Day 4 Top Ten Days of Estevan Vega

The Sacred Sin by Estevan Vega


Jude Foster is a homicide detective in Los Angeles who is about to have a mental breakdown. About one year ago, Jude was left to die by his once close friend and partner, Morgan Cross. Cross had betrayed him, and now Jude is one the verge of a menta crash. He is seeing a pshychiatrist whom he strongly dislikes so that he can be reinstated into the department and all the while, everything around him is moving just too quickly. His brother, the only family he has left, is in need of help but does not want it, and Jude tries his best to give it to him.

A body is found in West Hollywood, and Jude realizes that this is just the first of many bad things to come. There are markings on the body which are actually a trail all leading to a new evil. Jude has to uncover the sacred sin of a killer who murders his victims without even touching them, only by stealing their souls. And time goes by all the while, given Jude only a week to find “the darkness that lies within all men.”

This was a very good book. The way it was written, I just couldn’t put it down.This book has so many different emotions in it that you can’t see what the author, Estevan Vega, will make you feel next. Overall, it was a really great book and a definite page-turner.

This book may be scary for younger children because it deals with a murderer and his victims.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: East Islip, New York United States


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Day 3 Top Ten Days of Extevan Vega

sacred-sinInterview with Estevan Vega
The Sacred Sin
Estevan Vega
PublishAmerica (2007)
ISBN 9781424183067
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (2/08)
Today, Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views is honored to be joined by Estevan Vega, who is here to talk about his new novel “The Sacred Sin.”

Estevan Vega is the second of four sons and was raised in Connecticut. His path to publication began seven years ago. While in elementary school, he wrote short stories for class, and to his surprise, did rather well. His love and discipline for fiction launched his desire to become a fulltime writer. When he was fifteen, Estevan published “Servant of the Realm,” his first novel. In August 2007, “The Sacred Sin” was published. Estevan’s fascination and appreciation for great writers and filmmakers fueled an enthusiasm to write about what mattered most to him: humanity. His gift for vivid description, articulate dialogue and moving action, illuminate and leave the reader breathless. In his novels, he explores the realm between the supernatural and the world in which we live. Estevan is currently a freshman at Roger Williams University where he is studying creative writing.

Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Estevan. “The Sacred Sin” sounds like quite an exciting book, a mix of horror, mystery, and thriller. To begin, will you tell us a little bit about the main character, Jude Foster?

Estevan: Ahh, Jude Foster. Well, for starters he’s a detective. He’s extremely irritable, blatantly insubordinate, cynical and on the brink of a mental crash. I think that about sums him up. A year ago, Jude was left for dead by his ex-partner, and yet in order to solve a case, Jude is forced to join together with an annoying new female partner. Let’s just say he’s anything but thrilled. Oh, and his brother’s a cocaine addict who’s in love with a prostitute. I wanted to make him as three dimensional as I could, and a cool way for me to do that was to create this chaotic world around him and inside of him. While he’s dealing with something on the outside, he often neglects the day-to-day battle tearing him apart on the inside. His “darkness.” Jude’s an interesting guy, a bit rough around the edges…actually, a lot rough around the edges. I wrote him as kind of an anti-hero, had a lot of fun with him. I got to channel much of my personal cynicism through him. In short, he’s the guy you hate, but at the same time you’re hoping that he succeeds in the end.

Tyler: A year before the action begins, Jude was left for dead by his one-time friend, Morgan Cross. Will you tell more about their relationship and what went wrong?

Estevan: Morgan Cross had completely succumbed to his darkness. The two were once close friends, but Morgan’s lust for absolute power took him to the dark side. In a way, Morgan Cross is a lot like Anakin Skywalker and Jude is a lot like Obi-Wan. But Jude’s also got some dark secrets.

estevan-photoTyler: During the course of the novel, Jude is visiting a “shrink.” Will you explain why you decided to include this detail in the novel? Does Jude have issues to work out or a realization he needs to make that will change the novel’s outcome?

Estevan: The shrink, Dr. Irons, plays a very pivotal role in the novel, but I can’t exactly disclose such information in the interview. You’re just gonna have to read the novel in order to find out.

Tyler: Tell me more about Jude’s new partner, Rachel Cragin. Why does Jude find her annoying?

Estevan: Jude finds a lot of people annoying. He’s a real glass half-empty kind of guy. Although, all things considered, it’s a little hard to blame him for not trusting Rachel, because the last partner he had nearly killed him. But she’s not so bad. She’s from San Diego and was called in by the chief at the L.A.P.D. to assist on the case. Her father actually worked in L.A. and died there, so there’s this inevitable tension already existing between her and the city. And to push her even further, there’s this Odd Couple-esque relationship between her and Jude from the moment they meet. He finds her annoying primarily because he doesn’t trust her and because he has a serious ego. But Rachel’s a tough character, and gives him a run for his money, and his attitude.

Tyler: What is the investigation that Jude is involved in during the course of the novel?

Estevan: A body is found in West Hollywood. And to any CSI or Law and Order junkie, this might not seem like a big deal. But the body is “branded” with a cruciform, a technique used by a previous serial killer, a rogue madman Jude Foster and Morgan Cross had been hunting for years but never managed to catch. Along with the body, and those to follow, Jude finds a note, a verse, with a blood-stained letter(s). These letters are clues into the case, but in order for another piece of the puzzle to be revealed, someone has to die.

Tyler: Part of the plot has been described as Jude having to stop someone who is stealing souls without touching people. Will you explain what is happening here in more detail?

Estevan: That’s my supernatural side coming through. The killer is capable of stealing people’s souls without human contact, which makes it easy for him/her to escape without leaving fingerprints. Also, it begs the question: how do you catch a spirit, or a possessed person?

If I give any more away, it would ruin my book.

Tyler: Why did you choose the title “The Sacred Sin”?

Estevan: The original title was “Sacred Sins,” but I altered it because I realized of all the sins I had in mind, there was only one that really drove the story. The reason I chose the title is mainly because it is a paradox. I mean, how can a sin be sacred? But I guess that depends on who you ask, right? After all, if sin wasn’t sacred to us, why would we be still committing crimes and hurting others? But that’s a conversation for another time. Morality aside, I chose the title because it is extremely catchy and demands a second look. The meaning behind it comes at the end of the story, and has to do with the blood-stained letters. So, while reading, be sure to keep track of em.

