Caylee Anthony

Caylee Anthony

Monday, December 4, 2017

Author Interview: Mayra Calvani

Hi ya'll! Today on the blog we will be featuring my interview with author Mayra Calvani. Enjoy and check out Mama Graciela's Secret.

Mamá Graciela’s Secret
Publication date: October 10, 2017
Written by Mayra Calvani
Illustrated by Sheila Fein
MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing
36 pages, 3-7 year olds
Reading guide at:

Mamá Graciela’s TENDER, CRUNCHY, SPICY bacalaítos fritos are the best in town...
Local customers (including stray cats!) come from all over the island to enjoy her secret recipe. But when the Inspector discovers that Mamá secretly caters to so many cats and he threatens to close her tiny restaurant, Mamá must come up with a plan to save it—and all of the animals she loves.


About the author:
Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her children's picture book, Frederico the Mouse Violinist was a finalist in the 2011 International Book Awards; her anthology Latina Authors and Their Muses was a First Place winner at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards; her nonfiction book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, was a Foreword Best Book of the Year winner. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications like The Writer, Writer's Journal, Multicultural Review, Bloomsbury Review, and others.

She lives in Belgium with her husband of 30+ years, two wonderful kids, and her three beloved pets. When she's not writing, editing, reading or reviewing, she enjoys walking with her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family.

About the illustrator:
Born in Queens, New York and living in Los Angeles since 1987, Sheila Fein has always been inspired by the changing world around her. Earning her BA in Design from Buffalo State College of New York, her concentration was on drawing, painting, printmaking, and photography. Sheila's education as an artist has taken her everywhere from Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia to Bath University in England. Today, Sheila Fein runs two figurative workshops, Imaginings Sketch in LA and People Sketchers in Thousand Oaks. She has been featured in numerous collections, magazines, books, solo and group exhibitions. Her paintings and drawings reside in public and private collections. Sheila loves to make the imagination of others a reality and has done so through her commissioned Fein Fantasy Portraits and Interactive Paintings. In addition to being a fine artist Sheila works as an illustrator. She just completed the book "Mama Graciela's Secret" for Maclaren-Cochrane Publishing.

Book info:
ISBN:HC 978-1-365-86153-6
SC 978-1-365-86155-0
ISBN Dyslexic Font Version:
DY HC 978-1-365-86154-3 DY SC 978-1-365-86156-7
**This book also has version printed in the Dyslexic font, the typeface for people with dyslexia. Go to to find out more about the typeface.
Suggested Retail Price - 17.99 Hardcover & 13.99 Softcover 40 % Discounted Price – 10.80 Hardcover & 8.40 Softcover
Available through - Ingram - Discount 40% Returnable – Yes
MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing – Discount 40% - Returnable – Yes
Publishing company Contact Info: MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 1024 Iron Point Rd 100-1478 Folsom CA 95630
MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 620 Buchanan Way, Folsom, CA 95630 916-897-1670

And now for my interview with the amazing Mayra Calvani:

