Archive for May, 2009

01Nancy Famolari lives with her husband, five horses, two dogs and five white cats on a farm in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Her stories and poems have appeared in Long Story Short, Flash Shot, Fiction Flyer, Lyrica, Alienskin Magazine Clockwise Cat, and Matters of the Heart from the Museitup Press. She received an award from Fiction Flyer for one of her flash fiction stories. Her novel, Summer’s Story, is available from Red Rose Press. Her mystery, Murder in Montbleu, will be available sometime in 2009.

For more information on her blogs, and upcoming books go to: http://sites.google.com/site/nancyfamolari/

Don’t miss my interview with Nancy here on the Dark Phantom on Wednesday, June 3rd. In the meantime, here’s a bit about her story and an excerpt from her book.

Summer's Story(2)Summer’s Story Available from Red Rose Publishing!

Summer’s father, a famous racehorse trainer, is dead; his only asset, a fabulous trotter. Two men offer help to get the horse to the races. Summer refuses Ned, owner of Golden Oaks, blaming him for her father’s death. Davis, a famous racehorse driver, wins her heart, but deserts her after she suffers a serious accident on the track. Behind the scenes, Max, a wealthy owner, will do anything to get the horse for his stable. Can Summer get her trotter to the winner’s circle and most important will she find love?

Purchase the book from Red Rose Publishing.

Read an excerpt of the novel…

Chapter One

“If you think I’ll stay in your house after you killed my father, Ned Granger, You’re crazy.” Summer Langston folded her arms across her chest and glared.
“I think that’s a bit of an overstatement.” Ned shoved his hands into this jeans pockets and rocked back on the heels of his English leather boots.
“Well, I don’t. When you told him he couldn’t work with the yearlings anymore, it broke his heart. You might as well have shot him.”
“I’m sorry, Summer.”
For a long moment the house was so still the ticking of the kitchen clock sounded like a blacksmith’s hammer striking a metal shoe. Summer couldn’t believe that things had gone so wrong. The move to Golden Oaks had seemed like the answer to a prayer. A wonderful old house to live in, top ranked yearlings to train, and a chance to try the breeding experiments Sam had always dreamed of doing.
Ned broke the silence. “I know you blame me, but frankly, Sam’s drinking was way out of control. I had to do what I thought was right for the farm. I hoped he’d take it as a sign and get some help.”
“He could have gotten treatment and stayed on. He loved those horse. They were his whole life.” Summer wanted to grab the tall man in front of her, flail her fists at his broad chest until he felt the same pain she did.
“Be fair, Summer. Candyman coliced and nearly died when he got into the grain bin. Sam left the stall door open. I couldn’t put any more horses at risk.”
“Maybe Sam didn’t leave the door open. Maybe – maybe Candyman got it open.”
“Summer face facts, your father may have been the best Standardbred trainer I ever worked with, but he was an alcoholic. He was drunk most of the time this fall. You should know. You were running the stable.”
Summer stared at the green fields beyond the farmhouse window dotted with prize winning Standardbred horse. Ned worked hard to make his farm one of the best. She didn’t want to believe that her father had decided to drink himself to death and put the reputation of the farm at risk. Someone else had to be responsible. Ned was responsible. She was responsible. They could have done more. She felt tears welling up behind her eyes.
Ned stepped closer. “I didn’t ask him to leave. I did make it clear that he couldn’t work with the horses until he got into a treatment program.” He lifted his arms as though he might try to comfort her. “I thought you knew.”
Summer moved so that the oak table separated them. She couldn’t bear to have Ned touch her. He’d let Sam down; he’d let her down. “You could have tried harder.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way, Summer. I did the best I could.” Ned reached for the white stetson he’d tossed on the table.
Outside an engine roared, a door slammed and a heavy tromp of boots crossed the wooden porch. The old oak door swung wide and a tall, broad shouldered man with curly dark brown hair strode into the room. “Thought I might find you here.”
Summer fought down the fission of excitement that Davis always generated in her. “Where else would I be? I live here.” Sadly she let her eyes drift around the familiar room. “At least I live here for the moment.”
“That’s good enough.” The dark man crossed floor in two steps and put his arms around the slight figure. “I came as soon as I heard.”
Against her better judgment, Summer relaxed into his embrace. It felt good to have someone hold her. “I’m glad you came.”
“I know it hurts. I loved the old guy too.”
They stood silently for a moment. Then Davis released her and said, “So what got your temper up? I could hear you yelling all the way across the yard.”
“You couldn’t possibly have heard. You just got here.”
Davis grinned. “That’s better. Well, maybe I only heard you from the porch, but when I see those red cheeks, I know someone’s gettin’ cussed.”
Summer stamped her foot. “I wasn’t cussing.”
Davis looked at Ned standing stiffly beside the table. “That right?”
“I wouldn’t call it cussing exactly.”
Summer opened her mouth, but Davis beat her to it. “All right, Irish. Just tell me what’s going on.”
Ned said, “I was offering my sympathy and telling her she didn’t have to rush to move.” His brilliant blue gaze rested on Summer. “I’d be happy to help any way I can. I – I’d like to make it up to you in some way.”
Davis put a protective arm around her shoulders. “I think Summer’s got friends who can take care of her.”
“I’m sure she does. Are you planning to have her move in with you?”
“If she wants to.”
Summer shook off the heavy arm. “I’m not moving in with anyone. I’ll find my own place.”

