Friday, November 30, 2007

Win a $20 Amazon Certificate on Christmas Day!

Dear Readers,

To promote the release of my Christmas picture book, The Magic Violin, I'm going on a virtual book tour during the month of December. The tour will begin on December the 1st and end on December 25th, when I'll be giving away a $20 Amazon certificate to one lucky winner!
To be eligible, all you need to do is leave a comment on one of my tour stops--that's all there is to it! You don't need to leave a comment on all the tour stops, but the more comments you leave, the higher your chances of winning.
The winner will be announced here on this blog on Christmas Day.
This will be my virtual book tour schedule:
December 1 - Interview at Shari Soffe's blog, Out of My Mind
December 2 - Review of The Magic Violin at YABooksCentral
December 4 - Interview at American Chronicle (no comment feature here)
December 5 - Review of The Magic Violin at Reviews and Other Stuff
December 6 - Short essay on the author/illustrator relationship at Cachibachis
December 8 - Review of The Magic Violin at Muse Book Reviews (no comment feature here)
December 10 – Interview at Sue Eves' blog
December 11 - Interview at Cynthia's Attic
December 12 - Review of The Magic Violin at Armchair Interviews
December 13 - Interview & review at Beverly McClure’s blog
December 15 - Short essay on violin and inspiration at Judith Mammay's blog
December 17 – Interview at Kim Baccellia’s blog
December 22 - Review of The Magic Violin by Kim Baccellia

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Voice in the Dark Special Publishing Issue

Hi all,

The special publishing issue of Voice in the Dark Ezine is out for your reading pleasure.

In this issue...

Editor's Note
Fictional Character Interview
Special Publisher Interviews
--Meet Lida Quillen, Publisher, Twilight Times Books
--Meet Kathryn Struck, Publisher, Awe-Struck E-Books
Featured Interviews
--Meet Lida Quillen, Publisher, Twilight Times Books, Interview by Mayra Calvani
--Meet Lynda S. Burch, Publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing, Interview by Mayra Calvani
--Meet Elizabeth Burton, Publisher, Zumaya Books, Interview by Mayra Calvani Book Excerpt -- Tremolo by Aaron Paul Lazar
Gladiator's Arena--by Mayra Calvani
Short Fiction
--It's my Book! Right? by Ghost Writer
--Traditional Publishing, Self-Publishing and Subsidy Publishing by Barbara Hudgins
--The Perils and Pitfalls of Publishing: Who Can an Author Trust by Dee Power and Brian Hill
--How Do Books Get on Book Store Shelves by Dee Power
Sanctuary -- Columnist Mayra Calvani
Whodunit? -- Columnist Billie A. Williams
Pam's Pen -- Columnist Pamela James
Seedlings -- Aaron Paul Lazar
This & That -- Columnist Dana Reed

Just go to and click on Voice in the Dark on the left sidebar.



Friday, November 23, 2007

The Magic Violin is now on Amazon!


I'm happy to announce that my first picture book, THE MAGIC VIOLIN, is now available on Amazon. They haven't uploaded the cover art yet, but it should go up pretty soon.



Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Interview with Children's Book Publisher Lynda Burch

How and when did Guardian Angel Publishing get started?

We incorporated and opened our e-doors in Fall 2006. I had invented kids’ musical eBooks in the late 90’s and in the process of selling them I learned that traditional publishers liked the concept but didn’t have a clue how to make the books or market them. Sandy Cummins, CEO & Publisher, at Writers Exchange International (now Reader’s Eden) had published seven of my children’s books and set an example for me as a good e-publisher which pointed me in the right direction. Many of the early kid’s book e-publishers had already folded or moved on to greener pastures but children’s eBooks are my passion and here to stay.

What is your mission statement?

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. where our publishing goals are to lovingly create fun, affordable and educational eBook computer experiences for preschoolers and primary age children; and we wish to embed positive, loving and worthwhile meaning into these eBooks.

In other words we want our books to have values, morals and issues that kids can think about, not just a book about a cat and a rat. And we love educational books that can expand a child’s learning experience.

How many imprints does GAP publish? How many books do you publish a year?

At present we offer: Academic Wings- our educational line; Angel to Angel- where kids write and or illustrate for kids; Angelic Harmony-our musical books; Guardian Angel Pets- stories where our furry and feathered friends are the stars; Littlest Angels- learning, caring and sharing books for our youngest audience; Wings of Faith- our inspirational line of faith based stories; Guardian Angel Chapbooks for Tweens- with chapter books for older children. We are adding Guardian Angel Health & Hygiene- dealing with health issues.

