Author of Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, etc.

C.M. Mayo < About C.M. Mayo < Newsletter Sign Up < Newsletter Archive <


Dear Subscribers,

A warm welcome to all of you and especially to those of you who are new on this list. My new writing assistant, Uli Quetzalpugtl, is turning into, well... if he were a person, he'd be a linebacker. Boy howdy, does he eat boiled eggs! Here he is at nearly six months.


Thanks to a consult with the mega-talented Jane Friedman (highly recommended), I did some major surgery on ye olde webpage, www.cmmayo.com, and to make surfing around in there a more rewarding experience for those so inclined, I created two new focussed categories:


both rich with content, book recommendations, and more. I invite you to take a look, surf around, download, listen in, and, if you feel so moved,
send me your comments and suggestions.

Click on the screenshot to visit the webpage

Click on the screenshot to visit the webpage


This weekend, Saturday October 11, 2014 @10 am - 1 pm
The Writer's Center, Bethesda MD
Literary Travel Writing Workshop (One Day Only)
Take your travel writing to another level: the literary, which is to say, giving the reader the novelistic experience of actually traveling there with you. For both beginning and advanced writers, this workshop covers the techniques from fiction and poetry that you can apply to this specialized form of creative nonfiction for deliciously vivid effects. More information


In the last newsletter (July) I announced the publication of my book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual. Lots has been happening, and there will be some events later this fall— I'd love to see you there!

In case you missed the last newsletter, a brief run-down:

For those a little hazy on their Mexican history, Francisco I. Madero was the leader of the transformative 1910 Revolution and President of Mexico, 1911-1913. So it is rather relevant to understanding that Revolution, and his administration and his overthrow, to have a look at his ardently held religious beliefs. Yes, he was a Spiritist, and a medium himself, and his own notes show that he launched the Revolution and wrote the Spiritist Manual on what he believed to be instructions from spirits. But his ideas were not his personal eccentricities but rather, a heterogeneous philosophy that sprang from a rich, esoteric, and international matrix. I am not the first the write about Madero's Spiritism, but I am one of the first to be able to consult his personal library, and I am the first the translate his Spiritist Manual, and I think... well, my book about his book knocks the huaraches off the usual interpretation of Mexican history.


Metaphysical Odyssey has been garnering blurbs and invites, and I'm especially delighted to be able to present it at this year's Texas Book Festival— in a panel with M. M. McAllen, presenting her excellent history, Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico. So if you're anywhere near Austin, Texas on Sunday October 26, y'all come see us, ask all the questions you want, and get your signed copies! (More details here.)

[Note new date, December 2, 2014]
I'll also be talking about Metaphysical Odyssey in Mexico City's Palacio Nacional as part of a series of lectures on Francisco I. Madero's esoteric philosophy. Other participants include the noted Mexican historians Manuel Guerra de Luna, Alejandro Rosas Robles, Yolia Tortolero, and Francisco Martín Moreno, and the novelist Ignacio Solares. Hey, y'all, this is a BIG DEAL. I hope to get my talk recorded as a podcast, so stay tuned. The lecture series, by the way, is free and open to public. Click here for updates on that.

NOVEMBER 29, 2014 (Time to be announced)
La Sombra del Sabino, Tepoztlán, Morelos, México
Book Presentation with Q & A and signing (in Spanish but Q & A in both English and Spanish)
Odisea metafísica hacia la Revolución Mexicana: Francisco I. Madero y su libro secreto, Manual espírita
The English original edition, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual, will also be available for purchase and autographs at this event.
La Sombra del Sabino
Avenida Revolución 45. Tel. (01 739) 395 0369 informes@lasombradelsabino.com.mx

Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution is now carried by the leading distributor, Ingram, which means libraries can easily order it, and it's also available on all the major on-line bookstores. Oh, and it's in Kindle, too.
All ordering options here.

And Spanish. The translation, which I commissioned from Mexican novelist and poet Agustín Cadena, is superb. The title: Odisea metafísica hacia la Revolución Mexicana, Francisco I. Madero y su libro secreto, Manual espírita.


