Sunday, June 1, 2008

Book Reviewing Month at Blogcritics Magazine!

June is 'Book Reviewing' month at Blogcritics Magazine!

To promote the release of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, co-author Mayra Calvani will be interviewing 15+ reviewers and review editors during the month of June. Learn all about the business of book reviewing and what's in the mind of some of the most popular reviewers on the internet today.

Here's the lineup:

June 1 - James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review
June 3 - Irene Watson, Reader Views
June 5 - Magdalena Ball, The Compulsive Reader
June 7 - Carolyn Howard-Johnson, The New Book Review
June 9 - Rachel Durfor, Rebecca's Reads
June 11 - Beverly Walton Porter, Scribe & Quill
June 13 - Alex Moore, ForeWord Magazine
June 15 - Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader
June 17 - Sharyn McGinty, In The Library Reviews
June 19 - Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection
June 21 - Eveline Soors, Euro-reviews
June 23 - Andrea Sisco, Armchair Interviews
June 25 - Lea Schizas, Muse Book Reviews
June 27 - Linda Baldwin, Road to Romance
June 29 - Hilary Williamson, Book Loons
June 30 - Judy Clark, Mostly Fiction

(I'll be adding the links as they go live!)

Between June 1st and June 30th, stop by Blogcritics and leave a comment under the reviewer interviews for a chance to win a Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tour (Bronze Package, coordinated by book publicity guru Dorothy Thompson), OR, as an alternative to a non-author winner, a $50 B&N gift certificate! The second prize will be a one-year subscription to Foreword Magazine. The third prize will be a T-shirt with the cover art of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing on the front.

The three winners will be drawn from the people who leave comments under the interviews during the month of June. The deadline to comment is June 30th, midnight, eastern time. The winners will be announced on The Slippery Book Review blog on July 3rd. I hope you enjoy the interviews! Good luck!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Fountain Pen Newsletter, June 2008

From Mayra's Desk...

Dear Readers,
The summer holidays are just around the corner. I don't know about you, but when I hear the words 'summer holidays' I immediately picture myself relaxing under the sun with a great book (actually, BOOKS) in my hands. I hope you'll enjoy the author interviews this month and possibly choose some of their books for your summer reading material.
June will be an incredibly hectic month for me, as I'll be interviewing about 20 book reviewers and book review editors for Blogcritics Magazine, as well as going an a virtual book tour to promote the release of my picture book, Crash!
So if there's someone who'll be looking forward to the holidays, that will be me!
Enjoy the issue!


Join me at Blogcritics Magazine's Book Section for the book launch of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing!

From June 1 until June 30 I'll be interviewing 20 reviewers and review editors on various aspects of book reviewing. Some of my guests will include: James Cox from Midwest Book Review, Alex Moore from Foreword Magazine, Irene Watson from Reader Views, Andrea Sisco from Armchair Interviews, Hilary Williamson from Book Loons, Magdalena Ball from The Compulsive Reader, Andrea Sisco from Armchair Interviews, Linda Baldwin from Road to Romance, Judy Clark from Mostly Fiction, and many others!

But that's not all. There will be great prizes for 3 lucky winners! The winners will be drawn from the people who leave comments at the bottom of the interviews during the event. The winners will be announced on July 1st on The Slippery Book Review Blog.

These are the prizes:

1st Prize: A Virtual Book Tour (courtesy of Dorothy Thompson's, Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours, a $199 value!) OR an alternative 1st Prize of a $50 Barnes and Noble gift certificate. The winner will be able to choose among these two first prizes.

2nd Prize:

A one-year subscription to ForeWord Magazine.

3rd Prize:

A T-shirt with the cover of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing on the front.

Here's what the reviewers are saying about The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing...

Review by Reader Views

Review by Armchair Interviews

More news!

Join me this month as I tour the blogosphere to promote my 2nd children's picture book, CRASH!

Crash! is a story about friendship and the bond that develops between a little boy and his first puppy. It also teaches young children about the responsibility of owning and caring for a pet.

