Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How Mayra Calvani Found Her Personal Muse



Part Two of my Interview with Mayra Calvani

By

Dora Machado



Last week we talked to Mayra Calvani about her latest book Latina Authors & Their Muses, a unique, groundbreaking exploration of the writing craft in a volume devoted to Latina writers and the ways in which they approach and practice their craft. Today, she shares with us what she discovered as she wrote her book, not just about other writers, but perhaps most importantly, about herself.

Hi Mayra. Welcome back. Let’s get straight to it. What did you discover about Latina authors when you wrote this book? What surprised you?

I was surprised by how different the journey has been for each author. For some, finding an agent and getting published by one of the big NY houses was fairly quick and painless. For others, it has taken many arduous years. 

We all love the romantic notion of a Muse but, at the end, it’s all about determination, persistence, relentless passion, and hard work that makes most authors succeed. I was inspired, and humbly impressed by this remarkable group of women who’ve become, in fact, my Muses. 

What kind of muses do these women rely on and which were some of your favorite muses? And by the way, you’re a Latina author yourself: what’s your personal muse?

Reading about the muses is the fun part of the book! They’re all so different! Some are elusive and mysterious like Esmeralda Santiago’s: “Muses surround me but don’t like to be revealed;” others, like Julia Amante’s, are expert blackmailers who demand chocolate cheesecake in exchange for brilliant scenes; others, like Zoraida Córdova’s, reveal themselves as cute lifeguards and mermaids; yet others, like Sarah Cortez’s, are “…seductive, curvaceous…Ever beguiling…shamelessly artful.” Honestly, I love them all and was fascinated by what the authors had to say about them.  

About my muse…Ha! I was wondering when someone was going to pop the question. My muse changes from time to time. At times, she’s a nurturing angel who fills me with peace and confidence. Other times, she’s a belittling and cruel ice queen. Mostly, she’s the statue of the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet sitting on my desk and keeping a close eye on me. I like her the most because although she keeps me on a leash, she’s the perfect balance of gentle encouragement and firm discipline. 

What are Latina authors writing about? What makes their work different or unique? What is their contribution to the global writing scene?

Latina authors are writing everything from poetry and memoir, to literary to children’s fiction/teen to women’s fiction/chick lit and romance and historical to—on a smaller degree—fantasy, mystery, and horror. They also write short stories, essays, and criticism. 

The majority of the authors in this anthology write literary and women’s fiction, with a focus on relationships (love), motherhood, family dynamics, what it means to be a woman, as well as social issues that reflect concerns of our day, such as immigration, ethnic identity, the “American dream,” the oppression of women in patriarchal societies, cultural heritage, racism and prejudice, etc. 

Those writing fantasy are creating imaginative and intricate worlds with strong realistic heroines who, like your protagonist in The Curse Giver, are passionate about social justice. In the crime and mystery genres, authors like private detective Carolina Garcia-Aguilera and former federal prosecutor and assistant US attorney Michele Martinez are writing edgy page-turners with kick-ass heroines. 

In spite of the recurrent themes, each work is unique because each writer brings into her work her individual history, cultural background, education, job, and experience. Their books reflect the issues, struggles, and aspirations of Latina women in our society. This by itself makes these works an important contribution to the global writing scene. 

What did you discover about yourself writing about your fellow Latina authors?

One thing I discovered is that interacting with like-souls is extremely important for me. I don’t know how all the authors in the anthology feel about it, but I can tell you that the sense of sisterhood I experienced while putting this anthology together has been wonderful.

Sounds like a wonderful journey, Mayra. Thank you so much for sharing it with us today. I have a feeling that, once again, your work will become a landmark resource for writers and aspiring writers everywhere. From all of us at MB4, best of luck!


About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. In addition, she’s a regular contributor to Blogcritics.org and Examiner.com. She’s traveled extensively and lived in three continents, but now calls Belgium her home. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family.

About Dora Machado

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit www.doramachado.com.

 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cover Reveal for Disk of Death by Kim Smith

Disk of Death is almost here!

Hello and welcome to cover reveal day! I am very excited about this reprisal of my Shannon Wallace Mystery series. If you are a fan and have been following along since the early days, let me say thank you. I cannot wait for you to enjoy the ride all over again. It's been updated, re-edited, re-covered, and I think much better. Shannon and I have had a chance to renew our friendship as well, and I must say I am in love with writing her stories all over again.

If you are new to the series, I hope you enjoy this first book and entry point into South Lake, Mississippi - home of the SLPD, South Lake Police Department, and Tillie's Home Cookin'-- It's GOOOOD! Tillie's, Shannon's aunt and her little eatery is renown in north Mississippi. Shannon loves her hometown...well, until she begins this one week... but this is a caper mystery...so get it and find out what happens~!

