Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Interview at Blogcritics Magazine

Hi all,

It was nice being on the interviewee seat for once at Blogcritics Magazine.

Dorothy Thompson, CEO of Pump Up Your Book Promotion, was kind enough to interview me as part of my November virtual book tour.

You may read the full interview here.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing - Day 9

Hi all,

Today on the 9th day of my VBT I'm over at Unwriter, where Ron Berry has written a wonderful review of my book.

Thank you, Ron!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Interview with Author Mary Cunningham

Mary Cunningham is the author of the popular 'Cynthia's Attic' tween fantasy/time-travel series. She's also the co-author of the soon-to-be-released book, WOOF: Women Only Over 50, an uplifting collection of personal anecdotes and poems about how it feels and what it means to be a woman in her fifties. Mary lives in the beautiful mountains of West Georgia and is a member of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, The Georgia Reading Association, and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club.

Who came up with the idea for the WOOF book?

Oh, my goodness! It’s been so long ago, the story has gotten muddled, (They say the memory is the first to go!) but I’ll do my best. Co-writer, Diana, and her friend Carol were discussing the “joys” of reaching the half-century milestone. Their commiserating and laughter resulted in the idea to form a club/support group of friends who are still puppies at heart, beginning with themselves, another friend, Dot, and me. Melinda soon joined the ranks.

The WOOFers Club soon led to the book. The first edition of WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty was published in 2000. An updated, (translation: BETTER!) edition will be published DEC 1, 2008 by Echelon Press. The book has been a complete collaboration with Diana Black, Melinda Richarz Bailey, and me.

How was it writing a book with two other authors? Would you do it again?

There were some rough patches on our first go-round several years ago...imagine three “divas” trying to write a book together! But, we learned tons from that experience! The new and improved WOOF has been a total pleasure. We had a purpose. To make this book the best it could be, and to reach women who are creeping up on Fifty, or have already stumbled over the line and need a good laugh.

What was the best part about writing this book?

The best part, for me, was writing stories and poems from personal experience, and realizing that being fifty doesn’t have to be depressing. It can actually be funny, and more importantly, freeing! I’ve gotten beyond worrying about what other people think of me, and I hope readers will get the same message and learn to howl at the aging process.

Your WOOFer name is 'Milkbone'. Why and what's behind the names?

The acronym for “Women Only Over Fifty” is WOOF. We use canine terms and analogies in stories and chapter titles, such as, Are We Barking Up the Wrong Tree? Purebred Potpourri and Over Fifty Tailwaggers. In the process, the natural evolution was to give ourselves dog names. Diana is d.d. dawg, Melinda is Mad Dog and my name, Milkbone, comes from one of my favorite expressions. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and I’m wearing milkbone underwear.

What's all the fuss about the WOOFers Club? Who can join and what do they do?

The club is for anyone wishing to join a sisterhood for the ever-increasing number of women approaching or over Fifty. We have our own e-mail address,
where women can choose and register a WOOF name of their choice and also vent frustrations, tell their own funny story, or submit poems. We’re also planning to run contests in the near future.

WOOF also has its own blog. Tell us about this. What do WOOFers blog about?

Oh, I love the blog! We not only write posts about our own over-fifty experiences—good and not so good—we invite all women to be guest bloggers. For instance, we’ve had an over-fifty woman relay her experience with TaeKwondo, and we’re so open-minded, we even posted a blog about a special cat, Dewey Readmore Books. So, gotta story to tell? E-mail us at We will be choosing one or two guest bloggers each month.

I hear you've done a few signings already, before the official release of the book. What has been the response from the public so far?

Overwhelmingly positive. We love it when women buy the books for themselves, or read a poem or story and say, “That’s me!” Letting women know they’re not alone is our prime objective...well, that and selling books, of course. :-)

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

No map to guide you through the "joys" of middle age? Join three witty, savvy, resourceful women as we chart our own course. Yep! You’re invited!
As you romp through issues of expanding waistlines, deepening wrinkles, empty nests and muddled memories, we promise you’ll find good things to bark about!

Monday, November 17, 2008


Hi all,

The Magic Violin has garnered yet another rave review, this time by the popular Stories for Children Magazine.

