Get a free Amazon bestseller by Mario Escobar!

Spanish writer Mario Escobar is offering 120 FREE copies of his psychological thriller The Circle.

First come, first serve! Limited time offer!

To get it, go to this link

Where it says  “Enter a promotion code or a gift card” write the code  PBZ22LYW


The famous psychiatrist Solomon Lewin has left his humanitarian work in India to serve as the chief psychiatrist at the Center for Psychological Illness located in London’s Square Mile financial district. Though well paid, the job is monotonous, and Solomon is also going through a rough patch in his marriage with Margaret. He begins scrutinizing the more mysterious cases of the center’s long-term residents hoping to find something worth his time. When he comes across the chart of Maryam Batool, a young broker from London who has lived in the center for seven years, his life will change forever.
Maryam Batool is an orphan from Pakistan who became one of the most promising female employees of the financial institution General Society, but in the summer of 2007, at the start of the financial crisis, the young broker loses her mind and tries to kill herself. Since then she has been stuck, able only to draw circles yet unable to understand their meaning.
A snow storm looms over the city at the start of the Christmas holidays. Before Christmas Eve dinner, Solomon receives an urgent call from the center to come at once: Maryam has attacked a nurse and seems to be awakening from her long stupor.
Solomon heads downtown in the snow, clueless that this will be the most difficult night of his life. The psychiatrist does not trust his patient, the police are after them, and his family seems to be in danger. The only way to protect himself and those he loves is to discover what “The Circle” is and why everyone seems to want his patient dead. It’s a surprise ending and a mystery you won’t believe.

What is hiding in the City of London? Who is behind the biggest business center in the world? What is the truth behind “The Circle”? Can Solomon save his family?


About the autor:

Mario Escobar Golderos has a degree in History, with an advanced studies diploma in Modern History. He has written numerous books and articles about the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, and religious sects. He is the executive director of an NGO and directs the magazine Nueva historia para el debate, in addition to being a contributing columnist in various publications. Passionate about history and its mysteries, Escobar has delved into the depths of church history, the different sectarian groups that have struggled therein, and the discovery and colonization of the Americas. He specializes in the lives of unorthodox Spaniards and Americans.

An interview with Graciela Limón


Graciela Limón is a Latina Writer, Educator and Activist.  She is the daughter of Mexican Immigrants and a native of Los Angeles. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish Literature from Marymount College Los Angeles, a Master of Arts Degree in the same field from the University of the Americas Mexico City, followed by a PhD in Latin American Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  Prior to retirement, Limón was a professor of U.S. Hispanic Literature as well as Chair of the Department of Chicana/o Studies at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California.  She is now Professor Emeritus of that University.

Limón has written critical work on Mexican, Latin American and Caribbean Literature.  However, she now concentrates her writing efforts on creative fiction that is germane to her areas of interest:  feminism, social justice and cultural identity.  Her body of work includes In Search of Bernabé that won The Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award (1994).   Limón also published The Memories of Ana Calderón (1994), Song of the Hummingbird (1996) and The Day of the Moon (1999).   Erased Faces, which was awarded the 2002 Gustavus Myers Book Award, was published in 2001, Left Alive was released in 2005, The River Flows North, 2009, followed by The Madness of Mamá Carlota, 2012.  Her latest publication is The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy, 2015.


Much of her work has been widely anthologized.  She was honored with the prestigious Luis Leal Literary Award (University of California at Santa Barbara), 2009. Her Publishers are Arte Público Press (University of Houston) and Café Con Leche (Koehler Book Publishers).


Teresa Dovalpage: You have written about strong, resourceful women before (Hummingbird/ Huitzitzilín, Adriana Mora, Juana Galvez, Ana Calderon…) now we have Ximena Godoy. How do you find the inspiration for these powerful, unforgettable female characters?

