Welcome Guest Raquel Reyes

Anonymous is the winner of Raquel’s giveaway! Watch for an email from her!

Welcome, Raquel! I met Raquel at Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, Florida a couple of years ago. I was immediately impressed with how smart and passionate she is. I’m so delighted that since then she got a contract for her new Caribbean Kitchen mystery series. Just writing that makes me hungry! The first book in the series is Mango, Mambo, and Murder which is up for preorder. The book doesn’t come out until next October, but I couldn’t wait until then for you to hear about it! I’m happily reading it right now. Here’s a bit about the book:

Cuban-American cooking show star Miriam Quiñones-Smith becomes a seasoned sleuth in Raquel V. Reyes’s Caribbean Kitchen Mystery debut, a savory treat for fans of Joanne Fluke and Jenn McKinlay.

Food anthropologist Miriam Quiñones-Smith’s move from New York to Coral Shores, Miami, puts her academic career on hold to stay at home with her young son. Adding to her funk is an opinionated mother-in-law and a husband rekindling a friendship with his ex. Gracias to her best friend, Alma, she gets a short-term job as a Caribbean cooking expert on a Spanish-language morning TV show. But when the newly minted star attends a Women’s Club luncheon, a socialite sitting at her table suddenly falls face-first into the chicken salad, never to nibble again.

When a second woman dies soon after, suspicions coalesce around a controversial Cuban herbalist, Dr. Fuentes–especially after the morning show’s host collapses while interviewing him. Detective Pullman is not happy to find Miriam at every turn. After he catches her breaking into the doctor’s apothecary, he enlists her help as eyes and ears to the places he can’t access, namely the Spanish-speaking community and the tawny Coral Shores social scene.

As the ingredients to the deadly scheme begin blending together, Miriam is on the verge of learning how and why the women died. But her snooping may turn out to be a recipe for her own murder.

Raquel: Miriam Quiñones-Smith is the main character in my Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series. Here is the doll I used to help me visualize her. Is that weird? It’s kind of like having a three-dimensional mood board.

Miriam is Cuban-American with a Ph.D. in Food Anthropology. (Did you know the percentage of Latina’s with PhDs is in the single digits?!. That’s one reason it was important to me to have an aspirational Latina in my story.) She faced prejudices and stereotypes in her pursuit of higher education, and her doctorate was hard-earned. Dr. Quiñones is also the mother of a preschooler.

So, when Miriam’s husband asks her to postpone her professorship search to stay at home with their young son for a year before he starts kindergarten, she is conflicted. She loves her son. She loves her husband. And she REALLY wants the career she’s studied years for. She has a passion for Caribbean culture and foodways. All those sleepless nights with a teething baby in one arm and a research book in the other hand have to pay off. The ink on her diploma is barely dry. She can’t give up her dream of writing an African diaspora Caribbean cookbook that easily.

Mothers often put their careers on hold to be the primary caregiver. I know I did, especially regarding my writing, which was one of the motivations I had for giving Miriam such a heartstring conflict. She worked very hard for those letters behind her name. She wants and deserves the career that goes with them. Thankfully, her best friend offers her a good solution. And the It Takes a Village adage (workplace childcare, afterschool care, and of course family and friends) comes into play, too.

            You’ll have to read Mango, Mambo, and Murder to find out exactly how Miriam juggles career, motherhood, and amateur sleuthing.

Readers: Does access to quality childcare change career outlooks for mothers? Would it have made a difference in your career path? Look for the giveaway below!

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Raquel V. Reyes writes stories with Latina characters. Her Cuban-American heritage, Miami, and the Caribbean feature prominently in her work. Raquel is a co-chair for SleuthFest. Her short stories appear in various anthologies, including Malice Domestic’s Mystery Most Theatrical and Midnight Hour. Mango, Mambo, and Murder, available 10-12-21, is the first in the Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series. She blogs on Cozy Florida with two other Florida cozy authors. Find her on social media as @LatinaSleuths.

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Giveaway: Raquel loves all things Miami like Miami Vice, flamingos (neon and real), art deco, wild parrots, and the Golden Girls. She has a Golden Girls magnet set to #Giveaway to one randomly drawn person that leaves a comment on this post and joins her newsletter between now and June 1st.

