Mayra Calvani is an award-winning, multi-genre author for children and adults. A reviewer for more than a decade, she’s a regular contributor to Blogcritics Magazine and the Latino Books Examiner for Examiner.com. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, the CBI Clubhouse, and the Children’s Writers Coaching Club. Calvani’s non-fiction book—The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing—was a ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award winner, and it’s required reading at four universities.

Mayra Calvani and Write On! Online are part of the VBT – Writers On the Move Blog Tour. Please check out the VBT Website for more exciting author interviews and expert columns!

What led you to start writing?
I’ve been writing since I was about 11 years old. I was a quiet child with a big imagination and I loved creating characters and worlds in my stories. The idea that you can create fictional people and situations is quite seductive. It’s like you’re a magician with a magic wand. I wrote fiction throughout my teens and later majored in Creative Writing in college. Writing is my life. I write because I have to and because I would be incredibly miserable if I didn’t.

What are the benefits and challenges to writing for both adults and children? How did you develop such different specialties?
I’m inspired by many things and this is the reason I don’t concentrate on only one genre. I write what I love. I write the types of books I love to read and since I read in various genres, then it comes naturally for me to write in various genres. My favorite genres at the moment are children’s picture books and the paranormal (for young adults and adults).

I didn’t choose to go this route on a conscious level. I’ve always loved paranormal fiction and this is the type of writing that is closest to my heart. When I was a teen, this is the genre that captured my imagination the most.

I started writing children’s books after I had kids. This is a common trait for many children’s authors. They start writing for kids after they have kids of their own and make a habit of reading to them at bedtime. I fell in love with children’s literature this way.

Writing for both children and adults has its challenges, though, especially when it comes to branding yourself and to promoting your books. You have to spend more time and effort because you have to target two different audiences.

Do you have a favorite genre? What is it and why?
As I mentioned before, the paranormal genre is the one closest to my heart. It’s exciting to delve into the unknown and to create stories and characters that are dark and mysterious. I love creating spooky atmospheres in my stories.

What is your favorite part of being a writer? The greatest challenge?
My favorite part of being a full-time writer is being my own boss and working in my pajamas. The greatest challenge? Making money!

How do you approach the blank page?
I say a writer’s affirmation each time I sit down to write. I close my eyes and say the affirmation out loud, meaning each and every word. Then I start writing. This is one of the tricks I use to make my mind do whatever I want it to do. It works wonders!

Advice for writers of children’s books?
You have to read children’s literature as often as possible and write as often as possible. Create a writing schedule and stick to it. Create a submission schedule as well. Great stories left in a drawer will never see publication. It’s also important to join a good critique group for feedback. You need a set of objective eyes to look over your manuscript. Be sure, however, to join a group that specializes in your genre.

Advice for reviewers?
Remember your duty is with the reader, not with the author or publisher.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
That you can’t write only when inspiration strikes. Writing is a job like any other. You may not always feel like getting up and going to work, but you have to do it, no matter how you feel. If I had been fully aware of this back then, I would have been a hundred times more productive.

Learn more about Mayra Calvani at www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com and www.MayraCalvani.com.

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20 Comments

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  1. Janet 8 years ago

    It’s nice to know Mayra is able to have books published in multiple genres even though the experts say we should stick to one kind of writing as a brand. Thanks for the interview.

  2. Mayra Calvani 8 years ago

    Thanks so much for having me as your guest, Debra!

  3. Nancy Famolari 8 years ago

    Have to agree, being able to work in your pajamas beats fighting rush hour traffic.

    Terrific interview

  4. Katie Hines 8 years ago

    Great article. I’d be interested in hearing more about this writer’s affirmation that you say you recite. I like to read paranormal things, too, but they’re not my favorite.

  5. kathy stemke 8 years ago

    I ove Mayra’s book, “Humberto, the Bookworm Hamster.” It’s a great story! Kids will love it!

  6. Mayra 8 years ago

    Thank you all for your comments!

    Katie and everyone, I don’t mind sharing the affirmation.
    I’ll be happy to send it to you if you email me at mayra DOT calvani AT gmail DOT com

    The reason I don’t post it here is that it is so over the top, I’m afraid people will take me for a nut! LOL

  7. Author
    Debra Eckerling 8 years ago

    Mayra, Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and experience with the Write On! community. I especially love your advice for reviewers, btw! I too would love to read your affirmation!

  8. Donna McDine 8 years ago

    I too use affirmations! Best wishes for your continued success!

  9. Jane Kennedy Sutton 8 years ago

    I enjoyed the interview. Do you keep to a strict schedule in order to have time to write and market your own books as well as read and review those of other writers?

  10. KarenCioffi 8 years ago

    Great interview! I read Humberto and it’s a wonderful children picture book. And, great advice to new writers–creating a writing and submissions schedule and sticking to it is important and sometimes hard to do.

  11. Your Name 8 years ago

    Great interview! I have around the edges of my monitor my goals & inspirational messages.
    Blessings,
    J. Aday Kennedy
    The Differently-Abled Writer
    Children’s picture Book Klutzy Kantor
    Coming Soon Marta Gargantuan Wings

  12. Mayra 8 years ago

    Hi Jane,

    I do prepare a writing schedule every Sunday evening for my upcoming working week (Monday-Friday). I always take Saturday and Sunday off. Sundays are for the fun stuff like blogging, social networking and that sort of thing. I used to do this during the week–and it was lethal to my writing time. Of course, I’m not alwyas able to follow through with the schedule, but I try my best. Plus, seeing that schedule helps keep you focused and motivated.

  13. Terri Forehand 8 years ago

    Great interview, and the writing schedule is a good tip. Keeping the blogging and social networking on the weekends would also free up much needed writing time during the week. Networking is so important but it can be a distraction. Great that you have found that balance, the balance that some of us are still seeking. Thanks for the interview.

  14. Brigitte Thompson 8 years ago

    Wonderful inteview Debra. I enjoyed learning about Mayra’s work.

  15. Dallas Woodburn 8 years ago

    Mayra I am so impressed with all that you do! I’m going to check out “The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing” — how cool that it is required reading at four universities!

    I found myself nodding my head when you said, “I write because I have to and because I would be incredibly miserable if I didn’t.” It’s strange how even when the writing is difficult, the idea of not writing seems unimaginable!

    Thanks again Mayra and Deb for brightening my day with this post!

  16. Mayra 8 years ago

    Thanks for your kind words, everyone!

    Dallas, writing and I have always had a love/hate relationship. It’s REALLY strange. But yes, I’m miserable when I don’t write… and moody–as my family well knows! LOL

  17. Beverly 8 years ago

    Wonderful interview, Debra.

    I love paranormal stories too, Mayra. And your picture books are lovely.

  18. Heidi M. Thomas 8 years ago

    Both your book reviewing book and “Humberto…” sound great! I love the title for your children’s book. And thanks for the schedule tip–I have trouble with that too. Blogging and social networking can eat up your writing time, that’s for sure!

  19. Marietta Taylor 8 years ago

    Wow two genres! I’m impressed. It’s hard enough branding yourself in one genre. Kudos to you! Loved the interview and getting to know more about you.

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