Graciela Limón: Your insightful question draws me to reflect on the fact that I have encountered many strong mujeres in my lifetime of professor, writer, and just being an ordinary woman.  My female characters are mostly composites of those encounters, although in my novels they have taken the FORM of a unique, singular woman, i.e.,  the mother in search of her son, the wizened old woman of vision, the ‘new Medea’ — and so on.  I will also confess that as a writer, I distinctly work against the trap of crafting the “passive” Latina stereotype, and because of this I constantly search for that powerful, albeit humanly flawed, woman.  However, my inspirations for such female characters are primarily all around me.

Teresa Dovalpage: Yes, there are many strong mujeres out there. And we need to write about them. Now, is Ximena based on a real life or historical figure? Any “background story” about her that you would like to share?

Graciela Limón: When I was a little girl growing up in East Los Angeles, a spectacular crime took place in the old part of town where the night clubs and dance halls flourished.  The crime filled the many newspapers in circulation in those days.  It was about a hold-up, evidently gone wrong, that ended with a murder.  The crime involved a woman whose husband was the victim of that murder, and she was part of the barrio.  The chisme broke loose that it was she and her lover that committed the botched hold-up.  I don’t remember any closure coming about for that crime, but the gossip definitely stayed with me, thus becoming the promise of The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy.  I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the novel for those interested in reading it.

Teresa Dovalpage: Bueno, I want to read ya mero. Will the book be available in Spanish too?

Graciela Limón: I certainly hope that the novel will be translated into Spanish.  This, however, is up to my publisher.

Teresa Dovalpage: Ojala que si! When you write, do you plan the entire book in advance or let it flow and develop during the writing process?

Graciela Limón: I hardly ever plan a book in advance.  Rather, it’s an idea that usually captivates me (a historical event, a woman’s struggle to survive, and so on).  When such an idea comes to me, I begin to write, and usually I develop an outline at this time.  However, I’m relaxed about such an outline because I know that the story will develop on its own, usually molded by the main character, transforming the final piece into something very different from that original outline.

Teresa Dovalpage: Indeed, stories have lives of their own. How has the technological revolution affected you as an author and a reader? Do you read eBooks or want to publish your work in this format?

Graciela Limón: The tech revolution has utterly affected me as an author and reader.  It has done so in a wonderful way, and I’ve embraced it completely.  In practical terms, I compose my work directly into my IMac, knowing that I have the freedom to commit mistakes, then correct, then add, etc.  In other ways, this process, I’ve discovered, has become a truly stimulating tool, always inviting me to write more and more.  The tech revolution has also changed our methods of editing since now we do it electronically.  Gone is the need to ship manuscripts from one side of the country to the other.  Instead we do it by pushing a key.

What about eBooks?  I read most of my books now on my Kindle.  I love the portability and lightness of the device, although I will confess that I’m still in love with hardcopy books, I still love my library, I still love the feeling I get when I look at the little pile of books on my coffee table.  Do I want to publish my work in this format?  Of course!  In fact, several of my books (including Ximena Godoy) are already in that format as well as in paperback and hardcover.

Teresa Dovalpage: That’s great. For me, the possibility of making the font bigger is a good incentive to use a Kindle. Now, as an academic and a writer, what advice can you give to those of us who are still teaching and writing, and trying to do a good job at both?

Graciela Limón: I know that you’re doing not only a good job of writing and teaching, but that you’re providing excellent role models for our young women.  Honestly, there’s little advice I can give along these lines except to say that every good piece of literature we teach will potentially become a model for another book, hopefully created by one of our students.  As Jorge Luis Borges brilliantly implied: There is only one great artist (author) of which we are all a part of.  Teresa, I am reflected in your creations, and you in mine.

The only other thing for me to add besides saying muchas gracias, is to encourage you to always have faith in your work.

Teresa Dovalpage: Muchas a gracias a usted, Graciela!