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Cuban author Teresa Dovalpage has published three novels, one in English, A Girl Like Che Guevara (Soho Press 2004) and two in Spanish, Posesas de la Habana (Haunted Ladies of Havana, PurePlay Press, 2004) and Muerte de un murciano en La Habana (Death of a Murcian in Havana, Anagrama, 2006), which was runner-up for the Herralde Award in Spain. Her collection of short stories, Por culpa de Candela, was recently released by Floricanto Press in 2008. Her short novel, El difunto Fidel (The Late Fidel) just won the Rincon de la Victoria Award in Spain. Dovalpage currently lives in Taos, NM. Visit her at www.dovalpage.com.

Thanks for this interview Teresa. It’s a pleasure having you here. Tell us a little about your childhood? Were you an avid reader?

I grew up in Havana, in a house full of books. And I was definitely a bookworm, or, as my mother liked to call me, una ratona de biblioteca —a library mouse. I could always be found with a book in my hand or scribbling something. I was too shy to play with other kids and that made me long for the company of those quiet, faithful paper friends that don’t talk back or tease.

When did you start writing?
When I was a teenager I wrote my first short story. Quoting my mom again, it was horrendous. It had something to do with a deadly plague, and not too cheerful… But I didn’t get discouraged. I bought an ancient Underwood typewriter (it was during the 80’s, in Cuba, and computers were then considered as science fiction devices) and continued to write away.

What was your inspiration for A Girl like Che Guevara?
My American friends, who kept asking me how life in Cuba was. I started writing a series of vignettes about Santeria, life in the school-in-the-fields (a program in which high-school students used to spend a couple of months working on the tobacco fields) and other Cubanese stuff. And it turned out to be a full-length novel after all!

On average, how long does it take you to write a novel?
The first decent draft (not the “vomit draft”, eh, but a well-polished one) may take several months, from six to eight. It seldom takes longer because I start getting bored with the plot and the characters. But I have learned to put it on the back burner for a while and return to it before sending the ms. out. I always find a lot of things to change in that phase so I start rewriting it… Then, all together, maybe a whole year.

What is your writing ritual? Are you a disciplined writer?
I write for several hours every day when I have the opportunity. I work part-time as a Spanish professor at the University of New Mexico and that allows me to devote time to writing. Though I wouldn’t use the word “disciplined” to describe me in this context. I need discipline to go to the gym, to study a new language and even to get up early. But I love writing so I keep doing it whenever I have a chance.

Did you have a smooth path to publishing?
It wasn’t too rough. I sold my first novels by myself and now I have two very good agents who take care of that part of the business. But still, it does take time, energy and commitment. And discipline (here I would definitely use the word) to send the manuscripts out and not to get discouraged with rejections.

Do you have any favorite authors? What type of books do you read for entertainment?
Yes! In English I love Ann Tyler. I have read all her books several times. One of my favorites is The Accidental Tourist. I also admire Lorraine Lopez, who just published The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters and who is also a creative writing professor at Vanderbilt University. I like the Spanish classics of the nineteenth century (Benito Perez Galdos, Leopoldo Alas, Armando Palacio Valdes). In fact, I brought all the way from Cuba a ragged copy of La Regenta. I supposed that I could find the book here but just in case…I am also a big fan of Daina Chaviano and Pedro Juan Gutierrez.

