Friday, July 31, 2009

Stories for Children Magazine
a trademark of Stories for Children Publishing, LLC
A monthly Ezine for Children (3 to 12)
Web site:


CONTACT: Donna M. McDine
Marketing Manager, Stories for Children Magazine
Phone: 800-670-4416

For Immediate Release

SFC Magazine Announces Stanley Bookman Spooky Sounds Young Author Contest

Contest Description:

The Stories for Children Magazine mascot, Stanley Bookman, needs your help to write a story about the spooky sounds you hear at night, in the backyard, or when you are camping.

Your story needs to be original, unpublished, and written by you. A parent/guardian may help type your story, but you have to write the story yourself. Make sure you use your imagination!

You must email all stories, along with the attached permission form signed by a parent/guardian, by midnight on August 30, 2009. Stories will not be returned, so make sure you keep a copy for yourself. Please send only one entry and make sure to put your name, age, email address, home address, and parent/guardian name in the top right hand corner on the first page of your story.

Will you help Stanley by writing a story between 500 and 1200 words long?

Submissions will be accepted between June 1, 2009, and August 30, 2009.

Who may enter? Young Authors (17 and under)

Contest Fee: No Entry Fee (Parental approval needed)

Contest Prizes: The top three stories will be published in the following months:

1st place in the October SFC issue

2nd place in the November SFC issue

3rd place in the December SFC issue

In addition to being published in Stories for Children Magazine, all winners will receive a Winner’s Certificate and:

1st Place: a 6 months’ personal membership to (a $30 value). To learn more, visit

2nd Place: an autographed copy of Babysitting SugarPaw by VS Grenier (a $14 value). To learn more, visit:

3rd Place: a McDonald’s Book of five $1 Gift Certificates.

Submission Guidelines:

1. Any original, unpublished story you wrote and not accepted by another publisher at the time of entry is eligible.

2. All submissions must be emailed as Word.doc attachments to: by midnight, August 30, 2009, with “Stanley Bookman Spooky Sounds Youth Submission” in the subject line. We are unable to open RTF or DOCX files.

3. Make sure to attach the permission form signed by your parent/guardian.
Your name, age, parent/guardian name, contact information, word count, and date of submission should be in the top right-hand corner of your attached entry. Your title should be one-third of the way down the first page, with your byline (your name) directly underneath the title. Please indicate if you are using a pen name in a cover letter. Use only Times New Roman or Arial 12-point font. All submissions must be single-spaced with no indentations and a blank line to indicate paragraphs.

No mail-in entries will be accepted.

No acknowledgement of receipt of entries will be sent.

Multiple entries are not allowed.

Entries that do not follow submission and format guidelines may be disqualified.

1. Read, create & buy beautiful children's picture books -- all on one site -- visit today!

2. VS Grenier author of Babysitting Sugarpaw /
Click here to Preorder your copy of Babysitting SugarPaw today!
Learn more about VS Grenier at her author website

Be sure to check out the recent 2009 issue of SFC Magazine for the magnificent articles and stories.

Learn more about Stories for Children Magazine at:


Full Media Kit, Magazine Cover Art, and more are available upon request electronically.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Editor and Author Interview - Lea Schizas

It simply amazes me how the Internet gathers people from far and wide and through this amazing technology one can forge endearing friendships without meeting face-to-face. Lea Schizas is one of those people in my life. Even though she is busy beyond compare, she always has the time for aspiring and accomplished writers. She is a multi-published author and award-winning editor of two Writer’s Digest 101 Top Web Sites, and she is an editor at Red Rose Publishing. How does this one woman accomplish so much, so well? Read on and become inspired.

DMc: You are the master of multi-tasking. Award-winning writer, editing services, editor-in-chief, founder and coordinator of the Muse Online Writers Conference, and mother of five. (I’m exhausted typing all this…LOL!) How do you balance all the aspects of your life?

LS: Sometimes I wonder that myself, Donna. To be totally honest, there are times where it’s extremely stressful for me because deadlines are moved up, I spend too much time reading emails, sick for a day or so that puts me behind schedule…I get things done but at a cost: Advil to get rid of migraines. Would I have it any other way? No. I love what I do.