Cassandra's Writing World: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Mayra Calvani: The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt comes to mind. It did win a Pulitzer Prize and received a lot of hype, probably because Tartt comes up with a book every ten years, but a study revealed that the majority of people who bought the book never actually finished reading it.
CWW: What’s the best way to market your books?
MC: Start with the right mindset, one of success. Setup a mailing list early on, even before your book is published. Likewise, start recruiting reviewers and form a street team at an early stage. This can be time consuming, but there are companies who can do it for you. Don’t be all over social media. Choose one platform and commit to it. Be genuine in your posts. Your best marketing tool is actually your next book, especially if you self-publish.
CWW: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
MC: Naturally, this depends on the book. For my YA Egyptian mythological fantasy series, which I write under a pen name, I did and I’m still doing tons of research online and at the library. I even took a 50-lecture course online about ancient Egypt.
CWW: How many hours a day do you write?
MC: At the moment I’m writing one and a half hours a day, Monday through Friday, but I’m working towards increasing this to at least three hours.
CWW: How do you select the names of your characters?
MC: Sometimes they just come to me. Other times I search online for names that will fit with the character’s ethnic background.
CWW: What is your favorite childhood book?
MC: I don’t have only one favorite, but I remember that I loved fairytales of all kinds, as well as Disney stories.
CWW: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
MC: Depends on its length. A first draft for a picture book might take me only one day, but of course editing and polishing may take weeks or even months. For a long young adult novel of 90,000 words it has taken me up to two years to complete it. A 25,000-word novella may take me a couple of weeks to write and several more weeks or months to revise. One of my primary goals at the moment is to increase my writing stamina so I may complete projects at a much faster rate.
CWW: What books have most influenced your life?
MC: In terms of my writing, the authors who first influenced me the most were Agatha Christie, Stephen King and Anne Rice. I read them at a young, impressionable age and they sparked in me a love for mystery and the supernatural. In the last couple of years, I’ve become a great fan of Donna Tartt and Joyce Carol Oates. I see Oates as a mentor and role model, and Tartt is such a master writer at the level of sentence and characterization that I always learn from her. A pity that she publishes a book every ten years!
CWW: How do you develop your plots and characters?
MC: It’s slightly different for each book, but usually I’ll have an idea that simmers in my mind for months, sometimes years. When this idea feels ready to be born into a book I start brainstorming, then creating a very lose, very flexible outline. I’m what they call a plotser, a combination of a plotter and a panster. I usually have a good idea of the beginning and the end, but not exactly what happens in between except for some pivotal moments in the story. Once I have this outline, I may still do a chapter by chapter description of what happens or I may start writing right away. It depends. During the actual writing I may discover things that steer me away from my initial outline. For the most part, this is perfectly ok and organic. For my main characters I sometimes do character sheets, though I have to admit I don’t enjoy doing these so much. I prefer to open a file in Word and simply have the character talk to me in a stream-of-consciousness way. This can be surprising and many times great ideas will arise from this method. I also may use this method to plot the story in the brainstorming stage.
CWW: What are your future project(s)?
MC: My agent is shopping around another picture book of mine. I’m also working on book 2 of my YA Egyptian mythological fantasy series that I write under my pen name Zoe Kalo ( and which I hope will be released next spring. Besides these main ones, I always have various projects in different types of development going on, as well as ideas for other books simmering in my mind. People often ask authors how they get their ideas, but the question should be how they handle all the ideas they get. One of my fears is that I won’t have the time to write them all.
CWW: Do you have any advice for someone trying to get published?
MC: Read as much as possible, especially in your genre. Write the best book you can possibly write. Don’t settle for “good enough.” Don’t give it to your mom or husband to edit unless they know how to edit a novel. Hire a professional editor. If your aim is to go the traditional route, you’ll have to query agents. is a great resource. The current publishing market is tough and even if your book is great you may not find a publisher, but a lot has changed and indie publishing is always a possibility. Whatever the case, stay true to your vision and don’t let anyone steer you away from your dream. 

Thank you Mayra Calvani for joining us and thank you to the readers. Happy Writing and Later days ya'll!!!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Mama Graciela's Secret Book Review

Hi ya'll today I want to share my review for a great children's book I recently had the privilege to read. It's called Mama Graciela's Secret by Mayra Clavani.

MamA GracIela's TENDER, CRUNCHY, SPICY bacalaItos fritos are the best in town...

Local customers (including stray cats!) come from all over the island to enjoy her secret recipe. But when the Inspector discovers that MamA secretly caters to so many cats and he threatens to close her tiny restaurant, MamA must come up with a plan to save it--and all of the animals she loves.

And her's my review:

A wonderful book that children will love! Mama Graciela's Secret is a great book for parents who enjoy reading to their child. It will be an instant classic to any child who reads it. Introduce your child to Mama Graciela. They won't be disappointed. and neither will you!!! I'm not a parent, just a lover of children's books and a proud Auntie! I would read this book over and over to any of the children in my life.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Writing Workshop 2017 Part 2

Hi all!!! Today I will be sharing with you what we learned at the recent writing workshop I attended from Author Kirk Judd.  Kirk  is a co-editor of the book "Wild Sweet Notes 50 Years of West Virginia Poetry. We read that book for my book discussion group a couple years ago and I really enjoyed it. As you can probably tell, Kirk Judd taught us about Poetry. Here are his poetry tips.

Write from the rhythm, or sound of the poem.

Poetry is what you see and hear around you. It's what you experience.

Use metaphors- use one thing to represent another.

The job of a poet is to notice things.

Learn to observe the ordinary and make it extraordinary.

Kirk Judd also taught us a way of coming up with our own metaphors.