Half of my royalties will be donated to Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary, a non-profit organization.

For details about the tour and a full schedule of my tour stops, as well as reviews, coloring pages, and games for kids, please visit Crash the Puppy.

Be sure to visit... I'll be giving away a $20 gift certificate to a lucky winner!


Fantasy Author A.F. Stewart

Tecno-Thriller Author Dan Ronco

Fantasy Author Christopher Hoare

Multi-genre Author Kim McDougall

Freelance Children's Writer Donna McDine

Young Adult Novelist Celise Downs

Suspense Author Michaela Riley

Author Emilio Corsetti

Special Interview!

Norwegian Waters Turn to Blood


Curse of the Bayou (3rd book in the Cynthia’s Attic series)
by Mary Cunningham
Echelon Press
ISBN: 1-59080-575-5
Copyright 2008
Paperback, 160 pages, $9.99
Middle-grade, Fantasy/Mystery

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

More time travel, magic, and adventure await young readers in this the 3rd book of Cunningham’s Cynthia’s Attic series: Curse of the Bayou. This time our tween travelers, Gus and Cynthia, go back in time as far back as 1844 to the Louisiana bayou in order to solve the mystery of Cynthia’s great-grandfather Beau Connor’s disappearance.

Twelve-year old Gus and Cynthia are nothing short of ordinary. For one thing, they are able to travel back and forth in time by way of Cynthia’s old trunk, situated in the cobweb-filled attic of an old mansion. Despite the fact that they’re so different, they’re also super best friends. In this installment, the girls must go back in time to find out what really happened to Beau Connor and the reason why he vanished while on a business trip. If you think the intrepid duo has been in danger before, hold your breath for Curse of the Bayou: treacherous Louisiana swamps, man-eating alligators, shape-shifting pumas, and evil pirates are some of the delicious surprises the reader will encounter.

I have read all of Cunningham’s books so far and I have to say this is the best. I especially loved the ‘Southern’ atmosphere in this book, the threatening setting of the swamps and humid Louisiana climate. Each chapter is filled with mystery and adventure and ends with an exciting cliffhanger. The pace is quick and the chapters short, adding to the suspense. I also found the dialogue between Gus and Cynthia a lot funnier and wittier in this book. Some of their wisecracks are really clever. Cunningham keeps the reader guessing by switching back and forth in time. For this reason I would say that although this is a middle-grade book, it could be confusing if not read with full attention. This is a book that will appear to most young girls, especially to those who love stories about best friends and adventure/mystery with a dash of fantasy.


More Reviews...

Review of The Blue Stone, by Jimmy Laio

Book Review: It’s a Dog Life, but It’s Your Carpet, by Justine A. Lee, DVM

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Fountain Pen, April 2008

In this Issue...

From Mayra's Desk
"Demystifying Virtual Book Tours," by Mayra Calvani
What Does Amazon's Decision Really Mean?
Historical Novelist Catherine Delors
SF Author Phoebe Wray
SF Author Lee Denning
Romantic Suspense, NY Times Bestseller Author Lisa Jackson
Dark Fantasy Author Justin Gustainis
Illustrator K.C. Snider
Multi-genre Author Hill Kemp
The Darkest Evening of the Year, by Dean Koontz (paranormal)
Monkey Trap, by Lee Denning (SF)
Jemma7729, by Phoebe Wray (SF)
Sleep Before Evening, by Magdalena Ball (mainstream)
Joey Gonzalez, Great American, by Tony Robles (picture book)
On the Go with Rooter and Snuffle, by Shari Lyle-Soffe (picture book)
Knowing Joseph, by Judith Mammay (middle grade)
Book Club


From Mayra's Desk...

Since the release of my 2nd picture book, CRASH!, this April, I have been networking with lots of golden retriever sites and blogs. Partly to spread the word about my book, but also to learn more about goldens--my favorite breed of all dogs. Surely there isn't a kinder, gentler, more intelligent breed on the entire planet. Surely there isn't a more gorgeous sight than a room full of this breed of puppies--golden balls of fur! (I have a golden myself, so forgive my subjectivity!)