To find out more about Graciela Limón visit

Book Description


Revenge and murder define Ximena Godoy’s story. Her lifetime spans the first half of the 20th century, a transformative time of revolution, economic depression, uprooting and migration. During that time, she witnesses and participates in an era of revolution, bootlegging, dance halls, as well as evolving rules that determine women’s lives in both Mexico and America. Never a traditional or conventional woman, Ximena Godoy shatters rules that govern her Mexican heritage, and even those of a wider world. Her story portrays an ever-changing woman who morphs from sheltered child into a complex, deeply flawed human being, passionate and independent, quick to love unconditionally, but just as ready to cling obsessively to revenge, a flaw that leads her into the murky world of murder and criminal justice.

Purchase link:

Escribe Aquí: The Betsy–South Beach welcomes artists, celebrates cultural diversity

The Betsy - South Beach

The Betsy-South Beach was named by CNN as one of the world’s great literary arts hotels. It is renowned not only for its fabulous ocean views, multiple amenities, serene atmosphere and world-class cuisine, but also because of its continual support for art and culture.

The Writer’s Room at The Betsy hosts authors, artists and thought leaders from all over the country year round. Amy Tan, Elena Medel, Mia Leonin and Jimmy Santiago Baca are among previous residents.

The hotel is now hosting and sponsoring, in partnership with Books and Books and SubUrbano Ediciones, Miami’s first all Iberoamerican literature festival, the only one of its kind in the Southeast. It will be held on March 28th and 29th and all the events will be free and open to the public.

“World-renowned authors from across the United States, working and teaching in major universities across the country, will gather in Miami for this exciting literary event,” said Pablo Cartaya, Manager of Literary Programs & Community Outreach at The Betsy – South Beach.

The organizers

Pedro Medina Leon is a writer and publisher with extensive experience in both literature and cultural promotion. He is the author of “Streets de Miami,” “Mañana no te veré en Miami” and “Lado B,” and the editor of “Viaje One Way.”  He is also the founder and director of SubUrbano Magazine and SubUrbano Ediciones and has organized several cultural events in Miami.

Medina Leon teamed up with Cartaya to put together the event.

“I had thought of organizing Escribe Aqui for many years, but it was only recently that I got the support I needed,” says Medina Leon. “I talked to different people and made a number of proposals until The Betsy got involved, for which I am very grateful.”

Medina persevered despite the obstacles because he firmly believes there is a need in Miami for this kind of events.

“In the first place, Iberoamerican literature has great potential in the United States and we have to provide a space for it,” he says. “Secondly, Miami is the capital city for Hispanics in this country. So much writing, so much art here…it just needed Escribe Aqui!”

The evolution of Escribe Aqui 2015

“Like so many things at The Betsy, the idea of Escribe Aqui was founded on a partnership and a residency,” Cartaya said. “Pedro came to The Betsy through our Writers Room program where he stayed in our traditional weeklong residencies to work and be inspired by the room, the energy, and as he often quips, the best coffee in Miami.’ As manager of literary programs and local writer myself, I have the good fortune to have “coffee talks” with many of our visiting writers in residence. Pedro and I hit it off immediately and the seeds of the partnership were born on a warm South Beach morning in May 2014.”

The first Escribe Aqui reading was held June 27th  at The Betsy with a fully bilingual event that featured eight writers hailing from Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina, and Colombia.

“At least three languages were spoken that first incredible Escribe Aqui,” said Cartaya. “We had music, cocktails and wonderful literature.”

The Betsy continued with two more such events. One featured the diverse faculty at the University of Miami and a special writing workshop with exiled writer Israel Centeno.

“Pedro continued to do his great work in the space with wonderful programs around Miami and just as 2014 made way to 2015, we got together and thought how great it would be to have a culminating celebration of this inaugural program,” Cartaya said. “But ideas need support and I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the incredible support Betsy owners, Jonathan Plutzik and his sister, Deborah Plutzik Briggs gave to this endeavor. Their commitment and vision drive the hotel’s PACE (Philanthropy, Arts, Culture and Education) model to bring all communities together under the auspices of their incredible four star-four diamond property. They are the real deal in their championing of culture and literature of all kinds. And I might add, their late father, the poet Hyam Plutzik’s poetry ( inspires so much at The Betsy. Instead of chocolates at turn down, guests get poems on their pillows. How amazing is that!”