I don’t spend every waking moment on the computer although it may seem like that at times. I sit for no more than half an hour, get up and do my ‘motherly’ chores around the house, then back to my writing. Flipping my mother hat to my writer’s hat is not hard because I’m used to flipping my editor’s hat to my writer’s hat all the time. Writers need a balance, one they can comfortably get back into with any disruptions that occur around them. By balance, I mean able to focus on writing, and then focus on outside commitments…accomplishing bits and pieces of commitments to make you feel victorious. Otherwise, you end up feeling as though a mule kicked you every which way but loose. And no, I’ve never been kicked by a mule and never want to.

DMc: Besides the numerous hats you wear, you are also the founder of numerous websites. Do you maintain them yourself or do you have assistance?

LS: Every site is maintained by me. Call me crazy but I like to have the freedom to go in, change, add, move things around without having to bother anyone to do that for me. I use Frontpage for some of my sites and the rest I use the site’s easy-to-use templates. No HTML for me. Too old to learn that crappola. No patience. (Can I say ‘crappola’ –oops, I did again.)

DMc: When a manuscript arrives at Red Rose Publishing and you know the author personally do you pass it to another editor or are you able to stay unbiased?

LS: Totally unbiased. One thing about me is that I am able to switch off the friend part and go right into the business Lea. First off, friend or no friend, if the manuscript needs a complete overhaul, where would the justice for Red Rose or the author be if I accepted the manuscript? Writers need to understand that at times publishers/editors will require changes in a manuscript before they consider a contract. Writers have to prove they are able to handle and manage criticism and the editing process. After all, this is part of the game.

DMc: Have you had the opportunity to edit a writer’s manuscript through your own editing services and encouraged them to submit to Red Rose Publishing? Or do you need to keep the two professions separate?

LS: My own editing services feels to me more than just ‘an editing service’. I go that extra mile and if I discover a manuscript that any one of the publishers I know might be interested in, then I recommend the author to send it to them. I’m like the unpaid and silent agent. And yes, I have recommended and accepted a few writers because their stories merited acceptances.

DMc: What do you look for first when you receive a submission packet?

LS: First thing I read is the blurb or synopsis of the manuscript. This usually tells me right off if it’s a good mix for Red Rose knowing what our readers enjoy. If it passes that stage then I hop on over and begin reading the manuscript. In all honesty, that first chapter (actually, more like the first opening paragraph) must pull me in. If it does, I continue reading.

I’m looking for slants on similar storylines, something different and one that has a thoroughly fleshed out ending. A twist ending is always a plus.

DMc: What are your thoughts about a writer creating a platform prior to getting their first novel published?

LS: This is a must for all writers. I’ve had writers contact me asking when their release dates are so they can begin promoting. I tell them don’t wait until your release date…START NOW! Writers must begin building a following, readers who enjoy their blogs, newsletters, or info found in their websites. Starting cold turkey on a release date is not the smartest thing to do.

DMc: If you feel a platform is essential, what are some important steps a writer should take towards forming a platform?

LS: Build a website. I know many right now are going to say to themselves “But I don’t have anything to put on my site.” There are tons of things you can put on your site to begin building a platform, to begin branding yourself as an expert in your field. Here are just some ideas to work on:

Look at the genre you love to write in. Find other like-authors and exchange links with them (Now you have a LINKS page all set up in your website.)

Write short articles on the craft of writing in that genre (now you have an ARTICLE page on your website or begin a blog using that theme)

Readers love to find out about writers on a personal level (now you have an ABOUT ME webpage on your site)

To go with the short article theme above, write articles and submit them to Article Banks. Ezines and newsletter editors pick these up and post them in their sites. How does this help to promote you? You include a bio with a link back to your site. Readers from these various sites now have the opportunity to ‘traffic’ your site and find out more about you.

As you get publishing credits, add these to MY WRITING CAREER page on your site.

An area many don’t think is part of the promo is joining writing groups and participating in as many as possible. At the end of each email, make sure to have a signature so members can link back to your site.