Tyler: What is it about writing horror and mystery thrillers that appeals to you?

Estevan: I’ve always been intrigued by the unexplained and the unnatural. It’s so mystifying and perplexing. I happen to be a big fan of those cheesy (and sometimes freaky) slasher flicks, and horror films, too. Films like “The Ring” and “Cloverfield” come to mind. Stuff that might not be genre-classified by everybody as down-right terrifying, but when it boils down to it, in fact is. I don’t know, “The Shining” bugged me out, too. I would say a lot of what I write comes from what I see and what’s around me. Those are the biggest and most influential teachers: TV, books and real life. I’d say they’ve taught me quite a bit. I can’t forget about the classics, though. Authors like Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, they rocked in my book. I can only hope to one day be remembered as something close to that.

Tyler: Earlier, you said that you created a world of chaos for Jude to exist in. Do you think this chaos is reflective of real life? Do you think thrillers and horror attract people because they reflect a chaos in our society?

Estevan: Oh, definitely. Chaos is a reality, even for the most organized, defined and focused individuals. Chaos is part of who we are. So, in that regard, chaos made this world in my novel real, redefined it as not just a world I created, but a living, breathing thing that existed apart from our reality, while at the same time remaining parallel to it.

Tyler: Why do you think “The Sacred Sin” will appeal to readers?

Estevan: On the surface, I’d say that it’s because the story is very fast-paced and the chapters are easy to get through. One of the benefits of having the entire book take place in a week. But other than that, “The Sacred Sin” isn’t just a mystery thriller or a horror story; I’m hoping that it resonates so much deeper than that. It stands against complacency and inner darkness. Some people might think that the battle between Good and Evil starts in the outside world, but I would argue that it starts in the mirror. Who are you underneath, you know? What secrets are you hiding? How long can you last against the darkness?

Tyler: I understand you have also written “Servant of the Realm.” Will you tell us about that book?

Estevan: I began writing “Servant of the Realm” when I was twelve. I had this crazy idea that I would get published and instantly find success. Looking back, I admire that little punk kid who aspired to be something great. Whether I’ve reached that stage yet is debatable, but it all starts with an idea. The idea behind my first book was: what if you could change your fate? Are we really in control of what happens, or is there a larger force at work? And what happens when we interfere?

Tyler: Estevan, you are only eighteen years old. What inspired you to start writing at such a young age, and why should people read an author who is so young?

Estevan: Well, I’ve recently had a birthday. So, I’m 19 now, caught in between my awkward teenage world and that other terrifying world known as life. But I get that question a lot, and what I always say is that inspiration does and can come from anything and everything. Take a look around you, and you’ll find something inspiring. Are you pissed off about what you see? Or are you thrilled with something? Then write about it (although happiness is sometimes a hard thing for people to relate to, sorry). Did your girlfriend break your heart? Write it down. You know that amazing movie you just saw, or that fabulous book you’re reading didn’t come out of thin air, it came from a mind, a mind just like yours. One that decided that they had something to say and it didn’t matter what anyone else said or did; they were going to write. So draw from your everyday life, draw from music, from film, from books, or your relationships. Anything and everything is fair game. Just always keep in the back of your head why you’re doing what you’re doing. While fame and fortune might drive our economy, as well as this world, know that words have the power to change things. And remember that F word? You know the one I’m talking about. I hope you haven’t forgotten about it since you were young. It starts with an F, then it’s followed by a U. Are we getting warmer? Okay, I’ll just spell it out for you F-U-N. Try to have some.

Tyler: Have you had fun since you started writing and publishing your books? What has been your biggest learning experience as a newly published author?

Estevan: For me, the most fun comes when I don’t think I can figure out how to end/start a chapter, and I just sit down at my laptop and write something amazing. That’s a great feeling for me. But the most fun comes after the hard work, the frustration, the writer’s block (which you just have to write through; there’s really no way around it). The most fun comes when you see your name in print, for all the world to see, and you realize that this is it. You’ve made it. Well, almost. You gain new experiences every day, and I would have to say that the biggest learning experience anyone can get is rejection. It brings you back down to earth and reminds you that you aren’t the best there is…yet. Everything a writer does is a learning process. The best advice I could give is to keep doing what you’re doing, seek wisdom anywhere you can get it, read, write and pay attention to things around you, and attend conferences. It’s hard, I know. But if you do all those things, you might just make it.

Tyler: I understand you have done a great deal of traveling that will inspire your third book. Would you tell us more about your future writing plans?

Estevan: That’s true; I have been to Europe, the Bahamas, and Canada. I definitely feel that travel has made me a much more well-rounded human being, and that it has allowed me to see this world. And while it may come into play later down the line, my third book (which I’m currently about 180 pages into) hits close to home. My next book takes place in a small town, nearby where I spent some of my childhood. It’s much more personal. They say the third time’s the charm, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Tyler: Would you tell us about your writing process, such as where you come up with ideas, to how you organize and write the book?

Estevan: I am probably the most unorganized person, so it doesn’t come from listing off things or topics. And I’m not the type of guy to sit down and write an outline. For me, it starts as a thought. Some crazy idea, which through time, evolves into something even crazier and hopefully better. My ideas come from everywhere, whether I’m in the middle of a class, or watching a scene in a movie, listening to rock music, or reading a cool book. Ideas are a lot like inspiration, and can virtually be found anywhere. It’s weird, sometimes I have to conceive a concept and let it stew awhile, allowing it to develop in my head, but then there are other times when it just hits me like a brick wall and I’m sitting there with my mouth open wondering where that came from. My dad plays a huge part in all of this, too. Has ever since I started writing eight years ago. We talk about ideas all the time, and he’s always there to give me something new or to listen to what I’ve written lately; he’s a vital piece of my writing identity.

Tyler: Now you are attending college to study writing. Since you’re already a published author, unlike your classmates I imagine, what do you hope to gain by attending writing classes?