The 2015 Escribe Aqui authors

Among the participating authors are Anjanette Delgado (Puerto Rico), Brenda Lozano (Mexico), Camilo Pino (Venezuela), Carlos Gamez Perez (Spain), Edmundo Paz Soldan (Bolivia), Giovanna Rivero (Bolivia), Hernán Vera Alvarez (Argentina ), Marina Perezagua (Spain), Rodolfo Pérez Valero (Cuba), Luis Salvador (Peru), Manuel López (Cuba), and Yosie Crespo (Cuba).

Manuel Lopez, whose book Los poetas nunca pecan demasiado was awarded the Gold Medal in the Spanish Language Category at the Florida Book Awards 2013, will be reading poems from his unpublished poetry book El hombre incompleto.

“I am happy to participate in this first Escribe Aqui Festival,” said Lopez. “I happen to like Pedro Medina very much, because he is always busy creating, working on something new. I can identify with that, and I can sympathize with such efforts. I am looking forward to the event, and to meeting all the other writers I haven’t met.”

The festival

The festival will begin the evening of March 28th in The Betsy’s underground speakeasy, B Bar, and will continue through March 29th with a series of panels, readings, and a Spanish poetry slam.

There will also be music and dance, and a special presentation by the Peter London Dance Company.

“Peter London, a choreographer and former principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, will premiere a new work as part of the festival,” Cartaya said. “He has contemporary choreography and some traditional music from Spain, Cuba, Peru, Mexico and Argentina and he is now adding Puerto Rico.”

“We are also providing a venue for publishers and magazines to show their work to the public,” said Medina Leon. “There will be a bit of everything, un poco de todo. If you attend Escribe Aqui, you will leave with a very accurate idea about the literary scene of Iberoamerican literature, both in their countries of origin and here in the United States.”

“So here we are—on the verge of something truly wonderful,” Cartaya said. “We have been brought together from a family’s vision, a natural partnership between two individuals, and the hope that Escribe Aqui 2015 has many more years ahead of it to celebrate Iberoamerican literature and culture at The Betsy Hotel, in Miami and throughout the country. Like every great story, it has many, many layers to build upon its foundation.”

The organizers will provide translating and interpreting services to English-only attendees.

“It will be an all inclusive event,” Medina Leon said.

A Betsy roof top “Paella Party” (also free and open to the public) will be the final touch in this celebration of the diversity and contributions made by Spanish-speaking and Spanish-writing authors.

To find out more about the event visit

Santos Y Mas—saints, retablos, paintings and more

Patricia Reza 1

Originally published in Taos News

Santos Y Mas is a unique store, not only because of the handmade santos sold there but also due to the “mas” part.

You can find more than wooden saints in this Arroyo Seco shop. From the ceramic Christmas ornaments, available year-round, to the furniture, clothes and other consignment pieces displayed in the back room, Santos Y Mas offers un poquito de todo, a little bit of everything.

Supporting local artists

The store carries the work of thirty-seven local artists, among them owners Patricia Reza, Patrick Reza and Ray Romero.

Patrick Reza carves saints in wood and his wife Patricia decorates them. She also uses a technique called reverse painting on glass, which gives considerable depth to the images and magnifies the effects of light on them.

“It seems as if you were looking through a window,” she said. “They add color and texture to any room.”

Patricia Reza will be “Artist of the Month” at Taos Cow (across the street from Santos Y Mas) during February and the beginning of March.

Her brother Ray Romero created the Santos Y Mas store sign and has several paintings for sale in the store.

“Most of our products sell well because they are reasonably priced,” said Reza. “One of my main goals is to keep prices as low as possible. Now, our number one bestsellers are the Christmas ornaments made by my aunt BeckieLee Couture. Last July we sold one hundred fifty, in the middle of summer!”