What’s on the horizon?
My play Hasta que el mortgage nos separe (Until Mortgage Do Us Part) will be staged on Chicago by Aguijon Theater in May and June and my short novel El difunto Fidel (The late Fidel) will be published by Editorial Renacimiento in Spain so I will be promoting them this summer. I am also working on another collection of short stories in English.

Thanks, Teresa! And good luck with your work!

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2bMarcelo in the Real World is a beautifully written novel and one of those stories that will stay in your mind long after you’ve finished reading it.

The story is told in the first person from the point of view of Marcelo, an autistic 17-year old. When the novel begins, Marcelo is going to a private school for special children, where he is happy and looking forward to a pleasant summer job working with ponies. But things change when his father Arturo Sandoval, a well-respected lawyer, asks him to come and work at his firm for the summer instead.

But that’s not all. Arturo also wants him to leave the special school and attend his last year of high school at a regular public school for ‘normal’ children. Marcelo doesn’t want this, and so his father gives him a choice: he’ll be able to stay at the special school if he still wishes so at the end of summer, but only if Marcelo takes the summer job at the firm and is successful in the real world under this real world’s rules. Marcelo accepts.

The heart of the novel revolves around his job there and the relationships he develops with some of his co-workers. Not only does Marcelo discovers things about himself and his interactions with people, but also about his father, whom he had always kept in a pedestal as an honest and just man. Is Marcelo able to succeed in the real world? And at the end, is he able to choose what he wants to do with his life?

I was hooked from page one. Marcelo’s voice is honest and vibrant and after only a few pages he comes across as a genuine human being who is very much alive and not just a fictional character. The author has done an amazing job in getting inside the mind of an autistic teenager and telling us his story. The prose shines with simplistic beauty without being lyrical. In spite of this being a serious novel, I found myself glued to the pages as if I were reading a work of suspense. Marcelo is so real and I cared so much about his predicament, that I felt the need to keep reading until I had finished it. In fact, I read the whole novel in two evenings; it kept me hooked late into the night. What makes this novel special is not only the fact that the protagonist suffers from autism, but also his evolution throughout the novel as a human being. The novel offers a wonderful character arc. Another aspect I found fascinating is Marcelo’s complex relationship with his father, who can’t quite come to terms with his son’s condition. I also learned a lot of things about what it means to be autistic. This is a must-read for those readers interested in understanding autism, or for anyone who enjoys a compelling, deftly written novel.

For more info:

To participate in my Latino Book Month Giveaway, click here.

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opertionemubookThird-rate Hollywood actors and top NASA astronauts come together in this quirky, hilarious romp of a novel.

Somewhere in the depths of NASA, a team of scientists begin to conduct a top secret operation called OPERATION EMU… Soon afterwards, a Hollywood producer puts together a team of actors for a mysterious, low-budget movie…

Some time later, after an intense training period, NASA sends three astronauts to space on a special mission to visit a nearby planet believed to have intelligent life. The astronauts are sedated for the whole duration of the long trip. When they wake, they realize they have landed on said planet. However, a huge surprise awaits, for this planet is inhabited by primitive cave people who roam around practically naked and who are friendly and naive. Untouched by technology, they live simply and happily, without such worries as politics or feminism. Indeed, the men hunt, and the women cook and take care of their home’s bare necessities. Their religion consists of worshipping animal gods.

The story goes on to show the behavior of the three astronauts toward the aliens. Are the astronauts compassionate and protective, or does their dominating, imperialistic nature as ‘superior’ humans take control? How are their actions and interactions in this new, prehistoric environment where they suddenly have the capacity to become kings and even ‘gods’ to these weaker living beings?

Operation Emu is a thought-provoking satire, one that will make you wonder about Hollywood, science, and the US Space Program. The novel will also make you wonder about human nature and the advantages of technology, as well as our capacity to dominate. We have, in fact, achieved a lot in the last few thousand years, but at what price? Could it be at the price of our humanity? The reader will enjoy the story’s political and religious implications. The dialogue is sharp and propels the story at a quick pace. The characters are offbeat and some of the ridiculous situations will make you laugh out loud. Author B. Brandon Barker has created a smart, funny parody of what really means to be an ‘advanced’ homo sapiens.

If you enjoy satire, you’ll want to add Operation Emu to your shelf.