Over the past month, I've been reworking the book's webpage's menu of Resources for Researchers into something a little easier to navigate. Most of it is now under Q & A, to wit:
Articles (mainly blog posts about individuals and books relevant to Madero, the Revolution, and his Spiritism)
Films and videos (some key documentaries, and also, this is wild, a batch of table tipping videos from YouTube)

Selected Individuals' Websites


Alas, with all the to-do about the new book on Madero, my Marfa Mondays Podcasting Project is a bit behind schedule; I'm still editing a batch of podcasts I hope to have posted before the end of the year. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, check out the 13 podcasts, all free, listen in anytime! The latest is one of the best: an interview with historian John Tutino: Looking at Mexico in New Ways. The next podcasts will be about Apaches, rock art, and flying (in airplanes, no mushrooms). Plus, for the Conversations with Other Writers, a wonderful interview with writer and Literal editor Rose Mary Salum. I hope to announce that in the next newsletter.


Lots of posting in the past few months on the subject of self-publishing.

Most readers couldn't care less, but academics and the literati invariably ask, "who's your publisher?" It used to be the case that self-publishing was, generally speaking (lots of exceptions, of course), a last resort for the inept and/or naive, and once that unfortunate self-published author received the freight-load of his books, there in his basement, they would gather dust and mold, like a coating of disappointment. But with changes in digital processing, the game's morphed: self-publishing is an option some of even the most successful authors, for some titles, now gladly embrace.

What's changed? Many thing, but most crucially (1) Printing technology (now a book can be printed on-demand instead of in unwieldy large quantities); (2) distribution (individuals can list their books on major distributors such as Ingram, and sell on major on-line sites such as amazon.com) and (3) fulfillment (if someone buys my book, I don't have to do anything; Ingram or amazon prints it, takes payment, and ships). Whoa, that is like telling the sherpas they didn't have to walk up Mount Everest. Hand your luggage to the drones, and you, dear sir, step up into the helicopter.

After publishing several books with publishers as varied as University of Georgia Press, Random House, and Unbridled Books, for this latest book,
Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, I concluded that for me, and for this book, it was going to make the most sense to bring it out myself. For those unfamiliar with the sea-changes in publishing in just the last few years even the past 12 months, we've see the debut of Ingram Spark this decision might sound like a head-shaker. But for those who despair of the rusty bureaucratic machinery of publishing yore, and who want to get out their work in Kindle, other ebook formats, and paperback print-on-demand, I can offer a few tips. And in fact, I have had so many writer and historian friends ask me how I made my book, that I wrote the summary of that learning curve of an odyssey in this long, detailed, and I hope helpful, blog post:

It's Not Like Making a Peanut-Butter-and-Jelly Sandwich But It's Not Rocket Science Either, or, How I Made My PODs (And You Can Too)

More about the new publishing paradigm over at Jane Friedman's blog.


Dr Konrad Ratz (December 20, 1931 - May 22, 2014 )
I was very saddened to learn of the death of my friend, Dr. Konrad Ratz, translator, researcher, and writer whose contributions to our understanding of Maximilian von Habsburg and Mexico's Second Empire I admire more than I can say. Among his many works, all of them major contributions... CONTINUE READING


Rose Mary Salum's Visionary Anthology, Delta de las arenas, cuentos árabes, cuentos judíos

One of the opening epigraphs of Delta de arenas (Delta of the Sands), this visionary anthology of Arab and Jewish Latin American stories, is by one of my favorite writers, Edward Said, author of the classic Orientalism. He says: "The ideal of comparable literature is not to show how English literature is really a secondary phenomenon or how French or Arabic literature is really a poor cousin to Persian literature, but to show them as existing contrapunctual lines in a great composition through which difference is respected and understood without coercion." The great composition then, of Latin American literature, of course, includes its multitude of Arab and Jewish writers. But until now, Arab and Jewish Latin American writers have not been gathered together between covers a group just the size for a cocktail party, were it possible... CONTINUE READING