Make three separate columns down a piece of paper. Make a list of adjectives in the first row.(hard, soft, etc.)  In the second row make a list of concrete nouns (table, chair, etc.) And in the third row make a list of abstract nouns (love, hate, etc.) Write on the bottom of the paper The __________ ____________ of ____________.
Take a adjective and place it in the first blank, a concrete noun in the second blank, and an absrtact noun in the third blank. You can mix them up and use them however you want.

Hope ya'll enjoyed this tips. Until next time... Later Days!!!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Ghostly Writes 2017

    IT'S LIVE!!!!

Ghostly Writes Anthology 2017

Book Blurb

ENTER IF YOU DARE. A new Ghostly Writes Anthology for 2017, gives you sixteen authors from around the world with ghostly stories and poems for you to read. Each short story will take you to a new place, be it the future, present or past.

Plaisted Publishing House is happy to present this book to you - our readers. Please note that all stories are written in the English of the country the Author resides in.

Amazon Link

Kobo - Kobo says it isn’t available in UK…

Google Play

Author Links

Ghostly Writes is a group of Indie Authors from around the world who get together to produce an ebook for Halloween. You can find them at

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Writing Workshop 2017

Hi ya'll!! Today was a very exciting day. I was fortunate enough to attend the writing workshop at the Clarksburg Harrison Public Library today. It featured five West Virginia authors who shared their advice and tips in the genre they write in. Needless to say it was very informative and helpful to the attending writers. It was also a lot of fun!!! The featured authors were Michael Knost, Carter Taylor Seaton, Eliot Parker, Diana Pischner Walker, and Kirk Judd. I will be sharing what Eliot Parker shared with us on today's blog. I will be doing a post for each author. Hope you enjoy what I learned and it can help you out. Now onto the best part of today. 😉

Creating Villains That Readers "Love To Hate"

(Eliot Parker, Author from West Virginia)

The most compelling and terrifying villains in Literature are the ones that appear the most human and the most appealing. These are the guys that the reader might secretly find himself cheering for. Everyone has been taken advantage of.

Some examples are:
Annie Wilkes from Misery and Iago from Othello

The reader can't help but like these villains, at least a little. That's because the writer stepped into the shadows in order to better understand the motivation of these characters. Try to see the best in your villains.There should be a part of you (and the reader) who thinks he can be redeemed.
Very few villains consider themselves "bad guys"
Remember that every character has a mother
Give them flaws, soft spots, etc.

They need to have weaknesses.Make them responsible for the problems your protagonist faces..

Avoid making the villain a corporation, disease, war.
Make them at least as smart, strong, and/or capable as the protagonist.
If they remain hidden, create proxies that the protagonist must overcome.
Give your villain the same attention you give your protagonist.

Friday, October 13, 2017

NaNoWriMo Prep 2017

     Hi ya'll!! Today I would like to tell you all about my week prepping for NaNoWriMo this coming November.It has been an incredible journey so far (and it's just beginning!!!)
As you have probably already read in a past post, I joined in on Camp NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, and it was a blast!!!! I was able to surpass my word count goal.
Now I am preparing for the big leagues of NaNoWriMo! I am super excited to be giving it a shot. It brings me joy to be working against the clock. (Yeah, I know I'm a little weird...)
Thanks to the help of a very awesome Facebook group called Happy Writing I am getting this novel all planned out. If you would like to join the group send a request. I'll add the link at the end of this post. It is a fun group. #HappyWriting
I started off with the basics, ie. Title, genre, synopsis, etc. Then moved on to my plot thoughts. After that came the characters. This weekend I will be working on world building.
This novel is already becoming something special for me. I love being able to create stories that others can enjoy. And with the help of NaNoWriMo I am hoping that I can learn to stick to deadlines more.
I can't wait to see where this NaNo prep takes me and the story next. Until next time Happy Writing and have fun with NaNoWriMo if you're participating!!!! Later Days!!!!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Rachel Brimble Interview

Hi ya'll!! Today on the blog we are happy to be welcoming the amazing author Rachel Brimble for an interview.


Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had seven books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and an eighth coming in Jan 2018. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!
Facebook Street Team - Rachel's Readers
Amazon Author Page:


There's safety in solitude…isn't there? 
Single dad and best-selling thriller writer Ethan James has no problem being Templeton Cove's most famous recluse…until a surprise visit from the past plunges him into a real-life crime drama just as feisty nurse Leah Dixon barges her way into his world. 
Ethan's first priority is to protect his daughter. His second priority is to keep Leah out of this dark web—and that means out of his bed. Except Leah isn't going anywhere; she's afraid little Daisy is in danger. Ethan couldn't live with himself if anything happened to Leah…but pushing her away may be even harder!