I've learned a lot about rescue organizations and my heart goes out to all the special people, mostly volunteers, who are committed and dedicated to the welfare of goldens that have been abandoned or abused. This prompted me to be proactive and help as well, so I've decided to donate half of my royalties from CRASH! to Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary.

I've also enjoyed a lot of fun videos and I would especially like to share one of them with you. This video features a golden named Rookie and his lady owner dancing to John Travolta and Olivia Newton John's "You're the One that I Want" from Grease. I've embedded the YouTube here. Enjoy!


*My 2nd children's picture book, CRASH!, is finally out! I'm happy to announce that I'll be donating 50% of my royalties from this book to Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary, a non-profit organization. Let's help those needy goldens! Read a review by Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection.

*Dark Realms Magazine and Northwood Journal, both print publications, recently reviewed my horror novel, Dark Lullaby:

"Mayra Calvani's novel Dark Lullaby offers a new perspective on the dark fantasy genre... With the embellishment of Turkish folklore, along with some her own creative mythology, the author lures her reader into dark and dangerous territory." --Dark Realms Magazine

Read the complete review of Dark Lullaby, by JR Clifford for Northwoods Journal.

Listen to the audio blurb at Armchair Interviews. Just click on the book's cover on the left sidebar. (If you're interested in doing one of these audio blurbs, I have included some information under the Resources section below).

Watch the trailer of Dark Lullaby! Note: If you get depressed after this video, watch Rookie dancing one more time! :-)

*To promote the release of my first nonfiction book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing (co-authored with Anne K. Edwards), I'm launching a party of Blogcritics Magazine from June 1-30. Learn all about the business of book reviewing and what’s in the mind of some of the most popular reviewers on the internet today. Some of our guests will include: Irene Watson from Reader Views, Andrea Sisco from Armchair Interviews, Hilary Williamson from Book Loons, Linda Baldwin from Road to Romance, Judy Clark from Mostly Fiction, Carolyn Howard-Johnson from The New Book Review, and many others! Details to follow in the next issue!

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing is officially available for pre-order now on Amazon and B&N. The ebook is now for sale from the publisher at Twilight Times Books.

*Come see what I'm reading at Goodreads!

"Demystifying Virtual Book Tours," by Mayra Calvani


What Does Amazon's Decision Really Mean?
Historical Novelist Catherine Delors
SF Author Phoebe Wray

SF Author Lee Denning
Romantic Suspense, NY Times Bestseller Author Lisa Jackson
Dark Fantasy Author Justin Gustainis
Illustrator K.C. Snider
Multi-genre Author Hill Kemp


The Darkest Evening of the Year, by Dean Koontz
Monkey Trap, by Lee Denning (SF)
Jemma7729, by Phoebe Wray (SF)
Sleep Before Evening, by Magdalena Ball (mainstream)
Joey Gonzalez, Great American, by Tony Robles (children's picture book)
On the Go with Rooter and Snuffle, by Shari Lyle-Soffe (children's picture book)
Knowing Joseph, by Judith Mammay (middle grade)

Book Club (book blurbs and excerpts!)

Lost Souls, by Lisa Jackson

The Last to Fall, by Anne K. Edwards

Mistress of the Revolution, by Catherine Delors

Cinco de Mayo, by Don Miles

The Art of Smart Thinking, by Dr. James Hardt


Do you enjoy vampire fiction? Read reviews of the latest vampire-related novels at VampireGenre.

The Stilleto Gang. "Women writers on a mission to bring mystery, humor, and high heels to the world."

Want autographed copies of your favorite authors? Visit Signed by the Author

Share what you're reading with other readers. Read reviews of your favorite books, or write your own: Make money writing articles.

The Book Depository. Online book retailer with FREE delivery worldwide.