Bélen de Sárraga (1872 1950)
The excellent and deeply researched new book by Mexican historian María Teresa Fernández Aceves, Mujeres en el cambio social en el siglo XX mexicano (Women in Social Change in 20th Century Mexico) has one chapter in particular directly relevant to my own book on the Mexican Revolution: a mini-biography of Belén de Sárraga, whom Fernández Aceves calls "one of the most important leaders of her generation." Few people outside of the Spanish-speaking world have heard of or even imagined such a public figure as Belén de Sárraga; that should change... CONTINUE READING

Antonio Noe Zavaleta's "Niño Fidencio and Curandismo Page" and the Just-Published Sagradas Escrituras

Another note on Mexico's best-known folk-Catholic mediumnistic healer of the 20th century, Niño Fidencio. Research, how I relish research; yet, it's endless. When I start a book project, I feel as if I am setting out on a path towards a goal… some final, pile-driven signpost of understanding. But like life, it's a path, the journey is the thing. So I've published my book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual, and over the past several months, I've updated it (it's in Kindle and print-on-demand paperback) several times, fixing typos, fiddling with the bibliography, adding a map, an index, then more corrections to the index, and so on. Minor changes, but very nice for me in this digital age to be able to make at the click of a mouse. But a point comes when one really must say, pencils down. It is what it is. And further corrections must await a new edition, a properly identified one with a new ISBN and an epilogue. And I'm already thinking what will go in there…One important thing I did not know was just pointed out to me in an email by Antonio Noe Zavaleta, who is Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Texas Brownsville and co-author with Alberto Salinas, Jr of the both excellent and fascinating Curandero Conversations: Niño Fidencio, Shamanism, and Healing Traditions of the Borderlands: Cipriana "Panita" Zapata de Robles, a "cajita" or mediumnistic follower and channeler of the Niño Fidencio, entrusted Professor Zavaleta to publish the Escrituras, or scriptures left by El Niño, who died in 1938, along with further teachers channeled after his death. These Professor Zavaleta published last year, 2013... CONTINUE READING

Catherine L. Albanese's A Republic of Mind & Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion
. . . ] One of the most illuminating books I came across in my research [for Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution] is Catherine L. Albanese's A Republic of Mind & Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion (Yale University Press, 2007). From the dust jacket description: "This path-breaking book tells the story of American metaphysical religion more fully than it has ever been told before, along the way significantly revising the panorama of American religious history." What has this to do with Mexico, the gentle blog reader might ask? Well, all the very same metaphysical religions that came to the US also arrived south (via various paths, not invariably from the US) in Mexico... CONTINUE READING

And on a lighter note:

12 Tips for Summer Day Hiking in the Desert (How to Stay Cool and Avoid Actinic Keratosis, Blood, and Killer Bees)

Just returned from hiking with the Rock Art Foundation in to see the spectacular rock art at Meyers Spring in the Lower Pecos of Far West Texas (yes, there will be a podcast in the Marfa Mondays Podcasting Project, in which I exploring the Big Bend & Beyond in 24 podcasts. More about that anon). I got a few things very right on this trip and a few things, well, I could have done better. Herewith, for you dear reader, and for me this will serve as my own checklist for the next rock art foray 12 tips for summer day hiking in the desert:.. CONTINUE READING

Thanks to my guest-bloggers,
Clifford Garstang, Mary Lou Patton, and Gin Getz:

Short Story Maestro Clifford Garstang on 5 Favorite Novels About a Dangerous World

Cyberflanerie: Fun in Mexico, Literary Edition (with a note from Mary Lou Patton)

Nature Writer Gin Getz on 5 Ways to Slow Down


It has one little book, a long essay I call "a nonfiction novela about a fairytale: a journey to the Emperor of Mexico's Italian castle." The title is From Mexico to Miramar or, Across the Lake of Oblivion. You can download a formatted PDF of this for the same song you'll sing for an amazon.com Kindle or iTunes iBook. (How can you get a gumroad shop? It's so easy you might need to plan to fit your jaw back into place. And yes, they accept your customers' credit cards.)

All good wishes to you,


Through narrative we become more human. Truth is beauty. Exploration is infinite.

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