Visit the author’s website at http://www.bbrandonbarker.com/

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I have some exciting news to share. There’s a new hot spot for Latino authors to promote their work: Bronzeword Latino Authors. Run by award-winning author Jo Ann Hernandez, this new site is aimed at spreading the work and accomplishments of Hispanic authors worldwide. Jo Ann will be offering various promotional services, including virtual book tours. Here to talk about her new endeveour and the Latino book market is Jo Ann herself.

Thanks for stopping by, Jo Ann. Your new site for Latino authors sounds exciting. Tell us about it.

BronzeWord Latino Authors opens on May 18th with the Top Ten Days of Crafty Chica Kathy Cano-Murillo. Leave a comment to be eligible to win a book.

What used to be BronzeWord’s Blog has moved and is thriving on BronzeWord Latino Authors at http://authorslatino.com/wordpress.

Come and read about your Latino/a authors and their accomplishments. Learn about contests, the publishing world, and about agents/editors. BronzeWord Latino Authors is a wealth of information to assist you in achieving your publishing goals.
We celebrate the Top Ten Days of different Latino/a authors with ten days of interviews/book reviews/articles by the author. We are creating the first ever Latino Virtual Book Tour. Latino/a bloggers are going to be highlighted every Saturday on BronzeWord Latino Authors. Blog Carnivals are in sight just down the road.

La famila awaits you. BronzeWord Latino Authors: the clearinghouse for all things Latino/a Literature.

The first Latino Virtual Book Tour is becoming an opportunity. I am seeking Latino/a bloggers who are interested in hosting a Latino/a author one day per month. Send me your email address and I’ll send you a letter with the details about being a host. However my letter is long. I’m a novelist and don’t know how to write short. The letter is long because I want you to know all the possibilities. But really other than hosting the author, letting your readers know, and passing your link on to the next blog, there’s not much to do. Please check it out. You would be making history.

What compelled you to start such a site?

With BronzeWord Latino Authors, I want to create a level playing field for every writer who has a manuscript to sell. If you have a question, ask it. If you have a problem with your writing, present it. If you need editing assistance, send your pages. If you want to know where to find the best agent to query and how to query, look on BronzeWord Latino Authors for the answers. Latino/a authors are treated with respect and honored for the great wonders they are creating. Here everyone can say what is really on their mind. We state our dreams, and we encourage each of us to obtain them. 

How is the Latino book market at the moment?

Everything you read tells you that the Latino book market is great. It is if you take into account that white people are writing our stories. That mystery writers (my favorite genre to read so can’t comment on other kinds) have more and more Latino/a sidekicks with thick mustaches and gaudy suits, and if they happen to make their Latino character the main protagonist, they are either half-something else or not connected to their roots. NYC say they are publishing many books by Latinos/as yet those books are about migrant or gang related stories. Latino/a authors have to go to small presses or university presses to write something that represents our growing middle-class audiences.

Also everyone desperately needs to speak to the issue of how buying our books produces a major difference. The dollar bill speaks loudly. Think Coke vs. Pepsi. Only when we buy our Latino/a author’s books will NYC understand that we want books about us by our own about our lives in all the manifestations our lives and ethnicity come in. They cannot box us into a generalization and expect us to spend our money on how they perceive us.

Each of us can make a difference. It’s a cruel world out there for a Latino/a writer. Don’t be fool by what NYC prints. Only you can make the difference. BronzeWord Latino Authors can put the information out there for you to read, and it is up to you to make NYC notice what we really want. Who we are. What we’re worth. 

How can readers follow you? Are you on Twitter or Facebook?

Join me on twitter: @LatinoBookNews @BronzeWord
Friend me on Facebook as BronzeWord
Subscribe to BronzeWord Latino Authors by RSS feed or by email. http://authorslatino.com/wordpress

Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

Do you know that search engines make the difference between a blog being noticed or ignored? How? By the number of comments people make on the blog. The search engines count comments. The more comments there are on a blog the more certain that a search engine will bring up that blog on the search results page. If the blog doesn’t show up on the search results page, it will never be noticed, viewed, or ranked. Whenever you visit a blog or website and you enjoy reading it, I’m glad, but make a comment even if it’s only hello. Your comments will make a major difference in the existence of that blog. Your comments will make an enormous impact on the knowledge that Latinos/as exist and are thriving. Your comments are what count, really count.

Please comment. Please subscribe. Please join. Please buy.

Thanks, Jo Ann, and good luck with your new site!