"Mayra makes this storyline and its backdrop magical, with just the right hint of mystery to it. Her characters' "voice" comes through loud and clear. Accompanied by the crisp, detailed, and lifelike illustrations of K.C. Snider, this book is a "keeper". This is a great read, especially for kids interested in music, mystery, magic during the holiday season, and the beauty of winter."

Read the full review here.



The Slippery Art of Book Review VBT continues

Today I'm over at A Writer's Words, an Editor's Eye, where Lillie Ammann has written a wonderful review of my book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

Thank you, Lillie, for the great review and for hosting us on your blog!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reviewers vs Bloggers: The Controversy

Hi all,

Today I'm over at Morgan Mandel's blog with an interesting post about reviewers and bloggers.

Stop by if you get a chance. I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Impact of Online Reviewers on Newspapers

Hi all,

Today on the 5th day of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing VBT, my co-author Anne K. Edwards has a guest post over at The Book Connection: Impact of Online Reviewers on Newspapers.

I hope you'll stop by to take a look. Comments are welcome!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Young Artist Workshop

Award-winning illustrator Kevin Scott Collier is now offering a free online workshop for children who'd like to learn to draw.

Check it out:

By watching Kevin draw, the children learn the tricks of illustrating. They can also draw together with Kevin as they watch him on video.

This is another great site for young artists!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Review of WOOF: Women Only Over 50

WOOF: Women Only Over 50
by Diane Black, Mary Cunningham and Melinda Richarz Bailey
Echelon Press
ISBN: 1590806069
Paperback, 160 pages, $12.99

Your hair is getting white, you’re losing muscle tone, you wish gravity didn’t exist so wrinkles wouldn’t take hold of your face, menopause is finally kicking in—really kicking in. Is it the end, or the beginning of great things to come?

Authors Diana Black, Mary Cunningham, and Melinda Richarz Bailey share their experiences--sometimes sad, sometimes joyful, sometimes funny--about their road ‘downhill’… or is it really—to middle age. They also share their dreams and realizations about life and what it really means to be 50.

This book is a combination of short personal essays, poems, and witty quotes that will touch your heart and enlighten your mind about the aging process. At the end of each chapter the authors invite readers to write their own experiences and thoughts, so you may want to have a pencil or pen in hand as you read.

Bad hair days, chocolate (and expanding waistlines!), dogs, the menopause (flashing!), being a woman, cell phones and computers are some of the topics covered in the book. Take a look at this short segment on the powers of chocolate:

Seriously, how could something so rich and luscious;
something that can make most grown WOOFers lie, cheat
and steal; something that can, with one delicious, melt-inyour-
mouth morsel bring a menopawsal, endorphin
deprived, raving lunatic back from the brink of insanity;
be bad for you?
Oh, don't pretend you don't know what we're talking
about. Who hasn't searched underneath the sofa cushions
in January for a stray piece of Halloween candy?

And of course, every WOOFer over 50 must have a WooFer name. In the book, Diana Black is ‘d. d. dawg’, Mary Cunnigham is ‘Milkbone’, and Melinda Richarz Bailey is ‘Mad Dog’. Towards the end there is a list of names with their behavioral characteristics, so you can choose the one that best suits the WOOFer in you.

WOOF: Women Only Over 50 is a light, humorous, entertaining, and certainly uplifting read. I finished reading it in two hours. Many of the segments are hilarious and made me laugh out loud—and mind you, I’m not 50 yet. This little book would make a great Christmas or birthday gift to anyone who loves a good laugh, but especially to those Woofers over 50.

For those interested, the authors have formed a club for WOOFers:

And there’s also a blog:
Check out the book on Amazon!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing - Day 3

Hi all,

Yesterday I was over at Mary Cunningham's blog with a humorous piece about
Amazon reviews and mothers in law.

If you'd like to take a look, the link is


Friday, November 7, 2008

Interview with Author Michele Scott

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Michele Scott. Michele is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where she studied journalism before dedicating herself to writing fiction. She's the author of the Wine Lover's Mystery Series and the Equine Mystery Series. She writes children's fiction under a pseudonym, M.K. Scott, and she's here today to talk about her mid-grade children's fantasy, Zamora's Ultimate Challenge.