We publish at least 24 books a year- as both eBooks and Print on Demand.

Tell us about your new imprint, Angel to Angel. What has been the public response so far?

Angel to Angel is the imprint where we encourage children to read, write and illustrate. A number of our authors carry this program into elementary schools where the school’s host writing and drawing contests to come up with winners who get their book published online for a year. We also publish young authors and artists who show great talent in writing stories and illustrating them.

The response has been very positive. Teachers and educators love it. Parents love to use it to inspire their own children.

I understand GAP’s books are distributed by Follett, Inc., the largest distributor of eBooks to schools and libraries. How has the public’s attitude toward eBooks changed in the past five years? How do you see the future?

We use multiple resources to distribute our books. Follett Digital Resources are just one of many. Distribution seems to be the name of the game. The more locations the books are sold, the better. Since the eBook market has been growing at a rapid rate and eBooks are available to be downloaded and read on multiple devices not just PC’s our market has been growing too. Even the old traditional print publishers are contracting e-rights to books so that may gain their share of the market. It’s just a matter of time before eBooks sell more copies than print. We will see it sooner than we think.

What about bookstores? How does a print-on-demand children’s picture book publisher set about selling books to booksellers?

Bookstores can purchase GAP books through all their wholesalers and suppliers. All they need to do is access their online suppliers- Ingram’s, Baker & Taylor, etc and order their books.

Who is Lynda Burch-the person, author, publisher? Describe a regular day in your life.

I start my day by swimming laps, wherever I am if possible. We spend three months at the beach in the winter and if I don’t start out by exercising it doesn’t happen. Then I hit the computer for three or four hours fielding calls, putting out fires, emails, reviewing any submissions, take a break in the middle of the day for errands mail etc and then back to the computer for another 4-6 hours.

I am a very hands-on person. I built this company from scratch-- learned how to do every single job because you can’t train anyone unless you know how to do it yourself. I built the website, build the books in all formats, handle the marketing up-lines- distributors etc. The only thing I do as little as possible is the bookkeeping. That’s not creative enough to keep my attention.

Are you open to submissions at this time? What are your guidelines?

We closed to submissions right now because I was teaching at the Muse Conference online and knew I’d be bombarded by submissions from that class for a couple months. Our guidelines are on the submissions page of our website.

On average, how many manuscripts do you receive a month? How many of those get accepted?

When submissions are open I receive about 50-100 a month. 2-3 might be accepted.

You’re also an author. Tell us a bit about your books and the type of fiction you like to write.

I try to find enough time in my week to work on my own books. I have about 100 musical and picture books in progress. I do the art and photography for them. I have 2 suspense novels WIP, too. I have one suspense published- Edge of Paradise. And I read 150-200 books a year but that’s not counting kid books. : )

What is the most challenging aspect of being a children’s book publisher?

I love having the ability to see a story of words come to life in a book. But the job requires keeping up with the fine details of not just the books but the intricacies of balancing the authors and artists and their creativity and expectations, too. But it is definitely a labor of love.

In spite of being a traditional publisher in every sense of the word, your authors must pay a $100 fee in order to have their books available in print. Could you please explain to our readers the reason behind this?

Although Guardian Angel Publishing adores the creative process of making children’s books we are also a business and in order to make revenue and make our business a success we want our authors committed to us and their books.

Since our books are in print, like all publishers, we must use a printer. Printers either make their money on traditional print runs where thousands of books are printed (and by the way many are stripped and discarded later) or they charge a one-time setup fee and take a larger piece of each book’s print costs. It’s rather like a mortgage- the banks get their money up front with points on the loan or over the long term of a loan repayment. But they always get their money.

With authors investing in the printing process (paying their setup fee for each book), independent small publishers are assured that authors are going to get out there and sell those books. Marketing their books is an ongoing need for both small and traditional publishers. Many independent and traditional publishers require a comprehensive marketing plan with a book submission for one reason only. All publishers want books to sell not sit on a shelf or cyber shelf.

And committing some of the author’s own money is more likely accomplish a more active participation of successful sales.