The store also carries retablos by Lynn Garlick, who has been making them since the early seventies.

The retablos are dedicated to popular saints like San Judas Tadeo, patron of desperate and hopeless cases, Gertrude of Nivelles, patron saint of cats and cat lovers, and Santa Rita de Casia, invoked against infertility, loneliness, tumors, and unhappy marriages.

“We also have pocket santos,” said Reza. “They are a smaller version of the retablos, around three-inch long, and can be carried in your purse or wallet.”

There are many wood carvings (bultos) that also represent saints, the Holy Family, the Virgin Mary and Jesus.

“My Catholic faith is very important to me,” said Reza. “That’s why I named this store Santos Y Mas and feature santos prominently.”

Postcards by Rose Reza, BeckieLee Couture, Lynda Jasper Vogel and Ray Romero, among other artists, are available too. There are also different kinds of crosses: hand-carved, multicolored, Celtic, and traditional ones.

“Our newest products are Jan Nelson’s recycled lamps,” said Reza. “Whimsical and useful, they are a good example of practical art.”

The business

Santos Y Mas opened in 2010.

Patricia Reza was working for the people who owned Firenza Gallery, located where Santos Y Mas is now, and when they closed the store she decided to take the space and make it her own.

“I had always wanted to have my own business,” she said. “I was already familiar with many of the artists who had their pieces here in consignment and basically knew how to run the store, so it seemed like the thing to do.”

The jewel of Taos County

As every business owner knows, location is a key element of success. The small, but colorful and touristy village of Arroyo Seco, right on the way to the ski valley, is prime real estate in that sense.

But for Reza, the decision to open Santos Y Mas here went beyond the pure commercial purpose.

“I really enjoy this area,” she said. “Arroyo Seco is the jewel of Taos Country. It’s also a great spot to meet people… and the best place to eat.”

Her favorite restaurants are Abe’s Cantina and Taos Cow.

“I love to get a beef enchilada plate with red chile at Abe’s and a turkey club sandwich at Taos Cow,” she said.

Work and dedication

Reza says she is living her dream of being a shop owner, but points out that it takes a lot of work and dedication to stay in business.

“You have to be at the store when you say you are going to be there,” she said. “If possible, thirty minutes early…don’t keep people waiting or they may not come back.”

Having a big, prominent sign also helps.

“You don’t want prospective clients wandering around, trying to figure out where your shop is,” she said.

Santos Y Mas is open seven days a week. Reza attributes its success to the fact that it is a dependable shop.

“When you come in, you know you will find good products and smiling faces,” she said. “That makes all the difference in the world.”

A dog-friendly store

The three owners take turns working at Santos Y Mas.

When Ray Romero is there, he brings Cinnamon, a small and lively rescue dog. Reza goes to work with Meggy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

“Both are very good with people,” Reza said. “Meggy may bark a bit at first but she is super friendly. She loves everybody.”

Dan and Joe Wardlow come in with their two dogs: Arlo, a Labradoodle and Alice, a Goldendoodle.

“We are looking for bandanas,” says Dan Wardlow. “For them.”

Reza offers a treat to Alice, who grabs it in the air.

“Our slogan is ‘we cater to all,’” Reza said. “Dogs included.”

Mention this article next time you visit Santos Y Mas to get a ten percent discount.

Santos Y mas is located at 484 New Mexico 150, Arroyo Seco.

Phone: (575) 776-2088.

Reza offers a treat to Alice

Frank English brings the art and craft of custom-made boots to Taos

Frank English 1

Story and pictures originally published in Taos News

Custom-made, hand-tooled and hand-painted cowboy boots are both a fashion statement and a symbolic representation of the American spirit.

They grew out of a need for dependable and protective footwear, and became, thanks to the movie industry, an icon of the West. Now they are trendy items, while still considered working shoes.

Frank English Custom Boots is a one-person shop that just moved to El Prado, next to Camino Real Imports. English does everything, from measuring his clients’ feet to the last stitch on his signature-carrying boots.