Thanks for this interview, Michele. Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

I’m obviously a writer. I’m a mom with three kids (ages 7-17). Writing has been a passion of mine since I was a kid. My other passion is horses. My daughter and I have horses and we ride at least four days a week. I spend my days writing and my afternoons riding. I love to cook. I’m a bit on the silly side, which either annoys my kids or makes them laugh (depending on their mood). I enjoy being around family and friends, and having a lazy day once in a while to catch up on my reading—another passion.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

I knew when I was about nine-years-old that I wanted to be a writer. I have never wavered from that decision.

Do you have another job besides writing?

As I mentioned, I am a mom, so to me that in itself is a full time job. I used to work in wine sales, nut as my deadlines grew closer together with each book, I had to quit my day job and focus solely on my writing.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

I most definitely was an avid reader as a kid. I read everything I could. My favorites were Nancy Drew, Black Stallion series, The Narnia Chronicles and I loved A Wrinkle in Time.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

My new book Zamora’s Ultimate Challenge was inspired by my kids. I actually wrote the first version of this book eight years ago while pregnant with my youngest. At the time, I was not published and had been writing thrillers. The doctor put me on bed rest, and I found that I could not do the research I typically did when writing a thriller. I decided that I wanted to write a book for my own children, and that was Zamora’s Ultimate Challenge. I never tried to sell the book because that was never my initial intent. I met Karen Syed (the publisher at echelon press) and we got to talking. She was looking for a book who featured a boy protagonist. I told her about my book and she asked to see it. At the time, I honestly did not expect anything to come of it. Obviously, I was wrong.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

Typically I do write from an outline. This is one of two books that I have not used an outline.

Did your book require a lot of research?

No. This book is pure fun and comes straight from the imagination.

What was your goal when writing this book?

To have my kids read it and learn something positive from it.

Who is your target audience?

I’d like to think that everyone is a target audience for a book like this, but if I have to narrow it down, then depending on a child’s reading level, this book is a fit for kids 7-11 (not the store).

What will the reader learn after reading your book?

There are some basic spiritual themes in this book (not religious). I think they are presented in a fun, fantastical way that hopefully will get parents, teachers and children talking about goals, the power of positive thinking and the understanding that virtually nothing is impossible if you put your heart and soul into it.

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

Both. I daydream and fantasize, but I have also incorporated many of my own personal experiences in some way into my books.

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?

My ideas come at various times—cooking, driving, and in the shower. I suppose this is because my mind never leaves me the heck alone. I have been known to get up from the dinner table to write something down, and come back twenty minutes later. My family has pretty much gotten used to this. It’s just one of mom’s quirks.

Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to placate her when she refuses to inspire you?

We get along well. When she refuses to cooperate, I take her for a walk. It tends to work.

From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?

I write a book about every four months. This book took me about six months. I was pregnant, so sleep got in the way (and eating for two).

Describe your working environment.

It varies. There is a computer in my room that I work on. A laptop that I move from the kitchen table to Starbucks or Pannera, or to my parents’ house when I can’t think at home because the laundry and dirty dishes have piled up, and are calling my name.

What type of scenes give you the most trouble to write?

I love to write dialogue, so I think writing out narrative with gorgeous prose and description is really tough.

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

I write a first draft all the way through, then go back and edit.

They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?

I curse the reviewer and their children and their children’s children! Just kidding. You have to be tough in this business. Not everyone is going to like everything that you write. I try not to read negative reviews if I can help it. I have my own beliefs behind negative reviews—“if you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything.” Everyone has a right to their opinion, but it’s just that, and just because I don’t like a book doesn’t mean I have to review it. Someone else will likely love it. As a writer, I know what goes into this process --blood, sweat and tears. Most of us are lucky if we can pay the bills from our writing, making what we do as writers our passion. To insult someone’s dream is hurtful and painful. However, writers have to understand that it is part of the business and a tough skin is needed.

As a writer, what scares you the most?

That people will hate what I write.

When writing, what themes do you feel passionate about?

Love, justice, humanity, and family.

Are you a disciplined writer?


How do you divide your time between taking care of a home and children, and writing? Do you plan your writing sessions in advance?