Estevan: There is always something new. I’d be foolish to think I knew everything. A lot of people tell me that since I’m already published, what am I doing at college; but I haven’t read every book known to man, haven’t been to every conference, haven’t met all the people I need to meet. So, I’m studying creative writing, like with anything, to get better at it. I don’t want to become just another writer. I want my name to mean something. I realize I’m only 19, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m only just beginning my roller-coaster writing life. My prayer is that college continues to prepare me for what’s ahead, giving me more knowledge and more discipline than just some ordinary writer. Will it pay off? Hey, it can’t hurt.

Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Estevan. Before we go, will you tell us about your website and what additional information can be found there about “The Sacred Sin”?

Estevan: My website is I just launched a new version of the site, one that fits better with the new book, and one that’s just plain cool. Check it out. I was also recently interviewed on a local TV Show called Ghost Chat. It came out pretty nice, so after you’re done checking my new site, which contains info about me, my books and has my blog The Closed Door.

It’s been a pleasure to talk to you. Look for me at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, as well as numerous other book signing events this spring.

Tyler: Thank you, Estevan. I wish you a long and prosperous career as an author.

Estevan: Thank you.

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Day 2 Top Ten Days of Estevan Vega

Watch the Ghost Chat interview.




The Sacred Sin

by Estevan Vega

Published by PublishAmerica (August 20 release)

Reviewed by Kim Bagato

The neighborhood pub, a gothic church, a basement, and the jail provide clandestine settings for unimaginable scenes of fury, secrecy, and menacing spiritual activity. The list of characters includes a priest and a prostitute, an abuser and an alcoholic. Although consumed by their vices, these people are realistic in their humanness despite the sinister spiritual darkness that hangs over them like a dark cloak.

The Sacred Sin is the second published work from Estevan Vega, a 19-year-old author. Had I not known Vega’s age, I would have assumed a more seasoned author penned this work. He masterfully keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, slowly builds a breath-taking climax and finishes with a shocking resolution.

Jude Foster is a homicide detective in therapy at the request of his boss, Chief Mike Harrison. The Chief believes Foster’s job performance is overshadowed by a traumatic incident in his life more than a year ago.

Foster and his partner, Rachel Cragin, are assigned to investigate a string of brutal murders. Their relationship is riddled with professional conflict and dark passion, providing creepy glimpses into the minds of these two central characters.

Clues point toward a mysterious suspect who kills without making human contact. As time ticks by, the frequency of the crimes increase. A body is discovered in Foster’s brother’s home, a nosy reporter presses Foster for details about the search for the killer and finds more than he’s looking for at Foster’s own home.

This is not a book to read on airplane, as I did, in close proximity to strangers. I was compelled to shout and guide the characters out of the darkness to no avail. The disturbing and haunting moods of this story should cement another step on Vega’s path to success as a young author. He manages the elements of good writing with deep character development and the dialog between characters is fast-paced and interesting.

This book would have benefited from a thorough proofreading as the errors distracted from the storyline.

Armchair Interviews says: A new author to watch in the mystery/horror genre.

Author’s Web site:

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Top Ten Days of Estevan Vega

Only 20 Years Old and Already the Author of Three Books: Meet Estevan Vega

Published by mcalvani

It is my pleasure to introduce you to young author Estevan Vega. At twenty, he has already penned three novels, two of which have been published.  In this interview, Vega talks about his books, his writing life, and he offers us a glipmse into some of his future projects. Currently he’s looking for an agent, so if there are any agents reading this, don’t miss out the chance to check this promising author’s works.

estevan-photoBIO: Some might assume that Estevan Vega fell in love with writing because math just didn’t make sense anymore, and they’d be half right. Nevertheless, a passion for the written word, coupled with the desire to make a difference not only among youth but also adults, Estevan has sought to figure out what’s wrong with the world, starting with the man he sees in the mirror. His books often struggle against  dark themes and involve fighting inner demons. The characters are real and organic, and they strive for deeper meaning and identity and fulfillment.  He began writing his first novel in the sixth grade, published it when he was fifteen, and followed it up with THE SACRED SIN, released when he was eighteen. He loves watching movies, finding a great book, and the idea of love. He is the second of four sons and grew up in Connecticut; but don’t hold that against him. Estevan Vega is currently a sophomore English major at Gordon College.

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

You mean, other than the interesting factoid that I sing obnoxiously in my car while parked at a stop light, or watch way too many movies? Hmmm, I suppose  the most interesting thing about me is my writing. That’s the best of me, I guess.  Other than that, I was born and raised in Connecticut. I’ve got three other brothers, of which I’m the middle son, annoying dogs that shed way too much. But they’re cute, so I think I can let it slide. Oh, and I’m ridiculously handsome, wildly funny, and have a physical shape somewhat like that of a mythological god. I hope unnecessary hyperbole is allowed in this interview.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

You know that critical age in every young boy’s life? The one where you first start growing hair in funny places, your voice starts to change a bit and the pretty girls in school change from being innocent princesses to something seemingly unattainable? It was around that time. So, eleven, I think. I was in the fifth grade, and at the time, far more focused on what was playing at the local movie theatre, or about my favorite superheroes than about writing. Or reading, for that matter. For some reason, books never really appealed to me. I used to love sketching my favorite comic book heroes. Wouldn’t go so far as to say I was good, but maybe decent. My fifth grade class, led by possibly my least favorite elementary school teacher-maybe second to least, not quite sure-had us bring in 1 page essays or stories each day. The ones she thought were impressive, she’d read aloud in class. And give it an A. My dad, after much arguing, stubborn back-and-forth banter, swearing and eventual submission (on my end), helped me scrounge together my first “real” story. I think I still have it somewhere amidst the sea of rejection letters.  Long story short, I wanted to be famous at an early age. Pretentious? Yes. Improbable? Definitely. But what would life be without dreams?

sacred-sinTell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.My latest book is titled THE SACRED SIN. It’s a really cool story, one that I was playing around with for a few months before I actually started typing. The novel opens with a tense scene between a worn-out, cynically self-loathing and world-loathing detective (Jude Foster) and a shrink. Jude is forced to endure mindless sessions in order to be reinstated back into the department because of a past situation: his partner tried to kill him a year ago and left him for dead. The book is super-fast paced, which a lot of people have sort of gravitated to. In the first few chapters, there’s a murder, and the victim is left with a mark in his skin. An investigation is set in motion when the murders keep occurring. Jude leads the homicide case with a new, annoying interim partner…a fiery red-head who doesn’t really know the meaning of “play nice”. As the novel progresses, they discover that the bodies are linked to a more sadistic pattern of evil; the murderer is stealing people’s souls without ever touching them.  Only question is: how do you stop a ghost killer? On the surface, the book’s about trying to stop a demonic entity, but there’s a lot underneath.