Thanks, Lynda!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Press Release: The Magic Violin

Contact Person: Lynda S. Burch, Publisher
Company Name: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.Telephone Number: 314 276 8482Email Address:

New Christmas Children’s Book Focuses on Violin Playing


SAINT LOUIS, MO – Mayra Calvani’s first children’s picture book, THE MAGIC VIOLIN, has just been released in ebook and paperback by Guardian Angel Publishing, becoming one of the few picture books in the market today focusing on violin playing.

Book’s Blurb:

More than anything, 8-year old Melina wants to become a good violinist. When she loses confidence, her Rumanian teacher Andrea decides it’s time for a magic dose of self esteem. A mysterious, old woman in rags gives Melina some curious advice; a violinist Russian hamster, who happens to live under the old woman's hat, offers her a virtuoso performance; a shooting star fills her with hope on Christmas Eve. Is Melina actually playing better, or has her violin become magic? Who is the old woman in the plaza, and why does she wear the same emerald ring as her teacher Andrea?

The message of The Magic Violin is that real magic lies in believing in oneself, and that if we trust ourselves, we can accomplish anything. The story, written for 4 to 8 year olds, shows how being compassionate and generous can have its rewards. It also introduces children to the violin and other countries--Belgium, in this case.

“The story combines violin music, magic, Christmas, and the charm of 19th Century Europe,” says Calvani, whose passion for the violin has led to several stories and novels since she began playing four years ago. “This is a book that little girls who are learning to play the violin will be able to identify with. The violin is an extremely difficult instrument to learn—probably the most difficult instrument there is, and sometimes learning a new piece can be quite disheartening. Hopefully my book will motivate young players to persevere and have self trust. Above all, I want my love for the violin to come through the pages and inspire children to try this incredible instrument.”

Author’s Bio:

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author whose short fiction, articles, and reviews have appeared on many print and online publications in the States, England, and Puerto Rico. She hails from San Juan, P.R., but now resides in Brussels, Belgium. Visit her children’s book website at Her official website is

THE MAGIC VIOLIN is distributed by Follett, the largest distributor of ebooks to schools and libraries. The paperback version is available from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Gardners and Bertrams in the UK, most online retailers, and on order from any brick and mortar bookstore.

For review copies and/or interview requests, please contact the publisher, Lynda Burch, at

Title: The Magic Violin
Author: Mayra Calvani
Format: Paperback
Reading Level: 5-8 years old
ISBN-13: 978-1-933090-49-8
Publication Date: November 2007
Pages: 32
Price: Ebook $5.00, Paperback $10.95
To Order: 314 276 8482, or


Friday, November 2, 2007

Interview with YA Novelist Kate Messner

Kate Messner's first book, a historical novel set during the time of the Revolutionary War, combines real life and imaginary characters. In this interview, Kate talks about her book, Spitfire, her writing habits, and her favorite young adult authors. She also offers advice to aspiring writers.

Do you consider yourself a born writer?

A born writer? Unfortunately, no. I love the idea of children showing up in the world with beautiful language just spilling from their crayons, but I’m afraid it’s not much of a reality - at least not for this writer. I’ve always loved stories and books, and I’ve always found magic in literature. When I was a kid, I’d escape into Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume books for hours on end, and after a while, I decided I wanted in on that magic, and I started writing. Like most writers, even though I liked it, it took me lots of practice before I was any good at it (and some days, I’m still not very good at it!).

When did you decide to become an author?

When I was seven. School was over for the summer, and I missed the research and the writing, so I started assigning myself these little reports. The rain forest. Gorillas. Sharks. The shark story was my favorite. My parents put it on the refrigerator, and that’s the first time I was “published.”I’ve always loved learning about history and digging into the past, so historical fiction is a favorite genre for me. I absolutely love having a license to ask zillions of questions and explaining that I’m working on a book. (The truth is, I’d probably be asking the questions anyway, but it sure sounds a lot better this way!)

Tell us about your historical young adult novel, Spitfire. What is it about? What inspired you to write such a story?