–Mayra Calvani, www.MayraCalvani.com

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slippery_small(Kingsport, TN – May 15, 2009) — We are pleased to announce The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, written by Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards, is a 2009 Next Generation Book Award Finalist.


PRLog (Press Release) – May 15, 2009 – The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing was written not only with the aspiring reviewer in mind, but for the established reviewer who needs a bit of refreshing and also for anybody-be they author, publisher, reader, bookseller, librarian or publicist-who wants to become more informed about the value, purpose and effectiveness of reviews.

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing is a one-of-a-kind book written to compile as much information on book reviewing as possible in one place for the convenience of new and experienced book reviewers. Written to serve as a guide, it is also an amalgam of resources for those aspiring reviewers who wish to have their reviews published in print and online.

A Foreword Magazine’s Best Book of the Year Finalist, EPPIE Finalist, and US Book News Finalist, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing is currently required reading at Loyola College, and Kent and Claremont Universities.

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing is the product of Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards’ tireless research on the subject and written in an informal language to make it easy to understand for anyone aspiring to become a book reviewer. It will be updated periodically to include new information on reviewing as it becomes available.

This book is available through all book sellers online and may be ordered from brick and mortar bookstores as well.

Sample of content, blurb, reviews and authors’ bios can be found at http://slipperybookreview.wordpress.com.

Contact: Lida Quillen, Publisher, at Publisher@twilighttimesbooks.com

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addNot being a psychologist or a doctor, I’m reviewing this book from the point of view of a person who is familiar with ADD and ADHD only from personal experience and from reading extensively on the subject.

When you hear the term ADD, hyperactive, badly behaved children who do poorly at school come to mind, but this condition doesn’t only affect children. Gina Pera’s book, Is It You, Me, or Your Adult A.D.D.? takes a look at an often ignored aspect of ADD, that of adult ADD.

The book is divided into three parts. Part I mainly deals with discovering the condition in your partner and the roller coaster ride that it often is; the signs; the twists and the turns. Part II takes a close look at the disorder itself, breaking down its elements; and its management. In Part III, the author shares four successful strategies. Don’t be fooled by the fact that the book only has three parts, as each one is scrupulously detailed and offers an amalgam of information. With its 370 pages, the book is quite hefty. I don’t want to list all the topics included in the book, but suffice to say that it covers ADHD in all its forms, from what it is, to its effects, to how to treat it, to the misconceptions, to its sometimes erroneous perception by doctors and educators, to the various treatments and medications available. Pera also looks at the possible causes and at the possibility of it being hereditary.

Pera uses graphics, tables, and a full bibliography to support the information offered in the book. It is also well structured and clearly written in a straight forward, engaging style.

Some people joke about it; others take it lightly; yet others take it seriously. One thing’s for sure: ADHD affects many people and their families, and the more we become educated on the subject, the better. From what I have read and heard, it’s amazing the ignorance of most people on the subject. If you have a partner who suffers from ADD, this book is definitely a must read to help put things in perspective.

Visit the author’s blogs at http://adhdrollercoaster.org and http://adhdpartner.org.

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2aMy guest today is horror author Joan de la Haye. She was kind enough to answer my questions about her work and writing life. Visit her at www.joandelahaye.wordpress.com. Welcome, Joan!

Tell us, what type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?

I think I’m a combination of both. I use my experiences and combine them with my daydreams and fantasies. My experiences are my jumping-off point and then my imagination just goes wild.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
I get mine in the shower. Some people sing in the shower, I have conversations with my characters. I think it has to do with the fact that there’s nobody else in the shower with me, no distractions. It’s me and the characters running around in my mind.

Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to placate her when she refuses to inspire you?
My muse is a guy and we don’t always see eye-to-eye. When ever he throws one of his hissy fits, I placate him by asking what he wants me to write. What story does he want me to tell? Keeps him relatively happy, till the next time around.

From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?
2I first had the nightmare that triggered ‘Shadows’ in November 2005. It was finished by mid-2007. Then I started looking for a publisher. In September 2007 I heard from one of the large local publishers telling me they were interested but, ultimately, it wasn’t what they were looking for. That was when I decided to take matters into my own hands. I met my wonderful editor Jayne Southern who helped me polish it and published it on the 15th of December 2008

Describe your working environment.
I write on my laptop, which is on a huge desk that once upon a time belonged to my husband’s grandfather. I have an office all to myself and it get lots of morning sun. The first review of ‘Shadows’ is up on the wall where I can see it. Whenever I start thinking I’m a useless writer and need to get a proper job, I glance at it which makes me feel better instantly.