These are just some simple beginning steps to take. Study other author websites and see what catches your eye and interest and try to implement something similar. The way we read books to expand our writing the same diligent effort is needed to improve our websites. You can have a glimpse of my own for ideas:

DMc: What advice would you give to writers in their attempts to get published?

LS: First off, read the publisher’s guidelines. Make sure the publisher you are targeting accepts your genre. You would be surprised how many times I get submissions for genres we don’t even publish.

Second, read, read as many books in the genre you like to write in and study other authors.

Hone your writing by eliminating the passive voice, delete unnecessary back story, remove ‘that’ if the sentence’s meaning is untouched. Flesh out your characters so readers can believe they are real. Never end a story without finalizing any foreshadow you created at some point. And never, ever have a new character suddenly appear near the end to save the day. That just won’t wash. That’s called cheating a reader and you risk losing that reader’s respect forever.

DMc: Is there a particular genre you prefer to read? Or are you open to almost anything?

LS: My favorite genres are: children’s books, Young Adult, romance in any subgenre, dark fiction/horror, mysteries, and fantasies. These genres I prefer to read and review.

DMc: A signature request I like to ask every author, illustrator, editor, etc., I interview is for the individual to share with us a tidbit from their lives that the reader will find either humorous or surprising. Lea, can you please share one with us?

LS: I am a high school graduate. I am a cosmetology graduate. Never went further than high school. Is this humorous? Not at all, but it’s one that puts me in a stress level whenever I have to workshop. And to be honest, I avoid hosting face-to-face workshops because my fear (this is the surprising part) is that I will be asked a simple grammatical question and will look like a dork if I don’t know the answer.

I have a gift and that gift is picking off storylines of interest; able to pull together an author’s manuscript and tighten it; spot plot holes, weak characters, mundane dialogue…but put me in a room full of eager writers who want to find out what the heck a homonym is and I begin to feel my food inching its way up my throat, ready to hurl any moment. I suck when it comes to grammar terms; easily spot them in a manuscript but please, don’t ask me those questions. And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Meet Lea Schizas:

The Muse Marquee:

The Writing Jungle:

The Muse Book Reviews:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Humane Award - Play It Forward

I was pleasantely surprised a second time in receiving the Humane Award from Mayra Calvani. The first being from Beverly Stowe McClure.

I can't begin to tell you how honored and humbled I am to be recognized by such well accomplished authors.

Thank you ladies!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Guest Author, Beverly Stowe McClure

Beverly and I developed our writing connection through The Muse It Up Club about two years ago. Since that time our relationship has bloomed into a full fledge friendship. Beverly’s heart warming words of advice and encouragement flow into her writing. Come along with me on a personal interview to learn more about Beverly’s accomplished writing career.

DMc: Please describe the inspiration behind Rebel in Blue Jeans.

BSMc: Today, and even when I was teaching years ago, many children’s lives are disrupted by divorce. Often they don’t understand why their parents split and are caught in the middle, loving both their mother and their father. How does a teen cope with being torn in two different directions? Rebel has to deal with her conflicting emotions. Along the way she discovers that people are not always what they seem and she is a lousy judge of character.

DMc: Your main character Rebel, was born and raised on a ranch. Have you used any of your life experiences being a Texan in creating her personality?

BSMc: The animals, mostly, helped create Rebel’s personality. The mare and foal in this story are based on a couple of horses we once owned, my favorites, though Sunrise’s and Stormy’s stories here have a much happier ending than they did in real life. People who live in the country usually end up with a lot of stray puppies and kittens that people dump. We’ve taken in our share, so of course Rebel needed her furry friends to be a true Texan.

DMc: I find it true to life that the Garret boys are protective of Rebel in a brotherly way, but other feelings arise. How did you develop the characters’ background to reflect their emotional changes?

BSMc: Many romances begin as friendships. My Garret cousins grew up with Rebel tagging along after them, so they treated her like their sister. Since they were the same age, they were like triplets, taking care of each other. Also, I’ve found that most brothers are protective of their sisters. As they reached the teen years, however, the hormones took charge, and friendship blossomed into romance. Remember those agonizing teen angst years?

