.

The Dog Thief celebrates the special bond between humans and our canine companions and is set in a small Northern California town.

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"Acosta's talent is staggering...She shows readers all over again just how funny, ridiculous and thoroughly gifted she is at plotting."
-Romantic Times

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READ THE BLOG

Mexican Dahlia from Annie's Annuals
I'm always trying to figure out the best way to convey my books' messages to readers via covers. I have a hard time accepting that the covers I love most (quirky, arty, atypical) don't translate quickly to readers scanning dozens of images looking for their next great read.

So The Dog Thief has a new cover as you can see on my home page. I like it because it reminds me of the time that my beloved Betty decided to dig up all my vintage Mexican dahlias and eat the tubers. I miss her dearly and will think of her when I go to my favorite nursery, Annie's Annuals, and buy new ones.

My current canine resident, Lola, harbors no ill will to plant matter, so I am returning to gardening, which was such a passion that I considered putting more outdoor lights so I could garden into the night. I went through various manias, most notably the antique rose phase. To save special plants, I gave many roses away to friends in the country and to a community garden. I believe they're happier.

Spring, however, makes me yearn for a garden filled with roses. This is the delight: to walk out in the morning and smell those wonderful fragrances. The rose below, Climbing Sombreuil dates from 1880. I purchased mine from the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas. Some people dream of going to Paris. Well, I've been to Paris -- it was swell -- and I dream of visiting the Antique Rose Emporium.

Climbing Sombruiel in my garden.

Yes, We're All Snowflakes, Unique & Lovely

Like all insecure and nervous writers (i.e. all writers), I eagerly awaited feedback on my new novel, The Dog Thief. I received a thoughtful message praising the novel with one little comment: the single African-American character in the book knows about the drug business in the local town, fitting the stereotype. Like all insecure and nervous writers, I immediately became defensive.

I responded that drug business and drug use are common in my fictional town. The reader had said that it was his issue, of importance only to him, and that resonated with me because I have oh so many issues, things that annoy and/or anger me yet seem inconsequential to others. One of these issues is the representation of Latinos in the media. Latinos are highly underrepresented in the media compared to our actual percentage of the population. And when you see a Latina, she's generally a maid, a housewife, the mother/wife/sister of a drug dealing criminal. She's slotted into a narrow category that's easy for the screenwriters to imagine because they never look into the actual world they inhabit.

The character in question, my character, was inspired by the young men I know. They've lived in my house, had dinners at my table, jammed in the garage, raised their voices in joy, and shared their sorrows. This was a multiracial group, all friends, all bright and beautiful guys. Because I'm a suburban wife/mother, I was not privvy to all aspects of their lives, but I occasionally got glimpses.

So that was the inspiration of my character. But readers don't know that. Readers only see that the one African-American male character in the novel knows a lot about the drug business. It's irrelevant that other characters are connected or involved or knowledgeable about the illicit activity. Because they're the majority. When there's only one, that one has out-size impact and significance.

Like when there's only one Latina in a movie and she's a maid or the wife/sister/mother of a criminal.

"Snowflake" has become a pejorative term to describe someone too sensitive to a perceived offense. But perhaps the real snowflake is the person who reacts defensively and will not consider that he or she is being thoughtless or unkind or oblivious or insulting or any combination of the aforementioned.

I'm going to try to listen a little before becoming defensive. Being defensive is as easy as breathing; listening takes effort, so it will be a struggle.

One great thing about publishing as an indie author is that I could go to my novel and make a small revision that addresses the problematic bit. A bonus was that I discovered a typo and fixed it, too.

Friends gave me a mug that says, "Revise. You know you want to." Yes, I really wanted to.

If you have a website or blog and would like to review The Dog Thief or any of my other novels, please send a message!

Michele Serros & I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER

https://erikalsanchez.com/
Giving books at Christmas is as natural as having tamales on Christmas Eve. This year I shopped for books, new and old, by Latina authors for a fab young friend of mine. I kinda love the titles of both, because they speak to me. In the recently released I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez, a teen struggles with parental and societal expectations as well as dealing with the loss of her "perfect" sister.

I also looked for books by Michele Serros, who died too early in 2015. Because this was a gift, I wanted new copies, but was shocked to find that Chicana Falsa (1998) and How to Be a Chicana Role Model (2000) are both out of print and not even available as ebooks.

 Kirkus called How to Be a Chicana Role Model "a sly, hyperkinetic romp that's part story collection, part stand-up comedy, part self-help for aspiring writers," and Vibe reviewed Chicana Falsa, saying, "Witty, tender, and emotionally honest, Serros' words speak to the painful and hilarious identity crises particular among youth caught between two cultures."

I don't know why Michele's books have gone out of print or why her publisher Riverhead Trade doesn't have ebooks available or even any information about her on their website. I'm saddened that such a vibrant voice is not more easily available to new readers, including younger readers seeking someone who'll speak to their own sense of identity.

