Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Murder by 4

Hey everybody! (in my best Sophie from 2 Broke Girls voice)

Here we are at the end of another year! Did you know that Murder by 4 has been posting blogs and giving info and inspiration to the public since 2008? Well, we have. And we have had a lot of great guests. If you are a murder/crime/romantic suspense/ of anything (haha) and would like to be on Murder by 4, please contact any of the hosts on the site to get an author interview/or post up on the site. Come on, don't be shy!

At this time, we'uns here in these humble halls would like to say thank you to all of our many fans and followers. You number in the hundreds and have generated over 300,000 page views since we began. The site has undergone a lot of changes through the years, but the heart is still there. Our desire to build a community of readers and writers has never wavered. Our family at Murder by 4 are numero uno!

Murder by 4 has been honored year in and year out with the 101 Best Sites for Writers distinction thanks to all of you, and we host those badges proudly. We look forward to another year as your favorite blog site, bringing you all the good stuff we can find.

So, I am happy to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you. May your 2016 be a bright and shiny star leading you to another prosperous and joyful year.

Kim Smith is the author of A Sweet and Spicy Christmas. Get yours now on Amazon.

Hello friends,

I know the holidays are a very busy time for everyone, but I want to take a moment to wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday. Here at MB4 we’re so blessed to count you as our friends. We treasure the opportunity to share our passion for writing and reading, and we thank you for making MB4 one of Writers Digest’s 2015 Best Websites for Writers.  

I also want to thank all of our guest bloggers and the hundreds of interviewees who’ve visited with us over the years.  You guys are a vital part of the MB4 community, enriching our lives with great insight, personal experience and helpful knowledge. The spirit of the holidays lasts the whole year at MB4 when our community comes together with generosity and compassion to share in this wonderful journey called life.

Wishing you the peace, joy, and love of the season. May your holidays be merry and bright.


Hi, folks! 

I can't believe another year has already passed -- it has been a whirlwind. I totally agree with what Kim and Dora say above - thank you for your undying support! Without you, we'd be just another blog among millions. And look at those amazing awards we've been blessed with from Writers Digest! So let's have a big round of applause all around.

Mostly I want to say I hope no matter what life has thrown in your way that you can find a way to enjoy a peaceful time with your family this Christmas season. It's been a tough year for me personally, because I lost my mother very unexpectedly this summer. I keep thinking of Christmases past, and all the wonderful things we did together. But lest I get too maudlin, I have my four beautiful grandchildren to keep me laughing and to keep the magic of Christmas alive! They are truly the spirit of Christmas, and I plan to enjoy every second with them and the rest of the family. 

My wife Dale and I wish you all the very best! 

God bless,

Aaron Lazar

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Audiobook Advice for Writers from a Professional Narrator - Gwendolyn Druyor

Give Your Words a Voice

With the advent of easily downloadable digital audiobooks, a kind of revolution has taken place. More people than ever are listening for their literary fix. And with a service like ACX, the Audiobook Creation Exchange, it's easy for an indie author to expand into this market. Even if you don't have a lot of faith in the audiobook craze, "buy all the shelf space you can get" as my dad says.

Shortly after my epic fantasy novel, Hardt's Tale was published, a playwright friend of mine brought his copy into the lobby at the opening of his latest play. He gathered the waiting audience and announced that I was going to read a selection from my book. Surprise! I quickly decided to read a few paragraphs from the prologue which received generous applause. Over the course of the evening; while finding our seats, during intermission, and at the cocktail reception after the show, more than a few people approached to tell me how much they enjoyed my reading. A well-known actor in the Los Angeles theater community said (it wasn't really a question), "You are narrating your own audiobook, aren't you?"

Well I certainly was after that encouragement.

That's how my narration career began. Now, in late 2015, I've recorded ninety-two books and learned more about the process than I ever imagined there was to know.

Do your Research

If you want to jump on the audiobook bandwagon, start by listening. Listen to as many audiobooks in your genre as you can get your hands on. Heck, you might even find a narrator you adore.

Next, wander around on the ACX website. The site has lots of easy to understand FAQs about the process. Read it all. Know what you're getting into. And when you're ready, sign up as a Rights Holder (do be sure you hold the audiobook rights, btw) and set up your Title Profile. If you have any confusion, the folks at ACX are incredibly supportive and kind whether via email or their phone support line.

