Friday, September 24, 2010

Authors Showcase at the National Writing for Children Center

Fantastic promo opportunity for children's authors at The National Writing for Children Center!

Be sure to check it out at:

I'll be one of the authors to be showcased in October.

Happy promoting!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Top Mom Blogger Features My Book, The Magic Violin

Hi all,

My children's picture book, The Magic Violin is being featured at a top mom blogger this week.

The blog's name is Moms Wear Your Tees and it is hosted by Scarlett Paolicchi. Not only did she give the book a wonderful review, but she's also hosting a giveaway! Thanks, Scarlett!

The blog has close to 1,500 followers, which I think it's pretty awesome.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review of The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall, by Mary Downing Hahn

(Clarion Books, September 6, 2010)

After reading this middle-grade novel, it becomes clear why Mary Downing Hahn is such a popular author and has won so many awards. The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall is a deliciously written gothic story, hovering over that “safe,” fine line that exits between the mildly scary and horror.

Twelve-year-old Florence has spent the last seven years of her life in a London orphanage. Then, one day, her rich Uncle James sends for her, and she goes to live in his mysterious old mansion in the English countryside. Besides her uncle, her Aunt Eugene and her cousin James also inhabit the house. Unlike her uncle, who is warm and kind, her aunt is a cold, severe middle-age woman.

Florence isn’t able to have any interaction with James because, for some mysterious reason, he is bedridden and unable to receive visits. Everybody in the house, including the few servants, seems to be under the dark memory of Sophia, James’ 12-year-old sister, who died tragically one year before.

Not long after Florence moves in, she realizes there’s a supernatural presence in the house, none other than Sophia’s ghost, with whom Florence shares a striking resemblance. Thus begins the dark “friendship” between the girl and the ghost. Evil and manipulative Sophia has her own agenda, and she wants Florence to help her achieve her goals. Will Florence be strong enough to fight Sophia’s revengeful and controlling will?

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall is filled with tight yet evocative, lyrical prose that appeals to the senses.

“The wind rustled the leaves and blew through the grass on Sophia’s grave. Its sound was as low and sad as the mourning doves calling to one another on the church roof.”

There is a threatening, chilling tone throughout—enough to keep readers on the edge of their seats without giving them too much horror. Though the story wouldn’t really be scary for 12 year olds, 9 year olds might be slightly affected by it.

The author’s carefully chosen descriptions serve to create the perfect atmosphere for this engrossing, historical ghost story. The characters are distinct and interesting in their own way. Florence is a smart, practical young girl who will capture the imaginations of middle-grade readers. The novel has a little of Wuthering Heights, The Secret Garden, and Rebecca in it.

For this reviewer, it was a wonderful experience discovering this talented author.

**My review previously appeared in The New York Journal of Books.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Interview with Children's Author Donna McDine

Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author whose stories have been featured in multiple print and online publications. Her first book, The Golden Pathway, is about a boy who befriends a slave during the civil war. It is an illustrated story book for older readers (ages 9-12). Donna is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Musing Our Children, and The National Writing for Children Center. You can learn more about Donna on her website. If you sign the guestbook, you’ll receive a free ebook, Write What Inspires You: Author Interviews. Donna also keeps two blogs, and

Thanks for the interview, Donna! When did you start writing for children?

In 2006 I came across an ad for The Institute of Children’s Literature and completed their aptitude test and application and mailed it back for consideration. This came at the perfect time for me since I was longing to find something more fulfilling outside the scope of administrative and website work. About a month afterwards I received an acceptance to ICL and haven’t looked back since.

Tell us about your historical children’s book, The Golden Pathway. What inspired you to write it?