DMc: You recently participated in the Paranormal Convention to promote Listen to the Ghost. Please share with us your experience.

BSMc: The convention was an interesting experience. The ghost hunters are quite serious about their work and use very complicated equipment to track down spirits and supernatural beings. Speakers from Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas shared their stories. We listened to sounds of ghosts that had been recorded and saw strange images in photographs. I had an enjoyable day, but when it came to my book, most everyone asked if she was “my ghost.” It seemed they were interested in the “real” spirits and not so much in fictional ones. I did meet some wonderful people so it was worth my time.

DMC: You are a retired school teacher. Have you conducted school visits within your old school district? If not, do you conduct school visits elsewhere?

BSMc: I wanted to do school visits at the schools where I taught, but they have been very cool to my requests. So much has changed in the years since I retired: a new principal and a new librarian who does the scheduling and has pretty much ignored my requests to talk to the students. The teachers would like for me to come, but they don’t have a say in the matter. That said I did have a wonderful visit to an area elementary school, grades 1 through 4. The kids were super, asked neat questions, and I hope enjoyed themselves. I presented different programs for the age levels, using my magazine articles on animals for the younger students and my books for the older students, and thought it went well.

DMc: Do you dedicate your writing sessions to one manuscript at a time or do you work on several projects at a time?

BSMc: I usually work on two to three projects simultaneously. Now, for instance, I’m revising a MG paranormal story, writing the first draft of a YA contemporary, and plotting in my head another YA humorous novel. Also, a couple of PB ideas are snoozing in my brain, for when I have time to think about them, though I really am not a PB writer. I’d like to try these, however.

DMc: When developing a manuscript, have any of your characters taken a direction you never intended them to take?

BSMc: I would say most of my characters have done this. I usually don’t outline, but let them follow their own path and see where they lead me. It’s more fun that way. Rebel in Blue Jeans started out to be more about Rebel and her parents, but the boys became an important part of the story because they helped her through the difficult days. Rebel then had other problems relating to them, which became the subplots and added a lighter touch to her story, instead of it being so serious.

In Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, my forthcoming Civil War story, my plans were for Lizzie to join the army (posing as a boy) and fight to defend her town as her brothers were doing. She had different ideas, and I just followed along.

DMc: In your opinion, should a writer stay “married” to their words? And should they be willing to shift from their original outline and/or plot as the story develops?

BSMc: I can only speak for myself, but if you look at my many edits of a manuscript you’ll see that the final story many times bears little resemblance to the first draft. My words change so often it’s like musical chairs. I’m constantly looking for a better word to show the emotions of the characters. And my plot often takes unusual twists, which makes me happy most of the time. I don’t work from an outline at first. Sometimes, around the middle of a story, I write down what possibly may happen in the final chapters. That doesn’t necessarily mean the story will follow my thoughts. It’s more a guideline of where my characters might go to help me find both the characters’ arcs and the arc of the plot.

DMC: Please share with us your latest novel coming down the publishing pipeline.

BSMc: You bet. In July 2009, Just Breeze, a contemporary story for MG readers, about a girl who wants to be popular like her older sister, is scheduled for release from 4RV Press.

Also, in 2009, my YA historical novel, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, will be published by Twilight Times Books.

Kate, Little Angel Sometimes, a chapter book, is forthcoming in 2010 from Blooming Tree Press, their new paperback line, and I Live in a Doghouse, Twilight Times, is TBA.

DMc: A signature request I like to ask every author, illustrator, editor, etc., I interview is for the individual to share with us a tidbit from their lives the reader will find either humorous or surprising. Bev, can you please share one with us?

BSMc: Well, I’m giving away a secret here, but that’s okay. I went green before going green was popular. It has nothing to do with clean air or saving trees or fossil fuels or whatever, but with my hair. Yes, I color my hair. For a while I used the shade “golden light brown,” but my hair was turning too reddish, so one day I changed and used “ash light brown.” Big mistake. My hair turned green. What’s a girl to do when she has to go to school the next day? Shaving my head was not an option, so I convinced myself no one would notice. During the day my students were very polite, but they kept looking at me with weird expressions on their little faces. Still, none of them made a comment or asked me what happened to my hair. The teachers were more outspoken. Finally, in the teacher’s lounge at noon, one teacher asked what I’d done to my hair. We had a good laugh about it and I decided to confess to my students. That afternoon, I told them I’d dyed my hair for the football game that night. The school colors were green and white and bless their little hearts they believed me. Or else they pretended they did. Now you know my secret.