Who is your target audience? My books have always tried to bridge some sort of gap, or defy convention. Being tucked away in a box or specific genre can be kind of stifling. THE SACRED SIN is my second book, so I wanted it to be different than my first, and I knew it had to be, especially given the subject matter I’d be working with. I knew it’d be dark, and I wanted that, but at the same time, I edited it down enough to the point where some kid’s mom might be okay letting him check it out. Probably give him a nightmare or two, but that’s the fun part, I think. Kids and adults find different things to appreciate, and I’m totally cool with that.

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? Usually when I don’t have a pen. I say I’ll remember it, and the really good ones I do, but sometimes, it’s tough to keep all the potential plot lines and characters together. I suppose it’s unfair to complain about not having a pen, though, because as I think about it, I almost never use one. A spark of inspiration can come from anything: sometimes it’ll be a movie, a brief passage, some Scripture reference. Other times, the ideas just come, and I’ll get the whole concept in about a minute…those I try to write down if I can. Then there’s moments when I’m just sitting in class or looking at someone from a distance at the mall and I’m like: “Whoa, that’s cool, or interesting, or…definitely going in a book.” Most of the times, though, my inspiration comes from lamentation. For some reason, it seems like writing feeds on people’s misery. It’s kinda sick, but I guess there’s something beautiful in pain and darkness, sometimes even confusing. It’s harnessing that into a good story, that can be tricky, but at the same time, very therapeutic.

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

I didn’t know writers still got those. Maybe I’ll have to sign a better contract next time. Either that, or my publisher’s just holdin’ out on me. They say you’re always supposed to read the fine print.

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

My books have taken three years from first page to publication. For some reason, that seems to be the magic number.  The first draft of THE SACRED SIN was completed in about six months, but everyone knows that once the first draft is done, you’ve just started.

Describe your working environment.

Most of the time, it consists of a messy desk, some post-its, CDs and DVDs, my Zune, cell phone, water bottles, movies. Basically, whatever I haven’t cleared away.

As a writer, what scares you the most?Being forgotten.

Do you have an agent?  How was your experience in searching for one?No. I do not have an agent, regretfully. Still on the look-out, still submitting. I recently finished up my third manuscript, which has been the most successful of the three, as far as obtaining requests from agents. But so far, no bites.

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? Getting published is like jumping off a cliff. You free-fall for what feels like forever and just hope to God for a miracle. If you’re lucky, your wings’ll come out.

Do you have any favorite books or authors?

I love the Great Gatsby. Unfortunately, I haven’t read anything else from Fitzgerald, but I have seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which is based off one of his stories, and loved it! I’m in the middle of 1984 right now. I can’t believe I’ve never read it before. It’s awesome.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?Yeah, definitely. Check out

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

The book I just finished is a bit of a departure from the two previous ones. It’s sort of a coming-of-age story. The kid’s kind of in a messed-up place, doesn’t know where he fits in, or why he was born with the ability to start fires with one stray thought. Has a lot of personal stuff in it. It’s tentatively titled A BOY CALLED ARSON.

How does it feel to be an accomplished, published author at such a young age?

Well, I’m 20 years old. I’ve written some words on a few pages. Some people care, others don’t. I haven’t cured cancer or found a way to live any longer. Being published is really cool. I mean, I’m glad I get my voice out there, for those who want to listen. But it’s kind of strange. I still don’t really feel like I’ve made it, or that I’ve made a huge difference. I want to. In my high school, being the guy who wrote a book was like carrying around a scarlet letter; kids can be cruel. In college, though, people are more able to recognize something unique. It’s been a crazy journey up until now, hard and painful at times, but I think I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Oh, God! Maybe that’s a car! Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

How was your schedule like for the writing of your first two novels? Did you write during weekends? holidays? classes?

I wrote when I could. When I wasn’t procrastinating with homework assignments or working or hanging out with friends, I’d spend some time behind a computer screen. I remember one Christmas, my friends were over. It was afternoon, and I was still in my PJ’s, parked in front of our home computer (this was before I acquired a laptop of my own), typing away on my first book. Funny, I think I ended up trashing everything I wrote that day, and even the stuff that I spent months writing before it. Sometimes I wonder why I write. But wondering leads only to more wondering…followed by writing about the wondering and confusion. So, I guess, everything’s a vicious cycle. But yeah, I’m not really one to make schedules to sit down and write. Think Johnny Depp in Secret Window…without the murderous, alter-ego.

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

If you’re a writer, keep writing. If you’re a lover, keep loving. If you’re a believer, keep believing.

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Day 10 Top Ten Days of Mayra Calvani

The Write Sense – Interview with Mayra Calvani
(31 July 2007)
I was surfing the net and came across an article written by Mayra. I then visited her site and was intrigued. I asked her if she wanted to be interviewed and she agreed. Therefore, without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing to you Mayra Calvani …
Aneeta: Mayra, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Mayra: Thanks for having me here, Aneeta. It’s a pleasure!

Aneeta: For a start, please tell me a little about your childhood and youth, where you live and what you do for a living.

