Award-winning author Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. She’s a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books and co-editor of Voice in the Dark ezine. She's had over 300 reviews, interviews, stories, and articles published in print and online. Mayra is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Children's Writer's Coaching Club.
VS: I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. I know you’ve been busy touring your recent book Frederico the Mouse Violinist and your other books this month with the World of Ink Tours and through other marketing opportunities. It is always a pleasure to have you here Mayra and so to begin can you share with my readers how long have you been writing?
Mayra: I wrote my first stories when I was about 12. I have been writing ever since.
VS: That is so great. I only started writing stories over the past few years. However, I did write some poems as a teen. Since you have been writing for so long what would you say inspires you to write?
Mayra: Reading great books; books about writing and creativity; violin music; falling snow; grey, cold, misty days; walking by myself, alone with my thoughts; a cabin in the woods; a balcony or terrace with a lovely view; a glass of wine; vacationing in a French chateau…
VS: You had a lot to inspire you and your writing for sure. It also shows in your books, which I just love and so do my children. Okay, so what was the first thing you ever had published?
Mayra: A short story in a literary magazine. I was nineteen, in my second year of college. I screamed and jumped up and down. Nothing like that first publishing credit.
VS: I think your first publication is one you never forget and doing the ‘Happy Dance’ is something we all do, too. Mayra, can you share with us a little about your current books?
Mayra: My latest books are How to Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Event and Fredrico, the Mouse Violinist.
How to Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Event is a 50-page chapbook for girls ages 9-12 on how to start and manage a book club from start to end. It also includes an explanation of the various genres and a resource section with a list of popular authors who write for young readers, including the titles of one of their books and website links. The book encourages a love of books and reading and also social and leadership skills.
To find out more about it, readers can visit my website at: http://mayrassecretbookcase.com/Middle_Grade.html
Frederico, the Mouse Violinist, is a 24-page picture book that teaches the parts of the violin to beginner players and entertains them with a fun, educational story.
Blurb: Frederico is a little mouse with a big dream: he wants to become a violinist. Each day he watches as Stradivari makes his famous violins. Each night, he sneaks into the workshop to play. But the violins are too big! Then, unbeknown to Frederico, Stradivari sees him playing and begins carving a tiny device. Could it be a famous Strad especially for Frederico?
It is available in eBook, hardcover and paperback.
Purchase link: http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/frederico.htm
VS: Both are wonderful books and I really enjoyed the book trailer for How to Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Even. If any of you would like to see it, you can go to http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org and view it under our “Featured Trailer” section. I’m always curious to learn what a writer enjoys most about writing. What would you say you enjoy about the writing process?
Mayra: Nothing beats being able to work in my pajamas all day. J
VS: I second that! I find myself in my P.J’s for hours each day. Once I even forgot about my dog groomers appointment and dropped him off in my P.J’s. Good thing the groomer is a close friend and only lives 5 minutes from my house. LOL. Okay, so we know you love being a writer so you can hang out in your P.J’s, what is the most difficult part of writing?
Mayra: For me, following a disciplined schedule, fighting procrastination and shutting down my inner critic.
VS: Again, I can agree with that. I think one problem about being a writer is we are home and it is easy to say, “That can wait until later.” However, if we do…who knows when we’ll get the job done. Okay, with that said, what is the best writing advice you ever received?
Mayra: “Leap, and the net will appear.” I have a sign on my desk.
VS: I like that a lot. Thanks for sharing. I bet some our readers today will be posting this up by their computers. I know I will be. Mayra, what do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Mayra: The very, very basic?
- A sympathetic protagonist. If you don’t like the character and can’t identify with him, you won’t care what happens to him enough to keep reading.
- A compelling conflict. Give your protagonist a big problem, the bigger the better. A strong conflict forces the protagonist into action so that those good and bad qualities I mentioned come through for the reader.
- Rising action. As the protagonist tries various ways to solve the big problem, other obstacles or smaller problems arise, thus creating escalating tension. This is what keeps you turning those pages late into the night.
- A satisfying ending. Just when you think all will go wrong, the protagonist solves the problem, everything falls into place, and we can sigh, relaxed, knowing all will be well (well, at least, in most cases!).
VS: All very good points and ones we can’t turn a blind eye to. So what is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Mayra: Any believable character must have a combination of both good and bad qualities, just like a person in real life. No one likes a character that is all good. The same goes for villains. A villain who is all-evil is a flat, non-dimensional character. That said, great protagonists, are also bigger than life and possess a few admirable qualities that come through at the climax of the story. This quality is what makes heroes and heroines stand out. As readers, we want to see protagonists do things that we wouldn’t have the guts to do ourselves.
VS: All very true, Mayra thanks for sharing. Now we know you’re an award-winning author. Can you share what awards you have won?
Mayra: My nonfiction book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, was a ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award winner. It was also nominated for three other awards.
My children’s picture book, Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster, was nominated for an EPIC Award last month. Winners will be announced this spring.
I intend to enter Frederico, the Mouse Violinist, in several awards this year.
VS: Mayra, I thank you again for taking the time to share with my readers about being a writing mama.
Mayra: Thank you, Virginia! It was a pleasure being on your blog!
For more information on Mayra Calvani and her books, visit her World of Ink Tour page at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/MayraCalvani.aspx and her websites listed below.
Author Website: www.mayrassecretbookcase.comBlog Address: www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com
Twitter URL: http://twitter.com/mcalvani
Facebook URL: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=532186400
Facebook Fan Page URL: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mayra-Calvanis-Fan-Page/162383023775888?createdPublisher Website: www.guardianangelpublishing.com
Mayra Calvani’s next stop on her virtual author tour is February 10th at One Zillion Books where you can read a review of How to Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Event. http://www.onezillionbooks.com