Jessica Langlois wrote a terrific piece about Michele for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Listen to Mandalit Del Barcos's tribute to Michele at NPR.

Listen to Michele talk about writing YA Chica Lit and her Honey Blonde Chica series on NPR.

Visit Michele's website.

THE DOG THIEF & Autism, Asperger's

My beloved Betty in her final days.
I received a very nice message from James Sinclair, writer/creator of Autistic & Unapologetic. He'd read about The Dog Thief and asked is the main character, Maddie, is on the autism spectrum because I hadn't said so specifically in descriptions.

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that I wrote Maddie as an individual with issues, including physical twitches and fixations, that make her an outsider. She says, “Don’t label me. Labels make others feel free to tell me what I should think, feel, do, and say, when my life is none of anyone else’s goddamn business."

I shared with James my concern that if I described Maddie has having Asperger's others would judge the character by their strict definition of the syndrome, which goes against the fictional character's sense of herself and also my own ideas about individuality and being an outsider.

Well, being a misfit who struggles with the desire for acceptance/home and the inability to be anything other than oneself is a theme that runs through my books and my life.

Maddie always says and does the wrong thing with other people. But she can communicate with animals on a level beyond all the complexity and subtext of human interactions. I hope readers will come to appreciate Maddie for who she is.

The Family Dog - We Can All Agree on This

"Why does your family always talk about dogs?"

When I was first going out with The Husband he wondered why conversations swerved to the topic of our dogs at family gatherings. We smiled and laughed as we exchanged well-worn tales about Max, Tara, Loony...

"It's because we can talk about dogs and not argue."

While my family doesn't argue much about politics, we argue about everything else. Loudly and earnestly, with irrelevant criticisms and unnecessary references to old conflicts. But we loved our pets.

I've been collecting old photos and among them are always pictures of the families' dogs. I wonder what tales these people told about their dogs, and what joys and experiences they shared.

My newish dog, Lola, sleeps on my bed as I write this. She has a gentle snore that I like, reassuring me that I'm not alone. When I meet with my family, I'll share a few stories about her latest activities and my brothers will tell me something about their dogs.

We may not agree on everything, but we agree on dogs. The next time an opinionated relative gets cranky at a meal, ask about his first pet. I bet you'll hear a great story.

It's only 12 days until the release of The Dog Thief. My main character, Maddie Whitney, has emotional and behavioral problems. But there's one way she can connect with others and it's through her deep love and understanding of dogs.

Free ebook of Happy Hour at Casa Dracula!


Russian Edition of Happy Hour at Casa Dracula
To celebrate the upcoming release of The Dog Thief, I'm offering Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, the first in the Casa Dracula series, as a free ebook! This is now available at Amazon, iBooks/iTunes, and other online stores.

My new book is about a dog rehabilitator and my first novel is a story about an aimless young woman who gets involved with vampires so where's the connection? One of my favorite reviewers said:
"I sort of love the way Marta Acosta tramples a lot of conventions. She writes messy love, screwed up characters, awkward situations and scathing diatribes." —Alpha Books
That's the connection. I also love to write in first-person with a slightly delusional, occasionally untrustworthy narrator. The fun is in conveying a story from one point of view, letting the reader observe things that the narrator sees, but doesn't comprehend or misinterprets.

Please tell your friends about my free ebook!

By the way, I was messing around with another version of the book covers before deciding to go with the illustrated covers. This is why you'll see another style on bookstore sites. Do you like them less, more, no difference? What do you think? I like both styles, but I also painted my bedroom hot pink and apple green, a decision I have long regretted.

Mil's favorite color is leopard print.


What's in a Name? Renaming a Book


"The consolation of imaginary things is not imaginary consolation."
—Roger Scruton

I had a wonderful editor at Gallery Books who loved my romantic comedy set in Pacific Heights. She thought it should be called something like "Miss Persnickety's Assistant" and I was set on "Nancy's Theory of Style." I wish I could find a list of proposed titles for a story about a snooty nitpicky young woman and her seemingly perfect British assistant. My editor eventually relented and had a wonderful cover designed. Then in the flick of an eye, my brilliant editor and several other senior editors were let go.

My new editor, a nice young woman, changed cover art to a very clever conceptual design...a design that did not succeed in conveying "romantic comedy, chick lit, fun and funny." My quirky title didn't help either. Someone should have explained to me that authors don't understand basic concepts of marketing because we spent our time reading novels and not studying business. Whatever.

I've republished the book as Fancy That with a cover and title which I think say "romantic comedy, chick lit, fun and funny." My favorite review of this novel was from The Book Lush:
"Have you ever read about a character that's so delusional and crackalicious that right from the get-go, she easily becomes your favorite? Well, that's Nancy to me!"
Library Journal named this a Women's Summer Reading Selection and SF Indie Fashion said:
"An ideal volume to throw in your beach bag...an easy, breezy read that managed to suck us in with its San Francisco references, chick lit 'tude and love drama-rama."
I've been thinking about Robert Scruton's quote (at top) because I love to write stories where there is some happy resolution, growth of characters, and hope. I've started working on a novel, Better, that will be an unapologetic romantic comedy about two friends who promise to do whatever it takes to have better lives. I intend to have this out in December 2018. I better get busy!