Free author promotions and advertising:

Lea Schizas' Muse It Up Club, affordable monthly ads, $5 per monthly ad
AllBookReviews, $50 buys you a great promo package
Stories for Children Magazine, $25 for 3-month ad
YABooksCentral, $50 for one-month ad (great, high-traffic site for kids books)

Launchpad Magazine. Ezine for children, written & illustrated by children

Make your own slide show at

Looking for an original way to promote your book? Consider audio blurbs, created by the professional staff at Armchair Interviews. Cost, $100. Visit the website for details or write to Andrea Sisco at

Read excerpts of YA novels at YABEO. Visit the sister blog here. The site offers great reading to YA fiction fans, and promotions for YA authors.

Promotional Resources for Authors

Affordable Virtual Book Tours with Pump Up Your Book Promotion's Dorothy Thompson. Her latest clients include NY Times Bestselling Novelist Lisa Jackson, yet she offers really affordable prices. I'm letting her handle my CRASH! Virtual Book Tour this June!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Fountain Pen, February 2008

In this Issue...

From Mayra's Desk
Author Interviews:

Kristy Kiernan, author of Catching Genius (literary)
Cynthia Reeg, Christian author of children's books
Deborah Woehr, author of Prosperity (ghost/paranormal)
Aaron Lazar, author of Tremolo (YA mystery)
Corinne Demas, author & violinist (children's, adult)
Nancy Minnis Damato, author of Separate Worlds (historical)
James Clifford, author of Double Daggers (historical mystery)
Roberta Isleib, mystery author and president of Sisters in Crime
Kim Baccellia, author of Earrings of Ixtumea (YA, ethnic)
Beverly McClure, author of YA novels
Publisher Interviews:
Lida Quillen, Twilight Times Books
"On the Author/Illustrator Relationship," by Mayra Calvani
"Improving Your Writing," by Cynthia Reeg
Short Fiction
"Deja Vu," by Mayra Calvani
Book Club Selection
Mayra's Reviews

Press Releases


From Mayra's Desk...

Dear Subscribers,

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. You may have noticed that there was no January issue this year. I apologize, but the hecticness of Christmas and the New Year made it impossible. January was a turbulence of family illnesses and small accidents, so I wasn't able to spend a lot of time at the computer. Also, I don't know about you, but it's always hard for me to get back to the old routine after the holidays. This February issue, however, is really hefty with lots of interviews, two articles, and a Christmas story I wrote during the holidays. I've also added two new sections to the newsletter: Book Club Selection and Press Releases.

I hope you'll enjoy the issue. Happy reading!

Mayra Calvani



*My supernatural thriller, Dark Lullaby, continues to garner great reviews. Read the latest ones:

Review of Dark Lullaby by Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection

Review of Dark Lullaby by Patricia Altner, Patricia's Vampire Notes

*The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, my nonfiction book co-authored with Anne K. Edwards, is scheduled for release this June 2008. Read all about it here.

*My second children's picture book, CRASH! will be released in March by Guardian Angel Publishing. More details next month.

*Don't miss the Valentine's Day Blog Tour. Five Latina authors, five stories, five prizes! From February 10 to February 14.

February 10 – “I Hate Chocolate” by Mary Castillo,, a $10 Starbucks gift card

February 11 – “The Painting” by Mayra Calvani,, a box of Belgian chocolate

February 12 – “A Box of Valentines” by Jamie Martinez Wood,, a one pound bag of homemade toffee

February 13 – “Missed Connections” by Margo Candela Prize: B&N Gift Card

February 14- “Dream Catch Me” by Barbara Caridad Ferrer, An iTunes gift card

Author Interviews:

Interview with Kristy Kiernan

Interview with Cynthia Reeg

Interview with Deborah Woehr

Interview with Aaron Lazar

Interview with Corinne Demas

Interview with Nancy Minnis Damato

Interview with James Clifford

Interview with Roberta Isleib

Interview with Kim Baccellia

Interview with Beverly McClure

Publisher Interviews:

My publisher, Lida Quillen, recently appeared on the front page of Publisher's Weekly. Read the interview here:
Interview with Lida Quillen



by Cynthia Reeg,

Begin with a great start. Grab the reader from the first sentence. You have an editor's attention for a matter of minutes (maybe) before she moves on to the next slush pile story.
Start with gusto. Bam! Wham! Kapowy! Just like in the old Batman TV show make sure your audiences can feel, see, and hear the action. Start with a problem or intriguing dialogue. Read some of the opening lines or first pages of stories that you like or stories that have become children's classics or best sellers. Study and perfect the art of a good beginning.

