Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Voting Has Begun! Vote for my story, THE DOLL VIOLINIST, and win prizes!

My story, The Doll Violinist, is a finalist at the 3rd Annual ABC's Children's Picture Book Competition!

What makes this competition different is that while the finalists are chosen by judges, the winner is chosen by online public vote. In other words, YOU the reader, get to choose the winner—that lucky author & illustrator team who will walk away with a publishing contract!

The Doll Violinist is a heart-warming Christmas tale set in Victorian Europe about a little orphan girl who dreams of becoming a violinist, and features illustrations by talented artist Amy Moreno (

To view the finalists in the competition and vote for my story, please visit the competition website at
The two week voting period starts September 16, 2007 and will continue through midnight September 30, 2007. You may vote ONCE a day for the duration of the contest, if you wish. The winning author / illustrator team will be announced October 8, 2007.

People who vote for The Doll Violinist will be automatically entered in a drawing and prizes will be as follows:

1st Prize: An enchanting Belgian antique doll in Brussels lace
2nd Prize: $50 Amazon gift certificate
3rd Prize: Beautiful zirconium & sterling silver ring (size 8)
4th Prize: A print copy of Mayra’s latest paranormal thriller, DARK LULLABY
5th Prize: A print copy of ANGEL IN A BUBBLE (children’s picture book)

All you need to do is vote for The Doll Violinist (anytime between Sept. 16th-30th), then send me a message to and write ‘You got my vote’ on the subject line. You must send me a message in order to enter the drawing, so please don’t forget!

The winners will be announced on this blog on October 1st, 2007.
But there's more...! Amy Moreno will be giving away one custom-made pen and ink rendering of YOUR house to a lucky winner. Check her blog, Cachibachis, for her own rules on how to be eligible for this rendering.

Please help Amy and I win that publishing contract!
September 18th NEWS! Listen to my radio interview with Lillian Cauldwell at Internet Voices Radio:


About my story, The Doll Violinist, and how it came about….

The Doll Violinist takes place in Christmas in the late 1800’s and it is about a little orphan girl named Emma who escapes every day from the orphanage to look at a doll that resembles her mother, who is now in heaven. The doll is holding a violin, just like Emma’s mother used to. Emma dreams of becoming a violinist one day, just like her mother.

The tale starts five days before Christmas with five dolls on display, and, to her dismay, as Emma comes to the shop each day, one doll is sold. On Christmas Eve, the doll violinist is the only one left. The story also has another character, the stern and seemingly cold shopkeeper, who doesn’t want Emma standing by the shop. Of course, there’s a reason, and it’s not that Emma is dressed in rags, but that Emma reminds her of her own dead daughter. The story has a quiet mood while offering suspense, and of course, it has a heart-warming, happy ending.

This story has a long history! It is inspired by a real-life tale my Spanish grandmother used to tell me when I was a kid. It is actually based on something that happened to her. When my grandmother was a little girl, her father, a very hard and stingy man, owned a shop. One Christmas, her father brought a beautiful doll to the shop and put it for display on a shelf. When my grandmother saw this doll, she became instantly mesmerized. In her innocent, little girl’s heart, she had hopes her father would give her the doll as a Christmas present. Each day she would come to the store to see if he doll was still there. Of course, her father never gave her the doll; he sold it. She was crushed and could never forget that.

That story must have made a deep impression on me. I never forgot it as well. Two years ago, after years of mental simmering, I put the story to paper. Initially there was no violin in the story; I added that element later to make it more unique.

During the last two years, the story has gone through various titles, a critique group, two editors, and dozens of agents and publishers. Despite all the rejection letters, I had--and still have--deep faith in it and really believed this is a story all children, especially young girls who play the violin, would love to read.

Then last year the story got an Honorable Mention Award at the 75th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. There were 19,000 entries, so it was quite a validation for me. When I learned about the ABC's Children's Picture Book Competition, I felt compelled to give it a shot.

Please mark your calendars on the 16th of September, when the finalist stories will be displayed online for everybody to read and vote! Voting ends on Sept. 30th, so you have two whole weeks to vote!

My story will be accompaigned with a beautfiful illustration by talented artist Amy Moreno. Amy has perfectly captured the essence and mood of the story.

May the best story win! :-)
Violin, My Muse...

Violin… The word brings such vivid images to my mind. A slender and graceful soloist performing on stage, her eyes closed with delirious ecstasy. The mysterious, dark, gaunt figure of Paganini, his long thin fingers racing up and down the fingerboard with demonic, preternatural speed. Tartini reclining in bed while handing the violin to the devil himself. Sherlock Holmes playing a tune in his small flat on 221b Baker Street.

The sound which comes forth from the violin stirs different emotions deep within my soul—sublimity, sweetness, passion, sadness, fear. Sibelius’ concerto is dark and mysterious; Beethoven’s is spiritual and noble; Brahms’ is earthly and passionate; Tchaikovsky’s is grand and dramatic.

It’s curious how, unlike other instruments, the violin seems to possess a dark, sinister quality. Surely no other instrument in history has been the ‘victim’ of such lore and legend. The violin is light and darkness. It has two faces, two personas. This is what makes the violin so intriguing. At the same time, it is associated with the feminine. I’m not referring to the shape and sound of the violin, but to the feelings it evokes on their owners. I’ve read that men violinists see the violin as a female companion, while women see it as an extension of themselves.

Another thing I’ve come to realize is that most people have intense emotions about the violin—they either love it or hate it. Interesting enough, for someone who hasn’t an affinity for music, the violin can be the most horrific, tortuous instrument to listen to.

I was a late starter. I began taking violin lessons in my mid thirties. Just as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde woke up one day and decided to become a lawyer, I woke up one day and decided I wanted to play the violin. For somebody like me, who had never had any kind of musical education, it was a great challenge. Four years since then, I can only say I don’t know how I could have lived without my violin for so long. A wonderful new dimension has opened in my life. Enveloped in music, surrounded by etudes and books, I wallow in the daily practice of this magnificent instrument, this marvel of ingenuity. But, most strange of all, this new dimension has extended to my writing as well. The violin has stirred my imagination and unleashed my creativity in ways that I never experienced before. A little orphan girl who wishes to become a violinist begs me to write her Christmas story; amateur teenaged violinists whisper in my ear that they wish to be the protagonists of my new mystery; a fragile, mentally unbalanced young violinist shares with me her horror tale, assuring me that her story would make a bestseller…

Always near my computer, my violin beckons me to hold it when I’m stuck in a scene or passage, as if only one embrace, one stroke, are enough to lift the dark cloud from my mind. And always in the background is the violin music, my muse and inspiration. I hope this gift will continue to be bestowed upon me for many years to come.
***This article originally appeared on


Babe King said...

Oh how beautiful! My life is crazy busy rushing one book through edits and another to meet deadline, but if you drop in to my bookplace or blog and drop me a reminder (a direct link would be even better:-) I will absolutely give you a vote. Good luck!

Moondancer said...

If it'll help I'll got vote each day until I go out of town the rest of the month.

Jen H said...

I've beem voting for you everyday since voting started and I will continue till the end. Good luck! It's a beautiful book. Jen :)

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