Make your Project Attractive

You want to set up your Title Profile (audition) with the same care you would use creating any sales listing. Narrators want to record books that are going to sell. It makes us look better. Plus, narrators are trying to gleam every smidge of information they can get from your listing that will help them make the best choices when interpreting your story. Give some evocative description of the characters in your audition selection; what have they just survived, what do they want from each other? Do you have a description of how they sound? Put that in your profile.

Keep it Simple but Specific

Your audition selection should include dialogue, preferably with your main characters. Dialogue is difficult. You want to be sure your narrator handles voices the way you'd prefer. If you write romance, include a love scene. You want to know up front how much heat your narrator is going to bring. Keep the selection short. Two pages at most.

Choosing your Narrator

When you listen to the submissions, listen first for the narrator's tone and interpretation. Do you enjoy their voice? Do they understand your style? But also listen for technical aspects of the recording. Are there a lot of hisses or pops? Background noise? Definitely listen with headphones, high quality ones if you've got them. If you like a voice and the production quality is high but they didn't quite get your tone or a character's voice, ask them to redo the audition (or an excerpt of the audition!) with your direction. A short exchange of messages can tell you more about how the narrator works and if your personalities will work well together.

Google the narrator. Listen to their samples on ACX. It's all very exciting, but take some time to make certain you've found a narrator you're going to love. Listeners want your series to be read by the same voice and you want someone who respects your direction and is easy to work with. For preference, you want someone who loves your writing!

Communication is Key

Writing is an art. Narration is a different art. Communicate often and positively and if your narrator doesn't understand your direction, reword your request. Find different ways of saying what you're going for. And remember how personal all this storytelling can be. Compliment your narrator. Let them know what you love about the work they are creating for you. As I often said when touring with Sex Signals, "If you tell me what you like, I can give you more of that."

About the Author:

Gwendolyn Druyor is an actor, author, and audiobook narrator who has travelled the world telling stories. She danced the cancan in upstate New York, bruised herself with pratfalls in Wisconsin, improvised musicals with Seth Meyers in Amsterdam, butchered the bard all over North America. Throughout her travels, Gwendolyn has stolen the magic of train stations, airports, theaters, and yes, hotel lobbies for her stories. She writes quick-read thrillers in her Killer on Call series as well as epic and urban fantasy. Her audiobook narration covers a wide variety of genres so just look for your favorites on Audible.

Sign up at her website to be in on all the excitement.

Follow Gwendolyn on Facebook, on Goodreads, and @gwendolyndruyor on Twitter

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Writer's Life: Editing A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE. Twelve Years Later by Barb Caffrey

My newest novel, A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, has just been released as an e-book through Twilight Times Books. I'm extremely happy about this – if I weren't, there probably would be something wrong with me – but as Murder By Four is a website that mostly talks about the writing, publishing, or editing processes, I thought it might be interesting to talk about the unusual task I recently undertook – editing my novel, twelve full years after it was initially completed.

You see, my edit of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE was unlike anything else I've done to date. Over the last twelve years, I've become a working editor, and have gained a great deal of ability during that time.

But as you may know (as I've guested at Murder By Four before), I also lost my husband Michael ten-plus years ago. He was a much more experienced writer than I, and far more adept as an editor, while I sat down and did the actual work of writing A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE in 2002 and 2003…and revised a bit during 2004.

Then my husband died. My life was upended. For a long time, I wondered why I was still alive at all – but for whatever reason, I just could not give up.

I kept sending my work around to publishers and agents. I garnered a few good comments, but no sales, mostly because both novels in the Elfyverse are comic young adult urban fantasies with a great deal of mystery and a dash of romance, besides. They are relentlessly cross-genre works, and that makes it harder for me to "brand" myself – a concept that's taken root in the ten-plus years it's been since Michael died, and refuses to die.