Mayra: I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but have lived in the US, the Middle East, and now live in Belgium. My traveling and learning all these different cultures have been an inspiration in my writing, as having a Hispanic heritage has been as well. I was an early avid reader and my first passion for books developed after I read the first Agatha Christie mystery. I was instantly drawn to the fantastic world of these imaginary stories. Then came the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. During my teens I was also an avid reader of romance novels, though I don’t read much romance anymore. I started writing in my early teens. I was always the quiet, shy type and preferred my escape world of imaginary places and characters instead of going to parties—so no, I was not one of the popular girls at school. But I didn’t care. I was happy and self motivated. My love for writing has continued all my life and I now write fulltime. It’s been an arduous road and there’s a lot of competition, but that’s fine with me because I enjoy the journey as well.

darklullabyAneeta: What was the first thing you wrote?

Mayra: I was about twelve. Together with my best friend, I wrote a couple of stage plays for my school’s annual show, both comedies. Around this time I also wrote my first novella, a thriller about a serial killer who left roses by the dead victims. The killer was the female protagonist, a reporter. Later in high school I wrote another short novel, this time a romance, which my classmates read in class and passed around behind the teacher’s back. I also wrote short stories, most of them in the dark paranormal genre. I read a lot, and the more I read, the more I felt like writing. Reading has always been an inspiration, though you have to be careful not to overdo it. After all, the time you are reading is the time you’re not writing. Reading can be a terrible addiction sometimes!

Aneeta: Can you please tell me what in the genre in which you like to write?

Mayra: Though my favorite genre is the dark and the paranormal, I also enjoy writing dark humor, mystery, modern fantasy, and non-fiction as well. I love horror but I’m very particular about the horror I like to read and write. I detest gore. I love atmospheric horror that borders on the bizarre and is heavy in characterization. Think in terms of movies like The Others and Sixth Sense. My latest book, which will be released this September, is an example of this. Readers may read more about it at This novel is heavily influenced by the years I lived in Turkey. It is set in the Turkish mountains and uses Turkish lore.

Aneeta: Describe to me, please, a day in the life of Mayra Calvani.

Mayra: I get up early to take the kids to school, then come home and tidy up a bit. I’m unable to sit and work surrounded by chaos. I prefer ‘organized’ chaos. J If I’m lucky, I’ll write for two or three hours. The internet and email is very tempting and I try to avoid it. It can be a big distraction when I write. So I try to concentrate on the writing first, then on answering emails, group posts, etc. There’s always some kind of promotion to do for my books. I also edit a newsletter, co-edit another one (with mystery author Anne K. Edwards) and keep two blogs, so I’m always looking for new material, articles, authors to interview, etc. Plus, there’s also the reviews. I’ve been reviewing books for a few years now and I always have a book to read or a review to write. After 3pm, the afternoons are for my family. In the night I get online again, but not for writing. My mind is sharper in the morning and I find I’m always too tired at night to work. Days are always full and I’m always pretty busy. There are days when I have too many errands to run so writing is impossible. I also have to find time to practice violin and walk the dog… the list is endless! But I try not to use lack of time as an excuse. There’s ALWAYS time to write, if you MAKE the time. The truth is, there’s never the perfect time to write, but you just have to do it; procrastination in writing always brings up bitterness and self loathing, at least for me, and this reflects itself in the time you spend with family and friends. As I always say, ‘A mom who has written today is a happy mom.’

Aneeta: I understand you are a published author. Can you please describe your work?

Mayra: At the moment I have two darkembracedbytheshadows paranormal novels out, Embraced by the Shadows and Dark Lullaby, and a forthcoming non-fiction book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, which I wrote with author Anne K. Edwards. This is supposed to come out some time in the fall.

For blurbs and reviews, you may visit my website: or

In the children’s fiction genre, I have two picture books coming out, Magic Violin and Crash! These will be out in winter 2007. They are still in the illustrating stages, so I don’t have links for them for the moment, but in the near future you may visit for more information. This site is still in construction, so there’s not much there for the moment.

I also have a young adult manuscript doing the agent/publisher roundup, as well as two works in progress—a paranormal suspense and a literary fantasy. As I said, I write in various genres.

Finally, and this is something I am extremely excited about at the moment, my story, THE DOLL VIOLINIST, has been chosen a finalist at the ABC’s Children Picture Book Competition. If I win, I will get a publishing contract, so these days I’m doing my best to publicize the event. This is an unusual competition in the sense that, while the finalists are chosen by judges, the winners are chosen by public online vote. People who vote for my story will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win prizes. I am adding the full announcement under your last question, so anybody who would like to take part in it and support me can have a chance to.

Aneeta: I would like to know, how important do you think promotion is to the success of a book today. What kind of book promotion would you like to see happening for your own works?

Mayra: Book promotion is incredibly important. Even if you have a big NY publisher, you still have to promote your book to increase sales and your chances of success. I spend various hours a week promoting my name, books, blogs, and newsletter. Reviewing books and writing articles are another way to spread your name out there. You can include your links in your byline and thus bring traffic to your site. I write regularly for sites like,,, , and OhMyNewsInternational ( I use my newsletter as a way to promote my work as well that of other authors. I’m a member of various yahoo groups on writing and publishing, as well as a member of and
Book Place (

You have to create a network if you want people to find out about you and your book. There are simply too many authors out there. Unless you’re Anne Rice or Stephen King, nobody is going to find out about your book if you don’t bring it out to the world. Book promotion is hard work, but it’s rewarding and effective. Also, virtual book tours are very popular right now. I’m having one in October to publicize the release of Dark Lullaby. I have a great article on virtual tours on my blog, The Dark Phantom Review:
I also recently interviewed publicist Dorothy Thompson for my newsletter, The Fountain Pen: (August issue)

Aneeta: One topic that sometimes emerges amongst our local literary community is that authors should have their own websites. As you have one of your own,, can you please tell us the benefit you’ve derived from having your own website.

Mayra: The benefits are immense! I don’t believe an author can be very successful these days without a website. That is the place you can direct people to find out more about your bio, book, blurbs, reviews of your books, any contests you’re giving, your press kit, etc. My website is practically new. I just started it on November 2006. That first month I got about 300 visitors. After I joined the book promotion groups,, and started syndicating my articles, I now get an average of 6-7,000 visitors a month, which is not bad at all. These are people who are finding out about me and my writing. Chances are some of them end up buying my books.

