San Miguel Literary Sala - San Miguel Literary Sala, A.C. is a non-profit organization in Mexico

April 14, 2016: Literary Sala Readings

Date: Thursday, April 14, 2016
Time: 5:00–7:00 p.m.
Location: Hotel Aldea
Ancha de San Antonio #15

Admission: $50 pesos for Literary Sala members, $100 for non-members. Includes wine reception.


Dogs in Venice and Murder in Sarajevo

By Carole Schor

Two thriving novelists, both greatly inspired by their love of San Miguel, will present stories that both move and inform readers. They will discuss both their books and their lives as writers at the Literary Sala Monthly author reading on April 14.

Ron Alexander

Ron-AlexanderRon Alexander, author of The War on Dogs in Venice Beach as well as three other novels and many essays and stories published in The Huffington Post and the Chicago Tribune, receives his inspiration from his own life. He is a gay man who survived the AIDS crisis himself but lost many of his friends. His essay, “Survivors Guilt,” tells the story of his past and his present, from the time he came out, to the time he was forced to “check the box” to avoid going to Vietnam, flashing forward to his partner dying of AIDS, and then to the heartwarming gift from his mother from Indiana helping him make an AIDS quilt panel to memorialize his lost love.

Ron was a business man for many years, working around the world for an oil company; a sought-after actor in commercials directed at the senior audience; a teacher at UCLA Writers’ Program; and now a happily retired writer and teacher, living the good life in San Miguel. As a teacher and writer he hopes to inspire others to write, and to write because they love to write – and not for any other purpose or goal.

Put me in the company of writers who write because they have questions and not answers. Whenever an event or a situation in life confounds me, I write.  Without an outline, without any idea of where I’m going or where I might end up, I write. Without judgment or an axe to grind or any attempt to convince others to feel a certain way about things, I write. I write with one motive only.  To think. And just as the writing provokes me to think, I hope to provoke my reader to think, because if I’m able to do that, then what I’ve written will be an emotional journey we take together.

My philosophy as an instructor, therefore, is simple:  I encourage students to write from a position of inquisitiveness and not with an agenda. I ask them to write because they have questions, not because they have answers.

— Ron Alexander

Ian Thronton

Ian Thornton’s historical novel, The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms, is the story of the pitiable Johan Thoms, who took a wrong turn and changed the fate of the world, the blame for which follows him through his life. Johan, while chauffeuring the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the Royal entourage across Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, got caught up in a daydream, took a wrong turn and drove right into the aim of the Serbian assassin hired to kill Ferdinand. The assassin took advantage of his unbelievable good luck, and murdered the unguarded Archduke and his pregnant wife. This incident has been cited as the start of the First World War. To Johan, however, it is not only the impetus for WWI, but all historic events that followed: the Russian Revolution, the Treaty of Versailles, the rise of Hitler, the Second World War, the gas chambers, the atomic bomb, the Cold War,  . . .

How often do any of us wonder, “What if I had done this, rather than that, how would my life, or the life of others, have changed?”  The choices we make every day, no matter how trivial or how very important, affect everything that follows for us and for those around us.

Ian Thornton’s fantastic, allegorical story, much like the movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, allows the reader to believe momentarily in the unbelievable. As one reviewer put it, “If a writer can infuse human interest and a semblance of truth into a fantastic tale, the reader will suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative.”

Ian Thornton says, “I love San Miguel so much. It is a Shangri-La. My time there seems like an out-of-body experience now. It was so rich and colorful and vibrant. It was magical.”

The lack of shackles and the freedoms of Mexico are very inspiring. It seems a place free from the constraints of time, and from the rest of the world. Mexico is not just a geographical area for me, and I know this sounds glib and clichéd, but Mexico, for the writer, is a state of mind.

While I’m here in San Miguel, walking the cobblestone streets provides inspiration. I discover ideas and narratives and arcs and characters, always seeing things from different directions, angles and perspectives.

— Ian Thornton

Ian says to the “creatives” here in San Miguel: “Breathe in every second in that delicious citadel, you lucky buggers, and just keep on keeping on. You are pursuing the finest of dreams, in the finest place on earth. Love it and harness the energy and inspiration to do it for as long as you bloody well can.”