Before coming to Taos English lived in Montana, but he got tired of the long winters.

“I needed more sunlight and I thought that people here would be interested in my work,” he said. “So here I am.”

From barber shop to boot shop

Frank English wore his first pair of custom-made cowboy boots in 1995 in Boulder, Colorado, and was so pleased with the way they fit him that he decided to learn the craft.

“In 1996 I asked the person who had made the boots to become my mentor,” he said. “At that time I owned a hair salon and, for the next two years, I closed my business down one day a week and went to his shop to apprentice with him.”

Later, English turned his hair salon into a boot shop and started making boots for his customers.

Boot-making became his full-time business in 1998.

“My boots were very popular,” he said. “There is a good reason for it: when you are wearing them, you feel as if you were standing barefoot on the floor in a neutral position.”

The perfect fit

The difference between store-bought and custom-made boots, English says, is that the latter are made to keep people in proper alignment with their body.

“The boots that you buy in the store are made to look ‘perfect,’ but most of us don’t have perfect feet,” he said. “I try to make them look as normal as possible, but I also adapt them to the specific characteristics of the person who will wear them.”

First, English takes seven or eight measurements of his clients’ feet. He then makes an imprint of the foot and finds out if the boots will be used for dress or everyday work.

“This is very important,” he said. “When people use them for work, I steer them to certain kinds of leather.”

After his clients choose the leather, English makes the pattern and adds inlays, colors and designs. Finally, he builds the last and makes the boot around it.

Products and services

Besides cowboy boots, English makes purses, belts, computer bags and motorcycle bags.

“They are all made of high-quality leather,” he said.

He plans to make jackets and vests in the future and can also repair certain kinds of boots.

“Unfortunately, many of them are not made well enough so it isn’t worthwhile to repair them,” he said.

The proper care of leather boots

Quality boots are an investment. They are expected to last a long time if taken care of properly.

“Taking good care of leather boots means proper conditioning, polishing, and drying, if they get wet,” said English. “Never, ever put them in front of a heat source, which will dry the leather out.”

Do you want to make leather boots?
Those interested in western boot making can contact English about classes. He will be taking students soon.

“I like to teach small classes that last at least two weeks, and preferably longer,” he said.

English says that boot making is a complex process that can’t be learned in a quick crash course.

“You need to make at least twenty-five pairs of boots before you can figure out what you are doing, or what you should be doing,” he said. “Some people intuitively have a good eye and know what works and what doesn’t. In other instances, this awareness has to be developed. In any case, it takes several years to master the art and craft of boot-making.”

A niche business: quality over quantity

Selling made-to-order cowboy boots falls in the category of “niche business,” which offers a highly specialized product to a specific group of people. It is also built on a strong relationship between clients and providers.

“I have many repeat customers,” said English.

When you order a pair of boots from English, you can be assured of its quality, but you should also be prepared to wait up to a year, or longer, he said.

“I had someone ask how many pairs of boots I made in a day, if three or four,” said English. “Well, it usually comes down to two or maybe three in a month if I am making boots for a repeat customer and if they aren’t very ornamental. I don’t take shortcuts and I don’t like to rush. My name goes inside the boots and I am not going to put it on something that is not made right.”

Frank English Custom Boots is located at 1299 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte.

Phone: 406-260-1179

Frank English at work

Claireworks Studio and Gallery

Originally published in Taos News in November 2014

Image taken from

Claireworks Studio and Gallery has been in business for over eighteen years. Owner and artist Claire Haye works in many mediums like sculpture, jewelry and mixed media paintings.

“I make everything you see here in the store,” she said, “from small and delicate earrings to the big ceramic mural on the wall.”

Haye started building figurative sculptures in clay, bronze and steel during the eighties.

“I enjoyed making dramatic pieces, but decided to explore painting and jewelry design as well,” she said.  “Then, my jewelry began to sell so much that in the early nineties I had a collector base. I was so happy that I could make a living off my art!”