Though, granted, even before it was called "branding," readers tended to classify authors by what they wrote, less formally. Dorothy Sayers, for all her erudition, was classified as a mystery writer (with later mysteries sometimes being additionally labeled as romances due to the Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane relationship). J.R.R. Tolkien was classified as a fantasy writer for good reason – and yet, he also was a gifted religious scholar (so, for that matter, was Sayers). And C.S. Lewis, despite his Chronicles of Narnia, was often categorized as a Christian apologist due to books like THE FOUR LOVES and MERE CHRISTIANITY – yet he, too, was a gifted scholar.

So, if these three giants of literature could get labeled as only one type of writer, when they actually wrote many different types of things in their careers, what chance do I have as a relatively new writer?

My father has a saying: Don't fight it, accept it. And that's basically where I'm at with regards to branding…but, as always, I digress.

After many years of trying to find a publisher who understood what I was doing, I found Lida Quillen at Twilight Times Books. She liked my work. And it's because of her that both halves of the Elfy duology have now been published (book one is called AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE).

The point I am trying to make, about editing A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE twelve years after I wrote it, is that while I recognized these words as my own, I saw them in a brand-new light. Because I have edited so many books (over sixty, maybe as many as seventy) in the past few years, I was able to see my work in the same way someone else would – or a reasonable facsimile, at any rate.

On my blog, affectionately known as Barb Caffrey's Elfyverse, I wrote in May (link is here:

…you have to be in the right frame of mind to see what is actually in your own manuscript rather than what you think is there… What I try to do with the Elfyverse is to be consistent. I want to tell the best story I can. I’ve improved my actual writing mechanics a great deal since I originally wrote ELFY in 2002-3, and I want to reflect that…but I don’t want to take all the life out of the story, either.

And make no mistake about it: This is a full-on edit. It is not editorial changes, which is a much different animal. This is my own take on my own work, yes, but it’s also my older and wiser self editing my younger and more exuberant self, while trying to keep track of all the details — you may feel free to read “keep all the balls in the air” if you wish — at the same time.

You might be asking, "So, Barb. How is a full-on edit different from editorial changes?"

When you are dealing with editorial changes, you move more quickly through your manuscript – at least, I do – and you aren't as concerned with the intrinsic wholeness. You have to believe in your editor, and trust that he or she knows your writing well enough that you won't be steered off-course…and you have to trust that you will make the right changes in the right ways.

But in a full-on edit, you are looking at everything. Word choice, even if no one else has mentioned it. Whether you should add something at the beginning, because you now have two books where you once had only one. Whether you need additional scenes to clarify things, and if so, what?

And when you're done with your edit, you go back and make whatever changes are necessary.

In other words, I analyzed my manuscript as if it were written by someone else. I saw where it had weaknesses, as well as strengths. I tried to shore up those weaknesses. And I looked for ways to be consistent, without messing with my earlier style whatsoever – as, over time, I've become a slightly different writer.

Maybe you have another question at this point, something to the effect of, "So, Barb, what's the difference between a full-on edit and a rewrite? Especially since you're talking about adding things or rewriting them?"

A full-on edit is meant to help you, as a writer, figure out what else needs to be added to complete your novel and make it the best novel you are capable of writing. It is not a rewrite, because those usually mean you're starting from scratch, and you might use some of what you had before – or you might not.

It's a matter of emphasis, mostly. Analytical skills, perhaps. And certainly a matter of thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and sticktuitiveness…because when you edit for yourself, you have to believe you can see it as someone else does.

That's not easy. It might even be the next thing to impossible. But in this case, I felt it was the only way to get the job done…and I'm happy I was able to do it.

If you are looking to do some self-editing, whether it's for a novel, short story, or anything in between, keep the following things in mind:

· After you finish your draft, put it aside for a couple of days, if at all possible. (If time is short, get up, do something else for an hour or two, and come back to it.)

· When you do go back to it, read it aloud, slowly. Read it as if you're reading someone else's work, and try to find weaknesses. (You may not like doing that. But if you can find at least some of your own weaker areas, it will help your editor and/or your publisher down the line.)

· Then, go back and ruthlessly cut away anything that does not need to be there. If you have an overabundance of adjectives and adverbs (I often do), prune them back. If you use too many "thens," prune them back. If you shift tenses for no apparent reason, for goodness sake, go ahead and regularize those tenses.