History has always fascinated me and when I had the chance to outline a book idea for my last ICL assignment the Underground Railroad immediately came to mind. While I did get positive feedback on my outline my ICL instructor did not feel there was enough appeal with a market flooded with the Underground Railroad books. I reluctantly put my outline away and tried to forget about it, but it kept calling to me to write it. And again perfect timing aligned and I discovered Suzanne Lieurance at the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club and I dusted off my outline and eagerly began writing. This manuscript was critiqued in the early stages by Suzanne Lieurance (CWCC) and my online critique groups and placed as Honorable Mention in the Writer's Digest 78th Writing Competition, then edited after the competition by Lea Schizas to assist in expanding the story since it was no longer under a word constraint from the contest.

I understand The Golden Pathway is an illustrated story book and not a picture book. Could you please explain the difference between the two?

A standard picture book is 32-pages with illustrations on every page and geared towards 2-8 years old. While a story book has roughly half the amount of illustrations the text is written with the 9-12 age range in mind and (in the case of The Golden Pathway) almost 2,000 words. Each publisher has their specific guidelines they follow. Over the course of the years many teachers have realized a vast majority of students respond better to their curriculum with visuals. Hence the story book format.

Did you have to do a lot of research for this book?

Initially online, then visiting the Tappan Library and thoroughly researching the Underground Railroad.

What is the main message children will learn from this book?

Overcoming adversity against immeasurable odds and that with determination success in achieving your dreams is possible.

The illustrations in the book were done by fine Oregonian artist K.C. Snider. How was your experience working with an illustrator? Did you have input in the artwork? Do you think she captured the mood and tone of the story?

My excitement over the quality of illustrations K.C. Snider designed blew me away from the onset of the book cover design. K.C. captured the true essence of The Golden Pathway from the get go. Since The Golden Pathway is my first book I honestly did not know what to expect from the collaboration process and I was pleasantly surprised. I have read time and time again that the author and illustrator never meet, but not in the case of Guardian Angel Publishing. As long as an author tries not to micro-manage the illustrator and puts full trust in the publisher and illustrator a win-win outcome is sure to be had.

You also offer press release services to authors. Tell us all about it!

My press release service is called Dynamic Media Release Services and with the overwhelming responsibilities an author has to promote their books I thought what better way to take the pressure off a bit is to offer this service at reasonable prices. For rates and testimonials readers should check this page.

What next for Donna McDine?

I'm thrilled to announce my manuscripts entitled, The Hockey Agony and Powder Monkey or Boy have been accepted by Guardian Angel Publishing. These will be my second and third story books with this publisher.

Any last words to our readers?

My road to publication has had the typical rejections (which I can wallpaper my office with) and doubts of my abilities to make a go as a published writer. I have found every writer experiences these feelings, but learn to push through the “doubting Thomas” thoughts to reach publication success. Don’t give up! Learn your craft, continued to network, and success will come your way.

Thanks you, Donna, and best of luck with your book!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Latest news!

I'm happy to announce that an activity I submitted to Gryphon House’s Learn Every Day series two months ago has been selected by the editors to be included in the series!

You can find out about Gryphon House here.

On another note, my latest book, How to Turn Your Book Club Into a Spectacular Event, is now available on Amazon.

Here's what reviewers are saying...

"How to Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Event, by Mayra Calvani, speaks directly to kids who love to read and who want to share their favorite books with friends." --The Story of a Writer

"How fun would it be to put together your very own book club? You see and hear about book clubs all the time. Why not make your own?

"HOW TO TURN YOUR BOOK CLUB INTO A SPECTACULAR EVENT is packed with great ideas on making this happen. From ideas of what to call your book club to brainstorming questions to ask, this is a must have book if you're serious about having a successful club." --YABooks Central

"From beginning to end, How to Turn Your Book Club Into a Spectacular Event is a great guide for those children who want to take the initiative and create a book club. It provides all the information needed, and even a breakdown of book genres, along with examples of books. And, it ends with a list of popular authors who write for young readers, including the title of one of their books.

"Any book that helps guide children on the reading path, and encourages them to read is a book that should be recommended. How to Turn Your Book Club Into a Spectacular Event is one such book." --Writing for Children and More