What type of scenes give you the most trouble to write?
There are two types of scenes that I have a hard time with. The really violent scenes that are written from the victim’s point of view, especially the rape scenes. I put myself in that person’s shoes in order to write it properly and sometimes I think I get a bit too deep inside that person’s head. It can get very uncomfortable. The other ones that I find difficult are the twisted sex scenes. I’m never sure of how much is too much. I usually end up deleting most of what I’ve written and then writing it again and deleting again.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
I usually edit as I go.

They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?
So far I’ve been lucky on the review front but I did recently have my first hate comment on my blog. It was a total shock to my system. But, after I’d had a chance to think about this woman’s reaction to a short story that most people had found funny – twisted – but funny, I had a good chuckle and decided that at least I’d managed to provoke a strong reaction, which is really what every writer wants to do. We want people to react to what we write, whether it’s a good or a bad reaction, doesn’t matter. Besides, I can’t please everybody and let’s face it, what I write isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.

As a writer, what scares you the most?
Obscurity! And getting lost in my own stories. There’s a very fine line that we walk between our fictional worlds and reality and sometimes that line gets a bit blurred.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
People are more than welcome to stop by my blog: http://joandelahaye.wordpress.com/
where they’ll find the short story that provoked the hate mail as well as all the info they could ever possibly want about ‘Shadows’ and about me. I’m looking forward to meeting everybody!

Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!

About the book:

Sarah is forced to the edge of sanity by the ghosts of her family’s past. Suffering from violent and bloody hallucinations, she seeks the help of psychiatrist and friend Michael Brink.

After being sent to an institution in a catatonic state covered in blood – from stabbing her unfaithful boyfriend – Sarah is forced to confront the truth about her father’s death and the demon, Jack, who caused her father’s suicide and is now the reason for her horrific hallucinations. Unlike her father, Sarah refuses to kill herself. She bargains for her life and succeeds.

In Sarah’s struggle to regain her life and her sanity, she discovers more things to the world than she could ever have imagined and leaves her seeking the answer to the nagging question, “Who is really mad?”

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silenced cry coverTell us a little about yourself, Marta.
Although I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Indiana has been my home for nearly fifty years. My husband and I have a daughter and son who attend my almamater where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism/Public Relations and where I’ve worked for the past three decades. I work in human resources as a program coordinator/event planner and often get involved in the development, marketing, and promotion of special projects. My first love was art and one of these days I’d like to get my oils out again. In many ways, writing has been a major part of my life, but discovering a desire to write fiction was as expected as a landslide. I never saw it coming. One of my passions is history and it was while reading about a WWII event that the idea for a suspense novel sparked and I haven’t stopped since.

What got you into writing mysteries?
I’ve loved mysteries and suspense novels since a very early age, so to be honest, I think the genre chose me. Although my writing has been described as hardboiled police procedural that leans toward noir, I grew up loving the cozies of Agatha Christie and the suspense of Alfred Hitchcock. I believe my style has also been influenced as much by film and characters like Sam Spade and Phillip Morrow. I love following the clues and finding the guilty so when I decided to write fiction, genre was never in question.

Your novel, Silenced Cry, has many characters as well as twists and turns. Did you do an outline before writing the book? How long did it take you to write it?

“Silenced Cry” was originally written as a novella in 2005 and expanded into a novel a year later. It was published by BeWrite Books (UK) in April 2007. As with my second novel, “The Devil Can Wait,” it has several subplots which needed to be carefully braided together throughout the book. Developing multiple subplots requires a great deal of planning. I begin by writing a brief synopsis of the story line. Just as in real life, the characters have their own motivation governing their thoughts and actions. Those desires can be triggered by any number of reasons and in order for me to understand each character’s purpose or interest in the crime, I write back stories for each of them. It’s only after I understand what drives the characters that I’m able to develop the plot, plant clues, and point Sam Harper onto the crime-solving path.

How do you work? Describe your writing environment and creative process.
Ideas for books come from everyday situations. It’s just a matter of taking and ordinary situation and asking “what if?” What if the next door neighbor hasn’t been seen tending to her roses for a week? What if a normally honest bank teller suddenly finds herself in a financial bind? What crime could possibly be committed in either of these situations? Once I decide on the crime, I develop the characters and then work backwards. As for my writing environment, I have a home office which is where I do all my writing, reading, research, etc. I carry a small notebook to jot down notes, but the serious writing gets done at my desk on my PC.