Aneeta: As you know, this website caters for storytellers. What advice would you give to those who intend to become storytellers?
Mayra: First, read a lot. Read contemporary fiction in the genre that you want to write in, but also read the classics. This will give you a broader scope of the genre. Second, write. You learn by doing it, just like violin players learn by practicing every day, and just as baseball players learn by playing in the field. It’s great to talk about writing, but that won’t help much at all if you want to become a writer. Third, stimulate your mind and keep it in the right frame by surrounding yourself with people who share your passion and who can support you. If there’s not a writing group you can join in your area, create one. Two last tips: Read Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write. This is the best book on writing on the market. I keep it by my bed like the bible and grab it any time I’m feeling dispirited. But remember, only reading about writing won’t turn you into a writer, just as reading about violin playing won’t create a violinist. Consider becoming a book reviewer; by critiquing other writers’ works, you learn a lot about the mechanics of writing, what works and what doesn’t. There are hundreds of sites where you can request to be a reviewer, or you can start your own book review blog at sites like or I know this sounds self serving, but just to let you know, I offer a book reviewing course at the Long Story Short School of Writing (, and my forthcoming book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, teaches all you need to know to become a reviewer, including how to start your own book review site. It also has a resource slipperyartofbookreviewingsection with hundreds of links to post/publish your reviews.

Aneeta: Mayra, this is all I have to ask you. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Mayra: Before I write my contest announcement, I would just like to let readers know about my newsletters and blogs:
Subscription for these newsletters is free! The issues are packed with author interviews, articles on writing, columns, book promotion tips, contest announcements, resources, etc.
The Fountain Pen,
The Voice in the Dark,
My blogs, where I post reviews and regularly interview authors:
The Dark Phantom Review,
Mayra’s Secret Bookcase,

Aneeta: Mayra, thank you.
Mayra: Thank you so much for this opportunity, Aneeta. I appreciate it!

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Day 9 Top Ten Days of Mayra Calvani

Two Articles wrtten by Mayra Calvani


So… You Want to Start a Book Club?

 Starting your own book club is a great way to share your love of books with other book lovers. Chances are many book lovers would love to start a club but simply don’t know how, or for some reason think it is difficult. Starting your own book club can be easy, inexpensive, fun, and rewarding. The main requirement? A passion for words!

Step One: Decide The Kind Of Club You Want

Book clubs come in all colors, shapes and sizes. The first thing you need to do to is decide what kind you want yours to be. So take out pen and paper, and start planning!

*Would you like a club where members discuss only fiction, or non-fiction as well? Would you like it to be specialized, handling a specific genre? Or you want your club to handle only classics? Or books written by a specific prolific author? Or perhaps only books which have been banned or won Nobel Prizes?

*Do you want your club to be big or small? Eight to twelve members is a good number, big enough for a variety of ideas and small enough to stay cozy.

*Do you want to keep the club between friends or recruit a diverse group of people? A diverse group may offer a more varied contribution to discussions, but do you really want strangers in your home?

*Do you want food to accompany book discussions, or only beverages? From my experience, food isn’t a good idea. People can’t concentrate well while chewing food. But it’s nice to have coffee or tea, especially if it’s a morning session. In fact, drinking hot beverages during discussion is an important part of the book club experience. Some hosts/hostesses serve wine if the discussions are held at night.

*Do you want to conduct the book discussions at your home, in a rotation basis at the other members’ homes, or outside at public places like libraries, bookshops, or restaurants? There are advantages and disadvantages either way. My favourite is a combination of both to keep the sessions fresh, lively and less routinely.

*How often do you want to meet? One month is a good idea. Less than this would be too often. People live hectic lives and members should have sufficient time to read the book comfortably. More than 6 weeks would make members too detached, and even prompt them to forget about the book until the last minute. Also, will you meet on weekends or weekdays?

*How long do you want each session to last? In general, two hours are enough time: The first 15 minutes for chatting, the next 1 ½ hours for the book discussion, and the last 15 minutes to wrap it up and chat some more.

Step Two: Name Your Club

I’m amazed at the number of book clubs out there that don’t have a name. Be original and inventive. Remember, this is your creation. A name gives it importance and legitimacy. Choose a name which suits the club. If your club will only handle vampire fiction, for example, The Transylvania Book Club would be a good name. Okay, maybe that’s not too original, but you get my drift.

Step Three: Recruit Members

Now that you know all about your book club and have given it a name, you can start recruiting members.

*If you want to keep it between friends, several emails or phone calls will do.

*If you want a diverse group with both friends and strangers, then put a few ads in several places where you know people would be interested to join, like local libraries, bookshops, your children’s school, or your church.

*Make your ad eye-catching, interesting, and professional. Include the name and some general info about your club.

Step Four: The First Meeting

Now that you have recruited the amount of members you wanted, you’re ready for the first meeting, which normally will take place at your home. Never take for granted the first meeting. It will set the standard for all subsequent ones.

Once the members have chatted a little, got their coffees and teas and settled comfortably in their chairs, you can begin discussing the rules with the members.

Remember to be flexible. A “dictator” attitude will turn members off instantly. Be enthusiastic. You want to strive for a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

*Discuss with the members all the points covered earlier in “Decide The Kind Of Book Club You Want,” so they can have a clear idea of your book club.

*As leader, you get to make the first book suggestion. Simply bring a list of several books you would like the club to read and let them decide by majority one title. Be wise! The future of your club may well depend on the first book selected. You can print out some reviews about these books and read them to the group to spark their interest and help them decide.

*Decide as a group how the books will be chosen and subsequent meetings held.

        -Ideally, each member should have a turn at suggesting books, being leader and hosting meetings.

        -Will you purchase hardbacks or paperbacks?

        -Who will order books and keep record of books selected, as well as keep record of rotations?

        -Will books be selected in advance for the whole semester, or a meeting at a time? Selecting books in advance is generally more convenient.

*Remind members to be punctual, and, ideally, to turn their cell phones off during discussions. Needless to say, it is each member’s responsibility to read the whole book before each discussion.