She sold her jewelry line in many different places, including the Shopping Channel QVC. This gave Haye a national following and the financial resources she needed to start her own business, Claireworks Studio and Gallery, which she opened in 1997 in Arroyo Seco.

Now, she only sells her art in the gallery and through her website.

“People come here to buy something for themselves and often return with friends, or buy gifts for them,” she said. “I am very grateful to my loyal collectors.”

A wide range of design

Haye spends many hours a day creating designs that “simply look good on those who wear them.”

“That’s the whole point,” she said. “Not only to sell, but make people happy with what they buy.”

Her jewelry has evocative names like “After Matisse” (square silver earrings) and “Floating World,” “Captured Heart” and “Flowers in the Snow” —silver pedants and earrings.

Her “Astarte” pendant is a representation of the goddess of love and fertility with a small inlaid belly stone.

“Some of my pieces are very dramatic,” Haye said. “You can’t be shy to wear them!”

The Milagro necklace, also known as “Grand Talisman,” is one of such pieces.

“It was inspired by the universal theme of safety and protection, with the local touch of the milagros,” she said.

“Saints on Parade” is another massive necklace with hanging retablos (with inset stones) and silver crosses.

“It is intense,” Haye said, “the kind of piece that people can’t help but notice.”

Saints on parade: image from

“He loves me” is a silver or bronze necklace that can be purchased by itself or as a set, with matching earrings and a bracelet. Collectors get to choose the kind of stone they want in it.

“Turquoise is very popular,” Haye said, “but we also have amber, coral, garnet, jade and many others.”

Haye gets her inspiration from the Taos energy and landscape.

“I look at the blue sky, the clouds, the mountains…” she said. “My garden also inspires me.”

Every year Haye creates several different designs. She is currently planning the new ones for 2015.

“They are very joyful,” she said.

A great team

Haye can be found in the gallery two days a week. There are three more women who work for her.

“We have a great team,” she said.

A member of the team is Nancy Birk, who has been working at Claireworks for eight years.

“Claire is very generous and creative,” she said. “I also love talking to the people that come to the store. And the jewelry is so beautiful that it sells by itself.”

Take the high road

Haye advises aspiring businesswomen to “take the high road.”

“Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams,” she said.

She also recommends paying close attention to their clients and above all, being honest, ethical and hardworking.

“I go the extra mile,” she said. “Repairs and adjustments for the pieces people buy are always complimentary. My business has been built on a generous and friendly relationship with our collectors.”

The holiday sale

Haye believes that an important part of the holiday spirit is giving back to the community.

“Christmas is such a commercial celebration that I end up feeling sad if it is just about buying and selling,” she said. “Since I have been successful, I love sharing my good fortune with other people.”

For the last ten years, Claireworks has donated to Habitat for Humanity fifty percent from each sale of their holiday offering.

“We will also do it this year, through December 24th,” she said. “We already mailed a postcard image of one local lady wearing my jewelry designs to all our collectors.”

She always gets positive feedback on her mission and the images she mails, Haye said.

“Everyone likes the pictures of these women of Taos,” she said. “My daughter, Melissa Haye-Cserhat, is the photographer and she also does a great job.”

In 2013 Claireworks donated $3100 to Habitat for Humanity.

This year’s holiday items are the Feliz necklace and Feliz earrings, made of sterling silver and turquoise, and the Starry Night ring (sterling silver with turquoise inlay).

To order them, visit the gallery or its website.

“We credit all gallery and Internet sales,” said Haye.

Claireworks Gallery is located at 482 A State Highway 150 in Arroyo Seco.

Phone: (575) 776 5175

Prosperity necklace. Image taken from

Taos Retirement Village promotes healthy, independent living

Flamenco 010

Jo Swann and her dog Cassie

Story and images originally published in Taos News

Next door to the Taos Public Library and a few blocks away from the Farmers Market, Taos Retirement Village is “one of the hidden gems of Taos,” says its general manager and administrator Brian Chew.