To learn more about my adventures, check out my blogs:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Humane Award - Play It Forward

I've been a bit behind this week and won't bore you with why. I was pleasantly surprised to be awarded the Human Award by Beverly Stowe McClure and I'm finally getting the chance to Play It Forward. Beverly and I met several years ago, when I first embarked on my writing career and we have constantly stayed in touch throughout the years. Beverly is quite the talented author and you should take the time out to visit her blog to learn more about her:

According to the description, this award is to honor certain bloggers that I feel are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn't for them, my site would just be an ordinary blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a regular basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendships through the blog world. And I would like to do so now. There are many, many I could list. These are just a few that I'd like to give this award to:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Illustrator Interview - Dawn Phillips

Illustrator Interview – Dawn Phillips

Over the past several years my writing career continues to cross paths with many of the same writers and illustrators. Illustrator Dawn Phillips and I first met at The National Writing for Children Center and have continually re-connected through various social networks. Ms. Phillips is quite the talented illustrator and is expanding her talents through writing.

DMc: What inspires you as you begin a new project?

DP: Reading a story which inspires my imagination, humor, unique characters, plot with a unique twist.

DMc: Was there a person from your childhood who encouraged you to pursue your artistic talent?

DP: Several Art Instructors ranging from Elementary through College encouraged me to pursue my talent. They displayed pieces of my artwork in art galleries, encouraged me to participate in workshops with illustrators and authors, and submitted artwork to contests.

DMc: What was the best piece of advice you received when you started your career as an illustrator?

DP: Never give up, and try not to take rejections personally. Watch and learn from other illustrators as you take part in various discussion groups, and organizations.

DMc: Who are some of your favorite children's illustrators?

DP: Walt Disney, Charles M. Schulz – Peanuts.

DMc: Please describe your path to success in becoming an artist? Were there any particular obstacles that you needed to overcome?

DP: Success can only be achieved with hours of practice in several mediums and styles while maintaining your own unique style. Also, researching the environment of the story, personality of the character, and relating the story through your illustrations. I hope to have the opportunity to work with some traditional publishers in the future.

I believe you’ll always have obstacles to overcome, it’s just the matter of how big or small they may be. For instance, the vision of a character or story by an illustrator can be different to the author’s vision.

DMc: How long have you been working as a freelance artist and illustrator?

DP: Over 15 years as a Freelance Artist and 2 years as an Illustrator of Children’s Books and Magazines.

DMc: Do you have a favorite medium or style?

DP: It’s hard for me to choose just one medium or style. I enjoy working with pastels, watercolors, pencils, and black/white water color markers. Majority of my illustrations are done by computer.

DMc: How long does it take to illustrate a picture book?

DP: Average 2-3 months depending on my work load and number of sketches being requested.

DMc: Please describe the collaboration involved between you, the publisher, and the author. Now that you are embarking on a writing career, did the collaboration efforts between publishers and authors inspire you to do so?

DP: I have very little interaction with the publishers at this time. I deal directly with the author.

I’ve been working on three children’s stories with Working Writer’s Coaching Club which is a critique group with several lessons to learning the do’s and don’ts for writing children’s books and children’s magazine articles.

You’re welcome to visit my blog, Creative Eye of Dawn Phillips Children’s Book Writer in Progress at

It’s extremely difficult to become both a writer and illustrator with publishers. It’s best to get accepted as one or the other with publisher. Then pursue the other once you’ve established a relationship with the publisher.

DMc: Do you conduct school visits? If so, how is a typical visit structured?

DP: I’ve participated in PTA Book Fairs at Schools. As students arrived by classroom I would demonstrate my illustration process which consisted of sketching characters, dummy story-boards and final illustration. I was available to answer any questions and sign books.