I found the novel to be very well researched. Did you have help from police officers or did you find all you needed online?
I’m in contact with several police detectives and forensics specialists, but I do a great deal of research on the subject matter first via the Internet and other resources. After reading several sources, I’ll touch base with the professional in the field, write the scene and then check with them again to ensure the accuracy of the information as I’ve written it. Every detail, no matter how insignificant it may seem, needs to be thoroughly examined in order to make the scene(s) believable.

Why did you choose a male protagonist vs. a female one? Is it easy getting inside the mind of a man?
There is a notable difference in the way men and women communicate so it did take time to learn to write in a male voice. It took even longer to understand the male thought process. I’m sure this is true for any author who writes in the voice of the opposite gender. But I’ve been writing Sam Harper and getting into his head for so long now that his voice is almost second nature to me. Ironically though, when I began to write the series, I had intended for a female character to be the protagonist (the victim in one of the books). I quickly realized the story wasn’t going anywhere and that hers wasn’t the best point of view for this type of book. When I decided to develop homicide detective Sam Harper into the protagonist, the book took off.

Tell us a bit about Detective Sam Harper and what was your inspiration for this character?
Harper is in his early 30s, educated, and is a life-long resident of Chandler, Massachusetts (a fictitious city along the U.S. eastern shoreline north of Boston). His father is a retired homicide detective, his mother was the victim of a hit and run accident. Harper’s younger brother, Paul, never forgave Harper or their father for not finding their mother’s killer so the relationship between brothers is strained. One reviewer described Sam Harper as, “… a well-realized, no-nonsense cop, a streetwise guy who refuses to give up despite the odds … He is the original it ain’t over guy.” Harper never takes no for an answer. He can be as cynical as he can be compassionate. He pushes until every bit of evidence has been flipped on its side and checked as many times as it takes to satisfy his gut instinct. He has his flaws—gets hurt, but is hard to keep down. At times, frustration paves the way for anger to obstruct his better judgment, but his sense of justice and love of the badge always reel him in. He’s definitely the guy to root for.

He keeps his own blog, doesn’t he? What does he blog about?
Yes, Harper insisted on having his own blog. I told him it would be too time-consuming for him to fight crime and blog at the same time, but he won the argument. Thus far, he’s written some short reports (stories) about some of his cases, posted headline news (reviews), and shared a transcript of a phone conversation he had with another author’s protagonist. Harper likes to keep up with his readers as much as possible too. Right now he’s busy working on an important case that he hopes to blog about soon.

You have two Sam Harper novels out. Are you working on a third?
Yes, the working title for this third book is “Grave Witness.” This story also began life as a novella. It was the shortest of the three so a great deal of work has gone into creating the complex subplots my readers now expect from my writing. I hope to have this novel ready for a 2010 release. A fourth book in the series is also in its first draft.

Have you considered writing outside the mystery genre?
Never say never, but at this point, I’m happy writing mysteries. Once in while, I feel there might be a romance novel waiting to be written, but I’m sure it would end up a romantic suspense with a smoking gun and a few bodies sprinkled around for effect.

Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Completing my first novel gave me a true sense of accomplishment. There’s nothing like getting a spark of an idea – no more than a three-second scene that flashed through my mind and then watched it grow into a complex storyline. I find that amazing, but the best part is the readers’ reactions to my work. I appreciate the glowing critical reviews, but the true reward for the months/years of work is when someone takes the time to buy one of my books, read it, and is moved enough to send me an e-mail or post a comment. Their reactions are priceless and I don’t think I’ll ever really get over the awe of it.

Mayra, thank you so much for taking the time to interview me and for giving me the chance to share a bit about my work with your readers.

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On behalf of Hachette Book Group, I’ll be hosting a Latino Book Month giveaway for the whole month of May!

Not here, but on TheExaminer.com.

In order to be eligible to win, all you have to do is leave a comment at the end of my Examiner post or any of my posts from May 1-31. You can leave as many comments as you wish and as many as you wish. The more you comment, the higher your chance to win.

I’ll be drawing a winner at the end of each week (on Sunday) and each winner will receive the whole set of 5 books listed here.

I hope you’ll stop by TheExaminer for a chance to win these great books!

Mayra Calvani

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