· And by all means, do not rely on spellcheck or grammar check, especially if you write fantasy or science fiction. They may help you from time to time with an obviously misused or misspelled word, but because grammar check still sees "She said" as a simple sentence rather than an attribution phrase/dialogue tag, it's going to try to change your work and make it look – and read – wrong. (Plus, we F&SF writers often have words the spell and grammar check will hate. In my own work, the Elfy's language of Bilre is often flagged unnecessarily.)

If you keep all these things in mind, you may gain some insight into how to revise and edit your own work. That will make your editor and/or publisher much happier down the line, and also should promote greater mindfulness on your part as well.






Barnes and Noble:

Sample chapters:

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Review for Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy's Curse, book by Stephanie Osborn, review by Aaron Lazar
I have always loved Sherlock Holmes stories. As a teen, I read The Hound of the Baskervilles and was immediately hooked. As an adult, I continue to read or watch stories featuring Holmes, whether from the eyes of Mary Russell (Laurie R. King) or those of the modern day Sherlock in Stephanie Osborn’s The Displaced Detective series. To date, I have been particularly enamored with the contemporary BBC series featuring Sherlock Holmes, and anticipate each new episode’s release.

But now I have a new favorite – The Gentleman Aegis series, starting with book 1: Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse.

It’s almost like going full circle, because this book is written in a style unique to the Victorian era, not unlike that first Sherlock book I read as a youth. Aside from a riveting good tale, replete with a wonderful mystery steeped in ancient cultures and vibrant personalities, this book stands out from the usual offerings in contemporary fiction.

Readers like to be brought right into the scene when they’re reading a book. They like to feel “present” in the moment, to feel the character’s joy and discomfort, to hear the sounds of the forest, or to taste the piquancy of a freshly made sauce. It’s not something a lot of writers can pull off – but in this case, Ms. Osborn has accomplished this both elegantly and with great style.

Part of the reason is because Ms. Osborn uses dialect and phrases that match the decade in which her story takes place. The societal norms, everyday phrases, science of the day, the medical treatments, the objects, the clothing, food, the methods of transportation, even the curses, are all genuine to the times. The research behind these elements must have been gargantuan.

Another component that brought this story to life is the richness of linguistics, in other words, the frequent phrases in unique languages such as Portuguese, French, and Arabic. With a good set of footnotes at the end, there is no doubt what each of these phrases meant. However, in most cases it was easy to discern the meaning by the context in which the phrases were used.

Now on to the plot and characters, both of which mesmerized this reader. The local color of Egypt and the all-time favorite topic of mummies, lost pharaohs, scarabs, ancient curses, and the like would be enough to hook me. But add to that a splendid cast of offbeat and delightful characters, each bent on their own agenda, and a wonderful unrequited love subtheme, and Ms. Osborn has created a genuine treasure with this story.

The characters of Holmes and Watson were charmingly delineated, each with distinctive voices and accompanying actions. Never for one moment did I doubt that they were “real”; they convinced me from the very first chapter. I rooted for them every step of the way, and could only relax when they were safe and sound back in London, ready to chase their next adventure.

Bravo, Ms. Osborn, and thank you for a beautifully rendered book. 

(Click on cover for Amazon link)

Aaron Paul Lazar


Friday, December 18, 2015

I Can’t Believe She Said That! The Art of Writing Dialog by Joan Young

copyright 2015 Joan Young

Some novels contain very little dialog, others have pages and pages of it. But, no matter how much or how little, if it’s not believable, dialog can ruin the flow of a good story line.

Most fiction includes both descriptive passages and conversations which include two or more people. If more than two, there are special challenges for the writer.

Let’s start with two people. Who are these people? Are they your main characters? If so, you’ve probably got a solid idea of their personalities, and the words they use and emotional tones you have them project probably reflect that. But what happens when you add peripheral characters?

I recently listened to two audiobooks by a popular and established author. Somehow, listening to the words, rather than reading them, highlighted how poorly the secondary characters were differentiated. Many of them used the same catchphrases. Their words didn’t reflect their cultures or economic status. I’m not saying the audiobook readers did a poor job, or that they should have been able to read with accents; I’m saying the author gave these characters words that made them all sound pretty much alike. True, these peripheral players don’t carry major roles, but if they are not believable in their small spaces the reader can be jogged out of the story. I’ll bet you’ve felt this yourself. You’ll be reading along, and a character says something that makes you stop and say, “This person wouldn’t say that; it doesn’t ring true.” Don’t write in such a way that your readers will do this.  