Visit Dawn’s website at

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Author Interview - Mayra Calvani

Author Interview – Mayra Calvani

I first met Mayra when I purchased her book, The Magic Violin. I enjoyed the book so much with my daughter (who just started playing the violin) that I felt compelled to contact her to share my excitement. Since then, we have remained in contact encouraging and celebrating one another along the way in our respective writing careers. Without further ado, journey along with me as Mayra shares with us insights into her writing career.

DMc: What has been the most memorable experience in your writing career?

MC: First of all, thanks for interviewing me for the first issue of this newsletter. It’s an honor.

The most memorable experience I had as a writer was when I held my first published book in my hands. That was back in the 1990’s. It’s an amazing, exciting feeling of validation. You hear about it from other authors, how it feels, but when you experience it yourself, there’s nothing quite like it. You want to jump up and down, scream, open a bottle of champagne and hold your book and look at it for a long time, hardly believing that you wrote it and that people you’ve never met will actually read it. The second time you publish a book, it isn’t nearly the same as that first time.

DMc: What style or genre of book do you write/have you written?

MC: I enjoy writing in various genres: nonfiction, horror, paranormal, fantasy, satire, chick-lit and children’s/YA.

My novels, Dark Lullaby and Embraced by the Shadows, fall into the horror/supernatural thriller and romantic horror categories. The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, which I co-wrote with mystery author Anne K. Edwards, is a how-to book on writing book reviews. I have two children’s picture books out with Guardian Angel Publishing, with two more titles coming out next year. I also have a Latino parody/satire with a chick-lit flavor, Sunstruck, scheduled to come out from Zumaya Publications in a couple of months.

Currently I’m trying to find a home for a tween fantasy novel I wrote during Nanowrimo two years ago, and I have various works-in-progress in the nonfiction, modern fantasy and kidlit categories.

I enjoy switching from one genre to another because each one is a different world that brings forth different facades of my character and creativity. I would get bored writing in only one genre. But if I’d have to choose one favorite style or genre, I’d say I deeply enjoy writing dark fiction with elements of the paranormal. These were the types of stories I wrote when I was a young teenager and these are the types of stories that will always have a special place in my heart.

DMc: What type of creative process do you use for the development of your ideas? Are you an outline writer?

MC: I’m pretty flexible and versatile when it comes to this. I may be ‘struck’ by the Muse and write a book purely using stream-of-consciousness, like I did during Nanowrimo when I wrote my tween fantasy novel. With that novel, I really didn’t know what would happen next. Or I may write a full outline and detailed synopsis, like I did with a work-in-progress I’m currently working on.

Usually, though, what I do is play with an idea for a while (sometimes an idea may take years to simmer), then mentally come up with a ‘loose’ structure where I have a pretty good idea of the beginning, middle and end, but not of the in-betweens.

I’m definitely not one of those authors who often use detailed outlines, as they make me feel restricted, but I also agree that having an outline is often pretty helpful, especially for avoiding plot problems later on. For instance, sometimes I may get stuck in the middle of the book, and I painfully realize this may have been avoided by writing an outline or detailed synopsis early on.

But I love working in stream-of-consciousness most and this is the manner by which I most often experience ‘Flow’, the state of optimal experience where you’re so deeply concentrated that time seems to stop and everything disappears around you except you and the story. Reading about ‘Flow’ is fascinating and I would recommend writers to get a copy of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book.

Let me just add that for nonfiction books, however, an outline is essential if you want your book to have a well-organized and clear structure.

DMc: Are any of the characters in the books based on real people?

MC: I believe that all writers’ works are, in some level or another, a combination of real life experience and fantasy. Some of my characters are ‘based’ on people I know, but what I mean by this is that they may share some similar physical or behavioral characteristics. Not all of my characters are based on real people, though; most are one hundred percent a construction of my imagination. Sometimes it’s helpful to base your character on someone you know because then you know how that character will react to all type of situations in your story, making your scenes sound even more real and believable.