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33 Thoughts

  1. Greetings, Raquel! My own kids were in daycare for years while I worked. Having two incomes helped build the life we wanted to have. I think affordable child care does open up options for women – the key word there being “affordable.”

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  2. Wow, this book sounds fabulous! I’m not Latina by any stretch, but I worked hard for my doctorate. And yes, quality (and affordable) child care can make such a difference in a woman’s life. I’m off to preorder your book, Raquel, and welcome to the blog.

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    1. Thank you, Edith! Nothing an author likes to hear more than “I’ve pre-ordered your book.”

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  3. Hola, Raquel! I am thrilled to be able to pre-order Mango, Mambo, and Murder. It will be like a trip back to Miami. Now, if you could only scan me a triga batido. There are some things I will always miss.

    Quality child care definitely makes a difference in a woman’s life, but a woman shouldn’t have to predicate her life on its availability. We need more men participating in childcare and we need more workplaces that provide day care for working parents.

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    1. Kait! I love your Florida Keys series! LMK, the next time you are in Miami, we have to meet up!

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  4. I don’t have kids but I have a friend who became a school lunchroom lady because it was the only job that had off when her kids were off from school. There definitely needs to be more affordable quality child care options

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  5. I had to go back to work within a couple of months after having my children and excellent childcare was essential to me! After a couple good, but not great, childcare providers, I was fortunate to find a local daycare that became like family. Good luck on your new book!

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  6. Child care is one of my “button” issues. While I never had a problem, I’ve watched the young (and not so young) women I worked with struggled with child care. Many of them pretty much worked at least 3 days out of 5 days just to pay for child care. So many bright women are frozen out of any kind of school or training due to this issue. I’ve always said Motherhood should be a paid profession. What could be more important than bringing up the next generation?

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  7. Congratulations on your debut! Because my daughter’s elementary school had an “in-house” daycare, I was able to obtain my Batchelor’s degree- I’m an English major, a Psych minor, and I was chasing an elementary education certificate too. College + a child, a marriage, and the running of a household was quite an experience! As for the Golden Girls, I’m the proud owner of 2 original scripts that were “Rose’s” They’re both signed by Betty White, and the corrections/ changes were written in her writing in pencil in the margins, I also have a copy of Bette’s Pets- her organization- it contains original photos of Dick Clark, Lucile Ball, Carol Channing, and of course, Betty- one on the Golden Girls set. I have a t-shirt and a mug. You can say I’m a “teensy” fan! Congratulations again.

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  8. Welcome to the Wickeds, Raquel. It is go great to have you here! I was lucky to have quality childcare, and a fully engaged spouse, almost the whole time my kids were growing up. But the few times when there were gaps were incredibly stressful. I’ve watched my daughter, home and terribly isolated with two tiny kids though this whole pandemic year. She and her husband have done an amazing job and look forward to next year when she returns to teaching on campus two days a week.

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    1. Barbara, thank you for the opportunity to talk about my book and these important issues.

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  9. Welcome, Raquel. Congratulations! Can’t wait to read your books! I, too, am a huge GG fan, and especially of Betty White (I’ve read a couple of her books and am a member of Bette’s Pets, too). I married a man with three children when I was in college and spent the next few years struggling to be a new wife, mother and college student while working part time. It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. Oh, and when I married, I lost all financial support because I “had a husband”. Didn’t see that coming. I can’t believe we haven’t evolved much beyond my days of trying to learn, work and have a family. All the best.

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    1. Oh my, I’m sorry you had such struggles. It is important to keep fighting for changes in the system.

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  10. Thanks for visiting, Raquel! I was just discussing this issue with a friend of mine whose daughter has just rejoined the workforce after having her first child a year ago. There are always tradeoffs and no clear answers. My heart goes out to anyone who needs to figure out how to meet the needs of loved ones and to find ways to make room for their own interests in the world.

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    1. It is such a balancing act. And honestly, it should not be. Other countries have tackled the issue and found good solutions. I wish the USA would be as bold and caring.

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  11. Excellent child care was a most when my kids were in daycare. It was hard for find an affordable one, though! Congrats on your book! Excited to read it!

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  12. Hmm. Located as I was (and still am) outside of a small town with options limited to retail or service, with an overly -possessive (I now realize) husband, even today it would be difficult to find childcare for a genius-level child on an income he tended to drink away. What I did earn ended up being needed just to meet household expenses.

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