Would Henry Higgins say “Oh so loverly sittin’ abso-bloomin'-lutely still?”  Of course not (unless he were mocking). But you recognized immediately that Eliza Doolittle would. If we move to secondary characters in the same story, you would still have little trouble distinguishing whose parent says “You stand on your own two feet. You're a lady now, you can do it. Yeah, that's right, Eliza,” and which one says, “Well, of course, dear, what did you expect? Bravo, Eliza.” Alfred P. Doolittle (Eliza’s father) is the speaker in the first instance, and Mrs. Higgins (Henry’s mother) is the second. Even with two or three sentences, the character’s social status and phraseology are clear.

Sometimes these differences are all you need to identify the speaker, and you can carry several lines of exchange without adding “So-and-so said,” to clarify who is speaking.

Now we get to the “he said, she said” part of the equation. The word “said” is supposed to be the standard for speaker identification. When one reads, the word more or less disappears. The reader’s mind simply notes the character who is speaking and doesn’t pay any attention to the word “said.”

However, here’s a big however. I’ve also recently listened to two audiobooks by another famous author. One whose stories I love. A series by him has been made into highly successful TV mini-movies. But I’ll never listen to another of his audiobooks again. He’s taken the “he said” to such literal extent that I wanted to throw the CD out my car window from aggravation. After almost every single line of dialog was the tag, “J___ said,” “S___ said,” etc. I don’t know how the narrator managed to record the book without going insane. So, keep in mind that your book might be read out loud, or even recorded. Provide variety in your descriptors.

For example, here are a few lines, pulled pretty much at random from a John Grisham novel.

“Where the hell is she?” Trevor barked down the hall just after two.
“Maybe she checked around, got some more references,” Jan said.
“What did you say?” he yelled.
“Nothing, boss.”
“Call her,” he demanded at two-thirty.
“She didn’t leave a number.”
“You didn’t get a number?”
“That’s not what I said. I said she didn’t leave a number.”
        (from The Brethren, by John Grisham)

The conversation is between a sleazy lawyer and his secretary. But before I told you that, you could already tell it was between an employer and subordinate because of the use of “boss.” This also serves to identify who is speaking. Other words used in place of “said” are “barked,” “yelled,” and “demanded.” The reader gets the tone of this exchange without any further description. Jan’s sarcasm is clear without the author writing “Jan said sarcastically.”

This brings us to “ly” words. They are currently considered to be pretty much a no-no. It’s almost always better to show an action rather than label a feeling. For example, is it better to write, “‘I’ll miss you,’John said longingly,” or “‘I’ll miss you.’ John’s eyes followed Megan to the door and lingered there even after she had closed it behind her?” Easy answer, right?

That said, sometimes an adverb gets the job done just fine. Don’t overdo it, is all.

Do be sure the reader can tell who is speaking. We’ve all read dialog where after three or four lines we have no idea who said what. Don’t write like that. Put in just enough tags, names, description, etc. so the reader won’t lose track of the speaker. This is especially important if two characters are similar in speech patterns, levels of status (parallel employees), on the same side of a conflict, etc. The more differences, the easier it is to identify the person either by what he or she says, or the way the words are said.

When you introduce a third or fourth character to a conversation, you’ve complicated the mix. Unless someone has a particularly identifiable speech pattern or role in the scene (a burglar will be the one saying “Get over on that couch and put your hands behind your back,” while the victim would not say that), you’ll need to tag almost every line. Do so in a way that engages the reader, rather than causing a stumbling block.

Ngaio Marsh is a master of large group scenes. She is a classic mystery writer in the same style as Agatha Christie. It would be too much to quote a long block of her writing from one of these scenes, but I just re-read a passage from her book, Photo Finish. In the room are a seven-piece band, the maitre-de, various patrons, and five members of an upper-crust family who are cast members in the story. Marsh gives the reader snatches of dialogs and observations. The reader never wonders who is speaking, but at the end of the scene it is impossible to decide what just happened that was important to the denouement of the mystery. This technique works extremely well in that sort of book.