New Year, New Book, New Design


I'm very happy to announce that Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, the first in my series, is now available at IBooks/Apple and other retailers as a free read and that I'm also releasing a Casa Dracula Collection box set. Danie Drankwalter designed the delicious new cover! I'm also very lucky to have Mina at Underline Designs update my website with Danie's California Poppy banner at top.

I've always been obsessed with cover art and I've been studying the transition of cover design with shift of readers shopping at bookstores, to venturing to Amazon, and now reading on phones and other devices. I miss all our lost bookstores, where I spent many happy hours wandering the aisles and reading back covers, searching for the ideal book. When I was in high school, there was a dusty little used book store which had a shelf of books for 25 cents. The kind woman who owned the store would steer me toward the best science fiction for the price of a quarter.


The books had exciting detailed covers and I couldn't wait for the future, for distant worlds and for technology to save us. Now I'm more ambivalent about technology, although I'm not especially worried about evil robots.

Changing covers of printed books used to be an expensive process, but now it's as simple as uploading a new image. The hard part is finding a designer who understands your vision. My good friend, artist Susan Kirshenbaum, steered me toward a wonderful organization of women artists and that's where I discovered Danie's work.

Among the things I didn't consider when I was tearing through scifit novels as a teen was that technology could serve to make art and artists more accessible to everyone. And that's really quite fab.

CORRECTION to Giveaway of MIDNIGHT BRUNCH AT CASA DRACULA!

"Being a vampire has never looked so fun! A hilarious novel with plenty of colorful characters; MIDNIGHT BRUNCH will make you an instant Marta Acosta fan."
-Fresh Fiction
The correct date for my one-day giveaway of Midnight Brunch at Casa Dracula is all day Monday, May 6, and I deeply apologize for any confusion, frustration, cursing and shaking one's fist at the sky, etc.  The giveaway is at Amazon. This new Kindle edition has a bonus feature -- Milagro's own version of her history and how she came to be at Casa Dracula!

Here's the summary:
Horror story writer/gardener/party girl Milagro De Los Santos thinks she's well on her way to becoming the sincere and serious person she knows she should be. She's in a serious relationship with a fabulous man, Oswald Grant, MD, and living at his wine country ranch with his career-fixated relatives. It's true that Oswald accidentally infected her with the rare family condition that makes them crave blood cocktails and need protection from the sun, but what family doesn't have it's quirks?

She thought they accepted her, so she's hurt when she's excluded from a midnight ceremony with special guests including a creepy family elder, Oswald's hostile parents, and Milagro's ex-lover, decadent and powerful Ian Ducharme.

When Milagro's life is threatened, she flees to the desert to hide and work on a screenplay. Instead of solitude, she encounters an egomaniacal actor, a partying socialite, a sly tabloid reporter, and a lavish spa full of dark secrets. It's all lots of fun until the bwaa-ha-ha laughter and the knives come out. Now all Milagro has to do is finish her screenplay, ambush a world domination movement, and overcome a terrible infection before she can make her way back to Casa Dracula.
Get your free read of this book that the Romantic Times called "hilarious" and Publishers Weekly called "an addictive combo plate of romance and vamp satire."

This is the second book in the Casa Dracula series, but I think the bonus feature can catch a new reader right up. And if you've already read the books, I think you'll enjoy this brand new short piece.

The contest starts Monday morning, May 6, just when you need something fun and summery to entertain you, and runs through midnight, so be sure to get your copy and share the link with your friends, too!

DIRECT LINK: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CMHU4AU

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How Geek Girls Will Rule the World


I'm very happy to announce that Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon has just published How Geek Girls Will Rule the World! Jennifer interviewed me for her book, and I told her a little of my geeky history and geeky experiences, including my teen passion for science fiction books and my love of physics and math courses.

Here's the description for Jennifer's book:
A book for girl geeks, by girl geeks! Are you a geek? Do you enjoy geeky things in your spare time, or do you work in a geeky field? Many women who aspire to a geeky lifestyle have experienced sexism, holding them back from their dreams. This book features interviews with famous women in the fields of computer science, science and mathematics, gaming, science fiction and fantasy, and comics and manga to learn how they overcame any sexism they experienced to get where they are today. Each interviewed woman answered questions about: -How her passion for her geeky field grew -How she chose/landed upon her career path -Her current and planned projects -Whether or not she experienced sexism, and how she overcame it if she did -Her advice for girls and women interested in her field.
It was really an honor to be included in this terrific project. This sounds like just the book to give to a young women considering a career in some nerdtastic field. I hope you'll check it out!

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