Spitfire is about a girl who disguises herself as a boy and fights in a Revolutionary War naval battle on Lake Champlain — the Battle of Valcour Island. If you visit my website, you’ll see some pictures of Valcour Island, which is truly a stunning place. I live on Lake Champlain, not far from there, and I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that an important Revolutionary War battle took place right out there on the lake. Then in 1997, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum was doing a survey of the lake bottom and discovered the last remaining gunboat from Benedict Arnold’s fleet in 1776 on the bottom of the lake. That’s when my fascination turned into a bit of an obsession, and I did everything I could to learn more about that battle. The most exciting thing I learned was that there was a 12-year-old boy involved in the battle. His name was Pascal De Angelis, and he came to the Champlain Valley with his stepfather, who captained one of the ships. The Battle of Valcour Island went on for three days because the Americans escaped from a British blockade and got away for a time before the British caught up and the fighting started again. This boy, Pascal, celebrated his 13th birthday on the lake in the middle of the battle. I knew that was the story I wanted to tell, and I knew that I wanted to connect his story with the story of the missing gunboat, which was identified as the Spitfire.My book is historical fiction, so it’s a mix of historical fact and fictional characters. There are two narrators - the real historical figure, Pascal, and his fictional friend, a girl named Abigail who joins the fleet disguised as a boy so she can search for her uncle. Researching and writing this book was a joy for me, and seeing kids who live in this region read it and appreciate the history of their lake is just incredible.

When working on a novel, what is your schedule like? How long does it usually take you to finish a full-length book? Do you edit as your write or do you cough up the first draft and leave the polishing for later?

Oh boy... the schedule question. I teach middle school English full time, and I have two kids of my own, so it seems like there’s never enough time in the day. I generally write from 9pm to midnight. I’ll turn in earlier if I’m really tired or later if I’m on a roll, but that’s my usual schedule.I’m a spill-out-the-first-draft kind of person. I like to have that draft done so I have an idea where I’m going. Once it’s down on paper, I can settle down and revise. I’m much better at revising than actually writing.Who are your favorite young adult novelists?I have too many favorite middle grade and YA novelists to count, and I read a huge variety of genres. But I love the work of Laurie Halse Anderson, Rick Riordan, JK Rowling, Ellen Klages, Nancy Werlin, Joseph Bruchac, Cynthia Lord, Sonya Sones, Sarah Dessen, John Green, Lisa Yee, Bruce Covillle, and Lois Lowry, to name a few. I’m always discovering new authors, too, and I love reading a book by a brand new author and introducing it to my 7th graders. Some terrific new voices I’ve discovered in the past year are Linda Urban, Sarah Miller, Melissa Marr, and Carrie Jones. Fledgling writers often try to emulate their favorite author's style.

Did you experience this when you first started writing? If yes, who was your role model?

I try to learn from every author whose work I read and admire, but I can’t say that I really emulate any particular style. Voice is tough to fake, and if you’re not writing in a voice that authentically yours, it doesn’t sound true. I worked in broadcast journalism when I graduated from college, and I remember an older anchorman at the NBC affiliate in Syracuse, New York, chewing me out because I admitted that I was trying to sound like another well-established reporter in one of my stories. “You can’t be Sheryl Nathans,” he told me. “Because that job is already taken... by Sheryl Nathans.” It’s advice that I remember to this day - the only voice that will work for you as a writer is one that’s uniquely your own.

With so many books published, how do you promote your work and still have time to write, or vice versa? Do you follow a planned writing/marketing schedule? Any tips you would like to share with other authors?

Juggling marketing and writing with teaching and family is a delicate balancing act for me. I think I make a good go of it, but I’m certainly not in a position to be giving advice!

Any upcoming books in the horizon?

I’m finishing revisions on another historical novel set on Lake Champlain — this one during the 17th century — and I have a middle grade contemporary novel that’s out with a few agents right now. I’m just starting work on a humorous chapter book and polishing up a few picture books.

Do you have a website where readers may find more about you and your work? Teachers will find the site especially useful, since the full study guide for Spitfire is available as a free downloaded pdf document.

If there was one book you'd recommend as absolute read for aspiring young adult fiction authors, what would that be?

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. It’s not about YA fiction but about writing in general and the life of a writer. I love this book and recommend it to everyone who will listen. It has lots of great, concrete advice, but more than anything, Anne Lamott has a way of making you laugh and then believe that this whole writer thing will work out. That, for me, is what it takes to stay in my chair and keep working.

What advice would you give to those young adult fiction authors who are trying to break into print?

Read a lot. Write a lot. Join SCBWI and hang out at Verla Kay’s Children’s Writers & Illustrators Discussion Boards. You’ll learn a lot there. Find a critique group with people you enjoy who will challenge you to make your writing stronger. And don’t try to be Sheryl Nathans or anyone else, no matter how much you admire his or her work. Those other jobs are taken. Work to find the voice that belongs to you and let it shine.
Thank you, Kate!
Thanks for having me!