Mayra was introduced to my by Amigo, her Golden Retriever - who is almost as famous a writer as she is. Read on to learn about Mayra's myraid of talents. (Oh, and about Amigo, too.)
You are a multi-genre author writing children’s books, nonfiction, paranormal, and chick lit. You’re also a professional book reviewer. Tell us what got you started writing and reviewing books.
I have been writing for most of my life, since I was about 12 years old. I also majored in Creative Writing in college. By the time I was in my early twenties I had published short fiction in literary magazines and even a short novel, but it was not until I was in my early thirties that writing stopped being a hobby and turned into a serious job.
I began reviewing about ten years ago. I have reviewed for many online sites over the years, but now I review mostly for my own blogs, the Examiner and Blogcritics Magazine.
My first motivation was getting free books. As an author myself I later realized reviewing could be used as a tool to promote my name and my books. But this is secondary. What keeps me going is my passion for reading and books. I love discovering great new authors and submerging myself in the imaginative world of fiction.
Share with us the challenges and advantages of writing in several genres.
It’s not a conscious decision. I write in several genres because I have to, because my creativity takes me that way. I never thought of it as a challenge but now that you mention it, that’s true. It’s challenging because I have to study the art and craft of each genre as opposed to just one. But for me it is fun and even relaxing to switch from one genre to another. It’s never boring! I may work on a ghost thriller in the morning, then switch to a sweet children’s picture book at noon. Writing in various genres stimulates my brain, my creativity and my productivity.
One big disadvantage, though, is that it becomes more difficult to brand my name, so I have to spend a lot more time and resources on book promotion to compensate.
I was introduced to you by Amigo, your Golden Retriever. How did he convince you to allow him to blog all on his own?
Amigo can be very persuasive, especially when he drills right into your soul with those eyes of his! But he’s also a smart promoter. I wanted to write a children’s book with Amigo as the main character, so he told me, “You want to write a book about me? Make me famous first, THEN write the book.” So that’s what I’m doing!
The interviews are fun and the response has been so positive and overwhelming. The list of upcoming guests keeps getting longer each week.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a writer?
To conquer the blank screen. It can be pretty terrifying.
What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.
My most recent title, Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster, is a picture book for kids ages 4 to 8.
Here’s a little blurb: Humberto is an antisocial little hamster. He's addicted to books! Until disaster strikes and he must choose between saving his books and helping his soon-to-be friends.
The book is available from the publisher (http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/humberto.htm) and most online retailers, including Amazon and B&N.
What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?
My ‘big’ project right now is a YA supernatural thriller. I’m working on this novel 1-2 hours every morning Monday through Friday. But I also have other projects I’m currently working on. At the moment I have to finish two proposals for a series of nonfiction picture books and, comes March, I’ll also start working on a writing book for kids already under contract. I’m also always working on a new picture storybook. This is as far as writing goes.
As far as submitting goes, I have a middle-grade novel and about eight picture books doing the editor roundup. I’m constantly querying and submitting to editors.
Next in line to be published (probably this summer, depending on how quickly the illustrator finishes doing the artwork) is my picture book, Frederico, the Mouse Violinist, about a little mouse who lives in Antonio Stradivari’s workshop and dreams of becoming a violinist. The book is meant to tell a good story and teach the parts of the violin at the same time. Also in line is a nonfiction book for girls ages 9-12, How to Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Success. This is scheduled to come out by Twilight Times Books within the next couple of months. Readers may learn more about my upcoming books on my website, www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com.
Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?
Gosh, this is a hard one. There are so many important tips I’d like to give new writers. I guess the most important one would be to write from the heart, write with passion, and don’t ever let anyone discourage you from your dream of one day becoming a published author. I guess that makes three tips!
Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Why? Why not?
I’m a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). Why? It looks good on my cover letter when I query agents and editors.
I’m also a member of the Children’s Writers Coaching Club (http://www.cwcoachingclub.com). This club is absolutely wonderful and I’ve become a much more motivated, organized, productive and disciplined writer since I joined last summer. The club offers weekly critiques and teleclasses on all aspects of writing for children.
Do you have any daily writing rituals, routines, or word/page counts? Why? Why not?
I write in the mornings, before I do anything else (and that includes emailing and going online), because that’s when I’m most productive. I try to write at least 2 pages a day. I try to keep my weekly objectives low so they’ll be manageable and I won’t be discouraged or disappointed. Even if I write one page a day, that’s fine. The important thing is to make progress.
I write a weekly plan every Sunday to keep me focused during the week. In this planner I include my morning writing schedule and everything else I need to do during the afternoons and evenings—reviews, interviews, blogging, proposals, editing, etc. If I have errands, I put them there too. I find that without my planner, I’m all over the place and find it difficult to work on several projects simultaneously. I look at this planner a few times during the day to help me stay focused.
I find emailing incredibly distracting, so nowadays I use emailing as a reward after I’ve done my daily morning writing.
I take weekends off, though I save Sunday afternoons to do most of my blogging—but this is fun.
FUN QUESTION: Human kids or canine kids – and why?
Let me just say one thing: pets don’t answer back!
What are the addresses of [all] your website(s) and blog(s):
http://www.mayracalvani.com/ (main website)
http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.com/ (children’s books)
http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com/ (children’s books)
And of course, Amigo’s blog, http://www.petsandauthors.blogspot.com/.