Okay, just because I cannot wait another minute....

I unveil the cover for you.

Are you ready?

Here it is!

TADA!!!!!

The cover for Disk of Death, the first book in the Shannon Wallace Mysteries.

She's a woman on a mission

Shannon Wallace is having a bad hair week. She's been ditched by her job, dumped by her boyfriend, and implicated in his murder.
When she finds out her very private video collection is missing from the crime scene, it is all out war to find the disks before the cops do. The problem is--the killer has them. And he's watched them. Now Shannon's at the top of his most wanted list!
DISK OF DEATH is now out on pre-order! You can get it before it is even released, by clicking this link http://amzn.com/B01AZLRZFG GET IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How Mayra Calvani Found Her Muse



Part One of my Interview with Mayra Calvani

By

Dora Machado




Mayra Calvani is the author of over a dozen fiction and non-fiction books, including The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, which has been required reading at various colleges and universities. In her latest book, Latina Authors & Their Muses, Mayra has accomplished a unique, groundbreaking exploration of the writing craft in a volume devoted to Latina writers and the ways in which they approach and practice their craft. 

Mayra’s newest work is a must-read, not only for minorities writing in today’s challenging publishing environment, but for all authors seeking to understand the complex forces that fuel our creative processes and empower our personal muses. I was honored to be a tiny part of this grand project and thrilled when Mayra agreed to talk to us about her experiences writing this milestone book.

Hello Mayra and thanks for visiting with us at MB4. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing background and why did you decide to write a book about Latina authors and their sources of inspiration?

Thank you so much for having me, Dora! I have been writing stories since I was about 12. Whether a curse or a blessing, I was definitely born with the writing bug. I’m a multi-genre author with 16 titles published in genres ranging from nonfiction to children’s picture books, to satire to paranormal fantasy novels. I also write YA mythological fantasy, paranormal and thrillers under a pen name which I prefer stays secret for the moment. 

I was inspired to write this book by another collection of interviews edited by a person I deeply admire and once had the chance to invite to my house for dinner: Carmen Dolores Hernández, book review editor of El Nuevo Día newspaper in Puerto Rico. The book is titled Puerto Rican Voices in English. Carmen sent me a copy and I loved reading about the various authors. I immediately toyed with the idea of putting together a similar tome. This was way back in 2005. 

How did you go about writing this book? How many interviews did you conduct? What were some of the project’s main challenges? What were some of the project’s main satisfactions?

I ended up interviewing 40 authors from different backgrounds and in various stages of their careers, from new authors with a debut novel to established authors with a long track record, Latina authors living in the States but writing primarily in English. 

Organization was a big issue. Keeping track of everything—emails, addresses, signed agreements, interviews, author photos, photo credits, among other things—was a challenge. Editing and polishing the manuscript was a huge challenge as well, as I had to go back and forth on the interviews with the authors multiple times. Also, since the initial interviews were conducted back in 2012-13, there was a lot of material to update. Of course, coming up with interesting questions that I thought would be useful for my target readers was challenging. 

One concern I had is the whole concept of the “Latina writer.” I mean this from a feminist criticism perspective and also from the perspective of Latina critics who don’t think they should be, as writers, encased within a specific ethnic group. After all, men authors are simply “authors,” not “men authors” or “American men authors,” so why do women authors have to be categorized as “women authors” or “Latina authors”? This is a dilemma. 

Yet, if my goal is to reach aspiring Latina writers and encourage them to write, I have to make sure my book—its title, cover, content—is aimed at this group. That’s the reality of marketing. Besides encouraging aspiring writers to write, I wanted to showcase and bring to the spotlight the work and accomplishments of these talented authors. 

The satisfactions far surpassed the challenges—or perhaps I should say that the challenges themselves were a big part of the satisfaction. Getting to know these talented authors and learning about their creative processes and publishing journeys has been, in one word, fascinating. 

I’m profoundly grateful for the time and patience this remarkable group of authors has given me, so I hope the book will bring them visibility. I’m certainly doing all I can to promote the book. 

Thank you so much for visiting with us today, Mayra. And to our MB4 readers, Mayra will be back answering more questions about her personal journey as a writer next week. Until then!


***

About Mayra Calvani



Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. In addition, she’s a regular contributor to Blogcritics.org and Examiner.com. She’s traveled extensively and lived in three continents, but now calls Belgium her home. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family.
 



  








About Dora Machado



Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit www.doramachado.com , email her at Dora@doramachado.com, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.