But to answer your question, yes, some of my characters are based on people I know. The protagonist of my horror novel, Dark Lullaby, is based on my brother. Both are astrophysicists, both have the looks of a rock star, both have a high sense of justice. Of course, in the novel, I added a lot of fictional elements about his past, relationships, life. Needless to say, my brother never committed murder as my protagonist does! LOL. I gave the character his goodness, but in the story, I pushed that goodness to the limit to see what would happen. Every time, I kept thinking ‘How would my brother react to this situation?’ This helped a lot, especially because the protagonist was a man and I had to put myself inside the mind of a hero instead of a heroine. This is the only book I’ve written with a male protagonist.

DMc: Of your many books, do you have a favorite? Favorite character?

MC: Definitely Dark Lullaby.

I’ve always been very interested in moral dilemmas and in the concept of a higher good. For instance, is it okay for a man to steal in order to have money to save his little girl, who is dying? In the case of Dark Lullaby, I went a step further: is it okay for a man to kill for the higher good? Does the end justify the means? It’s a dark story that takes place in an exotic setting, the type I myself like to read. It’s actually more of a paranormal suspense than horror, strong in mood and atmosphere.

My favorite character would have to be Gabriel Diaz, the protagonist of Dark Lullaby. I think it’s the most complex character I’ve created so far. Also, since it’s partly based on my brother, it has a special place in my heart.

Readers may learn more about Dark Lullaby from my website,

DMc: What did you find to be the most frustrating step/process of getting your first novel published?

MC: For me, the waiting has always been the most frustrating aspect of publishing. You give all your energy preparing all these query letters, proposals, and synopses. Then you have to wait months and months (sometimes as much as six months) for the publishers to reply—often with a form rejection letter. After you’ve been accepted, you sometimes have to wait as much as two to three years for the book to come out. For most writers, waiting is part of life and there’s nothing you can do about it, unless you want to take the self-publishing route. If you go the traditional way, though, you’ll often have to wait, and wait, and wait.

DMc: Please describe your new book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing?

MC: A few years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and ‘heard’ a voice in my head say, ‘You have to write a book on how to write book reviews’. Afterwards, I immediately started writing down topics and preparing an outline. I also invited my author friend Anne K. Edwards to collaborate. This was a great decision because we complemented each other and she was able to bring ideas I had not thought of before. It was a great experience working with Anne.

We wrote The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing not only with the aspiring reviewer in mind, but for the established reviewer who needs a bit of refreshing and also for anybody--be they author, publisher, reader, bookseller, librarian or publicist--who wants to become more informed about the value, purpose and effectiveness of reviews.

The book came out in June and already there are two universities using it as a textbook for book reviewing writing courses. I’m also proud to mention that the book was a National Best Books Award Finalist in the Writing & Publishing category.

For a list of contents, excerpt and reviews, readers may visit

DMc: Please share a tidbit about your life that our readers would be surprised to hear.

MC: I have the complete Gilmore Girl series on DVD and I always watch an episode with my daughter every night before I go to sleep. I’m such a crazy fan, I bought the same Marc Jacobs handbag that Lauren Graham wore during most of Seasons 4 & 5. If purchased new, this bag costs $800, so I had to buy a second-hand one on Ebay for $300. Mind you, I’d never paid more than $50 for a bag before, so this was big for me! But there’s more… I’ve never switched bags since then, and that was two years ago! LOL.

DMc: What would you be if you were not a writer?

MC: Definitely a vet! I love animals and I’m a fierce advocate.

DMc: What advice would you like to convey to aspiring writers?

MC: If you have a dream, never give up, no matter what other people say. If you don’t keep going in spite of obstacles, you may reach the age of seventy and ask yourself ‘Why didn’t I try?’ If you don’t make it, at least you’ll have the satisfaction of having done your best. Chances are you’ll make it if you keep at it, though.

And of course, read as much as you can in the genres you enjoy writing; keep submitting; join a good critique group.

Above all, write, write, write.

DMc: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

MC: I’d like to cordially invite readers to visit my websites and blogs:, and (children’s fiction).

I also keep two blogs where I regularly post reviews and author interviews: and

Book Trailer – Magic Violin

Thanks for this interview, Donna. I enjoyed answering your questions!