Marsh sometimes describes the speaker, names the speaker, puts the name of the person spoken to in the dialog (or a pet nickname that the reader can identify), refers to the speaker by role or title, etc.  If you have multiple characters in a scene be sure the reader can tell who is talking, but try to do so without just repeating the “he said, she said” routine.

Recently, I participated in a workshop about writing plays. Several attendees, all good writers, commented that staged drama was extremely difficult to write because all you have is dialog. You can’t give description, you can’t tell the reader/audience what is going on inside a person’s head unless they say it, you can’t speculate or provide background. The set, unless you are writing a movie script, is probably simple. It certainly won’t be a panoramic shot of London in one scene and a millionaire’s condo in Hawaii in the next, except by suggestion, even with good backdrops and props.

Dialog and gestures define theater. Try to picture a conversation while you write it as it might appear on stage, and describe it to the reader.

Make it a habit to listen to books as well as read them. Pay careful attention to dialog that drives you crazy as well as the writing you admire. Jot down the reasons you like or dislike passages of dialog. You can then incorporate the principles you’ve noted into your own writing.

After you’ve completed writing a block of dialog, read it back to yourself, out loud. It’s even better if you wait a day before doing this. Does each character use words and phrases that ring true for his or her unique personality? Can you easily tell who is the speaker for each line? Have you varied the synonyms for “said.” Do you use “ly” words sparingly? Does the passage flow, rather than trip you?

If you can answer yes to these questions, you’ll have dialog that readers will find realistic and engaging, which enhances your story.


Joan H. Young has enjoyed the out-of-doors her entire life. On August 3, 2010, she became the first woman to complete the 4400-mile North Country National Scenic Trail on foot. North Country Cache is a collection of essays about that adventure.

More recently, Young has begun writing the Anastasia Raven cozy mystery series. Currently there are four stories set in Dead Mule Swamp, with a fifth in progress.

She also writes a monthly column for the Ludington Daily News called "Get Off the Couch," and is a regular contributor to North Star, the publication of the North Country Trail Association.

For more information, see

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Three Questions for Mayra Calvani


Dora Machado

I’m so pleased to have Mayra Calvani visiting with us today. Her latest book, Latina Authors & Their Muses is a breakthrough exploration of the writing craft and the ways in which authors find their inspiration and channel their creativity. 

Hello Mayra and thank you for visiting with us at MB4. Congratulations on your latest book, Latina Authors & Their Muses. What is it about and why did you decide to write it?

Thanks for having me on your blog, Dora! Latina Authors and Their Muses is a very dear, love project of mine which began its long journey several years ago. As you know, since you’re part of it, it is an anthology of interviews with 40 Latina authors living in the States and writing primarily in English, authors writing in various genres from literary to fantasy to paranormal to romance, and then some. It is a celebration of creativity and the artist’s soul, but it also offers savvy advice on the business of publishing and book promotion. I hope that my book will serve to inspire and inform the Latina authors of the future. One thing I should mention, though, is that while the book is especially focused on Latina writers, the topics discussed are of interest to all women writers. 

I was inspired 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 many authors did you interview and what kind of questions did you ask?

As I mentioned, I interviewed 40 Latina authors writing in different genres and in different stages of their careers, from new writers with a debut novel to established, well-known names with a long track record. I was particularly interested in their childhoods and what events or people were influential in them becoming authors. I was also especially interested in what it means to be a “professional” or “successful” author and the part money plays in this equation. There are also questions about the creative process, craft, balancing writing with life, the psychology of writing (the “price” we have to pay for being artists, isolation, and guilt), their books, agents, publishers, and book promotion. 

The book is also a chock-full of resources in terms of organizations, award competitions, agents, journals and publications catering to not only Hispanic authors but also authors in general. 

What did you discover about Latina Authors and their muses? 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 easy. For others, it has taken many years. 

We all love the romantic notion of a Muse but, at the end, it’s all about commitment, 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. 

Thank you so much for sharing this extraordinary journey with us, Mayra. Thank you also for allowing me to be a small part of this grand, visionary project. 

Thank you for this opportunity, Dora! I truly appreciate it! 

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 and 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 newest 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.
When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for Murder By Four, an award winning blog for readers and writers and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats. To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit her at