The Village is designed for people 55 years of age or more and offers several levels of care, from independent apartments and private casitas to assisted living and skilled nursing.

“We take the headaches of home ownerships away from our residents and give them the opportunity to enjoy a carefree, fulfilled life,” said Chew.

The facility employs qualified staff to help people through all the stages of aging.

“We have access to 24-hour nursing staff and all the medical care that our residents need, when they need it,” said Chew. “We also have an in-house therapy department and can create individualized plans for everyone. But above all, we want to help them achieve and maintain an independent, healthy lifestyle.”

Chew is originally from Massachusetts. He has lived in Taos for 17 years and has extensive experience in senior care.

“I also feel a personal connection with this place because my father-in-law lived in one of the units here, in the late 90’s,” he said. “I’ve always liked Taos Retirement Village and I treat our residents the way I would treat my own relatives.”

Chew remarks that the Village is a microcosm of Taos with its numerous residents of diverse backgrounds, cultures and ages.

“They are all the way from 101 years old, like Jenny Vincent, down to their early sixties,” he said. “Many of them travel for several weeks and come back excited to participate in our Life Enrichment Program. Here, we believe that retirement is meant to be enjoyed.”

A pet-friendly community

Pets are welcome in the facility. Several residents have cats, dogs and birds.

“We wouldn’t tell anyone that they couldn’t come here without their significant other,” said Jennifer Spillar, the business office manager. “So why should we separate them from their pets, that are also part of the family?”

Texas-native Jo Swann and her dog Cassie have been living here since last November.

“I came for a visit in September and liked the Village very much, so Cassie and I decided to give it a try,” she said. “I love the fact that everybody has accepted her. She has other dog friends and they all play together.”

Other residents plant their own gardens or grow flowers in their backyards.

“It’s all about making them feel at home,” said Spillar. “We offer them comfort and security, plus the freedom to engage in the activities that they prefer. There are many options here and we also arrange transportation if they want to shop in town, go to the beauty parlor or visit their friends.”

The Life Enrichment Program

Among the available options are all the activities offered through the Life Enrichment Program. They include yoga, tai chi with Master Teacher Trisha Yu, Feldenkrais and massage.

“Residents can also meet with program director Bonnie Golden for coffee, comments, questions and feedback,” said Spillar. “That happens the first Thursday of every month and we welcome their input.”

There is a writing group that also meets monthly and an active Book Club.

A creative community

The Village Bistro and Center for the Arts houses an art gallery that exhibits paintings and sculptures made by the residents.

“Some of them have been artists all their lives while others have taken to their medium well in their seventies or even later,” said director of marketing and sales Katrina Bryant. “We just assembled a new art studio for them.”

There is a library with over 4000 books.

“Again, some of them have been written by our residents,” Bryant said. “We have eleven published authors here. This is a very creative community.”

The large theater space provides a venue for plays, concerts and community events.

The Village Bistro

The Village Bistro offers breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared by Chef Ronnie Saunders.

“Chef Ronnie has a vast repertoire of foods from all around the world,” said Bryant. “He has worked in Thailand, Indonesia, Burma, South America, Europe and Australia, among other places. We are lucky to have him here.”

The Bistro has dine-in, take out or delivery options and Chef Saunders caters to residents who have specific dietary needs.

“Most of the ingredients he uses are organic and local and he makes several specials every week,” said Bryant.

A resident’s perspective

Blanche and Tony Scalora have lived in the Village for three and a half months.

“I like being in a community with people our own age, where everybody is extremely friendly,” she said. “We are really enjoying it.”

Scalora keeps active with the Life Enrichment Program. She started her own sewing business when she was 70 years old and she is 83 now.

“But I am one of the babies here,” she said, laughing. “There are many residents who are in their nineties and very spunky as well.”

Taos Retirement Village is located at 414 Camino de la Placita.

Phone: 575-758-8248

Blanche Scalora at lunch

Blanche Scalora