*Make sure the “rules” are understood by all members and be prepared for questions.

*Reading is great, but reading critically is even better and will heighten the book club experience and add insight and depth to discussions. Offer the following suggestions to keep in mind when reading:

        -Keep a pencil or highlighter in hand

        -Look below the surface at underlying themes or ideas

        -Is there anything unusual which gets your attention? Recurring images? Symbolism? Metaphors?

        -Unusual plot devices?

*At the end, suggest they take out their agendas or planners so they can write down the date and place of their next meeting. This should be done at the end of each meeting.

Step Five: The Subsequent Meetings, The Discussion Sessions

You’ve finished the first meeting. Congratulations! You deserve a big hug. The worst is over and the best is yet to come.

If the first meeting was a success, chances are the subsequent ones will be, too. As host or hostess of the first book discussion, you will set the standard. Remember to conduct yourself warmly and enthusiastically. Though you may use index cards, it is always better to express your thoughts in your own words and not read from your notes. Trust me, this will put people to sleep. Always try to keep eye contact with the group. Begin by talking a bit about the author and how this particular book fits into his other body of work, or if it’s somehow related to his life.

Next get some general reactions:

        -Did you enjoy it? Hate it? Was it entertaining? Boring? Exasperating? Did it grab you until the end? Was it a challenging, difficult read?

Once you have got some first reactions and “warmed up” the group, you can start going deeper:


        -Were the characters believable? Stereotypical?

        -What about the plot and pace?

        -Did the book evoke any particular feeling? Anger? Frustration? Terror? Indifference?

        -What’s unique about the story?

        -Any recurring themes, images, symbols or metaphors?

        -Any quote or passage which got your attention?

        -Any similar works by other authors?

        –Do you agree with the reviews written about this book?

If the book is non-fiction, you may want to discuss the following:

        -Was the book helpful? Controversial? Informative?

        -Was it objective or biased?

        -Was the book persuasive enough to change your mind or stand on an issue?

        -What was the author’s intention? Did he accomplish it?

Some Last Tips

*Several days before each meeting, send a quick reminder to all members with either email or a phone call.

*If you have small children and will need a baby-sitter during meetings, plan ahead.

*In all groups there will always be a couple of shy people. Encourage but don’t insist in making them talk if they don’t feel like it.

*If you have trouble coming up with a list of book suggestions, check book reviews on newspapers and online and print publications, or simply check titles on Amazon. Try not to stick only to bestsellers. There are wonderful gems out there from small presses, just waiting to be discovered.

*If you’re very serious about your book club, why not make some T-shirts or sweatshirts, mugs and caps with your club’s name—and even logo!—on them. This can be easily done at a print shop and members would share the cost. For a mystery club, for example, you could purchase deer hunter’s caps and smoking pipes, and have them personalized with the club’s name and/or logo. It’s fun and your club will get even more attention—specially if your meetings are held in a restaurant! The only limit is your imagination.

Good luck. Above everything else, enjoy!



How to Get Celebrity Testimonials


Getting celebrity testimonials or endorsements is an effective way to boost sales, add publicity and credibility to your book, and attract attention from booksellers and libraries. As a small press author, I don’t think I would have any trouble getting reviews from Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly or Library Journal if printed on the front cover of my vampire novel were a testimonial by Anne Rice. Yeah, I know… dare to dream. Well, I actually checked on her website for her contact info, and although there’s a way to get in touch with her (that’s not to say she’ll answer my message), she makes it plainly clear that she won’t read other author’s manuscripts. With famous authors, this seems to be the rule.

Mid-level authors with big publishers have more luck because the publishers themselves (or at least their publicists) take care of this job. But how can small press authors get testimonials from celebrities when it’s so difficult to make contact, and when celebrities are too busy to read other’s works?

One way is through conferences and associations. By attending conferences in your book’s genre, you’re able to make connections and meet other authors, including famous ones. Even if you don’t meet famous ones, you might meet people who actually know them and could put a word for you. If you’re shy to socialize, just pretend you’re not yourself for the duration of the conference. This might sound silly, but the other day I read an interview where they asked the successful CEO of a famous company what her secret was, and she said, “I just pretend I’m Jennifer Lopez.”

Another way to get testimonials is by doing a search on the internet. Just type: “celebrity contacts.” Remember many celebrities have websites with their contact info.

You may also check This is a database with over 54,000 celebrities. Remember to choose people who are recognizable in your field.

Another resource is (Doc. 609).

I’d recommend first querying before actually sending an ARC or draft of your book. Making contact by snail mail is more effective because of the problems with spam, though follow-up emails are fine.

When querying, remember the following:

* Make it easy for the celebrity to answer you. Always include a S.A.SE.

* Send a personal letter explaining what the book is about. Include all relevant information about the book–publisher, ISBN, publication date, etc.

* If you already have reviews or other endorsements (even by unknown authors), include them. Also mention any awards won.

* The more personal, the better. A handwritten post-it or note will get attention.

* Tell the celebrity how much you admire their work, and how honoured you’d feel if he or she gave you a testimonial. Many celebrities will feel flattered.

* Remind the celebrity how giving you a testimonial would actually give him or her free publicity.

If you haven’t heard from the person in two weeks, send a follow up letter. If he declines to read your book, thank him anyway. He might not read your book now, but he might do it next time. Once he agrees to look at your book, send him an ARC or draft. Some writers include an easy-to-fill out form to make it easy for the celebrity. Of course, never forget the S.A.S.E. If you don’t hear from him in three weeks, send a follow-up letter. The secret is to be persistent, but always polite.

And remember, you’ll never know the possibilities until you try!

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Day 8 Top Ten Days of Mayra Calvani

darklullabyExcerpt from Dark Lullaby


“Who’s that woman?” Gabriel demanded.

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t tell me you don’t know. I saw the way she looked at you–the way you looked at her.”

“She’s just an old woman, a silly superstitious old woman.”

Gabriel was sure Kamilah lied. He grasped her by the shoulders and turned her to him. “Why was she afraid of you?”

Kamilah laughed, her cheeks flushed. “Listen to what you’re saying. Why would she be afraid of me?”