Join these two fascinating writers and the San Miguel Literary Sala on April 14 at 5 PM at the Hotel La Aldea. Admission is 50 pesos for members and 100 pesos for non-members, including a wine and snack reception. Membership in the Literary Sala supports not only the literary life of San Miguel including scholarships for teens and reading projects for children in the campo, it also offers attractive benefits like reading groups, discounts at the monthly author readings, as well as discounts and priority seating at the Annual Writers’ Conference. A Membership Table will be available at the April 14 Literary Sala event.

March 17, 2016: Literary Sala Readings

Date: Thursday, March 17, 2016
Time: 5:00–7:00 p.m.
Location: Hotel Aldea
Ancha de San Antonio #15

Admission: $50 pesos for Literary Sala members, $100 for non-members. Includes wine reception.

An Era in Mexican History and a Painfully Shy Life

By Carole Schor

The Literary Sala on March 17 welcomes two women with tales of power, external and internal.

Mary Margaret Amberson

Mary Margaret AmbersonMary Margaret Amberson has spent most of her life on the Texas/Mexico border and writes passionately about both sides, uncovering a wealth of unknown facts and stories about Texas, Texans, and now a fascinating part of Mexican history. In her latest book, Maximillian and Carlota: Europe’s Last Empire in Mexico, she tells the story of Louis Napoleon’s installation of Maximilian von Habsburg and his wife, Carlota of Belgium, as the emperor and empress of Mexico. Under the regime of Mexico’s Benito Juarez during the time of the U.S. Civil War when the United States was distracted, France seized the opportunity to claim Mexican lands as their own and proceeded to install a French Monarch and his wife to run the country.

Maximilian and Carlota’s reign, from 1864 to 1867, was marked from the start by extravagance and ambition, beginning with their crowning in Mexico City at the Catedral Metropolitana in 1864 and continuing as they made their home in the Chapultepec Castle with all the luxury and pomp befitting a European royal class.  Their royal reign was cut short as Napoleon III abandoned Emperor Maximillian and pulled back his troops in Mexico. The United States, upon ending its own Civil War, sat up and finally paid attention to what was happening with their southern neighbor and decided to aide Mexico by establishing a blockade that prevented French reinforcements from landing. The reign of the last Emperor and Empress of Mexico came to an abrupt end in 1867 when President Benito Juarez executed Maximilian by firing squad. Maximilian’s last words were, “I forgive everyone, and I ask everyone to forgive me. May my blood which is about to be shed, be for the good of the country. Viva Mexico, viva la independencia!”

Carlota had returned to Europe to beg for help for her ill-fated husband, never returned to Mexico, and was declared insane and spent the rest of her short life living in seclusion, denying her husband’s death, on the brink of madness.

Helen Rivas-Rose

Helen Rivas-RoseThere are many different types of mental illness and anguish. Empress Carlotta suffered from paranoia and chose to live out the end of her life in seclusion. Helen Rivas-Rose, author of Brave: A Painfully Shy Life, also suffered from a mental disability, an inner and very painful experience of profound shyness that plagued her throughout her childhood and early adulthood, preventing her from fully experiencing the joys of life, which others find through friendship and close relationships. But Helen, unlike Carlotta, has found her way out of her mental pain and into life, a life filled with friends and adventure and a memoir that garnered her five-star reviews and recognition in the field of memoir, motivation and self-help.

Rivas-Rose has made a dynamic breakthrough out of the shadows and into the world of light and life with the help of her analyst who taught her how to change her introverted, timid restrictive self by utilizing Jung’s “extraverted feelings” that enabled her to communicate with other people and share feelings, values and eventually fun.

“50% of the world are introverts, but only 5% suffer from shyness,” said Rivas-Rose. “Introverts are happy, shy people are not.” Introverts take their strength from the inside, unlike extroverts who flourish in crowds and gain power from outside activity. Now Rivas-Rose can do both, gather strength from the inner pursuit of writing a memoir which has helped her and will help others; and gather strength from outside of herself by singing solo in public, delivering her own talks at Unitarian-Universalist churches, joining drama workshops to expose her childhood pain, and joining a typical socially oriented garden club. Now, her goals are to give encouragement and specific advice to the severely shy, to bring awareness of the condition to the community at large, and especially, to have it included in the DSM list of conditions that doctors will treat.