I get the kids off by 8:00, come home and check e-mails while I eat breakfast, write until noon and have lunch, check e-mails again, and then write until 2:30, pick up my youngest and we go riding, come home and fix dinner, check everyone’s homework, feed animals and get ready to go to bed and start all over the following day. I don’t plan out my writing sessions in advance, but I always know that I will be writing no later than 9:00 a.m., and I will accept no less than ten pages a session.

When it comes to writing, are you an early bird, or a night owl?

An early bird.

Do you have an agent? How was your experience in searching for one?

I do have an agent. It is a difficult process, and I recommend Jeff Herman’s Guide. Study it, send out only what they ask for and then keep on writing. It took me twelve years to get an agent and sell a book.

Do you have any unusual writing quirks?

Hang on—I am deferring to family members. Okay, they say that I laugh while I’m writing and that I talk out loud. I don’t think that’s a quirk.

What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?

Critique groups can be good if they are honest and as long as there are at least a couple of writers who are ahead of you in the game. Critique groups should never ever be mean or personal, and they also shouldn’t be flowery and sugar coat the work if it needs help. There are nice ways to tell someone that the book isn’t working. For a novice writer, remember to take everything with a grain of salt. Listen, don’t take what is said to heart, let it sit within you for a few days, then take a look at what the group said. If at that time, you see their point, then make the changes. If you still think they are full of it, keep it as is. Remember, you are the writer, so you get the last word. I do think critique groups can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer. I almost had that experience twenty years ago as a newbie. The leader was harsh on my beyond what is acceptable. Other writers tried to console me and I almost gave up. However, if you’re a real writer and this your passion, then people can say what they will, and you may take it to heart for some time, but you will eventually find your way back. Once a writer, always a writer.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

I have not suffered this particular ailment. I have been vaccinated against it. However, if I feel it trying to ‘get’ me, I go for a walk.

Technically speaking, what do you have to struggle the most when writing? How do you tackle it?

Time. I wish I had more time to write more books. I am not sure how to handle this as I do need sleep.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

My agent found the publisher. I recommend that novice authors query agents when they feel they are ready.

What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you?

If I knew I would be on The Times list. Word of mouth still sells books better than anything else. I do a culmination of things. I have a website, newsletter, myspace, blogs, etc. Viral marketing is important in the age of The Internet. I also tell anyone and everyone from people on planes, to waiting for their car at the car wash, to waiting to be seated in a restaurant about my books.

What is(are) your favorite book/author(s)? Why?

This question is always so hard for me. I can never give one answer. I love so many different authors and books. I am a book whore. I probably spend more money on books than I do writing them. I read every night before bed and I pretty much enjoy almost every book I read. I’ll tell you what I am reading now and I can say that I am enjoying them: One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell, The Shack by William P. Young, and The Writing Class by Jincy Willet. I read three to four books at a time. I think I have A.D.D.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Bum Glue by Bryce Courtenay (The Power of One). Bryce likes to say, “Glue your bum to the chair and write.”

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Please visit my website at Readers can read excerpts from all of my books, enter contests, and learn a bit about my writing process.

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

I am currently finishing up a women’s fiction novel that is about women and their friendships with one another as well as the relationships between mothers and their children. I don’t want to jinx it, so that’s all I can say. My next mystery Corked by Cabernet will be out in February under Michele Scott.

As an author, what is your greatest reward?

When I receive an e-mail from a reader telling me that they love one of my books, or characters. That makes what I do worth every second.

Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your work?

Buy it. I have three kids to put through college. Joking aside—writing is what I do, it’s what I love and I would love to have you read my work and drop me a line.

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

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing Virtual Book Tour - Days 1 & 2

Hey there,

This month I'm off again touring the blogosphere, this time to promote my nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

On the first day of the tour, Nov. 4th, I was at Donna McDine's wonderful blog, Write What Inspires You. Donna posted the prologue of the book and we had a very succesful first day with lost of comments from visitors. Thanks again, Donna, for allowing me to be a guest on your blog!

Today on the 2nd day of the tour my co-author and I are off at Book Pleasures for an interview with Editor in Chief Norm Goldman.



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Magic Violin book trailer...

Check out the lovely trailer Kim McDougall of Blazing Trailers made of my Christmas picture book, The Magic Violin. Make sure your volume is up so you can hear the second movement of Vivaldi's "Winter".

The Magic Violin is available on Amazon, B&N, the Publisher, and your local bookstore.