Buy links:
Amazon UK:
Barnes & Noble:

 Cassandra's Writing World: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Rachel Brimble: Ooh, that’s a tough one! I really love anything by AJ Nuest and Kelly Moran and I am constantly wishing for their big ‘breakthrough’ moment. I recommend your visitors look up these great romance authors – it’s only a matter of time before they’re riding high. Trust me!

CWW: What’s the best way to market your books?

RB: I wish I knew *sigh* Promotion is tough and made worse by having little to no marketing support from publishers as authors did years ago. I am yet to discover ‘the secret’ even if it exists. Word of mouth is definitely the best way to sell books, but I also utilize social media, blog appearances and online release parties.

CWW: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

RB: I research very little for my contemporary work – mainly concentrating on a hero or heroine’s occupation if I’m not familiar with it. I usually choose settings I know well. I live in one of the most beautiful parts of England where I have Bath nearby in one direction and the Cotswolds in the other. I am yet to exhaust places within my driving distance 
It’s another story for my historical work. That’s takes a LOT of research. Until now, I have only written Victorian so I have learned a lot over the last six years, but my next project is Edwardian so I literally started my research from scratch. It’s one of the best aspects of the job!

CWW: How many hours a day do you write?

RB: I am lucky enough to be able to work full-time around my family and parents so I work 8.30am to 5.30pm (with two dog walks in between) Monday to Friday and then grab whatever hours I can at the weekend. Strictly speaking, I shouldn’t be working at all at the weekend but I’m finding I am more and more now my daughters are getting older.

CWW: How do you select the names of your characters?

RB: By luck! I often start books with character sketches and as I get to know the characters, their names come to me naturally. For my historical books, I scroll through popular names of the time and come up with them that way. I’m yet to change a name halfway through a book, but I know authors often do!

CWW: What is your favorite childhood book?

RB: The Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton – I was addicted to these books and they were the reason I wanted to become an author. I loved the relationship dynamics and the mysteries. So much fun!

CWW: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

RB: From research through to the final draft, it usually takes me 5-6 months.

CWW: What books have most influenced your life?

RB: Not so much books, but authors have influenced my work and work ethic – I especially admire Nora Roberts, Diana Gabaldon and Jill Shalvis. They are prolific and write fantastic stories that give their readers familiarity, yet something new each time. I hope I do the same…

 CWW: How do you develop your plots and characters?

RB: I usually start out with a germ of an idea and then scroll the internet for pics of my characters – I then write character sketches which usually confirms their goals, motivations and conflicts. I then write a 3-4 page synopsis, followed by a brief chapter plan. The first draft is written from start to finish without looking back. The hard work comes with the following drafts! I am most definitely a plotter 

CWW: What are your future project(s)?
RB: I am currently working on revisions for an Edwardian romance as well as writing the final draft of a new contemporary, which I hope will be the first in an ongoing series.
As for releases, I have a new romantic suspense, If I Want You, releasing November 8th from The Wild Rose Press and book eight in my Harlequin Templeton Cove series, A Stranger In The Cove, releases January 1st 2018.
Do you have any advice for someone trying to get published?
Write, write, write! Writing is a craft that, I believe, anyone can learn. You need to be committed to a project and see if through to the end. Once it’s as good as you can make it, submit to agents and editors – if you are too afraid to put your work out there, you won’t be published unless you’re prepared to go the self-published route. Also, read. A LOT. And different genres because you never know when something will strike a chord with you and maybe even send you in an unanticipated direction. Have fun!

Thank you for sharing with us Rachel!!!! And until next time happy reading and writing!!!!

My favorite books

  • Rebels At The Gate
  • The Father Factor
  • Jacob's Girls
  • James Patterson's Books
  • A Seperate Peace
  • The Pearl
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Hunt For Hawke's Daughter
  • Charlotte's Web
  • A Child Called "IT"
  • Sugar Baby

My Favorite Authors

  • Janie King Crouch
  • Elizabeth Heiter
  • Lynn Rush
  • Kelly Hashway
  • Langston Hughes
  • John Knowles
  • John Stienbeck
  • Charles Dickens
  • Max Lucado
  • James Patterson
  • Jean Barrett
  • Karen Young

My Favorite Movies

  • Kickin It Old Skool
  • Meet The Robinsons
  • My Girl
  • 30 Days of Night
  • Free Willy
  • Beauty and the Beast