* * *

The March Literary Sala will be held at the Hotel la Aldea on the Ancha de San Antonio on March 17 at 5 PM. Admission is 50 pesos for Sala members and 100 pesos for non-members, including a wine and snack reception. Membership in the Literary Sala supports not only the literary life of San Miguel including scholarships for teens and reading projects for children in the campo, it also offers attractive benefits like reading groups, discounts at the monthly author readings, as well as discounts and priority seating at the Annual Writers’ Conference. A Membership Table will be available at the March 17 Literary Sala event.

March 15, 2016: Poetry Café Bellas Artes

Date: Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Time: 5:00–6:30 p.m.

Location: Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez “El Nigromante”
Hernández Macías 75
Sala Literaria, 1st Floor

Admission: A donation of $50 pesos is suggested

DeMarko, Hager, and Read to Headline Poetry Café

By Maia Williams

Poetry Café Bellas Artes will host Florida poet, Juliet Zachary DeMarko, and two San Miguel poets, Michael Hager and Lois Read, on Tuesday, March 15th.

Juliet Zachary DeMarko received a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1965 and her M.A. in English Literature in 1971 from The University of West Florida. She taught English as an adjunct professor at Pensacola State College in the 70s. Between 2010 and 2014 Juliet served on the board of directors of West Florida Literary Federation, both as a Board Director and as Poet Laureate of North West Florida.

In semi-retirement, she writes memoir cookbooks, leads a workshop in “Wild Writing for Women” at Pensacola’s Cultural Center and pursues the mystery of poetry at International Poetry and Creative Writing workshops.

Fashioned by Memory is Juliet’s second volume of poetry. The first, Blue Ridge Childhood, was published in 2011. She has three daughters, Laura, Anna, and Maricarmen and a stepdaughter, Talia. Juliet lives in Pensacola, Florida with her husband, Michael J. DeMarko, a retired attorney and judge.

Michael Hager is an admitted addict to the craft of writing. His passion for writing began when he first penned a piece of prose on the back of a napkin. After graduating from the University of California, Michael continued writing prose while launching a songwriting career with over 30 song credits recorded by various artists.

In 2001, he retired and moved to San Miguel to write his first novel, Just Beyond the Edge, which was published by Mill City Press in 2010.

Never content to stay within one genre of writing, he wrote his first play, The Last Ride, which was successfully produced in 2008. He recently completed his second novel, In the Times of Clouds & Sun. While continuing to work on his third novel, he has been exploring the craft of screen writing and has recently completed a four part historical mini series about the untold story of women who masqueraded as soldiers during the Civil War.

In 2016, he published his poetry anthology A Reckoning of the Heart, a collection of previously published works and recently written material.

Lois Read has written verse since high school, but her education and career were in the visual arts. She is a retired teacher of Art and History of Art at Hopkins School in New Haven. In the summer of 1978 she attended an Art School Program in Lacoste, a medieval hill town in the south of France, which is where she began to paint and to write poetry. She returned to teach in the art school and ten years later, on a painting sabbatical, continued journeying whenever she could, searching and listening for common threads and meaning.

A painter turned poet, Lois has produced three chapbooks of poems with watercolors and four collections of poetry. She has had poems in The Connecticut River Review and the Poetry of Yoga (vol. 2), and won honorable mention in the Maria Faust sonnet contest two years ago. Her poem “Bones” was judged fifteenth out of 4000 entries is the Writers’ Digest Poetry contest in 2013, and her poem “Tied With a Square Knot” was judged first place in the Altrusia contest for senior poets in Connecticut in 2015. Lois lives in Wallingford, Connecticut except in the winter when she lives in San Miguel de Allende.

The monthly Poetry Café Bellas Artes (August – April) features local and visiting poets — established and emerging — sharing their work in a casual setting.

Please arrive a few minutes early. Seating is first come, first seated.