Let your characters do the talking. Provide them with realistic voices. Interesting voices. Voices that the reader wants to hear more of. Voices that move the story along. Voices that reveal the character.
Don't dilly-dally around with small talk. That's for everyday stuff in the real world but not in fiction. Create drama with dialogue. Show the characters’ emotions and opinions.
Mix the dialogue with action, creating rhythm in your story, and using body language to further reveal your character. People are more likely to form their opinions of someone from what they do rather than what they say. The same applies to your story characters.
Visualize each scene as though the characters are performing on a stage before you. Simply take down notes as they move and speak. Watch closely for their facial expressions, shoulder shrugs, sighs, raised eyebrows, glares, tapping foot. Write these into your story to create an amazing mix of dialogue and action. Think of creating a symphony. You must orchestrate all the various mix of instruments.

Revel in the tension. Don't rush through the really exciting parts of your story. And for the reverse, don't drag out less thrilling but substantial sections. Make them as tight and thoughtful as possible; then move on to the fun stuff.
Slow down the important scenes. Pretend you've pushed the slow-motion button on your recorder. Study each action in great detail and write it down in clipped, fast-paced sentences. Power-packed with emotion. Strong verbs and nouns, few adjectives and adverbs. Make the scene even more suspenseful by compacting the time frame needed for the hero to accomplish the goal. Hear the clock ticking in your head. Feel the tension down into your fingers. Then let them type away.

Write in a rush. Initially, while the idea is hot and the scene is flowing, write without looking back. Feel the need to rush on. To reach the finish line. Take deep breaths. Listen to some mind-enhancing alpha brainwave music like Mozart selections. Don't let your inner critic come out to play during this writing phase.
I find it's helpful to let this story concoction rest for a while before coming back for serious editing. Depending on the length and complexity of the story, the down time may vary from a day or two to perhaps weeks or even longer.

Edit with determination. Believe in the story that you've written. But believe that it can always be better. Read it out loud. Listen to the music of it. If you can't hear a beat, then you haven't written it in yet.
Look for the strong foundation of story elements: plot, setting, characters. Beef them up with subtle word shifts and tight editing. Paint colorful character strokes, especially with the main character and supporting characters. Expand your palette and your painting techniques for each new story. The reader should feel he knows enough about each character to like or dislike them. The characters should be real enough that the reader almost feels as though he is a part of the story, too.
Then read your work like a copy editor. Line by line. Letter by letter. Correct the typos and punctuation errors. The more professional looking your story is the more believable it is for an editor.

Read! Read! Read! Probably the most important thing you can do to improve your writing is to read. Read great stories like you want to write. Read some stories that aren't that good. Study the differences. Why did one work and not the other?
Read a variety of works by a variety of authors. Expose yourself to different writing styles and genres. Reading poems is a great way for me to loosen my writing and help generate ideas. Reading nonfiction often leads to ideas for fiction stories as well. Read the newspaper and adult magazines for a wealth of ideas.
Keep a record of what you read and who publishes it. This way you can refer back to your notes when trying to remember which publishing house likes romantic picture books or which one walks the line with edgy stories. Is there a pattern to what they like to print or what a particular editor likes to work on? Or which writer crosses the boundaries between picture books and young adult. How does she do it?
Read. Study. Read. The only way to be a writer is to be a reader first.