“I don’t know. But it’s a fact that she gasped when she saw you, that she was afraid.”

She shrugged. “She must have mistaken me for somebody else.”

“But why did you look at her like that? I saw your face.”

She scowled. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Obviously you misread my face.” She wrestled away from his grip. “I want to go home.”


“Yes, home. To the forest. To the cottage.” She stomped her foot and kept going, leaving him behind.

Craning his neck, Gabriel looked back toward the scarf stand but the old woman was gone. “Damn!” he muttered.

He trotted after Kamilah.

Kamilah started running, her shrill, childish laugh defying him. Never stopping, she ran all the way to the mountain trail. With the heavy backpack and his sore leg muscles, Gabriel had a hard time keeping up with her. People turned to stare at them. Desperate to catch up with Kamilah, Gabriel clashed into a man as he crossed the street.

Gabriel muttered a curse. He felt like strangling Kamilah. Her erratic behavior was wearing thin.

“Wait!” he shouted when he saw her going up the trail.

She glanced back over her shoulder and flashed him a feral grin, her flushed cheeks contrasting deeply with her brilliant eyes. “You cannot catch me, you cannot catch me!” She sang loudly in monotone, between gasps. “You cannot catch me, you cannot catch me!”

As Gabriel ran after her the dull pain on the right side of his ribcage came back. He halted, panting. He leaned forward with his hands on his slightly bent knees and his eyes shut to concentrate on the ache.

Massaging the painful area, he made an effort to regain his breath. When he looked again to the trail Kamilah had vanished into the woods.

The hell with her. If she thought he would run after her and play her little hunting games, she was mistaken. He would very calmly find his own way back to the cottage. He reached into his backpack for the bottle of water and took a big gulp. After resting for several minutes the pain lessened and he felt better. In the deep chambers of his brain an alarm went off–for the first time the pain in his torso began to seriously worry him. He didn’t think it had anything to do with indigestion or any exotic virus or bacteria. Words like tumor and cancer flashed through his mind but he tried to shove them away. He couldn’t think about this now. Once back in Baltimore he would go to a doctor and have a complete examination.

He’d been hiking for about an hour when a sound came from deep within the woods.

Gabriel stopped, his head turning to the source.

The sound was familiar… the distant shrill murmur of children playing.

As suddenly as the sound had appeared, it vanished.

Goose bumps rose on his arms. Had he imagined it? He massaged the sides of his head while drops of sweat trickled down his back. The burning sun and the humidity didn’t help clear his mind.

After taking a few deep breaths, he continued his way up the trail.

About a quarter of an hour later he heard the sound again. This time it appeared closer.

Gabriel stopped and peered into the woods. He closed his eyes and concentrated on identifying the sound. Yes… the shrill murmur of small children playing. Ridiculous but true.

Gabriel decided to investigate.

Once under the canopy of the trees, moist coolness and shadows enveloped him. He welcomed the feeling and continued deeper into the woods, the ground soft and mushy under his boots.

After a few minutes it struck him the sound wasn’t getting closer or farther. Even though it was distant, it seemed to be everywhere, all around him.

Tilting back his head, he stared at the dense canopy of trees. Soft beams of light filtered down. He turned around slowly, light-headed and somewhat dizzy. For an instant he felt himself floating as the distant murmur of children caressed his mind.

“Kamilah!” he shouted. “Kamilah!”

He stopped turning and stood immobile, listening to his own heavy breathing, to his thudding heart.

“Kamilah, I know you’re here somewhere! Stop playing games!”

He scanned the surroundings. Something about the tree trunks caught his eye. Their surface wasn’t smooth as normal tree trunks. Lines marred the surface, natural lines which seemed to come from within the bark itself.

The lines, as if carved by a human hand, appeared to be forming something.

As realization dawned on Gabriel he gasped and stumbled back, nearly falling on the ground. He looked around him, terrified. Each tree trunk portrayed a different face… a baby face, crying, the mouth wide open in anguished misery.

The shrill murmur of children became louder than ever.

And then Gabriel understood it, heard it clearly. This wasn’t the murmur of children playing. This was the sorrowful crying of infants.

He ran back toward the trail as fast as his legs would allow him.




Short fiction on the web


 “The Cellar” published in Twilight Times Ezine.


 “The Painting” published in New Mystery Reader.





CONTACT:  Lynda S. Burch,
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
314 276 8482


Book Written and Illustrated by a Child


SAINT LOUIS, MO – Nine-year old Melisa Eyuboglu’s book, ANGEL IN A BUBBLE, has just been released as ebook by Guardian Angel Publishing under their new imprint, “Angel to Angel” –books written and illustrated by children under twelve years of age.

ANGEL IN A BUBBLE is the first title published under this imprint and will be distributed by Follett, the largest distributor of ebooks to schools and libraries. The paperback version, soon to come out as well, will be available for sale from most online retailers. It will also be available on order at brick and mortar bookstores.

Book’s Blurb:

Guardian angels are being turned into bubbles! Join Alison and her pets—a golden retriever, a deer, and a mouse—as they cross forests, hike mountains, and climb rainbows in order to find God and help the angels. An adventurous, mythical journey!

Author’s Bio:

Melisa Eyuboglu has been writing poems and stories since the age of seven. She wrote and illustrated ANGEL IN A BUBBLE in a week during the summer holiday of 2006. In addition, she is a talented young violinist who has been playing for audiences for the past two years.

Learn more about ANGEL IN A BUBBLE and its young author at:

Because of the low cost of ebook production and print on demand technology, this new visionary concept of ‘books written and illustrated by children’ is bound to become very popular. Children love to read stories written by children. Moreover, it is a fabulous way to encourage children’s creativity and nurture their literary and artistic talents.

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

Title: Angel in a Bubble                               

Author: Melisa Eyuboglu
Format:Ebook                                             ISBN: 1-933090-48-0
Publication Date: April 23, 2007-04-23     Pages: 32
Price: Ebook $5.00, CD-Rom $9.95

Available from: Guardian Angel Publishing
To Order: 314 276 8482, or

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