Short Fiction:

"Deja Vu," by Mayra Calvani (two versions, English and Spanish)


Book Club Selection for March:

Tremolo: Cry of the Loon, by Aaron Lazar

The Last to Fall, by Anne K. Edwards

Catching Genius, by Kristy Kiernan

(Review of this book by Terez Rose is in the author interview)

Along the Templar Trail, by Brandon Wilson

Joy the Jellyfish, by Kristen and Kevin Collier


Mayra's Reviews:





*Virtual book tours with Pump Up Your Book Promotion continues! All authors on tour in February will be giving away FREE copies of their books to a few lucky people who comment on their blog stops. Winners will be announced at on Feb. 29!

*Children's author Christine Norris is running a contest on her website. Visit her Contests page for details on how to get a free copy of her book and gift certificate!

*Author Jamie Wood is having a contest! In her own words, these are the details:

"I am having a contest this month. My first ever! I've asked my teen readers to write an essay about why magic is so popular these days. I will choose winners based on how much thought and consideration they put into what they write. Spelling counts, too. Winners choose either The Teen Spell Book: Magick for Young Witches or The Enchanted Diary: A Teen's Guide to Magick and Life, signed by me. There will be two entries. One for people ages 11-14, essays must be 150 words. Another entry for people, ages 15-18, essays must be 250 words. Send essays to, with "writing contest" in the subject line. Contest begins Tuesday, February 12 and ends Tuesday, February 26. More information can be found on"
*In 2008, Karen Wiesner is giving away an autographed trade paperback every month to subscribers of her newsletter, Karen's Quill! Subscribe to Karen's Quill by visiting her website at or by sending a blank e-mail to!

*Everything is coming up romantic! Join Jewels of the Quill for our annual Valentine's Day Giveaway throughout February by visiting our website at for a full list of prizes and giveaway details. In February, Liz Hunter (Dame Garnet) is our featured author at Jewels of the Quill. Liz is giving away an autographed trade paperback or a download. We're also giving away an official Jewels of the Quill desk calendar this month. To be eligible to win this month's giveaways, visit our website and subscribe to the Fans of Jewels of the Quill newsletter by sending a blank e-mail to
*To celebrate the release of Joust in Time one lucky reader will win two one day passes to the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, Wisconsin on the Wisconsin/Illinois border (or to a renaissance faire near you). All you have to do is send me an email at with the words "Ren Faire" in the subject line along your name, mailing and email addresses. The lucky winner will be drawn on May 1. Deadline to enter is April 15, 2008.


Press Releases:

Valentines Day
February 14, 2008

February 4, 2008
Contact: Hill Kemp

LOVING COUNTY, TEXAS. Do you remember that friend you haven’t talked to all year? You know, that person you were so close to but somehow drifted apart. Well, thanks to today’s marvelous technology, you can easily reach out to your friend, rekindle the warmth and light up their Valentine's Day.

There’s a new book out – in electronic format – which you can send to them. Lucky Penny is a book that explores and embraces friends and friendship. Fourth graders can read it, teenagers can grow from it and grown-ups can be reminded of the special importance friendship is to our lives. And how it takes some investment from us to sustain this treasure. The little book is a quick read. And for about the price of a nice Valentine's card plus postage, you can really let your friend know how much you value them.

So, go to . There you can get Lucky Penny and send it to your friend with your personal Valentines message. It only takes a few minutes. It will be good for you and for that person out there waiting to hear from you.


Reviewer praise for Lucky Penny:

"Hill & Siena Kemp's story shows young girls that they can solve their problems with each other. Such friendships are the "True Prize" in anything. Best, these girls solve their friendship problem without intrusive advice from the adults in their lives."--Deborah K. Frontiera, Golden Spur Award Winner, North Texas Children's Book Festival, 2007

Hill Kemp has five works published including his thriller novel, Capitol Offense. He is a writer, lyricist, inventor and former member of the Texas House of Representatives. Siena, Kemp’s granddaughter and co-author, is in the 7th grade gifted program, an avid reader and Neopets author. More at .